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Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Book Vipers BookBuster 2017 challenge

Another year flies by! And thankfully in this years' case as it all seems to have been doom and gloom from week to week!  Praise be for books to transport us to different worlds to escape the often grim goings on in the real world - there's a topic for another day.... which book world would you like to go and live in?! I know I can think of a few!!

It has been a very successful reading year for me and I think my venture into blogging and reviewing had a major impact on that!  According to GoodReads I've completed 206 books this past year and I find that amazing - I'm sure they've miscalculated haha!!  If only that number had helped clear my shelves and decreased my TBR pile!! Seems to have just made it worse!  But I have found that the more that I read, the quicker I get at reading - not sure if others find this?!  And I do find myself staring at some rather large books still sitting on my shelves that I've maybe avoided this year so maybe I'll read less in 2017 and just tackle those epic books we all have on our shelves that often scare us off!

One of the challenges I will  be taking part is from the GoodReads group The Book Vipers who are running a BookBuster challenge for next year.  Just like the TV show you can choose to read books from authors' whose names start with the letters across the board or, like I'm going to do, complete the A-Z authors challenge. Any genre counts so I am using this a great opportunity to get reading books that have been on my shelves - in real and ebook form! - for quite a while and get me reading a few different genres.

My A-Z list

A - Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern

B - 2am at the Cats Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

C - Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell

D - Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan

E - Doorways by Robert Enright

F - The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

G - Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover

H - Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I - The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

J - 183 times a year by Eva Jordan

K - Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

L - The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

M - The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy

N - Uprooted by Naomi Novak

O - Wesley the remarkable owl by Stacey O'Brien

P - The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

Q - Exercises in Style by Raymond Queaneau

R - The bookshop on the corner by Rebecca Raisin

S - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

T - The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle

U - The Witchfinders Sister by Beth Underdown

V - Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

W - Girl Reading by Katie Ward

X - The Good Women of China by Xinran

Y - A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Z - Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

So these are the books I'm hoping to get through, although I may switch a few over the year but will see how the mood grabs me!!  Is anybody else taking part in this challenge or have they found other challenges to take part in? Would love to hear from you and if you are - good luck!!  Let's hope we all succeed!!

Happy Reading!!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Weekly Round up - Christmas Book Haul!!

Hope everybody had a super wonderful Christmas!! I did but it was all over way too quickly for my liking!!  Weeks and weeks of preparation and it is gone in the blink of an eye!  Was also saddened by the news of the death of George Michael on Xmas Day eve as I've always loved him as an artist from the Wham days through to his solo career.  2016 has been such a crappy year for losing such talented artists :(

On the downside bookwise, Christmas seems to have taken away my reading mojo!! Despite the TV offerings being poor - did love Yonderland and The Last Dragon Slayer on Sky One - the mood for reading just has not grabbed me! So I'm hoping it returns soon especially as I've signed up for a couple of 2017 reading challenges - more of those on another day!!

On the upside bookwise, there was books for Christmas! Santa and my family seemed to think I'd like some bookish gifts - can't think where they got that idea from!!! ;) So without further ado, here's a little look at the books that I received.....

ooh piles of bookish loveliness!!

The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle  

As well as taking in the well-known titles that have helped shape the world in which we live, The Secret Library brings to light more neglected items among the bookshelves of the world. While discussing Darwin’s groundbreaking On the Origin of Species, we’ll learn why that bestseller was outsold in Darwin’s own lifetime by his book on earthworms, and how Edgar Allan Poe’s biggest-selling title was a book on mollusks. We’ll learn about the forgotten Victorian novelist who outsold Dickens, how Sherlock Holmes’s famous illustrator got the job because of a clerical error, and how the word 'trilby"—taken from a Victorian novel—was originally applied to people’s feet before it became the name of a hat. The Secret Library brings these little-known stories to light, exploring the intersection between books of all kinds and the history of the Western world over 3,000 years.

Nigel: My family and other Dogs  by Monty Don

Midwinter by Fiona Melrose

Father and Son, Landyn and Vale Midwinter, are men of the land. Suffolk farmers. Times are hard and they struggle to sustain their property, their livelihood and their heritage in the face of competition from big business.
But an even bigger, more brutal fight is brewing: a fight between each other, about the horrible death of Cecelia, beloved wife and mother, in Zambia ten years earlier. A past they have both refused to confront until now.
Over the course of a particularly mauling Suffolk winter, Landyn and Vale grapple with their memories and their pain, raking over what remains of their fragile family unit, constantly at odds and under threat of falling apart forever. While Vale makes increasingly desperate decisions, Landyn retreats, finding solace in the land, his animals - and a fox who haunts the farm and seems to bring with her both comfort and protection.
Alive to language and nature, Midwinter is a novel about guilt, blame and lost opportunities. Ultimately it is a story about love and the lengths we will go to find our way home.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling - The Illustrated version

Nevernight by Jay Cristoff

The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

The Wildwood Chronicles - Books 1, 2 and 3 - by Meloy Ellis

And that was that!! More books to find room for on my already overloaded shelves - and do I care?! Of course not!!! All I have to do now is find the mojo and time to read them all!  Hope you've all had better luck with reading over Christmas!! Did Santa bring you much?!  Hope so!

Now to get back to the reading!!  Happy New Year to you all!!

Happy Reading!!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Pre-Christmas Book Haul

Merry Christmas everybody!! Hope you are all set and have survived the madness of the shops!!  All this for one day that flies by so quickly!! And i've already noticed certain shops have started their sales already!! I haven't been tempted to click on the email links.... yet!

Not much reading been going on here this week but there has been lots of lovely book post arriving so I thought I would use my weekly round up to share pictures of lovely new books - and try and figure out where to store them all as my new bookshelves are already a little more full up than I'd hoped!

So here goes.....

Madeleine Altimari is a sassy, smart-mouthed nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer, inwardly mourning the recent death of her mother. Little does she know that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day - and night - of her life.

After bravely facing down some mean-spirited classmates and a galling rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she's determined to make her on-stage debut. Meanwhile, her fifth-grade teacher Sarina Greene is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high-school crush. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Jack Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever . . .

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life's endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving novel, 2 A.M. At The Cat's Pajamas will swell your heart and have you laughing out loud.

With my Book And A Brew Subscription Box this month I received a copy of 2 A.M at The Cat's Pajamas.  A book I'd never heard of before but I've dived straight into reading it as it sounded quite festive and from what i've read so far, I'm really enjoying it! Am loving the little girl Madeleine, so look forward to sharing my review soon!

Four siblings meet up in their grandparents' old house for three long, hot summer weeks. But under the idyllic surface lie shattering tensions. 

Roland has come with his new wife, and his sisters don't like her. Fran has brought her children, who soon uncover an ugly secret in a ruined cottage in the woods. Alice has invited Kasim, an outsider, who makes plans to seduce Roland's teenage daughter. And Harriet, the eldest, finds her quiet self-possession ripped apart when passion erupts unexpectedly. 

Over the course of the holiday, a familiar way of life falls apart forever

And then I won a Christmas Competition on Twitter care of the lovely people at Vintage Books, and the copy of The Past by Tessa Hadley arrived this week.  Never read anything by Tessa Hadley before but always hear great things so hoping to get to this over Christmas too!

Was also extremely pleased to receive a proof copy of The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull - if you haven't read  The Visitors or Song of the Sea Maid of hers then you need to... NOW!! - which isn't released until the 6th April 2017 and looks set to be another inspiring book that I just cannot wait to dive into! No blurb around at the moment, but I will be sharing more about this book in due time!  

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . . 

'A tense and utterly engrossing story' Tammy Cohen, author of WHEN SHE WAS BAD and THE BROKEN
'A compelling page-turner which kept me reading well into the night.This book will make any woman look at her best friend with more than a touch of suspicion . . .' Jane Corry, author of MY HUSBAND'S WIFE
'A page-turner that explores how friendship, mothering, marriage, and events in the past can collide in unexpected andtumultuous ways' Beth Miller, author of THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR and WHEN WE WERE SISTERS
'A brilliant, gripping read. I couldn't put it down' Claire Douglas, author of THE SISTERS and LOCAL GIRL MISSING

Another Proof Copy arrived this week - One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis - courtesy of Penguin RandomHouse and due to be released  in ebook form in February 2017 and in paperback in June 2017.  Looks set to be another intriguing read

The second in the Hampstead Murders series opens with a sudden death at an iconic local venue, which some of the team believe may be connected with an unsolved murder featuring Cold War betrayals worthy of George Smiley. It soon emerges that none other than Agatha Christie herself may be the key witness who is able to provide the missing link. As with its bestselling predecessor, Death in Profile, the book develops the lives and loves of the team at 'Hampstead Nick'. While the next phase of a complicated love triangle plays itself out, the protagonists, struggling to crack not one but two apparently insoluble murders, face issues of national security in working alongside Special Branch. On one level a classic whodunit, this quirky and intelligent read harks back not only to the world of Agatha Christie, but also to the Cold War thrillers of John Le Carre, making it a worthy successor to Death in Profile which was dubbed 'a love letter to the detective novel'.

As a member of the Urbane Publications Book Club, the first of the January releases arrived in the post today and has me itching to read it with it's atmospheric cover and exciting blurb!

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They're not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I'm supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won't say. I won't tell them I'm going to hunt for my real parents. I don't say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he'd give me a medal for lying.

I wasn't lying. I'm a hunter for lost souls and I'm going to be with my real family. And I'm not going to let Mick stop me.

And this stunner of a cover - I can't stop staring at it!! - also arrived as a proof today from Faber and Faber, set to be released in February 2017.  I was a big fan of Kate Hamers' The Girl in the Red Coat, and so am excited to see if this matches up to the thrilling story of that one!

That little lot should keep me out of too much trouble for a while eh! Am also hoping that Santa will bring a few more book shaped presents my way over the next couple of days - I think I've been good enough! - so hopefully there will be a post Christmas book haul post to share soon too!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas with lots of reading time!!  Ooh and lots of food!!

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Christmas Garden

Greetings from my little garden in Essex!  No frost recently which has been a blessing to me, but a little confusing for all the plants as a lot of them are thriving and even flowering long after they should have, and some look ready to bloom again even though they should be having their winter nap!  And definitely not napping are the local squirrel population who are happily stocking up on peanuts from the bird table - think this little chap might have overdone it as he was taking time out on the fence panel this morning!

Am always impressed with the Nemesia as they happily self seed all over the place and seem to flower all year long!  My kind of plant!

Got a few viola and pansies in pots again this year - it's rude not to i think! - and they are putting on their cheery display as always before the bulbs buried below them get to take over in the Spring!

Speaking of which, these Tulip bulbs are beginning to show signs of life as well as being dug up by the squirrels :( Anybody found any ways to stop bulbs being disturbed by wildlife?! Happy to hear some hints!

A few roses are also still happily blooming away so I'll let them carry on and leave the pruning until Spring!

We have a couple of Camellias in pots and they didn't do so well last year but they all seem quite happy this Winter with plenty of buds so hopefully they will put on an impressive display soon!  Think they could do with repotting so another job for the to do list of 2017!

Great time of year for the yellow plants in the garden too as the Mahonias and Winter Jasmine are flowering away beautifully and adding some fragrance to the garden!  Always a welcome addition!

And the poppies refuse to be beaten by cold or rain so are flowering wherever they have seeded themselves!  I really should dig some up as they are in various cracks and pots they shouldn't be in, but I'm the kind of gardener who feels mean if I do that! So they stay!  And take over LOL!!

Not much maintenance to do out there at the moment, although I still need to prune back the Grapevine, that used to belong to my Granddad, and also have another little prune of the apple tree - and my rabbit can enjoy the offcuts of that!  Also still managing to cut the lawn so that seems to be another all year round job now too!  And as you can see, lavender pruning isn't my job anymore! The bunny is an expert at that!!

Happy Gardening!!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer Book Review


There’s no safety in numbers . . . 

Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.

The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances, where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.

When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realizes that the killer has two obsessions.

One is public murder.

And the other one is her . . .

Amazon UK - buy online from your local bookstore

Paperback343 pages
Published November 17th 2016 by Bantam Press (first published March 10th 2016)

My Review

When you find yourself reading a 300 + page book in one sitting you know you found a very good book!! Often found myself thinking that I couldn't put it down as the trail of the serial killer might go cold if I stopped reading! Fair to say I became a little involved with this book!  And that cover is seriously stunning too!

This is the story of Eve Singer. She is a TV crime reporter and the business is very tense and pressurised. Too many reporters always wanting the exclusive and the first photos of the murders happening in London. And on the scene there is now a killer who needs an audience too to stage his 'exhibitions' of murder. One can't function without the other and the killer soon finds himself fascinated by Eve and gets in touch with her in the hope that they can both help each other out in their lines of work.

Away from the murders, Eve is struggling as she's had to move back home to take care of her father who is struggling with dementia, and this switch of the story was a fascinating one and also really well dealt with as it shows the sadness, the hopelessness she often feels and the moments of humour that families dealing with this condition know only too well. She also keeps her homelife hidden from those she works with.

We also see the story from the point of view of the killer himself, and that is a unsettling and clever way of seeing into his past and what may have set him on this path and uncover why he has this need to kill people in such a public way.

There is also a tiny glimpse into the point of view of her father and that is extremely enlightening and heartbreaking in equal measures.

I loved the way this story was written as it is full of intrigue and the pace of the story never lets up so there is always something going on - be it in her homelife, or in dealing with the killers growing obsession with her and her trying to decide whether it is morally right for her to become so involved with him to help her TV career.

Absolutely loved this book, with its' twists and turns and will definitely be reading more from this author in the future!

Thank you to the publishers Transworld Books, and Becky Short for providing me with a Proof Copy of this stunning book

Saturday, 17 December 2016

MothBox Unboxing!

There's a new Bookish Subscription service in town!  And it's called MothBox!  Run by the lovely Vlogger Mercedes Mills MercysBookishMusings  and she can also be found on Twitter too MercysMusings .

I do love a Bookish subscription box so was rather pleased to hear about this new one, and managed to be one of the lucky 100 to sign up in time for the premiere box!  I think she was overwhelmed with the support she received and is looking to increase the number of boxes available for the next sign up which is every other month!  And unlike a lot of subscription boxes with this one you get 2 books from smaller publishers and I love this part of it as it introduces you to books that you wouldn't normally get to hear about!  A great way of finding new authors and publishers alike!

And my first box arrived the other day!! Ooohhh too exciting!!  Beautifully wrapped and presented and this is what greeted me as I opened the main box!  

And once you rummage through the stringy bits you find treasure in the shape of books!  Love the tags too as they can be used as bookmarks and have a lovely cryptic clue as to what's inside the tissue paper!

And this is the first book!!   Trio by Sue Gee which is one I'd never heard of but it sounds beautiful

Northumberland: the winter of 1937. In a remote moorland cottage, Steven Coulter, a young history teacher, is filled with sadness and longing at the death of his wife. Through a charismatic colleague, Frank Embleton, and Frank’s sister, Diana, he is drawn into the beguiling world of a group of musicians, and falls gradually under their spell. But as war approaches a decision is made which calls all their lives quite shockingly into question. Moving between the beauty and isolation of the moors, a hill-town school and a graceful old country house, Trio delicately explores conscience and idealism, romantic love and most painful desire. Throughout it all, the power of music to disturb, uplift and affirm is unforgettably evoked.

And then there is book two to be enjoyed! Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell

A beautifully written, haunting tale of motherhood, guilt, myth and redemption set on the rugged coast of Caithness at Scotland’s furthest edge.

When Maggie Thame, a childless forty-something from Oxford, relocates to a remote village at Scotland’s most northern edge, it’s clear she’s running away. But to the villagers the question remains, from what?

Pursuing her career as a freelance cartographer, she lives in self-imposed isolation, seeking refuge in the harsh beauty of her surroundings. This is disturbed when she falls into an uneasy friendship with Trothan Gilbertson, a strange, other-worldly local nine-year old. Like Maggie, it’s unclear where Trothan really comes from, and what secrets might be lurking in his past. The lives of both become intertwined, with violent consequences that will change the destinies of woman and boy forever, forcing Maggie to confront the tragic events that first drew her to this isolated place.

In this, her debut novel, award-winning writer Linda Cracknell explores themes of motherhood, guilt, myth and the elemental forces of nature in a lyrical, taut and haunting account of damaged lives seeking redemption

This also sounds like a totally captivating read so am really looking forward to starting both of these very soon as they sound like the perfect wintry reads!

So my verdict on the first MothBox is A+!!  If you'd like more details then please visit the website here MothBox and roll on January is all I can say!!

Happy Reading!!

Friday, 16 December 2016

My week in books.....

Greetings from myself and Archie the bunny!  Hope everyone is well! I'm not!! The dreaded cold germs have had me under attack all week so have been feeling very sorry for myself and despite the extra lemsips, echinacea and Vitamin C, it is still proving difficult to shift so I will have to double up on doses for a little longer!!

On the book front things have been a lot healthier! My creaking bookshelves might disagree though as there may have been a few books arriving - oops! - but they were deals too good to be missed so I HAD to buy them!!  Been pretty successful on the reading front too thanks to some books I bought for my nephew and niece that looked too good to be missed out on so I read those - very carefully! - to see if they were suitable for presents! Happy to report they were!


a boy called christmas by matt haig

 the girl who saved christmas by matt haig

The racehorse who wouldn't gallop by Clare Balding

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis

How is that little lot for a mix of reading material?!!  Enjoyed them all though, especially The Butcher's Hook so can highly recommend that if you haven't already read it and you are looking for a fascinating, dark read!

Books Received

Received a proof copy of The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer in the post this week via the lovely people at Penguin Random House, and have dived straight into reading this as it has one of those covers and blurb that lures you in - and so far so good!!

And as I'm part of the Choc Lit publishers Tasting Panel where we are sent manuscripts to read in the hope that a future e-book/paperback success will follow, it is always wonderful to see something you read make it to a published book, and the wonderful What Doesn't Kill You by Laura E James copy arrived in the post this morning!  Click on the link to get your copy NOW!!  Paperback out in January 2017

And then there was a set of Penguin Classics with the gorgeous Clothbound covers!!  12 of them!! Foyles were offering a special deal around Black Friday and it was a deal I couldn't say no to as a treat to myself! Well, I think I deserved them!!

See how pretty they are!! All designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith and I think I need more of the editions to now add to my new collection! Hopefully I will get to read them all in 2017 as one of my aims is to read more Classics, although I'm now wondering if I should be putting my grubbly little mitts on these editions and just using them to look at on the shelves?! LOL! The dilemmas of a bookworm eh! And how is a girl supposed to choose which one to read first?!  Suggestions greatfully received!!  Do I brave War and Peace?! Or start with a lighter read?!

So a good week!  And now to finish it off with a bit of extra reading time as I sit surrounded by lozenge packets and used snotty tissues! The joys!!


Thursday, 15 December 2016

After I've Gone - Cover Reveal....

Extremely excited to be part of this cover reveal for the new Linda Green thriller set to be released  in ebook on the 18th of May, and in paperback 27th July 2017.

So without further ado, are you ready??!  Then here's a look at the stunning cover.....


A gripping new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed.

On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount receives the devastating news that she hasn't got long left to live. She doesn't hear it from a doctor, though. She discovers it when her Facebook timeline skips forward eighteen months and friends and family start posting tributes to her, following her death in a terrible and mysterious accident.

At first, Jess thinks this must be a sick joke by a colleague jealous of her handsome new boyfriend. But as the posts continue and it becomes clear that no one else can see what she can, Jess is forced to confront that her impending death might be all too real . . .

Pre-order at Amazon UK

You can follow Linda on her Twitter page @LindaGreenisms for more details and to ask her any questions about this release!

Already counting down the days until this one as it sounds like such an intriguing concept and a very scary one too!! Another book to be gripped by I'm sure!