Thursday 30 December 2021

Book Bingo 2021 wrap-up post

Time for my first reading challenge wrap-up post. This one is the Book Bingo 2021 challenge which has been hosted by the Unruly Reader. 

If I've counted correctly, I've ended up with six complete Bingo lines, three short of a full 'blackout' -- 22 books altogether. 

The books I read:

1,000 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

ANTI-RACIST: Leaving Everything Most Loved by  Jacqueline Winspear

QUEST: Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce 

BREEZY: Gardens of Delight by Erica James 

BLACK AUTHOR: Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussein 

NARRATIVE NON-FICTION: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

DIY: Breath by James Nestor 

RESTORATION: Krakatoa by Simon Winchester 

IMMIGRANT: Middlesex by Jeffrey  Eugenides

EYE CATCHING: The Villa by Rosanna Ley 

THE WHOLE PACKAGE (final Book): Off the map by Alastair Bonnett

BLURB: A Borrowing of Bones by Paula Munier

RUSSIA: Through Siberia by Accident by Dervla Murphy 

TRIUMPH: The Abominable by Dan Simmons 

NOIR: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson 

DEFIANCE: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 

RABBIT HOLE: Emma by Jane Austen

SUGAR: Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber 

SURVIVAL: Into the Planet by Jill Heinerth 

THE EXPLORER:  The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman 

QUARANTINE: The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain 

KNOTTY: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

So that was my first attempt at the Book Bingo challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in the main because most of the categories were not simple or straightforward. A bit of thinking was required as to which books fitted well with the prompt. I enjoyed it so much that I shall be doing it again next year and can't wait to get started.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

My year in books meme - 2021 and catching up

I've done this meme several times in the past and it's always a lot of fun. I saw that Constance had done it again this year, 'here' and that Nan had  also had a go, 'here'. So now it's my turn.


My Year in Books 2021

How do you feel? Bats in the Belfry - E.C.R. Lorac

Describe where you currently live: Off the Map - Alastair Bonnett

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?  The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

Your favorite form of transportation: Sicilian Carousel - Lawrence Durrell

Your best friend is: The Abominable - Dan Simmons

You and your friends are: People Missing in the Woods - Steph Young

What's the weather like? Watery Ways - Val Poore

You fear: Crawling Horror - ed. D. Butcher & J. Leaf

What is the best advice you have to give? (Visit) Gardens of Delight - Erica James

Thought for the day:  Death has Deep Roots - Michael Gilbert
How would I like to die? (Off) The Platform Edge - ed. Mike Ashley (not really... lol)

I'm so far behind with reviews, due to a busy Christmas period, that I'm just going to mention a few books I've been reading since my last review post.

A Country Child by Alison Uttley was a read-along hosted by YouTube book vlogger, Miranda Mills. It was  beautifully written, with wonderful descriptions of the Derbyshire countryside and life as it would've been on a farm in the 1930s. Alison Uttley was a children's writer most famous for her 'Little Grey Rabbit' books for children, this is fiction but based on the author's life from what I can gather. I enjoyed this but it did occasionally drag a bit.

I read about The Little Christmas House by Tracy Rees here in Yvonne at Fiction Books' post. It sounded delightful so I grabbed it to read as one of my 2021 Christmas books. Holly Hanwell is a teacher in a primary school in a small village in Kent. She moved from Leeds, aiming to make a fresh start, after her long-term boyfriend left her. Also just moved to the village are Edward and his young daughter, Eliza. They too have had a basinful of problems. Eliza is in Holly's class at school and Holly takes to the little girl immediately, intrigued by what the history behind her father's move is. The Christmas school play brings the whole story together in a lovely way. I enjoyed this feel-good Christmas read very much. The characters felt real with believable, rather unusual, experiences. My only misgiving is that I wish the two main characters, Holly and Edward, had met properly rather sooner than 44 per cent through the book. Other than that, I loved it. 


Murder on Christmas Eve, edited by Cecily Gayford, is a book of short stories set at Christmas. Authors include Ellis Peters, G.K. Chesterton, Marjorie Bowen, Michael Innes, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, John Dickson Carr and more. This was a thoroughly excellent anthology! Super, super writing from a number of superb vintage and modern writers. The Trinity Cat by Ellis Peters was particularly good as was The Dagger with Wings by G.K. Chesterton, a Father brown mystery, and Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen. But really the whole collection was just superb.

More posts to come as I try to catch up on challenge wrap-ups and best books posts. 

Monday 20 December 2021

Book Bingo 2022

So this is one of the reading challenges I've been waiting for, Book Bingo 2022. I've really enjoyed doing the 2021 version this year and was keen to see what the categories would be for next year. They were tricky and thought provoking for 2021 and I was hoping for the same again and I'm not disppointed, so am signing up for another go.

This is the Bingo card participants have to work from:

Follow this link to the Sign-up post and there you will also find help and definitions for each of the categories.

How to play:

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2022. Books started in 2021 but finished in 2022 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category. (This is one of my favorite sports)
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

The Book Bingo challenge is being hosted by The Unruly Reader.

I already have a few books in mind for some of the categories but others are going to be a bit more tricky. Imagination or research will be needed and I love that. Roll on 2022!

Monday 13 December 2021

The 'Read Around the World' reading challenge

As usual I'm umming and ahhing about which reading challenges to do next year. I don't want to over-commit myself as I used to years ago but it is nice to have two or three challenges on the go each year as I find it helps me to have that little bit of structure to my reading schedule. 

There are two I'm interested in doing but the people who host those haven't put their sign-up posts up yet. In the meantime I spotted this one advertised on Susan at 'Bloggin' 'Bout Books' challenge blog, Ready for a Reading Challenge?

It's the Book Voyage: Read Around the World challenge and it's hosted by The Book Girls' Guide.


The idea is that the world is split into twelve different regions and each month you read one book from the appropriate region.

This is a year-long challenge. You don't have to read from the lists they provide, you can read from your own shelves. And there is a Facebook group you can join to add to the fun.

I'm thinking this challenge might be right up my street and hopefully take me to one or two places I've never been before.


Friday 10 December 2021

Catching up

I'm three books behind with reviewing, as usual, although 'three' is quite a lot even for me. First up then, Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan.

Well then, this one is set in the town of Banff, Alberta, so it's a beautiful mountain setting and I loved that about it. What I don't understand is why it's called 'Christmas' Under the Stars, because there's hardly any Christmas in it! Nevertheless, it is a really good read. Meg is married to Mitch and they have pretty much the perfect marriage. Mitch and his best friend, Tuck, run a snowboarding business and, with Tuck's wife Lucy, the four friends are inseperable. Things fall apart when Mitch is lost and subsequently dies in a snowstorm. And it's during this storm, desperate for help, Meg radios for assistance and ends up speaking to an astronaut on the International Space Station.  After her husband dies Meg falls apart and the book is about how she puts herself back together again. There are secrets. Some things are not as she thought they were: friends, Meg's life, her sister who's a doctor and lives in Toronto that she hardly ever sees, Mitch. This is a long book so you're in it for the long haul if you decide to give it a go. I like books where secrets are involved, that said I had The Secret sussed almost from the start: if you're suspicious and cynical just like me, then you will too. But the setting is glorious and jumps off the page at you and I thought the book was excellent on relationships and how complicated they are. But it is 'not' about Christmas! I read it as my first book for the Christmas challenge I'm doing but I can't in all conscience count a book which only 'has' Christmas in the last 20 or 30 pages. But I will look for more by this author as I enjoyed the book.

Next up, a book I 'can' count for the Christmas challenge I'm doing, Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber.

This one is set in Seattle, WA, in an apartment block. Julia Padden lives in one of the apartments and Carl Maddox lives just across the hall. Julia is one of life's cheerful individuals, going about the place being nice to people. Carl is the complete opposite, grumpy, loathes Christmas, resists all Julia's efforts to be friends. She's up for a new job and it's between her and one other. Because the job is social media based it's suggested she start a blog and the person who gets the job will be the one with the most followers and commenters. Julia decides to base her blog on the idea of trying to win Carl over and charting her progress. What she isn't prepared for is the blog's runaway success! When Carl's attitude towards her starts to thaw, how on earth does she keep her blog a secret from him? Well this is pretty much what it says on the tin. A very light, fluffy romance very much based on Christmas, using Dickens' A Christmas Carol as inspiration. The use of blogging as a plot device I thought was quite modern and clever and I liked that aspect of it, being a blogger myself. This won't appeal to everyone but I enjoyed how undemanding it was and 'daft' really. We all need to make more time in our busy schedules for 'daft'. 

Lastly, Finding My Voice by Nadiya Hussain. 

I'll probably need to explain to anyone not from the UK who Nadiya is. Most people have heard of the TV series, The Great British Bake Off. Well she won it in 2015 and since then her rise has been meteoric. She's very personable and a born presenter so has ended up with her own cookery shows on the BBC and is very much a household name. I know it's hard to judge what celebrities are really like on TV but to me she seems like a genuinely lovely person. I found her book fascinating as I haven't read anything about growing up as a Muslim in 1980s and 90s Britain. Her family experiences, she's one of six siblings if memory serves, especially as a girl were very revealing. She talks too about her mental health, about not really knowing what she was getting into when she married and joined her husband's family, and having no clue about how motherhood would affect not only her mental health but also her dreams of what she wanted her life to be. The book is excellent and really opened up to me a culture that I don't know a lot about. Her voice jumps off the page loud and clear but sometimes, for me, her stream of conscience sentences got a little confusing. But really this is an excellent read if you're intersted in learning a bit more about what it is to be a Muslim in the UK. And there are recipes! Win, win!

Oh my goodness, is it really only two weeks to Christmas?!!!! How did that happen?

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Books read in November

Well, I've apparently had rather a slow reading month. I wasn't aware of it but when I checked I found I'd read just five books in November. Ah well, I must've been doing something else, possibly quite a tricky jigsaw puzzle, a pic of which I'll pop at the end of this post.

Anyway, the books.

77. And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander 

78. Into the London Fog edited by Elizabeth Dearnley 

79. The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths 

80. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 

81. Christmas Under the Stars - Karen Swan (to be reviewed).

So, five fiction and 'no' non-fiction. What an odd reading month I've had. I haven't even travelled around the world as much as I usually do, being based mainly in the UK with just two separate forays to Greece and Banff in Canada. But it's not that I didn't actually read any non-fiction last month... I read the first quarter of Deep South by Paul Theroux and quite a lot of one of Nigel Slater's diary type cook books which I will finish after Christmas. Plus, I've just started this:

Nadiya Hussain is a household name in the UK. She won The Great British Bake Off in 2015 (seems longer ago than that) and has since been given her own cookery show on the BBC, written several cookbooks and baked for the Queen. This is her story in the form of essay type memoirs and so far it's excellent. Her voice and enthusiasm  really shout out of the pages.

And, as promised, here's the jigsaw puzzle I worked on throughout November:



This one is a 2,000 piece scene of St. Johann in the Austrian Tyrol. What a fabulous spot!

So here we are in the Christmas month. It doesn't seem five minutes since the start of 2021 and now we're only four weeks away from 2022. The older you get the more disconcerting this is. Never mind, onwards and upwards to a few interesting reads for December and then that lovely bookish 'fresh start' feeling in the new year.