The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts

Annie Darling

When her friend, mentor and boss dies Posy unexpectedly inherits the bookshop she's worked in all her life.
Not a natural business person she still realizes that something has to change for the shop to remain open.
She decides to re-open the shop as a specialist in the genre she loves - romantic fiction. Unfortunately she has to deal with her boss' rude grandson who is determined that the shop should be a specialist crime bookshop.
Inevitably after many stumbling blocks romance ensues.
I quite enjoyed this one and on balance more than the second book in the series even though the quality was roughly the same. Mainly because the characters in this novel aren't as pointlessly dumb as in the follow up.

Rating: B



Miracle on 5th Avenue

Sarah Morgan

The third member of the Urban Genie crew (see Sleepless in Manhattan) finds love.
Asked to decorate an author's apartment over Christmas while he's on retreat in Vermont sweet-natured Eva discovers that he's not in Vermont at all.
Stuck in the flat with the attractive but brooding Lucas Blade sparks start to fly.
Of course it wouldn't be a romance if there weren't obstacles in their way.
Far more fun than the first book in the series I burned through this one over the course of New Years Eve. If you like a sweet predictable romance then this is one for you.

Rating: B-




Robin Sloan

Stressed San Francisco based programmer Lois Clary finds comfort in takeaway sourdough and soup. When the proprietors have to leave the US they leave their sourdough starter with her and it leads to a transformation in her life.
A slight but enjoyable tale with a very likeable protagonist.

Rating: B+



Rogue One

Alexander Freed

By the numbers novelization of the enjoyable Star Wars film. I was hoping for some more fleshing out of the story but there's just next to nothing new in there at all.

Rating: B-



One Dance With a Duke

Tessa Dare

In this slight historical romance shy, retiring Lady Amelia d'Orsay uncharacteristically pushes herself forward to dance with a moody and mysterious Duke in order to beg him to release her brother's debt.
One thing leads to another and she quickly finds herself married to the selfsame Duke and involved various social intrigues.

Rating: B-



Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Jake is a misfit teen in Florida. He grew up loving his Grandfather Abe's fantastic tales from his childhood, stories filled with invisible boys, girls that can float or generate fire. When he finds his grandfather murdered, seemingly by a monster, it causes him so much trauma that he ends up going to a psychologist. In order to deal with his grandad's death he's advised to travel the Welsh island where Abe grew up to try and come to terms with things. Once there he discovers that the fantastic tales are all true and that he's found himself not in an impossible new world of peculiar children and time travel but he is also in terrible danger from the monsters that killed Abe.
I've been meaning to read this for ages and when I caught the film on TV recently all it's annoying flaws drove me to pick up the book to see if made more sense than the film. It certainly explains certain things better and there's a lot of things that the film makers changed for no real reason that fit better tonally. I'm still not sure it actually completely makes sense. I liked it enough that I've picked up the second book in the series and I'll give that go too.

Rating: B+



Only You Can Save Mankind

Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save MankindThis is the first of the Johnny Maxwell young adult series and the first of Terry Pratchett's books I've been able to read since his death.
I stayed over at my parents on Christmas Eve and I woke up early on Christmas morning before dawn. As I sat, slightly cold, watching the sun rise over the Forth I borrowed this ebook from Edinburgh Overdrive.
I first read it a long time ago before this blog existed and never again since I started keeping a record of my reading.
This short book retains all of Pratchett's humour, insight, and empathy while squarely viewing the world from a the perspective of a twelve year old boy.
I don't want to spend a lot of time on the plot of this one - I just want to recommend it.
Everyone should read Terry Pratchett. If the fantasy trappings of Discworld are putting you off this is as good a place to start as any.

Rating: A-



The Kept Woman

Susan Donovan

the kept woman

Rating: C+



Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan

mr penumbra's 24 hour bookstoreClay Jannon is an unemployed graphic designer and web developer who finds a job on the evening shift at a weird little 24 hour bookstore.
Pure boredom and intellectual curiousity combine so that he accidentally unlocks a secret about the bookstore draws him into adventure.
For some reason I kept expecting this story to go in different directions than it actually did. Something about the setup made me think of grand conspiracies and fantastic revelations and instead it kept on being charming and grounded in steady reality.
It's certainly an enjoyable read and it has worthwhile things to say about the value of communities, the importance of archives and the need for open access to knowledge.
This one is recommended for those like their mainstream fiction on the quirky side.

Rating: B+



The Cormorant

Chuck Wendig

the cormorantThe third Miriam Black book (after Blackbirds and Mockingbird) finds our favourite foul-mouthed and (ever so) slightly unhinged psychic pulled into a seemingly inescapable trap in the weirdest parts of Florida.
I found this book hugely enjoyable. It started off slowly but as the plot unfolds it reveals itself to be the strongest entry in the series yet.
One way it does this by giving Miriam some resolution about parts of her past. It also helps that when Wendig gets to the sharp end of events he makes it deeply personal for our nomally detached and cynical protagonist.
This is also the most overtly fantastical Miriam Black book to date but it's applied in a way that adds depth to Miriam's world without losing the noir feel.
The Cormorant is highly recommended but you will need to read the earlier books to get full value (luckily they're also great reads).

Rating: A-