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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
So here we are after a break of 3 weeks and I thought it might be fun to look at the books I’ve finished so far this month.
It’s been a fairly good month for reading but not a great one for blogging; what can I say? More mini-reviews are likely to follow, but let’s stick with these six for now, along with an update on what I’m currently reading and some other stuff that might be of interest.
Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah Monette – a collection of short stories missing fantasy & science fiction which I really enjoyed, especially as it includes a Kyle Murchison Booth story (see my review of her collected Booth stories here)
Follow Me by Angela Clarke – an enjoyably fast read, a police procedural with social media right at the forefront. I read it in one sitting and have bought the sequels
Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky – a very creepy sci-fi novel which was almost psychedelic in its language and imagery. Very unsettling. So good.
The Love-Charm of Bombs by Lara Feigel – as I’m getting older I’m finding that my interest is shifting from WWI to WWII, especially social history and the home front. This is a joint biography of several authors (namely Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macaulay, Henry Green, Graham Greene and Hilde Spiel) who were all based in London in the Blitz. It was fascinating to find out about their complicated personal lives.
The Last Book on the Left – from the guys who write & present the Last Podcast on the Left, this is a quick trot through the lives and crimes of several very well-known serial killers. Now, if you’ve been here for any length of time you will know that I cannot resist true crime and I follow many podcasts (I’m a proud Murderino for example) but I’ve never found this one particularly engaging. The book is fine but the comic interjections just didn’t work for me.
The Killing Streets by Tanya Bretherton – another true crime read, this covers the story of what appears to be the first known serial killer in Australia. Set in the 1930s in Sydney, the main interest for me is the social history elements – the expectations on women, the behaviour of the police and so on – but I wasn’t totally convinced that these murders of young women were connected.
In terms of what I’m currently reading, I seem to be stuck in the middle of several books and not making much progress.
Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch – the seventh in the Rivers of London series, I started this in January and have been making very slow progress for reasons I don’t understand, but I do want to finish it because I have three more to read 🙂
The Outsider by Stephen King – enjoyed what I’ve read so far and really want to know how it turns out so this will get finished
True Detective by Max Allan Collins – the first Nathan Heller novel, I picked this up because the Book God has read many (if not all) of the series and thought I would enjoy it and so far he has been spot on.
As none of these titles is on my list for this year’s Twenty Books of Summer challenge, I need to make an effort to finish them by June 1.
As if that wasn’t enough, my need for non-fiction has led me to start a book about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, which ticks so many boxes for me it isn’t true.
And I have finally succumbed and signed up to Audible so that if nothing else I can listen to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman when it launches in July.
Being indoors apart from forays for groceries and exercise, we’ve been watching more films – I miss going to the cinema more than anything else – and some great TV. Killing Eve hasn’t finished yet so I’m reserving judgement, but last night, so much later than everyone else, of course, we finished watching DEVS. I loved it so much. I think Alex Garland is an amazing writer/director and the series was thought-provoking and beautiful. A highlight of this year so far.
How are you guys holding up in these unusual times?
Well, it’s been a while since I last posted here and the world has gone to hell in a handcart as my old Gran would declare.
There isn’t much more to say about the current situation apart from it being good to see in a time of genuine crisis that there are vastly more kind people than there are idiots, though I’m sad to say that most of the biggest idiots are in positions of power and their decision making has not been stellar.
But no more about that.
Like everyone else, here at Chez Bride we have been staying home and trying to be sensible. Both Mr B and I have existing chronic conditions and are being careful to minimise our exposure and also to behave as if we might infect others.
Of course, I had to develop a nasty cough because, apparently, I don’t like being left out of anything. I have had no other symptoms, so I think I’ve been suffering from a mix of a cold (which in my case always leads to a cough), irritation due to dust exposure as I occupy myself with some major decluttering, all topped up with seasonal allergies. It’s been sunny and windy here in my corner of London and as I have been exclusively indoors since 20 March I’ve been making a point of opening the windows as often as I can, so the pollen etc. has been coming to me as I haven’t been able to go to it.
I’m beginning to get cabin fever though and hope to be able to venture out tomorrow on a grocery run and we’ll take it from there.
I have been reading and watching film/TV and really do want to start blogging again so that I can bore you all to tears with my various observations on stuff so watch this space. I will not, however, be admitting to the number of new books that have made it into my collection since my last post; I will start afresh in April.
I hope you are all keeping well and staying safe and I’ll be back here again soon.
It’s that time of year again – here is a gift book haul and other celebratory stuff. Although THEY organised Brexit for my birthday I was not deterred and had a really lovely day. Book stuff first, as always 😀
My brother gave me a gift voucher and I spent some time deciding whether to buy a couple of more expensive books or a pile of Kindle editions. (You can take the girl out of procurement etc. so of course I went for the latter!)
The big event of my birthday was a trip to the theatre to see Endgame and Rough Theatre II by Samuel Beckett. I’ve never really been a Beckett admirer but this production starred two of my favourite actors, Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe. Really excellent evening out.
January has been a really good reading month, and I’m hoping that February will continue that streak. How is your reading going so far this year?
It’s that time again, and the Bride is now a stroppy teenager who still requires cake but it probably not that interested in balloons.
I personally turned 13 in 1975.
Yes, I am that old.
Anyway, back to 1975
Bradley Cooper, Pedro Pascal, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and David Beckham were born
PG Wodehouse, Josephine Baker, Hannah Arendt and Shostakovitch died
Ms Grace by The Tymes was number 1 on my birthday; I have no memory of this song in any way, shape or form, but it is worth noting that one of my all-time favourites (January by Pilot) hit the top spot the following day
Who cares what other films came out – this was the year of JAWS!
Elsewhere Saigon fell, there was a horrible crash on the Tube at Moorgate, Bohemian Rhapsody was released (and purchased by yours truly) and Davros made his first appearance on Doctor Who.
Hope you will continue to hang around for Bride of the Book God: the Teenage Years
So here we are, back again after a break of something like a month (too lazy to check 😀 )
You may be asking yourself what I have been up to since my last post so here goes:
I had a minor surgical procedure on 2 October which went very well and the associated biopsy came back clear so all is good;
but the need for a bit of time for recovery meant that I only made it to two of the four London Film Festival festival screenings I had planned; I’ll be letting you have my thoughts later this week;
and of course we went on our annual holiday, this year off to Scotland via Cumbria on the way up, and Whitby on the way back. We had a super time – comfortable hotels, good food, wonderful scenery and there may even have been a cocktail or two.
And now we’re home. If you’re interested in our adventures please head on over to my Instagram account where there are photos. Not a surprise given that’s what Instagram is all about. The picture at the top of the post is something I’d love to claim is a wee oil painting I threw together over the weekend but of course is actually one of my holiday snaps manipulated through my favourite new app.
Normal service is about to resume so please stick around 🙂