This Week in Books 05.07.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Happy Wednesday, Everyone! This week has gone so quick I totally forgot to schedule this post! Oh well, it’s here now. Today is a good day because it was my last day at work until a week on Monday. Yayyyy! I can’t really afford to go away, but my friend Conny is coming over from Germany for a few days and we’ll be spending most of it at Wimbledon to see the tennis, so I’m excited! Whoop.

Anyway, here’s what my week has looked like…

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Now: White Cat ~ Holly Black

It finally happened! I’m about half way through and really enjoying it but it’s taken a bit of a backseat since Wimbledon started on Monday.

Then:  The Horse with My Name ~ Colin Bateman

Loved this. After a long break from Bateman’s books it was a welcome comfort read. Funny and action-packed with a perfect balance of violence and silliness!

Next: ???

Probably Retribution Rails which isn’t out until November but I’m really eager to read it. Might sneak Strawberries at Wimbledon in first though.

New on the Shelves

Netgalley:

I’m weirdly not a fan of dogs (apart from Manchee) but I thought this sounded funny and interesting…it’s not out until September.

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Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…

Bought: 

This cute-looking short novella is currently free on Amazon so I couldn’t resist. Good time of the year for it!

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The one that got away?

Sipping Pimms and eating fresh strawberries at Wimbledon are the perfect start to the British summer for Rayne. Immersed in her career as a journalist in the City, she’s been too busy and distracted to give men – or other outside interests – much of a chance lately. That’s something her friend Lily thinks she should correct, coming up with the perfect ‘sex with an ex’ solution – much to the amusement of the crowd on Centre Court!

When Rayne runs into old flame Adam, former good guy who is now all grown up with a hint of bad boy about him, it’s a tempting thought. But is that such a good idea, when she knows that four years ago, she broke his heart?

Back from travelling the world and settling into running the family business, Adam never expected to see his university girlfriend again. And he definitely didn’t think he would still be angry with her for running away, or that she would still have the same stunning effect on him. But she does, so maybe the perfect way to get her out of his dreams and from under his skin, is to have a hot sex-filled night with her? The only trouble is, one night might not be enough…

First love – can you ever go back?

 

I’m Waiting On…

…The  Cruel Prince, because… I need more Holly Black in my life. Plus, if it’s anything like The Darkest Part of the Forest then it’s going to be epic!

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Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Expected Publication:  January 2nd 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?
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Top Ten Tuesday: All the LOLZ #FunnyFiction #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is…Top Ten Books to Make you Laugh

  • A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon: I found this book really funny as well as bittersweet and slightly heartbreaking. George was darkly hilarious without meaning to be.

“George Hall doesn’t understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. ‘The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.”

 

  • Mystery Man & Dan Starkey by Colin Bateman: I feel like I’ve  talked about Bateman’s books too much on this blog since I started it,  but it’s impossible not to include both of his hilarious series on this list. They are black humour at its best. I did a whole feature on it here. And, Dan Starkey is a feckless journalist who finds himself in ridiculously stupid yet very sticky situations, constantly! [Review]

“Serial Killer Week got off to an inauspicious start when the opening wine and bean evening was invaded by a former prisoner who misinterpreted the poster, but he was at least able to give us the professional’s view of the genre.”

  • The Gates by John Connolly: Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell are a hilarious duo in John Connolly’s book about demon neighbours, portals, and the Large Hadron Collider. 
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy: A sarcastic skeleton detective and a girl who kicks ass…what more could you want? 
  • Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins: Pitched as ‘Legally Blonde meets The Terminator’, this book was full of genuine laughs and also laughs from the ridiculousness of it. In a good way. It was a lot of fun. [Review]
  • The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell: I absolutely loved this book. I don’t think it was supposed to be a comedy so to speak but protagonist Samantha Whipple really made me laugh. [Review] 
  • Horns by Joe Hill: I’m not really sure why I found this book funny, but I did. It was pretty dark and twisted but the protagonist’s reaction to what was happening to him was amusing. [Review] 
  • The Martian by Andy Weir: Mark Watney provides some much needed humour in this book about one man stranded on Mars. [Review] 

    “If I could have anything, it would be a radio to ask NASA the safe path down the Ramp. Well, if I could have anything, it would be for the green-skinned yet beautiful Queen of Mars to rescue me so she can learn more about this Earth thing called ‘lovemaking’.” 

  • I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak: It’s been a long time since I read this one so I can’t remember it in great detail, but I do remember that I loved Ed Kennedy’s self-deprecating sense of humour in it and that it made me laugh.

Curses, Nurses, and a Ticket to Bedlam…

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Title: The Prisoner of Brenda
Series: Mystery Man #4
Author: Bateman
Edition: Paperback, 416 pages
Published: October 25th 2012 by Headline
Genre(s): Crime; Mystery
Disclosure? Nope, it was a gift from a friend.

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When notorious gangster ‘Fat Sam’ Mahood is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested nearby. But he seems to have suffered a breakdown. Incarcerated in a mental institution, he’s known only as the Man in the White Suit. The suspect remains an enigma until Nurse Brenda calls on Mystery Man, former patient and owner of No Alibis, Belfast’s finest mystery bookshop, to bring his powers of investigation to bear… However, before our hero can even begin, the Man in the White Suit is arrested for the murder of a fellow patient. But is he a double murderer or a helpless scapegoat? Intrigue, conspiracy, and ancient Latin curses all combine to give the Small Bookseller with No Name his most difficult case to date.

I’m a huge fan of Colin Bateman and have been slowly working my way through his extensive back catalogue since I read the first book in this series, Mystery Man, in 2009.

The books are centered around The Man With No Name, owner of mystery bookshop, No Alibi’s in Belfast. He is an unhinged, hypochondriac addicted to twix’s and Starbucks, and one of those characters that is absolutely hilarious to read, but if you knew him, he would be insufferable.

I’ve said it many times before, but the best way I can describe the man with no name is Bernard Black from Black Books, who inadvertently ends up trying to solve crimes, both big and small.

 

The Prisoner of Brenda started off with gusto and I was literally LOL-ing at every page.

Nurse Brenda asks Mystery Man for his help in finding out who killed Fat Sam Masood, in the hopes that he will clear her dumb-struck patient who just happens to be the chief suspect in the murder.

I must say, I loved the first half of this book, and as I said, it made me laugh so much, but I didn’t enjoy the mystery as much as the other books in the series, and so the second half was a bit of a disappointment.

Quite a chunk of this book sees Mystery Man incarcerated in the same mental institution as The Man in White Suit, and while, we can only imagine that he got himself sectioned on purpose, we’re never quite sure – afterall he is pretty insane on any normal day as it is.

I enjoyed that element of it, but it lost its magic for me when he begins to become more ‘normal’, due to lack of coffee and the dubious cocktail of drugs he buys on the internet. Much to my dismay, my interest started to wain.

However, there were some great moments. I loved the relationship between Alison and Mystery Man as much as I have in earlier books, and his mother provides a lot of black humour as always, especially when she almost kills poor Jeff (the hired help) with a lamp.

I finished The Prisoner of Brenda on a bit of a meh, but I’m still looking forward to more. It definitely remains one of my favourite series, and one that I urge people to pick up. This one just wasn’t my favourite of the bunch.

You can’t be brilliant all the time, right? Not that Mystery Man himself would ever agree with that!

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All books in Bateman’s Mystery Man series are available now in paperback from Waterstones.

Incoming!

Don’t you just love book arrival day?

I know I keep saying how out of control my TBR pile is, BUT I had some vouchers for my birthday so it doesn’t count, right!?

I really wanted to buy these last year but didn’t get round to it. So pretty!

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The Immortal Rules was £1 in my local supermarket so I couldn’t resist and the other three were all gifts for Christmas or my birthday.

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Too many books, so little time.

I’m especially excited about Zombies Vs Unicorns!

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It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

Stupid Question!!

Favourites Friday #9: Mystery Man (and Laughing So Much You Get Funny Looks In Public)

Click Images for Goodreads.

Click Images for Goodreads.

Colin Bateman is a legend. He has a huge amount of books in his back catalogue and the Mystery Man books are my absolute favourite. The first time I read this, I remember being on the tube and finding myself in fits of laughter and getting some very funny looks from the other passengers. I think The Bookseller With No Name is possibly one of the best fictional characters I have read (big statement – I know!).

If you’ve ever seen Black Books, imagine Bernard Black trying to solve a mystery…That!

Blurb: A superbly gripping and blackly funny mystery by the king of the comic crime caper.

He’s the Man With No Name and the owner of No Alibis, a mystery bookshop in Belfast. But when a detective agency next door goes bust, the agency’s clients start calling into his shop asking him to solve their cases. It’s not as if there’s any danger involved. It’s an easy way to sell books to his gullible customers and Alison, the beautiful girl in the jewellery shop across the road, will surely be impressed. Except she’s not – because she can see the bigger picture. And when they break into the shuttered shop next door on a dare, they have their answer. Suddenly they’re catapulted along a murder trail which leads them from small-time publishing to Nazi concentration camps and serial killers…

Many of Bateman’s characters are hilariously inept yet tenacious but Mystery Man is so perfect with his Irish wit and eccentricities. He’s a complete eejit, but you have to love him. He gets himself into the most ridiculous situations, and does some awful things, but y’know, his heart’s in the right place.

There are so many great lines in this book it’s hard to choose, but I have managed it, just for you:

“Bookselling is like prostitution, you sell your wares, you close your eyes, and you never fall in love with the clients. You also keep your fingers crossed that they won’t ask for anything perverted.”

“I gave her my hard look, which is like my normal look but harder. At this point, if she’d had any sense, she should have asked for ID, and I could have shown her my Xtravision card and my kidney donor card and dribbled off into the distance ranting about this or that, but as it happened my hard look proved more than adequate”

He was the type of man women said they hated, they absolutely hated, they absolutely and categorically hated, and then they went to bed with him. I was the type of man women said they hated, and then they went home.”

“Serial Killer Week got off to an inauspicious start when the opening wine and bean evening was invaded by a former prisoner who misinterpreted the poster, but he was at least able to give us the professional’s view of the genre.”

Also, I have a morbid fear of rates, and mice, and nettles and wasps and jagged cans and rotting food and damp newspapers and the unemployed.”

About Colin Bateman
Colin Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. His book Murphy’s Law was adapted for the BBC television series Murphy’s Law (2001–2007), featuring James Nesbitt.

This post has also reminded me that this should be arriving sometime soon- completely funded by Kickstarter.
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Colin Bateman’s first collection of short fiction and drama. Dublin Express is a collection of five rare short stories from one of Ireland’s most acclaimed novelists, together with the complete script of his hugely successful first play, National Anthem.

Also in the Mystery Man Series:
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