The Darkness Manifesto – #bookreview

The Darkness Manifesto by Johan Eklof

The Darkness Manifesto is a well-researched book on the effects of our ever-increasing love of artificial light on our world. I was aware of the effect of light pollution on our night skies and have seen several studies on the need for humans to maintain their circadian rhythms but I had no idea about the implications for wildlife. Even basic information that bats and moths are important pollinators was new to me.

The author is a bat scientist and there is a heavy emphasis on bats during the book but also on birds and other creatures such as coral . I found the book to be extremely informative and it certainly made me aware of issues that I had not previously thought of. It was probably especially apt to read this over the Christmas and New Year period when our towns and homes are all illuminated even more than usual. I love seeing all the lights and enjoy seeing buildings such as old churches lit up without ever having thought of the wider implications before.

The facts and figures that he quotes are unbelievable. I had never really thought about moths as pollinators but they are as important as bees. The dangers of pesticides to bees and sudden colony deaths are quite widely known but this is the first time that I have read anything about the devastating effects of artificial light on moths and insects. The author tells us that the number of insect species is decreasing by 3% every year and so the disruptive effects of light on them becomes even more important.

He also looks at the effects on humans of the tendency to live in a world which is never dark and some of the figures that he quotes about hormone based cancers are quite scary.

The book is very research heavy and at times, I found it to be quite disjointed and lacking a strong narrative flow. There were several times when he cited a specific incident or piece of research and then just moved straight onto something else when I expected that he would discuss this further.

I did enjoy reading this and certainly learned a lot from it. It is obviously an important issue and  I especially liked the final part which is his Darkness Manifesto, a series of simple actions that anyone can do.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Darkness Manifesto was published by Random House UK in November 2022.

This is my first read for the Non Fiction Reader Challenge 2023

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New Year NetGalley

Happy 2023 everyone!!

I thought I would use today, which is a public holiday here in the UK, to look at my NetGalley shelves. I joined NetGalley in June 2021 after seeing so many bloggers talk about books that they had received as ARCs and since then I’ve read and reviewed 192 books. It’s a brilliant way to discover new authors and I’ve read so many books that I never would have discovered otherwise.

It can be a bit dangerous though as it is basically a sweet shop for book lovers and it’s all too easy to request everything that takes your eye. Or in my case, all those books that I see mentioned on other blogs and I just go over to Net Galley to see if it’s available here. It is – brilliant – that’s another one added to my shelf. 😃

I have tried lately to reduce my requests so that my shelf stays manageable. I’ve currently got 20 books on my shelf waiting to be read and I would really like to get that down to single figures. That probably isn’t going to happen though.

This is what I currently have waiting to be read and I am really looking forward to reading all of them:

January Releases

February Releases

March Releases

April Releases

May Releases

Releases June and after

Non Fiction

I try to read my books more or less in publication order and to get them read and reviewed before they are actually published. At the moment it’s working out to about one a week which is perfectly manageable. That is of course, unless I spot unmissable books with a January or February publication date.

The odd one out is the non fiction book, The Darkness Manifesto, which was published in November 22. However, I wasn’t approved for it until after publication date so I don’t feel too badly about not having read it yet. I will start it this week.

My review rating is currently 89% and it would be nice to get it above 90. I’m at 192 books reviewed so I’m well on the way to getting to 200. Do I get a new badge? That would be quite nice😃

Do you read Net Galley ARCs? What is your current shelf looking like?

The Golden Oldies Book Club – A review

The Golden Oldies Book Club by Judy Leigh

I loved this story of a group of older women who come together in a book club. The main character is 72 year old Jeannie who runs her family’s cider business but is beginning to feel that life has passed her by. She lives with her 95 year old mother and two teenage grandchildren. She has lived in the village of Combe Pomeroy all her life but is beginning to wonder what she has left to look forward to.

The village book club of the title is run by the librarian Ruth and I enjoyed the discussions that they had about the books such as Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D’Ubervilles. There were some very spirited exchanges between Jeannie and her friends and Mark with his very dated attitudes.

Other members of the book club are also feeling unhappy with their lives and so after discussing The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Ruth decides to organise a trip to Brittany for herself and her friends. The five women set off to Normandy where they will stay on a local cider farm. The scenes in France were my favourite parts of the book especially the scene where they go sand yachting. The trip makes each of the women really think about what they want from life.

This was a lovely story about the fact that it is never too late to follow your dreams. I loved each of the five main female characters. As we got to know them we found that each of them had their own particular demons to deal with. We saw how the friendship between the five of them deepened during their stay in France and each of them had a satisfying story arc.

Jeannie’s family is the real backdrop of the story. Her mother Violet provides a lot of the humour in the story with a constant stream of jokes and puns. I think that living with her would be more than I could cope with but the relationship between her and Jeannie was full of affection. The two grandchildren also both have important roles to play as Jeannie begins to see that her future holds more than just more of the same day to day routine.

I really loved this story. It’s refreshing to have older characters as the main protagonists but I also enjoyed the real mix of ages in this novel. I haven’t read any of Judy Leigh’s previous books but I certainly will look out for them after reading this one.

Thank you to Net Galley and Boldwood Books for my ARC.

The Golden Oldies Book Club was published on December 6th 2022

Sundays in bed with ……… The Marriage Act

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 arm of my sofa) is The Marriage Act by John Marrs

Blurb from Net Galley:
What if marriage was the law? Dare you disobey?

Britain. The near-future. A right-wing government believes it has the answer to society’s ills – the Sanctity of Marriage Act, which actively encourages marriage as the norm, punishing those who choose to remain single.

But four couples are about to discover just how impossible relationships can be when the government is monitoring every aspect of our personal lives, monitoring every word, every minor disagreement . . . and will use every tool in its arsenal to ensure everyone will love, honour and obey.

This is definitely a contrast to the Christmassy haul of books that I got from the library yesterday. I love novels that look at how society might evolve in the near future even though they are often very bleak and this one is no exception.

Marriage is seen as the best way of living and those couples who agree to ‘upscale’ their relationships get social benefits such as better housing, jobs and education chances for their children. However, they also agree to have an ‘audite’ installed in their house which will listen randomly to conversations and if their relationship is deemed to be in difficulties, help will be given and maybe the couple will be allocated a ‘Relationship Responder’ who will live with them and steer them through the tricky patch. When the relationship responder in question is a predator more intent on finding a partner for themselves, this can lead to disaster.

This is a very dark book and very few of the characters are particularly likeable but I am extremely intrigued by the plots in the novel.

This is one of the books currently on my Net Galley shelf and will be released early next year

Cosy Crime – A trio of reviews

I love crime and mystery novels and have done ever since being brought up on the mystery and adventure stories of Enid Blyton as a child. I enjoy the whole range including authors such as M W Craven and Robert Bryndza but I also like a gentle cosy crime mystery sometimes. It’s nice to have a relaxing read after some of the grittier novels around. I seem to have a read quite a few lately so I thought I would do a post containing 3 shortish reviews of my recent reading.

All three books were provided to me as ARCs by Net Galley and the publishers but my opinions are entirely my own.

Death at the Auction by E C Bateman
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set in the historic town of Stamford, this murder set in the antiques trade is a brilliantly plotted mystery. Felicia Grant rushes to Stamford to run her father’s auction one Saturday after he fell over the cat and broke his leg. The auction is proceeding normally until things are disrupted by her ex-husband suddenly appearing on the scene and the discovery of a dead body in a wardrobe. After that inauspicious start, life gets even more complicated for poor Felicia who finds that she is not only a suspect in the investigation but also that there seem to be attempts being made on her life.

It’s less of an amateur sleuth mystery than some cosy crime novels as the local police are definitely in charge including the almost sinister Inspector who has the extremely inappropriate name of Heavenly. However, despite threats to her safety, Felicia is unable to keep out of the investigation and she is the one to find the key to everything that has gone on. 

I really enjoyed this crime story. The antique trade is a great set up for a murder mystery with plenty of eccentric characters to add local colour.  The characters of Felicia and her son and ex-husband are interesting and I enjoyed the family dynamics between them. There is a fair amount of humour interspersed with the drama and plenty of red herrings to keep the reader on their toes. I love novels when I can visualise the setting and the town of Stamford is vividly described which was a real plus for me.

I can definitely see this series being one that I need to look out for.

Death at the Auction is published by One More Chapter on 24th November 2022

Waste of a Life by Simon Brett
⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love Simon Brett’s crime mysteries and this relatively new series is a great addition to his books. A Waste of a Life is the third in the Decluttering series but I think that you could easily read it as a stand alone.

Ellen’s job as a declutterer takes her into people’s houses and these people are often elderly or vulnerable so possibly easy victims. This time she goes and works at the house of Cedric who has become a recluse after the death of his wife. On one of her regular visits, she discovers him dead in bed. Ellen assumes that he has died of natural causes but the post mortem reveals traces of poison and the police become involved. Ellen is also working at the house of Mim, a retired school teacher who led a very active social life in the 1960’s. At first Mim and Cedric appear to have nothing in common but gradually a link appears between them.

I really enjoyed this mystery. There were a lot of twists and turns which kept me interested and I liked the host of secondary characters. This is a cosy crime novel but Simon Brett still keeps us in touch with reality. Mim increasingly suffers from dementia and there are several characters in the book with mental health problems including both of Ellen’s children. The book is set very firmly in the city of Chichester which is another thing that I love about it. I always enjoy it when I can visualise where characters are in a book.

Waste of a Life is published by Severn House on December 6th 2022

An Act of Foul Play by T E Kinsey
⭐⭐⭐

This is the ninth outing for Lady Emily Hardcastle and her maid Flo and the setting is now 1911. Lady Emily is at the theatre for a birthday treat with her maid and partner in crime solving Flo, when a murder occurs. As the curtain rises for the second act of a comedy, one of the actors is discovered on stage having been stabbed to death.

I have enjoyed the previous books in this series and this one felt like discovering old friends. The dialogue between Lady Hardcastle and Flo is still as sharp as ever and they are joined this time by Flo’s identical twin sister which adds to the fun.

The plot was an interesting one and I loved the theatrical theme. The usual characters were joined by the members of the theatrical company with lots of red herrings being scattered around as Emily and Flo try to discover who had a motive for the killing. As usual, a lot of time is spent on the details of their normal lives which I normally enjoy. However, I felt that this time, the murder mystery was almost secondary and there seemed to be little tension or impetus to find the identity of murderer.

It’s a fun read for lovers of this series but I don’t think that it is one of the author’s best.

An Act of Foul Play is published by Amazon Publishing on 29th November 2022

Do you enjoy cosy crime series or would you rather read the likes of M W Craven? Or maybe, like me, you enjoy both. Let me know 😃

Stacking the Shelves 69

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It’s Saturday again. Doesn’t it come around quickly? This weekend we’ve treated ourselves to a weekend on the south coast. I’m enjoying typing this while looking out at the sea from my hotel bedroom window. Then we’re off out for a walk along the beach. Apparently, the temperature is about 5 degrees C so we need to wrap up!

View through my hotel room window

The Christmas decorations are already up and lit too which means that’s really pretty at night time.

Saturday means 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. I’m a great supporter of libraries, mainly because I could never afford to buy all the books that I want to read, and visit mine every week whenever possible. I love the fact that I can look at the online catalogue and request books to borrow. This is great for books that are recommended to me by different bookbloggers.

However this week, as we’re away on the coast for the weekend, I haven’t been to the library. As I haven’t got any new library books, this week’s post is the books that I have recently added to my Net Galley shelf.

I keep trying not to add books as I’m trying to keep the numbers down so that I can review them all before their publication dates. It’s so difficult though. Especially when I see reviews on blogs of ARCs and then I go and see if it’s available here in the UK. It is! Ooops, that’s another book added to my shelf😲
The books are so good though and my review rating is still at 90% which I ‘m pleased about.

These are the ARCs that I have been approved for in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been requesting a few more light hearted books lately rather than my normal crime or epic fantasy. I think my brain needs a rest after Babel and the latest Robert Galbraith!

The Golden Oldies Book Club Judy Leigh
A book club formed mainly of older women and the second chances that they get to find love and romance. I love Judy Leigh’s books and I’m really looking forward to this.

The Ivory Tomb by Melissa Caruso
This is the concluding novel in the Melissa Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin trilogy. I’ve enjoyed this although not quite as much as the previous trilogy but then it was always going to be hard to beat that as I loved it so much.

Sunrise with the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please
60 year old Elin Anderson is newly single and decides that it’s time for an adventure so she heads off to Australia to visit relatives. While she’s there, she joins the Silver Surfers club and heads off to the coast and the waves.
Another book about older people having fun which definitely appeals.

The London Seance Society by Sarah Penner
Seances and murders all set in 1873 in Paris and London. This one sounds like a brilliant read.

That’s what I’ve added to my online shelves over the past couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to reading all of them.

What’s been added to your bookshelves this week?

Ocean’s Echo – A review

Winter’s Orbit was my favourite Science Fiction novel of 2021 and I was really excited when I was approved for the ARC of this next book by Evarina Maxwell.

Blurb from Net Galley:
When Tennal – a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster – is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him.

Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds.

Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.

This is another brilliant Science Fiction story with a side order of romance from Evarina Maxwell. Ocean’s Echo is set in the same universe as Winter’s Orbit but on a completely different planet system with a totally different civilisation. Here, military organisations are everywhere and seem to be pretty much all powerful. They influence the planetary governments and have the power to conscript people that might be useful to them.

Some of the population have had their brains modified and that has resulted in two groups: Architects who can impose their will on others and Readers who can read people’s thoughts. The second is illegal and readers are generally conscripted into the military where they help pilot spacecraft through the dangers of space.

Tennal is a rich socialite reader who is becoming out of control and using his talents in a way that borders on illegal so he is conscripted into the military. There he is almost forced to bond with Surit, a young lieutenant who is also a high functioning architect in the expectation that Surit will control Tennal’s abilities. Surit is honorable to extreme lengths and is horrified by the fact that Tennal is being forced into this bond so together they agree to fake it. The two men very quickly realise that things are not quite as they first appear and become involved in the wider politics of the group of planets. This includes finding remnants of a lost civilisation which have very strange powers and becoming involved in a military coup. 

I loved both the characters of Tennal and Surit and they complemented each other perfectly while being complete opposites. I also enjoyed the minor characters of Basavi and Istara who had their own mini romance woven into the plot as well as some great dialogue including brilliant one line put downs for Tennal. The plot of the story and the politics were great but this is very much a character driven novel which I love.

This took a bit longer for me to settle into than Winter’s Orbit but once I was partway through the story, I was hooked. The author’s style is very easy to read even when the ideas are ones that I struggle to get my head around and I loved the world building. I am always in awe of Science Fiction writers who manage to come up with weird and wonderful concepts such as neuro-modifications and then weave stories around them. I loved the idea of the Architects and Readers and the resolution was completely satisfying.

I can’t wait to read whatever Everina Maxwell comes up with next.

Pages Unbound are hosting a year long Support Book Blogger event and this months challenge is to link your posts to 5 other blogs. So if you want to read other reviews of this book, why not visit Biblionerd or Series Book Lover .

Thank you to Net Galley and Little Brown Book Group for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Ocean’s Echo was published in the UK by Orbit on 1st November 2022

Snowed in for Christmas – Book Review #blogtober

You know it’s nearly Christmas when the snowy scenes start appearing on the covers of the new releases. Sarah Morgan is one of my favourite Christmas authors and I was thrilled when I was approved to read this year’s Christmas release by her.

This was the perfect Christmas read

The Miller Family always celebrate Christmas together in the Scottish highlands but this year, all three siblings have secrets that they don’t want their parents to know about. Meanwhile, PR expert Lucy is in danger of losing her job if she can’t win a major piece of work so she decides to travel to Scotland and deliver her proposal in person in the hope that this will enable her to get in ahead of the competition. However, none of them paid any attention to the weather forecast!

The result is that the entire family plus Lucy are snowed in together for the days immediately before Christmas. The grown-up siblings Ryan, Alice and Clemmie all try to avoid awkward questions from their parents which leads to misunderstandings all round. As I read it, I laughed, cringed at some of the actions taken and had a lump in my throat on several occasions.

I love the family relationships in this book. The bickering siblings who still always look out for each other feel very real as does Mum Glenda who feels guilty that her children don’t feel that they can’t talk to her. The comment “Your child is always your child, no matter how old they are. You want the best for them” stood out a mile for me as it is so true. That’s what I love about Sarah Morgan. Her characters feel like real people and do and say things that you can imagine being said by people you know or by yourself.

The siblings all love each other and each have their own characters. They were all interesting but I empathised most with Alice. Her ability to be perfectly competent in her professional life but feel totally inadequate in her personal life really struck a chord with me. I loved the way her relationships with her fiance and her family worked themselves out.

The stand-out character for me was that of Nanna Jean who at 86, is not changing her attitudes  towards anything and provides a lot of the comic relief in the book. She definitely reminds me of my own mother who is a very similar age and has a similar attitude to doing exactly what she wants.

It’s a Christmas romance and we know how the characters are likely to end up but it’s how they arrive there that makes Sarah Morgan’s books so special.

I loved this book and it really put me in the mood for Christmas and making some shortbread.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, HQ, for providing the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Snowed in for Christmas was released in the UK on October 27th

This is my final post for Blogtober 2022. I have published a post every day for the whole of this month!!!!!!

Stacking the Shelves 66

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It’s Saturday again. Doesn’t it come around quickly? We’re hurtling towards Halloween and the end of October. Tonight we revert to Greenwich Mean Time for the Winter months. That means an extra hour in bed tomorrow and lighter mornings but I hate the way that it gets dark so early in the evenings

Saturday means 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. I’m a great supporter of libraries, mainly because I could never afford to buy all the books that I want to read, and visit mine every week whenever possible. I love the fact that I can look at the online catalogue and request books to borrow. This is great for books that are recommended to me by different bookbloggers.

However this week, I haven’t been to the library. There aren’t any books for me to collect and I currently have 4 library books that I haven’t even started so I don’t feel any lack of reading material at the moment. As I haven’t got any new library books, this week’s post is the books that I have recently added to my Net Galley shelf.

I keep trying not to add books as I’m trying to keep the numbers down so that I can review them all before their publication dates. It’s so difficult though. Especially when I see reviews on blogs of ARCs and then I go and see if it’s available here in the UK. It is! Ooops, that’s another book added to my shelf😲

These are the ARCs that I have been approved for in the past couple of weeks.

A Marriage of Fortune by Anne O’Brien
The Paston Diaries are a famous resource for historians about the Wars of the Roses and this historical novel is the story of three Paston women during that time. I love this period of history and am really looking forward to reading this one.

The Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza
This is the latest novel by one of my favourite crime writers. This is the new instalment in Kate Marshall’s life. She meets an elderly woman, Jean, in hospital and hears about how her son went missing on Dartmoor years ago. As she begins to investigate this, she finds that Jean is not all that she seems and that a murder is also connected to her.

The Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan
This is the sequel to the brilliant Daughter of the Moon Goddess which I read a few months ago. A couple of reviews say that this latest book is even better than the first one so definitely one to look forward to.

The Marriage Act by John Marrs
This is a thriller set in Britain in the near future where the government have decided that marriage should be almost compulsory and those who choose to remain single are punished.
I love books that explore ways that society might change and this one sounds fascinating. Apparently there is a Netflix series, The One, which is set in the same world which I might also explore.

A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
This is the follow up book to the brilliant A Marvellous Light and focuses on Maud, who featured in the first book but wasn’t a major character. This book has magic, an ocean voyage and a parrot so certainly sounds entertaining.

Found in a Bookshop by Stephanie Butland
Any book that has ‘Bookshop’ in the title is always worth looking at. This is the story of a second hand bookshop and how it survives during lockdown by recommending books and posting them out to people. It has some great reviews and sounds like a really heart-warming read.

That’s what I’ve added to my online shelves over the past couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to reading all of them.

What’s been added to your bookshelves this week?

This is post 29 for Blogtober 2022

Blogtober 10 – Murder in Tuscany – a review

I read a lot of what is classed as ‘cosy crime’. It’s undemanding but the puzzles are generally interesting so it’s a great form of relaxation. There are so many new series that it’s hard for any one to stand out. I did however, think that this one is a brilliant start to a new series set in the gorgeous Tuscan countryside

DCI Dan Armstrong has retired and for a retirement gift, his colleagues have brought him a two week writing course high in the hills of Tuscany. The joke is that the course is a course in erotic writing! His fellow course members are a varied lot including a brother and sister who seem far too close in the wrong sort of way and a couple of elderly ladies who write extremely erotic fiction. It doesn’t take long for the murder to occur and Armstrong becomes involved in the investigation.

I really liked the character of Dan Armstrong and feel that this will be an interesting series. As an ex-detective, it doesn’t feel unreasonable that he would become part of the investigation and the growing friendship between him and the Italian detective in charge of the case feels very realistic. Dan is on a journey through this book as he comes to terms with his retirement as well as his impending divorce and I enjoyed seeing how he developed through the novel.

The other course members were interesting with very varied backgrounds meaning that any of them could have been the murderer. There were some great scenes with snappy dialogue which made me laugh out loud at some points. In addition, there is also a gorgeous, cute dog. An unruly pet seems almost obligatory in cosy crime stories at the moment but Oscar is one of the best I have come across.

However, the stand-out character for me was Tuscany itself; the descriptions of the towns and villages as well as the meals eaten were a great addition to an intriguing mystery. The detail was enough to really let the reader picture the scene but not overwhelming and I always love novels that transport me to somewhere new.

This was an intriguing mystery with lots of plot twists which certainly kept me interested.

I’ve never read any of this author’s previous novels but I will certainly look out for the next one in this series.

Thank you to Net Galley and Boldwood Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Murder in Tuscany will be published on October 18th 2022