Review: “84, Charing Cross Road” by Helene Hanff

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From Goodreads:

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

A book about books, a bookstore, a writer in New York and the lovely city of London. Yes, this one is definitely a book that ticked all of Adrienne the Anglophile’s boxes.

This one had been on my TBR list for a long time. I can’t remember where I heard about it or why I wanted to read it so badly, but I finally checked it out of my local library a couple of weeks ago and read it over the Easter long-weekend.

This book was amazing.

It was very similar to The Potato Peel Pie Guernsey Literary Club, in that it was a collection of letters, but also being oh so English and so lovely all round. The main difference here, of course, is that 84, Charing Cross Road is a non-fiction book and these characters were real people and the events were not fiction. I think this really satisfied my nosy parker self – lately I’ve been craving more stories about “real” people.

I’m going to leave this review as a short and sweet one, just like the book itself. I read this book in one sitting on a comfy Saturday afternoon at home and I strongly recommend that you all do the same!

I would love to find more epistolary novels and non-fiction works of collected letters. Please leave your recommendations below and let me know what you’re reading this week!

Review: “Rivers of London” by Ben Aaronovitch

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I must have picked this book up 3 or 4 times in just as many visits to Dymocks over the last couple of years. I know exactly why – the cover is red (my favourite colour) and I am utterly obsessed with London. Call me Adrienne the Anglophile.

It wasn’t until I saw an entire shelf stacked with the first 4 books in this series that I decided to give this series a go. Yes, this is a series. I do not take starting a series lightly. They take a lot of commitment and I was burned by my last experience of impulse buying a series in one go and then being so, so disappointed (FYI – it was Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series. It was okay until the third book. Out of six. Ugh.).

This book made me excited for my time on the train to and from work. It was exactly how Diana Gabaldon described it would be on the cover – it is as if Harry Potter joined the Fuzz. And there are so many little jokes about Harry Potter that it made my little nerd heart even happier. Magic in the streets of London? Yes please! A wizard apprentice using old magic books to crack cases? Give me more! And by my bookish logic, a ten year fictional wizard apprenticeship means at least 10 anticipated books in the series, right? Right!?

If you can’t tell already, I highly recommend “Rivers of London”. It also reminds me of “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley – so if you’ve also liked that book, you’ll love this one too.

From Goodreads:

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – We do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I’m dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden – and that’s just routine. There’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying. Which, I don’t mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this series or have any other urban fantasy recommendations for me! What else has everyone been reading lately?