Songbirds – a review

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Blurb – Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.

Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.

No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.

I really loved this book. It was a powerful read on so many levels. The basic story is the disappearance of Nisha. She simply just seems to walk out one night and is not seen again by anyone. The only ones who care are her employer Petra who now has to start looking after her own daughter, and her lover Yiannis. The story of what happened to Nisha is shown to us very gradually through the alternating chapters through the eyes of Yiannis and Petra. We also get some apparently random chapters set near a mine and detailing the decomposition of a hare’s body. The purpose of these chapters becomes clearer as the book nears its ending.

The writing is beautiful and there are passages that are almost heart-breaking especially those concerning the birds. The capture and killing of the songbirds as they migrate from Africa to Europe is vividly described. We also get real insights into people’s characters through their conversations and actions. We only see Nisha through the eyes of others but she is a completely real person. We also get a real insight into the lives of the group that Nisha belongs to; the foreign women who come to Turkey to be maids for relatively well off Turkish families such as Petra’s and occupy an almost invisible space in society.

As they look into Nisha’s disappearance, both Petra and Yiannis begin to change and the book shows how they become increasingly aware of who Nisha was. As they begin to know more about Nisha, they begin to be more aware of themselves too. Petra’s journey towards being a proper mother to her daughter Aliki is really touching.

The story is made more poignant by the fact that the basic outline is based on a true story. We get a real look at the lives of these migrant girls and women who give up everything they love for what they believe is going to be a better life. For some, it can be but for others, it ends in despair and even death.

This was a beautiful and memorable story.


Sundays in bed with ……The Christmas Escape

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

Saturday night is obviously the time for me to begin a Christmas book as this is the second week that this post has featured a festive novel. I have enjoyed previous books by Sarah Morgan and this cover is just soooo pretty. How can you resist those blues and purples?

Blurb It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past.

As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

This was the perfect book for a very chilly night at the end of November. It begins in Lapland as Robyn prepares for her visitors. The descriptions of Lapland are simply amazing. I love it when books transport me to a new place and this one definitely does that. It has made me really want to go there even though I hate the cold and probably wouldn’t survive 15 minutes without regretting it.

The characters are all really likeable and I quickly got involved with their different stories. Christy’s daughter Holly, who is a total tomboy and wants to be a scientist, is a complete delight. I’m fairly sure that I know how it’s going to all end up because it’s a Christmas romance but that doesn’t detract at all from the enjoyment of reading it. I’m looking forward to finishing it later on today and hope that there are aren’t any nasty surprises to prove me wrong.

Stacking the Shelves 18

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It’s Saturday and we woke up to a blizzard! Winter is definitely here although the snow has pretty much all gone now. Saturday means that it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are mainly about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book.

This week’s library haul

It’s a much more normal selection from the library this week with two crime novels after not picking any last week. I’m really looking forward reading all of this week’s picks.

Forfeit by Barbara Nadal I really love this series of books set in Istanbul and featuring Inspector Ikmen and Inspector Suleyman. They are always intriguing mysteries and I love the insights into Turkish life as it is somewhere that I have never been.

The Poppy War by R F Kuang I have been meaning to read this for ages and so was really pleased to see it on the shelf today. It’s apparently quite a dark fantasy based on ancient China.

Till Daph do us part by Philippa Nefri Clark I know absolutely nothing about this book but the cover really appealed. It looks like being a much more lighthearted mystery than some of the ones I have read lately so will be a good contrast.

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan I have enjoyed previous books by Sarah Morgan and the cover of this is just gorgeous. I love that dark blue! I’m rationing myself to just one Christmas book a week as it’s still only November!

Have you read any of these? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday Favourites

I love tags and memes that let me find out more about the people writing their amazing book blogs and I really liked the idea of this when I saw it on Emily Jane’s Budget Tales this morning.

This meme is hosted by Geeky Galaxy  and it simply involves writing a list of as many favourites as you want for that week’s prompt. The prompts are all on Geeky Galaxy’s host page. This week it is Things to Do Besides Reading.

Here are my top three things to do if I’m not reading.

On stage at Derby theatre. I’m the fair haired one.

My favourite activity besides reading is singing, especially performing in musical theatre. I’m loving the fact that theatres have reopened this year.

Cornish coast near Bude

My other favourite thing to do is walking, especially by the sea which can be tricky when you live right in the middle of England. If we can’t get to the sea, then walking by the local canals is the next best thing.

When I’m at home then I love to paint and draw. I’m not very good at either but I love to take online classes and follow youtube tutorials.

What are your favourite things to do when you aren’t reading?

M G Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

As it’s non fiction November, I thought that it might be a good idea to blog about one of my favourite M G non fiction books.

All About Theatre by the National Theatre. Published by Walker Books

My favourite sentence from page 11.
Hmmm. That doesn’t really work with this book so instead, here’s a picture of the double page spread for pages 10-11 which is about the history of the theatre.

pages 10 and 11

This book in three words:

Theatrical Fascinating Informative

I absolutely love this book. Probably because I love the theatre and everything associated with it but it is also a brilliant non fiction book.

I actually bought it by accident as I bought it for a friend of mine as a birthday present but when it arrived, I realised that it was aimed at a much younger market than my friend so it went to school and into my book corner.

Everything about this book is brilliant. It covers everything that any child or teenager could possibly want to know about the theatre. There are sections on everything from acting to scenery, from puppetry to sound effects. The pages are laid out incredibly clearly with great photographs of actual productions. The graphic design is amazing and makes each page so easy to read.

The book is produced by The National Theatre and includes many quotes from actors, writers, designers etc. I love this aspect of it as they give real examples of things that they have actually worked on which makes it very real

The final pages are about how you can get involved in theatre and has great suggestions for how children can find out more.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is an absolutely brilliant book for any one who has any interest in theatre, whether it’s as a performer, working backstage or just someone who loves to be in the audience of a live performance.

WWW Wednesday 24th November

It’s Wednesday again and so it must be time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I am currently reading

My current read is one of my library books this week. I’m carrying on my theme of reading historical novels about powerful women in history. So far this year, I’ve read Cecily, three of the Alison Weir books about Henry VIII’s wives, and now this one. I’ve been fascinated by Russian imperial history ever since reading Masha by Mara Kaye as a child. I never realised before that Russia had ruling empresses before Catherine the Great.

What I have recently finished reading

This week’s recent reads have all been very different.
Obsidian Tower is a fantasy novel by one of my favourite authors at the moment. It was a bit slow to get me interested but I really enjoyed it by the end.
Devil’s Table is the latest locked island mystery by Kate Rhodes and was every bit as good as her previous novels in this series.
An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan is the third in her books set on a fictional island off the coast of Scotland. It wasn’t the completely feel good novel that I might have expected as it nearly reduced me to tears a couple of times but I did enjoy it.

What do you intend to read next?

This is next on my TBR which will be another completely different book to the others in this post. The cover design caught my eye and that cover quote by Jodi Piccoult was irresistible.

And after that, who knows. I need to investigate my Net Galley shelf again as I’m fairly sure that after getting my review rate up to 80%, it’s slipped back again.

Happy Reading everyone!

Dragons – My Top Ten

How can anyone not love dragons? I have always loved stories featuring dragons for as long as I can remember and that love has endured throughout my reading life. So I decided to create my Dragon Series Top Ten. This isn’t linked to any other tag, it’s just a list of my favourite books (or book series) that have dragons in. It’s a purely personal list and includes books that I read years ago as well as more recent publications. The one thing that they all have in common is that they all feature dragons!

The best ever series of books about dragons has to be Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. I discovered this series in the mid eighties and loved the books right from the start. Telepathic dragons that transport you across a planet in the blink of an eye. How could you not love that idea? The characters, both human and dragon are totally believable and the main characters feature in most of the books even though the stories are largely self contained. The world building of the planet Pern is superb and I loved the way that the author went back and wrote the story of how the planet was first colonised by settlers from earth linking Science Fiction and Fantasy beautifully. One of my favourite elements of Fantasy fiction is where an author shows you how a society evolves over time and reacts to changes. The Pern books do this really well.

If you love dragons and haven’t discovered Pern yet, then give the books a go. Stick to the books written by Anne MacCaffery herself though. I don’t think that the books written with and by her son Todd are in the same league.

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A more recent series is the Dragon Ridden series by T A White which was concluded only this year. It’s another series that combines fantasy with a strong Science element. The dragon ridden are an elite group who carry a dragon inside them and share consciousness with it. Tate has a dragon tattoo that moves mysteriously but has no memory of anything in her life earlier than 8 months previously. The meaning of the tattoo is revealed quite quickly but Tate’s memories of her earlier life are only revealed very gradually throughout the series. These books contain a lot of action and secrets and again, the world building is superb.

Another older set of books that are still great are the Sunrunner books by Melanie Rawn. Set in a hot desert world, dragons are there to be hunted until Prince Rohan discovers a secret that changes everything. This series comprises two linked trilogies and again, the main characters are brilliantly written with strong individual personalities. I love the political manoeuvring in these books as people try to gain and keep power. The use of magic is linked to religion and there is a strong theme of the religious leaders who control the magic trying to keep control of the population against the secular rulers. The magic system is brilliant too with a definite dark side for some of the characters.

You can’t have a top ten of dragon books without mentioning George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The dragons in these books aren’t such an important feature as in the other series but they are memorable and their existence enables Danerys to become powerful. I loved the books but am reconciled to the fact that Martin is almost certainly not going to finish the series. Unlike most people I know however, I did enjoy the ending of the TV series and that rounded things off enough for me.

A completely different type of dragon book is the Dragon Jousters series by Mercedes Lackey. This is a YA series and is the story of a young boy who becomes the servant of a dragon rider and manages to steal and raise a dragon egg so that he becomes a dragon rider himself. The series follows Vetch from his early life as a slave to him becoming a leader of his people. The books don’t have the emotional depth of the first two series on this list but they are definitely an entertaining read.


Another series that I have enjoyed recently is The Last Dragonlord books by Joanne Bertin. In this series, the Dragonlords are semi immortal beings who watch over the human kingdoms. There are only 3 books which are self contained stories but share some characters in common. I think that the first book is the best of the three but I enjoyed all of them.


The Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron is a completely different type of fantasy. This is an urban fantasy series and the books are a much more light-hearted read with a strong element of humour. Julian is the smallest and nicest of the Heartstriker dragon clan and in despair, his mother exiles him to the DFZ, which is the urban metropolis that stands where Detroit used to be. He has to prove that he can be as ruthless as his siblings before he will be allowed to return. I loved the concept of the DFZ and the dragon clans and as with all of my favourite books, the characters are so well written. These books are a great read.

Dragons don’t form such a large part in Magician by Raymond Feist but the part played by Rhuagh is vital to the plot and the development of one of the main characters. Rhuagh has been sleeping for eons under the mines of Midkemia when Tomas finds him. The gifts that Rhuagh gives to Tomas change him completely and enable him to fulfil a dream that he thought could never happen. Magician is a brilliant fantasy and if you haven’t read it, give it a try.

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Dragon Mage is a much more modern novel as it was only published at the start of 2021. It is currently a single novel but the next one in the Rivenworld series is due to be released in 2022. It is the fairly typical story of a misfit boy who discovers that he has special powers. These powers might enable him to become a dragon rider and possibly save the world. I loved this book and definitely rate it as one of the best fantasy books that I have read this year.

My final choice is the Rainwild Chronicles by Robin Hobb. To get the most out of these, I think that you probably need to have read The Liveship Traders trilogy as the Rainwild Chronicles follow on from that. For years, the wizard wood has been used to make ships that are sentient. Then it is discovered that the wood isn’t actually wood at all but dragon eggs. The Rainwild Chronicles is about how the newly hatched dragons are taken to the Rainwild in the hope that they can develop and become proper dragons. The first book takes a while to get going but the series as a whole is brilliant with so many memorable characters. If you haven’t discovered Robin Hobb yet, then definitely give her a try.

There are many, many more books with dragons in that I haven’t mentioned, including others which are on my bookshelves. This top ten is just the ones that stand out for me.

Do you love dragons? What do you think about my top ten? What would yours be? If you know of other dragon books that I might not have found, let me know in the comments as I would love to hear from you.

Sundays in bed with …… An Island Christmas

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan

Blurb: Christmas on the remote Scottish island of Mure is bleak, stark — and incredibly beautiful.

It’s a time for hunkering down, getting cosy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram with the people you love — unless, of course, you’re accidentally pregnant to your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In what should be the season of peace and goodwill on earth, will Joel think Flora is a bearer of glad tidings?

Meanwhile Saif, the doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons — but without his missing wife. Can the little family possibly find comfort and joy?

I read the preceding book in this series The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan last year so reading this was like revisiting old friends. This is the third book in the series set on the fictional island of Mure off the coast of Scotland and continues the story lines from the previous books. I think it would work as a stand alone but it’s always hard to say that if you have read the preceding books.

So far, things seem to be going wrong in various ways for the main characters which is pretty much what you would expect. I’m hoping that everything will get wrapped up nicely when I finish the book off later today.

Then I might continue the festive feeling by making some mince pies. What’s your Sunday looking like?

Stacking the Shelves 17

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The weekend has arrived already. Can you believe that we are over halfway through November? Christmas will be here before we know it. Saturday means that it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are mainly about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book.

I can’t quite believe that I have managed to walk out of the library without a single crime novel. I don’t remember doing that for ages as there’s normally something I see that appeals. Not this week though. However, I am really looking forward to reading the ones I brought home. I could have brought home twice as many but restricted myself to 4 as I’m trying to work my way down my TBR pile of books that I have bought before the end of the year.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
I know that this doesn’t need any introduction to anyone who is likely to be reading this. However, I have never read it and thought it was time to see what it’s all about as so many people rave about this series. The library had all 3 books on the shelf so I can read the whole set.

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri
I was attracted by the cover on this one and the blurb sounds interesting.
Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughters; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.
Nisha’s lover is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life and of marrying Nisha are shattered when she disappears.

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
It’s definitely time for some historical fiction and this one sounds fascinating. It’s about Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine. I love Russian history so really want to read this.

An Island Christmas by Jenny Colgan
The library had an entire display unit of Christmas books but I restricted myself to one as it’s still November.

Have you read any of these? Let me know what you think in the comments. I would to hear your thoughts.

Meet the Blogger Book Tag

I saw this yesterday on Cosy with Books and loved it. I really like reading more about the book bloggers that I follow so decided to join in the fun. Thanks to Bibliomavens who created the original tag.

The Rules of the tag are:
Nominated bloggers can tag 10 other bloggers
Use the same questions from the tag
Tag the original creator (Bibliomavens) and the blogger who tagged you.

The Questions

Who is your favourite book character?
There are so many to choose from and it really depends on what I have recently read. Aragorn from LOTR is always up there as well as Vanyel from Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books. However, my all time favourite character would probably be Mara from the Empire books by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. She overcomes huge obstacles in her culture to become Mistress of the Empire and I love her stubbornness and intelligence.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)
Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I might actually get round to reading it if I was stranded and only had one book to read.

What’s your most unpopular book opinion?
I think that the Harry Potter books are boring! I managed to plough my way through the first one years ago but couldn’t face any more. Not sure why as I love the Cormoran Strike books.

What’s your weirdest bookish habit?
If I really love a book, I have been known to go straight back to the beginning and read the whole thing again. Sometimes, I can’t stop rushing through a book to find out how it all ends and then I go back and read the book again to really enjoy the story.

What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?
Oooh, this is tricky. Prince Nikolai from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse would be an excellent party guest I think. He would be very good company and also look out for you.

What made you decide to start a book blog?
I began when I noticed Six for Sunday on Twitter. I started to take part in that and then it mushroomed from there. It was just occasional posts at first but then I discovered Net Galley and writing reviews so my blog just grew. It’s a very quiet blog and I get very excited when someone comments.

What about reading and books do you love the most?
The way that books can transport you to a completely different place and time. A good book can solve all my problems at least temporarily. I love fantasy and the different worlds that authors create but I also love crime fiction. I think that is the liking for everything to be solved and sorted out in the end, unlike what happens in real life.
My favourite thing in the world is having a new book to read and a whole afternoon or evening when nothing is going to disturb me. Give me a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate too and I’m in book heaven.

What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?
I’m a primary school teacher who has recently retired after 30 years of teaching. There’s no escape though as I’m still going in when needed which is quite often at the moment. I love teaching though so it’s no hardship to go in for a day or two a week. It still leaves me plenty of time to read.

What are some book recommendations that became your favourite/obsessions?
My daughter introduced me to Leigh Bardugo earlier this year and I loved all of the Grishaverse books. I also loved The House on the Cerulean Sea which was recommended to me by so many people. The librarian at my local library introduced me to Kate Rhodes and her locked island thrillers set on the Scilly Isles and she has become one of my favourite authors too

What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?
Where the Crawdads Sing or possibly 100 Years of Lenni and Margot which are both brilliant books that everyone should read and interestingly, not fantasy or crime stories!

Tag up to 10 people
I’m always really nervous about tagging people as I don’t know people that well but my tags are:

Wendy at The Bashful Bookworm

Mary at Book Craic

Emily Jane at Budget Book Tales

And anyone else who is reading this and wants to join in. I would love to read your answers.