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Reading and Reviewing in 2017

Well it’s that time for reflection on the old and setting new goals for the new year so I’m going to start in my traditional way with a few facts and figures.

I have read and reviewed 147 books in 2017, one less than this time last year and boy some of those books have been really worth shouting about!

This amounts to 48, 281 pages 657 pages more than last year so obviously I’ve chosen some longer books to delight me in 2017 – that is an average of 132 pages per day!! No wonder I keep saying I don’t have time to do anything – to be honest that figure shocks even me!

Good old Goodreads tells me that my longest read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the longest book I read at a whopping 592 pages which was my very last review of 2017

The shortest unsurprisingly was a short story  Promises to Keep by Elizabeth Haynes at a mere 41 pages.



of the oldest books on my TBR was Room by Emma Donoghue which I finally read earlier this month – this was the book most read by other readers on Goodreads – 926,679 other readers there have also read this popular book, although I suspect many of them did so a little before I did!

The book I shared with the fewest readers was a debut crime thriller The Last Thread by Ray Britain, written by a former Police Officer not only were we treated to a new Detective but the authenticity of the read shone through – this book deserves a wider audience for sure!

A whopping 92 books fell into the crime fiction/psychological thriller categories although the psychological thriller count was down by 8 from 2016 to a mere 35.

My non-fiction reads declined slightly from 15 to 13 book fitting into this category, including a must-read for book-lovers; The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler although a large proportion of these are also crime related.

As always my goal for the year was to read more of my own books so not only did I participate in Cathy’s wonderful 20 Books of Summer 2017 challenge (which I completed on time – go me!) I chose a number of books that fitted with 2017’s obsession with the variety of ways true crime is presented and books inspired by true crime which was kicked off by the brilliant Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I also participated in the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads for the first time where I completed 34 of my aimed 36 books purchased prior to 1 January 2017.


In all I read 56 of my own books or a relatively respectable 38% of my reads for 2017 which is a vast improvement on the 49 books completed in 2016 and very nearly the 40% I was aiming for. I was spurred on by realising how many superb books I already own with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell being an early delight.

Of course though I’m a book lover and so this is exactly the time and place to say thank you to all the authors and publishers who have given me copies of your books to review – there are simply too many outstanding reads of the year (although tomorrow I will pick my top ten published in 2017) a whole 92 books read in 2017 were ARCs including Shelter by Sarah Franklin a historical novel set in the Forest of Dean where I lived from 1979 to 1987 – a setting that was also used in The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

As for you all, what you seemed to enjoy most in 2017 were the following Top Five Reviews of the year were:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Painkiller by N.J. Fountain
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Two of these are from my own bookshelves proving that it isn’t just the newest releases that captures reader’s attention!

Finally at the beginning of December I completed the annual filling in of the Reading Bingo squares with some choices of the year.


2018 Goals

Beyond the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don’t normally go in for bookish goals but I am going to break with the tradition and set myself some (gentle) targets for 2018.

  1. In 2017 I discovered what a wonderful array I have already in my possession and so the target is to read 40% of my own books in 2018. To give me some motivation I have decided to allow myself to buy one book for every three of my own that I read – of course there are some get-out clauses – the annual book sales held on the island are exempt and I will be visiting the library for any must-reads that I don’t own.
  2. The latter clause is important as I really want to up my reading or re-reading of classic novels, I shelved just one book in this category in 2017 although two others could have been put there but I felt they belonged better elsewhere. My target is to read at least 6 so one every other month and the library is the place to go for these. Despite being a library member all of my life, I haven’t visited anywhere near enough in more recent years which is something I feel guilty about.
  3. I am taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge again with an aim of reading 36 books – let’s see if I make it in 2018.

On the blog

  1. I am (very) slowly amalgamating the tabs with the aim of putting all the reviews for 2013-2015 onto one tab – this ongoing project must be completed by the end of March 2018.
  2. My about me page is in dire need of an update especially as it is visited far more often than I expected with 660 views in the last year.
  3. And of course I will shortly display an updated shelf as my header to welcome in the start of 2018.
  4. I always used to write my book review before starting a new book and this habit is being resumed in 2018 – this has been a very busy year and as much as I love blogging it has been a real struggle to fit everything in and I’m hoping this will help me get a better balance, rather than frantically writing reviews at the weekend when I need to endlessly check names (I have a real blind-spot in this department) as well as other elusive details.
  5. Finally I will remember to post each review to Cleopatra Loves Books Facebook page which at best has been intermittent since I set it up earlier this year.

That just leaves me to thank you all for visiting, commenting and writing your own entertaining posts and reviews that has me constantly rationalising my book choices!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Painkiller – N.J. Fountain

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

Now I’m going to be honest, I received this book unsolicited and on reading the synopsis wasn’t really sure that I wanted to read about a woman in constant pain. That might sound harsh but I don’t think I’m alone in avoiding books about unsolvable problems, especially not ones which I’d rather not contemplate. In the interest of fairness, I picked up the book to read the first few pages…

Monica Wood is awake in the spare room with her ‘angry friend’, the constant pain she suffers, when she finds a suicide note, written by herself some four years previously. She has no memory of the note or the events leading up to it because the medication she takes to control the pain have wiped parts of her memory, what is left is often completely out of her grasp. In the morning she shows the note to her devoted husband Dominic who agrees that she wrote it, and then on her bidding throws it away.

Still unsure I read a little further and reading the oh so accurate sounding descriptions not only of the pain, but the effect it has on Monica’s life had me hooked, well that and wanting to know what the accident was that had caused the pain in the first place and the mystery around the suicide note.

N.J. Fountain has created a world where it is impossible to grasp exactly what has happened due to Monica’s pain but nevertheless this is a world I wanted to understand. There is a deep sense of foreboding from that first page and it is that feeling that had me sucked deeper into this woman’s world. Monica hadn’t always been in pain, five years previously she had been an agent for actors and the grit and determination that got her there, shine through from time to time. This stops the book being as utterly depressing as I had feared when I was contemplating putting it to one side.

With the book being focussed, as is Monica, on pain it is unsurprising that there are doctors to meet, one of my favourite scenes is where Monica summed up their attitude, with their unrelenting positivity and the feeling that the patient should not spoil their act, so become some sort of stand-up act to keep the dialogue moving. I’ve sat in that very position at times, and have wondered what came over me.

The short chapters, living with Monica as she discovers new things about herself, as she grapples over the scene of her accident and watching her interactions with her best friend Angelina, her osteopath Niall and her husband Dominic we get to build a picture up of both the woman she once was, and the one she is now – where the two versions of Monica meet is part of the puzzle.

This is one of those books that begs to be read in as few possible sittings as possible as befits a certain type of psychological fiction. This has the dual effect of immersing you in a different world, one that is full of suspicion, apprehension and unpredictable events and letting yourself roll with the story, and what a story it is! The plot is convoluted full of misdirection and red herrings, just the way I like my psychological thrillers and while the ending isn’t totally unbelievable, it did take a small hop of faith to go with it. That said, I didn’t see it coming and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the dexterity of pulling everything that had gone before, together.

I’d like to thank the publishers Little Brown UK for sending me a copy of Painkiler, this review is my thank you to them. If you enjoyed Before I Go To Sleep, I think you’ll enjoy this book, the same feeling of intrigue and dread pervaded both books.

First Published UK: 29 December 2016
Publisher: Little Brown UK
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US