Posted in Uncategorized

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, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2017

Room – Emma Donoghue

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

I admit this book has been on my TBR ever since 2012 and there were a number of reasons why I put off reading it which in part was because I knew the narrator of the story is very young, just five in fact and I often struggle with child narrators. The other part is that it sounded way too miserable to put to the top of the list after all Jack and his Mum have been imprisoned in a room for his entire life…

But, I was glued to the book, it was mother apart from limited one of those I couldn’t put aside and while Jack’s narration probably isn’t a true reflection of how any child, even one whose whole vocabulary comes from another adult, it was pitched at a level to remind us he is a child, at a level so that whilst the innocence shone through but without compromising the telling of a story.

We get an idea of how Jack’s mum didn’t give up, she threw the whole of her energy into entertaining, nurturing and teaching Jack with limited resources, just five book and a TV for outside stimulation, everything else had to be invention on her part. There are physical education lessons which involve racing round the bed, all sixteen of Jack’s steps and using the bed to put on trampoline routines. She imposes strict routines for meals, for chores and for bedtime where Jack sleeps in the wardrobe to be out of sight if ‘Old Nick’ comes to visit. It is this, the sheer resilience of this young woman, only twenty-six at the point we enter the story, that prevents this from being a misery-fest and turns it into something quite special indeed.

Because Jack’s life is so narrow it would be very easy for the story to be repetitive and as fun as his musings over Dora the Explorer and Barney are, I’m pleased to confirm that the story has far more to offer than I initially expected. Through Jack’s eyes, and ears, we get to see how the pair ended up in the room in the first place allowing the reader to plug the gaps which may not completely take away the horror of the story unfolding but makes it a tad more bearable than if this had been told by the mother.

For me it was the latter chapters that had the most impact and gives rise to some of the important questions that perhaps aren’t easily answered. On Jack’s fifth birthday he is told by his mother that the life on the TV exists outside his room. There is far more than the slither of sky and moon he can see through the skylight if they stand on the table. The world is big, there are other people than the two he knows about and yet he struggles with the concept and questions things in a way a child born into a life which isn’t behind a locked door would never do.

Heart-rending and yet uplifting, Room is one of those books I think I’ll struggle to forget, so mesmerising is the tale, so appealing is its narrator and so horrifying a premise to dwell upon, I now understand why this book caused the stir it did when it was published in 2010.

Room was the thirty-fourth read in my Mount TBR Challenge 2017, and probably the last for the year so I missed my target by two.  It was purchased way back in August 2012 so it only took five plus years to read it!

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

 

First Published UK: December 2010
Publisher: Picador
No of Pages: 337
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 13)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is Cold, Cold Heart by Christine Poulson which was published on 17 November 2017 and features to my delight a Patent Attorney.



Blurb

Midwinter in Antarctica. Six months of darkness are about to begin. Scientist Katie Flanagan has an undeserved reputation as a trouble-maker and her career has foundered. When an accident creates an opening on a remote Antarctic research base she seizes it, flying in on the last plane before the subzero temperatures make it impossible to leave. Meanwhile patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont has been asked to undertake due diligence on a breakthrough cancer cure. But the key scientist is strangely elusive and Daniel uncovers a dark secret that leads to Antarctica. Out on the ice a storm is gathering. As the crew lock down the station they discover a body and realise that they are trapped with a killer… Amazon

The last book I finished was His Kidnapper’s Shoes, a psychological thriller by Maggie James that had been lingering on my TBR for quite a while.

Blurb


Daniel is my son. He has always been mine. And he always will be.

On some level deep inside, Laura Bateman knows something is wrong. That her relationship with her son is not what it should be. That it is based on lies.

But bad things have happened to Laura. Things that change a person. Forever.

For twenty-six-year-old Daniel, the discovery that his mother is not who he thought comes close to destroying him. As his world turns upside down, he searches for sanity in the madness that has become his life. Daniel is left with nothing but questions. Why did Laura do something so terrible? Can he move past the demons of his childhood?

And the biggest question of all: can he ever forgive Laura? Amazon

Next I plan to read Room by Emma Donoghue which I purchased all the way back in August 2012 and still haven’t read. This one is for my most certainly failed Mount TBR Challenge 2017.

 

Blurb

Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside. Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Uncategorized

The TBR Book Tag or Still No Change

PicMonkey Collage TBR

 

On 6 November 2015 I put on my big girl pants and tackled the TBR tag which I saw on  The Quirky Book Nerd,  in a bid to get a grip on just how many books were sitting on the TBR, especially focussing on those books I already own.

Last year I did a follow-up post which might have indicated that the TBR had grown, but only by a net value of 8 books from the original count of 173 to 181 books owned and waiting to be read. So what will be the result a year on, after using maximum willpower…

To help me along I designated June and December as book acquisition free months – now there was a flaw there because at Christmas time I get given books, and vouchers so I gained a few. I was away for a good proportion of June and had no time for requesting books although I did receive quite a pile of unsolicited books at this time – not my fault guv’nor!

So onto the questions

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

My answer is still the same – a good old excel spread sheet although I did realise the downfall of this approach when it didn’t travel with me – but I’m confident it is back up to date now.

My spread sheet has separate tabs for physical books, kindle books and lastly one for NetGalley approved books. There is of course, a colour code, required because some on the first two tabs are also review copies and another one to track the books I’m reading for challenges such as 20 Books of Summer and Mount TBR (I might just fail this latter challenge)

Each Sunday, within my weekly wrap up I publish the total which reminds me how well I’m doing. I can hear you all cheering with approval, those measures are guaranteed to make a huge difference.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Overwhelmingly print books even when I combine the NetGalley reads and purchased eBooks mainly because if I’m buying my own books I tend to go for print versions but like everything, it depends on a number of factors. At the time of writing this post I have 97 down from a high of 115 back in February.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I go by publication date, all of which are entered into the spread sheet. I’ve learnt the hard way to check on Amazon for these and not to trust NetGalley. Each month of the year has ten spaces to fill, three of which should be from my TBR which I usually choose on a Sunday when I do my blog admin. In practice the choices get endlessly shuffled as my magpie eye alights on a newer shinier book.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

There is a story behind the fact that the answer is identical to that of last year, oh and the year before – Room by Emma Donoghue went onto my kindle in August 2011 and after vowing to read it at long last, it had a slot earlier this year but disaster struck and I couldn’t locate it on my kindle and so removed it. Whilst perusing my books on the kindle just a couple of weeks ago, it had reappeared – I have a feeling it was something to do with the fact my edition has been replaced by a newer one following the film – anyway, end result is that I won’t be answering the same next year – I promise.

Room

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another. Goodreads

 

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The most recent addition to the TBR which isn’t a review copy is Broken Bones by Angela Marsons which I pre-ordered despite being behind with this wonderful series – Dead Souls by the same author is still on the TBR, something I hope to remedy soon. Broken Bones was published on 3 November 2017.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light. Amazon

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

No, periodically I go through my TBR and any I don’t plan on reading go in the donation bag for the charity shop, this rarely happens.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

So many with a varied list that isn’t all crime fiction – I’m going to choose Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan which is due to be published on 11 January 2018 so I’ll be reading it soon.


Blurb

Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama.

Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.

Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay. No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . .

Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all. NetGalley

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

So many but I’m going to pick Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase which I resolutely resisted when it was being widely raved about and then crumpled as soon as I read the wonderful The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde earlier this year.

Blurb

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.

The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms . . .

Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.

A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family’s love. Amazon

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Oh so many to choose from but one of my recent additions is The Dry by Jane Harper that so many other bloggers have raved about over the year.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

All of them! I’m going to pick one that isn’t due out until next year that I’m very tempted to read well ahead of the publication date – I won’t as that would throw my system into disarray but hey a girl can dream – Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce sounds quite unlike my normal reads and that’s always a draw.

Blurb

London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to female friendship, Blitz spirit, the kindness of strangers and the art of letter-writing itself.

 

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

There are currently 207 books but to be honest there are lots of duplicates of books I’ve already read – this site needs some serious housekeeping and my Amazon wishlist no longer has a counter – perhaps it’s decided that the number is simply too high – there are loads of books on here. However, my TBR count is books that I own that I haven’t read and so without further ado…

This year…

On the TBR there are a grand total of 170 books which means that in an entire year (and a couple of days) I have reduced the pile by a staggering 11 books!!

 

The make up of the pile is:

Physical Books: 96
Kindle Books: 55
NetGalley Books: 18

I’m not tagging anyone, but of course I want to feel better about my TBR, so if you have more than 170 books on your TBR, please share in the comments box below!