Meet the Blogger Book Tag

I saw this yesterday on Cosy with Books and loved it. I really like reading more about the book bloggers that I follow so decided to join in the fun. Thanks to Bibliomavens who created the original tag.

The Rules of the tag are:
Nominated bloggers can tag 10 other bloggers
Use the same questions from the tag
Tag the original creator (Bibliomavens) and the blogger who tagged you.

The Questions

Who is your favourite book character?
There are so many to choose from and it really depends on what I have recently read. Aragorn from LOTR is always up there as well as Vanyel from Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books. However, my all time favourite character would probably be Mara from the Empire books by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. She overcomes huge obstacles in her culture to become Mistress of the Empire and I love her stubbornness and intelligence.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)
Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I might actually get round to reading it if I was stranded and only had one book to read.

What’s your most unpopular book opinion?
I think that the Harry Potter books are boring! I managed to plough my way through the first one years ago but couldn’t face any more. Not sure why as I love the Cormoran Strike books.

What’s your weirdest bookish habit?
If I really love a book, I have been known to go straight back to the beginning and read the whole thing again. Sometimes, I can’t stop rushing through a book to find out how it all ends and then I go back and read the book again to really enjoy the story.

What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?
Oooh, this is tricky. Prince Nikolai from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse would be an excellent party guest I think. He would be very good company and also look out for you.

What made you decide to start a book blog?
I began when I noticed Six for Sunday on Twitter. I started to take part in that and then it mushroomed from there. It was just occasional posts at first but then I discovered Net Galley and writing reviews so my blog just grew. It’s a very quiet blog and I get very excited when someone comments.

What about reading and books do you love the most?
The way that books can transport you to a completely different place and time. A good book can solve all my problems at least temporarily. I love fantasy and the different worlds that authors create but I also love crime fiction. I think that is the liking for everything to be solved and sorted out in the end, unlike what happens in real life.
My favourite thing in the world is having a new book to read and a whole afternoon or evening when nothing is going to disturb me. Give me a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate too and I’m in book heaven.

What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?
I’m a primary school teacher who has recently retired after 30 years of teaching. There’s no escape though as I’m still going in when needed which is quite often at the moment. I love teaching though so it’s no hardship to go in for a day or two a week. It still leaves me plenty of time to read.

What are some book recommendations that became your favourite/obsessions?
My daughter introduced me to Leigh Bardugo earlier this year and I loved all of the Grishaverse books. I also loved The House on the Cerulean Sea which was recommended to me by so many people. The librarian at my local library introduced me to Kate Rhodes and her locked island thrillers set on the Scilly Isles and she has become one of my favourite authors too

What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?
Where the Crawdads Sing or possibly 100 Years of Lenni and Margot which are both brilliant books that everyone should read and interestingly, not fantasy or crime stories!

Tag up to 10 people
I’m always really nervous about tagging people as I don’t know people that well but my tags are:

Wendy at The Bashful Bookworm

Mary at Book Craic

Emily Jane at Budget Book Tales

And anyone else who is reading this and wants to join in. I would love to read your answers.

The Greek Gods Book Tag

Greek Gods tag
Graphics used by permission of Zuky

It’s Tuesday and that’s often the day when I join in with a random book tag that I have come across during the week.

Who doesn’t love the Greek gods? All that arguing and interfering with the lives of humans. I love different book tags and when I saw this one on Kerri McBookNerd last week, I had to have a go. The tag was originally created by Zuky in 2017 and I really like how these tags have such a long life as they find new people to take part in them. Zuky also created the graphics for each heading too.

The Rules

  • Pingback to Zuky here so she can read all your posts!
  • You can use her graphics if you like, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
  • Tag as many people as you want, but please share the love.
Zeus, King of the Gods – Your favourite book

This is really hard. How can you just choose one? Possibly my favourite book of all time judged by the amount of times I have reread it has to be Magician by Raymond Feist. It really has everything that a great fantasy novel needs.

Hera, Queen of the Gods – a badass female character

Another tricky one, Cersei from A Song of Ice and Fire has to be the one though. She has to be the ultimate badass female and she’s proud of it. You have to love her even though her actions make you scream.

Janus, God of Beginnings – Your favourite debut

A debut novel that I have just read and absolutely loved has to be Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell. This is her debut but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future books.

Athena Goddess of Wisdom – Your favourite non fiction book

My favourite non fiction books are my painting books specifically anything by Jean Haines whose work I love.

Aphrodite Goddess of Love – a book that you adore and recommend to everyone

This one really is tricky. I don’t tend to recommend that many books as people’s tastes are so different. However, one that I have recommended a lot this year and last is Where the Crawdads Sing. I really loved it and most people I know seem to have loved it too.

Hades, God of the Underworld – an evil book that you wish didn’t exist

This would have to be Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. The world might have been a much better place if that book had never existed. I’m not putting a picture up though.

Poseidon, God of the sea and earthquakes – a beautiful and earth-shattering

I’m not sure that it counts as earth shattering but a book that impacted on me when I read it years ago was A Handmaid’s Tale.

Apollo, God of the Arts – a beautiful book cover

This is another really hard one. Publishers seem to be producing so many gorgeous covers nowadays. I did love this one and picked it up just because of the cover. The book was brilliant though so very glad I did.

Hypnos, God of Sleep – a book so boring you almost fell asleep.

This would have to be Senlin Ascends which seemed to be really popular but bored me to tears. Apparently there are sequels so obviously a lot of people did like it.

Hermes, Messenger of the Gods – a book that you sped through.

I loved The House in the Cerulean Sea and raced through it.

This was a fun tag to do. I’m going to break the rules and not tag any one as I have no idea who might have done it already but if you like this post and haven’t already had a go, then why not give it a try?

Stacking the Shelves 16

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The weekend has arrived already. Can you believe that we are nearly halfway through November? Saturday means that it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

My stacking the shelves posts are mainly about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book.

Like last week, my haul this week includes two crime fiction novels that I had ordered plus Threadneedle Street which has been on my TBR for ages. The library isn’t big on Fantasy novels and it’s always a surprise when new books appear on the Fantasy shelf.

Devil’s Table by Kate Rhodes
This is the fifth book in Kate Rhodes’ series set in the Scilly Isles and featuring DI Ben Kitto. I love these murder mysteries. As with all my favourite crime novels, there is a really strong sense of place as well as an interesting lead character. The stories are always brilliantly worked out and I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths
This is the latest in Elly Griffiths’ historical crime series set in Brighton in the 1960s. They always have a link to the theatre and the variety acts of the past which I enjoy. Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite crime writers and I love her novels so definitely looking forward to this one.

Threadneedle Street by Cari Thomas
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound
I have been wanting to read this for ages but the library didn’t have a copy and I didn’t really want to pay the hardback price so was waiting until it was out in paperback. I was really pleased to spot it on the fantasy shelf yesterday. It has such a gorgeous cover too and that quote is intriguing.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
A book with this title is always going to be one that I want to read. It has a recommendation from Katie Fforde on the cover too so another reason to read it.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

WWW Wednesday 10th November

It’s Wednesday again and so it must be time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. It’s currently hosted by Sam and it can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here. The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I am currently reading.

A Change in Cicumstance by Susan Hill

I love the Simon Serrailler novels by Susan Hill. They are a bit darker than some other crime novels as Simon himself is quite a gloomy character, very prone to introspection and really bad at romantic relationships. He is likeable though and the books really show him as a real, complex character. His family life, mostly focused on his twin sister and her family, also forms a large part of the novels and the two threads often combine in some way.

This latest novel looks at the problem of drug running and county lines which is an increasing problem and one that as a teacher, I am very aware of. The stories of the two children who have been caught up in this in the book feel very real to me. The author doesn’t shrink from unhappy endings so I’m not sure that it will end well for either Brookie or Olivia.

What I have recently finished reading

I finished this over the weekend and it was brilliant. My review is here.

I also read A Cornish Murder on Net Galley which was an enjoyable light read with likeable characters and an interesting mystery.

What do I intend to read next?

Winter’s Orbit by Evarina Maxwell

I saw this on Instagram and the story line really appealed to me. I haven’t read any Science Fiction for a while so it will make a nice change. I’ve also got A Line to Kill by Anthony Horowitz to read as well.

That’s my current state of play with reading. What are your reading plans at the moment?

The Crystal Palace Chronicles- Star of Nimrod. Blog Tour

What if the past became your future?

I was really pleased to be invited to be part of the blog tour for the above book by Graham Whitlock. This is a book in one of my favourite genres, historical fiction and is set in and around the Crystal Palace which is a place that has always fascinated me.

It’s an incredibly exciting adventure story involving time travel and the theft of a valuable diamond. Several famous Victorians including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H G Wells also appear.

Trying to rescue his skateboard which has been thrown over a fence in the old grounds of Crystal Palace, Joe Cook finds an old compass. The compass somehow transports him back in time to 1888 when the Crystal Palace was still a huge attraction. He meets the young H G Wells who shows him round the palace. During this tour, Joe loses the compass and with that, his way back home. He gets help from one of the workers in the palace, a  young lad named Elias. As they try to retrieve the compass, they overhear a plan to steal the Star of Nimrod from the Shah of Persia. This then leads to Joe and his new friends trying to prevent the theft and get Joe’s compass back so he can return home.

The action is really fast paced as the boys fall out of one problem and straight into another. Joe and Elias are given help by a whole cast of characters including real historical figures such as Conan Doyle and W G Grace. The contrast between the present day and Victorian times is very clear and helped by great use of dialogue showing the difference.

The book is obviously incredibly well researched but this does not make the story at all dull. The Crystal Palace and the surrounding area is brilliantly described and really adds to the atmosphere of the story. Joe is a likeable hero and his struggles with not being able to be completely honest with his new friends feels very real. The Victorian characters are all great too and I enjoyed the notes at the end about the real life people many of them are based on.

The title seems to hint that this is the first one of a series and I look forward to being about to read more about Joe, Elias and the rest of the amazing cast in this story.

Thank you to Grass Roots Productions Ltd for letting me read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my review.

The Crystal Palace Chronicles is written by Graham Whitlock and was published on 5th November by Grass Roots Productions.

State of Terror – a review

The predator was out there. Somewhere. Hiding in a vast silence.”

I really enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down. The plot is complicated and the number of characters is high so there are a lot of people to keep track of but it is a great political thriller.

The book is set soon after the Democrats have won the latest election and the newly elected president makes a surprise choice for his Secretary of State, Ellen Adams, who runs a media empire. Why is it surprising? Because apparently the two hate each other. The president had an agenda with this appointment but didn’t expect to be faced with an international terrorist incident which would force him to work with his Sec of State.

A bomb goes off in the centre of London, quickly followed by another in Germany. A lowly foreign service  officer receives a strange text message that she realises might be a warning but she can’t get anyone to listen to her. As the president and Ellen are forced to work together, we find out why they hate each other so much.

The book spans Europe, Asia and the Middle East as Ellen tries to deal with the crisis and avert a possible catastrophic incident on American soil. The story is fast paced and you have to concentrate to keep track of the different strands but I found it an engrossing read. I loved the way that the initially completely unrelated strands and characters gradually all come together.  

The plot is all too believable although I was a bit unconvinced by the ending. However, there are signposts for this right from the start. I just missed them. Louise Penny’s influence is clear in the way some of the characters think and act and there are some lovely references to her Gamache series including a guest appearance by the man himself.

I suspect that fans of Donald Trump probably won’t enjoy the book as much though as the out-going president is obviously modelled upon him and he doesn’t come out of it at all well.

This is a great read for any lover of political thrillers such as Michael Dobbs House of Cards.

Sundays in bed with ………Still Life

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed).

And breathe! After a very hectic week of working and travelling to Derby to perform at the theatre, it’s lovely to just relax. And an extra hour in bed too! That means an extra hour for reading.

Still Life by Sarah Winman

It’s 1944 and in the ruined wine cellar of a Tuscan villa, as the Allied troops advance and bombs fall around them, two strangers meet and share an extraordinary evening together.

Ulysses Temper is a young British solider and one-time globe-maker, Evelyn Skinner is a sexagenarian art historian and possible spy. She has come to Italy to salvage paintings from the ruins and relive her memories of the time she encountered EM Forster and had her heart stolen by an Italian maid in a particular Florentine room with a view.

These two unlikely people find kindred spirits in each other and Evelyn’s talk of truth and beauty plants a seed in Ulysses mind that will shape the trajectory of his life – and of those who love him – for the next four decades.

Moving from the Tuscan Hills, to the smog of the East End and the piazzas of Florence, Still Life is a sweeping, mischievous, richly-peopled novel about beauty, love, family and fate.

I have to say that at the moment, this one really isn’t doing anything for me. It’s classed as ‘Literary Fiction’ and I’m never quite sure what that means but the genres that I really enjoy such as crime and fantasy definitely aren’t classed as such. Maybe that is saying something about the type of books I enjoy. To me, this all seems a bit detached and the characters aren’t grabbing me so far. It should be a novel that I love as it’s a sweeping historical epic but I’m not really engaged with it so far.

I remember feeling the same way about Stonor some years ago when everyone was raving about that one and I didn’t really feel anything for it. I’ll read some more later and see how I feel than.

If anyone is interested, here’s a picture of myself and my fellow courtesans in our performance of Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum yesterday. I’m on the left of the centurion😃

Happy Sunday Reading everyone!

Home – A review

Home by Penny Parkes

I really loved this book.

Anna graduated from Oxford with a first-class degree but has spent the next decade as a house sitter, looking after other people’s homes and pets. She doesn’t actually have a home of her own and her personal belongings are kept in a storage unit.

We meet Anna as she is house sitting in Oxford to attend her friend’s wedding. The house sitting goes disastrously wrong and from this incident, Anna’s carefully organised life begins to fall to pieces.

The story is told mainly in the present day, 2019, but also in the past where we see Anna as a child going into the foster system and her different placements as she grows up. We can see how her childhood experiences have affected the choices she has made as an adult. Anna is afraid of making commitments to either people or places in case something goes wrong but she gradually begins to see that she cannot continue to live her life in that way. Her journeys, both as a child in the Care system and as an adult are poignant and there are some really touching moments. She feels incredibly real as a character and you really want her to find where she truly belongs.

The novel is beautifully written. As well as Anna, Penny Parkes has created some totally believable characters. Kate is the best friend that anyone could wish for and I loved Marjorie, Henry and Callie too.  The locations also play a huge part in the novel, from the idyllic coastal setting to Bath and London and finally back to Oxford. Each setting, even the lock up unit where Anna keeps her possessions, is vividly described.

Home really touches your heart strings and makes you think about family and friendships as well as what it is that makes a home. I loved reading this book and seeing Anna gradually grow and change. I felt that the ending was perfect and avoided being too ‘Happy ever after’ while resolving the important issues.

Definitely recommended!

Stacking the Shelves 13

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The weekend has arrived already and it’s time for another post about Stacking the shelves.  This is a meme hosted by Reading Reality and details are on her blog. The gorgeous graphic is also used courtesy of the site.

This week we’re back to normal and my stacking the shelves post is all about the books that I get from my local library. Libraries are continually under threat of closure or reduced hours but they are such an important way of getting books into people’s hands that they need supporting. By highlighting the amazing books that I pick up every week, I hope to inspire maybe just one person to visit their library and borrow a book.

Having not been to the library for a week, I’m now all caught up with my library books and ready to read this week’s haul.

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny
This is the latest in her brilliant Inspector Gamache series and I’ve been waiting to read it for quite a while. I’m also intrigued about the novel that she has written with Hilary Clinton, State of Terror, so might have to see if the library has that one too.

Home by Penny Parkes
The story of a woman who doesn’t have a home of her own but spends her life house and pet sitting for other people. I can’t imagine not having a home of my own so definitely interested in this one.

The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan
I was attracted by the cover of this one and it sounds interesting. It’s set in Edinburgh in 1822 and seems to centre around the botanic gardens and a rare plant.

Strictly Murder by Julie Wassmer
I really enjoy this crime series set in Whitstable and a murder mystery set in a dance schools sounds interesting.

A nice mixed bag this week with a couple of books that I’m sure I will enjoy and a couple of new authors to try.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

MG Takes on Thursday

This brilliant meme belongs to to Book Craic who hosts it on her blog here . Each week the aim is to celebrate Middle Grade books, those amazing books being written for 9-12 year olds. The idea is that you choose a book, post a picture of the cover and also show the publisher and illustrator. Then turn to page 11 and find your favourite sentence on that page. After that, describe the book in three words ( I always find this really hard) and finally, write your review or post a link to your review of the book. What could be easier especially as there are so many fabulous books being published at the moment?

This week I am celebrating Worst Holiday Ever by Charlie Higson

Worst Holiday Ever by Charlie Higson. Published by Penguin Books

My favourite quote from page 11 – I can’t wait to be grown up and not have to worry about everything all the time.

This book in three words: Funny, Disasters, Shyness

I am always on the look out for books to tempt my reluctant or less confident readers, many of whom are boys, so when I saw this by Charlie Higson, I had to get it.

It’s the story (told in the first person) of Stan’s holiday with his so-called friend, Felix. Stan has only been invited because all of Felix’s other friends already have holidays planned and he is convinced that going on holiday abroad, with people that he doesn’t know can only be a disaster.

The story goes through the arrival at the airport, the journey and the actual holiday all seen through Stan’s eyes in the same style as Wimpy Kid and several others. Stan is shy and hates being away from home and his mum and to deal with his anxiety, he makes lists. Several of these appear in the book but I really loved his Duck-it list, the exact opposite of everyone else’s bucket lists.

As the holiday goes on, Stan finds that the things that terrified him are less scary than he thought. He also begins to notice other people a lot more and realises that maybe adults don’t know everything after all.

I really enjoyed this book and I can definitely see it being enjoyed by some of my Year 6 who will really identify with Stan. It is definitely aimed at the 10+ market as there is some mild swearing and development of Stan’s romance with Jess (which he didn’t even realise was a thing until she told him). It’s light hearted and funny but also deals with some big issues. The main one is Stan dealing with his shyness and anxiety but the book also deals with different family relationships especially between Dads and sons.