Weekly Wrap-Up (December 15)

Diiiiiiiid ya miss me? 🤣

Technically, I suppose this is more of a monthly wrap-up because it’s been a while. That pesky socialising crap got in the way of writing up these posts. That would have been somewhat okay if the weekends of socialising had actually been the best time ever but no such luck.

One I spent struggling through a migraine, which meant painkillers and no wine and really, being around people without alcohol to drown out the stupidity is tough. The second one ended with blisters on both feet, resulting in yours truly not being able to walk properly for three days and telling those who asked about the odd limping thing that I had sprained my ankle because that sounded infinitely cooler. The third one was spent with … kids. I don’t have any. To be honest, I’m not even particularly fond of them. Yet they seem to gravitate towards me like magnets. On a good day, I can handle these two I’m talking about just fine. But that day, they were proper little germ factories, tad whiny, puking all over. I mean, hey, fun! *facepalm*. Last but not least, weekend of socialising number four. That didn’t start out so well as we arrived to a party quite late and everyone was drunk. Some drunk people are fun. Here though, one couldn’t stop crying because my dog has died and it was really hard not to join in with her. Her husband has wandering hands and I spent most of the evening trying to bat those away. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I despise that kind of behaviour. At least I was in charge of the music so I was just sort of having my own wee party on the sidelines 😂

In the midst of all of that, the other half hired some decorators to paint our downstairs ceiling and walls. No hassle for him since he was at work all day. For me though? I spent three days upstairs in my bedroom because obviously our furniture was covered in plastic sheets and I couldn’t actually sit anywhere! And at the end of those really long three days, I realised I didn’t like the colours we picked. 😳

Anyway! To the books because yes, I have actually been reading! My competitive self refuses to fail at the annual Goodreads challenge. If I make it, I will have read 50 books less than last year and a 100 less than the year before that. I’m stunned. I know my reading mojo was as hormonal as it gets but struggling to get to 200 books in the middle of December is utterly shocking for me.

| WHAT I HAVE BEEN READING |

I’m still (only) averaging about four books per week but I’ll take it. After all, it’s way better than nothing, right? I’m quite enjoying not reviewing most of them too. Bad blogger 😉. Bar one or two, these were all fantastic books and you might just be seeing some of them again at some point.

| WHAT I HAVE BOUGHT |

That’s quite a low number for me. These were all bought in the last two weeks as well. I was close to putting out an alert for the return of my book buying mojo 😂

I’m totally in love with those special Agatha Christie editions and just had to have them. As for Stephen King, apparently I’m supposed to read more of his books. A very wise person said so. 😜

| BOOK POST WHAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP |

As a thank you for helping out with the cover reveal, the lovely people at Headline sent me a proof copy of Heatstroke.

| AS FOR THE BLOG |

Hm. Well, I’ve been quite good at keeping up with the “This Week in Books” posts every Wednesday but other than that, it’s been a tad quiet around here. I’m pretty sure that the reviews I’ve posted in the last month or so can be counted on one hand. To be honest, I don’t see that changing any time soon because I am really enjoying grabbing a book from my shelves and just reading it for pleasure. I do have one review coming up before Christmas but that’s it.

Next week, I will be sharing my top 20 favourite stand-alone books of the year. And at some point, I’ll be sharing my most anticipated ones for next year but that list keeps growing on a daily basis and I may need to split it up into parts. If you thought 2019 was a fabulous bookish year, just you wait for next year! It’s going to be awesome! (with regard to books anyway, let’s not even think about all the other shit). I apologise upfront for your out-of-control wish lists 😂

That’s a wrap for this week! I have just realised it’s only ten days until Christmas (how the hell did that happen?!) and I haven’t written a single card yet so I suppose I should get on that right away.

Wishing you all a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! xx

Top 15 Favourite Series of 2019

It’s that time of year again, when I look back on all the brilliant books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. December seems to be coming around faster and faster. As predicted, 2019 was a fantastic year for books and putting these end-of-year lists together was tough!

Like last year, I’ve split my favourite books of the year up into two different posts. Today, the focus lies on additions to series. I seem to have read less of them this year, hence the slightly odd number of 15. But they’re all corkers!

So here we go, in random order : my 15 favourite series of 2019.

| Victoria Jenkins – Detectives King & Lane |

The fourth and final book in the King & Lane series. Back when I picked up the first book, The Girls in the Water, I just knew I was in for something special. There was something about Victoria Jenkins’ writing, the incredible plotting and the absolutely fantastic main female characters that got my pulse racing. Every book since then just got better and better and now here we are, at the end. It’s been an incredibly thrilling ride and if this is the end, then it’s a fabulous way to go.

| Rachel Abbott – DCI Tom Douglas |

The Shape of Lies is book 8 and another fantastic addition to the DCI Tom Douglas series. Full of suspense and intrigue, it makes for one gripping and tense read. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Tom and Becky again and I hope to see them back again soon. In the meantime, you have time to get caught up if you haven’t done so already because this truly is a fantastic crime series that should be on everyone’s radar and Rachel Abbott is an author who should most definitely be on your bookshelf.

| David Jackson – DS Nathan Cody |

Your Deepest Fear is dark, disturbing and insanely tense. It’s so fast paced, it almost felt relentless at times and left me in desperate need of a breather. My heart was pounding, my hands were clammy and I was trying extremely hard to figure out how it would all end. What an incredible addition to an already outstanding series! I dare say this is even the best one yet and I urge you all to read this series, if you’re not doing so already. I highly recommend it.

| Helen Fields – DI Luc Callanach |

Honestly, if you’re not reading this series, I am judging you like a big, bad judging thing! This is one of the best crime fiction series out there and you are sorely missing out! And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

| Angela Marsons – DI Kim Stone |

The writing machine that is Angela Marsons struck again in 2019 with no less than THREE additions to the brilliant DI Kim Stone series. Still going strong, still insanely gripping and addictive and now with the added bonus of a prequel to find out where it all began.

| Stephanie Broadribb – Lori Anderson |

This series has been a total blast from the very first book and Deep Dirty Truth is without a doubt THE BEST ONE YET! Oh yes! I said it! Fast-paced, with characters to get invested in and root for and edge-of-your-seat action galore, this is sheer entertainment of the highest level! Stock up on snacks and maybe an oxygen tank and enjoy the rollercoaster ride! Your legs may feel like jelly at the end of it, but it’ll be worth it!

| Karin Slaughter – Will Trent |

If there’s a Karin Slaughter book, you’d better believe it will make my list. It’s been quite the wait for a new addition to the Will Trent series but it was worth it. Karin Slaughter firmly cemented her spot as my favourite author and The Last Widow is taught, sharp and with a focus on hard-hitting and tough topics.

| Cara Hunter – DI Adam Fawley |

If you’re sitting there wondering if you need another crime fiction series in your life, the answer is “yes” and this right here is that series. I highly recommend you add this one to your shelves. It is one of the best crime fiction series out there and a definite must-read! Just so you know, book four is published in January and available for preorder. I have no doubt you’ll be seeing it here at some point.

| Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories |

Changeling was one of my most anticipated releases this year and it did not disappoint! If you’re not familiar with the Six Stories series (OMG WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!), it’s centred around a true crime podcast in which Scott King investigates cold cases. Changeling is book 3 in the Six Stories series and it is one of those stories that worms its way under your skin, one that will just not let you go. Dark, disturbing and chilling, Changeling had my heartbeat racing throughout and I was gripping the pages so tightly that my knuckles turned white! This tremendously addictive page-turner is insanely thought-provoking and also absolutely terrifying, though possibly not in the way you might expect.

| Will Dean – Tuva Moodyson |

Nothing is quite what it seems in Red Snow. With intriguing and complex characters and a deliciously intricate plot, this novel had me staying up way too late in a desperate attempt to finish it. But I just had to know what was going on. I didn’t count on Will Dean’s devious mind though, which meant that the final pages came at me like a knockout punch to the gut that left me winded but also caused so much adrenaline to course right through me, I felt like I could have gone out and run a marathon! I can’t wait for Tuva 3, out in March!

| Sarah Hilary – DI Marnie Rome |

Please tell me you are reading this series. It’s been absolutely outstanding from the very beginning and I don’t know how she does it, but Sarah Hilary manages to outdo herself time and time again, bringing each book in this series to a whole other level. At the risk of repeating myself, because I’m pretty sure I say this every time, this is the best one in the series yet and Sarah Hilary is an author who deserves all the praise. She continues to impress me with her remarkable storylines, utterly brilliant character development and fantastic writing. There are so many lines I could quote but I won’t because I’d be here all day and obviously you just need to read this book (and the rest of the series) for yourself.

| Bella Ellis – The Brontë Mysteries |

The Vanished Bride is the first book in a brand-new series by Bella Ellis, which is a pen name for the incredibly amazing Rowan Coleman. I knew the minute I started reading this book that it would make my list. I absolutely can’t wait to hang out with these three delightful characters again.

| Johana Gustawsson – Roy & Castells |

Few crime fiction series leave me feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut numerous times, wanting to curl up into a tiny ball under my duvet, but Johana Gustawsson manages it every single time. Johana Gustawsson is a remarkable talent and I continue to be absolutely impressed by the way she manages to combine modern crime fiction with some of history’s most shocking eras and the atrocious things humans are capable of. I can’t recommend this powerful read, and this entire series, enough and I absolutely can’t wait for more! 

| Joseph Knox – Aidan Waits |

This series is one I’ve been with from the beginning. In fact, Sirens was the book that first made me start thinking about blogging because I needed a place to shout about its awesomeness. Since then, Joseph Knox has been raising the bar, with each book being even stronger than the previous one. Like its predecessors, The Sleepwalker is masterfully plotted, immensely dark, extremely gritty and completely engrossing from start to finish. Joseph Knox is an incredible talent and the Aidan Waits series is absolutely outstanding. Every single one of these books has caused a massive book hangover and The Sleepwalker is no different. I can’t recommend these books enough! They NEED to be on any crime fiction fan’s bookshelf. I promise you, you will not regret it for one second!

| M.W. Craven – Washington Poe & Tilly Bradshaw |

How can someone be both dead and alive at the same time? This intriguing question is for Poe and Tilly to find out in Black Summer, the incredible follow-up to The Puppet Show. It doesn’t matter whether your Team Poe or Team Tilly but you should most definitely be Team Craven. A truly gripping, addictive page-turner, Black Summer is sure to leave you wanting more and as luck will have it, book 3 will be out next year. I, for one, can’t wait!

And there you have it. The series that made my heart beat that little faster, made my hands go clammy and that left such an impression on me that adding them to this list was a total no-brainer.

Now is your chance to kick my bum (virtually, thank you) and tell me which series I’ve left out. Are there some you don’t agree with? Are there any you can’t wait to read? 

Hope you find something you like here and I’ve given you some ideas. Next week, I’ll be sharing my list of favourite stand-alones of 2019. Until then, I wish you lots of happy reading! xx

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis | @brontemysteries @HodderBooks | #recommended

Author : Bella Ellis
Title : The Vanished Bride
Series : Bronte Mysteries #1
Pages : 337
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : November 7, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril.

| MY THOUGHTS |

For those of who you do not know, Bella Ellis is a pen name for author Rowan Coleman and I’m getting to that stage where I’m beginning to think she can just write me a shopping list and I’ll read it and love every word of it.

A young mother disappears from her home, leaving only a big pile of blood in her bedroom but no clue as to her whereabouts. When word of this mystery reaches the home of the Brontë sisters, they take it upon themselves to go out and try to solve what happened to this young woman.

I was a little wary at first to have these three pretty iconic characters fictionalised as “lady detectors”, investigating a possible crime. But the warmth with which Bella Ellis brings these sisters to life won me over from the get-go. It is abundantly clear from reading this first instalment in the Brontë Mysteries that Bella Ellis deeply loves Charlotte, Emily and Anne and that a lot of research went into this. I soon found myself pulled along in their enthusiasm trying to solve the case of the vanished bride.

But The Vanished Bride is more than just a mystery. It highlights the plight of women in those days; how they were seen as property; how they weren’t allowed their own opinions or were definitely not allowed to voice them; how their place was at home, raising children and most definitely not running wild across the countryside. Some of these women truly suffered but they had no means to escape some of the brutal events they had to endure. These circumstances stand in sharp contrast with the peaceful lives of the sisters.

Beautifully written, hugely atmospheric and with engaging characters, The Vanished Bride made me wish I could run across the fields and the moors along with the Brontë sisters. Each sister has a distinctive voice and with each one of them getting their own point-of-view, it truly allows the reader to get to know them better. Throughout the story, I leaned more towards Emily but at the end, through all the squabbles and disagreements, rivalry and slight jealousy, giggles and love, I realised I adored all three equally. I absolutely loved The Vanished Bride and I can’t wait to spend more time with these three characters, solving the next mystery they are sure to stumble upon.

The Vanished Bride is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (November 20)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

When the body of pregnant, 15-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. 

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking revelations and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

[I finished this one yesterday and it left me utterly broken. Definitely one to look out for!]

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril.

[Only a few pages in but loving it already]

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

FEAR 

Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.

SECRETS

Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

LIES

Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

[I do realise this isn’t out for ages yet but I don’t think I can wait any longer.]

What are you reading this week? Do let me know! It’s been a while since I bought something (and by a while, I mean at least a week 🤣) and I’m getting withdrawal.

Happy reading! xx

Weekly Wrap-Up (November 17)

Miserable, miserable week. Cold and dark and wet and blah. Is it Spring yet?

Nothing much else to report. The other half is coming up to the busiest time of year at his job which means long, long hours and lots of alone time for me. And apparently the people in my life have simultaneously decided that three weeks is way more than enough time to spend grieving over the loss of your pet and it’s time to start socialising again. Double blah. So that’s what I’ll be doing this afternoon. With the in-laws. I feel like I’m being punished for something 😂

Reading-wise, you know, I didn’t have such a bad week. Buddy reading is such a great way to keep me motivated because I’m apparently incredibly competitive (who knew?!) and I get a kick out of reaching the checkpoints first. I even wrote a review but Netgalley screwed me over by saying the book I reviewed was published in October when it’s not actually coming until late December. 🙄

So, which books left the TBR pile this week?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Okay, four isn’t all THAT impressive but I’ll take it. I thought about reviewing The Outsider but to be honest, my buddy (reader) Janel did a much better job than I ever could so have a look at her thoughts right here. Furious Hours was unfortunately a huge disappointment and went right onto the charity pile. Non-fiction and I, let’s just say it’s not exactly a match made in heaven. 😂. Keep your eyes pealed for the new Jo Spain, coming early next year. It’s a goodie! As is The Guardians, which I may attempt to review next week.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

I had pre-ordered this months ago. It’s so incredibly pretty! With the jacket on, with the jacket off … gorgeous 🥰

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

This book …. I mean, I’ve only read about 100 pages but if things keep going as they are, it may just kill me.

| LISTENING TO |

Yep. Still the same audiobook. Granted, it’s really long (have I mentioned that? 🤣) and I since I was actually reading, I didn’t have much time to listen to this one but I’m still only at 43%! Good though, really really good!

Which leads me nicely into some things I’ve been thinking about lately regarding this here blog of mine. Saying “no” to blog tours has been a lot easier than I expected and this in turn is freeing up lots of time to spend on my own TBR. A TBR that holds quite a few classics. Some of which I’m sure I read some time in the dark ages but don’t remember anything about, some that have just been sitting pretty on my shelves since the day I bought them. I think the time has come to tackle them and I fully intend to read at least one of them each month, starting in January. Think The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and many more. I’m ridiculously excited about this. Plus, it’ll give me a chance to step away from the new and shiny books from time to time, which quite frankly, in my most humble opinion, are beginning to sound a lot alike lately. As if people have run out of inspiration. Or maybe I’m just reading the wrong books 🤔

Also coming up in the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my favourite stand-alone books of the year and my favourite additions to series. As soon as I can make sense of my messy lists, that is. I may actually be able to get it down to a Top 10 this year. Maybe.

Right, that’s enough babble for this week. Time for some lunch and to mentally prepare myself for the arrival of the in-laws. Hope there’s wine. 😂

Wishing you all a fabulous week! Until next time! xx

This Week in Books (November 13)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle. 

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.

Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought. 

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that Bone China by Laura Purcell didn’t survive the week. That is not to say I wasn’t enjoying it but other books suddenly prioritised themselves and let’s face it, this whole reading-three-books-at-the-same-time-thing was never going to last 😂.

Have you read any of these? Would you like to? What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx