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Category: Reading

Recent Reading #3

Around the New Year, I saw lots of blog posts, tweets and all sorts going round about the GoodReads 2016 Reading Challenge. Basically, you say how many books you aim to read in a year and track them as you go. I realised that I have no idea how many I should aim for. How many do I read? Not a clue. So rather than set a target, I decided to track all the books I read using the GoodReads app.

Admittedly this app isn’t the best in my opinion. I find it hard to organise my ‘shelves’ through the app itself, so I usually just use the app for updating progress and login on the computer to organise things. Also, I should point out that it’s not ideal when using a site like NetGalley (more to come in another post) where you receive pre-release books… but eh. I’m making the best of it.

So far, I’ve read 30 books this year.

To be honest, I thought I would make it through more than that.. but in the last few months I’ve slacked off a little. I like to take a break now and again, and listen to podcasts or blogs instead.  Here are my favourites out of the 30 I’ve read so far.

Click to view the book on Amazon (*affiliate links*):


Alan Cumming

Not My Father’s Son: A Family Memoir – Alan Cumming

This is a memoir by the actor, Alan Cumming OBE. You may know him better as Eli Gold in The Good Wife (I certainly do). I don’t quite remember how I came across this, but read some reviews and decided to download it. I’m not a fan of memoirs or autobiographies of celebrities – most are ghost-written, irritating, show-off pieces of crap. This is so different. Cumming’s voice is evident throughout, and the story is so engrossing. It tells of his involvement in the show ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and revisiting horrendous childhood at the hands of his abusive father. It really is a both harrowing and, at times, hilarious read. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of his or not.

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Broken Sky

 Broken Sky (The Broken Trilogy #1) – L.A. Weatherly

Another day, another dystopian reality, another strong female lead – except the twist with this one is that it is set in an alternative 1940s. Amity is a peace fighter, a pilot who fights in air battles with other world peace fighters in order to pass international law. There’s a rising power which slowly starts to affect her and those she loves. I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about this novel, but by the end I was hooked. The plot was unique, the characters interesting, and the ending to the first book… well, you’ll see. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

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The Last Girl

The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy #1) – Joe Hart

The same genre as the previous, The Last Girl follows Zoey, who we learn has been isolated as part of a medical programme; a virus has swept the world, causing only male babies to be born. Zoey becomes more and more suspicious of what she’s been told, and is left with no option but to try to escape. Some parts were a little ‘out there’ but overall I enjoyed this book and will pick up the rest of the series.

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The Girls

 The Girls – Emma Cline

OK, so I think just about everyone read this book this summer. I was intrigued by the plot – in 1960s California, a lonely girl gets involved with a group of older, ‘cooler’ girls, who it turns out are part of a cult – as it seemed to be ripped completely from the Manson Family. Spoiler: it’s not far off. But, hearing it first person was fascinating. The prose is heavy and over the top in places, and I can imagine some people giving up. I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t my top read.

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Kill Me Again – Rachel Abbott (DCI Tom Douglas #5)Kill Me Again

I’ve talked about how much I’ve loved Rachel Abbott’s books before in Recent Reading #2 and when I saw this had been released I snapped it up and I really wasn’t disappointed. Maggie’s husband Duncan disappears, leaving her two children at home alone. At the same time, women are being murdered who look remarkably like a victim from 12 years previous – as well as Maggie and Tom’s ex-girlfriend Leo… Maggie learns her husband is not who she thought he was, and Tom has a race against time to solve the murders, and save the women. As we move through this series the character of Tom Douglas continues to develop and the writing is still just as intoxicating. I’ll be following Rachel Abbott’s career closely, as she’s easily my favourite crime writer now!

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Cold Killing

 Cold Killing (DI Sean Corrigan #1) – Luke Delaney

I only found out afterwards that this was written by an ex-Met Police detective, and now it explains so much. This is an expertly written crime debut. Sean Corrigan is an intriguing character – despite a difficult childhood, he is seemingly well functioning, with a good career, wife and two kids. However he has an uncanny knack of getting inside the head of a criminal, as he connects to his own dark side. I really enjoyed this, and having learnt there are others in the series (this was published in 2013) I’ll be looking them up too.

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Behind Closed Doors

 Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

Jack and Grace seemingly have the perfect life: successful, good looking, powerful. But behind closed doors things are not what they seem.. I won’t give away any spoilers as it really helps to know little about the story line, but it’s a fantastic psychological thriller. I found some parts really emotional and I’m not sure I’ve ever hated a character so much! The characters are really well formed and rounded, though I could perhaps say some parts are a little far-fetched. However, it’s a cracking read if you’re willing to just go with it.

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Currently reading….

All The Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

I’m not a big fan of historical novels, so this – set in WW2 – is a bit of a departure for me. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I loved the title and the cover artwork, and the description sounded OK, so thought I’d give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed; quite the opposite in fact – I’d not read the reviews, so I didn’t know it was a NY Times bestseller or a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it’s easy to see why it is both. The writing is simply beautiful. The storylines of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl from Paris, and Werner, a bright young German soldier are deftly woven together. I’m enjoying reading it so much that I don’t quite want it to end…!

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Check out my previous Recent Reading posts:

Recent Reading #1

Recent Reading #2


Let me know your thoughts on the books featured!

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Making Time

In my Medium Daily Digest the other week was a post by Heather Sundell, a writer from LA. I don’t know if you use Medium, but if you do, the Daily Digest is a great way of discovering new content, and this article really resonated with me.

Her article, If You Keep Trying to Find Time to Do Something, You’ll Be Looking Forever, talks about how people always say they can’t find time to contribute towards their passions or things they want to do, but really it’s just an excuse for procrastination or lack of effective prioritisation. Reading this, I realised this is me down to a T, particularly when I consider this blog. I often think I don’t have time to write for it, but I also don’t make time.

Jones Clock

Heather says:

Even after you’ve budgeted your time out and only have an hour to give to your passion, whatever that is, that hour will get you a lot farther than an excuse.

This couldn’t be more true. I spend my lunchtimes at work reading blogs, and daydreaming about posts I could write. I make notes of potential blog topics or titles in my Evernote or OneNote. But do I ever actually use that hour to write those posts? Of course not. But then I beat myself up for only having written one post in the last month. I’m never going to be happy with it if I continue in this way.

On a similar note, when I was younger, I used to write poetry and short stories, and I’ve thought about it often. I’d like to try again. So, the other day, I turned the TV down, and just started writing. I’m not sure what it is yet, I doubt it’s very good and that anyone will ever read it, but never mind. It was so freeing.

I really need to make a concerted effort to be more accountable for how I choose to spend my spare time.

Would you say you use your time effectively?

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Recent Reading #2

As you may have gathered by now, I read a lot of books and as my last book recommendation post went down well I thought I’d give an update on what I’ve been reading recently.


How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

If I’m honest I bought this because it was 99p and in the Bestseller list on the Kindle Store, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a well-written, fast-moving thriller. Basic intro storyline: Susan Webster is trying to build a new life having been released on early parole for killing her son – despite not remembering anything of the crime. Slowly, Susan begins to realise things may not be as she was told. Is her son alive? .. For a debut novel, the writing is really quite accomplished and kept my interest peaked throughout. I’m looking forward to the next from this promising newcomer.


The Back Road; Only the Innocent; Sleep Tight; Stranger Child – Rachel Abbott

Rachel Abbott has quickly become one of my new favourite crime writers. Each one of these books deserves the high ratings they have from Amazon users – though I think my favourite was Stranger Child. DCI Tom Douglas is a intriguing character and the more you learn about him through the series, the more you want to learn! Each book is absorbing, with twists and turns but still always credible. Definitely worth a read – then you’ll be recommending them too!


The Roy Grace Series – Peter James

I was a bit late to the party when it comes to Peter James and in fact I read #8 in the series, Not Dead Yet, before any of the others – I enjoyed it, so recently started at #1 with Dead Simple and #2, Looking Good Dead. If you want classic British crime, this is the series you should pick up. Gripping, with very different themes in each. My only criticism comes from the problem of reading two books in the series one after the other which is obviously not going to affect many people. But. I’m all for reiterating the setting, the character etc, but the descriptions (particularly of his office) are almost identical between the first two books, so much so that you could probably copy/paste one into the other. Like I said, if you were reading these as they were released – or at the very least with a fair gap in between – it wouldn’t be a problem, but if I like an author I tend to read a few (have you noticed?) and it was just something that annoyed me.


You Had Me At Hello; Here’s Looking At You; It’s Not Me, It’s You – Mhairi McFarlane

I think I’ve probably tweeted Mhairi while reading each of her books to tell her how distractingly brilliant they are. I even nearly missed my stop on the train while reading Here’s Looking At You! To be honest you just have to have a glance at Mhairi’s Twitter feed to get an idea of just how witty and entertaining these books would be. The lead female characters are so believable, so honest, that I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thought, “Dear God, that sounds like something I would say…!” It’s just so refreshing to read a rom-com that is realistic with likeable protagonists. I eagerly await each new book – fingers crossed the next won’t be too far away..


The Black Echo – Michael Connelly

And now to one I didn’t enjoy so much. I bought a selection of Michael Connelly books having never read them, and I took #1, The Black Echo, on holiday with me. I love crime books obviously but this time it just didn’t click. I didn’t connect with Bosch, and I found the writing style stilted at times. This series has masses of fans around the world, so maybe it’s just me… I’m going to give the next book in the series a go and hope it’s just the mark of a debut – plus it was written over 20 years ago, so I might also try a more recent book in the series too to see if the writing style has evolved.


Have you got any recommendations for me?

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Favourite Apps: Pocket

Something I’ve been working on lately is trying to stop procrastinating so much – not just at home, but at work too. In and out of work, there’s always so many interesting things going on that it’s easy to become distracted reading articles, news, opinion pieces, infographics… I could go on. It’s always good to expand your knowledge, but sometimes it can stop you being productive. I’m always on the look out for hints, tips and tools to help me, and one of my current favourite tools is the bookmarking service, Pocket.Pocket logo


Pocket was founded in 2007 (under the name Read It Later) in San Francisco with a view to helping people save articles, images, videos and so on to read later. There’s so many ways to use it – it’s available as an app or extension on iOS, Android, Desktop, Windows Phone, Blackberry among other devices and there are over 500 apps that have already integrated it.

The way I use it most is as an extension in Firefox on my desktop at work, which you can install from the website at You get this icon in the far right of your address bar:

Pocket button

When you’ve found something you like the look of, you just click the little arrow button and Pocket saves the page you are on so you can access it later from wherever you are.

When you do get round to wanting to read something, there’s also this button on the far right…

Pocket button

…which you can press to quickly see your list of articles, or you can change the settings so it automatically opens the next unread article.

I also use both the iPhone and Android apps quite a bit – the iPhone for when I’m out and about and the Android on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 when I’m at home. A great added bonus is that you can even set it up to read everything offline! This is just so helpful if you’re heading somewhere without reliable internet access, or don’t want to use any data.

Pocket has also recently added ‘Highlights’ to the things you save – letting you know if it’s a Long Read, Quick Read, Trending or Best Of. The first two are self-explanatory; Trending is when it’s one of the most popular items being saved and shared throughout Pocket; and Best Of are the most “impactful” items in your list. Highlights are really useful to drill down what you should prioritise to read and when – if you’ve a long commute, a Long Read is perfect; but if you’ve just a couple of minutes before a meeting, a Quick Read is obviously what you want! It’ll come in particularly useful once you start saving a lot to your Pocket – though you can also use tags or Favourites if you’d prefer to create your own.

I mentioned sharing – you can share or open an item from Pocket to multiple other apps or platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, Evernote, Mail, Safari, Evernote, LinkedIn, WordPress … the list goes on. If you want to be ÜBER productive you could even use If This Then That (IFTTT) and set up triggers to automatically do the sharing or saving for you.

Here are some things I’ve saved this year:


Have you used Pocket before? What have you been saving recently?

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