March is women’s history month and will be the theme for the rest of my book reviews for this month; a great excuse to get through some fascinating biographies!
The world’s favourite moustachioed detective is back for a new mystery by Sophie Hannah. I got this book at Christmas time so was well overdue for reading it. (The review will be spoiler free).
Returning home after lunch, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.
Happy New Year, everyone! After a couple of slightly lax months, it’s back to the book reviews.
My first read of 2019 was the fifth of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they feature an alternate history in which sentient dragons are teamed up with human captains to form the Aerial Corps, a branch of the armed services which exists alongside the army and navy.
It’s been a looong two year wait to finally see the continuation of Newt Scamander’s adventures in the wizarding world. I remember my husband and I coming home from the midnight opening in 2016 absolutely full of excitement and adoration for this new part of the franchise and complaining “I can’t believe we have to wait two whole years to find out what happens next!”
Last night we went to the midnight opening of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (yeah, we’re die-hard geeks; who needs to go to the cinema during civilised hours?!) and all I can say is: it is most assuredly worth the wait. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it yet though – this review will be completely spoiler free.
Empire of Ivory is book four of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and was my weekend choice of reading for a train journey to Edinburgh and back.
I have something of a complex relationship with Sherlock Holmes pastiches – sometimes I really enjoy them, sometimes I’m completely ambivalent, sometimes I loathe them – but invariably I pick them apart with the relish of a pedant. Partly it’s because I’m too much of a book snob for my own good, but largely it’s due to the fact that Sherlock Holmes is a series so close to my heart that, although I always want more stories, I have almost unreasonably high standards when it comes to other people playing in the sandpit.
In the last ten days or so, I’ve got through three very different pastiches that between them showcase some of the best elements of Holmes imitations and also some of the reoccurring niggles I have with them. Here is a brief summary of what I thought about them – I will keep it spoiler free for any Holmes fans looking for a new mystery to enjoy.
As I’ve spent the month rereading Jane Austen’s published works, it also seemed appropriate that I should get through the most recent of her many biographies: Jane Austen at Home by the queen of TV historians, Lucy Worsley.
LADY HELENA INVESTIGATES
BY JANE STEEN
Publication Date: March 14, 2018
eBook; 359 Pages
Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery
A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.
Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.
1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfil any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.
The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.
Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?
I was genuinely going to hold off on reading any more of the Temeraire series until I’d made my way through the last of the books I got in December and January. Then my husband bought me books three and four as a present and my resistance cracked. The series is just so enjoyable that I couldn’t wait to get cracking with the next one. I am weak, I tell you!
I don’t know about you, but I always find myself a little low when January starts. The Christmas decorations that have brightened my home are coming down, I’ve inevitably put on weight, most of the good TV is finished, the holidays are over and semester two teaching looms. I’m always glad of a little comedy to perk me up, and that’s exactly what Jeeves and the Yuletide Spirit did.
I’d meant to read this book before Christmas, but having spent a fair chunk of December ill, I sadly didn’t get through as many books as I wanted. However, having kept it back, it actually proved a lovely little post-festive pick-up in true P.G Wodehouse fashion.