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Friday, 31 December 2021

My Favourite Books of the Year! My Bookish 2021 Wrap Up!!


The screenshot says it all!  Somehow I managed to finish 240 books this year - I'd set myself the target of 200 - and I'm rather happy with this amount! Although it still hasn't made much difference to my TBR pile, just think that bad would be if I hadn't read this little lot!

And that means it's been very difficult to pick out my favourite reads of the year as there have been so many amazing books!!  But I've managed to pick 10 fiction, and 5 non fiction, that have just stood out that little bit more for me over the past 12 months!!

In no particular order, here we go....starting with fiction....click on the heading for a link to my GoodReads review!













NON FICTION











 

Monday, 27 December 2021

Book Presents from Santa! #bookhaul

 


Just thought I'd share a little post about the lovely books that Santa brought my way for being such a good girl this past year ..... stop laughing at the back!! I was good!! Sometimes!!  There may have also been book tokens bought for me as well, one of which I've already put to good use on the Waterstones website while their sale is on, so there'll be another bookhaul post soon when they start arriving!!

Santa did get some help in choosing the books for me as I handily provided a little list!


THE RABBIT FACTOR by ANTTI TUOMAINEN

An insurance mathematician’s carefully ordered life is turned on its head when he unexpectedly loses his job and inherits an adventure park … with a whole host of problems. A quirky, tense and warmly funny thriller from award-winning Finnish author Antti Tuomainen.

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri's relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.


THE TROUBLED MIND OF MARY SHELLEY by WENDY L BARDSLEY

Mary Shelley was the daughter of philosopher William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Her mother died soon after her birth and her father remarried. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was a friend of Godwin and a frequent visitor to his home. Though married with young children, Shelley flirted with Mary and when she was aged sixteen they eloped to Italy. Shelley was always in trouble financially and was forced to move frequently to avoid his creditors. Mary tolerated this lifestyle and also Shelley's constant philandering though she was often desperate with worry about Percy's infidelity. Lord Byron and Shelley met and became friends and this association was another cause for concern to Mary, who at eighteen, began writing Frankenstein, a novel that would bring her lasting fame. After Shelley's death from drowning in Italy, Mary returned to London and pursued her own writing career. In her novel Wendy Bardsley has captured the intensity of Mary's early life and her troubled marriage and the result is a remarkable book and an excellent addition to the genre of historical fiction.

LILY by ROSE TREMAIN

Nobody knows yet that she is a murderer...

Abandoned at the gates of a London park one winter's night in 1850, baby Lily Mortimer is saved by a young police constable and taken to the London Foundling Hospital. Lily is fostered by an affectionate farming family in rural Suffolk, enjoying a brief childhood idyll before she is returned to the Hospital, where she is punished for her rebellious spirit. Released into the harsh world of Victorian London, Lily becomes a favoured employee at Belle Prettywood's Wig Emporium, but all the while she is hiding a dreadful secret...

Across the years, policeman Sam Trench keeps watch over the young woman he once saved. When Sam meets Lily again, there is an instant attraction between them and Lily is convinced that Sam holds the key to her happiness - but might he also be the one to uncover her crime and so condemn her to death?


BEWILDERMENT by RICHARD POWERS

Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade, for smashing his friend's face with a metal thermos.

What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, while all the while fostering his son's desperate campaign to help save this one.


📚📚📚








Saturday, 25 December 2021

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - CHRISTMAS DAY 2021!

 


HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope Santa treated you kindly!! I may have sent Santa a list with a few books on it..... have I been good enough?!

Looking back at the last week on the bookish front and it's been pretty productive! Another 4 books have been finished, 2 new additions to the NetGalley shelf and then 2 newbies to my physical book shelves! nice and balanced!

Here's my look back..

BOOKS FINISHED










BOOKHAUL

starting over at Netgalley..

THE ATLAS SIX by OLIVIE BLAKE

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.

THE GIFTS by LIZ HYDER
publication date - February 2022

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a 'fallen angel' cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition

And in the post...

AFTER THE RAIN by LUCY DILLON
publication day - March 2022

First, the clouds...
Tara Hunter is a therapist on a mission to restore Longhampton's community spirit after catastrophic flooding. But with her boyfriend AWOL, her family fragmented, and only a cat for company, Tara's own life is crumbling.

Then the storm...
On top of everything, Tara's father - last seen as he walked out on her when she was ten years old - is suddenly back, with a surprising offer that could change everything.

And after the rain...
Dr David Dalloway is Longhampton Wellness Centre's new star counsellor. He's charming, caring and has a knack for reading people's minds - which is the last thing Tara needs right now. Will having David and her dad around make for a bigger storm on the horizon? Or is this Tara's chance for a fresh start?


THE DOVES IN THE DINING ROOM by LAURA LAAKSO
Yannia Wilde arrives in rural Sussex to attend her friend Jessika’s aristocratic Mage wedding. When two butchered doves are left in the hotel dining room, Yannia volunteers to take charge of the investigation. More disturbing events follow, leaving Yannia convinced that somebody is trying to sabotage the wedding.

Yannia teams up with the groom, Robbert, a wheelchair-using fan of detective fiction, and Wishearth, her ever-loyal Hearth Spirit, who surprises her by taking an active role in the investigation. But as the clock ticks towards the big day, the sabotage continues and the contradictions mount. The case turns sinister when Yannia herself is targeted, and Wishearth has to act quickly to rescue her.

But can they solve the mystery and save the wedding before somebody loses their life?

This is a "sideways" story in the Wilde Investigations series (number 3.5!)



CURRENTLY READING





HAPPY CHRISTMAS READING!!!










Monday, 20 December 2021

#BookReview THE WOLF AGE by TORE SKEIE #nonfiction #history

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

A thrilling work of popular history that gives a new perspective on the Viking-Anglo conflicts and brings the bloody period to life.

In the eleventh century, the rulers of the lands surrounding the North Sea are all hungry for power. To get power they need soldiers, to get soldiers they need silver, and to get silver there is no better way than war and plunder. This vicious cycle draws all the lands of the north into a brutal struggle for supremacy and survival that will shatter kingdoms and forge an empire.

The Wolf Age takes the reader on a thrilling journey through the bloody shared history of England and Scandinavia, and across early medieval Europe: from the wild Norwegian fjords to the wealthy cities of Muslim Andalusia. Warfare, plotting, backstabbing and bribery abound as prize-winning historian Tore Skeie weaves together sagas and skaldic poetry with bold dramatization to bring the world of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons to vivid life.

'Skeie has a unique ability to conjure images of the richest detail, everything from chaotic battles to the period's exhausting day-to-day life' A-MAGASINET

Author:
Tore Skeie is one of Norway's most acclaimed historians, having written several prize-winning and bestselling works of medieval history. Tore is known for his eye for historical and human drama, while his books have been praised both for their thrilling style and the way they challenge traditional nation-oriented historical narratives. The Wolf Age was a bestseller in Norway, won the prestigious Sverre Steen award and is the first of Tore's books to be translated into English.

PUBLISHED BY PUSHKIN PRESS


PURCHASE LINK


MY REVIEW

Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and tell the younger me who thought history was boring that it was anything but!! This was a wonderfully absorbing look back at the extraordinary times of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons - Game of Thrones seems very tame compared to some of the tales of the goings on during the 10th and 11th centuries in this book!!

The author has extensively researched the goings on of the time and presents it in such a fantastically relatable way that I couldn't put it down! It reads just like a novel, and knowing these things happened just make it even more astounding! There's a great overview of the characters involved, and the chronology of the events that unfolded and it was just utterly fascinating!

The story ebbs from England to Scandinavia and Medieval Europe and the action never stops! From feuding Kings to raiding Vikings, this is a brutal and political history showing the benefits of alliances and showing the treachery of others, all in the pursuit of power. You can just picture the sight of the ships venturing in to the estuaries and coastal towns around England and there's also mention of the archeological finds relating to ships of the time and it has just made me so intrigued to find out more about the time .

It features some amazing characters, with amazing names such as Harald Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard, Olaf, Cnut... extraordinary names for extraordinary people! Their quests are epic and often brutal. There's also a look at the rituals of the time, and the ever changing religions and beliefs of the people of the time. Life was brutal and the intensity of the raids and destruction was just shocking to read about.

A must read for all lovers of all things historical!!


★★★★★


#BookReview UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by T.J.KLUNE

 


ABOUT THE BOOK


When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop's owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn't ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo's help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.

PUBLISHED BY TOR BOOKS


PURCHASE LINK



MY REVIEW

A story that put tears in my eyes! Lots of them!! This was one of those slow burner stories for me, but then BAM you are sucked straight into the lives, and deaths!, of these characters and your emotions are put through the wringer as this funny but touching story plays out in front of you.

The author wrote this book to try and understand grief, and his approach is nothing short of remarkable. When the main character dies, there are no tears shed for him, and he finds himself at a little tea shop, where Hugo fixes the world with cups of teas and is also the ferryman waiting to take you on to the other side.

As Wallace spends time amongst these people, and drinks more cups of tea than he ever thought possible, he begins to wake up to himself in the realisation that there was more to life but it took him dying to find that out.

This was such a beautiful story! The connection with drinking tea was so simple but it worked so well! It's grounding, it's normal and also allows reflection. Wallace evolves so much throughout this book that it's just wonderful to witness. A delight - but don't forget to have tissues by your side!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THE LOST PROMISE OF IRELAND by SUSANNE O'LEARY #BookReview @bookouture


Hello! Delighted to be with you today on the blog tour to share my thoughts on the wonderful new book from Susanne O'Leary - THE LOST PROMISE OF IRELAND. My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!


About the Book: 



A completely gorgeous story about lost loves and small-town secrets that will sweep you away to the Irish coast.

Maggie remembers her summers in the village of Sandy Cove in Ireland like they were yesterday. She and her family would swim in the crystal-clear waters, collect beautiful seashells and relax on the sand. So when she sees that her family’s old coastguard cottage is available, she wonders if renting it for the summer will finally help her move on from the man who just broke her heart.

As soon as Maggie arrives she is delighted to find her childhood best-friend Sorcha and Sorcha’s cousin Brian still living in town. They enjoy cosy nights in the local harbour pub, with its stunning views across the ocean, as if no time has passed. And when Brian reveals he had a fierce teenage crush on Maggie, she can’t help but notice just how handsome he has become.

But then Maggie finds a worn metal box hidden in the attic of the house, full of love letters she exchanged with a sweet American boy she met one summer. During their last night together, star-gazing on the beach, they promised to find each other again. Soon it becomes clear that Maggie is not the only one returning to Sandy Cove.

Torn between her growing feelings for Brian and the romance she’s held in her heart for many years, Maggie realises that her summer may be more complicated than she’d expected. Will Maggie finally find a true love who can sweep her off her feet or will this holiday in Sandy Cove be her last?

Fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Sheila O’Flanagan and Debbie Macomber will fall head over heels for this enchanting, feel-good romance.


published by Bookouture

AUTHOR BIO



Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre.

The wife of a former diplomat, she has also been a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a rambling house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties, or doing yoga, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months

 Buy Link: 

Amazon: https://geni.us/B09FY24WHKsocial 


Apple: http://ow.ly/xgFS50GaeQr 


Kobo: http://ow.ly/R4yh50GaeMY 


Google: http://ow.ly/FKQs50GaeRZ 



MY REVIEW


This is one of those 'hug yourself' books! Those stories that bring you comfort, whatever time of year it is, but makes it more meaningful in the run up to Christmas! And I found the story to be full of wonderful characters that made up a lovely community that you just wanted to be part of!


Maggie spots her old childhood family cottage up for rent, and makes a decision to move there for the Summer as she has nothing but good memories of the past.  She's looking to get herself back on track after  a recent break up so this step back in time is hopefully going to be the reset she needs to get her spark back!


She notices a lot of changes in the area since she was last there, but the locals are all still very friendly and lots remember her from the past so she's warmly welcomed home and soon finds herself involved in the daily goings on! She also unearths her old letters and diaries so that brings back fresh memories of her family growing up and her first love.


This was just so easy to read and to feel connection with the characters.  In Maggie, there's a woman who has been hurt but knows how the past can heal and she soon finds her strength again and support amongst those who knew her a long time ago.    Then there is the power of community coming together when plans to change the local area forever threaten all they know and love.  


This was a wonderfully warm read and the author has done another great job of creating a comforting story that is delightful to read!


★★★★