Favourite Reads of 2020

Hello lovely people,

I know, I know, I’m a little bit late posting my list of favourite reads but I have to confess that I did not do very well with tracking or reviewing books last year so figuring out what I’d actually read during the year took a little bit of investigating. There are very possibly some great books missing for which I can only apologise but these are the ones that, looking back over my year, were the standouts.


RomCom / Contemporary

I read a LOT of romcom and contemporary novels in 2020, at one point it was pretty much the only kind of book I could even remotely focus on, and I discovered some truly brilliant stories.

  • The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez – This was one of those stories that made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me smile. It just made me happy. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it a book I’ll read again? Absolutely! (review)
  • He Will Be Mine by Kirsty Greenwood – This story of a virtual admin assistant from a small town in England who decides that her soulmate is a famous Hollywood actor is absolutely ridiculous but such good fun and packed full of laughs. It’s the perfect bit of escapism. (review)
  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – I read and loved both of the Brown Sister books during 2020 but the first one Get A Life, Chloe Brown marginally pipped Take a Hint, Dani Brown as my favourite. I think there was just something about Chloe I found that little bit more relatable (not entirely sure what this says about me) and I loved the relationship between her and Red.

More RomCom / Contemporary

  • The Roommate by Rosie Danan – This was one of those random NetGalley picks that turned out to be such a brilliant read. It’s funny, it’s steamy, there is a lot of chemistry between the leads but it also has a more serious and deeper side to it.
  • Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane – Another book with hidden depths. It’s laugh out loud funny in places but it also deals with some more serious issues. McFarlane’s writing is wonderful and she creates people and places that feel incredibly real.
  • Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – I’d read a lot of rave reviews of this so it was one I had high expectations for and it did not disappoint. I do love an opposites/enemies to lovers kind of a story and this was just what I needed.

Contemporary / Literary

  • The Shelf by Helly Acton – I read a few reality TV themed books during the year but this story about a woman dumped by her boyfriend live on TV before being thrown into a house with a group of women to learn how to be a better wife/girlfriend and get off The Shelf, was definitely the standout. I loved how it played on the stereotypes and while it sometimes ventured a little too far, I liked the message behind it. It also had quite a few moments that made me laugh
  • Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I wasn’t wholly convinced I’d get on with this book, it seemed a little too serious for 2020, but I ended up loving it. I loved how real and identifiable the characters are and I liked how it covered a lot of issues around race from the perspective of different women.
  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This was a really quick and easy read but it was an addictive one and not at all what I was expecting. The style is unusual, jumping around in time and place, with short chapters but it really worked for me. I’m not sure I liked the ending but other than that it was brilliant.

Thriller / Mystery

I read very few mystery or thrillers this year as I didn’t have the focus for them but there were a few that had me completely hooked.

  • The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean – Technically this was published in January 21 but I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy so read it in 2020. Given the subject I probably can’t describe it as enjoyable but it’s dark, disturbing and full of tension. It’s one of those books that’s completely unique and impossible to put down. Will Dean’s writing is just brilliant and I plan on working through his back list this year.
  • I Am Dust by Louise Beech – Part ghost story, part murder mystery and part historical, this book absolutely blew me away. It’s emotional, a little bit creepy and full of twists and turns.
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – My first book by Ware and I loved it. Loosely based on The Turn of the Screw it’s an atmospheric read that I found genuinely creepy at times. I’m not generally a fan of the unreliable narrator trope (it’s been done to death) but in this it worked incredibly well and I loved all of the little reveals along the way.

SciFi / Fantasy

  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – I finally finished the Illuminae Files and while I loved all three books I think Gemina was my favourite. There were a few too many characters in Obsidio for me and an awful lot going on. I absolutely loved Nik from the start. I wasn’t as keen on Hanna but she really grew on me and I loved the relationship/banter between them.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – I think I may be the last reader on the planet to pick up the ACOTAR series but I make a point never to read different series by the same author at the same time and I’ve been stuck at the final ToG book for two years. Anyway, I finally decided to stop waiting and start reading and binge read all three books in this series in a week. Again I absolutely loved the series but I think book 2 was my favourite. I wasn’t really buying the romance in book 1 and book 3 was a little drawn out.
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells – I’ve had the Murderbot Diaries on my wishlist for a while so as soon as the price came down a bit (why is this series so expensive?) I snapped it up and read immediately. It lived up to and possibly exceeded expectations.

Non Fiction Audiobooks

My craving for the real in 2020 led to me picking up some books I’d never otherwise have given a second look in any other year and I discovered that actually I kind of like listening to non fiction on audio.

  • Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade – Richard Ayoade takes a deep dive into Gwyneth Paltrow film View From the Top. It’s the most ridiculous idea and subject for a book but it’s also possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to. I was literally crying I was laughing so much.
  • Quite by Claudia Winkleman – I quite like TV presenter Claudia Winkleman so I couldn’t resist her first venture into writing. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this, there are some anecdotes about her life but it’s not really a memoir as such. It’s more her opinions and advice on living your best life. It’s funny, it’s insightful and there was one chapter that made me cry.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about Shonda Rhimes before picking up this book. The only thing I did know was that she was behind a lot of my favourite TV shows. I did however find her surprisingly relatable and found this story about her pushing herself out of her comfort zone and saying yes uplifting and motivating.

So those were some of my favourite reads of last year. I am absolutely positive I have missed something off the list and will no doubt think of it later but so be it. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any similar books you’d recommend I pick up in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading

Ax

Review: The Island by C.L. Taylor

The Island by C.L. Taylor

The Island is Taylor’s second YA story and it’s an action packed and exciting read that I found pretty much impossible to put down. Mixing survival story and thriller it’s full of twists and turns that kept me guessing throughout. If you’re looking for a little bit of escapism (and something to make you feel better about staying safe at home), I highly recommend.


The Blurb

Welcome to The Island.
Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re coming true.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?


My Thoughts

Like just about every book of Taylor’s I’ve read so far I absolutely devoured this. Started reading on Friday evening and had it finished by Saturday morning, I did not want to put it down.

Taylor knows how to create a gripping read and this, her second foray into YA, is no exception. It’s a fairly classic premise, group of teens take a trip to an uninhabited island, bad things happen and there’s no help and no escape. But who is behind it? Is it one of the six or could someone else be on the island with them?

It’s an exciting read and I loved the way it kept you guessing. I’m pretty sure I suspected everyone at some point or another and had more than a few theories as to what was going on.

The story is told almost entirely from the point of view of two of the characters, Jessie and Danny, although there are a couple of chapters from other povs. I really liked getting different perspectives on events, I think it added to the mystery.

In terms of the characters, they make for an eclectic group. They’re not exactly friends, their parents are connected through an antenatal group, but they have a lot of history. They’ve holidayed together every year since they were born. But, how well do you ever really know anyone and a few of them have secrets and traumas.

Jessie and Danny are probably the most well developed characters and I loved how Jessie in particular grew and changed over the course of the story. I’m not sure I would necessarily say any of them were especially likeable but Jessie was probably the most relatable of the group. With the exception of Jessie I did feel like the girls of the group were a little under developed and I would have liked to see more of Honor and especially Meg. I didn’t really get much of a sense of them and therefore didn’t feel invested in them.

If I’m being a nitpick I think it was a bit light considering some of the issues covered (grief, self harm, toxic relationship) but I guess it’s a thriller so more depth would have slowed things down. I also felt like the balance was slightly off between the survival and the mystery/thriller elements. The setting of the Thai Island was brilliant and I feel like the author could have made a little more of it. There seemed no real danger to them from being stranded there for a week.

Taylors writing is as always great and it’s a fast paced, page turner of a book. I’m old enough to be one of the parents so I can’t really comment on how accurately it portrays a group of teenagers on holiday (I’ll leave that to an actual teenager) but it all felt pretty realistic to me.

Overall an addictive and exciting read that’s perfect to escape into for a few hours.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

Top 10 Tuesday: 2021 Most Anticipated Reads (Jan-Jun)

Hello lovely people,

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in a while but I was already planning a post on this week’s topic, Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021, so the timing worked out perfectly.

2021 is looking like a bumper year for new books so I had some difficulty narrowing my list down to just 10 books. I’ve therefore been a bit of a cheat and included 12. These are all books currently sitting on my wish list, that I haven’t managed to get my hands on an advance copy of (as yet).


  • Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (9 March) – The first two books in the Brown Sisters series were amongst my favourite reads of 2020 so I am really looking forward to sister no.3’s book. It sounds like an opposites attract kind of story and I am there for it. I love an uptight control freak meets flighty hot mess story.
  • Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (13 April) – While The Hating Game is one of my all time favourite reads I did very much enjoy Thorne’s second book and have been anxiously awaiting a third. This promises quirky characters and lot of fun.
  • People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (11 May) – Ooh a best friends to lovers story, another of my favourite romance tropes. If it’s anything like the Beach Read we can also probably expect a little more depth and emotion than your standard romcom.
  • A Vow so Bold & Deadly by Bridget Kemmerer (26 Jan) – I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to find out how this series will end, the cliffhanger at the end of book 2 was an absolute killer. I adore Kemmerer’s writing and love the characters she creates.
  • A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas (16 Feb) – I am probably the only person in the world who only recently read the first three ACOTAR books but I’m so glad I waited so I could enjoy a good binge read. I do however still need more and am looking forward to seeing more of Nesta.
  • Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (30 March) – Confession time, I’m including this on the list even though I haven’t actually read the first part of this duology, King of Scars. But, it’s Bardugo, it has one of my favourite characters front and centre and means I can read the full duology in one go.
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (25 May) – It’s a new Taylor Jenkins Reid book, do I need to say anything else? I don’t even care what it’s about, if she writes it I will read it.
  • Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez (6 April) – The Happy Ever After Playlist was another of my favourite reads last year. It made me laugh, it made me cry but most of all it made me smile. I suspect I’m going to need another book like that by April.
  • Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane (1 April) – I love McFarlane’s books, they always sound like regular fluffy romcoms but there’s so much more depth and emotion to them.
  • The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (18 Feb) – I don’t always find Chambers books to be easy to get into, I find I have to be in the right mood to read them, but I’ve loved every book she’s written so far.
  • Near the Bone by Christina Henry (13 April) – My list is looking awfully light on horror so a monster in the woods story from Henry should balance it out nicely. April does seem a bit of a strange time for this kind of read but what the heck.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (4 May) – I suspect this is another story I’m going to have to be in the right mood for, previous books by Weir have been a little techie for me, but he does know how to write a great story

So that’s ten twelve of the books I’m most looking forward to in 2021. Are any of these on your most anticipated list? Is there a book that should be on this list (I’m positive I’ve missed something)? Please leave links and comments.

Happy Reading

Ax

Happy New Year & 2021 Reading Resolutions

Happy 2021 Everyone!!! I hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was not great but I’m trying to be hopeful that 2021 will be better. I have to confess that I didn’t do very well with my reading (or blogging) goals last year. I found it difficult to focus for any length of time and counted pretty much any time spent reading as a win. I also sort of gave up tracking my reads and writing reviews so I have no idea how many books I actually managed to read and my NetGalley shelf got completely out of control.

2021 is however a new year and the chance for a fresh start so I’m setting myself some gentle reading and blogging goals yet again.

Read More »

Review: He Will Be Mine by Kirsty Greenwood

He Will Be Mine

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I am a huge fan of Kirsty Greenwood. Her previous book Big Sexy Love was one of my top reads in 2017 and I’ve been actively trying to foist it on pretty much everyone I’ve ever met. I was therefore very excited/nervous when I heard there was a new book coming. Could it possibly live up to expectations?

Well yes it did. He Will Be Mine, is an absolutely hilarious story about following your heart, believing in the fantasy and going after what you want. It’s touching, it’s romantic and it’s a whole lot crazy. Basically it’s the perfect bit of escapism. I loved it.


THE BLURB

The brand new full-length standalone romantic comedy from the bestselling author of Big Sexy Love!

Nora Tucker is an admin assistant from a tiny English village.

Gary Montgomery is Hollywood’s hottest new star.

After seeing him on the silver screen, Nora believes that Gary is her soulmate, her one true love, the man she’s supposed to grow old and wrinkly with. She knows it sounds nuts, she knows it’s completely crazy. But sometimes love is crazy, right?

Only… how on earth is this Plain Jane introvert supposed to get to Los Angeles, infiltrate Gary’s inner circle AND convince him that they’re meant to be? Throwing herself into this mission might be a tall order but it means Nora can stop thinking about that one awful day, two years ago, when everything in her life fell apart…

With the help of a sunny Californian weather girl, a super hot but super grumpy script writer, and a very passionate Adam Levine tribute act, Nora is about to try the impossible and let fate decide her future…


Thoughts

As a long time fan of Kirsty Greenwood the wait for a new book by her has been almost unbearably long but He Will Be Mine was definitely worth waiting for. It’s laugh out loud funny, a whole lot crazy and pretty much the perfect bit of escapism for these difficult times. I read the whole thing more or less in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down.

The premise of this book is pretty unusual, 20 something woman working as a virtual admin assistant in a small village in England decides a famous Hollywood actor is her soul mate and heads off to LA to convince him of that fact. It sounds completely unbelievable and a bit nuts, but somehow Greenwood makes it work. Yes there are some ridiculous scenes and possibly a few too many convenient coincidences but they’re so funny it’s easy to just go with it and enjoy the ride.

Main character Nora Tucker is surprisingly relatable for a crazy stalker and there’s something very likeable about her. Her somewhat hermit lifestyle, working from home, staying in reading romance novels and eating junk at the start of the story is probably very relatable to many of us living in lockdown right now and I could definitely see myself in her. There are tragic reasons why Nora lives the way she does and I really felt for her. I will admit to struggling a little with the “famous actor is my soulmate” thing but other than that she seems like a normal, nice and down to earth person. And while her trip to LA is for a slightly crazy reason I loved the way it opened her up, gave her new experiences and led to some self discovery.

Her adventures in LA are absolutely wonderful and often had me laughing out loud or cringing with embarrassment for her. I loved the way the city is portrayed in the story. I’ve never been but the author really brought it to life and made me want to book tickets to go immediately. I also loved the different characters Nora meets along the way. Some have bigger parts than others and some are on the quirky side but all of them are memorable. It was also fantastic to catch up with a couple of characters from one of Greenwood’s previous books and there’s a cameo from an actual famous Hollywood actor in there too that made me giggle.

I loved that as well as the chapters from Nora’s pov we also got to hear Gary’s side of the story. I loved the similarities between them, the near misses and how his chapters often mirrored hers. It kept me wondering if maybe, just maybe they were in fact meant to be and it wasn’t all in Nora’s imagination. It’s definitely a story that keeps you guessing and there are more than a few unexpected twists along the way.

As always Greenwood’s writing is wonderful, the story is pacy and full of humour and heart. If you can’t tell by now I absolutely adored it and am seriously considering reading it again. I just hope we don’t have to wait so long for her next book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People

Anxious People has all of the things I love about a Fredrik Backman book. Wonderful writing, memorable characters and a lot of emotion and depth. However I have to confess to being a little disappointed by it. It may just have been poor timing on my part but there was something that didn’t quite work for me. I still enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.


The Blurb

A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.


My Thoughts

Unpopular opinion time, I didn’t love this book. I didn’t dislike it either but as a huge fan of Backman it was definitely disappointing.

It may have been a case of wrong book at the wrong time (it probably wasn’t the brightest idea to read a book titled “Anxious People” at the height of a global pandemic) but many of the things I usually love in Backman’s writing I seemed to find a little bit irritating. There’s a lot of foreshadowing and the narrator talking directly to the reader, telling us what the story is about and isn’t about, what’s important and what’s not. I have to admit to wanting them to just get on with the story but I was in a fairly impatient and irritated mood so that’s on me. I also struggled a little with the multiple points of view and jumps back and forward in time. I think I was expecting more of a straight story so it threw me off a bit when I got something completely different. I found it difficult to keep track of characters and how the various storylines linked together. I lost focus and found my concentration wandering.

Despite these niggles though there is a lot to like in the book. There’s a wonderful mix of different and quirky characters and I absolutely loved the way they developed over the course of the story. There’s a real depth to them and many of them are not what they first seem. It definitely highlights the theme that you can’t judge people based on appearances and you never really know what struggles other people are facing. I also loved the way the author played around with my own unconscious biases and expectations. I had more than one ah! moment when I realised I had made completely wrong assumptions based on my own preconceived notions.

Backman’s writing is as brilliant as always with lots of humour, great dialogue and some poignant and heartfelt moments (yes I cried). I wasn’t entirely sold on the switches from police interview to narrative as I found the change in style jarring but I did love the interview chapters. I felt like they brought the story to life. I probably would have preferred it if the story was told a little more simply and had more of a focus on one series of events rather than jumping around as it felt a little muddled to me.

Overall however it is still a good read and one I’d recommend to any Backman fans.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

November TBR: All About ARCs

Hello all,

And Happy November! I really don’t know where this year has gone.

A new month means a new TBR and hopefully a chance to do better than I did in October when I only managed to read 4 of the 10 books on my list. I’ve been working a lot of long hours so it’s been more a case of me not having the time than wandering off list. I’m actually counting the books I did manage to read as a win as there were some brilliant reads amongst them and they managed to shift me out of the reading rut I’d gotten stuck in.

Over the last few days I’ve actually been thinking about what books I’d like to read in December and over the Festive period (when I may finally get some time off) and I think I’m going to pick up some older books that have been sitting on my bookshelves for years (yes I may at long last read ACOTAR or Mistborn – more on this coming soon). With that in mind, I’ve decided November is going to be all about ARCs. My NetGalley shelf has been getting a little out of control, and there are some fantastic sounding books sitting on it waiting to be read so that’s what I’m going to focus on. I’m hoping if I can make a dent in my shelf and get a little ahead I can make December a read whatever the heck I like month. All the books on my November TBR are therefore advance copies I received via NetGalley.


November TBR

There is one book that I’m going to carry over from my October list, Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco. I’ve had it on my Reading Next list for weeks and fully intend on getting to it soon. I also have the latest in the Stillhouse Lake series, Heartbreak Bay, and Namesake the final book in the Fable duology. I read Fable earlier this year and very much enjoyed it so I’m very excited to read the conclusion, there was something of a cliff hanger. It will also be good to finish a series.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins is actually one of my most anticipated books of the year. I loved The Binding, it was so different and had such wonderful writing, that I’ve been eagerly anticipating the next book by the author. With me finally starting to enjoy fantasy and sci fi again (I didn’t read any for months) I’m also hoping to finally read Seven Devils and The Court of Miracles. I’m very late in picking up both but I thought it was better to read them when I was in the right frame of mind rather than forcing myself through.

As someone with a weird obsession with Japanese fiction I’m also very excited about Lonely Castle in the Mirror. It just sounds so different from anything I’ve read before. Finally, to round out my list I have The Game by Luca Veste and The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean. I loved Luca Veste’s previous book so have high hopes for The Game. This will be my first book by Will Dean but I’ve heard loads of good things about his writing so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.


So that’s my November TBR, it is looking a little light on rom coms and contemporaries so I’m fairly certain there will be some deviation, no doubt for the latest Bromance Bookclub but fingers crossed I make it through the majority of this list.

Have you read any of these books? Any I should be particularly excited about or that I should be moving to the top of my list? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading ❤

WWW Wednesday: 21st October 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

He Will Be Mine

I’m kind of between books yet again, as I finished one on Monday and decided to take a little break before starting my next read. I am fairly certain however that next up will be He Will be Mine by Kirsty Greenwood. This will be a pretty major diversion from my October TBR and I’m not sure could ever be described as a spooky read but I can’t resist. Greenwood is one of my favourite writers and this story about a regular everyday woman who decides a famous Hollywood actor is her soul mate and sets out to convince him of that sounds like so much fun.


Recently Finished

Poisoned

Two books finished this week with the first the Snow White retelling Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly. As a big fan of Donnelly’s previous book Stepsister and retellings in general I was really looking forward to this story but I’m afraid it didn’t quite work for me. It wasn’t a particularly bad read and I loved the feminist spin the author put on the original story and how she wove in a few characters from different myths. I did however find main character Sophie frustrating and a little too much. I also found my attention wandering at times, it may just have been the wrong book at the wrong time but I am a little disappointed by it.

The second book finished was not on last week’s reading next list but was on my October TBR so it’s all good. After finishing a YA fantasy I was in the mood for a more grown up ghost story/mystery and The Lost Ones by Anita Frank fit the bill perfectly. I actually received an advance copy of this about a year ago and have attempted to read it on a couple of occasions but could never really get into it. This time however I slipped into it with no problems at all and found myself completely absorbed in it from pretty much the first page. It’s a fairly slow paced read and it is on the predictable side but I absolutely loved it. It was so atmospheric full of intrigue and the writing is just wonderful.


Reading Next

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)

Given my wandering off track last week there’s no change to my reading next list as I’m still hoping to pick up The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab once I finish my current read. It’s one of my most anticipated reads of this year and I’m a big fan of Schwab but I have to admit I’ve been putting it off a little due to the fear it won’t live up to expectations. I’m also hoping to pick up Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco soonish so I may try to get to that one too.

My next book club book is Found by Erin Kinsley so I should probably think about trying to pick it up soon. Not gonna lie, I’m not especially excited at the prospect.


Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading 🙂

WWW Wednesday: 14th October 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Poisoned

I’m technically between books at the moment as I just finished one and wanted a break before starting another. I’m fairly certain however that my next read will be Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly as I’ve just realised it’s publishing next week (I have seriously got to get on top of my ARCs). I absolutely loved Donnelly’s previous book Stepsister so I’ve been really looking forward to this one. Plus, it’s a retelling of the Snow White and I am a big fan of retellings. Fingers crossed it lives up to expectations.


Recently Finished

The Devil and the Dark Water

Two books finished this week, with the first The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton. This was one of my most anticipated reads this year and for the most part it did not disappoint. It’s not as complex as Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (no notebook was required) but it’s still a very twisty tale that really keeps you guessing.

If I had one criticism it’s that I wish it had leaned a little harder into the horror aspects of the story. There are some creepy moments in the story but I feel like Turton could have gone a little further. It is a great read with intriguing characters and a stunning ending but not quite the 5 star read I was hoping for.

The Ghost Tree

The second book finished was The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry. I received an advance copy of this a month or so ago via NetGalley but it was only available to read on the app which is not great so I decided to wait until I could buy a copy.

I’m a big fan of Henry’s writing and I think this ranks as one of my favourites. I more or less read the whole thing in one sitting, I just could not put it down. It’s an 80s set monster in the woods story that’s more gore fest than spooky tale. It’s maybe a little on the tropey side but it was a lot of fun to read.


Reading Next

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)

If I manage to finish Poisoned I think I’ll probably switch back to my October TBR and The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E Schwab. It’s currently sitting on the arm of my sofa calling my name so I don’t think I’ll be able to resist for long. I’m also hoping to pick up Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco soonish so I may try to get to that one too. I also have my RL book club on Friday so there’s a possibility they’ll come up with a book I want to read. I think my days in book club are numbered as out of the 10 books so far I’ve only liked 1 (although to be fair I didn’t read 4 of them).


Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading 🙂

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Author: Abbi Waxman

Genre: Contemporary

Pages: 351

Source: Bought

My Rating: 3 stars


The Blurb

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.


Thoughts

Unpopular opinion time, I didn’t love this book. I mean, I wanted to and based on the synopsis and all of the glowing reviews I was pretty positive going in that I would but it just didn’t work for me. It may just be a case of poor timing, I was in a grumpy mood, but I found myself becoming increasingly irritated by it and the more I read the more irritated I got.

In theory it should have been the perfect read for me, quirky characters, a bookshop setting, lots of literary and pop culture references, a cat and a little bit of romance. And there was definitely a lot to like but there was something about the writing style and the tone of the story which rubbed me up the wrong way from the very start. Yes the characters are quirky and eccentric but it feels like it’s trying too hard. I think it’s supposed to be funny but it wasn’t really my sense of humour so I found it a bit dull and by the end was left wondering what the point of it was.

I guess it’s supposed to be about Nina’s development from anxious introvert to someone who puts themselves out there with other people but to be honest I never really bought the anxious introvert thing so it didn’t seem like there was much development. If I’m being brutally honest I didn’t even like Nina that much. Anxious and introverted just seemed to mean rude, inconsiderate and judgemental (there’s some serious book snobbery). Someone who has a wide circle of friends, is out every night of the week and seems to like being at the centre of things doesn’t sound very introverted or shy to me and she had no problem standing up for herself or speaking her mind. I expected much more of a loner, not a social butterfly.

The story itself did have promise. Nina discovers she has a whole family she didn’t know about and meets them while simultaneously getting to know quiz team rival Tom who is inexplicably (she’s nothing but horrible to him) interested in her. If there had been a little more depth or emotion I think it could have been a really good story but the tone remains upbeat and quirky throughout which I think sort of spoiled things.

The switches in perspective from one paragraph to the next also confused me. The majority of the story is from Nina’s pov but every so often it’d switch to Tom or one of the other characters, usually in the middle of a chapter with no indication. It’d take me a few seconds to figure out what’d happened by which time we’d be back to Nina.

I’m also not sure I saw the point of cat Phil other than to go all out on the stereotype of bookish spinster with cat. And having Nina imagining what he was saying just seemed silly, like pretty much most of the things she imagined.

As for the romance, it felt a little tacked on and lacklustre. There wasn’t any real chemistry between them and she was so rude to Tom I honestly couldn’t see why he bothered.

There were a few nice moments, I liked a couple of the secondary characters and I do love a book with lots of literary references but I’m afraid on the whole it was a bit of a disappointment.