Two Places To Call Home by Phil Earle

The Blurb On The Back:

Florrie has two of everything.

Two lovely brothers …

Two smashing parents …

And two very cuddled pets.

But two isn’t always a magic number.  Florrie now has to life in TWO different homes: one with her mum and one with her dad.

An uplifting picture book helping children to embrace change and discuss their feelings around separation and divorce

TWO PLACES TO CALL HOME was released in the United Kingdom on 16th February 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order TWO PLACES TO CALL HOME by Phil Earle from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Rainbow Magic – Hope The Welcome Fairy by Daisy Meadows

The Blurb On The Back:

Rainbow Magic

Hope the Welcome Fairy helps children to make friends and settle in when they move to a new home.  But when Jack Frost steals her magical items, children everywhere feel anxious and lonely.  What’s worse is Jack Frost steals Hope as well!  Rachel and Kirsty must ask their new friends Gracie and Khadijah for help rescuing her – but will they manage to restore her magic before it’s too late?

RAINBOW MAGIC – HOPE THE WELCOME FAIRY was released in the United Kingdom on 2nd March 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order RAINBOW MAGIC – HOPE THE WELCOME FAIRY by Daisy Meadows from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Crookhaven – The School For Thieves by J. J. Arcanjo

The Blurb On The Back:

”Here, we will teach you to do wrong, but only so that one day you will put the world right.”

When talented pickpocket Gabriel is recruited to Crookhaven, he is welcomes into a whole new world.  This secret school trains its students in classes like Forgery, Deception and Crimnastics – all so that one day they will go out into the world and do good.

On the first day, the mysterious headmaster Caspian announced the infamous Crooked Cup competition.  Determined to win, Gabriel soon realises his best chance will be to assemble a crew of multi-talented misfits.  Except that’s not exactly encouraged.

But when has breaking a few rules ever stopped a crook?

CROOKHAVEN – THE SCHOOL FOR THIEVES was released in the United Kingdom on 2nd March 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order CROOKHAVEN – THE SCHOOL FOR THIEVES by J. J. Arcanjo from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell

The Blurb On The Back:

Where am I?

What am I doing here?

And … Who am I?

When a young girl wakes up in the middle of the desert, she has no idea who she is.  She’s wearing one show, a plain black dress and she’s carrying a strange, heavy case.  She meets Tarni, who is on a mysterious quest of her own.

Together, the two girls trek across the cast and ever-changing Australian Outback in search of answers.

Except both are hiding secrets …

THE SONG WALKER was released in the United Kingdom on 2nd February 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order THE SONG WALKER by Zillah Bethell from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Reinventing Capitalism In The Age Of Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge

The Blurb On The Back:

Capitalism is dying.  Profits soar while inequality rises and innovation stalls.  Something has to give. 

For the past century, the story of capitalism has been the story of a market dominated by money and firms.  We use prices to judge goods, and what we’re willing to pay signals how useful a good is to us.  Firms coordinate massive efforts, such as mass-producing cars, by controlling the flow of information and centralising decision making, while providing stable employment.  But the data we generate about ourselves and the data manufacturers generate about their products enable algorithms to connect buyers and sellers much more efficiently than markets based on price ever could.  These same forces make the rigid control of information unnecessary, enabling ever-smaller groups of people to work together effectively.  Large, centralised firms could wither away to nothing more than a person and their computer: more AirBnB than Holiday Inn.

This fusion of big data and artificial intelligence will lead a new kind of capitalism: data capitalism.

This could mean a more sustainable, egalitarian economy, but the end of the firm – including the end of stable employment – carries great risks as well.  Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, the bestselling co-author of Big Data and Thomas Ramge, writer for The Economist, show how modern technological change is killing capitalism as we know it, and what comes next.  

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order REINVENTING CAPITALISM IN THE AGE OF BIG DATA by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger  and Thomas Ramge from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Blue Badger And The Beautiful Berry by Huw Lewis and Ben Sanders

The Blurb On The Back:

Berries are red.  Berries are blue.

What if another badger wants them all too?

Who knows what you might find in the berry bushes?

Follow Badger as he searches for answers, happiness … and the meaning of life.

BLUE BADGER AND THE BEAUTIFUL BERRY was released in the United Kingdom on 9th February 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BLUE BADGER AND THE BEAUTIFUL BERRY by Huw Lewis Jones and Ben Sanders from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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I Am Enough by Sheridan Stewart

The Blurb On The Back:

I have enough.

I do enough.

I am enough.

In a world where people are always busy, always rushing, and never feel like they are a good enough friend, partner or employee, Sheridan Stewart’s I Am Enough helps harness and prioritise being calm, slowing down and focusing on self-care.

Drawing on the author’s own experiences, I Am Enough is the story of her 90-day challenge to have enough, do enough and be enough, hoping that her enriching experience will encourage and teach others.  Alongside Sheridan’s personal story, this book is also an inspiration and road map for readers to take up the I Am Enough quest themselves and change their lives by following in her footsteps on a journey towards contentment.  

I AM ENOUGH was released in the United Kingdom on 19th January 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order I AM ENOUGH by Sheridan Stewart from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Pug Who Wanted To Be A Fairy by Bella Swift

The Blurb On The Back:

Wag your tail if you believe in fairies!

Oh no!  Peggy the pug’s local park is shutting down!  Now where will she go for walks with Chloe, her best friend?  Chloe plans a summer fair with a cake sale to save the park, but Peggy has a better idea – she just needs to find a fairy to grant her friend’s wish!

You don’t always need wings and a wand to work some magic …

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order THE PUG WHO WANTED TO BE A FAIRY by Bella Swift from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Sea Keepers: The Missing Manatee by Coral Ripley

The Blurb On The Back:

Dive into a mermaid adventure!

Sea Keepers

The Sea Keepers are searching for a magic pearl in the tropics.  But when evil Effluvia kidnaps a baby manatee, it’s up to the girls to rescue it.  Can Emily, Grace and Layla find the missing manatee before the rest of the herd leave it behind?

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SEA KEEPERS – THE MISSING MANATEE by Coral Ripley from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Beast Quest – Styx The Lurking Terror by Adam Blade

The Blurb On The Back:

Our heroes are following a magical map on their Quest through the Netherworld.  Their old enemy Malvel has unleashed four new Beasts, including Styx, a deadly alligator!

Free the beasts

Live the adventure

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BEAST QUEST – STYX THE LURKING TERROR by Adam Blade from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Beast Quest – Ossiron The Fleshless Killer by Adam Blade

The Blurb On The Back:

The Evil Wizard Malvel has banished four young adventurers to the mysterious Netherworld!  Now the most dangerous Quest yet begins.  Can anyone defeat Ossiron, a monstrous skeleton jackal?

Free the beasts

Live the adventure

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BEAST QUEST – OSSIRON THE FLESHLESS KILLER by Adam Blade from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Rainbow Magic: Kat The Jungle Fairy by Daisy Meadows

The Blurb On The Back:

Kat the Jungle Fairy looks after the beautiful, lush jungles in the fairy and human worlds.  But when Jack Frost steals her magical objects, all jungles are in danger!  Can Kirsty and Rachel help save the homes of all the tropical plants and animals?

RAINBOW MAGIC – KAT THE JUNGLE FAIRY was released in the United Kingdom on 4th August 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order RAINBOW MAGIC – KAT THE JUNGLE FAIRY by Daisy Meadows from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Cash Is Queen by Davinia Tomlinson

The Blurb On The Back:

Cash Is Queen is the definitive guide to money for girl, breaking down the basics of how young women can learn to understand and manage their money – an essential skill that will last them forever.

With clear explanations and empowering text by experienced financial expert Davinia Tomlinson, this book is vital reading for young girls everywhere as they enter adulthood and set out to make their mark in the world.

CASH IS QUEEN was released in the United Kingdom on 5th January 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order CASH IS QUEEN by Davinia Tomlinson from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Scrublands by Chris Hammer

The Blurb On The Back:

In a country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.

A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy.  But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted view of events.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town.  The bodies of two backpackers are found in the scrublands.  The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist.  But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SCRUBLANDS by Chris Hammer from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Be Confident Be You by Becky Goddard-Hill

The Blurb On The Back:

Increase the confidence level of the most important person you will ever meet …

YOU

(And then see your self-esteem soar!)

Packed full of ideas and practical activities to increase confidence, plus explanations of the science behind how and why they work.

BE CONFIDENT BE YOU was released in the United Kingdom on 5th January 2023.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BE CONFIDENT, BE YOU by Becky Goddard-Hill from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain

The Blurb On The Back:

At Whisper Cove,

what the sea wants,

the sea will have.

When Avril was a child, her mother drowned at Whisper Cove.  Local legend claims that the women in the waves called her into the ocean with their whispering.

Now Avril is seventeen and as she investigates what happened all those years ago, Whisper Cove reveals itself to her.  Distances shift in the strange fog.  Echoes of the past rebound from the ocean.  And Avril is sure she’s met Cole – the gorgeous but disturbed boy she can’t seem to keep away from – late at night at the edge of the ocean.

The truth Avril seeks is ready to be discovered.  But will come at a terrible cost.

SECRETS SO DEEP was released in the United Kingdom on 29th September 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SECRETS SO DEEP by Ginny Myers Sain from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Be More Harry by Satu Hämeenaho-Fox

The Blurb On The Back:

”What would Harry do?”

Songwriter, trendsetter, social activist, mindfulness master – we’d all love to be more like Harry Styles.  This “Golden” guide asked with Styles wisdom, will show you how.

Want to learn how to be your most authentic self, have the confidence to wear what you want, ad find inner peace?  Discover how Harry finds his sparkle, so you can too.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order BE MORE HARRY by Satu Hämeenaho-Fox from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Ella And The Waves by Britta Teckentrup

The Blurb On The Back:

Ella sits alone in her little boat, struggling to find the courage to set sail.  But then a white bird breaks through the clouds, bringing with it light and the promise of hope.

A beautiful and timely story about turning fear into courage.

ELLA AND THE WAVES was released in the United Kingdom on 4th August 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order ELLA AND THE WAVES by Britta Teckentrup from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Speak Out, Leonard! By Jessie James and Tamara Angeón

The Blurb On The Back:

Speak out, Leonard!

It’s a normal school day for Leonard and the other Shrew children.  But some days, Leonard can be a bit shy and finds it difficult to speak up.  And today is one of those days.

When little Leonard sees his friend being picked on in the playground, can he find the courage to speak out and save the day?

Come on, you can do it.  Speak out, Leonard!

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SPEAK OUT, LEONARD! by Jessie James and Tamara Angeón from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Winterland by Alan Glynn

The Blurb On The Back:

The worlds of business, politics and crime collide when two men with the same name, from the same family, die on the same night – one death is a gangland murder, the other, apparently, a road accident.  Was it a coincidence?  That’s the official version of events.  But then a family member, Gina Rafferty, starts asking questions.

You can order WINTERLAND by Alan Glynn from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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Master List of Books Read in 2023

  1. Fake Law: The Truth About Justice In An Age Of Lies by The Secret Barrister.
  2. Winterland by Alan Glynn.
  3. Speak Out, Leonard! By Jessie James and Tamara Angeón.
  4. Ella And The Waves by Britta Teckentrup.
  5. Be More Harry by Satu Hämeenaho-Fox.
  6. Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain.
  7. Be Confident Be You by Becky Goddard-Hill.
  8. Scrublands by Chris Hammer.
  9. Cash Is Queen by Davinia Tomlinson.
  10. Rainbow Magic: Kat The Jungle Fairy by Daisy Meadows.
  11. Beast Quest – Ossiron The Fleshless Killer by Adam Blade.
  12. Beast Quest – Styx The Lurking Terror by Adam Blade.
  13. Sea Keepers: The Missing Manatee by Coral Ripley.
  14. The Pug Who Wanted To Be A Fairy by Bella Swift.
  15. I Am Enough by Sheridan Stewart.
  16. Blue Badger And The Beautiful Berry by Huw Lewis and Ben Sanders.
  17. Reinventing Capitalism In The Age Of Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge.
  18. The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell.
  19. Crookhaven – The School For Thieves by J. J. Arcanjo.
  20. Rainbow Magic – Hope The Welcome Fairy by Daisy Meadows.
  21. Two Places To Call Home by Phil Earle.
  22. A Little Book Of The Orchestra – The Clarinet by Mary Auld and Elisa Paganelli.
  23. Project Logic – Prove It: How To Think Rationally by Katie Dicker.
  24. A Little Book Of The Orchestra – The Violin by Mary Auld and Elisa Paganelli.
  25. Beware The Blue Bagoo by Karl Newson and Andrea Stegmaier.
  26. The Swifts by Beth Lincoln.
  27. Don’t Wake Mum by Eden Wells and Sharon Davey.
  28. Wilder by Penny Chrimes.
  29. Dread Wood Fear Ground by Jennifer Killick.
  30. Dread Wood – Flock Horror by Jennifer Killick.
  31. Connected Women by Kate Hodges.
  32. Momo Arashima Steals The Sword Of The Wind by Misa Sugiura.
  33. The Sad Ghost Club 3 – Find Your Kindred Spirits by Lize Meddings.
  34. The Dinosaur That Pooped Easter by Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter.
  35. The Stickleback Catchers by Lisette Auton.
  36. To The Other Side by Erika Meza.
  37. Peter’s First Easter by The World of Peter Rabbit.
  38. Stand Up by Nikesh Shukla.
  39. The Truth Detective: How To Make Sense Of A World That Doesn’t Add Up by Tim Harford.
  40. Superpoop Needs A Number Two by Sam Harper and Chris Jevons.
  41. The Shattered Lands by Brenna Nation.
  42. Jamie by L. D. Lapinski.
  43. Wider Than The Sea by Serena Molloy.
  44. Why Do People Fight Wars by Ali Brownlie and Alex Woolf.
  45. The Kids’ Guide – Dealing With Death by Liz Gogerly.
  46. The Ten Percent Thief by Lavanya Lakshminarayan.

If you fancy buying any of these books based on my reviews, then you can do so through Amazon UK,  Bookshop.org UK or Waterstone’s.  Please note that I earn commission on any purchases made via these links.

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice In An Age Of Lies by The Secret Barrister

The Blurb On The Back:

Could the courts really order the death of your innocent baby?  Was there an illegal immigrant who couldn’t be deported because he had a pet cat?  Are unelected judges truly enemies of the people?

Most of us think the law is only relevant to criminals, if we even think of it at all.  But the law touches every area of our lives: from intimate family matters to the biggest issues in our society.

Our familiarity is dangerous because it makes us vulnerable to media spin, political lies and the kind of misinformation that frequently comes from loud-mouthed amateurs and those with vested interests.  This Fake Law allows the powerful and the ignorant to corrupt justice without our knowledge – worse, we risk letting them make us complicit.

Thankfully, the Secret Barrister is back to reveal the stupidity, malice and incompetence behind many of the biggest legal stores of recent years.  In Fake Law, the Secret Barrister debunks the lies and builds a defence again the abuse of our law, our rights and our democracy that is as entertaining as it is vital.  

You can order FAKE LAW: THE TRUTH ABOUT JUSTICE IN AN AGE OF LIES by The Secret Barrister from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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2022 In Books And Onwards To 2023

2022 felt like a bit more of a return to normal – or at least, a new normal.  Certainly, I had more time to read this year thanks to a return to commuting but also, I had some health issues this year, which are continuing into 2023 (albeit will hopefully be rectified early in January) which also created more reading time.

I ended up reading 118 books in 2022, which was much more than my target of 90.  In terms of my other reading targets for 2022:

  • I actually managed the 50/50 gender split with 60 of the books I read this year being written by women;
  • I was just short of my target for 25% of the books read to be by or co-written by writers of colour.  I ended up hitting 23%, with 28 of the 118 books being by or co-written by writers of colour so I need to work on this more in 2023 – I have bought a number of books by writers of colour so will look to read them rather than leaving them on my shelves;
  • I exceeded my target of 40% of the books read to be non-fiction with 44% (or 52 of the books read).

My blog’s stats have really taken off this year, for which I have to thank Gary Oldman and the team behind the SLOW HORSES TV adaptation because those reviews are by far the most popular ones on my site.  In fact Slough House by Mick Herron was my most popular review of the year, which was first posted in 2021 and my most popular review from those written in 2022 was Bad Actors by Mick Herron.  I expect both to do good numbers in 2023 when series 3 of SLOW HORSES drops.

I’m going to retain the Affiliate links to Amazon UK, Waterstones and Bookshop.org because they’ve been performing fine but I am reviewing whether to keep the Affiliate link to Amazon USA.  I don’t view this site as a side hustle – it’s very much a hobby – but Amazon USA has strict criteria for sales and if you don’t reach it, then they pull your account and you have to start over and with the number of reviews I’ve done, that takes upwards of 4 hours to do, which is a lot of time to spend on it.  (That is not a whinge, by the way – it’s purely because I have a number of projects I want to tackle in 2023 and that’s going to put other demands on my time).  If I do pull the Amazon USA links then I’ll review how things stand in 2024.

I’m still not going to schedule regular reviews but aim to post about 2 per week, most likely on Wednesdays and Sundays.

As has become my tradition, I’ve set out below my favourite reads of the year in no particular order:

ADULT NON-FICTION:

Buzz! Inside The Minds Of Thrill-Seekers, Daredevils, And Adrenaline Junkies by Kenneth Carter is very easy to read book delves into the psychology of why some people engage in thrill-seeking behaviour (e.g. BASE jumping, eating exotic and potentially deadly foods or sky diving).  I found it fascinating and came away with more of an understanding for what drives people to do these things and what they gain from it.

The Return Of The Russian Leviathan by Sergei Medvedev is a very readable book (translated from Russian by Stephen Dalziel) first published in Russia in 2017 and published in the UK in 2020 that’s scarily relevant and prescient to Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Through short essays, Medvedev describes what’s driving Putin’s colonialism and how it’s caused by Russia’s failure to reckon with the traumas of its past.

Critical Thinking: The Essential Guide by Tom Chatfield is a really useful book is aimed at students but has a lot for ‘ordinary’ people who want to work on their critical thinking skills, including sorting through and questioning information, understanding biases and how to make a strong argument.  It’s clearly written, easy to follow and has useful summaries at the end of each chapter.

Nothing But The Truth by The Secret Barrister is a searing memoir recounting their journey to the bar and later as a blogger and, more importantly, how working as a criminal lawyer changed their own views of criminal law and those who run up against it.  It’s honest, funny, horrifying and is a great way of learning how the legal system works.

ADULT FICTION:

Bad Actors by Mick Herron uses a missing person case to incorporate a savage commentary on UK politics.  Like SLOUGH HOUSE there’s a strong set-up feel with Herron manoeuvring characters and motivation for Book 9 but Wheelan’s return, Taverner’s tribulations and Shirley’s rage issues are all a lot of fun, I enjoyed seeing John Bachelor from the novellas and there are some hilarious lines such that I can’t wait for Book 9.

The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman is an absolute delight.  Osman’s lightness of touch carries the plot forward with a lot of humour while Ron and Ibrahim are fleshed out a lot more here than in the previous books.  At the same time, Stephen’s Alzheimer’s is sensitively shown and is slowly becoming more heart breaking while the hint of a new Coopers Chase resident in the next book offers a lot of potential.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION:

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson accomplishes that rare feat of being an even better read than the first book.  Jackson sensitively deals with the fall out from the first novel (for Pip and her friends and family) and then creates a new mystery that significantly overlaps with the first.  I have some nitpicks (mainly around the rape trial but also some about Cara) but it is a genuinely gripping read and I am looking forward to the concluding book in this trilogy.

CHILDREN’S FICTION:

Ambrose Follows His Nose by Dick King-Smith and Josie Rogers sees Josie Rogers complete her great-grandfather Dick King-Smith’s unfinished manuscript for release on what would have been his centenary, creating an utterly delightful read for children aged 6+ that’s filled with King-Smith’s warmth and wit.  The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are charming and there’s a lovely end note by Rogers.  Younger readers will enjoy the adventurous bunnies while older readers will enjoy the sly humour and nostalgia.

CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION:

Marie Curie by Nell Walker is a fascinating biography of Marie Curie for readers aged 7+ covers her childhood in Poland (where education opportunities were restricted), her work on radioactivity and marriage to Pierre and role in the development of x-ray machines.  Charlotte Ager’s sensitive illustrations work well alongside photographs and Walker clearly conveys a woman of remarkable spirit and ability.

I Don’t Have Enough by Pat Thomas and Claire Keay is a deeply compassionate non-fiction book (part of a series) aims to introduce the subject of poverty to children aged 5+ in a very sensitive way that encourages discussion and understanding without causing stress or worry or causing bullying or alienation.  It’s a great book with wonderful illustrations and worth a read.

Artists: Inspiring Stories Of Their Lives And Works by Susie Hodge for readers aged 8+ combines profiles of artists from Ancient Egypt to the present day with summaries of schools of art and how to make art.  Hodge features a diverse selection of artists and mediums and Jessamy Hawke’s illustrations perfectly complement the text.  It’s perfect for young readers with an interest in art because it conveys passion for the topic.

PICTURE BOOKS:

Mr Men And Little Miss: The Royal Party by Roger Hargreaves and Adam Hargreaves has all the charm and silly humour of the original books and although it’s aimed to tie in with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, works on its own merits aside from that.  I particularly enjoyed Little Miss Naughty’s devilish cunning and how things nevertheless come good at the end.

Big Sister: Ruby And The New Baby by Fiona Munro with illustrations by Darshika Varma is perfect for young readers who are finding it difficult to deal with a new baby sibling and gives useful tips for parents who want to help them with that adjustment.  Varma’s illustrations deserve special mention for the inclusivity, including Ruby’s wheelchair using mum but Munro also gets Ruby’s emotions spot on and I really felt for her when Ravi snaffled Blue Bear.

Mr Men and Little Miss Happy Eid by Roger Hargreaves and Adam Hargreaves has all the charm and silly humour of the original books but offers very young readers a chance to learn a little about Eid and Ramadan in a way that’s entertaining and informative.

Gretel The Wonder Mammoth by Kim Hillyard is both a charming and moving story about feeling anxious and alone and how the best way of coping is to tell someone and ask for help.  I really loved the birds who think Gretel is awesome and Gretel herself is adorable (loved the spectacles).  All in all, I think young readers will enjoy it and it’s also a good way of introducing them to managing their mental health.

Anansi And The Golden Pot by Taiye Selasi is boldly and beautifully illustrated by Tinuke Fagborun and takes the traditional Akan character of Anansi and weaves him into a clever tale of family and the importance of being generous while also introducing children to the food and folklore of Ghana.  It’s an entertaining read that parents will enjoy with their little ones and I particularly enjoyed the illustrations of Anansi himself, with his dapper outfit.

JoJo & Gran Gran Go To The Hairdresser by Pat-A-Cake Books is the 5th in the JOJO & GRAN GRAN picture book series that accompanies the CBeebies series (which itself is based on a book/characters by Laura Henry-Allain).  Sometimes tie-ins can feel stale and ho-hum, but a lot of thought has gone into this and I loved the way it celebrates Black hair and hairstyles.  JoJo has a lot of personality and the love between her and Gran Gran is very moving and I think younger readers will thoroughly enjoy it.

Our Tower by Joseph Coelho and Richard Johnson is a beautiful read that shows both the wonders of the natural world and the community within city tower blocks.  Coelho brings an evocative lyricism to the text (although having stayed in a tower block, I did find myself having to suspend disbelief at times) while Johnson’s illustrations are extraordinarily beautiful, using a muted palate to bring nature and city to life.


Looking forward to 2023, my To Be Read Pile stands at a humiliating 888 (at the start of 2022 it was 860).  I was better behaved last year and did not take every ARC and review book that was offered to me and neither did I go crazy in book stores, but there’s still no getting away from the fact that I’m ending the year with more books than I started it with, even if I did manage to get through some books that have been in that pile since 2006.

My reading aspirations for 2023 are:

  • I want to make some inroads into my To Read Pile in 2023 and ideally end the year with fewer books than I started with.  No laughing at the back.
  • I am setting a reading target of 100 books minimum.
  • I want to read a gender split of 50/50 male and female authored books.
  • I want 25% of the books I read in 2023 to be by writers of colour.
  • I want 40% of the books I read in 2023 to be non-fiction.

I’ll round up by offering a sincere and massive thank you to everyone who has stopped by this blog during the year.  I really do appreciate you taking the time and I hope that you find my reviews helpful.  I hope that you all have a smashing 2023 and wish you all happy reading.

FOR THOSE BRAVE ENOUGH TO CHECK BEHIND THE CUT TAG, I HAVE SET OUT MY TO BE READ PILE IN ALL ITS GORY GLORY:

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Raise Your Voice curated by Nadia Jae

The Blurb On The Back:

Be empowered to tell your story!

Are you wondering how you can cut through the noise and make your unique self known? 

Raise Your Voice offers essential advice on how to boost your confidence and put your best self forward.  Led by BBC Radio 1Xtra host Nadia Jae, read personal stories and advice from prominent figures in sport, broadcasting, and entertainment and discover how you too can speak up and stand out. 

RAISE YOUR VOICE: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD IN A NOISY WORLD was released in the United Kingdom on 21st July 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order RAISE YOUR VOICE: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD IN A NOISY WORLD curated by Nadia Jae from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon

The Blurb On The Back:

It’s just before Christmas and no one is prepared for this whiteout … But sometimes the most magical moments are a total surprise!

As the city grinds to a halt, twelve teenagers band together to help a friend pull off the most epic apology of her life.  Will they be able to make it happen in spite of the storm?

WHITEOUT was released in the United Kingdom on 10th November 2022.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order WHITEOUT by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk and Nicola Yoon from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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