Tuesday 31 January 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want To Read in 2023


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

Since this week is a freebie week on top ten tuesday I'm going to finally post my 23 (ish) books I want to read in 2023 so expect some I've already got to, I've been holding onto this post for a while!







The Beach Holiday by Isabelle Broom
Maybe Tomorrow by Penny Parks


A Song of You and Me by Mike Gayle


Monday 30 January 2023

Review: All My Love by Miranda Dickinson

 Sometimes love can be staring you in the face . . . and you don’t even know it

By day, Archie works tirelessly as assistant to the editor of a local newspaper.

By night, Esther works after hours cleaning the rows of office desks with the help of her trusty sidekick, Fred the trolley.

Their paths have never crossed, until one discarded Post-it note unexpectedly brings them together.

Because they share one thing in common . . . they’re both secretly in love with someone else.

And they might just be the two people who can help each other find the courage to confess their feelings and write the perfect love letter.

But what if they’re falling for the wrong person?

Review: the way this book starts...it just hooks you in and you are instantly connected to these 2 characters, you want to know them, you want them to know each other and you are just so drawn into their stories, separately and the thing that ties them together. I love any kind of dual narrative when I'm reading, but one that starts in post-its back and forth. It was giving me flatshare vibes and it was giving me Jojo Moyes Cecelia Ahern vibes. I just loved this book from the word go. 

Archie and Esther are two very different people, they are on different tracks in life and yet somehow they very tenuous share the same workspace and this is what connects them. The other thing that connects them though is their love for love. Romantic love and family love and I just loved that about them. Both our main characters are at a bit of a crossroads both personally and professionally and so they have this in common too but they feel very differently about their own personal crossroads. I love Esther's spirit, she doesn't let anything break her, She has her goals in mind and she will do what it takes to get there. Archie on the other hand is very malleable and soft-centred and so definitely needs a push in the right direction to assert himself in any areas of his life. 

One thing that Miiranda Dickinson always has in her novels is music, particularly live music and this book is no exception. There is a playlist at the end of the book but most importantly there is also a band. A band made up of mostly old men. A band who are not very good at playing music but form the heart of this book. This band is so pivotal to so many major scenes in this book. It has heart and it is the grounding force for both Archie and eventually Esther too and so make sure you pay close attention when the band of the old guys comes up because you know that something is about to be revealed or some drama is going to unfold!

There is such heart and such love in this book I could literally feel it warming my heart. I wanted to keep turning the pages right from the beginning and I loved getting to know Archie, Esther, their workmates, their families and of course, the band, so much over the course of the book. It's one of those books that you didn't want to end and the only thing I can hope for now is a sequel or at the very least, a novella of an epilogue!

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 28 January 2023

Guest Review: Greatest Moments of Cricket By Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb

Little Book of the Greatest Moments of Cricket is a 96-page hardback book written by Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb. A collection of articles celebrating the most iconic moments in cricketing history, it is sure to bring back memories of the most emotional events, as well as remembering those events that stretch further back into the golden age of cricket. Whether it is the Ashes or other memorable matches against some of England's greatest rivals such as the West Indies, Sri Lanka or South Africa, this is a fantastic celebration of cricket.

Review: This is a collection of 30 short articles, each describing an iconic event in the history of cricket up to the 2005 Ashes series between England and Australia. Each article is accompanied by high-quality photographs, although occasionally these do not match exactly the text.

The games featured cover Test Matches, One Day Internationals and a one day County game. The choice of articles is very subjective, and is heavily weighted towards more recent times. For example, although the initial article describes the first reference, in 1882, to the Ashes in a mock newspaper obituary, only 8 more articles feature matches played prior to the 1970s.

This book will be of interest to cricket lovers, with many photographs of players from yesteryear, and will generate discussion about which moments should have been included.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 New To Me Authors I Read in 2022


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

Monday 23 January 2023

Movie Review: Babylon, Was This The Disaster That Everyone Is Making it Out to Be?


Guest Review: Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn by Jessica Redland

Welcome to Bumblebee Barn, home to wonderful animals, stunning views and spectacular sunsets - and resident young farmer, Barney.

While Barney loves his life at Bumblebee Barn - a farm that has been in his family for generations - he's struggling to find someone to share it with. The early mornings quad biking through muddy fields and the long hours looking after the crops and animals are proving to be a deterrent to finding love.

So when his sister, Fizz - desperate for Barney to find his soulmate - sees an advert for Love on the Farm, a new reality TV show to help farmers find love, he has nothing to lose by applying. After all, he isn't meeting anyone suitable down the traditional route and surely he won't be picked anyway...?

Thrown into the chaos of reality TV, Barney could never have expected that his whole life would be turned upside down, with buried secrets to be uncovered and his heart on the line. With his family and friends rooting for him, could the magic of Bumblebee Barn heal his broken heart and help him find love on the farm?

Review: I have read all of Jessica Redland’s books, and particularly enjoyed her Hedgehog Hollow series; I know I was not the only reader to feel the loss when the series ended. It was nice, therefore, to discover that the rescue centre and some of its staff were to play a part in this new book, which is a standalone story set in the same area of the Yorkshire Wolds. The book has a really attractive cover showing Bumblebee Barn and the two central characters on a lovely summer’s day. I quickly devoured this new work and would rank it one of my favourites from this author. 

This is the story of Barney and Amber, how they met and what happened next. Barney is a farmer at Bumblebee Barn, a farm that has been in the family for many generations and which was passed onto him by his grandfather. Amber is a television producer, working on a variety of programmes, including a successful series on countryside life. Barney has been unsuccessful in finding a girlfriend who is willing to fit into his lifestyle and is persuaded to take part in a reality TV series aimed at finding partners for farmers like him. Much against her principles, Amber is going to be the producer on the show, which has been sold to her as having a family-friendly format. Things do not go as planned, and Barney finds himself becoming attracted to Amber, and she to him. She is far too professional to allow this mutual attraction to interfere with her job, but what will happen when filming is over?

I absolutely loved this romantic love story and can definitely recommend it. Who could fail to be attracted to handsome but lonely farmer Barney who is working so hard to keep the family farm going? He was so patient and understanding throughout this story, no matter what was thrown at him. Amber was also a lovely character, doing her best under difficult circumstances. I liked the way in which the story was told, with each chapter being narrated by one or other of the pair, putting across their own point of view. Of course, I loved to be returning to Hedgehog Hollow and meeting up with Fizz and Samantha again, not to forget a few spiny creatures. This is a wonderful new tale from Jessica Redland; I’m only sorry it’s a standalone as I would love to know what the future holds for this lovely couple. 

To order your copy now, just click the here!

Saturday 21 January 2023

Guest Review: Broken Ground By Val McDermid

'Somebody has been here before us. And he's still here . . .'

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. Unearthed with someone's long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past - until new evidence suggests otherwise, and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems.

It's not long before an overheard conversation draws Karen into the heart of a different case, however - a shocking crime she thought she'd already prevented. As she inches closer to the twisted truths at the centre of these murders, it becomes clear that she's dealing with a version of justice terrifyingly different to her own . . .

Review: This is the fifth book in the Karen Pirie crime thriller series. It can be read as a standalone, but it does follow on from events in the previous books, so I would recommend reading the series in order. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Karen Pirie is head of Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit based in Edinburgh. In this book, she and her assistant, Detective Constable (DC) Jason Murray, are joined by a newcomer to the unit, Detective Sergeant (DS) Gerry McCartney.

There are three strands to the book. At the outset, in 2018, Karen and her team are trying to track down the owner of a Rover car that they believe was involved in a series of unsolved rapes. Also at this time, whilst having a break in a cafĂ©, Karen overhears a conversation between two women that she fears could lead to domestic violence. However, the main strand of the book relates to the recovery of a pair of motorcycles that were “liberated” towards the end of the Second World War by two soldiers who were involved in training agents for clandestine operations behind enemy lines at a training centre in the Scottish Highlands. Since the motorcycles were surplus to the Army’s requirements, the soldiers were ordered to destroy them but, instead, decided to bury them in a peat bog and come back to recover them after the end of the War. Circumstances prevented them from returning to the burial site and, 74 years later, the granddaughter of one of the men located the site in Wester Ross and started to dig up the bikes. To her surprise and shock, buried alongside the bikes was a well-preserved male body with gunshot wounds and wearing clothing that clearly did not date from 1944, but more probably from the 1990s. The book follows Karen and her team’s efforts to solve the murder of the body in the peat bog, as well as their attempts to track down the driver of the Rover linked to the historic sexual assaults.

As in Val McDermid’s previous books, I found this to be fast-paced. It is set mainly in Edinburgh and the North West of Scotland. The locations are very well described, such that the reader or listener (I listened to the audiobook) can picture themselves in the middle of the action. The famous pies from the shop in Lochinver are even described, and having eaten several of them, I can recommend these also. I liked the way the chapters of the book jumped between the different time periods and places, which helped to move the story along at a good pace. There is more detail about DCI Pirie’s personal life and we also discover the office politics of Police Scotland. There is a lot of strong language in the book, so caution should be exercised. I did find that the book ended quite suddenly, and would have liked to have found out more about how the loose ends were tidied up. Overall, however, I found this to be another exciting addition to the Karen Pirie series and would recommend it to all crime fiction lovers.

To order your copy now, just click the link!

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Guest Review: Promise Me by Jill Mansell

One minute Lou is happily employed, with a perfect flat. The next, her home and job have gone. Suddenly she has to start over.

The last thing Lou wants is to move to a tiny Cotswolds village. She certainly doesn't intend to work for curmudgeonly eighty-year-old Edgar Allsopp. But Edgar is about to make her the kind of promise nobody could ignore. In return, she secretly vows to help him fall in love with life again.

Foxwell is also home to Remy, whose charm and charisma are proving hard to ignore. But Lou hasn't recovered from the last time she fell for a charmer. She needs a distraction - and luckily one's about to turn up.

Secrets never stay hidden for long in Foxwell, nor are promises always kept. And no one could guess what lies ahead...

Review: As always, I have been looking forward to reading Jill Mansell’s new book for this year. Her readers are assured a cast of interesting characters and a strong storyline. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the title or the bold and colourful cover of this book. The story is set in the beautiful English Cotswolds, the idyllic village with a river running through the middle illustrated helpfully by a map at the beginning of the book. I was drawn into the world of the characters right from page one and they kept me entertained and wondering what was going to happen next right to the end.

The main protagonist in the story is Lou, a carer who suddenly finds herself in need of both a home and a job at the same time. Visiting her friend, Sammy, in the little Cotswolds village of Foxwell, she encounters Edgar, an elderly man well known locally for his grumpy, unfriendly personality. He instantly decides that she is just the person he wants to employ as his live-in carer, a post in which she has no interest and keeps turning down until he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Bit by bit Lou strives to change Edgar’s outlook on life, even bringing into his life Captain Oates, the little rescue dog that nobody else could tame. In the meantime, Lou tries to hide her feelings for Remy, Sammy’s brother, who she has loved since childhood, his proximity in the same village making this difficult. She thinks she may have found someone else to fall for, but she is unsure if she can trust him as much as someone she has known most of her life.

I have really enjoyed this book and would not hesitate to recommend it. There are so many strong characters, most of whom I loved, but some of whom were distinctly unlikeable. Lou was such a kind and thoughtful person, but strong enough to put up with the difficult old gentleman she is employed to look after. I liked Edgar too and enjoyed watching as Lou, aided by Captain Oates, chipped away at his frosty exterior. The contrast between kindly Lou and Remy and the old ‘friend’ who came into Edgar’s life is marked, like looking at two extremes of a spectrum. The village of Foxwell sounded a lovely place to live, except that, typically for a village, everybody knew what was going on in everybody else’s life. I liked that, as well as the central storyline, there are also several other side stories featuring one or more of the characters, adding to the overall enjoyment of the book.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Saturday 14 January 2023

Guest Book vs TV Series: How does the TV series “Karen Pirie” compare with the book “The Distant Echo”

You know I love a book vs movie comparisson so when my dad offered to make one for a book and TV series that he loves I immediately said, yes please! There may be spoilers ahead-you have been warned!

On a freezing Fife morning four drunken students stumble upon the body of a woman in the snow. Rosie has been raped, stabbed and left for dead in an ancient Pictish cemetery. And the only suspects are the four young men now stained with her blood.

Twenty-five years later the police mount a ‘cold case’ review of Rosie’s unsolved murder and the four are still suspects. But when two of them die in suspicious circumstances, it seems that someone is pursuing their own brand of justice. For the remaining two there is only one way to avoid becoming the next victim – find out who really killed Rosie all those years ago…

The TV series “Karen Pirie” was broadcast recently as a three-part series. Adapted for television by Emer Kenney, it is based on the book “The Distant Echo” by Val McDermid which was published in 2003.

The gist of the book’s plot is followed fairly closely by the television programme. There are a number of differences, however. In the book, the historic crime takes place in 1978, and the cold case investigation is undertaken 25 years later in 2003. During this period, there were major developments in forensic science, namely the introduction of DNA profiling which was not available in 1978, and these are explored in the book. The timeframe of the TV series is shifted forward, beginning in 1996 and with the cold case review taking place in 2021. This allowed the screenwriter Emer Kenney, who also plays the part of River Wilde, to include references to a number of contemporary issues, such as women’s safety and potential racism among some sections of the Police. In addition, Karen Pirie is an officer in Fife Constabulary in the book, which was written prior to the merger of Scotland’s regional police forces in 2008, but in the TV series she works for the merged force Police Scotland.

“The Distant Echo” is the first book in the Karen Pirie series and she does not appear until well into the book and her rank is Detective Constable. I can see how this would not be suitable for a TV programme since the character would need to be introduced at an early stage. Also, her rank in the TV series is Detective Sergeant, and this allows her to manage the historic cases unit, assisted by her sidekick Detective Constable Jason Murray.

I enjoyed the TV series and found it to be a tense thriller, even though having read the book I was aware of the outcome. I did have a couple of reservations, however. Although I thought the actress Lauren Lyle who played Karen Pirie did a very good job, my impression from the books is that the detective is a slightly older woman, with plenty of investigative experience in discovering the truth when interviewing witnesses, and plenty of self-confidence when standing up to her superiors. In addition, much of the story is set in and around the university town of St Andrews. Although a number of the scenes were obviously shot in St Andrews, there were other scenes that clearly were not St Andrews but some other coastal town. One particular howler was a scene that was supposedly set in a lecture theatre at St Andrews University, but the crest on the wall was that of Glasgow University. 

To order the book for yourself and see the difference, just click here!

Thursday 12 January 2023

December 2022 Reading Wrap Up: Did I Manage to Read ANY Books Are Christmas and Walt Disney World?


Reading Review of 2022: How Many Books Did I Read and What Other Bookish Things Did I Achieve?

 I have enjoyed doing this post for the past few years now. I go through each month of the year and reflect on my reading (and my life) during that month. It was more exciting when I wasn't working and I read everything all the time but I still enjoy reflecting and I hope that you do too!


I read books this month (14 books less than Jan 2021!0
I started a new job in a new school in a new key stage!
I got covid and had a week off to read but I basically read NOTHING!

This was my favourite...


I read 5 books this month (19 books less than Feb last year!).
I only read audiobooks this month and discovered the joy of reading on my commute again. 
I wasn't passionately moved by anything I read this month.

This was my favourite...


I read 3 books this month (that's 13 less than March last year!).
It was the busiest time at work ever and so I basically just worked and then came home and slept so the only opportunity to read was on my commute once again. 
I listened to a couple of longer books which meant I didn't read as much during the commute.

This was my favourite...


I read 7 books this month.
I moved house and so enjoyed listening to audiobooks whilst unpacking-it made it so much more fun.
I re-read a book for the first time this year and loved the power of re-reading!

This was my favourite...


I read 14 books this month-a lot close to what I read last year.
I cut my may reading short because I was going on a trip and wanted to wrap up early and extend my June reading to something I might read on my 9 hour flight!
Like last year, some of my favourite books popped up this month!

These were my favourites...


I read 10 books this month.
I focused on queer books for pride month.
I did an awesome author interview again on my channel

This was my favourite...


I read 9 books this month-finally a month where I read more than last year!
I thought I might read more this month since I broke up from school but those last 2 weeks of school were too busy and too hot to read so I was reliant on that first week of the holidays which was filled with appointments I can't get to during term time. 
I attended 9 events at the Harrogate International Crime Festival for the first time!

These were my favourites...


I read 19 books this month, way more than last year and the same as the year before-yey!
I took part in bout of books again which was really exciting because I felt like I could do it properly for the first time.
I read some great books this month and used road trips in the car to catch up on some of the audiobooks on my TBR!

These were my favourites...


I read 5 books this month and DNFd 1 book.
I started teaching again (yey!) so I had more time to read on my commute (double yey!)
I struggled to read anything outside of my commute so this was basically all audiobooks again.

This was my favourite...


I read 5 books this month. 
I didn't ADORE anything that I read this month...
Book vs movie videos took charge this month (just like last year and the year before!)

This was my favourite...


I read 7 books this month.
I did nonfiction November and read 4 nonfiction books
I also did Netgalley November and read 2 books for review yey!
Just like last November I feel like I stuck well to my TBR this month

This was my favourite...


I read 6 books this month.
I knew this wasn't going to be a great month for reading for me...
I went to Disney World for a week and then had 3 different Xmas days at home?
I posted multiple vlogmas videos which I am very proud of!

This was my favourite...

All in all I read 89 books this year. I started a new job in a new school and moved to a new town. I moved houses within that town and looks like I'll be moving house again in early 2023. My new job drains most of my reading energy during the week so the fact that I still am managing to read 1.7 books a week, review a lot of those books and attend book events with my freinds is HUGE for me. 

I don't have sepcific 2023 reading goals apart from reading books by my favourite authors once more and hopefully getting back out to even more book events but I'd love to hear how your reading year went in 2022 and what your reading goals are for 2023!