New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

Yesterday I went to my favourite bookshop Barter Books, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain. This is where you can ‘swap’ books for credit that you can then use to get more books from the Barter Books shelves.

These are the books I brought home:



A Killing of Angels by Kate Rhodes (a new-to-me author) – the second book in her Alice Quentin series. I haven’t read the first book but I thought this looks good – it’s a psychological thriller. At the height of a summer heatwave, a killer stalks the City of London.The avenging angel leaves behind a scattering of feathers with each body – but why these victims? What were their sins?

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge – described on the back cover as ‘surreal’ (TLS) and ‘very funny as well as a frightening book’ (Guardian), I’m not sure what I’ll make of this book about a womaniser who begins an extra-marital affair, but I’ve liked other books by Beryl Bainbridge.

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell. I’ve enjoyed a couple of his books before, so this Inspector Wallander book caught my eye. A little raft is washed ashore on a beach in Sweden. It contains two men, shot dead. They’re identified as criminals, victims of a gangland hit. Wallander’s investigation takes him to Latvia.

The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning – another new-to-me author. This is historical fiction set in 1761 about a whaler’s wife in the Cape Cod village of Satucket in Massachusetts, living with the daily uncertainty that her husband Edward will simply not return. And when her worst fear is realised, she finds herself doubly cursed.

Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

Yesterday I went to my favourite bookshop Barter Books, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain. This is where you can ‘swap’ books for credit that you can then use to get more books from the Barter Books shelves.

These are the books I brought home:

River of Darkness by Rennie Airth – I was hoping to find this book as Cafe Society recommended it. It’s the first book in his John Madden series. Inspector John Madden of Scotland Yard investigates the murder of a family in the post-World War I British countryside. A veteran of the war, Madden immediately recognizes the work of a soldier, but discovering the motive will take longer.

Ruling Passion by Reginald Hill. I always check to see if there are any of his books on the shelves that I haven’t got/read, so I was pleased to find this one. It’s the third Dalziel and Pascoe book in which Pascoe finds his social life and work uncomfortably brought together by a terrible triple murder. Meanwhile, Dalziel is pressuring him about a string of unsolved burglaries, and as events unfold the two cases keep getting jumbled in his mind.

Beryl Bainbridge is another author whose books I always look out for, and this visit I found Every Man for Himself. This novel is about the voyage of the Titanic, on its maiden and final voyage in 1912.

Sirens by Joseph Knox. I wasn’t looking for this book, or for books by Knox, but it caught my eye as I browsed the shelves and I remembered that earlier this year I’d read  and thoroughly enjoyed The Smiling Man. Set in ManchesterSirens is Knox’s debut book featuring DC Aidan Waits. Young women are lured into enigmatic criminal Zain Carver’s orbit and then they disappear.

Once more I’m torn between reading these as soon as possible, or reading from my TBR shelves and review copies from NetGalley. It’s a dilemma 🙂

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

On Tuesday it was time for another visit to my favourite bookshop Barter Books, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain. This is where you can ‘swap’ books for credit that you can then use to get more books from the Barter Books shelves.

These are the books I brought home:



Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. I first read this many years ago and want to reread it – and hope I still like it as much. It won the Booker Prize in 1984. From the back cover: ‘Into the rarefied atmosphere of the Hotel du Lac timidly walks Edith Hope, romantic novelist and holder of modest dreams. Edith has been exiled from home after embarrassing herself and her friends. She has refused to sacrifice her ideals and remains stubbornly single. But among the pampered women and minor nobility Edith finds Mr Neville, and her chance to escape from a life of humiliating spinsterhood is renewed . . .’ 

Now is the Time by Melvyn Bragg. I loved his Soldiers Return quartet amongst some of his other books, so I’m hoping this historical fiction set in 1381 at the time of  the Peasants’ Revolt will be as good. Richard II was on the throne of England when a vast force of people led by Wat Tyler and John Ball demanded freedom, and equality. 

Then, three books by Belinda Bauer that I’ve been wanting to read for some time now:

Blacklands, her first novel – this tells the story of a game of cat and mouse between a 12 year old boy, Steven, and Arnold Avery, a serial killer and an abuser of children, who murdered Steven’s Uncle Billy, when he was 11 years old, twenty years ago.

Her second book, Darkside is set in the middle of winter time, when the people who live in a peaceful place, Shipcott, are shocked by the murder of an old woman in her bed.

The Beautiful Dead is about Eve Singer, a TV crime reporter, who will go to any length to get the latest scoop. But when a twisted serial killer starts using her to gain the publicity he craves, Eve must decide how far she’s willing to go – and how close she’ll let him get.

I’d love to start all these books straight away but I think I’ll begin with Belinda Bauer’s books, especially as I also have a review copy of her latest book, Snap which is due to be published as an e-book on 3 May 2018, with the hardback and paperback editions coming out later this year.

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

On Tuesday it was time for another visit to my favourite bookshop Barter Books, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain. We were early getting there just after it had opened for the day, so there was space to park right outside the entrance.

I was quite restrained and only brought three books home, with me. But at least I’ve made some room on my bookshelves as I’d brought in six books. These are the books I brought home:


Killing Floor by Lee Child,the first in his Jack Reacher series. I’m keen to read this because I’ve recently read the 22nd book in the series and want to know more about Reacher, an ex-military cop of no fixed abode.

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin. I’ve read some of Valerie Martin’s books before and enjoyed them. This one weaves fact and fiction concerning the mystery surrounding the Mary Celeste, looking at it from different viewpoints including those of a psychic and Arthur Conan Doyle, who was inspired by it to write a short story, J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement

Defying Hitler: a Memoir by Sebastian Haffner, a memoir of life in Germany during the Nazi rise to power. It was written in 1939 during Haffner’s exile in England. I’ve been reading novels about the Second World War period, so I think it would be good to know more about  the Wiemar Republic, particularly from a German who lived through those times.

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

Barter Books in Alnwick was looking very festive yesterday with a Christmas tree made out of books. It’s my favourite bookshop, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain with books galore, open fires and plenty of places to sit and peruse the books. (See this Picture Gallery for more photos)

I browsed the shelves to see which ones jumped out, shouting ‘read me’ And these are the books I brought home:

Where Roses Fade by Andrew Taylor – psychological crime fiction, one of his Lydmouth series, in which Mattie, a waitress drowns  – did she fall, or did she jump? Rumours circulate that her death wasn’t accidental – and then comes another death. I’ve read Andrew Taylor’s Roth trilogy, but none of his Lydmouth series.

You Made Me Late Again! by Pam Ayres – a collection of poems, anecdotes and short verses, covering a wide range of subjects from a nervous racehorse, a proud granny, to a dog reunited with his master at the Pearly Gates. I fancied some light relief after all the crime fiction I’ve been reading lately and this collection of witty poems appealed to me.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – a thriller set on a luxury cruise ship going to see the Northern Lights, a body overboard – but there are no missing passengers.  I was looking in the ‘W’s for a book by Louise Welsh (I didn’t find one I hadn’t read) but this book caught my eye. I haven’t read any of Ruth Ware’s books, but have seen her mentioned on other book blogs.

Loitering With Intent by Muriel Spark – Would-be novelist Fleur Talbot works for Sir Quentin Oliver at the Autobiographical Association.  Mayhem ensues when scenes from Fleur’s novel-in-progress begin to come true with dangerous and darkly funny results. One of my favourite books is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, so I’m hoping to love this book too.

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale –  after an illicit affair Harry Cane, is forced to travel from Edwardian England to the town of Winter in Canada  to start a new life. I’m currently reading and enjoying Patrick Gale’s Notes from an Exhibition, so when I saw this book on the shelf I had to get it.

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear – a Maisie Dobbs novel, set in 1932 when Maisie takes on an undercover assignment directed by Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and the Secret Service. I like the Maisie Dobbs books and began reading the several years ago, but I haven’t kept up with the series. This one is book 8.

What I love about Barter Books is that it’s not only filled with thousands of books, but it works on the swap system – you bring in books, they make an offer for them and your credit can then be used for books to bring home. I’m in credit, so I didn’t have to pay anything for these books – brilliant! Plus, it’s in a lovely building that was Alnwick’s beautiful old Victorian railway station and you can get tea, coffee, hot food (I love their macaroni cheese) and cakes etc in the Station Buffet. Yesterday we were there early and David had a Bacon Buttie from the Breakfast Menu – I had some of it too.

‘New to Me’ Books

I had a good time at Barter Books in Alnwick yesterday. Bartering books is a good way to recycle the books I’m not going to read again. I took in a box of books and came home with these. As I had built up a nice little sum over my last few visits, I was able to indulge myself!

Crime fiction

As you can see I was looking out for crime fiction and found three Agatha Christie’s I haven’t read:

  1. The Labours of Hercules – Poirot undertakes twelve cases before he retires to grow superior vegetable marrows.
  2. N or M? – a Tommy and Tuppence wartime mission.
  3. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe – Poirot investigates the death of his dentist.

I also got another Wycliffe book by W J Burley – Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death, in which he investigates the murder of a bookseller.

And another Perry Mason book by Erle Stanley Gardner- The Case of the Howling Dog – according to superstition a howling dog means a death in the neighbourhood, then both the dog and his owner are killed.

I’ve read one of H R F Keating’s books before but none of his Inspector Ghote’s books – this one caught my eye, Inspector Ghote’s Good Crusade, in which a millionaire philanthropist, the founder of a Bombay home for vagrants is murdered.

I’ve never read any of Sue Grafton’s books but have read reviews of a few, so I was pleased to find the first of her A-Z series – A is for Alibi. Kinsey Malone, Private Investigator has a cold case, hired by Nikki Fife, convicted of the murder of her husband eight years earlier, to find the real killer. If I like these there are plenty more in the series to look out for – and yesterday Barter Books had a shelf-full.

As I still had credit left I splashed out and bought two rather more expensive hardback books on crime fiction, which are at the bottom of the pile in my photo:

  1. The Great Detectives by Julian Symons, fictional ‘biographies’ of seven detectives, including Sherlock Holmes in retirement! I’ve been watching the fantastic TV series Sherlock, so my interest is very high right now.
  2. Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection by Chris Steinbrunner and Otto Penzler. I’m really excited by this book, even though it’s over 30 years since it was published. It’s a big, heavy volume which I’m sure is an excellent reference book, containing biographies and bibliographies of crime writers and articles on films, plays radio and TV series and so on. I’ll be dipping into it regularly.

And because I do like to read other books than crime fiction I also got these two books:

How to draw anything

I’ve been attempting to draw and paint and this book, How to Draw Anything by Angela Gair makes it look easy, which of course it isn’t. But I’m hoping it will help me improve.

A Still Life Byatt

I looked briefly at the many bookcases of general fiction and was drawn (pun not intended!) to Still Life by A S Byatt. Maybe my mind was still on art but this book certainly caught my eye. It’s a novel set in the 1950s. The cover is Still Life with Coffeepot by Vincent Van Gogh.

Book Beginnings

Last week I found another little secondhand bookshop – The Border Reader – a lovely little shop above a tea room near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. I browsed the bookshelves upstairs and had a cup of Earl Grey tea and a slice of Lavender and Lemon Drizzle Madeira cake downstairs – a most pleasurable afternoon.

And up the stairs I found in the bookcase to the right of the photo a book I’ve had on my wishlist for a while. It’s On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin.

The book begins:

For forty-two years, Lewis and Benjamin Jones slept side by side, in their parents’ bed, at their farm which was known as ‘The Vision’.

The bedstead, an oak four-poster, came from their mother’s home at Bryn-Draenog when she married in 1899. Its faded cretonne hangings, printed with a design of larkspur and roses shut out the mosquitoes of summer, and the draughts in winter. Calloused heels had worn holes in the linen sheets, and parts of the patchwork quilt had frayed. Under the goose-feather mattress, there was a second mattress, of horsehair, and this had sunk into two troughs, leaving a ridge between the sleepers. (page (9)

The Black Hill is not one of the Black Hills of Dakota – known to me only from the song, sung by Doris Day, but it is one of the Black Mountains on the border of England and Wales, although fictionalised in this book. The book was first published in 1982 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize that same year. It’s also been made into a film. It looks to be a gentle, richly descriptive book about lonely lives on a farm, largely untouched by the 20th century. A nice change from all the crime fiction I’ve been reading recently.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Katy, at  A Few More Pages.

Friday Finds – Bookshops

This week I found details of some independent bookshops in the Scottish Borders – The Borders Book Trail:

I’ve visited just two of them – The Main Street Trading Company at St Boswells and Latimer Books at Kelso, both lovely bookshops, well worth visiting. The Main Street bookshop has the additional attraction of a café and gift shop.

I hope to look up the other bookshops as well, especially the wonderfully named Founditatlast Bookshop whose address is The Middle of Nowhere (actually it’s near Kelso). This is a secondhand bookshop spread over four floors with thousands of books on practically any subject.

Then there is The CobbyShop, also near Kelso, selling secondhand children’s books and postcards, three bookshops in Melrose, one in Peebles and lastly, by no means least, Last Century Books in Innerleithen. More details on The Borders Book Trail website. (By the way, I’m not getting commission from any of these shops, just in case you were wondering!)

A Friday Finds post.

I bought a book …

… not so unusual! But I had decided I wouldn’t buy any more until I’d read at least 6 of my to-be-read books and so far I’ve only read 3.

I gave  in and bought first one book and then another because we went to Much Wenlock in Shropshire on our way to Stratford-upon-Avon and found two good bookshops on the High Street. The  first one I saw on the High Street was Wenlock Books, selling new and secondhand books in a lovely old timber-framed building:

The secondhand books are upstairs:

where I bought Vera Brittain’s Chronicle of Youth Great War Diary 1913 – 1917. It looks unread and as good as new. I’ve borrowed her diary Testament of Youth from a friend, so I’ll read that first.

We walked across the road to the Copper Kettle for a cup of tea and then saw another bookshop further down the High Street – Much More Books, selling secondhand books:

where I bought An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson.

I’m following Fleur’s method of not buying books except for exceptional bargains, which I think these two books were:


S is for …

… Secondhand books

Yesterday I went to Barter Books in Alnwick, a superb secondhand bookshop where you can not only buy books but exchange books. I took a pile along and came back with some more and am still in credit for more books for my next visit. It’s a great way to recycle books.

I have written about Barter Books before, but not posted any photos of what it’s like inside. It is in a huge old railway station, built in 1887 and closed to passengers in 1968.

(Click on the photos to see more detail)

There is a cafe in what used to be the station waiting room where we refreshed ourselves with coffee and toasted teacakes in front of a roaring fire. The painting on the wall above the fireplace shows the station as it was in 1908 when the future King George V and Queen Mary visited Alnwick.

We then browsed the shelves. There are all sorts of books, fiction, non fiction, first editions, valuable antiquarian books, signed copies, maps, dvds, pamphlets and so on.

In one section there is a miniature overhead railway line with trains passing every few minutes.

It’s a very special bookshop.

This is an an entry in ABC Wednesday for the letter S.