State of the TBR – May 2023


The amount of my TBR has stayed pretty well the same as last month; I took seven books off the TBR to read so even though I acquired a few, three of them were review books or loans, and it’s doing OK.

I completed 15 books in March (two left to review) and am part-way through four more (plus my Reading With Emma Read). I took part in Kaggsy and Simon’s 1940 Club and read three books for that, and I read a hardback bought relatively recently for that mini-project of mine to not let those languish. I also got through all six of my NetGalley books published in April (I DNF’d two: “Love on the Menu just never got going and wasn’t what I thought it was and sadly, the plot of “Happy Place” about exes pretending to be together just didn’t work for me) and also a couple of May NG books already plus two older ones, and my percentage is still at 90%!


I’ve had books in from different sources and for different reasons this month

I went to The Heath Bookshop to help Matthew to spend his book token from Gill and couldn’t resist “The Book of Birmingham”, edited by Kavita Bhanot, in the same series as the Reykjavik one I’ve read, which covered the remainder of his book token and a little more. I was in The Works looking for something else and (honestly) felt I wanted to encourage them to stock books by people from the Global Majority People community so bought Nisha Sharma’s “Dating Dr. Dil” and I haven’t read any of Beth O’Leary’s books so picked up “The Switch”. Emma suggested Catherine Mayer’s “Attack of the 50ft Women: How Gender Equality can Save the World” as a read-together book and I found a heavily discounted copy online so picked it up for our pile. Ali kindly passed me Ruth Ozeki’s “The Book of Form & Emptiness” (which I will read with Matthew at some point: edited to add after comments, I have read all her other books and loved “A Tale for the Time Being“, mentioned “All Over Creation” in my Best books of 2005 post and read “My Year of Meats” before the blog, but had seen varied reviews of this and hadn’t got round to getting a copy) and loaned me Daphne du Maurier’s “The Parasites” to read for her DDM week this month and Kaggsy of the Bookish Ramblings kindly sent me Virago’s new celebration book of short stories, “Furies”. And I have the beautiful but very substantial “The Book of Wilding” by Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell to review for Shiny New Books (thank you!).

I won quite a few NetGalley books this month (but I’ve already read two of them!):

I’ve already read Stephen Buoro’s “The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa”, an amazing novel about a 15 year old Nigerian boy (published in April, review here), and Rachel Barnett’s “A Summer on the Riviera” about high-faluting yacht life (published in May, review here). Ben Jacobi’s “The Orchid Outlaw”, non-fiction about the author’s attempt to see and save Britain’s orchids (published May 2023); Mariam Ansar’s “Good for Nothing” is a YA novel set in a small northern town with two British Asian and one British Black protagonists (published March, currently reading); I was invited by the publisher to read Elizabeth Acevedo’s “Family Lore” (Aug), a “deeply Dominican” book with a touch of magical realism (I have at least two of her earlier books to read!). “Everything’s Fine” by Cecilia Rabess (June) is a dual-heritage romance that asks questions of race and America; Lyn Liao’s “Crazy Bao You” (June) is a mistaken-identity love story with a Korean American heroine (though I’ve just spotted there’s a rescue dog in it so will be worrying now); I requested Caleb Azumah Nelson’s “Small Worlds” (May) because I was a bit ambivalent about his debut but said I’d read what he wrote next, and set between London and Ghana and about family, faith and friendship, this does look good. Rachel E. Cargle’s “A Renaissance of our Own” (June) offers essays on the power of reimagining yourself and of allowing Black women to be complex. Finally, I was offered “You were Always Mine” by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza (July) because I read and reviewed their previous novel, “We are Not Like Them” – this one explores race, class and ethics as a baby is abandoned and a baby is found.

So that was 15 read and 18 coming in in April (oops).

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, I’m still reading “Shakespeare’s First Folio”, which is brilliant but takes some concentration and is in small print, I’m part way through Mariam Ansar’s YA novel “Good for Nothing” and Deesha Philyaw’s book of short stories, “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” (which I was supposed to read along with my friend Melanie but managed not to) and have made a start on Nova Reid’s important book, “The Good Ally”.

Coming up

It’s Daphne Du Maurier week 8-15 May over on Heaven-Ali’s blog (and I’ll be helping out by hosting the book review list page, coming soon) and she kindly loaned me “The Parasites”, an autobiographical novel about DDM’s childhood, so I could take part. Then I have these two review copies, “The Book of Wilding” and “Mother Tongue by Jenni Nuttall.

My NetGalley TBR for May has seven books on it, however I’ve already read and reviewed “The Three of Us” and “A Summer on the Riviera” and am part-way through “Good for Nothing”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong with Emma as should finish it this month), that’s five books to finish and eight to read, which seems doable. If I get those done, I would like to read some more older NetGalley books and some more from my TBR, although I have nearly succeeded in reading the hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …

How was your April reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – April 2023


The amount of my TBR has stayed essentially the same as last month, as I didn’t acquire too many non-review books and took the grand total of four print ones off the shelf (not from the beginning of it).

I completed 16 books in March (one left to review) and am part-way through three more (plus my Reading With Emma Read). I was a bit disappointed as we did have a five-day holiday during the month, however I chatted on the plane rather than reading, we did some long walks while on the trip and two of my print books were quite substantial. I did read two books for #Reading Ireland Month and two for #Reading Wales, which I was really pleased about. And I also got through all eight of my NetGalley books published in March, although DNF’d two (one had an unfortunate description of a character that put me off but the publisher has been brilliant about it, so I’ll leave it there; one was more about a horrible marriage than about being Ghanaian-British so lost its appeal) and actually one April NG book already, and my percentage is 90%!


I’ve had some super review books in this month as well as acquiring books from two trips. Here are the print incomings …

I was gutted to miss the Heath Bookshop’s event with Adam Nathanial Furman and Joshua Mardell with their beautiful book, “Queer Spaces” so made sure I bought a copy of the book from the bookshop before we went away. Matthew went to San Diego for work and explored the San Diego Public Library’s book sale on his free day and bought me the first two “Saddle Club” novels and took a punt on Alice Mattison’s “The Book Borrower” about a long friendship between two women based on a book passing between them early on. In Malaga, I was very excited to find two of the “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” books I collect, in Spanish, and snapped them up. British Library Publishing have very kindly sent me the next in their Women Writers series, “The Home” by Penelope Mortimer”, Little, Brown have sent me Jenni Nuttall’s book about women’s words, “Mother Tongue” (embargoed until late May) and Oxford University Press have sent a lovely copy of “Shakespeare’s First Folio” by Emma Smith, the last two for review for Shiny New Books.

I won four NetGalley books this month:

Tembe Denton-Hurst’s “Homebodies” (July 2023) is a novel about a woman who exposes the racism in her industry, gets fired and then goes viral; “Black Girl, No Magic” by Kimblerly McIntosh (June) is essays about being a Black woman today; Breanne McIvor’s “The God of Good Looks” (June) is liked by authors I like and shows us a young woman’s coming-of-age in Trinidad; and Emily Kerr’s “Her Fixer Upper” (May) is a light novel about doing up a house.

In addition to these e-books, I was sent one book to review on PDF and bought three in the Amazon spring sale (quite restrained, I felt):

“Broken” by Katie Treggiden was sent to me to review in Shiny by Ludion books; it’s about mending and repairing items to keep them going. Amusingly, I bought Repair Shop Jay Blades’ “Making It” in the Amazon sale and he wrote a Foreward to “Broken”. I also bought Elizabeth Nyamayaro’s memoir “I Am A Girl from Africa”, which was on my wishlist, and Olly Richards’ “Short Stories in Spanish” to help with my language learning.

So that was 16 read and 17 coming in in March (oops).

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma (which I’ve described as Hard Philosophy masquerading as mollusc talk” to her but is decently readable and very interesting), I’m still leafing through “Birmingham: the Brutiful Years” and my two most pressing review books, “Shakespeare’s First Folio” and “The Home”.

Coming up

It’s Simon Stuckinabook and Karen Kaggsysbookishramblings’ 1940 Club in the week of 10-16 April and, while I claim to do all challenges soley from the happenstance of what is on my TBR when the challenge is announced, I will admit that I added books published in 1940 specifically to my wish lists I gave to Ali and Emma at Christmas/birthday time. The result …

It’s a little bittersweet to be planning to read these after the tragic death of publisher, Rupert Heath: the books will still be available to buy as long as they remain in copyright and I’ve decided I will still run my Dean Street December challenge; but it will be sad not to have Rupert see and tweet about my reviews (his sister Victoria is doing superb work taking up the reins, though). I have Susan Scarlett’s (Noel Streatfeild) “Ten Way Street”, Margery Sharp’s “The Stone of Chastity” and D.E. Stevenson’s “The English Air” – three favourite DSP authors and the last two Heaven-Ali is also reading for the Week!

My NetGalley TBR for April has six books on it, all novels, half of them with diverse topics, and I’ve read the Christie Barlow already (reviewing later in the month if I can as it comes out at the end of the month). “Pineapple Street” asks if money can buy happiness, “Love on the Menu” is a romance set around a takeaway, “Small Joys” has a friendship between a gay Black man and a straight White man, also promising ornithology, “Arthur and Terry are Coming Out” has a grandfather and grandson blossoming into their sexuality and Emily Henry’s “Happy Place” is a romance that starts with a couple breaking up but still going to their holiday cottage … “Pineapple Street” is quite long but the others should be fairly quick reads.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong with Emma as we won’t finish it this month), that’s three books to finish and nine to read, which seems doable. I would like to read some more from my TBR (obviously the Dean Street Press books count there), and make some progress on reading hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …

How was your March reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

State of the TBR – March 2023


Well, in good news, the bulk of books on my TBR has stayed essentially the same as last month, the bad news being that I still have almost an extra shelf of it!

I completed 20 books in February (one left to review) and am part-way through four more (one my new Reading With Emma Read). Sadly I didn’t read quite what I intended to, as I was struck down by an unpleasant virus that seems to be doing the rounds and only able to read a series of (nine!) very light and enjoyable novels on my kindle for about a week in the middle of it. I read three of the #ReadIndies books I’d laid out for myself, with one still on the go and therefore should still Count, and added two that came in through the month handily from indie publishers. So six ReadIndies challenge books in total, plus two of the ones I laid out for myself I really didn’t like at all and put to one side, at least thus removing five from the print TBR. I finished one of my other print review books (review to be done for Shiny) and am part-way through another (see below). And I DID read all five of my NetGalley books published in March, hooray, plus three more NetGalley books by Christie Barlow that were waiting for me to read the first six (I did). So eight books off the NetGalley TBR and my percentage is 88%!


Not quite so many incomings this month (mainly because I couldn’t see very well or leave the house much this month, I suspect). The kindness of friends and publishers kept me supplied, though!

Ada Leverson’s “Bird of Paradise” was a kind gift from the publisher, Michael Walmer, and I have read and reviewed it already (here). Bookish Beck sent me Jeremiah Moss’ “Feral City” which is about New York and the pandemic (I’m aware I need to send this on to Laura Tisdall so will try to promote it up the TBR!). I spotted Bob Mortimer’s autobiography, “And Away” in The Works when milling around on the High Street and couldn’t resist it. Charlie Hill dropped a copy of his historical novel “The Pirate Queen” round (read and reviewed here) and my lovely friend Jenny dropped Deesha Philyaw’s “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” (racy stories!) and Cyndia Lauper’s memoir round on the same day. I bought Hunter Davies’ “The Heath” for Emma as she lives near Hampstead Heath and we decided to make it one of our Read Together Books – even though we have one on the go and another two in hand, I decided I had to have this one, too, so ordered it from the (Heath!) Bookshop. Michael Hann’s “Denim and Leather” is the story of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal: I did a very small amount of transcribing for it (and he added me to the acknowledgements!) and decided to pre-order the paperback LAST Feb so thank you, Past Me. And Vertebrate Publishing sent an enticing email about review copies and I chose “The Outdoors Fix” by Liv Bolton which has essays by a lovely diverse group of people and how the British countryside has helped them in various ways (look out for that review soon as it’s out on 9 March).

I won four NetGalley books this month and didn’t buy any other ebooks:

Ryan Love’s “Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out” (published April) is a feel-good novel where a grandfather and his grandson both want to come out as gay but one finds it easier than the other. Paul Morgan-Bentley’s “The Equal Parent” (March) looks at research from around the world about why parenting gets gendered and how to combat it – so much so that as a man married to a man, he gets called MummyDaddy by their local chemist. Christie Barlow has another one out but this time I’m caught up so can read it at the right time – “A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse” (April) returns us to Heartcross and more warmth and community. Finally Catherine Joy White’s “A Thread of Gold” (June) brings Black women out of history to celebrate them as they should be.

So that was 20 read and 13 coming in in February, two of which I’ve already read – a win!

Currently reading

As well as Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, I’m reading Lauren Fleshman’s “Good for a Girl”, about her own life in athletics and women’s experience in general, for Shiny New Books, and Liv Bolton’s “The Outdoor Fix” as described above.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading for both Bookjotter’s Reading Wales (Richard Llewellyn’s “How Green was my Valley” and Charlotte Williams’ “Sugar and Slate” (which was the main read for it last year but I was balking at buying the ebook until I just had to) and Cathy at 746 Books’ Reading Ireland (Kate O’Brien‘s nun-based novel “The Land of Spices” and the novella “Small Things Like These” by Claire Keegan which I know everyone has read except me) for once (I usually manage one or the other).

My NetGalley TBR for March has eight books on it and an equal mix of fiction and non-fiction:

Jacqueline Crooks’ “Fire Rush” is set in reggae clubs in London and Bristol and takes our heroine through gangs and to Jamaica. Monica Macias tells of her life as a West African growing up in North Korea in “Black Girl from Pyongyang”. Nikesh Shukla’s YA novel “Stand Up” has teenager Madhu caught between helping her family and wanting to be a stand-up comedian. We’ve seen “The Equal Parent” above, and Katherine May’s “Enchantment” looks at how to help your mental health through finding wonder in life. Julie Shackwell returns to Scotland with “A Scottish Country Escape” – another reliably good light novelist. “Rootless” by Krystle Zara Appiah is a poignant novel about a British-Ghanaian marriage in crisis. Finally, Elizabeth Day explores her own friendships and broader discussions of friendship in “Friendaholic”.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong with Emma as we won’t finish it this month), that’s three books to finish and twelve to read, which feels OK, though I would like to continue progress on reading hardbacks I bought recently before they come out in paperback …

How was your February reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

(January) book token (and other money) haul part 2


Earlier in the month I shared the first outcomes of my decision to get my book tokens spent (Book Token Splurge part 1 here) and later I shared my lovely Birthday Book Pile (here). I think I’m now onto my most recent Christmas and birthday book tokens though it has got a bit confusing (I didn’t do a summer book token splurge in 2022 so am a bit behind on spending as well as everything else!). I included a picture of the whole terrible tottering pile of incomings in my State of the TBR post on Wednesday but hadn’t talked about these ones …

Well, Lenny Henry’s “Who Am I, Again?” I mentioned but didn’t picture; The Heath Bookshop had a fun sale where you picked a book up from their table and took it to the till, where you drew a ticket to see what your discount was. I was happy with my 10% off this first volume of the autobiography of a relatively local boy. I ordered a copy of Richard Llewellyn’s “How Green Was My Valley” rather naughtily, as it’s to read for Dewithon in March and we all know I said I was going to only do challenges off my TBR again this year. However, last year I agreed with MallikaBooks that we would read this together for Dewithon 2023, so I had to get this (pretty Penguin Modern Classics) copy. Imogen Binnie’s “Nevada” is actually the Bookshop’s book group read this month; I can’t go to the book group but I couldn’t resist a novel about a transperson on a road trip who encounters characters in a small town in America, also apparently a lost classic though only about a decade old, and I picked it up at the same time as collecting the Llewellyn.

I’d also had my eye on Ian Francis’ “This Way to the Revolution” which is about Birmingham in 1968, tantalised by the plans for the Midlands Arts Centre I saw in it; this is the kind of book people will buy for me so I held off till after my birthday. A signed copy, too! As is Dean Karnazes’ “A Runner’s High”, the ultrarunner’s latest running book detailing his achievements as he’s got older – the Bookshop had run his book stall at the Running Show and had brought back a few signed copies, so I nipped up to nab one.

I had had a couple of rogue book tokens which hadn’t worked with the Shop’s till, so I popped on and ordered two books, sending the bookshop’s portion to the Shop: I got Ross Barnett’s “The Missing Lynx” which is about the loss and rewilding of mammals into Europe, and Drew Hayden Taylor’s (ed.) “Me Tomorrow: Indigenous Views on the Future” which blends social activism and ancient beliefs and practices to envision Indigenous futures in Canada and around the world. Finally where did I see mention of “My Father’s Daughter” by Hannah-Azieb Pool? It’s one of the Penguin Black Britain Writing Back series curated by Bernardine Evaristo and is the true story of an Eritrean woman’s family and roots. I bought that second-hand online.

Have you read any of these and which one should I pick off first (apart from the Llewellyn, which I am starting in the first week of March whatever)? And yes, at least two more books have already come in this month …

State of the TBR – February 2023


Oh-oh. That’s all I can say. Yes, that’s almost a whole shelf-in-front-of-a-shelf of books on the bottom level. But also: hooray! This month I’ve had my birthday (pile here) and I have also spent Christmas 2021 / Birthday 2022 book tokens in a few goes (Book Token Splurge part 1 here, Part 2 to follow in a few days). Incomings have come in and looking at my stats, two hardbacks came off the bottom shelf. Hopefully this will change this month as I have an Exciting Book Challenge to take part in!

I completed 14 books in January (one left to review tomorrow) and am part-way through two more (one my new Reading With Emma Read; we finished and reviewed our last one this month). I finished my two remaining December NetGalley reads, plus one older one and the three from my January ebook TBR so have now caught up there. I read my Larry McMurtry for December as planned, and my review copy from Lurid Books of “Chase of the Wild Goose”; I have pretty much given up on my sagas volume (sorry Annabel, didn’t manage to do it for Nordic FINDS!). I started my plan to read newly acquired hardbacks before the paperback came out, reading Bernardine Evaristo and Osman Yousefzada’s memoirs.


Brace yourselves! This is the full pile of print incomings for this month! I will say in my defence that I haven’t paid for many of them, as there’s the birthday pile in there, the Persephone (“The Waters Cover the Earth” by John Moore) is a Christmas gift from Ali that the supplier took a while to send to the Bookshop and several lots of book token spends (I’ll go through the most recent of those on Friday; you’ve seen the earlier ones here).

I won 5 NetGalley books this month and bought 3 ebooks from Amazon (I also bought a copy of Riva Lehrer’s disability/art memoir “Golem Girl” but that was because I can’t comfortably read the small print of the paperback so in my mind doesn’t count):

So we have Christie Barlow’s “The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage” (published December 2022), another in her long series I keep having to save up while I read the earlier ones; Mimi Deb’s “Love on the Menu” (April 2023), a romcom set around an Indian takeaway (this has split NetGalley reviewers so let’s see!). “Small Joys” by Elvin James Mensah (April) is set in mid-noughties Kent with a Black queer man befriending a straight White birdwatcher and discusses male friendship and mental health; Katherine May’s “Enchantment” (March), the only non-fiction NetGalley book I won, looks at how to help your mental health through finding wonder in life; and Nikesh Shukla’s YA novel “Stand Up” (March) has teenager Madhu caught between helping her family and wanting to be a stand-up comedian. From Amazon, Libby Page’s “The Island Home” is another community novel, Joya Goffney’s “Excuse me While I Ugly Cry” I thought I had TBR already but didn’t, and I was reminded of it reading an interview with the author on The Black Book Blog; and “Dream Big, Do Bigger” by Hanna Olivas and Adriana Luna Carlos is a business inspiration book that features my friend Annabelle, so had to be purchased!

So that was 14 read and 31 coming in in December – half and half, right?!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading Adam Nicolson’s “The Sea is Not Made of Water: Life Between the Tides” with Emma, a beautifully written exploration of the seashore that is going to be a real treat, and Alison Mariella Désir’s “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us” which is a fascinating and powerful story of how she founded a Black running club in New York and built a world of social activism around it: I would love to find the equivalent British book if anyone knows of one.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading for Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings‘ and Lizzy’s Literary Life‘s #ReadIndies challenge – to read books by independent publishers. I found I had LOADS on the shelf (carefully checking for non-independence: hope I’ve got it right!) and picked out these as possibles. I won’t go through them now but you’ll hopefully see reviews popping up (and my first review of the month, out tomorrow, is by an indie, too!)

I also have these two review books from publishers to read:

Lauren Fleshman’s “Good for a Girl” looks at women’s place in the running world and came out from Virago in January, and Carl Abbott’s “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” is one of those great small Oxford volumes. Watch out for alerts on my reviews on Shiny New Books.

My NetGalley TBR for February has five books on it (why did I get to win this Libby Page but not the Island one I bought above?)

Jessica George’s “Maame” is a coming of age novel about a woman standing up for herself and making choices; Anika Hussain’s “This is How You Fall in Love” is a YA romcom set in a diverse friendship group; Alexis Keir’s “Windward Family” studies the author’s family that spread out from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent across the UK, US and New Zealand over several generations; Shauna Robinson’s “Must Love Books” has a Black woman working in publishing (but hopefully isn’t as odd as “The Other Black Girl”!) and Libby Page’s “The Vintage Shop of Second Chances” is a community novel set around a second-hand clothes shop. Mainly novels here, mainly non-fiction in the indies: will I maintain my 50:50 balance??

With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong with Emma), that’s two books to finish and at least eight to read in full, though I would like to read more indies than one, and I’d also like to get to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”.

How was your January reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

A lovely birthday book haul


It’s both a blessing and a curse to have my birthday fall so soon after Christmas – hooray, piles of books, but also oh, no, where to fit in all these books? This year, I’ve decided to embrace it fully: usually I save up my book tokens to spend in the summer but I’ve already spent some of my old and new Christmas book tokens and as well as receiving this lovely pile I have some more book and Heath Bookshop tokens to spend, and will do soon! But in the meantime, look at this lovely pile!

From the top, my best friend Emma went off-list (again) to pick out Robin Ince’s “Bibliophile” for me, which is about a tour around indie bookshops. She also kindly gave me two Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild) novels, “Babbacombe’s” and “Ten Way Street”, the latter having the distinction of having been published in 1940, so it seamlessly allows me to take part in Kaggsy and Simon’s 1940 Week later in the spring. As do Margery Sharp’s “The Stone of Chastity” and D. E. Stevenson’s “The English Air”, which Ali forebearingly bought for me with no choice, given they’re the other Dean Street Press books published in 1940 that I wanted (don’t worry, DSP fans, I have plenty left for Dean Street December still!).

Then Sian kindly chose “Found in Translation: How Language Shapes our Lives and Transforms the World” by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche as well as giving me a book token, and Meg picked “The Story of Art Without Men” by Katy Hessel (with its v. clever spine and cover!) both from my extensive wish list.

I’m so lucky to have such bookish friends, and very grateful for the tokens from Gill, Laura, Jen and my parkrun core team friends (as well as the coffee!) which I will make good use of very soon!

Book token haul part 1 (of many?)


I was lucky enough to receive several book tokens for Christmas, and, mindful that I still had tokens from last Christmas and birthday to spend (I was going to spend them in the summer, then I found out The Heath Bookshop was coming, then I managed to only spend one of them there even though I’ve bought lots of books from the shop), I trotted down there on Sunday afternoon, had a lovely chat and picked up these super reads.

I did also buy Lenny Henry’s “Who Am I, Again?”, the first volume of his autobiography, in the week – they have a special table where you can pick up a book then draw out a mystery discount – I got 10% off it but the discounts go up to 100% and, for locals, it’s still going!

Anyway, today I picked up … “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, about two sisters with different fates (one a slave-trader’s wife, one sold into slavery) and the effects of those paths on the succeeding generations; James Baldwin’s “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, the novel drawing on his own upbringing in 1930s Harlem; Kerri Andrews’ “Wanderers: A History of Women Walking”, which I spotted in the shop the other week and does what it says on the tin; Helena Lee’s “East Side Voices” which is essays celebrating East and Southeast Asian Identity in Britain (not something you get many books about here); Kalen Callender’s “Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution”, which is a YA novel about queer kids and life online; and Charles Montgomery’s “Happy City” which looks at how city lives can be transformed through urban design. Thank you to Meg, Gill, Laura and Jen (so far) for enabling these lovely purchases (and The Heath Bookshop for stocking them and being able to order other stuff!).

Have you read any of these? Which should I spring on first? I was going to buy “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” but it’s not in paperback yet and I’m controlling my hardback purchases where I can …

State of the TBR – January 2023


Looking at last month’s picture, and given that I have added my Christmas books already, I haven’t done too badly! Incomings have come in but books have come off the TBR, too, although from the middle mainly down to my Dean Street December challenge (remember you have until the end of Monday to submit your reviews to me). The pile at the end is still there, but it’s only one pile …

I completed 17 books in December although I have three left to review (two of Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” sequence, which I’m going to review together, and Dave Grohl’s memoir), and am part-way through three more (one my Reading With Emma Emma Read). I read two of my six ebook TBR books (four for December and two older one) although I started one and only have three January publishing dates so might do OK this month. I read eight out of the ten Dean Street Press books I put out to choose from (seven print and one ebook) and one of the other print TBR I’d set aside for myself (the Christmas stories) but I didn’t get round to my Larry McMurtry for the month.


Incoming print books. I have already shared my Christmas incomings in another post (see here) and also gathered these ones during the month (only four!):

I picked up “Birmingham: The Brutiful Years” by Mary Keating, Jenny Marris and John Bell in advance of their author talk for The Heath Bookshop, and had it signed at the event. It’s about post-war architecture in Birmingham, at risk, lost and saved. My dear friend Cari bought me Alison Mariella Désir’s “Running While Black: Finding Freedom in a Sport that Wasn’t Built for Us” at her launch event and had it signed for me – this is a US book and I’d love to know if anyone has seen similar from the UK. My lovely friend Chrissie popped Peter Oborne’s “Basil D’Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy the Untold Story” through my letterbox the other day as she knows I enjoy a sports book, and OUP have kindly sent me Carl Abbott’s “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” to review for Shiny New Books.

I won five NetGalley books this month:

Elizabeth Day’s “Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict” (published in March) is a non-fiction account of her own and others’ thoughts and research on the phenomenon of friendship. Libby Page wrote “The Lido” and “The 24-hour Cafe” which I really enjoyed (and I might just have bought “The Island Home” on Kindle as I missed that one) and her “The Vintage Shop of Second Chances” (February) is another warm community novel. I enjoyed Julie Shackman‘s “A Scottish Highland Surprise” so was pleased to be offered “A Scottish Country Escape” (March) by the publisher. Anika Hussain’s “This is How You Fall in Love” (February) is a South Asian YA romcom and Krystle Zara Appiah’s “Rootless” (April) looks at the “happily ever after” as a British-Ghanaian marriage falls into crisis.

And I bought no e-books (hooray!)

So that was 17 read and 17 coming in in December – I call that a win in a busy month for incomings!

Currently reading

I’m currently still reading Jini Reddy’s “Wanderland” with Emma, seeking the mystic places of Britain with the author; we should have it finished and reviewed soon and it’s been an interesting if a little frustrating read so far. I’ve decided to use Annabookbel’s “Nordic FINDS” challenge to finish that Icelandic Sagas book I’ve had on the go for EVER so am picking that up for 20 minutes or so a day. And I’m part-way through one of my December NetGalley reads, Eris Young’s “Ace Voices” about the asexual spectrum and people’s everyday experiences.

Coming up

This month, I’ll also be reading my Larry McMurtry from December – “The Evening Star”, which I wanted to do justice as it’s a big book. Then I have two review books to prioritise: Mary Gordon’s “Chase of the Wild Goose” which is “part biography, part novel, part spiritual memoir” about the Ladies of Llangollen, published by the fab young publishing house, Lurid Editions, and the aforementioned “Suburbs: A Very Short Introduction” from OUP for Shiny.

My NetGalley TBR for January has just these three books, but I have one to finish and one to read from my December books and those two September/October ones. I reckon I can manage seven in the month, right?

Colin Grant’s “I’m Black so You Don’t Have to Be” is an intergenerational biography which places the author’s British-Jamaican identity in context; Nell Zink’s “Avalon” is a coming-of-age novel set in the context of late-capitalist California, and Jyoti Patel’s “The Things that We Lost” is a debut novel covering families and mental health in the British Asian and Black communities. With the ones I’m currently reading (including my readalong which will only take another week or so), that’s three books to finish and nine to read in full, though I would also like to get to Barbara Kingsolver’s “Demon Copperhead”, which Matthew has finally finished reading!

Reading Challenges

I am not going to do an author reading challenge this year for the first time in a decade or so. I have two Larry McMurtrys to finish and then I’m going to concentrate on my TBR (I will do Dewithon, Reading Ireland, 20 Books of Summer, NonFiction November, AusReading Month and Novellas in November as well as running Dean Street December again, plus Simon and Karen’s two Year Weeks, but I will fulfil all those from my TBR). I have also realised that I buy hardback books only to find the paperback is out by the time I get round to reading them, so I am going to prioritise the newer hardbacks on the TBR and then try to read any more that I acquire as I go. What are your reading intentions for 2023?

How was your December reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection?

Christmas book pile!


I’ll have a lot to get through in my books of the year / state of the TBR post on Saturday and/or Sunday, and although I’ve read two books since I last posted, they are two out of the five “The Dark is Rising” novels by Susan Cooper and I want to review all of them together, so I thought I could share my lovely Christmas book pile today.

First off, I have three very on-Liz-brand books from my Birmingham BookCrossing Not So Secret Santa, Catherine: June Sarpong – “Diversify”, which is about all forms of (also intersectional) diversity and why it’s good for businesses and society, Angie Cruz – “Let It Rain Coffee”, a novel about people from the Dominican Republic living in New York, and Paul Theroux – “On the Plain of Snakes”, his most recent travel book, this one on Mexico.

Then on Christmas Day I opened John Grindrod’s “Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain” from Gill, all about Brutalist and other post-war architecture; Dan Rhodes’ satire on the modern literary industry, “Sour Grapes” and “Sally-Ann” by Susan Scarlett aka Noel Streatfeild (published by Dean Street Press) from Emma; and Dorothy Whipple’s memoir, “The Other Day” and John Moore’s novel, “The Waters Under the Earth”, both Persephone books, from Ali.

I also, naturally, have many book tokens and a The Heath Bookshop voucher from lovely Jen, Sian, Laura, Gill and Meg, which I will be spending at the Bookshop in February (giving them and me a boost). I hope all my booky blog friends had lovely book piles to open and will look at all your posts as soon as I can.

State of the TBR – December 2022


Looking at last month’s picture, I have done quite well again! Incomings have come in but books have come off the TBR, too. Even though I’ve added five books to the little pile at the end, it’s not as big as last month.

I completed 23 books in November (thanks to my week’s holiday and doing Novellas in November), and am part-way through three more (one my Emma Read and one reading along with Matthew), plus the long-term ongoing Tolkien and Sagas books. I read all my ebook TBR books for November (my picture was wrong last month; I have yet to review two of them), and also got my September ones and all but one of my October ones read or (one) started. I read eight out of the fifteen novellas I put out to choose from and two others (one in from a publisher then read right away, one from the TBR), making a total of ten, and I read three books for AusReading Month (one left to review) and twelve for NonFiction November.


Incoming print books. I had some lovely books in this month.

“Mary & Mr Eliot” by Mary Trevelyan and Erica Wagner is an author copy from the publisher – it’s based on Mary Trevelyan’s manuscript about her friendship with T.S. Eliot which I copy-typed a few years ago to start off the process for Erica to edit and provide commentary on it. Lovely publisher Michael Walmer kindly sent me a review copy of his reprint of Howard Sturgis’ “On the Pottlecomble Cornice” which I promptly reviewed for Novellas in November and the British Library Publishing folk kindly sent me “Stories for Christmas and the Festive Season” which of course I have saved to read this month. We had a tea party at Ali’s the other weekend and Meg gave me her copy of Claire Keegan’s “Small Things Like These” while Ali passed me her copy of Elisa Shua Dusapin’s “The Pachinko Parlour”. I went to a Brian Bilston poetry reading run by The Heath Bookshop last week and bought a copy of his latest book, “Days Like These” (a poem for every day of the year!), and finally I received a copy of Nigel Green and Robin Wilson’s “Brutalist Paris” which I had helped crowd-fund. What a lovely variety of ways to receive books!

I won five NetGalley books this month:

“The Silence of the Stands” by Daniel Gray (published November) is about football’s lost season in the lockdowns – whose blog did I see this on?? Alexis Keir writes about returning to St Vincent [edited out my error, apoplogies to the author] and tracing his family’s journeys to the UK and New Zealand in “Windward Family” (Feb 2023) and in “Black Girl from Pyongyang” by Monica Macias (Mar 2023) we’ll learn about how the author was transplanted from West Africa to North Korea to be raised, and how she searched for her identity once she’d grown up (that’s going to be a good one for the Stranger than Fiction segment of NonFicNov next year!). “Happy Place” (April 2023) looks like another good novel from Emily Henry, a break-up novel with a big lie to all the friend group and Shauna Robinson’s “Must Love Books” (Feb 2023) pits a young Black woman against the world of publishing.

And I bought three e-books from Amazon in their Black Friday sale:

I always think I have Trevor Noah‘s memoir, “Born a Crime” but I didn’t, until now. John Cooper Clarke is one of the few poets I like and I couldn’t resist his autobiography, “I Wanna Be Yours”, for 99p. And Patrick King’s “Stand Up For Yourself, Set Boundaries and Stop Pleasing Others” might stop me making myself labour over these massive posts (right?!).

So that was 23 read and 15 coming in in November – back in the right direction!

Currently reading

I’m currently reading “Settlers: Journeys through the Food, Faith and Culture of Black African London” by Jimi Famurewa, which is a NetGalley book published in October and is marvellous so far, Jini Reddy’s “Wanderland” is my readalong with Emma and most entertaining so far, and I’ve finally got to reading Dave Grohl’s “The Storyteller” with Matthew, so he does a bit of the audio book (with Dave narrating and a musical background) on his walk and I catch up with the book (no Dave’s voice or music) at home.

Coming up

This month, I’m taking part in two challenges: my own Dean Street Press December, of course (see my main post here) and I’ve laid out all the DSP books I have in paperback plus one more modern one on Kindle. I’m looking forward to seeing what I and everyone else can read in the month from this lovely publisher.

And I’ve also decided to do #DiverseDecember to maintain the diversity of my reading, though I don’t have a main post to link to for that. So upcoming are Nova Reid’s “The Good Ally”, Riva Lehrer’s memoir of her life and art living with a disability, “Golem Girl” and Rabina Khan’s essays, “My Hair is Pink Under this Veil”. I have my lovely Christmas stories from the British Library, too, and my great big Larry McMurtry, “The Evening Star”. This isn’t the end of Larry McMurtry Rereading, though, as I only have “Cadillac Jack” left so am going to read that in January.

My NetGalley TBR for December has just two books, but of course I have September to November ones, too:

“Beyond Measure” and “Femina” are older ones I need to get read, “The Racial Code” and “The Christmas Castle in Scotland” are two from October I need to polish off (the latter saved on purpose of course) and Meron Hadero’s “A Down Home Meal for Difficult Times” and Eris Young’s “Ace Voices” are published in December.

With the ones I’m currently reading (not including my readalong which will take a while), that’s one book to finish and 21 to read (ten of them paperback novels and I have a week off over Christmas …), but I’m looking forward to it all!

How was your November reading? What are you reading this month? Have you read or picked up any of my selection? Are you doing Dean Street December with me?

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