I have not always been one for reading goals. I have set myself targets of how many books I may like read, but it has never been my sole purpose of focus as I read. Just a chance for me to keep a bit of a record and see how I do.
However, this coming year, I have decided that I will set a target but also take part in The Unread Shelf Project: and exciting little project that aims to support all of us who love books to shift some of those unread books which may have been on our shelves for some time. There is a prompt each month to help select the books you can clear from your shelves (and some bonus prompts if you would like to shift a few more). I have made some selections of books I would like to try to clear from the shelves, and I am keen to see what unread treasures I find.
Alongside this, I also hope that I read some more titles from my ‘100 Books Bucket List’ poster. I am hoping to have five additional books crossed off from that by the end of 2021.
But, most importantly, my reading goal for 2021 is to enjoy the time I have to read. There is no guilt if a book is not for you – the time spent reading should be time that is enjoyed.
Have you got any goals for 2021?
I will be completely honest that the cover of the beautiul hardback edition is what caught my eye. However, I do also love cosy crime and Agatha Christie is the queen of that exact genre.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is just a wonderful piece of classic crime fiction for the festive season. Set over the Christmas period Poirot ends up investigating the murder of Mr Simeon Lee. A locked room mysterym with a household of motives and suspects, and – well – many who are not exactly what they seem.
This novel is a brilliant piece of cosy crime, which has all the ingredients of a classic Christie. Especially that wonderful reveal, as Poirot offers us all his solution to the problem.
I really enjoyed this book this festive season, and it may well become one I regularly revisit to spend some time in the company of the great Hercule Poirot.
The December choice for The Tasting Notes Book Club was ‘The Six Tales of Christmas’. And what a beautifully festive read it was. This is a book for book lovers.
It tells the story of Nora and Simon Walden, owners of The Stowford Bookshop, one Christmas time. Their little bookshop is not doing as well they would hope, but this does not stop them from thinking of ways to bring community spirit to their little village – after all, they believe in the magic of books.
As a random act of kindness, six books are delivered to six members of the community. This starts a series of events for so many that brings some Christmas magic and even changes lives.
This is simply one of those books that is a joy to read, especially at this time of year. It is hopeful and really reflects on the need for community, love and friendship. After all, we all need a helping hand sometimes.
Also, as the bookshop and books are so important to this tale, you will end up with more books to read – or at least the desire to revisit some classics.
We may be approaching the end of this festive season, but this is a book that would be a joy at any time of year. Or, you could mark it down as one to have ready for next year.
Theatre if one of the greatest joys for Mr Bookwormandtheatremouse and I during the festive season. However, of course, this year live theatre was not an option for us. But we wanted to support the Arts, so ‘A Christmas Carol‘ streamed by The Old Vic, seemed like a perfect opportunity.
It may not be exactly the same settling down in your own home to watch a play, however there was still some of the magic – dim the lights and create your own atmosphere.
This was a lovely adaptation of the tale – it goes at quite a pace that certainly holds the audience’s attention. This does not take away from the tale at all, but just means its focus slightly shifts. This adaptation for me, has more of a message about the saving of Ebenezer Scrooge – the man he can become and the help he can bring to so many. The message from this was perfect for 2020, and the strange year it has been.
Every member of the cast was excellent, but I did enjoy Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge. It was nice to think of Scrooge as a younger man who would have the chance to make a difference for many years to come.
If you have a chance to catch this production, please do – it is good fun and a tale that is so much part of the festive season.
This little book is simply a gem.
A Solitaire novella from Alice Oseman, it takes you to Christmas with Charlie and Nick. However, the focus is mainly on the Spring family, as Oseman again does not shy away from difficult but incredibly important subjects.
Christmas seems even more challenging this year, as Tori is worried about her brother Charlie. He has suffered from an eating disorder and Tori worries that this will make Christmas hard for her brother.
This sensitively written book focuses on mental health, family and romantic relationships, and will make readers really evaluate what is important at Christmas time.
This may not be your traditional festive read, but it will definitely be enjoyed by fans of the work of Alice Oseman – her brilliant natural storytelling and great illustrations.
A great piece of YA fiction that will really make you think this festive season.
I was lucky enough to win this beautiful book in a lovely giveaway on bookstagram. And, I am not sure much else could be so perfect for this time of year as some ‘cosy’ crime.
This book is a collection of tales from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. They are all stories that have been published in other collections of short stories; however, they have been brought together here because they all have a wintery or festive feel.
You meet all your favourite Christie detectives including, of course, Marple and Poirot. My favourite tale was the third in the collection, as it reminded me a little of ‘An Inspector Calls’ which is another favourite at this time of year.
This collection of tales is just a perfect piece of escapism: classic crime. You may solve some of the mysteries ot you may just wish to let it unfold around you.
Either way, grab your favourite festive treats and settle down with some Christie classics.
November (I know, a little late), ‘The Dead Secret’ was picked for the buddy read for all of us who love a sensation novel, in the Victorian Sensation Book Club.
I had not heard of this novel from the pen of Collins, but that is always the beauty of a readalong – you find new titles.
I really enjoyed this book and, if you are not used to classics, this would be a great place to start. It has all the ingredients of an engaging read – a colourful collection of characters, a secret and a big old house with closed rooms. Elements of a gothic setting along the way.
I found this a real page-turner because the mystery is in place almost immediately, as the death of the lady of the house, a letter and a lady’s maid that the rest of the staff find a little strange disappearing draws you into ‘The Dead Secret’. I enjoy the narrative style of Wilkie Collins and, despite working out small parts of the mystery slightly before they were revealed did not take away from the enjoyment of reading this book.
I also felt that this was a book where you could see the friendship between Collins and fellow author Charles Dickens. As I read, some of the characters such as Uncle Joseph had a vibe of Dickens about them. That, for me, just made the book even more fascinating, as I love the idea of great literary connections.
So, if you would like to have a go at a novel by Wilkie Collins, I would suggest that you start with this piece of esacapism.
Today is my stop on ’12 Days of Clink Street’ and I have had the joy of being gifted ‘The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch’ – and it really is a joyous read.
1940, rural Yorkshire, and the villagers of Little Hope are doing their best to keep going despite the events of World War Two and mainland Europe. Hilda Ffinch decides her contribution is to become the agony aunt for the local newspaper. As lady of the manor, and completely unshockable, she tackles any problem the villagers throw at her, although often with very little tact.
This is a wonderfully comic novel. Told in a series of letters and replies full of clever use of language to create subtle humour throughout. And the advice is always wonderfully entertaining – you do wonder if anyone would be tempted to follow it.
I love the nostalgia in this book; it reminds me of all the great comedies hat could be found on the radio and TV during the fifties, sixties and seventies. Gentle humour to make you giggle and bring you cheer.
If you want to read a book that really demonstrates the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude as we reach the end of a very strange year – this hidden gem is for you.
November’s pick of ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’ from the fantastic ‘The Book Taster’, was ‘The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney’ by Okechukwu Nzelu. And I absolutely loved this book, reading it in one weekend.
This the the debut novel from the pen of Okechukwu Nzelu, and I thought it was such a fantastic story and so readable. This book has a range of characters whose lives are entwined as they are all on a voyage of discovery about themselves, their identity and their place in the world. Nnenna has never met her father, and as she is reaching her late teens and thinking about moving out into the world, away from home, she starts to think it is time to find out more about her heritage. This impacts many of the relationships around her and lets us find out about the past, as her mother tackles this changing relationship too.
However, this novel does not just tackle identity, but also so many other key issues, such as mental health and racism.
It is an absolutely fascinating book and really had me thinking about all of the things that shape us and our beliefs. And sometimes how that leads us to make some tough decisions.
Nzelu is a talented writer with clearly a lot that he wants to share with the world. I would love to read more from him, especially if it happend to be the story of Maurice or Jonathan (just an idea – haha!).
So, if you want to discover a new author with so much to share, this is the book for you.
As part of a ‘Collective Voices Readalong’ for Tandem Collective UK, I read ‘Take a Hint, Dani Brown’ by Talia Hibbert.
This is probably a book that I would never have picked up without that encouragement. It really is not a book that you should judge by its cover – that suggests a whimsical romance story; a hero and his girl. However, this book tackles so much more and so skilfully.
This is the tale of Dani Brown, who has convinced herself that romance and relationships are not for her – her ambition is enough, as long as she has a bit on the side. Zaf is a lover of romance novels and really likes Dani, if only she would notice, or at least see him as more than a friend. This may sound like a trope-filled romantic fiction novel, however underpinning all this are themes of identity, grief, mental health and healthy relationships. It becomes a real page-turner as you want to know more about Zaf, Dani and their stories. And, of course, if they will get their happy ending.
Nowm this quite a sexy book and, in some ways, it is quite liberating to read a book which is not afraid to be quite so liberal. However, it won’t be for everyone. Although, you could easily skip this without losing anything from the book.
I do now feel invested in the finding out more about the Brown sisters, so will be reading more of Talia Hibbert’s books. This a well-written, contemporary piece of fiction – with a sexy edge.