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?

National Libraries Week

Libraries Week Image

A week celebrating the resources and activities that libraries have to offer!

I’m so lucky to live on the same street as my local library but I still don’t use it as often as I should.  I had cause to pop in a few Saturday’s ago to take advantage of the computers and more specifically their internet and because I have a library card I got 2 hours free usage!

My local library (Bridgnorth, Shropshire) has a number of events going on during this week to celebrate National Libraries Week; here’s what they’ve got going on:

Book Launch – The Marvellous Marathon Dragon – Saturday October 7th 10:00am
(so not technically during the main week but a great kick off)
You can meet the author, illustrator and the Asthma dragon. The book will also be available to buy on the day.  This is a free event!

An evening with Jenny Blackhurst (the event I’m most excited about) – October 9th 7pm
Shropshire author Jenny Blackhurst visits to celebrate National Libraries Week! Hear about her bestselling novels and her new title The Foster Child.

Bookstart Rhyme Time – October 9th 10:30am
Rhymes, Songs and Stories for under five.

Community directory drop-in session – October 9th 2pm
See a demonstration of the online directory, find a new hobby, exercise class or self-help group or get your organisation added.

Yoga and relaxation session – October 10th 10am
Celebrate National Libraries week, with something different.

Creative writing workshop – October 11th 1pm
£2.50 per person.
I am tempted by this workshop: just to give it a go.  I never liked reading out I’d written in class though so I’m a bit shall I/shan’t I?

On Cloud Nine with Time to Listen – October 11th  11am
To celebrate National Libraries Week with a special feel-good session of Time to Listen! Pull up a chair and relax while we read extracts from fiction and poetry on an uplifting theme.

Will you be attending any of your local library’s National Libraries Week events?

Find out more at >>  Bridgnorth Library Shropshire Libraries National Libraries Week

My holiday reads

I’m off on a week’s holiday at silly o’clock tomorrow morning to the Greek island of Kefalonia so I thought I’d share with you the books I’ll be taking with me.

Although we do like sight seeing and visiting places, we are planning a more chilled out relaxed holiday rather than being full on so they’ll be plenty of reading time for these:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscientious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consumate musician.

When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiancé – and members of the underground – go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?

What better place to read the book than in the place that it’s set? Or is that a bit cliché?

The One by John Marr

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

Recommended by trusted book blogger Claire from Art & Soul, this one has been quite a popular read with other bloggers too so looking forward to this one.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . .

I absolutely loved Clare’s first novel, I Let You Go, and so have really high expectations for this one.  My daughter and I will have to buddy read so we can discuss it at the same time 🙂

I’ll also be taking my Kindle, just in case, on which I have the new Robert Bryndza and Tom Bale amongst many others. Oh and I have my phone with In Her Wake to finish, The Cows, Into the Water and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine as Audible books so think I’m covered.

Have you planned your holiday reads or read any of mine? How do you decide which ones to take?

Movies I was surprised to find out were based on books

As I was flicking through Netflix looking for a film to watch one genre of suggestions was ‘movies based on books’, so naturally I went scrolling through them and I was actually quite surprised at the amount of them that I didn’t realise were based on or inspired by books.  I have seen all of the movie adaptations, but have not read any of the books.

Here’s a small selection:


The game under the tree looked like a hundred others Peters and Judy had at home. But they were bored and restless and, looking for something interesting to do, thought they’d give Jumanji a try. Little did they know when they unfolded its ordinary-looking playing board that they were about to be plunged into the most exciting and bizare adventure of their lives.

Written by Chris Van Allsburg and originally published in French in  1981.  I love this movie but not sure how I’m feeling about a sequel.


Legally Blonde

Elle Woods, California University senior, seems to have it all. President of Delta Gamma sorority, she’s aced her major–sociopolitical jewellery design-and is on the verge of becoming Mrs. Warner Huntington III. Too bad Warner, bound for Stanford Law, dumps her with the explanation that he now needs a more “serious” woman at his side. Faced with this unexpected reversal of fortune, Woods doesn’t get depressed, she gets busy.

Written by Amanda Brown and originally published in 2001, who doesn’t love a bit of Elle Woods against the world!


Letters to Juliet

The enduring legend of Shakespeare’s pair of star-crossed lovers draws millions of visitors to Verona, Italy, each year. But that is just part of the story. Every day, letters, frequently addressed simply, “Juliet, Verona,” arrive in the city. They come by the truckload, in almost every language imaginable, written by romantics seeking Juliet’s counsel. Most of the missives talk of love, of course —love found and love lost, love sought and love remembered. And, amazingly, not one letter goes unanswered.

This movie was based on a non-fiction book by Lise and Ceil Friedman which was published in 2006.  I want to visit Verona because of this movie!



Imagine a drug that made your brain function to its full potential.

A drug that allowed you pick up a foreign language in a single day.

A drug that helped you process information so fast you could see patterns in the stock market.

Just as his life is fading into mediocrity, Eddie Spinola comes across such a pill: MDT-48 – a sort of Viagra for the brain. But while its benefits materialise quickly, so do certain unwelcome side-effects. And when Eddie decides to track down other users, he soon discovers that they’re all dying, or already dead…

Written by Alan Glynn and originally published in 2011.  I didn’t really understand the movie so not sure how I would get on with reading the book.


Captain Phillips

A Captain’s Duty tells the life-and-death drama of the Vermont native who was held captive on a tiny lifeboat off Somalia’s anarchic, gun-plagued shores. A story of adventure and courage, it provides the intimate details of this high-seas hostage-taking–the unbearable heat, the death threats, the mock executions, and the escape attempt. When the pirates boarded his ship, Captain Phillips put his experience into action, doing everything he could to safeguard his crew. And when he was held captive by the pirates, he marshaled all his resources to ensure his own survival, withstanding intense physical hardship and an escalating battle of wills with the pirates. This was it: the moment where training meets instinct and where character is everything. Richard Phillips was ready.

I loved this movie, firstly Tom Hanks is in it and it’s packed full of tension.  Probably the type of movie you can only watch once though, however I would still be interested to read the book to see how much of the movie was fiction.

So there’s my surprises.  Have you got any movies to share that you were surprised to learn were based on books?