Reading Challenges

I love a reading challenge. I’m not just talking about the yearly Goodreads challenge but the many other challenges online. I started doing them to widdle down my to be read list in the past, it feels like you accomplish something when you join a challenge and meet your target.

I took part in the Summer Reading Challenge last year and the year before, reading books from my tbr mainly. I’d often read books set in different countries or continue reading a series e.g. Poldark.

I had a plan to read 30 books from my tbr this year, honestly I’m not sure what’s going to happen with my challenges this year, the 20 books of summer challenge starts in June. I continued reading the Outlander books again. Their huge and I can’t stop reading them, I’ll happily sit and read them for hours! But it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m enjoying reading I’m not concerned.

I’ve been doing a 40 book challenge on a forum, again it’s a way to widdle down my tbr but I thought it might be fun to have an idea or suggestion of what to read next. Looks like I’ve read 8 so far. I had trouble copying and pasting with the right format on here, so I hope it’s readable. Not getting on with the new wordpress 😦 This list is what I’m planning to read/already read but it’s not set in stone. I might move a book to a different category or read something else. I’ve tried to add books from my tbr mostly.

. 1. America the Beautiful (a book set in USA)
The Shambling Guide To New York City by Mur Lafferty
2. That’s a Wrap! (a book that became a film)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
3. Food, Glorious Food! (a book with food – or drink – in the title)
Wild Strawberrries by Angela Thirkell
4. Flower of Scotland (a book set in Scotland)
The Bookshop On The Shore by Jenny Colgan
5. Alien! (a book with a non-human character – could be an animal as well as an alien)
Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke
6. In a word… (one-word title)
Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer
7. Go East, Young Man! (book set in the Far East)
8. Green Book (not the film – a book with a green cover)
9. Water, water everywhere (a book with river, lake, sea etc in the title, or with one of these as its main setting)
Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
10. Ticket to Ride (a book about a journey)
Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (read)
11. Lost in Translation (hopefully not! A book translated into English)
Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (read)
12. A book first published before you were born
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
13. A kernel of truth (a story based on real events or people)
14. A book set in the 1800s
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
15. War and Peace (A book set between the two world wars)
16. It’s new to me (1)… (a book by an author you’ve not read before)
Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud
17. It’s new to me (2) (a book in a genre you wouldn’t usually read)
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn(read)
18. In the Beginning (a debut novel)
Rivals of The Republic by Annelise Freisenbruch
19. She (a book with a woman’s name in the title)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab(read)
20. Fly Me to the Moon (a book about flying or space travel)
The Wild Air by Rebecca Marcell
21. Dear diary (a biography, autobiography or memoir)
(to be decided possibly The Fry Chronicles)
22. A non-fiction book
Warriors and Kings by Martin Wall
23. The sound of music (a book with music/song etc in the title, or about music in some way)
Drums Of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (read)
24. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (a book set at Christmas!)
Mystery In White by Joseph Jefferson Farjeon
25. It’s a Mystery (a crime or mystery novel or non-fiction)
Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker(read)
26. Here and Now (a book published in 2021)
This Much Huxley Knows by Gail Aldwin(currently reading)
27. Short and sweet (a book with 250 pages or fewer)
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
28. It’s a Kind of Magic (a book with a magical element)
Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso(read)
29. You’re Gonna Find Me Out In the Country (a book set in the countryside)
Escape To The Country by Patsy Collins (to buy)
30. In Isolation (a book set somewhere very remote – eg the Arctic, up a mountain, in the desert etc)
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
31. Brand spanking new (a book you bought new)
The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
32. All the Fun of the Fair (a book about a fair, carnival, freak show etc)
33. Working 9 to 5 (a book with a profession in the title, or about a specific job)
Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth
34. Dial M for Murder (a book about a murder….!)
The Widow by Fiona Barton(read)
35. Frozen (a book set in winter or somewhere very very cold!)
36. It’s Raining Men (a book with a man in the title)
The Ferryman’s Daughter by Juliet Greenwood
37. Eyes of a Child (a book written from a child’s point of view)
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
38. What a gem! (a book with a gemstone in the title)

39. A hardback book
Supernatural by Richard MacLean Smith
40. Books on books! (a book about books or about reading)

I know my friend is doing a read around the world challenge, sounds amazing. Are you doing any challenges?


20 Books Of Summer Review

So the summer is over, what a strange one. I’ve read 13/20 books one less than last year. I thought I’d read 14 but I’d written the same book down twice so I’m a little disappointed!

I started a new one a few days ago hoping to finish it in time to count it but I changed my mind. Reading shouldn’t be rushed, it should be enjoyed.

These are the books I read this summer:

The Strawberry Thiefwp-1591190280797.jpg

How to Be an AntiracistOpium and Absinthe




The Last RunawayGalloglassHard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story


The Wild SilenceAll the Words UnspokenThe Mermaid's CallDiary of a Young Naturalist

I did start one book and not finish it, it was The Mabinogion, an edition edited by Lady Charlotte Lucas. It wasn’t written very well, quite dull and the original Welsh names were too anglised for my liking so I decided not to torture myself anymore. I might pick it back up, sometimes we’re not in the mood for a certain book or I might get a better edition.

I really enjoyed the books I read this year and I think I might reread Diary Of A Young Naturalist (review to come) and The Wild Silence.

Looking at the books I read last year there are some similarities, last year I read another Joanne Harris and the other book in the series by Katerine Stansfield and also a book about being a junior doctor ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay.  The majority of them were fantasy or set in Cornwall.

I’d hoped to read more but I did have a few weeks where I was too tired to read due to weather being very warm and this year I’ve been walking to work.

What’s Next?

This month there is no plan except to try not to buy more books and read what I already have. 🙂 And to reread The All Souls books by Deborah Harkness as part of the annual real-time read, it’s  my go-to comfort read and I can’t wait to start reading it again.

October is going to be a month for spooky/supernatural reads and maybe some festive reads later on the year. I have plenty of horror novels to read, not thinking too far ahead to decide on the festive books.

Have you read any of these books? What books have you enjoyed or hated? How did your summer challenge go?


20 Books Of Summer Update

I’ve read 6/20 so far. I think I’m finishing a book a week. Which isn’t so bad. I usually read a lot of books at once but I’ve been happy to focus on one at a time. Mainly because the one book has been too good to put down in most cases.

And I forget to finish the others I’ve started (I’ve forgotten the books I started before this challenge so I’ll finish them when the challenge is over).

I read these books since my last post:

The Stranger From The Sea By Winston Graham

I started reading the Poldark books when the series started and read one a year, watching a series then reading the book. I loved going back to the Poldark world so much I started the next book in the series straight away. I love Winston’s Graham’s atmosphere of Cornwall and the sea. The story is full of history but the lives of the characters are so riveting and I had to find out what happened next.

How to Be an Antiracist

This is something I’ve never really read before but I felt it was important to read. And I’m glad did. Review here.

I couldn’t resist reading the next Poldark book. I had to know what happened next. But I think that’s enough for now, I have three books left and I’ll keep doing what I usually do and keep the next book for next summer.

Opium and Absinthe

This was an impulse read from Netgalley. I was intrigued by the idea of a historical mystery involving a vampire. I had to read it and I’m so glad I did. Review here.


So far that’s two trips to Cornwall, an educational read and a trip to the past. I did buy quite a few books to read recently but then started browsing on Netgalley. Whoops. Need to stop looking on there and get around to reading the books on my shelves. But anyone else who uses Netgalley will understand the guilt of not finishing and reviewing the books. (Ummm the guilt of not finishing the books I own 🙂 )

My next read is a book I’ve been itching to read, the publication date has been moved forward but I’ve been so fortunate to get an ARC from Netgalley.  (of course I’m still buying the hardback). I loved The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and now I am reading her second book!



20 Books Of Summer Update

Well, I’ve only read 2 out of 20 books so far. The Strawberry Thief took me to France and My Family And Other Animals took me to Corfu.


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris

The Strawberry Thief

*Some Spoilers Ahead*

The Strawberry thief is the latest in the Chocolat books which I love. We go back to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and this time Rosette has grown up, Anouk has gone to Paris and Vianne doesn’t seem like herself anymore. I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t seem to have the same sensory magic as the others. It was great to revisit the characters even if Vianne is disappointing. She ends up becoming like the people she hates the most and treats a fellow traveller/witch like she was once treated.  I was engrossed by the story, although there were quite a few different viewpoints this time around, you don’t get to see much of Anouk or Roux either. I also didn’t like how the story ended, how Rosette’s character changed. Debating whether or not to explain this but I think I’ve given enough spoilers. 

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

(Book one of the trilogy, my copy is this big thick book. I decided to read the one novel for the moment, regretted not having a separate copy as this thick book kept slipping out of my hands and it was awkward to hold the book and a cup of tea)

This was a reread, I read part of it when I was in school and then must’ve had a copy from the library to read years later. Since the tv series on ITV started I’ve been meaning to buy my own copy and read it again, the series finished and finally I bought one. It’s a memoir about the time in his childhood when Naturalist Gerald Durrell and his family left their home in England and moved to Corfu. 

It’s a fun and engrossing story, you never know what funny thing is going to happen next. It’s also very interesting to read about different animals and the people are such characters too. This time around I was a bit annoyed with Gerry stealing a birds egg and did think that he shouldn’t capture some Magpie chicks from their nest. But in the time all this was happening it was normal. Today we want to leave animals alone and not put them in cages. That aside it’s a lovely book. Gerald Durrell captures the magic of Corfu, his descriptive skills are beautiful. I felt that this book was the perfect choice for this moment, a bit of escapism and humour.


And now I get to pick my next book. After reading My Family And Other Animals I want to read something completely different, a fictional story. Where shall I go next?


Beat The Backlist Update!

If you’re a regular blog reader you will know that I signed up to the Beat the Backlist challenge this year to widdle down my ever growing list of books on my ‘to-be-read’ list.  I’m not doing too bad although I have got side tracked by books I’ve bought and Netgalley books I’ve aquired to read and review 🙂

I can’t help it, it’s an addiction. Anyway, here’s what I’ve read so far this year

  1. Uncommon type by Tom Hanks( ninja book swap)
  2. Thin Air by Michelle Paver ( recent/first book fairy)
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (reread, readalong)
  4. Affinity by Sarah Waters (actual tbr book!)
  5. Good Wives by Sarah Waters (reread, readalong)
  6. Raven Black by Anne Cleeves tbr
  7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs tbr
  8. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (felt like it)
  9. Dead Of Winter by Geri Brightwell (Ninjabookbox)
  10. Anne of Green Gables (not a tbr but a read along)
  11. Jezebel’s Daughter by Wilkin Collins
  12. The Black Moon by Winston Graham
  13. The Four Swans by Winston Graham
  14. How to stop time by Matt Haig
  15. Assasins’ Apprentice by Robin Hobb

I hadn’t been keeping track of my reading for a while (and haven’t been updating on the Backlist website or here!) so I was surprised to realise I’d actually read fourteen! Only the ones highlighted in blue  are from my to-be-read list but for the Backlist challenge anything published before this year counts.

I think I’m going to change my own challenge, I’m only going to count those books that are actually on my to-be-read list from now on, I still keep track of books on my reading challenge on GoodReads, but I want to read more books from my to-be-read list:

  1. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (ninja book swap
  2. Eragon by Christopher
  3. Three quarters of the orange by Joanne Harris
  4. Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver
  5. Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
  6. The Fry Chronicles
  7. Morganville series next books when I figure out which ones I’ve read (2)
  8. A Dance of dragons 2: After the Feast by George R. R. Martin
  9. Ink Death by Cornelia Funke
  10. The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland
  11. A Parrot In A Pepper Tree by Chris Stewart (ebook)
  12. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  13. The Chisellers, The Granny by Brendan O’Carroll (2 ebooks)
  14. The Last Runaway by Tracey Chevalier
  15. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  16. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Some books I am looking forward to reading but others it’s something I have to get in the mood to read. Why make it a chore? Why read something I don’t want to? I have this habit of impulse buying books I think that I want to read but never get around to reading them. If I buy one or two books, usually because I’ve got hooked into the first page, I usually tend to read them but not when I buy them in bulk. I can’t seem to get into the mood to read them.

I want to read them because then I can give them away and have more space for more books 🙂 Also it’s silly have shelves of books that I never get around to reading.

Not sure which one I’ll pick up next but I’m hoping to widdle this list down by the end of the year.

I might find more hidden away I can add to this list too and update as I go 🙂

Have you read any of these books? Which one do you recommend? How is your Backlist challenge going?



Beat The Backlist: challenge update

I signed up for this challenge a while ago and as expected I haven’t really been reading my to- be- read- books from my Backlist. These are the books I’ve read so far that can count towards the Backlist challenge:

  1. Uncommon type by Tom Hanks( ninja book swap)
  2. Thin Air by Michelle Paver ( recent/first book fairy)
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (reread, readalong)
  4. Affinity by Sarah Waters (actual tbr book!)
  5. Good Wives by Sarah Waters (reread, readalong)
  6. Raven Black by Anne Cleeves tbr
  7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs tbr
  8. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (felt like it)
  9. Dead Of Winter by Geri Brightwell (Ninjabookbox)
  10. Anne of Green Gables (not a tbr but a read along)

The challenge was to help me to widdle down my to -be- read list and then possibly make space for more books. But of the 14 books I have finished this year, only 5 are actually from my tbr list, these are the ones I’ve marked in red. The other 5 in this list are those books I’ve acquired this year or the classic read-a-long I joined in with on readitswapit forum.

Here I got a bit baffled with my Goodreads saying I had read 15 books, it counted The Two Towers which I’d started reading last year and finished in January. And then there’s Sarah Millican’s book which I started reading in December I think so haven’t counted it either.

I could not stop myself from requesting ARCs from Netgalley and for joining a blog tour:

  1. The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan (review here)
  2. The Stranger by Kate Riordan (review here)
  3. Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGiven (upcoming blog tour)riginally on writing this post and lately I have felt so disapointed in myself for not actually reading from my to-be-read list

Lately I have felt so disapointed in myself for not actually reading from my to-be-read list yeah, I do that but after looking over the books I’ve read for this year to write this post I realised how much I’d achieved.

I have read about 3 books every month since Febuary and I’ve read 5 backlist books, so it works out about 1 a month. I should be happy with how many books I’ve managed to read. I am 🙂

But now I have to get back to my Backlist! I have an ARC I am almost finished (The Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan) and another to start reading on Netgalley (but since the review is not until August I might leave it for the moment).

So once I have finished this book-hopefully today- I will start another backlist book. And get back on track, trying not to request anymore ARCs at least for the moment.

You maybe be thinking, why are you making yourself read all the books, they will still be there when you want to read them it’s because I have this habit of buying books and never getting around to read them and I want to! I want to be able to get to a point where I need to buy books because I’ve read them all (I‘m laughing at myself because this may never happen) and have the joy of buying a book again because I want to and need to.

I don’t want to be continually impulse buying books and not reading them, or saying yes, that’s on my bookshelf waiting to be read. So I am going to widdle my list down so at the end of this year I can be happy that I have read a lot of books I actually meant and needed to read.

You can join the Backlist anytime this year, so if you’re interested here’s the link

What book from my Backlist do you think I should read next? Poll on twitter ending this afternoon (7th May)  you can find my backlist here  on my original Beat The Backlist post/page 🙂

If you are already doing the challenge, how you’ve been doing? Apologies to my fellow Dewey Dragons, I will be getting back to it and joining the chat again 🙂 It feels good to be getting back to it 🙂


Thanks for reading 🙂



Review of: The Blackhouse by Peter May

Title: The Blackhouse

Author: Peter May

Hardback, library book

I started reading this book expecting it to be a crime novel, something different for me to read to challenge myself. But although there is a murder that needs to be solved, more attention is given to Finn Macleod’s past. Finn Macleod does investigate the murder but at the same time his past is unfolded as he meets his old friends and enemies. It’s a slow story that although disappointed me (as I expected something different) did intrigue me and I continued to the end. I loved the way the author presented the emotions and feelings of the characters, the tiny details of the past. How themes of loss, regrets and nostalgia are touched upon in a profound if subtle way. I enjoyed the setting and discovering Finn’s story. 

However, the end and the resolution did not meet my expectations, I felt that there were not many clues to the resolution in the story and I’m not sure whether it is believable or not because of that. Maybe things should be hinted at more so we can think something’s going on, so that when the solution is presented you don’t wonder at it. Unless I missed something?
 After such a long drawn out story it did seem to end abruptly, all the information given quickly and I did not like the pacing at the close of the book. 
I expected a fast pace conclusion, I feel that it was just a quick end to a long tale.

I did enjoy this story and I would recommend it, I’m just not sure about the end and would be interested to know what others make of it?

challenge, Netgalley

Review: Did You See Melody? By Sophie Hannah. (Ebook from netgalley in exchange for review)

To say this book is a riveting read would be an understatement, I read this book within two days because I didn’t want to stop reading.

Cara’s arrival in Arizona and the initial mystery that surrounded it hooked me and then as she becomes intrigued by the story of a missing girl so did I.
I felt like I was being pulled along as slowly but with perfect pacing the story unfolds and answers are given. At times I wanted to scream because of the shift in the narrative at a moment I thought I was going to find something out, but that’s all the fun of this type of book, it keeps you gripped to the page.
The story of the missing girl is told using transcripts of a TV show and articles which Cara watches/reads. I thought that this would put me off at first but it didn’t because I needed answers and found myself eagerly reading page after page.  
I don’t usually read crime novels and I expected to read a plot driven thriller. But this novel has not only a gripping plot but likeable realistic characters; I even liked- to my surprise- the outspoken ‘Tarin’, (I think she’s my favourite).
Towards the end of the story my interest started to wane because the viewpoint changed-but I urge anyone not to be put off by this (if you are)  because any negative opinions I had quickly changed by the time I reached the conclusion.
The solution to the mystery was very clever! And the ending: woah!
But you’ll have to read it and find out for yourself. I’m trying hard not to give the best bits away.
I need a breather after reading this book but I enjoyed it and will be reading more like it in future.

Challenge! Reading out of my comfort zone. Review of Little Beach Street Bakery

I think that everyone should read out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it helps to read something different when you are stuck in that dreaded reading slump. I’m not in a slump but:

 I have set myself a little challenge to get out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons. I’ve decided to read a romantic/chic-lit book to start with.
Next I will be reading some crime novels.

So here’s the first book:

Name of Book: Little Beach Street Bakery
Author: Jenny Colgan
Type/genre:  Romantic, paperback, library book
Why I chose it: I was looking for books to read set on an island and this was recommended to me on (thanks). It appealed to me because of the idea of moving somewhere new and starting afresh. Especially moving to the coast, what a lovely idea.


Who hasn’t wanted to run away from their hectic job or their unfulfilling life when they’ve hit a rough patch? Polly relationship is ending after the business her and her boyfriend were running fails and are bankrupt. Who hasn’t wanted to start over somewhere new by the sea? Polly didn’t plan on moving to the Cornish tidal island Polbearne but she desperately wanted to start over and find a place of her own that she could afford, then she sees the advert for a place to rent in Polbearne. And that’s how the story begins…

‘Little Beach Street Bakery’ is a sweet story and an effortless read. A story to uplift you or a lovely escape. Reading this was like going on a holiday, it’s a charming story and you feel like you’re actually there. It draws you in until the very last page, leaving you wanting more.

I didn’t expect to like this book but I quickly became engrossed in the story and couldn’t stop reading. I fell in love with the characters, instantly feeling sympathy for Polly. I forgot about the genre reading this book, who cares what genre it is if the story is good and the characters so lifelike?  

There were some characters I couldn’t relate to: the rich ones with their expensive cars and the life that Polly’s friend lived. This story didn’t always feel very realistic to me, some parts stood out that were very real and hit me to the core, (this book is realistic and does have it’s serious moments) but at times I felt that the story was a little cheesy. Maybe because I’m not used to reading books like this. But: it’s no more cheesy than those British romantic films that we all love. And what’s wrong with a book having a lighter side and lifting you up!

 The end was very satisfying, you feel like you’ve gone on a journey with Polly. You feel that so much has happened and you  sailed through the book completely riveted. All the loose ends are tied up realistically. There’s just so much to this book than simply ‘chic-lit’ as people call it. It was charming and: I’m going to miss Polly and Neil!