Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Reading Slump Audiobooking - Murder Before Evensong

Not sure how to write this one as still in slump with blogging/reading (oh, the joy of anxiety-include reading slumps), but I preordered this and decided to give it a listen as I thought this, as a cosy murder mystery, might ease me back into reading/audiobooking on a more, regular bases. 

Well, that was the plan. It took a good few weeks for me to complete it. And I would make myself listen to this either on the way to or from work. Most days, I did both to help men unwind from work, but I would try and do at least 20 minutes a day. 

So, where the heck do I start here?

Title and Author: Murder Before Evensong by Reverend Richard Coles
Publisher: Orion/W&N
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction, though I bought and listened to audiobook. 

Canon Daniel Clement is the Rector of Champton for the past eight years. He lives with his eldery spitfire of a mother, Audrey, and his two dachshunds, Cosmo and Hilda, and he had his brother, Hugo, popping in and out of his life.

Life in Champton is a typical, country village in the mid-1980s. But when Daniel suggests installing a lavatory in the church, the parish is unexpected divided. Then things take a turn when the Anthony Bowness – cousin of Bernard de Floures, patron of Champton – is found dead in the church, stabbed in the neck by a pair of secateurs, the village is close to fracturing. As the Police begin to investigate, Daniel must try to keep his community together and try and figure out who the killer is for who knows how many more will die before the truth comes out…

Friday, 1 July 2022

Reading Slump Reading - Mini Write-Up One

As I said earlier, I fell hard into a reading slump. Things happened and it's one of those things. At the time, I was mildly ok with the slump, then I went  "Enough now!" as I had to DNF two reads that I was quite excited to read - one was a proof of a book that I was kindly sent by the publisher for review which I am excited to read as I love these authors's previous books (Daughter of Darkness by Elizabeth and Katherine Corr) and I had to put it down and hope that I will return to this before its publication so can have a review or something ready. 

But this reading slump might be over. Maybe. At the time of writing this, I am unsure if am out of the reading slump woods, but am tentatively hopefully. 

The two books that, I hope, have got me out of my reading slump is Crankshaft by K. M. Neuhold and Maskerade by Terry Pratchett (this is audiobook, FYI). 

Crankshaft, the first book in the Big Bull Mechanics series (this is a spin off series of Four Bear Construction that I class as my COVID Lockdown obsession) is a MM, low angst romance, while Maskerade is a Discworld novel (the 18th in the whole series and, I think, the 5th or 6th in the Witches series), which pokes fun at opera. 

So, not gonna write full-on reviews (these were fun! Perfect for getting out of reading slumps), but these were fun. I knew I would love Crankshaft as this is the first book in a spinoff series that I devoured during COVID, Four Bear Constructions. And I knew this would be light, fun and angst-free (or very low angst). 

Maskerade, on the other hand, was a bit of a risk. I'm not 100% sure about Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, though I seem to have gained a few titles on my kindle. But Maskerade has been one that I've had my eye on for a while for some unknown reason, and while I did warm to the story and the characters (mainly Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg - it did some time for me to like them, and I audiobooked Wyrd Sisters, and I found the lack of Magrat in this story a nice bonus). It seems that I like Discworld novels, but the latter half of the novels when things are beginning to go off the rails. I can't seem to warm to the set-up of the first half of the novel... 

But, like I said, am in the depths of a reading slump and slowly, oh-so-slowly, am trying to crawl out of it, so I'm not exactly going to rush my next few reads/audiobooks. Am nearly finished one and it's a "meh", but I can't decide if that's because am still in slump or if the story just didn't work... we shall see...  

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2022 Shortlist Revealed


Elly Griffiths | Joseph Knox | Laura Shepherd Robinson 
Mick Herron | Vaseem Khan | Will Dean 

The shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, has been announced today, with six bestselling authors competing to win the UK’s most prestigious crime writing prize.

The coveted award, now in its eighteenth year, celebrates crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers from newly independent India to the tension of a remote Fenlands cottage, from a nail-biting missing persons investigation in Manchester to the wilds of North Norfolk, and from the hedonism of Georgian London to the murky world of international espionage. Selected by the public from a longlist of eighteen novels, with a record number of votes being placed this year, the list of six novels features newcomers to the shortlist, two New Blood panellists, a previous Festival Programming Chair, and a five-time shortlistee. None of this year’s shortlistees have ever taken home the prize before, making the competition even more tense.

Elly Griffiths, who was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair in 2017, is shortlisted for the fifth time for The Night Hawks, the thirteenth instalment in her popular Ruth Galloway series. The Night Hawks sees Norfolk’s favourite forensic archaeologist Galloway called when a group of metal detectorists discover a body buried on a beach with Bronze Age treasure, a find which will lead to a series of murders seemingly linked to the local legend of a spectral dog whose appearance heralds death.

Sunday Times bestseller True Crime Story, the first standalone novel from Joseph Knox, blends fact and fiction to tell the gripping story of a 19-year-old university student who leaves a party in her student halls and is never seen again. Knox, who was selected by Val McDermid as a New Blood panellist in 2017, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2018 for his thriller Sirens the following year, but has never previously reached the shortlist stage.

Historical crime writer Laura Shepherd Robinson continues her incredible streak as her second novel Daughters of Night is shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, two years after her debut Blood & Sugar was longlisted for the award in 2020. Robinson’s evocative novel transports readers to the seedy underworld of Georgian London, as Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham tries to solve the murder of a prostitute in the infamous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an investigation which will delve into the darkest corners of high society.

Bestselling author Mick Herron is longlisted for Slough House, the tenth instalment in his series of the same name, which was recently adapted by Apple TV as spy drama Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Herron will be hoping to take home the prize this year, with 2022 marking the fifth time in the past six years he has secured a place on the shortlist.

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, the first in a new series chronicling the investigations of India’s first female police detective, marks Khan’s first time reaching the shortlist. The novel introduces readers to Inspector Persis Wadia as she is plucked from obscurity in a basement office and tasked with solving the murder of an English diplomat as the country prepares to become the world’s biggest republic.

Finally, The Last Thing to Burn sees bestselling author and New Blood 2018 panellist Will Dean move away from the Nordic setting of his acclaimed Tuva Moodyson series in favour of a claustrophobic thriller set on the British fenlands. The Last Thing to Burn, which has secured Dean his first ever placement on the shortlist, sees a woman held captive in a remote cottage by a man who calls her Jane and insists she is his wife. She has long abandoned hopes of escape, until she finds a reason to live and finds herself watching and planning, waiting for the right moment to act.

The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 are:

· The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Quercus Fiction)

· True Crime Story by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)

· Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle/Pan)

· Slough House by Mick Herron (Baskerville)

· Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

· The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton)

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “What a fantastic shortlist, six thrilling tales which deliver shocking twists and unforgettable characters! We raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to all of the shortlistees and look forward to revealing the winner in July as we kick off the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, commented: “We are delighted to announce this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist, featuring six novels by some of the most exciting crime writers working today. Whisking readers around the world and through time, this shortlist is a fantastic demonstration of the variety to be found in crime fiction. The public have a tough task ahead choosing just one winner and we can’t wait to see who they vote for!”

The public are now invited to vote for a winner at Voting closes on Friday 8th July, with the winner to be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 21st July. The winner will receive a £3,000 prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 by UK and Irish authors.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Failing Rereading Chamber of Secrets


This blog post is gonna get messy (not sure if in a good way or a bad way, but we shall see!). Allow me to explain. As you all probably know, I am in a huge reading slump. Probably one of the worst I have been in since I started book blogging over ten years ago. This is due to anxiety and other outside forces that I won't get into at the moment, but you would know that, while I am audiobooking and slowly reading, it's become a struggle. 

Now, normally, when in a reading slump, I usually reread a book I love and know inside out. Normally, I reread Sabriel by Garth Nix. But seeing as I reread a few years back and I know it inside out (it's one of my fave fantasy reads), I wanted to reread something else. I was thinking of rereading either The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. I decided in the end to reread Chamber of Secrets as I relistened to a few podcasts that's rereading Harry Potter, chapter by chapter, and thought this would be a good idea as, while I know the story well, Chamber isn't my fave book in the series. 

So, I started to reread it. And I stopped as I started chapter eleven: the Duelling Club. 

I have reasons. Reading slump, the fact I disagree with JK Rowling, the fact the world is burning (UK and US politics - I mean, what the ACTUAL F**K?!). But the biggest reason is, while I know this story really well (how many times have I reread this since it was first published in 1999?), rereading this made me be more cynical. Not only that, I looked at certain things and went "If this character did [insert idea here] or just told [insert character name here], then NONE OF THIS WOULD HAPPENS! WHY ARE YOU ALL SO STUPID?!"


Sorry. But rereading this made me a little angry and my adult, reading slump brain spotted things that my 12/13 brain didn't.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Reading Slump

I wrote this over the Bank Holiday weekend, but I decided to not to post it. Not then, but I feel more ok posting it now and happier to talk. 

If you've followed me on my socials - mainly Twitter or Goodreads - you might have noticed that I didn't read much over the course of May. I suffered/am suffering (I'm slowly crawling out of it) a HUGE reading slump in May. Things happened and, because of that, it affected my reading and my enjoyment. 

Yes, I know I had a blog break over the Easter break due to me feeling a little burnout with reading and blogging, but this slump is annoying as heck as I want to read. BADLY! This is affecting both my reading and my audiobooking so feeling very meh of late with stories (though I listen to podcasts of people reading, such as Goblet of Wine). Same with blogging and general life stuff. 

However, life has just... I don't really known how to describe it. Let's say the last few years have been hard with COVID and other issues. Yeah, shall we say that and move on? 

So, just giving you a tiny heads-up that reading and blogging over the next few months might be a little more hit and miss than normal (for example, I was trying to write this while podcast-listening to random episode of Her Dark Materials & Unbitten - oh, I'm thinking of rereading a book within His Dark Materials and the Twilight Saga. Not Twilight or Northern Lights, as I have reread them quite often, but am leaning towards New Moon [strangely, a fave of mine in the series] or The Amber Spyglass. Thoughts? - and I couldn't write this post and listen to podcast. Believe me, random lines would have popped up in this post). I need to ease self back into this and find the joy again - which might mean 

Hopefully, will be back to my reading self in a few weeks so stay with me! If not, I will be listening to random podcasts and TV shows so that should be fun! 

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

re3 - Wyrd Sisters

I have a feeling that I read this in my youth and I don't believe I liked it very much. I know I tried it and said I would try another Discworld novel, but it took over ten years or so for me to try going back into Discworld with Mort (meh), Reaper Man (which I loved and need to reread soon!) and Hogfather (which I would like to reread one day...)

So, Discworld. Big series with loads of lovers out there. A must for fantasy readers who like their stories to have humour, and Wyrd Sisters is the sixth book in the Discworld series and the second, I think, in the Witches collection.

Title and Author: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Corgi/Transworld Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof gifted by UK publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction, and bought audiobook. 

Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat are witches who, one night, as they meet round a cauldron, find themselves in the middle of a plot. A king is cruelly murdered by his ambitious cousin and his wife, and the true heir to the throne and the crown have vanished. 

Witches should not get involved, but they will and the three witches find out that get involved in royal politics is far more messy and complicated than what some well-known play writers would have you believed...

Sunday, 29 May 2022

The Daughter Blog Tour

Whenever I read a novel, listening to a podcast or watch a TV show/film about serial killers, I always think about the family of the killer. Not "how did they not see it?" but "what happens to them after the truth comes out? How do their other halves and their children cope with this horrible truth?"

So, when this jumped on my radar (thanks Helen from Helen Richardson PR), I went "Ooooh" over it and felt this would tickle that sweet spot of domestic crime fiction I like. 

Title and Author: The Daughter by Liz Webb
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by UK publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction. 

Hannah's life is beginning to spiral. Her father has dementia, she hasn't spoken to her estranged TV actor brother, Ryan, in years and her mother's, Jen,  death still haunts the family with no one knowing the truth about the night she died. 

Now the same age as her mother, Hannah is disturbed to realise how much she looks like her mother. Especially with her father thinking Hannah is Jen at times, and he's begging her to forgive him. And with this, Hannah finds herself wondering: is it the dementia talking, or is there something dark behind his words? Did he kill her mother? 

Determined to discover the truth before her father dies, Hannah begins to make herself look more like Jen and the lines between them begin to dangerously blur...

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

eBook Review - If This Gets Out

As you can probably guess, after watching series one and reading all Alice Oseman's Heartstopper over the early May Day Bank Holiday weekend, I craved more queer romance. I didn't expected to find anything close to the light, almost wholesome-ness of Heartstopper but I wanted to carry on riding that wave. So, when I remembered I had If This Gets Out on my kindle (gifted to me by publisher via NetGalley), I decided that it was time! And I was quite excited to dive in. 

Title and Author: If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales
Publisher: Holder Children's Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley inn exchange for an honest review/reaction

Ruben and Zach are two members of the boy-band Saturday, with Angel and Jon. The four are close in front and behind the camera, but cracks are appearing behind the scenes. The one easy banter between the four are strained and Ruben confides in Zach that he's feeling smothered about how management and their pressure to keep his sexual identity a secret. 

As the band go onto their European tour, Ruben and Zach begin to rely on each other more and more till, one night, the pair share a kiss. What will happen next to them after that night and how can they move forward with a relationship when they realise that the support they desperately need is never going to come?