Summer TBR: 20 Books of Summer 2022

Hello lovely people,

I hope you’re all doing well. It seems like forever since I posted so apologies for my latest disappearing act. I seem to appear every 3 months with a seasonal TBR then disappear again. Things have however calmed down a little at work, I’m reading a lot more, taking part in challenges and have a few ideas for posts so hopefully I’ll start posting (or just floating around the blogosphere) a lot more.

For a little bit of extra motivation I’ve decided to try and combine my Summer TBR with the 20 Books of Summer challenge, hosted by Cath at 746 books. It seems like a fun, relatively low pressure way to knock some books off the TBR mountain over the summer months and I’m hoping that by posting regular updates it’ll force encourage me to be a lot more active here.

This will be my first time participating so of course I’m being overly ambitious and aiming for the full monty (there are options for 10 or 15 books). I’m also putting a bit of a twist on it and aiming for 20 books from my physical TBR. I’ve been buying sooo many books lately (I blame the special editions and sprayed edges) and have a couple of book subscriptions on the go so I had a lot of books to choose from. Narrowing it down to 20 was not easy and I suspect there may be some substitutions along the way but at the moment this is my list.

Hopefully I’ve got a really good mix of different books on the list and there are a couple I am very excited about so I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to fit my mood (I’m v much a mood reader). Have you read any of these or are there any you’re looking forward to reading yourself? Let me know in the comments below.

Ali x

Spring TBR

Hello lovely people,

It’s the first day of March, the sun is shining and everything is starting to seem a little bit brighter so I think it’s time for a Spring TBR post. I’ve been working a lot of hours over the last couple of months so I’ve not had a lot of time (or focus) for reading but I’ve been doing quite a lot of book buying. I’ve also picked up a few ARCs that I’m really looking forward to and have been venturing more and more onto Book-tok which has added a LOT of interesting books to my TBR mountain.


ARCs

Lets kick off with the ARCs, I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a few of my most anticipated reads.

  • The Atlas Six by Olivia Blake – I’ve seen this talked about a lot on book-tok, so given I’ve been taking pretty much any recommendation I see on there I thought why not and pre ordered it. Then it appeared on Netgalley so I requested it there too and my request was granted. Anyway, there’s a competition, magic, a library, sounds fab.
  • Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane – McFarlane is an autobuy author for me. I absolutely adore her books, they tend to be marketed as rom-coms or chick lit but I don’t think this captures all that they are. There is so much depth and emotion and they have a tendency to deal with some difficult themes. Previous book Just Last Night had me in bits with how it dealt with grief and friendship. I was hoping this would be a little more cheerful but I’ve already heard people saying they were sobbing so I shall have tissues at the ready.
  • First Born by Will Dean – I really feel like I should get up to speed on Dean’s back catalogue. I’ve only read his previous standalone, Last Thing to Burn, but it was absolutely brilliant. It probably had one of the most vile and disgusting villain’s that I think I’ve ever read and it made for gripping reading. I have a feeling that First Born will be the same, it has twins, mystery, death and secrets. I am very excited.
  • Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Pinborough, possibly Behind Her Eyes, but I do love her writing and she knows how to write a great thriller so this should be good.

Book Subscriptions

Because I clearly don’t have enough books to read… ahem… I started a couple of monthly book subscriptions at the end of last year. One is a Bert’s books debut fiction subscription and the other is Illumicrate. I’ve had book subscriptions before and had to give them up as I was always falling behind so this year I set myself the goal of reading the month’s book within a month of actually receiving it.

  • The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews – I have accidentally ended up with two copies of this as I spied it in the bookstore and couldn’t resist buying it (I had a voucher), then a second copy arrived through the door as February’s Bert’s Books pick. I guess it does mean I really want to read it, I love the sound of a story that combines fantasy, gothic and historical.
  • A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross – This just arrived from Illumicrate today and was a bit of a surprise but I’m kind of tempted to read right away. I loved Rebecca Ross’ previous series and having read the synopsis it sounds really good. It’s the first adult fantasy from the author which I take to mean “contains spice” plus it has the enemies forced to work together thing which is one of my fave tropes.
  • Little Thieves by Margaret Owen – I received this in November (I think) but haven’t quite gotten around to reading as yet. I was on a Zodiac Academy / Plated Prisoner binge read so was OD-ing on fantasy. I’ve also been a little off YA fantasy but this is a retelling so I will almost definitely read it and love it.
  • This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi – I’m a little on the fence about reading this as it’s the first in a trilogy. It does sound good but I’ve been trying to wait till all of the books in a series (or most) are out before diving in. It’s highly likely if they’re not I’ll never finish the series.

Recent Purchases

Waterstones half price hardback sale was a bit of a killer for me. I bought more books than I should have considering the number of books I already own but have yet to read. I’ve also discovered that I am completely unable to resist a book with a sprayed or stencilled edge, something I am pretty sure the publishers have now realised. If a book has a pretty cover and a stencilled edge, I’ll buy it, probably without even checking what it’s about.

  • The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett – Hallett’s debut book The Appeal was one of those happy discoveries for me last year. It was one I’d seen a few people rave about but only got around to picking up when it was chosen as a Bloody Scotland bookclub read. I borrowed from the library, thought I’ll read a few pages see what it’s like and of course ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting. Needless to say as soon as I finished I pre ordered The Twyford Code. One of the things I loved about The Appeal was the unusual format and as far as I can tell Hallett has done something similar with this one. I do love a book with an unusual format and the reviews I’ve read so far have all been positive.
  • The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont – This is one I picked in large part due to the stencilled edges. I am loving mysteries and thillers at the moment so that was a big draw and I do like the idea of this book, a reimagining of what happened during those 11 days when Agatha Christie went missing.
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint – I absolutely love mythology and have heard a lot of good things about this (I’ve also heard a few not so great things but I’m opting to ignore them and judge for myself).
  • Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune – I literally only read The House in the Cerulean Sea a couple of weeks ago but it was love at first page. There was something so warm and happy about the writing. I was feeling very stressed and a bit anxious and it was the hug in book form I really needed. From what I’ve heard Under the Whispering Door could be a little sadder and will no doubt make me cry but I don’t care.

Audiobooks

I’m managing to get out and about a bit more so I’ve been really enjoying having a book in my ear when I’m driving or out for a walk. It still seems to take me a while to get through them so I tend to be selective in my picks but there seem to be lots of really intriguing ones being published at the mo.

  • The Maid by Nita Prose – There’s been a LOT of buzz around this book and yep I have totally fallen for it. It has a mystery at the centre of it but also a very unique sounding main character. I’m always on the lookout for books that are a little bit different so this is just the kind of story I’m looking for. Here’s hoping it lives up to expectations.
  • Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes – I have to confess I’d lost some of the love for Marian Keyes’ books recently. I will always love her early books about the Walsh family but I have found her more recent novels a bit of a struggle. That was, until I listened to her last book, Grown Ups, on audio and really enjoyed it. Keyes narrates it herself and is somehow good at it, something not all authors are. Again, Rachel therefore has double appeal to me having both Keyes as narrator and featuring the Walsh family.
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley – This is actually a similar one to Marian Keyes, I read and enjoyed The Hunting Party but didn’t love it and then I listened to The Guest List on audio and it was so much better. The narration somehow brought the characters to life in a way that reading it somehow failed to do. As I had a couple of audible credits I thought The Paris Apartment would be a good shout.
  • The No-Show by Beth O’Leary – I listened to O’Leary’s previous book The Road Trip on audio last year and really enjoyed it so I think I’m probably also going to go for her new book in the same format.

So that’s my spring reading plans. I am also doing a team reading challenge at the moment so fully anticipate it pushing me into new and unusual directions but hopefully I’ve left myself enough space to squeeze in whatever I need to.

Have you read any of these? Should I push any to the top of my list?

Let me know below

Autumn TBR

Hello all,

I’m back. I apologise for being MIA yet again and I would promise I’m sticking around but I can’t honestly say I won’t disappear again. Working from home is really not conducive to blogging. The last thing I want to do after a long day/week sitting in my house in front of a laptop is spend my evenings/weekends sitting in my house in front of a laptop. I will however endeavour to post a bit more than once every three months.

Anyway, having failed miserably at both blogging and reading the books on my summer TBR (I read 4 of 16) I’m back to try yet again with an Autumn (Fall for those of you in the US) TBR. Autumn is my absolute favourite time of the year. I’m a big fan of jumpers, boots and keeping cosy indoors with a good book. I always look forward to October in particular and picking up those chilling and creepy novels I’ve been saving up for spooky season. Needless to say you can expect a few books with ghosts, witches and maybe the odd vampire in the list that follows.


Bookshelf books

I am unable to resist a pretty cover or a signed special edition so despite the huge number of books I own and have yet to read I’ve picked up quite a few new books in the last few weeks. It’s not my fault, they shouldn’t be releasing so many tempting books all at the same time although I have to admit my visit to Bloody Scotland last weekend and new signed fiction subscription at Bert’s Books probably haven’t helped.

  • Hyde by Craig Russell – Winner of Crime Book of the year at Bloody Scotland this is a book that I’ve been tempted to pick up for a while. I don’t typically go for historical fiction but I loved his previous book The Devil Aspect and I can never resist a book inspired by a classic or fairytale.
  • Horseman by Christina Henry – Another “inspired by” story, this time based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Henry is an autobuy author for me. If she writes it, I’ll read it. It’s also a very pretty book with red sprayed edges.
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – I pre-ordered a copy of this months ago and am very excited/scared to get stuck in. It is mahoosive which is slightly off putting but early reviews have all been raving about it so I’ll probably dive in soon.
  • Five Minds by Guy Morpuss – This is the September book from Bert’s Books and while I hadn’t heard of it before it landed on my doormat I am very excited to read it (I think it’s going to be up first of all the books on this list). It’s a mix of science fiction and murder mystery with a really unique premise (and I love a unique premise) of five minds inhabiting one body.
  • Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber – Technically hasn’t arrived yet but I pre-ordered a few months ago so should be here soon. I was a big fan of the author’s Caraval series and this seems to be set in the same world so has been one of my most anticipated books

ARCS

I still have rather a lot of ARCs sitting waiting to read, some of which are not exactly ARCs anymore as the book has been out for a while.

  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney – I really should have read this by now. I’m a big fan of Feeney’s books and it sounds like a great story.
  • The Doll by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – This will be my first venture into this author’s work. I can never resist a creepy doll story so I’m hoping this lives up to expectations
  • The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynne Barnes – I really liked The Inheritance Games, it did have the obligatory love triangle but the mystery side of it was great, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for the sequel.
  • The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – I have somewhat mixed feelings on this one. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow but it was very character driven and slow. I suspect this may be similar so I’ll probably need to be in the right mood for it.
  • Opal Country by Chris Hammer – This will also be a new author to me but I’ve heard a lot of great things about his books and have loved the other Australian crime fiction I’ve read so I’m looking forward to it.

Backlist books

I have a ridiculous number of books sitting on my kindle unread so I decided to move some into an Autumn TBR folder in the hope it’d be less overwhelming. I ended up with 40 books!! Even I am not delusional enough to think I’m going to read 40 books in the next couple of months (I average 1 or 2 books a week) so these are the ones I think are the most likely.

  • The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir – I bought this on a bit of a whim. It sounded quite creepy and I like translated fiction so fingers crossed.
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver – Everyone seems to rave over this book so I think it’s finally time to read it and see if it lives up to the hype.
  • My Best Friends Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – I read The Final Girl’s Support Group a month or so ago and really enjoyed it so I’m planning to work through the author’s backlist starting with this one. I’m a child of the 80s so I love books set in that time period, am looking forward to lots of references.
  • House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland – I bought this a while back and, like many of the books I’ve bought, have been meaning to read it for a while. It’s been picked as a book of the month in one of my Goodreads groups though so that should give me the push I’ve been needing to finally read it.
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Another book I bought a while back based on all of the rave reviews. I do love a bit of a gothic horror and this sounds very similar to another book I read last year and really loved.
  • Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan – An author I follow on Twitter was raving about this book so I bought it (it really doesn’t take much to convince me to buy a book). I do absolutely love the cover and I believe there’s a sequel coming out soon so…

Audiobooks

Finally, I have a few audio books lined up on audible.

  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary – This was actually on my Summer TBR but I have now downloaded it onto my phone so it’s absolutely definitely (well maybe) going to be up soon
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming – This is a bit of a cheat as I’m around halfway through it already. It’s a little bit dated (the portrayal of women is not great) but David Tennant narrates so that’s making up for any shortfalls in the story.
  • Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell – I had quite a few audible credits so used them to pick up the first three books in this series on the recommendation of someone on Goodreads. I’ve heard the narrator is excellent so here’s hoping the series is too.

I suspect I’m being a little overly optimistic with this list and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll wander off (it’s a little light on romance) but I am hoping I can read the majority of the books on this list (or at least do better than I did with my summer TBR). Hopefully I’ll also manage to get caught up on some reviews and manage to blog a bit more frequently.

Have you read any of these? Any recommendations on where I should start? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading

Ax

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021

Hello lovely people,

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in a while but had been already planning a post on this weeks topic, my Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021, so I actually got myself organised and converted my scrawled list of books into an actual post.

I have to confess I’ve been a little bit wary of doing another most anticipated list as it seems to be the kiss of death for the books I include. I think around half of the books on my previous list turned out to be something of a disappointment. I didn’t hate them, they just didn’t live up to expectations. Anyway, I’m giving it another go with a list of twelve books I’m fairly confident I’ll enjoy.


  • A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram #2) by Darynda Jones – Darynda Jones’ books are like drugs to me, they are so addictive. I didn’t love the first book in this new series as much as I hoped (I spent too much time comparing to the Charley Davidson books) but I do still have high hopes that book 2 will push the story on.
  • Isn’t It Bromantic? (Bromance Bookclub #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams – I am loving this series about a group of guys trying to fix their relationships by reading romance novels. Can’t wait to read the Russian’s story particularly as it sounds like a fake relationship / friends to lovers kind of a story.
  • The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3) by Helen Hoang – Another series I’ve been loving. Not sure what it says about me but I have a definite affinity to romcoms with autistic characters.
  • Here’s To Us (What If It’s Us #2) by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli – I will read anything Silvera or Albertalli write and I think What If It’s Us was one of my favourite books of 2018 (wow how has it been 3 years between books). I love
  • Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz – I was pretty surprised when I heard there was a sequel but I am here for it. I very much enjoyed the first book and am keen to catch up with the characters
  • Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I need to know how it ends. I just hope the answer is not in the title.
  • Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – Another author I love, I’ve read her contemporary novels and her fantasy and every single one has been wonderful. I think Kemmerer is not on my auto buy author list.
  • Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber – The author’s Caraval series had a bit of a shaky start but I feel like each book Garber writes is better than the previous so I have high hopes for Once Upon A Broken Heart. It doesn’t hurt that it’s about one of my favourite characters, Jacks, from the series.
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – I’ve somehow ended up pre ordering two copies of this (a Waterstones one and a Goldsboro edition) so I think we can safely say I really want to read it. I do love a vampire novel and Jay Kristoff is a brilliant writer so yeah *crosses fingers*
  • 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard – I seem to be buying into the hype on this one as I can’t really remember what it’s about, have never read anything by the author before and yet have heard so many good things about it I can’t wait to get my mitts on it.
  • The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin – It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by Ian Rankin and I feel like I haven’t been reading much in the way of police procedurals so this fits the bill.
  • The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen – I do love the author’s writing but have to confess that cover is probably what’s drawing me to this book the most. I don’t even really care what it’s about.

So that’s twelve of the books I’m most looking forward to over the remainder of 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

Summer TBR

Hello all,

I hope you’re all doing well, or as well as can be expected. I know I’ve been MIA yet again but work got busy and I’ve been finding it really difficult to balance everything. Add to that a laptop that’s probably nearing the end of its life and yep, blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, I’ve had a week off work (a rare occurrence), so am determined to do this thang, starting with a Summer TBR. I do love a TBR post as it fills me with the optimism that I have some goals and a plan. My full TBR list is significantly bigger than this but I’ve tried to pull out a nice mix of genres and authors from the books at the top of my list. I will no doubt deviate (what can I say, I’m a mood reader) but this gives me a good starting point.


Book Club Books

I’ve somehow ended up in about four different book clubs which I have to confess is not going great in terms of me actually getting to all of the books I’m supposed to be reading for them. I do try however to prioritise the books for my RL work book club. This month’s read is Scabby Queen which I started around a week ago but parked because I wasn’t in the right mood and was losing focus. I will however pick it up again soon as I think it may turn out to be one I love. The Midnight Library and The End of Men are on our list of future picks and are ones I’ve been looking forward to reading so I may try to get a head start on them.


ARCS

I have soooo many ARCs, someone seriously needs to shut off my request button on Netgalley. I’ve not done too badly in terms of reading a lot of them but I am very behind in reviews. I think I probably need to make an effort to read as many as possible (and get those reviews written) over the next few months and I suspect I’ll pick up whichever appeals at that particular moment but the following are some recent approvals that I’m pretty excited about.


Bookshelf/Backlist

As there’s not a huge amount to spend money on at the moment I have been doing quite a bit of book shopping. All those special/signed editions have been calling to me. As a result I’ve got a little bit of a backlog of books I’ve bought but not had a chance to read as yet. I also have a few books I’ve been putting off reading till the full series is available (I’m looking at you King of Scars) so hoping to pick them up too.


Audiobooks

Finally, I have a few audio books lined up on audible. The inclusion of Project Hail Mary is possibly a bit of a cheat as I’ve already started it but it’s pretty long so will probably take me till the end of the month to finish it. I do love sci fi stories on audio for some reason.


So that’s my list. I’m pretty excited about it. There are soooo many good books around at the moment, I just hope I manage to read them all.

Have you read any of these? Any recommendations on where I should start? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading

Ax

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.

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: 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 ❤