Looking back at June 2021

A quick round-up of bookish things from the last month. There was so. much. RAIN!

The stats:

  • Books read – 5
  • Pages read – 1382
  • Goodreads update – 37 books completed, 62% of my target

Challenges:

  • 20 Books of Summer – I have only read five books from the 20 I’m aiming for, with three currently underway.
  • David Copperfield – I’ve decided not to do this now; I think it’s more of a winter project for me.

And now to July’s pre-orders

  • What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo – being described as Miss Peregrine meets the Addams Family; works for me.
  • Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North – “Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age – a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded, so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated.” I love Claire and I’m really looking forward to this.
  • A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers – the beginning of a new series called Monk and Robot; much anticipated.
  • The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix – sounds most excellent and I’ll try very very hard not to compare if to We Are All Completely Fine 🙂
  • Mimic by Daniel Cole – more serial killers; this one recreating works of art with dead bodies because of course they are
  • The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig – Rural Pennsylvania, long-buried secrets, a child in danger – share your secrets with your family before you move into the creepy house, people!
  • The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox – a supernatural police force, a spirit guide and a detective called Lazarus; should be fun
  • Bryant & May – London Bridge is Falling Down by Christopher Fowler – the next entry in the long-running and thoroughly enjoyable B&M series.
  • Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams – I have a lot of admiration for Jen and am really looking forward to her first foray into crime/thriller territory
  • The Letters of Shirley Jackson, because I love reading other people’s letters……

I’m currently reading four books and hoping to have a prolific month, but we’ll have to wait and see. Hope you all have a great July and stay well 🙂

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!

Looking back on my week, ending 25 April

Part of me is thinking “How is it nearly May?”, but the other part of me, the one who was out in our tiny back garden today (Sunday) planting in the warm sunshine, was convinced that we are well into late spring!

This is a good thing.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

And, despite being a little unwell and the (luckily) unsuccessful attempt to cut off my thumb with a craft knife – don’t ask me to explain the REALLY stupid thing I did that resulted in said injury – it has been a really good reading week. I’ve been on a bit of a roll, but of course now that I’ve said that I’ll hit a slump, but I don’t care.

Anyway, I read three books this week and I fully intend to review them over the next wee while. My track record on that has been appalling, so just in case…..

  • The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie – cult survivors going back to Red Peak work out what actually happened on that fateful last night
  • An Evil Mind by Chris Carter (Robert Hunter #6) – the best of the Hunter novels so far IMHO, bit Silence of the Lambs, bit Israel Keyes, all good
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots – what happens to the people who are collateral damage when the supes fight the villains?

Of these I would say that the greatest is Hench which I read in a single sitting on Friday, only stopping for comfort breaks and lunch.

This week’s impulse purchases were:

  • The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray – because the end of the world is always fascinating even in a pandemic
  • I Am Death (Robert Hunter 7) by Chris Carter – because this is one of my favourite series and I’m going to read them all
  • Shimmerdark by Sarah Mensinga – because I loved Sarah’s previous fantasy novel and the premise of this one sounds so good
  • Silenced by Solveig Palsdottir – because I have purchased (but not read) the first in this new series and the recommendations are many and uniformly favourable
  • Agatha Christie’s Marple by Anne Hart – because it sounds fun and I can’t resist anything that’s Agatha adjacent
  • Civilisations by Laurence Binet – because it sounds so cool

Currently reading The Deadly Touch of the Tigress by Ian Hamilton, the first in his Ava Lee series. I wish I could remember who recommended this (I think it might have been Musings from the Sofa) but whoever they were I’m enjoying it so far.

Other stuff

For the second year in a row I am not pulling an all-nighter to watch the Oscars. I just haven’t been paying attention to the eligible movies and performances so would have been solely focusing on outfits and the red carpet will be a bit weird this year.

Sadly we have come to the end of the very last episode of Elementary. We’ve been watching these steadily over the past few months having come to it late due to misplaced snobbery. It’s now my favourite incarnation of the Great Detective (other than Basil Rathbone of course) and I may at some point go back to the beginning and start again just because I can. We shall see. Now looking for something else to fill the gap – may go back to The Blacklist as I’ve only watched the first two seasons.

Spent Sunday night focussed on the penultimate episode of Line of Duty S6 – as Ted Hastings would say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey”; if you know, you know 😀

Anyway, enough rambling from me. 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 – well two weeks actually

Plus a better late than never January 2021 round-up!

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

So (at the risk of offending those people who don’t like those of us unable to start a sentence without using SO) it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post which wasn’t an intentional gap but I think we can all allow ourselves some grace during the Great Quar (as coined by the Bananas podcast). When I last left you I had had a pretty bad week, but things have really improved since then.

Thank goodness.

So let’s start with a look back at January

  • Books read = 5
  • Pages read = 1636
  • Goodreads challenge (2021 = 60 books) = on target!

It was my birthday at the end of January – which helped with the improvement in mood – which means that I have more new books than it’s sensible to mention here. I’m probably going to do a separate book haul post. That seems like a good idea, doesn’t it? But it’s worth mentioning here the pre-orders heading my way in February.

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford (already delivered) – November 1944. A German rocket strikes London, and five young lives are atomised in an instant. November 1944. That rocket never lands. A single second in time is altered, and five young lives go on – to experience all the unimaginable changes of the twentieth century. Because maybe there are always other futures. Other chances.

The Library of the Dead by TL Huchu (already delivered) – Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

The Disappearing Act by Florence de Changy (not only already delivered but currently reading) – subtitled The Impossible Case of MH370 – writing for Le Monde in the days and months after the plane’s disappearance, journalist Florence de Changy closely documented the chaotic international investigation that followed, uncovering more questions than answers. Riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and a lack of basic communication between authorities, the mystery surrounding flight MH370 only deepened.Now, de Changy offers her own explanation. 

Princess Mary: The First Modern Princess by Elisabeth Basford (already delivered) – Princess Mary was born in 1897. Despite her Victorian beginnings, she strove to make a princess’s life meaningful, using her position to help those less fortunate and defying gender conventions in the process. As the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, she would live to see not only two of her brothers ascend the throne but also her niece Queen Elizabeth II. Another entry in my collection of biographies of very posh women.

The (Other) You by Joyce Carol Oates – In this stirring, reflective collection of short stories, Joyce Carol Oates ponders alternate destinies: the other lives we might have led if we’d made different choices. 

The Requisite Courage by Tracy Cooper-Posey (Adelaide Becket Book 1) – In Edwardian England, Lady Adelaide Azalea Margaret de Morville, Mrs. Hugh Becket, lately of the Cape Colony, was born the daughter of an Earl, but is now the widow of a commoner.  She straddles two worlds, speaks fluent German, and can ride, hunt and shoot. Her talents draws the eye of spymaster William Melville, who recruits her to help him fight a shadow game with German agents both at home and aboard.

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers Book 4) – when a freak technological failure halts traffic to and from the planet Gora, three strangers are thrown together unexpectedly, with seemingly nothing to do but wait.

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War – A Tragedy in Three Acts by Scott Anderson – At the end of World War II, the United States dominated the world militarily, economically, and in moral standing – seen as the victor over tyranny and a champion of freedom. But it was clear – to some – that the Soviet Union was already executing a plan to expand and foment revolution around the world. The American government’s strategy in response relied on the secret efforts of a newly-formed CIA. The Quiet Americans chronicles the exploits of four spies.

The Edge by James Smythe (The Explorer Book 3) – Years ago, a vast and mysterious object known as the Anomaly was discovered in deep space. All missions to explore and explain it failed.Now, the Anomaly has almost reached Earth, threatening to swallow the planet whole. On an orbital research station, a team of scientists desperately search for a way to stop it or destroy it.

On This Day She: Putting Women Back Into History, One Day At A Time by Tania Hershman et al – On This Day She sets out to redress this imbalance and give voice to both those already deemed female icons, alongside others whom the history books have failed to include: the good, the bad and everything in between – this is a record of human existence at its most authentic.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton – The girls of elite English boarding school, St. John the Divine, were notorious for flipping their hair, harassing teachers, chasing boys and chain-smoking cigarettes. They were fiercely loyal, sharp-tongued, and cutting in the way that only teenage girls can be. But for Josephine, now in her thirties, her time at St. John feels like a lifetime ago. She hasn’t spoken to another Divine in fifteen years, not since the day the school shut its doors in disgrace . . .


I’m hoping to get back to properly posting on books read soon, but there are a couple that I’ve finished recently but won’t review fully:

Death in the City of Lights by David King explores the case of Marcel Petiot, a doctor in Paris during WWII who was exposed as a serial killer responsible for the murders of at least 27 people, most of whom were Jews who had come to him for assistance in escaping the Nazis. Deeply appalling. The description of his trial is quite astonishing – his arrogance and claims that he was a member of the Resistance killing people who were collaborating with the Germans were just so awful, but the investigation itself was messy, not least because the Parisian police had to contend with potential interference by the Gestapo.

Shards by Ian Rogers – a very effective horror story with a Cabin in the Woods vibe. I probably shouldn’t have read it at bedtime as it lingered with me. Loved it. Creepily nasty.


The first week of February has brought me fascinating non-fiction and a really excellent crime novel which already feels like it’s going to be a favourite read of 2021. Also my dishwasher died so purchasing a replacement was my focus for the week, but, you know, I used to buy things for a living so that was OK.

And it’s sort of snowing at the moment, so that’s cool. Literally and figuratively.

Hope you all have a great week. See you next time 🙂

Looking back at my week | 17 January edition

So this week we finally took down our Christmas tree. We normally do this around Twelfth Night (as is both traditional and difficult to spell) but self-care demanded that twinkling lights were required for a bit longer. Sad to see it go, but it did dominate the room and it is nice to be able to fully see out of our living room window again, even if it was only to look at rain bucketing down. But I’m from the west of Scotland and rain is a way of life.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I did a lot of reading this week but only finished one book – Savage Spring by Mons Kallentoft; I’ve immediately started the next book in the series as Scandi noir is my thing at the moment, though after this one I might take a break and head off into other realms. In terms of what else I’m currently reading, no change from my last post. You can always see my Goodreads currently list in the side bar —>

New Books

The Poet by Michael Connelly – Mr B and I have been slowly working our way through the various Bosch series on Amazon Prime and on his recommendation I decided to expand into the wider Bosch universe; we recently watched The Lincoln Lawyer and I bought this book which is number 1 in the Jack McEvoy series.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire – the sixth in the Wayward Children series; I am nothing ig not a completist.

Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar – my inner X-Files fan picked up this, apparently the untold story of the Dyatlov Pass incident, which is the kind of thing you will have heard of if this is the kind of thing you find fascinating.

Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan – “The devil’s daughter rows to Edinburgh in a coffin, to work as maid for the Minister of Culture, a man who lives a dual life. But the real reason she’s there is to bear him and his barren wife a child, the consequences of which curse the tenement building that is their home for a hundred years.” A new author to me and I’m intrigued by her previous novels.

The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch – The Silence of the Lambs meets Interstellar say the blurb so how could I resist?

And then there was WandaVision – so weird but such fun and a good replacement for our previous ideal Friday night’s watching (The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Discovery – welcome to nerd-central)

Coming this week – several pre-orders, my blog’s anniversary and a trip to the dentist, a bit stressful during Current Times. Hope you guys have a great week and stay safe!

January 2021 so far

Here we are almost at the end of the first full week of January and given the events of the past week I’m not hopeful that this year will be much better than the one we’ve just endured, but I can be a bit of an Eeyore so let’s hope I’m wrong.

I often am 😀

This is the first post I’ve uploaded since early October. I just wasn’t in a blogging frame of mind for the last few months and I decided that I really wanted to start with a fresh slate, so I won’t be looking back at books read and movies watched in the last quarter if I haven’t already reviewed them.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

A wee look back

Having said that, I thought I would share the results of my Goodreads challenge for 2020 – I had a target of 60 books and managed to reach 66, representing 21,320 pages. I’m really pleased by the result given that I had a couple of slumps; just goes to show what being stuck at home can lead to.

Where I am now

Currently reading:

  • Savage Spring by Mons Kallentoft – this is the fourth in the Malin Fors series; I read and thoroughly enjoyed but did not review the first three novels. Scandinavian noir still looms large in my TBR;
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James – no new ghost story for Christmas on the BBC (sadly) but Mr B and I dipped into our DVD collection to watch some of the old adaptations, which led me to start a major re-read and I’m very glad that I did;
  • Death in the City of Light by David King – the story of the serial killer Marcel Petiot who was active in Paris during WWII and how he was caught. The guillotine might be involved….

Bought since the beginning of the year:

  • Marion Lane & the Midnight Murder by TA Willberg – “plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.” [Pre-order]
  • Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard – “When a mysterious corpse is found in the quarters of Vân’s student, Vân and Sunless Woods find themselves following a trail of greed and murder that will lead them from teahouses and ascetic havens to the wreck of a mindship
  • The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margot Bennett – “Four men had arranged to fly to Dublin. When their aeroplane descended as a fireball into the Irish Sea, only three of them were on board. [..] Who was the man who didn’t fly?
  • Wintering by Katherine May – “a poignant and comforting meditation on the fallow periods of life, times when we must retreat to care for and repair ourselves.”
  • Cardiff by the Sea by Joyce Carol Oates – “a bold, haunting collection of four previously unpublished novellas.”

Hopefully I’ll be posting back here soon on my first completed book of the year. Hope you have a great week, stay safe!

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.