Shelf Control #138: Catnip by Valerie Tate

Wednesday, the 5th of May, 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 its 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!

My pick today combines several things I enjoy, and is not unsurprisingly a mystery. From my seemingly endless pile of mysteries on Kindle, today’s pick is Catnip by Valerie Tate. First published in 2014, Catnip is the first in a series, the Dunbarton Mysteries, which has six books so far, each set around a member of the animal world–Catnip, Horse Sense, Frog’s Legs, and so on. And the title and cover of this one should reveal the other thing that attracted me to this title–the kitty of course (but really, I would read anything with animals but with caution as I don’t like it when they are harmed or hurt in any way, even in a story).

In this one, an elderly matriarch dies leaving everything she has to her cat. Set in Dunbarton, Ontario, this is a mystery with a cat right at the centre of it. The dysfunctional Dunbar family is expectedly rattled when the family fortune is left to the cat, and before long we see catnapping and even murder (not the cat, I’m fairly certain). While the cat is formidable and proves to be more than a match for the humans, he is unfortunately caught one day, stuffed into a sack and carried away. The estate’s lawyer, Christopher Mallory and the Dunbars themselves are under suspicion but when a murder occurs, Christopher finds himself confronting a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to conceal their identity.

This one sounds really cute, and I am pretty sure from the whole idea of the series that nothing will happen to kitty. Mysteries are of course, a staple read for me and one with a cat, and one who can outsmart everyone is just the perfect kind–how could I resist? While I have read books set in Canada (L.M. Montgomery for starters), I don’t think I’ve read a mystery set in Canada so that should be fun too.

Have you read this one or any of the others in the series? Which one/s and how did you find it? Any other animal centric mysteries that you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Lisa’s pick this week is a book that’s on my shopping list as well, The Familiars by Stacy Halls (here)

Book cover image and info from Goodreads (here)

Shelf Control #135: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Wednesday, the 14th of April, and time once 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 its 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 the first of a trilogy of the same name, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. This combines fantasy and history to create an exciting tale of war, treachery, and magic.

This is the story of Rin who aces the Keju, a test to train at the Academies. This is a surprise to authorities who can’t believe a war orphan can do this, to her guardians who wanted only to marry her off, and to Rin herself, finally free of the servitude and despair of her daily existence. She is to attend Sinegard, an elite military school. But this is doubly difficult with her peasant background, colour and poverty which make her the target of her rivals. Facing them, she finds she possess a magical but lethal power–shamanism. Meanwhile their kingdom which has experienced war but is now living in peace and has turned somewhat complacent is brought to the brink of war again–the Third Poppy War. And it falls to Rin and her powers to save her kingdom and people.

I’d been hearing about this book a lot, and while I don’t usually like war-centric or battle-centric stories, the story dis sound interesting. A couple of months ago I read She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chen which while very different from this, is also a combination of history with some fictional and fantasy elements (more specifically, she gives the story of Zhu Chiongba, the founder of the Ming Dynasty an interesting spin). I enjoyed that story very much and as a result, also became more keen to try out this one, and ended up ordering myself the first instalment in the series. That it has a strong female character and an underdog of sorts who manages to overcome various odds makes it all the more interesting and I want to pick it up soon.

Have you read this book or the series? How did you find it? Worth the praise? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Find Lisa’s pick this week, The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan here

Book description and cover image via Goodreads as always (here)

Shelf Control #130: To Fear a Painted Devil by Ruth Rendell

Wednesday, the 10th of March, 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, 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’s is another mystery, this time by Ruth Rendell, an author I want to explore more of. I have read a couple of her Inspector Wexford books but she’s written a number of novels and short story collections and I want to pick up a few more. To Fear a Painted Devil is a standalone first published in 1965. This is set in a fictional housing development, Lichester, separated from the grander houses in the area by a line of trees. In our story, Patrick Selby dies on the night of his beautiful wife’s birthday party. At the end of the evening, Patrick is attacked by wasps suffering several bites, and the next day he is found dead. But was it the wasps that killed him? Apparently not, for Dr Greenleaf believes that someone has poisoned him. But who?

English author Ruth Rendell, best known for her character Inspector Wexford, wrote thrillers and psychological murder mysteries. Born in Essex in 1930, she became a features writer on her local Essex Paper after high school. Her first published novel was From Doon with Death in 1964, the first Wexford book, before which she had written two unpublished novels. Besides the twenty-four Wexford books, she also wrote several standalones and short-story collections, and a number of books under her pseudonym Barbara Vine. To Fear a Painted Devil was her second book.

This is a short volume and sounds fairly interesting. From Goodreads reviews I see the victim was expectedly a nasty character and more than one person had a motive. I’ve only read one other book where wasps were the cause of death (though I realise here they probably aren’t) but should be interesting to see how it turns out.

Have you read Rendell? Wexford books or others as well? How did you find them? Any you’d recommend? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Find Lisa’s pick this week, the Wayward Pines books, by Black Crouch here.

Book cover and description from Goodreads (here) and author info from Wikipedia (here)

Shelf Control #125: Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Wednesday, the 3rd of February, and time for Shelf Control once again (Can’t believe January has already zoomed past)! 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 is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where and 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!

This week my pick is another young adult title, somewhat relatable to what I’m currently reading which is The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. This is Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. This was another book I ended up getting a copy of after coming across it on Booktube, and is again a relatively recent purchase. This was of course ordered online and is a paperback copy.

This is a novel in verse written by Haitian-American author Ibi Zoboi and one of the exonerated five, Yusef Salaam and is set around the issue of wrongful incarceration, and how it can affect a teenager. Our main character is Amal Shahid, an artist and poet, but is seen as disruptive and unmotivated in his art school–biased despite its diversity. One fateful night an altercation in a gentrified neighbourhood turns into tragedy for Amal, who finds that all the talk about boys being boys is applicable only when the boys are white. But Amal is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and finds himself in prison at just sixteen. In despair and almost-sunk by his predicament he turns to his art. This is the story of how he is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth in a system that can well take away both.

This sounds like a powerful tale of discrimination, stereotyping, racism, and indeed how the system that is supposed to protect the innocent often ends up targeting them instead. I’ve read a lot of great reviews of this book, especially about the emotion it captures. I know this will be another difficult read in terms of its subject and themes, but again I think it is one that one needs to pick up. Other than perhaps The Sisters of the Winter Wood, a fantasy tale of two sisters based on Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, in which one sister’s perspective was told in verse, I haven’t really read a novel in verse before (though there are a few that I do keep meaning to pick up) so this will be a new experience in that sense as well.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Any others like this that you’d recommend? Or novels in verse generally? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book Info as always from Goodreads as is the cover image (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (here), a true crime account.

Shelf Control #122: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Wednesday, the 13th of January, 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, simply pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, what makes you want to read it, where and when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget 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!

After starting off Shelf Control this year with a non-fiction title, this week I’m back to fiction. Today my pick is one of my more recent acquisitions, The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. Published in 2020, this is another of the young adult titles that I first came across through Booktube. I picked up a paperback (ordered online), just this past December.

Set in 1992 in Los Angeles, the book tells the story of Ashley Bennett, a teenager living a more or less perfect life her parents have created for their family. They live in a big house in an affluent neighbourhood; Ashley is in her senior year, and her parents have kept her and her sister protected against racism, creating the model black family image. But all of this changes one day. After brutally beating a black man named Rodney King half to death, four officers of the LAPD are acquitted. Violent protests break out and LA burns. Suddenly Ashley finds that she is not just an ordinary girl, but one of the ‘black kids’. While Ashley tries to carry on with life as usual, she must face the world splintering around them, the prejudices of her friends that are now rising to the surface, and question with the rest of the city, who is the ‘us’ and the ‘them’?

This is of course a book that deals with issues of race, class and identity and I felt both from the subjects dealt with and the real-life incident around which it is set, this is an important book to read, and one that becomes even more relevant in the current scenario. I’m expecting this one to be as hard-hitting and powerful as Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, and want to pick this one up very soon.

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

Cover image from Goodreads as always; book info from Goodreads (here) and the blurb on my copy.

Find Lisa’s pick this week, a book I enjoyed my recent revisit of, The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie here.

Shelf Control #121: Father Goose by William Lishman

Wednesday, the 4th of January, and time for Shelf Control once again–the first one of 2021! 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 (in my case the latter). 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 and 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!

My first pick for Shelf Control in 2021 is to my own surprise a non-fiction title, but since despite enjoying non-fiction, I seem to turn more to fiction when I pick up something to read, there are always more non-fiction titles waiting on my TBR. And these including this one are ones I really do want to read. This week’s pick is Father Goose by William Lishman.

First published in 1995, Father Goose is the real-life story of William Lishman, a reclusive Canadian sculptor of international renown. He was also an environmentalist, animal lover and an inventor. In 1993, he took off from his farm in Ontario in a small aircraft designed by himself and led eighteen Canada geese south to Virginia. The following April, they returned unaided to their home and surrogate ‘father’. This autobiographical account tells of his experiences. This is a short volume of under 200 pages and also features photographs of Lishman, the airplanes and the geese.

This book has actually been on my TBR pile a long time, probably five years or so. I had got a copy as a present and although I really wanted to pick it up (and still do), I didn’t get down to reading it. I love the whole idea of the book–in fact in awe just thinking about it. Imagine not only looking after and developing the trust of the birds but also undertaking a journey to get them to migrate south, and that too by making your own plane!!! This is certainly something I want to read about and know more about–how he started looking after the geese, why he needed to take them south himself, and all the other details. I think I read somewhere that his work helped in the preservation of cranes.

This book was also converted into a film Fly Away Home which I haven’t seen but which is said to have taken many liberties with the story.

Have you read this one? How did you like it? Or have you watched the film version? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Find Lisa’s pick this week, a children’s title, The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt here

Shelf Control #120: The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey

Wednesday, the 30th of December, and time for Shelf Control once again–the last one of 2020 if you can believe it! 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 relatively newer acquisition and not surprisingly once again a mystery–The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey. Last year I read and reviewed A Murder at Malabar Hill which was the first in this series set in 1920s India featuring the fictional Pervin Mistry, India’s first female lawyer (based on the real-life Cornelia Sorabji and Mithan Tata Lam). Pervin has struggled against all odds (though she does belong to a relatively well-to-do family of lawyers) to get her degree but can’t practice since female lawyers are not socially accepted at this point. So she joins her father’s firm where as luck is on her side, a case comes in involving three purdhnashin widows (in seclusion), who only she can speak to being a woman. Of course, there is a murder mystery involved which she solves as well. Alongside we go back in time and learn more about Pervin’s life so far. This was a book I really enjoyed and so when the sequel came out, of course I had to get it. I bought this one around mid-October.

This, the second installment, take us to 1922, and to a fictional princely state. India had around 560 princely states until independence, and though most were in an alliance with the British, their internal matters were largely their own. In this book, we travel to Satapur, a princely state in the Sahyadri Mountains where after the Maharaja and his teenage son’s death, the dowager queen and her daughter-in-law rule. A lawyer is found to be required when the two ladies end up in a dispute over the young crown prince’s education. Of course the Maharanis live in purdah, and so it must be a woman lawyer who meets them–and that of course is Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female lawyer. In the Satapur Palace, Pervin finds cold-blooded power play and vendettas. Before long she falls into a trap–can she escape and save the royal children?

From reviews, it seems this installment is not as enjoyable as the first one though it is still a good one. And since I enjoyed the first one so much and love historical mysteries, I do want to give this one a try. What interests me most is the setting in a princely state–I know of them but would want to know what life there was really like–not very pleasant it seems from teh description. A third installment in this series also featuring a Prince, The Bombay Prince is supposed to come out next year.

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

Find Lisa’s pick this week, Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris here.

Book info and cover image from Goodreads here

Shelf Control #119: The Spy of Venice by Benet Brandreth

Wednesday, the 23rd of December, 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!

The second-last Shelf Control post this year, wow, it does seem to have flown past in some ways while mostly just dragging on in others. Today my pick is historical fiction, and a book I’d almost forgotten I had since it had gotten pushed to the back row in my shelf. This is The Spy of Venice (2016) by Benet Branderth. This is the first of so far two books.

This one as you can see from the cover is centred around William Shakespeare. A young Shakespeare has fled Stratford to seek his fortune in London where he falls in with a band of players. But there he is also entrusted with a crucial mission, and dispatched to Venice. In Venice he is dazzled by the city’s masques and its beauties, and doesn’t quite recognise the danger he is in. Assassins with sharp knives are on his trail, and also lurking in the shadows is a cruel and clever killer.

This sounds like such good fun–having Shakespeare cast as a spy/secret agent of sorts and that too in Italy where so many of his plays are set. I’m excited to think about not only the story which sounds entertaining in itself but how the author might have woven in perhaps incidents from which Shakespeare got some inspiration for the works he went on to write.

Goodreads readers have given it mixed reviews though mostly on the positive side even from those who didn’t love it. I had picked this one (paperback) up from an online sale because the description sounded like good fun–probably a couple of years ago (may be three), but since it got pushed into the back row of one of my shelves I haven’t gotten down to reading it yet.

Have you read this one or the other book in the series? How did you like it? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Book info and cover image from Goodreads (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, Dreams Underfoot by Charles De Lint here.

Shelf Control #118: Crime at Christmas by C.H.B. Kitchin #TBR #Mystery

Wednesday, the 16th of December, 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, when you got it, 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!

With Christmas around the corner, I was looking up my TBR pile for winter/Christmas themed books and found this one which is once again a mystery (no surprise there) and from the 1930s (again, not so surprising since I seem to enjoy ones written or set in the 1920s and 1930s…any historical mystery actually). So this week’s pick is a Christmas mystery, Crime at Christmas by C.H.B. Kitchin. A new to me author, Kitchin, who attended Clifton College and Exeter College was a barrister and also a ‘gifted chess player, bridge player and pianist’, besides also being an author of poetry and fiction. Among these were four mysteries featuring sleuth Malcolm Warren, of which I have heard of but not yet read, one other, Death of My Aunt.

In Crime at Christmas, published in 1934, the setting is a Christmas Party (just the place to get bumped off–incidentally, if you haven’t yet read this wonderful post by the Armchair reviewer about surviving the Christmas season, don’t miss it). Back to this one now. At Hampstead in Beresford Lodge, a group of intimate friends and relatives are gathered to celebrate the season. But their celebrations are interrupted by a violent death. And as is typical of classic mysteries, a second body is found before long. Stockbroker-Sleuth Malcolm Warren investigates the matter.

While Warren is described by reviewers as annoying, the fact that this is a golden age mystery, and in a Christmas setting, still makes me want to pick this one up. Although this is the second in a series (and I do want to read this first eventually as well), I don’t think the order would make too much difference.

Have you read this one or Death of my Aunt? How did you like it? What genres do you prefer reading at Christmas. Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book cover image and info from Goodreads (here), and author info from Wikipedia (here)

Find Lisa’s pick this week, Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco by Gary Kamiya, which is an exploration of different sites in the city.

Shelf Control #117: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers #mystery #TBR

Wednesday, the 9th of December, 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, 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, my pick is The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is the fourth of the Lord Peter Wimsey series of books by the author, which has 11 works (according to the Goodreads listing). Lord Peter is a gentleman-detective who solves mysteries assisted by his valet Bunter, his brother-in-law Charles Parker, a police detective, and later by Harrier Vane, his wife. His mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, a rather witty (and fun) lady also appears in the books, as does his conventional older brother, the current duke, Gerald.

In The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, first published in 1928, ninety-year-old General Fentiman is called to his sister, Lady Dormer’s deathbed. Here he learns that he will inherit all her fortune, but if he dies before her, the fortune goes to her companion, Ann Dorland. The fortune is something the General’s grandsons desperately need (how else will the scene be set for murder!). Lady Dormer dies the next morning and the General is found dead in the afternoon in his armchair at the Bellona Club. As it is unclear which of them died first, and Ann Dorland wants no settlement with the General’s grandsons though the fortune is large enough to provide for all three, Lord Peter is called in to investigate (by his friend, the solicitor for the Fentimans).

Things will of course not be as simple as the question of who died first (though even that doesn’t seem particularly simple) for there is the question also of how the General died and the mysterious Mr X who fled when wanted for questioning…

I have read a few of the Lord Peter mysteries earlier to which I’ve had mixed reactions. While I didn’t dislike any, one or two I found just ok; but I like the characters in the books and the description of this mystery seems quite interesting, and there will obviously be murder involved at some point (at least so I think). So it should be interesting to see how Lord Peter works the puzzle out, and who finally gets the fortune.

Do you enjoy the Lord Peter Wimsey books? Which are your favourites? Have you read this one? How did you like it? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Book info from Wikipedia (here)and Goodreads (here); cover image from Goodreads.