sunday-salon-2It’s nearly December. How did that happen so fast?

It’s been a quiet but positive reading week for me. I have finished reading The Girl on the Train and I’ll have more to say about it when I post my review in the next day or so, but main impression is that it was a very enjoyable thriller but not the groundbreaker that marketing suggested it would be. But I did like it and who cares about marketing anyway?

I have now started reading They All Love Jack by Bruce Robinson (yes, the guy who directed Withnail and I). It’s a looong book about Jack the Ripper, a topic I have been unable to resist over the years, and I’ve made it through the first chapter which has left me with two distinct impressions (1) this author has some significant bees in his bonnet which he’s not afraid of sharing, and (2) I feel like I am being lectured by someone with the CAPS lock permanently on. I think I may have Thoughts about this when I finish it. It’s a book that may require reading in small chunks so I have identified a couple of others to bring me a bit of relief – Christopher Fowler’s book of Bryant & May short stories and Slade House by David Mitchell. The Bone Clocks was one of my favourite reads from earlier this year so I’m expecting a lot from this one.

No new books came into the house this week; feeling virtuous :D

18889526What’s it all about?

Against a background of young children turning on members of their families and killing them, Hesketh Lock is investigating a parallel series of incidents involving industrial sabotage across the world. Neither of these things make sense, but are they actually connected? What do you think? And who or what are The Uninvited?

Why did I want to read it?

I’ve read two of Liz Jensen’s previous creepy novels, The Rapture and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, and enjoyed then a great deal. This sounded like it was very much in that vein.

What did I think of it?

This is the book that hopefully broke my reading slump of recent months. I found it fascinating and read it in a coupe of days which is quite something for me at the moment. Hesketh is a compelling character, a man with Asperger’s going through difficult times in his personal life and being confronted by two sets of mysteries which (not really a spoiler) are connected in a most unexpected way. How he reacts (or doesn’t) is central to the development of the story.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot other than that; how it all comes together part of the fun, if you can call the end of the world as we know it “fun”. But I have a particular fondness for books that describe the world falling apart (the literary equivalent of a disaster movie I suppose) and this very much fits into that genre, with the added bonus of really creepy children. It’s fast paced and an enjoyable read. I liked it.

sunday-salon-2Short and sweet this week.

I’m still reading The Girl on the Train and enjoying it very much. I can see why there have been comparisons to Gone Girl, but it feels like a different beast to me. Hope to finish it soon, but have been distracted by Jessica Jones. What can I say, a bright and shiny new thing with bonus David Tennant in full-on evil mode.

Only two new things of a bookish nature arrived this week; one was a Joyce Carol Oates short story and the other something I pre-ordered a while back, July in fact, The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner. Both for Kindle.

The book-buying embargo is otherwise holding as I submitted my Christmas wishlist to the Book God this afternoon. Some very very interesting things on there, wonder what I will receive :-)

24381307What’s it all about?

DI Antonia Hawkins is recovering from the events of her first outing (The Advent Killer which I reviewed here) and her anxiety to get back to work has her returning earlier than she probably should and straight into what rapidly becomes a new serial killer investigation, this time starting on yes, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day.

Why did I want to read it?

I enjoyed the first novel and wanted to see what the author would do with the characters. And I like nothing more than a good serial killer novel. Which sounds a bit creepy but you know what I mean. I hope.

What did I think of it?

It took me a month to finish this novel, some of which was to do with the reading slump I’ve been in for several months but a lot to do with the fact that although this is a solid read I felt that it did have some problems. Not insurmountable problems, but they stuck out for me nonetheless.

So to start with Antonia, her paranoia was really jarring to me; I get that she has issues about whether she will get her position permanently but it’s worth noting that some of those are down to how she handles the job in the first place. At least in this story there is some justification for her concerns as a high-flyer is lurking around making an impression on her superiors. The problem for me here was that what appears to be a significant subplot just sort of disappears without a proper resolution towards the end of the story.

Then there’s the title. Apart from the first body being found on the day itself the Valentine thing doesn’t really have much to do with the unfolding serial killer plot line so I thought that was a bit of a swizz (and possibly a marketing ploy); although it’s irrelevance is dealt with fairly early on it was still an annoyance.

I’m also getting a tiny wee bit bored with angst-ridden police officers. I know there needs to be drama but I would have thought the murders themselves would have provided that and we could connect with the main characters in a different way. It stuck out for me particularly because I’ve been catching up on an ITV series, Unforgotten, which has police officers whose private lives are there to show them as rounded human beings but don’t actually intrude into the story (I thought it was excellent by the way, you should check it out).

But having said all that, I did persevere with the novel and I’m glad I did because suddenly, about three-quarters of the way through, the story and pacing kick up a gear and I read that last chunk in a single sitting, and it was very satisfying. I had worked out who at least one of the people involved was likely to be quite early on, and I did wonder what if the purpose behind the murders was what it turned out to be (if that makes sense and avoiding spoilers), but it was more interesting than that, and all rather sad to be honest.

So, patchy but glad I read it and I will pick up further books in the series, but please give Antonia a break from the angst, she’s a good detective!


Well, not only have I finally finished the book that I’ve been reading for a month but I’ve read a second book from cover to cover and know exactly (and am quite excited about) what I’m going to read next.

It’s probably too early to say that the reading slump is really, genuinely over but it looks promising and I was so relieved to feel that pull from a really good book that keeps you hooked and you don’t want to put the thing down.

So, in terms of the books read:

  • My Bloody Valentine by Alistair Gunn, the second in the DI Antonia Hawkins police series; another serial killer novel and not without its problems which I’ll talk about when I finally get around to writing up my review but quite satisfying nevertheless
  • The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, creepy end of the world as we know it thriller, the third of her novels that I have read and the third that I have enjoyed so that’s all good

Books have still been creeping into the house but the book buying embargo is still holding. We visited our closes Waterstones yesterday (just to check it was still there) and we did buy the new Nigella Lawson cookery book but that doesn’t count because (1) my husband paid for it and (2) it’s a practical thing.

  • The Straw King by Danielle Paige, another in the series of novellas attached to her Dorothy Must Die series
  • Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch, the umpteenth Charles Lenox novel; I have loved them all, looking forward to this one but have graciously allowed the Book God to read first because I’m nice that way.

I will be finalising my (lengthy) Christmas wish-list this week, so that will be fun, and hoping to read at least one novel. Wish me luck!


The slump continues. I still haven’t finished anything though I did do a bit of reading this week, though not as much as I would have liked because there was a dinner, and then a champagne and cocktail evening, and lots of work and dentists and at the end of each day I just collapsed all of a heap and couldn’t concentrate on anything.

I haven’t even made up the Christmas list I mentioned last week, though I have ben mulling over what it will include.

I have, however, been receiving pre-ordered books this week, much to my excitement and this bodes well for getting my reading mojo back. I’m not abandoning the book that I have been reading for 3 weeks because I do actually want to know who the murderer is and why. But on to the new stuff.

Physical books

These are both collections of short stories by two of my favourite authors.


These four are all novellas so I should have no excuse for racing through them.

I was also lent a book by my friend The Moff – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and once again I will be the last person in the known galaxy to read this, so don’t tell me what happens!


Well, that was a longer break from the Salon than I intended. I was a bit surprised to see that my last proper post was on 13 September and here we are on 1 November with Halloween out of the way, Guy Fawkes on the horizon and *whispers* Christmas just around the corner.

I mention Christmas only because today also marks the beginning of a book buying embargo. Because the Book God and I tend to buy each other books and DVDs and music for Christmas we have a deal that from 1 November until Boxing Day we don’t buy ourselves anything so that we can swap extensive Wish Lists. So, yesterday I bought the last book for myself before presents are exchanged, John Connolly’s Night Music: Nocturnes 2. I’m usually pretty good at sticking to this self-imposed ban, and the only exceptions are those books I’ve pre-ordered but not yet received, so new things will appear, just not unplanned purchases.

Since I last wrote a proper post I have read the princely sum of 2.5 books. Dreadful really considering that I was on holiday in Vienna for 10 days and I usually do a lot of reading when I’m away, but not this year. The reading slump is still fully in place but I’m beginning to feel vague stirrings that as the cooler weather arrives I will turn to books more and more.

And I want to blog more regularly too, so I really need to get the reading muscles exercised or I will have nothing to talk about :-)

Vienna was fantastic, by the way!

21128971What’s it all about?

We are in the future (a few hundred years or so) and the world has been overtaken by some form of ecological disaster which has apparently left most of the land covered in water. Osiris is a city of great towers and buildings full of the rich while surrounded by refugees living in squalid conditions. There are, of course, tensions between the two, and Osiris concentrates on two characters from opposite sides of this divide: Adelaide, estranged daughter of one of the wealthiest and most important families, and Vikram, former prisoner, protestor and someone who wants to change the lot of the poor outside the city’s limits.

Why did I want to read it?

As you will know by now, I love sci-fi, I love post-apocalyptic stuff, but I bought this mostly because I was lucky enough to hear EJ Swift read from one of the later books in this trilogy at an event earlier this year and met her briefly; I liked her a lot.

What did I think of this?

I’m still in a bit of a reading slump and also went on holiday in the middle of reading this novel so I read it more slowly than I perhaps would have otherwise, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the world-building was very strong, and I got a real sense of the society that Adelaide in particular was part of, the politics and social conventions and the way in which the young rich fill their time with excess and frivolity to escape the rigidity of the world they are part of; Vikram’s world is messier and less clear but that makes sense to me as I would expect it to be chaotic and unstructured with shifting alliances based on a different type of power. The way the two characters are brought together and who their perspectives begin to shift as they experience each others worlds (more Vikram than Adelaide as we spend the majority of the book within Osiris itself) was fascinating, and I came to like both characters very much.

The plot is in some ways very straightforward; Vikram needs a supporter within Osiris to help him achieve his aims, and Adelaide needs someone to help her break the wall of silence around the disappearance (and assumed suicide) of her twin brother, and they are brought together in an alliance born out of necessity. Of course, it doesn’t work out as planned but along the way we discover with them both that there is more going on than meets the eye, and this presumably forms the basis of the rest of the trilogy.

I liked Adelaide a great deal. I’ve seen a couple of reviews elsewhere that suggest that she just responds to the men in her life rather than taking action in her own right, but I didn’t get that sense at all. In particular, her drive to find out what’s happened to her brother seems very much her own and if one of my brothers went missing in such circumstances I would like to think I would focus on finding out what happened to him too. And the rest of her behaviour seems consistent with the society she lives in as it’s described to us.

I didn’t warm to Vikram quite so much until later in the book, as I couldn’t really understand what he thought he was going to be able to achieve.

So, a well-written and absorbing first novel, and I’ve already got a hold of the two sequels. Definitely worth your time.

22732450Subtitled The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile, this is an attempt by Dan Davies to explain (if that’s at all possible) how Savile became (as far as we know, and I shudder at the thought there might be someone worse) the most prolific sexual offender in UK history while maintaining a high-profile career as a TV celebrity over several decades.

Given the subject matter I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this, but it’s been nominated for a major non-fiction award and just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it should be avoided when, as here, it tries to provide answers to the questions those of us who grew up listening to Savile on the radio or watching him on TV have been asking about his crimes.

I was then not at all sure if I wanted to talk about it, but here we are.

The most interesting aspect of the book, and something which I didn’t expect, is that Davies actually started looking into Savile’s life a long time before he died. He spent a lot of time in Savile’s  company trying to get underneath the famously prickly personality but didn’t get terribly far; this is a man who protected himself through a combination of misdirection, threats, wilful eccentricity and peculiar charm.

The book alternates between a straightforward chronological telling of the life and the exposure of his crimes, with special focus on the travails of the BBC, almost entirely self-inflicted as they flinched from taking forward an investigation into what were long-standing rumours about Savile’s predilections.

He was a big part of popular culture when I was growing up so reading the stuff about his career took me right back to my teenage years. We all thought he was a bit odd but it was always put down to cleverly manufactured eccentricity. And of course that’s how he got away with it all for so long – a famous man with friends at the highest levels of all walks of life who raised huge amounts of money for charity and used all of this to access vulnerable people who wouldn’t be taken seriously if they told anyone. Appalling.

Well written and in my opinion not at all salacious, but as I was reading it I kept wanting to wash my brain out with soap. I can’t in all conscience recommend it, it’s so grim, but it’s also totally compelling.

Book-PileTomorrow morning I fly to Vienna for 10 days (the first part of a 3 week break from work which started today – hurrah!) and because we’re flying and I’m a modern sort of person I am taking my iPad with its lovely Kindle app with me instead of lots of “real” books. I have loads of volumes on there (I’m actually too embarrassed to say how many, so don’t ask me, I won’t tell you) so I’ve set up a collection of potential reads just to be able to manage my choices, and I thought I’d share them here.

So, in no particular order (and with no links, sorry):

  • The Troop by Nick Cutter
  • The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher
  • Horrostor by Grady Hendrix
  • A Long Spoon by Jonathan L Howard
  • The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
  • The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liiu
  • Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
  • Shutter Man by Richard Montanari
  • Into the Fire by Manda Scott
  • The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
  • The Relic Guild by Edward Cox
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  • My Bloody Valentine by Alastair Gunn
  • The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
  • An English Ghost Story by Kim Newman

There’s no way I’m going to get anywhere near all of these, especially as I ‘m already about a quarter of the way through Osiris by EJ Swift. And I’m not as brave as my husband who is on ebooks alone; I’m taking VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic as an emergency just in case my iPad explodes.

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, entering my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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On my way to meet a friend I took a shortcut through the National Theatre, and as is often the case was distracted by bright and shiny things!


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