Cozy Mysteries are a genre that I am convinced I will love but honestly haven’t read a lot of beyond Charlaine Harris. I’ve somehow managed to collect quite a pile of them but the one that I wanted to start with, so much that I put is on my list of 27 books to read this year, was The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns. It was a good decision!
The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot…
The thing that made The Plot is Murder stand out to me was that there’s a book being written in the book. Its two mysteries for the price of one. I’ve never experienced this before, it’s been one of those things that just hasn’t crossed my orbit. But, our main character Samantha is writing a historical romance mystery while dealing with the body in her back garden and I found it fascinating. I found myself waiting for the next chapter of Samantha’s book while also wanting to know the whodunit in Samanthas life. Burns balances both really well and, at least in my opinion, manages to make the historical mystery feel like it was written by Samantha rather than by her.
And I really liked Samantha as a writer! She takes parts of her life and puts them in her fiction, big things and little things, like a character who knits a lot while she thinks much like her grandma’s friend. And at one point another character starts reading her book and she gets nervous and doesn’t want to know what they think, but does. I think a lot of readers who also write will see themselves in her.
Now, this book is only 250 pages and contains two mysteries. You don’t get a lot of time with our historical characters but I’m plot-driven as a reader generally and I liked that the time spent with Samantha was more based on her, her life and her murder, and the time spend in 1938 England was mostly about who killed a guy at a party with a dash of romance. In the next book, Samantha is writing a sequel with the same characters, as well as dealing with another murder, so there’s plenty of time to get to know the residents of Wickfield Lodge if you wanted.
Then there’s the old ladies in Samanthas life. I’m a sucker for a book that doesn’t act like life ends at 30 and everyone older than that is relegated to the role of mother or old man with wisdom to impart. Samantha’s Nana and her friends from the retirement home are a blast, think Golden Girls but if they were gossiping about who would kill a man.
The only thing that made me pause was the brief mention of suicide and some negative opinions about it. But apart from that The Plot is Murder sticks to cozy mystery conventions with no graphic images of violence or sex.
Am I going to keep reading this series? Probably! These books are hard to find in the UK and it’s my first real foray into cosy mysteries of this type so I’m going to prod around a little more and see what I can find, but I’m keeping an eye out for Samantha and V.M. Burns. You can find The Plot is Murder on Hive and Amazon*.
Strange how acute your hearing became when you were waiting to be murdered.
So, I took a slightly long hiatus as I finished up my last term of my degree. And now I’m finished and free! It’s very strange to think that such a big part of my life is over. But my trusty blog was still here waiting and I thought I would go over the books I read during my break and give some thoughts on the ones that I haven’t completely forgotten…
Preferring the adaptation might be the theme of these next two reads too. I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and I’ve never been a huge Dickens fan. I studied him and Bleak House for university and he simply isn’t my cup of tea but A Christmas Carol is a seasonal classic and I’m glad I read it, even though I’ll be sticking to the Muppets version in the future. Similarly, I loved the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jacksonand totally expected it to be a new favourite but in the end, it didn’t work for me.
As part of Rosina’s Women of the Otherworldalong, I’ve been reading my way through the series. Unfortunately, I’m a little behind (five books behind, yikes) so I’ve only read Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong so far! I’m adoring the series, I’ve just been in a real funk with the fifth book in the series. I’m feeling in an urban fantasy mood lately though so I’ll hopefully catch up soon!
After reading The Murder at the Vicarage, I think I have to face that I’m just not an Agatha Christie girl? I liked And Then There were None back when I listened to the audiobook, but I hated The Man in the Brown Suit. And Miss Marple- just not for me. I’m giving up. Sorry Agatha! Similarly, I loved The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey when I read it but didn’t think much of Brat Farrar, I’ll give her another go though.
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins* was kindly sent to me and I think I can firmly say that historical newspaper-writer murder-mystery romances are just too many aspects in a book for me to enjoy it. I’m passing this on to a friend who will hopefully manage to keep all the different sides to this story clearer in their mind than I could!
Starting with the big chunk of the 27… I’m going to be reading the 2nd to the 13th book of the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong as part of the Otherworldalong I’m doing with Rosina from Lace and Dagger Books! Most of the group have read the books before but I’m going in fresh so that’s been really fun. If you want to join, we have a Discord that is separated into the different books of the series so you can avoid spoilers!
This series are all set in the same world with a few books for each different woman. There’s werewolves, witches, ghosts, vampires… all vaguely connected, I think! It’s the first time I’ve picked up an urban fantasy series and been immediately in love since my adored Sookie Stackhouse. So I’m really looking forward to continuing the series, one book a month, for the entire year.
I started a lot of series in 2020, so I want to reign it back slightly? These are the firsts that I’m most excited for. Enough that I will willingly stress myself out about being in the middle of a hundred and one series, just to start them.
The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns is one of many cosy mystery first-in-a-series books that I have. I seem to be collecting them- but this is the highest rated and I need to start somewhere!
And The Drowned City by K.J. Maitland* was sent to me by the same person in publicity who originally sent me the first Six Tudor Queens book so I have high hopes! Set at the beginning of the Stuart period (the monarchy after the Tudors), its focus is the aftermath of the Gunpowder plot!
And then there are some classics that I’m almost certain that I’m going to love. I studied both The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot and The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford for my degree so I want to read some of their other works too. Middlemarch by George Eliot and Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford are said to be both authors best, so onto the list they go.
I didn’t study The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, I read it while procrastinating on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, which I actually was studying, but it was incredible. If I’m going to keep defending Anne as the best Brontë, I need to actually read her only other novel, Agnes Grey.
It’s a new year! And that means new books to preorder and look forward to! I’ve tried to keep my list pretty small as it can be overwhelming when there are so many books coming out. I read around a book a week, so these 12 are three months worth of reading- but they all sound wonderful and hopefully, you’ll find something you like the sound of.
What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high. But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. She’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end…
I pre-ordered this as soon as I read the blurb because it sounds such fun! Small town witches? Murder? Meddling grandma? Cosy crime has been such a balm these days. Normally these kinds of series have 100 books out before I find out about them so I’m really looking forward to reading book one on release day!
Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
I found this while looking for blurbs for the rest of this list online and couldn’t resist clicking on that cover. I knew I needed it immediately. This weird, eerie, gothic debut is going to be quite a shake-up to my usual choice of genre but I’m excited to spread my wings. I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover – but yikes! Look at that!
Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.
I adore Tarot so any book featuring it immediately has my attention, but I’m also intrigued by the relationships that are laid out in the blurb of this one. Feeling out of place in her family, struggling with friendships, I think Maeve is going to be really relatable for a lot of readers.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
Historical fiction is very hit-or-miss for me so I’m a little nervous about this one. It sounds wonderful! But it’ll be all down to the writing style. I’m hoping the modern aspiring historian helps with that.
A woman torn between love and duty. Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free to make her own choice. The ageing King’s eye falls upon her. She cannot refuse him… or betray that she wanted another. She becomes the sixth wife – a queen and a friend. Henry loves and trusts her. But Katharine is hiding another secret in her heart, a deeply held faith that could see her burn…
I’ve been reading this series since book one and I can’t quite believe it’s nearly over! I remember seeing that it was going to take six years to publish, one book a year and thinking that would take so long. I’m really looking forward to this one as we finally get to see Henry die and the wife be the survivor, and Katherine Parr was a really interesting woman! She was regent for a while, wrote books and is the most-married English Queen ever with her four marriages.
Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdated school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King? Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign. When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being cancelled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.
Give me lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers. Give me competing for the same prize. Give me fighting their feelings. Give me this book straight into my brain. This sounds like it’s going to be such a cute romance with a trans MC at the centre, while also dealing with things like bullies, death in the family and high school garbage. I already want them to have a happy ending.
Izumi Tanaka has lived an uneventful seventeen years in her small, mostly white, northern California town, keenly aware of all the ways in which her family is different from most of her classmates’. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity . . . and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent, can-burp-the-alphabet Izzy is literally a princess.
I loved Emiko Jean’s last novel; Empress of All Seasons, which was YA fantasy. So when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I was really surprised that it’s contemporary! Described as The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians, I have really high hopes. I loved The Princess Diaries as a teen (and when I re-read them as an adult), so this was an easy pre-order.
Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe. When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.
Fake-dating! Is one of my favourite tropes! I can already tell that the troll exposé is going to stress me out but I will do anything to read a fake-dating-real-feelings traditionally published novel. Not to mention the five-star review by Aiden Thomas. June feels so long away.
Ten years ago, Hannah’s husband was brutally murdered in their home, and she (conveniently) doesn’t remember a thing about that night. But the police charged someone else—a stranger—and put him away for life. And Hannah packed up her six-year-old daughter and left London behind. But now her hard-won countryside peace is threatened. Conviction, a viral true-crime podcast known for getting cases reopened and old verdicts overturned, has turned its attention to Hannah’s husband’s murder for its new season. They say police framed the man who was found guilty, and that Hannah has more suspicious secrets than just her memory loss.
I have… complicated feelings about true-crime podcasts so I’m really looking forward to exploring them a little deeper with the help of this book. Truly a novel for the modern age of Serial, Dirty John and a hundred others. I can already tell I’m going to have to start this early in the morning, or risk being up all night reading.
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love–she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
Urban fantasy. Witches. Black girl magic. Matchmaking service. Almost 500 pages. First in a series. Sign me up! It’s going to be a tough June for prioritising reads with so many promising books coming out but I might just plan a whole week off to be absolutely destroyed by this.
When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home, it’s for an unhappy reason: her mother Colleen has killed herself, and Heather must pick up the pieces. Sorting through her mother’s belongings Heather makes an alarming discovery – carefully preserved letters from the notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The Red Wolf, as the press dubbed him, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to suddenly have cause to re-examine the Red Wolf murders – the body of a young woman has been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.
Jen Williams wrote my favourite fantasy, and I am a coward who hasn’t finished the series. It’s literally one of my 2021 goals. But now she’s written a thriller and I will follow her into any genre. She could start writing instructional manuals about road pothole repair and I would buy it. But luckily, she’s written a serial killer thriller. And it sounds incredible.
Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she? This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive…
I’ve had this pre-ordered since June and was so sad when it got, understandably, postponed. When I finally get this sapphic YA paranormal romance in my hands, I will do a little dance.
That’s all folks! What books are you looking forward to in 2021? Is there anything else I should be looking at?
When the news of the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out I knew I wanted to re-read the original Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been six years since I first read the trilogy and they were really important in my journey of becoming a reader again and book blogging! My original reviews were.. sparse, and very much about my emotional response which is perfectly valid, I just wanted to do a bit of a deep dive into what makes these books so dang good in my opinion. So!
Contexts of Reading
I remember reading this series for the first time really vividly. Not so much the actual story, because I definitely forgot most of the plot points in the past six years. But my life surrounding reading this. I even remember the song I was listening to on repeat at the time. And I think that it’s really interesting that in however many years until I read this again, I might remember things like being in lockdown, playing a lot of Animal Crossing and working really hard at my last university essay. I think only a special kind of book can effect me in this way. I’ve re-read books before and mostly it’s just remembering bits of the story.
The Writing Style
I’ve mentioned a couple times this year that I’ve been struggling to read lately because I’m so focused on the act of reading. However, Collins writing style is so unique and crafted to be bare-bones that it’s incredibly easy to read. There’s no info-dumping or huge chunks of thinking, you’re just in Katniss’s head and immediately in the action. The story is left open just enough that your own thoughts and feelings can fill the gap. I thought that the pacing on the second and third books was a little weird, but by Mockingjay, I was locked in and finished it incredibly quickly.
I’m not a big fan of epilogues in general. As a reader and an attempting writer, I prefer it when the ending happens and what goes next is left to the imagination. If you want the main character to live happily ever after, you decide what that looks like. But I do like the epilogue in this case, because I think that considering how much she mentions not wanting kids because they’d have to play in the games, it was important to see Katniss no longer have that fear. Plus, Collins got to talk a little about how best to teach younger generations about bad things.
The Hunger Games trilogy are political books. Oppressed people hating other oppressed people instead of their oppressor, revolutions galore, people being used as pawns in a game they don’t understand. I mean- very applicable to almost every age of humanity.
Marking my books
I like to keep my books pretty neat and unmarked in general. I use sticky notes to mark them up for reviews and bits of writing I like. But this time I decided to underline, in pen! Mainly because I know these books are going to stick around on my shelves. I don’t have any immediate plans to re-read them, maybe I’ll wait another six years, or more, but when I do- I’ll get a little snapshot into this read and what stood out to me, and I think that’s pretty neat.
Do you re-read a lot? What is your favourite book to re-read?
As the year wraps up, I’m determined to get on top of these wrap-ups! Today, I’m talking about the books I read in September & October. Including one that took over my life for a few days, one that infuriated me beyond belief, and one that I’ve actually been reading since Summer and finally sat down to finish…
It’s been a good while since I read a Deaver! In fact, I traced it back to May 2018! Since it’s been a while, I kind of forgot how bloody masterful Deaver is at crafting a mystery. This book took me over for a few days while I flew through it. The twists, the turns, wherever you think you’re going, you’re not, whatever you think is happening, it isn’t. But it’s done in a way that you discover things at the same time as the characters, and everything makes sense. It’s also really nice to have good disability representation, both in Rhyme being a quadriplegic and Amelia having severe arthritis. In this book there’s also talk of endometriosis and fertility issues.
This is a re-read for me that I started over Summer and finally got around to finishing. This series will pop up a lot in future wrap-ups because it took over my audiobook listening for a good couple months. I just love the series and this was always one of my favourites.
Ah, if only I knew. I read this because I knew that the TV show was coming to Netflix and I loved The Haunting of Hill House adaptation. But, I didn’t really enjoy the book and I only got through two episodes of the TV show. I can’t put my finger on why, it just didn’t meet my expectations. There were a few moments that had my skin crawling though!
This is a really charming and interesting memoir about 1950’s health visitors in the UK and her role in the community. I wanted to read something similar to the Call the Midwife series of books by Jennifer Worth and this was a great choice. The timing is similar and it delved into what happened to the babies after they were signed off from the midwives and onto the health visitor. Molly is charming and headstrong, and it’s a real joy to read her experiences. I also really liked hearing about her partnership with Claire and the home they had together. “People still wondered how it worked, especially the men, who couldn’t imagine how women exist, let alone be happy, without male company.”
In comparison, Midwife on Call is a much more modern look at midwifery and maternity with the NHS as it looks at the 70s-00s. Agnes is outspoken in her opinions and her care for her patients which was really great to read, but it didn’t have the same cozy and soft vibe. This is the one to read if you’re less squeamish and like a bit of humour with your memoir! “I started getting labour contractions in the middle of the night and my husband awoke to a vision of me performing contortions as I tried to examine myself internally to check if my cervix was dilating.“
I started reading this all the way back in June and I ended up putting it down for a couple months because the pacing felt so strange. But I loved the world and the characters that I had to pick it up again and it ended up being a real blast to read. It’s great combination of urban fantasy and Wild West vibes, with a little dystopia in the mix. There’s been a climate apocalypse and now monsters and heroes and gods are all over the place. So much fun. I’d recommend this to every urban fantasy fan as it’s so different from the usual vampires and werewolves, but scratches the same itch! I can’t wait to read the second book, and her new series. “Everything you’ve done, your past, it’s all just a story you tell yourself. Some of it is true, but some of it is lies.”
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeeves audiobooks in 2020. They were easy listens, funny and charming, and my library had a lot available. But, I’ve hit my limit now. I will definitely be back to read more once I’ve had a bit of time to forget the formula though.
What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?
Books about books are my favourite thing. My favourite cosy mystery protagonist is a librarian. My favourite romance is set in a novel-writing class. I read book blogs daily. Plus, I’m an English Literature student so I spend a lot of time reading critical journals. The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler* is right up my street because it’s a book chock full of passion about books.
Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from shelves.
These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favorites, including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world. This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening, and entertaining guide.
I’ve been reading this book for a long time (I started in 2017!). It’s a book where you could dip in and out of with ease. But sitting down for a good long session didn’t quite keep up the charm. So, ironically, I put it to one side and kind of forgot about it until I was doing a declutter. I finished it that day.
You can tell that a lot of work went into the original articles that this book is based off and it pays off. Each author has a neat little biography and the essays were easy and interesting reads. While I raised an eyebrow at some being considered forgotten, I’m sure V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic haunts many a millennial, it would be impossible not to get excited about the books and the history and reading in general!
Obviously people have different tastes so a book of 99 authors is sure to include some, or many, that I don’t find interesting or recommendable. I wouldn’t personally have chosen to include the overtly racist authors or the prosecuted sex-offender. It felt like Fowler wanted to mention these because he did the research when really these authors could just stay forgotten. Plus, I understand that publishing is, like almost everything, a male-dominated field. But I needed for there to be more diverse choices. It stands at about a quarter female, and very very white.
If you’re like me and you feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of current releases, or publishing trends mean that your preferred style is out at the moment, I think this is a really interesting way to refresh your TBR. You’re sure to get caught up in passion for books if you pick this up.
Where has 2020 gone? How is it November? Don’t ask me what happened this year, I simply don’t know! What I do know is that I read some really fun books, and some really odd books at the end of Summer. So here they are!
I love a zombie story. But a lot of them are illogical as far as where people choose to live. Don’t just board up your house in the suburbs, that’s so unsafe! In Wranglestone, they live on little islands on a lake. It’s so smart. I desperately loved this book for a couple of reasons: the setting of a cabin on stilts in the middle of a lake in winter. Just the idea makes me feel cosy. Then there’s the romance, two awkward teenage boys not knowing how to talk to each other? Adorable. And the twist on the regular zombie story, no spoilers but it’s a really fun read. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m definitely going to re-read this one. “-staying awake with your thoughts while the rest of the world slept was a nightmare in reverse.”
This was one of those books were I probably spent the same amount of time reading about the book, as I did reading the book. It’s an odd one! I thought the whole concept of the underground railroad being an actual physical railroad, rather than a network of people that helped escaping enslaved people, would get more page time! As it was, there was probably only 20 pages on the actual tracks and most was focused on the stops along the way. I wish that was explored more, but Whitehead uses the railroad to throw the main character, Cora, into all sorts of situations that one person might not have experienced if she wasn’t stopping off in all these places. It covers a lot of things that were happening to Black people, and specifically Black women at the time all over the US. Any book about this topic is going to be harrowing, and this was no exception. Prepare yourself!
This is the first Tey I’ve read and I found it absolutely charming. Rather than the usual murder mystery, two slightly oddball women are accused of kidnapping a girl and trying to force her to be their maid. And the main character doing the investigating is their lawyer, which I’ve never read before. The investigation that happens in response was really nicely paced, there are always strands being unravelled and complications arising. Add the tiniest dash of romance and a love for the English countryside and you’ve got yourself my dream mystery. I can’t wait to read more of her books! “The gardens were small miracles of loveliness; each succeeding one a fresh revelation of some unsuspected poet’s heart.”
This 2020 debut is just plain weird. In a good way. But also a confusing way. I originally described this as Skins (the UK TV show) mixed with Wuthering Heights and I still think that’s pretty accurate. It’s a book full of atmosphere and depressed students. You just need to add in some science-magic. I think I’m going to re-read this as an audiobook, as Linda really enjoyed it in that format. I think I struggled with it mostly because I was struggling with reading physically at the time. “As we walked by the windows that looked out onto the black yard, our reflections drifted like spirits over the glass.”
I really liked the first few chapters of this one but the rest was just too- something…. I can’t put my finger on it but I found myself rushing through because the story was interesting but the characters felt quite one-dimensional. It would’ve been a better read for me if there was less of our MC debating how she’ll love a child and more depth on the really interesting concept of two-mother-babies. “I lost her when I was only a baby and simply don’t have the memories to wrap in sorrow.”
I can’t remember a single dang plot from these books specifically. They all merge into the general storyline of Bertie getting himself into trouble, thinking he can get himself out, only to find that Jeeves has fixed it all from the sidelines. They’re wonderfully funny books, and a must for tired brains.
What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?
I’m back with some more books that will fill the Hallowreadathon 7 prompt: a book featuring an important house. I gave you ten options last week and now I’ve got seven books that I’ve personally read and recommend!
Starting with classics of various genres and ease of reading!
Despite it looking average sized, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is actually a short novella. It’s about a governess that goes to look after two children in a house in the countryside. Only to find the house comes with some surprises. This is also the basis of The Haunting of Bly Manor, the follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey is a golden-age crime novel about two women who live in a huge house in the English countryside. They’re then accused of kidnapping a teenage girl and trying to make her their servant. It’s a good example of the crime novels that inspired modern-day ‘cosy mysteries’, and a great option for a slightly less creepy read.
Will I ever be able to forget Cathy’s ghost at the window in the beginning of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë? Absolutely not. If you’re feeling confident with your time management for the Hallowreadathon, this is a great chunky option for you. The old house on the barren moors is the setting for this toxic love story.
Next we have Young Adult books…
If you’re after vampires, I think Glass Houses by Rachel Caine is a great option. Not only does it have house in the title, our main character ends up living off-campus in a mansion described as “Gone With the Wind meets The Munsters” with an… interesting array of roommates!
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson was actually one of my Hallowreadathon reads last year. The important house is broken down and abandoned, and where our main character does her witchcraft. Only to bring her friend back from the dead! I love this one.
If witches are your thing but you want ghosts, instead of zombies, How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is for you. The story of a girl that moves into a old, slightly-haunted house in Salem… Only to find that the local descendants of witches aren’t thrilled with her being a Mather.
And finally, my slightly oddball pick for those of you that like strange…
The 2020 debut, Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. I couldn’t explain this and do it justice but I originally described it as ‘Wuthering Heights meets Skins’. Not sure if that helps but this is a must-read for anyone who likes weird books.
Have you read any of these? Will you be reading any for the Hallowreadathon next weekend?
When I posted the prompt list for this years Hallowreadathon, I had one book in mind for this prompt. Therefore, it was only when I was putting my recommendation list together (coming soon!) that I realised… this is slightly more specific than usual and it might be quite tricky to find a book that fits! So here are ten options that fill the prompt of a book featuring an important house. These aren’t books that I’ve personally read but they all look wonderful. I can tell some of these are going to make their way onto my shelves at some point. Some are scary, some are charming, hopefully there’s something for everyone!
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
When glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her. Noemí’s chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.
High on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the loss of Lily, mother of twins Eliot and Miranda, and beloved wife of Luc. Miranda misses her with particular intensity. Their mazy, capricious house belonged to her mother’s ancestors, and to Miranda, newly attuned to spirits, newly hungry for chalk, it seems they have never left. Forcing apples to grow in winter, revealing and concealing secret floors, the house is fiercely possessive of young Miranda…
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, its owners – mother, son and daughter – struggling to keep pace. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death. Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.
The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors . . . and the Toussaint’s family history – and future – is dramatically transformed. Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey’s death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela’s grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela’s grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have “powers” put a curse on the entire community?
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?
In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests… When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.
When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss–a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten–by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare–one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.