Top Ten Tuesday #404

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a good week since I last did one of these. As I mentioned last time, I had my first Spanish evening class last week and it was so much fun, everyone was really lovely and I hope I’ve made some new friends, I’m really looking forward to going for the next nine weeks. I also have my first 2023 book event on Thursday, I’m going to Leigh Bardugo’s London Hell Bent tour stop and I’m so exciting because it will be my first time meeting Leigh after sadly having managed to miss her every time she’s been in the UK over the past few years. Finally the dates lined up! I was really bummed when she toured for Ninth House that I was working and wasn’t able to get down to London for the event, so I’m so pleased I’ll actually be able to make it this time!

Anyway, as always, today’s TTT is courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today is another annual January topic, we’re talking our Top Ten New To Me Authors We Discovered In 2022. Now I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in how many new authors I read in 2022, and there definitely aren’t enough to fill a whole list (as I count for these lists authors I read for the first time AND would like to read again, as it’s not really worth my while including authors where I didn’t enjoy their books much and likely won’t read them again). So much like last year, I’m going to be splitting my list into two: New To Me Authors I Discovered In 2022, and New To Me Authors That I Want To Read In 2023. Here we go:

New To Me Authors I Discovered In 2022:

  1. Chanel Miller

My favourite book of last year was Chanel Miller’s memoir Know My Name, it was such a powerful, riveting read. She hasn’t published anything since, but she did express in the book that she’d like to write more and she’s a really great writer, so if she ever does write any more books and gets them published I’d definitely be interested in reading them!

2. Heather Marshall

Looking For Jane was another of my absolute favourite books of 2022, it’s one that I’ve not been able to stop thinking about since I read it. It was such a powerful story and highlighted in such a brilliant way just how massively important reproductive rights are at a time when I think many people need a reminder! I also really loved the characters, such brilliant and nuanced women. It was such an impressive debut novel and considering that the debut is usually author’s weakest book and they get better with experience…….woah, I can’t wait to see what Heather Marshall comes up with next. Her website says her next book is due out in 2024, and you can bet I will be waiting incredibly impatiently for it.

3. Lauren Graham

Little unusual maybe to include an actress turned writer in here, but I absolutely loved Lauren Graham’s essay collection, Talking As Fast As I Can last year, it was so funny and I just had a blast reading it. I’ve actually already read her second book of essays, Have I Told You This Already? this year, and I also enjoyed that, though I would say I thought Talking As Fast I Can was better. I know she’s had a novel published as well, so I’m thinking I might try that.

4. Maya Rodale

Maya Rodale was actually on my list last year as one of the new authors I was looking forward to reading in 2022, so I’m glad I enjoyed her book enough that she made it to the other side of the list this time! I really enjoyed The Mad Girls of New York, Maya Rodale captured Nellie Bly’s story beautifully and although her back catalogue of historical romance doesn’t massively appeal to me (not being a romance lover), I would definitely read more historical fiction from her, especially if she decided to write more about Nellie Bly, which given that The Mad Girls of New York is listed as “Nellie Bly #1” on Goodreads, seems like a distinct possibility!

5. Freya Marske

Freya Marske was also on my list of new authors I wanted to read in 2022 when I did this topic last year, so another success! I read 4 out of the 6 authors from that list in 2022, and 2 of them ended up here, so 50% success rate isn’t too bad! I will admit, I didn’t love A Marvellous Light as much as I was hoping to, but I still enjoyed it and I loved the characters so much that I definitely want to see more from them. I’m hoping to get round to A Restless Truth sometime this year.

New To Me Authors I Want To Read In 2023:

6. Kate Morton

Kate Morton’s new release Homecoming was on my most anticipated releases list a few weeks back and so many people mentioned how good they’d found other books of hers in the comments on that post, that it’s made me even more excited to dive into one of her books. I love historical fiction and I love mysteries so this should definitely be a great one for me. Plus after having been to Australia, I’m super excited to read both more books set there, and more books by Australian authors.

7. Lynn Cullen

Okay, I’ll admit, these are all from my most anticipated releases list from a few weeks ago! I absolutely love novels which allow me to learn about women from history who do not get the credit or spotlight that they deserved, so The Woman With A Cure sounds right up my street. I have to admit, I’d never actually heard of Dorothy Horstmann till I saw the synopsis for Lynn Cullen’s book, but I’m super excited to learn more about her and her contribution to the development of the polio vaccine.

8. Mandy Robotham

I’m always looking for WWII novels that take a different angle on the war (as I’ve read a lot about the British/French/German experience) and though Robotham’s upcoming novel The War Pianist does partly take place in London, the bit that intrigued me was the side of the story that takes place in Amsterdam as I’ve never read anything about the experiences of the Dutch in WWII. I’ve also not really read much about the “pianists” (radio operatives) that this book focuses on, so I’m hoping I’ll learn a lot through it. Robotham seems to have written quite a few WWII novels, so if I like this one, it seems like there will be more waiting for me!

9. Brianna Labuskes

Brianna Labuskes’ upcoming release is completely up my alley: my favourite genre niche of WWII fiction is WWII fiction that has some kind of relation to books or libraries and this one definitely fits that bill as the story of three women fighting against censorship of books across three different time periods and in three different cities. I’m particularly intrigued to learn more about the German Library of Burned Books in Paris as this is something I’d never heard of until I read the blurb for Brianna’s book. Her other books seem to be largely mystery-thrillers, so I’ll be intrigued to see how she does with historical (not that I’ve read any of her other books to compare!).

10. Alice Slater

My only debut author this time! As soon as I accidentally came across Death of A Bookseller, I added it to my TBR, it sounded like such a fun read. I love anything to do with books and bookshops and add in a healthy dose of crime and deadly obsession and I think it will be an absolute blast. I’ve seen really good things about this book already, so I’m excited to get my hands on it when April comes around.

And there we have it! Those were my favourite new-to-me authors of 2022, plus some new authors I’m looking forward to reading this year. Have you read anything from any of these authors (aside from Alice of course, since this is her debut year!)? Did you like their books? What new authors did you discover last year? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, and we have a freebie week this time, so as part of one of my goals for 2023, I’m going to be doing Series I Need To Finish in the hopes that having it written down will give me a push to actually finish them this year. I did do the same topic back in 2020, but never fear, because I definitely have 10 more books from series I need to finish that I can include (and to be honest, most of the series I included on the previous list are still unfinished *cries in bookworm*).

Top Ten Tuesday #403

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a good week since I last did one of these, mine has been relatively quiet, but I’ve been settling into the swing of things at work and I think I’m starting to get the hang of everything, so that’s been good. I’m also starting Spanish evening classes tomorrow, after my intensive course in 2021, I really want to try and improve my speaking even more so I’m hoping these evening classes will help with that.

Today’s TTT is as always courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl and it’s another of our annual January topics, Bookish Goals For 2023. I had slightly mixed results for my 2022 goals, so I’m hoping that my 2023 goals will go better than they did! Anyway, here we go, the Bookish Goals I Hope To Achieve In 2023:

  1. Complete My Goodreads Challenge

This is always an annual one as I do the Goodreads Challenge every year. I was a little disappointed that I had to lower my goal to 20 last year, so I’m starting again with my usual goal of 24 this year, and as always I’m hoping that I can do a little better than that. In 2020, I managed my best ever reading challenge of 45 books and I would love it if I could get somewhere back up near there, but that might be unrealistic given how my reading has been going for the past few years, so I’ll just aim for the 24 and if I can put it up, that would be a bonus.

2. Complete some of my unfinished series (i.e. those that are completed and I only have one or two books left to read of)

I have an embarrassingly large series-to-finish shelf on Goodreads and quite a few duologies/trilogies where I only have one or two books left to read in order to finish them. This year, I would like to be able to knock at least some of those series off my list, particularly the duologies where I only have the second book to read. I’m not going to put a number on this as I don’t want it to be a too pressurised goal, but if I could at least finish one or two series this year, I would be happy with that.

3. Restart the Book Vs Movie Feature On My Blog

This particular feature has kind of fallen by the wayside in the past couple of years, and it really shouldn’t have because they’re not posts that actually take me very long to do at all! I’d like to try and get back to doing these monthly this year, and I already have one lined up to do this month.

4. Keep a more regular review posting schedule

I had this one last year as well, but I’m really determined to actually do it this time, spending the last few months of the year desperately trying to catch up on my outstanding reviews is not something I particularly enjoy. Once I’ve caught up with my outstanding reviews from last year, I’d like to try and keep a schedule of having my reviews for books done within two weeks of finishing reading them, and if not that then at least have reviewed them by the time I finish my next book. I fully intend not to be cramming to catch up on three or four outstanding reviews from this year by this time next year!

5. Keep up with discussion posts at least every other month

My discussion posts have kind of fallen by the wayside over recent years, so I thought I would try out a new schedule this year and see if that works better for me. These are quite long posts that take me a while to write, so I thought I would try out a bimonthly schedule this year (ie posting them every other month rather than every month) and see if that works out better for me than the monthly schedule that I’ve been trying and failing to keep to for the past two years.

6. Read more new to me authors

I felt like I didn’t read as many new to me authors last year as I would have liked (though counting back, half of the books I read were actually by new to me authors, so maybe this was just me feeling like I read less because I read less books overall) so I would like to try and really make an effort to seek out more new to me authors this year. I love finding new authors and getting to add them to my list of author staples, so I hope that by seeking out more new authors this year, I will find many more new potential favourites!

7. Try and read more of my physical books

Whilst I have loved getting into audiobooks more over the past four years and have no plans to cut back on my listening, I would like to get back into reading physical books a bit more. I felt like in 2020, I had a great balance between reading physical books and listening to audios and in 2021 and 2022, my physical books just fell by the wayside. I have a lot of books on my shelf that I’m really excited to read, so this year, I’d really like to try and carve out more time for reading my physical books and hopefully knock some of the books that have been sitting on my shelf for years off my TBR.

8. Read more diversely

This is another perennial one of mine as I’m always looking to try and diversify my reading. I was a little disappointed last year that my reading didn’t end up as diverse as I would have liked it to, so this year I want to really try and hunt out books by POC authors, LGBTQ+ authors and disabled authors and make my reading list a little more diverse than it has been in previous years.

9. Actually get rid of the rest of the books that I decided to unhaul last year

So last year when I moved, I put together quite a big box of books to get rid of. And I did manage to unhaul some, however the box with the rest is still sitting in my room waiting to be moved. This year, I need to actually make an effort to go to a charity shop and get rid of the rest so I don’t have a random box of books that I’m not planning to read again sitting and taking up space in my bedroom!

10. Use the library more

This one might clash slightly with “Read more of your physical books on your shelf” but oh well! I got a library card for my local library last year, but I haven’t really used it yet. This year I would really like to get into the habit of using the library more, even if it’s just using Libby on my phone for audiobooks, or just going down there once a week to have a browse!

So there we go, those are my Bookish Goals For 2023, I think I’ve got a nice mix of reading & blogging goals. What are your goals for 2023? Do we share any? Did you also have mixed luck on your 2022 goals? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is New To Me Authors I Discovered In 2022, but as I mentioned in Goal #6, I didn’t read as many books by new to me authors as I would have liked last year, so I’m going to do a split list instead and share New To Me Authors I Discovered In 2022/New To Me Authors I Hope To Read In 2023.

Top Ten Tuesday #402

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. It was my first day back of work on Monday after Christmas and I have to admit it was a bit of a shock to the system, I was worried I wouldn’t really remember much having had an extended break after just starting a new job, but it actually went much better than I thought it would so I was quite relieved by that!

Anyway today’s TTT is as always courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl and it’s another of my annual favourites, Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2023. I always used to think it was the latter half of the year that was bigger in terms of new releases, but for the past couple of years, my list for the first half has been longer. I don’t know if that’s a change in trend in terms of when publishing releases their big books, or just a change in my reading habits meaning I’m excited for different authors who have release dates earlier in the year. Maybe a mix of both? Anyway, these are the books I’m most excited for coming out in January-June this year (as always, these are in release date order, so the numbering is no indicator for level of excitement):

  1. Hell Bent-Leigh Bardugo-Releases TODAY

Cover Designer & Artist: Keith Hayes and Sasha Vinogradova

Is it a bit of a cheat including this book when it came out today? Maybe! But I’m doing it anyway. I’ll admit Ninth House wasn’t my favourite Leigh Bardugo book but it ended in a really exciting place…..and then of course we’ve had to wait a long time to find out what happens next, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what this instalment has in store and I think now that we’ve got past all of the setup that needed to happen in the first book, this second book should hopefully be smoother sailing.

2. The Book Spy-Alan Hlad-Releases 24th January

Cover Designer: Kensington

I will admit that the synopsis of this book sounds incredibly similar to Madeline Martin’s The Librarian Spy which I read last year. However, since I did really enjoy that book, I’m intrigued to read something else with a setting in Portugal during WWII and learn even more about that country’s role in the war. Alan Hlad is a new to me author, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this and find a new historical fiction author’s books to enjoy.

3. The Luminaries-Susan Dennard-Releases 26th January

Cover Designer: Micaela Alcaino

The eagle eyed among you might have noticed that The Luminaries was on my second half of the year release list last year. Yes, that was my mistake, I didn’t realise that the UK edition of The Luminaries (even the audiobook) did not release until this month. But if anything I’m even more excited for The Luminaries now after playing along with Susan Dennard’s latest Luminaries Sooz Your Own Adventure for the past couple of months. Much as I enjoy the Witchlands series, it is incredibly complicated and this series seems like it will be both fun and easier for me to follow! I’m sure Winnie in the books has a little more sense than HiveMind Winnie though!

4. The Last Tale of The Flower Bride-Roshani Chokshi-Releases 14th February

Cover Designer: Will Speed

This is Chokshi’s adult debut (though I would argue The Gilded Wolves trilogy is kind of YA/Adult Crossover as the characters are in their late teens/early twenties), and I’m really excited to see what she does in this space. It definitely sounds like a super intriguing book, a dark and twisted fairytale type story about a marriage and the secrets that threaten to consume it. The excerpts Chokshi has posted so far have been really great, so I’m excited to get to consume the whole story.

5. The War Pianist-Mandy Robotham-Releases 16th February

Cover Designer: Avon

I know WWII fiction is a saturated market, but I swear these stories are like catnip to me! Every time I think there can’t possibly be anything new to cover about that time period, another author releases another book about an aspect of the war I knew nothing about. This one is about two women who work as radio operators in WWII, one in London and one in Amsterdam for the Dutch Resistance and the way their lives intertwine. I have to admit, I know basically nothing about the Dutch Resistance, or much about what happened in Amsterdam during the war, so I’m excited to read this and learn a bit more.

6. The Librarian of Burned Books-Brianna Labuskes-Releases 21st February

Cover Designer: William Morrow & Company

I do seem to have found much success in the genre niche of WWII fiction about books, so when I saw this one, it immediately went on my list. It sounds brilliant, it follows three women in different places and across different time periods (both pre and during WWII) who are all connected via a love of books and shows how they ban together to fight against censorship. I’m particularly intrigued by the German Library of Burned Books in Paris which one of the characters works at, as I had no idea that was a thing! Everything about this book makes it sound right up my alley so I’m excited to dive in when it comes out.

7. The Woman With The Cure-Lynn Cullen-Releases 21st February

Cover Designer: Berkley Books

I saw this one on someone’s blog in our TTT last week actually! I can’t believe I’d never heard of Dorothy Horstmann and the work she did and though I don’t want to read anything about Covid, I think a historical fiction novel about the development of the polio vaccine sounds incredibly intriguing. I always love books that shine a light on women’s contributions in any field, so I’m excited to read this and learn more about Dorothy Horstmann’s work.

8. City of Nightmares-Rebecca Schaeffer-Releases 23rd February

Cover Designer: Lydia Blagden, Illustrator: @Afterblossomart

This actually releases today in the US, but won’t be out here in the UK until next month. I really enjoyed Rebecca Schaeffer’s Not Even Bones (and still need to finish the other two books in that trilogy actually!) so when I saw her new book, I was naturally intrigued. It sounds like a lot of fun, a world where dreaming means you wake up as your worst nightmare? Brilliant. I will admit, slightly apprehensive about the man-eating spider part, but I love that it doesn’t sound like any other fantasy book I’ve read: I think part of why I’ve been less drawn to fantasy in recent years is because so much of what I was reading felt indistinguishable from each other, so it’s great to read a fantasy book blurb and feel: YES, this doesn’t remind me of every other YA fantasy out there.

9. A Day of Fallen Night-Samantha Shannon-Releases 28th February

Cover Designer: David Mann, Illustrator: Ivan Belikov

The Roots of Chaos books seriously have the most gorgeous covers ever. Like I already know I’ll be reading this as an audiobook because it just won’t be practical to carry around at that size, but you best believe I got a ticket for Samantha Shannon’s London tour stop with the book included because it’s just too beautiful not to be part of my collection. Anyway, I enjoyed Priory, so I’m really looking forward to the prequel and seeing the Grief of Ages which impacted so many of the events in The Priory of The Orange Tree. I also love how much these books unapologetically centre women and I can’t wait to meet Tunuva, Dumai and Glorian.

10. The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi-Shannon Chakraborty-Releases 2nd March

Cover Designer: Micaela Alcaino

The cover of this book is just stunning! I loved the Daevabad trilogy, and I’m so excited to see what Shannon Chakraborty has done now outside of that world. This book sounds so completely up my street as well, I love pirates, especially female ones and Amina Al-Sirafi sounds like my kind of woman, a pirate who has had an infamous career is ready to retire…..only to get pulled back in with a job she can’t refuse. It sounds like all kind of hijinks are likely to ensue in this book and I cannot wait for them.

11. The Sinister Booksellers of Bath-Garth Nix-Releases 23rd March

Cover Designer: Rachael Lancaster

I had my issues with The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, but I did love the concept for the book and the world that Nix created so I’m excited to dive back into that world and hopeful that the sequel may have ironed on some of the kinks from the first book. I’m excited for the new setting as well, I’ve only been to Bath once but it’s a lovely city and I look forward to seeing what kind of magical twist Nix will put on it.

12. Hell Breaks Loose-Derek Landy-Releases 30th March

Cover Designer: Matt Taylor

WE HAVE A SKULDUGGERY PREQUEL PEOPLE. Admittedly, I’ve still yet to actually finish the main series, I’ve still got the last two books of Phase 2 to read (and I still don’t trust Derek that this really is the end….), but I’m massively excited for this prequel, we get to see all of the Dead Men together again, it’s set in 18th Century Italy and in order to save the world, they have to save….Mevolent? It definitely seems intriguing and I’m excited to see Skulduggery back in the days before he met Valkyrie.

13. Homecoming-Kate Morton-Releases 13th April

Cover Designer: Mantle

After having been to Australia, I was really excited to see that this book was also set in Australia (though a different part to where I was). It sounds really great, a journalist who comes home after being laid off from her job and gets embroiled in researching this sixty year old cold murder case from 1959. It sounds like just the kind of twisty, suspenseful novel that I love reading, so I’m excited to dive in come April.

14. Mastering The Art of French Murder-Colleen Cambridge-Releases 25th April

Cover Designer: Kensington

I saw this book featured on someone’s TTT a while back and was immediately drawn in by the title, I mean, who wouldn’t want to read that? It sounds like a lot of fun, Tabitha, a fictional best friend of Julia Child moves to Paris from America in the post-war era and ends up mixed up in a murder investigation after a body is found in the cellar of Julia’s building….killed by a knife from Julia’s kitchen and with a note in Tabitha’s handwriting in the pocket. A post WWII setting and a murder mystery? What more could I want?

15. Death of A Bookseller-Alice Slater-Releases 27th April

Cover Designer: Lewis Csizmazia

I actually came across this one by accident whilst I was browsing for books to get in the Waterstones Double Stamps offer back in November and was just immediately pulled in by it. A true crime obsessed bookseller who becomes dangerously obsessed with her new colleague and I’m guessing some sort of murder happens? From the description, I’m kind of getting “You” vibes, so I wonder if Roach is Joe Goldberg level of twisted!

So there we go, my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2023! It’s an interesting mix this year of fantasy, historical fiction and mystery and I think the fact that it’s a bit more of a variety of genres than I’ve had in previous years just shows how my reading tastes have changed in the past few years. Do we share any of these? What books are you excited for that are coming out in the first half of 2023? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, and we’ll be talking about our Bookish Goals For 2023, which is always a fun one to do.

Top Ten Tuesday #401

Hi everyone! Happy New Year, I hope the start to the year has been treating you well. My end of 2022 was a little chaotic, what with a 23 hour flight back from Melbourne over Thursday and Friday of last week, but I did have a very nice New Year’s Eve. I went to the matinee performance of Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, which was absolutely FANTASTIC. It’s on until April, so if you’re in London and you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend going, the cast are phenomenal, the dancing is out of this world and the in-the-round staging is really cool. I’d seen the filmed Broadway version on Disney+ so it was cool to get to see the live version in London and see how they had made it their own. I had a very quiet evening in bringing in the New Year, just me, a slightly too large plate of party food and the TV, but I’ve never really been one for a big fuss on New Year’s so that worked out great for me.

Anyway, today’s TTT, as always courtesy of Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl, is another Top Ten Tuesday annual classic: our Favourite Books Of 2022. I have to admit, I didn’t read as much in 2022 as I would have liked, so this is going to be a slightly shorter list than usual, as I only read 20 books last year, I decided to do a Top 8 rather than a Top 10 for you all, as I wanted the list to truly reflect my absolute favourites and not just add on two more books to make up the numbers. So here we go, my Top Eight Books Of 2022:

  1. Know My Name-Chanel Miller-5 stars

My only five star read of the year was actually one I read way back in February, so I didn’t have to wait till the absolute end of the year for a five star read this time. Know My Name is one I’d been meaning to read for ages but kept putting off because I knew I would find the subject matter challenging (Miller is the woman who was raped by Brock Turner on Stanford University’s campus back in 2015). I’m so glad I finally read it though, it was an incredibly powerful memoir and it was so great to listen to Chanel’s story in her own words and hear her reclaim her story and identity in such a strong way. It wasn’t always an easy read, but it definitely felt like an incredibly necessary one.

2. Looking For Jane-Heather Marshall-4 stars

This book hit me hard in so many places, it certainly wasn’t an easy read given the subject matter (forced adoption and maternity home abuses in the 1960s and the underground abortion network in Canada in the 70s and 80s) but it was an incredibly timely and necessary one, and was so well done. I absolutely loved the characters Evelyn and Nancy and felt for them so much the whole way through the book, they were so well drawn and you were just rooting for them to succeed. The only thing that slightly let the book down for me was Angela’s parts, which didn’t seem to fit for a lot of the story and she seemed like more of a device to bring Evelyn and Nancy back together in the present day than a well drawn character in her own right, I think without her parts, the book may have been a 5 star read for me. This is one that I’ve been recommending to my friends and family because I thought it was just so well done, and I learned so much about a part of history I definitely wasn’t familiar enough with.

3. The Diamond Eye-Kate Quinn-4 stars

Kate Quinn does it again, is it a surprise to anyone that her most recent release made my top books of 2022? I fell absolutely in love with Lyudmila Pavlichenko, she was such a fascinating woman, it sucks that so many brilliant women throughout history have not been highlighted as much as they should have been! I did find it a bit of a book of two halves, the parts with Mila on the Eastern Front during the war were much stronger than the US tour sections for me, otherwise I think this might have been a five star read. Saskia Maarleveld once again hit it out of the park for me with her narration, I swear, the fastest way to get me to listen to any audiobook now is to see that she is the narrator!

4. The Librarian Spy-Madeline Martin-4 stars

After enjoying The Last Bookshop In London last year, Martin’s newest release was high on my radar for this year and I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this one even more. I loved the main characters Ava and Elaine so much and Martin created such a vivid picture of 1940s Lisbon and Lyon that it felt like you were there. The emotional impact of this book was also huge as the characters, especially Elaine go through so much and it was impossible not to feel for her, and be utterly in awe of her resilience as she kept fighting for the Resistance through all of her painful personal losses. I’m so excited for Martin’s new book next year as it sounds like another incredible one: this one about the Nazi occupation of Poland.

5. Talking As Fast As I Can-Lauren Graham-4 stars

I’ve been saying I was going to read this one for years, and I finally got around to it this year. It was exactly what I needed at the time: as you can see from my list of favourites up to now, it’s been quite a heavy reading year, so a light, fun read was just the ticket for me after a string of wonderful but quite heavy reads! I loved listening to Graham’s stories of her life as an actress and as a Gilmore Girls fan, it was a treat to hear the stories from the set.

6. Dog Days: A Year In The Life of Olive and Mabel-Andrew Cotter-4 stars

I started off 2022 on a fun note, listening to yet more exploits of Andrew Cotter’s Labradors, Olive and Mabel. This one was basically a diary of the year following Olive and Mabel becoming unexpected lockdown superstars and as with his first book, it was an incredibly funny, engaging and quick read and just what I needed to start the year off right.

7. Fix The System, Not The Women-Laura Bates-4 stars

Whilst I didn’t find this one quite as good as her previous book, Men Who Hate Women, it was still an interesting, insightful read about the systemic problems which lead to misogynistic violence, and definitely one that I think a lot of our leaders could use reading before they suggest that things like increased street lighting and undercover police in clubs are going to do anything to change the systemic issues that are causing violence against women and girls. I did feel like though it was interesting, it didn’t necessarily tell me anything I didn’t already know, I feel like this book is honestly something men need to read more than women really to understand the true extent of systemic misogyny that women have to face on a daily basis! But it was still a good read, and I look forward to seeing what Laura Bates puts out next.

8. The Mad Girls of New York-Maya Rodale-3.5 stars

Based on the true story of reporter Nellie Bly and her undercover stint in Blackwell’s Insane Asylum in the 1880s, this was an enjoyable read about a fascinating woman. If you’ve not heard of Nellie Bly or her work, I would highly recommend this book, Nellie was an absolute powerhouse of a woman and she really made this book for me and her story really doesn’t require all that much fictionalising, much of the detail in the novel is taken from Nellie’s own work. I did find it a little slow in places, hence the slightly lower rating, but all in all I really enjoyed the book and hope that Rodale writes more about Nellie in the future.

So there we go, my Favourite Books of 2022! My entire list this year was either historical fiction or non-fiction which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, given that’s where my reading interests mostly lay this year. I think historical has probably overtaken fantasy as my favourite genre at this point, and I’m going with it since I’ve read so many great books and I’m still really enjoying them. What were your favourite books in 2022? Have you read any of mine? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, it’s another annual topic, we’ll be talking our Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2023. I will admit, I don’t have a huge amount of 2023 books on my radar just yet, so this could be interesting, but we’ll see how it goes! I read six out of 21 books on my most anticipated lists last year, which isn’t a huge amount, but better than previous years, so let’s hope for an upward trend this year. In the meantime, I’ve still got a couple of 2022 reviews to get up, so I’m hoping those will be coming your way over the next week or so.

Top Ten Tuesday #400

Hi everyone! Welcome to our final Top Ten Tuesday of 2022 and I’m rounding off the year with a very special one, as it’s my 400th TTT post. Can’t believe I’ve done one of these every week for the past seven and a bit years, it’s quite amazing! Anyway, I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I’ve been continuing to have a fab time in Australia. I really enjoyed my trail ride last week, and I’ve had several lovely dinners with my sister and her friends this week, as well as a Christmas Eve barbecue with my sister’s partner’s family. Sadly Hamilton was cancelled the day we were meant to see it due to cast illness, which was a bit unfortunate, but I’ve seen it before in London and the rest of my family will be able to go another time so it’s not so bad. We had a family game night at our flat instead which was just as fun.

We had a very nice Christmas here, it was a lovely sunny day in Australia, and we had our Christmas dinner at my sister’s house, just the five of us which was great. It was so nice to be with my sister and her partner this year as we’ve not all spent Christmas together since she’s been out in Australia so even though having a warm Christmas felt a bit different, it was so lovely to all be together. It’s a very warm day today in Melbourne, so we’ve been to the beach and out for lunch which was very nice. I’m quite sad that I’m heading back to the UK on Thursday and wishing that I’d booked a later flight home, but I’m sure I’ll be back!

Anyway, today’s TTT (as usual courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is a Top Ten Tuesday staple: Most Recent Additions To My Book Collection. Now I didn’t get a huge number of books for Christmas, but I have acquired quite a few books in the last few months, so I’ve got plenty to share with you (it’s not like I’m ever lacking for new books!):

  1. My Tidda, My Sister-Marlee Silva-Got for Christmas

This was my one book Christmas present this year, from my sister. It’s a series of stories about the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and sounds like it will be a very interesting and educational read.

2. Bold Types: How Australia’s First Women Journalist Blazed A Trail-Bought last week

The second of my educational Australian reads. I found this one last week in the Coventry Bookstore in South Melbourne and after watching The Newsreader over the summer (a show about Australian journalists in the 80s), I definitely want to learn more about the experiences of women journalists in Australia so I thought this book would be a good place to start to learn about some of that history.

3. Vicious (Hardback)-VE Schwab-Added in December

I have been wanting a hardback of Vicious to match my copy of Vengeful for years but I’ve never been able to find one. I sadly bought my original copy of Vicious just before the UK got the new edition back in 2017 I think, so the one I have is the paperback with the old, not as pretty cover. However when I saw that VE Schwab was signing books for her local indie The Portobello Bookshop this Christmas and that said bookshop had hardback copies of Vicious, I immediately jumped on the chance to get one. My copy should be waiting for me when I get home!

4. Five Survive-Holly Jackson-Added in December

My copy of Five Survive arrived just before I left for Australia a couple of weeks ago. It sounds like a very exciting read, a one location murder mystery thriller that takes place in real time? Sounds like just the sort of adventure that I would really enjoy. I’d ideally like to try and finish the A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder trilogy before I finish this one, but we’ll see how I’m feeling…after all this is a standalone, so there’s no reason why I have to wait till I’m done with her first series to read it, I’d just prefer to!

5. Demon In The Wood-Leigh Bardugo-Added in November

I got this one as part of Waterstones’ Black Friday Double Stamps offer. I’m not really a big fan of Black Friday here in the UK (where we don’t have Thanksgiving so it makes no sense!) but I do take advantage of Waterstones’ double stamp offers whenever they come around. I’m really excited for this one as I’ve been getting a lot more into comic/graphic novels over the last few years (mainly through VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic prequel comics) so I’m excited to see what Bardugo and her illustrator Dani Pendergast have done with this and I’m always intrigued to learn more about the Darkling.

6. Greywaren-Maggie Stiefvater-Added in November

I also got this, the final book of the Dreamer Trilogy as part of Waterstones’ Black Friday double stamps offer. I actually haven’t read the second book yet, it’s one of many series I need to catch up on/finish, so maybe that will be one of my reading goals for next year? We’ll see!

7. Mad Honey-Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan-Added in November

I’m so excited for Jodi and Jennifer’s book, it feels like the first Jodi book that I’ve actually felt excited for in a while. The Book of Two Ways wasn’t great for me and I skipped Wish You Were Here because I didn’t want to read about the pandemic (still don’t) so it definitely feels refreshing to be excited for one of her books again, and I’m very interested to see how she and Jennifer worked together. Going to the event for this made me even more excited to read it, so it may be high up on the TBR pile for 2023.

8. The Ballad of Never After-Stephanie Garber-Added in September

Have I read the first book yet? Still no (feels like that should be a priority for next year)! Did I still get this one? Yes, because I didn’t want to miss on the hidden covers and knew I would probably want to read this after reading the first book anyway. Fingers crossed I love both when I finally get to them!

9. I Must Betray You-Ruta Sepetys-Added in September

It’s been a long time since I last read a Ruta Sepetys book, I think the last one I read in full was Salt To The Sea (as I DNF’ed The Fountains of Silence). This one sounds really great, it’s about the Romanian Revolution and the overthrow of dictator Nicolae CeauČ™escu which is another bit of history that I really don’t know that much about. In addition, it’s a very short book, which will be massively helpful to me as I’ve been struggling with longer books over the past few years.

10. Threadneedle-Cari Thomas-Added in July

One of the books that I bought at YALC this summer off the recommendation of one the staff manning the HarperVoyager stand. It sounds really good, an adult fantasy set in contemporary London where magic is seen as a sin to be bound and not used. I don’t really know all that much more about it than that, so I’ll be going into it with fairly little knowledge, which is unusual for me, but might be nice not to have expectations for once!

And that’s it, my final Top Ten Tuesday of 2022 and my 400th one in total! Have you read any of these books? What new books have you added to your shelves recently? Did you get any new ones for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week for my first Top Ten Tuesday of 2023 (AGH! HOW DID THIS YEAR GO SO FAST?), which will be my annual Favourite Books of The Year post, so Favourite Books of 2022. It’s always one I enjoy doing every year, so I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, I’ll definitely have a couple of posts up before the year’s end: my annual End of Year Check In post and End of Year Survey which should both come to you once I’m back in the UK. I may have a last book review up for you before the end of the year but we’ll see whether I have the time before I leave Australia on Thursday, I want to spend the time I have left here having fun with my family!

Top Ten Tuesday #399-Reindeer Book Tag

Hi all! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I arrived in Australia on Thursday morning and have been having a great time so far. I went shopping with my sister on Saturday, and we went to quite a few cool bookshops which was great, my favourite was one called Coventry Bookstore, a small independent bookshop owned by a married couple, one of the owners John, was super helpful in recommending books for my dad’s Christmas present and his wife Belinda was doing gift wrapping, which I very gratefully took up as I am a horrible present wrapper! We went to a couple of other bookshops as well, one was called Hill of Content and it was really lovely too, I swear if I didn’t have limited space in my suitcase, I would have bought quite a few books from here because they had a great selection. The final one we went to was the Paperback Bookshop, and that one is the kind of bookshop that you imagine just lives in a book lover’s mind as their ideal place, it had that book smell as soon as you walked in and there were books stacked everywhere in no particular order, it was kind of like a bookish maze! Not so good if you were looking for something specific, but really great to browse. I also went to the State Library yesterday and that was really cool, it’s such a gorgeous building.

In non-book related outings, we went to a couple of the wineries in the Mt Macedon regions on Sunday, and that was really lovely, it was a beautiful day, and the wines were generally all really good. I’ve also got a trail ride booked for tomorrow (because of course I had to fit some riding in somewhere), and we’re going to see Hamilton on Thursday, so all in all it’s shaping up to be an exciting week!

Anyway enough of my rambling, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is meant to be our annual Books I Hope Santa Brings This Year, but since I generally don’t get all that many books for Christmas, I am once again going rogue and doing a Christmassy book tag instead! It’s become a tradition over the last few years and it’s always fun to do, so I thought why not do it again? This year, I’m doing the Reindeer Book Tag, inspired of course by Rudolph, and this one was created by booktuber Hailey in Bookland. So here we go:

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: An Underdog Or An Inspiring Book/Character

Not a character but a real person, Chanel Miller’s story of her sexual assault and the aftermath of that was many things. Infuriating in places, when you see what survivors have to go through in order to get justice (and even then how they don’t), emotional of course, funny in places, powerful and even hopeful despite everything she went through. I found it really inspiring reading this, listening to her reclaiming her identity and power and also just in how brave she was to go public with her story because it can’t have been easy.

Dasher: A Book You Read Quickly Or A Fashionable Character

I finished this one in about four days, and granted it’s a really short audiobook, just over 4 hours, so it probably doesn’t seem that fast, but it’s very quick for me. It was a super funny and engaging read, and though I was mainly in it for the Gilmore Girls stories, I found Graham’s pre-Gilmore Girls stories of her life as an actress equally fun.

Dancer: An Artistically Inspiring Book Or A Character Who Loves To Party

I’m not really one for artsy books, so character who loves to party it is! This one was pretty obvious for me: Evie O’Neill from The Diviners Series. Evie is definitely the life and soul of the party to a damaging degree as her partying tendencies can be a little self-destructive and are definitely a coping mechanism to deal with her underlying depression (which is addressed more as the series goes on).

Prancer: A Light-Hearted Book Or A Conceited Character

What could be more light-hearted than a book about two very loveable Labradors? Olive and Mabel brought smiles to so many people over lockdown and I couldn’t stop grinning when listening to this book all about their adventures and their rise to Internet fame!

Vixen: A Trickster Character Or A Deceptively Hard/Easy Read

I know a vixen is meant to be a female deer, but as soon as I saw this prompt, there was only one name to come to mind: Kaz Brekker. Kaz is a criminal mastermind and in this book undertakes a tricky heist with the help of his crew and breaks into the infamous Ice Court to retrieve a hostage being held captive there. Kaz definitely fits the trickster definition as his whole life is about running cons!

Comet: A Book That Is Out of This World Or A Children’s Book

Given that the movie version of the stage musical released fairly recently, I thought that this would be an apt choice. Matilda was one of my favourite books as a kid, I really loved Roald Dahl and obviously this was my favourite because I could see a lot of myself in Matilda, but it’s also just a really fun read!

Cupid: A Couple That You Really Want To Be Together Or A Hyped Book That You Liked

It’s not my absolute favourite Schwab book I’ve ever read, that title still goes to A Darker Shade of Magic, but I really enjoyed Addie LaRue, a lot more than I was expecting to given that slow, lyrically written books generally aren’t usually my kind of thing!

Donner: A Book You Constantly Shout About, Or An Opinionated Character, Or A Character Who Lacks Tact

Katniss was the first character to come to mind for this as her lack of tact is quite prevalent throughout the books!

Blitzen: A Powerful Book Or A Quick Read

I already did a quick read further up the tag, so I thought I’d go for powerful book for this one. Laura Bates’ 2020 release, Men Who Hate Women was an incredibly powerful read, I learned a lot about the different communities of extreme misogynists and their online worlds and how that spills into offline action. It was quite scary in places reading about the activities of some of these groups and how they have inspired horrific violent murders of women. Still I definitely did feel a lot more informed after reading it!

Olive: A Self-Effacing Character

Is Olive a reindeer? I swear I’ve never heard that name in the song! Anyway, this one was a little more challenging for me to do as the books I read tend to have more brash characters, but I thought Charlie from The Perks of Being A Wallflower fit well here. He’s shy, modest and doesn’t really like to stand out, preferring to blend into the background.

So there we go, that was my 2022 Christmas book tag, the Reindeer tag! If you’re reading this and want to do a Christmassy tag before Christmas, then consider yourself tagged! Has anyone heard of Olive the reindeer? Have I just missed something all these years? What are your plans for Christmas this year? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with my final Top Ten Tuesday of 2022, which will also be my 400th Top Ten Tuesday ever! Feels like a nice one to end the year on. Our final topic of this year is Most Recent Additions To My Book Collection, an evergreen TTT as those shelves are always growing! In the meantime, I’ve got quite a bit planned for the end of the year, though we’ll see how we go as I am on holiday and I might be having too much fun doing other stuff to write blog posts. I’ve got three reviews to catch up on, so I’m going to do my best to get those up before the end of the year, I’ve got my last Quarterly Rewind post of 2022, which will probably be coming your way on either Thursday or Friday, and my End of Year Survey and End of Year Check In which will be coming your way once I’m back in the UK I think! Either way, there’s lots of content coming for you between now and the end of the year.

Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you all have a lovely one however you’re celebrating!

Top Ten Tuesday #398

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. This is one of those rare times where I’m actually writing this post in advance as I’m flying out to Australia today!!! Yes, for the next couple of weeks my blog posts will be coming to you from the hopefully much warmer climate of Australia as I’m spending Christmas out there with my family and I can’t tell you all how excited I am, it’s going to be so great. It feels like it’s kind of snuck up on me, and I don’t feel anywhere near as prepared as I should be to go as I’ve been so busy with training for work this week, but hopefully by the time you read this, I’ll be all packed up and ready to go.

Anyway, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is our annual Winter TBR topic, and I have to admit, I did not do anywhere near as well as I was hoping to on my Autumn TBR. I only finished the one book, and am about halfway through The Mad Girls of New York, so I guess that’s 1.5? I really would have liked to have finished more, so hopefully my Winter TBR will be a little more successful for me:

  1. The Mad Girls of New York-Maya Rodale

This one is going well for me, it was a bit of a slow starter, but things definitely picked up once Nellie entered the asylum. I’m really enjoying this, I love Nellie just as much as I thought I would and it’s been a fun read. I’m about eleven chapters from the end now, so I’m certain I will finish this one before the end of the year.

2. The Night of Knives (The Steel Prince Vol 7 & 8)-VE Schwab

I’m a little behind on my reading challenge, so as I did last year, I’m going to be making up the numbers with comics! They’re also very handy for taking away to Australia as they’re slim and don’t weigh much, so I can fit in far more comics in my bag than I can books.

3. The Rebel Army (The Steel Prince Vol 9-12)-VE Schwab

If I get the time (and that’s quite a big if, I’m only in Australia for two weeks so I want to pack in as much as I can), then I’d like to at least make a start on the final arc of VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic comics. Once I’ve finished The Mad Girls of New York, I still have 4 books to go to complete my Goodreads Challenge, so I’ll need to read at least two of these + the two remaining volumes of arc 2 in order to get there.

4. The Demon In The Wood-Leigh Bardugo

I wanted to give myself options, so if I’m not necessarily feeling more Shades of Magic comics, I have this Darkling prequel graphic novel too. It’s not particularly long, so I reckon I could finish this one before the end of the year, and if not then this TBR covers early 2023 as well and it’s definitely one I want to get to soon as I’m intrigued to read the Darkling’s story and it’s been a while since I’ve read a Bardugo book, I think my last one was King of Scars in 2020, so I’d like to dive back into the Grishaverse.

5. Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don’t Want To Forget To Remember-Lauren Graham

I really loved Lauren Graham’s memoir when I read it earlier this year, so I was super excited to see that she had a new book out this year. I think this will be my last audiobook of the year, as I don’t reckon I’ll be able to fit two more (after I finish The Mad Girls of New York) in before the end of the year, but this audiobook is very short, so I reckon I will be able to get it done before the New Year. I’ve read a lot of quite heavy books this year, so I thought it would be really nice to end the year on a lighter note!

6. The Last Tale of The Flower Bride-Roshani Chokshi

I still really need to actually finish The Gilded Wolves Trilogy as I only have the final book left, but I reckon I just might get to Chokshi’s new adult release before that happens. I’ve heard such good things about this book already from the early pre-release buzz, and I do love a dark fairytale so I am hopeful that I will enjoy it, though I do worry it may be a little style over substance from what I’ve seen of the snippets Chokshi has released on her Instagram. But still, we’ll give it a go and see!

7. The Adventures of Amina Al-Sarafi-S.A. Chakraborty

I’m so excited for something new from S.A. Chakraborty! I loved The Daevabad trilogy, so I’m really excited to see where she’s gone with her next book. It sounds very different to Daevabad which I’m glad about, and it’s ABOUT PIRATES and a female pirate too which makes it even better. Everything I’ve heard about this book screams that it will be something that I will love, so I’m really excited to dive in next year.

8. Bloomsbury Girls-Natalie Jenner

A carryover from my Autumn TBR, this is still a high priority one for me to get to next year. Honestly, I was just feeling a little bit burned out on war era books this year, and although this is post-war era, it still felt close enough that it wasn’t something I was wanting to dive into on the back of those other books. But I’ll be going into a new year refreshed and ready to read about the women of Bloomsbury Books fighting back against sexism!

9. The Luminaries-Susan Dennard

I really wish this one was out in the UK already! I’ve been dying to read it because Susan has been doing another Sooz-your-own-adventure based on the characters from this book and it’s been so much fun and I just want to see what the actual book turned out like already. Sadly, it’s not released in the UK till January, but you can bet that this is going to be one of my first audiobook listens in the new year.

10. Killers of A Certain Age-Deanna Raybourn

This just sounds like so much fun, I don’t read mysteries all that often (not that I don’t like them, they’re just not one of my go-to genres) but this really grabbed me when I saw the description. I love that it’s about older women (I think they’re in their sixties) because there really aren’t enough main characters of that age and the whole idea of these women who are about ready to retire being brought back into the madness of a network of assassins just sounded like too much fun to resist for me.

So there we go, those are my planned Winter TBR reads for 2022-23! I don’t think I’ll have read all of them by March of next year if I’m completely honest, given how slowly I’ve been reading this year, so I think I’ll be aiming for about half and any more than that will just be a bonus for me. How about you? What’s on your Winter TBR this year? Have you read any of these (of the ones that are already out)? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, as usual I will be swerving the Books I Hope Santa Brings topic because my family just don’t get me books for Christmas, so instead I’m going to find another Christmas themed book tag to do, but since I’m writing this in advance, I’m not quite sure what that will be just yet!

Top Ten Tuesday #397

Hi everyone! Hope you’ve all had a good week since my last Top Ten Tuesday, it’s been pretty busy around here, I’ve had lots of paperwork to do for my new job, and I’ve got training a couple of days this week. I’ve also had to do all my Christmas shopping early because of going out to Australia, but that’s all done now and should be posted off by the end of this week. As I mentioned in my post last week, I went to see Come From Away at the theatre on Wednesday and it was absolutely fantastic! Such a beautiful show, and I loved that it was just an hour and forty minutes straight through, much as I love long shows like Hamilton, it is nice sometimes to go and see something that is under two hours!

Anyway, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a freebie, and despite the fact that I have absolutely no interest in football whatsoever, I was inspired by an article I did a few years back for The National Student, where I found one book for each country represented in the World Cup. It was a really fun one to do, so I thought I would do something similar here, except without the World Cup connection. I thought it was going to be quite quick to be honest, I didn’t really think I’d read too many books from outside the US/UK. Turns out I was WRONG. In total across all the books I read on Goodreads that I counted for this challenge (so excluding any fantasy books without a real world country setting and any non-fiction I’d read), I’ve visited around 46 different countries! The UK and US were by far the most represented as expected, but in terms of other countries that were well represented, France and Germany came up quite a lot (not a surprise as I read a lot of WWII fiction and the U.K., France and Germany tend to be the major countries featured in those books for obvious reasons), Ireland also featured quite a lot (again not too much of a surprise) but Italy, Greece and Russia featured far more than I thought they would, I figured I’d only read a couple of books set (or partially set in those countries) but it turns out it’s more than just a few!

I couldn’t feature absolutely every country I’ve read books set in on this list, so I’ve narrowed it down to 20 and separated them out into the different continents, so everywhere aside from Antarctica is represented (I’m sure there are some books set in Antarctica, I just haven’t read them!). Given that I’m a British reader, Europe is obviously the most represented, and I did restrict both my UK and US offerings to just one book each because I could have filled a whole list just on one of those countries alone! So here we go:

Asia:

  1. India-Chainbreaker, Tara Sim

Though the first book in the series is set in the UK, the second (and to an extent the third) books in the trilogy are largely set in Victorian India. I thought this was super cool because a) I hadn’t read any books set in India up to this point, b) the author herself is biracial with Indian heritage and this book really explores the struggles of diaspora and feeling disconnected to your heritage and given everything that happened to India under the British Empire, it was really interesting to read a book set there in the Victorian period & Tara Sim really doesn’t shy away from the violence inflicted by the British Empire on the Indian people and c) it was really cool to see the alternative steampunk Victorian world that Sim created in the first book in a new setting.

2. China-Portrait of A Thief, Grace D. Li

Okay, so if we’re being honest, only a small part of this book actually takes places in China, it’s a few chapters at the beginning of the book but China is such a huge part of the story with the main themes being about identity and diaspora and how the characters connect to their culture as Chinese Americans so it felt right to include it here, even though the majority of the story takes place elsewhere.

3. Pakistan-I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

Okay, so I broke my no non-fiction rule for this book, but it felt right to do so as obviously all the events of the memoir up till just after Malala’s shooting take place in Malala’s homeland of Pakistan, and her love of her country, especially her home in Swat is such a huge part of the book that it felt right to include it.

Africa

4. Egypt-Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine

This book takes place in an alternate future world where the Great Library of Alexandria never burned down, except of course, those who run the Library have become tyrannical and now control all of the knowledge in the world, and personally owning books is banned. It’s a really fun series, well at least the first two books were fun, but I have to admit, I’ve never actually got around to finishing the other three. I really need to change that one of these days…..

5. Egypt-The Book of Two Ways, Jodi Picoult

This is showing my lack of African set reading, I’ve read a few fantasy books set in African inspired worlds, but very few set in our world unfortunately, I do need to change that as it’s not sitting well that both of my African set books were written by white authors. I have to admit, this one is not my favourite book of Jodi’s but it does fit the brief as the main character is an Eygptologist and much of the book takes place on excavation sites that she works on in Egypt.

North America

6. The Diviners Series-U.S., Libba Bray

I could have picked any number of books for this one as I am not at all short on books set in the US. However, I decided to pick The Diviners series, as the theme of American identity, and facing up to the demons of America’s past history are major themes in the book, and New York City is almost another character in the series, so it felt like the right choice to represent the US on my list this week. Plus I just really love this series, it’s a ton of fun, what’s not to love about books set in the 1920s, with a sprawling found family cast who have a variety of supernatural powers? Nothing!

7. Looking For Jane-Canada, Heather Marshall

I’ve not read anywhere near as many books set in Canada as the US, but this one is one of my most recent reads and it covers the fight for reproductive rights in Canada in the 70s and 80s and the repercussions of the maternity home system on both the mothers and the children in the present day (well 2017). It’s a really beautiful story about choice and motherhood, and I highly recommend it if you like historical fiction!

8. The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants-US/Mexico, Ann Brashares

Okay so this one’s a tiny bit of a cheat as I’m using it for my Mexico option, even though it’s only based in Mexico in Bridget’s parts as that’s where she attends football camp over the summer! If anyone has any recommendations for books that are wholly set in Mexico (preferably by Mexican authors!) then I am all ears.

South America

9. Not Even Bones-Peru, Rebecca Schaeffer

I didn’t think I’d even have a book for South America, so I’m slightly chuffed I actually do! My one qualm with this book was that I actually wish the setting had been utilised a little more, we spend the vast majority of the book in the monster black market, so we don’t really get to explore the world outside much and I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of Peru and maybe learned more about the country as I’ve still yet to manage to get to anywhere in South America on my travels. It’s a fun book though, if you like your books dark and gory and you’re a big villain/anti-hero fan, I recommend this one!

Europe

10. The Bone Season-U.K., Samantha Shannon

Again I had quite a lot to choose from for my U.K. representative book as it’s one of my top two most featured countries in the books I read. However, I went for The Bone Season because the U.K. setting is a huge part of the first few books, and you get to see a lot of familiar landmarks woven into this completely different version of the U.K., it was quite cool when reading to be able to say, “ooh I’ve been there”, like when part of the third book takes place in the vaults underneath Edinburgh, or in the second book, the large majority of which takes place in Camden, part of London I’ve been to quite a bit over the years. Much as I love visiting new places in books, it’s also quite fun when books show a different twist on places you recognise too!

11. Skulduggery Pleasant Series-Ireland, Derek Landy

Ireland always feels like the perfect setting for fantasy books, I don’t know exactly why as I’ve actually never been there, but it just feels right! Maybe it’s the strong tradition of Irish folklore? I don’t know, but anyway, I really love it when fantasy books I read are set in Ireland and this is one of my favourites. Derek Landy has a very dry, witty sense of humour that bleeds into the books, and the series is a whole lot of fun with a whole host of different supernatural creatures and of course, a detective who is a reanimated skeleton!

12. The Book Thief-Germany, Markus Zusak

Pretty much all of the books I’ve read set in Germany have been set in WWII, or in the case of Resistance Women, largely in the Nazi era, both pre and during WWII, so I would definitely like to find more books set in Germany that aren’t set during this time period. But anyway, I chose The Book Thief as my representative for Germany as it’s one of my all-time favourite books, it’s such a beautiful story and one that has remained close to my heart since I first read it.

13. The Gilded Wolves-France, Roshani Chokshi

I’ve read quite a lot of books set in France over the past few years, especially historical fantasy, as there seems to have been a real trend towards French-set historical fantasy YA in the last few years. But this one is one of my favourites, I love Paris as a city and it was so cool to see some of the most well-known sites in Paris come to life in this book as they were back in 1889, especially seeing the Eiffel Tower as something that was obviously new back then! There’s also a really cool bit that takes place in the Catacombs, somewhere that I’ve not yet been but definitely want to go to the next time I get to Paris.

14. The Crown’s Game-Russia, Evelyn Skye

Evelyn Skye does a great job of bringing Imperial Russia to life on the page, it felt like the setting was infused with a little of the magic that the characters had! I’ve never been to Saint Petersburg (and honestly any desire to go to Russia has been well and truly snuffed out now for obvious reasons) but Skye really made me feel like I was walking the streets with the characters whilst I was reading the book.

15. The Roman Mysteries-Italy, Caroline Lawrence

Okay, so it’s Ancient Italy, not modern day Italy, but this series absolutely made me want to visit Italy when I read it (I did on a school trip and I’m pretty sure I was reading one of The Roman Mysteries books whilst I was there, though ironically, it may have been one of the ones set in Greece!). I loved getting to explore the streets of Ancient Rome with Flavia and her friends, to get to see Pompeii as it may have been before it was destroyed and of course the Colosseum as it might have been back when it was new (it’s kind of unbelievable to think of anything that old ever being new, but of course it was). I’ve always been fascinated by ancient history and this series of books really fed my appetite for that when I was a kid.

16. The Song Of Achilles-Greece, Madeline Miller

I may not have loved this book as much as everyone else seems to have, but it is set in Greece, albeit Ancient, not modern Greece and I’ve always been obsessed with Greek mythology. I genuinely cannot remember what started the obsession, I think we did Ancient Greece at school and I just pretty much instantly fell in love with the stories? It started a long time before I read Percy Jackson, I can tell you that much! Anyway, much like The Roman Mysteries, it was very cool to see a place that I am now familiar with (at least somewhat) back as it might have been in ancient times.

17. The Librarian Spy-Portugal, Madeline Martin

One of the hallmarks of when a book has done its job well for me is if I come out of it wanting to visit the country where the book is set, and I definitely had that with this one. The way Martin describes Lisbon, it just sounded so beautiful, the winding streets of Alfama, the Brasileira where Ava and James go for bica and pastel de nata every day, walking through Rossio Square….everything I read about Lisbon made me want to visit it more!

18. The Storyteller-Poland, Jodi Picoult

Okay, so only Minka’s section of the book actually takes place in Poland, the rest follows her granddaughter Sage in the US, but still, I think it counts! Obviously Minka’s section of the book is incredibly harrowing as a large majority of it takes place at Auschwitz and covers her horrendous treatment under the Nazi regime, which was of course not easy to read, but then it shouldn’t be. It was my favourite portion of the book which feels weird to write given how horrific everything that Minka goes through is but it was the best told part of the story and I really warmed to Minka and her incredible resilience.

Australia

19. Every Breath-Australia, Ellie Marney

This Sherlock Holmes retelling set in Melbourne was definitely a breath of fresh air! So many Sherlock retellings seem afraid to uproot the story from England, but I loved that Ellie Marney took it somewhere different and that she had a female Watson. It was also cool that Watts was new to Melbourne as well so it felt like we were learning about the city alongside her. It will be very cool to get to see it for myself when I head to Australia (NEXT WEEK!) for Christmas. If you like Sherlock, then I really do recommend this one, it had an engaging mystery and one of my favourite slow burn romances OF EVER.

20. A Thousand Perfect Notes-Australia, C.G. Drews

I will admit, I didn’t feel like I got as good a sense of place with this book as I did with Every Breath. I didn’t actually realise that it was set in Australia for about 90% of the book. I spent a while thinking it was England, but then that didn’t fit because of the lack of school uniforms, the dialogue wasn’t right for America so eventually I landed on Australia because the author is Australian, but there was hardly anything in there that told me (as someone who is neither Australia and still has yet to go to Australia) where it was meant to be set. Still, it fits the brief and rounds off my list, so that’s something!

So there we go, that’s your little tour through some of the places I’ve visited in the books I’ve read (and this is only about half, and that’s really only from the books that I could remember to put on my Goodreads, through my entire life, I’m sure I’ve probably visited even more countries through books!). Do you read books set in lots of different places? Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend me any books set in countries in Africa, Asia, South America or Australia because I definitely feel like I could read more books set on those continents? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Books On My Winter 2022-23 TBR list and I cannot believe that this topic is here already! Honestly, I feel a bit personally affronted that it’s come around so quickly when I’ve barely even cracked my Autumn TBR list, but there you go! This year has gone too quick!

Top Ten Tuesday #396

Hi everyone! The big news from the past week is that I GOT A JOB. FINALLY. It’s been a long few months of searching since I finished up at the vaccination centre earlier this year, so I’m really glad that I’ve got something now and I’m set to be starting next week, so that’s really exciting. I’ve also got something really fun lined up for tomorrow, I’m going to see Come From Away at the theatre, I’ve been wanting to see it for a while and I had a Theatre Tokens voucher to use. I’ve heard really good things so I’m hoping that I will enjoy it!

Anyway, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic was meant to be cozy reads, but since cozy reads don’t tend to be my vibe, I decided to go in the complete opposite direction and do Emotional Reads. I have done a similar topic before, back in 2016 but since that was six years ago, I figured enough time had passed to do it again and despite the fact that list was double-length, I still managed to find ten more different emotional reads. What can I say? I really enjoy the sad books! So here we go:

  1. Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

Though I did read Code Name Verity in 2016, I hadn’t yet read it when I made my original list, otherwise it definitely wouldn’t have been on there. Code Name Verity is one of those special books that made me laugh and broke my heart in almost equal measure and it’s a very special book that manages to do that, a lot of sad books just tend to be really bleak, but Elizabeth Wein definitely balanced the sadness with Queenie’s incredible sense of humour (which honestly makes the sad stuff even more sad!). I hardly ever outwardly cry when I read but this book brought me pretty darn close.

2. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

I actually did cry when I read this one. The experiences of Rose and the other prisoners at Ravensbruck just punched me in the gut, the characters might have been fictional but the camp certainly wasn’t and knowing that their experiences were based on what happened to real women in that camp definitely got to me whilst reading. The whole middle section of the book which was the part based at the camp had me in bits pretty much the entire time. I generally preferred Code Name Verity as a book, I liked the characters and the story better, but Rose certainly hit me harder.

3. Looking For Jane-Heather Marshall

I never expected this book to be an easy read, it was clear from the description, it was going to cover some tough topics. Evelyn and Maggie’s stories really broke my heart: how abused they were at the maternity home, how they were forced to sign away all rights to their children in order to be allowed to hold them or to be given painkillers after giving birth, how Evelyn was told her baby died in order to stop her from looking for her. If I was going to give anyone any book to convince them of how important reproductive rights are and how vital choice is, it would definitely be this one.

4. The Librarian Spy-Madeline Martin

This year was apparently the year of super heavy historical fiction for me! Ava and Elaine’s story had such an emotional impact on me, particularly Elaine’s. Elaine works as a spy for the French Resistance, and the things she goes through over the course of the book, the loss and sacrifices, the lack of food and the constant fear of being caught by the Nazis, I could never have been as strong as she was. Ava’s part of the story was the weaker for me, but it also had its moments of emotional impact, especially when it came to the stories of the refugees, particularly Otto who had an especially touching story.

5. Know My Name-Chanel Miller

Given the topic of Chanel Miller’s memoir (her experience of sexual assault and recovery), it’s only natural that this was an incredibly emotional read. Listening to the audiobook definitely heightened the experience for me as well, hearing her tell her own story, I think made the emotions I felt even more palpable because I could hear how she felt in her voice as she was reading. I’d already read her victim impact statement when it was released on Buzzfeed, but it was even more powerful hearing it in her own voice at the end of the book. I knew that rape survivors were being failed by the criminal justice system, but hearing Chanel’s experiences really hammered home exactly why reports of rape are so low. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a memoir that’s had as big an emotional impact on me as this one, and I think it will probably be a long time till I find another that hits as hard.

6. The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks-Mackenzi Lee

The Nobleman’s Guide is quite different to the other two books in the series: those were generally light-hearted, despite the challenges Monty and Felicity dealt with, particularly Monty. This book, whilst it does still have its light moments, is centred around Monty and Felicity’s younger brother Adrian, who suffers from pretty severe anxiety and OCD, so naturally his head is not the easiest place to be. His mental health journey is really well handled, there are emotional ups and downs along the way, and the journey he goes on through the book (both literally and mentally) is very challenging, but it was so rewarding in the end!

7. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

Any book revolving around sexual assault is always a very emotionally charged read and this one was no exception. This book is slightly different from the others on my list though, as though I did find it an emotional read, the main emotion for me reading this one was anger. Which means that Louise O’Neill did her job very well because that’s what you’re supposed to feel: all of the hoops that girls have to jump through to try and prove that they were raped, the ridiculous questions they get asked, the whole “you were asking for it if…..(insert ridiculous reason here), it’s just so incredibly frustrating that rape survivors are still treated this way and that these rape culture myths are still so pervasive.

8. The Diamond Eye-Kate Quinn

Pretty much all WWII books are guaranteed to be emotional, because of the nature of the topic, and this one was no exception. Kate Quinn is always very good at balancing the sadness with humour but it is war and Mila goes through a lot of trauma as a result of her time as a sniper, and from her emotionally abusive relationship with her much older first husband Alexei.

9. Firestarter-Tara Sim

All three of the Timekeeper trilogy books had emotional parts, but it was this, the final book in the trilogy that really tugged at my heartstrings. The whole book was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me, because I felt so hard for the characters that whenever anything happened to them I was on the edge of my seat worrying if they were going to make it. I almost cried at the end as well, it was so perfect.

10. The Alice Network-Kate Quinn

I was torn between this and The Rose Code (honestly I could have included all three of the Kate Quinn books I’ve read), but I decided on this one in the end because of Eve’s story. The trauma Eve goes through during WWI, particularly the scene where we find out what happened to her hands is incredibly harrowing, and probably one of the most difficult parts of a book I’ve ever had to read, I almost stopped listening at multiple points. Quinn is incredibly good at painting a vivid picture of the fear, and desperation and horror of war, and that really shone through in this book.

Do you enjoy reading emotional books? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is a Freebie, and I thought to try something different, I’m going to do Round The World In Books, and see how many different countries I’ve visited through the books I’ve read!

Top Ten Tuesday #395

Hi everyone! I’m back from Scotland now, just got back yesterday and had a really nice time. Mum’s graduation was lovely (if a little wet, she had the bad luck to be graduating on the day with the worst weather out of all the days we were in Dundee) and it was really nice to catch up with Nicola again after so long!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is the annual Thanksgiving Freebie, another one of the ones that it gets harder for me to do every year without repeating topics, as I feel like there’s only so many options, plus I’m British, so all my knowledge of Thanksgiving comes purely from watching US sitcoms!

I did however manage to come up with something, after two years of Covid restrictions, there were a lot of things that I was very grateful to have back when they lifted, so I thought I’d share some of those with you today:

  1. Being able to see my sister for the first time in four years this summer

I’ll start with the most obvious one: Covid put a stop to our planned family reunion in 2020, and though we were hoping my sister might be able to come visit for my Dad’s birthday in 2021, that also wasn’t able to happen. But she was finally able to get back to the UK this summer and it was so nice to finally see her in person and not over a video screen. We’re also spending Christmas in Australia this year, which is our first Christmas as a family for about five years, so that’s going to be great as well.

2. Being able to see my friends in person and not over video chat

I don’t know about everyone else, but I got really tired of video chat! Sure we could spend hours and hours chatting over video as we would in person, but it wasn’t THE SAME. I managed to see both my friends a little over the summer and autumn in 2020 between lockdowns but it was so nice once the restrictions were finally lifted properly and we were able to see each other again more regularly.

3. Horse riding

It’s amazing how much my mental health improved once I was able to go riding again over the summer in 2020, sadly, it was short lived due to more covid restrictions in the winter, but when they were finally able to re-open permanently again, it was one of the things I was most excited to have back as it really did help my mood and my general mental health so much to be able to go riding every week, it added a little bit of normality back into my life when things were still all kind of uncertain.

4. Going to the theatre again

I knew I enjoyed going to the theatre but I don’t think I realised quite how much I loved it until I was suddenly not able to go anymore! I’ve actually been to the theatre a lot more in the past couple of years than I did before lockdown, I’d usually see one, maybe two shows a year, but in 2021, I saw four shows and by the end of this year I think I’ll have seen six? Granted I think part of that is now living in London and it just being more accessible to me, but I think since Covid, I’m also more aware of the importance of supporting live entertainment, so I try to as much as I’m able!

5. Having in-person book events and being able to meet my favourite authors and get my books signed, particularly YALC

In-person book events seemed to be one of the last things to come back, they only really seemed to start getting off the ground at the beginning of this year, so naturally my anticipation was very high. I’ve been to a few this year, and it was so nice to finally get to be in the room with other readers again, I don’t think I realised how much I’d missed it until I was back in the room with people at the VE Schwab London event back in March. I can’t even explain how giddy I felt walking back through the doors of Olympia for YALC this year, I think this year’s event had such a special atmosphere because everyone was so excited to be back and I definitely felt like I ended up with twice as many books as usual to make up for the Covid off-years!

6. Being able to spend time in places that aren’t my house

When I tell you I was ridiculously excited to get the job at the vaccination centre last summer just because it meant being able to actually leave my house everyday……

7. Finally being able to move house

This one kind of ties into the last one, our move back to London has been shifted so many times over the past couple of years because of Covid, but we were finally able to do it over the summer and it’s made me so happy! I really love being back in London, it’s allowed me to have more independence because the public transport system is so much better than in Cambridge, so it really doesn’t matter that I don’t have a driving license here, and there’s so much more to do! Everything doesn’t shut at like six o’clock! And you can go to stuff that finishes late without having to worry about missing the last bus home because the buses go after midnight.

8. Going to my first concert in about six years (ish)

Okay this one wasn’t entirely Covid’s fault, there obviously were concerts on between 2016 and 2019 but I was at Uni and couldn’t really afford concert tickets! So it kind of just happened that the first concert I went to in a while was one that was after the Covid shutdown, but it was still really great to get to go to one again and Mum and I had an amazing time at Queen + Adam Lambert. I’d love to say my next one will be whenever Taylor Swift tours the UK again, but having seen the car crash that was the US ticket sales, I’m thinking fat chance of that!

9. Being able to go on holiday again

I’ve been on a couple of UK holidays in the inter-lockdown periods and since lockdown ended, with a couple of trips to Stirling and the spa holiday with my friends last year which was AMAZING. But this year will be my first international holiday since I was in Cape Town in 2020 (and that wasn’t solely a holiday as I was doing volunteer work whilst I was out there, the family holiday part of that trip got stymied by Covid), my parents and I are going out to Australia to spend Christmas with my sister and her partner and I CAN’T WAIT.

10. Getting dressed up again

This is kind of a trivial one, but because I don’t tend to get dressed up much unless I have somewhere fancy to go, I didn’t really get to dress up, put on makeup, the whole shebang during Covid restrictions. So it was just really nice once restrictions finally lifted to get all dressed up, put some makeup on and just feel a little bit special and fancy again!

What have you enjoyed doing again since Covid restrictions lifted in your country? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Cozy Reads, which is a topic I’ve done before, and to be honest, I’m not sure I could think of enough books to do it again, my reading tastes tends to lean more towards the heart-crushing than the cozy! So instead, I’ll lean towards what I do well, and share my Favourite Heartbreaking Reads. I think I’ve probably done a list like this before, but I read a lot of books that crush my emotions so it shouldn’t be hard to come up with more!