Reading Spa No. 8 (or possibly 9)…

The Delightful Mr F, as long time readers will know, is delightful in many a way, but he has a particular knack with present buying. His complete understanding and appreciation of my book addiction knows no bounds, and he happily supports my literary cravings by giving me Mr B’s Reading Spas at least once per year. I have lost count on how many I have had*, but it doesn’t matter, each one is as different as the last, and all are marvellous. 

The Delightful Mr F and I pottered up the M4 in good time last Friday to have a pre-reading spa breakfast at Rosarios. After a little wander around the town we headed back to Mr B’s where The Delightful Mr F left me with in the capable hands of Ed. My favourite part of the spa is talking with one of the Mr B’s team about what I have read, what they have read, the latest books, recent discoveries and new favourites. Due to The Important Things, I hadn’t read as much as I normally have by this point in the year, nevertheless we had a good chat about The Vegetarian by Han KangStoner by John Williams (more of that later) and the rather dark nature of my recent reading**. I was then left with a few books to look at, and a very nice chocolate brownie as Ed headed off to find me some more reading material. 

I hadn’t asked for anything in particular, and Ed bought back a lovely eclectic mix of dark, unusual, feel good and classic books for me to choose from. I bought the lot***.  So here they are, have you read any of these?

Books from Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights
Books from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

You can find them on the Mr B’s webshop if you fancy getting copies yourself, and of course they will be reviewed here in due course. I’m particularly looking forward to The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage which Ed tells me is better than Stoner. Better?! Well that’s a lot to live up to.  City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett is one I would never have looked at on my own, and I have a feeling my open up a whole new genre for me to explore. 

A Reading Spa at Mr B’s is one of life’s pleasures as far as I am concerned, and so, see if you can get yourself down to Bath for a natter with one of Team B. Your book joy will spilleth over.  


* Mr B – do you know? Is it 8 or 9?

** Not dark for a reason, they were just short books and I couldn’t face anything longer than about 200 pages. 

*** I always do, I have no willpower, and a strong husband to help me carry them back to the car. 



Now This Is A Birthday Present!

It’s my birthday soon, and what do I generally get for my birthday? Yes, I get books. That is by no means a moan, very, very happy to receive books… What I wasn’t expecting was this….

Yes, The Delightful Mr F bought me a complete set of the Everyman PG Wodehouse books (and a bookcase to put them in). He was aided and abetted by Mr B, of Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, who ordered all the volumes. Over the last few months, when we have visited Bath*, I had noticed the pair of them whispering in corners with a shifty looking attitude which I had attributed to some kind of birthday present planning, but I hadn’t expected this!

So, what can I say other than Mr B’s is still the best bookshop in all the world, and most of all the Delightful Mr F is  the most perfect husband in all the world.


*On one occasion I was banished from the shop and ended up getting stuck in one of those giant revolving doors in a department store, along with a dozen or so other poor souls, but that’s another story entirely. 

Winter Is Coming…

…and I need a new winter coat. The Delightful Mr F and I went to Bath to meet some pals yesterday for lunch and also to hunt down suitable cold weather attire for me. After trying on just about every coat in Bath we came to the conclusion that I was rather annoyingly half way between two sizes. Unlike Red Riding Hood, all the coats were either too big or too small, no sign of the one which was “just right”.

The result of this unfruitful search was that I now had pennies, previously reserved for coat purchases, burning a hole in my (summer) coat pocket. So we went to Mr B’s. Why is it my clothes shopping efforts so often end in a visit to Mr B’s? As always, retail therapy was much more easily forthcoming than in the previous shops we had gone into.  I picked up a couple of the new Pushkin Press Vertigo series. I have become slightly obsessed with Pushkin Press over the last year or so. I can feel a blog post coming on extolling their virtues.  I also picked up some other books which caught my eye, most notably The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys which I am planning on reading next weekend.  

Happy, if somewhat chilly, days. 

Credit Cards on Standby…

… for the new Fox, Finch and Tepper publications.  I can’t remember the last time I wanted to read a book as much as I want to read these two. After their wonderful first two publications, The Shiralee and The Next Step In The Dance, The Mr B’s spin off publisher Fox, Finch and Tepper have two new books out. 

The first is Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin. Tepper (yes, the the Tepper of the publishing house name) likes to park up in hard to find parking places in New York and read his paper. Ever since Nic (Mr B) told me about this book I have wanted to read it. Now, I can, well at least after 29th October when it is published. 

The second is The Story of Mr Sommer by Patrick Suskind, the story of a young boy wondering where his neighbour goes every day, seemingly with no point to his journey.  Available on 12th November, add it to your wishlist!

If my copies of the first Fox, Finch and Tepper books are anything to go by, these will be lovely editions.

I am always happy to pass on recommendations from the Mr B’s team as I have never, ever bought a dud book from them. Seriously, no matter what your reading tastes they can find you something you will love.  I can’t say that for other places I have bought books. So, get those credit cards out and order up from Mr B’s, or your local bookshop and then set aside a few reading hours where you will ignore all your friends and family and bury your nose in some high quality book joy. 




Breakfast and Books in Bath

A bath full of Books at Mr B's Emporium
A bath full of Books at Mr B’s Emporium

Well, what a lovely day The Delightful Mr F and I have had in Bath. Bath is always a winner when it  comes to mooching about, eating nice food, drinking coffee and buying books, but today was especially nice. 

We left Fennell Towers early, aiming to have breakfast in Bath. A few months ago The Delightful Mr F had discovered a lovely cafe, Rosarios, which served good coffee and we decided to have breakfast there. It was wonderful. We had poached eggs on potato cakes with smoked salmon and avocado. If the photo of that doesn’t make you drool, then I don’t know what will. The cafe is just super, full of delicious fresh food, and a lovely friendly atmosphere. It would be a great place to take a book and linger over one of their lovely cakes. 

Breakfast at Rosarios in Bath
Breakfast at Rosarios in Bath

After fuelling ourselves for the day ahead, we hit the bookshops. Bath has three wonderful bookshops, but I am sure you can imagine where we ended up…

Yep, we went to Mr B’s, where we saw most of the Mr B’s gang. I found a lovely stack of books to take home with me. I can’t think of a single instance where I have visited Mr B’s and come away empty handed. I feel it was a particularly strong haul this time. 

The Subprimes by Karl Taro Greenfeld looks particularly interesting and Meadowland by John Lewis-Stemple looks a delight. Of course, I had to buy the new Pratchett book. 

So, there we have it. A lovely day out with good food, good books and good company. May the Bank Holiday weather do its worst. I have books to read, so I am happy!

The Grand Fennell Books 250th Book Review Giveaway – Closing Soon!

Don’t forget to email your entry to me or comment on the original post if you want to be in with a shout of winning all these love Mr B’s books.  The closing date is today, 13th August at 2000 UK time. The Delightful Mr F is poised like a coiled spring to draw the winner.  Good luck!

A reminder of how to enter:

Just email the Fennell Books address (there is an email button down on the left had side bar) with the title “Mr B’s Giveaway” and I will enter you into the draw, or leave a comment down below saying you want to enter. The closing date is Thursday 13th August 2015 at 2000 UK Time.


1. I’m afraid, due to the postage costs it is UK addresses only.  

2. Only one entry per person, you can comment as many times as you like, but you will only get one entry

3. Comments on Facebook won’t be entered.

4. No cash alternative will be offered.

5. Entries after the closing date and time will not be entered.

6. The Delightful Mr F will pick the winner at random, and his decision is final. 

The Next Step in the Dance by Tim Gautreaux

The Next Step in the Dance by Tim Gautreaux
The Next Step in the Dance by Tim Gautreaux




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So this is my 250th book review, and what a wonderful book to have in order to celebrate. It is another publication by Fox, Finch and Tepper, who you really should keep an eye on.

Paul and Collette are a young married couple, living in small town Louisiana. She is clever and the most beautiful girl in the area, and he is a hardworking machinist who wants nothing more than to work on the machines he loves and to go out dancing. Unfortunately he also becomes a bit handy with his fists when he drinks, and ends up in numerous brawls. Collete wants more from life and sets out for California and Paul follows her in the hope that he can persuade her to come home.

It could so easily be a marriage breakdown story, but it isn’t, both protagonists are interesting and have depth, and there is danger and emotion throughout as they find their way in the world both independently and together.

What struck me most about reading this is the vivid scenes it conjured in my mind’s eye. It was almost as though I was watching a film, and it isn’t often that I see things as clearly as I did with this novel. I have never been to Louisiana so have nothing to base ideas on, however, I could feel the heat, see the houses and bars and the machine shop Paul worked in, right down to the tiniest of details. It felt as though I had been plunged into one of those beautifully shot HD films. Think of the detail brought to life from Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, or the wide open shots of True Detective. When this vivid portrayal is linked with a fantastic story which reflects the thoughts, ambitions and feelings we all have, it makes for a very powerful read indeed.

Don’t forget, you can win this book, and a stack of others from Mr B’s by entering the Great Fennell Books Blog Giveaway to celebrate this 250th book review.