My Lovely Birthday Book Haul!


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

It was my birthday last weekend so today I’m sharing my birthday book haul! I was very spoilt for my birthday with lots of lovely gifts including some fabulous new books! My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so we understand each other and he never minds giving me books as gifts. I feel incredibly lucky!



The gorgeous hardback of Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon! I did put this on my wish list as I read a proof copy and loved it so much that I knew I had to have a finished hardback as well.



Spaceman by Mike Massimino

I’ve already read this book – I started it as soon as I finished opening my presents and I loved it so much. It’s such a good book, especially if you love the space shuttle and want to know more about how astronauts train.



Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan’s books so I was super happy to open this gift. I’m excited to escape into this book soon.



The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while but hadn’t actually seen it in real life until I opened my gift – it’s such a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m really looking forward to reading this short story collection!



Relish by Prue Leith

I love Great British Bake Off and had seen Prue Leith interviewed on TV a couple of times while that was on and it seems like she has had a fascinating life. This book was such a surprise but I’m really keen to read it (it’s a doorstop of a book though so it might take me a little while!).



The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

This book is so gorgeous and it’s one I’m really intrigued to read soon. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months or so working on health stuff and that includes regular mindfulness and mediation so this book seems like it will be a perfect read for me.



The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, N or M? by Agatha Christie, By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie, and Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

I’ve been enjoying re-reading some Agatha Christie books in recent years but I somehow never read the Tommy and Tuppence series so I’m looking forward to reading this set of books.



Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore

This poetry collection sounds like it will be an emotional read but it’s a book I definitely want to read when I’m in the right frame of mind for it. I was excited to get a copy of it for my birthday.



Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

I’ve been so keen to get hold of this book and almost bought it on ebook recently so I’m glad I didn’t because the hardback is stunning. I love Jon McGregor’s writing so this book will be a real treat to read.



The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

This hardback is another book that is so lovely and my photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful book with glossy photos and I’ve enjoyed looking through it. I’m excited to read it soon.




I also got a Nirvana record, a gorgeous dressing gown, some lovely new toiletries, a bag, money and book vouchers! So I was very spoilt… 🙂



So that’s my most recent book haul! Have you got any new books this week? If you join in with Stacking the Shelves or if you’ve done a book haul on your blog this week please feel free to leave your link below.



My January Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

January has been a strange old month. I always struggle with January as it comes filled with a lot of sad memories for me.

It was my birthday though, which I find tough but my husband made it really lovely for me. He cooked a lush meal in the evening and we shared a bottle of wine while I opened the pile of presents that he gave me. I got some fab new books so will be doing a book haul very soon!

I read a lot of fabulous books in January so my reading year is off to a great start! I can’t pick a favourite from the books that I read, they were all very enjoyable reads.

I didn’t manage to review as many books in January as I’d hoped to as I had a wobbly MacBook but I did get a few blog posts up and now my MacBook appears to be fixed I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews very soon.


Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I hadn’t read this in many years and couldn’t remember whodunnit so it was great to read this again with fresh eyes in a new edition. I really enjoyed this mystery and it got my reading year of to a brilliant start!

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was a really good crime thriller novel. It was ideal to read around the festive period but it could be read at another time of year if you’re keen to get to it.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This was an ARC so I will be reviewing it soon. I found it really made me think about the nature of forgiveness and gave me a lot to ponder on.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’d had this ARC on my TBR for a while but when I finally read it I enjoyed it. It was an interesting novel about family dynamics and how and why people disappear.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights last year and found it to be a really honest memoir about the loss of her daughter so I was keen to pick this travel memoir up. I find that I get utterly engrossed in her writing and I adore it.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

I got completely lost in this novel, it was such a prescient book and one that I’m still thinking about. I have already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts here.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this novel in just two sittings (and the only reason that it wasn’t one sitting was because it was late at night and I needed sleep), it had me hooked right to the very end!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was an audiobook and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a must read for fans of Orange is the New Black.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time and was hesitant to pick this up as I’d seen mixed reviews. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long though as I really did enjoy this quirky and interesting novel.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book was so good! It grabbed me from the start and had me engrossed into it right to the very end.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I got this book for Christmas and was so pleased as I’d been keen to read it. I read it in one sitting and it was such an interesting book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was certainly eye-opening!

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve kept hearing about this book and when it won the Costa biography award I had to pick it up. I got the audiobook and found it really engrossing listening to this true story.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This book was just incredible. I read it on a weekend when I badly needed solace and this book gave me that and so much more as well. I’m still struggling to finish my review because I loved it so much. This is definitely a new favourite and I already want to re-read it!

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find out more of my thoughts here.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on release day and read it in one go. It’s a heartbreaking read but it’s such an honest and open memoir.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is another book that I’ve loved this year. It was so refreshing to read a book that is told in two timelines going in different directions and I very much enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I struggled to get into this the first time I picked it up but I gave it another chance at the weekend and I’m so glad I did because I loved it.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a book that I got for my birthday at the weekend and after looking through all of my birthday books this was the one that called me to me the most. I read it in two sittings and I loved every minute of reading this book.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book took me a little while to read as I was struggling to physically hold the hardback but the novel itself was brilliant. This is another book that I feel sure will be in my favourites list at the end of this year!


January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

My 2017 reading reflections and plans for 2018, and the state of my TBR

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald



The state of my TBR:

I made the decision to work on my TBR more seriously this year; to try and read more of the books I already own rather than accumulating a lot more. I started the year with 2756 (this is books that I own)! Over the month it’s held steady-ish as I’ve been good at resisting buying too many books and I’ve also been better at DNFing books that I’m not enjoying. I had a little clear out too and got rid of a few books. Then at the end of the month it was my birthday and I got some books and also some book vouchers so my TBR has gone up again. I’m really pleased with myself overall that my current TBR is now 2752, which is four books less than it was on the first day of the year!



How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

Reading Bingo Results for 2017!



I really enjoyed looking through my reading at the end of 2016 to see if I could complete this reading bingo so I couldn’t resist having another go at it today to see if my reading in 2017 could fill the whole square. I didn’t plan my reading around the bingo, I’m purely looking back at the books I read to see if they fit! Here goes…


A book with more than 500 pages


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I read a few books that were over 500 pages last year but I’m choosing this book because it has 849 pages and was the longest book I read in 2017!


A forgotten classic


The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

I’m not 100% sure that this counts as a forgotten classic but it’s the only book that I read last year that sort of counts so I’m using it for this square. It’s a brilliant novel so if you haven’t read it already I definitely recommend it.

A book that became a movie

ReadyPlayerOne RD 1 finals 2

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m intrigued to see how they’ve gone about making the movie adaptation when it comes out later this year!

A book published this year


Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book was published in 2017 in ebook and I loved it. If you want to read my review on it please click the title above.

A book with a number in the title


Three Days and A Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I read a few books with a number in the title last year but I’m using this one for this square because it’s one of those books that really got under my skin and I still think about it. I love this author’s writing.


A book written by someone under thirty


Sofa So Good by Scarlett Moffatt

I was unsure how many of the books I read last year had authors under 30 but I knew Scarlett Moffatt definitely was and I very much enjoyed this book so decided to choose it for this square!


A book with non-human characters


The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This is a wonderful novel about a man who on a missionary trip to another planet, so this novel features alien beings.


A funny book


How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

This is a funny book, because Sarah Millican is a very funny person so it counts as my choice for the funny book square. The book is also very honest and moving and I recommend it. You can read my review if you click the title above.

A book by a female author


Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Most of the books that I read last year were by female authors so there were many books that I could have picked for this square but I decided to go with this one as it’s a book that I really enjoyed.

A book with a mystery


The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I picked this book for my mystery square because it’s such a good novel with more than one mystery at its heart. I read most of this book in one sitting because I just had to know.. and the reveal when it came was stunning!

A book with a one-word title


Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

I wanted to feature this book in a post looking over my reading as it was such a great read. It meets the criteria for this square and gives me a chance to shout about it again. The follow up to this book is one of my most eagerly anticipated books, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! You can read my full review if you click on the title above.

A book of short stories


How Much the Heart Can Hold

This is a gorgeous short story collection and I very much enjoyed reading it. The stories are each written by a different author and some I loved more than others but all gave me something to think about.


A book set on a different continent


Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This book is set in America and I live in the UK so it definitely meets the criteria for this square. It’s also another chance to shout about this brilliant novel that still lingers in my mind almost a year after I read it.


A book of nonfiction


Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

This is a brilliant book by a leading heart surgeon all about his time as a surgeon. It’s a very open and honest memoir, a book that really moved me. I recommend this if you haven’t already read it.


The first book by a favourite author

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

This is a bit of a cheat for this square but I’m counting it because it’s the first non-fiction book by my favourite author. This is an incredible book, it was my favourite non-fiction book of 2017 and I’m going to be recommending it for a long time to come. I already can’t wait to re-read it!

A book you heard about online


The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I heard a lot of booktubers talking about this book a while ago and so I bought a copy. It then languished on my TBR for a little while but I finally picked it up last year. I really enjoyed reading about Helen Russell’s year in Denmark and I recommend this one.

A bestselling book


The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This was such a great novel, I really enjoyed every minute of reading it. It really does look at female friendship and also how society views women. It’s a book that’s stayed with me and one I hope to re-read in the future. If you’d like to read my full review please click on the title above.


A book based on a true story

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

This book was the first that came to mind when thinking of a book based on a true story because I actually picked this up thinking it was a work of non-fiction. It’s a really harrowing book where the writer explores the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris. I read it because I’ve been exploring trauma again as I worked through my own PTSD last year. You can read my full review by clicking on the title above.

A book at the bottom of your to be read pile


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was on my TBR for around twenty years before I finally read it last year! I bought it the year it was first released in hardback and it’s been with me through three house moves. I always knew that I would read it one day but for some reason it intimidated me and I kept putting it off. I’m kicking myself now because I when I finally read it, I loved it.


A book your friend loves

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

I could have used a lot of books for this one as I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging and see many book recommendations. I chose this one as I’ve not seen anyone say that didn’t enjoy it. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. My review is in the link in the title if you’d like to know more.

A book that scares you


Final Girls by Riley Sager

This book really scared me! I knew it was going to scare me when I first got it and I wasn’t wrong. I ended up finishing this late at night because I simply had to know how it was going to end before I went to bed, and I was so glad my husband was home with me because I was properly unnerved! I highly recommend this one though, it’s so good. My full review can be found by clicking on the title!

A book that is more than 10 years old


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I chose Bel Canto for this square because it fits the criteria but also because it was a chance to feature it on my blog. I took a long time to come to this book but found it a beautifully written novel and one that really got to me. I recommend it.

The second book in a series


Watch Me by Angela Clarke

I had a couple of books that I could have picked for this square but I went with this one because I’m really enjoying the Social Media series. I have the third one on my TBR but haven’t managed to get to it yet, I definitely plan to read it in 2018 though.

Book with a blue cover


Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I picked this book for this square because this book is such a beautiful thing to behold. I have read it and while I enjoyed it it isn’t my favourite by this author, the book itself is gorgeous though.

Free Square!


The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I listened to the audio book of this between Christmas and New Year and I loved it so wanted to use this for my free square. I highly recommend this to all book lovers!


So I managed to complete my reading bingo for 2017, which I’m happy about! Have you filled in the reading bingo square for your reading last year? I’d love to know your results if you have.

WWW Wednesday (10 Jan)! 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:

Winter by Ali Smith

This book was one of my Christmas gifts from my husband and it’s such an incredible novel. I’m deliberately reading it slowly because I want to savour it, to make sure I don’t miss a thing.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This book is so good! It’s one of those books that’s really hard to put down and I may even finish reading it before this post goes up. I’m on the blog tour for it on Friday so my review will be up then.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I started reading this before Christmas but got side-tracked by Christmas reading. I’ve been wanting to get back to it though so I’ve picked it back up this week. It’s such a heartbreaking book but so important.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I can never resist a de-cluttering book and this is my latest pick! I’m enjoying reading this and making paragraphs that I can refer back to. It’s inspiring me to want to have another clear out in my house once I recover from this horrible lingering virus that I have.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This is my latest audio book and it’s okay. I was intrigued when I spotted it as it’s by the woman who inspired the character of Alex in Orange is the New Black. So far it’s not grabbing me but I want to give it a bit longer to see if it picks up.


What I recently finished reading:

South and West by Joan Didion

I picked this up after really enjoying reading Blue Nights towards the end of last year. South and West didn’t move me in the same way but it was a really fascinating read non-the-less. I recommend this one.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

This is a review book that has languished on my TBR for way longer than it should have but I’m pleased to say that when I read it over the last few days I enjoyed it. I’m hoping to get my review written and posted for next week so pleased look out for that.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This is a graphic non-fiction novel and I’ve been really keen to read it so I was thrilled to spot it on Netgalley recently. It’s a short book but it really made me think. Once I’ve digested it a bit more I will be writing a review on here.

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was such a good read for around Christmas time and I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I’ve had this book on my review pile for a while now and time has got away from me but I’m finally going to make this one of my next reads. I’m really looking forward to this, it’s one of my anticipated reads of this year.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because Joanna Cannon’s writing always feels like a solace. I’m planning to find an afternoon where I can just curl up and get lost in this book. It’s another of my highly anticipated reads for 2018.

Waco by David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson

This is another review book and I’ve been really intrigued to read this one as I’ve always been fascinated by cults so this book caught my eye.


What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

2017 Reading Reflections, Bookish Plans for 2018 & The State of my TBR!



I set myself a goal to read 200 books in 2017 and that felt like a good number – one that would push me to read instead of faffing about but also one that would allow me to read some bigger books that have been languishing on my bookcases for a while. I ended up reading 252 books, which is the most books I’ve read in a year since I started my Goodreads account and began tracking my reading in 2010!



According to Goodreads the shortest book that I read was Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope, which was 39 pages long. It’s such a gorgeous book and was a joy to read in the run up to the festive period. The longest book I read was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton at 849 pages long. I devoured this book over the course of a few days and I loved it. I was expecting it to be a bit of a trudge at times but it it really wasn’t. I do think it’s a book best enjoyed in big chunks though, I don’t think I would have followed it so well if I’d dipped in and out of it over a longer period. My average page count for the year was 325 pages, which I’m really happy with because that’s roughly the length of an average-ish book so it means I wasn’t reading short books to make up numbers.

I took on the Mount TBR 2017 challenge on Goodreads last year and I chose to try and read 100 books from my TBR that I owned before the 31 December 2016 and I’m so pleased that I achieved this. One of the books that made it onto my favourite novels of the year was The Poisonwood Bible, which I had owned unread for around TWENTY YEARS! I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because I loved it and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. I haven’t signed up for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge as yet but I probably will do as it’s a good way to give some attention to books that have been on my TBR for a while.

2017 was the first year that I properly tracked my reading in a spreadsheet and I have to say that I have ADORED being able to see how my reading pans out in much more detail and to track things that Goodreads doesn’t really enable me to do.




I discovered from my spreadsheet in 2017 that of the 252 books I read over the year 182 of them (72%) were written by women. I didn’t consciously seek to read more female authors over the year so it was interesting that I read so many more women than men. I’m now interested to see if this is usual pattern in my read as I go into my second year of tracking my books on a spreadsheet.



I read more books in December than any other month… 29 books! This is because around Christmas I do like to read some poetry and also some children’s Christmas books, which are often shorter than novels for adults. My page count for December was still high at 8480. Going by page count February was my biggest reading month coming in at 8495 pages spread over 26 books!



It was interesting to see where my reading tastes lie over the course of a year and to see what genres I read the most of too. 31% of my reading was non-fiction (spread over general non-fiction and memoir), which works out at 79 books. I’m pleased with this in the sense that I did push myself out of my comfort zone a bit more with non-fiction and read some harder books. I would like to increase the ratio of non-fiction to fiction in 2018 if I can. My fiction reading is mostly split between general fiction and thriller/crime fiction, which doesn’t surprise me. I love thrillers and knew I’d read a lot of them last year.


This is a breakdown of my entire owned books TBR by page-length…

As some of you may remember I started tracking my TBR part way through 2017 as I was trying to force myself to get it under control. I thought it would be interesting to do TBR maths on my wrap-up posts to try and stop buying more books than I was reading. This ended in complete and utter failure! I had a couple of months in the summer where I wasn’t really reading or blogging much but I was still buying books to cheer myself up. Then during a de-clutter of my house I found a whole load of books that had never been added to Goodreads so had never been counted on my TBR. It all felt a bit overwhelming so after my blogging break I decided to scrap tracking my TBR but I promised I would start again in 2018 and I will. This year I’m using Portal in the Pages‘ fab spreadsheet again and she has now included a page where you can add your entire TBR of books owned before the start of the year and the spreadsheet will keep a running total. I am excited beyond words at this… Well, I was until I realised just how big my TBR is! My entire TBR of books owned-but-not-read-yet stands at 2756 books! Eeeek! I really am going to curb my book accumulating this year and am going to make a real effort to reduce this number so will be tracking my TBR on my monthly wrap-up posts, and possibly on my weekly posts too.

So all-in-all 2017 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2018 (and attempting to reduce my TBR)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2018? If you’ve written a post about your bookish reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.



My Top Non-Fiction Reads from 2017!

My top fiction reads of-2

Today I’m sharing my top non-fiction books that I read in 2017! I posted my fiction favourites yesterday, which you can read here, and because I have read quite a lot of non-fiction over the last year it seemed fitting that it got its own list!

So, in no particular order here are the non-fiction books that I loved in 2017:


Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and finally picked it up towards the end of last year. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because once I picked it up I was engrossed until I finished reading the entire book. It’s a scary and fascinating story of a rare illness and how it affected her.


The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

This was my first ever Maggie Nelson book and it absolutely won’t be my last. Her writing is incredible and moving. This book is her exploration of her thoughts and feelings around the re-opening of the investigation into her aunt’s murder.


The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This book is described as being a biography of cancer and it’s fascinating! I put off reading it because I worried it would be very heavy but it actually wasn’t. I learnt things that I didn’t know and it was such a page turner of a book.


Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand with Decca Aitkenhead

This book has made my list because it was such an honest and open memoir about Rio’s grief over the loss of his wife. Later in the book he shares the things that really helped him through the darkest days and all the suggestions are excellent. I recommend this to anyone but particularly those who are grieving. You can read my full review here.


Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and somehow never picked it up until 2017. I’m so glad that I finally got to it because I loved every second that I spent reading this book, it’s wonderful.


Good Night and Good Riddance by David Cavanagh

This is a book containing a wide selection of John Peel’s radio shows. There are descriptions of the shows, parts of transcripts and short lists of the bands and singers he had on his show. I adored this book, it reminded me all over again how many artists I discovered through listening to John Peel.


It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

This is another book that I put off reading for a long time because it felt like it might be a bit too close to home for me. I’m so glad that I finally read it because it’s a really moving and honest account of living with MND. It actually felt quite life-affirming and it’s a book I highly recommend.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is a brilliant book that really does what it says on the cover. I read this in one sitting when I bought it and have since dipped in and out of it, it is a comfort and a solace to have this book to go back to as needed.


Good as You by Paul Flynn

This is a non-fiction book that I bought and started reading immediately. I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a look over the last thirty years of homosexuality in Britain and it’s fascinating from beginning to end.

How to Survive a Plague- The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This book took me a little while to read but it’s one that has really stayed with me. It’s a look at the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and is a really detailed account of how it was for people dying from AIDS alongside what was happening politically and medically. It’s a harrowing read but one that I highly recommend.

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

My list of non-fiction is roughly in no particular order but I have to be honest and admit that this book is my top non-fiction book of the entire year. I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan so to read this book and find out more about her life was brilliant. There were things in this book that sent shivers down my spine because similar things have happened to me, and it really made me think. This is a book that I want to re-read this year, and I fully intend to keep on shouting from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and how everyone should read it!

I really enjoyed the non-fiction that I read in 2017 and am already looking forward to discovering lots more non-fiction in 2018. Have you got a non-fiction favourite from last year? Or any books you can recommend me? Here’s to a great reading year in 2018!

My Favourite Novels read in 2017!

My top fiction reads of

In 2017 I read 252 books, many of them were such brilliant reads, so it’s been really hard picking my top books of the year. Today I’m sharing my top novels read last year, and tomorrow I will share my top non-fiction reads so please look out for that post.

In no particular order the novels that I have loved, and the ones that are really staying with me are:


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book had (shamefully) been on my TBR for almost TWENTY years! I originally bought it in hardback soon after it was published and over the years have also bought a paperback and ebook copy but was still intimidated to start reading it. Well, I finally picked it up in 2017 and it’s been a huge lesson to me in not avoiding books because I adored it from start to finish. It really got to me and I still find myself thinking about it now.

the light we lost

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

This book made the list because I love the way it explored the idea of fate and whether some things are meant to be, or not. It really got to me and it’s a book that I often find myself thinking about. You can find my full review here.


The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

I loved this novel because I’m someone who wonders about lost things and this book gave me hope and comfort that the precious things I’ve lost over the years might be somewhere being looked after. You can find my full review here.

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The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

This is a novel that I read in one sitting, it just had me hooked from the very first page and I still find myself thinking about the family and wondering how they are now. The Way Back to Us explores family dynamics in a way that really makes you think and feel about each and every person involved. I highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

This is a wonderful novel about Della who wants to be a pilot in a time when it was near impossible for a woman to train as such a thing. I adored this book, and the characters in it. The writing is so evocative that I really felt I was with Della every step of the way throughout this book. You can find my full review here.


All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the Wicked Girls is one of those really special novels that just gets under your skin very early on. I still find myself thinking about the characters in this small town and wondering how their lives turned out. This book is just incredible and I implore you to read it if you haven’t already.  You can find my full review here.


Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This is a fascinating novel looking at how women are viewed in the wake of something terrible happening. Ruth is a single mum who enjoys nights out once her children are in bed. One night her children go missing and the spotlight is on Ruth intensely from that moment on. She is judged by everyone for everything. This is a novel that really stays with you and I definitely recommend it. You can find my full review here.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

This is a brilliant crime thriller, one that has really stayed with me in the months since I read it. It’s a harrowing read at times but the writing, and the characters make it a book that you need to keep reading. I’m eagerly anticipating the next novel! You can find my full review here.


Final Girls by Riley Sager

This novel is so good! I was a little apprehensive about it as I don’t like horror, I don’t like to feel properly scared but this book was just so brilliant that I couldn’t put it down. I loved every minute that I spent reading it and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. You can find my full review here.

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Sweetpea by CJ Skuse

This is another brilliant novel that I loved reading in 2017. It’s very disconcerting when you read a book about a serial killer but find yourself agreeing with some of the things that annoy her. It’s full of dark humour but it’s such a good read, one I’m sure I’ll go back to in the future. You can find my full review here.


Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

This was a novel that I was desperate to get my hands on from the minute I first saw the publisher share a photo of the cover. The novel did not let me down! It grabbed me from the start and it kept me engrossed to the very end. It’s a novel about female friendship and obsession and it’s brilliant! You can find my full review here.


The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

A quote from my own review of this book: ‘This is such a modern novel. On face value this is a novel about the breakdown of a marriage but it’s really about so much more than that. It’s such an incisive, multi-layered novel about the society we live in. It’s a character-driven story, which looks at class and race issues; it looks at how we define poverty. Amanda Craig really captures our society in a genuine and honest way, whilst also giving it a good dose of dark humour, wryness and wit’. The novel has really stayed in my mind since I read it so I highly recommend it! You can find my full review here.


The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

This is such a gripping and compelling novel that really got to me. I hadn’t heard of it before I was offered the chance to read and review it but I fell in love with it on reading it. Hattie Hoffman is one of those characters that really got under my skin and my heart was breaking for her as I read her story. Go read this book if you haven’t already. You can find my full review here.


Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

This book appealed to me because Louise’s first novel was one of my favourite books last year, and also because this one is set during the floods in Hull. I knew this book would be one I loved but it even surpassed that very high expectation. I got so engrossed in Catherine’s story and felt at such a loss after finishing this book. I still think about this novel and wonder how Catherine is. You can find my full review here.


See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I won an advance proof of this book and was so excited when it arrived. It was one of the first books that I read in 2017 and it stayed with me throughout the year and absolutely deserves a place as one of my favourite reads of the year. This is such a visceral and evocative novel and I still feel like I’ve been in that house where Lizzie Borden took her axe. If you haven’t read this novel yet, go grab a copy and read it asap! You can find my full review here.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book from start to finish! Eleanor Oliphant is such a fascinating character, and one I couldn’t help but like. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tender and moving look at loneliness, at how it is to be given a chance and what it is to find a friend having had a lifetime of just getting through the days. A beautiful novel that I highly recommend. You can find my full review here.


The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This book came into my life at such a perfect time that it seemed meant to be. It’s an exploration of the complexities of pain, in all its forms, and how we deal with the darkest moments of life. Ravine is someone who will really stay in my heart, I won’t ever forget this book and what it means to me. You can find my full review here.

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Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin

I adored this novel, almost beyond being able to put into words. It had a lot to live up to as Ghostbird, Carol’s previous novel, very quickly became one of my all-time favourite books but I’m happy to say that Snow Sisters did live up to it. Carol is an incredible writer that weaves stories that just wrap around you and pull you right in. I highly, highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.


Tin Man by Sarah Winman

This book broke my heart – I read it in one sitting and I fell completely and utterly in love with it. It was stunning and it’s definitely a book that I want to re-read soon. I didn’t manage to write a review when I read it but I will review it when I read it again. It’s a beautiful novel and it’s stolen my heart!

So, there’s my list of the best novels that I read in 2017! It was an amazing reading year and I’m already so excited to be in a new year and discovering lots more fabulous books. What was your favourite novel from 2017? If you’ve blogged about it please feel free to leave a link and I will go read your post and leave a comment.

Tomorrow (all being well!) I’ll be sharing my top non-fiction reads from last year so please look out for that post!

WWW Wednesdays (22 Nov)! 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:

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli 

I’ve heard about this book on a few BookTube videos recently and so put it on my wishlist. I then spotted it on my audio book subscription so I immediately downloaded it and am now half-way through listening to it. It’s a really interesting book.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for a few weeks now and I finally started reading it last night. It’s such a heartbreaking book but it’s such an important and prescient read. I have such admiration for Trayvon’s parents in the way they have tried to channel their grief into raising awareness and to honour their son’s life. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one when I’ve finished reading it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

This is such a lovely book, it’s a real feel-good and quite nostalgic read. I recommend this if you want a light-hearted book about two girls in the early 80s as they begin their adult lives.

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I’m enjoying this book so much. It’s only taking me so long to read it because my copy is a really heavy hardback – it’s a beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be keeping but it’s hard to hold and read for more than a chapter at a time. It’s printed on thick glossy paper and has lots of great photos throughout. I recommend it.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

This is still on my currently reading and I do intend to get back to it soon but I’ve been drawn to non-fiction on other subjects over the last week so I’m going with how I feel.

What I recently finished reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

This book has been on my TBR for over three years but when I finally picked it up this week I honestly couldn’t put it down. I read it in two sittings and it feels like one of this books that will really stay with me. I highly recommend it.

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

This is an audible book that I’ve owned for seven years and somehow have never listened to it! I was in need of something light to listen to at the weekend so put this on and I enjoyed it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was younger but it was still interesting to see how Danny tracked down his old school friends.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

This was a really fascinating book and the New York Stock Exchange and how companies would do anything to have the edge over others. I didn’t put it on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR because I was worried it might be a bit dry and take me a long while to read but I was so wrong. I found that once I picked this book up I didn’t want to put it down and ended up reading it in just a couple of sittings.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another audio book that I listened to on a whim. It was an easy listen and there were sections that really made me pause to think about my own life and how I view myself. As a whole it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it might be but I’m still glad I read it.

What I plan on reading next:

Hystories by Elaine Showalter

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and promised myself I would definitely get to it this November so I’m really hoping I can read it this week.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

I’m always fascinated by the books that Jon Ronson writes and this one sounds like it’ll be a brilliant read.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I hoped to read this last week and didn’t get to it so I’m putting it on my TBR for the week ahead. I’m really looking forward to this one.


What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up (19 Nov)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted


I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who visits my blog, and especially to this who have commented recently. I’m aware that I’m slow to respond at the moment, and also that I’m not managing to comment on as many of your blogs as I’d like to, but I will get there. Please know that even when it takes me a while I respond, I do very much appreciate every comment.

This week has been quite quiet as I’ve not been feeling great. I have got a lot of reading done though, which has been lovely. I’ve been seeking escapism in books as I have another round of medical appointments and tests coming up and I don’t want to think about those until I have to.

Last night my husband and I curled up and watched The Deer Hunter, which we haven’t seen in a few years. It was so nice to just relax and watch a film together but it doesn’t matter how many times you see this film, it’s never not heartbreaking.


This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

This is a book that I was going to put on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR and then forgot about! I spotted it this week and was just in the mood to read it so decided to go ahead anyway. I read it in two sittings and found it such a fascinating insight into what goes on in Wall Street.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I really enjoyed reading this book! I read it a chapter or two at a time throughout the week in between other books and it really worked for me like that. If I’m to be completely honest I did find the author a bit irritating and she didn’t seem to have much of a concept of how lucky she was but, having said that, I loved reading about the lifestyle in Denmark and it has made me want to move there! I’d still recommend the book too.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another non-fiction book that wasn’t on my TBR for this month but it caught my eye amongst my audio books. It was an interesting listen, and some parts were thought-provoking but I don’t think it’s a book that will really stick with me.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

This is a novel that I read this week as I was in need of some escapism and non-fiction wasn’t giving me that so instead I picked up this book, which I owned before this year so it’s another one that counts towards my Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads. I enjoyed this thriller, it kept me interested all the way through and I’ll definitely pick up Sam’s next book, Bad Sister.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

This is such a powerful book about Rio’s grief after the death of his wife. I found it to be a really honest and moving book. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This was the other novel that I read this week when needing some escapism. I really enjoyed this book – I do love Lucy Clarke’s writing.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m glad I finally got to it. It’s one of those books that makes you think about your own thoughts and ideas about things.


This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)


This is what I’m currently reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I just started this book yesterday but it’s already got me engrossed. I don’t think it’ll take me very long to read this. I’m expecting it to be quite harrowing at times but I’ve seen so many people recommend it that I have to read it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon and Mary Phelan

This is letters between Catherine and Mary in 1984 – the year they leave school and one goes on to further study and the other goes to France to be an au pair. I’m so enjoying this one, it’s wonderful.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This is a really interesting look at Coco Chanel’s life and I’m really enjoying it. My copy of the book is physically very heavy so I’ll be quite slow to read this but it’s such a treat every time I pick it up.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week but I will be getting back to it soon as I was finding it really interesting.


How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

Mimi Thebo writes of the accident, PTSD & recovery that inspired her novel Hospital High @JHPsocial

Today I’m sharing a very inspiring guest post from Mimi Thebo, author of Hospital High, about how what happened to her when she was a teenager inspired her to write her novel.


When I was 14 years old, I died in a car accident. I didn’t stay dead, obviously, but I was badly injured. I spent my high school years in and out of hospital. Then, when I was patched up sufficiently, I started my life and never looked back.

It had been a grim time. Dad left the family before the accident and my grandma died after it – all within nine months. My mother and I suffered poverty…we couldn’t afford to heat the whole house and we went without food. The car might have hit the tree, but I’d lost more than my voice and my health in that time…I’d lost my whole way of life. My best friend had been driving the car, and so, inevitably, we grew apart and, by the following summer, I had lost her, too.

It was no wonder I never looked back on the events of 1974.

I got on with my life. I was lucky enough to go to university, and even with health and mobility challenges…and my father refusing to pay the agreed maintenance…I eventually graduated with a good degree. The doctors had told me I’d never be strong enough to work, but I pulled long shifts as a waitress to make the money I needed and was just fine. They’d also told me I should never marry, since I’d be ‘a burden’ to any future husband. But I met a boy who wasn’t frightened of that. We married and I moved to the UK.

I continued to prove the doctors wrong. I climbed mountains. I worked double shifts, sometimes 80 hours in a week.  In London, I learned to type and was soon running whole offices. But then I confounded everyone – I quit work, did an MA in Creative Writing and, within a year, had published two books and began lecturing at a university.

I had put the misery of my youth completely behind me.

Only I hadn’t.

I write stories of hope and recovery and redemption.  I write not just because I want to be a writer or want to make money, but because I want to inspire other people, to help them in their life journeys. And I wasn’t sure I was doing that. My books were good – good enough to get published and sell reasonably well. But they weren’t best-sellers or winning important prizes. There was something missing in my writing, something that made it too fluffy and light, even when I was trying to write about serious issues. And I knew what it was.

I hadn’t really dealt with that horrible time in my past. It was an editor who first suggested that I should write the story of my accident, but I didn’t even consider her suggestion. Ten years later, however, I was ready to listen. I had to confront my past and I had to do it the only way I knew how. I had to write it.

It took five years. At times, I was afraid reading my hospital records and remembering the things that had happened would re-trigger my PTSD.  I didn’t want to try writing about it during the teaching year or when I was solely responsible for my young daughter’s care. So I wrote it in the margins of school life; when school was in session and university wasn’t.

At last I finished writing about the most horrible time in my life. And then I wrote my breakthrough book for children, Dreaming the Bear – it was nominated for every prize in children’s fiction. Writing my trauma had worked for me. And it had worked in more ways than one. It made my writing stronger, but it also made me stronger.

Now the story of my accident, slightly fictionalised, is being published. I hope Hospital High helps other people to deal with their own trauma…  Perhaps it might even inspire them to get the pain of their past down on paper and out of their minds forever. It would make me very happy if it did.



Did you know writing can help you heal from physical as well as mental wounds?

Studies have shown that writing for a few minutes a day helped cancer patients respond to treatment, made people’s wounds heal faster and even lowered T-cell counts in HIV sufferers.

According to research, writing for twenty minutes a day has a profound effect on anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to write stories or poetry to get the benefit –and you don’t even have to write about worries or illness. You can get the benefit by writing about anything – even scribbling about fashion, football scores or gardening can improve your mental and physical health.

If you begin to enjoy writing for pleasure, there are writers groups and evening classes in every area. Contact your local library or the Arts Council to find one near you.


Hospital High is out now in ebook and paperback!


About the Author

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Mimi Thebo is a Carnegie-longlisted author for children and teens. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, adapted for a BAFTA-winning BBC film, illustrated in light and signed for deaf children by ITV. Born in the USA, she is based in SouthWest England, where she is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol and a Royal Literary Fellow.



About the Book

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My life had been saved…and boy, was I annoyed. Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone’s working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn’t think ‘normal’ is enough… When she was fourteen, the author Mimi Thebo died in a car accident. Hospital High is a young adult novel based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident.


My TBR for the 20 Books of Summer!

20-books of summer

It’s 20 Books of Summer time! This is organised by Cathy at 746 Books and I’ve decided to join in this year and am really looking forward to making a start on my summer 2017 reading. I don’t normally make TBRs as the minute I make a list of books to read I almost immediately then want to read anything but those choices so this will be a real challenge for me! I’ve decided to just put books from my own TBR on this list and I will read review books in between these books.

So, here are my 20 Book of Summer for 2017!


The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

My husband bought me this for my birthday last year and I was so excited to read it and yet somehow it’s still on my TBR so this book is one I definitely want to make the time to read this summer.



Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Green Road by Anne Enright

I love Anne Enright’s novels so I bought this one when it was published and then I’ve been saving it for the right time. I really do want to read this so I’m not saving it anymore, I’m determined to read it this summer.


Hanna, Dan, Constance and Emmet return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home their mother is about to sell. As the feast turns to near painful comedy, a last, desperate act from Rosaleen – a woman who doesn’t quite know how to love her children – forces them to confront the weight of family ties and the road that brought them home.



The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

I so badly wanted to read this book when I first heard about it that I bought an American copy and had to wait three weeks for it to arrive. Then it got put on my bookcase and has stayed there ever since. As soon as I started making my books for the summer TBR I knew this book had to be on my list.


Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.When an unfamiliar man s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.
The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind.

Christodora by Tim Murphy

Christodora by Tim Murphy

This book only came out this year and I’m determined not to leave it on my TBR for ages as I’m so keen to read it. It’s one of those books that I want to make time to read in big chunks and the summer seems the perfect time for doing that.


In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly’s and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple’s adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.

As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

This is another book that I bought when it was first released and never got around to reading it. I still really want to read it so it had to be on my summer reading pile.


1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .


The Life of Hunger by Amelie Nothomb

This is a book that has been on my wish list for over a decade and I finally got around to buying a copy in the edition I wanted a couple of months ago so I’m definitely going to make time to read this very soon.


In a wistful, funny, clever, and eccentric fictional memoir, Amélie Nothomb casts herself as hunger – in all its many guises. Recounting the formative journeys of her youth, from Tokyo to Peking to Paris to New York, The Life of Hunger is a brilliant and moving examination of the self.


Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed now at how many books are on my summer list that I’ve owned since they were first out… but this is another one. I’m really keen to read this one as the premise intrigues me.


The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.

Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.

Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men…

Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.

But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I’m a fan of Ian McEwan’s writing, although he can be a bit hit or miss. The premise for this book sounds fascinating so it’s another one that I had to put on my summer reading pile.


Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.


The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jamson

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while too and have been keen to read it but it has felt like a book I should save for the summer so this absolutely had to make my summer reading plan.


The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

I only bought this book fairly recently but I’m so looking forward to reading this short story collection so have added it to my summer reading.


In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.

The Past by Tessa Hadley.png

The Past by Tessa Hadley

I’m a huge Tessa Hadley fan so have been very much looking forward to this novel. It’s one I’ve been saving for the warmer weather as it feels like summer is the right time for this book.


These three weeks may be their last time in their family home; the upkeep is prohibitive, and they may be forced to sell this beloved house filled with memories of their shared past (their mother took them there to live when she left their father). Yet beneath the idyllic pastoral surface, hidden passions, devastating secrets, and dangerous hostilities threaten to consume them.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in a dilapidated cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister.

Over the course of this summer holiday, the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life–bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican–winds down to its inevitable end.


Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

I’ve had this book for a while and have been keeping it to read as a treat but now feels like the time. I’m really excited to read this book.


From a prizewinning, beloved young author, a provocative collection that explores the lives of colorful, intrepid women in history. “These stories linger in one’s memory long after reading them” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
The fascinating characters in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “collection of stories as beautiful and strange as the women who inspired them” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) are defined by their creative impulses, fierce independence, and sometimes reckless decisions. In “The Siege at Whale Cay,” cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs seduces Marlene Dietrich. In “A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch,” aviator and writer Beryl Markham lives alone in Nairobi and engages in a battle of wills with a stallion. In “Hell-Diving Women,” the first integrated, all-girl swing band sparks a violent reaction in North Carolina.
Other heroines, born in proximity to the spotlight, struggle to distinguish themselves: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s wild niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s talented sister, Norma; James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Almost Famous Women offers an elegant and intimate look at artists who desired recognition. “By assiduously depicting their intimacy and power struggles, Bergman allows for a close examination of the multiplicity of women’s experiences” (The New York Times Book Review).
The world wasn’t always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman’s stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve.

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Oh dear, this is another book that I’ve owned since it was published but haven’t managed to read it as yet. It sounds like such a great read so I’m putting it on my summer list and really hope to get to it.


‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’

In the early seventies, a glamorous and androgynous couple known as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas, they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But their mesmerising flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories.

For Adele, who also has something to conceal, Evie becomes an obsession – an obsession which becomes lifelong after the night of Adele’s twentieth birthday party. What happened that evening and who was complicit are questions that have haunted Adele ever since. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for the past forty years.

From summers in 1970s Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after she has disappeared, Evie will go on challenging everyone’s ideas of how their lives should turn out.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time but I keep putting it off because it’s such an emotive subject matter. It caught my eye in amongst my books when I was deciding on this TBR so I’m adding it and hope I’ll be okay to read it this summer.


Ellen Gulden is a successful, young New York journalist. But when her mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, she leaves her life in the city to return home and care for her. In the short time they have left, the relationship between mother and daughter – tender, awkward and revealing – deepens, and Ellen is forced to confront painful truths about her adored father.

But in the weeks that follow Kate’s death, events take a shocking and unexpected turn. Family emotions are laid bare as a new drama is played out, and overnight Ellen goes from devoted daughter to prime suspect, accused of the mercy killing of her ‘one true thing’.

One True Thing is the devastating story of a mother and daughter, of love and loss, and of shattering choices.


In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

My husband surprised me with this lovely signed hardback of Judy Blume’s latest novel Christmas 2015 and I was so excited to read it as I’m a huge fan. It’s another book that I’ve been saving for the right time, which now seems silly so I’m going to enjoy it over the summer.


In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.

Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.

The plane crashes bring some people closer together and tear others apart; they create myths and unlock secrets. As Miri experiences the ordinary joys and pains of growing up in extraordinary circumstances, a young journalist makes his name reporting tragedy. And through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.


Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

I treated myself to this book a few months ago and it’s been calling to me recently so I’m adding it to my summer TBR. Anne Bronte is my favourite writer of the Bronte sisters so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this book. I hope it lives up to my expectations.


Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.

Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.

Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

Significance by Jo Mazelis

Significance by Jo Mazelis

I’ve had this book for quite a while too but recently I’ve seen a couple of reviews of it and it sounds like such a brilliant read that I simply had to add it to my TBR for the next couple of months.


Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance. Lucy s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.”


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I can’t believe that I’ve not read this book before now. I’ve had it on my wish list for such a long time and only treated myself to a copy recently. This is a book that feels right for a long summer evening when I can just sit and read.


In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity.

girls on fire robin wasserman

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

I originally had a review copy of this from NetGalley but it was right before life got on top of me last year and I didn’t managed to read it. I knew it would be a book I’d enjoy so I bought myself a copy and really want to read it soon.


Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I feel like this book is a bit of a cheat because I only bought it very recently but I really want to read it as soon as I can so wanted to add it to this list.


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


I’ve also picked three extra books just in case I don’t get on with any of the books above…


The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for quite a long while but it never seems to get to the top of my TBR during the summer months. I’m adding it as an extra in case one of my other books doesn’t end up grabbing me, but hopefully I will get a chance to read it this summer regardless.


Nine Lives. Four Generations. One Family. The MacEntees are no ordinary family.
Determined to be different from other people, they have carved out a place for themselves in Irish life by the sheer force of their personalities. But when a series of misfortunes befall them over the course of one long hot summer, even the MacEntees will struggle to make sense of who they are.
As media storms rage about them and secrets rise to the surface, Deirdre plans a family party for her 80th birthday-and with it one final, shocking surprise.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Initially this book was in my 20 books of summer but I’ve already read a book by this author this year so it seems only fair to read some of my other books first. I really want to read this book soon though so if I have a good summer of reading and get through all of my other choices I will read this one too.


From the number one bestselling author of Midwives comes this riveting medical thriller about a lawyer, a homeopath, and a tragic death.

When one of homeopath Carissa Lake’s patients falls into an allergy-induced coma, possibly due to her prescribed remedy, Leland Fowler’s office starts investigating the case. But Leland is also one of Carissa’s patients, and he is beginning to realize that he has fallen in love with her. As love and legal obligations collide, Leland comes face-to-face with an ethical dilemma of enormous proportions.

Graceful, intelligent, and suspenseful, The Law of Similars is a powerful examination of the links between hope and hubris, love and deception.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

This was also in my initial 20 books but I decided it might be a bit similar to another book on my list so I’m adding it here as an extra option. I love the sound of the book though so it’s another one that I will try to get to as well as all of my other selections.


It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue; and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.



Anyone is welcome to join in with this challenge – just pick your 20 books (or 10, or 5) for over the summer and write a post about them. Then sign up to the page on 746 Books on 1st June! The challenge will run from 1st June to 3rd September 2017. You can share your lists and your progress on twitter using #20BooksofSummer


Will you be joining in with #20BooksofSummer this year? What are you planning to read over the coming months?

Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel #RememberMe! #guestpost @LyndaRenham


Today on my blog I’m thrilled to welcome author Lynda Renham, who has written a lovely guest post for me about her brand new thriller Remember Me.


About the Book


A new neighbour moves next door. They seem nice enough. You go to their house for dinner. It’s a nice house.  And then things start to change. The vase in your house is suddenly on their landing. The colour of your kitchen becomes the colour of their kitchen. How much of your life will SHE take? ‘Remember Me’ is an unsettling and on the edge of your seat thriller.

 Clare is glad when the new neighbours move in. It’s nice to have a new friend.  But as time moves on Clare begins to fear for her child and her own sanity. 



Lynda’s Post

As a writer the thought of changing the genre that I normally write was a bit nerve-wracking but I decided to go for it because I had such great ideas in my head and after all, a writer is a writer. We surely can’t be expected to write the same things over and over.

I love writing comedy and very much enjoyed writing ‘Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog’

However, a writer’s life is a lonely one. Every book is your new baby and how it is received by the readers becomes a really personal thing.

I had a fair amount of writers block while producing the new one. There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a lap top with a blank document on the screen and absolutely nothing in your head. I always turn to the fridge unfortunately. Or even worse, the chocolate basket that sits tempting me.

My new novel titled ‘Remember Me’ saw me consume a lot of chocolate.

It’s not scary. It’s a thriller rather than a horror story but there are a few twists and turns and the twist is quite unexpected. I hope very much you enjoy it.

I love to hear from my readers so do get in touch. I’m on Twitter @lyndarenham and I have a Facebook author page Do join me and tell me what you think of the books.

The next book will be a romantic comedy again. It’s quite nice to chop and change a bit. I’m very much hoping my readers will enjoy this new book. You can buy it at the promotional price of 99p or if you’re part of Amazon’s prime subscription then you can borrow it for FREE.  Click here to go to Remember Me on Amazon.


About the Author



I’m the author of the bestselling Romantic Comedy novels ‘Croissants and Jam’ ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ and ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’  The Dog’s Bollocks Rory’s Proposal’ and ‘It Had to be You‘ I’m also the author of ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ I live in the beautiful Cotswolds with my husband Andrew and one cat, named Bendy.






See my new #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (11 March)


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

This week I received five ARCS:

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Sweet Pea by S.J. Skuse

This was surprise book post this week and I was thrilled when I opened it. Firstly, it has a stunning cover, and secondly, the synopsis sounds brilliant. I hope to get a chance to read this in the next couple of weeks.


The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…


The Good Guy by Susan Beale

This was the gorgeous book post that arrived on Thursday and I was so happy to receive it. I really want to read this one soon as it sounds so good.


A deeply compelling novel set in 1960s suburban America for fans of The Engagements and Tigers in Red Weather.

Ted, a car-tyre salesman in 1960s suburban New England, is a dreamer who craves admiration. His wife, Abigail, longs for a life of the mind. Single-girl Penny just wants to be loved. When a chance encounter brings Ted and Penny together, he becomes enamoured and begins inventing a whole new life with her at its centre. But when this fantasy collides with reality, the fallout threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear.

The Good Guy is a deeply compelling debut about love, marriage and what happens when good intentions and self-deception are taken to extremes.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while so when I saw a NetGalley email yesterday that it was available as a Read Now book I immediately went and downloaded it. I really want to read this soon. Also, isn’t is another gorgeous cover?!


I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong…

As Ma and Alex make their way from Virginia to California, each new state prompts stories and secrets of a life before Alex. Together they put to rest unsettled scores, heal old wounds, and search out lost friends. But Alex can’t forget the life they’ve left behind.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I can’t remember how I heard about this book but I’ve had a request pending on NetGalley for a couple of weeks now so was really happy to get an approval email this week. The book’s not out for a couple of months so I’m going to try and leave this one for a little while as I have other review books to read that are out sooner, but it’s going to be tough resisting it.


Two people. One choice. What if?

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet at Columbia University on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. And as the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

And as Lucy is faced with a decision she thought she’d never have to make, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny, or chance. What if they should have been living a different life all along?


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

This is another NetGalley book and I’ve already started reading this one. I have to be honest that the book isn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be when I requested it, but I am enjoying it and it’s holding my attention so far.


Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


These are the two print & eBooks I bought:


Because I was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell

I’ve seen this book reviewed on some of my favourite blogs recently so I was unable to resist buying a copy on release day! I really like the sound of the plot and don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long.


“Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity – and the safety of her children.

She’s lonely.

Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.

He’s lonely.

So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people. Two unhappy marriages. One dangerous, but inevitable climax.”

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

A lovely blogger, BelleUnruh, mentioned this book in a comment on my post last week and when I looked it up I decided to buy a copy right away. It sounds like an emotional, but very life-affirming book and I’m sure it won’t be on my TBR for very long.


Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with her husband, her two precious daughters, her enchanting surroundings, but the question she has carried in her heart since childhood—Will I die young?—is threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an answer, a diagnosis, is finally found: she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. But is it too late?



So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.




February 2017 Wrap-Up!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

February has been an up and down month. There have been stressful things to deal with, and medical appointments and tests to get through. There was also a broken Kindle Voyage (eek!). Things eventually began to be sorted out and towards the end of the month I got a replacement Kindle through the warranty, and we got some unexpected good news in the post. My husband had two weeks off from work and whilst I wasn’t well enough for us to do much, it was lovely to have the time together.

It’s been a fab reading month, I still can’t quite believe how many great books I read in February! Unfortunately, whilst I’ve been reading a lot I’m struggling to write reviews at the moment. This, in part, is because I lost my notes when my Kindle malfunctioned so I will have to write reviews from memory (and my memory is awful), but also because I’m in the middle of altering my medication and it’s a struggle for me to get my words down coherently. I may have to just write some very short, basic reviews in order to catch up as the amount I now have waiting to be written is starting to stress me out.


Here are the 26 books I read this month:

Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin

Just Kids by Patti Smith

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Child Who by Simon Lelic

Final Girls by Riley Sager

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Black Wood by SJI Holliday

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald


Here are the blog posts I wrote:

I wrote my regular blog posts – WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves every Saturday and a weekly wrap-up on a Sunday. Other than that I shared my January wrap-up post at the beginning of February. I also wrote about my fabulous birthday book haul too. I didn’t manage to write and post any reviews, which I’m really down about but as I said earlier life is getting in the way at the moment. Hopefully I can catch up soon.




The state of my TBR:

In January, I wrote a post about the state of my TBR and made a plan to try and read more of the books I already owned. This has already proved to be rather more difficult than I anticipated… I have read a lot more of my own books, rather than just focusing on new ones, but I’ve also been buying a lot of books. I did join the Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads in February though and have pledged to read at least 100 books that were on my TBR before the end of 2016 and have so far read 26 books that counted for that. This means that half of the books I’ve read this year so far have been my already owned books, and half were new or review books so am pleased with that ratio at the moment.

I’m also in the middle of a sort out of both my kindle books and my print books and am trying to make sure that all the books that are on my TBR are books that I really want to read. Anything that doesn’t appeal anymore is going to be deleted from my Kindle or taken to the charity shop. I’m also becoming much more okay with DNFing books – I’m fast realising that life is too short to push on with books that I’m really not enjoying. The combination of DNFing books and having an ongoing book cull has meant my TBR is currently going in the right direction! I now have 1861 unread books (as of 28 Feb), down from 1885 at the start of the year and hopefully I can keep reading my way through the TBR mountain.



How was your February? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from February was, and if you have a February wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.


My Birthday Book Haul!


It was my birthday at the weekend and I was very lucky to receive lots of lovely new books so wanted to do a haul post.

My husband gave me 21 books! Some of them he chose from my wish list but others were brilliant surprises. I’m very excited to read all of my new books but I have to be honest and admit to an immediate favourite because it’s such a beautiful book.


It’s Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn. I’d not heard of this book before but it’s a perfect gift for a book lover. Samantha has picked some iconic women from literature and a favourite quote by them, and has then painted their portrait. I’ve added a photo of one of the spreads so you can see how gorgeous this book is. This is definitely a book that I’ll treasure.


This was such a great surprise pick for me. I read Sebastian Barry’s Secret Scripture last year and really enjoyed it so I was really wanting to read this one. My husband must have had great foresight to pick this up for me as it won the Costa Book award this week!


These are two books that caught my eye online recently as I really wanted to read them both so added them to my wish list. They’re both huge hardbacks so will have to wait until I feel a bit stronger but I’m really looking forward to reading them.


These were two surprise books and both are perfect picks for me. I love Chris Bohjalian’s novels so am thrilled to have this one in hardback. It’s a beautiful book, the photo I’ve taken doesn’t do the cover justice. I’ve already started reading this one and am very much enjoying it. Whitegirl sounds fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading it.


These three children’s books are lovely. The Literature Book has lots of snippets about books and some great quotes in it, it’s perfect for me to flick through when I’m not feeling well enough to read a book. The Teddy Robinson Storybook is one my mum used to read to me when I was little but my copy got lost many years ago. This is part of the same series as my copy of The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse that I got for my birthday last year so I’m really happy to have matching editions. The Dylan Thomas book is a gorgeous clothbound hardback, with lovely illustrations. This will definitely be on my December TBR for this year!



I really like the Penguin Little Black Classics so these were great choices for me. He picked up books by three classic authors that I love and all three of these books are ones I’ve never read before.



I’ve never read any Angela Thirkell but she’s an author that I’ve heard great things avid recently so I asked for a selection of her novels. I’m really looking forward to starting these lovely Virago editions.



The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker is another set of books that I’ve wanted to read for ages and have never got around to so I put these on my wishlist too. I hope to read these soon.


Edna O’Brien has been an author I’ve wanted to read for the last couple of years but quite a few of her books seem to be out of print. I was so happy to receive these three books from my wish list and I really can’t wait to start reading!




My husband also got me David Bowie’s Let’s Dance on CD. This is one of first albums I loved as a child, and whilst I fully acknowledge that it’s not his best work it is the album that made me love his music, and as I got older I gradually bought and fell in love with every single album he made. I can’t play records anymore as I don’t have the dexterity in my hands to use the turntable so I’m really happy to have this on CD again!


I also received this gorgeous bouquet of flowers that had a lovely box of chocolates with them!

My lovely mum-in-law came round to see in my on my birthday and she gave me, amongst other things, some Amazon vouchers and I’m so tempted to spend them on some new books but am trying to resist for now!

I wasn’t well enough to go out and celebrate my birthday but still had a really lovely day at home. Books are such an amazing gift, especially for someone who’s housebound most of the time, as they are a gift that lasts for such a long time.


I’ll still be joining in with Stacking the Shelves tomorrow as I have bought a couple of audio and ebooks this week so look out for that post then.


January Wrap-Up!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

January is always a tough month for me due to very sad memories but this year I focused on escaping into books as much as I could and as a result I’ve had a great reading month. Here are the 23 books I read in January….

Spiders from Mars by Woody Woodmansey (my review is here)

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polinski by Samantha Geimer

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson (my review is here)

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (my review is here)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

How Much the Heart Can Hold by Carys Bray et al

Lies by TM Logan (my review is here)

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (my review is here)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Loving the Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell (my review is here)

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Howards End is on the Landing: My Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill

Rattle by Fiona Cummins (my review is here)

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Girl Before by JP Delaney (my review is here)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Life of Rylan by Rylan Clark-Neal

Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre


I managed to review eight of the above books, along with two the two titles below which I’d read at the end of 2016 but didn’t get a chance to review them at the time. Click the titles to read the reviews if you’d like to:

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

I’m planning reviews for at least a few more of the above books so hopefully they’ll be up on my blog soon.


I also wrote blog posts about my Top Ten Fiction and Top Ten Non-Fiction reads of 2016. I shared my Reading Bingo 2016 results, which was a lot of fun. I hadn’t planned my reading to fit the bingo challenge so I was thrilled to find that I got a full house! I also wrote a post about my Christmas Book Haul.


I then confessed to the State of my TBR and my plans to reduce it this year. I started the year with 1885 books (that I already own) on my TBR and as of the end of January my TBR stands at 1901 (not including the 6 books I’m currently reading). In fairness, I have read quite a few books off my TBR in January but I also had my birthday and my lovely husband bought me 21 books! I feel like I’m doing well with my TBR considering how many books I added to it with gifts and review books. I really hope to get my TBR back to around 1885 this month and then I’ll be (sort of) back on track to try and reduce it.

One of my other aims this year was to read some of the longer books that have been languishing on my shelves for a long time and I’m sticking to that so far. In January I read two books that were over 500 pages each – The Poisonwood Bible and The Book of Strange New Things so I’m pleased with that. I’m also currently reading The Luminaries, which is almost 900 pages long. It’s important to me to read books that I’ve owned for a long time and still not read so I need to focus on that a bit more this month.

I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for quite a few years now and I’ll continue to do so but I recently found a spreadsheet online where I can track my reading in more detail. I’m finding it fascinating to see where my habits lie when it comes to the books I read. This is the lovely YouTuber who kindly shared her spreadsheet Portal in the Pages


How was your January? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from January was, and if you have a January wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.


2017 Reading Plans and The State of My TBR


I’ve been pondering on whether to write a blog post on the subject of the size of my TBR, and my attempts to reduce it, but I’ve always been too ashamed to admit to how many books I own that I haven’t read yet. The new year seems a good time to put it out there once and for all so that I can then add a small update about the state of my TBR to my weekly or monthly wrap-ups, which I hope will keep spurring me on to focus on reading the books I already own.


My Goodreads TBR as of late summer 2016



So, before I go into that fully I should make clear that last summer when I was in the midst of my horrible reading slump, I took some time to go through all of my print and ebooks to really think about whether I still even wanted to read them. This led to me donating a lot of books to charity, and to me permanently deleting some ebooks. I wanted to be really ruthless and just be honest with myself about my books. The above photo was taken before I started deleting the books I’d got rid of from my Goodreads account. I then got rid of around 3000 (yes, that does say three thousand) books from my TBR.

That left me with my current TBR which at this moment in time consists entirely of books that I still really want to read, including the review books I’ve received. So my TBR as of 1st January stood at 1879 books (print, ebooks and audiobooks combined). I’ve since been sent one book for review, and I bought five Kindle books in the recent sale (which you can read about in my Stacking the Shelves post).


My Goodreads TBR as of 8 Jan 2017


I did read 211 books last year so if I keep reading at that rate it will take me around nine years to read my TBR as it stands right now. So I’m aware that I will need to curb my book buying as much as I can, and that I’ll also need to regularly look through my books to get rid of anything that I no longer want to read.


I realised quite a few things about how my reading tastes have changed whilst struggling through my reading slump last year. I re-discovered my love of non-fiction and so this year I want to really make an effort to read some of the non-fiction books that have been languishing on my shelves for years now.

Through doing my Reading Bingo post last week I was able to really reflect and take note of how my reading went in 2016 and was shocked to realise that I didn’t read a single classic book and I only read one book that was first published more than twenty years ago. I do have quite a lot of classics on my TBR so I want to read at least some of them this year.

So, everything has come together to make me realise that I need to spend more time reading the books I already own, and that I need to be more aware of my reading. I want to make time to read some books that really challenge me, that make me think, that maybe require a bit more research to get the most out of them. One challenge I’ve decided to do this year is the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which is a list of 24 challenges to try to get people reading more widely and reading more difficult books (if you want to join in with that you can read about it on Book Riot’s website). My TBR does consist of a real mix of genres so just by reading the books I already own will push me out of the comfort zone that I got into last year.

I will, of course, still be reading some new releases and will still be accepting some review books as I very much enjoy reading new books. I just want to read a wider variety of books this year and to push myself a little in what I’m reading.


So in summary:

My current TBR is (as of 8 Jan 2017): 1885

This is made up of :-

Print books: 181

eBooks: 1590

audiobooks: 108

(The numbers won’t quite add up as some books I own copies in more than one format. e.g. I sometimes buy the audible book when I get the ebook and then I list it in both categories etc but they only show in the ‘to read’ section once so the overall number is definitely correct.)


Have you made any reading resolutions or goals for this year? Have you dared work out the size of your TBR? Please share your goals and challenges for 2017 in the comments. Also, if you have any advice for keeping me on track to read my own books, please share them with me.

My Christmas Book Haul!


It seems a little late to be doing a Christmas book haul but I really wanted to share the books that I got for Christmas and haven’t been able to get this post together until now. As a lifelong bookworm I sometimes get one or two books for Christmas but up until I met my husband these book were always books I had asked for as most people say that they can’t buy me books because either they think I already have everything, or they think books are boring! My husband has always given me some books for Christmas as stocking fillers and I’ve always been so happy and grateful for them. This year though I got a book mountain. I think there are twenty-six books in total…

Firstly, I got this gorgeous set of eight Vintage Christmas books

They were in a lovely set together and I’ve already read two of them. The titles are:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg

If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome

I love that some of them are more winter reads than Christmas reads as it means I can continue reading them now Christmas is over. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the more festive ones as next Christmas gets here.


I also got this beautiful Puffin hardback edition of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book was one of my all-time favourite reads a a child and whilst I still have my original copy, it’s so old and battered that I wouldn’t dare re-read that edition. I’ve kept looking at this hardback copy online but couldn’t justify buying it for myself, I’m over the moon to finally own it and will definitely be re-reading it this year!

Continuing the theme of childhood reads, he also gave me this beautiful slipcase edition of Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass. It’s such a beautiful set and I’m looking forward to re-reading these books.

I have a pet guinea pig (called Robson), who is so adorable, so these next two books were perfect for me. I’m now wondering whether I could bribe Robson into dressing up as Oliver  Twist! Haha!

Back to serious reading now… Here are the novels that I was given:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm

The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

The Non-Fiction books I got:

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

The Girl by Samantha Geimer

There was one short story collection:


This book is called Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai and it sounds like such a brilliant book. I can’t wait to dip into these stories. Also, what a gorgeous cover!


It’s become something of a tradition to get me one of the illustrated Carol Ann Duffy poem books for Christmas and this year he chose Another Night Before Christmas because it is illustrated by Rob Ryan, whose illustrations I love.


The final gifts weren’t books but they were partly related to books…

Two Penguin mugs – A Common Reader by Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I’m still not sure how my husband knew I adored Virginia Woolf but I’m over the moon with these mugs!

An Aladdin Sane necklace that I first saw earlier this year and have wanted ever since. I’m so happy to finally own it (and it fits with me also getting another Bowie biography). I also got a gorgeous sunflower necklace from the same company as it’s my favourite flower.


I was very spoilt and don’t think receiving so many books for Christmas will ever be topped! It was wonderful… and my husband, who hates wrapping presents, wrapped everything individually too so it was like being a kid again having so much to open on Christmas morning!


Did you have a nice Christmas? Were you given any new books, or have you bought some yourself for Christmas?

My Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads 2016



Yesterday I posted my Top Ten fiction reads of 2016 (which you can read here if you missed it) and today I’m sharing my Top Ten Non-Fiction reads. I’ve always enjoyed reading non-fiction but I tend to lean more towards fiction so this year I’ve made a real effort to read more non-fiction. Out of the 211 books I read in 2016, 67 were non-fiction. I’ve read quite a wide variety of books and these are the ten that have stayed with me.

A Mother's Reckoning- Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy by Sue Klebold

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

This book is an honest memoir by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. She writes this book in a very open way, it felt like she held nothing back. It really showed the pain she feels at what her son did, but also the pain she feels at not realising what was going on his life leading up to the shooting. She is also a mother grieving the loss of her son, she raised him and has happy memories from when he was younger and you can feel the conflict and confusion and sheer pain radiate from the page. It’s one of the most honest memoirs I’ve ever read, it really felt like a no-holds-barred read and deserves all of the praise it has received.


Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

This is a very involving, very moving and shocking account of the deaths of young people in America in the course of one day. All the young people were killed in shootings – some were innocent bystanders, some were caught up in gangs. The bigger picture is examined to a degree as to how and why this is happening. I found this to be a difficult read but it’s an important one and I would highly recommend it.


In Plain Sight by Dan Davies

This is an examination of the life and the despicable crimes committed by Jimmy Savile. It’s a long and detailed read that looks at what Jimmy Savile did and how he got away with it. It’s not an easy read in terms of subject matter but it’s well-written and really gives an insight into how and why people collude in such terrible crimes.


Unbecoming by Una

This is a graphic non-fiction book, one of the first I’ve ever read and I found it incredibly moving. It’s one woman’s story of her rape as a young teenager, whilst she was living in Yorkshire at the time the Yorkshire Ripper was still on the loose. The way she tells her story really got to me and there were times I had to take a break from reading before I could carry on. It’s such an important story and one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject of rape and abuse.



Death at Seaworld by David Kirby

I feel very passionately that killer whales should not be kept in captivity anyway but this book opened my eyes to the level of mistreatment that these beautiful creatures are put through purely for the public’s entertainment. I’ve been to Seaworld, when I was a teenager, and it shocked me to see how tiny the pools were that the whales are kept in. Later on the same holiday I was lucky enough to go on a whale watching boat trip to see killer whales in the wild and it was shocking to see the difference between the captive whales and the wild ones. David Kirby’s book looks at these differences and explores what could be done with the captive whales in order to give them a better life given that they probably can’t be put back into the wild.


On Bowie by Rob Sheffield

This book was a joy to read. It’s not an in-depth biography and it doesn’t pretend to be – it’s basically a love letter to David Bowie from a fan, and reading it as a fan myself it was wonderful. It’s quite a short book, and it didn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know about David Bowie, or his music, but reading it in the aftermath of his death just felt like solace. It’s a moving and heartfelt book that I would highly recommend this book to all Bowie fans.


1971 - Never A Dull Moment- Rock's Golden Year by David Hepworth

1971: Never A Dull Moment by David Hepworth

My husband isn’t much of a reader – he collects records like I collect books – so when his mum bought him a copy of this for his birthday last year it was one that we both wanted to read. We ended up getting another copy of it on audible and we listened to it together. It was a lovely way to share the experience of reading a book. The book is set out with one chapter for each month of 1971 and whilst he does widen the narrative beyond each month, he always brings it back to the point nicely. At the end of each chapter is Hepworth’s song picks from that month so my husband made a playlist of all of the songs and it was fun to listen to after we’d finished the book.



Spectacles by Sue Perkins

This was one of my Christmas presents in 2015 and I’d been so looking forward to reading it at the time but got sidetracked with review books. When I finally did pick it up after my reading slump in the summer I found that I couldn’t put it down. It’s a wonderful book and  I think it’s one I may re-read in the future.



Breaking the Silence by Jo Milne

This was a review book that I read a few weeks ago but have somehow forgotten to ever post my review so I will share a full review this month at some point. This is the story of Jo Milne was was deaf her whole life and then began to go blind. It was at this point that she was offered surgery to attempt to give her hearing. The story of Jo’s life up to the point she had the surgery was fascinating, it’s a real insight into what it must be like to be deaf. The story post-surgery had me in tears on more than one occasion. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it.


Rise by Sian Williams

I was drawn to this book because I’d seen interviews with Sian on TV and was really interested to read her account of trauma. I’ve suffered with cPTSD in the past and whilst I consider myself to be recovered now, I do still have to be mindful of my triggers and probably will always be hyper-alert to certain things. It doesn’t affect my life anymore though. This book was so much more than I thought it would be. It’s a really honest account of what happened to her, but it’s also a very accessible look at various treatments and the different ways trauma affects people. It looks at why some people go on to be diagnosed with PTSD and others don’t. I highlighted so many parts of this book and am sure I’ll re-read it in the future. it’s a really interesting read and I’d definitely recommend it.


So, that’s my Top Ten non-fiction reads of 2016! Did you read much non-fiction last year? What were your stand-out books? I’d love some more non-fiction recommendations as I definitely want to carry on reading more in 2017.

If you missed my Top Ten Fiction reads of 2016, you can read it here.



Miranda Dickinson’s Top 5 Songs and Searching for a Silver Lining! #BlogTour

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Miranda Dickinson to my blog! Miranda has shared five of her favourite songs from the 1950s and explained what they mean to her and how they fit in to her gorgeous new novel Searching for a Silver Lining!

My Favourite Fifties’ Songs by Miranda Dickinson

Music plays a huge part in my book, Searching for a Silver Lining. I first came up with the idea in a café that plays fabulous 1950s music – which in turn gave me the idea to have a running playlist through the chapter headings of the books.

There’s something wonderfully evocative and positive about Fifties’ music. It captures a time when young people were finally finding a voice and an identity and had high hopes for their own future. This is the world that the five young singers of The Silver Five inhabited – and their hopes and dreams form a central part of the story.

Trying to pick my favourites was hard work, but here are my top five 1950s songs:

1.Ain’t That a Shame by Fats Domino (1955)


The moment you hear the opening bars of this song you can imagine yourself in the 1950s. It’s a classic that never fails to make me smile. In my book it’s the title of the opening chapter, where we first meet Mattie Bell as she comes to terms with losing her beloved Grandpa Joe – and battles regret about the argument that stole her last precious months with him.

2.That’s All Right by Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill (1954)


I’ve developed a bit of a thing for Elvis lately (you may have seen my Lego Elvis posts on Twitter and Instagram!) and this is the man himself at the very beginning of his career. I love the confidence and exuberance of his performance.

3.Memories are Made of This by Dean Martin (1955)


You have to love Dean Martin! It’s a cute, catchy tune with Martin’s trademark smooth crooning – pure Fifties’ magic. In Searching for a Silver Lining it’s the title of the chapter where we see Mattie’s shop with all its retro treasures and the invitation to share them at a local retirement home’s memory day that will change Mattie’s life forever…

4.The Story of My Life by Michael Holliday (1958)


Only in a 1950s tune can whistling work! It’s two minutes, twelve seconds of pure joy and I love it. In my book this is the title song for the chapter where former Fifties’ singing star Reenie Silver begins to share her memories with Mattie.

5.You Send Me by Sam Cooke (1957)


I just adore this song. It’s romantic, sweet and Sam Cooke’s wonderful voice gives me shivers. It’s very special now because it’s the title of the very last chapter in Searching for a Silver Lining. I’m not giving anything away, but this chapter is my favourite in the entire book.

I’ve also written and recorded the song that appears in the book as The Silver Five’s biggest hit. Keep watching my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel to find out how you can download it…

Thanks so much for reading this blog exclusive! For more, follow my Searching for a Silver Lining blog tour. I really hope you enjoy reading the story!


Huge thank you to Miranda for writing this fabulous post for my blog. I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading it as much as I did.


About the book:


It began with a promise . . . 

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

About the author:


Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library and today she is a bestselling author. She began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC, and has subsequently written the bestselling novelsFairytale of New YorkWelcome to My WorldIt Started With a KissWhen I Fall in LoveTake A Look At Me Now,I’ll Take New York and A Parcel for Anna Browne. Miranda lives with her husband Bob and daughter Flo in Dudley.

To find out more about Miranda visit and find her on Twitter @wurdsmyth.






I’m Back!


Hello all!

Well, my plan to have a week or two away from blogging has turned into a few months away from blogging so I feel like I owe you all an update.

My reason for not blogging in recent weeks is all down to my health situation. I’ve been struggling to manage my condition and to balance all of the things I need to do on a daily basis, and consequently something had to give. My reading mojo had completely disappeared, I was very behind on reviews and was just feeling under so much additional pressure from that and so as a result book blogging stopped being enjoyable for a while. Medically it’s been a tough summer with lots of appointments and trying new treatments to attempt to get some of my symptoms better controlled.  The reality is that I am having to learn to live with severe pain – it’s amazing at the ability we develop to tolerate the thing we thought might break us but it’s still not always easy. Day to day life is tough in the sense of not being independent and needing help with just about everything, but as I’m learning to prioritise my time and energy better I’m much happier and am feeling more able to make the most of what I can do.

Since I’ve been having a break I’ve finally managed to get back into reading (yay!) and am very much enjoying books again. One thing that I’ve realised through the reading that I’ve done over the summer is that I had lost my way with reading this year. I’ve read such a wide variety of books over the last couple of months, and am very much enjoying non-fiction in particular at the moment but I’ve realised that I hadn’t had a chance to read much in that genre for ages because I was focusing on review books. It’s really made me see where I let blogging become a pressure for me: I was taking on too many review books at a time and then there was no time to read books that I’d bought (or even to keep up with the review books I’d accepted), and I got sucked into the notion that if I say no to a book I’m offered then maybe that publisher won’t ask me to review for them in the future. This is entirely my own fault but I’ve had a wake up call now and know to not take on more than I can cope with.

The reality is that I have to enjoy what I’m doing otherwise it’s just another chore in my life rather than my hobby and the thing I do to escape into other worlds. So, as I begin to find my way back into blogging and reviewing I’m setting myself some very strict rules. I’m only going to accept a handful of review books at a time, regardless of how many books I’ve spotted on NetGalley that are must reads! I’m only going to accept review copies I’m offered if they’re books that I really feel like reading at the time. I need to be excited about books again and I need to keep that feeling there, I can’t let myself get bogged down. My life is tough enough without my turning my only hobby into a weight on my shoulders.

So, I’m back to book blogging again and I’m excited about that! I’m not going to be posting daily anymore – initially I’ll just be blogging as and when I can depending on my health but I’m hoping to find a regular blogging routine that suits me and allows blog readers to know when to expect new posts from me.

One more thing before I end this post… I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has continued to follow my blog whilst I’ve not been posting and also to say another huge thank you to all my new followers. I really do appreciate the fact that so many of you have stuck by me in my absence.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is my second day of the 3 Quotes Challenge, I was nominated for this challenge by A House of Books blog. As with yesterday’s post, I’m also using this as a chance to continue my Bookish Memories series that I started when I first began blogging.

Today my quote comes from another favourite book of mine – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.


Fahrenheit 451 © 2016 Paul Carlyle

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

Many years ago I was a member of Bookcrossing and as part of a UK email group people used to lend each other books. One day I saw a book being talked about called Fahrenheit 451 and initially it didn’t interest me as it’s classed as sci-fi and it’s not one of my most favourite genres. A fellow bookcrosser persuaded me to give it a go when she explained it’s about a dystopian society where books are banned! I’m so glad I gave it a go as after one reading I knew it was going to become a real favourite of mine.

The Government of the day has banned books, and fire fighters exist to burn any books that are found – hence the title as paper burns at 451 degrees fahrenheit. Montag is a firefighter who one day cannot resist the lure of books and he ends up in serious trouble. He goes on the run and ends up in a place where books are being saved, perhaps not in their current form but still saved nonetheless.

Even though this book was originally published in 1953, it relates so well to the modern world. The thought that big brother is always watching and monitoring us through TVs or computers, the fear that ebooks will kill print books when really it’s the words in the books that matter not the medium in which they’re read. I would encourage all book lovers to grab a copy of this book and read it as soon as possible!

The quote I picked stands out to me in this book because it’s so beautiful and true. It’s a quote I often think about because it’s both a comfort when you’ve lost loved ones but also a reminder that if you do anything with a passion then you are making a difference. There are many other wonderful quotes that I could have picked from the book but this one is my favourite.

I bought a battered second-hand copy of Fahrenheit 451 soon after I sent the borrowed copy back to its owner. I’ve read it so many times that it was falling to pieces and being held together with tape! For my birthday a few years ago my husband bought me this beautiful clothbound hardback copy which I love! I think I would go as far as to say it’s my favourite edition of all of my books.

I have to give credit to my husband for taking the fab photo of my copy of the books used in this post, I love the way ha got the effect of flame around the book – it’s so fitting to that the novel is about. Please note that no flames were actually used and the book is safe! 🙂

Please feel free to join in with the 3 Quotes Challenge. The challenge is just to post one quote every day for three days – the rest of this post is just what I chose to add.

3 Quotes Challenge & a Bookish Memory | After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

To take part in the 3 Quotes Challenge all you have to do is thank the person who nominated you and link back to their post. Post a quote on your blog every day for three days. Nominate three other bloggers each day.

I was nominated to join in with this a really long time ago by the lovely ahouseofbooks and I just never got around to doing it. I keep seeing the tag around and really want to join in so thought I’d do it now.

I want to link my 3 Quotes Challenge to a series I started called Bookish Memories that I started when I first began my blog but have neglected for ages.

My first quote is from After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell


“What are you supposed to do with all the love you have for somebody if that person is no longer there? What happens to all that leftover love? Do you suppress it? Do you ignore it? Are you supposed to give it to someone else?” 

I lost my best friend in 2000 and I was heartbroken. I had gone through bereavement before but it was nothing like how this felt. We were only a few months apart in age and the idea of someone my own age and so full of life dying at the age of 20 was beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t read and I was in a really bad place.

One day I was flicking through a magazine my mum had given me and I saw a tiny review for a book called After You’d Gone. I’d never heard of the novel or the author but in the review was the above quote and it just made me want this book like I’d never wanted to get hold of a book before! I just felt that this book would help me, the quote just got to me so much because those were the questions I needed answers to.

I immediately rang my local book shop to ask if they had it in stock but they told me it wasn’t released for another few days. So, I pre-ordered a copy and on release day I waited outside the shop for it to open. The very second I got the book I started reading – I literally walked to the bus stop while reading, I carried on reading on the bus journey home (even though reading on moving vehicles makes me feel very sick). I finished the book in three hours and in that time I cried and cried but by the end I felt soothed. Even though the loss in After You’d Gone is a different loss to the one I was going through, the emotions and reactions were so similar and I connected with this book so strongly.

I started reading After You’d Gone again that night but this time around I read it slowly, I savoured it and I had a pack of post-it notes next to me so I could mark all my favourite paragraphs (there were a lot!). It’s honestly not overstating to say that After You’d Gone saved me.

I’ve treasured my copy of this book for all these years since and it’s one of very few books that I re-read every couple of years. It’s my go-to book when I need to be consoled and comforted.

I’ve pre-ordered every single Maggie O’Farrell book since then, I never need to read the synopsis because I trust her – I know that her writing will never let me down and it never, ever has. Just last week I read her latest book, and it’s a masterpiece (my review is here if you’d like to read it. I love all of her books – particularly The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and her new one, This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell started off her career as a novellist with an incredible book and then somehow has got better with every book that follows but I will always say that After You’d Gone is my favourite book by her because of my strong emotional attachment to it.

About the Book

The groundbreaking debut novel from Maggie O’Farrell, After You’d Goneis a stunning, best-selling story of wrenching love and grief.

A distraught young woman boards a train at King’s Cross to return to her family in Scotland. Six hours later, she catches sight of something so terrible in a mirror at Waverley Station that she gets on the next train back to London.

After You’d Gone follows Alice’s mental journey through her own past, after a traffic accident has left her in a coma. A love story that is also a story of absence, and of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, it slowly draws us closer to a dark secret at a family’s heart.


Do you have a strong emotional attachment to a book? Please tell me your story in the comments, I’d love to hear.


I nominate any who’d like to take part in this challenge. Please note that the challenge it just to share a favourite quote every day for three days, everything else in this post was just what I chose to add.



New Look for Rather Too Fond of Books!

Rather Too Fondof Books-6

Over the last few days I’ve been making some changes to my blog. I finally took the plunge yesterday and bought my own domain so my blog is now (all my old links with wordpress in will still work). I just feel so sure now that I will continue blogging for the foreseeable future and wanted to do something to mark that.

I’ve also been working on a new look for my blog. I’ve been thinking about giving it a makeover for a while as I’ve never liked the theme I had but it all takes time. Anyway, my lovely husband has kindly taken some fab photos of my books for me to use as headers and in my blog posts and I’m very happy with those. I just don’t have an eye for photography at all so I’m over the moon with my lovely new book images.

Just for comparison, this is what my blog looked like before…

Old Blog!! copy

I used this photo of my books as my old header because it’s the only photo I already had of my bookcases but I’ve never really liked the picture. I’m so pleased to now have a header that looks smarter and is more reflective of me and the books I love.

I’m going to be creating some new post headings too, so everything will have had an overhaul and been brought much more up-to-date.

Anyway, you can see my new look right here… what do you think? I hope you all like it and that it won’t take you long to recognise the new me!

The winners of my Rose’s Vintage giveaway are…

Rose's Vintage (online)-2

Thank you to all of you who entered my giveaway for one of three e-copies of Rose’s Vintage by Kayte Nunn. I have just picked the three winner on Rafflecopter and the lucky winners are:

Karl Borowy

Rhonda Lomazow

Suzanne Smith

Thank you again to Black Inc Books for offering the prizes and congratulations to all three winners!

My March Wrap-Up Post (2016)

Monthly Wrap-Up

Well, March has been a better month reading-wise and also personally. Personal news first, in case you’ve missed it, is that I finally got a stairlift fitted in my home, which means I can now safely go up and down the stairs on my own. I fought against this for so long and the minute it was in I felt like a weight had been lifted off me. It’s brilliant to be able to go downstairs whenever I want to without needing help on the stairs. 

I’ve been reading a lot more again during March, which is such a relief. My reading slump had been going on since the end of December and was starting to feel like it might never end. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get my pain levels under any sort of control a lot of the time so I still can’t read as fast as before, or for as long a period as I lose concentration much more easily but it is great to be able to lose myself in a book even for just a short while at a time. I tend to spend my days reading a while, blogging a while, resting a longer while and then repeating! My blog really takes it out of me, it’s painful to type and it’s hard to think clearly but it gives me such a sense of having achieved something in my day that I refuse to give it up.

I managed to read seventeen books this month (well, sixteen books and a short story), which is not as many as I would have hoped but is way more than the previous two months when I was going through a major reading slump so I’m pleased at what I read. I’ve managed to review seven of these books so far, the ones I’ve reviewed are at the top of my list and have links so you can click to read them if you’d like to. I hope to review the other books but it’ll depend on time and my health situation.

Time to Say Goodbye by SD Robertson

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

The Missing by CL Taylor

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay

A Woman in a Million by Monica Wood

The Art of Wearing Hats by Helena Sheffield

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Sally Ride by Lynn Sherr

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall 

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

The Good Mother by AL Bird


I also reviewed three other books that I read in February but didn’t manage to review until March:

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup 

Look At Me by Sarah Duguid

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis


I was very lucky this month that I got to interview four authors on my blog. You can read them all at the links below:

Janet Ellis (author of The Butcher’s Hook)


Carol Lovekin (author of Ghostbird)


Caroline James (author of Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean and Me) 


East of Coker banner (2)

Andy Owen (author of East of Coker)



Also on my blog I featured a lovely guest post by Elle Turner (author of Tapestry) and took part in a cover reveal for The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs


Then to round off what has been a brilliant month of blogging, I wrote a blog post this week about keeping books for the right moment (you can read that here) and it has become one of the most read posts on my blog and is the most liked so I’m thrilled about that. I’m not very confident in writing posts, I usually stick to reviews, so it was really lovely that something I wrote struck such a chord with some of my readers. 

My blog is still growing, which is brilliant. I’ve been blogging for about seven months now and enjoy it so much, I couldn’t imagine not being a blogger now!

Over the course of the next month on my blog I want to make a new blog header, and to make some new headers for my posts. My husband is much better at taking photos than me so he’s very kindly agreed to take some pics of my favourite books so that we can make them into some nicer headers. I’m looking forward to getting that done. I do keep pondering about changing my WP theme as I’ve never really liked this one, but I know how to make changes in this theme and how to keep it up to date so I’m reluctant to mess about with that just at the moment. Hopefully a new header will at least brighten things up a bit!



So, that was my month! How was your March? Has it been a book-filled month for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or to leave a link to your own March Wrap-Up post.

WWW Wednesdays (30 March 2016)

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?

What I’m reading now:

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

This book has me utterly engrossed – I literally only put it down when real life forces me too! I cannot figure out what is going on but I can sense there is going to be a shock in store. I hope to have some reading time later on today and so will probably finish it then.


The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear.

The person who has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

dear dad by giselle green

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

This is such a great read. I knew it was going to be good but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it has, I can’t stop thinking about these characters and I want to get back to reading about them as soon as I possibly can. Dear Dad is due out tomorrow so I’d really like to finish it as soon as I can to have my review ready but at the same time I want to take my time reading to make the book last longer as I don’t want to finish it, it’s so good.


Handsome, 28-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast. 

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he? 

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam – except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad … only she’s about to meet Nate – her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything.  

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?


I am also still reading these books that I started before this week:

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald & James R. Hansen

What I recently finished reading: 

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

I plan to have my review up for this book in the next few days… at the moment I’m struggling to get it written as I just adored this book. I find it so hard to review books that I loved as I can never do them justice but I will do my best. I will say that I finished this book almost a week ago and I still find myself thinking about the characters and actually wondering how they are!


Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected. 

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…

Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete . . .

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

I finished this book a couple of days ago but has yet haven’t managed to finish my review. I’m struggling with this one because I have conflicting thoughts about it and so am trying to get them written down in a coherent review. Hopefully I’ll have it ready to post very soon.


They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.


What I plan on reading next:

In The Light Of What We See by Sarah Painter

In The Light of What We See by Sarah Painter

I’m very excited to start reading this book, it sounds so good. I hope to be reading it later today.


Brighton, 1938: Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed. Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse. But danger stalks the hospital too, and she’ll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps. And then there are the things she sees…Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash. She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing. She’s not even sure whom to trust. Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital, her visions are clearer than ever…

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.


I posted a piece on Monday about how I’ve realised that I keep a lot of books (you can read my post HERE if you’d like to), that I badly want to read, for the right moment but then the build up is so big that the right moment never comes. So I’m trying to think of the best way to set myself a challenge to start reading these books. I think it will help if I make sure I list one in my WWW Wednesday post every week and then make sure I at least start reading it before the following week comes around.


What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.


Blog Post: Keeping Books for ‘Best’!



I downloaded the latest operating system for my iPad last week without really paying attention to what the update would do to my device. The reality is that it changed how iBooks works and as a result I had to re-download and then re-organise all of my books. I have so many ebooks that this is a mammoth task and I wasn’t happy at having to do it but I realised it would be a good opportunity to weed out books I’m probably never going to read and to make sure the books I really badly want to read are where I can easily find them.

Seems like a good plan, huh?

The problem is that it turns out that I have hundreds (well over a thousand actually) ebooks that I classed as being books I want to read as soon as possible! It’s not just ebooks either, I do have fewer print books than ebooks these days but I do still have books that I’ve had for years that I really want to read.

I got to thinking then about why I have so many unread books that I classify as being books I want to read soon and then I realised what it is.

Bear with me here…

My mum used to keep nice things for best. As a result her best things, her most favourite things hardly ever got used or worn. When my mum died I cried so much at how many of her lovely clothes she had perhaps only worn once or twice, and then there were the few items that had had better days that she continued to keep wearing. I realised that day that I was the same as my mum. I had so many lovely things that I kept in a cupboard or away in a box where  they wouldn’t get damaged but what use are nice things if you never get to feel the joy of wearing them or using them.

I take great joy from the fact that every day my husband and I eat with my mum’s best cutlery. I’d always loved her best set of tableware but it came out at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions only. I made a promise to myself on the day I left her home for the last time that I would use this cutlery every day and I have stuck to it. It makes me happy.

Sorting out my ebooks this week I realised that I have developed the habit of keeping my books for ‘best’. By this I mean that when I buy a book that I know I will absolutely love I save it for the right moment, for that perfect time when I can just curl up in the right mood and just read. The problem is that when you’ve saved a book for so long there never seems to be a right moment and the book ends up left unread for months, even years.

It’s such a silly thing to do because I’m usually a good judge of what books I will and won’t like, and so often I’ve sat down with whatever book has caught my attention on that particular day and find I simply can’t put it down because serendipitously it is the right book for that moment in time! 

For example I recently read Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, I had to read it for a specific date as I was on the blog tour but it so happened that it was absolutely the right moment in my life to read it as it had such a profound impact on me. I can’t stop thinking about the story, it completely and utterly captivated me.

I realise now that I need to start reading the books I’m keeping for best, because like wearing a brand new dress when I’m just mooching about the house, it lifts my mood and feels like I’m giving myself a little treat.

So I’m making a new rule for myself that I have to stop keeping books for ‘best’. Books are there for reading, not for cluttering up an iPad or gathering dust on a bookcase. I’m going to think about the best way to challenge myself to start reading these books… I’ll possibly start and write a blog post every now and then about how I’m getting on. If you have any ideas on how best to keep myself on track with this then please comment below.


*The image in this post is also my blog header and was taken where I used to live and I still have some of these books unread on my bookcase but I do really really want to read them so it’s not just ebooks, it’s all of my books!



Do you recognise yourself in this post at all? Do you keep books for a particular time that then never seems to come? How do you make sure that books you really want to read don’t end up gathering dust on your shelves forever more?