Best of the Best

Every year, around this time, I pull together a top ten list of books that I’ve read.  This is usually a difficult choice because over the course of 12 months I usually manage to fit in a good number of books and given that I don’t force myself to read those that I’m not enjoying these are mostly all good reads.  This year is no exception although for once (in perhaps 15 years) I haven’t read 100 books.  This is a new all time low for me which I put down to a mid year hiatus where I read and blogged very little.  My reading is back to normal now, I’m pleased to say, and I have plenty of great books to look forward to so far this year. So, this is part 1 of my ‘Best of’ list.  I’ll be doing a further post to highlight some of my other great reads but this is about choosing my absolute favourites.  Without further ado:


The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined.


The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

This story compelled me to keep turning the pages into the early hours.  I loved the choice of narrator, the world is developed with (more than likely) deceptive ease, the murder mystery is intriguing and more complex than first meets the eye and, well, put simply, it just won me over so easily and quickly.  I can’t wait to read the second instalment which is now waiting on my shelves.


Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it even more than Behind Her Eyes.  It’s a perfect jumble of crazy mixed up, spiralling out of control, sleepless insanity.  Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on it turned out I was wrong and I just love the way that the ending is totally out there – let’s just say #wtfthatending


The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe.  There’s also wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch and I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.


Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher

Fairytale style stories are absolutely one of my favourite reads and I’m always on the lookout for more.  This is an author that I hadn’t read before but have wanted to do so for quite some time and now, with the benefit of Nettle and Bone under my belt, I can genuinely say that I will be visiting all her previous books.  I loved this book so much.  It’s full of everything that I enjoy, it’s got elements of old fairy tales but as the same time feels unique.  It takes us on a wild ride to a far away kingdom.  There are princesses in distress, people who can talk to the dead, a dog that came back to life, amazing characters and the beginnings of a sweet romance.


Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandell

I am in complete awe of this author and can’t even begin to outline how impressive this book is.  On the face of it this is a standalone story that fundamentally connects the lives of four people who share an experience through a strange anomaly, a glitch in the system if you will, that in the future will be scrutinised and investigated by a time travel agency.  Dig a little deeper and this novel actually brings together elements from the author’s previous works (definitely The Glass Hotel and also I think Station Eleven) in the most eye popping feat.  If that wasn’t enough, one of the characters is an author herself, of a post apocalyptic book that has become a bestseller.  There are so many little twists and turns in this book all finished off with a mouth dropping conclusion that is simply brilliant.  Read it – please.


Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I picked this one up and was immediately intrigued with the storytelling voice. There’s an almost ethereal feel to the way the narrative is delivered and this is strengthened by the unusual setting and the dysfunctional family that we are introduced to.  Feeney starts out with a captivating hook, she then lets us run on the line enjoying the freedom to explore the remote setting and the histrionics of the Darker family before reeling us in to a climatic and dramatic grand finale.  Brilliant.

Daisy Darker

A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson

I will say from the outset that I loved this.  I was gripped from beginning to end and couldn’t put it down.  This is my catnip.  Retelling famous stories from the point of view of side characters, victims or misunderstood characters is popular without a doubt at the moment and I for one am enjoying this trend.  Dowry of Blood is no exception.  Take the classic vampire story, Dracula, and take a look at him and his life through the eyes of three of his ‘children’.  Dracula’s chosen ones.  A story with a message.


Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

Miss Percy is an absolutely delightful, regency period, fantasy of manners style story that won me over with ease.  The writing is wonderful, the plot is well thought out and totally absorbing, the characters are Austen-eque but with a slightly more uptodate sensibility and for those readers out there who usually shy away from fantasy elements, but who are in good need of a period drama, I implore you to give it a try, because, whilst I cannot deny that the inclusion of a dragon definitely falls most firmly into the realm of make-believe, the way this story is told, it feels almost less sensational than forgetting to wear a bonnet.  Please give it a try, I’d love to discuss your thoughts about this one.


Emily Wilde Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

I don’t have a link to a review for this book yet as it’s a recent read that I’ll be posting about shortly.  I did love this book though and highly recommend it.  Simply superb.



Countdown to 2023 – Day 29 ‘Christmas Cactus’ (2 days remaining)


Today is day 29 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Christmas Cactus ’.  The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

CHRISTMAS CACTUS (A seasonal read)

So, by a ‘seasonal read’ I’ve chosen a book that is great to read at this time of year.  A book with a murder mystery set on an isolated island with stormy weather making the chances of escape none existent.  This was an addictive read with a twisted ending that I really didn’t expect.  I heartily recommend this book.  Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney


Tomorrow: Family and Friends – A book with great characters

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Posted On 16 August 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Seriously, a top ten contender


I loved Daisy Darker.  In the past few weeks I’ve not really read a lot.  I think I mentioned in another post that this isn’t a slump so much as a lack of time and then feeling too exhausted to settle down to blog or even pick up a book.  Daisy Darker definitely stopped that tiredness mid-track.  I picked this one up and was immediately intrigued with the storytelling voice. There’s an almost ethereal feel to the way the narrative is delivered and this is strengthened by the unusual setting and the dysfunctional family that we are introduced to.  Feeney starts out with a captivating hook, she then lets us run on the line enjoying the freedom to explore the remote setting and the histrionics of the Darker family before reeling us in to a climatic and dramatic grand finale.

Daisy’s nana is the head of the Darker family.  Her 80th birthday fast approaches and with it the strange prediction she was told many years ago that she wouldn’t live beyond that age.  What a prediction!  The entire family seem to have completely become immersed in this belief and this definitely adds to the drama.  Nana lives on a remote island connected to the mainland by a causeway that is flooded for the majority of the time and only accessible twice a day at low tide so once the family arrive for the birthday celebrations they’ll be basically stuck together for a good few hours.  Now, throw in the expectation of a Will being read and someone finding out that they are to become the main benefactor.  What could possibly go wrong??

Let’s take a look at the family.  Daisy is the main character.  She was born with a heart problem that at the time was not so easy to treat, in fact her heart stopped beating and was revived on a number of occasions during the course of the story.  The family took the news of Daisy’s condition badly.  Her mother Nancy, a beautiful but rather vapid failed wannabe actress, feels overwhelming guilt which combined with the affrontry that she also seems to feel at such an occurrence leads her to both mollycoddle and push Daisy away at the same time.  Daisy’s father is mainly noteable by his absence as he travels the world with his orchestra.  Daisy’s two sisters, also named for flowers are Rose, the eldest sister, incredibly intelligent and motivated, and Lily, the middle sibling, a bit lazy and usually trying to cause trouble.  That leaves Connor, now a young man who met the family when a boy and spent so much time with them that he’s like a brother – although, not to everyone!  Finally the youngest member is Lily’s daughter Trixie who comes across almost as vulnerable and inexperienced as Daisy.  Nana (or Beatrice) is a successful author, terribly eccentric but at the same time managing to come across as more grounded than all the rest of the family put together.  I loved her character.

Anyway, I’m not going to discuss the plot at all because that would lead to spoilers but instead just talk about what worked so well for me.

Well, this, in Agatha Christie fashion, is a locked room style mystery.  It’s told in an almost whimsical fashion and I can’t deny that in my mind’s eye I was painting one of those beautiful but hazy pictures of an idyllic existence, long lazy spells on the beach and a childhood spent rambling around inside an unusual and gothic home.  On top of this the writing is just beautiful.  I could very easily see myself picking that book up and starting it over as I enjoyed the style so much.

There’s also a magical realism that is blended into the story so well that, again, I feel like I should read this again just to see what I missed along the way.

Added to this is the wonderful setting, the captivating tales from the family’s past and the fact that the story takes place, not only in such a perfect setting but also on the night of Halloween – and, during a storm no less.  Okay, it’s just deliciously over the top but I loved it.  The characters act irresponsibly, they wander off alone and you’re always reading with your heart hammering in your chest when they do so because you’re never sure if you’ll see them again.  We have little poems about each character which really does highlight their flaws in the most dramatic fashion and to be honest – read these properly rather than skirt over them as they are important.

I don’t know what else I can say to entice you to read this book.  Please??  Pretty please??  For me this was absolutely captivating.  I loved every minute of it and although I may have had the odd quibble here and there the overpowering feeling of enjoyment was so intense when I finished that I don’t think they warrant an inclusion here.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : So pretty


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

So pretty – exactly what it says

Another, hopefully easy week for everyone and I’m really looking forward to seeing some very pretty, easy on the eye covers.  This week I’ve gone for a book that I haven’t read yet, in fact it isn’t released yet, but I have a copy that I will be tucking into soon (it releases in August) and it’s so unusual to have different covers for such a new book I simply had to go for it.  Plus, these two covers are dramatically different.  Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney.

Here are the covers:


24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney


“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney:


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 . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

Expected Publication August 2022