Top Ten Tuesday: My Autumn TBR

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Books On My Autumn TBR List

For me, Autumn means we can look forward to cooler days, golden leaves, darker nights and taking part in the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI reading event. So my reading is bound to dominated by mysteries, thrillers and other books on the darker and creepier side. Here are the 10 books I would like to get to this Autumn (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Acqua Morta by Adam Bane

A crime, thriller that has been hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! It sounds like it could be great for this time of year.

~ 2 ~

Blood on the Bayou D J Donaldson

A supernatural, crime novel which has also sat hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! Again, it sounds like it could be great for this time of year.

~ 3 ~

Civil Blood by Mark Gelineau & Joe King

I loved Best Left in the Shadows and I am looking forward to continuing this crime noir thread to the Echo of the Ascended series.

~ 4 ~

The Curse Keepers by Denise Grover Swank

The first book in a supernatural series which sadly has also sat hidden away in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! Again, it sounds like it could be great for this time of year and if I enjoy it, I have the whole series ready to read.

~ 5 ~

Drood by Dan Simmons

This historical mystery has been on my RIP and Autumn to-be-read lists more than once, but I haven’t got round to it – I think the size of it puts me off! Hopefully, this is the year!

~ 6 ~

Innocence by Dean Koontz

A mysterious horror/thriller that my father loved and passed on to me. If I end up reading this it will be my first novel by Koontz; who I have heard so much about.

~ 7 ~

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

I have a couple of du Maurier’s novels on my to-be-read pile but after hearing so much positivity about it this one – it feels like it is the one I should read next.

~ 8 ~

The Quarry by Iain Banks

A contemporary mystery that is another book my father loved and passed on to me. If I end up reading this it will be my first novel by Banks; who I have also heard so much about.

~ 9 ~

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

The first book in Aaronovitch’s supernatural, crimes series set in London which I am really looking forward to reading.

~ 10 ~

The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sadly, the last classic Sherlock Holmes mystery I have left to read!

Have you read any of these? What are you hoping to read this Autumn? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.

New Books: September 2016

new-books-aug-2016

Hello my fellow bookworms, I had such a splurge of new books in August that some books have had to be carried over into this month’s post. Here are those other goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Dreaming Spires by Laurie R. King

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

At the end of August, I had another chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. In the St. Giles Hospice bookshop I snapped up four books. First, two more of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries which I have been keeping my eyes peeled for, after enjoying The Beekeeper’s Apprentice earlier this year. Secondly, I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this time I found two books; both of which are new-for-me.

The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans

Then at the end of the long Summer break from work, I went to visit my mother who asked if I fancied reading this. I have never read anything by Evans before but the synopsis mentions a big, country house with a mystery; how could I not give it a try?!

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Read: The Secret Poisoner

The Secret Poisoner

After loving the non-fiction A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley, which looked into the British obsession with murder mysteries, I was interested to read more from this area. So when I spotted non-fiction The Secret Poisoner: A Century of Murder by Linda Stratmann I thought it could be what I was looking for.

I found The Secret Poisoner a great read to lead on from A Very British Murder , as Linda Stratmann went deeper into the Victorians’ fascination with gruesome murders and the subsequent trials and executions. Highlighting in particular the enthralling fear the public had about murder by poison; which was viewed as a secretive, cold and calculating way to kill. I was really impressed with the wide range of poisoning cases Stratmann evidenced from England, Scotland, across Europe and the USA. As well as looking at the victims and suspected poisoners, Stratmann also discusses in-depth the investigations, evidence, poisons, the scientific developments in detecting poisons and the legislation changes that they affected.

I was particularly interested in the reasons for the poisonings. There certainly were many poisoners who used it in a cold and calculating way to remove unwanted spouses, lovers, children or siblings; or to claim life insurance or inheritance, but it wasn’t always that clear cut. Stratmann also discussed the situations of abuse and poverty that could also lead to desperate acts. Such as the removal of the rights of unmarried mothers to claim maintenance from the absent fathers, which sadly led to an increase in laudanum poisonings of babies. On the other hand the most chilling cases were when it was the person the victim looked to care for them that was actually poisoning them; as in the case of the infamous Dr Palmer.

I took my time over reading The Secret Poisoner, dipping in and out over several months – I even put it down for another book at one point but then I was in just the right mood and just flew through the second half of the book! Overall, Stratmann has delivered a comprehensive, in-depth and detailed history of the famous poison cases and the repercussions of them during the Victorian period. While sometimes the detail of the scientific investigations and the intricacies of the law system went over my head somewhat – I thought Stratmann managed to keep what could have been a dry topic interesting and balanced out the academic detail with the human story of the cases.

I found The Secret Poisoner to be an interesting and comprehensive study of the murders, poisons and poisoners that shook the Victorian world. I would definitely be interested in reading more by Linda Stratmann. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Any recommendations on what I should read next?

New Books: August 2016

New Books - Aug #3

Hello my fellow bookworms, after being so good in July I am now bringing you my second new books post in August, oops! Here are more goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

On a recent trip to my hair dressers I had the chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. First, in the St. Giles hospice books shop I was pleased to find these two books. I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this is a new-to-me story. And, after enjoying Ibbotson’s lovely young adults novel I have been keeping my eyes peeled for her children’s novels to try.

New Books - Aug #4

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

The Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Next, on the same trip I went in the Oxfam bookshop and found another two books. First, I found a nice compilation of Sherlock Holmes stories – I have previously read and loved these but that was on my Kindle; I am now pleased to have a physical copy for my bookshelf. Then, I was thrilled to find Moon Over Soho the second book in Ben Aaronovitch’s fantasy, crime series, because I already have book one and five on my TBR pile.

New Books - Aug #5

Surprised by Hope by Hope by Tom Wright

Finally, in the post arrived a second-hand copy of this Christian non-fiction which is the October required book for my church’s new book club. I am currently reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson for our first meeting in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Read: Best Left in the Shadows

Best Left in the Shadows

After having read A Reaper of Stone and Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King, which I really enjoyed, I decided I had to read more! So I returned to the kingdom of Aedaron with Best Left in the Shadows, that is the 1st novella in the crime noir thread to this epic series.

Magistrate Inspector Daxton Ellis is brought down into Lowside, the poor and dangerous underworld of the city, looking for answers. A girl has been beaten and murdered, this wouldn’t normally raise much attention in Lowside – it is a regular occurrence in fact – but this is no ordinary girl. She is a true blood girl from Highside, a daughter of wealthy and powerful parents and a direct descendant of the First Ascended. Magistrate Dax is charged with bringing those responsible to justice quietly and discreetly. To do this he is forced to call upon the streetwise Lowsider and former flame Alys for help.

I loved the love/hate, tension filled but also playful chemistry between Dax and Alys; it helped to lighten this dark, crime tale for me. Dax and Alys originally met and dated during their time training in the academy, when they were young, naïve and idealistic. All grown up, they’ve come to believe that a true blood guy and a Lowside gal can never be. Although secretly I think Dax is still pretty idealistic but he is also acutely aware of his station and responsibilities. Alys on the other hand is a free, kick-ass spirit who has learnt how to play and survive in this dangerous world – a world that Dax can’t break into without her help.

This is the 3rd novella I have read by the new dynamic duo, Mark Gelineau and Joe King, and it is perhaps my favourite so far too. I love how Gelineau and King say they came together to write the Echo of the Ascended series in homage to all the classic, epic fantasy tales and great heroes of their childhood. In this crime noir thread to this epic series, it was exciting to see a different, darker and seedier side to the kingdom of Aedaron; set in the Lowside of the city rather than, in the previous books, out in the large, isolated march lands. I really am impressed by the character description and fantastic world building Gelineau and King have managed to achieve in these novellas.

Best Left in the Shadows was an intriguing fantasy/crime noir adventure which I just sped through! I can’t wait to continue reading this series with Civil Blood. Great read.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any of the other Echo of the Ascended novellas?

Once Upon a Time X – #4

Re-Read: Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

The Quiche of Death

At the end of February I indulged in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M C Beaton. It has been many years, since I read a few of these books then recently I picked up books 1-9. So now I look forward to getting properly stuck into this cosy, crime series.

Smart dressing, high-flying PR guru Agatha Raisin decides to take early retirement and quit London to live her lifelong dream to live in a picture perfect Cotswold village. Feeling lonely, Agatha decides to catch the attention of her new neighbours by winning the quiche making competition and to make sure she wins she enters a quiche bought from a famous London deli! The revelation that she cheated is be the least of Agatha’s problems when the competition’s judge is found poisoned…and she is now the prime suspect! This forces Agatha to turn amateur sleuth to track down the real poisoner to clear her name.

Agatha isn’t an instantly likeable character, although she is very amusing! In her role as the boss of a highly successfully PR company Agatha has become sharp, bossy, cajoling and completely work focused; leaving little to no time for relaxing and socialising. Once in the quiet, picturesque village of Carsely Agatha has no idea what to do with herself! Hence why she launches herself into winning the quiche competition and subsequently trying to discover the murderer. Through this we start to see Agatha’s more likeable side which is also brought out even more by her unlikely, new friendships with the vicar’s wife Mrs Bloxby and Detective Constable Wong.

In this re-read, it was a pleasure to return to the charming village of Carsely and it’s eclectic mix of inhabitants, and to reunite with amateur sleuth, Agatha for her first investigation. Crime is one of my favourite genres however I don’t always want all that gore and gritty realism. It is times like this when a cosy crime like this (and other novels by M C Beaton) are perfect; curl up in a blanket, with a cup of tea and enjoy. Simple, fun escapist reading.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death was a quick, fun and comforting re-read. I look forward to re-reading Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet next. Good read.

Have you read this? Do you enjoy cosy crime?

New Read: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King, the first Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, has been on my to-be-read pile for far too long! I picked it up a few years ago after starting to read/love Doyle’s classic Holmes stories. Finally taking part in the What’s in a Name event 2016 has encouraged me to read it.

One cool, sunny day in 1915 Mary Russell is taking a walk over the Sussex Downs with her nose firmly planted in a book – where she almost tramples an eccentric gentlemen who is out on the Downs counting bees. This eccentric gentlemen is none other than Sherlock Holmes, the renowned private detective, who in his retirement has moved to the country and taken up bee keeping. They immediately strike up an unlikely friendship. Under Holmes’ tutelage Mary begins to grows in knowledge, strength and confidence until she is able to solve some dastardly crimes herself.

When we first meet Mary Russell that sunny day in 1915 she is only 15 years old. Tragically her parents and brother were killed in a car crash leaving her a wealthy orphan. As she is not of age though she must suffer her unpleasant aunt living with her as her guardian. Her friendship with Holmes gives her an escape from her loneliness and boredom. While the age gap is a little creepy when you think about it I didn’t mind because their personalities suited each other so well. I enjoyed watching Mary grow physically and as a character – until she is 19 years old, studying at Oxford University and ready to start helping Holmes fight crime; because Holmes wouldn’t know how to completely retire even if he wanted too.

One of the first crimes Mary and Holmes tackle is the kidnapping of an American Senator’s young daughter while holidaying in Wales. This crime had everything I could have hoped for: an isolated setting, secrets, danger and Mary and Holmes go incognito as Romany travellers; brilliant! Mary and Holmes learn a lot from this first crime together which will stand them in better stead for when they face real danger to themselves and their friends later in the novel. The first half of this book was slower but once we hit the real danger and mystery I had trouble putting this down!

Since I bought this book I have really fallen in love with Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes novels and short-stories. While I don’t feel Holmes was the main protagonist of this book, I do think Laurie R King has drawn him well – he is older, in a new situation and solving new crimes but I always felt what King had him do and say was believable. I think I will always prefer Doyle’s classic stories however I did thoroughly enjoy getting to join Holmes in more adventures through King in this book. I would definitely be interested in reading more from this series and King.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was a comforting, nostalgic and thrilling adventure for me, which helped me to escape the dreary weather of January. Good read.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other spin-off Sherlock Holmes books?

What’s in a Name 2016 – A Profession (1/6)