monthly wrap up

May Reading Wrap up

May wasn’t a great mental health month, the ADHD flared up and I started so many books but I did still manage to finish 8 of them:

Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly
4 stars
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first couple of Diddly Squat books – I think it’s because I watched the show first and read the book after with the others. Reading the book first, it fell a little flat because I didn’t feel as connected to the anecdotes Jeremy was sharing and barely a month later I can’t honestly remember much about it, bar a story about going to a slaughterhouse. And Clarksons Farm S3 is still on my list of things to watch because I’m super behind on everything. I don’t think I’m going to want to pick the book back up again afterwards, but who knows?

Austin Kleon – Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
4 stars
This was actually one of Li’s library books but she read out so many excerpts from the book that I wanted to read it myself. We’ve both ended up wanting to own a copy because it was such a good book. I read it in one sitting, and even though the type of art I create is fiction rather than visual media, I still found the advice and ideas really helpful. Some of them validated what I already do, and some of them made me want to try something more. I felt very seen and very supported and I loved that.

Alix E. Harrow – Starling House
5 stars
Absolutely fucking mindblowing! Another gorgeous, eerie, gothic, creepy, southern gothic, dark fantasy, horror story with the same beautiful writing I was hoping for after Once and Future Witches. A fantastic haunted house, which we know I love more than anything, a tangled web of mystery both inside the house and wrapped around it and the characters. I read most of it in one sitting and I still want more, weeks later!

Freya Sampson – The Girl on the 88 Bus
3.5 stars
A random book I picked up on Libby because the title and the cover intrigued me. What I got was an inspiring, uplifting, sweet story about love and loss and family and friendship, and the power of hope. I thought I knew where it was going and it didn’t go there, which I always love when that happens. It wasn’t the ending I wanted, or I wanted for the characters, but it did really work with the story. Basically, a book filled with all the warm fuzzies.

Cathy Glass – Nobody’s Son
4.5 stars
I have been completely obsessed with reading Cathy Glass’ fostering memoirs this year. I have absolutely no clue why but I’ve read 5 of them this year, and have a bunch more reserved at the library or on Libby/Borrowbox. They’re not the best-written books, but they pack a powerful punch, right in the feels. They’ve all been pretty heartbreaking and this was no different, but there was something about this poor boy’s story that reduced me to tears.

Guy Shrubsole – The Lost Rainforests of Britain
3.5 stars
This is a book I’d been wanting to read for a while and it didn’t disappoint. A really interesting investigation into the pockets of temperate rainforest left in Britain, how they’ve survived and what can be done to help protect them, to make them thrive and grow. As a Devonian, I was thrilled at how many of those are down here, across Dartmoor and so many of the pictures reminded me of places from when I was younger. The last bit of the book got a little political and a little lectury but other than that, I enjoyed reading it a lot.

Lex Croucher – Infamous
3.5 stars
I’m still not sure what I think of this book, and it’s not really the book’s fault but it does make it difficult to rate and review. It was sold to me as ‘Bridgerton, but lesbians’ so that’s what I was expecting… only it wasn’t really that. So then I stopped and read the blurb, but it also wasn’t quite what I was expecting based on that either. I enjoyed the story that I did get, although I found it very slow to start with but the ending was utterly fantastic and gave me tears of happiness

Jennette McCurdy – I’m Glad My Mom Died
5 stars
Wow. Just… Wow. I’m glad her mom fucking died, lets be clear. That poor kid. So I’ve never seen iCarly, I was well out of the target audience for the show and had no idea who McCurdy was before the Nickelodeon scandal hitting the news the other year, and I remember the book world exploding when this came out. But even not knowing who she was, I was horrified by what happened to her, I felt so bad but ultimately so proud of her as she went through therapy and started taking control of her life.

Looking more at the stats side of things:
9 books, 2,562 pages – 75% between 300 & 499 pages long, 25% <300 pages
The main moods were emotional, reflective & informative
50% medium paced, 50% face paced
63% non-fiction, 38% fiction
My most read genres were memoir, nature & romance
My average rating was 4.03

stacking the shelves

Stacking the Shelves #13

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

I’ve been intentionally not picking any new books up for a couple of weeks, because I once again got overwhelmed by my currently-reading and TBR piles. I’ve been working on bringing down the number of books I’ve started – I’ve now only got 13 books in the currently-reading – and I’m figuring out what the best number of ‘actively reading’ is, which seems to be about 6-8.

This week, however, books came home with me from various places. We’re not even going to think about the number of free books from the Stuff Your Kindle romance and cozy mystery Book Blast.

I picked up one book on Kindle – it was actually advertised to me on Facebook, it sounds ridiculous and it only cost 99p so what was I meant to do?

Julia Golding – The Persephone Code

WH Smith had two paperback books for £14 offer on – and since The Earth Transformed was £12.99 on its own, Happy Place was practically free

Peter Frankopan – The Earth Transformed
Emily Henry – Happy Place

Then Freckles, Finders Keepers and The Marks of Cain came from a charity shop, so it doesn’t count as ‘buying books’ – it’s essentially philanthropy!

Cecilia Ahern – Freckles
Stephen King – Finders Keepers
Tom Knox – The Marks of Cain

I’m also continuing my one-llama mission to fund Libraries Unlimited £1 at a time (reservation fee) and had three reservations come in

Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly
Ruth Goodman – How To Be A Victorian
Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner

My reading goals for the coming week look something a little like:
finish Juliet Ashton – The Sunday Lunch Club (currently 44%)
finish Sharon Blackie – If Women Rose Rooted (currently 42%)
start Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: Pigs Might Fly
finish Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere (currently 40%)
start Alix E Harrow – The Starling House
finish Emily Henry – Book Lovers (currently 29%)
finish Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner (currently 57%)
finish Matthew Reilly – Scarecrow (currently 59%)
finish Stacey Solomon – Happily Imperfect (currently 34%)
start Nancy Warren – Lace & Lies
(to be fair, I’m spending over 6 hours on trains on Tuesday so it’s not as daunting as it seems!)

top ten tuesday

Books on my Spring 2024 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is Books on my Spring 2024 TBR and, honestly, it’s going to end up being more of ‘the next 10 books I want to finish’ because I’ve once against ended up with 19 books in progress again. Although I am working out that between 3 and 5 seems to be the best number of books to be actively reading so my next reading goal of is going to be to try and get it down to that number.


Steven Keogh – Murder Investigation Team: How Scotland Yard Really Catches Killers I’m 69% of the way through with just over 50 pages left so this will definitely get finished this week.
Britney Spears – The Woman in Me Another one I’m really close to finishing, I’ve got about 90 pages so that might get finished this week as well
Nicholas Carr – The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains This one is one of the handful I’m actively reading this week, I’m about 70% through and about 80 pages left so another one that shouldn’t take long to finish
Ben Aaronovitch – The October Man Again, one of the ones I’m actively reading, 62% finished with 70 or so pages left, another one I should finish relatively soon
Cathy Glass – A Long Way From Home The last one of the ones I’m actively reading, I’m about half way through and shall probably finish next week

Then on to the some that are on my currently-reading. They aren’t the ones I’m actively reading, but they’re the next up, and I’m hoping to finish by the end of March

Ronald Hutton – The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain
Juliet Ashton – The Sunday Lunch Club
Ed Gamble – Glutton: The Multi-Course Life of a Very Greedy Boy
Matthew Reilly – Scarecrow
Jeremy Clarkson – What Could Possibly Go Wrong…

What’s on your TBR this spring?

stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves #9

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Reading Reality all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

My Amazon first read selection was:

Susannah Nix – The Love Code

I picked up one Kindle book:

Matthew Reilly – Scarecrow

I checked 8 books out of the library:


Jeremy Clarkson – What Could Possibly Go Wrong
Sarah Gibbs – Drama Queen
Hannah Gold – Finding Bear
Philippa Gregory – Normal Women
Matt Haig – The Midnight Library
Prince Harry – Spare
Katherine May – Wintering
Jennette McCurdy – I’m Glad My Mom Died
(all my reservations came in at the same time, because of course they bloody did! (and yes, I know I’m supposed to be focusing on my physical TBR – don’t look at me in that tone of voice LOL))

My reading goals for the coming week look something a little like:
Finish Grace Dent – Comfort Eating
Finish Ben Aaronovitch – Lies Sleeping
Start RF Kuang – Babel
Keep reading Sarah Maas – A Court of Wings and Ruin

top ten tuesday

New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2023 and I’m picking ones that I read for the first time in 2023, not necessarily the ones I only heard of first – because I did a lot of ‘picking the popular thing up to see what the fuss was all about’, and they were books that had been around for a while.
I have 8 though, not 10 -I read more than 10 new authors, but these are the 8 that stuck with me, and i have something to say about.
That made more sense in my head – in my defence, I’m writing this under a heady cocktail of codeine, naproxen and not enough caffeine because today is A Bad Pain Day.

Matthew Reilly Definitely one of my top author discoveries of 2023. I picked up Temple because it was set in Peru and filled the ‘South America’ prompt on a Reading Around The World challenge and completely fell in love, proceeded to read 2 more of his books, just bought a 3rd, and have further 2 on my TBR.

Andrea Penrose I absolutely devoured the Wrexford & Sloane books last year, and read books 6 and 7 in January of this year. I am now very impatiently waiting for book 8 to come out in like Aug/Sept
Note to self – you should check out her other series too

Jeremy Clarkson Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t discover Jeremy Clarkson last year. I’ve known who he is for years, I live in the UK and I’ve watched Top Gear, Grand Tour, Clarkson’s Farm etc, but this was the first time I picked up one of his books. It won’t be the last
Note to self – do the library have any of his other books too?

Talia Hibbert Talia Hibbert is someone I first heard of a couple of years ago, and knew I wanted to read. How could I not want to read spicy diverse romance novels, with characters who are fat, or autistic…i.e. like me. And they were wonderful and I adore her!

Alix E Harrow The Once and Future Witches was one of my standout reads from last year, and Harrow’s beautiful writing style is one of the main reasons for that. I absolutely loved it and, yes, want to read more.

Meik Wiking I’d actually attended a bunch of webinars that Wiking has either led as part of The Happiness Institue, or been part of through places like Action For Happiness, but I’d never read one of his books. And then I devoured all the Hygge books he’d written because that all just

Raynor Winn I had been wanting to read The Salt Path for years and when I saw it sitting on the shelf in the library, I was overjoyed. Thankfully the book was every bit as amazing as I expected it to be, Winn’s writing style flows so easily and all three books were completely unputdownable

Stel Pavlou The one author on this list I don’t have the burning desire to read more by but Decipher was definitely one of my top books of 2023. Li recommended it to me and it was fucking batshit crazy, OTT, sci-fi action thriller and I LOVED IT. His other book/s, the precis don’t appeal to me, but he deserves to be on this list for my love of Decipher!

top ten tuesday

Favourite Books of 2023

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is Favourite Books I read in 2023 and this is much easier than just being asked my single favourite for reasons of no LOL

If I ever wasn’t sure what an eclectic reader I can be we have non-fiction history, non-fiction farming, historical fantasy, sci-fi thriller, historical mystery, action adventure thriller, haunted house horror, urban fantasy cozy mystery, non-fiction lifestyle, and non-fiction travel memoir!

I wanted to take a moment and talk about why each of the books was one of my top reads, but I have the flu, feel completely rotten and honestly just sitting at the laptop to write this much is making my head pound and my back muscles ache, and y’all don’t want to know how many times I fucked up that HTML LMAO

top ten tuesday

Books that defied my expectations

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week a new theme is suggested for bloggers to participate in. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want. Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.

This week’s topic is Books That Defied My Expectations and I’ve got five books that exceeded my expectations, and five that failed to live up to them.

Starting with some books that disappointed

Paul Cartledge – Ancient Greece: A Very Short Introduction. It takes… a certain amount of skill to take a subject as exciting as Ancient Greek history and make it as dull as dishwater to read. Cartledge has that skill in bucketloads!
Olivie Blake – The Atlas Six. Booktok raved about this book for months. It was queer, it was dark academia, it was beautifully written. It had magic and mystery… yeah no. I found it boring, nothing happened, I couldn’t tell the characters apart, didn’t touch it for months because I Did Not Want to pick it up.
Kerry O. Ferris & Scott R. Harris – Stargazing: Celebrity, Fame, and Social Interaction. There was nothing wrong with it, it was very interesting but it all felt a little surface level on how fans interact with celebrities, and nowhere near enough of the sociology/psychology/social anthropology (not sure which is the right ology LOL) behind it. I wanted… more.
Tabitha Carvan – This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch. Considering the tagline is ‘the joy of loving something like your life depended on it’, there was a decided lack of joy in Carvan’s fannishness and far too much angst about it instead. It could have been so good but, sadly, didn’t quite work for me.
Kaleb Cooper – The World According To Kaleb. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t know what the point of the book was, other than to make money. He has no life/world experience, the whole book fell flat – except for the few times he talked about farming.

And now we move on to 5 books that exceeded my expectations.

Sarah J Maas – A Court Of Thorns and Roses. I started coming out of a huge mental health breakdown/reading slump at the end of 2020, which is also when I discovered the online book community. I was feeling a little floundery, didn’t know what I wanted to read so picked it up to see what the fuss was about. And fucking loved it!
Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: A Year On The Farm. I knew I was going to like it. I did not expect that I would find it completely unputdownable and finish it in one afternoon!
Juliet Ashton – The Fall and Rise of Sadie McQueen. I was expecting chick-lit, and based on that assumption, I thought I knew how the story would go. I was wrong on both accounts. It was so much more filled with mystery and surprise and heartbreak and family and found family and was just amazing
Matt Haig – Notes On A Nervous Planet. I read this in the midst of going through therapy for agoraphobia, and it turned out to be just the thing I needed to read, exactly when I needed to read it. It wasn’t preachy, and Haig didn’t try to ‘fix’ me, he just understood, and felt very soothing and calming.
Nancy Warren – The Vampire Knitting Club. I had no idea that paranormal cozy mysteries were a thing. I’d been trying to get into cozy mysteries for a while but having no luck. I found this on my Kindle, having checked it out on KindleUnlimted at some point and completely fell in love, read it in one afternoon and introduced me to a whole new subgenre which I LOVE!

book reviews · monthly wrap up

April 2023 Reading Wrap-Up

I read 7 books in April which seems to be about my average in 2023

Jeremy Clay – The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton: And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press
A collection of extraordinary, bizarre and morbidly funny stories from the Victorian press. There were farces and tragedies and a lot of misfortune and some utterly heart-wrenching stories – and everything in between. The book was absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t put it down, but at the same time it got a little repetitive with many similar stories featured.
A 3.5 star read

Ruby Wax – A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
I usually struggle with mindfulness books but I found this very easy to read. It felt like Wax was sitting down and talking with me, her voice was so clear and the information about how the brain works and what mindfulness can do was thorough and detailed without getting bogged down. Her own experiences were utterly harrowing but at the same time helped to contextualise the mindfulness she was writing about. And I found the 6 week course to be really helpful – and will definitely be a practice I continue, and come back to.
A 3.75 star read

Andrea Penrose – Murder on Black Swan Lane
What’s not to love about a Regency murder mystery with a scientist who’s an earl and a fearless artist investigating crimes relating to alchemy?! While it wasn’t exactly historically accurate, that didn’t actual detract from the reading for me which it quite often does, but it was a whole lot of fun with entertaining characters that I ended up really loving. There’s quite the wait at the library for the second book in the series and I’m getting impatient now!
A 4 star read – and my book of the month

Holly Black – The Queen Of Nothing
Honestly, the best month of the series in my opinion. I struggled through The Wicked King, but I really loved the machinations in The Queen of Nothing. It wasn’t the most neatly plotted book, it wasn’t particularly original but the story was still engrossing, had a few twists and surprises and was a very satisfying end to the series.
A 4 star read

AF Steadman – Skandar and the Unicorn Thief
There are some downsides to reading a kids book as an adult, and that is a lot of frustration with the behaviour of the pre-teen characters but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the different approach to what a unicorn is, loved the whole vibe of the riders and the Eyrie and wasn’t at all bothered that I’d worked out the plot twist.
A 4 star read

Jeremy Clarkson – Diddly Squat: ‘Til The Cows Come Home
A bit like the first one, I read this in one afternoon, completely devoured it and loved it. Clarkson’s voice is very clear through his writing, it was a good mix of events that were featured on the show (but a slightly different telling of) and ones that happened off camera. For all his bull, you can tell he does genuinely care about the farm and I hope we get to keep hearing the stories about it.
A 5 star read

Ben Aaronovitch – The Hanging Tree
I’ve now hit the point in the series where I’m not re-reading, I’m reading for the first time. The Hanging Tree didn’t have a lot of the pacing issues I’ve found with the previous books, the action scenes felt smoother and easier to follow, and I really liked finding out more about some of the other magic paths in the world. I found there was a fair bit of callback to the previous books, and only small things, that I didn’t really remember which was a little frustrating but I loved how it’s all tying the series together and it didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment. I’m looking forward to the next one.
A 4 star read

Looking more at the stats side of things:
7 book, 2666 pages – 71% between 300 & 499 pages long, 29% <300 pages
The main moods were dark and adventurous
43% fast-paced, 43% medium-paced and 14% slow paced
57% fiction, 43 non-fiction
My most read genres were fantasy, mystery, historical, young adult, and self-help
My average rating was 4