WWW Wednesday (January 3rd)

WWW WednesdayThis weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open to all to participate. Why not join in and let us know what’s on your reading list this week…

To join in, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

It’s been over a year! since I last participated in a WWW Wednesday and it’s really good to be back and checking out all your reads and recommendations.  I hope to be able to commit to posting every week but it may have to be fortnightly, so we’ll see.  Happy New Year fellow Wednesday-ers 🙂

I’m reading Mr Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva

I started this before Christmas but then got sidelined with some other Christmas reading so am now back with this delightful story.  If you’re a fan of A Christmas Carol then this will definitely appeal.

The blurb

Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept…

 

 

 

^^Respect for this stunning cover which is so much better in real life ^^


I recently finished Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

I bought this before Christmas based on another book bloggers recommendation (Ali at I Wuv Books – thanks!).  It’s a fun story of 2 teenagers on the hunt for love over their Christmas holiday.  I loved the setting and the quirky characters.

The blurb

I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.

At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her favourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept. Curious, snarky Dash isn’t one to back down from a challenge – and the Book of Dares is the perfect distraction he’s been looking for.

As they send each other on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan, they’re falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be their biggest dare yet….


 What’s up next? The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D James

This is my next book club read.  I’ve not read any PD James before so should be interesting.

The blurb

P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a short story for Christmas, and four of the best have been drawn from the archives and published here together for the first time. From the title story about a strained country-house Christmas party, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, plus two cases for detective Adam Dalgliesh, these are masterfully atmospheric stories by the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’.

 

 


Have you read any of my choices?

Do share what you’re reading and recommendations in the comments…

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My 5* reads of 2017

As a follow up to yesterday’s 2017 reflection post (you can catch up with this here) today’s post goes into a little more detail about my reading and books I read in 2017.  I love this Goodreads infographic >>

Although my average rating was 3.6 (am I a harsh marker?) I’ve rounded up my 5* reads of 2017, of which there were 7, in one handy bite size post.  So here they are:

Holding by Graham Norton

I listened to this as an audio book and it’s quite darkly humourous, especially with Graham’s narration; the characters swear quite a lot and it just made me laugh in the context it was used.  I think it would make an excellent drama and was surprised that I enjoyed it so much given its celebrity author.

Full review:  Holding

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon 


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

Everything worked in this book: the style, the pace, the writing, the characters, I can’t really think of anything I didn’t like or could fault and it doesn’t come as any surprise that the author’s background is as a police officer as the police investigation came across as incredibly authentic.

Full review: I Let You Go

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon


He Said She Said by Erin Kelly

I thought this book was brilliantly written although somewhat slow in places that I wanted it all to move on a little quicker but I couldn’t fault the drama, the tension and all the twisty bits down to the last sentence.

Full review: He Said She Said

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

 


The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

So very late to the party with this book and in all honesty I probably wouldn’t have picked it for my book club choice had it not been made into a TV drama.  Thought-provoking, shocking and truly disturbing, a definite must read.

Full review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

 


I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh makes a second appearance in my list with a 5* rating for her second novel.  The social media culture allows us to put our whole lives online if we so wish so when you get scenarios in books like these it’s easy to feel how realistic they are.

Full review: I See You

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

 


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

If I could award 6* this book would certainly be worthy!   There are parts of this book that are truly awful because of the subject matter but this is just an outstanding novel.

Full review: The Underground Railroad

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

 


The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Oh Flora I miss you and your antics!  I think Flora is my favourite character from books read last year, I loved her style and her attitude and empathised with her situation.  Hopeful and heart-breaking – what more could you want!

Full review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

 


So there we have it, my top rated reads of 2017. 

Have you read any of these? Any top picks you would have added?

2017 – a reflection

Happy New Year to all my readers, bloggers and friends alike!

Well I finally got around to my end of year wrap up post declaring all achievements, not just with blogging but with life in general.

Overall 2017 treated me pretty well.  It started with a decent PPI refund which allowed me to put my finances in order and I also decided enough was enough when it came to weight management and my health so I joined Weight Watchers in early February.  After 4 months this gave me the confidence to start swimming again which I now try to do at least 3 times a week.  Before Christmas I had a weight loss of  3 stone 10 lbs which I am over the moon about and will continue into 2018, but of course, this meant that my other hobby, baking, suffered.  I’m hoping to get back into my baking this year and bring you more delicious finds!

In terms of blogging and my reading this did all somewhat fall by the wayside due to another project which has had to be put on hold indefinitely (really disappointing) and may even be permanent.  I hate being at the mercy of others! So I’m throwing myself back into reading and blogging 100%.  Watch this space 😉

I completed my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge

albeit by the skin of my teeth (5pm on NYE) and read 52 books in total.  This isn’t a huge number in comparison to other book bloggers but it was an achievement nonetheless given the other stuff I had on.  There were 7 books that I gave 5* too and will stick these in a post shortly.  Do you ever look back on a star rating that you gave and disagree with yourself when you compare them to other books in the list?

I know blogging isn’t all about stats but I like knowing that my blog is building a bigger audience year on year and that what I produce is actually viewed – don’t we all!  It surprises me and interests me which are the most popular posts.  These were my top 3 viewed posts for 2017:

So what does this tell me? 1) a simple baking post brought more visitors to my blog than any other (2) a book I didn’t like or enjoy continues to bring in more views than any other book related post (3) readers like the Hummingbird Bakery cakes…..mmmm will this influence what I do going forward? Probably not.

How was 2017 for you and what are you looking forward  to most in 2018?

Mini Book Reviews – A Catch Up

In a feeble attempt to go into the New Year with a clean slate and no outstanding book reviews, I’ve rounded up my most recently read books:

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The third instalment in the Cormoran Strike detective series is a cracking read despite the often gruesome scenes, being a tad bit too long and scattered with what I’d call pompous words that I just felt were not needed in this kind of novel.  I know this sounds like I didn’t enjoy it but I really did – particularly the developing relationship between Strike and Robin.  Having inadvertently read the last sentence I thought I knew what was going to happen but yet again I still got it all wrong!  Am looking forward to the next instalment of the BBC drama as it should be the best one yet in this much more personal case.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon 


The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

This was our latest book club read which promised us a mix of The Hunger Games meets And Then There Were None with some Big Brother thrown in for good measure – therefore mahoosive expectations….what a let down!  This book had so much promise even though it felt somewhat a rip off of those previously mentioned books but unfortunately just didn’t deliver.  I, and the group, felt that there were too many unanswered questions and that none of the characters were really that likeable so we didn’t give two hoots when things happened to them.  There were also issues with the writing; whether that be the translation or the actual text, who knows.  What a shame…

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

An unusual quick Christmas re-read for me in that I very rarely re-read books as there’s so many others to read but I was given this edition last Christmas.  I actually enjoyed reading this more the second time around as I felt I understood the story better.  This really is a lovely version with black inside papers and a gorgeous cover.

 

 

 

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon


Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Along with catching up on reviews, I’m also trying to reduce the backlog of advanced reader copies I have outstanding and here’s one from that list – the fourth instalment in the DCI Erika Foster series.  This is the only series that I’ve read from the start and would recommend to anyone who’s not yet started them.  Fast paced, gripping with thoroughly vile villains and a team of realistic likeable detectives on the hunt for them.  These books should be on every crime thriller fan’s reading list and this one doesn’t disappoint either.  Onwards to number 5 which is also waiting on my Kindle!

 

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon


So that’s me all caught up for now.  Have you read any of these books or are they are on your reading list? Do let me know.

I’m hoping to get back into my blogging properly next year and make a real effort.

Book Review: A Maigret Christmas by Georges Simenon

 What’s it about?

Three seasonal stories set in Paris at Christmas, from the celebrated creator of Inspector Maigret. It is Christmas in Paris, but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets… This collection brings together three of Simenon’s most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In ‘A Maigret Christmas’, the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white. In ‘Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook’, the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city. And ‘The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)’ tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub – one that surprises even her…

My thoughts

As an intro I’m just going to say that I’ve never read Maigret before or watched any of the TV drama adaptations.  I was drawn to this book by its cover and because I was looking for a Christmassy crime mystery novel so this seemed to fit the bill.

Unfortunately I only received one story as part of the advanced reader copy which was the title story ‘A Maigret Christmas’ so I have little to comment on.  I enjoyed the 1950s Parisian setting and the glimpse into a French Christmas Day…the bakeries being open to buy fresh croissants etc  (wonder if this is still the same).  Given the era and lack of technology all you have is basic good old-fashioned police work; questioning and intuition.  However, there were no deductions or explanations as to where Maigret’s suspicions lay or how he had worked out what had happened (its no Columbo!).  Given that there were  only had a handful of characters to choose from it was all a little too cut and dried.  Having said that I didn’t quite work out all that was going on….nothing new there!

Overall I enjoyed what I read and would have liked to have been able to read the other two stories in the collection to see if they were of a similar style and to be able to give a more rounded view.  Just this one didn’t massively inspire me to read more of the series.

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author link: Penguin Books

Small print for info
Source: Netgalley – ARC
No of pages:  224
Publisher:  Penguin Classics