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Latest Acquisitions (September – November 2019)

It’s been a busy few months for me and books; if I included books I’d already reviewed in these posts we’d be looking at a good few more, but this way is far more manageable and less repetitious. I’m really looking forward the books below, some will feature here shortly, others a little later; it’s a good mix of genres and types as well as reasons for reading.

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Deirdre Le Faye (ed.): Jane Austen’s Letters – It started in January; I wanted to write about Jane Austen but needed some primary sources. I needed her letters. Using the library would require many renewals. Having a book of Charlotte Brontë’s letters, I decided to research the theme from the later writer’s perspective. (I ended up writing about her sisters’ influence on her instead of the original topic, but it was still interesting.) Over the last several months I’ve had two further Jane Austen ideas that would require a copy of her letters so I finally added it to a year-round wishlist and thank my family very much.

Lillian Li: Number One Chinese Restaurant – A family tries to work itself out when their restaurant suffers disaster. I’m a couple of chapters into this one; it’s on the back-burner and I hope to finish it within a few months. It was on the Women’s Prize longlist and I received it from the UK publisher.

Nancy Bilyeau: The Blue – This is Bilyeau’s fourth book over all and second effective story, her previous three being a trilogy. It’s set a couple of centuries later than her Joanna Stafford books and is about the porcelain industry in 1700s Europe and the construction of blue pigment, one woman’s journey to learn about it in order to be given the chance at becoming an artist.

Robert Galbraith: Lethal White – The continuing story of Comoran Strike, It’s true that I’m still to read the previous three books in this series; I’ve got this one early because I’m collecting the hardbacks, but I will get to them.

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Seishi Yokomizo: The Honjin Murders – From the publisher, this is a murder mystery first published in the 1940s set at the time of a village wedding. Yokomizo was a famous Japanese novelist so I do have this on my too-be-read.

Stein Riverton: The Iron Chariot – A Norwegian classic crime novel first published in 1909 about a murder at a holiday guesthouse where the narrator (the last person to see the victim) joins the investigation after having heard the noise of chains post-incident, a noise known to foreshadow death. From the publisher.

Susmita Bhattacharya: Table Manners – A short story collection that travels all around the globe, looking at love and loneliness in cities. Bhattacharya is a well-respected local writer; I’ve heard her read and her use of language and concepts for the poem performed was lovely.

What books have come into your life recently?

 
Latest Acquisitions (April 2019 – Thanks To My Sister)

A photograph of the books: Anya Seton's Avalon, Dragonwick, and Katherine; Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists Of Avalon; Jean Plaidy's Royal Road To Fotheringhay, and Murder Most Royal; Victoria Holt's My Enemy The Queen; Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile; Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Linger, Forever, and Sinner

Considering this is a different sort of post and also considering I wrote a latest acquisitions a couple of weeks ago, I’ll keep this short. Suffice to say, as I imagine you’ll all understand, I was excited to see the above books in the collection. Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy are one and the same; as Holt the writer’s books can be difficult to get hold of and I’d been recommended them. The Christie is several books into the series, but if what I’ve read is correct, the stories can stand alone – is that right? I’ve wanted to read Anya Seton for years but never knew where to start; that the copy of Katherine has been incredibly well-read made me look it up online and it sounds as though it’s a favourite of her readers. I’d also been wanting to read Maggie Stiefvater but after losing track of her publications I put her books on the ‘maybe’ list; I’m now able to move them back up.

I’m guessing almost all of you will have read at least one of these books or other books by the same authors. Where should I start?

 
Latest Acquisitions (March – April 2019)

Although I provide a brief summary of the story when I publish my monthly round ups, I think there’s value in adding a bit of synopsis here too. Previously it has just been a book cover and a vague sentence or two because I don’t tend to include books I’ve already read, so I’m mixing it up a bit and adding more factual information.

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Anne Melville: The House Of Hardie – A story of two sets of Victorian siblings, one from a trading family and one higher class, this book is the first in a series and was originally published in 1987. It’s being republished in ebook form next week by Agora Books. (Formally Ipso Books – they previously published Laura Pearson’s Missing Pieces which I raved about because it’s set in my home city, more famous as a place from which to depart rather than live in.) Melville, who died in 1998 aged 72, wrote under many pseudonyms, of which Anne was one – her actual name was Margaret Edith Newman.

Dan Richards: Outpost – In this, his second travel/adventure memoir, Richards visits various ‘wild ends of the earth’, continuing in the spirit of his great-great aunt Dorothy who inspired his travels for Climbing Days, and following in the path of his father. Journeys include Svalbard, Norway (perhaps most commonly known as the place where children were taken in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights), and Desolation Peak in the USA.

Guy Stagg: The Crossway – Looking for peace and hope in the idea of a ritual pilgrimage following mental illness, Stagg journeys from Canterbury to Jerusalem, a non-believer on a religious road. The Crossway is one of the eight books shortlisted for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize and the one I hope wins – admittedly I’ve not read much of it yet (current read) but it’s the one that interests me the most; there were a few travel/nature books on the longlist but the judges picked this one and there must be a reason. (I’m gaining a firm interest in this sort of non-fiction for which I probably have to ‘blame’ my father and his Michael Palin, Levison Wood, Bill Bryson… I also have a thing about photographing churches which is also his fault…)

Nicola Cornick: The Woman In The Lake – Cornick’s third time-slipping novel following her successful numerous regency romances, this book takes the reader to both the 1700s and the present day. It’s inspired by Lady Diana Spencer (the 18th century painter). Lydiard Park is the setting; I visited it a couple of years ago. I ordered this book before knowing the story – Cornick’s excellent House Of Shadows led to me putting her on my ‘buy any new novels by this person’ list, and her The Lady And The Laird set it in stone.

Orlando Ortega-Medina: The Death Of Baseball – Moments after Marilyn Monroe dies, a Japanese American called Clyde is born into a dysfunctional family. As he grows up in the abusive house he learns about Monroe and feels a particularly strong connection to her – her death and his birthday are not a coincidence, and he must be her reincarnated form. Meanwhile a very troubled Jewish teenager is sent back to Israel by his parents who hope the change will do him good; there he discovers the films of James Dean. One day, the two teens will meet. (Presumably, ‘Marilyn’ will also meet Joe DiMaggio – I’m really looking forward to seeing how Ortega-Medina uses this aspect of Monroe’s real life story.) Ortega-Medina is the writer of the short story collection Jerusalem Ablaze.

In terms of reviews, the Melville will likely be featured next week. The Stagg will be featured in one way or another on Monday, be it a review or just a generally more detailed post – it all depends on how much reading time I can nab between now and then. The Ortega-Medina is set for early June, a little before the release date. And the last two will be within the next couple of months – the Richards was published a few weeks ago, the Cornick a few months, but regardless of the dates I’d like to read them sooner rather than later.

What books did you recently acquire and do you have any plans in mind as to when you’ll read them? (Perhaps you’re reading them now?)

 
Latest Acquisitions (February – April 2018)

It has again been a while since a post of this kind; my reading speed at the moment is slow, and I’m reading more of the books I already have. I have also got to the point in my blogging where I’ve really, truly, learned what is a good acceptance rate of books. The request-them-all phase bloggers often go through is long over and I appreciate not having to read books back to back. There’s also the fact that it gives me more time to think about what I want to say. I think back to the time a couple of years ago when I had eleven books to read in four weeks, a mix of awards, event preparation, and review copies – I finished them all in time and in fact it was quite exhilarating, but I’d rather not do it again!

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Arundhati Roy: The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness – In the autumn of last year I was in a bookshop and came across two books I haven’t previously come across but found myself really wanting. This was one of them. I didn’t get either of them at that time but they kept coming to mind so I recently decided to go for it, particularly after seeing this book was on the longlist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Edward Carey: Little – Out in October in the UK, this is a novel based on the life of Madame Tussaud. It’s done well so far. Expect a lot of interesting history but also, likely, a fair bit of gore.

Laura Pearson: Missing Pieces – A story of family secrets, out in June. I’m purposefully staying away from reviews until after I’ve read it; the last book I read that had a similar blurb required you stay away from the secret in order to really enjoy it.

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Manu Joseph: Miss Laila, Armed And Dangerous – A very contemporary thriller set after an election in India.

Özgür Mumcu: The Peace Machine – A Turkish novel set at the start of the last century, that questions whether violence could be put to an end.

Polly Clark: Larchfield – This was the second book I found in the bookshop; it switches between a contemporary narrative, and a story of W H Auden.

What was the last book you originally said ‘no’ to but couldn’t get out of your mind?

 
Latest Acquisitions (September – October 2017)

I didn’t realise the last time I posted about acquisitions was January. High time for another; I may write about books in my Reading Life series but unless I’m actively reading/considering reading any one work at that time, it’ll get missed.

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A J Waines: Lost In The Lake – You knew this was coming! This is the author’s latest book and one we’ll be focusing on in our conversation. (I’ll be recording the event and may well write about it here as we’re working with a slightly different approach.)

April Munday: The Heir’s Tale – Released just last week, this is April’s latest book, a medieval romance with a blurb that has me thinking of Elizabeth Chadwick – awesome. You’ll know April from my blog comments; we’ve known each other a while. Look out for my review, it’ll be posted later this season, and may well prompt another foray into stories about the Middle Ages.

Hanif Kureishi: The Last Word – Those times when you read about something, are intrigued and then start seeing it everywhere. Mix that with finding a book that’s a comedy (it reminds me of Alan Bennett), a semi-quick read, and a heavy discount, and buying happens.

J Courtney Sullivan: The Engagements – I’ve wanted to read Sullivan’s Maine for years, but it’s proved very difficult to find in Britain. (I once found a copy but it was very battered and not worth the brand new price.) This is the next best thing.

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Jane Harris: Sugar Money – I saw this in an article last week and noted it was going to be released on 5th October. I studied American slavery and abolition at university and it’s one of the subjects I’ve retained a big interest in. And when you add the author’s name to that… So, yesterday morning, I looked online for stock at my local Waterstones and there was a copy. I got there after work and it was nowhere to be seen on the shelves; I finally found it on the trolley, yet to be shelved. Bit of a laugh with the member of staff; I was most certainly allowed to take stock from the trolley and it was great it hadn’t even made it to the floor before being sold. With this book, I think my December reading list is complete.

Peter Ackroyd: Civil War – A couple of years ago I bought the previous book in this series in hardback, an impulse buy that nevertheless made absolute sense because, as I believe the common phrase goes, ‘because Tudors’, and thought I might get the next. Never did, and I passed that time when hardbacks are replaced by paperbacks. Then a nephew wanted a toy dinosaur, I found myself in The Works, and there was the book for £3. (For anyone not in Britain, The Works is mostly an art shop but they also sell a whole heap of discounted books.)

Tony Peake: North Facing – From the publisher, a book about South Africa set in the political upheaval of the 1960s. I can’t pretend to know anything more than that but the publisher, Myriad, have proved to be good so far.

Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway – Readying myself for Christmas; I was planning to buy Orlando but it wasn’t there when I went in and I decided to take that as a hint that I should be starting with something else.

As you can tell by the essay above, I’m pretty excited about these books! I should also stop spending money on brand new books and concentrate on my backlog. Best intentions and all that. I’m currently living by the famous quote from Erasmus.

Do you ever go to buy a book on its release date?

 

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