Posted in Weekly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up 13

So that’s two months gone of 2021, which feels quite surreal.

I’m still making good progress with my tbr, though, which I’m happy with. The book-buying ban, on the other hand, isn’t going so well, but I’m justifying it because I got an interview and a job offer in the same week- which means from March I’ll have some kind of routine back in my life again, and venturing out of the house.

Somehow I’ve made it through another month without writing a single book review, so I’m going to share my thoughts on my February reads here in my wrap-up.

I’ve also changed the layout of this post so instead of book covers, I’ve just put the title of the books I read and linked them to Goodreads. I don’t know if this layout will stick. We shall see.


February Reads

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Adorable. Heart-warming.

Five stars.

Slay by Brittney Morris

Thought-provoking. Immersive.

Five stars.

Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens

I didn’t realise this was a collection of short stories until I started reading it, but I liked that we got to see the Junior Pinkertons in action, and some mini cases that were set between the main stories.

Four stars.

Titanic and Other Ships by Commander Lightoller

Fascinating and detailed. Reading about the Commander’s travels and adventures around the world was the perfect escapism right now, and his account of the Titanic’s collision and sinking was so vivid and tragic.

Four stars. (Would have been five but there were a ton of technical terms which meant I had to keep putting the book down to look them up in a dictionary- plus the super outdated language and opinions which is offensive.)

The Holiday by T.M. Logan

Aside from the synopsis being misleading, this was an addictive story. It was easy to get caught up in Kate’s suspicions of her friends and I did not expect it to end the way it did.

Four stars.

The Less Dead by Denise Mina

Made for some grim reading, but it was a good story and had a good resolution.

Four stars.

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Dark. Twisted. Addictive.

I did not want to put this down.

Five stars.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

This was a reread for me but I think I enjoyed it a little bit more than I did the first time.

I wouldn’t say it was fast-paced (despite the bulk of the story occurring during the space of a few hours) but it was addictive and shocking, and had several different subplots going on in the background so there was plenty going on.

Four stars.

Instinct by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

I enjoyed the TV series adaptation (which I watched first) and surprisingly found the book to be pretty similiar, with one or two minor changes.

I didn’t like that when Dylan learned something the chapter would end and we didn’t find out what it was until a few chapters later, or that he didn’t do much analysing of the serial killer the NYPD wanted him to help them find, but it was still a good story.

Three and a half stars.

The Rules For Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Although this book went in a different direction from what I’d expected, the premise was interesting and the solution at the end was surprising.

Three and a half stars.

Currently Reading

Uncommon Type

Reading Challenges Update

When Are You Reading
  • 2000- Present- Complete

(2020) The Switch

Out Of Your Comfort Zone Challenge

Romance- Complete

  • The Switch

Historical Fiction- Complete

  • Cream Buns and Crime

Posted in Top 5 Tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Series I Haven’t Finished

Given how up until last year I actively avoided sequels, I’m really pleased with myself for being able to make this list.


Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Meeghan Reads.


Inspector McLean series by James Oswald

I read half of this series during Lockdown 1 last year and loved every book, so the remaining five are on my tbr for 2021, which worked out quite nicely since Book 11 is being published this month and now I can complete the series up to date.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell, #3)

I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, so I’m hoping I’ll get round to reading the final book in the trilogy soon.

I know what happened historically with Thomas Cromwell, but I’m really excited to see how Hilary Mantel puts her spin on it.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

I also started reading these during the first lockdown, and have just four more books to go.

Jack Reacher by Lee Child

There’s over 20 books in this series so while it’s unlikely I’ll get anywhere near finishing them all this year, I’m hoping to make a bit more progress with it.

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Desolations of Devil's Acre (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #6)

The sixth and final book in the series is due for release this year, and I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens to the Peculiars and the residents of Devil’s Acre.

Posted in Reads Rated

Mini Reviews: Hamnet, Crashing Heat, First Class Murder and Jolly Foul Play

For the first time ever, my mini reviews are actually miniature.

And there are four books in this post, which is also a first for me.


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Hamnet

O’Farrell takes the known facts of Hamnet’s life and weaves them through a narrative that is descriptive and immersive and tragic, and the result is a beautiful story about family and love and loss.

If you have this on your tbr, I’d highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5


Crashing Heat by Richard Castle (aka Tom Straw)
Crashing Heat (Nikki Heat, #10)

I enjoyed the previous nine books in this series, but the tenth instalment just did not deliver for me.

Aside from the glaring plot-hole that was a character who’d died in an earlier book being alive again, the case Heat and Rook investigate was thin and convoluted and had no stakes for me invest in.

I’d love to be able to say that the references to the TV show on which this series in a spin-off (the show being ABC’s Castle, starring Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion) saved the day, but those were few and far between.

Rating: 2/5


First Class Murder by Robin Stevens
First Class Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #3)

Three adventures in and the Detective Society are still going strong. Hazel and Daisy are on the Orient Express for their holidays, and find themselves another case when a passenger is murdered.

There are plenty of suspects (as in the previous novels) and a satisfying conclusion.

Rating: 4/5


JOLLY FOUL PLAY BY ROBIN STEVENS
Jolly Foul Play (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #4)

Back at school, and almost a year on from their first case, Daisy and Hazel are mere feet away when a murder takes place during a fireworks display.

In spite of that echo back to their first investigation, the pair have grown up a lot since then. Hazel does some investigating on her own and even questions Daisy’s orders, which she wouldn’t have done in Book 1, while Daisy herself is less about the uncovering of secrets and more trying to prevent an innocent person from being accused of the murder, which shows a massive development in her character.

An old-fashioned, enjoyable YA mystery.

Rating: 4/5

Posted in Weekly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up #9

So it’s safe to say that I’ve surpassed last year’s total of 47 books read; I’m currently sitting at 57, which also beats 2018’s total of 50.

It goes without saying this wouldn’t have happened if 2020 had been like any other year, though I’m pleased by how much reading I’ve managed to get done.

I finally got round to reading The Handmaid’s Tale, which although frightening, was really interesting and I enjoyed it. I’ve got a copy of The Testaments so I’ll be reading that soon, to find out what happened next.

And I also managed to read The Thursday Murder Club, which is a book I’ve wanted to read ever since I started seeing reviews of it on my feed back in September- and I loved it, so I’m looking forward to the second in the series.


October Reads
Prayer for the Dead (Inspector McLean, #5)
Camino Winds (Camino Island #2)
First Class Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #3)
The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)
A Dark Matter
The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)

What I’m Currently Reading:

I’ve read A LOT of murder mysteries this year so I thought it was about time I tried something different. I loved I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, so I decided to give the Jack Reacher series a go since they sound vaguely similar.

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday #11

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, and to take part, all you need to do is answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

IMG_1384-0

What are you currently reading?

I’ve read classic novels before, but this is by far my most ambitious.

War and Peace

What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve read 50 books this year so far, which is well over last year’s total, so I’ve started slowing down a bit.

I have four books left in the Inspector McLean series, which I’m hoping to finish before Book 11 is released at the beginning of next year, which I think I should manage if I continue to space them out as I have done up till now.

Prayer for the Dead (Inspector McLean, #5)

Also finished was Camino Winds by John Grisham. I used to read a lot of his books, so reading this new one was kind of nostalgic.

The story was interesting, but I felt like I’d cheated by not reading the previous Camino book, which was referenced quite a lot in this one. And I was quite disappointed that Bruce didn’t do much investigating as suggested in the synopsis, so I’m not sure I even want to find out what happened in the previous book.

Camino Winds

It’s been a couple of months since I read the second Murder Most Unladylike book so I thought it was time I got round to Book 3.

First Class Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #3)

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m excited to get started on The Thursday Murder Club, which I’ve seen loads of positive reviews for. That means To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before will be getting postponed (again) but after trying to read Save The Date last month, I’m in no rush to get round to another YA romance.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)
The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club, #1)
Posted in Book Tags

The Animal Crossing New Horizons Book Tag

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.

The tag was created by Angharad & Becky at Two Bookish Thieves.


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.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)

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.

All the Light We Cannot See

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.

The Cousins

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.

Karen McManus 3 Books Collection Set

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.

Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)

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.

Quichotte

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?)

Castle, Sky, Architecture, Landscape, Stone

Posted in Reads Rated

Mini Reviews: Murder Most Unladylike & Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

After realising how grim my reading material has been this year, I started the Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens for a change of pace.


Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)

This was a fun and fast-paced introduction, and showed us its two protagonists, Hazel and Daisy, as they’re just starting out on their crime-solving adventures.

When Hazel finds the body of one of their mistresses dead in the school’s gymnasium, she’s terrified when Daisy decides she wants them to investigate as she believes it wasn’t an accident.

Hazel likes being safe, and trying to find which of their teachers committed a murder is her very idea of not being safe, so she’s reluctant to share in Daisy’s excitement of uncovering clues and alibis and ruling out their list of suspects.

I loved the 1930’s setting, which Robin Stevens brought to life through Hazel’s narration of the story, and through the characters’ language. And keeping Hazel on the fence about wanting to be a detective, instead of blindly following Daisy down that path, kept the story grounded and reminding us that these detectives are actually still school kids and have formed their own Detective Society because of their love of mystery novels.

Rating: 4/5

Arsenic For Tea by Robin Stevens

Arsenic for Tea (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #2)

The second book in the series is set a few months after the first, and while Hazel enjoyed the thrill of solving a mystery, she’s struggling with the reality of being a detective and knowing that the person they were looking for was really a murderer.

So when a new mystery lands on their doorstep during the Easter holidays, Hazel only agrees to investigate because she knows how important the case is to Daisy.

The stakes were higher this time around because most of the suspects were in Daisy’s family, and Hazel summed this up perfectly when she questioned whether the answer was one they would want to know, and that addition of right vs. wrong and what each means showed how much both she and Daisy have changed from the beginning of Book 1.

Rating: 4/5

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday #9

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, and to take part, all you need to do is answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

IMG_1384-0

What are you currently reading?

I found myself picking this up at the weekend as my next read after finishing Arsenic For Tea, and I was hooked within a few pages, which was a pleasant surprise.

There’s a lot going on in the story, but it’s enjoyable and pretty addictive.

Quichotte

As testament to my laziness, the same day I started Quichotte, I also started The Art of Dying, because my copy of Quichotte was at the other side of the room and I didn’t want to go and get it.

In my defence, there were a lot of blankets, and I was cosy.

The Art of Dying (Raven, Fisher, and Simpson, #2)

And surprise surprise, there’s a third book: Conviction. This was started because it was eye-level with me when I was reaching for Art of Dying, and I’ve been wanting to read it since I got it, so I gave in and did just that.

Conviction

What did you recently finish reading?

I loved The Flatshare so much I’ve decided it’s been my favourite book of this year. What pulled me in was the trope of Tiffy and Leon flatsharing in a flat which only had one bed (which as we all know, in the world of fiction, can lead to lots of shenanigans), and I stayed for the Post-It note conversations, Tiffy’s quirky personality, and Leon’s adorable awkwardness.

The Flatshare

I also finished the second Murder Most Unladylike novel, which was as good as the first, if not better given the raised stakes.

Arsenic for Tea (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #2)

What do you think you’ll read next?

My next 3 reads will hopefully be one of the following: the 5th Inspector McLean novel, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, or Camino Winds.

Prayer for the Dead (Inspector McLean, #5)
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)
Camino Winds
Posted in Weekly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up #7

Another month is gone, and there’s only 100 plus days left until Christmas, which somehow feels more surreal than the fact that it seems like March was just last week.

That we’re now in September is madness, but I’m pleased with how many books I’ve managed to read so far (over 40), and have loads of new favourites.

I’ve also stopped feeling so burnt out, which is a relief. Without my books, lockdown would have dragged by even slower, so it’s nice to be enjoying reading again.

August Reads
Bring Up the Bodies
Murder Most Unladylike (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #1)
Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy #3)
The Flatshare
What I’m Currently Reading:

I started Antigone before I started The Flatshare, so it was abandoned quite quickly as I started falling for Leon and Tiffy’s adorable awkwardness, but I’m going to alternate between Antigone and Arsenic For Tea, which is the second book in the Murder Most Unladylike series.

Also abandoned is Milkman, which I mentioned in last month’s wrap up I’ve been kind of struggling with. It hasn’t been dnf’d yet, but while I’m tempted to do so, I’m reluctant to give up. I haven’t dnf’d anything this year, even Eight Detectives, which I didn’t enjoy, so we’ll see how it goes.

Antigone
Arsenic for Tea (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #2)
What I’m Watching:

I found loads of DVDs for sale through World Of Books, and bought Hustle and Life On Mars, so both will be getting rewatched at some point during the next month.

Still to finish is Shakespeare and Hathaway: Private Investigators, which is easy to watch as each episode is self-contained and the stories are simple to follow.