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 28 ‘Candlelight’ (3 days remaining)


Today is day 28 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Candlelight’.  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:

CANDLELIGHT (A book that kept you up into the early hours)

This book is just so fitting for the prompt.  It’s a book that I really enjoyed by a favourite author and it was a twisted rollercoaster of a read.  Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough – does this fit the prompt or what?!


Tomorrow: Christmas Cactus – A seasonal read

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 31 March 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 10 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : I liked it a lot


I’m always indescribably happy when I see that SP has a new book.  I’ve followed her work for a while now and really enjoy her writing.  To put the cat among the pigeons I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it 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 – in fact maybe that hashtag will apply for all SP’s books.

To be fair, if you’ve read Pinborough you’ll be aware that her books often wander into strange territory, tales of the unexpected if you like.  There are usually elements of magical realism that surface as the book progresses but this is usually coupled with such a straightforward and contemporary style that it’s always a surprise.

Insomnia starts with Emma Averell approaching her 40th birthday.  Lots of people approach the big 4-oh with a little bit of trepidation but in Emma’s case this is exacerbated by events from her past.

Emma has an almost picture postcard existence.  A successful career, a loving-stay-at-home husband, two lovely children, a gorgeous house and an impending partnership.  Things are looking peachy until a few days before her birthday she wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I’m not going to discuss the plot any further because this is a book that is probably best explored with no knowledge beforehand.

Why did I like this book.

Well, firstly it’s deceptive.  When I first picked this up I thought I knew what was going on, but I really didn’t.  You need a level of patience here because as Emma’s sleepless nights continue her grip on reality begins to crumble.  She reflects on things from the past, particularly when people she hasn’t seen for years show up. And then the cracks start to appear.  Maybe Emma’s life isn’t as perfect as it first appeared.

Secondly, it’s frustrating, repetitive and mind bending in the best ways possible.  Here is a woman who thinks she’s going crazy.  Hell, I thought she was going crazy at many points during the story.  It’s an acknowledgement to the power of sleep and that period of restoration that your brain needs to function in a productive way.  I veered between perplexed, annoyed and flummoxed.  Why has Emma’ s life suddenly gone so haywire, why weren’t her family more supportive and what was going on at night when she completely lost periods of time – scary.

On top of this there are a few characters who dip in and out and Pinborough manages to paint them all in differing shades of suspicion.  The husband, does he resent his wife’s success?  The neighbours and the possibility of affairs.  Emma’s sister appearing out of the blue?  The client’s ex.  Even (especially) Emma.

For me, the best part of this novel is that I felt immersed in Emma’s world.  I was going slightly crazy myself and i don’t mean simply because I was staying up too late to function, I wanted to shake Emma, come on woman, snap out of it, pull yourself together.  Stop doing things that make you look insane.  But then, maybe she is insane!  She’s a hot mess of fear to put it bluntly.  She doesn’t know if she’s following in her mother’s footsteps, she doesn’t know if she’s a danger to her family, she doesn’t know if she’s committed terrible acts, she doesn’t know if somebody else has committed these terrible acts and, like Emma, I didn’t know either and it was driving me a little crazy too.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I’m not sure that the eventual reveal will wow everyone.  It takes something of a leap but it was a leap that was easy for me to take so not a criticism so much as a ‘be aware’.

I found Insomnia an easy book to read.  It took me through plenty of emotions along the way not least of all my extreme happiness that I can fall asleep at night.  A twisty thriller with plenty of tension, well written and easy to conjure in the mind’s eye.

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

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

This week has been a busy one although I’m not entirely sure why – the time seems to have flown by and I’ve barely had chance to break open my laptop or write up posts, but, I did manage to complete the two books that I wanted to so I’ll take that.  I read my SPFBO finalist and now have three books remaining (one of which I’ve made a start on) and I also read Insomnia which is quite possibly my favourite Pinborough so far and very aptly named because I feel like I suffered some sleeplessness myself whilst reading!  (Mainly due to ‘just one more chapter’ syndrome).  I haven’t managed to post any reviews so the blog may be a little busy this week.

Books read this week:

1 x SPFBO finalist

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough


  1. We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley (SPFBO Finalist)


  1. City of Dusk by Tara Sim
  2. Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Friday Face Off : A book with a one word title


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:

A book with a one word title

Hopefully this is a nice easy theme.  I’ve read quite a lot of books over the years with just one word but as I’m all about showcasing the latest releases as often as possible I’m going to go with a book that I’ve literally just started reading.  Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough.  There’s only two cover this week so lets take a look:


1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
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
Next Page »