The Last Ten Books Tag

As it’s the last day of the year I thought that it would be appropriate to do the Last 10 Books tag. I saw this here on Leslie’s Books are the new black blog. However the original tag was created by booktuber: Marc Nash 

The Last book I gave up on

I very rarely give up on a book. I’m far more likely to skim read it really quickly just to find out how it all ends. However, I just couldn’t be bothered to finish this one. It sounded brilliant. A murder mystery set in a dystopian setting when the world is ending sounded right up my street but sadly, it didn’t live up to its promise. I think it was the characters. I just didn’t care about any of them and there didn’t seem to be any real tension in the novel.

The Last Book I Bought

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I bought this yesterday after seeing some amazing reviews for it. It’s going to be my first read of 2022 as I will start it tomorrow.

The Last Book I Wrote in the Margins of

Writing in the margins!!!! Horror of horrors! I haven’t done that since I studied A Level English Literature and wrote margin notes in my Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy novels.

The Last Book that I had Signed

You can pick up signed copies in nearly every book shop now but the last book that I had signed personally after chatting to the author was by the late, great Anne McCaffrey.

The Last Book I Lost

I don’t normally lose books but I was in the middle of reading this when we moved house and managed to lose it so I had to replace it

The Last Book that I had to replace

My original Pan paperback was second hand and fell to pieces so I had to replace it. Very sad as the new covers are very insipid.

The Last Book I argued over

Probably Mansfield Park again which I remember having a healthy discussion over during a degree tutorial. The question was ‘Is Fanny Price a wimp?’ I don’t tend to argue over books though. I’ll just disagree quietly 😃

The Last Book I pre-ordered

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I love L E Modessit and often pre-order his books. This was the last one released in November and I was sooooo disappointed.

What would your last 10 books be? Do you write in the margins? 😲

That’s my last post for 2021. I’ll see you all in the new year!

Top 12 of 2021 – the best book of every month

There are lots of posts about at the moment about people’s best reads of this year. I had a think about mine but choosing 10 books out of the over 200 that I have read this year seemed overwhelming. Then I decided that I would narrow it down a bit and choose the best book that I read in each month of 2021. That meant that each list was shorter and I also wouldn’t be biased in favour of the books that I have recently finished. I used the reading pages in my bullet journal to choose my favourite book from each month.

Reading this year has changed a lot during 2021. For the first three months, we were in lockdown and bookshops and libraries were closed. That meant that I was rereading a lot of books that I already owned as well as a lot on my kindle. Then I discovered the magic that is Net Galley which gave me access to more books. Finally bookshops and libraries reopened and I could find the books that I wanted. I also fell down the wonderful rabbit hole of bookblogging which introduced me to many more books than I would otherwise have heard of

My top 12 has actually ended up being a fairly representative sample of my general reading. There are more fantasy books on there than anything else as well as a couple of crime novels, a historical fiction book and a few contemporary ones. That pretty much sums up my reading for the year.

January

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I loved this book. It’s a fairly straightforward fantasy story about a young boy saving the world but it has dragons and is really well written. It stands perfectly well by itself although it is apparently Book 1 of the Rivenworld series.

February

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Would you live your life differently if you had the chance to go back and live it again? This was such a brilliant idea for a book and I loved the character of Nora Seed.

March

I don’t think that there is anything left to say about this duology. The world building, the plot and every character are all brilliant.

April

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This was a very different book for me and really made me think about the issue of gender identity in a way that I hadn’t before.

May

I only discovered Beth O’Leary this year and enjoyed all of her books so far. This one that I read in May is my favourite though.

June

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I really enjoyed this murder mystery about ex-detective turned waiter Kamil Rahman. I loved the dual setting of London and his home town of Kolkata.

July

I only discovered M W Craven this year and love both his crime series’ which are set in Cumbria. They definitely tend to the dark side of crime fiction with some quite graphic descriptions at times but the plots, characters and settings are brilliant.

August

This was just an amazing book. Funny, touching and life affirming. Everyone should read this.

September

This was the roller coaster conclusion to Joe Abercrombie’s latest trilogy. Epic, grimdark fantasy with superb world building and such memorable characters that they linger in your mind for ages.

October

Another brilliant contemporary novel that felt really uplifting. A story about it never being too late to chase your dreams.

November

Possibly my book of the year. I loved this and have mentioned it in several posts already. It was just brilliant.

December was actually by far the hardest book to pick a single book. I nearly chose Raybearer or The Bone Shard Daughter but in the end went with The Nightingale as being the most memorable book that I have read this month.

Doing a book for every month has probably given me a different list than if I had just chosen my 12 favourite books but all of these deserve to be any list of my top books this year.

What do you think of my choices? Let me know in the comments as I love to hear from other bloggers opinions.

In 2021, my life in books

This fun tag was created by Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out and the details and header can be found here

2021 was the year of: A State of Terror by Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny

In 2021 I wanted to be: The Bookbinder’s Daughter by Jessica Thorne

In 2021 I was: Home by Penny Parkes

In 2021 I gained: The Black Dress by Deborah Moggach

In 2021 I lost: Dead Ground by M W Craven

In 2021 I loved: The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

In 2021 I hated: The Last by Hanna Jameson

In 2021 I learned: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

In 2021 I was surprised by: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

In 2021 I went to: Pulpit Rock by Kate Rhodes

In 2021 I missed out on: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

In 2021 my family were: Us Three by Ruth James

In 2022 I hope for: The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc

Thank you to Shelleyrae for creating such a fun tag to do on a very wet, grey day. What would your life in books be for 2021?

WWW Wednesday 29th December

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It’s Wednesday and it’s the final Wednesday of 2021. It doesn’t seem possible that the year is nearly over. However, it is 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.

Currently Reading

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The Bone Shard Daughter turned up under the Christmas Tree this year and is an absolutely brilliant read so far. Set in a world of floating islands and 7 year long seasons, the book is full of mysteries that are gradually unfolding as I read.

Recently Finished Reading

All of these were great reads. I really loved The Man who died Twice and thought that it was better than his first novel last year.

What I intend to read next

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This is next on my list to read although I have been warned that I will need tissues. Hopefully it won’t be too emotional a read.

That’s my WWW Wednesday for this week so I’ll end by wishing everyone reading this a happy new year and see you all in 2022 ❤

2022 Non fiction Reader Challenge

One of my reading goals for 2022 is to read more non fiction. I always used to try and read at least a couple of non fiction books every year but lately that has slipped. As I now (theoretically anyway) have more time on my hands, I think it’s the right time to try and widen my reading and maybe even learn something.

I think I need to be involved in the challenge as otherwise, I will just forget and it will be something that I will aim to do in 2023. I bought a history book in November but haven’t opened it yet. Being part of a challenge hopefully will make me more likely to succeed as there will be a reminder to choose a non fiction book at the library or from Net Galley. I’m also looking forward to getting recommendations of non fiction books to look out for.

The challenge is run by Book’d out and the sign up page with full details is here The details of the challenge below have been copied from the sign up page.

HOW IT WORKS

You can select, read and review a book from the categories listed below during the year for a total of up to 12 books; OR select, read and review any nonfiction book. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.

Choose a goal:

Nonfiction Nipper: Read & review 3 books, from any 3 listed categories

Nonfiction Nibbler: Read & review 6 books, from any 6 listed categories

Nonfiction Nosher: Read & review 12 books, one for each category

OR

Nonfiction Grazer: Read & review any nonfiction book. Set your own goal

Categories:

1. Social History

2. Popular Science

3. Language

4. Medical Memoir

5. Climate/Weather

6. Celebrity

7. Reference

8. Geography

9. Linked to a podcast

10. Wild Animals

11. Economics

12. Published in 2022


* You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. You may combine this challenge with others if you wish. Use your best good faith judgement as to whether a book fits the category or not.

I’m aiming to try and read a non fiction book every couple of months so that will make me a Nibbler. Hopefully trying to read from different categories will stop me from reading 6 biographies which would be the most likely outcome if I’m left with a completely free choice. That wouldn’t really fit my aim of trying to extend my reading so I’m definitely going to try and read from 6 different categories from the ones listed above.

I have 2 books to start off with. I bought The White Ship in November but have yet to open it. The biography of H G Wells was bought this morning in the Waterstones half price hardback sale. Sadly, neither of them really fit the category list of the challenge 😢

That’s two reading challenges that I’m aiming to take part in next year. What are your reading aims for 2022?

The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022

I discovered this today and it seems like the perfect challenge. I love Historical fiction as it crosses so many other genres. Some of my favourite books this year have been Historical novels including Daughters of War by Dinah Jeffries, This lovely City by Louise Hare and City of Vengeance by DV Bishop.

The challenge is hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader and details and the sign up page can be found here

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

I’m aiming for Medieval which gives me just over a book a month. I might make Ancient History though. I have no idea what books I’m likely to read as it will depend on what is published. I do want to read Nicola Cornick’s Last Daughter at some point this year so that’s one 😃

Debut Authors in 2021

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I wanted to do a post about the brilliant books I have read this year by debut authors and it links in nicely with day 2 of Kim’s Top 10 of 2021 which is explained in her post here.

I have been blown away by some amazing debut novels and can’t wait to see what their authors come up with next. Here are my 10 debut picks for 2021. A lot of them are fantasy novels but there are a few different ones too.

I loved this and am looking forward to reading the sequel, Redemptor, as soon as possible.

This was one of my favourite books this year. Science Fiction, a murder mystery and a romance all in one book. Fantastic!

This was a brilliant mystery story based on true events about the keepers of a remote .lighthouse.

This was another brilliant debut fantasy novel. I loved the idea of ships sailing in a sea of grass.

Definitely down to earth with this as it’s set in a hospital but it was one of my stand out reads this year.

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Historical Fiction this time. Set in London in 1950, it tells the story of Lawrie who arrived on the Windrush in answer to the British Government’s call for workers. Another great book.

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I loved this historical novel set in 16th century Florence and definitely hope that there are more books to come about Cesare Aldo.

I have read some fantastic Middle Grade fiction but this one by David Farr was definitely one of the best of this year.

This wasn’t one of my favourite books of this year but for a debut novel, I thought it was excellent and will certainly look out for the next one

My final one in this top ten debut novels that I have read this year is Threadneedle.

Thank you to Kimberleyfayereads for the prompt and the use of the header.

What are your favourite debut novels of 2021? Would any of mine make your list? Let me know in the comments.

Stacking the Shelves 22

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It’s only Friday but it’s Christmas Eve and so Stacking the Shelves is arriving a day early this week.  Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the shelves is all about the books that you have acquired over the past week. These can be any books at all, library books, charity shop books, ebooks and audio books. My STS posts are generally my library books. The library is where I get most of my books and I hope that maybe I can inspire other people to use their local library. Our libraries are constantly under threat of closure but the more people that use them, the less likely that is.

My library haul this week was a brilliant way to begin Christmas. 2 books that I had reserved ages ago and finally arrived at my library and two amazing books that were on my TBR and were just sitting on the shelf smiling at me!

My library haul for this week.

The Man who died Twice by Richard Osman
I have been waiting for this book for ages. Richard Osman’s first book was a runaway best seller and this one is proving to be the same. A group of pensioners in a retirement home solving murder puzzles doesn’t sound that amazing but the first one was well written and had humour as well as interesting characters. I’m reliably informed that this second one is just as good so should be the perfect holiday read.

Matrix by Lauren Groff
I have heard so many amazing things about this book that I had to read it. It’s historical fiction set in 1158, a time when women either married or went to a convent to lead a religious life. Marie is the seventeen year old French half sister of Queen Eleanor of England and is banished to be head of a small priory as she is unsuited to court life. I love historical fiction and the cover says that she leads the ;priory out of poverty into power and riches so this should definitely be an interesting read,

Under the Whispering Door by T J Klune
I couldn’t believe it when I saw this one on the shelf. The library never had copies of The House on the Cerulean Sea and so I didn’t expect to see this one. Another book that I am hoping will be a lovely holiday read.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
I have seen this on Instagram a few times and then Emma mentioned it on her blog yesterday so when I saw it on the shelf, it was an obvious choice. It’s about people dealing with bereavement and is based on a true story so might not be the easiest book to read.

That’s probably my last post for a couple of days as we celebrate Christmas with family. Merry Christmas everyone and I hope that you all find at least one book under your Christmas tree. To those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have a happy and healthy end to the year as infections continue to rage all around us.

Stay safe and happy everyone ❤❤

Murder at St Anne’s – a review

Murder at St Anne’s by J R Ellis

Winter, snow, murder – and a centuries-dead suspect

With all of the above ingredients, how could you not want to read this book?

Blurb
In the chilly depths of a Yorkshire winter, a well-liked rector is found bludgeoned to death in her own church. With no sign of a murder weapon, local superstition quickly pins the blame on the ghost of a medieval monk believed to haunt the building…

Well accustomed to unusual murder investigations, DCI Jim Oldroyd takes on the case, along with his assistant, Sergeant Andy Carter, but they are hampered at every turn by the deepening snow and the threat of the supernatural. Even as possible motives and opportunities begin to reveal themselves, Oldroyd struggles to find a better suspect than the hooded phantom.

Has Oldroyd really found himself in the midst of a Gothic ghost story or is there a very real killer at large? Spectre or otherwise, it soon becomes apparent that the murderer is not yet finished. And, for Oldroyd, it’s about to become personal…

This is the latest in the Yorkshire Murder series featuring DCI Oldroyd and his team and is an atmospheric murder mystery set in the depths of Winter. Perfect reading for a chilly December or January evening. A popular female vicar is found brutally murdered in her church in Knaresborough and Oldroyd and his team are called in. The murder has alarming similarities to a local ghost story dating back to the 16th century. The spooky atmosphere is reinforced by the heavy snowfall which forces DCI Oldroyd and his sergeant to spend the night in the church. However, their night is not a peaceful one. Did Oldroyd really see a ghost?

As ever with J R Ellis, the story is brilliantly plotted with various characters who could all be possible suspects. The police team are a likeable bunch and it’s nice to have police officers who appear to have a happy home life. The relationship between Oldroyd and his sergeant is a friendly one and the two have a good rapport. I also like the continued inclusion of his sister who is also a vicar in these stories. There is a strong sub-plot about the resistance of some church goers to women priests which adds a nice current day feel to the ghostly story.

The wintry setting really adds to the story and the book conveys the beauty as well as the inconvenience of heavy snow. I also loved the M R James quotes at the start of each chapter which really add to the atmosphere. The one thing that felt out of place were the conversations between the archdeacon and the bishop. These seemed a little heavy handed and out of keeping with the rest of the story.

This is a great murder mystery and I definitely recommend it. Although it is the 7th in this series, it can be read perfectly well as a stand alone. It’s definitely worth reading if you enjoy crime stories and police procedurals.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

WWW Wednesday 22nd December

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It’s Wednesday and as it’s Wednesday again, 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.

Currently Reading

My current read is the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series. Spensa Nightingale has escaped from the forces of the Superiority and is now in the Nowhere which is a part of space filled with fragments of land. It’s a very different book to the previous two in the series.

Recently Finished Reading

The Nightingale was an excellent read. It was very powerful and heartbreaking at times especially the scenes in the women’s prison camps.

The other three were all featured in yesterday’s post in my Christmas reads wrap up.

Next Read

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Snow Drift will probably be my next read but it does depend on what mood I’m in once I’ve finished Cytonic.

This is the last WWW Wednesday post before Christmas so I’ll wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope that you all find at least one book under the tree on Christmas morning.