Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How has it taken me so long to come to read this? I had made assumptions about its subject matter based on the little I knew of the author. I was wrong, so wrong. It is a great dystopian novel and well worth reading. It will make you think and is as relevant now as it ever was. Read it, unless someone burns it first!

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop, #1)Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely escapist read. The characters are believable and endearing. The setting is beautiful. Spending time with this book is like being in the company of the best people in your life. A light and unchallenging read, but a thorough delight.

 

The Sins of the Father (The Clifton Chronicles, #2)The Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having overcome my prejudice against reading books by Jeffrey Archer, I can safely say I am hooked. This series is wonderful. Beautifully written with characters that are as real as any you will find in any book. I could not put it down and having reached the end I can only say that Archer is a master of leaving you totally on a cliff edge and ready to read the next in the series. Start at the beginning of the series to get the full enjoyment, but do read them you will not be disappointed.

Little Beach Street BakeryLittle Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. I had already read Summer at the Beach Street Bakery, which is the sequel, but reading them out of order did not lessen my enjoyment. I did however squeal with delight on first meeting Neil the Puffin, who I had grown to love in the sequel. I now have a very bemused family and Neil the Puffin has become a common topic of conversation. It’s a fun book, with enough serious situations to be satisfying and take you through the emotional wringer. It will also make you want to bake bread! Buy it HERE

Night School (Jack Reacher, #21)Night School by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was odd to go back in time with Reacher after so many books written in the present. I’m not saying it was either bad or good, but it was a bit of a surprise and took a little adjusting. It’s a good read without being the best. I’m not sure that Reacher came across as being the younger man he was supposed to be. He was almost the same Reacher set at a different time, but maybe people don’t change so much between the ages of 35 and 55 or thereabouts. Buy it HERE

The Penguin LessonsThe Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t put this down. A wonderful heartwarming and yet thoroughly believable story. Of course, by the end of it you will feel you need a penguin in your life, but who wouldn’t? My only reasons for not giving it five stars are the passages which are not directly about the penguin’s life, which feel more like fillers than really necessary. While they are interesting they are no more so than other people’s travel anecdotes. It is the penguin which makes this unique. Buy it HERE

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The Man With the Golden Gun (James Bond, #13)The Man With the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very good, but some aspects seemed slightly out of character and unlike the Bond I thought I’d got to know. Other than extending the story there seemed little justification for one or two of Bond’s actions (or inactions). Not the best of the series. Buy it HERE

 

The Reading Group: MarchThe Reading Group: March by Della Parker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series gets better and better. I intended to only read a page or two before bed last night, but read to the end of the book because I had to know what happened. The characters are believable, lovable and thoroughly enjoyable to spend time with. If you like romance with a touch of humour and a light hand then you will love this series. Now I’m looking forward to the next one. Buy it HERE

The Reading Group: FebruaryThe Reading Group: February by Della Parker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By far the best in the series yet. A real out and out romance in which you can fall in love along with the character. A fun read that will have you smiling and sighing more than a little bit. Buy it HERE

 

Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles, #1)Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How very annoying. I didn’t intend to read any books by Jeffrey Archer as I do not especially like him as a person (though I don’t know him personally), but Audible offered this for free, so I thought I’d try it. Now I have to buy the next one in the series because it is so good I’m hooked. It is well written and compelling. The characters are well drawn and transport you to their world. You will cheer them on, cry for them, shout at them – listening to the audio version that has quite literally been my reaction. I could not put the book down. The best written book I have read in a long time. Buy it HERE

You Only Live Twice (James Bond, #12)You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good James Bond novel. Different to many of the others, showing more of the weakness of the man and finding him once again face to face with his arch enemy. There are times that Ian Fleming has considerable fun both in references to himself as the writer and with the name of an actor who went on to play the role of Bond.
The plot is perhaps not quite as strong as some of the others, but it is no less enjoyable for it. Buy it HERE

With Love at ChristmasWith Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The end of the book was everything you’d hope for, although I found some of the first half less riveting, but very glad I didn’t stop. Any book that has me shouting at the characters to do the right thing has evoked all the reaction a writer could hope for. If you’re looking for festive cheer then it’s a lovely way to find it. It’s not a candy floss story and there are plenty of troubles along the way, but.. oh I don’t want to spoil the ending. Enjoy reading it for yourself. Buy it HERE

The Reading Group: JanuaryThe Reading Group: January by Della Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such true observations of life. One of the lovely things about a series of books is that the characters become friends and you really start to feel part of their lives. As with the opening instalment this is well worth reading and could just as easily be enjoyed out of sequence. A gentle read which will definitely make you smile. Buy it HERE

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (James Bond, #11)On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bond at his best. The reluctant hero. The lover. The fast paced excitement. The fine food and drink. Everything a Bond fan would hope for from Ian Fleming. Often if you have watched films of books the books themselves can be a disappointment. This is not the case with James Bond. The edge of the seat excitement is, if anything, even greater in the books. Worth reading. Buy it HERE

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop (Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop, #2)Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best of Jenny Colgan’s I have read yet. More than a few moments that made me cry and enough excitement for the most demanding of readers. This may seem a frivolous comment to some, but what stopped it getting a 5 star review was feeding mince pies to the dog. This could kill a dog as currants are toxic to them – even a single currant can be enough. At this time of year all too many animals spend time at the vet because humans feed them things not understanding the possible consequences. Making it seem all right by having someone in a book doing it, does not help. Sorry, Jenny, without that it was great. Buy it HERE

The Reading Group: DecemberThe Reading Group: December by Della Parker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful introduction to the group of friends who will form the base of this series of novellas. Yes, it’s short, but it is also free and is still a story complete within itself and well worth reading. Even in this length Della has introduced us to genuine big issues that do affect people around us if not ourselves. Drawing parallels to the book the group is reading works well and does give the reader something to go away and think about even when the story is finished. I’m looking forward to continuing the series. Buy it HERE

The Christmas PromiseThe Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A romance with more depth of story than many. Sue does a great job of researching her subjects and is not afraid to present challenging and important issues. Her characters are three dimensional and incredibly real. I couldn’t put it down and now it’s finished I feel sad to leave the characters behind. The story is thought provoking but ultimately satisfying. There were times I gasped as I felt a character’s pain with them. There were also times I had to wipe away a tear. Definitely add it to your reading list. Buy it HERE

Calling Mrs ChristmasCalling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit and leave you feeling that all is right with the world. It involves flawed people working through the everyday challenges we all face. It has some interesting characters including young offenders and doesn’t hold back on describing some of their backgrounds and life in the young offenders centre. Thankfully as a romance it’s good that conquers and it does so in a very satisfying way. Buy it HERE

Five Go Gluten-Free (Enid Blyton for Grown Ups)Five Go Gluten-Free by Bruno Vincent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Humorous, and great fun if you read the original series. Does a good job at poking fun at a modern trend.
What confuses me is the extent of Americanisation in the text – published in the UK, take off of an originally UK based book series, set in the UK – why would you let Americanisation creep in? Was also ‘amused’ but the odd accidental grammatical error when one of the humour devices is the correction of grammatical errors by one of the characters. Buy it HERE

Thunderball (James Bond, #9)Thunderball by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

James Bond really comes into his own in this book. It’s a great book and even those who love the films will not be disappointed. With the very early books there are a lot of differences between the films and the books, but over time it was as though Fleming has woken up to the likelihood of on screen versions and what that would require. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Thinking Of YouThinking Of You by Jill Mansell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyable light read. Fun, plausible and engrossing. If you like romance add it to your list. Buy it HERE

 

 

For Your Eyes Only (James Bond #8)For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting to see Bond in the setting of short stories. Some were echoes of the novels, others a little different. Worth reading. Buy it HERE

 

 

Agnes GreyAgnes Grey by Anne Brontë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable without being earth shattering. I find it interesting that the Brontes wrote under pseudonym’s, from the portrayal of the characters you could not fail to assume this book has been written by a woman. It is interesting, though of its time. Buy it HERE

 

Goldfinger (James Bond #7)Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is very easy to see why James Bond has become such an iconic hero. It is obvious to see why the film was able to stay so close to the original book. It has all the ingredients that any spy story could hope for. Excellent. Buy it HERE

 

Three Amazing Things About YouThree Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an outstanding book. There are few books that so bravely tackle the big subjects in the form of a romance. Cystic Fibrosis and organ donation / transplant are tackled sensitively and informatively. As the story unfolds and I began to realise what would happen I found myself gasping as the penny dropped. The characters are drawn so well that I felt I was with them throughout. I would recommend this book to anyone. A thoroughly good read that will leave you thinking long after you get to the end. Buy it HERE

Dr NoDr No by Ian Fleming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very good book for fans of James Bond, not least because it is the first one where the film runs closely to the book. It is easy to understand why this is the point that the film production was picked up. It has all the classic ingredients that those who came first to the films know and love. It is exotic, suave, huge fun and very well written. Buy it HERE

Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2)Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is far from Horowitz’s best book. It is worth reading as a prime example of a particular writing device (which I won’t describe for fear of spoiling the plot) However I found much of the plot contrived and less enjoyable than I would have expected when comparing to other of his work. Buy it HERE

The Undomestic GoddessThe Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Huge fun. If you’ve ever worked in a high pressure city job, you will recognise so much that she is running away from. Having had the fortune to opt out and live in the countryside I could identify with so many aspects of the book and the decisions she made. Well worth reading for some true escapism. Buy it HERE

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The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake DistrictThe Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History of the Lake District by James Rebanks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent read. There are parts where I felt he missed the point, but he would probably say the same of me. It is an important book, not least for adults to understand the perspective of children and to take more respect for their priorities. It is also a beautiful portrait of the English countryside and life that should be important to all of us. Buy it HERE

Someone Else's Child (Della Galton Novellas Book 6)Someone Else’s Child by Della Galton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy Della’s books. They are believable and poignant. This one, a novella, tells a heartwarming and difficult story that is well worth reading. A gentle, satisfying and quick read. Buy it HERE

 

Here Come the GirlsHere Come the Girls by Milly Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you enjoy humorous romance then you will love this book. I laughed out loud. I cried. I cared passionately about the characters and felt as though I knew them. This is the second of Milly Johnson’s books that I have read and it certainly lived up to expectations. Yes, there are occasional flaws in the writing but the story more than makes up for them. Well worth reading and one I shall probably reread, which I don’t say about many books. Buy it HERE

The House of Silk (Sherlock Holmes #1)The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anthony Horowitz is a master of writing in the styles of other authors. It is a skill not everyone can pull off. With both his James Bond novel and his Sherlock Holmes ones he has given the reader a completely authentic experience, whilst managing to bring story lines up to modern day demands. I thoroughly recommend this book to any fan of the originals as well as anyone who might want to come by Sherlock Holmes for the first time. Buy it HERE

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book gets better. It is a fairly depressing book and the early part I found to be hard work, particularly with so many Icelandic names that make it hard to get one’s bearings. However once it moves more closely to Agnes’s story it is a much more gripping read. It is based on historic events and has clearly been well researched. It made me think and gave me an insight into a world I was less familiar with. It’s worth reading, but don’t expect a light or comfortable read – although that can probably be guessed from the title! Buy it HERE

The Yorkshire Pudding ClubThe Yorkshire Pudding Club by Milly Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is possibly the best humorous romantic fiction novel I’ve read. It made me laugh out loud. It made me cry. It made me shout at the characters to get them to see sense or to will them on. I really didn’t want it to end and was sorry to part company with the cast at the end. Unusually for this type of book for me, I might actually read it again! Buy it HERE

Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond #4)Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The film is more similar to the book than the earlier ones, which is wise as the book is very good. What I fail to understand is why the films lose so much that is good in the books. Having said that no one dies for a long time in the book, but Ian Fleming maintains the suspense just as effectively. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Buy it HERE

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What kept this book going was the lead characters. They get under your skin and are real enough for you to care passionately about what happens to them. It’s fair to say that in this book a lot happens to them! The plot was a bit to circular in some ways, going round and round the same loop with very obvious intent to disguise the identity of the true killer but done in a way that was, for me, a little forced. That last point, together with the ending which came close to being brilliant, but wasn’t are the points that lost it that fifth star. However, having said that I found myself looking to make sure that another book in the series is planned as there is no way I can leave the characters there. Thankfully, there is now I just need to be patient! Buy it HERE

Moonraker (James Bond #3)Moonraker by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable read and interesting for the differences to the film as much as for the similarities. The original stories are atmospheric and give a wonderful portrait of their time, while still being action packed and modern enough to keep the reader riveted. It is easy to see why OO7 became such an amazing success both in writing and in film. In Gala Brand there is a Bond girl with real substance and a great partner for Bond… for the investigation at least! Buy it HERE

The StrangerThe Stranger by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting and different murder story. I was half way through the book before the first death, but the book was no less good for it. It is well written with deeper characters than many crime novels and really shows how a non-traditional detective story can work. Well worth a read. Buy it HERE

Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower CaféAfternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café by Milly Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very good storyline with a bit more meat than many women’s fiction novels. All the ingredients for a really satisfying read. Some strong characters who when brought together make a fascinating story, although there was the odd thread that was a little hard to believe. Buy it HERE

 

Live and Let Die (James Bond #2)Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable read and a glimpse at why Bond has become the success he has. Although Bond is more sexist than he ever appears in the films and the film deviates significantly from the story in the book, if anything I think the original story is rather better. It is the first sight of some of the clever touches that kept me riveted to the films as a child. The chairs that disappear into the wall through secret passages, the daredevil acts of courage, the quintessential character of a suave, sophisticated, yet enterprising secret agent. Some say that every boy wanted to be Bond and every girl wanted to be a Bond girl. How wrong they were, books like this made me want to be 007 just as much as any boy would. This book is worth reading by anyone who loves a good spy novel. Buy it HERE

West End GirlsWest End Girls by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Early in this book I thought I would be giving it no more than three stars, but it really got under my skin. From disliking the characters I found myself growing to really care about them and enjoy their company. I would say this is the best of Jenny Colgan’s that I have read so far and I was sorry to get to the end of it as I was really left wanting to know more of their story. Buy it HERE

The Moon FieldThe Moon Field by Judith Allnatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very good and thought provoking book, which follows the real impact of war on the life of a young man. It made me think of what it must have been like for my grandfather and I wish I could now talk to him about it. It is a book women will appreciate more than men I suspect, focusing on the softer emotional side of events. It is not a look at blood and glory, but the impact of injury and the change to life of what the young men saw. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Casino Royale (James Bond #1)Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating to go back and read the Bond books. The start felt a little slow and I wondered how on earth it had been picked up for film, but once it got going it had all the hallmarks of the movies. Bond is not quite as likeable character as in the films but in some ways more realistic. I’m going to work my way through them all and rewatch each film to see the differences. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Trouble with Goats and SheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was almost surreal to be thrown back into 1976 and be in the mind of a character only a few months different in age. I was back there and it was real. The description in this book is outstanding and it captures the reality of life 40 years ago. I thought the story line could have been stronger but the writing made the book well worthwhile reading. Buy it HERE

A Place To Call HomeA Place To Call Home by Carole Matthews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is quite possibly the best ‘feel good’ book I have ever read. The characters give you a warm glow just by being in their company. Ayesha brings out the best in almost everyone around her, including the reader. It is a beautiful story and at the same time enlightening on problems I would now otherwise be aware of. What a triumph of determination the lead character shows. It may not be a literary classic, but the world is better for the existence of this beautiful book. Buy it HERE

Make Me (Jack Reacher, #20)Make Me by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the number of Jack Reacher novels, yet again Lee Child has come up with an original plot. If anything we start to see a slightly softer side to Reacher, but not too soft! I was disappointed that one storyline that seemed important wasn’t really followed through, that is unlike Lee Child. Normally, everything is there for a reason, so unless I missed something he could have done more with one particular event. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well there’s a surprise. I was unimpressed by the first ‘Robert Galbraith’ book, although I did like Cormoron Strike as a character. However repeated encouragement by friends to try the second one eventually paid dividends. This one is much better. The interplay of the characters is good and you really want to know what’s going to happen with them in future books. It’s a reasonably good story, although the setting of the writing world feels a little self-indulgent by the writer. Definitely worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Wedding ProposalThe Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another thoroughly enjoyable read from Sue Moorcroft, including an interesting look at Malta a place I realised I knew virtually nothing about. Enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and a suitably feisty female lead that you are rooting for from the start. Worth a read. Buy it HERE

 

A Cottage by the SeaA Cottage by the Sea by Carole Matthews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who wouldn’t fall in love with Noah? This book is a wonderful escape. A well written and thoroughly enjoyable read. The description of the scenery brought it alive and left me wanting to visit Pembrokeshire. Romance without being too twee. Buy it HERE

 

Trigger MortisTrigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A true Bond that Ian Fleming would appreciate. Anthony Horowitz’s skills as a writer and historian are used to very good effect in this Bond sequel. Admittedly he has used original wording from Fleming in places, but only a small amount and I defy the reader to spot them without being told where to look. The book is fast paced, gripping and true to the originals, something that other authorised writers have not necessarily achieved. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Go Set a Watchman (To Kill A Mockingbird #2)Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An outstanding novel which explores not only the question of equality but also the motivations that drive individuals to follow their ‘principles’. I can now understand how the publisher would ask Harper Lee to write the forerunner, and I am very glad they did. Was I disappointed in Atticus? Yes, but I could see him in context. Do I think this lessens the brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird? Definitely not and I think anyone who asked for their money back on this novel has missed the point entirely. This is a book to read more than once. It is a book to see parallels for modern times and to challenge ourselves with. Harper Lee’s writing is outstanding and my only sorrow is that she did not write more novels than these. Buy it HERE

The Shepherd's Crown (Discworld, #41; Tiffany Aching, #5)The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank goodness Terry Pratchett was able to go out on a high. This book so cleverly moves the story of the witches forward to the next generation, but how sad that we won’t have their further adventures. There was a lovely line towards the end about memories, which made me think of all that Pratchett gave us and how lucky we are to have his books. It’s tragic that there will be no more tales of the characters we have grown to love and as the book drew to a close I don’t mind admitting I cried, not because the book was sad but because it is the end of an era. All I can add to that in the words of the Nac Mac Feegles ‘Crivens!’ Buy it HERE
The Wayward BusThe Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strangely compelling book. It’s strength lies in the impressive character development that Steinbeck achieves by clever choices of words and phrases. This is a beautifully written example of his work and despite the passage of time and changes in attitude it still paints a very real picture of the attitudes and interrelationship of families and strangers. Buy it HERE

Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English DynastyBlack Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty by Catherine Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is another choice by our book group. Fortunately there are two sides to the book. There is the society gossip and conjecture on legitimacy, which does nothing for me at all. Then there is the insight into the politics of the day, which is well written and puts a human slant on key events of the early 20th century. The latter made the book well worth reading for me, even if I had to endure the former to get to it. I would not have chosen this book personally, but I’m glad I read it and the political discussion has parallels for the modern day which make it all the more interesting. Buy it HERE

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery (Little Beach Street Bakery, #2)Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful little escape. A thoroughly enjoyable light read that becomes totally absorbing. It’s funny reading books as a writer sometimes you think ‘if I were writing this then I think the perfect outcome would be…’ then when that is what happens you smile. I don’t like to include spoilers in reviews so this may sound cryptic, I listened to this as an audio book and the storm scene totally got me through major dental work. I was sitting in the dentists chair saying to myself, ‘Don’t start crying now,’ but hopefully the odd escaped tear will be put down to the procedure rather than the story I was listening to. I shall definitely be reading more of Jenny’s work.Buy it HERE

Famous Animals: Volume 1Famous Animals: Volume 1 by Katie W. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A real delight of a book whether as a coffee table book for everyone to enjoy or to get children interested in both famous people and animals. Every page is a delight and you will be pleased you’ve bought it. Can’t wait for volume 2! Buy it HERE

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The Cake Shop In The GardenThe Cake Shop In The Garden by Carole Matthews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A compelling light romance. If you want a book that is completely unchallenging and pure entertainment with a story you will be drawn into and care about the characters, then this is for you. There are enough set backs to have you shouting at the characters when they don’t seem to see what is going on, but they are endearing enough for you to care and be on their side rather than give up hope on them. I enjoyed it enough to want to read Carole Matthews other work which has to be a recommendation.
If you like romance – then try it. Buy it HERE

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The Red NotebookThe Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read, if you don’t mind treading the line between romance and stalking! I suspect that some of the errors I came across were matters of translation but my French is not good enough to read it in the original. It’s a fun story and a light read that will not take long. Buy it HERE

 

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40, Moist von Lipwig #3 )Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The ideas as they relate to the advent of steam are wonderful and provide a great character study of how we humans react to steam engines. The plot of the story itself felt weak and was not as good as many others in the series. I was sorry early in the book to think that there will never be the chance for a Disc World novel looking at ‘estate agents’ and latest incarnation of CMOT Dibbler, such a wast of an opportunity.
I’m hoping that the last in the series will at least send things off on a high. Buy it HERE

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A worthy follow on from the first book. Seeds of the plot have been carefully sown and are reaped with equal care. It is a tight plot with enough twist and turns to keep the reader interested. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the first, but that says as much about the outstanding qualities of the first rather than in weakness in the second.
As soon as we’d finished this one (an audio book shared with we 13 year old stepson) we were both equally keen to begin the final part of the trilogy. Let the Games begin! Buy it HERE

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book of such a good trilogy has a lot to live up to and sadly, this does not equal the first two. It’s still very good, but the standard was so high in book one it would have been difficult to hit that level repeatedly. This book starts by trying to cover too much ground of what has gone before it. That might be useful if a reader picks this up as a first book, but it is not written in a gripping style and if you have read the other two will prove frustrating.
As the book moves on, much too much time is spent in the mundane life of District 13 and there is not enough action to sustain that. Then when the action does occur in the Capital it is gruesome and to some extent too drawn out. Towards the end there is what feels like an anti-climax until a twist takes you to a new ending, which is satisfying without being spectacular.
I’m looking forward to reading more work from this author. Buy it HERE

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Without question, a future classic. There are not many books I would mention in the same breath as Brave New World and Animal Farm but this is one. It is one of the most original stories I have led for a very long time. It is engaging, compelling and horrifically believable. I cared about the characters deeply. It made me laugh, moved me to tears, made my heart race – this is a book for all ages. It has left me longing to read the remaining two in the trilogy and if they are anything like the first one then I won’t want them to end. Buy it HERE

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18)Never Go Back by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At times I was gripped. At other times it reminded me too much of others in the series and at odd points it felt a little repetitive. We see a more rounded character to Jack Reacher in this book and he is all the better for it. I almost wanted part of the story to be true so that could continue in future books, but if you want to know what it was you’ll have to read the book! Buy it HERE

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38; Tiffany Aching, #4)I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do enjoy the stories including the witches. This one was as good as any and well worth reading. When you combine Tiffany Aching with a good dose of the Nac Mac Feegals then you know you’re in for a good story. All the key ingredients to keep readers of everyone entertained – pure escapism at its best. Buy it HERE

 

The Return of the Native The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first Hardy I’ve wanted to hide in the freezer because I could see what was going to happen and didn’t want it to. As it turned out, thankfully in some aspects I was wrong and I was able to breathe a sigh and carry on. It is as near to a happy ending as you will get with Hardy and I enjoyed it. I probably prefer Tess or Jude the Obscure, but this paints a beautiful picture of the wild heath and there characters to warm your heart. Definitely worth reading. Buy it HERE

Dream a Little DreamDream a Little Dream by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this is one of Sue’s best (of the ones I have read so far). The characters are believable and come to life for the reader. There are enough twists and turns to the story line to keep everyone satisfied and an ending that will leave you smiling. I particularly enjoyed a book which actually had a decent role for a dog! That may sound odd but they play such an important role in real life and so rarely get more than a passing reference in fiction. Crosswind (the dog) is a delight. Buy it HERE

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would probably have enjoyed this more had I read it when I was nine rather than forty-nine. Never-the-less, it is a good story and worth reading. What was interesting was looking at it as an editor there is language and wording attributed to the children that I would ask an author to change as being ‘too adult’ for the age of the speaker, but this clearly didn’t hold C S Lewis back! Maybe the language of the children he knew was much older. It gives rise to an interesting debate.

Worth reading at an age. Buy it HERE

NationNation by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not just a story it is a book of modern philosophy. Along with To Kill a Mocking Bird, every young person (and adult) should read it. If it does not make you think first time round then read it again and look a little deeper. So many important issues are covered in parallel with a good well written story with some great characters. To say the world lost a great man when Terry Pratchett died is an understatement. His work is worthy of being read by everyone. Buy it HERE

Vanity FairVanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic in all regards, but typical of the period. A little (a lot) long winded and rambling in places but generally to serve a purpose. After an entire novel of build up, I found the ending disappointing in being rather rushed, but I suspect that is because that aspect of the story was not what was important to the author. Buy it HERE

The Morning After The Life Before (Ice And A Slice #2)The Morning After The Life Before by Della Galton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good follow up novel. Although I think Ice and a Slice is slightly stronger, this is well worth reading both as fiction and as a way of better understanding the real problems of alcoholism. Della has done a fantastic job of making it clear that it could be any one of us affected by this problem and not just some ‘odd’ people somewhere else. It is gritty, real and very good read. Buy  it HERE

Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, #13)Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best Jack Reacher books I’ve read so far. Enough twists and turns to keep any reader happy, with the loveable rogue showing his stubborn streak to good effect. Will be enjoyed by any lover of crime fiction. Buy it HERE

 

All That MullarkeyAll That Mullarkey by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this down. Thoroughly enjoyable and in my view probably Sue’s best. I found the characters believable and felt I knew them by the end. It provokes emotional reactions and ticks all the boxes for the genre. Buy it HERE

 

Making Money (Discworld, #36; Moist Von Lipwig, #2)Making Money by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just when you think he’s covered all angles, Terry Pratchett comes up with something that is a little different in the Disc World. This is fun, not the best, but worth reading. Buy it HERE

 

Time and Time AgainTime and Time Again by Ben Elton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I want to give this 4 and a half stars. Ben Elton is perhaps my favourite writer of recent times. I often describe him as a modern day Chekhov. He tackles deep subjects in an accessible way and anyone who has not read his work is quite frankly missing out. This is no exception. However, I found that the early part of the book often sought to convey too much information and resorted to long paragraphs of history lessons rather than gently feeding it into the story. I can understand how he got to that, but I think it a weakness of parts of the book. I don’t want to give the story away, I thought I knew where it was going, but I was wrong. There are twists that are as good as any you’ll find. As with many of his other books it will live on with me long after the cover is closed and the story told. Buy it HERE

Is This Love?Is This Love? by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whilst I do not think this is the best of Sue Moorcroft’s books, I did find it completely impossible to put down and well worth reading. In particular the portrayal of the brain damaged child and her life in adulthood is both moving and well developed. Sue’s demonstration of both the highs and lows this gives rise to give pause for thought to the reader. I highly recommend this book to any fan of romantic fiction. Buy it HERE

The Skeleton Road (Inspector Karen Pirie, #3)The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting and rather deeper read than I was expecting. Obviously a crime novel, but with a plot that goes much further than the usual parochial issues of drugs, family rivalries etc. This book made me really question how much I knew about such a relatively recent conflict as the Balkan Wars of recent times. I found this an utterly compelling read. Buy it HERE

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35; Tiffany Aching, #3)Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best of Terry Pratchett’s books. His portrayal of the witches is always good and here we see the depth of the different characters. A must read for any fan of the series. Buy it HERE

 

MiddlemarchMiddlemarch by George Eliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not find this as compelling as others of her books, but it was very interesting to read it. There were times I wondered in the way she portrayed the female characters whether Eliot was overcompensating for writing as a man by showing largely pathetic women, but I did have a fear that some of them may have been all too accurately drawn. Worth reading, but if you are only reading one by George Eliot don’t make it this one. Buy it HERE

A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32; Tiffany Aching, #2)A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having worked my way through so many Terry Pratchett books over the last year I was beginning to get a little bored with the ‘same old’ nature of much of it. However, I really enjoyed this one. The witches make a very good subject and their characterisation is brilliant. Tiffany Aching is a great addition to their number. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Darcie's DilemmaDarcie’s Dilemma by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful escapism – I was totally drawn into the story and the characters are very well drawn and believable. I could not put it down. Buy it HERE

 

Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher, #11)Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I’ve read this one. I think it was one of the ones I read at the start and thought I must read more. It was just as enjoyable second time around, give or take remembering much of what was going to happen!It is well written and a good story. It also puts much of the background of Reacher in context. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Gods of Guilt (Mickey Haller, #6; Harry Bosch Universe, #23)The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Connelly is always a good read. I smiled at the references to the film of the Lincoln Lawyer and to others of his writing. There is something surreal about fact and fiction becoming intertwined. Buy it HERE

 

Agent 6 (Leo Demidov, #3)Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tom’s writing brings you close to the characters and the realities of the problems they face. Many of those problems are as shocking as they are real and leave you questioning the world you thought you knew. If I have a criticism of this book it would be that in covering so much ground it meanders rather and at times it is hard to see how he will pull it all together. He does manage to, but I was still left wondering if all the strands were essential in the level of detail provided – they probably were, but it did leave the book at some stages feeling as though the reader, if not the writer, had lost her way.
Is this the last time we will see Leo? As an author myself, I was left wondering whether it was possible to find a scenario to bring him out of what at face value seems to be a final situation. Stranger things have happened and I could not help wondering if that was being left slightly open deliberately!
Worth reading, but not as good as Child 44. Buy it HERE

Our Man in HavanaOur Man in Havana by Graham Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I didn’t read the blurb before I started. The book had been recommended by a friend so I added it to my list. As I started to read I was thinking, well this is odd, but then when I realised it was a satire it all fell into place. What an excellent read. I laughed out loud and even found myself thinking back on sections after reading them them and having a repeat chuckle. This sort of book only only be written as well as this by someone who has experienced the situation and can truly highlight the absurdity of the situation from a position of knowledge. Graham Greene uses his own experience to very good effect. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

One Shot (Jack Reacher, #9)One Shot by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Reacher back at his best. Having been disappointed with the couple of Reacher books immediately prior to this one, it was a delight to find him back on form. Packed with fast paced action and a well laid out plot. I couldn’t put it down from beginning to end. It covers what Lee Child seems to do best – a very short defined period in gripping detail. Buy it HERE

Starting OverStarting Over by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful escapist read. By the end of the book I felt the characters were part of my life and I was sorry to say goodbye to them. Some of the conflict felt as though it could have been resolved much more easily by a little sense and reason, but that is exactly what happens in real life. People have irrational fears and feelings. One person’s easily resolved conflict is another’s lifelong battle. What the reality did was brought the book closer to home and brought it to life. It’s a quick read, as much as anything because you won’t want to put it down. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The FarmThe Farm by Tom Rob Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third book I have read by Tom Rob Smith. The other two were excellent, this one was in parts very good, but in other parts much weaker. Yes, it’s a psychological thriller, but after the amount of time given to the mother’s testimony there was not enough focus on how the son reached his conclusions. It is interesting to read a book where the main character is a possibly unreliable narrator, but some of their testimony was too weak to be sufficiently plausible. I would have liked something more concrete even it it were misleading.

Whilst the book has left me puzzling over some details, it has not left me wanting to read it again. However, Tom’s writing is good and draws the reader in. The characters are well developed and you do feel as though you get to know them through the course of the book. Despite it not being his best, I would still recommend the book. Buy it HERE

Deep Down (Jack Reacher, #16.5)Deep Down by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a Jack Reacher short story. It covers a clearly defined event and a short time period and does it very well. However, it is not a novel and the reader cannot expect the complexity and plot development that would come in a full length Jack Reacher novel. In my opinion, it would have benefited from a twist or two more and perhaps less time spent on the detail of the run and build up to the scenario at the heart of the story. I have preferred others of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher short stories where I have come away feeling as though, if nothing else, I have got to know Reacher as a character more fully. Buy it HERE
Want to Know a Secret?Want to Know a Secret? by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of Sue’s books that I have read and I have immediately added all the others to my ‘to read’ list. It was a wonderfully refreshing book which I couldn’t put down. The characters were believable and I found myself rooting for them. I’m looking forward to reading the next one, which I have already downloaded.Buy it HERE

Ice and a SliceIce and a Slice by Della Galton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read and loved Della’s other books, this came as something of a surprise. The approach to dealing with the difficult topic of alcoholism was refreshing and a real eye-opener. It showed, I think realistically, just how easy it is for people to go down that route without even realising. The story is a good one and I found it believable, touching and at times humorous. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Truth (Discworld, #25; Industrial Revolution, #2)The Truth by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will ring so true with anyone who has worked in or had a passing interest in newspapers. It is Terry Pratchett at his best. Interestingly it contains as much philosophy as the last book I read (Aristotle’s Politics) but is conveyed in an even more meaningful way. The explanation of the difference between The Public Interest and what the public is interested in is brilliant. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War IIThe Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II by Denis Avey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow – this book should be a must read for everyone. Thank God for people like Denis Avey who tell the story of war without prejudice, or any form of jingoistic sentiment. This is war as it really is, the brutality, the inhumanity, the tragedy. There can be no winners in any form of conflict and Denis Avey shows you what it means to lose even if you side comes out on top. I understood, for the first time, why those returning from war rarely talk of what they have seen. Buy it HERE

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24; City Watch, #5)The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good book by Terry Pratchett. I don’t think it is one of the best,but I did enjoy it and it is well worth reading. It also gives some background on some key events. Buy it HERE

 

Carpe Jugulum (Discworld #23; Witches #6)Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best Terry Pratchett books I have read for a while. There are some wonderful one liners which made me laugh out loud. The witches are at their best and the Wee Free Men are always entertaining in their antics. Buy it HERE

Echo Burning (Jack Reacher, #5)Echo Burning by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lee Child lays out the clues for the reader to follow, creating a very satisfying read. The plot was perhaps not as strong as some of the other Jack Reacher books but still well worth reading. The characters are believable and the setting is vividly described. Buy it HERE

 

The Woman in WhiteThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant book. Could not put it down. Having said that, about half way through I nearly did put it down, not because it wasn’t good but because I cared so much about the lead characters that I could not contemplate one of them dying, which seemed inevitable. By the time I reached the end I was content and satisfied with the direction it had taken. I only wished I could have taken revenge on their behalf. Utterly believable and has stood the test of time. As good a read now as it must have been over 100 years age – the true test of a classic. Buy it HERE

Jingo (Discworld, #21; City Watch, #4)Jingo by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some great original ideas and the presence of the City Watch make this one well worth reading. Good to see characters getting their hands dirty who you normally see behind a desk – and i have to say they went up in my estimation for it.Buy it HERE

 

The Visitor (Jack Reacher, #4)The Visitor by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As always a very good read from Lee Child. I’m not sure whether is was intentional but I worked out who and why much earlier than I would have expected to as well as most of the how. It was odd and perhaps a little frustrating having to wait for Jack Reacher to play catch up. I was also a little frustrated by some of Reacher’s behaviour as I felt it was out of character. I thought I knew him better than that. Buy it HERE

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a good read and has several levels to it. It has some beautiful turns of phrase and a convoluted deep plot. The only problem I found was that I simply did not care enough about the characters. Buy it HERE

 

Feet of Clay (Discworld, #19; City Watch, #3)Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good rather than brilliant. It does follow a different plot to others in the Disc World series and so benefits from novelty and any of the books with the City Watch is always a good read. Buy it HERE

 

Tripwire (Jack Reacher, #3)Tripwire by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this book down. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing how Reacher develops as a character and building a picture of his life. Having read some of the later books it is worth going back to the start and reading in order. This one shows some polishing to Lee Child’s writing compared with the earlier ones, but there are still some areas that might have been better for a little editing. However, they do not detract from an excellent story with a very well developed plot that will keep you turning the pages to the end. Buy it HERE

Die Trying (Jack Reacher, #2)Die Trying by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I have read this and I enjoyed it just as much. Lee Child has developed a great character in Jack Reacher, one that is both believable and who draws you in. It is easy to understand some of his motivations, although his lifestyle is an odd one. He has fears the same as the rest of us, but overcomes them in the line of need. I am reading the books in order at the moment and it is interesting to watch the character unfold as Lee Child wrote him. Some of the writing is more polished in later books, but the story and plot are excellent. Buy it HERE

Johnny and the Bomb (Johnny Maxwell, #3)Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great fun and some ideas that leave you thinking. It might be a children’s book but adults will enjoy it. A very light quick read that proves Terry Pratchett is just as good a children’s writer as he is for adults. Buy it HERE

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)Killing Floor by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I could not put this down. It is gripping. Having enjoyed later Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, I decided to go back and fill in the gaps and this is an excellent starting point. It is the first time we meet Jack Reacher in a novel and you certainly get a great picture of the man as well as a brilliant story. Definitely worth reading. Buy it HERE

Johnny and the Dead (Johnny Maxwell, #2)Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably the best Terry Pratchett children’s book that I’ve read. It has some great ideas and believable characters. A thoroughly enjoyable read and one I would expect children to totally enjoy. Buy it HERE

For Whom the Bell TollsFor Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A brilliantly written book that is worth reading, but not one whose story line I could engage with. Some of the philosophising is deep and worthy of consideration but the setting was not one I particularly enjoyed. Buy it HERE

 

Second Son (Jack Reacher, #15.5)Second Son by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was not what I was expecting (my own fault for not reading the blurb) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a Jack Reacher story, but is from when he was 13. It does give an insight into the boy that became the man and is a well crafted story. Definitely worth a read. Buy it HERE

 

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although a fascinating incite into a world which, despite television coverage, I know very little about, this book did not find me desperate to find out what happened next. It is well written but lacks the impetus of The Kite Runner. It is an effective social commentary and as such well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent and mind blowing book.I found my thoughts looping to what might or might not be possible in this improbable world and could only conclude that the author had probably thought it all before me and that her logic seems as good as something like this can be. I had to read the opening a couple of times to get it straigt in my head, but that is not unusual for me with books. Once I had the book moves along at a clear and excellent pace and takes the reader with it, even when the journey is complex.

Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Far from the Madding CrowdFar from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy a good Thomas Hardy novel. This one, despite the deep sadness that occurs throughout the book, is unusual for having a happy ending. It is beautifully written and works as well now as I am sure it did when first published. The language remains relevant and the characters although is some ways removed from the 21st century are not so very different to those we meet today. The Heroine, when her age is taken into account, is a quite remarkable woman and would not be out of place in the modern world. This is not my favourite Hardy, but it is thoroughly worth reading. Buy it HERE

Soul Music (Discworld, #16; Death, #3)Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy those of Terry Pratchett’s books where Death makes an appearance. There is also something reassuring about the thought that from time to time Death wonders if there shouldn’t be more to his existence and has a little breakdown. Although some of the devices are well worn in others of the disc world series, they are none the less effective in Soul Music. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant and satisfying end to the trilogy. All loose ends tied up and the reader left content with where the book finishes. The three taken together are a complete masterpiece of fiction, blending as they do reality and fiction to leave you wondering where one ends and the other begins. The characters are so believable that you almost expect to meet them on the street and before I’d finished I was starting to look over my shoulder and expect I was being followed, as though I were part of the plot. Well worth reading but read the trilogy in order for the most benefit. Buy it HERE

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had planned to read a completely different book when I finished this one, but by the end I simply had to start the final one of the trilogy. What a brilliant book. I was riveted from start to finish. Very well written and a brilliant plot. It is unusual to find both in a book. What a tragedy that he didn’t have chance to write more than this trilogy.

If you are going to read them, do read them in order. Although this has enough explanation to read it in isolation you will feel much more part of the proceedings if you start at the beginning. Make sure you buy the final one at the same time as you won’t want to stop at the end of this one.Buy it HERE

Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5)Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poor old Rincewind, always the same! This is fun if only for the study of the Barbarians who bring a lightness and humour to proceedings. Some of the other aspects of the story fell a little flat for me, but there is enough humour to keep things going and carry the rest. Buy it HERE

 

Adam BedeAdam Bede by George Eliot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting portrait of rural England around the turn of the 19th Century with a particularly enjoyable narrative comment from half a century later. However, the story itself is quite strung out and loses something in the telling. For all that it is written under a pseudonym it is not hard to see that it comes from a woman’s pen. I enjoyed reading it, particularly as I live in such a rural area, but it is unlikely to be one I come back to again. Buy it HERE

Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher, #15)Worth Dying For by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lee Child at his best. I find it amazing how he can take a very short space of time and make a whole book out of 36 hours. This one contains drama, humour and a fast paced and at times gruesome plot that keeps the reader hooked from start to finish. Excellent read. Buy it HERE

 

Men at Arms (Discworld, #15; City Watch, #2)Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In some parts this feels like a reqork of others in the Discworld series, or having read some out of turn they may be a rework of this. For all that it is a good book with a great ending. You get some great development of the characters of the Watch, who in my opinion are some of the best parts of the series. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell, #1)Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Terry’s Pratchett’s observations on the world and, in this case, teenagers are incredibly accurate. This book, in audio form, helped to prevent an 11 year old hitting the boredom threshold on a long journey. He could completely relate to both the characters and the scenarios and despite technology moving on it is written in a way that manages to be timeless. Buy it HERE

Lords and Ladies (Discworld, #14; Witches #4)Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the most fun of Terry Pratchett’s books that I have read so far. Getting together the witches some of the wizards, including the librarian, all to work to the same end is a recipe for much hilarity. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

 

Les MisérablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you run a marathon you have a number of thoughts. An elation at having finished. An amazing sense of achievement. You might feel inspired to run another or question your sanity at ever having attempted it. For me this is the case with Les Miserables. Had I simply read an abridgement including only the novel then I would have simply run 10km and might be ready to do the same again. However, this book is not just a novel. I might even go as far as to say it is not a novel at all. It is a vehicle for Victor Hugo’s philosophy. A hundred pages of story is broken up by 200 pages of treatise on everything from The Sewers of Paris to the likeness of monasteries and prisons. His writing on the Battle of Waterloo is more thorough and better expounded than the commentary at the battle field itself. Much of this is fascinating, however the level of detail will weary many who are trying desperately to keep hold of the thread of what they perceive to be the story.

As to the novel itself, it stands aloft with other magnificent writers of a similar time such as Dickens. I can pay it no greater compliment than to say the story is worthy of Dickens. For gruelling and heartache, I can only compare it to Hardy and shortly before the end I thought his torment of the reader ten times worse.

If I read it again it will be in abridged form but as I do so I will probably feel some loss of the detail I will have left behind. Buy it HERE

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was one I could not put down. From the opening it was clear it was going to be a good book. It is intriguing, well written and a delight to lose yourself in. At times shocking, but without any wallowing in the macabre. From start to finish, while there were times I wanted the story to go a different way, I was willing the characters on and cared deeply about the things they were involved in. Well worth reading and his other books have gone straight onto my reading list. Buy it HERE

Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3)Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This really is one of the funniest of the Disc World books. Very cleverly put together, some great ideas and enough jokes to keep you smiling throughout. An excellent read. Buy it HERE

 

The Sound of PiratesThe Sound of Pirates by Terence Brand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the best action adventure stories I have read. It is very fast paced, but allows enough time to catch your breath between each of the fast paced scenes. It is very well written and well worth reading. Buy it HERE

 

Darkest FearDarkest Fear by Harlan Coben
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable indeed. It’s the first Harlen Coben I have read but most definitely will not be the last. His characterisation is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his cast. A good story with many twists and turns taking you right to the end of the book. Unusual for a crime novel it also presented moral issues in a very thought provoking way, adding challenge to the enjoyment of reading. Buy it HERE

The ReturnThe Return by Victoria Hislop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I preferred The Island. This is a great book to educate on a period of history that I knew little about, however there are parts where you could be forgiven this is the main aim rather than the story. I don’t like the way she swings extensively between points of view, at times it is clumsy and makes it harder for the reader to get behind the protagonists. Perhaps too much of a tendency to put in all her research rather than concentrating on the story. Buy it HERE

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I get the impression this has been written for the young adult market, perhaps in expectation of Rowling’s existing readers progressing to this. Sadly in doing so she has used more bad language than is necessary in any book and will lose readers because of it. In places the extent of the needless bad language almost makes the book unreadable.

The book also calls on the cult of celebrity to appeal to the youth audience. It is a cult which appeals little in reality and even less in fiction. In doing so she paints characters who are for the most part fairly shallow.

To my mind, the book had one redeeming feature that would make me want to see her write more in this genre. When Strike and his sidekick Robyn are working together there are some brilliant and often hilarious scenes. Their personalities and interplay were the one thing that maintained my interest in the book. I would love to see more of them but preferably without the superficiality of the rest of the book. Buy it HERE

Small Gods (Discworld, #13)Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some endearing characters in a very enjoyable Terry Pratchett story. As always he explores some very deep ideas in a very light way. Well worth reading. Buy it HERE

 

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a literary classic – this is not it! The story is good (although don’t start checking facts or you will be disappointed). It is a fast paced action adventure with many twists and turns but would have benefited by Dan Brown employing an editor and letting them do their job. It isn’t his best book and if you are prone to cringe at poorly managed point of view it is not for you. You can always make a cup of tea or fifteen in lieu of reading the repetition, but as with all Dan Brown’s he takes a big subject and makes it interesting and at that he is an expert. Buy it HERE

Barnaby RudgeBarnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book which reinforces why I believe Charles Dickens to be the greatest writer of all time. He so effectively draws the landscape of England and builds a picture as vivid as any movie. He teaches history as no other can. He makes you hate the villain and cheer for the heroes willing them on at every turn. And when all is done, he leaves such a wonderful sense of satisfaction of all that has gone before and a sense of well-being in the reader.

A long book but well worth the effort. Buy it HERE

Mark of the Dragon QueenMark of the Dragon Queen by Katie W. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this a slower start than Treespeaker and obviously it is a different setting and different cast, but once the story got going the originality and well constructed plot made this a fast paced and exciting read. By the time I got towards the end I didn’t want the book to finish and am keen to know what happens to the characters now? Buy it HERE

Escape to the CountryEscape to the Country by Patsy Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The characters in this book will stay with you long after you stop turning the pages. They become your friends and by the end of the book you are willing them on. Buy it HERE

 

A Proper CharlieA Proper Charlie by Louise Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent, believable characters and a great escape into someone else’s world. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Buy it HERE

 

Song of the Jikhoshi (Treespeaker #2)Song of the Jikhoshi by Katie W. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A continuation of the Treespeaker series and well worth reading. I twill make more sense if you read Treespeaker first as it gives context to this book, however it can stand alone. Buy if HERE

 

Two BrothersTwo Brothers by Ben Elton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars just aren’t enough for this book.

If you only read one book this year make it this one. Based in Berlin in the years leading up to the Second World War,for me nothing has brought the reality of life in Germany for the Jews more sharply into focus. However, whereas other books show you one side of the story, this book made me question what, as a non-Jew, would I have done in that situation to prevent the atrocity. What could I have done? It has also sent me away thinking why didn’t the world do more, but then realising there are atrocities now and what can we do?

In amongst the horror winds the fascinating tale of twins, the bond they share, even though one is adopted, and the decisions they make for the love one girl.

I will be thinking about this book for a very long time after I have finished reading it. Ben Elton at his very best. Buy it HERE

InconceivableInconceivable by Ben Elton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliantly written – could only come from someone who has been through this. Buy it HERE

 

 

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d rate this about 4 1/2 , it would be a 5 if it weren’t for a flat patch around Armageddon. Without question Crowley was my favourite character, together with the original Agnes Nutter. It’s a long read, but worth it. You will never see the four horsemen of the apocalypse in the same light and if you aren’t careful it will have you reaching for your Bible to look up the odd reference or the very odd reference! Buy in HERE

The Unadulterated CatThe Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

For lovers of Terry Pratchett’s books – you will find yourselves scratching your heads and wondering – why? This has no relationship with his other writing. Buy in HERE

 

Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At last the Watch are properly introduced into the Discworld. Captain Vimes starts life drunk and in the gutter but thanks to the odd dragon or two ad an oversized dwarf his life begins to change out of all recognition. A very good read. Buy it HERE

 

Pyramids (Discworld, #7)Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book – the audio cd will make you laugh for a long time and some of the characters are now part of our whole family tradition. This was the first of Terry Pratchett’s books to show just ow brilliant he can be. Buy it HERE

 

Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)Mort by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the idea of death as a real being having a mid life crisis. Pratchett’s development of death as a character is brilliant and to me this is the best of the early discworld. Buy it HERE

 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ideas of the discworld continue – good but not as brilliant as others in the series. Buy it HERE

 

 

StrataStrata by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The early idea of creating a disc world with the rimfall and all that goes with it. Some great ideas of building planets and I will forever think of the dinosaur buried with the sign ‘End Nuclear Testing Now’ as a way to confuse future archaeologists. I’ve often wondered what would happen if the world were just made to look old, rather than really being that age and here is the answer. Buy it HERE

The Dark Side of the SunThe Dark Side of the Sun by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Harder going and to me more confusing in places than later books by Terry Pratchett. I read it as part of wanting to read his entire works in order, but it is not one I would go back to. Buy it HERE

 

The Carpet PeopleThe Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Terry Pratchett’s first book, which he went back and edited again many years later, adding his brilliant wit to a very good book. There are lines that made me laugh out loud. Great characterisation and a fascinating idea combine in a world within a carpet. So simple and yet so clever. Buy HERE

 

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The beginning of a the discworld series is a great place to start. It is always good to be able to put some context to The Luggage, which I have coveted since the first time I cam across it. Not as funny as some of Pratchett’s later works but still a great read and essential for every real discworld fan. Buy HERE

A Week in DecemberA Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable read so apt for current times. I found he ending disappointing and lacking in any of the expected drama. There were so many ways good and bad that he could have brought events to a conclusion, the way he chose was perhaps disappointing as it was the most true to life and what seemed likely to happen.

Definitely worth reading – at time very thought provoking. Buy HERE

Silas MarnerSilas Marner by George Eliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Utterly brilliant. The ultimate way to restore your faith in the inherent goodness of many (though not all) people. Gripping, heart warming and a book that will live with you for long after you close the back cover and wipe away the tears. Buy HERE

 

Love & FreedomLove & Freedom by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well worth reading, full length novel equivalent of women’s magazine short story. A quick, light, enjoyable read. Buy HERE

 

The Finkler QuestionThe Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you want a navel gazing book on the question of circumcision this is the book for you. If you don’t then spend your time reading something else. Buy it HERE

 

The Prendergast Letters: Correspondence from Famine-Era Ireland, 1840-1850The Prendergast Letters: Correspondence from Famine-Era Ireland, 1840-1850 by Shelley Braber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are interested in this period of Irish history you cannot fail to be moved by the everyday narration of events as shared between family members. A wonderful insight into rural Ireland at a time of great tragedy, when ordinary people had to find ways to get by. Buy it HERE

BrooklynBrooklyn by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thoroughly informative and eye-opening read. I was particularly interested as it has parallels to the novel I am writing, but even without this it would have driven me to read others of his work.But it HERE

 

Treespeaker (Treespeaker #1)Treespeaker by Katie W. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not many books make a lasting impression, but even several months on from reading this wonderful fantasy novel I am longing to go back into the world of this enthralling world. From start to finish I loved this book. It is moving, believable and completely gripping. Definitely worth a read. But it HERE

Coping with ChloeCoping with Chloe by Rosalie Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aimed at young adult readers and from my adult perspective I think it works well. A great story portraying loss and our abilities and methods of dealing with it. A moving and gripping story which will leave you wanting to know more about what happens next to this family. Buy it HERE

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird #1)To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book every teenager / every adult should read. It is powerful, poignant and incredibly moving. There are so many life themes covered by this book in a beautiful way – bullying, racism, poverty, injustice and all viewed through the eyes of an eight-year old, whilst giving the reader the possibility of seeing beyond the level of the viewpoint character. It is rightly classed as a masterpiece of literature and has stood the test of time for both the quality of the writing and the relevance of the topics covered.
I have come away from reading it feeling indebted to Harper Lee for the great gift her work has given. Buy it HERE

A Tale of Two CitiesA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An amazing book. Thought provoking, profound and very moving. Having read it I already feel I want to read it again. The ending is famous and yet when taken in context still had the power to move me and leave me in a state of stunned silence. I found the start slow and in the early stages underestimated or misjudged a number of characters, but when I left them, I felt the humbler for having spend time in their presence. Buy it HERE

Little Women (Little Women, #1)Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was young, which admittedly is a little while ago, I loved this book. I read it again recently and was staggered how attitudes have changed. There were aspects of the book that seemed quite normal even 40 years ago which now cause me a sharp intake of breath. Buy it HERE

 

The LiarThe Liar by Stephen Fry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Stephen Fry you will enjoy this. It is quintessentially Fry. Good but in my opinion not his best work. Buy it HERE

 

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