Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! The Lamplighters – Emma Stonex

Hello Loves!

I hope you’re well and enjoying July. Now the summer holidays are here I’m getting my reading game back on and the plan is to clear some of my reading piles! No more book buying until the pile is significantly lower! (Here’s hoping anyway!)

Today I want to share with you the amazing choice I had for my Book Bingo Reading Challenge. For July I decided on picking: Read a best seller. Now, I’m not very good with books that are really hyped up because I always feel the pressure to like it too. However, I can totally see why my choice for is a best seller – it’s absolutely incredible. I’m talking about the debut novel The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. I hope you love this as much as I did!

What’s it all about?

Well, it’s really tricky to review this book without spoiling anything but I’ll give it my best shot! The first thing to know is that the novel alternates between then and now. We start in December 1972 when three men, Bill, Arthur and Vince, have disappeared from a tower lighthouse off the English coast. What makes this more mysterious is the state in which the place is discovered by the relief team; the door barred from the inside, dishes set out at the kitchen table and both clocks stopped at a quarter to nine. Everything was polished and cleaned to perfect – no evidence of a struggle of any kind.

Twenty years have passed and the Maiden Rock Mystery is still a mystery and still remains unsolved. This naturally leads to plenty of speculation and theories developing – ranging from the sublime, grim and ridiculous. What really happened though?

“This isn’t a thriller, this is my life.”

Some of these theories follow the ideas that one man killed the others, then killed himself. The Trident company seem to be pushing this theory quite strongly. Maybe all three were suicidal? Perhaps a monster approached and attacked them. Maybe they were all swept out to see. Some even swore that they have seen a trio of white birds hovering over the lighthouse, believing this to be the men with some supernatural powers.

“I’ve heard it all, over the years. Arthur was abducted by aliens. He was murdered by pirates. He was blackmailed by smugglers. He killed the others, or they killed him, and then each other and then themselves—over a woman or a debt, or a washed-up treasure chest. They were haunted by ghosts or kidnapped by the government. Threatened by spies or gobbled by sea serpents. They went lunatic, one or all of them. They had secret lives no one knew about…”

As time moves back into the now, an author long inspired and naturally curious about the incident begins to interview the women of the lighthouse keepers. After all, these are the ones left behind. Helen, Jenny and Michelle all differ remarkably meaning it’s really easy to follow their narratives. It’s these interviews where we learn the narratives of the men, the secrets the women have too and the personal tragedies that this event caused.

Running alongside this, back in 1972, the men share their own stories following the days before the incident took place. Like their wives, they too have their own stories to tell. The entrapment within the tower is a mere metaphor for the ensnaring of their past mistakes, their sins and regrets. Over time, resentment too increases. The demands of the job and the time away means that this is ever prevalent.

“When I’m ashore I have to pretend to be a man I’m not, part of something I’m not part of. It’s difficult to explain it to normal people. Lighthouse worlds are small. Slow. That’s what other people can’t do: they can’t do things slowly and with meaning…”

It’s here that I struggle because I want to tell you but what I want more is for you to read it and feel the magic yourself. This book made me feel exactly the same as Where the Crawdad’s Sing did and that was my favourite book of last year. It’s haunting, atmospheric, emotional and utterly thrilling. I couldn’t put it down and I doubt I’ll read another book like it this year.

Final Thoughts

I started to summarise this book above but I literally cannot stop gushing about it. In fact, I’ve left my copy for someone else to stumble across and read. It’s incredible and I don’t have the words to really show that.

See you next time my loves!

Big Love xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han

Morning Fellow Book Lovers!

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the sunshine. It’s definitely getting me into the summer spirit and I wanted to use that for my reading challenge this month *ignores the fact that there’s four weeks of school left…* I decided to go with Read a book that’s full of sunshine for this month. Personally, to me there’s only ever going to be one winner: Jenny Han. I absolutely adored the Lara Jean series so I knew I would love the next trilogy she’s written. Of course, I’m talking about The Summer I Turned Pretty. I hope you love it as much as I did!

What’s it all about?

The protagonist of this novel is Isabel ‘Belly’ Conklin, her brother Steven and their best friends, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. Belly’s mother and Jeremiah and Conrad’s mother, Susannah are best friends and every summer they head to the beach house. All of these summer breaks lead to one thing: love. Belly is just realising how beautiful she is and how she is changing into a young woman. She’s only ever had eyes for Conrad but feelings for Jeremiah occur meaning that we have a love triangle between the three of them.

‘It feels like nothing else exists outside of that world, this moment. There’s just us. Everything that happened this past summer, and every summer before it, has led up to this. To now.’

The mothers, Susannah and Laurel, are best friends. Yet, despite this novel being a coming of age story about Belly, there is an ever increasing sadness and feeling that something is wrong with Susannah. She seems to be asleep more, spending more time in her room and more sadness around her. She promised Belly the summer of her life, seeing how beautiful she was, yet the sadness around her and her mother is hard to go unnoticed. Susannah is the character who seems to have all the answers, who can see things differently. Everyone turns to her and adores her. Her boys are fiercely protective of her.

‘She and my mother hugged first, fierce and long. My mother looked so happy to see her that she was teary, and my mother was never teary.’

Daughter to Laurel, Belly hasn’t really known her own beauty until now. She’s fiercely headstrong and a talent in the pool. But the boys only see her as a little sister, much to her frustration. The older of the two brothers, Conrad is a deep and intense character. There are times when he is thoroughly frustrating because he’s so difficult to understand. However, the moment came when things felt a little different between Belly and him. She’s always been interested in Conrad but he’s so closed off and emotionless that she never really knew where she stood with him. Does he even notice her?

‘The air felt different all of a sudden. It felt charged, electric, like I had been zapped by a thunderbolt.’

What about Jeremiah? He’s presented as the golden boy of the family, the younger of the two brothers and the one who is arguably the most loyal to Belly. However, he does become frustrated about living in the background. He too develops feelings for Belly and she does likewise. What does this mean for the group? To make matters more confusing, one summer they share a kiss, Belly’s first. What does this mean for them? Wasn’t it Conrad who she hoped her first kiss would be with?

‘He took. a deep breath of air and puffed up his cheeks, and then he blew it out so hard the har on his forehead fluttered. I could feel my heart start to pound – something was going to happen. He was going to say something I didn’t want to hear. He was going to go and change everything.’

Also in the mix is Cam. Another summer Belly meets Cam and he tells her how beautiful she is. They have a summer relationship, hanging out together, having fun together and sleeping in his hoodie. Does this work out? After all, he is the only one to notice all the amazing things about Belly and to tell her all of them too. Just the fact he notices her, really makes a difference to the group.

‘Things had been weird with me and Conrad and me and Jeremiah – an impossible thought crept its way into my head. Was it possible they didn’t want me with Cam? Because they, like, had feelings for me? Could that even be? I doubted it. I was like a little sister to them. Only I wasn’t’

So who gets the girl in the end? That’s for you to read and find out!


Final Thoughts

I loved this novel so much. It made me remember back to when I was younger and summer seemed to give you all the opportunities you could ever want. There’s a reason why YA is a booming genre and that’s because it’s honest and real. Jenny Han is an exceptional writer – I love her books and this one doesn’t disappoint. I cannot wait to get my hands on the other two books in this trilogy because I have to see what happens to the trio. This book gave me all I wanted and needed and more regarding summer vibes. I absolutely loved it.

It’s back to exam marking for me and admiring the summer weather from inside. I hope you all enjoy it! Until next time.

Big Love xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! Cannery Row – John Steinbeck

Hello Everyone!

I hope you’re all okay. I’m back at work now but definitely looking forward to the bank holiday weekend! Hopefully the weather will pick up again and it’ll be glorious instead of chilly… I had heard that May apparently is meant to be the coldest on record! I jolly well hope not… I need some sunshine in my life.

Today I want to share with you my category and book choice for April. I love my Book Bingo and I’m super proud of it. It’s really pushed me out of my comfort zone which is really what it’s all about. For April I decided to pick: Read a classic you should have read by now. I don’t know about you but I always find pressure with the classics, like I’m meant to have read them and I even get embarrassed when someone mentions a classic I haven’t read. That being said, I did study a number of them when I was at university so this category did throw up some challenges. Overall, I decided to read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I love Steinbeck’s work as they really do depict a specific historical time period but I’ve only ever read (and taught) Of Mice and Men. This is becoming increasingly controversial so I have relished the opportunity to reach out into more of his work.

What’s it all about?
On the surface, the plot is really simple: a group of men want to throw a party for their friend. However, this book is so much more than that. Its role is to capture the feelings and the people all located in one place: the cannery district of Monterey, California. The people there are down on their luck, lacking opportunity and those who choose for other reasons to not live in the more respectable area of town.

“The inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing.”

The first character we meet is Lee Chong, the owner of the Lee Chong Grocery. On the surface, it appears like he values profits over people however, the actions from Chong that he values people more than money. Steinbeck uses Chong to show how things aren’t as they seem and people can have different personas. Following Chong, we are then introduced to Mack and the boys. Again on the surface they are known to be pleasant guys and good hearted. But, they do have a tendency to take advantage of people and situations to benefit themselves. They refuse to live according to the conventions of society to become ‘successful’ in terms of the world view.

‘A little group of men who had in common no families, no money, and no ambitions beyond food, drink, and contentment.”

Arguably, the most important character is Doc. He is different to the others and is viewed which such high regard. He’s unlike the others too as he is educated and cultured. He is the one that the others look up to. He is always there to offer help and support. He gives advice to those who need it and also provides medicine or other medical services should they be required too. His nature inspires Mack and the boys to try and give Doc a party to thank him for everything he does for them all. There is one issue though: money. The boys take up odd jobs with none of them quick to take up anything long term. The main job is to capture some frogs.

‘He lived in a world of wonders, of excitement. He was concupiscent as a rabbit and gentle as hell. Everyone who knew him was indebted to him.’

Unfortunately, the party doesn’t quite go to plan to begin with. Sadly, Doc returns home to find his place trashed – the door hanging on its hinges, the floor littered with broken glass, phonograph records – some broken, some stolen, mostly littering the floor. Doc naturally is furious and doesn’t really understand what has happened to cause this. After he’s calmed, Doc apologises to Mack for his reaction. Mack reveals the intentions of the men and how it went wrong. Mack does seem to be someone who has regrets himself and is quite a reflective character. He promises to pay for the damages that was caused during a lengthy speech. But, Doc stops him because he knows him too well and Mack knows he is completely right.

“You’ll think about it and it’ll worry you for quite a long time, but you won’t pay for it.”

This turn of events mean that the atmosphere is awkward and uncomfortable. There’s friction and tension but when Darling, the beloved puppy becomes poorly and close to death, Mack and the men are forced to make a change. Darling is eventually saved and this gives the men a new lease of life. It is joy and not despair that is running through Cannery Row. As a result, the men decide to throw Doc another party – this time a proper one like he deserves. It. becomes an effort of all the people of Cannery Row with each of them working hard to give Doc a gift. Steinbeck uses this to show that these men, despite their circumstances have good within them and they have the ability to consider others as well as themselves. Doc finds out about the party and decides to make his own contributions. He brings his best records and also orders copious amounts of food for them all. The party ends up being a huge success – one filled with life and joy. The next morning brings quiet and stillness. Whilst cleaning up from the party, Doc remembers a poem that evoked such emotion from his guests the night before. He is in a state of equilibrium and calm. Life is fragile but so so valuable. The people around you make it count.

‘There are two possible reactions to social ostracism – either a man emerges determined to be better, purer, and kindlier or he goes bad, challenges the world and does even worse things.’

Final Thoughts
Short and powerful, I find Steinbeck just an utterly honest writer. He focuses on the men of the time period and shows how the context shapes them. I found Doc delightful but I actually really liked Mack and the boys too. I really need to devote more time to reading more Steinbeck because I do really enjoy it. I’m also really pleased about getting another classic under my belt too! American Literature is one of my favourite things so I really need to devote more time to American writers too. Lots of room for improvement here…

I hope you’re all well. I’ll see you next time for another book related post, I’m sure! Roll on the bank holiday weekend too!

Big Love all xxx

Book Bingo Reading Challenge 2022! The Lost Apothecary – Sarah Penner

Hello Loves!
It’s finally Easter break! 🐣 I am honestly so relieved and I had to admit, I was questioning if I would make it – I’ve never felt so stressed or exhausted… The mornings this week have been tough – but I did it and now I have two weeks of rest, recovery, reading and napping. Hopefully the weather as well will last – there’s nothing better than Spring sunshine. Easter is a huge event for my family too so I’m really excited about that also! Good things are approaching!

Anyway, this post is to hopefully make amends for not being successful in my reading challenge last month. I picked the category: Read a book of the month (Waterstones or equivalent). I’d started four books for this and failed them all for different reasons. Then, I realised that I’d read the books from the Waterstones book of the month so I then branched out to research more books of the month. I stumbled across the Goodreads list and the rest, as they say, is history. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was on my shelf after being gifted by a friend and that decided it. Fate some may say! I absolutely LOVE this book so I hope you all do too!

On with the review!

What’s it all about?
First of all, the book is visually stunning. The purples and gold really make it a picture on your shelf. Moving away from the look of it, the plot is also stunning too! I love this book and it will be one that I gift to my friends as well. It’s a book that you have to read.

Each chapter alternates between the three main women: Caroline, Nella and Liza and their respective time periods, modern day and 1791. Despite being over two hundred years apart, the lives of these two women are about to be linked forever. The novel opens with Nella, a brief chapter about a letter, a desperate woman, a remedy and a history to the apothecary. Her mother’s before her, the shop historically was a place for women to come to cure their maladies. However, things had taken a much more sinister turn: murder. What had led Nella to this point? There’s only mere references, but a broken heart is evident. As a result, a decision was made, no other woman would hurt like she did.

‘Beneath the ink strokes of my register hid betrayal, anguish…and dark secrets.’

Number 3 Back Alley is the geographical location of the shop. However, it is hidden and is only known about by word of mouth. The front is an empty room with a sack of grain and a small hole for Nella to see who is there. Behind the scenes were huge amounts of herbal ingredients, glass jars, grinding stones and a notebook with the names and ingredients administered over the years. Nella’s mother at the start, with her continuing the work of the apothecary. One day, a charming and interesting girl arrives with a note from her mistress. Her husband was having an affair and that woman needs to go. Instinctively, Nella knew what to do but the child unnerved her. Death and children shouldn’t mix. The remedy = a poisoned chicken egg.

‘My mother had held tight to this principle, instilling in me from an early age the importance of providing a safe haven – a place of healing for women. London grants little to women in need of tender care; instead, it crawls with gentleman’s doctors, each as unprincipled and corrupt as the next. My mother committed to giving women a place of refuge…’

Caroline found herself in London for what should have been a romantic weekend for her ten year wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, things are not good with her husband James as she discovered his infidelity. Finding herself in London meant that she needed to make her own way and her own plans. Curiosity getting the better of her, she meets Alfed, a mudlarker. In the dead of night she heads towards the Thames, unknowing what she will find but the call is much stronger than she realised. She’s given a quick piece of advice: look for inconsistencies and finding something is fate. Despite the smell, she finds a quirky glass vial which raises more questions than answers. She feels a pull to find out more. Her London trip is now focused around this small, glass item and its story. Alf also introduces Caroline to Gaynor, his daughter at the British Library. A budding historian herself, the two become the best of friends.

‘Places and people, I thought to myself. I could feel the change in myself at this very moment: the discontent within me seizing the possibility of adventure, an excursion into my long-lost enthusiasm for eras past.’

As the novel progresses, the lives of these three women become more intertwined. Caroline is busy asking questions and researching the contents of the glass vial, Nella and Liza are busy trying to limit the damage that is being caused. Whilst all mixtures before have gone well, the issue of Lady Clarence, her husband and his mistress did not. The wrong person died and the bottle had the same image of a bear and the address on the back. This discrete apothecary, fill of its potions and its secrets was now at risk of becoming public knowledge.

‘At present that seemed like a dream; with my mistake, I might have doomed her and all of us within the pages of her book. I thought again of the many names I’d traced in the register a couple of days ago, I had darkened the ink strokes in order to preserve and protect the names of the women… Now, I feared I hadn’t preserved and protected anything at all.’

The end of the novel is simply stunning. No spoilers here but the I adore the end – the loyalty, the companionship and most of all, the love and respect between these women. This history of the past, the women and their stories have helped shaped Caroline’s future. Gaynor becomes a true friend of Caroline, she (re)discovers who she really wants to be outside the confines of a marriage and the history of the women and their need for the apothecary shop at 3 Back Alley lives on. The title may be the ‘lost’ apothecary, but Caroline has certainly made sure it is found now.

‘I remembered Batchelor Alf’s words on the mudlarking tour, about how finding something on the river was surely fate. I hadn’t believed it at the time, I now knew that stumbling upon the tiny blue vial was fate – a pivotal turn in the direction of my life.’

Final Thoughts
There are not enough words for how much I loved and enjoyed this book. Sarah Penner is a name I will be keeping an eye out for in the future, that’s for sure. This book is perfect for showing the strength of women, what it means to stand by each other and the lengths women will go to to protect those around them. It also shows the devastating effect of being hurt and how that changes people. After all, it was that betrayal that changed Nella. I also loved that the action truly centres around a book that has been passed down from mother, to daughter and now to Caroline. Stunningly beautiful, for me this book is a masterpiece.

Big Love all xxxxx

2022!

Hello Lovelies!

I firstly want to wish you all a Happy New Year and welcome 2022 in with a bang! I hope it is full of wonderful experiences, good books, peace, health and warm friendships. None of us know what the future holds but I am going to be positive for the year ahead because I’m certain there’s good books waiting to be read and memories waiting to be made.

Anyway, I’m here today to share with you my thoughts and summary on 2021 and to show you all the books I’ve read in 2021 too. Also, I’m really excited to launch my new Reading Challenge for 2022 as well and I hope you take part in this with me!

2021 was a wonderful year in so many ways but utterly devastating in others. Like the rest of the world, we went into 2021 not really knowing what was going to happen. I decided I would just do what I always do – work on my blog, read plenty, get out there and take advantages of any opportunities that came my way and provide stability to the children in my classroom. I’m absolutely certain I’ll be doing exactly the same now we are in 2022 too!

I remember this time last year in my post I was overjoyed to have read so may books in 2020 – a huge 148. Well, in 2021 I managed to read 161 books. I honestly can’t believe it. I know that sounds so silly because I did my monthly round-ups but it’s still something I’m so proud of and something I never expected to be able to do. Also, how lucky am I to have had the time and the ability to read so may amazing books. It also tells me (not that I need reminding) that reading is definitely a thing of respite and joy for me. I’m still the girl that will read before bed, in the car on long journeys and at any given moment really. My head is usually in a book and I doubt that will ever change!

2021 in books!

  1. Corcoran, Caroline – The Baby Group
  2. Bell, Anna – We Just Clicked
  3. Fennell, David – The Art of Death
  4. Ridpath, Michael – The Diplomat’s Wife
  5. Ryan, Iain – The Spiral
  6. Bond, Caroline – One Split Second
  7. Rankin, Ian – Mortal Causes
  8. Rauf, Onjali Q – The Night Bus Hero
  9. Collen, Lindsey – Mutiny
  10. Watson, Christie – The Courage to Care
  11. Wood, Giles & Killen, Mary – The Diary of Two Nobodies
  12. May, Peter – Lockdown
  13. Turner, A.K. – Body Language
  14. Bailey, James – The Flip Side
  15. Napolitano, Ann – Dear Edward
  16. Rowell, Rainbow – The Prince and the Troll
  17. Potter, Alexandra – Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up
  18. Lee, Krys – How I Became A North Korean
  19. Logan, T.M. – The Holiday
  20. Carr, John Dickson – The Corpse in the Waxworks
  21. Walliams, David – Code Name Bananas
  22. Clarke, Rachel – Breathtaking
  23. Grisham, John – The Rooster Bar
  24. Priestley, J.B – An Inspector Calls
  25. Rowell, Rainbow – Eleanor and Park
  26. All on the Board – All on the Board
  27. Alam, Rumaan – Leave the World Behind
  28. Howells, Debbie – The Death of Her
  29. Cavanagh, Steve – Fifty Fifty
  30. Mackesy, Charlie – The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
  31. Michaelides, Alex – The Silent Patient
  32. Hardiman, Rebecca – Good Eggs
  33. Dowling, Tim – How to be a Husband
  34. Charles, Janet Skeslien – The Paris Library
  35. Lefteri, Christy – The Beekeeper of Aleppo
  36. Logan, T.M. – Trust Me
  37. Barnes, Simon – Rewild Yourself
  38. Rosen, Michael – Many Different Kinds of Love
  39. Dowling, Tim – Dad You Suck
  40. Vesper, Inga – The Long, Long Afternoon
  41. Sakhlecha, Trisha – Your Truth or Mine?
  42. Hogan, Ruth – Madame Burova
  43. Hawker, Luke Adam – Together
  44. Morray, Beth – Saving Missy
  45. Logan, T.M. – The Catch
  46. Perry, Annika – Oscar’s Quest
  47. Patterson, James – Murder Games
  48. Swanson, Peter – Her Every Fear
  49. Coben, Harlan – Long Lost
  50. Coles, Richard – The Madness of Grief
  51. McConaughey, Matthew – Greenlights
  52. Moore, Captain Tom – Captain Tom’s Life Lessons
  53. Logan, T.M. – 29 Seconds
  54. Logan, T.M. – Lies
  55. Benedictus, Leo – Consent
  56. Bauer, Belinda – Exit
  57. Toon, Francine – Pine
  58. Cohen, Julie – Together
  59. Redhill, Michael – Bellevue Square
  60. Sher, Abby – All The Ways The World Can End
  61. Kinsella, Sophie – Shopaholic and Sister
  62. Henry, Emily – Beach Read
  63. Kinsella, Sophie – Shopaholic & Baby
  64. O’Leary, Beth – The Road Trip
  65. Schutz, Lars – The Alphabet Murders
  66. Markinson, T.B. – The Setup
  67. Cloke, Nicci – Close Your Eyes
  68. Taggart, Caroline – The Book Lover’s Bucket List
  69. Latham, Martin – The Book Seller’s Tale
  70. Wurger, Takis – Stella
  71. Woods, Carolyn – Sleeping with a Psychopath
  72. Nealon, Louise – Snowflake
  73. Grisham, John – The Associate
  74. Tolkien, J.R.R – The Hobbit
  75. Candlish, Louise – The Skylight
  76. James, Peter – Wish You Were Dead
  77. Liardet, Frances – We Must Be Brave
  78. Hwang, Sun-Mi – Miracle on Cherry Hill
  79. Brandi, Mark – The Rip
  80. Williams, Candice-Carty – Notting Hill Carnival 
  81. Lansdale, Joe R – Cold in July
  82. Earle, Phil – When The Sky Falls
  83. Lefteri, Christy – Songbirds
  84. Kaplinsky, Natasha – Letter from Lockdown
  85. Wharfe, Ken – Guarding Diana
  86. Patterson, James – Mistress
  87. Paris, B.A. – The Therapist
  88. Adimi, Kaouther – A Bookshop in Algiers
  89. Michaelides, Alex – The Maidens
  90. Skördeman, Gustaf – Geiger
  91. Wix, Katy – Delicacy
  92. Owens, Delia – Where the Crawdads Sing
  93. Woolridge, Addie – The Checklist
  94. Craven, M.W. – The Puppet Show
  95. Philby, Charlotte – A Double Life
  96. Carpenter, Elisabeth – The Woman Downstairs
  97. Maclean, Julianne – These Tangled Vines
  98. Bell, Alex – It Started With a Tweet
  99. French, Dawn – Because of You
  100. Berry, Lauren – Living the Dream
  101. Ayrton, Lucy – One More Chance
  102. Rous, Emma – The Au Pair
  103. Baker, Tim – Fever City
  104. Galbraith, Robert – Troubled Blood
  105. Hislop, Victoria – The Island
  106. Hislop, Victoria – One August Night
  107. Patterson, James – The Quickie
  108. Rentzenbrink, Cathy – Dear Reader
  109. Patterson, James – Kill Me If You Can
  110. Crawford, Susan – The Pocket Wife
  111. See, Lee – The Island of Sea Women
  112. Coble, Kaela – Friends and Liars
  113. Dinsdale, Robert – Gingerbread
  114. Christie, Agatha – Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly
  115. Patterson, James – Texas Ranger
  116. Hawkins, Paula – A Slow Fire Burning
  117. Carpenter, Elisabeth – Only a Mother
  118. Taylor, Kathrine Kressmann – Address Unknown
  119. Sharpe, Tess – The Girls I’ve Been
  120. Chaney, Lawrence – Drag Queen of Scots
  121. Pullman, Philip – Grimms Tales for Young and Old     
  122. Natsukawa, Sosuke – The Cat Who Saved Books
  123. Ryan, Katherine – The Audacity
  124. Shakespeare, William – Macbeth
  125. Seuss, Dr – Green Eggs and Ham
  126. Williams, Margery – The Velveteen Rabbit
  127. Frazier, Jean Kyong – Pizza Girl
  128. Peston, Robert – The Whistleblower
  129. Patterson, James – Private Princess
  130. Hope, Lucy – Fledgling
  131. Rowling, J.K. – The Ickabog
  132. Kinsella, Sophie – The Party Crasher
  133. Patterson, James – Texas Outlaw
  134. Walters, Minette – The Swift and the Harrier
  135. Miller, Ben – The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale
  136. Norbury, James – Big Panda and Tiny Dragon
  137. Carr, Jimmy – Before & Laughter
  138. Benjamin, Ali – The Thing About Jellyfish
  139. Grisham, John – Sooley
  140. Page, Alexandra – Wishyouwas
  141. Dickens, Charles – A Christmas Carol
  142. Beaumont, Lucy – Drinking Custard: Diary of a Confused Mum
  143. Stevenson, Robert Louis – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  144. Barnett, Laura – Gifts
  145. Hoang, Helen – The Heart Principle
  146. French, Nicci – Killing Me Softly
  147. Prior, Hazel – Call of the Penguins
  148. Daley, Tom – Coming up for Air
  149. Thayne, RaeAnne – Christmas at the Holiday House
  150. French, Nicci – What to do When Someone Dies
  151. Fletcher, Carrie Hope – Into the Spotlight
  152. Ahlberg, Janet & Allan – The Jolly Christmas Postman
  153. Patterson, James – Don’t Blink
  154. Wilson, A.N. – The King and the Christmas Tree
  155. Kinsella, Sophie – Love Your Life
  156. Perry, Sarah – The Essex Serpent
  157. Fargher, Anna – Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue
  158. Cooper, Daisy May – Don’t Laugh, It’ll Only Encourage Her
  159. Rayner, Jay – Chewing the Fat
  160. Lean, Sarah – The Good Bear
  161. Donaldson, Julia & Sandey, Victoria – The Christmas Pine     

There are so many great books here by brilliant writers. Yet, I am well aware when people post how many books they’ve read, it can be quite overwhelming. Confession time: there are so many books that I’ve given up on. I’m absolutely ruthless as well because I can give up after reading the first page. I just know if it’s a book for me or not. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad book. I’m in no position to judge and never would – it’s more about how I react to it. For example, I struggle when there’s lots of characters because I get confused. I’m less good with books that constantly change time frames. These books are still amazing to other people, but just aren’t the right ones for me. Don’t ever feel like you didn’t do very well because you read less. Reading a book is an absolute joy and honour. Most of all, reading is for you. Don’t ever forget that or doubt yourself when it comes to reading.


And now the bit I’m most excited about… My new reading challenge!

I’ve reflected quite a lot on my Reading Challenge of 2021. I loved doing it and I am so pleased I made it but I want 2022 to be even better. Last year, each month had a different theme. This year I’ve gone for a more fluid approach whereby I’ve made a bingo card and I will tick off one of the twelve focuses each month across the year.

Anyway, I’m proud to introduce to you all Book Bingo: Reading Challenge 2022!

There are some obvious things here where it fits certain months but I think this flexibility means I’ll be branch out into new areas that I haven’t gone into before. I can explore self-published books, new genres and tick off those books that I’ve been meaning to read for years but never quite got round to because a beautiful cover somewhere else caught my eye…

I’d love it if you took part in this with me and shared with me what you pick. After all, my to be read pile grows because of this community – let’s face it! Most of all, I really hope you like it! Happy New Year again and here’s to a booktastic 2022! Until next time…

Big love all xxx