The Week In Books: November 23 – November 29

I think I’m pretty much back to normal now – although I still have a few books that I’m still reading, this is more because I had a two day course away from home this week and didn’t really get much reading done!

Read:

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries

Shocks for the Chalet School by Elinor M Brent-Dyer

Wickham Hall: Part Four – White Christmas by Cathy Bramley

The Life and Loves of a He-Devil by Graham Norton

Going, Going, Ganache by Jenn McKinlay

Started:

n/a

Still reading:

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Masquerade by Hannah Fielding

And I managed to restrain the book-buying tendencies after last week’s splurge, so that’s progress too.  Onwards and upwards!

Book of the Week: Not Quite Normal Service

Hello!  After last week’s fog of misery and gloom, you’ll be pleased to hear I’m in a slightly better place in my head.  I’m not quite back to normal yet, so this is still not your normal BotW post.  Instead, here’s a brief snapshot of what I read last week.

So, there was a double dose of Janet Evanovich – Steph Plum 18 and Full Tilt, one of her romantic suspenses with Charlotte Hughes.  The Plum was quite a good one – not my favourite, but not quite as strangely magic-inflected as 17 so I was happy.  I’m still not sure what I make of the Full series – they’re not as fun as the other Evanovich series, but I get the feeling that if I just happened across them and they were an author that wasn’t Janet Evanovich I’d feel more enthusiastic about them!

I also finished The Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard last week.  This had been popping up in my recommendations lists all over the place and I mostly liked it.  I thought it had a slump at about two thirds of the way through – where I started to lose faith in the outcome, but it recovered and I was enjoying it again at the end.  I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the follow-ups though.  But that might be because it is quite dark, and I was in a dark place last week so it may not have been ideal reading matter for me!

Then there was Death before Decaf by Caroline Fardig, which NetGalley pitched to me as “if you love Janet Evanovich, then you’ll like this” – and while it didn’t quite live up to that billing (heroine a little too stupid to live, love triangle feeling a bit forced) I can see where the comparison was coming from.  A perfectly fine way to spend a few hours though.

Cathy Bramley’s latest, Conditional Love, brightened my mood a lot in the middle of the week – it’s this month’s Novelicious Book Club book – you can read my thoughts here and we’re chatting on Twitter tonight at 8pm.

My last book of the week was a Flavia de Luce – and I’m still not sure what I think of this series – Flavia drives me bonker sometimes, and the plots are a bit bonkers, but this one was really good fun.

So there you are.  I can string my thoughts together enough to give you mini-reviews, but that’s about it.  I’m getting there though.  Next week, dear reader, next week!

The Week In Books: November 16 – November 22

It’s been a difficult week.  If you read my BotW post last Tuesday, you’ll know that my mind’s not quite in the right space for critical reading at the moment, so this week’s diet has been big on lighter, funner books and re-reading old favourites rather than some of the more unknown quantities on the to-read pile.

Read:

The Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

Conditional Love by Cathy Bramley

Death before Decag by Caroline Fardig

Full Tilt by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes

The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

 

Started:

Masquerade by Hannah Fielding

The Life and Loves of a He-Devil by Graham Norton

Still reading:

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries

My other response to the events of last weekend has been to buy books.  Lots of books. Four second-hand online (because you need to hit that £10 free delivery limit) and then a whole bunch from my favourite publisher of classic school stories (the fabulous Girls Gone By) and a whole load more from two of my favourite book dealers.  And I’m not even sorry about it.

Book of the Week: Special Edition

There is no Book of the Week this week. I’m sorry.  I spent the start of last week reading a string of books that I’m reviewing for Novelicious – and I don’t review/recommend those here before my reviews have gone up there, although I do put them in my list of books that I’ve read. It’s a courtesy thing.  I’d planned to use read some books from my to-read pile at the end of the week, from which I was hoping a BotW would emerge.  And then Friday happened.

As many of you will know, my “proper” job is as a journalist – and I was on shift on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the terrible news came out of Paris.  And after that, not only was I exhausted and sad, but my brain just couldn’t cope.  I didn’t feel like sitting down and reading new books and thinking critical and analytical thoughts about them.

I know there’s been a lot of talk about Paris getting more attention than other attacks, and I’d like to say that my feelings aren’t because it’s Paris where this has happened rather than somewhere outside Europe.  It’s because this has been a year where there have been more dreadful images and video than any other year that I’ve been working in news.  I’d list them all, but I’d be sure to leave something out and that would defeat the point of what I’m trying to say.

I’ve seen dead bodies around the world, people cut down by gunfire, bombs and natural disasters.  There’s been video of people killed on camera, of dead children, of wreckage smashed on mountainsides and deserts, of grieving families, of funerals. And all that’s without the videos from so-called Islamic State (or whatever you wish to call them) of the killings of hostages which, thankfully, I haven’t seen – because my employer put safeguards in place so that only a few people in the whole organisation had to watch them.  And of course I haven’t gone looking for them – once you’ve watched someone be killed – for real – on camera, you don’t want to ever see it again.

So  there you are.  I could have cheated, and recommended something that was the only new book that I’d read that wasn’t for Novelicious, or a book that I started on Sunday and finished this morning.  But both of those solutions felt disingenuous and wrong.

Books are my coping mechanism for life.  When I’m stressed, tired, fed-up or upset I turn to the worlds inside their pages for comfort.  And that’s what I’m still doing. I’m getting out my old favourites, worlds where bad things only happen to bad people, where everything turns out all right in the end.  So if there is a Book of the Week this week, make it one of your own old favourites.  One you turn to when you need solace.  Personally, I’m back in the world of boarding school stories and romance.  Normal service will be resumed soon. I hope.

Buffy: Does it ever get easy?

Giles: You mean life?

Buffy: Yeah, does it get easy?

Giles: What do you want me to say?

Buffy: Lie to me.

Giles: Yes. It’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true. The bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.

Buffy: Liar.

 

The Week In Books: November 9 – November 15

A really busy week at work – with lots of shifts and obviously lots of breaking news.  So I started the week well with some books I’m reviewing for Novelicious and then ground to a halt at the weekend.

Read:

Hush by Sara Marshall-Ball

Nightingales under the Mistletoe by Donna Douglas

An East End Christmas by Elizabeth Waite

A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger

Started:

The Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries

Still reading:

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

 

Book of the Week: Manners and Mutiny

Apologies for the late arrival of this week’s BotW post – I’d somehow convinced myself that I’d already written this piece because all I seem to have done this week is think about the end of the Finishing School series.  But no, clearly I dreamt it.  Anyhow, it’ll be no surprise to anyone who’s been following my social media in the last week that the BotW is Manners and Mutiny – the last book in the Gail Carriger’s Young Adult Finishing School series.

My Kindle tells you all you need to know about last week’s reading matter!

In book four, we find Sophronia back at school on board Madame Geraldine’s floating dirigible, but with a somewhat denuded gang.  No-one’s listening to her warnings about the Picklemen and she’s still not really sure where her future lies.  When danger threatens the ship and life as she knows it, she has to put all her training to the test as we what happened to make Sophronia’s world of mechanicals turn into the society we know from the Parasol Protectorate.

And that’s about all that I can say, without giving away big old spoilers. And even that last sentence is a bit of a spoiler, but I think Carriger readers have all been waiting since Etiquette and Espionage to see what on earth happened to turn one world into the other!  Or if you’re like me and E&E was your first Gail Carriger book and the gateway to the rest, to explain the moment at the start of Soulless where you were all “Huh?  Where did the mechanical servants go?”

So, it’s no secret that I’m a big Carriger convert, having basically read everything she’s written over the past year (see 2014 Discoveries post, my BotW posts on Timeless and Prudence and E&E’s mention in my YA Roundup) – and I was worried that this wouldn’t live up to the hype that I had set up in my head.  So many questions needed answering and it seemed like a bit of a mammoth task for one book to deal with.  I went so far as to re-read all three of the previous books at the start of last week so that I had everything fresh in my mind for the last book – and I can’t say that I spotted anything that wasn’t addressed or tied up (with a bow).  And it’s still a good read.  It doesn’t feel like a tying up the loose ends book.  It feels like Ms Carriger had a plan at the start of the series, and has executed it masterfully – leaving a trail of breadcrumbs through the books for us to follow so that in this last one it all slots together and clicks into place. And as you do this, you smack your head and wonder how you missed the clues.  So clever.

But I have to say that this is not the place to start your Carriger experience.  Do yourself a favour and start with the first book in the series.  Or if you’re not technically a Young Adult, start with Soulless and read them first and then come to Finishing School and see how clever it all is.  I’m so sad Finishing School is over, but it was a deeply satisfying series and never felt like it was going on too long.  If I hadn’t just finished listening to Soulless on audiobook, I’d be going straight on to read that again. As it is I’m halfway through the recording of Changeless, so I’m still in Carriger-land.  And I can’t wait for Imprudence.

Get your copy of Manners and Mutiny (if you’ve already read the others) in paperback or on Kindle.  Or start with Etiquette and Espionage – paperback or Kindle.  The complete-ist in me really wants to buy myself the paperback copies of all of them so that I can put them on the shelf next to the others, but as I’ve already bought two Carriger audio-books and the e-books of Soulless and Changeless this week (so I can read whenever I want…) I’m valiantly resisting for now.  Lets see how long that resolution lasts…

The Week In Books: November 2 – November 8

Not a lot of new books read this week – because I re-read the first three books in the Finishing School series before I read Manners and Mutiny (which came out on Tuesday)

Read:

Saints and Sailors by Pam Rhodes

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Death by the Dozen by Jenn McKinlay

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Sabrina by Candice Ransom

Started:

Hush by Sara Marshall-Ball

Still reading:

Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

We stopped at an amazing second-hand book shop on our way home from a day out on Saturday – and despite only having 15 minutes in there before closing, I managed to find 4 books – although one of them was a physical copy of the first Daisy Dalrymple book, which I already have in ebook but wanted a real version of, so it sort of doesn’t count – right?!