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Posts Tagged ‘Paddington Bear’

bookshop window books charing cross road london
(Books on Charing Cross Road in London)

The Late Scholar, Jill Paton Walsh
I usually don’t like fanfiction. But Walsh’s mysteries featuring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Dorothy Sayers’ erudite pair of detectives, are well done and so fun. I loved this one because they return to Oxford, my beloved city and scene of my favorite Sayers book, Gaudy Night.

At Risk, Stella Rimington
This book introduces Liz Carlyle, MI5 agent, as she and her team attempt to stop a pair of terrorists bent on destruction and revenge. Grim, but compelling. Pretty good plane reading.

A Fatal Waltz, Tasha Alexander
Lady Emily Ashton’s third case finds her trying to exonerate a friend suspected of murder, while struggling not to be jealous of her fiance’s elegant ex-lover, an Austrian countess. An engaging setting (Vienna), though the plot did go on a bit.

The Heart Has Its Reasons, Maria Dueñas
I adored Dueñas’ debut, The Time in Between, but was disappointed by this, her second novel. The characters and plot had potential, but they – and the writing – didn’t grip me. (I wonder if the translation is partly to blame.)

Murder Most Unladylike, Robin Stevens
Two students at Deepdean School for Girls form a Detective Society – but are shocked when they find a real murder to investigate. Fun, witty and well-plotted. Found at Blackwell’s. (To be published in the U.S. as Murder is Bad Manners.)

Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins
I wanted to love this teenage love story set in Paris, but I found it melodramatic and lacking in substance. (I did enjoy Perkins’ debut, Anna and the French Kiss, several of whose characters reappear here.)

The Laws of Murder, Charles Finch
The eighth Charles Lenox mystery finds Lenox investigating the murder of a friend and colleague, while worrying he’s lost his detective edge. A leisurely, well-plotted mystery and a new stage in Lenox’s career. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Nov. 11).

A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
I picked up this old favorite at the Paddington Bear Shop in London, and thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with Paddington. Such fun and funny adventures.

Emily of New Moon, L.M. Montgomery
I’ve made it a fall goal to reread this lovely, haunting series. This first book introduces the cast of characters and starts Emily on the path to becoming a writer. Full of gorgeous descriptions of PEI, old family legends and bits of whimsy and wonder.

Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and its People, 1602-1890, Nathaniel Philbrick
I loved Philbrick’s Bunker Hill and enjoyed this account of Nantucket’s early history, told via mini-biographies of colorful local characters. Occasionally gets bogged down in detail, but mostly quite interesting. Found in Gloucester.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

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london view red bus

During my recent trip to Oxford, I hopped the train to London for a day (it’s only an hour’s ride each way). London is the first European city I ever visited (when I was 16, on a high school band trip), and while I find it a little overwhelming, I do love it.

From the house in North Oxford where I was staying, it’s a lovely walk to the train station along the canal.

oxford canal morning

For breakfast on the go, I snagged a bacon-and-egg baguette from On the Hoof, the best sandwich shop anywhere.

katie baguette breakfast

After a smooth ride in the quiet car (I adore train travel), I disembarked at Paddington Station, where I bought a large chai latte at Caffe Nero (combating jet lag with caffeine) and ran into an old friend:

paddington bear shop

Paddington Station boasts an entire Paddington Bear shop, full of stuffed animals, books and other Paddington merchandise. I had a delightful browse, and when I came down the escalator nearby, the bear himself was waiting for me.

paddington bear statue

After saying hello, I hopped on the Tube and rode over to Tower Hill, site of the Tower of London.

tower of london poppies

This fall, volunteers are planting 888,246 crimson ceramic poppies around the base of the Tower, one for every British fatality in World War I. The final poppy will be planted on Remembrance Day (Nov. 11), and the flowers will eventually be sold off for charity.

tower of london poppies spill

Even though the installation isn’t complete yet, the effect is truly stunning.

poppies tower of london

The jostling crowds at the railing detracted from the effect a little, but I still found myself getting choked up.

tower of london poppies

I walked around all four sides of the tower, snapping photos, and said hello to another old friend: Tower Bridge.

katie tower bridge

I hopped back on the Tube to meet the lovely Caroline for lunch in the National Gallery’s posh cafe. After finishing our salads, we headed out for an afternoon of book browsing.

bookshop window books charing cross road london

The bookshops along Charing Cross Road are legendary, and we talked each other into a couple of purchases (Gilead for her, The Handmaid’s Tale for me) before heading up the road to Foyles. Their new premises – five floors’ worth! – are rather dazzling.

foyles books london

We were a bit overwhelmed, but managed a tour of the fiction floor and the children’s area. I came away with a lovely edition of Sense and Sensibility and a copy of The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp, the new Eva Rice novel I’ve been dying to read.

From Foyles, we caught the Tube to King’s Cross Station, where I wanted to get my photo taken at Platform 9 3/4. Unfortunately, the queue was long, Caroline had a train to catch and I had another friend to meet – so we contented ourselves with walking by, then snapping a slightly blurred selfie.

katie caroline selfie

London always feels like a mad dash – so many things to see and places to go, most of which seem to be across town from one another. This day was no exception – I made good use of my day pass on the Underground, and I was plenty tired by the time I got back to Oxford that night. But it was a wonderful day.

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