Thursday, December 31, 2020

My books of 2020

Hello guys! 

Happy December 31st. The last day in a very strange year. This year has been sad, strange, scary and full of loss and tears, but I hope 2021 can get us all back on the right track and we can enjoy it more.

In 2020 I started this blog back in February, and in July I started my Bookstagram account. I am happy to say I love it, and I’m going to make 2021 the year I concentrate more on both. 

So this year I read 45 books, which I’m very happy with. I read maybe 6 books between January and June so the rest was all over the second half of the year. My favourite was Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, I have told everyone they would love this book, and I am not planning on shutting up about it anytime soon! 

My goals for 2021 are (there aren’t many):

⬤ Read more of the books I have on my shelves (check out my 21 to read in 2021 coming tomorrow)

⬤ Catch up on my Netgalley books and try to keep my percentage above 80

⬤ Try to post a least twice a week on my Instagram and here, most will be reviews here, and a mix of reviews and book stack photo etc on my Instagram.

I am planning on giving my blog a bit of a newer look from tomorrow so make sure to pop back and check it out. 

Thank you to all of the authors, publishers and agents who have sent me books over this year, I’m very grateful. Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so welcome on Instagram, my followers and friends on Twitter, my new Twitter book posse whom I love so darn much, and to anyone who looks at my blog. 

I hope you all have a good 2021 and continue to stay happy, healthy and safe. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December Wrap Up

 Hi guys.

Today is December 30th, but I know I’m no going to manage another book before the end of the year, so I’ve posted my December Wrap Up.

A Snowflakes Guide to Christmas by Dave Skinner ☆ ☆ ☆

Once Upon a Christmastime by Raven McAllan ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide by Rachel McMillan ☆ ☆ ☆

‘Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Afraid of the Christmas Lights Anthology ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

A Snow Garden by Rachel Joyce ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Witches Graphic Novel by Penelope Bagieu and Roald Dahl ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

I tried to read mostly Christmas books during December but squeezed The Witches Graphic Novel in too as I was dying to read it. It’s a lovely book with lush graphics, and The Witches is my favourite Roald Dahl book. Hope you all managed to read some lovely books during December!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top 10 of 2020!!

 Hi guys!

Today I am sharing my top 10 reads of 2020. 6 of them are Netgalley books, 2 were blog tour books, and 2 were my own picks. In no particular order we have:

* Girl A by Abigail Dean

* The Phone Box At The Edge of The World by Laura Imai Messina

* Girl in the Walls by A.J Gnuse

* The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

* The Midnight Library by  Matt Haig

* The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

* Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

* The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke by Caroline Smailes

* Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

* Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Shuggie Bain was my all time favourite of 2020, and one of my favourite ever books. I’ve also just realised that I haven’t reviewed it yet as I struggled with what to say! I must get on that!

Have you read any of my top 10? Are they on your list?

Monday, December 21, 2020

Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo


What do you do when your fake engagement stars to feel too real?

Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.

Oliver Russell's Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family's new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.

When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria's past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for...

I’m not usually a Christmas book reader but this year I thought I’d give them a go, and if this one is anything to go off then I’ll definitely be up for reading more (I do have a few on my shelves).

Georgia has a lovely debut novel with Meet Me In London. It is set around Victoria and Oliver, who by chance meet and he asks her to pretend to be his fiancée while his parents come to town for the opening of his newest store. She says no at first but after another chance meeting she agrees. 

I love Victoria, she has huge dreams and seems like a lovely person, very  kind.  She works in a wine bar, and at night teaches kids how to design and make clothes, and encourages them so much. It was nice to see how much she cares about the kids, buying them pieces of fabric to help them make their creations. The relationship she has with her 3 best friends is lovely too, its the kind of friendship where you don’t need to see each other every day to know how much you care. 

Oliver is one of those characters who steals your heart, well he did with me anyway. He seems like a typical rich dude you read about in stories, but you quickly find out he is a big softie at heart, and cares about his family a lot. I loved seeing the relationship grow between these two, and change from strangers to more. I’m looking forward to book number 2, Meet Me in Hawaii which comes out in April 2021 I believe.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Unsettled Ground By Clare Fuller

What if the life you have always known is taken away fro you In an instant?What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother's secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. 

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Fig Tree and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

This book was so different to what I expected. The characters are lovely and so different in the way they live. Jeanie and her twin Julius have been brought up by their mother Dot so different to the way others around them have been. Jeanie has a Heart condition from having Rheumatic Fever when she was a child and her mother Dot is very careful over what she can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t do. They are 51 years old now and still live at home with Dot, Jeanie still has no job, never had a boyfriend, and doesn’t do things like heavy lifting because of her heart, but instead helps Dot in the garden with vegetables they sell in the village. Julius works and bring the money in for the household. Their father passed away when they were kids. 

But Dot suddenly dies and life is so difficult for the twins, especially Jeanie who really has no clue how the world works properly. I liked the innocence of Jeanie, but the bravery she has about it. She knows she will struggle but gets on with it. Julius seemed lost, and I think he needed to understand why their mother kept them at home them the way she did, before he could let any of it fade away.

It was a good book, slightly strange in places, but had a strong undertone of basic love between a brother and sister.

thank you again to Fig Tree, Netgalley, and always, the author Clare Fuller. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

 Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone. 

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Boldwood Books and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I picked this book as stories with neurotypical characters interest me, especially as I have 2 children with autism. But I don’t think I was ready for how dark this story got. Jackson has an undiagnosed condition, he is different to other kids his age, he gets unsettled easily, and remembers everything from his life - he calls himself a memory magnet.

This story shows just how easily manipulated children be, especially if they are easily impressionable like children with special needs. The story delves into the life of Jackson, his mum Julia, dad Andy, and 2 sisters 9 year old Ruby and 14 year old Milla. Jackson befriends a boy from soccer who is also in his class at school, but things aren’t as they seem and it gets a bit scary. Especially when the ‘toilet incident’ happens and the police come calling. 

My heart broke for the family and poor Jackson going through this awful ordeal. And Julia, I can’t even imagine, going through something like this as a mother must be horrendous, especially when your child doesn’t understand fully what’s even happening. The shoe phone was a lovely touch and made me feel like Jackson had somewhere he could escape and talk about things. There were a few times I gasped, and other times I sat with my hand across my mouth as I read. And the ending was a shocker!

I rated this book 5 stars as I just could not put it down, but be warned there are trigger warnings in this story before you read.

Thanks again to Boldwood Books, Netgalley and as always, the author Fiona Higgins.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

This is the story of Ella.

And Robert.

And all of the things they should have said, but never did.

Through seven key moments, and seven key people, their journey intertwines.

From the streets of Glasgow during WW2, to the sex , drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever...

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap

I received a copy of this book from the publisher HarperCollins and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

When the Music Stops is lovely, it just is. The story goes through Ella’s past and present, and takes us to meet a lot of people who meant a lot to her at different points in her life. It starts with Ella on a boat with family, and we soon realise she is old and it seems like she has dementia. The boat sails into a storm, and water starts sweeping into the rooms. Ella gets hurt, and can’t find her daughter, but her baby grandson is there, so she needs to help him. Then we float to different parts of her life. We learn her childhood best friend Ruth is the reason we loves the Guitar, and that also plays a huge part in the story. After each chapter is a sheet of music from from a songbook Ella picks up as a child in a shop. Each song fits in with each chapter, and I loved this part of it. I do wonder if the music has been recorded anywhere, it would be interesting to listen to. 

The characters throughout the story are really interesting, and I did like Robert quite a bit. He cares a lot for Ella, and it shows as he pops back into her life at difficult times. Ella goes though a lot of hard times, and it was interesting to see the different routes life took her down, from drugs and rock and roll, to being a nurse. But music is always there in the background throughout, and tha gives the story something different.

Thanks again to HarperCollins and Negalley, and of course.. Joe. 

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