Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I loved in my first year of blogging

Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) is not something I participate in every week, but sometimes a particular topic appeals to me and I decide to put a list together. This week’s ‘throwback freebie’ theme gives me a chance to look back at some of the great books I read during my first year of blogging (from October 2009 to October 2010) – it seems so long ago now! This list could have been much longer, but I have narrowed my choices down to the following ten:


1. The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (read May 2010)

I also read and loved My Cousin Rachel in 2010, but I’ve chosen to feature this one here as it’s a less well-known du Maurier novel which really deserves more attention!


2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (read February 2010)

Despite having read both Charlotte Brontë and Emily Brontë as a teenager, I didn’t get round to trying one of Anne’s books until 2010. I loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and went on to read Anne’s other novel, Agnes Grey, later in the year.


3. Wild Swans by Jung Chang (read April 2010)

The first of two non-fiction books on my list, I found this memoir of Communist China shocking, fascinating and completely riveting.


4. The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox (read May 2010)

I loved this complex and atmospheric mystery set in Victorian England – and I thought the sequel, The Glass of Time, was even better.


5. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas (read June 2010)

Dumas is a favourite author of mine and although this book is much less famous than The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers, I still loved it. A book about a contest to grow the world’s first black tulip may not sound very exciting, but this one certainly was!


6. Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd (read June 2010)

2010 was the year, thanks to blogging, that I discovered Persephone Books. This one, about a woman who returns home after four years trapped on a desert island only to find that war has broken out in her absence, is still one of my favourites.


7. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (read November 2009)

This was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog. I loved it and, despite the length, I would like to read it again one day!


8. A Pair of Blue Eyes by Thomas Hardy (read July 2010)

I also read and loved Tess of the d’Urbervilles in the same year, but, as with the du Mauriers, I want to highlight this one because it is the less well-known of the two.


9. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (read November 2009)

This moving account of Brittain’s time as a VAD nurse during the First World War is the second non-fiction book on my list. It’s both heartbreaking and inspirational!


10. Middlemarch by George Eliot (read August 2010)

Having previously had two failed attempts to get into Middlemarch, I joined in with a readalong in the summer of 2010 – and was glad I’d given it another chance because I loved it.


Well, I’ve enjoyed my little trip down memory lane! Have you read any of these books? If you’ve been blogging for a while, as I have, which books do you remember loving in the first year you started your blog?


Top Ten Tuesday: Best books read in 2017 so far

Unbelievably, we’re now halfway through the year – and for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), we are asked to list our top ten books read in 2017 so far.

I found this list surprisingly easy to put together, although there were a few other books I would have liked to include but couldn’t as I was limited to ten. Maybe some of them will make it onto my end-of-year list in December, when I won’t be restricted by numbers! For now, here is my list of ten, not in any particular order:


1. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

3. Wintercombe by Pamela Belle

4. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

5. Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

6. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

7. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

8. They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

9. Lost Horizon by James Hilton

10. The Red Sphinx by Alexandre Dumas


Have you read any of these? What are the best books you’ve read in the first six months of the year?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 recent additions to my Historical Fiction TBR

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) we are asked to list our ten most recent additions to our TBR pile in a genre of our choice. The genre I have chosen is historical fiction – no surprises there! A few of these (books 4, 6 and 9) are also on my 20 Books of Summer list, so I’ll be reading those soon.


1. Elizabeth, the Witch’s Daughter by Lynda M Andrews

I already have one or two unread books about Elizabeth I on the TBR and didn’t really need to add another, but I was intrigued when I discovered that Lynda M Andrews is also the Lyn Andrews who wrote The Queen’s Promise, a book I read a few years ago and enjoyed.


2. The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

I remember seeing a lot of praise for Natasha Pulley’s first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but I never got round to actually reading it so was pleased to find her new one available through NetGalley.


3. Claudius the God by Robert Graves

I read I, Claudius last month (my thoughts on that one should be coming soon), so the sequel went straight on my TBR.


4. By Gaslight by Steven Price

This promises to be the sort of atmospheric Victorian mystery novel I would usually enjoy, but now that I have my copy I’m not sure about it. I think the writing style could be a problem for me, but we’ll see!


5. Death in Bordeaux by Allan Massie

I need to read the fourth book in this historical crime series for my Walter Scott Prize project, but I decided to start with the first book as it sounds like a series that should really be read in order.


6. The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jefferies

I loved the last Dinah Jefferies book I read, The Tea Planter’s Wife, and am looking forward to reading this one which is set in 1950s Vietnam.


7. He Who Plays the King by Mary Hocking

I hadn’t heard of this until I saw Ali’s review a few months ago, but it’s set during one of my favourite periods of history – the Wars of the Roses – and I thought it sounded like my sort of book.


8. Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

Another book I will be reading for the Walter Scott Prize project. I feel a bit wary of this one as it sounds very unusual and experimental. I’m not sure what to expect from it but I’m happy to give it a try.


9. Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft

I don’t know much about this book, but it’s set in 19th century Egypt which sounds good to me. I’m looking forward to reading it soon for the 20 Books of Summer.


10. The Words in My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd

This book is set in 17th century Amsterdam and is the story of Helena Jans and her relationship with the philosopher René Descartes. I usually like books set in the Netherlands, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one too.


Have you read any of these books? Do any of them tempt you? Which historical fiction novels have you added to your TBR recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday

I have a lot more than ten books on my TBR for this spring, but for the purpose of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday – hosted by The Broke and the Bookish – I’ve put a list together of ten that I’m particularly hoping to read in the next few months.


The remaining books on my Classics Club list:

1. The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

2. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (re-read)

4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (re-read)


A few from my NetGalley shelf:

5. The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien

6. The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

7. The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull


Because I’ve just finished the first book in the series (Wintercombe) and can’t wait to read the next:

8. Herald of Joy by Pamela Belle


For Lory’s Elizabeth Goudge Day in April (my choice of book could change, but I definitely want to take part):

9. Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge


Because I always look forward to new books from this author:

10. Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton


Have you read any of these? Which books are on your spring TBR this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten authors new to me in 2016

Top Ten Tuesday Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016. I’ve discovered lots of new authors this year, so I thought it would be interesting to join in this week and list some of them. Here, then, are ten books by authors I’ve read for the first time in 2016:


1. Jane Smiley

Some Luck

Some Luck is the first in a trilogy following one American family over a period of one hundred years. I read this book in February and have the second one, Early Warning, on my shelf ready to start soon. I’m hoping I haven’t left it too long and will be able to pick up all the threads of the story again.


2. George Sand


I read Mauprat in April for the Women’s Classic Literature Event and really enjoyed it – I remember being surprised as it wasn’t quite what I had expected Sand’s work to be like. I will be reading more!


3. Jules Verne

Around the World in 80 Days

I had never read anything by Jules Verne until this year, but I found Around the World in Eighty Days a fun, entertaining read and am now keeping Verne in mind for future reading.


4. Rosemary Sutcliff

The Rider of the White Horse

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get around to reading Rosemary Sutcliff! The Rider of the White Horse wasn’t the book I was intending to start with, but I liked it enough to want to read more.


5. Charlotte M Yonge

The Heir of Redclyffe

I love Victorian novels and The Heir of Redclyffe was a book I had been meaning to read for a long time. It didn’t become an instant favourite, but I did like it and will consider reading more books by Yonge in the future.


6. Patrick Gale

A Place Called Winter

I probably wouldn’t have read A Place Called Winter if it hadn’t been on the list for my Walter Scott Prize Project, but I’m so pleased I did read it, because I loved it. Patrick Gale’s other books sound quite different from this one, but I’m still interested in trying them.


7. Debra Daley

The Revelations of Carey Ravine

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing The Revelations of Carey Ravine for Shiny New Books earlier this year. I loved it and am looking forward to going back and reading Debra Daley’s earlier novel, Turning the Stones.


8. Lesley Downer


The Shogun’s Queen is one of a quartet of novels set in 19th century Japan. I found it fascinating and am sure I’ll be reading the other three at some point.


9. Edmund Crispin


The Moving Toyshop was another book I’d been meaning to read for years – and another one that I loved. This is one of Crispin’s Gervase Fen mysteries and luckily there are ten more books in the series for me to look forward to.


10. Ray Bradbury


I read Something Wicked This Way Comes for a readalong hosted by Lory. Although I wasn’t sure if Ray Bradbury would be my sort of author, I enjoyed this one much more than I’d expected to and would be happy to read more of his books.


So, these are ten authors who were new to me in 2016. Are they new to you too or have I listed any of your favourites? Which of their books would you recommend I try next?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books I’ve added to my TBR list lately

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is Ten Books I’ve Added To My To-Be-Read List Lately. This seemed like a good one to participate in, as it gives me a chance to highlight some of the books I’ve acquired recently but don’t know when I’ll get round to reading.

All blurbs are taken from Goodreads.


1. Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari

I hadn’t heard of this book but was tempted when I was offered a review copy as it’s a classic Italian adventure novel, first published in 1900.

sandokan “Malaysia, 1849. The Tigers of Mompracem are a band of rebel pirates fighting for the defense of tiny native kingdoms against the colonial powers of the Dutch and British empires. They are led by Sandokan, the indomitable “Tiger of Malaysia”, and his loyal friend Yanez De Gomera, a Portuguese wanderer and adventurer. Orphaned when the British murdered his family and stole his throne, Sandokan has been mercilessly leading his men in vengeance. But when the pirate learns of the extraordinary “Pearl of Labuan” his fortunes begin to change…”


2. The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick

I’ve never read anything by this author but I spotted this book on NetGalley and thought it sounded interesting.

the-phantom-tree “Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object for Alison – it holds the key to a past life, the unlocking of the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son. But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…”


3. The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Another one from NetGalley. A few weeks ago I was looking for recommendations of historical novels about witches, so this is quite appropriate!

the-witchfinders-sister “1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she has no choice but to return to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witches, and of a great book, in which her brother is gathering women’s names. To what lengths will her brother’s obsession drive him? And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?”


4. The Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction books but I think I might find this one interesting.

the-lives-of-tudor-women “The turbulent Tudor age never fails to capture the imagination. But what was it actually like to be a woman during this period? This was a time when death in infancy or during childbirth was rife; when marriage was usually a legal contract, not a matter for love, and the education of women was minimal at best. Yet the Tudor century was also dominated by powerful and characterful women in a way that no era had been before.

Elizabeth Norton explores the seven ages of the Tudor woman, from childhood to old age, through the diverging examples of women such as Elizabeth Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister who died in infancy; Cecily Burbage, Elizabeth’s wet nurse; Mary Howard, widowed but influential at court; Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of a controversial queen; and Elizabeth Barton, a peasant girl who would be lauded as a prophetess.”


5. The Printer’s Coffin by M.J. Carter

I’ve just finished reading the first book in this series and enjoyed it so much I couldn’t wait to order the second one! This was originally published as The Infidel Stain.

the-printers-coffin “It’s 1841, and three years after we left them at the close of The Strangler Vine, Blake and Avery are reunited in very different circumstances in London.

There has been a series of dreadful murders in the slums of the printing district, which the police mysteriously refuse to investigate, and Blake and Avery must find the culprit before he kills again.”


6. Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Scott and I liked the sound of this one.

redgauntlet “Arguably Scott’s finest novel, and the last of his major Scottish novels, Redgauntlet centers around a third, fictitious, Jacobite rebellion set in the summer of 1765. The novel’s hero, young Darsie Latimer, is kidnapped by Edward Hugh Redgauntlet, a fanatical supporter of the Stewart cause, and finds himself caught up in the plot to install the exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie on the British throne.

First published in 1824, this is perhaps Scott’s most complex statement about the relation between history and fiction.”


7. Oswiu: King of Kings by Edoardo Albert

I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, so I’m looking forward to reading the third.

oswiu “In the third entry chronicling the rise of Christian kings in Britain, Oswald dies and the great pagan king Penda becomes overlord in his place. To stand against the increasingly powerful Penda, Oswiu, king of Bernicia, tries to unite the smaller neighboring kingdoms by marrying a daughter of Deira. But the struggle for power leads Oswiu to order the assassination of the king of Deira. He wins the throne but loses the approval of the people. In atonement, he establishes a monastery at the site of the slaying. What will happen when Oswiu and High King Penda at last meet in battle? Though the kingdom may become politically one, both the Celtic and Roman strands of Christian faith vie for supremacy, mirroring the king’s own struggle for power.”


8. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I’m curious about this book as I’ve been hearing a lot about it recently.

a-gentleman-in-moscow “On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol. But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.

While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.”


9. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This appeals to me as I love books based on fairy tales. The cover is beautiful too.

the-bear-and-the-nightingale “A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, wilful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.”


10. The Norman Pretender by Valerie Anand

I loved Valerie Anand’s Gildenford and it’s time I continued with the next book in the series.

the-norman-pretenderThe Norman Pretender continues the story of the great Godwin family, Earls of Wessex, and the most powerful faction in England. The book opens in 1052 and takes us in a series of brilliantly constructed episodes up to its climax at the Battle of Hastings and its tragic aftermath. Much of the action takes place in Normandy, where Harold Godwinson is rescued by Duke William from captivity, only to be tricked later into swearing an oath securing William’s succession to the English throne.”


Have you read any of these or are there any you would be interested in reading? What have you added to your own TBR lately?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Autumn TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday

I don’t usually like to make reading lists for myself but as there are so many books I want or need to get through in the next few months, I thought I would join in with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) and have listed ten of them below. There’s some overlap here with my RIP XI list and other personal reading projects.


From NetGalley – I have a lot of unread books on my NetGalley shelf which I really should read as soon as I can, but these two are published in October so I’m making them a priority.


1 – Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz


2 – Days Without End by Sebastian Barry


Review copies


3 – The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer


4 – The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland


5 – The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley


For the 1947 Club – hosted by Karen and Simon (10-16 October)


6 – The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie


For Ali’s Woolfalong:


7 – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf


For Witch Week – hosted by Lory from October 31 – November 6.


8 – Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury


For the Classics Club – I would like to read more than one book from my Classics Club list between now and winter, but the book below is one I’ve been putting off reading and I’m hoping that including it here will give me some motivation.


9 – East of Eden by John Steinbeck


Because I love this author – and can’t wait to read his new book.


10 – Conclave by Robert Harris


Have you read any of these? Which books are on your autumn/fall TBR?