Whenever I see that there is a new book from Karen M. McManus, I always have to ensure I have a copy – and it was exactly the same with ‘You’ll Be the Death of Me’.
I am a huge fan of crime fiction and really enjoy when it collides with YA fiction. And Karen M. McManus does this well.
However, I was not instantly gripped with the start of this book. I think I found the characters a little difficult to engage with and was not sure how it was going to lead to a thrilling read.
Yet, once the pace picks uo and we are drawn into the mystery, I enjoyed the book, and the characters became more engaging. I even thought I had solved it – or at least caught on to one of the clues; only to be thrown into confusion when things continued not to be quite as they seem.
This was not my favourite of the novels from the pen of McManus, but it was still a satisfying piece of YA crime fiction, and I continue to be a fan.
Avon Books were kind enough to gift me a copy of ‘The Arctic Curry Club’ and I saved it specifically for the December. Although, not a festive read, it is a perfect wintry story. And, I have said it before, but you certainly should not judge a book by its cover, or even possibly its title, because this book was far more than I could have imagined it would be. In fact, this book could be one of my books of the year.
I don’t think I can sum this book up perfectly because there is so much among its pages to cover. However, what I found brilliant about it was all the issues it tackled, such as mental health, but with heart and sensitivity. Our central character Maya ends up on quite an adventure of self-discovery when she moves to the Arctic and her dad moves to India to remarry. Family secrets start to resurface, which leads Maya to question what she knew, but also leads her to create ‘The Arctic Curry Club’ using her Mum’s recipes.
This is honestly a wonderful book that is really not what you would expect; I will be recommending it to lots of my fellow bookworms.
(Please be aware it does cover some sensitive issues).
Cosy crime is one of my favourite things about Christmas. So I chose some cosy crime for younger readers this time – although I believe we can all enjoy Children’s books, whatever age we are. It is perfect escapism (and I do wish these had existed when I was a child).
This time we are, as the title suggests, on a Christmas adventure with our two amateur detectives. Daisy and Hazel are spending Christmas in Cambridge with Daisy’s brother and Aunt. And, as you can imagine, they stumble on all sorts of mysteries, secrets and, of course, a murder…or two. And with a rival agency in town, too – who will solve the crime?
No spoilers here, but this was an incredibly fun read and it is always great to find strong female leads to inspire readers. I also thought that despite this being set in 1935, it did challenge some of the views that we would not accept now. It is always important to take lessons from books, too, and it is handled so well in these pages.
This is my secon ‘Murder Most Unladylike Mystery’, and I will definitely be returning (and reading them in the right order).
This is our second trip to Shetland with the writing of Erin Green and it is just as wonderful as the first time. I kicked off my festive reading with this gem – got me ready for Christmas.
The beautiful craft centre at Lerwick Manor is now open and preparing for the Christmas season. All our favourite characters are there, just like before, but this time we are on an adventure with Nessie (a blacksmith), Verity (a new recruit) and Isla (baker extraordinaire). Each woman is on their own path through life, and work, on a quest for happiness.
This book is like a hug – and even though life is not always as smooth as you would hope, with friends, love and support a silver lining can be found. I have to be honest, I may have had a little cry towards the end of the book. This story is like making new friends and certainly means that you will want to visit the beautiful Shetland Isles (well, I assume it is beautiful – I am really keen to find out).
I absolutely cannot wait for our next trip to Shetland and the next fabulous characters we will meet – or be reunited with.
I usually read a Shirley Jackson in October; well, I have the last two years. However, this year it moved to November as my choice for the prompt: ‘a book published before 2000’.
Shirley Jackson novels are always strangely compelling, if not a little weird. And ‘The Sundial’ is no exception. In fact, it is a clever study of human nature, especially in strange times. The Holloran family are told, by the long dead original patriarch, that the world is about to end and only those in the house will survive. This throws the occupants of the house into a strange ‘world’ of preparing for this event.
It has all of Jackson’s favourite things: a family with secrets, a house of secrets, and all the spooky vibes. It was a real page-turner and even though at points, I was not entirely convinced I fully understood what was going on, I still enjoyed reading every single page.
The November pick for ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club‘ was ‘How to Belong’ by Sarah Franklin. Set in the Forest of Dean, this is a story of ordinary folk trying to find their way through life and all of its challenges.
Jo has returned from London to her quiet rural roots. She hopes she can save the family butcher’s shop, but is this really where she belongs?
Tessa has returned, too, because she thinks she can’t face the future. But is the past, and her own fear, holding her back from belonging?
As their two tales collide, can they help each other find their place in the world? Is this a friendship they did not know they needed?
This is quite an interesting read as Sarah Franklin leaves some of it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions. Although it does leave you with questions too, but it does mean that you ponder the book beyond the final page.
This is a cosy read for these winter months, and an easy read, so do not be put off by the cover and give it a go.
I was lucky enough to get a place on Tandem Collective’s readalong for ‘Peach Blossom Spring’ by Melissa Fu. Now, this is probably a book I would not normally have read. In fact, as it is historical fiction, I would possibly have avoided it, as it is my least-favourite genre. However, this would have meant I would have missed out on one of my favourite reads of 2021 (especially as it is not even let out into the world yet).
Inspired by Melissa Fu’s own family story, this book takes us on a journey with Meilin and her son, Renshu. They are forced from their home during the second Sino-Japanese war and, from that moment, the are forced to move from place to place until they can find a place to settle and call home. Along the way, they encounter tragedy, friendship and the desire to survive – with Meilin doing all she can to protect her son and ensure he has the future opportunities she believes her deserves. And – then we explore the lasting impact these experiences have on all generations of the family.
It is an absolutely beautiful book. A true page-turner, and one that will leave you with a desire to find out more about China’s history, to bring the narrative to life even more.
And any bookworm will fall in love with the important role that stories play throughout the book – after all they can often bring us hope in the toughest times.
So, when ‘Peach Blossom Spring’ is released in 2022, please pick up a copy and find yourself in the company of Meilin and Renshu.
This could be one of my favourite reads of 2021 – even if I had left it on my shelf for a while. A classic ghost story for middle-grade readers – well, let’s be honest, for all fans of ghost stories.
Set in the wonderfully atmospheric Lake District, we find a family with dark secrets and a fascinating collection of characters. Some of them rather disagreeable and some of them rather wonderful, and inspirational in their way. Especially our fantastically fiesty and independent lead character Agatha Asquith; despite it being set in the past, she is a perfect hero for the modern reader.
This beautifully written novel is one that I want to share with readers of all ages. For the younger reader, it is a perfectly exciting ghost story, and for us ‘older’ readers – well, it offers exactly the same, with a touch of nostalgia.
Lucy Strange is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors because she writes the sort of books I would have adored when I was younger. And have seen that she has a new title heading our way very soon – and I can’t wait!
I feel a little late to the party with this YA masterpiece, although, as it is on the shortlist for the ‘Waterstones Book of the Year‘ I don’t feel quite as bad.
I was inspired to read this book after an online book event a few months ago. The concept of the book sounded absolutely fascinating and I was surprised, as a huge fan of YA, that I had missed out on reading it.
Mateo and Rufus become ‘Last Day Friends’ when they both receive the call that it is their last day of living. Together they embrace making the most of their last day and reflect on what has come before. It is quite a journey for both of them, but it certainly feels more dramatic for Mateo. And your heart breaks as the pair find love together, and you know that it will not be the complete happy ending you would wish for them both.
I did find this book powerful and it really is one that does not leave you for a long time. In fact, it made me think of the path my life has taken and if there are things I should seize the chance to do. A wonderful piece of YA fiction.
‘The Man who Died Twice’ was one of the most anticipated reads of the year. Like so many others, I had absolutely loved meeting ‘the Thursday Murder Club‘ last year and could not wait to find out what their next adventure would be.
This book did not disappoint – in fact, it is probably the definition of cosy crime on these cold autumn nights. Our fabulous four from book one end up on another rather wild adventure as Elizabeth’s rather charming ex-husband shows up and gets them involved in quite the diamond-related crime.
Absolutely no spoilers being shared here, because I want everyone to be able to enjoy the charm of this page-turner. Other than to say this book is like returning to old friends, and I loved that about it.
There is also so much charm to Osman’s writing. It is warm and witty – making it such an enjoyable read from start to finish.
And, of course, I now cannot wait for book three to be released, because Ron, Ibrahim, Joyce and Elizabeth are like old friends you can’t wait to catch up with and have a cuppa (or a sneaky glass of wind if the kettle is otherwise occupied).