Back from London and only bought 3 books?!?

Mind the gap!

Mind the gap!

Yes, that’s right. I went to London to visit Katie Ellwood-Smith and we had a great time together gabbing and getting pedicures. London was still in the midst of its heatwave–despite SkyNews and the BBC claiming it was over–but I am not complaining. I love warm weather.

But how could I go to London and only buy three books?!? I bought more jars of marmalade than books. Oh the pain…I will have to remedy this by booking another London trip soon. (Or maybe that was my modus operandi all along?) 😉

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan

A girl cannot live on pedicures alone. A shout-out, by the way, to Marina at Hand and Foot Spa in Wimbledon Village. Best pedicure ever! 🙂 A girl like me–book nerd that I am–needs books and plenty of ’em. I’ll have to figure out the best window of opportunity for a new London trip…and it must be soon. 🙂

So what books did I buy? A hardbound edition of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (which I bought ages ago and somehow lost). I must replenish my library! 😉 I simply don’t have enough books… though I don’t think Tord will agree here. 😉

Happy reading (and writing)!


Review: The French House is a real pageturner!

ImageJust before I headed to Matera for the Brainstorming at the Spa, something wonderful popped up in my mailbox–Nick Alexander‘s new novel, The French House. Now you may remember I interviewed Nick a few weeks ago for Kim Talks Books and I mentioned that he had a new book in the works. Well, the wait is over. As of today, you can purchase your copy of the novel, which is a sequel to The Case of the Missing Boyfriend.

So while I was en route to Matera via Munich, I read The French House and found myself with a book I didn’t want to put down. Fellow book nerds, you know the feeling–when a book is so good you get annoyed when you have to set it aside to do other things–like talk to people, order coffee, say thank you to cabin personnel…that sort of thing. Well, The French House was just that sort of book for me.

The novel is a continuation of CC’s story. She’s found love with the very delectable Victor, who has inherited a farmhouse in the south of France and decided to make a go of it with renovating the house and living his dream of keeping goats and making cheese. CC goes to France to see Victor and, even though life in the mountains is not the south of France life she dreamt of, she is charmed enough to imagine moving there fulltime with Victor. Once she’s back in London, her job feels pointless and she misses Victor enough to make a snap decision to join him there and help him with the renovation.

What starts off as a dream quickly turns into a bit of a nightmare for CC as she realizes that getting things done in the French countryside is more difficult than she and Victor imagined and then there’s Victor’s eccentric aunt who gives CC the heebie-jeebies. Add to it a number of strange mishaps, CC’s mum and the new man in her life, and you have the makings of a story that keeps you hooked until the very last page.

So do I recommend The French House? You bet I do! CC and Victor’s story is not your picture-perfect romance–but who wants that? That would be boring! They are both flawed enough that you love them even when you want to shake some sense into them.

So what do I give The French House? Five stars! And I hope Nick’s got a new book coming out soon! 🙂


What I bought in London…

Normally when I am in London I go to Waterstone’s near Piccadilly Circus and spend way too much money. However, when I was in London last week, I spent most of my time in South Kensington and didn’t really feel like battling the other tourists and the Tube and the humidity. Yes, it was humid and warm though a tad bit rainy on occasion. And heat, humidity and the Tube are not a great combination. Last summer, when I was in London for the weekend, it was around 30C (86F) and taking the Tube was awful in the heat. So I walked everywhere this time and ended up at Harrod’s, where there is a Waterstone’s on the third floor. It’s not as massive as the one at Piccadilly but it has a good selection so I bought four books while I was there. And what did I buy…?

"My Last Duchess" by Daisy Goodwin

My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin. The US version of this book is called The American Heiress. I’ve already started reading this one, which tells the story of an American heiress named Cora Cash (whose life is loosely based on that of Consuelo Vanderbilt, the American heiress of her time and who ventured to the UK and married  the land-rich but cash-poor Duke of Malrborough) whose socially ambitious mother is determined to find a titled husband for her. Within the first week of arriving in England, Cora meets and becomes engaged to Ivo, the Duke of Wareham.

There’s also a very interesting subplot with Bertha, Cora’s black maid, and the duke’s valet, Jim. Here we get to see how Bertha experiences culture clash, racism and a sense of liberation. Cora, on the other hand, feels more and more stifled by the title she now bears and there are a lot of things she still doesn’t know about the man she married… It’s a page turner.

Cover of "Vaclav & Lena" by Haley Tanner

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner. Vaclav and Lena meet as children in an ESL class in Brooklyn. Vaclav dreams of becoming a magician while Lena takes comfort in Vaclav’s adoration of her and in his family who welcome her.

Then one day Lena disappears and Vaclav tries to figure out what may have happened to her and why she left him. For the next seven years, he says goodnight to her and wonders if she is somewhere doing the same. On the eve of Lena’s 17th birthday, he finds out the truth.

I haven’t started reading this one yet but I opened it to a random page before buying it and was hooked.


"The People Next Door" by Christopher Ransom

The People Next Door by Christopher Ransom. This one was sort of an impulse buy. It sounds like a horror novel about what happens when Mick and Amy Nash’s new neighbors–who seem perfectly normal at first glance–turn out to be not at all what they pretend to be. Mick finds out there is something very wrong with the neighbors and is determined to find out the truth.

Supposedly, The People Next Door is “…the most terrifying, unforgettable novel you’ll read all year”. I’ve read some reviews online that say otherwise. However, I will give it a try. I haven’t read a horror novel in a while. I’ll let you know if I was terrified by it or if it was indeed unforgettable.


"A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan

And finally, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I think everyone has already heard quite a lot about A Visit from the Goon Squad–it having won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as being adapted by HBO for a TV series.

A Visit from the Goon Squad is essentially a novel-in-stories, i.e. a collection of stories that are connected and can either be read like a novel or as stories in their own right. I am looking forward to diving into this book so I may do that as soon as I finish reading My Last Duchess.

Of course, I now have A Storm of Swords and A Feast of Crows (books 3 & 4 in the Song of Ice and Fire series, a.k.a Game of Thrones series) by George R.R. Martin so I may be tempted to start with them instead. I didn’t buy these two in London–I’d already ordered them a few days before I left Stockholm. Well, I think I have enough books to keep me busy for a while. 🙂