The thing I love about MacBride’s writing is that it’s funny, but without making light of the darker aspects of the story he’s telling. (Which are some of the grimmer crime novels I’ve read.)
A Dark So Deadly was no exception, and draws first with my next book on this list for my favourite book of the year.
The Flat Share was adorable. There’s no way it wasn’t going to be on this list.
I’m kind of surprised that Hamnet made this list, since I’d taken a bit of a break during reading, but in the end, I didn’t want to put it down and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Maggie O’Farrell’s work in the future.
This was a series I’d found by accident when I was in a bookshop a few years ago, and I picked up books 1 and 2 because they were set in Edinburgh and I hadn’t read many Scottish crime novels.
Admittedly I didn’t start reading them until this year, but I enjoyed them, and as the first book series I’ve actively followed, they’ll always have special meaning for me.
The Thursday Murder Club was everywhere on its release, and I saw praise after praise for its story and its characters.
I found this tag over on Stephanie’s blog at Adventures of a Bibliophile and I really wanted to take part because I thought it would be fun to have a look over the reading I’ve managed to get done this year, and consider plans for 2021.
Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
I’d like to finish War and Peace before January, but I doubt that’s going to happen since there are over 1000 pages and I don’t think I’ve reach the 100 mark yet. I haven’t abandoned it, though, but progress is slow-going because for some reason I got myself a physical copy of the book instead of getting it on my Kindle, and it weighs a ton.
I still have the second Outlander book, Dragonfly In Amber, on my Goodreads Currently Reading shelf, which I started either earlier this year or last year and never went back to, so that’s another one I’d like to finish.
Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?
No, but I do have a collection of short stories called Twelve Days Of Winter by Stuart MacBride, which is the closest I’m going to get.
Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?
I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Karen McManus’ latest book, The Cousins, which is due for release at the beginning of December.
What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
I’ve been thinking about rereading Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes trilogy, but I’d also really like to get round to Beth O’Leary’s The Switch soon, and the sixth Inspector McLean book.
Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?
I’ve had a pretty decent year of reading so far, mostly because I’ve only been reading books I want to read and abandoning those I haven’t been interested in, so I don’t think there are any wild cards on my shelves- but I think A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride is probably going to be my favourite book of the year.
It already is, but there’s still a month of 2020 left so it’s still possible it might get knocked off the top spot.
Have you already started making reading plans for 2021?
I didn’t make any for 2020 other than to try and read more than I did last year. My Goodreads goal was set at 20, and I’m currently at 74, so I don’t think I’m going to beat that if next year returns us to normal life.
So far, all I’m planning for 2021 is to work through all the books I hauled this year, and get my tbr down to double figures.
I came across this cute little tag on Bree’s blog over at Words About Words and I wanted to take part because it looked like fun.
I haven’t played New Horizons, but I loved Wild World (released in 2005, which I played on my Nintendo DS) and Let’s Go To The City (released for the Wii in 2008) and they were just as important to me then as New Horizons has been to a lot of people over lockdown.
Past Villager: Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?
I have to pick Harry Potter for this one. The series was still fairly new when I started reading it, and the hype for the upcoming final film was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
The race to finish Order Of The Phoenix and Half Blood Prince are still ingrained (vividly) in my mind to this day, and while I didn’t finish Deathly Hallows before Part 2 was released in cinemas, it was still an emotional experience saying goodbye to these characters after we had gone on so many adventures with them since that first book.
Blather’s Blatherings: Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everybody should read.
I hadn’t heard anything about All The Light We Cannot See so I had no idea what to expect when I started reading it. It’s set during the second world war, and gave us two wonderfully vivid and intriguing stories through the characters of Marie-Laure and Werner.
Celeste’s Wish: What is a future book release you wish you could read now?
I’ve loved all of Karen McManus’ books (One Of Us Is Lying, One Of Us Is Next, Two Can Keep A Secret), so I’m looking forward to the release of her latest novel.
It’s set for publication in December, which is only three months away, but I missed getting my hands on an arc through Netgalley so I’d love to be able to read The Cousins today.
Timmy & Tommy: What is your favourite sibling relationship in a book?
I think that would have to be either Cath & Wren from Fangirl, or Ellery and Ezra from Two Can Keep A Secret.
The Easter Bunny: A popular book character that you’re not a big fan of.
There aren’t many book characters I don’t like, for the simple reason that if I don’t like the character within the first few chapters, I usually end up putting the book on the dnf pile.
But two characters whose popularity led to me giving them another chance were Kim Stone from the Angela Marsons series and Lindsay Boxer from the Women’s Murder Club books.
I’ve reviewed the first three Kim Stone books earlier this year, but in case you missed those posts, the main reason I didn’t like or connect with Kim is because she was so holier-than-thou, and I grew to dread her interactions with other characters because she would be incredibly rude towards them and treated her team as if they were stupid and hadn’t gone through the exact same training as she had.
As for Lindsay, her personality underwent a transplant between Book 1 and 2, and she went from a tough-but-caring detective with a healthy relationship with her sister (who is her only remaining family) and a dedication to getting justice for the victims of the crimes she works on to becoming whiny, jealous, and indecisive (both in her relationship and her career.)
Nook’s Loans: An author you’d give all your money to.
I’m kind of cheating, but there are two authors I want to pick: James Oswald and Karen McManus.
I’ve bought books by both without knowing anything of the synopsis because I’ve loved their previous novels and trust that their next one will be just as good.
The Sisters Able: What is your favourite fictional family (found or otherwise)?
I’ve recently started reading Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series, so the Detective Society formed by Hazel and Daisy is my pick for this category.
Hazel feels homesick at her boarding school, so solving mysteries (and eventually murders) with Daisy gives her a sense of purpose and support, and the Society grows to feel like Hazel’s found family.
It’s a C+: What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?
My number 1 pet peeve trope has to be miscommunication. It made an appearance in The Flatshare, though thankfully was resolved pretty quickly, but in other books it’s key to the plot, and I don’t agree with it.
I can’t think of a good example in a book, but if you’ve watched Friends, you’ll know that Ross and Rachel’s relationship didn’t last very long in the earlier series because he thought she was cheating and she thought he was jealous, and neither of them considered sitting down together and having a rational conversation.
The Wander Camel: What is your favourite book set in a land far away from yours?
I’ve just finished Quichotte, and although it’s not technically set in a land far away from mine (it’s set in America) the line between reality and fantasy was often blurred for the characters, so technically I’d say it still counts.
What Would Dodos Do?: A fictional land you wish you could fly away to at any moment?
Hogwarts? (Because who doesn’t want to go there and learn magic?)
I was catching up on some blog posts this morning when I came across this genius book tag, shared via Fortunately, The Book.
Created by Zaheerah over on her blog zaheerahkhalik, the tag uses features from the Great British Bake Off, including the infamous bin gate (still a touchy subject to this day, contestant Diana took Iain’s baked alaska out of the fridge to put her own in and forgot to put his back, resulting in his cake melting, and his disqualification), and the Hollywood handshake (if you don’t know what this is, Google it. I can’t convey the significance in a sentence).
The rules are simple:
Linking back to Zaheerah’s blog is appreciated but optional.
Tag people, don’t tag people, whatever. Just have fun.
Ready, get set, Bake! (or tag)
(Book covers will take you to Goodreads.)
Amateur Baker: A book that is self-published
I’m bending the rules a little here, because James Oswald is no longer self-published, and neither is his Inspector McLean series. But he started out his writing career as an indie author, and made quite a name for himself since then.
Soggy Bottom: A book that had a great start but a disappointing ending
For the most part I enjoyed this book, but the ending left me feeling a bit let down.
I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for those of you who haven’t read this yet, but to me, there was a lot of build up and conflict, and the ending didn’t really fit with where things seemed to be headed.
#Bingate: A book that you grew frustrated with and had to dnf
I don’t know what it was about this one, but I couldn’t make it past the first chapter. Maybe it had something to do with the introduction being all ‘she knew her life was going to change’ and the character hadn’t even made it out of bed yet.
Junior Bake Off: A children’s book
I’m not sure if I’d class this as a kid’s book, but it’s under that category on Amazon, so I’m going to stick with it.
There’s a whole series featuring the characters Daisy and Hazel, so plenty of reading to be had, and they’re a lot of fun.
A Hollywood Handshake: A book that impressed you
I loved Anthony Horowitz’s first venture into the world of Sherlock Holmes, with The House of Silk, but Moriarty exceeded it and then some.
The final twist at the very end still amazes me, and it’s been a couple of years since I read it.
Signature Challenge: A book that you would recommend to your friends & family
I recommend a lot of books to people, but this one has been talked about more because it hasn’t been getting a lot of attention, which it rightly deserves.
Technical Challenge: Books that you read without knowing much beforehand, ranking them from worst to best
I knew absolutely zilch about what to expect from Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, except that the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately, as you can see from its place on this list, I didn’t end up with a new favourite book series, as I’d been hoping as I started my reading.
Next up, we have A Study in Charlotte.
I love the original Sherlock Holmes series, and the BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, but rewrites like A Study In Charlotte don’t usually interest me for the simple reason that I know I’m going to compare it to what it’s based on, and inevitably ruin my reading experience.
With that in mind, the first instalment in the Charlotte Holmes series gets second place in the Technical Challenge round, because I didn’t know how it was going to incorporate either Holmes or Watson in a modern day setting, or what the story was about outside of that.
Which brings us to number 1, and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
I gave it a 4 out of 5 in my review at the beginning of April, and it’s the rightful winner of the GBBO’s Technical, because I had no idea what to expect but loved every page of it.
Showstopper Challenge: A book/ series that is your all time favourite
The whole series is my all-time favourite, but Prisoner of Azkaban has always been number 1.
The Finalist: A favourite trilogy
I’ve picked The Hunger Games, because I’ve read it so many times and it’s the only series I’ve read with sequels I’ve enjoyed as much as the first book.
An Extra Slice: A favourite companion book
As much as I enjoyed Harry and Ron’s commentary on Fantasic Beasts & Where To Find Them, I chose Quidditch Through The Ages as my favourite companion book, because of the little anecdotes we get throughout, like how little patience the neighbour to Queerditch Marsh had as her fellow wizards were playing the game which would later develop into a worldwide wizarding sport, along with the articles from the Daily Prophet.