The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

“Perhaps a woman has a different kind of measuring stick. For when it might be acceptable, or even necessary, to commit a murder.”

After recently discovering my love of Agatha Christie I knew I had to pick this one up because it sounded so interesting to me. This is a historical fiction novel following Ms. Nan O’Dea who I could have read a whole book on without the Agatha Christie part it was so interesting. It was an interesting take on Agatha Christies disappearance with a delightful storyline and so many twists wrapped in I could not put it down. 

In London in 1925 Agatha Christie infamously went missing for eleven days. Her car was found abandoned by the side of the road and all her possessions were left inside. So, what happened? After Nan O’Dea was discovered having an affair with Christie’s husband this novel follows an imaginative journey filled with heartbreak and first love. 

The most interesting part of this novel to me was about Nans past. Her life had so many fascinating parts to it that I wanted more. Finding out about her on purposely inserting herself into Archie Christies life as well as the motivation behind it made the novel seem that much more heart-breaking. When talking about Agatha, Nan paints her in such a light that it seems as though the two could have been friends had the circumstances been different. 

“We both know you can’t tell your own story without exposing someone else’s.” 

Although I really enjoyed this book the one issue that I had is that I went into it expecting to read about Agatha Christie only to learn about Nan O’Dea’s life instead. I understand that this book was supposed to be Nan’s account of what happened however, it would have been interesting to expand more on the disappearance and why Agatha Christie decided all those years ago to just vanish. 

I loved the ending. It felt like a true Agatha Christie novel with all the mysteries on top of mysteries. The drama was all resolved at the end, but it came with a twist that going into the novel I was not expecting. It allowed you to get wrapped up in the story and at times although the various storylines are confusing it is all explained at the end. Gramont did an amazing job of creating that old fashioned murder mystery with a modern view on it. 

Overall, I gave this book four stars just because I would have liked to have seen more about Agatha. However, it was extremely interesting learning about Nan and following her perspective on those eleven days by seeing how she visualised it all. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it kept me guessing through an entertaining game throughout. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to read and review!

2023 Reading Goals

Every year I like to set myself reading goals for the year and even though I do not often complete them it is so interesting to look back on. I always have the basic of how many books I want to read and then a few extra challenges. One of my main challenges this year is to post on here consistently which has been a real challenge in the past year but hopefully I will be able to keep up this year!

1. Read 100 Books

This has been my goal for the last few years and although I have not achieved it yet I have a good feeling about this year. I want to try and read 100 pages a day so I think this will be doable as long as I stick to this. 

2. Read A Book from Every Letter of The Alphabet

This just sounds like such a fun challenge to try and do. I think it sounds like it will be really easy when in reality some of the letters are going to be really challenging to do such as X and U. I am not going to be including ‘The’ in the titles so that will make it a little easier. 

3. Read more Greek books and retellings

This year in May I am going to Athens and before I go, I really want to read more books based around there. I have a few on my TBR such as Elektra by Jennifer Saint and Greek Myths: A Retelling by Charlotte Higgins. By the time I go to Greece I want to know as much as possible so when I am seeing the temples, I understand the story behind them. 

4. Read More Classics

This is on my goals every year and every year I only read about one. So, this year I want to make a huge effort to try and read some classics that I’ve had on my shelf for the longest. Some of the ones I want to attempt to get to is Dracula by Bram Stoker, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. 

5. Reduce My TBR

My TBR has got out of control in the past couple of years and I really want to try and improve how many books I read compared to how many books I buy. I want to try and get it at least to 75 less than I start with and hopefully filming my progress will help!

These are my five main goals for the year, and I really think that these are all manageable. In my wrap-up each month I will update about my progress, and I hope you enjoy following along with me! Let me know your goals for 2023 in the comments!

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I was not expecting much from this book, but I definitely was not disappointed. Feeney creates the perfect atmosphere a private, isolated island on Halloween in the middle of a storm. This book was perfectly written with the intricate plot and prose which kept me gripped at every moment.

“Don’t spend all of your ambition on other peoples dreams.”

Daisy was diagnosed with a heart condition when she was little and since then she has not been allowed to do anything a normal child could do growing up. When the family is brought together on Halloween night for Nana’s birthday only for her eighty clocks to strike midnight and a scream to echo round the house. A creepy message on the wall and Nana dead on the floor with secrets about the family written in the poem.

The atmosphere in this book was perfect with the mysterious island and the storm. It gave a cozy atmosphere that you could just sit and read for hours. It makes it the perfect book for this autumn on a rainy day. Seaglass house is also beautiful with its unique design, the eighty clocks on the wall and the crazy colour pallets.

“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see…”

This was definitely a mystery that gave the impression of a locked room mystery. The metaphors and the lyrical writing were beautiful but what really gripped me was the small poems about the family at the endings of the chapters. Each one was so interesting to read and only added to the mystery of the story. The atmosphere is perfectly written and the vintage elements such as the VHS tapes and the clocks on the walls makes this feel extremely homely.

This followed a dual timeline with half taking part in Daisy’s childhood and the other half taking part in the present. I preferred the childhood perspective which captured my attention a lot more and the twist really took me by surprise. At some points the present storyline seemed to follow the same plotline and became a little repetitive but otherwise was really interesting to see the family dynamics throughout.

Daisy Darker was definitely filled with twists and turns some of which were unfortunately predictable however, a lot of them I did not see coming. The ending was definitely a shock and whilst it could have been explained a little bit less, I did enjoy how the entire story was brought together, both the past and the present narrative.

The characters in this are flawed and imperfect bit fascinating to read about. They are really dysfunctional and unlikable, but they captivate you. This is a very character driven book which really explored the characters backgrounds extensively which made me feel as though I personally knew the characters. Especially the Nan who was amazing with her palm reading and her pink and purple clothing which I loved so much.

Alice Feeney is an author that I have not read before, but I will definitely be checking her backlog of books because I loved this one so much. I ended up giving it four stars simply for the fact that the childhood point of view kept my attention so much more than the present. It was so much fun and so perfect for the autumn time.

Thank you for NetGalley for providing me with this copy in return for a review.

When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord

I have not read anything by Emma Lord before however when I heard that this book was a theatre kids dream, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed. This is a Mamma Mia retelling however the genders of the parents are reversed. My face ached by the end of this book from smiling so much from this little book of sunshine. If you want a Mamma Mia meets Glee (because Millie is nothing if not dramatic and only what Rachel Berry dreams she could be).

“What were the last seventeen years of aggressive jazz hands and late nights watching bootleg Lea Salonga videos and openly weeping to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack for if not this?”

Millie Price is the stereotypical theatre kid who lives with her dad and her club owner aunt however when her dad decides to stop her from going to a prestige drama school, she decides to take things into her own hands. By reaching out to her mother who gave her away when she was born. Her best friend Teddy, a geocacher who can reach any information in seconds, finds her three potential mothers. When Millie decides she wants to speak to all of them she embarks on a summer full of theatre and plenty of drama.

Everything about this book made me smile but the dad and daughter relationship made this book for me. The relationship between Millie and her dad was heart-warming especially when they both begin to accept their relationship and watching them strengthen their relationship.

“She’s also single-handedly responsible for putting baritone heartthrob Baron Levait on the map.”

The musical theatre references were amazing, and I loved how they were referenced throughout this book. Also, the actor Baron Levait was such a subtle nod to the theatre industry, and I loved what his character brought to the book. I wish I had highlighted how many musicals were mentioned because it was like seeing myself in book format. This is Broadway in a book, and I need more.  

I loved this book because Millie felt so relatable. Her moods and dreams of going to a drama school made me so happy to see her develop throughout this book as a person and as an actor. Millie has so many questions that she needs answering and she’s struggling to find them showing her feeling lost.

Overall, this book was a fast-paced, drama filled book which left me wanting more and to be Millie Price. It was fun whilst covering serious issues accompanied by Broadway references and hilarious friendship moments. This book was undeniably a five out of five for me just because I loved every moment of this book and I want more of these books to exist. I definitely recommend picking this one up for some light-hearted musical fun.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to read and review.

The Woman In The Library by Sulari Gentill

‘Already watching my inbox for your next. Yours, Leo.’

I had heard so many mixed things surrounding this book that I knew I had to see what I thought of it and I am so glad I did. This book was so hard to put down and I was so invested in every second of it. It was a book inside a book inside a book which was difficult to wrap my head around at first but a couple of chapters in I was hooked on every second. As much as I was invested in the book my favourite part of this was the letters in between each chapter and I could not figure out where they were going.

‘And so we go to the Map Room to found a friendship, and I have my first coffee with a killer.’

This follows Hannah Tigone who is a mystery writer and her beta reader who is corresponding with her. The book features Hannah’s book and Leo’s responses to each chapter. In Hannah’s book it follows Winfred a writer who is in the library writing her newest novel when she hears a scream. On the table is Cain, Marigold, and Whit. As they work to figure out what happened they begin to realise everything is not as it seems.

My favourite part of the book was definitely the multimedia aspect of having both the letters and the novel going on. Each one surprised me more and I wasn’t sure where either of them were going. Leo was so interesting to read about. I especially found it interesting how Hannah’s responses were not included which just added to the mystery of the story.

Even though I did guess the ending of the novel part of the story it was still fun to figure out how it got to that part. All the characters were so interesting, and I loved Marigold so much. She was so fun and fresh to read about and was so unapologetically strange. At times I found Winifred a little hard to read from her perspective mainly due to the obsession she had with Cain despite his questionable choices, but I still loved them both as a whole.

Overall, this book was so interesting, and I had no idea where either of the mysteries was going so it kept my attention the entire way through. I gave this book a five star because I thought it was so interesting and this would be the perfect autumn cosy read. The whole multimedia aspect of the book was definitely my favourite part and I really hope I can find more like this in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this copy!

Witch 13 by Patrick R. Delaney

I wanted a scary book and this gave me everything I could have wanted and more. This is the perfect atmospheric horror which the author perfectly depicts and makes you feel as though you are living through the horror with the characters. Even though I was reading this book in daylight on my commute to work I still felt myself getting goosebumps and I would love to reread this in the dark.

‘The woman didn’t move; she was still, like one of those Halloween witches people put on their porch to scare away kids like her.’

This follows Sheriff Sterling two weeks before Christmas just before shes about to leave her job hopefully quietly. However incidents begin occurring all over town including a truck crashing blocking the towns entrance, a boy going missing from a supermarket and her deputy is missing. When Sterling is called to the city hall she comes across a scene that is so unbelievable that she can not even explain it to the rest of her team. When she finds a woman on the scene she immediately knows something is wrong but she does not know quite how bad things are about to get.

I loved Sterling despite her flaws and her bad decisions she makes her choices based on the experiences and how someone in that moment would react to that situation. She felt very real to me and her relationships with those around her was so flawed but extremely realistic in terms of a workplace.

The witch also plays off the characters weaknesses in the book which was really interesting to read about. It showed how no matter how perfect you seem everyone has a past and the witch likes to depict that in such a horrific way it made me feel so interested yet so uncomfortable with how it played out.

This book is how I love witches to be portrayed rather than the more recent development of the ‘good witch’ and finding a horror book about witches is so hard to find recently. The violence of the witch was not over the top gory but still made you feel creeped out by the situations and the entire thing made you feel hopeless. I really enjoyed that you knew the book was not going to have a resolved ending as the witch made the entire situation feel despairing.

The illustrations throughout this book also made it even more interesting and added an interesting element which helped visualise certain situations throughout the book. I think more books need illustrations especially in the way these used black and white just added to the eeriness of the book.  

I ended up rating this book four stars which is a really high rating for me in a horror. It had everything I could want; witches, a creepy atmosphere and illustrations which is always a bonus in books. I really want to get to Delaneys other works around Halloween and see if I like them as much as I liked this one.

Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy!

Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy Review

I was so excited to receive this review copy after reading The Deal last year. Elle Kennedy’s books are so easy to read and always leave me with such a happy feeling after I’ve read them. This one especially gave me such a cosy and calm feeling after reading. The beach setting and the animal aspect of this book as well as the romance which left me craving more from the couple. This had all the best aspects of The Deal with the perfect location and the perfect guy added in.

This follows Mackenzie who has her entire life figured out; a perfect boyfriend, her career planned out and parents who expect the most. All she wants to do is focus on her business, but her parents are insisting that she gets a degree first. Cooper hates the prep school students that fill his beach for most of the year. When Cooper is dared to get close to Mac, he soon realizes that she is not like every other ‘clone’ that he’s ever met.

The romance in this book made the book for me. Although some parts of the book was predictable I loved how easy this romance was to read. There were some really cute moments between Mac and Cooper which left me smiling a little to myself. Cooper is everything you need in a book guy the tattoos, his personality and his vibes were perfect as well as the way he defends Mac against his friends made me so happy.

I loved the side characters in this book especially Evan. He was so calming and such a good energy in the book. Especially when him and Daisy are together it is the cutest thing ever. Although this book worked really well as a standalone, I would love to see a book based around Evan and him finding someone. Also, I would love to see his relationship with his brother and explore his feelings around his mum as well as his childhood. Mac and Evans friendship was so adorable to see develop throughout, and I would love to see this more in another book.

The one thing that I did not enjoy in this book was the ending. Everything felt really abrupt about the ending with the events that occurred at the end of the book. There felt like there was a lot of unresolved issue in the end and I would like to see these wrapped up in the next book. A lot of the characters have unresolved business so hopefully this will all be addressed.

Overall, this book was a cute, easy, fast read that I could enjoy on my way to work in a morning that I did not have to pay much attention too. I ended up giving it 3.5 stars because there were some things I loved about this book and some things that I did not enjoy as much. I had some issues with the ending and a couple of the events in the book but overall, it was such a fun book. Cooper and Mac are adorable, and Evan has my heart. I will continue with the series as I think this is the perfect beach read for summer and I can not wait to see where the series goes.

2022 Reading Goals

2022 is going to be my year surrounding my book goals. Last year I did not read much until around mid year so my goals got forgotten about a little bit however, I am officially in my reading era again. I have around seven book goals that I would like to get to this year. This may be a little bit ambitious but I am extremely ready to push myself and try and stick to some goals this year.

  1. Read 100 books

Last year I was at university for half of the year and did not really focus on reading till around July. I managed 76 books in 2021 so I have upped my goal to 100 this year to make up for the lost time I had during university now I have more free time.

2. Read more Stephen King

I always say that Stephen King is one of my favourite authors however I have actually only read a small amount of his books. The top of my list to read this year is Cell, Four Seasons and Misery. I really want to try and read one a month but at least one every couple of months.

3. Read horror books

I recently discovered my love of horror books and I really want to expand my collection and the ones I have read. This one ties in with reading more Stephen King who is supposed to be the king of horror. I have a list but I would to find more abstract recommendations of ones that are truly going to scare me.

4. Read my NetGalley books

I have been approved for many books on NetGalley however, I have not read as many as I would have liked, and I also have not reviewed enough of the ones I have read. I would love to get my score above 80% by the end of the year however that may be a little bit too high so realistically I would like to at least get it above 50%.

5. Finish the series I have already started

This is such a bad habit of mine. I will begin a series and then I will never finish it. I have around thirty-four unfinished series on my shelf. My goal this year is to at least finish ten of these series especially as some of the unfinished series are duologies.

6. Get my physical TBR down

This is my main goal of the year. I have definitely been buying way too many books recently and not reading as many. My TBR is way over where I would like it to be and I am officially on a book buying ban until the end of June in order to try and get my TBR under control a little bit more.

7. Update my blog more

This isn’t so much a reading goal, but I would love to get back into posting my reviews more and make sure my blog stays updated. I would love to do a review for the majority of the books I read however, making sure I do them for my favourite books is really important so that I can look back on them and see my thoughts.

I would love to make sure I complete at least some of these goals by the end of the year even if I do not complete them all. Through the year I really want to reflect on my goals and see which ones I need to work on more as well as which ones I have actually achieved.

Accidentally in Love by Belinda Missen Review

This book sounded like the perfect adult romance for me after loving the Flatshare by Beth O’Leary last year however, it just did not hit the mark for me. I do not know if I had too high hopes for it but I ended up not enjoying it which was really disappointing.

“I Love Postcards – It means someone’s thinking enough about me to want to share something with me.”

Accidentally in Love follows Katherine Patterson who has grown seemingly bored of her 9-5 life. After quitting her job surrounded by overbearing males and leaving her boyfriend she decides to move back home to Sheffield. She decides she’s going to finally open the art gallery that she has dreamed of since she was younger, and she has one artist that she has her eye on for the opening. Kit is a local artist, but his stubbornness and lack of communication is not what Katherine is after. But when the two seem to be attracted to more than each other’s work things begin to go wrong.

The book started out pretty strong in the beginning where there was a strong feminist theme with Katherine quitting her job because a male has got the position she is more qualified for the third time. The thing I loved most about this book was the references to Sheffield. I am from that area which was exciting to see within a book as it’s not a usual setting. It was the small details but Missen did such a good job of describing the area. There was a good sense of humour throughout the narration which did have me laughing out loud at some moments. Also the cover is so cute and adorable!

The thing I disliked the most about this was the romance. I just found that the communication between the two characters were lacking and I feel like Kit’s character started to rub me the wrong way. The development between the characters seemed rushed and the ending was so fast I could not quite believe I was reading it. It felt like all the conflict occurred within the last fifty pages which took me by surprise. I think that the romance did have somewhere to go but it just did not quite achieve it. The timeline got a little bit lost.

Overall I planned to love this book but it just fell flat for me. I ended up giving it a two stars for the humour and the location of Sheffield! I feel like if you do enjoy a fast, movie romance then this book is for you but I was hoping for a more of a slow burn romance.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review!

Top Five Wednesday, Furry Friends

This is going to be the first post in my top five Wednesday series and I am so excited to start this little series! I joined the goodreads group which gives out prompts monthly for each Wednesday of the month and you choose five books that fit. I’ll link the group here if anyone wants some more information about the group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/118368-top-5-wednesday . This weeks prompt is furry friends which is all about your favourite animals in books so today I will be discussing my top five favourite book creatures. These are just the ones I can think of I am sure there is more that I love but these are the five I came up with.

5. The Dæmons from His Dark Materials by Phillip Pulman

Art by: @KhaliaArt

I love the concept of the dæmons. During the series they are the physical manifestation of the characters souls. Even though they often have a form that they rely on they can adapt to their environment by changing into a different animal. They represent the characters personality and they share their emotions and traits. Dæmons are able to communicate verbally with their partner and other dæmons but should not be touched by other humans. I’d like to think if I had a dæmon it would be my rabbit which I would love to be able to communicate with.

Pantalaimon is the main dæmon in this series and I love him so much. He is extremely funny but also just a good addition to the book. He is the voice of reason to Lyra and has many forms like a puppy and a mouse but is mainly an ermine. I think without Pantalaimon I would not have enjoyed this book as much as I did.

4. The Direwolves from Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Art by: @AlectorFencer

I loved the Direwolves in Game of Throne so much. They were such a good and interesting aspects in the show despite not appearing too often throughout. Direwolves are huge wolves that appear on the Starks coat of arms within the series. They are huge beasts and are extremely intelligent and have huge emotional attachments to their owners. Around the size of a small horse they are extremely loyal not only to their masters but to their masters friends. I would love a direwolf to follow me round and they look

During Game of Thrones there are six main direwolves after their mother is found dead at the beginning of the series. The six wolves are Shaggydog belonging to Rickon, Summer who belonged to Bran, Nymeria who belonged to Arya, Lady for Sansa, Grey Wind for Robb and my personal favourite Ghost who belonged to Jon Snow. The direwolves go on such a journey within the story and I love watching the scenes that they are in.

3. Mister Kindly from Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Art by: @Pinktofu_art

This is another form of daemon who is attached to Mia within the book. He is made out of shadows and takes the form of a cat although he is not truly a cat. During the book he helps Mia on her journey and adds a lot to the story. He is created by rage; Mia’s rage at the outcome of her family and then has remained with her ever since. By living alongside Mia he devours her fear so that she can not feel it and that is so interesting to read about.

He is very witty and clever within the book and is another voice of reason overall. I think the reason I love Mister Kindly so much is the way he interacts with Mia and also the quotes he comes out with are some of my favourite parts of the book. “…bravo…’ Mister Kindly said, ‘..if only I had hands to applaud..’ The cat is literally so sarcastic, and I love it so much.

2. Hippogriffs from the Harry Potter series

Art by: Jim Kay – Harry Potter Illustrated

I love the hippogriffs. So, so much. I would love to have one. It is half horse and half griffin. The body is that of a horse and its head is that of a griffin. It is covered in feathers and has talons for claws. Buckbeak is introduced in the third book and appears in the fifth book as well.

I like Buckbeak mainly because of how proud he is. He does not like insult, and he is extremely proud of himself. I love his loyalty to Hagrid and how he defends himself from Draco. I wish that he had been in the fifth movie and not forgotten about completely. I love the friendship which is formed between him and Sirius.

  1. Syrinx from House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
Art by: @_artjake_

Finally, we have Syrinx who I have grown to love this year. Syrinx is a chimera who has the appearance of a lion with wings and lives with Bryce within the book. She is best friends with Lehabah which I think is the cutest thing in the world. He often takes up residence within the library alongside the sprite which is just such a beautiful and cozy image.

The friendship between the two is the thing I love the most with these creatures. This image of the two within the library made me love this duo and Syrinx even more. I wish I could come home and find syrinx laid on my bed to lay with. He is the most beautiful creature which is why he is my top creature.

That was my first top five Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed and let me know which creatures you love in the comments! Thank you for reading and please follow down below. See you in the next one tomorrow!