Shelf Control #115: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus #YoungAdult #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 25th of November, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what it’s about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today my pick is yet another young adult mystery (I seem to be reading or picking these up a lot lately), and the first in a series of the name name with (so far) two books, One of Us is Lying (2017) by Karen M. McManus.

Described as a mash up of The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars, in this one, we have five students, Yale hopeful, Bronwyn (‘who has never publicly broken a rule’); Cooper, sports star (‘who only knows what he’s doing in the basketball diamond’); Nate, bad boy (‘only one misstep away from a life of crime’); Addy, prom queen (‘holding together the cracks in her perfect life’) and Simon, creator of a notorious gossip app at Bayview High. On Monday afternoon, all five walk into detention, but Simon never makes it out of the room–and this just 24 hours before he was set to post their deepest secrets online. All four immediately become suspects but did one of them actually do it or are they ‘the perfect pasties for the killer still on the loose’?

It is only in the last few years that I have been picking up young adult fiction a lot, mostly after coming across titles that sounded interesting on YouTube or Goodreads. And Young Adult mysteries have come to my notice that way as well (as also via NetGalley), and to my own surprise I have ended up enjoying a lot of them. This one being in what sounds like a typical high-school setting had me a little sceptical but being a mystery/whodunit proper (which I mostly can’t resist, as I’m sure is clear from my posts by now:)), I also did want to give it a shot, so I ended up ordering a copy. Goodreads friends have given it pretty positive reviews as well, so let’s see. I’m hoping this will turn out to be an enjoyable read.

The author Karen M. McManus lives in Massachusetts. She holds a masters degree in journalism, and has written three young adult mysteries/thriller, with a fourth book out later this year.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Do you enjoy young adult mysteries? Which are some of your favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image and book info from Goodreads as always (here) as is the author info (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth here

Shelf Control #114: Miss Moorthy Investigates by Ovidia Yu #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 18th of November, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today my pick is a recently acquired cozy mystery, which I picked up after coming across the author by chance, on account mostly of its setting. The book is Miss Moorthy Investigates by Ovidia Yu and the setting is Singapore in the 1970s.

A couple of months ago, in a YouTube/booktube video discussing cosy mysteries on which I happened to leave a comment, I came across the author’s name in another comment which mentioned that Ovidia Yu’s mysteries were set in Singapore. This immediately interested me since I haven’t read very many books set in Singapore (I think Crazy Rich Asians was one series that fell in that category), and I love mysteries (as I’m sure you know by now), so she seemed a perfect author for me to explore. Looking further I found that she has a series set in 1930s Singapore, one featuring Aunty Lee which I think is contemporary, and then this one which seems to be a standalone, which is set in the 1970s. Since this was a short one and a standalone, I thought I might be a good place to start so I ordered it.

1970s Singapore–safe, strait-laced–is terrorized by a bizarre killer, ‘the Strangler’. The Strangler targets single, successful career women, and removes their hands. Miss Moorthy (based on the author’s friend), is a school teacher, and feels safe despite all the rumours around. But then her colleague Evelyn Ngui is murdered and her free-spirited flat-mate Connie encounters the murderer–and that too, in their apartment. Now Miss Moorthy must investigate. But will she be able to find the killer, and with all the secrets she’s uncovering, will she be able to come out alive?

This sounds really delightful since it combines what sounds like an interesting mystery with a setting which I certainly want to explore. All the more so since it is one I don’t really know much about (the time period in the place I mean). So certainly want to pick this one up soon.

Have you read anything by Ovidia Yu before? Which book/s and how did you like it/them? Any other mysteries or books set in Singapore that you enjoyed? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book cover image and info from Goodreads as always (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, set in a dystopian future, The City in the Middle of the Night (here)

Shelf Control #113: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Wednesday, the 11th of November, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where you got it and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week, once again, I’m picking from my recent acquisitions, and is one I just picked up because it was on sale (on Kindle) and it was one I’d been hearing about a lot though I didn’t quite know what the story was about exactly–The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This book was written by American author Mary Ann Shafer but the editor had requested changes which involved substantial rewriting; since her own health was declining at this point, Shafer entrusted the editing and rewriting to her niece, Annie Barrows, author of children’s books.

This one is set just after the Second World War–1946. Juliet Ashton is an author suffering writer’s block. One day she receives a letter from a stranger Dawsey Adams who came across her name written in a second-hand book of essays. And so she enters into correspondence with him and through this become aware of a society he is part of, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. She begins to correspond with other members as well and learns about their love for books, life on the island, and their time under German occupation. And she eventually ends up travelling to Guernsey! The book is told in epistolary form.

This sounds like a read which which combines elements that will be sweet and pleasant–the correspondence which develops between Juliet and the members of the society, but also graver themes like life under German occupation which will probably not be as easy to read about. While I do find books set around the war and the experiences that people went through hard to read about I also do think it important that we are aware of them, so this will be something I would want to pick up. I haven’t watched the film version so far.

Have you read this one? How did you find it? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image and book info from Goodreads (here) and also Wikipedia (here).

Find Lisa’s pick this week, Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner here. This is historical fiction set in the 1960s about two girls for whom life doesn’t quite turn out what they’d imagined.

Shelf Control #112: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig #YoungAdult #Fantasy #TBR #SpookyReads

Wednesday, the 4th of November (wow, this year has really flown past), and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week my pick is yet another young adult read (like last week here), and yet another recent addition to my shelf, but this time one that promises to be spooky and scary, and just right for the season (so is last week’s pick but in a different sense): House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig.

This one is a dark retelling of the Grimm’s fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Although I have read quite a few of the Grimms’ fairytales, I don’t think I’ve read this one, but am familiar with the story. Also I used to (still do, really) enjoy playing a few of the RPG games by Amaranth Games including Ahriman’s Prophecy which incorporates this story–the adventurers in that game have to solve various side-quests and one of these was a version of this when the daughters of a vineyard-owner vanish every night and when our characters follow them to find out, it turns out something on these lines but with a nice, dark yet fun twist. Anyway, I realise I’m getting side-tracked too much so lets get back to the book.

In this book, we meet Annaleigh who lives a sheltered life in a manor by the sea. Her family includes her father, stepmother and sisters. But where once they were twelve, now four of her sisters’ lives have been lost, each death being more tragic than the last, for reasons ranging from the plague to a plummeting fall. A series of visions make her suspicious that these deaths were no accidents. Annaleigh’s sisters have been sneaking out at night in the ball gowns and dancing shoes, dancing all night but with whom? And Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to stop them or join them! But she has to act before the darkness claims her as well.

I came across this book entirely by chance watching booktube videos. And when I looked it up on Goodreads, the description sounded interesting and I noticed that quite a few of my friends had enjoyed this one (and also found it creepy) as well. So when there was a book sale a couple of weeks go, I picked up a nice hardback edition with the pretty cover in the picture above. I am looking forward to reading this one really soon for it seems the perfect read for the season (I know Halloween is gone, but still…).

Have you read this book or any other versions of the Twelve Dancing Princesses? Which one/s and any that you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image and description are as always from Goodreads: here

Find Lisa’s pick this week, Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman set in Hawaii during the Second World War here

Shelf Control #111: The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson #YoungAdult #Mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 28th of October, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where/when you got it and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today my pick is a more recent acquisition (in fact among the latest additions to my shelves), and a book I’m very much looking forward to reading because it happens to be the final book in a mystery series. Truly Devious is a mystery series that follows a dual time line; in the present, we have a young girl Stevie Bell who has secured admission in an unusual school Ellingham Academy where gifted students are allowed to pursue curricula that suit their specific interests and gifts. Stevie’s interest–true crime! And the case she is specifically interested in solving has to do with the school itself. Eighty years ago, just after the school’s founding by tycoon Albert Ellingham, his wife and daughter are kidnapped, and while his wife’s body is recovered, his daughter was never found. The perpetrator identified at the time was unconvincing and Stevie wants to get to the bottom of the case. But then deaths begin to take place in the present as well. In the second book, The Vanishing Stair more developments take place, further deaths, and there are quite a few interesting revelations (my reviews of these are here and here).

This is the third part of the series where Stevie must put together all she has found so far and resolve both the events of the present and past, for though she thinks she has solved what happened all those years ago, has she really? In the present, three people are now dead and there is also someone missing. To add to everything, there is a massive storm heading towards Vermont where Ellingham is located!

I started this series knowing that the mystery/mysteries weren’t going to be solved in one book but over three so the fact that only a few revelations were made, or that there were cliffhangers didn’t bother me too much. But the gap between reading book one and two (eight months as I mentioned in my review) meant that some of the details had disappeared from my mind and it was a while before I got back into the book fully. The case is the same for this one since I read Book 2 in January, and it is again about 8 months. But I’m still excited to see how these mysteries are resolved and all the twists and turns that are to come. I also just found that the series is continuing with another book, and (luckily/thankfully) a new mystery for Stevie to solve now that she’s done with these.

Have you read this series or any of the books? How did you like it/them? What other young adult mysteries have you read that you liked? Any that you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Info and cover image from Goodreads as always (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, a collection of writings by author John Scalzi here

Shelf Control #110: The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

Wednesday, the 21st of October, and time again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what it’s about, why you want to read it, when you got it and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today, the book I’ve picked to feature is actually one of the newer additions to my shelf–The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith. First published in 2003, this is the fifth of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, which has 21 books so far, the latest one out only last month. The series is among one of the many series, short stories, and children’s books by the author. The Ladies Detective agency books are centred around Mma Precious Ramotswe, who at 34 opens a detective agency from the inheritance she receives from her father and uses her knowledge of people to solve the mysteries that come before her. Alongside we also follow the story of her life and the people around her. The books are set in Botswana.

In this one we find Mma Ramotswe engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, who is reluctant to set a date for the wedding. Mma Potakwani, manager of an orphan farm, on the other hand, convinces Mr Matekoni to undertake a parachute jump for charity. Alongside, we have Mme Ramotswe’s cases of which in this one there is Mma Halonga, a rich businesswoman who is set to get married and wants Mma Ramotswe to determine which of the four suitors she’s shortlisted is not merely after her money!

I read the first of this series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency many years ago and found it to be a lovely read with Precious Ramotswe solving all sorts of little cases from a missing boy to a conman, while also learning about Precious and her life so far. But somehow, even though I enjoyed the book so much, I never got around to getting or reading any more of the series. Then when a friend mentioned rereading her collection recently, I remembered that I hadn’t picked any others up. I ended up ordering this one since it was on sale last week. Though I realise these should be read in order, I felt I’d enjoy this one all the same (since the main characters I think are all familiar ones from the first book). I’m sure this will turn out as charming as the first one. I’ve also seen a bit of the TV series based on these books and thought it quite good fun as well.

Book info from Goodreads (here) and wikipedia (here); cover image from goodreads though not the edition I got.

Have you read this one or any other books in the series? Which one/s and how did you find it/them? Any other similar series or books on the same lines that you’ve read? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Shelf Control #109: The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson #Childrensfiction

Wednesday, the 14th of October, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where you got it and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Eva Ibbotson is an author I discovered only after joining Shelfari, and so far I’ve read a few of her children’s books which are fun ones featuring ghosts and monsters and such but they are usually nice while the two-legged humans are the true monsters. In them she also brings up themes like everyone needing to have a home, a place where they can live without fear, ones that are probably close to her heart with his own background of having to escape the Nazi regime with her mother. Yesterday in fact I picked up another of hers Monster Mission (which I’ve featured in an earlier shelf control post-here), which seemed a good spooky read for the season. And so when I thought of this post, I was reminded of another of hers waiting on my TBR, one from a slightly different genre. This is The Dragonfly Pool.

First published in 2008, this one tells the story of Tally Hamilton, a young girl who does not wish to go to boarding school and is furious that this is to be so because of the war. But though she is being sent from London to the countryside, Delderton Hall is not an ordinary boarding school but a gateway to adventure. Here she meets the mysterious Matteo who speaks five languages and belongs to the troubled kingdom of Bergania. Tally finds herself organising a school trip to Bergania. There Prince Karil who hates his life at the palace has only one place where he comes to for comfort–the dragonfly pool in the forests of Bergania. At the pool the two meet, and find themselves in an adventure that involves saving the kingdom itself!

What fun this sounds. Not set in the fantasy worlds (o fantasy versions of our world) that Ibbotson’s others that I’ve read so far are set in, still the school Delderton Hall, described as ‘eccentric, crazy and inspiring’ which sounds like a very interesting place indeed. As does the whole plot of travelling to an interesting new country, and falling into the adventure of a lifetime. I’m certainly looking forward to reading this one.

Have you read Ibbotson before, this one or her monster ones, or even her romances for older reads? Which ones and how did you find them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image as always is from Goodreads (here) and the book description from Goodreads and the blurb at the back of my copy (Macmillan, 2008).

Lisa’s pick this week is also an interesting but weird sounding one: Outside the Dog Museum by Jonathan Carroll (find her post here).

Shelf Control #107: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Wednesday, the 23th of September, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well! This week, I’m writing a shelf control post after missing a couple of weeks since things had gotten a touch too busy.

This week’s pick is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a family saga that takes us from Korea to Japan and tells the story of four generations. First published in 2017, this one has been on nominee lists for many awards including the International Dublin Literary Award in 2019 and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2018.

Pachinko opens in Korea. In the early 1900s, Sunja, the daughter of a fisherman makes a wrong choice in love, falling for a married man, and ending up pregnant. She is offered marriage by a sickly, gentle minister, passing through to Japan. She accepts and we follow her story and those of her children and grandchildren in Japan, through the two world wars, delving into both their lives as well as the background of the lives of Koreans in Japan, culture, and class. The story takes us from street markets to Japan’s finest universities, from pachinko parlours to the world of organized crime.

Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author of fiction and non-fiction including essays and reviews. She was born in Seoul and her family emigrated to the states when she was 7. Before switching to writing full time in 1995, Lee worked as a corporate lawyer in New York. Her debut novel Free Food for Millionaires was published in 2007. Pachinko is her second novel.

I has been coming across this book off and on, in people’s reviews, so when I found this on offer on kindle, I picked it up. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but once again it is setting, time period (the range of it), and the aspects of life and culture the book seems to deal with that drew me to it (all the 4 and 5 star reviews my goodreads friends have given it helped too!).

Have you read this one? How did you find it? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Find reviews of Pachinko by The Bibliofile (here) and the Little Bird Book Blog (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, The Light We Lost (here)

The cover image and book info are from goodreads (here) and author info from wikipedia (here)

Shelf Control #104: Well, Really Mr Twiddle by Enid Blyton #Children’sBooks #TBR #EnidBlyton

Wednesday, the 19th of August, and time once again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and is all about the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

This week my pick is a children’s book by one of my favourite authors (this you’ve probably noticed by now) Enid Blyton. Well, Really Mr Twiddle, first published in 1953, is one of three books featuring the character Mr Twiddle (according to the Goodreads listing), though I know that some short stories featuring him also appear in other, mixed short-story collections, which is where I first came across him. The stories are of course, intended for younger readers!

Mr Twiddle is not a magical creature like some of Blyton’s other such characters (like Mr Meddle the pixie, or Mr Pink Whistle who is half brownie), but a man. He is in fact a very kind old man, with the best of intentions, but he is also very absent-minded which gets him into a series of scrapes, and he ends up doing some very silly things indeed. The story that I remember him from (one I read as a child) was one where his wife is ill in bed with the flu, and asks him to do the errands including fetching and cooking some fish for dinner and picking up her shoes (from the cobbler perhaps?-this I don’t remember exactly). But as things turn out, he fetches and puts away the fish in the cupboard (the cat keeps trying to get at it, and poor Mrs Twiddle can’t work out why) and cooks the shoe for dinner!

Well, Really Mr Twiddle is a short story collection like the other books featuring him, and has fifteen stories, each of which were individually published in Sunny Stories magazine between 1945 and 1952. From the names, the stories involve Mr Twiddle cutting grass, going for a walk, going shopping, making a ‘Christmas mistake’, and getting a surprise among other things, which will very likely involve a fair share of new scrapes. From the sound of these, and my experience of having ‘met’ Mr Twiddle before, I’m sure these will turn out to be pleasant, silly fun, and I’m very much looking forward to reading them.

Do you enjoy rereading old childhood favourites like these? Or rather more stories featuring characters whom you liked as a child? Or were they best enjoyed back then? Which ones are some of you favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image as always from Goodreads; and the older one from the Enid Blyton Society (here)