Friday, December 31, 2021

My Year in Books 2021

My year in books 2021!!

How on Earth has this year gone past so quickly?! Well I read a good selection of books this year, and I absolutely adored all of them. I read 83 books (even though Goodreads says I’ve read 84, I’ve counted and there’s only 83 so 🀷‍♀️).

Here’s some stats:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- 45

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ - 32

⭐️⭐️⭐️ - 5

⭐️⭐️ - 1


Fiction - 77

None Fiction - 6


Female Authors - 63

Male Authors - 20


Check out below to see all of the books I read this year, hopefully you might see something that takes your fancy!

Thank you to all of the publishers, agents, and NetGalley who gave me some brilliant arcs and proofs this year, I’m always very grateful. 

I hope you’ve all had a good year, here’s to next year being a good one too. Wishing you all the best for 2022. Thank you for being such fab people.

Stay safe, stay well, happy reading














Thursday, December 30, 2021

Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell

Fate pulled them apart but not before they made a promise.

Ten Christmases later, will their wish come true?

As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.

After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:

If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years' time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.

Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.

So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.

But it wouldn't be Christmas without a few surprises . . .


I received a copy of this from Netgalley and the publisher Penguin Michael Joseph, in return for an honest review.

This started out as a buddy read with a few of the gals, but we all seemed to get sidetracked and read it at different times. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found myself devouring the last 40% to find out what was going to happen.

I loved Norah, what a fab character. I was rooting for her from the start to find love, rekindle her love of singing, and find happiness. There were twists along the way I kind of guessed but didn’t at the same time. I hope there will be a sequel as there are a few things in the story I’d like to see carried on.

I really liked the way Dublin was described, it makes me want to go there, hear the bells ringing out at midnight across the city. A really lovely book.

Thanks again to Penguin Michael Joseph for my e-arc 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Top 20 of 2021!

 Top 20 of 2021!


I have read so many great books this year, check out my upcoming post on Dec 31st to see just how many I 5-starred. 

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal was my absolute favourite read of 2021. I just loved it. It was so captivating and magical. We read it as a group TsundokuSquad read on Netgalley, and when it was published I bought a beautiful indie edition with the most gorgeous spredges.

So in no particular order my favourite books of 2021 are:




πŸ’œ Circus of wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal

πŸ’œ Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuzniar

πŸ’œ A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

πŸ’œ Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

πŸ’œ The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

πŸ’œ The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

πŸ’œ The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

πŸ’œ The Lip by Charlie Carrol

πŸ’œ Underneath the Christmas Tree by Heidi Swain

πŸ’œ To All The Boys I’ve Loived Before by Jenny Han

πŸ’œ The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

πŸ’œ Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

πŸ’œ Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies

πŸ’œ The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

πŸ’œ The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

πŸ’œ Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

πŸ’œ Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift

πŸ’œ The Captive by Deborah O’Connor

πŸ’œ Different Kinds of Love by Michael Rosen

πŸ’œ The Maid by Nita Prose

You can find my reviews for all of these books up in the review section of my blog :) How did your 2021 go?

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Tsundoku Squad 2021 Wrap Up!

Wow, how has it been a year of reading with these fabulous ladies?! We met doing Netgalley November in 2020, and a few of us (13 to be exact) decided to keep going as a book group on Twitter for 2021. But it has went from a group of 13 discussing a book every Saturday, to a close group of friends who now WhatsApp each other everyday, ad I couldn’t be without them now. 

This is what we read together in 2021:


January - Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

February - Paris by Starlight by Robert Dinsdale - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

March - The islanders by S.V Leonard - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

April - Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

May - Lace by Shirley Conran - 
My Rating  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

June - The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham - 
My Rating  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2 
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

July - THUG by Angie Thomas - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

August - The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

September - The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Group Rating. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

October - The Whistling by Rebecca Netley - 
My Rating  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

November - The Maid by Nita Prose - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

December - Underneath The Christmas Tree by Heidi Swain - 
My Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  
Group Rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐1/2

I can’t wait to see what we have in store for 2022, and I’m sure we already have our first 3 books picked! I love my squad, so here’s a thanks to them for being fab book buddies! Here’s to another year of friendship and reading.










Monday, December 27, 2021

Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

 

In the darkness of night, magic awaits...

It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever.


Nottingham, 1906


Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious new toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier's magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined...


When he constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets and must find a way to return home.


In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…



I’ll start by saying I never really knew the story of The Nutcracker properly, the most I had probably seen or known was from Mickeys Once Upon a Christmas! So I was really excited for this book. I bought it a few weeks ago and really felt in a Christmas mood reading it. Also, I bought an amazing Waterstones exclusive copy, and it has the most gorgeous spredges. I also had it approved on Netgalley so thank you to HQ and Netgalley for the advanced e-arc.


5 stars from me. This book was fabulous and so magical. I loved the descriptions of Everwood. The gingerbread houses, the smells and scents people and things gave off, the magic was found everywhere. The story was a great retelling (if I can say that without having read the original), and I loved Marietta. She was fearless, and strong and brave, and I loved how she stood for what she believed in. Now Drosselmeier was awful, but I loved his character! Ms Kuzniar has written him brilliantly, he is so evil, and the scene in the ballroom with the clock was amazing, it had me on edge. But when Marietta was transported to Everwood, wow it was just captivating. 


I think everyone would love this book, it’s full of magic, beauty, sorrow and happiness. Give it a read… you know you want to!




Sunday, December 19, 2021

Underneath The Christmas Tree by Heidi Swain

Wynter's Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it's where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it's a millstone around her neck. It was her father's pride and joy but now he's gone, she can't have anything to do with it. Until her father's business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.


When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that's flourishing under Ned's stewardship. And she's happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart...?



Underneath The Christmas Tree was Decembers read for Tsundoku Squad, and I couldn’t wait to read it week on week, so devoured it in a few days! I never spoiled it though for my pals, and made notes for each week so I could still chat with them.


This year I found Heidi, and fell in love almost instantly with her books. I have now read 5, and own them all except one! Underneath The Christmas Tree is the second in the Wynmouth Series, The Secret Seaside Escape being the first, but it can be read as a standalone. I’ve been reading them in order though, and I think this one could be my favourite so far! 


I love Ned! He is fighting for the top position of Heidi’s male love interests, alongside Sam from Seaside Escape. There must be something in the Wynmouth water! And Liza was such a great main character. Her bravery going back to Wynmouth, facing things she never wanted to see again. And the grief that came with it all, but the friendships new and old, it all fit into place so nicely. I fell in love with the descriptions of Wynters Trees, the lot, the views, the cabin, and Bandit stole my heart. 


If you love Christmasssy feel good stories, you need to get your hands on this one asap. 


Also head on back to 9th December on my blog, Instagram or Twitter to see the brilliant Q&A Heidi done for our book group at the start of the month.


Friday, December 3, 2021

The Maid by Nita Prose

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?

 

But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?




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


This was Tsundoku squad’s November read. I think we all really enjoyed this one and could be a contender for our favourite red of the year.


Molly is such a brilliant character, I just want to be her friend, sit down and have a cup of tea with her. I bet she makes a great cup of tea. So yeah I loved her, and I was rooting for her so hard all the way through. I picked up,a dn so did some of the others, that Molly seems like she’s on the Spectrum somewhere. A lot of things stood out, the not understanding sarcasm, believing in others and being so easily led. My heart went out to her so much, and I wanted to punch stupid Rodney clean in the face. But I loved Mr Preston, he sounds such a happy go lucky guy, and I really liked the background with him and Mollys Gran.


Molly’s grief was well written, and it got me massively. I understood the feeling, as a lot of others do too, but I’ve always struggled with my Grandma not being here, so I felt like I related so much.


What a brilliant book, and I’d definitely recommend it to everyone.


Please check out Em’s collective Tsundoku Squad group thoughts over on her blog emandherbooks.com


Thanks again to HarperCollins and Netgalley for my e-arc.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

 

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There's a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it's not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.


Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she's become, or why she lets him hurt her.


Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can't forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children's lives are at stake...




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


I was glued to this book from the minute I opened it.


I loved it, if loved is the right word for a book so full of nastiness, abuse and hatred. But there a strong undertone of love here too, and that’s one between Deb and her children. 


I really enjoyed how the story was set out, Tina breaks the night up with stories from the past, both Marc’s and Deb’s. This made it so much more interesting too as I had to keep reading and get to the present time to see what was going to happen! 


Deb is one strong woman, and I rooted for her all the way through, hoping Marc was going to get what he was due.


I’d recommend this book, and Tina’s last book Call Me Mummy as they are both brilliant. Well done Ms Baker!


Thanks again to Viper and Netgalley for my e-arc.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

It's the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.


As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn't that be a bonus?


But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn't bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?




I received a copy of this from the publisher Penguin on Netgalley in return for an honest review.


I really enjoyed the first Thursday Murder Club so was very much looking forward to the next one. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. I even enjoyed this one a little better than the first! 


The Thursday Murder Club are a fab bunch of folk. I would love to be friends with them, I can imagine the conversations and tea would be great. Joyce is by far my favourite character, she’s hilarious and made me laugh out loud a few times. 


So in this book, Elizabeth gets a letter from someone important from her past, and her detective/MI5 intuitions jump up and she dives in head first to solving the situation. It’s so funny, and you read some of the situations like ‘what is she doing?!’, but you know it’s just Elizabeth being Elizabeth,and it works!


It’s so unreal that its brilliant, and I hope to whoever needs to be hoped to, that Richard Osman does another book. If you like fun reads, with some random twists, grab this book!


Thanks again to Penguin, and Netgalley for my ebook arc.






Wednesday, November 17, 2021

What Might have Been by Holly Miller

 

Is Lucy's life 'meant to be' . . . or meant to be different?

Lucy's life is at a crossroads. She's just walked out of her unrewarding job and has no idea about her next step: use her savings to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, or move to London to try and revive her career? It almost seems like fate that on that same night she meets Caleb, a stranger in a bar, and runs into Max, the one-time love of her life.


Should Lucy stay in the seaside town she grew up in, and in doing so, get to know Caleb better? Or should she go to London and reconnect with Max again after he broke her heart a decade ago? It's just one decision - but sometimes one decision can change the course of your whole life . . .




I received a copy of this from Netgalley, and the publisher Hodder and Staughton in return for an honest review. 


I read this as a buddy read with a few of the TsundokuSquad girls. 


Ever wondered what your life would be like if one moment had went differently? I loved this book! I laughed, I felt sad, and I cried like an absolute baby. I loved the way the book was set out, each chapter with a ‘go’ part, and a ‘stay’ part. I kept changing my mind all the way through whether I wanted the book to end on ‘go’ or ‘stay’, and both lives had amazing things happen. Lucy is lush and deserves so much happiness. Max is amazing… but so is Caleb… see my problem lol? There were a few great characters in the story, and I really liked the story behind Lucy’s mam and dad, a proper love story. 


If you like romantic tear jerkers this is definitely one for you. Thanks again to Netgalley and the publisher Hodder and Staughton for my e-arc.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

George Orwell’s 1984 Graphic Novel by Matyas Namai

 

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” 

Winston Smith is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Now, the Party is forcing the use of an invented language called Newspeak which will prevent political insurgency by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes. But a seed of dissent grows in Winston—one that will bring him into direct conflict with the Party, and with devastating consequences.


Rarely has one book ever been so rich in political and social criticism as 1984. Originally published in 1949, this new graphic novel edition of the dystopian classic, powerfully illustrated by MatyΓ‘Ε‘ Namai, reveals Winston’s fight against the Party in all its horror and futility.



I received a gorgeous physical copy of this book from the publisher Palazzo Editions, after my Netgalley e-arc didn’t download properly, so thank you so much to them for that. 


I’d not read 1984 before, and was intrigued to learn the story of Big Brother, so I was excited to see a graphic novel available. This was very easy to read and easy to understand the story of 1984. 


I was surprised at some parts, shocked at Winston hiding in the only corner of his house where the cameras can’t see you. The thought that the government could be watching you at all times, in your own homes through your tv, is a scary thought. So do I get the rebellious side of the people who wanted to revolt? Of course. I didn’t see the person who was undercover being the person it was, I thought it was going to be someone else. 


I liked the relationship between Winston and Julia, it was like finding a bit of happiness in the darkness. My daughter asked if she could read it as she has done some school stuff on 1984 (she’s 13), but there are some graphic pictures in the book so I don’t think it’s suitable for young teens.


Thanks again so much to Palazzo Editions for my gorgeous physical copy, and thanks to Netgalley for my e-arc.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Looking For Alaska by John Green

 

In the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette, but even in the dark, I could see her eyes - fierce emeralds. And not just beautiful, but hot too.


BEFORE. Miles Halter's whole life has been one big non-event until he starts at anything-but-boring Culver Creek Boarding School and meets Alaska Young. Gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, screwed up and utterly fascinating she pulls Miles into her world, launches him into a new life, and steals his heart. But when tragedy strikes, and Miles comes face-to-face with death he discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally.


AFTER: Nothing will ever be the same.


Poignant, funny, heartbreaking and compelling, this novel will stay with you forever.



I read this as a buddy read with my fab pal Kath. I’d only ever read one of John Green’s books, The Fault in Our Stars , and I loved it, so was looking forward to reading this one. 


I really enjoyed it. I think the thingI liked the most was the way the kids spent their free time. It was just like I imagined a boarding school to be like. They hung out, snuck around with buried alcohol (yes, you heard that right lol), smoked cigarettes secret out of the windows or down at the smoking hole. It was just proper friend time and bonding. 


I loved The Colonel, he was my favourite character. A cheeky chap, with witty come backs, and I think he would just be a cool person to hang out with. I did like the main characters Alaska and Miles, and there were times I felt so bad for them both. And yes I cried a bit too.


Looking forward to reading more of John Greens books! Thanks to Kath for reading alongside me :)




Thursday, November 4, 2021

The Whistling by Rebecca Netley

Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome has taken the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea.


Her charge, Mary, is a strange child. Distracted and secretive, she hasn't uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William - just days after their former nanny disappeared.

With her charge defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders. But no one will speak of what happened to William. 

Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors. 

Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. 

Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . .

As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped.

But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past?

OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING..?



I received a copy of this book from the publisher Penguin Michael Joseph, and netgalley in return for an honest review.


We read this as Tsundoku Squad’s October book, seeing as it sounded spooky and it’s Halloween soon. I gave this 4 stars each week and am quite happy with the final 4 stars from myself.


I enjoyed this story, and it freaked me out a few times, especially when reading it at 12am in the pitch black with everyone else asleep πŸ˜‚ The lullaby at night in the halls of Iskar, the creepy whistle, the ever so slightly scary dolls, and a child so torn with grief she has rendered herself mute. 


The Island of Skelthsea was described well and I could picture the rocky shores, whipping waves ans utter darkness. All in all it was a good story, not something I would usually read so I was happy I enjoyed it. 


Thanks again to Penguin Michael Jospeh , Negalley, and of course Rebecca Netley for my e-arc.




Monday, October 25, 2021

The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

Tess Tyler needs a break. Weighed down by her high-pressure job and her demanding father, she's left little time to take care of herself. But after a shocking discovery sends her spiralling, she flees to Wynmouth, the seaside town she fell in love with as a child, to escape it all.


With its sandy beaches, stunning rock pools and welcoming community, Tess feels like she can finally breathe again. And as she grows ever closer to local barman Sam, she dares to dream that she might never return to her real life. But when a familiar face returns to town, Tess realises that there are secrets in Wynmouth too, and that her own past may be about to catch up with her . . .




I had been waiting to read this one as I’m reading all of Heidi’s books in publication order, but I realised this book is the first in the Wynmouth Series, and Heidi’s soon to be published next book is the second in the series. So I jumped on it to be ready for Underneath the Christmas Tree.


I love all of Heidi's books I’ve read so far but I think this one may be up there for my favourite! There was just something about this one that made me feel extra warm inside and happy. 


So Wynmouth sounds absolutely gorgeous, lush beach, friendly residents, and cosy places to hang out. I love the fireplace in the pub, it just made it sound very cosy and comfy, somewhere to sit wrapped in a jumper with your friends. And Sam the barkeep, ok so I love him. I think he is my favourite so far of all the men folk from Heidi’s books. There was just something about him, something so very kind and sweet. 


The Secret Seaside Escape is actually packed with surprises. I did guess one or two, and was glad to realise I was correct, but there were a couple I didn’t guess too and was pleasantly shocked!!


If you like warm heartfelt books then please dive into this one, it’ll be sure to make you feel better on these cold autumn/winter days.




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