Sunday Salon | 5 April

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in SW London, windows are open and the birds are singing and I’m staying inside because that’s the sensible thing to do. There’s a lot of moralising here about people going to parks and so on and I won’t weigh in on that as we all have to make our own choices but I will say that as someone who really enjoys being a homebody even I’m beginning to get a bit stir crazy, so I understand the desire.

I did go out for a 40-minute walk around the neighbourhood yesterday and I looked like I was off to rob a bank. The selfie is on my Instagram (link above) if you’re interested in what the shabbily chic potential criminal is wearing these days!


I still haven’t got back into the blogging habit and I’m going to cut myself some slack because there’s just so much going on in my brain that sitting and concentrating on being coherent is all a bit much. This doesn’t count because it’s all stream of consciousness anyway.

A couple of commenters last week (waves hello to Bryan and Jenny) asked what I’d been watching, so here’s a quick round-up of the TV stuff we’ve finished in March:

  • The Expanse S2 (we’ve also started S3)
  • Doctor Who S13
  • My Life is Murder S1 (Australian light crime drama with Lucy Lawless)
  • Traces (Scottish murder mystery co-created by the great Val McDermid)
  • Stockholm Requiem (Swedish noir)
  • Star Trek: Picard

I’m still watching Criminal Minds and preparing for it to end, except I’m not prepared at all – what will I do without Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia? And I am also really enjoying The Mandalorian – any suggestion that I have pre-ordered a Baby Yoda toy would be entirely accurate!

The TV highlight this week was a BBC film by Mark Gatiss on the life and work of Aubrey Beardsley, designed to accompany an exhibition that none of us can visit. Such a thoughtful and intelligent programme, do watch it if you can.

The Peacock Skirt (1893) – Stephen Calloway

And I am reading – finished three books this week and well into a fourth!

Hope you are all keeping well and staying safe. Until next time!

Sunday Salon | 29 March

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.

Richmond Park, March

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.

Sunday Salon | 16 February

I’m currently writing this on Sunday afternoon as Storm Dennis has whipped its way across the UK. It is wet.

I’ve not been reading quite as much this week as I’ve been a tad under the weather (pun not intended). I met up with my friend Silvery Dude for the first time this year and we exchanged book and TV show titles to look out for and uncharacteristically did not have any alcohol.

I finished the second Charlie Parker novel and am now officially obsessed and I now have all the titles up to and including volume eight which isn’t even halfway through the series. I sense a project here.

At home, we dipped our toes into The October Faction and Locke & Key and will probably continue watching them as they were very promising.

And we went to see the Birds of Prey movie which I will review soon but the highlights are that this is an absolute hoot, Margot Robbie is fabulous and sleazy Ewan McGregor is the best Ewan McGregor.

That latter statement is not up for debate 😀

New Books

  • What We Did in the Dark by Ajay Close – a fictionalised account of author Catherine Carswell’s first marriage
  • The Decent Inn of Death by Rennie Airth – Snowed in at a country manor, former Scotland Yard inspectors John Madden and Angus Sinclair find themselves trapped in the company of a murderer.
  • The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep – The ultimate book-lover’s fantasy, featuring a young scholar with the power to bring literary characters into the world

I finished Dark Hollow by John Connolly – Charlie Parker #2

I am currently reading The Killing Kind by John Connolly – Charlie Parker 3

There is a pattern here, I think :-), can you tell?

Hope you all have a great reading week!

Sunday Salon | 2 February

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 😀

The Book God got me:

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!)

This is what I ended up with:


We had a really lovely lunch the day before my birthday in a super Viennese restaurant in Marylebone, but before that, we popped into Daunts and I treated myself to a couple of books


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?

Sunday Salon | 26 January

It has been very grey and murky in SW London for the past wee while which is ideal weather for reading and not actually that bad for going on a walk. This week has been a bit of both for me.

January so far has been a good reading month; I’m ahead of my Goodreads target (not something I bother about too much but it’s nice to know). Reviews will follow for some of these but I thought I’d capture here one that I enjoyed very much.

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the ‘legendary vampire’ tower in another explosive episode of Six Stories

I love the Six Stories series; I enjoy the mix of podcast transcript and background notes with a nice bit of foreshadowing (as often happens in real-life podcasts). At the end of the third volume, I really thought that there weren’t going to be any more – it felt like the revelation at the end of that story provided an element of closure. So I was thrilled to see Beast pop up when I was looking for something else, and of course I had to buy it.

And it’s a really good story. Elizabeth Barton is a vlogger who has built up a large following in her small town in Northumberland (and further afield). She was found dead at a local landmark after taking part in a challenge and three young men were convicted of causing her death.

But someone is trying to throw a spotlight on the case by asking “who locked Elizabeth in the tower”? In looking into the story Scott finds that there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Of course.

The manipulation of followers and participants along with the curated nature of (some) vloggers’ output is brought to the fore here, and as well as Elizabeth’s individual story there’s a lot for us to think about in terms of how far we should believe what we see.

It’s a really good story and I hope there will be more.


This last week we have also been on an outing to Osterley House and gardens, part of the National Trust but once owned by a large banking family. The house is closed at the moment but there is an exhibition of treasures including a famous work portraying Saint Agatha by Dolci. It’s a luminous work but Agatha’s story is beyond grim and possibly should have a content warning.


It was this blog’s birthday this past week, and this coming week is my actual real-life birthday at the end of the month, actually on Brexit Day (boo hiss). My way of coping with this is to assume that anyone daft enough to celebrate our exit from the European Union is actually commemorating my special day.

Hope you all have a wonderful reading week, with apologies for the rambles. I’ll see you in my next post!

Sunday Salon | 5 January

So, here we are in the first Salon of the new decade! I hope everyone has a very happy and healthy 2020.

Photo by Daniela Turcanu on Unsplash

We had a super-quiet Hogmanay chez Bride and not much reading was done (I finished one book which I’ll be talking about later in the week) as I was distracted by other things, namely:

Podcast of the WeekHunting Warhead, a CBC podcast about the international hunt for the administrator behind a heavily used online child abuse site. The way in which the authorities managed to track and identify Warhead and prosecute him was fascinating, and although the subject matter is very distressing the podcast was not at all graphic and treated all aspects with sensitivity. Would recommend but only if you have the stomach for that sort of thing.

Drama of the Week – the BBC adaptation of Dracula, starring Claes Bang and Dolly Wells. You may have seen in the Twitterverse that a lot of folk did not like this, mainly because of the third and final episode. I am here to tell you that I reject their opinions; I adored it and have already ordered the blu-ray so I can watch whenever I want. It is funny and clever and properly horrifying (in the right way) so if gothic horror is your thing please give it a try.

New Book of the Week – I received one new book this week, a pre-order of The Great Pretender by Susan Cahalan which tells the story of an undercover investigation into the treatment of mental ilness which ended up leading to major changes in the field. I am lucky in that my own mental health struggles are well managed through medication and wider support from my local health authority and I am fascinated by how such issues were treated in the past especially where women are concerned.

Hope you all have a fabulous reading week!

Sunday Salon | Books Read

Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday season. In getting ready for 2020 I thought I would write up some short reviews of (most of) the books I’ve read recently. All links are to Goodreads btw.

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp

I shall declare an interest here as I am one of Jason’s supporters on Patreon so obviously think he is a top bloke. Ghoster is the first full length novel by Jason that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it, although as an Old I had to look up what ghosting actually meant – you, young reader, are probably way ahead of me. Kate has met Scott, fallen in love and is driving to another city to move in with him. She’s given up her flat, transferred to another employer (she’s a paramedic) and is well on her way to future happiness when she realises that she can’t contact Scott. At all. And when she gets to his place it is empty and he isn’t there. But his phone is……

I spent a lot of time during this creepy book inwardly yelling to Kate not to do the thing that she was about to do, but of course it wouldn’t be a horror novel if the protagonist was sensible so it is only to be expected that things do not go well. Great fun.

Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore by Terry Newman

With an iconic image of Joan Didion on the cover and a blurb that stated I would find out about the “signature sartorial and literary style of fifty men and women of letters” thus combining two of my favourite things – fashion & books – it was obvious that I would get this.

It’s quite a slight volume and doesn’t entirely deliver on the sartorial stuff – not enough detail about what they actually wore for my taste – but there were enough tidbits to satify my curiosity.

That Virginia Woolf worried about bad hat days is also a comforting fact for the dedicated reader and follower of style.

American Predator by Maureen Callahan

I’m not sure exactly where I came across the name of Israel Keyes. It must have been one of the true crime podcasts that I listen to (yes, more than one, don’t jusge me) but I can’t for the life of me remember which one. However I found out about him, I was immediately fascinated by how this man could have carried out so many awful deeds without anyone knowing about it. The subtitle of the book says it all:

The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

He is of course a deeply disturbing and horrible figure who killed all over the USA during a period of fourteen years, burying kill kits for future use, many of which have never been found. This book focusses mainly on the somewhat flawed investigation into his crimes, and I will be following it up by listening to yet another podcast – True Crime Bullshit – which is only about Keyes.

An American Story by Christopher Priest

This is a very well-written novel with a sympathetic (mostly) protagonist and one of the most momentous events of the past few decades in the shape of the 9/11 attacks as context. Ben is a freelance journalist whose then girlfriend died in the attack on the Pentagon; she wasn’t supposed to be on the plane that crashed into the building and like many others her remains were never found, so Ben begins to wonder if she ever really died and if she did whether the accepted story told the whole truth.

There are too many of these inconsistencies to be ignored. At every step of the 9/11 story there is doubt, or there are unanswered questions, or simple logical gaps.

If you concentrate on this story being about loss and in particular the pain experienced when no body is recovered, so there is no certainty and no resting place where one can grieve and find solace, then this is a powerful novel. The 9/11 conspiracy theories work for that reason and that reason only but I still find them very disturbing.

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff

[..] in The Only Plane in the Sky, award-winning journalist and bestselling historian Garrett Graff tells the story of the day as it was lived—in the words of those who lived it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews, and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends, and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet.

An incredibly moving companion piece to Priest’s novel, it covers the events of that day from a wide range of sources. Extraordinarily sad, powerful reading.

Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen

More true crime (sorry, not sorry) this time from the perspective of a journalist who stopped writing about crime and started trying to solve cold cases as a citizen detective. It is a fascinating book, and you can follow Billy’s work alongside his co-host Paul Holes on their podcast Murder Squad. A must-read for all Murderinos, though if you are a Murderino you’ve almost certainly read this already.