Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

Books Read and Listened To

A quick round-up of the most recent bunch, in the vague hope of staying on top of things for once...

Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows #10)
by Charlie Cochrane
Published by Cheyenne Publishing
Print book
ISBN 9781937692278

An invitation to stay at a friend of the Stewart family’s stately home can only mean one thing for Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith—a new case for the amateur sleuths! With two apparently unrelated suicides, a double chase is on.

But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the chance of discovery (and disgrace) is ever present—how do you explain yourself when a servant discovers you doing the midnight run along the corridor?

The chase stops being a game for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. And the solution presents them with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve had to make...


A wonderfully complex investigation into what turns out to be a deliciously simple explanation. Which means we get to see lots of delightful characters (and a good scattering of villains). All the regulars either show up or get at least a mention (one day Dr Panesar will come up with an invention that works, heaven help us!) and Mama and Papa Stewart get to detect in their own inimical styles. Hoorah for Edwardian detectives. And I want to know more about that goat too...

By the Sword Divided: Eyewitness Accounts of the English Civil War
by John Adair
Published by CENTURY
Print book
ISBN 9780712602419

This anthology uses original sources to provide eyewitness accounts of the English Civil War, conveying what it felt like to fight at Edgehill, or watch your house being ransacked or find your brother fighting on the other side. Over 50 participants are heard and placed in context. Among the sources used are the memoirs of the Verney family, Lucy Hutchinson's memoirs of her husband, Colonel Hutchinson, Hopton's narrative of his campaign in the west, Elias Archer's "True Relation" of events of 1643, the Fairfax family correspondence, Bulstrode Whitelocke's memorials of English affairs under Charles I and Charles II, Richard Symonds's diary of the marches of the Royal Army, and numerous collections of State Papers, diaries and letters of the period.


A very vivid account of how people felt about the events of the Civil War, told geographically and by framing events rather than strictly chronologically. As such, I'd have preferred more dates to have included the year as well as the month and the day, but that's a minor niggle. Richly illustrated too.

Wigs on the Green
by Nancy Mitford
Read by Jenny Agutter
Published by Penguin Books Ltd
Audio book
ISBN 9780141047461

"Wigs on the Green" by Nancy Mitford is a hilarious satire of the upper classes. Eugenia Malmains is one of the richest girls in England and an ardent supporter of Captain Jack and the Union Jackshirts; Noel and Jasper are both in search of an heiress (so much easier than trying to work for the money); Poppy and Marjorie are nursing lovelorn hearts; and the beautiful bourgeois Mrs Lace is on the prowl for someone near Eugenia's fabulous country home at Chalford, and much farce ensues. One of Nancy Mitford's earliest novels, Wigs on the Green has been out of print for nearly seventy-five years. Nancy's sisters Unity and Diana were furious with her for making fun of Diana's husband, Oswald Moseley, and his politics, and the book caused a rift between them all that endured for years. Nancy Mitford skewers her family and their beliefs with her customary jewelled barbs, but there is froth, comedy and heart here too.

The Mitfords were rather bonkers, and this captures that feeling horrendously well. Eugenia is, of course Unity but more so (and without the trip to Germany and all the horror that led to). Jasper's uncle lives in an asylum build specially for peers (based on the House of Lords so the inmates feel at home). Mrs Lace becomes convinced that her new love is the displaced heir to some minor European principality. The dread pacifists turn out to be more than a bit violent. This audio version was read by Jenny Agutter, and she can do no wrong in my opinion.

People And Places
by James Lees-Milne
Published by John Murray Publishers Ltd
Print book
ISBN 9780719562020

In 1936, James Lees-Milne became Country Houses secretary of the infant National Trust. Already fired with compassion for ancient architecture, 'so vulnerable and transient', he could now pursue what amounted to a vocation. His arrival increased the Trust's permanent staff to four, a close-knit community, somewhat cramped in a stuffy office facing a shunting yard in Victoria. The Trust at that time owned only two country houses, one ruined and the other empty, but changing conditions, accelerated by the War, now brought a stream of offers. James Lees-Milne's chief task was to visit, as ambassador and aesthetic assessor, would-be donors in their domains. So young a man arriving often on a bicycle must have astonished those patrician figures, who themselves might be survivors from the Victorian age. Nor was his task easy: it involved legal thickets, intricate family squabbles, dilemmas of artistic judgement, and owners who, in their fastnesses, might have grown very eccentric indeed. In this book James Lees-Milne describes fourteen houses, including Knole, Blickling, Stourhead and Cotehele. He brings the buildings, their owners and pasts brilliantly to life and tells the sometimes cliffhanging tales of their transfer to the Trust. Readers of the celebrated diaries will not be surprised by the wit and charm in these pages. But everyone, whether the author's devoted following or visitors to the Trust's great houses, will be enchanted by the extraordinary, amusing and touching picture they will find here of an England now lost.


Adventures in genteel poverty, and aristocrats under delusions of their own importance. Lovely pictures of the houses, but I didn't completely warm to the author.

The Carpenter's Tale
by Chris Quinton
Published by Kouros Books
ISBN 9781301000401

It should have been a bit of a break for Mark Renfrew, attending an archaeological conference with his lover, Jack Faulkner. No ghosts, no drama beyond the academic. But it didn't work out that way. The modern Five Star hotel held a dark secret, and Mark knew he had to uncover it before more people were hurt.


A short free read which failed to capture my interest in the related books. Too much relationship stuff with characters I didn't get a chance to care for first, and too high a ratio of sex scene:plot resolution.

by Avery Aster
Published by Ellora's Cave
ISBN 9781419944932

Book 2 in The Manhattanites series

At thirty-three Warner Truman is one of the richest men on the planet, a spa mogul who buys and sells resorts at will. He holds powerful executive’s careers in his well-groomed hands. Nothing is beyond Warner’s reach…until he meets her.

Stunning, tantalizing, and perverse, Taddy Brill captivates Warner’s carnal desire like no woman he’s ever met. A self-made millionaire, Taddy is tougher than steel, more brilliant than diamonds and, at twenty-seven, she’s never depended on a man for anything…until she meets him.

The more Taddy plays with Warner’s affections, driving him to erotic heights, the more she is confronted by a dark past. But before she can love him, Taddy must meet her worst fears head-on or risk losing it all, including herself.


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.

The Governess Club: Bonnie
by Ellie Macdonald
Published by Avon Impulse
ISBN 9780062292247

Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck, and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn't expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and ... handsome man she's ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can't concentrate on anything but his growing infatuation with the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they're doing their best to save the two boys, but will Stephen's feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?


Reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread.
Tags: audio books, ebooks, good-bad-unread, goodreads, print books, reviews
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