How Time Wasted on Social Media Inspired Kate Vane to Write Her New Novel Still You Sleep! @k8vane

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Kate Vane back to my blog. Kate has written a fab post all about how spending too much time on social media inspired her new novel, Still You Sleep!

A lot of us lament the time we spend on social media. It is habit forming and time can race by with nothing to show for it. Then there is all the anger. At times it can feel like an endless line of people queueing up to shout roughly the same thing in your face, one after another.

However, it wouldn’t have become a habit if we didn’t get something from it. I feel I’ve gained in many ways from social media – discovering books and authors I would never otherwise have heard of, connecting with likeminded readers from across the world. I’ve been amused and entertained, and have learnt from people who share their expertise in a pleasingly eclectic range of subjects – from medieval history to birdwatching. It has also inspired elements of my new novel, Still You Sleep.

In Still You Sleep the death of Vikki Smith, a young woman with a learning disability, becomes the subject of hateful social media messages. Like many people I’ve become increasingly dismayed by social media trolling and found it hard to ignore. I wanted to explore the different reasons why people do it, from resentment, to conviction, to just wanting to join in a pile-on.

One element of the plot involves tracking down the trolls and understanding their motives. This isn’t just about the instigators, I wondered what drives the people who join in someone else’s fight? And what about the people who argue against them, but in the process amplify their message? Is this naivety or are they promoting an agenda of their own?

It was also around this time I happened across stories of people buying and selling opioids on the dark web. I saw the footage of one particularly chilling police interview. The convicted man was polite and articulate, explaining how he ran his business – carefully weighing the drugs and sending them out by post and even issuing a ‘buyer beware’ message on his webpage. He was saving up to go to university. He might as well have been selling T-shirts.

This in turn sent me off to learn more about the dark web as I knew this was something I wanted to explore: people who don’t fit the popular stereotype of the drug dealer but whose actions can still have deadly consequences. What were the thought processes that made them think that was alright?

My protagonists are journalists. Tilda Green is an online activist-journalist at the start of her career, and Freddie Stone is a redundant crime reporter, struggling to come to terms with a fast-changing industry. They each bring different skills to investigating Vikki’s death and the people who appear to be exploiting it.

Journalists are, of course, among the biggest users of social media, Twitter in particular, so following them has been a great resource in terms of current issues, methods and insider gossip.

When I was growing up, I had no idea where ‘the news’ came from. It emerged from the box in the living room and was beyond question. I’m sure most adults probably thought the same thing. Unless you knew a journalist, or had been personally involved in a news story, you probably had very little idea about what they did.

Nowadays, journalists are much more transparent about their processes and sources than they used to be. They talk online about everything from technological change to a recent impassioned Twitter debate on whether a journalist still needs shorthand. I’ve worked in media teams and know a few journalists, but social media helps me keep up with current media culture and concerns.

I think social media is like any real-life public space. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s boring, occasionally, against your will, you’re forced into contact with people who are unpleasant or even dangerous. Unfortunately, it’s those people who often make the most noise and can be hard to avoid.

It’s not only a resource for research but a place where dramas play out. As such it makes sense to me to write about it in fiction.

 

About the Book

Still You Sleep by Kate Vane

Why wasn’t she safe at home?

Vikki Smith was a young woman with a learning disability, living independently for the first time, when she died of a drug overdose.

The police think it could have been an accident, but messages on social media suggest someone was exploiting her death for their own ends – before it was even announced. Her mother is convinced it was murder.

Redundant crime reporter Freddie Stone is a family friend. He wants to help them – and his failing career – but he’s a people person. He asks online journalist Tilda Green to work with him.

Tilda is curious, passionate and runs her own campaigning news site. She’s open to everything except compromise. But she’s intrigued by what Freddie tells her and agrees to work with him – for now.

Tilda thinks the trolls are organised and have links to hate groups. A charismatic local politician is determined to take them on. Some question his motives but Tilda trusts him, maybe too much.

Freddie believes the answer to Vikki’s death lies on the estate where she lived, if he could only get someone to speak out. He wants to know who was bringing drugs into Vikki’s home. He chases old contacts while struggling with his new life.

Beyond the virtual hate and her neighbours’ silence, someone knows who killed Vikki. Tilda and Freddie are determined to find the truth and tell her story.

Still You Sleep is out now and available here!

 

About the Author

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Kate Vane worked for a number of years as a probation officer. She started writing crime fiction because she thought made-up criminals would be easier to manage (she was wrong). Still You Sleep is her fifth novel.

She has always loved the sea, and now lives on the south Devon coast. If she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably in the garden.


Contact Kate

Website: katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook /k8vane

WWW Wednesdays (19 Feb 2020)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

I’m really struggling to read at the moment so have been picking books up and putting them down a lot but this one has grabbed my attention. I love all the references to older mystery novels and am intrigued to see how this book plays out.

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

This is my current audio book and I’m enjoying it. It’s not as good as her previous novel The Life We Lost, which I loved, but it’s keeping me interested so that’s great.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I got the hardback of this for my birthday and am loving it. I wish my health was better as I would have normally devoured this in one or two sittings but I’m very much enjoying this one. I recommend it!

 

What I recently finished reading:

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

I spotted this book on Scribd and decided to listen to it before I started Peter Swanson’s new book as I knew it featured and didn’t want spoilers. I really enjoyed this one, it’s an engrossing mystery and Poirot novels are such fun escapism.

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

I completely and utterly fell in love with this novel and have already reviewed it so you can read my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more about it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve had the ebook of this ever since it was first published but I spotted that the audio was available on BorrowBox so I downloaded it and plan to part read and part listen. I’ve done this before with one of the author’s previous novels and really enjoyed it so I’m looking forward to starting this one.

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

I got this book for my birthday last month and have been so keen to read it. I really hope my brain is back in gear for reading soon as I’d love to read this book in the coming days.

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

This was another birthday gift and is one I’m so looking forward to getting lost in. I read Don Quixote many, many years ago so am hoping I can remember it enough to catch the references to it in this book. I have very high hopes for this one so hope it lives up to them!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin | @CarolLovekin @Honno @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #WildSpinningGirls

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If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her.

And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it. Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left…

It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.

I genuinely don’t know where to start with this review… Carol Lovekin stole a piece of my heart with Ghostbird, and she cemented my love of her writing with Snow Sisters… Now there’s Wild Spinning Girls and I’m just completely and utterly in awe!

I jumped at the chance to read Wild Spinning Girls without knowing much about it because I’m a huge fan and I know a Carol Lovekin novel will be stunning. When I read the opening pages and I saw what the novel was about I instantly felt a strong connection. We follow Ida, who is 29 years old and is told, somewhat out of the blue, that she is being made redundant from her beloved job in a book shop. Then soon after Ida’s parents die suddenly and she is rootless and lost. My mum died when I was 29, she was my only parent and honestly losing her pulled the rug completely from under me. I barely knew which way was up for quite a while. So I was reading this novel in tears at times remembering the pain of the early days of that loss and wishing I could reach into the pages of this book to Ida, to tell her that it does get easier in time.

‘Mothers aren’t supposed to die before we’re ready to manage without them.’ Ida said.

Ida soon learns about a house in Wales that her parents still owned but they hadn’t been there since Ida was five. She decides to go there and sort it out for sale but she’s dreading it. She knows her mum hated it there but she doesn’t really know why.

Her thick cardigan folded itself around her, like a pair of empty arms enhancing her loneliness, exacerbating her sense of disconnection from the person who had arrived here less than two weeks previously.

The house feels creepy, cold and unfriendly when Ida arrives. Dark is falling and the electric is off so she’s literally floundering and wondering what on earth to do. The house seems melancholy, there is a sense that it is waiting for something – I could feel that radiating from the page. This is a house that is haunted by secrets and sadness and also by the happiness that could have been had there and wasn’t. It is as if there is some kind of spell woven around this house and it had a very real effect on Ida, but also on me. It was as if the things Ida was feeling because of the house I was genuinely feeling too because of the poignant way it was all described in the novel.

‘[…] it’s the place, the house. It’s like living in a Bronte novel’.

‘Charlotte or Emily?’

‘Both.’

Gradually we discover more about Ida’s mother and how she had been a famous ballerina but Ida was never able to reach her mother’s heights. She took up ballet as a child but an accident brought it all to an end. It caused real tension between mother and daughter but it never took away their love for each other. It made their relationship complex but the way that Ida holds on to her red ballet shoes shows how much she adored her mother, at the same time as the way she holds on to her injury shows the guilt she feels in how she, perhaps unconsciously, freed herself from the power of those same red shoes.

Then in walks Heather! A 17 year old who believes the house is hers because her mother rented it for them for many years. Heather’s mum has also recently died but this doesn’t make the two women find a connection, instead there is suspicion and tension from the start. Both are lost and in pain but they’re both struggling in their own ways and it seems like no one is going to be able to get through to either of them. Nor does it seem likely that they’ll find a way to resolve the impasse they find themselves in. Heather is feisty and strong-willed, she doesn’t see why she should yield her will to anyone and I loved this about her. Ida is the opposite; she is broken by all that has happened and she can’t see how she will get her life back on track. I was willing both of these women on, I wanted them to see the common ground and to find a way through.

Heather knew the only way to mend a heart as broken as hers was to find someone else who knew what a heart sounded like when it shattered.

Carol Lovekin weaves magic through her writing, she brings her readers into her stories in a way that no other writer does. I always feel bereft on finishing her novels because I never want them to end but I also always feel like my spirit has been shored up and healed in a way that was much needed. I found so much solace in Wild Spinning Girls, I could identify so much with both Ida and Heather. I really miss them now, I keep thinking about them and wondering how they are as if they are real people that I once knew.

There is a fierceness in young women: the wild spinning girls made of loss and grief and their mothers’ best dreams. Let loose it could tip the world off its axis.

I highlighted so many paragraphs as I was reading this novel because Carol Lovekin has such a special turn of phrase, and she weaves such beauty into each sentence. I kept stopping to re-read sections because I wanted to make sure I’d absorbed every bit of this story. I deliberately read slowly as I didn’t want to miss a single thing! The above quote is one of my favourites and this wild spinning girl is going to read those two sentences every time she ever doubts herself from now on!

Wild Spinning Girls truly is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time, it has stolen my heart and will be taking pride of place on my bookcase. It is melancholy but also magical, it’s dark but it has hope and most of all it’s a stunning book that reminds you to find and then hold on to your power and strength. I’ve been writing and re-writing this review for days and I can’t do any kind of justice to the book. I just adored this novel more than I can say, I know it will be one of my favourite books of this year as I already want to re-read it. I highly recommend this one!

My thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Honno Books for my ecopy of this book and my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Wild Spinning Girls is due to be published on 20 Feb and can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

You can follow the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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My (Belated) Birthday Book Haul!

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It was my birthday back in January but ill-health has meant I haven’t managed to take photos of my lovely new books, or to write a blog post about them until now. I was very spoilt with the books I received so I wanted to share them… better late than never!

My husband bought me such an amazing stack of books plus a fabulous snuggly cape that I wear wrapped around me when I’m reading. I really feel the cold these days and this cape is the best thing ever! 🙂

 

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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I’ve already started reading this one and it’s brilliant! I love Queenie and can’t wait to read what happens next!

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Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

This is a book that I’ve ummed and aahed about buying for myself but I’m so glad that I now have my own gifted copy as it is a book I really do want to read. I need to get my brain back in gear before I pick this up but I’m so looking forward to it.

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Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

This is a book I’ve wanted to read ever since I first heard about it last year. I saw Megan, and her family, on the Louis Theroux documentaries over the years and I’ve been so keen to read more about Megan’s story. I think this will be a fascinating read.

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

I did get a ebook of this for review but I’ve really been wanting to have a physical copy so I was thrilled to open this book on my birthday.

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Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

I haven’t read anything by this author for years but this book really appealed to me and so I was delighted to open it on my birthday. As soon as my reading mojo returns I will be picking this up as it’s really calling to me from my TBR!

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

This book sounds so good, and isn’t it a stunning looking book?! I can’t wait to curl up (in my new reading cape!) and get lost in the pages of this book. It sounds magical!

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Somewhere Becoming Rain by Clive James

My husband bought me this one as I’m a huge Philip Larkin fan, and I also love Clive James’ writing and I’m so happy to have this one. I think this will be such a treat to read. The text is small for my poor eyes so it might have to be a book I dip in and out of but I’m so looking forward to getting to it.

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10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

This is another book I’ve secretly had my eye on so am very pleased to have my own copy. I’m fascinated by the premise of the novel so I don’t think I’ll be long getting to it.

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Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

This book was one my husband bought for me on a whim as we enjoyed the recent drama about Chernobyl. It’s a book I’d heard of but I didn’t own and it’s one I really want to read. I always like to read more in-depth around dramas based on true stories that I’ve enjoyed on TV.

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The Orchestra of Minorities by Chicozie Obioma

I don’t know a huge amount about this book but I read the blurb and it sounds like a book I will really enjoyed so I’m happy to have it.

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

This is a book I already own a copy of and I’ve read and loved it. I will make sure my extra copy finds a new home though.

 

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The Little Book of Meditation by Gilly Pickup

My best friend gave me this gorgeous book about meditation, which is wonderful and I’m enjoying dipping in and out of it. She also made me this lovely bookmark, which will get a lot of use as I read my way through all of my fab new books!

 

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My lovely mum-in-law gave me some book tokens, which is always a wonderful gift to receive. I’ve spent some of them on The Flame by Leonard Cohen. This is a book I’ve wanted for a while as I adore Leonard Cohen’s song lyrics and poetry so I will enjoy reading my way through this one. I still have some book tokens left over so I’m looking forward to spending those when I spot a book I’d like.

 


 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

 

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst | @OrendaBooks @annecater

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Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.
Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

Well, I’ve not been reading much over the last couple of weeks – I’ve been ill and my concentration has been rubbish but I’d been so keen to get to Death Deserved so picked it up to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. This is such a brilliant crime thriller, it’s one of those books that I was thinking about whenever I wasn’t reading it and I already want more!

Death Deserved opens with a police officer entering a house and shooting a suspect, and then the novel moves forward nineteen years to the present day. The same officer is called to a missing woman’s house by a journalist and this leads to such a gripping investigation! Blix is the officer and Emma is the journalist and they begin to work together as it becomes apparent that someone is murdering celebrities and it seems the killer has a very definite plan in mind for how and when he going to commit the murders.

I loved Emma Ramm from the off in this book. She is so feisty and determined to make something of her career, and she felt so real to me. She doesn’t put herself in silly situations, she’s astute. Blix is also great, he has demons in his past but it only fuels him to be better and to get things right in the future. He’s mindful of what came before but he never lets it stop him fully focusing on what is in front of him now. I can see why Emma and Blix came to work well together, they really do make a brilliant pairing!

I had so many theories as I was racing through this crime thriller and pretty much all of them were wrong. It’s a novel that wrong foots you every time you think you’ve got a grip of what’s going on, it made me feel like I was in amongst the investigation as the police were also scrambling to put a theory together.

I loved the way this novel also explores celebrity and how people become famous, and how we come to revere people who are in the public eye. Blix’s daughter is in a reality TV show and he has a slightly strained relationship with her but he’s constantly catching up with how she’s doing on the show and making sure she seems okay. The show is like Big Brother but way more tough on the contestants in what it puts them through. It was fascinating to me how the viewers were judging the contestants and voting them out based on transgressions that perhaps most of us might have committed at one time or another in our lives. It felt it was holding a mirror up to all of us so realising that the killer was at the incredibly heightened, extreme, obsessed end of a scale that perhaps we are all on was very unnerving and unsettling. We are constantly making judgements and wishing people would be voted off shows because they’re not worthy enough, or nice enough or they made a mistake that we feel they should pay for. Obviously, I know we’re not all psychopaths but the dichotomy definitely brings you up short at times as you read this book!

Death Deserved is an intense, sophisticated crime thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and I loved every single minute that I spent reading it! I love a book that is such a gripping, unputdownable thrill-ride whilst also making me pause for thought, and Death Deserved it definitely that! This is the best crime thriller that I’ve read in quite some time and I can’t wait to read more by these authors! I highly recommend this book!

Death Deserved is out now in ebook and and can be pre-ordered in paperback here.

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

You can follow the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading at the moment?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

I’m such a huge fan of Carol Lovekin’s writing so have been eagerly anticipating her new book. I started reading it last night and it’s stunning, I want to read it slowly to make it last as long as I can.

Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams

I got this for my birthday last week and am really enjoying it. I was very lucky to get lots of books but I’ve been too ill to read any of them until now. I’ll do a book haul soon but Queenie was the one that called to me first and it’s such a good read!

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’ve been reading this book on and off for the past three weeks and am finding it so interesting. It’s definitely motivating me to continue to find products that either aren’t plastic or things that can be re-used around my home.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst

This is such an excellent crime thriller and I loved it. It’s the best thriller I’ve read in a while and I highly recommend it. I’ve actually shared my review of it today so you can read my full thoughts there! 🙂 It’s the only book I’ve managed to read in its entirety over the last week so it must have been good!

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I’ve been reading this over the last month and finally finished it this week. It was such a nostaglic look back over the famous characters David Jason has played over the years such as Del Boy, Pop Larkin and Jack Frost. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you’re a fan of the shows he’s been a part of.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Lying Room by Nicci French

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages so when it popped up on a daily deal for Kindle yesterday I snapped it up and can’t wait to start reading it.

Keeper by Jessica Moor

I was lucky to received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and am so intrigued to read it so I think I might well pick it up this week!

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

This is another book that is calling to me from my NetGalley shelf! I love the author’s writing and this one sounds so intriguing!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Cream and Blue Brush Strokes Graduation Twitter Post

It’s been another quiet week this week as I’m still feeling exhausted and unwell. I did manage to leave the house for 20 mins when I tagged along with my husband to the supermarket. It was the first time I’d been outside since Christmas day so that was an achievement.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on my posts recently – I’m so sorry that I haven’t managed to reply. I’m also sorry that I’ve not been keeping up on reading blogs and liking, commenting and sharing. I hope to be back up to speed soon but in the meantime I really appreciate the comments, likes and shares on my posts. You’re all stars! 🙂

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I’ve barely been reading this week either so it really has been a quiet week. I’m in the middle of seven different books but I’m not in the mood for anything in particular so I’m going back and forth between them. My main read is A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone, which is really good. I just wish my brain was up to engaging better so I could get completely swept up in the writing.

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I did listen to one complete audio book this week and that was Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M. C. Beaton. I love dipping in and out of this series as they’re perfect escapist reads. This was the first one I’ve ever listened to and I loved Penelope Keith’s narration so may look for future books on audio!

TV-wise I’m still loving Richard Osman’s House of Games. My husband watches it if it’s on when he’s home but he’s not as invested in it as me. This week they’ve had a contestant on called Matt and my husband turned to me and told me that that man is basically me! He’s so right – the guy is so competitive whilst also having the time of his life taking part on the show! Haha!

It’s been a slow week on my blog this week too.

I posted a weekly wrap-up last Sunday where I wrote about what I’d been reading, watching and blogging about in the previous week.

On Wednesday I posted my WWW Wednesdays post where I shared what I was reading, what I’d recently read and what I hope to read next.

Then yesterday I posted my new book haul, which predominantly consists impulse buys of Daily Deals!

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a lovely week and had time to do some reading. If you’ve shared a wrap-up post please feel free to leave your link before and I’ll make sure to visit your post. 🙂

A New Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

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How To Fail by Elizabeth Day

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while so when I spotted it on a Kindle Daily Deal this week I immediately 1-Clicked and bought it. I hope to get to this one soon as I’ve heard only good things about it.

 

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Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz

I bought this Kindle book on a whim when I saw it in another deal. I think it’s aimed at younger readers than me but when I looked at who was featured in the book and realised that I didn’t know much about some of these women it seemed a good chance to learn more. I think this will be a good book to dip in and out of.

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The Perfect Wife by J. P. Delaney

I’ve found J. P. Delaney books a bit hit and miss and I’m not sure if this is an author for me but I find myself intrigued by this latest book so when I saw it for 99p this week I decided to give it a go! Hopefully I’ll like it.

 

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Psycho-Logical by Dean Burnett

It seems that this has been the week for whim purchases as I bought this on a whim too! This is an Audible Original book and I just thought it sounded like such an interesting listen so I snapped it up!

 

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The Hidden Girls by Rebecca Whitney

This is a NetGalley book that I requested a while ago and forgot about so it was a lovely surprise to get the approval email a couple of days ago. I’m keen to get to this one so hopefully I’ll get to it soon.

 

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Like A House on Fire by Caroline Hulse

I requested this one from NetGalley too as I read and loved the author’s previous book. I’m really looking forward to this one!

 

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Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

This is another NetGalley book and I can’t wait to read this! Peter Swanson has become a must-buy must-read author for me as I just love the way he writes thrillers. This one sounds really different and I can’t wait to start reading it!

 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

It’s WWW Wednesdays time! What are you reading at the moment?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now: 

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

I started reading this last night and it very quickly had me engrossed. I really do love Doug Johnstone’s writing and I’m intrigued to see where this novel is going.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while and finally picked it up this week. I’m trying very hard to reduce the plastics that come into my home but have reached the point of needing some more ideas of things I can try. I’m hoping this will be the book I need.

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I’ve read a few more chapters of this book this week and am very much enjoying the stories behind the well-known characters he’s played.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House by M. C. Beaton

I love the Agatha Raisin series and keep them to read when I just need some short escapism. This was the next one on my TBR and I enjoyed it. I’m keen to see where the series goes next so may read book 15 soon!

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

I enjoyed this thriller but it did lose me in the last quarter of the book so I’m not sure how I feel about it. I will try and write a mini review of it soon.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

I had the audio book of this and have been listening to it over the last ten days and really enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to reading Lethal White and will probably pick that up later in the year as it’s already on my Kindle!

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

I listened to this book on audio as well and I’m glad I did. It’s not the best book by this author but being on audio kept the momentum going for me and I wanted to keep listening. I have loved all of her other books so I think this one was just a case of it’s not the book, it’s me.

The Dilemma by B. A. Paris

I enjoyed a couple of this author’s previous book but I couldn’t get on with her last novel. I couldn’t resist picking up this one though and I’m so glad I did! I read the whole book in one sitting and found it so gripping and engaging. I recommend it!

What She Saw Last night by Mason Cross

This was such a good thriller too, it ended up being more edge of seat reading than I was expecting and all the twists and turns were very good. I’ll definitely be looking out for more books by this author.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales: Pages & Co. #2 by Anna James

I adored the first book in this series so was delighted to get the second book for Christmas. I saved it to read tomorrow as I like to plan some escapism on the days that are full of sad memories.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I didn’t manage to pick this up when I planned to recently so I’m hoping to get to it this week as I’m so keen to read it.

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this one next month so it’s the next book I want to get to as I like to be ahead with my reading commitments. It’ll be my first book by these authors and I’m really looking forward to it!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Cream and Blue Brush Strokes Graduation Twitter Post

I’ve not been very well this week so it’s been a really quiet week for me. I’ve not read as much or blogged as much as the previous week or two but hopefully I’ll be back in the swing of things soon!

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I’ve just finished reading The Dilemma by B. A. Paris. I picked it on a whim as I’d read some good reviews of it and I flew through it. I’ve found the author’s previous novels a mixed bag but this book was so good! I just didn’t want to put it down and read it in two sittings. I recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

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I’ve got a couple of books on the go at the moment but my main read is I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks. I’ve had a review copy of this on my NetGalley shelf for quite a long time so wanted to make sure I picked it up before too much longer. I’m now kicking myself for leaving it so long because I’m completely invested in this novel and am really intrigued to find out what’s going to happen.

 

 

TV-wise I’m still watching Richard Osman’s House of Games every weeknight. I’m also gripped by White House Farm. I did watch a film this week too – my husband and I rented IT: Chapter 2. It’s not remotely scary but we both enjoyed the story and it kept us engrossed all the way through.

 

On my blog this week I did a weekly wrap-up post last Sunday.

On Monday I shared mini reviewsof three books: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis, 17 Church Row by James Carol, and Dare Me by Megan Abbott.

On Wednesday I wrote about what I was currently reading, what I’d recently read or what I planned on reading next in my WWW Wednesday post.

Then yesterday I shared my book haul from this week. I got some amazing books over the last few days so am a very happy book worm!

 

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a lovely week and had time to do some reading. If you’ve shared a wrap-up post please feel free to leave your link before and I’ll make sure to visit your post. 🙂

It’s been an amazing week for books so I’m Stacking the Shelves a brand new Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Books and eBooks

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Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Thomas

This is the first review book that I got this week, and it will be the first Thomas Enger book that I read but I am so looking forward to getting to this author. This is a crime novel and it sounds so good!

 

 

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The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

I read and adored The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair when it came out so when I spotted this book on NetGalley I immediately requested it and was thrilled to get approved this week. It’s a long book so it’ll be a good one to get completely engrossed in when I need some escapism.

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Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

I read a fab review of this on Jo at MyChesnutReadingTree’s blog and went straight to NetGalley to request a copy.  I now have a copy on my shelf and am keen to get to it.

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When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

I’ve read and loved all of Fiona Cummins’ books so far so I had to request her new novel on NetGalley as soon as I knew about it. This sounds like an unnerving and gripping read and I’m sure I’ll love it.

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

I was so excited to be invited to read this for the forthcoming blog tour as I read and loved Noelle’s previous novel last year and have been so looking forward to the next book in the series. I’ll be reading this one soon!

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Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

Carol Lovekin is one of my favourite authors – I’ve read and adored Ghostbird and Snow Sisters so was delighted to be invited to read her new one for the blog tour. I was thrilled to receive an ecopy of this yesterday and I can’t wait to get lost in this novel!

 

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

I am beyond excited to have this book as I’ve adored Maggie O’Farrell ever since I read After You’d Gone twenty years ago. So much so that when I saw Hamnet on the envelope as the postman handed it to me that I squealed out loud! She is such a special author and Hamnet is my most anticipated book for this year. I’m waiting until I can sit down and devour this book in one day but it will definitely happen very soon!

 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now: 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Cormoran Strike series so when I spotted this book in my Audible library I decided to make it my next listen. I’m only about three hours in but I’m definitely gripped and am keen to see there this novel is going.

What She Saw Last Night by Mason Cross

I’ve had a couple of days where I couldn’t read print this week so I had to put this down but I’m back reading it now and I’m super intrigued about what is going to happen.

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I haven’t read any more of this book this week as I got engrossed in another non-fiction book but I will definitely pick this back up in the coming days as I’m very much enjoyed David Jason’s stories.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This book is stunning! I deliberately made myself read this slowly as it’s such a beautiful novel and I didn’t want it to end. I loved this story and how it was told. I will review this one once I’ve got my thoughts together.

The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee

This is such an interesting book and I’m really glad I read it. It gives background to the Bamber family, and it explores the murders and the investigation. It did feel like the author was standing back and really assessing what happened whilst also giving space for the reader to have their own thoughts about it.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

I enjoyed some parts of this book but I didn’t enjoy it as much as other books by the author. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find more of my thoughts here.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Mothers by Sarah Naughton

I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR for a few weeks now but have read some great reviews of it over the last week or so and I can’t wait to read it so I hope to get to it this week.

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This is another ARC that I’ve had for a while and now I’m so keen to read it so hopefully I’ll also manage to read this one this week.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I’ve been trying to focus on mostly reading my unread review books in recent weeks and I was mortified to spot this on my NetGalley shelf and to see how long it has been there as it is a book I still really want to read. So I’m going to try and get to it this week.

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Mini #BookReviews: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis | 17 Church Row by James Carol | Dare Me by Megan Abbott

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Today I’m sharing some more mini reviews of books that I’ve recently read!

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One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

I started reading this book at the very end of 2019 and finished it a few days ago. The novel follows Vicky who one day makes a terrible error of judgement and something happens which leads to her best friend Amber helping her keep it quiet. What follows is a novel where you’re not sure who to trust. In between the chapters in the present day there are chapters from the past but it’s not clear until later in the novel who this person is. I swung from thinking one thing to another and I was never quite sure what was going on until just before it was fully revealed! I did find that the latter stages of the novel required some suspension of disbelief but I didn’t care because by then I was so invested in the characters and just wanted to know what was going to happen. I enjoyed this book and will definitely read more by Emma Curtis in the future!

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17 Church Row by James Carol

This novel appealed to me as soon as I read that it involved a very high-tech house! Even though the thought of what may be done is terrifying I can’t help but be drawn to books like this! This novel felt mysterious from the start and I wanted to know about this young family and why they were moving. They seem to move to this new house very quickly without much thought or research so I was intrigued! It turns out they’ve been through an awful tragedy and are trying to find a way to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately for them the tech in this house is still being tested and they end up unwittingly becoming pawns in someone else’s game. I’m going to be honest and say that while I loved the first half of the book, the second half didn’t quite live up to it for me. The book got a bit far-fetched and it lost me a little. Having said that I did read this in just a couple of sittings as I was keen to know what was going to happen so I did still enjoy it.

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Dare Me by Megan Abbott

This book has been on my TBR ever since it was published so I wanted to make it a priority this year so when I spotted the audio book on BorrowBox I decided to part read and part listen to it. I found it hard to get into this book but once it grabbed me I was gripped. It follows Addy, a cheerleader in a teen squad and you get a real look at the toxic friendships that this environment sometimes fosters. There is also the coach who is very friendly with some of the girls but it’s clear from early on that she is playing them, although I wasn’t sure why. I’m torn about this book because the elements that I liked I really liked but ultimately I think perhaps I wasn’t the right audience for the book as it just didn’t fully click with me. I do love Megan Abbott’s writing though and I’ve enjoyed books by her before so I will definitely be looking out for more in the future.

Weekly Wrap-Up!

Cream and Blue Brush Strokes Graduation Twitter Post

This week has been another quiet week as I’m still not doing so well. It has meant that I’ve been doing lots of reading though so I’m very happy to have lovely books to escape into!

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Just yesterday I finished reading The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee, which was such a fascinating and in-depth book. I wanted to read more about this case after seeing the adverts for the new ITV drama based on the case and I’m so glad that this was the book I picked.

 

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As usual I have a few books on the go at the moment but the one I’m focusing on is What She Saw Last Night by Mason Cross. It’s such an intriguing book that had me gripped from the opening pages and I can’t wait to find out what happened on this train!

 

 

TV wise this week I’ve been really enjoying Richard Osman’s House of Games, which is my absolute favourite game show ever! If you’ve never seen it it’s on BBC2 on weeknights at 6pm. I love that it involves a brain work out but you don’t need to know loads of stuff. I recommend it!

 

It’s been a busy week on the blog this week as I’ve had a new post up every day.

I posted a weekly wrap-up last Sunday and I’m hoping to keep this up as I do enjoy putting together a post of what’s been happening in the week.

On Monday I shared my review of The Choice by Claire Wade, a novel that I found both gripping and thought-provoking so I recommend it!

On Tuesday I posted my review of The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton, another book that I enjoyed. It’s all about toxic friendships plus secrets and lies, which I’m always drawn to in fiction!

On Wednesday I posted my WWW Wednesday post where I share all the books that I’m currently reading, the books I’ve read over the course of the week and what I plan to read over the next week.

On Thursday I shared a mini review posts and wrote about The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale and It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans. I adored both of these books, they made me happy and I now want to read everything that both authors have written!

On Friday I shared my review of The Home by Sarah Stovell. This book was stunning and I already feel like it’s going to be one of my favourite books of 2020!

Yesterday I posted another book haul! Ooops! I do want to read more of the books that I already own this year but I always find January such a hard month so I’m giving myself a pass until February!

 

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a lovely week and had time to do some reading. If you’ve shared a wrap-up post please feel free to leave your link before and I’ll make sure to visit your post. 🙂

It’s new Book Haul day as I’m Stacking the Shelves again!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Books and eBooks

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Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

I literally read a review of this book yesterday morning and thought it sounded interesting and then saw the kindle book was on a daily deal on Amazon so I snapped it up. I’d like to read more essay collections and some of the themes explored in this book sound really interesting to me so I’m looking forward to dipping in and out of this one.

 

 

25686362._SY475_The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee

I bought this book mid-week as I was anticipating the new ITV drama exploring this case. I started reading it immediately and have almost finished it. It’s a really in-depth look at the case, and all the people involved. There is a lot about the lives of the family well before the murders happened, which I appreciated.

 

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Date with Death, Date With Malice and Date with Mystery (Books 1, 2 & 3 in (The Dales Detective series) by Julia Chapman

I had read some reviews of this series over Christmas and immediately added these books to my wish list as they sound like something I would really enjoyed. So it was serendipitous that just a few days later I was offered the first three in the series by a fellow blogger in a swap. I’m so keen to pick these up so I don’t think they’ll be on my TBR for long!

 

Review Books

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The Sight of You by Holly Miller

I requested this book from NetGalley on a total whim as I loved the sound of the blurb. It does sound like it could be a weepy so I’ll have to be in the right mood to read it but I’m really happy to have a copy of this on my TBR.

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Strangers by C. L. Taylor

I’ve loved all of C. L. Taylor’s novels so far so when I heard she had a new novel coming out this year I immediately opened NetGalley and requested it. I can’t wait to get to this one!

 

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley

I downloaded this one from NetGalley this week as I really enjoyed Lucy Foley’s previous novel and I just can’t resist books where people are all trapped in one location when something terrible happens.

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The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

I read and loved The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel so I absolutely had to read her forthcoming new novel. This definitely won’t be on my TBR for very long!

 

 

 

 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂

#BookReview: The Home by Sarah Stovell | @Sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks @annecater

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When the body of a pregnant fifteen-year-old is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away…

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also an emotive drama and a piercing look at the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

I read and loved Sarah Stovell’s previous novel Exquisite so when I heard she had a new book coming out it was one of my most anticipated books for 2020 and I’m so happy to say that it more than delivers on my expectations!

I must mention the cover of this book, which is absolute perfection. At first I thought it was a face with a butterfly over the eye, which makes sense given a storyline in the book. It was only as I was putting the book down having finished it that I realised it’s not a butterfly but a stone angel. This gave me chills as I genuinely couldn’t see it there before and it really fits the whole premise of the book.

The Home is a very powerful and emotional read set in a children’s home in the Lake District. One of the teenage girls is found murdered on Christmas day with another girl sat beside her. The novel then goes back and forth in time, and between multiple perspectives as we find out more about the girls’ backgrounds and what happened to lead to one of them being dead.

The mystery in this novel is so well done. I was convinced I knew what had really happened to the girl from part-way through the book but there was something nagging at the back of my mind that I just couldn’t tease out. The reveals when they come are utterly shocking and disturbing!

There is so much more to the book than the mystery around the murder though. It’s a really eye-opening look at the effect that poverty has, and what lengths people are driven to in order to survive. It also looks at the way the damage done to one generation of a family can perpetuate to the next because sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a way out of all you’ve ever known.

I found it devastating to be able to stand back as a reader and see who the bad guys were in this novel, whilst at the same time seeing exactly how Annie thought the bad guys were the saviours. It really hits home how grooming works and how young people can end up trapped in the same life as their parents before them even as they desperately seek a better life.

There are good guys in this novel too but even they come with a sense of heartbreak and futility. Helen who runs the home where Hope, Annie and Lara are staying has her hands tied by the lack of funding and therefore staff, and the knowledge that this home is on the verge of closure. She really works hard to help the girls in her care but she know she’s fighting a losing battle. It must be incredibly hard to work in this situation, trying to build stability and hope into children’s lives where there has been none before and yet knowing that things beyond you mean you’re ultimately not going to be able to do for them what you wish to.

The Home broke my heart; it’s one of those really brilliant novels that has so many levels to it and all of them have an impact on you. I am in awe of the writing in this book – these characters have left a mark on me and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them. I know it’s only the 10th January but I already feel like this is going to be one of my books of the year, it’s such a stunning read!

The Home is out now in ebook and and can be pre-ordered in paperback.

Many thanks to Anne and Orenda Books for my ecopy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

You can follow the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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Mini Reviews: It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans | The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Today I want to share my thoughts on two lovely books that I read over the Christmas and New Year period. Both feature Christmas but can be read at any time of year.

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It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

It’s A Wonderful Life is such a lovely Christmas film so when I saw this book I had to buy it. The novel follows Georgia Bailey, who manages a charity shop and one night she gets a call from a suicidal man on a bridge who has mistakenly called the shop instead of the helpline. Georgia knows she should give him the correct number but she finds herself talking to him instead. The next morning Georgia goes to buy a coffee and she hears a man talking and realises it’s the man from the night before. She knows she can’t let on that she knows so she resolves to find a way to help him. This is such a gorgeous novel – it doesn’t shy away from the severity of depression and grief but it also manages to remain a feel-good novel, which is an incredible balancing act. I loved the way the main street in the town is like a character in its own right and I felt like I had been there. I was willing Georgia and Leo on in their quest to bring this town back to life. There is so much love and joy in the novel and I very much enjoyed it. I will definitely be reading more by Jaimie Admans in the future!

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

I bought this book when it was first published and then I borrowed the audio book from the library so I could part read and part listen. I adored this book. It’s such a magical novel and it really took me back to feeling like I did as I read books as a child. I loved the characters in the book – particularly Cathy and Kaspar, I was rooting for them all the way through. There is so much in the novel that made me feel nostalgic and melancholy but I was so enchanted by the magic running throughout it too. I really did enjoy this book and I’ll certainly be reading more by this author in the future too.

WWW Wednesdays (8 Jan 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now: 

What She Saw Last Night by Mason Cross

I saw so many great reviews of this one the blog tour and I kept thinking of the premise and wondering about the storyline so I finally picked this up yesterday. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m gripped!

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This book is so good! I’ve had a review copy from NetGalley for a while now and finally picked it up this week and am enjoying it so much. It’s a really emotional novel about a boy who is the sole survivor of an air crash and it’s such a good read.

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I read David Jason’s autobiography last year and enjoyed it so was keen to pick up the follow on book. This is more stories about the characters he’s played and some behind the scenes stuff. It’s a really fun read and I’m enjoying it.

What I recently finished reading:

The Home by Sarah Stovell

This book left me heartbroken! It’s a stunning psychological thriller about a teenage girl who is found dead and then it goes back and forth as we find out what happened. It’s a really raw and emotional book and one I think will stay with me for a long time to come. I’ll be reviewing this one on Friday so please check back then for my full thoughts.

17 Church Row by James Carol

I’d seen great reviews for this one on the blog tour so snapped it up on Kindle. I then saw the audio book available on BorrowBox so I part read and part listened to this one. I really enjoyed the first half of the novel but it lost me a little after that. It was a gripping read though and I’m glad I read it.

One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

I’ve had a copy of this book ever since it was published but I finally picked it up at the end of December and finished it this week. It was such a gripping thriller about a woman who makes one mistake and ends up paying a heavy price for it.

The Choice by Claire Wade

This novel is set in a dystopian future where sugar is banned. It’s such a gripping and thought-provoking read, I really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find there here if you’d like to know more.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

This is a gorgeous book that I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while. I started it in December and finished it a few days ago. I part read and part listened to it and it’s just such a fab story. It reminded me of how I used to love stories as a child and I now want to read anything and everything by this author!

It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

This is another book that I partly read at the end of 2019 and finished it at the beginning of this year. I loved this novel – it’s got such a lovely cast of characters and such a great message in it. I definitely want to read more by this author in the future.

Wham! George and Me by Andrew Ridgeley

My husband bought me this for Christmas and I knew it had to be my first read of 2020 as I was sure it would get my reading year off to a fabulous start and it absolutely did. I read this all in one sitting on New Year’s Day and I adored it. I recommend it if you’re a Wham fan!

What I plan on reading next:

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2020 and I don’t think I can resist picking up my review copy any longer!

I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks

This has been on my NetGalley shelf for longer than it should have so I want to try and make it a priority for this week. Hopefully I can get to it as it does sound really intriguing.

Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

This is another book that I got for Christmas and I’ve read really good reviews of it so would like to make this my next nonfiction read of 2020.

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton

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THE ACCIDENT.
THE LIE.
THE FALLOUT will be huge . . .

When Liza’s little boy has an accident at the local health club, it’s all anyone can talk about.

Was nobody watching him?
Where was his mother?
Who’s to blame?

The rumours, the finger-pointing, the whispers – they’re everywhere. And Liza’s best friend, Sarah, desperately needs it to stop.

Because Sarah was there when it happened. It was all her fault. And if she’s caught out on the lie, everything will fall apart . . .

I was really drawn to this book as soon as I read the synopsis and it didn’t let me down! The Fallout is a book about toxic friendships and I love that in a novel! An accident happens at the local health club and the finger-pointing and covering of backs begins very quickly!

Liza is looking after her young baby as her older child is playing and she trusts her best friend Sarah to look over and check on him when she goes to get coffees. But whilst in the queue she bumps into an old acquaintance from when all the women were pregnant she gets distracted.

The way the three women are with each other and the way they all seem to compete to appear perfect, whilst at the same time all trying to be the very best friend in the circumstances was cringe-worthy but oh-so-readable! I find female friendships fascinating, especially when elements of the friendships make them seem more like frenemies. In my experience friendships between women can be so complex for so many reasons and often you never get to know why someone suddenly backs off. It’s something I don’t really understand and I have lived through it many a time. Thornton captures this so well, and it’s made even better in this novel by the fact that none of the women are particularly likeable. I did feel sorry for Liza with what happened to her son, and at times I could understand some of Sarah’s behaviour but overall they are not women you’d want as your friends! And add into to all of this a sprinkling of secrets and lies and you have a potent mix for a novel!

I found this book hard to put down, it really did grab me and it held me right to the very end. If you like novels about messy friendships and you love unlikeable characters then this book is for you. I very much enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more by this author!

The Fallout is out now in ebook and available for pre-order in paperback. You can order it here.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Choice by Claire Wade #CTAS #JoinTheFray

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‘Eat the best, leave the rest! Remember Mother knows best.’

Olivia Pritchard lives in constant fear since Mother Mason came into power. Everything from healthy eating to exercise is controlled by the government, all in the name of health and happiness. Olivia hates being dictated to, but to protect her family she must follow the rules or face a stay in the Shame Box – a perspex box, placed in a public place for everyone to judge.

After Olivia witnesses an innocent woman being violently arrested, she is no longer able to ignore the injustice. The underground rebellion ‘Cut The Apron Strings’ is gaining momentum and for the first time in years Olivia has a choice: keep her head down or join the fray…

I was intrigued by The Choice as soon as I saw the eye-catching cover and then I read the synopsis and knew I had to read this book as soon as I could!

The Choice is set in a dystopian world that feels not dissimilar to ours except that sugar has been banned. Food is rationed by the state and hobbies like baking are illegal. People are weighed at the supermarket, at the gym and at social events and all their health data is readily available to officials. People who break the law are put in perspex boxes in public places to be shamed for what they’ve done.

The book mainly follows Olivia as she struggles to cope in this world when in her life before this happened she was a successful baker. She really misses what she did before and who she was before. You can really sense as the book goes on that there is anger bubbling away inside her but it’s kept at bay by the fear of being taken from her children.

I was a little apprehensive that this book was just going to be a take on The Handmaid’s Tale but it isn’t and it does stand separately from it. The fact that The Choice is set in our world and in what feels to be a very close timeline to where we are now is the difference and it’s so terrifying for that reason. We already see people being judged and shamed for their weight and there isn’t as much understanding as there should be for why people might be over, or even under, weight. It’s such a complex issue but the way sugar in food is already been swapped for horrible sweeteners is scary to me and makes this book feel all the more real.

The other thing that I took from this book is the way that Wade is able to show in such a powerful way what it is to be trapped in a situation where your world is getting smaller and you can no longer do what you love or eat what you love. It felt to me that Wade has used her experience of chronic illness to show what it is to be imprisoned in you own life through no fault of your own. I could really sense that given my own disability and how small my world is because of that.

All-in-all this is a great debut novel and well worth picking up. I’ll definitely be looking out for whatever Claire Wade writes next!

The Choice is out now in paperback, ebook and audio book. Buy your copy here.

I received a copy of this book from Orion. All thoughts are my own.

Weekly Wrap-Up (5 Jan 20)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a quiet one for me due to additional medical issues so I’ve been escaping into books.

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I’ve developed something of a superstition in recent times around the first book I read in a new year – being that if it’s a fabulous read then I’m going to have a great reading year. Thankfully my first read of 2020 was Wham! George and Me by Andrew Ridgeley and I really enjoyed it. I read it all in one afternoon on New Year’s Day and it was a perfect start to the year.

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I then read the final third of a book I’d been reading on and off since Christmas – It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans and I also really enjoyed this one. It’s festive but not so much so that I couldn’t still enjoy it after Christmas. This is definitely one I’d re-read one year over the festive period.

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The next book I finished was also one I’d started at the end of 2019 and I loved getting lost in the world of The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. I’d had this on my TBR ever since it was first published and I’m so glad I finally got to it, it really is a gorgeous read.

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After finishing that I picked up The Choice by Claire Wade and I pretty much read it in one sitting. It’s a really gripping, thought-provoking novel. I’ll be reviewing it this week so look out for that!

 

 

 

As for blogging I always love the first week of a new year when I share all my favourite books of the past year and reflect on my reading.

 

 

First I posted my Christmas Book Haul as I was very spoilt with books over the festive period.

Then I shared my Reading Bingo post. I always enjoy putting this post together every year as it’s a chance to reflect on my reading and to share some of the books I’ve read.

Up next was the start of my Favourite Novels of 2019 countdown (I had to split it into two) with the first half of my Top 40 books!

I followed that with my final Top 20 Novels of 2019.

After that I shared my Top 20 NonFiction books that I read in 2019.

On Friday I posted my 2019 Reading Stats post. I love putting this post together and getting the chance to really look at the breakdown of my reading over the year. It’s always so interesting to me to see how my bookish year went.

Yesterday I shared a book haul of the books that I’ve managed to acquire since the beginning of the year!

 

So health-wise it could have been a better week but I’m thrilled with the books I’ve read and the posts I’ve written and shared on my blog so all-in-all I’m happy with how 2020 is going so far! 🙂 How has your week been?

 

I’m Stacking the Shelves with a Brand New Book Haul Today!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Books and eBooks

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The Choke by Sofie Laguna

I won this book just before Christmas and it arrived a few days ago. I didn’t know a huge amount about it but it sounds like such a good read and I’m looking forward to getting to it.

 

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Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since it was published last year so when I spotted it in the latest Kindle book sale I snapped it up. I hope to get to this soon.

 

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Five Steps to Happy by Ella Dove

I also bought this in this Kindle sale as it sounds like such an interesting novel. It’s fiction and about coming to terms with disability so I really want to read this one as soon as I can.

 

Audiobooks

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A Poem For Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri

This was an Audible daily deal earlier this week and I snapped it up. I think it’ll be lovely to listen to a poem each day and I’m keen to start this one.

 

Review Books

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After Dark by Dominic Nolan

I squealed when a surprise copy of this book arrived in the post for me last week! I loved the author’s previous book (it was only of my Top 40 books of 2019!) so I’m super excited to have a copy of the sequel! I’ll definitely be reading this soon.

 

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Mine by Clare Empson

I was surprised and delighted to get approved to read this one on NetGalley yesterday. I must have requested it long enough ago that I’d forgotten about it but I’m very happy to have a copy to read as I loved the author’s previous novel.

 

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Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I was sorting through my email this week and spotted an email I’d missed from the publisher about this book – they’d sent me a pre-approved link to read this from NetGalley so I was thrilled to click it and find the book was still there.

 

 


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

My 2019 Reading in Statistics!

Best Books of 2019 So far!

This week I’ve shared my Reading Bingo post, my runner ups for books of the year, my favourite fiction of 2019 and my favourite nonfiction of 2019. Today it’s time to look back over my reading in 2019! I’ve used a spreadsheet for the last couple of years to track my reading, alongside Goodreads, and I love being able to see the breakdown of what I was reading over the year.

My Goodreads goal for 2019 was 200 books… I’m still not sure how it happened but in 2019 I read 375 books in total, which is the most books I’ve ever read in twelve months! I don’t expect to ever reach this number again but it has been wonderful to read so many books!

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The longest book I read in 2019 was George Eliot’s Middlemarch – my edition had 923 pages! The shortest book I read was a recent read – The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and had just 32 pages. I read quite a few longer books in 2019 but then over Christmas I read all my favourite festive reads which are short so that brought my page average down a little. I still averaged 345 pages per book though which I’m delighted about. It shows that overall I haven’t been reading short books just to attain a goal! According to Goodreads I read 127,454 pages in total in 2019!

 

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The above picture shows all of my four and five star reads from 2019. It’s lovely to have read so many great books over a year. I have rated some books lower than that but I just wanted to show the books that I’ve really loved.

 

Alongside Goodreads I also track my reading on a spreadsheet and I do love seeing all my stats for the year.

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Out of the 375 books I read in 2019 274 were by women and 94 were by men. The rest were co-authored by male and female authors. I don’t intentionally seek out books by female authors but ever since I’ve been tracking my reading on a spreadsheet it always works out that I’ve read more by women than men. I’m okay with this though and just find it interesting to note it.

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I read fairly steadily through the year but April was a quieter month on the reading front, I’m not sure why. Then August was full of books and I had an incredible reading month!

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I’m really pleased with the mix of genres that I read in 2019. It was definitely a year where I was very drawn to thrillers and I didn’t read as much nonfiction as I would have liked but overall I’m happy with the spread of genres my reading took.

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I’m intrigued by the diversity of my reading and a little disappointed that I didn’t read more that was diverse. Having said that almost half of my reading counted as diverse and that is something! In 2020 I definitely want to read more about experiences outside of my own so this is something I will focus on a bit more in my reading.

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The above pie chart shows the break down of where the books I read in 2019 were from. I made a real effort in the final quarter of last year to catch up on reading as many ARCs as I could so I’m really happy that the chart shows that half of my reading over the year were books from publishers directly or from NetGalley.

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Alongside the above pie chart it seems right to share this one which shows what percentage of books I read where acquired in 2019 and which had been on my TBR for longer. It worked out that I read 238 of the books that I acquired in 2019 and 125 books that had been on my TBR before the start of the year. I also re-read 12 books last year. I did have quite a few ARCs that I’d owned since before the start of last year so I was really pleased to get those read and reviewed before the end of the year.

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This chart shows the breakdown of where I acquired my books from in 2019. I wanted to share this chart really to show that whilst I am very lucky to receive books from publishers I do actually buy the majority of my books. I know Amazon is a problematic place to buy books but the vast majority of books I read are on my Kindle so it’s just the way it is for me. I joined my local library in the summer and whilst I can’t really use the actual library for borrowing books (the building isn’t accessible enough for me) I do love the BorrowBox app where I am now borrowing loads of audio books. I’m sure the percentage of borrowed books will increase in 2020!

I lost all control of my TBR in 2019 and gave up tracking it on my blog. I did still track it on my spreadsheet though so the above images show what happened…! I hoped to reduce my TBR a little each month but instead I increased it in all but one month. Oops! My TBR is now at 2618 (and this is books that I already own, it doesn’t include wish list books) so I have a lot of reading to do!

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In terms of my blog I’ve had my best year in terms of number of posts. I managed to write 237 blog posts, which is the most I’ve ever managed to publish in a year. I feel like I finally got back to a place where I’m reviewing books quite soon after I read them rather than letting them build up and because of that I’m enjoying blogging so much more. I hope I can keep that up in 2020 and I’d also like to try and review every book that I read, even if it’s only a mini review.

On the 1st January 2019 I had the most ever views on my blog in a 24 hour period so that was a lovely way to start last year. I shared my favourite books of 2018 on that day and it was fab to share the book love and have people share their favourite books with me.

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I was also thrilled beyond words to get an email from Reedsy in early October telling me that I’d made their list of Top 100 book bloggers for 2019. I’d been struggling a little with blogging when I got that email and it really gave me a boost to keep going and now I’m really back in the swing of things!

So all in all it’s been a wonderful year of reading for me in 2019 and I’m really excited to see what 2020 has in store.  I’m still pondering on what my plans are for blogging and reading in 2020 so I may write a post about that another day.

I hope 2019 was a fabulous reading year for you too! Happy New Year! 🙂

 

 

 

My Top 10 Favourite NonFiction Read in 2019!

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This week so far I’ve posted my Top fiction books of the year posts (Counting down from 40 to 21, and the Top 20!) and so today it’s time for my favourite nonfiction reads of 2019! I read 91 nonfiction books in 2019 and these are the top 10 books that have stayed with me!

Click on the book titles if you’d like to read my review 🙂

I Carried a Watermelon: Dirty Dancing and Me by Katy Brand

Meditation for Children by Shelley Wilson

The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes

Dopesick by Beth Macy

Trauma by Gordon Turnbull

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

Becoming by Michelle Obama

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

My Top 20 Favourite Fiction Read in 2019!

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I read so many books in 2019 (375 of them to be exact!) that I couldn’t narrow my favourite books down any further than my Top 40. Yesterday I posted the first part of my countdown of favourite books read 2019 and today I’m so happy to share the Top 20. This list is counted down from 20 to my number 1 book of the year!! 

Click on the book’s title if you’d like to know more or to read my review! 🙂

 

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

This was a really intense read, one that invaded my dreams and haunted me as I was reading it but it’s such a unique novel and one that has stayed with me that it absolutely had to be in my Top 20 books of the year!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

I read this book earlier in the year and I still remember it really clearly, it’s such a brilliant novel and features characters with disabilities in such a real way. I hope more people pick this book up in 2020, I recommend it!

Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

This is such a good novel that begins with a baby being born and what follows are alternating chapters where in one timeline the baby was born male, and in the other born female. We see how things are different for them and I found it fascinating and such a good read.

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This is a gorgeous novel following a teenage boy who isn’t sure where he’s going in life and an older man who wants to make peace with his past. It’s such a beautiful novel and one that I still find myself thinking about.

Song of the Robin & Reunion by R. V. Biggs

This is a slight cheat as I’ve put both of R.V. Biggs novels here but they are the first two in a series so I’m allowing myself the cheat! I’ve never been able to put into words what these books meant to me – it was one of those serendipitous happenings where a book found me at the exact right time and I just adored it.

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I read a lot of thrillers and because of that I usually see what’s going on early on but this book blew my mind! I got so engrossed in the story and I had no idea how it was going to end. It’s a brilliant psychological thriller and I highly recommend it!

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

This is a great crime mystery novel but it’s also a book that really made me think about the way we view female murder victims, and how often they get lost in the story of who killed them. This book really made a mark on me and it’s one I keep thinking about.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I loved this book, it’s such an engrossing story following various characters in the aftermath of an explosion. It has so much depth and is a really affecting story.

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

This is a gorgeous, life-affirming novel and one that I know I will re-read at some point.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

This is another gorgeous novel that I really connected with. It made me tearful at times but mostly it made me smile and left me feeling all of the feels!

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I read this book in one sitting as I just got so wrapped up in the story of Cornelia. It’s beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking but I absolutely recommend it.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

I read this book earlier in the year but it’s really stayed fresh in my mind. It’s such a good thriller but it’s also such a good exploration of how society treats women who aren’t perfect. I loved this one and can’t wait to read whatever Harriet Tyce writes next!

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This was one of the most hyped books of this year and I’m so pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to the hype for me!

The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

This is such a stunning and moving book, I loved every single minute that I spent reading it. I’ve since bought the audio book and am thinking of re-reading it in that format in 2020.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I devoured this book whilst sitting in the garden in the sunshine this summer and I got completely lost in this novel. It still haunts me, it’s such an incredible read.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I read this book earlier this year and it’s really stayed with me. I often think about Cora Burns and wonder about her, and that’s the mark of a wonderful novel for me.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I love The Handmaid’s Tale so had been eagerly anticipating this follow-up ever since it was announced. As soon as my pre-order arrived I started reading and I got completely lost in the pages. I loved this book, it was everything I hoped it would be.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This had to be high on this list because it’s such a brilliant and incisive look at sibling relationships and it really did make me think. The book is really well-written and has stayed with me ever since I finished reading it.

 

 

And I simply couldn’t pick between the following two for the number 1 spot so my joint favourite books read in 2019 are:

 

 

 

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

I adore Louise’s writing and always look forward to a new book from her. This one was a bit different but I loved it. This book haunted my dreams, it really got under my skin and I still find myself thinking about it. If you haven’t read this one already then I highly recommend you put it at the top of your 2020 reading list!

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

I read this book early on in 2019 and I’ve kept thinking about it ever since. It’s a book that felt different to other things I read this year and it’s one that I’ll never forget. This is a dark read at times but it’s still one that I recommend. It’s a stunning book!

My Top 40 Favourite Books Read in 2019… Counting Down From 40 to 21!

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So it’s time for me to share my favourite books that I read in 2019 and I have to say that this list has been weeks in the making! 2019 was my best ever year of reading in terms of how many books I read (at the time of writing this post I’ve read 375 books over the year), I have no idea how I read so many and I don’t expect it to ever happen again! It’s also been a year where so many wonderful books have found me and it’s been a near impossible task to make this list.

So I finally got my list down to forty books and am splitting it into two. Today I’m sharing the books that were listed from 40 – 21 on my countdown and I’m sharing them in no particular order – these books were all fabulous and I highly recommend them!

Click on the title of a book if you’d like to see my review! 🙂

 

The Family by Louise Jensen

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing and have loved every novel she’s published and The Family was every bit as good, if not better, than her previous books.

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

This is one of those books that made me feel emotional as I was reading it but it’s continued to run through my mind in the months since I read it. I found it a quiet book that has such a huge impact.

Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

I read this book fairly recently and I adored it. It’s a quirky book that has such emotional impact. I keep thinking about this one and I already want to re-read it.

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

This is a novel I picked up after reading an interview with the author and the book more than lived up to my hopes for it. It made me tearful at times but it’s such a beautiful book and one I really loved.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I didn’t expect this novel to make as much of an impression on me as it did but it’s a book that won’t let go of me. It’s so much more than I thought it was going to be and again it’s one I keep thinking about.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

This is such a wonderful novel about books and libraries, I adored it. I think it might actually be my new favourite Jojo Moyes book!

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This is a debut novel and it’s so well-written. I found this book really hard to put down and I loved the depth to the story being told. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I read this in one sitting, I just couldn’t stop reading and it’s a book that’s really stayed with me so it had to be on this list.

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This was a book that took me a little while to get into but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it was a book that left such a profound impact on me. I still think of this novel and I will re-visit it in the future.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

This was my first Doug Johnstone book and I loved it so much that I’ve since bought most of his previous novels and plan on reading my way through them in the new year.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This is such a brilliant book, it’s so dark and so funny! Plus the menopausal main character is so memorable and I could identify with some of her thinking!

Looker by Laura Sims

This book is a fascinating look at what leads someone to obsession and really gives an insight into where this behaviour may lead.

Postscript (PS I Love You #2) by Cecelia Ahern

I love PS I Love You when it was first published and so this sequel is one I was highly anticipating. I loved it, I think it may even be better than the first book!

Violet by SJI Holliday

This is such a brilliant novel following two women and you’re never quite sure if what they tell you is true and if they can be trusted. It’s a real cat and mouse novel and I loved it!

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

I also loved this book! It’s such a clever way of setting out a novel with the play, pause and rewind elements. It’s one that is really staying with me.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I’m a huge Donna Tartt fan so I’ve been saving this to read and I finally got to it in the summer and I adored it. It’s a huge book but I read it in just a few days as I just got completely engrossed in the story. It’s brilliant!

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

I had to include this book as it was such a different and unique read. You follow Lauren in her life but early on in the novel she has an accident and at this point you begin to follow Lauren as she continues on after she survives, and also you follow her loved ones as they come to terms with her death. It seems like it might be hard to follow but it really isn’t. This book is wonderful!

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This is another book that I devoured! I loved the crime mystery that runs through the novel but more than that I loved the main character. She’s really stayed with me and I keep thinking about her and wondering how she is.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

I adored this book, it’s such a moving and at times heartbreaking book but it leaves you full of hope. I hope more people pick this one up.

The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is a book I was so nervous about reading because I’m such a wimp but I ended up reading the whole novel in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. It’s such a fascinating novel about two girls and their family and the haunted house they live in. I loved it!

 

Tomorrow on my blog I’ll be sharing the next part of my favourite books 2019 with the Top 20 so please look out for that then. What are your favourite books that you read this year? I’d love to know. 🙂

 

It’s Reading Bingo Time! Will it be a full house for 2019? #ReadingBingo

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I’ve really enjoyed doing Reading Bingo over the last couple of years so couldn’t resist the chance to see whether I’d successfully filled in my bingo card for 2019. As ever, I don’t look at the bingo card during the year I just read what I want to read and then at the end of the year look through my reading to see if I’ve managed a full house.

So without further ado…

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

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A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

A Forgotten Classic

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Middlemarch by George Eliot!

This obviously isn’t a forgotten classic so I’m cheating a bit here but I’m counting it because it kind of was a forgotten book on my TBR as I’ve owned it ever since I was a teenager but had never read it before 2019, which is shameful especially as when I finally read it I loved it!

A Book That Became a Movie

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

A Book Published This Year

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten (Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Number in the Title

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55 by James Delargy (Click here for my review!)

A Book Written By Someone Under 30

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The Last by Hanna Jameson (Click here for my review!)

A Book With Non Human Characters

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Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff (Click here for my review!)

A Funny Book

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Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

A Book By A Female Author

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The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby(Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Mystery

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Alice Teale is Missing by H. A. Linskey (Click here for my review!)

A Book With A One Word Title

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Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard (Click here for my review!)

A Book of Short Stories

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When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell (Click here for my review!)

Free Square

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Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn (Click here for my review!)

A Book Set on a Different Continent

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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (Click here for my review!)

A Book of Non Fiction

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After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The First Book By A Favourite Author

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Amazing Grace by Kim Nash (Click here for my review!)

A Book You Heard About Online

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How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins (Click here for my review!)

A Best-Selling Book

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The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

A Book Based on a True Story

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The Closer I Get by Paul Burston(Click here for my review!)

A Book At The Bottom of Your TBR Pile

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Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

A Book Your Friend Loves

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid(Click here for my review!)

A Book that Scares You

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The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason(Click here for my review!)

A Book That Is More Than Ten Years Old

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Second Book In A Series

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The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon (Click here for my review!)

A Book With a Blue Cover

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Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor (Click here for my review!)

 

So if I can get away with my cheat on Middlemarch then I’ve achieved a full house! Woo Hoo! I do love doing this every year, it’s so nice to look back over my reading and pick books for categories different to just which are my favourite reads. If you do Reading Bingo please link to your post below as I love reading these posts. 🙂

My Christmas Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

I was very spoilt by my husband this Christmas with not only a stack of fab-sounding books but also a brand new Kindle Oasis. My Kindle was playing up and near impossible to use so I was beyond thrilled to open an Oasis on Christmas day. It really is a fab device and I’m over the moon with it.

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Now, on to the books he gave me…

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A Guinea Pig Nutcracker

I love guinea pigs and these little books are just fab! They make me smile so much.

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Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman

I was delighted to open this book on Christmas day as it looks like such an interesting read. I’m keen to get to this as soon as I can.

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Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

This looks like a tough read but it’s one that I’m really intrigued to read.

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Wham! George and Me by Andrew Ridgeley

I’m so excited to have a copy of this as I’ve been so keen to read it. I’ve already started reading this one and it’s everything I hoped it would be so far!

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Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

This is a book I’ve looked it a couple of times but never got around to buying so I’m thrilled to finally have a hardback copy. This looks like it’ll be a lovely nostalgic read.

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The Confession by Jessie Burton

I’m also excited to get a copy of this book for Christmas as it sounds like such a good read. This won’t be on my TBR for long either.

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Pages and Co. #2: Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James

I read the first book in this series earlier this year and adored it so much that I knew I’d want to read more. I was beyond excited to open this on Christmas day and I can’t wait to read it!

 

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The Institute by Stephen King

My lovely mum-in-law gave me and my husband thisbook to share as she thought we both might like it (amongst other lovely gifts).

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Is Mediatation Only For Buddhists? by Jack Kornfield

My best friend gave me this book, which sounds fascinating. I regularly meditate but have come so far away from the buddhism that I was very interested in years ago so this book sounds like it’ll be a really good read for me.

 

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So this my Christmas book haul and I’m so delighted at everything I was given.

Did you get any books for Christmas? Or did you treat yourself to any new books? I’d love to know what was in your Christmas book haul. Feel free to leave a link to your own post if you’ve written one. 🙂

 

Christmas Book Recommendations!

Today I wanted to share a selection of Christmas books that I’ve read and reviewed in recent years.

 

If you’re running short on time and want to fab festive read then I can recommend the following novellas and short stories:

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This is a lovely novella set in the four weeks running up to Christmas. It is magical and sweet and really makes you feel festive! My review is here.

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

This is another beautiful novella set in the weeks running up to Christmas. It’s such a stunning book that I found immensely comforting and it’s a story that has really stayed with me. My review is here.

 

Christmas Spirit by Nicola May

Christmas Spirit is a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming novella and I highly recommend you grab a copy to read over Christmas! My review is here.

The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

If you’re really, really short on time but want a cute Christmas read then this is the story for you. It’s part of the Meet Cute series and it will warm your heart. It’s the perfect read to escape into during a coffee break! My review is here.

 

If you have time to read a novel (or two or three…) over the festive period then I recommend all the following books:

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

This is a gorgeous novel set in New York in the run up to Christmas. It has echoes of A Christmas Carol running through it and it’s a wonderful festive novel. My review is here.

How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

This is such a fun read that is perfect to read around Christmas-time. It is full of friendships and romance and recipes (some more successful than others!)! My review is here.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

This is a lovely romantic novel set in the lead up to Christmas. Interior designer Abby gets a job decorating Nick’s family home and things go from there. It’s really Christmassy and I very much enjoyed it. This has now been made into a film and I loved that too! My review is here.

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

This is a a really gorgeous novel based on the ideas from It’s A Wonderful Life and I adored it. It really encapsulates so much of what Christmas is and the emotions it brings up. I love this book! My review is here.

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce

This is such a brilliant Christmas novel. A married couple, Judy and Calvin, each feels that the other has the easier time of it so wish to switch lives in the run up to Christmas. One morning they wake up in each other’s bodies and fun ensues as they try to navigate their new roles! This is a really fun festive novel and I really want to re-read it! My review is here.

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King

This is such a lovely festive novel that really does capture Christmas spirit. It is one that I loved last year and I plan on reading it again in the years to come. My review is here.

What Happens At Christmas by T. A. Williams

This novel has everything you could possibly want in a Christmas story! It’s set at Christmas, it’s in a gorgeous location, it’s heart-breaking but more so it’s heart-warming, it has romance, it has crackly log fires, and it has snow! My review is here.

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

This novel won’t fail to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s just a gorgeous Christmas novel that will give you butterflies and will warm your heart. My review is here.

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

Christmas Camp is a really festive, feel-good novel and I highly recommend it. This is going on my list of books that I’ll read again in future at this time of year! My review is here.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

I highly recommend this book, it’s wonderful. It’s one of those books that you can curl up with on a cold day and just escape, and when you’ve finished reading you feel all content and warm and smiley. My review is here.

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

This is a very funny and highly entertaining novel that will have you laughing out loud from the very first page! It’s also full of Christmas romance and just so gorgeous – you will not be able to put this book down! My review is here.

Snowday by B. R. Maycock

Snowday is a really engaging, fun read that shows the reality of life but with a fab dose of humour too. It’s such a gorgeous, wintery read and I absolutely loved it! I highly recommend adding this to your festive reading lists. My review is here.

The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

This is such a lovely, magical book and I would have loved to have had this when I was a child. It’s always a bit of a worry when someone writes a variant of an old favourite but Morpurgo has been so respectful of the original story and this stands alongside it as an extra Snowman story that is just as wonderful. A gorgeous, magical and nostalgic read! My review is here.

And finally here are reviews of four of my favourite Christmas reads from this year.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

One Week ‘Til Christmas is a gorgeous, romantic read that will really get you in the festive spirit! I adored this book and I will definitely re-read it over Christmases to come. My review is here.

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

The Christmas Wish List is a very special festive book, one that has stolen a piece of my heart. It is firmly going on my shelf of treasured Christmas books that I try to read every year. I highly recommend this one – it’s truly gorgeous! My review is here.

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

This book has sadness and difficult times but it’s still the most gorgeous and festive novel. It’s full of forgiveness and finding solace, it’s about making new memories and finding ways to move on while still remembering what came before. It really does capture the spirit of Christmas and it really is the most beautiful book! I’ll definitely be re-reading it over Christmases to come! I can’t recommend it highly enough! My review is here.

The Other Side of Christmas by Sharon Booth

The Other Side of Christmas really is such a gorgeous festive read, it is the perfect length for the story being told and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. My review is here.

 

#BookReview: The Other Side of Christmas by Sharon Booth | @Sharon_Booth1

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Katy’s driving home for Christmas – except an empty, cold caravan hardly seems like home, and it’s not feeling much like Christmas.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this: a few months ago she had her dream cottage, a loving fiance, and big plans for a perfect wedding. Now she’s in her car, travelling through the snow along dark, country lanes, heading towards a Christmas spent by herself, with nothing more to look forward to than a frozen turkey dinner and a box of Quality Street.

With her friends busy with their guests, her parents on a cruise, and her ex-fiance miles away, the only person Katy is expecting to see at all is Luke, the builder who has been working hard to transform Katy’s cottage before it goes up for sale on the other side of Christmas.

Arriving at last in the Holderness village of Weltringham, she’s disappointed to find both the cottage and the caravan in darkness, and Luke nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone in the world has abandoned her to her gloomy fate.

Is she doomed to have the worst festive season ever, or is someone about to save Katy’s Christmas?

 

I read a lovely review of The Other Side of Christmas at Being Anne and knew straight away that I had to put this book on my festive TBR and I’m so glad I did!

I loved this book! It opens with Katy leaving work pretending that she’s going to spend Christmas day with her parents when in reality she’s going to stay in her caravan on her own with no company at all.

As Katy begins her drive home we discover that Christmas wasn’t meant to be like this. Katy was supposed to be living in her dream cottage with her fiance and celebrating plans to marry. Instead she’s on her own as all of her friends are busy, her parents are away and all Katy has is a meal for one in a cold caravan. She’s hoping she might see Luke, the builder who is renovating her cottage but recent phone conversations have been quite stilted.

I was engrossed in the story of Katy and her fiance and was keen to know what had happened to leave her on her own over Christmas. I was also very intrigued by Luke and how he fit into the picture. Most of all I was just rooting for Katy to find happiness again, to get everything she wanted and for her not to be alone.

The sense of place in this novella is wonderful. It’s set in Yorkshire, around Hull, and you really do get a sense of place. It’s a part of the country I know so well having grown up near there. I no longer live there or am able to visit so it’s wonderful to find a novella set there that really brings the place to life in my mind. It gave me such feel-good vibes.

The Other Side of Christmas really is such a gorgeous festive read, it is the perfect length for the story being told and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I recommend this one!

The Other Side of Christmas is out now and available here.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

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Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

 

I love Rosamund Lupton’s writing so I was thrilled to get a copy of her forthcoming novel Three Hours. I have to be honest and say that I found this book very difficult to read, it’s such an intense subject matter but it is very well-written.

The novel starts off with a small explosion outside a school and from there we find out that there is at least one gunman inside part of the school. The police frantically try to work out what exactly is going on and who is behind this and what their motive is, and inside the school the teachers and students try to find safe places to hide.

The writing is so good that I felt really claustrophobic as the book went on, it was as if I was in the midst of this terror myself. I commend the writing but it meant I had to keep putting the book down because it was making me feel so anxious and tense.

There was a point about halfway through the book as we start to understand more about what is going on in the school and it felt more about trying to figure out who the perpetrator was and this is when the book became something I just couldn’t seem to put down. I was gripped by the investigation and by the way Lupton has woven real life shootings and terrorist attacks within her novel in such a sensitive way that it really made this story feel very real to me.

By the last section of the book I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know if everyone was going to survive this attack. I was convinced that the characters I’d come to really care about were not going to make it out alive and the tension was palpable as I was willing the police on to get to them in time. I was reading this last section right before bed and I couldn’t sleep for ages after I finished reading because of all the adrenaline.

Three Hours isn’t an easy read but it is a book worth reading. It’s a book that really gets under your skin and makes you think!

Three Hours is due to be published on 9th January and can be pre-ordered here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

WWW Wednesdays (18 Dec 2019)! What are you reading at the moment?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton

I just started reading this late last night so have only read a couple of chapters but I’m gripped already and am looking forward to reading more soon.

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch by Tom Fletcher

This book is gorgeous! I’m really enjoying it and whilst I wanted to read it all in one sitting yesterday afternoon I’m determined to make it last a little bit longer. It really is such a lovely read though, I recommend it!

The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown

I love this book so really wanted to re-read it this Christmas and I’m so glad I made time for it. This book gives me all the feels and I always enjoy it so much.

The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater

This is another re-read! I bought it a couple of years ago and it’s become a must re-read every festive season. It’s such a beautiful book, it feels like such a treat to read.

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This obviously isn’t a book but it is the one time of year when I absolutely have to get a copy of the Christmas Radio Times. It was a tradition in my house as I was growing up and it’s a tradition in my own house now. It always makes me happy to read through this magazine in the week before Christmas and to mark the things that I’d like to watch over the festive season. 🙂

 

What I recently finished reading:

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

I finally picked this back up this week and got completely engrossed in it. I found this gripping and impossible to look away from even when it was incredibly nerve-racking!

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson & Greg Wise

I very much enjoyed dipping in and out of this book over a few days, it’s covers such a wide range of experiences of Christmas and I’d recommend it to everyone. I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson

This is a collection of three interlinked short stories and it’s been on my TBR for years! I finally picked it up as it’s now a film on Netflix but I’m sad to say the book was just an okay read for me. I enjoyed the first story but the following two weren’t quite as good.

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This book is Christmas personified and I very much enjoyed it. If you want a Christmas book that is full of festive spirit then this is the book for you! I reviewed this on Monday so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

Poetry for Christmas by Orna Ross

This is a gorgeous poetry collection that really reflects on this time of year. I really did enjoyed this one. My review is here if you want to know more.

Christmas at the Little Knitting Box by Helen J. Rolfe

This is another really lovely Christmas novel, and I really enjoyed it. It felt so romantic and Christmassy! I’m delighted to find that this is the first in a series and there are already quite a few books out so I’m going to enjoy catching up on those.

An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe

I got the audio book of this from my library and it was a really good listen. The author narrates her stories herself, which really added to the book. I always enjoy hearing about other people’s Christmases so this was a fun book.

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

I bought the ebook of this and then the audio as well and I enjoyed it. Unfortunately the title feels very misleading to me as this isn’t really a book about Christmas. It’s set near Christmas but that’s the only link and it was barely mentioned so that left me a little disappointed.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Night Before Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

I read this book when it first came out a few years ago and whenever I think of it I feel Christmassy so have wanted to re-read it. I’m so looking forward to it.

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

This is another favourite! I’ve re-read this one a few times in recent years as I just love it so much. It always feels like a real treat!

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

This is another festive book that I read and loved when it was first published and I remember it so fondly that I’d really like to re-read it if I get time this week.

Christmas With Dull People by Saki

I treated myself to this book a few weeks ago and have been saving it until nearer Christmas so it’s finally time that I can read it! I can’t wait!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Last Christmas by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson

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The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the upcoming movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden.

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.

 

Last Christmas is such a wonderful collection of essays by such a wide range of people and is perfect for reading at Christmas.

I loved that this book has such a mix of people sharing their thoughts on Christmas. There are some lovely nostalgic recollections mixed in with people who struggle with Christmas, there are people who have been homeless at this time of year and people who volunteer at Crisis. It really serves to show the full experience of Christmas and it’s a reminder to remember those who are find this time of year difficult.

The essay that most connected with me was Emilia Clarke’s. She writes of trying to find the perfect gift for her father. She eventually hits on the most perfect and magical gift for him and it’s so wonderfully received. It ended up being her last Christmas with him and that brought a lump to my throat. We did something similar for my mum in what turned out to be her last Christmas and I often think how much I would have regretted it if we’d waited to do it. It’s such a reminder to do things now with the ones we love, don’t wait!

I dipped in and out of this book over a few days and this was such a lovely way to experience these essays. Some days it made me smile, and others made me pause for thought. Overall the feeling the collection as a whole left me with is to be grateful for who, and what, I have in my life and to make sure to make the best that I can of the festive season. I definitely recommend this book!

Last Christmas is out now and available here.

 

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

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This year, Emmie can’t wait to share her favourite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. So when his hectic work schedule has him more ‘bah humbug’ than ‘ho, ho, ho,’ Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his festive spirit.

But Emmie’s plan for a romantic mountaintop rendezvous backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy showing up at Christmas Point. Sam, a bestselling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever clues are from his agent, to help him get over his epic writer’s block. When the two come face-to-face, Emmie sees Sam only as the wrong guy, but Sam, intrigued by Emmie, decides to stay, hoping the small, enchanting town will help inspire a new book idea.

When Grant keeps getting delayed by work, he tells Emmie to start doing the special Christmas activities she planned without him. Emmie is disappointed, until Sam joins her and she starts wondering if the wrong guy is really Mr. Right.

With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her heart in the direction of true love . . .

 

I read Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler last year and really enjoyed it so I was delighted to discover a new book Finding Christmas this year and I loved it even more!

After reading a mixed bag of Christmas novels so far this year I’m delighted to say that Finding Christmas is jam-packed with Christmas!

Emmie is known as Miss Christmas as she absolutely loves the season. She starts her preparations early and she can’t resist adding more and more to her festive decor as Christmas draws near. Her boyfriend Grant is a workaholic though and he doesn’t really get Emmie’s love of Christmas. She decides to arrange a romantic Christmas break for them and she invites him along by setting up a scavenger hunt. Then there’s Sam, a mystery writer, who also loves Christmas but he’s struggling with writer’s block this year. So when his agent promises to help him and he gets given the first clue in a scavenger hunt he happily follows along!

Once Emmie is aware of the mix-up she gets hold of Grant and he promises to join her the next day but he keeps getting delayed by work. Sam is so embarrassed that he’s accidentally ended up in Christmas Point but he’s determined to enjoy it. So Sam and Emmie do some of the activities on Emmie’s list and they find that they have a lot in common!

Christmas Point is the ultimate festive town – there is snow and Christmas trees, hot chocolate and gingerbread. The Inn where Emmie stays is so well-described that I could completely envisage it all, it feels like somewhere I’ve been to. And I adored getting to know Dasher the dog, he was my favourite character in the book!

I really liked the way the characters in this book honoured their lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas. I know in my own life that I have things that I do each year in honour of my late mum. The scene in Finding Christmas with the snowmen brought tears to my eyes, it was so lovely.

My only slight criticism is that I didn’t like the promotion of Schaler’s other work towards the end of the novel, it took me out of the story somewhat. If I ignore that tiny element then I can honestly say that this book is a perfect read for anyone who wants a festive read that is truly all about Christmas. It really got me in the festive spirit and I adored it. Finding Christmas is Christmas personified and I very much enjoyed it. If you want a Christmas book that is full of festive spirit then this is the book for you! I recommend this one!

Finding Christmas is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Poetry for Christmas by Orna Ross | @ornaross @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

This poetry book makes a perfect holiday gift or stocking filler.

Whether you’re marking the Christian Christmas, the Chinese Dongzhi, the Jewish Hannukah, the Hindi Makaraa Sankrānti, the Irish Meán Geimhridh, or any other mid-winter festival, the hibernal solstice is a celebration of rebirth and renewal.The ever-present potential for beginning anew, as signified by the return of light, is the theme of this chapbook. In it, you’ll find a poem for each of the twelve days of this season when the days start to get longer again, that will encourage you to rejoice, reflect and recharge.

Reconnect with the wonder of the world through the powerful pleasure of inspirational poetry.

 

My Thoughts

Poetry for Christmas is a wonderful collection of poems that is perfect for reading in winter. It celebrates the joys and reflects on the darker days in this season; it’s a lovely reminder that spring and renewal is just around the corner. It’s a book that gives you time to pause and relax in the busyness of the season.

Poetry for Christmas is set out in four sections: Rebirth, Renew, Reconnect, and Rejoice. I read through this collection all in one go as I like to get a sense of a poetry collection as a whole but then I went back and read each section in turn at different times to give myself a chance to really appreciate them and I’m so glad I did this.

I loved the opening poem Soaring as it perfectly encapsulates how the run-up to Christmas makes us all feel – the rushing around trying to get things done in the damp, dark days but it’s the reminder that the light will come again. There is a joy in seeing the Christmas lights and taking a moment to appreciate them but it’s also about the fact that the light of spring is just around the corner.

The poem that most affected me was Raindrop Spray. It’s about seeing things through the viewpoint of a loved one who is no longer here. I know that since my mum died that I make sure to take time for honouring her at this time of year because she loved Christmas and it’s not the same without her. Raindrop Spray spoke to that feeling for me, the way we can still see things as they saw them and in those moments it’s like they’re still here.

I also loved Christmas Rain and the way it shows how it helps to see things in a different light if you can. The seemingly never-ending grey rain, the endless consumerism of Christmas… but then the joy of the smell of the Christmas tree, and the rain that perhaps holds the promise of snow. This poem captures a lot of how we feel at this time of year and it leaves you with hope. A wonderful way to end a gorgeous collection of poetry.

I very much enjoyed Poetry for Christmas, and I think it is a book I will revisit. It’s a wonderful collection for everyone, it speaks to what this season is like and when I turned the final page I felt solace and calm and hopeful. This book would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a loved one, or a lovely treat for yourself. I highly recommend this one!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and my invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Poetry for Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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ORNA ROSS is an award-winning writer, an advocate for independent authors and other creative entrepreneurs, and “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” [The Bookseller]. She writes novels, poems and nonfiction guides for creatives, and is Founder-Director of two popular online communities, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and The Creativist Club. She lives in London and writes, publishes and teaches around the globe. When not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.

Website : http://www.ornaross.com/

Twitter : @ornaross

Author Page on Facebook

Instagram @ornaross

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Poetry For Christmas BT Poster

It’s a Secret-Santa-off today as I review Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo and The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux!

Today I’m sharing mini reviews in the battle of the secret santas!

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The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I love reading festive books in December and it’s always nice to mix up the romance with the crime fiction to keep it interesting! The Secret Santa is about secrets and murder in Aspen in the run up to Christmas! Real estate agent Claudine decides to combine the office secret santa with showing off a fabulous house to a pop star who is a potential buyer. It seems this house has a lot of history and someone in this group knows more than they’re letting on. I do love stories where a group of people come together and you know the past is going to catch up with them so this book was right up my street. I loved the snowy Aspen location and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The secret santa game is done in such a way that it’s intense and people are clearly on edge as the gift giving goes along. The only thing for me was that I didn’t think the reader really had a chance at solving the whole mystery, it all felt a little out of nowhere but having said that there are more than one elements to the secret and the other reveals were brilliant. I enjoyed this book and will definitely look out for more by this author.

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Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This book is set in a secondary school and follows Angel Green as she’s revising hard for her scholarship exam and also gets involved in organising the school Christmas fundraiser with her estranged friend Caspar. This school also has an annual secret santa so throughout the month of December everyone receives gifts from a person chosen at random. Angel’s gifts seem really quite meaningful and she’s incredibly curious about who might be behind them. As Angel and Caspar work together on the fundraiser they begin to remember how much fun they had together as children and wonder if they could be friends again but Caspar is flaky and often leaves Angel to deal with the fundraiser at the last minute. She is frustrated by this and can’t work out what is going on with him. I enjoyed this book, it’s an incredibly sweet YA novel set in the run up to Christmas. It reminded me of being a teen and the way you would have no idea if someone likes you or not, and you’re too scared to try and find out. It’s a nostalgic read and I’m really glad I read it.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell | @emmamitchellfpr @BakerPromo #WhenStarsWillShine

Heroes Front Cover NEW

About the Book

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell. This is a short story collection from a wide range of authors and it’s such a brilliant read. All the proceeds from this book go to Help for Heroes.

I don’t read a lot of short story collections because I tend to find the stories get blurred together in my mind but When Stars Will Shine is packed with such excellent stories that they’ve genuinely all remained distinct in my mind. There is such a variety in the type of stories and that made this such an exciting collection to read, there really is something for everyone in this book.

The collection opens with a beautiful and poignant poem by 11 year old Megan Steer which sets the bar really high and every single story lives up to it. There are stories about redemption, about loss, about family and love. There are twists and surprises galore, it’s such a brilliant collection!

I can’t really pick a favourite story as I genuinely enjoyed them all but I will mention some of them briefly here:

The opening story is Frederick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman is such a poignant and moving story. Likewise, Malcom Hollingdrake’s Died of Wounds is stunning and a real tear-jerker. I find stories from either of the World Wars heartbreaking – my lovely Nan lost her father in WW1 and her husband went missing presumed dead fighting in WW2. These two stories just got me in the gut and made me cry but it really does give you a sense of the loss and pain of the war but also a sense of hope that comes in the aftermath and in the generations that follow.

Believe by Mark Brownless is a really clever story. It begins as something that feels lovely and heart-warming and by the end my head was spinning. I love a story that can completely catch me off guard and this one certainly did that!

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell is one of those perfect stories to read on a dark, cold night in the run up to Christmas, it had me gripped and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Excellent story!

Stewart Giles’ Free Time is such a well-written story. He has created a story that is so believable and scary to begin with and then it become even more horrifying as it goes along. I can’t stop thinking about this story and I now need to read more by this author!

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen‘s novels so was delighted to find a short story by her in this collection. Her story The Christmas Killer is brilliant! It appears to be a story about a lonely older man struggling to get through the festive period but it takes an unexpectedly dark turn!

Billy McLoughlin’s The Invitation is a gorgeous story about forgiveness, about finding people you’ve lost along the way and being able to move on from the past. This is a lovely story to read at this time of year and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli is such a heart-warming story, I adored this one. It shows how a small act of kindness can make a much bigger difference in life than you ever might imagine. A wonderful story for Christmas!

Jane Risdon’s Penance had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. This is a creepy, sad story that I was gripped by. I had no idea where it was going or how it was going to end. I loved it!

The collection ends with Family Time by Graham Smith and this story was brilliant! It’s one of those stories where you’re not quite sure where it’s going, it feels a little sinister as if violence is just around the corner but nothing is quite as it seems. I felt emotional by the end. An excellent story for this time of year.

When Stars Will Shine is a phenomenal collection of short stories that also serves as a fabulous taster menu for discovering new authors. My wish list is now huge with books by all the authors in this collection as every single story is so good that I now want to read more by each and every one of them. I highly recommend this book, it’s one I know I’ll re-read in the years to come and it’s one I think everyone will enjoy!

 

Here is the full contents page for the book:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Four Seasons by Robert Scragg

The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff

Believe by Mark Brownless

What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell

The Art of War and Peace by John Carson

A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton

Free Time by Stewart Giles

Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake

The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen

The Village Hotel by Alex Kane

A Present of Presence by HR Kemp

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Brothers Forever by Paul Moore

Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen

Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli

Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke

Christmas Present by Lexi Rees

Inside Out by KA Richardson

Penance by Jane Risdon

New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg

Family Time by Graham Smith

 

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

 

When Stars Will Shine is out now in paperback and ebook and is available here.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Blog Tour Week One NEW

Blog Tour Week Two NEW

WWW Wednesdays (11 Dec 2019)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

I bought this on kindle and then I spotted I could also get the audio book from Audible for £2.99 so I have both versions and am switching between the two. I’m enjoying this book but so far there’s no Christmas so I’m hoping there is some festive stuff soon.

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

This book is FULL of Christmas and I am loving it! It’s exactly what I want in a festive book and it’s really making me feel Christmassy.

Last Christmas by Emma Thompson & Greg Wise

I’m really enjoying dipping in and out of this book and reading about how other people spend Christmas. It’s making me think, and it’s also making me feel nostalgic. It’s a great collection so far.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

This book got put to one side last week but I picked it back up yesterday and am gripped so I expect to finish this one very soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

I’ve had this book on my TBR ever since it was first published so I’m glad to have finally got to it. I enjoyed this one, it’s set at Christmas which I appreciated and has family dramas galore. It didn’t make me feel quite as festive as I’d hoped but I did really enjoy it.

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

I borrowed the audiobook of this from BorrowBox and really enjoyed listening to it. It was my first Sarah Morgan book but it definitely won’t be the last!

Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This is a really sweet YA book set in the run-up to Christmas. I found this cute and it made me remember what it was like to be a teenager.

Pushing Her Luck by B. R. Maycock

I read this book over the weekend and it was exactly what I needed. I got swept up in Holly’s life and it was fab escapism. I reviewed this yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell

This is a brilliant collection of short stories by different authors and I loved it. I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow for the blog tour so please look out for my post then.

Coming Home for Christmas by Jenny Hale

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of this author’s previous Christmas novels Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, and It Started With Christmas so I was looking forward to this one. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t as Christmassy and romantic as I’d hoped it would be.

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I am so happy that I picked up this audio book as it’s a return to form for the Shopaholic series and I loved this. It was