The Bride Looks Back at – November

The month started off fairly slowly on the reading front, but the attraction of several British Library Crime Classics in my virtual collection meant finishing three books in a week, which is pretty good for me these days.

But onto the stats….

  • Books read = 5 including one audiobook
  • Pages read = 967 plus 15.5hours of listerning
  • Goodreads progress = 62 of 65 finished, 95% of my challenge target

Books I read:

  • Cthulhu Resurgent by David Conyers – volume 2 of the collected stories of Major Harrison Peel; a very military take on the elder gods but still enjoyable if you like that sort of thing (which I do)
  • Death of Jezebel by Christianna Brand – published in 1949, a post-war London murder mystery with the equivalent of a locked room scenario. I thought I had guessed the murderer but talked myself out of it only to be proved right but for all the wrong reasons and with no idea of how it was done. Fiendish.
  • These Names Make Clues by ECR Lorac – published in 1937 this isn’t exactly a locked room mystery but does appear to be an almost impossible murder given the situations of the victim and the main suspect (I will say no more). A literary treasure hunt at a publisher’s London home with a real life detective as one of the guests, this was heaps of fun and is definitely my book of the month
  • A Surfeit of Suspects by George Bellairs – published in 1964 so only a couple of years younger than me, this is very much of its time – financial shenanigans, loose morals, potential corruption, shifty bank managers and a joinery company that explodes. Dated but still fun to read.

I also listened to an unabridged version of Dracula with Alan Cumming and Tim Curry. I will have a review of that soon, as I definitely had Thoughts.

Currently reading:

I started several books and set them aside as not quite what I was looking for at present, though I’m sure I will go back to them all at some point. I’m currently absorbed in two:

  • The Explorer by James Smythe – the final book in his Anomaly Quartet came out this year and I am planning to read all four volumes this December. This is the third time I’ve read this, the first book in the series, and at about a quarter of the way through its just as excellent as I remember!
  • American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson – an audiobook read by the author who is one of my favourite podcasters, though I’ve sometimes taken issue with her books. Very interesting, but I’m always slow when listening to non-fiction.

Looking forward to in December, the start of a year-and-one-month low buy challenge for books, but lots of gifts to come (fingers crossed)!

The Bride’s Early Autumn Wrap-Up

My reading progress has been significantly better during September and October, so it seems like a good time to get back into blogging with some thoughts on how it’s all been going.

SEPTEMBER

  • Books read = 5
  • Pages read = 1739
  • Goodreads challenge progress = 75% of my target

Book of the Month:

The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy as edited by Hugo Vickers.

Pope-Hennessy was commissioned to write a biography of Queen Mary in 1959, a book which I have read and enjoyed; beautifully written and very discreet. In writing the book, he travelled around the UK and Europe meeting friends and family and taking copious notes, most of which are included in this book and contain his own observations as well as a number of topics which he either hinted at or left out altogether. The question he seems to have been asked more than once was whether the Duke of Clarence was suffering from syphilis at the time of his death.

Favourite anecdote, from a dancing class Princess May (as she then was) attended:

One of the most embarrassing exercises was to go around the room alone in turn, making a curtsey. Princess May said “Well goodness, that’s one thing I shall never have to do.” She was told to think again remarked Lady Reid.

OCTOBER

  • Books read = 7
  • Pages read = 2254
  • Goodreads challenge progress = 88% of my target

I made myself a nice long spooky reading list for October, not because I thought I would read them all but to give me some options. I like to have options.

I re-read A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny because that’s what I do in October. It is still awesome and will be back next year.

Book of the Month

The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay. Not so much frightening as it is sad and moving, I became totally absorbed in this novel after taking a while to get into it. Once I was settled with the characters I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Favourite quote:

A book is a coffin because it holds a body, sometimes more than one, and we readers are there to witness, mourn and celebrate.

Currently Reading

What have you guys been reading lately?

Almost halfway through June…

How did we get here so quickly?

This month has been relatively quiet, compared to last month at least. If you follow me on Instagram (link is at the top of my blog’s home page) you will have seen me posting lots of photographs of big cats, relatives up close and personal.

Not a real lion

That’s because at the end of May, partly celebrating our wedding anniversary, partly marking my significant birthday from back in January, we stayed at the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent for their overnight experience, which included the opportunity to hand feed big cats. Mr B has a slight hand tremor so didn’t feel able to take part in that activity, so lucky me got to feed a white tiger (twice), a black jaguar and a white lioness. It was awesome, being so close to large, powerful animals who were gently taking food from your hands. So magical.

The Big Cat Sanctuary is an excellent organisation involved in the conservation of big (and small) cats and contributing to international breeding programmes. They have a fabulous Instagram feed of their own; go and check them out.

After that we celebrated Mr B’s birthday which involved presents (books of course) and a very nice Indian meal at a local restaurant, complete with cocktails. I think he enjoyed himself 😀

I’m making great progress on Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer Challenge (see my reading list here); so far I’ve finished three books, reviewed two on the blog and have another review prepping for posting in a day or so.

I’m currently reading two more:

  • Business as Usual by Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford, published in the 1930s; and
  • The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum, all about forensic science during the Jazz Age in New York

A couple more after that and I will have met my target for June, which feels good.

In terms of what I’ve been watching, way back in January (possibly even December) one of the UK channels began showing Major Crimes each weekday starting from the very first episode. Mr B loves this show but I had never watched it, so we decided to build it in to our routine and soon enough I was hooked; only 10 years after everybody else. Last week we came to the very last episode and I am bereft. Currently looking for something else to fill the void.

Temperatures are starting to rise here in my corner of SW London so summer is on its way. I hope you are all well and staying safe!

Mid-month Musings

It seems only a few hours ago that I was thinking about writing a post about what’s coming up for me in November and suddenly here we are a fortnight later and I’m only sitting down to type now. Time flies when you’re having fun, apparently.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

My reading has been going well and several reviews will follow, but there were some thoughts that I wanted to include here.

I finished A Night in the Lonesome October on Halloween as is meant to be. I read a chapter a day which was great fun, apart from the constant temptation to keep going to the end. I love this story so much and can see it being an annual event from now on.

I also read a couple of non-fiction books, both in the true crime (?) or at least the more general justice system arena.

The first was Perversion of Justice by Julie K Brown, which captures the work she did for the Miami Herald in exposing Jeffrey Epstein’s horrendous deeds and especially the at best dubious and at worst downright corrupt deal that was struck with prosecutors in 2008. An excellent depiction of how an investigative journalist works, but the subject matter, though sensitively handled, requires a brain cleanse.

I looked at pictures of kittens for several days afterwards.

Janet Malcolm’s Iphigenia in Forest Hills is the story of a murder trial told in a very detached manner with not much interest in the crime itself or the guilt or innocence of the accused, but more on the judge wanting to get the case over quickly so he can go on holiday, and a dodgy advocate who seemed to think his role was not to advance the interests of the child he represented but to express his personal views. It’s an odd book and although it held my interest for its (short) length, I wasn’t sure what the point of it all was. I know she’s a controversial figure in the world of journalism and I’m not sure if I’ll pick up any of her other works.

In other news….

I’ve had my Covid booster jag (that’s Scottish for injection btw) as well as my annual flu vaccine so peace of mind has increased after a couple of occasions where I was discomfited by the number of people not wearing masks.

The rest of this month will be very quiet but I have quite a few things to post about so watch this space. Yes, I know I say that a lot but I mean it this time. I do. Really.

Stay safe!

What’s coming up in ….. October 2021

I seem to have created a busy month for myself in October but I can’t really complain as we have decided not to go on holiday as we normally would (we didn’t last year for obvious reasons) so it’s nice to have other things going on….

Image = wallpaper from VladStudio

Pre-orders – new books coming into the Bride’s TBR list

That’s quite a list; ordered over many months which is why it’s always a bit of a shock to see them all typed out like this 🙂

Events

Tomorrow I’m heading off to the Victoria & Albert Museum to see the Alice in Wonderland exhibition – I’ll talk about that in a future post, and later in the week I’m hoping to zoom into an online session, again hosted but he V&A, where Amy Fine Collins will be talking about the history of the International Best Dressed List. I may have bought the actual, physical book – a rarity for me these days.

Later in the month I’m heading off to an event at the Cartoon Museum celebrating the career of Sydney Jordan, creator of the sci-fi comic strip Jeff Hawke. The Book God is a member of the Jeff Hawke Society and we’ve met Sydney several times.

And I’ve also booked tickets for a few films at the London Film Festival, including new films by Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson. All very exciting.

If you are interested in my thoughts on any of the above then watch this space! And let me know what you guys have going on.