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 🙂

Sunday Salon | 20 September

It’s starting to feel a lot like autumn. Here in SW London it’s been sunny but the wind has a bit of an edge to it and I for one am very happy about it.

From my walk earlier today

Books finished this week:

Reviews to follow shortly.

I’m currently reading a second novel by Mons Kallentoft and that’s all for the moment, which is unusual for me as I almost always have more than one book on the go, and I’m sure that practice will start up again soon.

New books:

  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I tried to read Jonathan Strange twice, and gave the TV series a shot (gave up on that too), but Piranesi sounds fascinating and less hyped and hopefully that will help
  • The Trials of Koli by MR Carey – the second novel in the well regarded Rampart trilogy
  • Standalone by Paul Michael Anderson – They are killers. They are monsters. They are evil. They are right up my street.
  • The 2084 Report by James Powell – An oral history of the Great Warming – used my Audible credit to get this one. I love a fictional oral history.

Hope you all have a great reading week. Take care and stay safe.

Sunday Salon | 13 September

It has been a very quiet reading week. I’ve been spending my Me Time binge listening to True Crime Bullsh** – an excellent podcast focussing (at least in the first two seasons) on serial killer Israel Keyes.

I know. I have always been this way.

Photo by Frederick Tubiermont on Unsplash


I finished exactly one book this week, which I read cover to cover over a few days – and yes, it’s true crime, but let’s just move along.Murder City: The Untold Story of Canada’s Serial Killer Capital 1959-84 by Michael Arntfield. This covers the same ground as Forest City Killer which I covered in my recent true crime reading list post, though it predates it by a couple of years and is more of an academic work. Very interesting and deeply depressing.

I’m currently reading the third Robert Hunter thriller by Chris Carter, and I’m about a quarter of the way through. If you’ve been paying attention, you will know that I turn to true crime when I’m stuck with fiction, and that’s where I am at the moment. Hoping to move on this soon.

I failed at my no spend this week but I’ve kept it limited to a couple of new books:

  • The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward – Feminist gothic fiction set between the late 19th century and the early 20th century – an era of burgeoning spiritualism and the suffragette movement 
  • Indecent Advances by James Polchin – A skillful hybrid of true crime and social history that examines the relationship between the media and popular culture in the portrayal of crimes against gay men in the decades before Stonewall. 

It’s going to get very warm again in south west London this week so I may be hiding indoors with the aircon switched on – ideal conditions for reading.

Hope you all have a great week!

Sunday Salon | 6 September 2020

It’s the first Sunday Salon post of the autumn and a chance to round up what I’ve been up to since my end of summer post which was only a few days ago but, you know, I have Notes.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash

Books finished in September so far:

Only one, The Executioner by Chris Carter, the second in his somewhat addictive Robert Hunter series. I read the first one just at the end of August and have already started the third. What can I say, if you’ve been around here for any length of time you know about me and serial killers 🙂

Currently reading:

As mentioned above, I am currently reading The Night Stalker by Chris Carter, and about to start a book club reading of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson which is almost certainly going to send me down more than on rabbit-hole.

New Books:

As well as the two I’m currently reading or about to start, the following arrived chez Bride this week:

  • Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling – I enjoyed The Luminous Dead which I read while on holiday in Scotland last October, and this looks like its going to be equally interesting
  • Written in Bone by Sue Black – Drawing upon her years of research and a wealth of remarkable experience, the world-renowned forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black takes us on a journey of revelation. From skull to feet, via the face, spine, chest, arms, hands, pelvis and legs, she shows that each part of us has a tale to tell. I admire her deeply so was always going to get this.
  • Mr Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal – the first of her Maggie Hope novels, recommended by a commenter on a GFY post as aoething those who like Maisie Dobbs would enjyoy.

What else?

We’ve been watching quite a bit of TV (who hasn’t) and this week said good-bye to Penny Dreadful: City of Angels which was flawed but had enough good stuff that I would have liked to have seen how the story would have developed in a second series. Sadly its been cancelled.

Season 2 of The Boys has arrived and it’s as gloriously over the top as ever.

And of course the Tour de France is actually happening and I’ve been enjoying the daily highlights, even though most of my old favourites are not racing this year. Still exciting though.

Hope you all have a great reading week!

Sunday Salon | 5 July

[Take Two – I wrote this post earlier and somehow managed to completely lose it, so here we go again!]


This has been a really good reading week, I mean, really good. I managed to finish four, count them, FOUR novels; two were complete cover to cover reads, and the rest were left over from June (if not earlier).

I feel this is a great achievement for me after several lacklustre weeks.

So, I finished:

The I-5 Killer by Ann Rule – not one of her best books in my opinion; it could have been shorter and still got all of the information across, but I was in the mood for some true crime and this caught my eye first.

Reviews of the last three will follow soon which is why I haven’t said very much about them here.

Currently reading…….

I haven’t picked my next book yet, but it will definitely be from my 20 Books of Summer reading list (which you can find here if you’re interested)

New books this week:

The Son and Heir by Alexander Munninghoff – full disclosure, this was a free ebook as I’m an Amazon Prime customer. What can a son say upon discovering that his father wore a Nazi uniform? Reporter Alexander Münninghoff was only four when he found this mortifying relic from his father’s recent past in his attic. This shameful memento came to symbolize not only his father’s tragically misguided allegiance but also a shattered marriage and ultimately the unconscionable separation of a mother and son.

The Truants by Kate Weinberger – this has been likened to one of my all time favourites The Secret History, so it was inevitable that I would succumb sooner rather than later. Starting out under the flat grey skies of an east Anglian university campus and ending up on an idyllic Mediterranean island, The Truants is about a group of clever and eccentric misfits who yearn to break the rules.

Relic by Preston and Child – I saw the movie version of this donkey’s years ago and though it would be fun to try out the series of novels featuring Agent Prendergast. As I am that person, I will of course start at volume 1 🙂 – Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human… 

Let’s hope this coming week will be just as productive! Stay safe everyone!

Sunday Salon | 21 June

Happy Father’s Day to those celebrating with their Dads, or (like me) remembering Dads no longer with us.

It’s been a quiet week chez Bride, so let’s just get into the book stuff.


Currently reading – exactly the same books as last week, but I’ve made progress on most of them

Finished – nothing. So very dull.

New books this week:

  • The I-5 Killer by Ann Rule – another for my ever-growing collection of true crime books
  • Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine & Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J Mann – a fresh look at the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor in the 1920s
  • Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis – I’ve been reading about Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, and a reference to Elmer Gantry led to me looking into Lewis’s work and this caught my eye
  • The Deadly Touch of the Tigress (Anna Lee #1) by Ian Hamilton – learned about this series by Musings from the Sofa and thought it sounded great
  • Forgetting Zoe by Ray Robinson – mentioned by Girl with her Head in a Book, I think this will be an intriguing companion to My Dark Vanessa, which is on my TBR.

We have watched all four series of Cardinal, and was sad to see that there will be no more series; a real shame. But series 3 of The Sinner has just appeared on UK Netflix, and along with Russian Doll is keeping me occupied. Also excited to start watching the new Perry Mason series.

Hoping this week will be more productive. Stay safe everyone!

[Not the] Sunday Salon

When is a Sunday Salon post not a Sunday Salon post? When it’s on a Tuesday, that’s when.

You know I had to check what day it is, right?

So here we are already in another week and I thought I’d round up what’s been going on since I last wrote here, not in the whole world because, let’s face it, there isn’t enough space in my wee blog to even begin to tackle what’s going on everywhere else. I’m just going to tackle my little bit of it.

image via Canva

This is not a summery illustration but it has been very oppressive and we have had quite a few thunderstorms around here over the past few days so this feels about right!


I haven’t finished any books in the past week, but I am still reading (almost) every day.

I’m happily making progress on my reading challenges, and so far:

  • PBB Book Club – I’m 64% of the way through Middlegame
  • 20 Books of Summer – I’m 15% through Gideon the Ninth

They are both really excellent and I would recommend.

New books this week (excluding any pre-orders which I mentioned in my May 31st post) – all links are to Goodreads:

  • Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri – I meant to buy this when it first came out as I have always enjoyed watching Emma on Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, but somehow forgot. But I have it now.
  • Where Are the Women by Sara Sheridan – a guide to an imagined Scotland, where women are commemorated in public spaces. Couldn’t resist.
  • Judas the Hero by Martin Davey – a recommendation by the Book God, which doesn’t happen often and is to be respected when it does, this is all about Judas Iscariot “cursed with immortality by a vengeful and angry God, [he] finds himself in present day London and head of the secret occult crime division known as the Black Museum at Scotland Yard.”
  • The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem – we watched Motherless Brooklyn this weekend and when I realised that it was based on a novel I went looking for the author, and this caught my eye, especially as one of the main characters has his pet opossum in his desk drawer
  • Devolution by Max Brooks – I adored World War Z so wasn’t going to miss this, an oral history of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. Bigfoot is real, people!

Hopefully I’ll have some finished reads to report on next time. Take care and stay safe.

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.

Sunday Salon | 31 May

[Bloggers note: yes, it’s the 1 June but this was all ready to be loaded yesterday and I just …. forgot 😦 ]


The end of May already. This year has been so weird but one constant for me has of course been reading and buying books. Mostly buying if I’m being honest 😀

So here is my round-up of the month.

Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash

The Stats

  • Books read = 6;
  • Number of Pages = 1968;
  • Progress against Goodreads challenge = 52% (7 books ahead of schedule)

May Book Haul

Because I’ve been flaky when it comes to updating new books I was going to do a list here BUT when I looked at how many there were and considered that my last two posts were basically just lists of books I’ve decided not to do that again, or at least not so soon. But in case you are interested…

  • 4 x sci-fi/fantasy titles;
  • 7 x crime;
  • 1 x general fiction;
  • 2 x true crime; and
  • 6 x non-fiction

This list excludes pre-orders. That’s a lot. I’m going to try to do better next month by which I of course mean less. Having said that…

June Pre-Orders

Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. – JCO – “a gripping examination of contemporary America through the prism of a family tragedy: when a powerful parent dies, each of his adult children reacts in startling and unexpected ways, and his grieving widow in the most surprising way of all.” JCO is one of my favourite contemporary authors so, you know, had to be done.
A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by HG Parry – “A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, [it] is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom.
Riviera Gold by Laurie R King – the latest in the consistently excellent Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series
Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver – volume 3 in a series of which I haven’t read any so far, but the premise sounded great and I can always go back to the others later


In other stuff……

Currently watching Stumptown and Snowpiercer and despite the horrors of the world enjoying John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) whenever he appears – this week’s should be a must-watch.

20 Books of Summer – it’s that time again, and you will already have (hopefully) seen my reading list post

Celebrating our wedding anniversary during the quarantine involved my home-made lasagna, a couple of glasses of fizzy wine and two hours of Chinese sci-fi on Netflix because that is how we, as a couple, roll.

Moaning about the fact that hardly anyone except me seems to be wearing masks when outside.


Hope you have a great reading week, and stay safe!

Sunday Salon | 19 April

So here we are at the end of another week of isolation and I have been outside exactly once when I went for some exercise on one of our sunnier days, but please don’t ask me what day it was because I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head.

OK, I checked.

It was Tuesday.

Apart from that, and as Mr B has been managing the grocery shopping, I’ve been puttering around the house doing chores, working on some of my hobbies (sorting out all of my neglected family history research notes for example), and reading, but mostly buying, books.So it seems that it’s time for a round-up.

Books read – in April so far:

  • Pet Sounds by Quinn Cummings
  • The White Road by John Connolly
  • The Mists of the Miskatonic Volume 2 by AL Halsey
  • We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory
  • A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Reviews will be following in due course so I’ll say no more about them here, for now.

Pre-orders received since my last post

  • The Book of Koli – the first book in the Rampart Trilogy because its MR Carey and no other reasoning is required
  • Creeping Jenny by Jeff Noon because it sounded good
  • The Ratline by – because I’m currently interested in WW2

You can see the books I’m currently reading on the Goodreads shelf in my sidebar

Other Stuff

I am still very sad at the death last week of Tim Brooke-Taylor, one of the Goodies and a key figure in my teenage TV-watching years. I am also sad at the end of Criminal Minds, one of the very few series where I have never missed an episode. I liked the way it ended; its always pleasing when a series gets a proper and in this case positive ending.

We have also started watching DEVS which is extremely interesting, and Killing Eve is back and I had totally forgotten that they filmed some of it in New Malden, where I live. Super cool.

Hope you are all staying safe, sending virtual hugs to you all!