I read 46 books last year. This is largely due to the book club that I joined and also a lot of buddy reads with Irena. I reviewed a lot them, but not all. Reading is the best part for me, so sometimes the reviews slip by with just a number rating.
Here are all the books I read in 2021.
It is a difficult decision to chose my top books of the year as so many of them were really gripping, entertaining and some so funny. But as a bookblogger and keen to recommend the best books in my opinion, I will tell you my top 4 of 2021.
I haven’t reviewed this one, but it is well reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon. A very twisty thriller based on the main character Louise receiving a Friend Request from a former high school student who is dead.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much as it was a different genre from what I usually like best. This was based on monster type sea creatures and a group of explorers and scientists going out on a ship to find proof that they exist. Very different and very good. Thanks to Irena again for this recommendation.
What were your favourite books of 2021? Give me your recommendations of what I should read in 2022.
If you saw my last post, you will have seen that I read a lot of books in 2021, but I didn’t manage to review them all. So these few days of posts will be mini reviews of some of the books that I read but hadn’t reviewed until now. They were read over the past year, so my reviews will be shorter than normal, but I will give you the jist of what I thought of each of them.
The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
I buddy read this book with Irena, and what a fun time we had with this one. We both agreed that this was one of the best books we’ve read in 2021. It was easy to read, funny and a really pleasant surprise from an author that was new to us both.
Sophie is a professional Bridesmaid, people hire her to be their Bridesmaid and to ensure that their Wedding goes perfectly. Yes, she pretends to be whoever the customer / Bride wants them to be, and she ensures she plays the perfect Bridesmaid and that the Weddings go exactly as planned, sometimes even edging her clients in the right direction if they seem a bit lost in all the planning.
Sophie is hired by Lady Victoria, to be Bridesmaid for her daughter Cordelia. Cordelia does not feel this is necessary and here is where the fun starts. Cordelia is hilarious and does her best to throw a spanner in all Sophie’s plans and asks her to do the weirdest things.
If you have seen and enjoyed the film ’27 Dresses’, then you will love this book even more. That film was fab, this book is even better in my opinion.
Definitely among my top books of 2021. I look forward to reading more from Katy Birchall in 2022.
Romance By The Book by Sarah Ready
This book appealed to me because of the title and the blurb. Book loving, librarian Jessie has loved Gavin since she was a child. She lives in a town called Romeo, where there is a psychic who can predict people’s soul mates. Of course Jessie is over the moon to hear that the guy she has loved for so long is her actual soul mate, but the problem is that he is already engaged. So, Jessie makes plans (based on literary romantic scenarios) to show Gavin that they are soul mates.
I liked that this was escapism, easy reading. The plans that Jessie came up with were stereotypical ideas of romance, but the way she went about them were amusing.
The book was predictable, but then most romance books are, so that wasn’t a problem. I found it a little strange that we hear about Jessie’s friends in the first few chapters, but when it comes to putting her plans into action, she enlists the help of a group of older ladies from the library. I wonder if this was for amusement factor? Though to me, it made it a little unrealistic. I would have liked to hear more from her friends.
This is book 3 in the ‘Soul Mates in Romeo’ series. I hadn’t read book 1 or 2, and I think there were enough spoilers in book 3 that I wouldn’t go back to previous books. But this did work ok as a standalone.
I buddy read this book with Irena, and we both enjoyed the book and the discussions that we had while reading it. A nice easy read, with a few chuckles and a predictable ending.
Let me know any of your favourite books of 2021, I’m always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.
If I can recommend one festive book to read this year, it would be this one. It was a real pleasure to be back in Becky’s life again so she could bring me some laughs at this seasonal time. I buddy read this with Irena and we had a great time reading and discussing it.
Celebrate Christmas with the ultimate Shopaholic! The brilliant laugh-out-loud festive novel from the Number One bestselling author. Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers. And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted! But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?
With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . . Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?
It was so much fun to be back with Becky Brandon nee Bloomwood again. I was really hoping I would enjoy this book, as the last Shopaholic was quite disappointing. I am happy to say, that this one was a lot better. I buddy read this one with Irena and we had lots of interesting discussions as we read along.
It was a great idea to get Becky to host Christmas lunch for her family. Having to host, buy, prepare and feed her parents, sister, neighbours and best friend and their families is some job for anyone. But for Becky, who wants to make everybody happy and will do whatever she can to make it perfect for everybody, it is a very large job. Anybody who has read previous Shopaholics will know that this is the perfect opportunity for Becky’s shopping addiction and also for her to get into plenty of scrapes.
One thing I would say about this book, is that it would probably best to be read as part of the series and not to read this one before the others. There are a lot of past reference points to the many other books. This is not an negative point, because there have been lots of Shopaholic books and if you haven’t read any, you have a bookish feast ahead of you.
We meet all the usual characters again. Becky’s parents have taken on a new adventure so we get a few giggles from them. Suze and Becky’s friendship is as lovely as ever. And Jess, Becky’s sister is home for Christmas. Jess is a vegan and the most eco friendly person I have ever heard about. Being eco friendly is of course a good thing, but Jess takes it to another level, and the most annoying character in the book. Becky is extremely patient with her.
Becky is such a great character. She is funny, caring, generous and just makes the most entertaining character I know from a book series.
If you have read previous Shopaholics and not this one, then now is the time to read it. If you haven’t read any Shopaholics and you like light funny reads, then this is the series for you.
I read some great Halloween reads over the last month. The first I will tell you about is a horror book, which is entirely out of my usual comfort reading zone. But I was buddy reading it with Irena, which would make it enjoyable whatever I thought of the book. Luckily for me, I rated the book 4 out of 5 stars.
Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.
Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.
As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.
The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.
I think this is my first proper horror book that I have read in quite a few years. I used to enjoy Stephen King books when I was a lot younger. But since then, my genre preferences stayed between thriller and womens fiction. Branching out to a horror book at Halloween seemed the perfect time to give it a go. Even better, I got to buddy read it with Irena.
So, onto House of Hollow. This book starts with three sisters who are as close as sisters can be. They have arranged to meet up as only Iris now lives at home. Vivi and Grey are out living their own lives. Grey as a famous model, and Vivi in a band. The three sisters share a bond like no other as they disappeared as children for 1 month, and when they were found unharmed except for a scar on the throats, they remembered nothing.
The mysterious things start to happen pretty much straight away in this book. Grey doesn’t turn up for their meeting so Iris and Vivi start to look for her. This leads them on a journey neither of them were expecting, and gives them answers and many more questions about their lives along the way.
The writing in House of Hollow is so descriptively amazing and really painted a picture in my mind. It was good to discuss these parts with Irena, as some parts of it really made me cringe, but Irena had different views. When I first saw the cover, I thought it was lovely, as I read on and discovered these were flowers of death, it seemed more creepy than nice. It wasn’t the traditional horror story with blood and gore, or ghosts and ghouls. This horror had mythical dark fairytale vibes, the type that is super creepy to me. While I didn’t know much about faeries at the time (I knew only that fairies were good and faeries were not so good). Irena knew quite a lot about them, so I also learnt about faeries and myths while reading the book.
The concluding chapters to House of Hollow are gripping, fast paced, earie and answered all the questions that I had built up over the read. The ending was both sad, happy, weird and so imaginative. There was an epilogue which was not really necassary and may or may not have been written with a book 2 in mind?? I’m not sure. Personally, I think House of Hollow ended and should remain ended in this way. But saying that I really did love this Author’s writing style and creative imagination. I would read Krystal Sutherland’s books again. I didn’t think I would say that before I started this book, but again my buddy reads have pulled me out of my comfort zone and found something exciting. I highly recommend House of Hollow. Thanks to Irena for suggesting the book and buddy reading it with me.
See this amazing trailer, if my review didn’t convince you to read, then this will.
Thank you to Netgalley and Spiderline publishers for my copy of this book. I love psychological thrillers and even the name of this one had me hooked from the beginning.
From the mind of a psychologist comes a chilling domestic thriller that gets under your skin.
What happens when a psychologist begins to question her own sanity?
Sara runs a private psychology practice for troubled youth in the newly inherited house she is refurbishing with her husband, Sigurd. One morning, a voicemail from Sigurd tells Sara he’s arrived at a holiday cabin for a weekend away with the guys. A couple of hours later, Sigurd’s friends call from the cabin asking where he is — according to them, Sigurd never arrived.
Sara is irritated by what she thinks is a practical joke. But as the hours stretch out, her anger turns to fear, and the large empty house begins to feel increasingly threatening.
To get to the root of Sigurd’s disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about their relationship. But can she trust her own thoughts? And where is she safe?
I love the strapline to this novel – “The truth is inside her head“. Sara is a therapist, treating her patients in her office at home. Her husband Sigourd is supposed to be renovating their big old inherited house. But Sigourd is so busy with his work, he doesn’t get around to doing much renovating. He needs a break away with the boys for the weekend, so Sara is home alone. But when Sara gets a call to say Sigourd never arrived, things start to unravel. At first Sara thinks its a weird stupid joke from the friends of her Husband, friends she never really liked. But as the hours pass, Sara gets worried.
Sara was not a likeable character, but as a therapist, I enjoyed seeing the way her mind worked. As the police investigation continues into Sigourd’s disappearance, strange things continue to happen around Sara. So much so that she starts to doubt herself. We didn’t hear to much about the investigation from the police side of things and as their suspicions are told to Sara, this is when we learn about them. The fact that a Sigourd left a message on Sara’s phone to say he arrived to see his friends makes this all the more strange and makes the reader question, why Sigourd lied? For the first half of the book, I didn’t have any suspects, which is odd as usually I suspect everybody. As I got into the second half of the book, more suspects appeared.
The writing and translation of this book was excellent. If it wasn’t based in Norway with Scandinavian names, then I would not know it was not originally written in English. I have read quite a few Scandi Noir books over the years and I was not disppointed with this one. The ending of the book was very good and I felt satisfied that all ends were tied up.
Author Helene Flood is a psychologist herself. The book has already had been bought for film rights, which I look forward to seeing. She also has another book due out next year which I look forward to hearing about.
Thank you to Netgalley and publisher Dutton Books for my copy of this book. I had heard very good things about this Author, and having not read any books by Sager yet, I wanted to give this book a go.
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.
Well this book takes place over one night, as could be guessed from the title. From receiving my copy to beginning to read it, I didn’t read too many reviews or re read the blurb. So I went in a little blind. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was set in 1991, which meant no mobile phones or internet. It was nice to revisit this time, and I have to say it makes thrillers seem more dangerous as you can’t just call for help on your phone.
The plot begins with the main character Charlie, we learn that her best friend has been murdered on a night out. Charlie feels guilty and wants to leave campus and get home. As she isn’t able to drive herself home she looks for a travel buddy to car share with. Here enters Josh. The majority of the story is between these two characters and told from their points of view.
Because the chapters are written from the two main characters point of view, I got a good sense of who they both are. Personally I didn’t like Charlie and after the first few chapters, any sympathy that I had for her was gone. I found her to be one of the most stupid characters I have ever read about. She made terrible decisions concerning her own safety and I don’t think this was due to lack of common sense I think she just decided to do stupid things. Charlie was a very frustrating character to me. The only positive part of her that I liked was that she used a lot of movie references. These were entertaining and helped to get a better idea of who she was and why she was as she is.
Josh on the other hand was a bit more interesting. I had a few theories about who he was while I read the chapters. I won’t say too much about that because it would lead to spoilers. The writing was easy to read and flowed well.
As we were reading this as part of a book club we ended up reading it much faster than we initially planned.
Overall I have to say that sadly I was a bit disappointed with this book. All the chapters lasted the one night, but then at the very end goes years to the future and tells us what happened there. Again I found Charlie to be continuing to make bad decisions.
I wouldn’t be against reading another book by this author as the writing style and the idea of the plot was good. I just felt to strongly that the decisions made were a little ridiculous. There was also a part of Charlie’s character where she had what she called ” movies in her mind” . It was left unclear whether this was a mental health condition or just part of Charlie’s coping mechanism. ( perhaps it’s the same thing?) I would have liked the epilogue to make this a bit clearer as I felt it was quite a big part of the story that wasn’t explored and explained to the reader enough.
Thank you to publishers One More Chapter, Author Sandy Barker and Netgalley for my advanced reader copy of this book.
The must-read romantic comedy for fans of Laura Jane Williams, Sophie Ranald and Sophie Kinsella.
‘Hilarious and highly original’ Julie Houston, bestselling author of A Village Affair
Once upon a time, twelve women joined the hottest reality TV show looking for love. Except one had a secret identity . . .
Abby Jones is a serious writer. Or at least she will be, one day. Right now, she spends her time writing recaps of reality television under a secret identity.
When a recap for The Stag – the must-watch dating show – goes viral, her editor thinks she should be on set, writing the drama as it happens. The good news: the next season will be filmed in Sydney. Sun, sea and a glamorous trip abroad, this could be Abby’s big break.
The bad news: the producers don’t just want Abby to write the recaps, they want her to be on the show. Abby can’t think of anything worse than being undercover and followed around by cameras. But her career depends on it, and when she meets gorgeous producer Jack, Abby begins to wonder if this job might not be so bad after all
I read The Dating Game while Love Island UK was on, and I admit that Love Island is my shameful, guilty pleasure. While watching and also reading through the chapters of The Dating Game, I wondered about the insides of these types of reality shows.If you’re like me in that you don’t really take these shows at face value and often wonder at the inner workings of the shows, then this is the book for you!
The Dating Game is a book where our lovable main character Abigail is a writer for a magazine. She has a pseudo name, which is quite clever – Anatasia Flabbergaster. Abby wants to be a serious writer, but for now she has to justwrite recaps of reality tv shows. That is until she has the “opportunity” to be on one of these shows as an undercover writer.
As the pages turn we see Abby as one of the twelve “Does” on a show where Daniel the “Stag” has to date each one and find his “true love”. So many ” ” ” ” “, but all necessary. I think the idea of the show is similar to The Batchelor, but I haven’t watched this show, so I cant be sure.
Anyway, The Dating Game was light hearted, amusing, showed us a wide array of characters and was just an all round good read. One of my favourite parts of the book was the relationships between the twelve girls who were staying inStag Manor. It did really remind me of the reality shows I see on tv, where the girls become good friends but all the while supposed to be competing against each other. We meet some nice girls and some not so nice. So the fun and games kept up throughout between all the varying personalities.
I started this review by saying Love Island is a shameful, guilty pleasure of mine. I can say openly that The Dating Gamewas neither shameful, nor guilty. It was pure pleasurable reading.
As a bookblogger myself, I am frequently contacted by Authors, publishers and PR people. Every mail I get from book related people is a compliment to me and mylittle blog. When I started reviewing books here, I never expected it to last as long, be as enjoyable or to be so successful (success is subjective, to me my blog is successful for what I wanted).
Some of the people who write to me have read my review policy HERE! and know what kind of books I like to review and some just send blanket mails which are not specific to me or any other blogger or book lover! Regardless, I read all the mails and read the blurbs of the books I am being asked about. I then reply to the sender (not always the blanket senders!!) telling them whether I can or cannot read and review their book. Each time I write a mail declining, I feel a little bad that I am saying thanks but no thanks. It has to be done though, some of the books are just not to my taste and sometimes I just don’t have the time to take anymore books on.
I have thought many times, especially when the mails are particularly nice, that it would be good if I could point the sender in the direction of bookblogger who would love to review that particular kind of book.
So, I decided that I should do that! In order to do that, I will need a list of peoplewho will want to be contacted for book reviews, and although I know a lot of bookbloggers, obviously I can’t just hand out details as I please.
So, if you would like to be on my list of bookbloggers that would like to be contacted for book reviews, please leave your details in my comments section, or if you would like them to be more private then you can email me or private message on twitter. (firstname.lastname@example.org / @chocolate_pages).
To be clear:
I will send your details to Authors who contact me if I am not interested in their book, they may or may not then contact you asking if you would like to review their book.
Therefore, I will need:
Your name (first only if you like).
Your blog url.
Your preferred genre.
Your email address.
The bookblogging community is a lovely community to be part of. We all love books and reading, so why not share the love even more. I hope that I get a lot of people who want to be on this list, and if you decide that you want to be, then I hope that you find some amazing books from it.
This is the time to enjoy really festive books, to curl up on the sofa with mugs of hot chocolate with cream and cinnamon, and for me some spiced chocolate gingerbread and of course a festive book. Today, I’m reviewing a short story by the brilliant Nicola May.
It’s two days before Christmas and Evie Harris finds herself both manless and jobless. After a chance encounter with handsome Greg (and egged on by her toy-boy-eating friend, Bea) she agrees to work at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day.
Striking up an unlikely friendship with homeless Yves, Evie begins an unwitting journey of spiritual awakening, all set against the sparkling winter backdrop of London.
A New Year’s Eve revelation is on its way … but will it leave Evie with a happy heart, or will she allow the pre-Christmas past to dictate her future?
Published August 31st 2015 by Accent Press
This is a fantastic Christmas short story that will warm the hearts of even those who don’t love Christmas. Evie has been cheated on, and is expecting the worst Christmas ever. But she meets Greg who invites her to help the homeless over Christmas. There are just enough characters in this story so that we get a good taste for all of them.
Bea, Evie’s wacky friend who is always on hand for a laugh and a sherry. Greg the handsome man who helps the homeless. But the stand out from all the rest character is Yves. Evie meets Yves and spends a little time with him.
Through Yves, we the readers and Evie are shown a side of Christmas that many of us forget. Christmas doesn’t need to be expensive, or hectic or anything we don’t want it to be.
“See, you don’t need money to do things that make you feel good.” says Yves. This is one of the best festive reads I have read in a while. It really encourages the good in people and allows positivity to flow from the book, and encourage us to be grateful for what we have in the present.
Yves is a spirtual soul and gives Evie some wonderful quotes, one particular from The Prophet by Khali Gilbran, which let me see the wonderful thoughts of the Author also mirrored in her previous book ‘The SW19 Club‘.
This is a festive easy reading book filled with hope, beauty and positivity. This is the third book I have read by Nicola May, and although I knew before how talented she is. This book made me realise that Nicola May, in the words of Anne Shirley is a “kindredspirit”.
*Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery.
I was very happy to hear that one of my favourite Authors has published a new book. I have read all Caroline James’ previous books in the Coffee, Tea range. I have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment with Jo and Hattie in Boomerville which is due to be published in spring 2017. So, when I heard that Jungle Rocks, a fantastic novella was out, it immediately went to the top of my ‘must read’ list.
This is a stand alone novella, but it has many of the same characters from the previous books. I have included links to all my reviews of Caroline’s previous books.
So, You Think You’re a Celebrity…..Chef – MY REVIEW!
But now for the star review in question today, we have romantic comedy novella by Caroline James Jungle Rocks.
Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows and, when his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees. Plunged deep in the jungle, into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy. Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away…
Published November 21st 2016 by Ramjam Publishing Company
Jungle Rock is a brilliant story with a varying range of characters. Zach has broken up with Fiancee Poppy, and about to enter Jungle Survival. Of course this makes us all think of ‘I’m A Celebrity’ in the Australian jungle, and whether or not you are a fan of this programme, it doesn’t matter. If you like easy flow reading with drama, excitement and great characters, I think you will love it.
We hear about the rest of Zach’s family based in the UK, which gives us more of a picture of the type of character that Zach is. Jo and Hattie feature in Caroline’s other books, so for me it was wonderful to catch up with them again. I think if you read this as a standalone book you too will want to hear more from Jo and Hattie. Hattie is such a lively, doesn’t give a hoot kind of character. She is certainly my favourite. I even have a picture in my mind of what she looks like. Now, that is a good Author for you, if she makes you picture the characters in your head!
The story doesn’t focus too much on the trials, but there’s just enough to get your imagination running and your stomach creaking!
“I’d eat an antelope’s anus, I’m so hungry”.
There is perfect descriptions of Australia, with great names – Mount Wumbah! I wonder if this is real or Author’s artistic licence. Also, the Christmassy feel of West Marland. This is a festive novella that doesn’t ram Christmas down your neck, but will make you laugh with its humour, drama and array of intriguing and engaging characters. I loved it.
Caroline’s debut novel, Coffee Tea The Gypsy & Meshot to #3 on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun newspaper. Her second novel, So, You Think You’re ACelebrity… Chef? has been described as wickedly funny: ‘AbFab meets MasterChef in aSoap…’Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me, an Amazon best-seller, was a Top Ten Finalistat The Write Stuff, London Book Fair 2015 and the judge’s comments included: Carolineis a natural story-teller with a gift for humour in her writing.” Her next novel,Boomervillewill be published spring 2017.
Caroline has owned and run many catering related businesses and cookery is a passion alongside her writing, combining the two with her love of the hospitality industry and romantic fiction. As a media agent, Caroline represented many well-known celebrity chefs and her TV script, So, You Think You’re A Celebrity Chef? was runner up at the Winchester Writers Festival 2016.
She has published short stories and is a member of the Romantic Novelist’sAssociation. Caroline writes articles on food and celebrity based interviews and is Feature Editor for an online lifestyle magazine. She is a founder member of The Cheshirati and is available for inspiring and entertaining talks on anything related to the hospitality and publishing industry.