Poetry Challenge – Week 4

It’s the fourth week of my personal poetry challenge to try and read at least one poem a week during 2022. After finishing my book of Thomas Hardy’s poems which often had a sad, reflective tone, I thought I would go for something hopefully a bit more cheerful.

I bought this book a year ago in the Waterstones half price sale and until this week, it’s sat unopened on my bookshelf. This anthology is full of poems to lift you up and keep you going when things get tough because ‘Tomorrow is Beautiful’.

My favourite poem so far is one by Jackie Kay who is a Scottish poet so it seems appropriate to choose this one in the week when we celebrated Burn’s Night. It’s also very apt for New Year being all about those resolutions that we make.

Promise
Remember the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance
On thick white snow

You vow fresh footprints
then watch them go
with the wind’s hearty gust.
Fill your glass. Here’s tae us. Promises
made to be broken, made to last.

Jackie Kay

I love the fact that it’s OK not to keep those resolutions. Some promises are made to be broken, others will last.

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WWW Wednesday January 24

It’s Wednesday and that 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

The Mitford Secret by Jessica Fellowes

This is the final book in the mystery series featuring the Mitford sisters and their old nursery maid, Louisa Cannon. In this book we have reached 1941 and the youngest sister Debo, now married to the younger son of the Duke of Devonshire, invites as many of her family as she can get together to Chatsworth for Christmas. The war plays a large part in the book with a lot about rationing and the lack of food as well as the men being elsewhere. Louisa gets involved with looking into the mysterious disappearance of a young maid 25 years ago and then there is another murder.

The Shadow Casket by Chris Wooding
I’ve finally got around to starting this ARC. It’s a brilliant epic fantasy book full of journeys, battles against evil and great characters. It’s quite a hefty book at 800 pages so it’s taking a while to get through.

What I have recently finished reading

I loved this second book in the Realm Breaker series. It has all the things I want in a fantasy especially great characters. I especially enjoyed the character of Erika who has not turned out how anybody might have expected. I hope that we don’t have to wait too long before the next book comes out. After finishing The Shadow Casket, I might leave Epic Fantasy for a bit. It’s great having two brilliant series to read though.

The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Wolf Den. It was still a good read but I missed the strong friendship and loyalty between the girls of the Wolf Den which was such a big feature of the first book. Amara is quite a different character in this volume and can be increasingly ruthless to achieve safety for her and her loved ones.

Angel of Death by J M Dalgliesh

I really like this crime series set on the Norfolk coast. In this new one, the remains of a young woman are discovered. Upon investigation she appears to have been killed only a short time ago but the body is that of a woman who disappeared six years previously.

What I am intending to read next

What are you reading this week?

Top 5 series I will start in 2023 #Top5Tuesday

Happy Tuesday and 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 by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for Oct to Dec see Meeghan’s post here.

This week we are thinking about those book series that we are looking forward to starting in 2023.

This is actually quite a hard prompt as I don’t often plan to begin a series. Mostly I begin series because I spot a book in a bookshop or library. More often now, it’s because I’ve seen a series recommended by another blogger but it does tend to be more spontaneous than planned. However, I have got 5 series that I am planning on beginning in 2023. One of them is a bit of a cheat though as I’ve already started it, but it was only last week so it still counts as new for 2023 😃

This has been on my TBR since it first came out and I bought it on my kindle in the Black Friday sale so I have no excuse for not reading this one soon and then moving onto The Oleander Sword.

This is another first book in a series that I’m looking forward to beginning soon. I loved all of the Powder Mage books and I’m just waiting for this one to be released in paperback.

I have heard loads about Elizabeth Jane Howard’s family epic and I saw that they actually have them all in the library so I’m definitely intending to begin this series soon.

OneBookMore posted a top ten post today about new fantasy authors and one of the ones mentioned was Laura Sebastian. I investigated and The Ash Princess Trilogy sounded like a fun read. Also as it’s currently on Kindle Unlimited, it was a good one to try.

The Darkwater trilogy is perhaps a tiny bit of a cheat as I’ve already read the first two books this month. It’s a brilliant epic fantasy series and as I’ve begun it in 2023, I’m including it in this post 😃

So that’s my Top 5 series that I’m planning on beginning in 2023. Apart from one, they are all fantasy series but other genres don’t seem to lend themselves to completed series in quite the same way.

I’m looking forward to next week’s post which will be a bit easier as I definitely have series that I am hoping to finish this year.

What series are you looking forward to beginning this year or do you prefer stand alone novels?

Best Debut Reads of 2022 #sixforsunday

I haven’t done a Six for Sunday post for ages and ages but it was the first meme that I joined in with when I first started my book blogging journey so I was really pleased that Steph at Alittlebutalot is carrying on with the prompts again. You can read all about Six for Sunday and see the prompts for the first few months of the year here

I love this week’s topic as last year, I read so many brilliant debut novels. The only problem is that I didn’t actually take note of which were debuts and so it’s taken a bit of tracking down but here are six of my favourite debut novels from last year.

There is a real mix here covering all the genres that I love to read but each of them was a fantastic debut.

What were your favourite debut authors of 2022?

Stacking the Shelves 78

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It’s Saturday again and it’s really cold! The canals are frozen and the grasses and hedgerows stay frosty all day.

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!

As usual, my stacking the shelves post is my weekly haul of books from the library and it’s a lovely selection of books that I wanted to read and random picks off the shelf.

Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
This is the sequel to Realm Breaker which I reread last week and I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next to this very random group of people. It’s described as YA fantasy but I’m not sure why. Maybe there’s a bigger market for Y A fantasy than normal adult fantasy?

The Mitford Secret by Jessica Fellowes
I’ve read all of the Mitford mysteries. Each one focuses on a different sister as they grow up. We’ve now reached 1941 and the focus on this story is Deborah, who begins the book by getting married and becoming Lady Cavendish. She invites all of the family to Chatsworth where they all become embroiled in another case of murder. This is the last of the books as Debo is the youngest sister and it will be sad to say good bye to a series that I have really enjoyed.

The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake
This was a random shelf pick. Tess Morgan is hosting a grand opening weekend for her house and garden but the event is plagued by accidents. A family friend doesn’t believe that they are accidents however and sets out to discover the truth.

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle
This is was another random pick off the shelf. This time I was intrigued by the title. Jess is grieving for the loss of her mother but also having to clear her home. She comes across an archive of items known as The Museum of Ordinary People and begins to delve into the history of these objects.

Apparently the book was inspired by the discovery of a box filled with momentos discovered in a skip.

So that’s my latest library haul.

What have you added to your bookshelf this week?

Book Blogger Hop January 20

 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 weeks question is: Do you use social media to keep up with your favourite authors? (Submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer))

I do follow quite a few authors on Twitter. When I was a class teacher, I followed several of my favourite Middle Grade authors who were really active on Twitter and had a lot of great interactions with them. Authors such as Jennifer Killick and Lindsay Galvin almost began to feel like friends as we chatted about their books and other more general stuff.

I do follow adult authors on Twitter too and a couple on Instagram such as Elly Griffiths who posts a lot of pictures of her cat and local scenery as well as book related posts. Many of the authors I follow aren’t particularly active on social media so it’s more just a case of tagging them in reviews etc. It always feels really special when you get a response from an author to a twitter or instagram post though.

Do you follow authors on social media?

Poetry Challenge Week 3

Week Three of my 2023 Poetry Challenge and I have finished reading my Thomas Hardy Collection. I skimmed over a couple of the really long poems but rediscovered one of my favourites which is especially appropriate for this week which has been cold and snowy.

Snow in the Suburbs
Every branch big with it
Bent every twig with it
Every fork like a white web-foot
Every street and pavement mute
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down, they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall

A sparrow enters the tree
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes
And overturns him
And near inurns him
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin
And we take him in.

Thomas Hardy pub 1925

I just love the images in this poem; the snowflakes meandering and drifting back up, the poor sparrow being overturned and nearly buried by the lump of snow and the thin cat seeking shelter. The rhymes make it easy to read and it seems hard to believe that it was written almost a hundred years ago.

I have loved reminding myself of the poems of Thomas Hardy. Next week I want to move on to something that is new to me though.

WWW Wednesday January 18

It’s Wednesday and that 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.

Life has returned to normal with reading this week as the library so I was able to stock up on physical books. I don’t like to read too many ebooks as if I read on ipad too often at night, it seems to interfere with my sleep.

Having no library books did give me time to make inroads into my NetGalley shelf though and I’m now down to a reasonable number of books waiting to be read and reviewed. I’ve also notched up my 200 badge for NetGalley which is quite nice.

What I’m currently reading

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This is a very different book to anything I’ve read lately. Four women, who are trained assassins but now in their 60s, discover that the organisation they have worked for for 40 years is trying to kill them. The story is told through a mixture of present time and flashback chapters of how they became involved with ‘The Museum’ originally. I’m really enjoying the interplay between the 4 women as well as the actual plot which is quite fast moving

What I have recently finished reading

This is the final book in the Green Bone trilogy and I really loved it. It’s basically an old fashioned family saga like Poldark but set in a fantasy world. Time moved on a lot more quickly in this one and society changed. It was brilliant to see how the characters evolved.

Cat Lady by Dawn O’Porter

This one took me a while to get into as initially, I didn’t have any liking for the characters. Gradually though I warmed to Mia’s character and the support group that she comes to be friends with were brilliant. I did still find parts of the book difficult to enjoy and it all seemed to be sewn up a bit too easily at the end considering what had gone before. Not my favourite read this year.

The Three Dahlias by Katy Watson
I loved this one and my review is here

This was a reread after ordering the sequel from the library and then realising that I couldn’t remember a huge amount about this one. It’s a fast moving epic fantasy where a group of very disparate characters are forced to work together to save the world. So far, so ordinary but the characters are interesting and the by-play between them is sparky. The world building is great too and I love the way that some stereotypes are turned upside down. I’m certainly looking forward to reading Blade Breaker next week.

What I am intending to read next

This is the sequel to the brilliant Wolf Den and I’m looking forward to seeing how Amara copes with her new-found freedom.

What are you reading this week?

Top 5 Tuesday – 5 Books you intend to read in 2023

Welcome to Tuesday. The sun is shining here but the ground is white as there was a hard frost last night. Traditional January weather which is so much nicer than the everlasting rain of last week. As it’s Tuesday, it must be time for another Top 5 Tuesday post.

Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for Oct to Dec see Meeghan’s post here.

This week’s theme is those books that you really mean to read in 2023.

The Border by Erika Fatland

I had this non-fiction book on hold at the library for ages last year and it finally arrived in the week before Christmas. We were really busy and I never quite felt in the mood to pick it up so I didn’t get round to reading it. I couldn’t renew it as other people were waiting for it. I currently have it on hold again and when it arrives again, I will definitely read it as it sounds fascinating as the author travels around the border of Russia through all those different places.

The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

One of my challenges is to read more poetry this year and Emily Dickinson is a poet who I have seen quoted so many times but I have never actually read so this book is one that I certainly mean to read.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I read this many years as part of my degree and remember enjoying it. I like to read a classic novel over the Summer and this year I think it will be this one.

The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart

The next two are books that I really looking forward to reading this year. The Bone Shard War is the final part of this trilogy and I am really looking to finding out how it all gets resolved.

Into the West by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar Series is one of my All time favourite series and I really want to read this second volume in the trilogy about how the kingdom was founded. It’s not available in paperback yet though and I want all of my books to match!!!!!!!

That’s my top 5 for this week. What books are you definitely going to read this year?

The Three Dahlias #BookReview

One thing that I love about visiting the library is just spotting books on the shelves and picking them at random. I spotted The Three Dahlias on Friday and was attracted by the cover and then intrigued by the blurb. It seemed like the ideal book for a lazy Saturday evening and I’m very glad that I picked it up.

Dahlia Lively is a fictional detective who has featured in a long running series of books and the three Dahlias are the three actresses who have played her on screen. We have Rosalind who played her in two films on the big screen, Caro who played her in a long running TV series that covered all the books (think David Suchet and Poirot) and then we have Posy, a young ex-child star who has come out of rehab and is hoping that the new Dahlia film will kick start her adult acting career.

All three women find themselves at Aldermere, the stately home that was the home of Lettice, the author of the Dahlia books and where some of the books were set. They are there to attend the Dahlia festival, organised by the president of the Dahlia fan club. The producers of the new film are hoping to use the festival to promote the film and also get the family’s approval of the new script. As can be expected, there are tensions between the three women when they meet as the older two feel that they have rights to the character and Posy feels that she has something to prove.

The festival is underway but things are not running smoothly. A valuable item that belonged to the author and featured in the films is stolen and the three actresses discover that someone is trying to blackmail them. Then a murder occurs and the three women have to work together to solve the crime.

I really enjoyed this mystery. Dahlia, although fictional, is a real character who probably has more in common with Phrynne Fisher than Miss Marple and each chapter begins with a quotation from one of the books which gives us an idea of her personality. The three actresses who have played her are all very different but they complement each other and I enjoyed the way they gradually came to trust each other. I liked all of them but I think I was rooting most for Posy who was fighting for her career

The setting of Aldermere House is a very traditional English setting familiar to readers of Agatha Christie or viewers of Midsomer Murders and works perfectly as a setting for a murder mystery which has its roots in past events. The descriptions are detailed enabling the reader to get a clear picture and I especially liked the details about the China Room

I loved the idea of a fictional detective within a book and the way that the books were constantly being referenced made them feel as though they had actually been written. Having the three different women investigate the crime as if they actually were Dahlia gave the story an unusual twist. The mystery was cleverly plotted and I liked the resolution which I didn’t see coming at all. This is a great spin on a classic country house mystery and I would definitely recommend it.