Reading Wrap Up for March 2020 – and a whoops… I forgot to post my February reads!

Firstly, wishing everyone well in this pandemic!

Well, this is certainly a new lifestyle change to when I was writing my last monthly wrap-up. With the close of my businesses and the re-direction of thoughts, my reading certainly suffered.

So, only seven books this month. Here’s some snappy thoughts on last month’s books… oh and I’ve listed the books I read in February, I wrote a post and just saw it in my drafts – so decided it was a little late to post now – lol!

Are Snakes Necessary? by Brian De Palma (the famous film director) and Susan Lehman – a caricature Film Noir style thriller, a quick, fun & quirky read (check out my previous blog posts for more chat) 3.5/5

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory – set in England, in 1648 – so Civil War and a renegade King as the backdrop for a love story, throw in some witchcraft rumours and you have ‘Tidelands’. I didn’t realise this was the first book in a series, so wasn’t prepared for the abrupt ending. Started well, but I lost my way and I didn’t overly like the male lead. 3/5

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry – beautifully written book, with such powerful imagery (second in a series) based on a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers; it explores the aftermath of the Civil War in America. 4.5/5

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – nice YA fantasy read, based loosely on The Little Goose Girl fairy tale. A princess, an unwanted betrothal, and a malicious sorceress. I enjoyed it. 4/5 YA stars.

Maybe One Day by Debbie Johnson – Hidden letters and a long-overdue reunion form the basis of the plot. This was addictive fun, and I’ll be chatting in more detail later this week as part of the blog tour. 4/5

The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library 1) by A.J. Hackwith – the first book in a new fantasy series based in Hell’s library – a real bibliophile’s book, as book characters come to life, and characters battle to save libraries! I had fun reading this, and will definitely look out for book 2. 4.5

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller – another YA fantasy read with a feisty anti-hero lead and a tormented Shadow King. Great escapism and fun. 4/5

Many thanks to the publishers: Titan Books, Hot Key Books and Orion for sending me books to chat about!

February Booksspeedy chat!

Firstly, a movie serialisation, which is a new format for me. This was ‘Bloodshot’ which comes out this month and stars Vin Diesel. (see earlier blog post for more chat)

Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger (see blog tour post)

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue. A mystery with a mixed time-frame based on themes of obsession, jealousy and power-play. I liked this.

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda – a clever, puzzle of a novel (see blog tour post for further chat)

Beast by Matt Wesolowski – see blog tour post for more chat, but I loved it.

The Harlech Beach Killings by Simon McCleave – stronger than book one in his DI Ruth Hunter series set in Snowdonia.

The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne – fun YA romance based on misconceptions and set in space. Based on Austen’s ‘Persuasion’.

The Woman Downstairs by Elizabeth Carpenter – see blog tour post for more chat, and I really enjoyed this mystery thriller.

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag – I struggled a bit with the slow pacing. It’s the first in a series.

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin – based around a podcast and the investigation of a series of 1970s murders. I liked it.

January Reading Wrap-Up

Well, what happened to January? It disappeared as quickly as 2019! I finished 9 books this month, and four seasons of ‘The Mentalist’ – my new TV obsession.

First up is ‘The Snowdonia Killings’ a debut crime series novel by Simon McCleave introducing DI Ruth Hunter. A promising start, I’ve a blog post with a full review if you’re interested in finding out more. 3.5 stars

‘Killing Beauties’ by Pete Langman is an historical read about female spies and the wider network during Cromwell’s 17th century world of secrets and lies. 3 stars.

‘Dreamland’ by Nancy Bilyeau was a really enjoyable read, there’s also a blog post on this one. This book is an adventure and a murder mystery; it’s about first love, loss, addiction, power, corruption, and the battle for independence. 4.5 stars

‘Eros Element’ by Cecilia Dominic – a fantasy steampunk inspired adventure. It was okay for a little escapism. 2.5 stars

‘The Last Day’ by Andrew Hunter Murray is all bleak, apocalyptic and dystopian – uneven narrative issues for me, but lots of positives. 3.5 stars

‘The Foundling’ by Stacey Hall is one of my top reads this month. I loved Hall’s first book, ‘The Familiars’, and this one is even stronger. Built around the many ‘foundlings’ left in London’s Foundling Hospital; this is a story of despair, hope, isolation, lies and family bonds. 5 stars.

‘The Duke’s Desire by Erica Ridley was a review read, and it’s pretty much as you’d expect – a fiesty historical romance with the expected HEA. 3 stars

‘Six Wicked Reasons’ by Joe Spain was a great thriller, whodunit book and centres on a very dysfunctional family governed by a narcissistic patriarch. 4 stars.

Finally, ‘The Rose in Winter’ by Sarah Harrison – not really for me, I found myself disengaged several times. 2.5 stars

November Mini Reading Wrap-Up

An enjoyable month of reading some of my long awaited TBR books and some new 2020 releases. Favourites from this month are ‘His Bloody Project’, ‘The Silent Companions’, ‘Black Summer’ and ‘The Night Circus’. As always, some brief summaries and ratings below.

In December, I’m anticipating a quiet reading month for a few reasons, including spending more time with family and friends as Christmas approaches, more work to get finished so I can relax over the Christmas break and the main reason… I have a TV. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a TV in our front room. I’m enjoying a honeymoon period… so my reading is sure to suffer. But I doubt for long.

I’m back soon with two blog tours next week, looking forward to chatting books again soon!

‘His Bloody Project’ by Graeme Macrae Burnet – five stars. Loved this story of a brutal triple murder in the Scottish Highlands, it’s written as a memoir and searches for the truth. Fascinating.

‘The Silent Companions’ by Laura Purcell. Loved this gothic thriller – all the creepy period vibes you want from this kind of book, locked rooms, old diaries and the most disturbing painted wooden figures lurking beyond every turn of the page. 5 stars.

‘Vengeful’ by VE Schwab is the sequel to ‘Vicious’. 4 YA stars, this continues the supernatural battle between past friends and now adversaries Victor and Eli – lots more supernatural occurrences and a formidable enemy emerges for them both. Enjoyable dramatic supernatural fun.

‘The Hunting Party’ by Lucy Foley ticks most of the thriller genre requirements. A great premise and collection of characters, for me there were some pacing issues but the final half picked up and I raced towards the ending and my answers. 4 stars.

‘Black Summer’ by M.W. Craven – this is the second in the Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw character series, the first being ‘The Puppet Show’ which I loved. I’m on the blog tour for this book in a week so more then, but for now, I loved it! 5 stars.

‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern – this book has been on my shelf for years, and the publication of Morgenstern’s second novel ‘The Starless Sea’ spurred me on to finally read it. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for this book, I am definitely on the loved it team. Gorgeous, rich language, an enchanting circus and fascinating group of characters. 5 stars.

‘The Beautiful’ by Renee Adhieh is a YA fantasy novel about a young girl running away from a traumatic experience, who arrives in 1872 New Orleans in an attempt to escape. The city and its inhabitants have other ideas. I quite enjoyed this for the sheer storytelling fun. 3.5 YA stars, nearly 4.

‘The Queen of Nothing’ by Holly Black – this is the final book in the ‘Folk of the Air’ series. Overall, a fun ending to the story (or shall I say a very cheesy ending), it felt shorter and less developed that I think the final book should have been. I would have liked a little more time spent on some developments; there was also an abrupt and dismissive end to one of the important characters and another character seemed to add oddly – I think her overall story arc needed more care. However, for most readers I think the main reason to read and enjoy this series was the relationship between Cardan (I still can’t cope with the tail – lol) and Jude… so just about 4 YA stars for this.

‘The Keeper’ by Jessica Moor is a 2020 thriller release. It centres around a women’s refuge and, what seems to be, a suicide. There’s a police investigation, an insight into the refuge and a journey into the past; this is a disturbing story of male power and control with twists. 4 stars.

‘The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley is another 2020 release from the writer of the successful ‘ The Hunting Party. This book has a very similar style to her first book, and some coincidences too many for me, however there’re lots of positives about it as well. Full review will follow before publication. Just reaches 4 thriller stars.

‘The Forbidden Promise’ by Lorna Cook. This is published in March 2020 and is about two women decades apart, one in 1940 and the other in 2020. Both centre around their experiences at Invermoray House in Scotland. I really enjoyed this, a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. 4 stars.

‘The Widow of Pale Harbour’ by Hester Fox is more romance than thriller and it was okay. You get a isolated and mysterious widow; small town gossip and hatred; a new minister with secrets of his own and a murder. 3 stars.

‘The Memory Wood’ by Sam Lloyd. This is a Feb 2020 release and despite finding this a difficult read (child abuse and abduction themes) it was enjoyable. A book that plays with your perceptions; a clever, challenging thriller read. 4.5 stars.

‘October Mini Reading Wrap-Up’

October was a good reading month, 16 books read and here’s my brief thoughts on them:

The Six‘ by Luca Veste – an enjoyable thriller that has a central puzzle to solve, and a murder mystery plot that breaks up a group of friends who are endeavouring to find out the dangerous truth. 4 stars.

Soon‘ by Lois Murphy – I enjoyed this creepy, ghostly tale built around an isolated town threatened by a deadly mist each night. 4 stars.

The Mercies‘ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – I really enjoyed this Norwegian crucible story, set in a bleak Norwegian island in 1617. 4 stars.

The Royal Wedding‘ by Melanie Summers – easy, funny light-hearted romance read. 3.5 stars.

All the Rage‘ by Cara Hunter – Tips into 5 stars, and the best of the series so far; it’s the fourth book in the D.I. Adam Fawley series, and this time the team face quite a puzzle to solve!

Perfect Kill‘ by Helen Fields – I really enjoy this DI Callanach series set in Edinburgh. I think these books are best read in series order, as there’s a lot of relationship developments to follow. This plot centres around human trafficking, a particularly brutal sex trade and kidnapping. Violent and brutal throughout. 5 stars.

The Body in the Garden‘ by Katharine Schellman – a light-hearted period murder mystery with a female ‘Sherlock’, it was okay. 3 stars.

Vengeance of Hope‘ by PJ Berman – a privately published epic fantasy novel and the first of a series. Heavy and detailed – great for fantasy lovers. 4 stars.

Sherlock Holmes and The Christmas Demon‘ by James Lovegrove – a beautifully bound book and a great read. This would make a great Christmas gift for a bibliophile. 4.5 stars.

Serpent & Dove‘ by Shelby Mahurin – a YA fantasy read, well executed and generally a fun read. 4 YA stars. First in a series.

Zemindar‘ by Valerie Fitzgerald – an epic novel set in India before, during and after the Indian Mutiny of 1857. I really enjoyed this. 5 stars for the sheer scale of the story-telling.

The Crown Agent‘ by Stephen O’Rourke – a debut novel and the first in a series about a new unconventional spy; a pacey historical adventure. 4 stars.

Unnatural Causes‘ by Richard Shepherd – 5 stars. A fascinating and absorbing read about the life of a forensic pathologist – from the Hungerford Massacre, to Princess Diana to 9/11. Hard reading at times but compelling.

Safe House‘ by Jo Jakeman – a psychological thriller puzzle read, enjoyable. 4 stars.

Dark Matter‘ by Michelle Paver – what a great read; not much happens (in a good way) but it’s absorbing and creepy. Always a fan of Paver’s writing style. 4.5 stars.

I Will Miss You Tomorrow‘ by Heine Bakkeid – I’m on a blog for this later in the month. It’s the first in a new Norwegian crime series about a damaged and tormented police detective, as he begins to search for a missing man. I enjoyed it.

September Mini Reading Wrap-Up

I’ve no idea where September went… anyone? Well, hello to October and it’s the start of my favourite reading months snuggled by the open fire. My daughter has already got a rotten cold, poor thing, she looked like the undead after school today; I’m hoping it stays away from me.

This is my second attempt to write my September wrap-up, as something weird happened and all my drafts disappeared, including my prepared October reviews – painful! So, I’ve only just got the will to write it all again! So here goes some speedy typing…

Highlight of the month! So, I was deliriously happy to receive an advanced copy of Jane Casey’s ‘The Cutting Place’ – the next book in the Maeve Kerrigan series. I obviously read it immediately and it’s pretty much my favourite of the series… it’s out April 2020. As always I’d recommend reading this series from the start as it’s all about the character developments, particularly the Kerrigan and Derwent dynamic, and this book is a real treat! A 5 star read.

‘Bringing Down a Duke’ by Evie Dunmore – this is a new historical romance set in 1879 where a bluestocking teaches a duke a lesson – it’s what is says on the blurb, and fun for a couple of hours entertainment – some funny moments 3.5 stars, as it took me a while to get into.

‘Trade Winds’ by M.M.Kaye, the author of ”The Far Pavilions’; this one’s set in 1859 where a young girl arrives in Zanzibar and meets a ruthless trader – it’s all about piracy, slave trades, abduction and a cholera epidemic – overall I’m not a fan of this one. 3 stars, just.

‘The Birthday House’ by Jill Treseder – this is for a blog tour next week, so more then. But briefly, it’s a novella looking at different perspectives of a tragic event in 1955 – based on a true event. 3.8 stars.

‘Code 17’ by Francis Booth – this was also read for a blog tour – see my earlier post for more chat about this one. It’s a quirky light-hearted spy thriller set in the swinging sixties. 4 stars. Fun.

‘A Single Thread’ by Tracy Chevalier – 4.8 stars, I really enjoyed this – I’ve chatted about it already, so have a look if you’d like to know more. It’s set in 1932 where the losses of WW1 are still keenly felt. It focuses on one of the surplus women and her new life in Winchester, with churches, bell-ringing and embroidery filling her days. I really enjoyed this and read it with the Pigeonhole reading community.

‘The Devil Upstairs’ by Anthony O’Neill – 4 stars and read for another blog tour – so check out that post if this book interests you. Set in Edinburgh where a neighbour from hell is ruining our protagonist’s life – so she unwittingly calls up the devil. Enjoyable, dark tale.

‘Gods of Shade and Shadow’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was a 3.5 star read for me and a bit of a cover buy. Set in Mexico in 1927 where Casiopea Tun accidentally sets free an ancient Mayan god of death and they head off on a cross country odyssey – so it’s an historical fantasy based loosely on Hades and Persephone. Nice rich language and descriptions but the characters didn’t overly work for me. A strong ending that implies a sequel.

‘The Princess Plan’ by Julia London was a review book read and I didn’t overly enjoy it, the characters didn’t really interest me and it was really slow. Last 40% improved so 3 stars but an overall no for suiting me.

‘Promise of Darkness’ by Bec McMaster is the first book in the Dark Court Rising fantasy romance series. It’s about Fae Kingdoms, cursed princes, evil queens and hostages. Dark, smouldering scenes with lots of action. Entertaining. and well-written escapism! 4 stars…just.

‘The Animals of Lockwood Manor’ by Jane Healey – a well-written book with a dark, gothic edged setting. With themes from parental loss and parental control, to female plight in a dominant patriarchal world and the desire and secrecy of female relationships. There’s also a cast of stuffed animals moved to an isolated manor to protect them from bombings during the war – not as enjoyable as I’d hoped for me 3.8 stars.

‘Broken Souls’ by Patricia Gibney – another review read and this one I was really looking forward to. I’ve been reading the Lottie Parker detective series from the start. They are smart, well-written crime dramas which include some fully rounded characters and their relationships. Really enjoyed it 4.8 stars.

‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ by Alix E. Harrow. 4 stars, I really liked this, for me it was a slow start but then I was hooked. Creative, beautifully written and emotive. Based on the idea that every story opens a door and is a bit of a homage to fantasy stories like Narnia, where a doorway can lead to a new land and adventures.

October reads have started well, I’ve read 5 books so far which I’m looking forward to writing about in my Oct wrap-up…

I worked furiously in the office today to free up reading time, so I’m off to make my daughter a comforting sick-bed snack and continue reading Helen Fields’ new book ‘Perfect Kill’ for the rest of the day – with huge thanks to Avon Books for the advance review copy! Love this series! Happy Days all!

August Reading Mini Wrap-Up

August is always a good reading month for me, as I take extra time off work to be with my daughter whilst she’s on her summer break. As usual the summer has passed by far too quickly and she’s already back at school beginning her A’Levels. At least there’s the autumn to look forward to, with warm jumpers, open fires, hot chocolate and of course more books to read. So, back to August and I read 23 books…

‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco – the first in the quartet series featuring Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. A YA book featuring murder mysteries and two pathology students that repeatedly get caught up in them. Fun, easy read and I can see the appeal. 3.5 YA stars.

‘The Sleepwalker’ by Joseph Knox. When I got this to review I hadn’t realised it was a series, so it took me a while to catch up and grasp some of the character nuances. The writing is really good and the tensions strummed beautifully – I really enjoyed this and have ordered the first two books. 4 stars.

‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ by Elizabeth Buchan. I was sent a copy of this to review and I absolutely loved it! A brilliant book set during a terrible time in European history; it really pulls at the heart-strings. I needed tissues at the end. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

‘Felicity Carol and the Perilous Pursuit’ by Patricia Marcantonio. I was sent the second book to review, so I ordered and read ‘Perilous Pursuit’ first. Set during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations – there’s murder, romance and a woman ahead of her time. Light, historical mystery fun but really easy to guess ‘whodunit’. 3 stars.

‘Felicity Carol and the Murderous Menace’ by Patricia Marcantonio. This was a review read and follows heiress and amateur sleuth, Felicity, as she explores forensic methods to chase a murderer, helped by Jackson Davies from Scotland Yard. 3 stars.

‘The Turn of the Key’ by Ruth Ware. I read this with the Pigeon Hole community to review and it was enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of Ware’s descriptive style – it kept alienating me from the plot. Overall, fairly enjoyable 3.8 stars.

‘Shadow & Flame’ by Mindee Arnett. This is a YA fantasy novel and the second book in the Rime Chronicles. It was pacy, fun, dramatic and very enjoyable. 4 YA stars.

‘Deeplight’ by Frances Hardinge. This was sent to me to review and I enjoyed elements of it, but overall it didn’t hold my attention. The writing is really good, it’s quite long and sadly I drifted. Don’t let that put you off, I’ve seen others have loved this. 3 stars.

‘Lady in the Lake’ by Laura Lippman. I enjoy Lippman’s novels and was really pleased to receive this new book to review. An enjoyable read mixing a psychological focus with the classic noir. Set in 1966 Baltimore, it explores why a middle-aged housewife turned journalist becomes fixated on the murder of a forgotten black woman. 4 stars.

‘The Lost Ones’ by Anita Frank. This was another review read which I enjoyed, set in 1917 and follows the grieving Stella Marcham when she stays at the imposing Grayswick mansion. Soon, strange incidents start happening and Stella begins to uncover some dark and terrible secrets. 4 stars.

‘Spin the Dawn’ by Elizabeth Lim. This is the first book in the YA fantasy series called The Blood of the Stars. I had great fun reading this with its ‘Mulan’ and ‘Project Runway’ vibes. You get Chinese culture, a sizzling forbidden romance and a magical tailor set a seemingly impossible task. 4.5 YA stars.

”The Little Shop of Found Things’ by Paula Brackston. I was a bit disappointed with this, I found it slow and wasn’t held by the plot, set around a time-travelling chatelaine, taking our modern protagonist back to the early 17th century – it picked up in the last quarter, which pulled it into 3 stars.

‘Through the White Wood’ by Jessica Leake. This is a YA fanasy featuring some of the characters from Leake’s previous book ‘Beyond a Darkened Shore’. An enjoyable read about magical powers inspired by Russian Mythology, lots of drama, romance and personal sacrifice. 4 YA stars.

”The Wages of Sin’ by Kaite Welsh. I had a great time reading this, set in 1890s Edinburgh and features a female medical student-turned-detective. It’s also about the harsh challenges of a female trying to be respected and educated as well as a driven murder mystery. 4 stars.

‘House of Salt and Sorrows’ by Erin A. Craig. A YA fantasy novel loosely based on ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ this was okay, but it could’ve been so much better! 3 YA Stars.

‘The Unquiet Heart’ by Kaite Welsh. This is the second book in the Sarah Gilchrist series and another fun read, Set once again in Victorian Edinburgh and follows Sarah as she continues her medical training, she now has an unwanted fiance and is back working with the mercurial, professor Merchiston on a new murder case. 4 stars.

‘The Governess Game’ by Tessa Dare. I read my first review Dare book a few months ago and had a great time. This is the second in the ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series and it’s really funny! This one’s all about a governess and a bad bad rake! 3.5 stars as not as good as the other Dare I’d read. I’d happily read another, I mean the stories are ridiculous and the characters hugely romanticised but generally racy, entertaining fun.

‘The Winter Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. I love this book and this is my third read. It’s the second book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and set in 1900s London and pitches India Selwyn Jones, a recently qualified doctor against Sid Malone, London’s most notorious gangster. Donnelly’s writing is so rich and vivid you are completely drawn into this world. 5 stars.

‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay. Not my favourite Barclay read but a solid mystery thriller and no, I’m NEVER getting into an elevator again! 3.5 stars.

‘The Book Collector’ by Alice Thompson. I bought this when I heard that Salt Publishing was going through a difficult time, every purchase helps if you want to check out their book lists? This one is a gothic story about madness and murder. Strange, delusional and macabre. 4 stars.

‘The Wild Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. This is the final book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and it’s definitely advisable to read the first two books to get the most out of it. A good conclusion to this epic family drama. I’m a happy reader. 4 stars.

‘Platform Seven’ by Louise Doughty. Despite a slow start (which probably was the point) I loved this! I needed my tissue box at the end! Platform Seven is a notorious place for suicides and there have been two fatalities in the past 18 months, Lisa Evans is desperate to find out what connects them and why they happened… particularly as she was the first one to die. 5 stars.

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco. This is the second book in the Wadsworth and Cresswell YA murder mystery series it centres on a copycat killer and is set in Europe’s best forensic training school, which is more like Dracula’s castle! 4 YA stars for the gothic adventure!

And that’s the August reads done!

I’ve already read a couple of great books in September and look forward to sharing those with you next month.

July’s Reading Wrap Up ~ mini thoughts…

July turned out to be an unusually quiet reading month, but for good reasons. I’ve been spending more time with my daughter and we’ve been on a few trips. We arrived back from Canterbury yesterday after a three day mini break, which included a day at the Whitstable Oyster Festival ~ although neither of us liked oysters, but lots to do there, a food festival, bands, activities on the beach and lots more. The sun also shone for us, I think the only part of the country that wasn’t suffering from a deluge of rain.

So, July’s books:

‘The Puppet Show’ by M. W. Craven ~ thoroughly enjoyed this crime thriller. The two central characters Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are fabulous! Can’t wait to read the next in the series. 4.5 stars.

‘Beasts of the Frozen Sun’ by Jill Crisswell is a richly written YA fantasy adventure 3.5 YA stars as it needed to develop, we went round in circles rather a lot but definitely worth a read if this genre is your thing.

‘American Dreams’ by Kenneth Bromberg is a debut novel and I loved it. ‘The Godfather’ in style and spans generations of immigrants entering New York. 4 stars. This one has its own blog post if you’d like to know more about it.

‘Bone China’ by Laura Purcell is another Victorian gothic descriptive delight, really enjoyed it! 4.5 stars. Read it!

‘The Boy’ by Tami Hoag is the long awaited follow up to ‘A Thin Dark Line’ featuring Cajun cop Nick Fourcade and Detective Annie Broussard. Not as good as book one, but nice to see Fourcade and Broussard again. 3.5 stars.

‘Endgame’ by Daniel Cole ~ the final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy. Loved it! 5 stars.

‘The Girl in the Grave’ by Helen Phifer ~ I struggled with this a bit, plot was good but the writing style jarred with me a bit, which stopped my reading flow. Hopefully this will be tided up in final editing. 3 stars.

Thanks for reading! Tell me if you have any book recommendations as always! 💕

June Reading Wrap Up

Seriously how did June disappear so quickly? Saying that, it could have been because I spent a lot of it stuck between the pages of my books.

I definitely need to get out and about in July… possibly.

Overall, 19 books read this month and as always here’s my speedy thoughts on this month’s bunch…

The ‘Air Awakens’ series – really enjoyed the first three books, and then it dragged for me. Overall though, a creative, fun fantasy YA series. 4 YA stars.

‘One Last Greek Summer’ – I read this with the Pigeonhole community and it was a light, summery group read. 3.5/4 stars.

‘Stoker’s Wilde’ – a review read via Netgalley and surprisingly fun. Mixing literary characters of Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker into a Gothic mystery. 4 stars

‘The Peculiar Charm of Miss Jane Austen’ – a Netgalley review read, and it didn’t overly work for me, some fun elements and ideas. I believe this is going to be a time-travelling series. 3 stars.

‘The Art of Dying’ – I enjoyed this murder mystery sequel novel set in 1850s Edinburgh, full review previously on the blog. 4.5 stars.

‘Death and the Harlot’ – loved this fun crime read set in 1759 London whose MC is a prostitute named Lizzie Hardwick (full review on this book and the art of a good-story on my blog feed) 5 stars for pure entertainment and historical detail.

‘The Corpse Played Dead’ – the second Lizzie Hardwick novel and another really fun read! Bring on some more! Rounding up to 5 stars for pure enjoyment grading.

‘The Misfit Tribe and the Secret of Mystery Island’ – read this for a blog tour and sadly it didn’t work as it was too similar to ‘The Goonies’. A sad 2 stars.

‘The Sorcery of Thorns’ – enjoyable, creative and magical YA read. Just tipping into 4 stars on my YA scale.

‘Truthwitch’ – another magical action fantasy read, and the first in a series; fun! 4 YA stars.

‘Blood Orange’ – I’m still thinking about what went wrong for me with this one. I think my expectation was high, from other reviews but it didn’t all come together for me. Weird ending and lots of unlikeable characters with little to balance them. 3 stars.

‘We Hunt the Flame’ – really enjoyed this, loved the evocative language and the central characters, great YA magical fantasy read. 4 YA stars.

‘The Missing Years – full review on blog as part of a June Blog tour celebrating the publication of this thriller, mystery. Really enjoyed it. Lacked pace of some novels, but I enjoyed taking my time reading it. 4.5 stars.

‘The French Girl’ – again not a pacey read from Lexie Elliott but entertaining, nicely plotted and created. Tipped into 4 stars.

‘Wicked Saints’ – despite it waning for me in the middle, I enjoyed this debut YA novel – bloody, gothic dark fairy-tale with themes of deception, desire, greed, lies, religion and the exploration of monstrosity. Some great character complexity and subversion, which redeemed it for me. Just tipping into 4 YA stars.

MAY READING WRAP UP

A busy month for helping my daughter with her GCSE examinations, so I read less than I usually would… unless you count the biology, history and poetry clusters etc, etc, etc we’ve been buried in. All exams finish on June 14th and thank goodness for that. My daughter has always struggled with school and it’ll be a relief to give her a fresh start. It’s also great news that she’s developed an interest in reading more – she’s already practically devoured ‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy and, as I have, developed a literary crush on Will Herondale – lol. She’s looking to read more Shadowhunter books, and looks set to pick up ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ next. She’s always been more of a non-fiction reader, but since reading, and loving, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ she’s fallen back in love with the fictional world. Happy Days! We’ve also decided to start up a book club together 🙂

So, my May reads – I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books this month as a back-drop at work and for the mundane household chores, I’ve listened to: Naomi Novik’s ‘Uprooted’, Jane Casey’s ‘Cruel Acts’, Tricia Levenseller’s ‘Daughter of the Pirate King’ and ‘Daughter of the Siren Queen’ and ‘Warrior of the Wild’ and Mindee Arnett’s ‘Onyx and Ivory’. As with all audio-books, I’ve already read the novels, I don’t have the listening skills for new reads on audio and much prefer to just listen to previous books I’ve enjoyed or need to re-cap as the sequels are due soon. A lot of YA reads this month, as they’re basically just fun, easy to listen to reads. And I love a good story.

So a quick overview of the books for May…

‘The Anarchists’ Club’ by Alex Reeve – this is the second book featuring Leo Stanhope and I read it with the Pigeonhole community. I enjoyed this, great setting, engaging characters and good plotting. 4 stars.

‘Night by Night’ by Jack Jordan – my first Jack Jordan book and to be honest I found it too far-fetched for my liking, and one scene in particular was way over the top, even using my suspension of disbelief! Just 3 stars…just.

‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’ by Jodi Taylor – this was recommended to me by a fellow book-lover on Instagram and I had a great time reading it. Fantasy, humour, super cast of eclectic characters and an intense…phew (pass the fan) romance. It’s a series and I’ll be reading the second book soon. 4 stars.

‘The Never Game’ by Jeffery Deaver – I read this with the Pigeonhole Community and really enjoyed it. There’s a full review already on my blog. 4 stars.

‘The Manhattan Project’ by Paul McNeive – this was sent to me by the publishers to review and I liked it, a little slow in pace but sped up just in time to keep my interest. 4 stars.

‘Finale’ by Stephanie Garber – the long awaited YA book in the Caraval trilogy. These are fun fantasy reads, rich in creative language and characters. Great end to the series. 4.3 YA stars.

‘To Best the Boys’ by Mary Webster – this was sent in a mystery Fairyloot box and was a good fantasy YA read, very short; it only took me about two hours to read it, so could definitely be developed more to make it a stronger book. 3.8 YA stars.

‘The Raven Boys’ by Maggie Stiefvater – YA fantasy book, and the start of ‘The Raven Cycle’ series. Enjoyable and engaging – there’s going to be a post on the series this month. 4 YA stars.

‘The Dream Thieves’ by Maggie Stiefvater – YA read and the second in the ‘Raven Cycle’ – enjoyed! Post on series to follow. 4 YA stars.

‘Blue Lily, Lily Blue’ by Maggie Stiefvater – the third YA book in the ‘Raven Cycle’ series and a great development. Post on series to follow. 4 YA stars.

April Wrap-Up

Whoops – slightly delayed… but 20 books read or listened to in April.

April was a busy month for reading and here’s my summary:

‘The Wolves of Winter’ by Tyrell Johnson – an atmospheric story in a dystopian environment where survival is a daily battle. 3.5 stars.

‘Warrior of the Wild’ by Tricia Levenseller – A YA Viking inspired novel about a monster-ridden world and how a girl defies exile to seek justice. Took me a while to get into it, but I enjoyed the story as a nice escape from reality. 4 stars.

‘To Ride a White Horse’ by Pamela Ford – I really enjoyed this, set during the terrible Irish famines of 1846 and centres around a girl whose adventure to save her family forces her to make a choice of family loyalty or a challenging love. 4 stars.

‘The Reckoning’, ‘The Stranger You Know’ and ‘The Last Girl’ by Jane Casey – I love all the DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent novels and this month I’ve been listening to the audio-books after being inspired to have a full re-read after the recent release of ‘Cruel Acts’ the 8th book in the series. Overall 5 stars for the series. Love them!

‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik – I loved this! Beautiful writing steeped in the style of traditional folklore. Fab! 4.5 stars.

‘The Darkness Around Her’ by Neil White – a really solid and engaging legal mystery in the Dan Grant series. Great read. 4 stars.

‘A Curse So Dark and Lonely’ by Brigid Kemmerer – It took a while to get into the story and then I had a great time reading this – a decent fantasy YA read re-working the timeless and always endearing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story. I’ll look out for the sequel. 4 stars.

‘Thirteen’ by Steve Cavanagh – the fourth book in the Eddie Flynn series and I loved it – all beautifully twisty and bloodthirsty! 4.5 stars.

‘Here’s Looking At You’ by Mhairi McFarlane – I chuckled away several times at this, got bored and skimmed when the pace dragged and then chuckled again and went ‘awwww’ at the cute ending. Yep, it was okay. 3.5 stars from me though, wanted it to be more, but something just didn’t click for me personally.

‘Where the Dead Fall’ by M.J.Lee – the second book in the D.I Ridpath series and a solid crime read, happy with this one! 4 stars.

‘Sweet Little Lies’ and ‘Stone Cold Heart’ by Caz Frear – a crime series featuring DC Cat Kinsella, really enjoyed both of these and I am eagerly awaiting book 3! 4 stars.

‘Come Back for Me’ by Heidi Perks – had great time reading this mystery set on a remote island… until the end. I did not like how it ended, which ultimately spoilt it for me. 3.5 stars – should of been a solid 4.

‘Little Darlings’ by Melanie Golding – a dark creepy, Grimm’s tale influenced psychological thriller about a mother’s fear that her babies are in terrible danger. 4 stars overall.

‘One Night for Seduction’ by Erika Ridley – the first book in the Wicked Dukes series and it didn’t really work for me, the principal female was so annoying. 3 stars for the ‘hero’ – lol!

‘Ayesha at Last’ by Uzma Jalaluddin – I’m usually wary of re-workings, particularly with beloved author’s such as Jane Austen…however I enjoyed this ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Muslim version. Felt the end was rushed and was a little anti-climatic but enjoyed the overall journey. 4 stars.

‘#taken’ by Tony Parsons – the sixth book in the Detective Max Wolfe series, a page-turning thriller read, very happy with it. Easy 4 stars.