January 2022 wrap up

Well, it has been a great start to the year. I signed up to two challenges this year – The historical fiction challenge and beat the backlog challenge. I’m pleased to say I have started to read the books sitting on my kindle for the last five years

Challenge update

Beat the Backlog Challenge

Historical Reading Challenge

Top Ten New Additions to my Book Collection

Top Ten New to Me authors I discovered in 2021

Netgalley eArcs

The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong ( due to be published in March 2022(

There aren’t a lot of Circus books set in outer space, so I was fascinated by The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong. This science fiction with an asexual hero and a huge range of vivid aliens (and humans) trying to take down the local gangster was a enjoyable and fun read.

The Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham ( due to be published in Feb 22)

A beautifully written fantasy with intrigue, action and unrequited love that also explores the impact of grief.

Obsidian by Sarah Daley ( review)

I couldn’t put this fantasy down- featuring an aptly named Lady Witch trying to raise a magical veil in a male dominated world. Read my review of Obsidian

Anatomy of a Heretic by David Mark (, review)

Historical thriller featuring the Duke of Buckingham’s spy and assassin whose mission in 1628 takes a strange and disturbing turn in Anatomy of a Heretic by David Marks.)

Book reviews

The Burning Chambers ( review )and City of Tears ( review) by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse’s Burning Chambers series is full of romance, Intrigue, action, drama and historical detail- everything I love in historical fiction.

Absynthe by Brendon Bellecourt ( review)

I enjoyed this Art Deco, historical Science Fiction by Brendan Bellecourt in the alternate America of Absynthe, where reality isn’t what it seems.

The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis

The Bronte Sisters are amateur detectors and must help Anne’s friend save her missing husband and fight an evil crime lord, but can they survive the seedy underbelly of London. I loved this book and will post a review soon

Jane and the Year without Summer by Stepanie Barron ( review to be posted next month)

I loved this book where Jane Austen must solve a murder while taking the waters in Cheltenham featuring a set of intriguing yet annoying secondary characters.

The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders

This was a quick read for me but reading this YA book a few years after it was published makes me think this is less science fiction and more contemporary fiction

Choose me by Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver

I figured out early on who the murderer was, but this book less about the murder and more about the impact of adultery.

Date with Malice by Julia Chapman

This was a my book group read of the month- a nice, cosy crime set in the Yorkshire dales with the requisite number of eccentric characters, feisty heroine and a good detective.

Series review

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters( revew)

A dystopian trilogy about a policeman who just wants to do his job despite the world ending

Published on Blog

Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin (review)

This was an enjoyable historical paranormal romance which left me with that warm, feeling when I finished.

Beat the Backlog January update

I joined the beat the backlog challenge created by @owlbesatreading to drive down the books sitting on my kindle unread and neglected for years. But instead of posting individual reviews, I plan on one big update at the end of each month and hopefully that list will go down. Unfortunately found more books hidden away in my kindle library. For my full list click here.

The Rule of One by Ashley Chambers and Leslie Saunders

How Long has this been on my Kindle?

Probably since 2018.

Why did I get this book?

I’m not sure why I chose this book but I think the bright yellow cover and the plot caught my eye from the other books on the Amazon prime picks.


I finished this book  in about an hour and a half. The concept of a dystopian world where families can only have one child isn’t new, but I still enjoyed reading this form the point of view of the children who are impacted on this. The book is a mixture of dystopia, coming of age, road movie and resistance tropes but the overall outcome is interesting.

There would have been a time many years ago when I would have thought the USA of this book would never have been a possibility but these days, I am not so sure!

Content warning

Attempted sexual assault

Do I kick myself for not reading this sooner?

No while it was an enjoyable and thought provoking  read, it wasn’t for me

Choose me by Tess Gerristen and Gary Braver

How Long has this been on my Kindle

I think from August 2021

Why did I get this book?

I think it was another amazon prime pick. In fact, I don’t remember downloading this!


This was an enjoyable quick read with Tess Gerristen usual interesting female detective, a fast-paced plot and murder. What made this different is the that lead character is a normal, middle-aged woman with normal middle-aged hang-ups. The book is also less about the murder and more about the tragic consequences of cheating on a loved one.

Content warning

Descriptions of suicide

Do I kick myself for not reading this sooner?

No, I did enjoy this book and it was just the kind of book I needed at the end of a bad week

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

How Long has this been on my Kindle?

I think since 2020

Why did I get this book?

I love Kate Mosse’s book, so jumped in and bought this book when it was on Amazon’s daily deals


Full review here

Do I kick myself for not reading this sooner?

Yes, Yes and Yes. I should have read this as soon as I downloaded it

I loved this book and completely forgot I had it till I did this challenge and in fact had   ordered a copy from my library.

Obsidian by Sarah Daley-book review

I couldn’t put this fantasy down- featuring an aptly named Lady Witch trying to raise a magical veil in a male dominated world. Read my review of Obsidian by Sarah Daley,

All Shade Nox wants to do is raise a magical veil to protect and save her people living in the Wastes of Malavita, a recently conquered nation of the empire but it isn’t easy. No woman has ever raised a veil and the Brotherhood who controls the veils and would rather watch them collapse than allow Shade raise a new one. If that wasn’t enough, Shade now has to deal with Raiden Mad, an emissary from the empire, sent to help her raise a new veil but now wants to capture her and make answer for her crimes.


I read a free copy of this book for a free unbiased opinion.

The cover for this book is amazing and immediately caught my eye- I wasn’t disappointed!

Obsidian is a fast-paced well-plotted fantasy with a strong trio of point of view characters. The story is told from the points of view of Shade, Dante and Raiden who are all complex and intriguing.

Shade, as a character, is fascinating- a typically feisty heroine who is perhaps the most powerful bloodwizard in Malavita. But what I really loved about Shade is that she isn’t invincible and is accepts help when needed. She is also realistically reluctant to be the hero who must make a sacrifice to help others but will literally get her hands dirty to achieve her goal. She is also refreshing pragmatic about her love life which is so rare in female fantasy heroines.

My favourite character arc has to be Raiden who starts the book as a prim, rigid by-the-books soldier but grows to appreciate the wizards fighting to save the Wastes despite the great risk to themselves. I’m not sure if there are more books in this series but I would like to learn more about why Raiden is obviously special.

The world-building is fresh and interesting especially the magical system of blood magic. The author’s description of Malavita’s physical landscape, history and people were vivid and I could easily see this being played out on TV. I loved the concept of Veils and Quraz, a sort of magical transport system. The book also had me smiling several times.

My only criticism, and it is very small, is there are few female secondary characters in a sea of male characters.

The book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but there are plot threads that could be followed in a sequel, but the book works well as a standalone. I would definitely read more books in this world or by this author.

Content warning

 Description of cutting

Perfect for fans

Fantasy with strong women


I look forward to reading more by Sarah Daley and I really hope there is another book set in this world.

Top Ten Tuesday- Authors new to me that I discovered in 2021

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday again and this week’s theme is Authors I discovered in 2021( that were new to me). 2021 was a good reading year( for me anyway) and I discovered so many great authors via book blogs or Twitter. I think it will be a challenge narrowing this down to ten but here we go, in no particular order

Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Emperor’s daughter  ( review here) was one of the first few books I blogged about. I loved the far Eastern-influenced fantasy with a unique magical system starring my favourite smuggler turned reluctant hero.

K. D Edwards

The Tarot Card sequence series( review here) rekindled my love for urban fantasy and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. This urban fantasy is based on the fact that tarot cards are based on magical people from Atalanta who have now created a new home in the USA-how could I not love a premise like that!

Sarah M Stephen

I was hooked by  Dead by False Creek ( review here), an intriguing timeslip/historical murder set in Canada which I read via NetGalley. This author has been added to my ever-growing list to keep track of.

Luke Arnold

I have to confess I really enjoyed Luke Arnold’s role in Black Sails a tv show with sexy pirates, so this may have had an influence on me picking up Last Smile In Sunder City ( series review)but I’m so glad I did. The Fetch Philips series is an urban fantasy with a touch of noir.

Sarah J Daley

I picked Obsidian ( review here) on the amazing cover but I stayed for the story, world-building and the amazing heroine. I look forward to reading this author’s future books

Patricia A Jackson

Forging a Nightmare( review) was a genuinely diverse book with an unusual biblical theme. Anaba, a warrior forged from the combination of a human soul and hell horse was one of the most complex characters I have read. So anyone who can create a character like Anaba is a writer worth following.

Freya Marske

I don’t think I have to go into too much detail about why Freya Marske is a great writer but A Marvellous Light ( review here) was one of my favourite reads- a touching romance at its heart, a genuine-pick-me up in these dark covid times.

Mike Brooks

I haven’t read any of other Mike Brooks but in  Black Coast ( review here ), he manages to create a story of acceptance and belonging on a background of intrigue, dragons and lots of cultural misunderstanding.

Leonara Nattrass

Black drop ( review here) was my favourite historical fiction from last year and I hope we see more Laurence Jago, the reluctant spy.

RN Morris

Mannequin House

Silas Quinn became my favourite detective last year after I read the Mannequin House ( review here) and I’m slowly making my way through the other books in the series.

Aparna Verma

The Boy with Fire( review here) stole a little piece of my reading heart with its epic scale, its blend of science fiction and fantasy and Indian inspired world-building. So yes, I am now quietly Twitter stalking the author’s Twitter account to be sure I don’t miss the next book in the series.

Are any of these authors on your list?

Please leave a link to your TTT, so I can pop over and check out your favourite authors.

Thank you for visiting.

Anatomy of a Heretic by David Mark-Book review

Read my review of this historical thriller featuring the Duke of Buckingham’s spy and assassin whose mission in 1628 takes a strange and disturbing turn in Anatomy of a Heretic by David Marks.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Netgalley

Publication Date : 21 January 2022

It’s 1628 and Nicoclaes de Pelgrom, a young spy and assassin in the employ of George Villers, the Duke of Buckingham and is tasked to carry out a mission for Mariam Towerson whose husband was killed in the massacre of Amboyna. Mariam wants the men who led her husband to death to die and Nicoclaes is the man to do this. Nicoclaes infiltrates a ship posing as a Dutch sailor to carry out his plan but things a dark and sinister turn when the ship crashes.


This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting and was a lot darker than the usual historical fiction I read. However, I did enjoy the story, although I must confess, I did skim through the grim parts.

The book is told from the points of view of Nicholas, Jeronimus Cornelisz-the villain of the piece and Lucretia Jansz, the woman who gets caught between them.

I enjoyed reading the descriptions of London and life on the sea in 1628, and it isn’t a time that is often explored in fiction. George Villers, the Duke Of Buckingham ( a real-life figure) is an intriguing personality and you can understand Nicholas being in thrall to him. The incidents in the book like Amboyna and Villers’s influence on royalty are based on fact and make an interesting backdrop to the story.

Nicholas is a sympathetic character and a good counterpoint to Cornelisz who I found deeply disturbing. Lucretia is a victim, but this is a realistic portrayal given how vulnerable women were in this period.

The author does not shy away from depicting the brutality of life on the sea particularly for ordinary serving men as well as the life in 17th century London. The descriptions are vivid and bring the story to life in a way that makes the violence more visceral.

As usual, I found myself wanting to read more about the secondary characters particularly Zwaantie, a young woman who knows how to survive.

I received a copy for a free and unbiased opinion

Content warning

Death of children- off-page, physical torture, sexual assault-off page, descriptions of physical dismemberment.

Perfect for fans

Who likes a bit more darkness and psychological thriller twist to their historical fiction


I enjoyed reading this very different historical fiction despite the fact I found it a little too dark than I usually like.

The City Of Tears by Kate Mosse- Blog Tour and review

I am so pleased to be part of the @RandomTTours blog tour for the paperback release of The City of Tears by Kate Mosse, historical fiction set in 1572 Europe devasted by the Wars of Religion .I have to say I really loved this book.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Blog Tour

Series: The Burning Chambers ( Book 2)

Without knowing of the mistakes of the past how can we learn not to repeat them? History is our teacher

The City of Tears

Minou Joubert and her family are in Paris for a Royal Wedding, an alliance between the Catholic Crown and  the Huguenot King of Navarre intended to bring peace to France after a decade of religious wars. So too is  their oldest enemy, Vidal, still in pursuit of a relic that will change the course of history. But within days of the  marriage, thousands will lie dead in the streets and Minou’s beloved family will be scattered to the four winds  and one of her beloved children will have disappeared without trace . . . 


I loved this follow up to The Burning Chambers ( review here)- Kate Mosse knows how to weave a complex story with lots of historical detail and hook you into it. You don’t need to read the first book to be able to enjoy this book as the author skilfully recaps the important events.

The book is set ten years after the events of The Burning Chamber in 1572. Minou and her family have settled into life in Puivert where Protestants and Catholics live in apparent harmony. Minou, Piet, and their two children head to Paris despite a sudden and tragic loss for what is perhaps the wedding of the century. But the wedding between Marguerite of Valois and the King of Navarre that should have united France leads to widespread riots and destruction and as a result unfortunately Minou’s family has torn apart.

Minou and Piet are no longer a youthful couple in the first book but their marriage and the love between them is realistically portrayed particularly the impact a missing child can have on parents dealing with the pain differently. I loved reading Minou and Piet continuing passion for each as a middle aged couple.

In this book there are several plots, the underlying mystery deals with Piet’s heritage and the danger this puts him in, Marta disappearance, Vidal’s ongoing obsession with collecting relics on the background religious and political turmoil. I have to admit when reading this book, the scenes of intolerance and the violence shown to people who are different and seeking refuge could have been taken from social media today.

There are some new characters but Cornelia, the Dutch woman who helps Minou is a great addition and my favourite.

The action spans the Netherlands and France and I found the differences between the two countries and how they dealt with religious difficulties fascinating.

Content warning

Violence, the disappearance of a child, attempted sexual assault, description of intolerance and prejudice and child abuse (off-page).

Perfect for fans

Historical fiction on an epic scale like the Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo by Dorothy Dunnett.


Five stars- I loved this book and I can’t wait to follow Minou’s and Marta’s story.


Absynthe by Brendan Bellecourt – Book review

I enjoyed this Art Deco, historical Science Fiction by Brendan Bellecourt. In the alternate America of Absynthe, where reality isn’t what it seems.

Source: Bought by me

Liam Mulcahey suffers from amnesia and can remember every little of his life before the war but his best friend Morgan and his grandmother are there to help through this. Liam settles into post-war technologically advanced America which is still under threat from its enemies. But one day  Morgan suggests a trip to Club Artemis to cheer Liam up and he reluctantly agrees. So, Liam finds himself drinking Absynthe, a powerful hallucinogenic along with Morgan but his view of the world changes forever and everything he has ever cared about is in danger.


This is a hard book to summarise- there is so much going on and to go into details would be spoiling the story.

I haven’t read many science fiction books set in the 1920s and I think the time feels right for this story.

This story is told from Liam point of view in the third person but he is slightly unreliable as a character as he can’t remember and can’t trust his own memories. He is a sympathetic character and his plight and confusion are believable ( as I imagine anyone’s would be when they discover their reality is not what it should be).

I couldn’t put the book down when I first started it- the first few chapters are quick-paced, full of mystery and I had to know what was going on. But then the pace slows down for the science part and I did find this a little repetitive and perhaps we didn’t need so much detail. Luckily the action picks up towards the end and I had to keep reading as the twists and surprises keep popping up.

The worldbuilding in the book is impressive. A perfect blend of Art Deco, post-war fatigue and steampunk-ish technology including fast trains, androids and futuristic weapons. But while the societal attitudes towards women, the poor, mental illness and people of colour are realistic, they are given are science fiction twist.

Content warning

Violence, medical experimentation, rape fantasy, death of a child ( off-page)

Perfect for fans

Who love steampunk and good old fashioned science-fiction tale.


Four Stars- a riveting read with some amazing world-building.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell- Book review

I really enjoyed Winter’s Orbit by Evernia Maxwell ,  science fiction, space opera with intrigue, mystery, romance and the impact domestic abuse can have.

Genre: science fiction/romance

Source: My own book

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.


I don’t generally read romance but occasionally I do like to read a genre book with a strong, romantic thread. I saw this book on another blogger’s Top Ten Tuesday and it fit the bill.

The romance isn’t too heavy and the main plotline is the mystery around Taam’s death the need to sign a treaty, so that Iskat isn’t thrown out of the resolution and what is going on with the Kingfisher project. I had to keep reading to find out more.

The world-building is good but familiar with good representation which is deftly woven into the story. Jainan and Kiem are the third points of view characters and it was easy to tell them apart without reading whose chapter it was. 

I liked Kiem voice, fun but thoughtful, a good counterpoint to the more serious and wounded Jainan. The romance between them is slow but realistic ( although the insta attraction is still there) and any steamy scenes are off-page.

The main difference between Winter’s orbit and the usual science-fiction or romance book is the description of the aftermath of domestic abuse. There are very few overt scenes in the book describing this but we know fairly soon that Jainan has been in an abusive relationship by his behaviour and his need not to upset anyone.

This seems to be a recurring theme with me at the moment but I seem to love the secondary characters more and I would have loved to spend more time with Kiem’s very efficient assistant Bel and the scatty but brilliant Professor Audel

Content warning

d Past descriptions of domestic abuse, cohesive control

Perfect for fans of 

Ancillary Justice ( but would have liked a little more romance) or anyone who likes science fiction romance.


Five stars-I enjoyed the mystery and the romance was just right- I will be keeping an eye out for more books by Everina Maxwell.

Beat the backlog challenge 2022


I saw this hastag challenge created by @owlbesatreading and thought I would try and clear a few of the books that I had sitting around. But imagine my shock when I found I had 48 books on my kindle- some from 2015. So, I have joined the challenge to reduce this number and will share the reviews on my blog or this page.. But to keep myself to task here are the list of books I have sitting on my kindle to be reviewed.

So here we go

To be read from backlog

Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Interference by Ameilie Antoine

So not a Hero by S J Delos

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

The Killer Collective by Barry Eisler

Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman

The rescue by Steven Konkoly

The Tower of the Living and Dying by Anna SmithSpark

Trance by Adam Southward

The Girl at the window by Rowan Coleman

Quantum by Patricia Cornwell

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Someone like me by M R Carrey

Cunk on Everything by Philomena Cunk

The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clack

Broken Angels by Richard Morgan

The Fifth season by N Jesmin

A little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie

The Fever King by Victoria Selman

Malice by John Gwynne

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Nophrek Gloss by Esra Hansen

Constance by Mathew Fitzsimmons

The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

Star Mother Charlie Holberg

Empire of the Sand by Tasha Suri

Drake by Peter McClean

The Poppy War by R L Kuang

The Dragon Republic by R l Kuang

The Unspoken name by A K Larkwood

The Unbroken by C L Clark

The Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Genome by Matt Ridley

The Raven Spell by Luanne Smith

Murder at Teal’s Pond by David Bushman

Choose me by Tess Gerristen

Obsidan Tower by Mellisa Carliso

Secret Stealers by Jane Helaman

To lie with Lions ( Dorothy Dunnett)

Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah Maas

The likely resolutions of Olive Clack by Jane Riley

The Last Resort by Lisa Halliday


Choose me by Tess Gerristen

Burning Chamber by Kate Moss ( review)

The rule of one by Ashley Sanders

Updates/mini reviews

Beat the backlog January

Top Ten Tuesday- Most recent additions to my book collection

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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 I always ask Santa for a sackful of book vouchers every Christmas with a variable degree of success, but Santa was generous this Christmas. This meant I could go wild and  experiment by buying a few books that I have read about on book twitter that is a little out of my normal comfort reading zone. So, there is a YA, some sci-fi romance, a murder mystery, and a hardcore fantasy in my latest book haul. I look forward to reading all these books.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday- Most recent additions to my book collection”