January Wrap-Up

It’s the last day of January at last. This always seems like such a long month mainly I think because it’s so dark and has been so dull again for a lot of the month. Thankfully, it’s been much better than January 2021 when we were all locked down. I thought I would end the first month of 2022 with a wrap up of my reading.

This month, I have read a whopping 24 books!!! I haven’t been called into school much so far this year which has given me quite a bit of time to read. Also, the weather hasn’t really encouraged me to go out so more time to sit in the warm and read.

This month’s reading has broadly reflected my normal reading tastes with a heavy bias towards to Fantasy and Crime Fiction.

Fantasy – 6 books
Crime Fiction – 6 books
Historical Fiction – 3 books
Science Fiction – 3 books
Non Fiction – 2 books
Romance – 1 book
Other – 3 books
‘Other’ covers all those books that don’t really fit into any of the other categories. They seem to be frequently classed as Women’s fiction but I always hesitate to assign genders to book reading . It’ was a bit light on romance this month but I did read a lot of romantic heaven before Christmas with all those Christmas books so I guess it’s just redressing the balance a bit.

Out of this month’s books, four of them were 5 star reads :


The Mask of Mirrors (fantasy)
Empire of the Vampires (fantasy)
The Court of Miracles (Fantasy)
Ylinka, Where’s your husband?(Contemporary)


This definitely reflects my normal favourite genres. The last one was a NetGalley ARC which I read last week and absolutely loved. It’s not being published until March and I’ll post my review in a few weeks.


As well as the 5 star reads, there were a lot of 4 star books and only one that I really didn’t enjoy – Sorry Reptile Memoirs but you weren’t for me.

I also made steady inroads into my NetGalley Shelf. 12 of my reads were NetGalley ARCs and my review rating is now at 84% so I’m quite happy with that.

I have to say that January has been a great start to reading in 2022. I’ve made a great start on the Historical Reader Challenge and the Non Fiction reader challenge as well as reading some amazing books.

I’m really looking forward to reading in February as I have several books on order from the library which I can’t wait to read and there are some fantastic books being released next month too.

Have you read any of the books on my January list? What have been your 5 ⭐ reads so far in 2022?

Sundays in Bed with ………Eeny Meeny

The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day in Leicestershire. It’s a lovely day too as we are having a family weekend with both my children and my brother who we haven’t seen for nearly 5 years all here for the weekend. That has meant a bit less time for reading but I still managed a bit of my new book so I have a post to write for Sundays in Bed with.

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). This week, the book is Widowland by C J Carey.

Blurb:
The girl emerged from the woods barely alive.
Her story was beyond belief But it was true.
Every single word of it.

Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emergin. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.
Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Di Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case.

And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die.

This crime novel is very dark. It starts off with the couple who have been imprisoned and then moves to an S & M session. It’s certainly a gripping start to a novel.

Stacking the Shelves 27

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It’s Saturday and the sun is shining. Welcome to the weekend and Stacking the Shelves. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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 is also how I manage to read a lot of newly released hardbacks as I can order them. Sometimes they can take quite a while to arrive if a title is really popular though.

This week’s book haul is very heavily biased towards crime fiction.

This week’s library haul

Eeny Meeny
This is the only book that I ordered in this week’s haul. It’s the first in a crime series featuring DI Helen Grace. The series was recommended by Heather at Bookworm Blogger. It sounds like quite a dark thriller so definitely not a cosy crime book!!

The Coral Bride
I saw this one on the shelf and was intrigued by the cover and the title. It isn’t what I expected though as it’s actually another police procedural. It’s set in Quebec and the blurb recommends it for lovers of Louise Penny. The story sounds interesting and I love finding new crime writers so we’ll see what it’s like.

Murder on the Downs
I think that this definitely qualifies as cosy crime. I do enjoy this series of murder mysteries set in the coastal town of Whitstable. The main characters of Pearl Nolan and DI McGuire are both really likeable. The books also have a really strong sense of place too which I always enjoy.

On a Night like this
I know a lot of people have read this and loved this and I thought it would be a nice contrast to all the murder in the other 3 books.

I’m really looking forward to next week’s library visit as there are several books in transit and they will hopefully arrive by next Saturday. One of them is the new Inspector Lynley book by Elizabeth George which I can’t wait to read.

What have you added to your bookshelf this week?

Book Blogger Hop Jan 28 – Feb 4

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched the hop on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog. 

This weeks question is: – Have you ever attended a book signing? If so, who was the author? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

I’ve only ever attended one book signing and that was many years ago when the incredible Anne McCaffery came to a book signing event in Leicester. As a long time fan of all her writing but especially the Dragons of Pern, I had to attend. She was lovely and chatty and it was so nice to meet her.

We don’t get that many book signing events in Leicester and when we do, they are often on days that I can’t do 😢

In Praise of Walking – a review

This is the second book that I have read as part of the 2022 NonFiction Reader Challenge hosted by ShelleyRae at Bookd Out . One of my aims for 2022 was to read more non-fiction. As it’s still only January and I’ve already read two non fiction books, I feel I’ve made a good start on this challenge.

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

Synopsis from cover:
Walking upright on two feet is a uniquely human skill.
It defines us as a species

It enabled us to walk out of Africa and to spread as far as Alaska and Australia. It freed our hands and freed our minds. We put one foot in front of the other thinking, yet how many of us know how we do that or appreciate the advantages that it gives us. In this hymn to walking, neuroscientist Shane O’Mara invites us to marvel at the benefits it confers on our bodies and minds and urges us to appreciate – and exercise – our miraculous ability.

I’m not really into exercise, I was never good at sport at school but I have always enjoyed walking. As a child, I always walked to and from school and when we were on holiday, our family always walked miles. Over recent years, I have to come appreciate walking even more and if I can’t go for a walk for more than a couple of days, I start to get edgy. I am hugely grateful that I have not had to self isolate due to Covid as I think I would have found it very difficult being confined to my house and garden for 10 days. When I saw this book on the library shelf, it seemed like the perfect non fiction choice.

The author is clear that walking is good for us on many different levels. Through walking we can improve our physical health and mental well being. We can strengthen our social and family ties as well as becoming more creative and better able to solve problems. The book contains chapters on how humans came to walk, how our bodies perform the act of walking as well as where and when we walk. He continually emphasises how important walking is for us and how town planners need to think about this need to walk when towns and cities are designed.

The book was a bit harder work than I was expecting as there was a lot more Science detail than I had anticipated. I have to admit that I skim read a couple of chapters as the scientific detail was quite heavy and I lost interest in the points that Shane O’Mara was making.

Mainly though I did enjoy it and found it an interesting and informative read. Some of the things he discussed such as the health benefits weren’t new to me as there have been calls for us to walk more for several years now. However, there were other parts that were new to me. I was really interested in the chapter where he discussed how walking can make people more creative and how the actual rhythm of walking can stimulate our creativity and help us solve problems.

I also liked the quotations that were scattered through the book from different writers who have also found enjoyment or inspiration while walking including T S Eliot and Wordsworth.

If you’re interested in reading a Science based book about walking, then this is definitely the book for you.

WWW Wednesday – January 26

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It’s Wednesday again. Doesn’t it come round quickly? Wednesday means that it’s 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’m currently reading

Book Cover

I was attracted by this gorgeous cover in the library last week. It’s a series set in the early 1930s but not having read the previous books doesn’t appear to be affecting my enjoyment of this one. It’s about a murder that takes place in a theatre and I’m really enjoying it so far.

My second non fiction book of the year and it’s only January!! This is quite dry and Scientific in places so I’m reading it a little and often.

What I have recently finished reading

This was a really good alternative history novel. I reviewed it on Monday and you can read it here

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I’ve also been working my way along my Net Galley shelf and I finished this one on Monday. I love Erica James and this was just as good as her previous novels. I’ll post my review nearer to the publication date in March.

What I am intending to read next

I’m looking forward to this epic fantasy which has all of the traditional elements of a good fantasy novel. It was recommended by another blogger but sadly, I can’t remember who 😒 One of my resolutions this year is to try and keep better records of where I get book recommendations from.

That’s my current reading state of affairs. How’s your Wednesday looking?

Top 5 Tuesday- 5 Books that changed my life

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for Jan- Mar see Meeghans page here

This week’s prompt is 5 books that changed my life! Eeeeek! I’m not sure that I would say that any book had actually changed my life but as I spend a large proportion of my time reading, I guess those books that formed my reading habits would qualify. So here is my list of 5 books that influenced my reading habits today.

The Chronicles of Narnia sparked my love of fantasy novels and in particular, introduced me to the idea of a series of books all set in the same place. I loved the idea of being able to revisit Narnia and remember my excitement when I discovered that there were more books after being read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at school

As a teenager, I avidly read all of Jean Plaidy’s historical novels but the one that really stands out is Sharon Penman’s novel based on Richard III. This book turned me into a lifelong Yorkist and as a family, we spent hours visiting the places associated with Richard such as Middleham and Richmond in Yorkshire.

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The book that I first remember being almost obsessed by and rereading was Masha. I absolutely loved this book. I remember getting it from the library and reading it when I was about 10 or 11. The story of Masha at her school in Russia really gripped my imagination and I read it and reread it constantly for the three weeks that I was allowed to keep it. I still love to reread favourite novels even though I know them almost by heart.

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Agatha Christie sparked my enduring love of detective fiction both in books and on the TV screen. My mother and I share this love and still swap our books and compare notes on the TV series that we watch.

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Studying Hamlet for A level back in the 1970’s introduced me to Shakespeare. For the first time, I realised that even though a book might be difficult, it’s still worth persevering with. I love Shakespeare and have seen most of his plays. Hamlet remains one of my favourites though and I have seen it at least 4 times.

I’m not sure that these books have actually changed my life but they have certainly influenced it and they are all stand out memories in my reading life. What books have influenced you?

Widowland – A review

Widowland is the second book that I have read this year as part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. The challenge is hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader and details and the sign up page can be found here

To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature.

London, 1953, Coronation year – but not the Coronation of Elizabeth II.

Who doesn’t love books about books. I love reading books about people who love books, books set in bookshops or books about libraries. Widowland is a book about books but it’s a million miles from some of the others that I have read which tend to be very warm hearted and optimistic.

It’s an alternative history book set in a Britain which allied itself with Germany in WWII and is now a protectorate of the Alliance. George VI and his daughters have mysteriously disappeared and the country is preparing for the coronation of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

Life in 1950’s is very grey and hard for a lot of people. Most of the young men and resources including food and raw materials are being shipped across to mainland Europe. The biggest change is in the lives of women. They are definitely second class citizens and have to be allocated a place in the caste system on their sixteenth birthday. The caste system rates each woman according to her family background, intelligence and child bearing abilities. At the top of the system are the Gelis, intelligent pretty women who can get good jobs. At the bottom of the system are the Friedas, the over 50s widows who have no man to look after them and so cannot add anything useful to the Alliance. Your place in the caste system dictates your entire life: the amount of food you eat, the clothes you wear and where you live. Friedas are condemned to live in slum areas, only do the poorest work and are only allocated enough food to barely keep them alive. No women are allowed to go to university and girls are not allowed to be taught to read until they are 8.

Rose Ransom is a member of the Elite caste, the Gelis. Her job is to rewrite those classic novels that might cause problems for women’s ideas. The authorities want to remove any words that might make women unhappy with their lot. She reads the novels and changes sentences, paragraphs or whole chapters to make the books acceptable to the new regime. She has a German lover and at the beginning of the book, appears relatively happy with her situation.

I love alternative history books as I really enjoy the ideas that authors have about how our society and world might be different if something had happened differently. This is a scary look at how life in Britain might have been under the Nazis. I know from History books that life in the years after the war was difficult for many people and this is portrayed extremely well. C J Carey creates a very believable society although it worried me how passive everyone is. Would people have accepted the caste system with so little protest? I truly hope that real life wouldn’t be like that.

The strength of this book is in how clearly the author creates the alternative Britain of 1953. The actual plot involving painting subversive quotations onto buildings is secondary to Rose’s conversations with the Friedas and her gradual realisation that things are a lot more wrong than she believed.

The part played by literature is integral to the ideas in the book. Reading is discouraged and illiteracy is not seen as a problem. Reading might make people think about their lives and want more than they currently have. Rose changes Eliza Bennett so that she becomes more meek and dutiful and fits the ideal picture of a young woman. Jane Eyre is almost too difficult to deal with as Jane is a lower caste female who aspires to a higher caste male. And the Alliance method of dealing with mental illness seems to be to just make the people disappear. However, as she reads these classic novels, the ideas begin to take root in her mind. As she reads the story of Dorothea in Middlemarch, Rose sees her own life.

This book obviously has echoes of A Handmaid’s Tale and Fatherland but C J Carey has created something very different. It contains a warning about the importance of literacy and literature and what may be lost if people lose the habit of reading even though, as the author acknowledges, it requires discipline.
It made me think about the situation in some countries where women are not given equal access to education but also in our own country where many children do not choose to read.

This is a bleak book in many ways but a compelling read despite that.

Sundays in bed with ………. Widowland

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). This week, the book is Widowland by C J Carey.

To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature.

London, 1953, Coronation year – but not the Coronation of Elizabeth II.

Thirteen years have passed since a Grand Alliance between Great Britain and Germany was formalized. George VI and his family have been murdered and Edward VIII rules as King. Yet, in practice, all power is vested in Alfred Rosenberg, Britain’s Protector. The role and status of women is Rosenberg’s particular interest.

Rose Ransom belongs to the elite caste of women and works at the Ministry of Culture, rewriting literature to correct the views of the past. But now she has been given a special task.

Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country; graffiti daubed on public buildings. Disturbingly, the graffiti is made up of lines from forbidden works, subversive words from the voices of women. Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. These women are known to be mutinous, for they have nothing to lose.

Before the Leader arrives for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward and Queen Wallis, Rose must infiltrate Widowland to find the source of this rebellion and ensure that it is quashed.

The cover attracted me to this book in the library on Friday especially that heading. It’s an alternative history set in a London where Britain is part of the Nazi ruled Alliance. Life in 1950s London is very grey with most resources and young men diverted to mainland Europe. Women are definitely second class citizens and are separated into castes according to their family, intelligence and child bearing abilities. The castes dictate what jobs they can do, the clothes they can wear and even the amount of food that they are allowed to eat. The lowest of all the castes are the ‘Friedas’: those women over 50 who have no man to look after them. They are condemned to live in the slum areas and are only allowed enough rations to just keep them alive.

There are a lot of echoes of Handmaid’s Tale and Fatherland but I guess that it’s inevitable. I love the detail of the alternative life that is led by the characters and it all seems very real. The caste system is incredibly well thought out and quite scary that a society could operate in this way.

Rose’s job is to rewrite classic books. The authorities have decided that the classics are too well known to simply be destroyed so instead, problematic themes are rewritten to suit the new society. Jane Eyre is a real problem with a lower caste woman falling in love with a high caste male. Little Women is mainly acceptable as Jo March ends up marrying her German and having sons – a perfect ending. I really like the different books chosen and the choice of sentences that caused Rose problems.

I’m about a third of the way through at the moment and definitely interested to see how this develops.

Stacking the Shelves 26

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It’s Saturday and the sun is shining. Welcome to the weekend and Stacking the Shelves. Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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 is also how I manage to read a lot of newly released hardbacks as I can order them. Sometimes they can take quite a while to arrive if a title is really popular though.

This week’s library haul

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
This is the only book that I ordered in this week’s haul. It’s the second part of the Raybearer duology. I read Raybearer towards the end of last year and loved it so I’m really looking forward to reading the next part of the story.

Widowland by C J Carey
This one sounds so intrigu ing. It’s an alternative history where Britain and Germany became allies in WWII and Edward VIII is on the throne. The authorities are rewriting books to change people’s views. A group of women who live in area called Widowland appear to be rebelling against this. I am definitely looking forward to reading this.

An Act of Villainy by Ashley Weaver
I saw this on the shelf and was immediately attracted by the cover. It’s a murder mystery set in 1933 London. Hope that it’s as good as the cover promises.

In Praise of Walking by Shane O’Mara
This will hopefully be my next non-fiction read. Walking is my main form of exercise so it seemed like a good idea to find out a bit more about the Science.

So far, I have resisted the temptation to request any more books from NetGalley so these four are the only additions to my shelves this week.

What have you added to your bookshelf?