My Month in Review | May 2021

I can’t believe that we are already at the end of May (or the start of June when this will be published); almost halfway through the year. So much better than this time last year. The Book God and I have both been fully vaccinated, we’ve ventured out to a restaurant for the first time in I don’t know how long, and we have plans to do interesting things over the next few weeks.

The sun is also shining and the temperatures are beginning to climb above 20 degrees (centigrade) and things are looking good.

I’ve probably jinxed it now!

It’s been a good reading month too.

  • Books read this month = 8
  • Pages read = 3417
  • Progress against Goodreads challenge = 53% (8 books ahead of schedule)

In terms of challenges, I have half-heartedly started the David Copperfield Reading project with nothing substantive to report so far, and the Twenty Books of Summer challenge starts tomorrow (1 June). You can find my book selections here.

Next month’s pre-orders:

  • Castle Shade by Laurie R King – Mary & Holmes get caught up in a mystery involving Queen Marie of Romania. Transylvania might just be involved! This is the 17th entry in this series and I really do need to get caught up
  • The Wood Bee Queen by Edward Cox – librarians, local folklore, magical stones – what’ not to love! 
  • The Murder of Graham Catton by Katie Lowe – death of Mr C thought to be solved, done and dusted but along comes one of those pesky true crime podcasts to stir things up again
  • The Maidens by Alex Michaelides – exclusive students in a Cambridge college – actually made it four comments down on the Amazon page before I hit my first reference to The Secret History
  • Falling by TJ Newman – pilot’s family is kidnapped and the only way to save them is to crash the plane…..
  • Star Eater by Kerstin Hall – magical bloodlines, shadowy factions, spying, all of the things
  • Artifact Space by Miles Cameron – what is targeting the great spaceships which transport stuff  in human occupied space?

I’m going to try really, really hard not to buy anything else but we shall see. My track record is not good…

Nothing much else to add here, so I’ll wish you very happy reading, and stay safe!

April in Review

Here we are with a quarter of the year already gone and it’s time for another monthly round-up.

April was a good month for bookish matters.

The Stats

  • Books read = 8
  • Pages read = 2846
  • Goodreads challenge = 5 books ahead of schedule and already at 40%

Pre-orders for May

  • Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon – “Vern – seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised – flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world. But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman.”
  • Phase Six by Jim Shepard – reading a book about a global pandemic while in the middle of a global pandemic seems counter-intuitive but I am unable to resist. This was written pre-Covid btw
  • The Album of Doctor Moreau by Daryl Gregory – HG Wells meets boy band culture with some murder thrown in. Sounds awesome.
  • Last Days in Cleaver Square by Patrick McGrath – I have always had a great fondness for McGrath but it’s a while since I’ve read anything by him. The premise of this – set in 1975 where an old man is haunted by visions of the dying General Franco – sounds fascinating.
  • The Beresford by Will Carver – two of my favourite books so far in 2021 were written by Will Carver and I fully expect to love this new standalone thriller also
  • Witch by Iain Rob Wright – all I know about this is it is horror, there’s a witch (duh) and there may or may not be cursed manuscripts…….
  • The Nine by Gwen Strauss – my interest in the experiences of women caught up in WWII continues; this is the story of nine women fleeing a German forced labour camp.

Coming up

I get my second Covid vaccination this week about which I am very glad. Mr B is already fully vaccinated and I’m looking forward to feeling more confident about heading into London again as the museums re-open.

A BBC adaptation of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love by Emily Mortimer starts next weekend. It looks lush and enjoyable with a great cast and high production values and I for one am sold.

I have a couple of challenges coming up:

  • Cathy at 746Books is hosting Twenty Books of Summer from 1 June to 1 September and I’m already compiling my list. This will be my year to finish, I can feel it 🙂
  • I’m challenging myself to read David Copperfield, prompted by having watched Armando Ianucci’s recent film version. These days I do tend to struggle with classic Victorian authors so I’m giving myself a chance and planning to read in line with the original publication schedule, which means I should finish around November. November 2022, that is.

Apart from that all is quiet (despite the howling wind outside at the moment). Hope you are all staying safe and have a great reading week!

Updating my week (ending 18 April)

We’ve been graced with beautiful sunny weather over the past few days which is guaranteed to lighten my mood, but last week didn’t start that way. On Monday 12th we woke up to sleet, of all things.

Anyway, despite that the signs of spring are increasingly evident, and the photo here shows the view as I walk out onto my front step 😀


Currently reading

I’ve got a few books that have been on my currently reading list for some time, but I have been absorbed in The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie because of a long-held and continuing fascination with cults, whether real or fictional. Hoping to finish this soon.

Just finished

One by One, my next read in the Robert Hunter detective series by Chris Carter; I think it’s #5 but I’m far too lazy to check. Oh wait, yes it is. Deeply gruesome, I sat up until 02:30 to finish it, and have already added #6 to my TBR

New books (excluding pre-orders):

  • An Evil Mind by Chris Carter – as mentioned above
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – planning to read this following the original publication schedule
  • Antiquities by Cynthia Ozick – In 1949, Lloyd Wilkinson Petrie has returned as a Trustee to live in the long-defunct boarding school that he had attended as a child. There he is preparing a memoir.
  • Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer – A speculative thriller about the end of all things, set in the Pacific Northwest. A harrowing descent into a secret world.
  • Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, edited by Jonathan Strahan – This collection of stories is where robots stand in for us, where both we and they are disadvantaged, and where hope and optimism shines through.
  • Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman – Francine is a luminary in her field of evolutionary science. She joins the Foundation to study a colony of bonobo apes: remarkable animals, and the perfect creatures to certify her revolutionary feminist theory of reproduction. 
  • The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow – volume 12 of this long-running series, a good source of new authors in the horror field

Currently watching:

We’ve been trying to finish off a number of series we had recorded, and have succeeded with ZeroZeroZero (awesome) and Briarpatch (very enjoyable), and we will soon come to the end of the very last series of Elementary, which will make me very, very sad.


Hope you are all doing well and staying safe. Some short movie reviews will be coming up soon, so watch this space.

March in review & April so far

I struggled a bit during March so didn’t feel very much like writing (or reading for that matter) but have no fear, I didn’t abandon books altogether. April promised to be marginally better, though as I write this a simple repair to our central heating system has led to a complete failure, and I’m having difficulty adjusting to new medication, so we’ll see how all of that goes…..

Enough of the moaning I hear you cry, what about the books?

March

Books read = 5

Pages read = 1299

Progress against Goodreads challenge = 2 books ahead, 28% of my target

April

I was going to list all of my pre-orders for the next month but that was starting to make me feel overwhelmed, sp let’s not and say we did 🙂

If you are interested there are 13 books on pre-order, 6 of which have already been delivered onto my Kindle app. All of them look really interesting as of course they would be otherwise why would I be ordering them (I can imagine you asking this question), and if I had to pick one then the only physical book I’m buying this month is the Illustrated HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy anniversary edition – with art by Chris Riddell. I still have the original LP of the radio show somewhere in a cupboard from back in the day, and as a long-time fan I’m inordinately excited about this new edition!

I’m currently reading quite a few books as you will see from the sidebar but finding it difficult to settle on anything so I’m dipping in and out as the mood takes me, which can be quite fun.

So that’s where I am at the moment. Keep your fingers crossed that the banging I can hear above my head is denoting progress on my heating issue, and that the sun might come out later today.

Hope you are well and staying safe – see you next time 😀

Updating my week – let’s not and say we did

Last week was a bit of a horror to be honest – a short but intense depressive episode, a couple of bouts of insomnia and a narrow escape from a phishing attempt – so I’m just not going into the details. You can probably guess not much reading got done so we’ll just skip that for now.

One of the things I missed was my Blogiversary! The Bride is now 14 years old; who’d have thunk it 😀

I turned 14 in 1976. Centuries ago!

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Kelly McDonald, Sir Chris Hoy, Martha Wainwright, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ryan Reynolds & Chadwick Boseman were born. I love all of these people.

Agatha Christie, Howard Hughes & some bloke called Mao died

Mamma Mia was number one in the UK on my birthday. This explains a LOT

Star Wars began filming, Brotherhood of Man won the Eurovision Song Contest back when Britain still won that sort of thing, the summer Olympics took place in Montreal and Hotel California (one of my perennial favourite) was released.

What a year that was. Still feeling really old……

October Monthly Round-Up

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A week late, but what a week it’s been! So many distractions, but I did still want to come on here and register my reading progress for October.

Books read = 4

Number of pages = 1401

Drum roll, please………

I have hit my reading goal for this year – 60 out of 60 books with two full months to go. To early to say how many more I will read before the end of the year, but I will be reading more that’s for sure.

November pre-orders:

  • Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood – New York, 1946. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set – and together they investigate the murder of a wealthy young widow. First in a anew series, couldn’t resist.
  • One by One by Ruth Ware – Snowbound thriller full of tense corporate shenanigans plus avalanche. I haven’t read any Ruth Ware before, so very much looking forward to trying her out.
  • The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie – survivors of a cult digging into their past, releasing memories and trauma that they have repressed for years. The answers will no doubt be found at Red Peak.
  • Last Stand in Lychford by Paul Cornell – Exploding fairies, the architect of the universe and a celestial bureaucratic blunder make this a satisfying conclusion to the ever-popular Witches of Lychford series.

That’s it from me! Hope you all have a great reading week.

My Week | 11 October ’20

It has been a very quiet week chez Bride. I’ve been somewhat under the weather and spending a lot of my time not sleeping well then napping, so on and so forth.

Naps are something new to me – when I was younger I just couldn’t sleep during the day unless I was ill, and now that I’m pushing 60 it’s staying awake that’s the problem 😀

I didn’t finish any books this week, and I’m still reading the third Malin Fors novel which I would like to complete as I’m itching to get into some creepy books for Hallowe’en season. I have a nice little list from which to select and I’m going to pick randomly from them as my fancy takes me.

I’m pleased to report that I only bought one book that wasn’t a pre-order, and that was Poems to Save the World With, selected and illustrated by one of my favourite artists, Chris Riddell.

I don’t read poetry very often but how can you resist a book which contains this image (to represent Ozymandias by Shelley):

What I have been doing instead of reading is decluttering my wardrobe, listening to podcasts (as always) and watching TV with Mr B. Season 1 of Evil has turned into something of a hit with us, and we were sad to see the end of S2 of The Boys – we both loved the comics and reckon the adaptation captures the spirit of the original, including the gore.

The big revelation has been Elementary. Yes, I know that I’m probably the last person in the universe to watch this, but in my defence Sherlock with Mr Cumberbatch got to me first, I had space for only one Holmes at a time, and I thought (wrongly) that the man himself may have been Americanised rather than just the setting moved to New York.

I admit it. I was wrong.

Not only is it really, really good but Jonny Lee Miller may be one of my absolutely favourite incarnations of Holmes (Basil Rathbone will always be my No. 1. I know his films are flawed. Don’t at me). I’m devouring the first season and looking forward to steadily working my way through the lot.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Hope you are all staying safe and well, and have a great reading week.

It’s a Book Haul

Forget that you ever, ever saw me mention a no-spend policy because as you will see, I blew that plan completely out of the water. And as I have absolutely no shame, I thought I would share my purchases from mid-September to date.

The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier – “War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a Reaper.” Society is split along blood type lines as a result of mandatory drawing to support the war effort. There is of course a Big Secret and Willa will try to get to the bottom of it.

Black Narcissus by Rumer Godden – first published in 1939 and made into a remarkable film starring Deborah Kerr, as soon as I realised the BBC was producing an adaptation for Christmas I knew I should read the original.

That led me down a rabbit hole of classics…..

Effie Briest by Theodor Fontane – first published in 1894, this is the story of Effie, married off to a man twice her age, gets bored, has an affair with someone unsuitable which later comes back to haunt her. The consequences are fatal, of course. I will try not to think of Madame Bovary.

The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Kelin – first published in 1932, this tale of Doris who runs off to 1920s Berlin to make it big in the movies but sinks into the city’s lower echelons was a huge bestseller in Weimar Germany until it was, of course, banned by the Nazis. I will try not to think of Cabaret.

The Grand Babylon Hotel by Arnold Bennett – a long time since I read Bennett’s famous Old Wives Tale, this sounds like a very different kettle of fish. Nella is refused service in the Grand Babylon Hotel, but her father is a millionaire so buys the thing for her. Shenanigans ensue. I will try not to get this confused with the Grand Budapest Hotel.

Now back to the present/near future…..

Adaptation by Malinda Lo – vast global conspiracy ahoy, involving birds, because of course it does. Reese is involved in an accident and is in a coma or similar for about a month. When she wakes up she remembers nothing but knows one thing – she’s different now……. I believe this is the first in a series. Any similarities to The Birds is coincidental, I’m sure.

Everything Under by Daisy Johnston – nominated for the 2018 Booker Prize, this is, according to the blurb, “an electrifying reinterpretation of a classical myth” and unsettling. I like unsettling.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – here is a confession – I haven’t read any Naomi Novik. Yet. There is a sorceress who doesn’t want to be one but has a destiny which involves changing the rules of magic. This sounds a good place to start.

Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers – last week I was able to watch/listen to a lecture by Julie Summers via my V&A membership, talking about her latest book (which I bought earlier this year, it’s the life of the editor of British Vogue during the war years) but I was diverted by one of her anecdotes to look up this book about style in World War II and the difficulties of finding silk for your camiknickers.

Alice Diamond and the Forty Elephants by Brian McDonald – the history of Britain’s first female crime syndicate, who made shoplifting kind of glamorous, hiding the stuff they stole (fashion, jewels, furs) in specially adapted clothing and blowing the proceeds on the high life.

A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald – the first in the DI Erika Piper series, a famous actress is found dead and mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, a copy of a scene from one of her big movies. Our heroine is now hunting the Blood Ice Killer, because of course there is a nickname; there is always a nickname.

And the first few books of October……

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton – it’s 1634 and the world’s greatest detective is being shipped to Amsterdam to be executed, but once the boat sets sail nasty things start to happen. Death, yes. Destruction, undoubtedly. But demons?

The SS Officer’s Armchair by Daniel Lee – subtitled In Search of a Hidden Life. You buy an armchair and then find a bundle of documents sewn into the chair’s cushion. They are covered in swastikas, so of course you need to set off on a quest to find out who owned the chair and presumably the documents.

Mr Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd – a stranger arrives in Little Camborne and in his wake comes mystery, revenge, murder, greed and jealousy. Everyday life in an English village. Where is Miss Marple when you need her?

Mantel Pieces by Hilary Mantel – even if she wasn’t already one of my very favourite literary people, the pun in the title would have been enough to make me want to read this collection of her essays, mostly (I think) from the London Review of Books.

Witness X by SE Moorehead – Neuropsycholgist hunts serial killer in the near future. Silence of the Lambs meets Blade Runner with a tinge of Stranger Things. Apparently.

The Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti – Newly engaged. Dead aunt. Seriously ill uncle with not long to go. A mansion in the Catskills, and a sister who disappeared years ago. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Quite a varied selection I think you’ll agree 🙂

June Reading Round-up

Halfway through the year already. Time is moving quickly despite being at home 99% of the time and the pace of life feeling slower, but that’s physics for you.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

The Stats:

  • Books read = 5
  • Number of pages = 2267
  • Progress against Goodreads = 60% of my target, still 7 books ahead of schedule

20 Books of Summer – 3 out of 20 (not good, need to get my act together )

June PBB book club – we read Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, a 5* read if ever there was one, and I saw this morning that it received the Locus Award for best fantasy novel of 2019, which is very cool and well-deserved.

June purchases – not going there; I’m seriously looking at a no extra spend for the rest of the summer, but will settle for cutting back.

July pre-orders:

  • Malorie by Josh Malerman – this is the sequel to Bird Box, which I really liked, so I’ll be very interested to see how the story develops
  • Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings – In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes her question memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure.
  • Bryant & May: Oranges & Lemons by Christopher Fowler – I think this is the 18th B&M novel and I have them all. Still one of the very best series around
  • A Peculiar Peril by Jeff VanderMeer – Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion—a veritable cabinet of curiosities—once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities. The first in The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead series.
  • Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay – New England is locked down, a strict curfew the only way to stem the wildfire spread of a rabies-like virus. The hospitals cannot cope with the infected, as the pathogen’s ferociously quick incubation period overwhelms the state. The veneer of civilisation is breaking down as people live in fear of everyone around them. Staying inside is the only way to keep safe. This might sound familiar, and I might not read it for a while 🙂
  • Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell – a rock novel! This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker
  • Stranger in the Shogun’s City by Amy Stanley – a history/biography of a woman named Tsuneno, born in 1804 and her life in Edo (now Tokyo). Looks fascinating
  • Hell in the Heartland by Jax Miller – On December 30th, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, 16-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing. Yes it’s true crime, don’t @ me
  • The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson – Amazon says this is The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Village, so read into that what you will.

The PBB Book Club selection for July is Augustown by Kei Miller, a good choice as I’m trying to read more BIPOC authors.


So that’s it! I’m very behind on reviews but hoping to crack through them all and be up to date by this time next month. Wish me luck!

Sunday Salon | 7 June

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post today given everything that’s going on in the world and that I’m a Scottish white woman pushing 60, but keeping quiet is how the status quo is maintained even if what you say sounds trite.


We Are the Flowers of One Garden (c) Shayda Campbell

Black lives matter and anyone who has a problem with that needs to stop and take a look at themselves. Access to equal treatment for other doesn’t mean that you somehow lose out, and for too long people of colour have been disproportionately suffering at the hands of authority and a system that was stacked against them from the outset.

I developed a love of history when I was at school and went on to get my degree in that subject (early modern history in particular which explains my obsession with the sixteenth century) but as I got older it became abundantly clear that the history we are taught doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality experienced by many, many people. The racism inherent in the British colonial/imperial rule is rarely addressed in those terms. We talked about our role in ending the slave trade without acknowledging our heavy involvement in starting it. As a Scot, I learned about the wealth brought to our cities, especially Glasgow, by those trading tobacco and cotton but with only oblique references to the slaves and that even after abolition Glasgow shipyards were still building the ships that would end up carrying slaves. In the UK we have huge swathes of people who don’t realise that there have been people of colour in our country for centuries.

And we don’t talk about issues surrounding police behaviour. It isn’t a crime to be black. We don’t have the same tendency to militarise our police force here in the UK (though some politicians would very much like to) but that doesn’t mean we are free from police brutality, deaths in custody and racial profiling.

This needs to stop. I want to continue learning about this issue, speaking out where I can while knowing that I may get it wrong sometimes. Better to make the occasional mistake in trying to be an ally than to stay silent. I also know that I need to read more widely than I do now; my TBR pile doesn’t have as many works by people of colour as it should, and I’m going to try to improve.


And don’t get me started on JK Rowling and her latest anti-trans stuff. Just don’t.


But let’s talk about books.

It’s been a good reading week. I finished two books – The Deep by Nick Cutter and Transcription by Kate Atkinson – and reviews will follow. Honest.

I made good progress on the two reading challenges/programmes in which I’m taking part, namely:

  • PBB Book Club – Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (I’m 30% in); and
  • Twenty Books of Summer – the two books I read this week were for that challenge, and I have just started the third, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

My full currently reading list is on the sidebar.

Three new books arrived chez Bride this week:

  • Closure Limited (and other zombie tales) by Max Brooks of World War Z fame (I loved that book so much);
  • Putney by Sofka Zinovie; and
  • Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough, which was a pre-order that I thought wasn’t arriving until later in the summer but the Kindle edition was released and just appeared in my app the way ebooks just do.

And that’s it for this week. Please stay safe everyone.