Monday 13 June 2022

A quick catch-up

So, it's almost mid-June and I've yet to post about any books, even though I've been happily reading away as usual. I have several unreviewed books so to catch up I'll do a quick chat about each of them.

First up, The Burning Issue of the Day by T.E. Kinsey.

Lady Hardcastle and her maid/companion, Flo, set out to help a young suffragette who has been arrested for arson. A young, male journalist was killed in the attack, the police think it's an open and shut case but the woman protests her innocence. The leader of the local suffrage group, Lady Bickle, engages the two female sleuths to find out who did the deed. Helping them is their foe from a previous book, the female journalist, Dinah Caudle. There's antagonism at first but the three settle eventually to helping the local constabulory solve the crime. If your bag is angsty murder mysteries full of gritty realism and violent death then this series is certainly not for you. I hesitate slightly to call them 'cozies' though. True, there's no blood and gore and they're very gentle mysteries. But there's intelligent social comment in every book, and often historical detail I wasn't aware of. For instance I didn't realise there was quite so much opposition to women getting the vote and that it was often led by women themselves. The other thing that raises this series is the wonderful banter, it's genuinely funny the way Lady H. and Flo speak to each other. So yes, the books are cozy, but there's a lot more to them than that and I really enjoy the series.

Next, my first book for the 20 Books of Summer challenge, Fur Babies in France by Jacqueline Lambert.

This is book 1 in the author's 'Adventure Caravanning with Dogs' series and relates how the author and her husband were both made reduntant from their jobs at the same time and had to re-evaluate their lives. Somehow they made a decision to sell up, buy a caravan and use it to tour Europe along with their four dogs. Jackie and Mark are both keen wind-surfers and generally quite out-doorsy types so that added to the attraction, the idea that they could park up near beaches and spend long weeks indulging in their favourite pastime. For their first expedition they decide on France and we follow them as first-time caravanners, complete novices learning how to cope with life towing a caravan and living on caravan sites. I enjoyed this very much. Jackie Lambert writes very well and doesn't skimp on the details of their various learning curves and disasters and she describes it all with a great deal of humour. There are four books so far, charting their trips to Germany and Romania and then the fourth book is about the pandemic. I have all of them as I bought them as a job-lot for my Kindle. I think I'm going to enjoy reading them.

Lastly: Beach Read by Emily Henry, which is my second book for the 20 Books of Summer.

Romance author, January Andrews, has been left a house near a beach somewhere on the shores of Lake Michigan. It's been left to her by her late father who died suddenly, and who she has discovered was living a double life, he had a girlfriend that he sometimes lived there with. January has a deadline for her next book but has writer's block and decides to go and live in her father's house. Next door lives Augustus 'Gus' Everett. January and Gus knew each other in grad school when they were both doing a writing class. She felt he had looked down on her romance genre because he was a writer of literary books. But now both of them have writer's block. So they decide to swap genres, Gus will write a romance novel and January will write a 'serious' literary book. That will work, won't it? So. This is a hugely popular book that I thought I would love and then didn't. I didn't hate it, not at all. It's well written, has a lot of humour and the setting on the lake was different. I think I just reached the end of my tether with the two main protaganists quite quickly. They annoyed me with their self-absorption, there was too much wallowing, too much non-communication. I wanted to yell, 'For PITY'S sake, get a grip!' So there you go, each to his own, lots of people loved this and I can see why, I just don't think it's aimed at Cynical Old Biddies like me. 

I hope your June reading is going well?


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Your style of short reviews, is definitely one I like. It seems to offer you carte-blanche to really express yourself in a personal and engaging way, about the books you have read - Oh! and I don't believe you are a "cynical old biddy" at all!! :)

I really like the sound of the 'Lady Hardcastle Mysteries', they sound as though they have the same qualities as the 'Lady Eleanor Swift' stories by Verity Bright, which I am enjoying so much. I must try and pick up the first book in the LH series, so that I can get a good handle on the characters, before I think about dipping in and out of the stories.

My reading speed is never going to challenge your own, but I am having a month of good reads so far! :)

Kay said...

Cath, I laughed at your comments on Beach Read. I think that would likely be my response as well. I've struggled with the psychological thrillers for a while, but I'm also not really into the whole rom/com books that seem so popular. I will recommend The Woman in the Library to you. It's by Sulari Gentill - just came out. Really held my interest. Starts out in the Boston Public Library. I'll have a review next week hopefully. Take care and enjoy that June reading!

Sam said...

I've wanted to do a road trip via caravan for what seems like forever but never did get around to it - and at this age, it's now too late. But I still do enjoy reading about that kind of thing, so these books sound good.

Beach Read sounds like an interesting concept gone bad...even the title would scare me off, I think...and the word "romcom" is usually a read flag for me, especially the "rom" bit. :-)

I enjoyed the reviews, Cath.

Cath said...

Yvonne: That's so nice of you to say, thank you. And 'hmmm'... I think the jury may still be out re whether I'm a Cynical Old Biddy or not. LOL

I do really think you would like the Lady Hardcastle books. I'll be able to tell you whether they're like the Lady Eleanor Swift books as I have the first one on my Kindle and plan to read it soon. Possibly 'very' soon as you recommend them so highly.

So pleased to hear you're having a good reading month, in the currenty world climate I think we really need the escape that good books provide.

Have a good week!

Cath said...

Kay: These romcoms are hugely popular and some of them I seem to get on with ok. But others end up making me roll my eyes rather a lot and sadly this was one. To be honest romcoms are not my natural home, book-wise.

I'll look up The Woman in the Library in a moment, I've heard about that somewhere else, just not sure where.

Cath said...

Sam: Yes, me too re wanting to do a caravan or campervan touring holiday. My husband would never be persuaded though and I understand why because the driving would have come down to him and it can't be easy. Still, it would have been interesting I feel but as you say, it's probably too late now.

Well, a lot of people love Beach Read and I do understand that it's not really aimed at me, a keen reader of crime fiction, science fiction and wierd fiction and non-fiction. I think I should maybe have predicted it might be a bit overwrought for my tastes. LOL!

Lark said...

That caravanning one does sound like a lot of fun! But then I do enjoy books that let me vicariously travel to faraway places. :) And the Lady Hardcastle mystery/series sounds like fun. I think the historical aspect of it is what makes it a little bit more than your typical cozy. :)

Margot Kinberg said...

Adventure Caravanning With dogs sounds really interesting, Cath - a bit of travelogue to it, and I happen to be fond of dogs, so there's that, too. The Burning Issue... sounds appealing, too. I do like historical fiction; I always feel I learn. And when it's well-written, it doesn't feel like a textbook, if I can put it that way. Glad you thought that was a good one.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Cath, I love these honest and engaging updates that really give us readers a great feel for the pluses and minuses of the books you read.

#1) sounds delightful and something I may never have considered before.
#2) delightful series potential as well - I do like armchair travel ( dogs would be a bit chaotic though I suspect).
#3) every once in a while I try a ROM-COM, but, ultimately, I too, loose patience with the characters. Sign me up for the cynical old biddy club". LOL

Here's to an excellent end of June. Happy Reading.

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
I recently finished Book Lovers by Emily Henry, though I haven't read Beach Read. I am amazed that my reaction to her novel Book Lovers was much the same as yours to Beach Read! Fortunately, the last third of the book proved a turn-around, so I ended the novel feeling more positive. But really, I want to sign up for the Cynical Old Biddy Club. I truly think that some of these stories are just not for us given our lifetime of experiences.
Oh, yes Cath. You are going to love The Shell Seekers. Woops!? Is that on your list? Now I think I'm going crazy. I thought it was on your list.

TracyK said...

I really need to read the first book in the Lady Hardcastle series. Well, now it probably won't be until after 20 books of summer.

The other two are not my cup of tea. Although I have some travel books I would like to get to.

Cath said...

Lark: Yes, me too re loving to read books which take me vicariously to far away places, especially those I will probably never get to myself. The Lady Hardcastle books are 'huge' fun. If you see them anywhere they're well worth a try.

Cath said...

Margot: The caravanning book was fun and quite informative in that I've never travelled in one, always thought there wasn't much to it... turns out there's a 'lot' more to it than you'd think!

I can highly recommend the Lady Hardcastle books for a bit of light relief crime reading. It really is amazing what you learn from historical fiction, it's a good way to pick up info painlessly.

Cath said...

Diane: Thank you, I'm pleased you enjoy my quick review 'catching-up' type posts.

I can't imagine 4 dogs in a caravan, I really can't. But that's possibly because I'm more of a cat person.

Yes, I'm a 'once-in-a-while' romcom reader too. And sometimes they're fun and sometimes there's just too much navel gazing for my liking. I'll happily sign you up to the COB club... there seems to be quite a few of us. LOL

Cath said...

Judith: Ooooh er... I have Book Lovers on my Kindle as well. Perhaps I'll leave that one for a while. I'm glad it picked up eventually though. One more member for the COB club, I don't like saying I'm too old for anything but maybe in this instance...

Yes, I have The Shell Seekers on my list of 20 books for the Summer reading challenge and am definitely planning to get to it this year. (I think I put it on the list last year and didn't get to it.)

Cath said...

Tracy: Yes, you definitely need to read the first Lady Hardcastle book. LOL! It's not really like any other crime series I read.

Susan said...

The Kinsey series is so fun. I love that you recommended it so that I can enjoy it, too :) I need to catch up on it soon.

Cath said...

Susan: The KInsey series has rapidly become one of my favourites, I think my next book will be book 6.

Sara said...

The Burning Issue of The Day sounds great!

Cath said...

Sara: It's a really funny, cheerful series of books that I really recommend.