31 Dec 2019

Reading Challenges 2019 and 2020

2019 Reading Challenge Goals

Goodreads 100 Book Challenge - Always a staple in my goals.  This year I am only limiting myself to 100 books, which I still think is quite a lot but we'll see how we go.  2019 is going to be the year of reading more complicated and in depth books along with series and stand alone novels that  have been on my shelf or on my wish list for a long time now.   OK, so I didn't quite get this done this year.  I got up 85, which I think is really good considering life has been busy and I haven't read as much as I have in the past.  To be honest, I don't really view this as a 'need to do' goal but just something to aim for.
Read Your Own Book Challenge - Always a goal of mine to make sure that I read from my own shelf and not review books or books that I have only just bought..   This was a goal that I have set for myself for a while now and I am so proud that I have stuck to it this year quite strictly having read quite a few backlist titles,which I am still continuing to do.  Yes, I have bought a few books that I have immediately read and yes I have received a few titles for review but I have not been accepting or requesting half as many as I used to (which I am truly grateful for). 
Big Book Challenge -  A true staple in my challenges that can often get forgotten.  I have had some fun with this challenge this year.  I read 37 big books this year which is the usual number I would naturally pick up but this time I decided to pick up one of my most challenging trilogy/series I have had on my shelf for ages and that is the Discovery of Witches (All Souls) Trilogy/Series by Deborah Harkness.  My full review is posted but just to say that it took me a very long time to read those books, which are over 600 pages long each. 

Read 2 Classics  - I always say that I will get around to those one at some point.  2019 is going to be the year.   I have only set this at 2 because there is 1 hefty book and 1 reasonable size novel that I want to get to this year.  Those are:

Nope, never got to either of these this year.  I have read the Phantom of the Opera before so this would have been a re-read but I still have these titles and I am still really keen to read them but maybe further in the future than right now.

Read at least 1 book from the Manbooker Winner List  -  For a long time now I have been wanting to try to read a book that has won the Manbooker Winner List.  I bought the book below a long time ago and it has been sitting on my shelf for ages.  2019 will be the year!!

I didn't get to this one either but I still have my copy and I am still really excited about the story and do plan to pick this up at some point. 

2020 Reading Challenge Goals

Goodreads 100 Book Challenge - Always a staple in my goals.  I always like to aim for 100 books but happy to get close and even happier if I get past that!  Who knows!  I  don't tend to be too strict on keeping this but use this really only use this as a motivation tool to keep me reading consistently
Read Your Own Book Challenge - This is a goal that i have brought in a lot more in 2019 and intend to bring in a lot more in 2020.  I have made my way through quite a lot of the books that I already own  and have not read yet and want to make it my aim to read as many as I can in 2020. 
Big Book Challenge -  Yet again, a true staple in my challenges that can often get forgotten but I have found that now even if I don't focus on this too much I do tend to pick up more than 20 books to complete this challenge this year.  My aim for this year is to do the same but to read at least 1 book that is over 800 pages long.  That is going to be a massive challenge for me as I do not do very good with concentrating on long novels but let's give it a go.  

John Grisham - I made a start last year to read all of John Grisham's novels - some I have already read and some I have not yet read.  So far, I think I have read about 10 of his novels, starting from the earliest publication date.  In 2020, I would love to be able to have read them all and start reading another author...

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26 Dec 2019

End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of 2019

I can't believe we have come to this time of year again where we are drawing to a close 2019 and lookin forward to a new year with new challenges and goals.   With that, I always like to highlight the books that I adored this year.  I have not included all the books here that I have marked 5 stars, not because they were not enjoyable reads but, for me, you have 5 star reads that are great and you move on and then you have 5 star reads that leave an impression on you that doesn't ever leave. These below are those.

This list is in no particular order.  I have thoroughly enjoyed and would recommed you check out each and every novel in this list :-)

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.


A stunning psychological thriller about loss, sisterhood, and the evil that men do, for readers of Ruth Ware and S.K. Tremeyne

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie - who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother - suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.


I am deliberately not putting a description on this one as this is a series that is in the middle of the Shadowhunter world and I don't wait to include any spoilers in this post.


Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm with eight hundred lawyers. The money was good and getting better; a partnership was three years away. He was a rising star with no time to waste, no time to stop, no time to toss a few coins into the cups of panhandlers. No time for a conscience.

But a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold. Michael survived; his assailant did not. Who was this man? Michael did some digging, and learned that he was a mentally ill veteran who'd been in and out of shelters for many years. Then Michael dug a little deeper, and found a dirty secret, and the secret involved Drake & Sweeney.

The fast track derailed; the ladder collapsed. Michael bolted the firm and took a top-secret file with him. He landed in the streets, an advocate for the homeless, a street lawyer.

And a thief.


They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.

But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.

From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more.

But they found him.


In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…
Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.
Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.
Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.


For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they've come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?

Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back...

Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.

Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.


When Catriona Drouot, a young music therapist, honours an opera diva's dying request to help her son, Umberto Monteverdi, recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. She had shared a night of passion with the once-celebrated composer ten years before, with unexpected consequences.

The extent of her challenge becomes apparent when she arrives at her client's estate on the glittering shores of Lake Como, Italy. Robbed of his sight by a nearfatal car accident, the man is arrogant, embittered and resistant to her every effort to help him. Still, Catriona sings a siren's call within him that he cannot ignore.

Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto's Palladian mansion, Catriona discovers that her attraction to the blind musician is as powerful as ever. How can she share what she has hidden from him for the past decade? Soon she realises that hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface. Dark forces haunt the sightless composer, threatening his life - for the second time.

Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices, and of a heroine determined to put things right at last


After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.


Child experts will tell you that I'm way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?' Who is Bobby Seed? He's just your average sixteen-year-old - same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there's the Bobby Seed who's a world away from average. The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum's backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he's stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That's Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different ...


In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.


Lexie’s got the perfect life. And someone else wants it…

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.
But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


Continue reading End of Year Wrap Up / Favourite Books of 2019

15 Dec 2019


Book Review/ Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon

While parked at a gas station, Rhonda sees something so incongruously surreal that at first she hardly recognizes it as a crime in progress. She watches, unmoving, as someone dressed in a rabbit costume kidnaps a young girl. Devastated over having done nothing, Rhonda joins the investigation. But the closer she comes to identifying the abductor, the nearer she gets to the troubling truth about another missing child: her best friend, Lizzy, who vanished years before.

From the author of the acclaimed Promise Not to Tell comes a chilling and mesmerizing tale of shattered innocence, guilt, and ultimate redemption.

Published:     22nd April 2008
Publisher:  William Morrow
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source:  Owned


If it is possible to say for a mystery thriller style book but this was a fun read!  Being such a short book, it certainly does pack a punch and fits in quite a lot of twists and turns along the way.

There are two separate main time lines in this story - one is back in the past and the disappearance of Lizzie and one is the disappearance of a new girl.  Both had mention of a rabbit in some way - either they were in the woods with a rabbit or was taken by someone dressed as one.   This is one of those classic who done it and are they going to find the girl alive type stories but it is exactly what I wanted when I picked up this story and exactly what I got.

I was not surprised by much of the story, including the twists and turns, but the story of getting to the end was really fun and the writing was so easy to follow with the plot being fast paced, which is exactly what it should be.

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8 Dec 2019


Trilogy Review / All Souls (Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestsellling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...

Published:     First published September 2011
Publisher:  Headline
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Books 1 to 3, All Souls Trilogy
Source:  Owned


This review is a long time coming, believe me!  It has taken me a very long time to read this book!  In between other books, I started A Discovery of Witches (book 1) back at the beginning of November and I have only just finished book 3!  To give context, it very rarely takes me this long to read a book!  Not that the reasons for it taking so long were all bad, but I have a few things to say!

What I loved about this trilogy...
There was so much depth to this world and to each of the characters in it.  Either good or bad, there wasn't a character that I disliked in this world.  My favourite would have to be Gallowglass, to be honest, and for reasons I can't give you because that would spoil the story but his humour and loyalty were two aspects that I really enjoyed reading.   I also found the idea of the plot very interesting, you have a historian who discovers a manuscript which could potentially be the most important item in their world.  You have a bit of romance along the way also together with the history of the world as well.  

What I didn't like about this trilogy...
This was one of those books that I could not read quick - which I found frustrating considering the story is one that I thought would be more fast paced. The story, to me, seemed to be too far drawn out.  It would have been much better if this was a duology with less description and more action - and less pages!  Each of these books were around 600 pages and the text wasn't large either.  This story had so much potential for me but a lot of my interest was lost with non-important things happening.

Honestly, I will not be picking up Time's Convert which I believe is a spin off of this series.  

Continue reading Trilogy Review / All Souls (Discovery of Witches) by Deborah Harkness