Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Books of 2022 (so far)

Welcome to this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. 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 April to June see Meeghans page here.

AAAAAAAAAGH!!!! How can I be expected to choose my top 5 books? I’ve read some amazing books this year and picking 5 is just going to be hard.

To narrow it down, I’m going for my top 5 fantasy books that I’ve read this year so far.

Each one of these was a 5 star read for me and they were all by authors that I hadn’t read before this year.

Have you read any of these? What would be in your top 5 so far this year?

Stacking the Shelves 49

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It’s Saturday again and this weekend we are sweltering in the Summer weather of Kansas City. We’re getting up really early to enjoy the day before the temperatures go soaring off into the stratosphere.

Kansas City Botanical Garden

Saturday means that it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. 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.

However, as we’re on holiday in the US this week, I haven’t made my weekly trip to the library so my post is about the actual books that I have bought in the past couple of weeks. I needed a good supply of books to occupy myself on the two flights we’ve taken this week as well as on the return next week so I added a couple of physical books from Waterstones as well as two on my kindle.

I have fantasy and crime fiction so I’m well stocked for the next week. Not to mention a quick trip to Barnes and. Noble this afternoon.

Despite so many gorgeous books to tempt me, I only bought one

What have you added to your shelves this week?

WWW Wednesday June 29

Welcome to Wednesday. Unusually, this post is coming to you from a completely different continent as we’ve swapped the Midlands of England for Mid USA. We are currently in Chicago where we are spending a short time before travelling on to Kansas City tomorrow to visit my Daughter. I haven’t seen her since she left for the States at the start of February so I’m soooooo looking forward to seeing her again.

View from our hotel in Chicago

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 simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week. As we’ve had a long haul flight, I’ve had plenty of time to read in the past couple of days.

What I’m currently reading

The Rising Tide by Ann CLeeves
Vera Stanhope is probably my favourite fictional detective and I’ve been looking forward to reading this for ages. I’m really enjoying meeting her and her colleagues again. This is a Net Galley ARC and won’t actually be released until September.

What I have recently finished reading

The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson
I love this series set in the 1930’s and featuring author Josephine Tey. The historical detail, the characters and the mysteries themselves are all brilliantly done. It’s one of my favourite series.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
This was a brilliant book. It was very long and there were bits that I skipped over although I had to be careful as a couple of times, the bits that I had skimmed over ended up being really important to the plot and I had to go back to them. It’s probably not the best book to start reading Dickens but certainly worth reading all this time after it was written

The Darkening by Sunya Mara
This was a good first novel in a new fantasy series. It’s a YA but the world building was really good and I liked the plot.

A Death in Mayfair by Mark Ellis
I loved the previous books about Inspector Merlin and set in London during WWII. I hadn’t realised that there were a couple of newer books that I hadn’t read and was very excited to add them to my kindle. I loved this one and still have another one to read.

The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas
This was a cute romance set in a village on the edge of the Cotswolds. The main character was a young teacher suffering from stress so there was definitely a strong sense of empathy there. The sub plot about her researching the local history and finding out about some of the less well known work of Bletchley Park was really interesting too.

What I am intending to read next


I left this at home so it will probably the first book I read when I get back.

That’s the current state of my reading this week. What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

Sundays in bed with …..The Dead of Winter

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 by my bed (or on the sofa) is The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson.

Blurb from the book:
Writer Josephine Tey and Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose gather with their friends for a Cornish Christmas but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world-famous film star in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and the relentless blizzard, can Josephine and Archie prevent the murderer from striking again?

This is probably the least appropriate book to be reading just as we celebrate Midsummer as it takes place at Christmas 1938 with violent snow storms forming part of the plot. I do love this series by Nicola Upson though and so far, this is just as good as the books I have read previously.

I do sometimes wonder if Blurb writers have actually read the book. The arrival of the film star isn’t unexpected at all but is the whole reason why Penrose is on St Michael’s Mount for Christmas. It’s only a small detail but it is important and I really feel that blurbs should be accurate.

What are you reading this Sunday?

Sundays in bed with…….. An Island Wedding

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 on the arm of my sofa is An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan

Blurb from the book:
Olivia and Anthony are planning A Very Extravagant Wedding at the newest hotel on the tiny Scottish island of Mure. They’re flying in chefs, musicians and something called a living flower wall………… and no-one is allowed to even think the word ‘bridezilla’.

Flora is trying -and failing- not to let Olivia and Anthony’s wedding distract her from planning her own big day with Joel. But the couple have wildly different ideas about how to celebrate and somehow, just when their relationship should be plain sailing, everything suddenly feels very hard indeed.

And then there’s Lorna and Saif. The local headmistress and the GP desperately keeping their relationship a secret to protect his sons . But while they’re looking out for the boys, who’s looking out for them?

This is the fifth book in the Mure Island series and as usual it’s a combination of romance and heartbreak. These books are definitely on the bleaker side of romantic fiction. Yes, there is always romance but it generally comes after a lot of heart ache and even then, there may not be a happy after in store for the couples, I hope that Flora and Joel’s wedding goes OK but I have my doubts about the romance between Lorna and Saif being a happily ever after ending.

What are you reading this Sunday?

Stacking the Shelves 48

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It’s Saturday again and the Summer Solstice has been and gone. This year seems to just be racing away so quickly. There are just 6 months until Christmas!!!!!! Scary or what?

Saturday means that it’s time for my weekly Stacking the Shelves post. 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 I didn’t have any reserved books waiting for me so all my choices are ones that I found on the shelves. I could have picked four crime novels but decided to try and broaden my choices a bit.

The Forgotten Sister – Nicola Cornick
A historical mystery involving Amy Robsart and the favourite courtier of Elizabeth 1, Robert Dudley combined with a present day story involving a musician who causes a scandal at a wedding. I quite like dual time line stories and I’ve heard good things about Nicola Cornick although I haven’t read anything by her before so this seemed like an interesting book to choose.

Dark in Death by J D Robb
Another book in the In Death series. Lovely escapism into futuristic crime solving in New York twenty years from now.

The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson
Maybe I should have hunted down more books by authors called Nicola? This is another in the historical crime series featuring author Josephine Tey. I’ve loved all the others and this one sounds just as good.

The Telephone Box Library by Rachel Lucas
This week’s feel good read concerns a local community trying to set up a volunteer library in a disused telephone box. I’m a sucker for any books with Library in the title and this promises to be a nice light read.

I’ve also still got half of Bleak House and my non fiction book I belong here to read from last week’s library visit so I have plenty to keep me occupied over the next seven days.

What have you added to your bookshelf this week?

Book Blogger Hop June 24

 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 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 week ‘s question is:

This weeks question is:  What is your reading preference – fiction or nonfiction? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer

My reading preference is definitely fiction. I love the way authors transport you to different places and introduce you to characters and situations you would never otherwise meet.

I do enjoy non fiction though. When I was teaching full time, I spent hours reading books about teaching but before I became a teacher I used to read a wider range of non fiction regularly. I’ve tried to pick up the habit again this year and I’ve joined the Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Shelleyrae at Bookd out to help keep my resolution. So far this year, I’ve read 6 non fiction and I’ve just picked up another one from the library so I feel I’m achieving challenge.

What’s your reading preference?

Half a Soul – a review

Genre – Romance, Regency romance, Fantasy
Net Galley ARC
Publication Date – June 30th
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a  gorgeous Regency romance with a healthy dose of magic and a sprinkling of satire.

I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy Half a Soul or not. I love historical fiction and all things Regency but I’m not a convert to stories about the fae and so I didn’t know how I would feel about a book that combined the two. I didn’t need to worry though, Olivia Atwood put the two worlds together and it worked brilliantly.

We first meet Dora as a nine year old when she encounters the fae lord in the local wood. He steals half her soul and she grows up never quite feeling any of the emotions that she is supposed to. The story really begins when Dora accompanies her cousin Violet to London for the season. In London she meets the sorcerer, Lord Sorcier who Violet hopes can free Dora from the fae curse.

I really loved the character of Dora. Her matter of fact manner and bluntness made her an interesting heroine. I enjoyed the way the author really tried to convey how her emotions were blocked by the lack of her soul. She was perfectly matched by the very bad-tempered Lord Sorcier who hated society and the need to be polite. As the story progresses, we find out more about Elias and begin to understand his manner. The book is full of brilliant characters from the master of the workhouse to the Fae lords but one of my favourite characters was Albert, the third son of an earl who Dora’s aunt tries to pair her off with. Their friendship was one of the many strong points of the novel.

The novel did a brilliant job of looking at the unfairness of society too. This is often an issue not covered by Regency romances but Olivia Atwood really showed us the dreadful conditions in the workhouses and how this compared with the opulence of the lives lived by the aristocracy. It was good to see a portrayal of those people who worked to improve the lives of the poor and I loved Albert’s mother who did what she could to help. I was a bit puzzled by Dora’s anger towards Violet when Violet didn’t feel the outrage that Dora expected. It felt a bit illogical because Dora hadn’t understood until she actually saw the workhouse but also her anger seemed a bit out of place with her character and general lack of emotion.

There was so much that I enjoyed about this novel that it is difficult to put it all in one review. One element that I did enjoy was the satirical view of London society. The Fae ball was a great example of this when the author poked fun at the conventions of polite balls through the eyes of the fae.

There were a couple of occasions when the author’s choice of language jarred and didn’t feel appropriate to the period. However, the thing that really spoilt the novel for me was the epilogue. Without giving anything away, it seemed unnecessary and I felt that it actually reduced what had gone before.

Apart from that awkward epilogue, this was a brilliant read for any lover of Regency Romance with a bit of added magic.

Half a Soul is published by Little Brown Book Group on June 30th.

WWW Wednesday June 22

Welcome to Wednesday. The Summer Solstice has been and gone and now the days are already getting shorter even if only by a few seconds each day!! This might be really good news for anyone reading this in Australia. Here, we have clear blue skies and gorgeous sunshine at the moment so Summer really seems to have arrived.

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 simple 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

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I’ve never read much Dickens so I’m working my through his books one a year. Last year I read Great Expectations and this year it’s Bleak House.

The Darkening by Sunya Mara
This is a YA Fantasy novel that I am reading from my Net Galley shelf. I am really enjoying it. Like The Final Strife, it’s about a society dealing with unsolvable problems. Here, the sunlight is disappearing and more and more of the city is being plunged into darkness. Obviously, all the rich people live in the sunlight while the workers suffer the darkness. The characters are interesting and the world building is excellent.

What I have recently finished reading

The City between Two Bridges by Niklas natt och Dag
I didn’t finish this one as it was far too grim. Set in Stockholm in 1794, this was unrelenting in its description of the poverty, despair and cruelty of the people he wrote about. It was really well written and I was interested in the mystery but it was just too much darkness for me.

Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan
This was an interesting novel with dual time line of 1977 and the present day. Lottie Archer, a newly arrived archivist becomes fascinated by the previous owner of a 15th cent painting. Who was Nina and what happened to her? It was an enjoyable read but not gripping.

The Murders at Fleat House by Lucinda Riley
I loved this one. It had echoes of the Malbry books by Joanne Harris with its school setting but was very much a detective based murder mystery. I really liked the character of detective Jazz Harper and the mystery was intriguing. I loved all of the family revelations and relationships that became apparent through the book.

What I am intending to read next

Exit will probably be my next read as a bit of light relief will be very welcome.

That’s the current state of my reading this week. What does your WWW Wednesday look like?

Top 5 Tuesday – Books for a Rainy Day

Welcome to this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. 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 April to June see Meeghans page here.

The sun is shining down out of a clear blue sky but today’s topic is books that you would love to curl up with on a rainy day. If it’s a grey wet day, then there is nothing better than curling up in a comfy chair with a good book so here are my top 5 choices.

I love fantasy and for me, being able to curl up with a really good stand alone fantasy novel is bliss. The Goblin Emperor is one of my absolute favourites. I love this story of Maia who goes from being the despised half goblin son of the Elven Emperor to being placed on the throne and having to deal with all the elvish politics. No great battles or quests, just great characters and an absorbing look at how a society might function

If it’s wet and grey outside, then a book that makes you feel good is what’s needed. I love all of Beth O’Leary’s books but I think that this is my favourite. Leon needs money and Tiffy needs a cheap place to stay. The result, they share the flat but never meet and communicate by post it notes. It’s a brilliant, funny romance and I love it. Definitely a great read for a rainy day.

Another great way to spend a rainy day would be to read the final part of a series. I’ve really enjoyed Jade City and Jade War and I’m really looking forward to sitting down and finding out how the series concludes.

Settling down with a new novel from one of my favourite crime writers would be another great way to spend a rainy. I have always loved the Vera Stanhope series and also the TV series as I think Brenda Blethyn is just brilliant as Vera. The next book in the series is due out in September but I have it sitting on my Net Galley shelf and I’m saving for next week’s long flight to Chicago which is fairly similar to having a rainy day I think .

Another lovely way to spend a rainy day is with an old favourite to have an undemanding couple of hours. Georgette Heyer is my go to author for a cosy read that I know I love. The unknown Ajax is one of my favourites. Hugo returns from the peninsula wars to find that he is unexpectedly heir to his grandfather’s estate. He is one of my favourite of Heyer’s heroes and this like all of them, is a lovely warm hearted story.

What would be your top picks to read on a rainy day?