Monthly Wrap Up | January 2022

January, the seemingly longest month of the year is at an end! I’m another year older, the storms have been brewing and we’ve seen a glimpse of spring with the sunnier days. I’ve definitely noticed that it’s slowly getting lighter again in the afternoon’s/evening’s, sunset is now at 4.47 here. I’m concentrating on the glimmer’s of warmth and a shorter month coming up, and not the fact I realised pancake day is in March this year…

My reading for January has picked up again. Last year I read the most books of the whole year in January, so I’m thinking it’s just a productive reading month for me! This month I’ve taken part in two blog tours, read eight books and have reviewed six.

What I Read

Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy by Gemma Bird ✰✰✰✰

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont ✰✰✰✰

Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell ✰✰✰✰

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby ✰✰✰

The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The Maid by Nita Prose ✰✰✰✰✰

You’re Not Broke You’re Pre-Rich by Emilie Bellet ✰✰✰✰

The Perfect Escape by Leah Konen ✰✰✰✰

Book of the month

My book of the month for January is… The Maid! There’s such a wonderful character in Molly and I just loved her quirky, naive and interesting self. The novel is just fantastic with such a unique premise. I’d highly recommend a read if you haven’t already! Look out for my full review which be posted soon.

Going forward

Next month I have a few review copies to read which are due out, all of them I’m excited for! Finishing those I will be continuing with reading books from my shelves and picking from my own library. I’ve been doing that for a good six months now as I just have so many fabulous reads and not enough time to read them!

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above.

Until next time,

Book Review | I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth

Thank you to Little Tiger for sending me a copy of I Love You to the Moon and Back in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

So snuggle safely in my arms; our day is nearly done. I love you to the moon and stars, my precious little one. 

A beautiful hardback gift edition of the international best-seller I Love You to the Moon and Back, a bedtime favourite with familiar and reassuring text by Amelia Hepworth and heartwarming illustrations by Tim Warnes. 

When the sun comes up, Big Bear and Little Bear think of new ways to share their love. Big Bear loves Little Bear more and more as each day passes, right up to each new moon – and back. 

Now this joyful celebration of the love between a parent and child can be treasured forever with this elegant cloth-textured, silver foil and peep-through cover edition – the perfect gift for a special person in your life. Ideal for fans of Guess How Much I Love You and While We Can’t Hug.

Review

I Love You to the Moon and Back is a gorgeous, heartwarming read.

A hardback edition of such a gorgeous classic story is definitely one to be treasured for years to come. It also makes the book more robust and tantrum resistant!

Right from the front cover you can tell this is going to be a special book. The texture, silver foil and circular cut out makes it really exceptional.

I Love You to the Moon and Back is a nice bear story with a lovely sentiment between parent (or any adult) bear and child bear. The story lists a number of things that would typically be done together, and why they love doing them. It’s very sweet and wholesome.

The book is recommended for ages 1-3. The rhyming sentences work nicely and I definitely felt my toddler interacted more with the rhythmic sounds of the story.

My toddler loves the moon at the minute and always points it out if we go for a walk after dusk, so he loved that the book featured the moon so heavily!

Tim Warnes illustrations are excellent and a really great companion to the words of the book. I felt they really enhanced the experience, especially for little ones.

I Love You to the Moon and Back is out now from Little Tiger. You can purchase a copy of the book using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell

Thank you to Anne and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour and for providing me with a proof copy of Should I Tell You? in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

From the queen of feelgood fiction, an uplifting new novel of friendship, families and finding love . . .

Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele met as teenagers in the seaside home of kind-hearted foster parents. Arriving in glorious Cornwall was the best thing that ever happened to them – and now, as adults, their bond is stronger than ever.

But Amber has a secret. She’s in love with Lachlan. She can’t confess her feelings because that would never work. Restless Lachlan dates a lot and definitely isn’t the settling-down type. Surely it’s better to keep him as a friend than to risk losing him for good?

Raffaele has his own dilemma. He had the dream girlfriend in Vee, until it all went horribly wrong . . . and he still can’t understand why. Is Vee hiding something from him?

Now their widowed foster dad Teddy thinks he’s found love again. Younger, charming and strikingly beautiful, is Olga as perfect as she seems? Or will she end up breaking Teddy’s heart?

Against a backdrop of sparkling seas and sunny skies, the unexpected is always just around the corner. Welcome to Lanrock!

Review

Should I Tell You? Is a wonderful, friendship-filled novel with lovely characters and a stunning backdrop.

The three main characters: Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele, have a lovely bond which is evident right from the start of the novel. As individuals, they’re all very likeable and are realistic. They each have flaws and traits which make them unique. I couldn’t pick a favourite as they’re all wonderful in their own ways!

The story flows so seamlessly through each chapter. The insights into each character you’re given really provides a thorough overview. The back stories of the three main characters are interwoven and everything from the reasons for their career choices to general backgrounds are all discussed in lengthy detail. This provides a real three dimensional vision of their personality.

The characters develop really organically and I love how much they all grow and change as people as the novel progresses. They’re three of my favourite characters from a novel in recent years!

Jill Mansell writes very well and her descriptions are really vivid. This makes the detailing of everything easy to picture and I really felt I was fully immersed in the novel as I read it. The entire ‘world’ that she has created in Should I Tell You? feels very real. Everything appears like it could be happening right at this moment, to someone down the road or someone you know. I really like this realistic feel and it definitely made me connect more with the story.

Should I Tell You? is out now from Headline. You can purchase a copy of the book using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, details of which can be found below.

Until next time,

Book Review | The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Thank you to Rosie for providing me with a proof copy of The Christie Affair in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.

Review

The Christie Affair is an original, fascinating story which I guarantee you won’t forget in a hurry!

The novel is written in parts, with multiple chapters within each part. They’re all clearly headed and relate to before, during and after the disappearance takes place. I thought this format worked well and really helped to set the scene.

It’s engrossing, engaging and extremely well written. Nina de Gramont is brilliant with words and made it easy and enjoyable to follow the storyline. It also felt authentic and reflective of the time period and of Agatha herself’s writing.

The book is narrated through the perspective of Nan O’Dea in two timelines. One tells of Agatha and her disappearance and the other tells of her as a younger woman and her childhood, growing up. It’s also written directly to a reader, which really engages you and makes you feel a part of the narrative. I also think this makes you feel more connected to Nan and her perspective, which I enjoyed.

I found it extremely interesting learning of Nan’s past and her background outside of the extramarital affair at the heart of the novel. She was an interesting character who had much more to her than first met the eye – she really made the novel for me!

The book is crammed full of information and intermingling occurrences. There’s also a huge twist that I didn’t see coming at all. A really captivating novel and one that I felt was believable and could have definitely been reflective of the time period of Agatha’s disappearance.

The Christie Affair is out today from Mantle Press. You can purchase a copy of the book using the link below and also help support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy by Gemma Bird

Thank you to Anne and Random Things Tours for providing me with a copy of Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

“Money Mum, here, coming to you, as always, with another money tip! You don’t have to be wealthy or earn a huge salary to achieve all the things you want in life –and I’m here to show you how. Just by spending a little less on everyday small costs or being savvy with your choices, you will naturally have a little more for the finer things in life. My exciting new book will show you everything you need to know to save money and be truly happy forever. 

When you’re trying to manage a busy family, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that really matter and feel like you’re drowning in worries while the pennies are drowning away. 

So many of us feel we have to pretend to be wealthier than we are and try to hide it when we can’t afford something. Why though, when we are all sharing what we had for our tea and how many press ups we did that morning on social media, can’t we be more honest about our finances? Why is there still so much shame and secrecy about being a bit strapped for cash, or in debt? 

I feel really strongly that it has got to change, and I’m here to get you through it.. 

I want to empower women and girls to take responsibility for their own financial futures. To have those difficult conversations and do the uncomfortable maths, because believe me one day you will be so glad you did. 

From starting small and making little changes to your everyday habits, through building a second income into your lifestyle, to going for the big goals in your life that you might think are out of your reach – this book will help you reboot your finances one money tip at a time. 

Because money isn’t a secret recipe that only rich people know, it’s a mindset and an attitude that anyone can have. And Money Mum is here, as always, to show you how. 

Now stick the kettle on, grab a pen and paper and let’s start saving you some serious cash!” 

Inside you’ll find: 

– My ultimate deals and tips, covering everything from shopping and bills to selling unwanted items 

– How to follow my weekly ‘No Spend Day’ and ‘Make Money Day’ 

– What your money mindset does to your anxiety levels and the impact social media has on your spending 

– Tips for getting the whole family talking about money from an early age 

– Spending tracker templates, charts and plenty of space for your own notes!

Review

Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy is an informative, relatable money-saving book with lots of achievable advice and tips.

The book is split into seven parts, discussing a variety of tips, tricks and information. These cover everything from savings to discounts and financial security.

Gemma Bird shares a lot of her personal journey with money in the novel which is refreshing to see. That element of realness and the feeling of relatability at points in the book makes it much more personal. I like her honesty and enjoyed her ‘voice’.

Her tips and tricks are sincere and most importantly doable. They don’t take a lot of time but will result in a lot of gain. An up-to-date, honest and open approach, with ideas that everyone can make use of.

The illustrations that are scattered throughout are a really nice touch and add to the books visual appeal. They add to the interest of the pages and also make for nice handy hints at what’s on the page if you’re flicking through.

I really liked the jargon dictionary which features in the back of the book. It’s a useful tool and helps explain some of the more unfamiliar words and money terms and their meanings.

Having no previous awareness of Money Mum, I come from a perspective of interest rather than solely affiliation to her Instagram. I have, since reading the book, started following Gemma on Instagram as she has further informative advice and ideas through her social platform.

I found the book to be a really good resource to have and one I can imagine myself referring back to time and time again. I’ll be starting to execute her advice with ‘no-spend’ days and going from there!

Money Mum Official: Save Yourself Happy is out now from Octopus. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookshops.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, which can be found in the poster below.

Until next time,

Book Review | Hello Farm! by Amelia Hepworth

Thank you to Little Tiger for sending me a copy of Hello Farm in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Did you know that babies are drawn to black and white from birth?

This chunky board book has been specially designed to captivate newborns and young babies. You’ll be amazed at their response! Each page features bold patterns, neon bursts of colour and black-and-white illustrations, which have been shown to aid crucial early development. Babies will be fascinated by the high-contrast farm animals as they learn to recognise each name and sound!

Hello Farm! is part of a series of very first board books for newborns. Each title includes a tactile cut-out cover, fluorescent inks and chunky pages for little hands to explore – the perfect gifts for the tiniest of babies!

Review

Hello Farm is a lovely, simple yet beautifully illustrated and educational book. The book is aimed at children aged 0-1.

The layout of the book is nicely designed and the words are simple to follow and repetitive. They flow nicely and the compromising syllables make it nice to read aloud.

The animals are all common and recognisable and the illustrations are accurate yet sweet. The bold images stand out and are accurately portrayed.

My 3 month old was really captivated and he visibly scanned the pages as I read to him. It was nice to also be able to get his brother involved who could tell us all the animals and their noises. This made it so we had the option of it being a book which could be read to both of them together, which was unexpected and made things even more fun.

There are currently two other books in the Happy Baby series: Hello You! And Hello Baby Animals! I’m definitely going to check them out, and if you like the sound of Hello Farm I recommend doing the same. The book is out now from Little Tiger and you can purchase a copy using the link below and also help support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | Remember My Name by Sam Blake

Thank you to Reader’s First for sending me a copy of Remember My Name in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died… 

When Cressida Howard catches her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, she hires security expert Brioni O’Brien to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce. 

But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. 

Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost. And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

Review

Remember My Name is a compelling, gripping novel filled with surprises.

The characters in the novel are a mixture of likeable and unlikeable. I was drawn to Brioni O’Brien who is a fabulous character. Her job and knowledge are fascinating and her thoroughness and loyalty are both excellent traits. Main character Cressida wasn’t what I expected at all, which was a pleasant surprise. She shocked me with her to-do attitude. Two strong female characters who I enjoyed following!

Sam Blake has a real way with words and I was glued to the writing right from the start. The pace was fairly fast and I definitely had a burning desire to power through the novel to find out what was happening.

The integration of references to covid and the lockdowns make the story feel very relevant. The talk of ‘last year’, the impact(s) on businesses, being cooped up together in the house, are all still relevant and in the forefront of our memories. I felt added an extra element of realism to the world I found myself reading of, whilst also not being too overwhelming given the current situation.

The constant developments kept me engaged and layer upon layer of intrigue was consistently being added to the plot. The novel definitely keeps you on your toes and you never know what to expect when you turn the page!

Remember My Name is out today from Corvus. You can purchase a copy of the book using the link below, and also help support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | Wahala by Nikki May

Thank you to Anne and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for Wahala and for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. 
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English. 
Not all of them choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

Review

Wahala is an intriguing, eventful novel filled with food, friendship, and a frenemy!

The novel is told through multiple perspectives; Ronke, Boo and Simi. Gaining equal input from each of the three friends means equal weighting and a broad overview of the goings-on. The three women all have distinguishable narrative and their tone of voice and personalities shine through. I enjoyed the split and it gave more insight into each of them.

Wahala as a whole felt very realistic and I was really emerged in the trio’s world. It felt like people that you might know were getting on with their lives (if far more dramatically!) I like it when novel’s do this as it really makes you feel a part of what’s going on and instead of being a bystander you’re fully immersed in the action.

Nikki May writes wonderfully and a lot of Wahala is relatable, chatty and honest. This is especially true for the thoughts and feelings of the characters. I felt it opened up further depth to them and their individual (and collective) situations. The conversations scattered throughout are mostly realistic and very open.

The attention to detail is evident and really adds to the novel. You can vividly imagine the locations, the underground stations and goings on. It really took me back to being in (and living in) London, which was a nice throwback as I haven’t been back since I moved a couple of years ago.

The novel’s ample details of Nigerian culture and phrases were fascinating. Having children with Nigerian heritage made this especially interesting for me. I wasn’t familiar with the phrases to begin with and it was interesting to learn of the words and their context. As a foodie I enjoyed the many food references, some I already knew of but a lot I haven’t tried before. The recipes in the back were a nice touch and I’ll no doubt be consulting them in the future!

Wahala is out tomorrow, January 6, from Doubleday. You can buy a copy using the link below and also support independent bookshops.

Bookshops.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Wrap Up | My Top 21 of 2021

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s 2022. 2021 was a strange one, filled with a little bit of freedom sandwiched between two intense periods of pandemic madness. On a plus note, I grew a second little human. I’ve barely slept in three months but I’ve gained a lot more love. I also read so many amazing books and they’ve definitely got me through this rollercoaster of a year!

My total sits at 86 books for 2021, so choosing my top 21 was quite a challenge but I’ve managed to whittle it down to my overall favourites. There’s a complete mixture of genres so hopefully something for everyone!

Note: The list is in order of when I read the books, not in ranked order.

1. For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late. 

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

My review can be found here.

2. The Push by Ashley Audrain

Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

My review can be found here.

3. Keeper by Jessica Moor

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes. 
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide. 

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

My review can be found here.

4. Shiver by Allie Reynolds

They were all there. So which one of them did it?

It’s that time of year when the glacier gives up bodies. But there’s one in particular someone is looking out for. When five friends meet for a reunion in an isolated mountain lodge, things turn deadly in the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.  

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

My review can be found here.

5. The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

500 years ago: eight martyrs burned
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished
Two months ago: a vicar died mysteriously

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s a fresh start. New job, new home. But in a close-knit community old superstitions and a mistrust of outsiders mean treading carefully.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why did no one say the last vicar killed himself? Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls? And who is sending them threatening messages?

Old ghosts with scores to settle can never rest. And Jack is standing in their way . . .

My review can be found here.

6. The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. And at some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney vanishes from her home.

Ruby Wright arrives for work at Sunnylakes that day expecting the usual: chores she despises; sore joints; prejudice from her employers. And at least some kindness from Joyce. Instead, she encounters two terrified toddlers and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor. Joyce is missing.

Detective Mick Blanke, recently transferred to the area, is assigned the case, but before long he realises it is Ruby who holds the key to this mystery. She knows more about the secrets lurking behind the starched curtains of Sunnylakes than he ever could . . .

My review can be found here.

7. Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

When Amy Ashton’s world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.

Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?

My review can be found here.

8. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Life is short. 

No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

My review can be found here.

9. Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

This is a story about taking a leap of faith
And believing the unbelievable

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight.
And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad.
Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

My review can be found here.

10. Dog Days by Ericka Waller

George is angry at the world. His wife has died and now all he wants to do is sit in his underpants and shout at the cricket. The last thing he needs is his cake-baking neighbour Betty trying to rescue him. And then there’s the dog, a dachshund puppy called Poppy. George doesn’t want a dog – he wants a fight.

Dan is a counsellor with OCD who is great at helping other people – if only he were better at helping himself. His most meaningful relationship so far is with his labrador Fitz. But then comes a therapy session that will change his life.

Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from everyone around her. But when she is forced to walk the refuge’s fat terrier, Maud, a new life beckons – if she can keep her secret just a while longer…


Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy and comfort in living life off the leash.

My review can be found here.

11. Lost Property by Helen Paris

Dot Watson has lost her way.

Twelve years ago her life veered off course, and the guilt over what happened still haunts her. Before then she was living in Paris, forging an exciting career; now her time is spent visiting her mother’s care home, fielding interfering calls from her sister and working at the London Transport Lost Property office, diligently cataloguing items as misplaced as herself.

But when elderly Mr Appleby arrives in search of his late wife’s purse, his grief stirs something in Dot. Determined to help, she sets off on a mission – one that could start to heal Dot’s own loss and let her find where she belongs once more…

My review can be found here.

12. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley MacLaine, the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon-to-be stepmother, a manipulative and money-grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo-and-set drudgery at the stinky local salon.

Luckily Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her future from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly it is she is meant to be.

Moving, inventive and achingly funny, with an all-star cast of bold-as-brass characters, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a perfectly pitched modern fairytale about love, friendship and following your dreams while having a lot of fun along the way.

My review can be found here.

13. The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

My review can be found here.

14. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

My review can be found here.

15. The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Birdy Finch just got her dream job. The trouble is, it’s not hers . . .

It was a simple accident. Well, maybe a tiny fib. OK, maybe an all-out, blatant, mayhem-causing lie. Because the life she’s just claimed is hers actually belongs to her best friend, Heather.

Obviously she’ll tell Heather (eventually). And the first guy she’s properly liked in forever (probably). Absolutely nobody will know – just till she sorts herself out . . .

So can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be a world-class wine expert? And can she find the courage to fall in love, even if it means telling the truth?

My review can be found here.

16. The Island Home by Libby Page

Lorna’s world is small but safe.

She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up.

Alice’s world is tiny but full.

She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…

My review can be found here.

17. Another Life by Jodie Chapman

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

My review can be found here.

18. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

ALBERT ENTWISTLE WAS A POSTMAN. It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing.

64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been a postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the death of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he’s just learned he’ll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it’s finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for the man that, many years ago, he lost – but has never forgotten . . .

Join Albert as he sets out to find the long-lost love of his life, and has an unforgettable and completely life-affirming adventure on the way . . . This is a love story the likes of which you have never read before!

My review can be found here.

19. The Pact by Sharon Bolton

A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .

My review can be found here.

20. The Ends of The Earth by Abbie Greaves

Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.

Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’

Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere.

That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim?

My review can be found here.

21. Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Meet Chloe. First-year student, ordinary, legging-wearing, girl next door…and psychopath.

Chloe is part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the university’s Psychology Department. Most psychopaths aren’t criminals, but when a string of murders on campus causes upheaval, Chloe’s private vendetta is sidelined. Partnered with fellow study participants she can’t trust – and distracted by typical university life – Chloe has to walk the line between hunter and prey.

My review can be found here.

Book Of The Year

Although it was extremely difficult to pick just one, after much deliberation, my book of 2021 was…

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot.

It’s just such a wonderful, emotive story with beautiful characters and it has stayed with me since I read it in February.

I hope you’ve found a book that you like the look of, and if you have read any of my top books I’d love to know your thoughts. Here’s to 2022 and another year of fabulous books!

Until next time,