I’m reading

I read and listen to many many books but my ‘To Be Read’ pile never reduces… ever

I might be slightly obsessed with Dean Koontz… maybe

They say to be a good writer you need to read a lot. I’m certainly no exception. I generally have 3 – 4 books/eBooks/audio books waiting to be read at any one time. (Yes, i do count audio books in my overall ‘reading’ pile)

I normally set myself a reading challenge but I’m not sure I want to this year. There is so much going on, I think a gentle year of reading is in order. Especially since I’m busy writing book two in my fantasy series and creating a role-playing card game, as well as working, life and so on and so forth. I am going to attempt a review for each one…

2021…
Key – A – Audio book / B – Book / E – eBook

Read in 2021… reviews below
6. In Cold Blood by Jane Bettany (E)
5. Get over yourself by Leanne Moden (B)
4. Day 7 by Kerry Drewery (B)
3. The Universe Versus Alex Wood by Gavin Extence (A) (book group read)
2. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (B)
1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett (B)

6. In Cold Blood by Jane Bettany
This is a debut crime book by Jane Bettany. I loved it! Expertly crafted, with lots of little details which quickly creates the atmosphere for the scene. I always find, especially with crime novels, that I don’t want to get bogged down in pages and pages of descriptive detail, I want the focus to be on the story and the characters. I instantly liked the main character D.I. Blood and felt all the characters were well rounded. The fact that the case they were investigating was connected to the D. I’s life was cleverly written and added extra intrigue. It also helped that the book is set in my old stomping ground and I find it adds another element of enjoyment to the story. If you’re looking for your next crime novel, look no further. I read this in a couple of days as I kept wanting to get back to the story. I hope there will be more books in this series.
Amazon link

Link to Amazon

5. Get over yourself by Leanne Moden
Before I start, poetry has never really been my thing, so forgive my attempt at a review! I struggle because I’m a speedy reader and it’s hard to slow myself down. I’ve come to learn that not all poems need to be read slowly and like some books, I prefer to listen to the poet perform their work so I understand them better. I purchased this a while ago from Leanne, but I’ve tried to make an occasion of reading the poems, rather than consuming the whole book in one sitting. As always, there is a stunning attention to detail in all of Leanne’s poems. Each one makes you think and reflect. Some I re-read when I was in a different frame of mind and I found I got (rubbish word!) something different by doing this. Highly recommend you reading these…
To quote ‘Get Over Yourself’ is a collection about transformation and self-acceptance, grief and sex, rebellion and conformity, belonging and self-discovery’  
I certainly found I identified my past in some of the poems.
Click here (link to Amazon)
Click here (link to Leanne’s Website)

4. Day 7 by Kerry Drewery: You know that feeling when you get gripped by a book and then you realise it’s the second one in a trilogy… oops. Oh well, thankfully it wasn’t a problem as the author gave enough information so I knew the characters lives before and caught up easily. It reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games and also Ready, Player, One and possibly another book I cannot quite bring to mind. I found some of it infuriating (in a well written way!) – mainly the way the Government and media controlled everything, perhaps it’s because it was too close to real life! Anyway, at some point I will get around to reading the others, but I felt this worked as a standalone, although I do need to read the last one to tie the story up. I read another by Kerry Drewery book last year: The Last Paper Crane. If you haven’t read this, then you must. (B)


3. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence: I loved, loved this audiobook. At first I struggled as the narration was a little too fast for me so I had to turn the speed down. I find with audiobooks it can take a little bit of time to adjust to a new narrator. But the speed did suit the book. The characters were constructed perfectly and in my humble opinion it must be a masterclass in the old ‘show, don’t tell’ which everyone mentions in the writing world. Which I get but equally, I sometimes want the author to just tell me. The author deals with so many issues head on but in a careful and compassionate way. My brother suffers with epilepsy, so I found the information related to this fascinating, as my brother often describes it like being hit in the head with a hammer(ouch).  At the beginning I did wonder when the aliens were going to turn up! (spoiler – no aliens) I broke my own book group rule when I had to share my love of this book on Twitter before we had discussed it at book group (oops) and Gavin replied! (I did meet Gavin when I was volunteering with Newark Book Festival in 2019 – such a lovely guy.) There are going to be a lot of contenders for my favourite book this year! (A)


2. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn: This was a Christmas gift (well done, Santa, AKA my mum) I picked this book up and put it down again a few times as, to be honest, the start was rather depressing and with depressing news coming in daily, I wasn’t sure my mental state could take any more. But, I really wanted to read it, so I carried on and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been on a few walking trips but nothing like this. The best I managed was walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks in one day and I had a comfy bed, 3 drifter chocolate bars and access to money, help and the promise of a warm comfy bed at the end of the night, even if the toilets on the farmlands were a bit dodgy! This book is so beautifully written and the descriptions make you feel like you’re alongside them. It makes you think about the terrible positions people end up in, and how easy it is to take having a home for granted. Very thought provoking and a must read. Looking forward to reading the next book. (B)


1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett: My first book by Terry Pratchett – I know, I know! I have no idea why I haven’t read one by now, but there you go. When I first started reading, I was waiting for the next chapter, which never came.. odd reading a book with no chapters. I’m not sure my inbuilt ‘achievement list’ likes this. There is something satisfying about working my way through chapters. But never mind. I loved the book and I’m looking forward to reading more.  (B)


Achieved my Goodreads challenge of 60 books in 2020! Listed below…

Key – A – Audio book / B – Book / E – eBook

  • The Vinyl Detective – Victory Disc by Andrew Cartmel (B)
  • A Town Called Discovery by RR Haywood (A)
  • Classics of British Literature by John Sutherland (A)
  • Graves End by William Shaw (E)
  • Close to Home by Cara Hunter (for book club) (A)
  • The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (for book club) (E)
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (re-listen) (A)
  • Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (for book club) (E)
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (re-listen) (A)
  • Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (A)
  • Bread and Salt by Maria Dziedzan (B)
  • Driven into Exile by Maria Dziedzan (B)
  • When Sorrows Come by Maria Dziedzan (B)
  • The Vinyl Detective – The run-out groove by Andrew Cartmel (B)
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (A)
  • And what do they call you? An Anthology of new writing (B) (I cannot add this to my official Goodreads challenge as the book isn’t listed on there – but I’m still adding to my number on here)
  • In the Night Wood by Dale Bailey (E) (Book Group read)
  • Too Narrow to Swing a Cat By Steve Haywood (B)
  • Overkill by Vanda Symon (A signed copy no less! I met the wonderful author at a Newark Book Festival Festival Friend event in Southwell Library during the Orenda author tour – fantastic evening)
  • Chaos by Patricia Cornwell (B)
  • Won’t you save me by Wendy Dranfield (E)
  • Leave nothing but footprints by Patsy Collins (E)
  • A Wish for Jinnie by Audrey Davis (E)
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (A) (local book group book)
  • Blood Red City by Rod Reynolds (B)
  • Arrowood and the Thames Corpses by Mick Finlay (A) (3rd in the series)
  • Dressed for War by Julie Summers (B)
  • Pine by Francine Toon (A)
  • The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand (B)
  • Camelot by Giles Kristian (E)
  • The Murder Pit by Mick Finlay (A)
  • A Patchwork Family by Cathy Bramley (B) (purchased from The Bookcase in Lowdham – a real bookshop! also a Newark Book Festival book group read)
  • The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis (E)
  • Dark Pines by Will Dean (E) (Local book group read)
  • Arrowood by Mick Finlay (A)
  • The Body on the Train – Frances Brody (E)
  • The Burning Chambers – Kate Mosse (B)
  • Allegiance of Blood – Mark Turnbull (E)
  • The Last Paper Crane – Kerry Drewery – (B) (Newark Book Festival book group read)
  • The New Boy – Paula Rawsthorne – (B)
  • Now you see them – Elly Griffiths – (A) (Newark Book Festival book group read)
  • The Distant Hours – Kate Morton – (B)
  • The Mystery of the Three Quarters – Sophie Hannah (A)
  • Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell – (A)
  • The Zahir – Paulo Coelho – (B)
  • We Wait – Megan Taylor – (E) (Met the author at a virtual Fosseway Writers workshop)
  • Ash Mountain – Helen Fitzgerald (B) (Met the author at a Newark Book Festival Festival Friend event in Southwell Library – on the Orenda books author tour -fantastic evening)
  • House of Spines – Michael J. Malone – (B) (as above)
  • False Value – Ben Aaronovitch – (A & B) (As mentioned, i love the audio books read by Kobna but i also purchased the book from Lindum Bookshop as the hardback copy glows in the dark!)
  • Things in Jars – Jess Kidd – (B)
  • The Bookseller of Kabul – Asne Seierstad – (B)
  • Are you Watching – Vincent Ralph – (B)
  • All the Beautiful Lies – Peter Swanson – (B)
  • The Lie – C.L. Taylor – (E)
  • Blue Tide Rising – Clare Stevens – (B) (Met the author at a Fosseway Writing group workshop)
  • A Good Girls guide to Murder – Holly Jackson (B)
  • Gallows Court – Martin Edwards – (E)
  • The Daughter in Law – Nina Manning – (K)
  • The Vinyl Detective – Flip Back – Andrew Cartmel – (B) (love this series)
  • One of us is Lying – Karen M. McManus (B)

I think you can get a very different experience depending which format of book you choose. I’ve found I’ve not received the full experience I wanted from an audio book if the narrator is not right for that particular book. But I’ve also preferred an audio book to a physical book because the narration was so good. Two examples of these are the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch read by my all time favourite Kobna Holdbrook-Smith and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon read by Davina Porter. I recently read The Last Paper Crane by Kerry Drewery and whilst I’m sure the eBook and little snippet of the audio book I listened to sounded wonderful, personally I would have only enjoyed the thought provoking and moving experience through reading the book. EBooks I find easier to read when I’m reading in bed or in the garden, as I can also hold a coffee or glass of fizz (If it’s Fizz Friday) whilst flicking the ‘virtual’ page. I recently read The Vanished Bride on eBook and now I want to be Emily Bronte!

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