2019 in Books – The Story So Far

At, or around, the solstice in December we begin to look at goals and intentions for the next 12 months. It makes sense then that at the halfway point in June we look at how we’re going against those.

Yep…moving right along. There’s very little positive to see here.

I can, however, update you on my reading stats for the year so far.

Part 1

According to Goodreads, at the time of publishing this post I’ve read 60 books. That sounds a lot, but I have spent a lot of time away from home so far this year and that equates to time on planes, trains and buses. Plus, I’ve had almost 4 weeks holiday – and I read a lot on holiday.

I read each night before going to sleep and I read most afternoons after finishing in the day job. Even though I work from home I take that time as a “commute” of sorts to bring a fullstop to my day.

The longest book so far this year was “Anyone But Him” by Sheila O’Flanagan – 640 pages (of which I reckon it was a good 150 pages too long) and the shortest was a book of restaurant reviews by Jay Rayner, “My Dining Hell: Twenty Ways To Have A Lousy Night Out.”

Speaking of Jay Rayner, who is a British restaurant critic, I’ve read another two books, and countless articles in The Observer, by him in the name of research for “Escape To Curlew Cottage”. I could tell you why but that would be a massive spoiler.

Part 2

There are also 2 cookbooks on the list – and yes, I read cookbooks. These both got 5 stars from me. Both are more than cookbooks – they are books about food and the stories that you can tell through food, eating and, in the case of “How To Eat A Peach”, travel. I reviewed Ella Risbridger’s “Midnight Chicken” here, but am yet to tell you more about Diana Henry’s “How To Eat A Peach”.

I was pleased to see new offerings by favourite authors:

  • “Maybe This Time”, Jill Mansell
  • “Swallowtail Summer”, Erica James
  • “The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew”, Milly Johnson
  • “Something To Tell You”, Lucy Diamond
  • “Wedding At Comfort Cafe”, by Debbie Johnson and 
  • “The Spotted Dog”, by Kerry Greenwood

My first read of the year was “You Had Me At Hello,” by (new to me) Mhairi McFarlane. I’ve since read another couple by her.

Thanks to Sydney Shop GirlI have a new series that I’m cultivating an addiction for – Faith Martin’s DI Hillary Greene. I really enjoyed “Murder On The Oxford Canal” and am looking forward to reading more.

The most unsettling book of the year so far for me was Sulari Gentill’s “Crossing The Lines”. This won the Ned Kelly award last year for the crime book of the year – and deservedly so. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to her Rowland Sinclair series, but I found this really rattled me. Like Anthony Horowitz’s books within a book, this has the author deeply entwined in the story, but while hisare quitetongue in cheek and sparkling this is much darker and twisty and really stayed with me. As a writer, I guess that’s what you want to achieve. 

Karen Viggers’, “The Orchardists Daughter” also left me feeling quite unsettled – again, I think, because it felt dark, damp, and claustrophobic. Both books were good, excellent even, but at the time of reading eachI needed more light and hope in order to enjoy the read. The same could be said for “The Other Half Of Augusta Hope”. Should you read them? Yes, probably, definitely. I suspect my view was more about me and the way I was feeling at the time of reading them than the story itself.

There are a few genre romances on my shelf this year, but far fewer than in previous years. I simply haven’t been enjoying them as much as I usually do. I suspect it’s just a phase I’m going through. The ones on my list I picked up for my kindle as free or very cheap Bookbub deals. (As an aside, if you’re a prolific reader and you use a device to read, Bookbub is an excellent source of well-price ie cheap books. Google it.)

Normally I do a bit of the reverse snobbery thing and steer clear of books that have won or been short-listed for major awards. I do the same with movies and TV shows. This year, though, I’ve started 2 such books but haven’t been in the mood to finish either – I think because when I started reading them I was stressed at work and needed escape rather than more angst, and I didn’t want to have to think too hard. If I finish them you’ll hear about them.

And so far my faves for the year? In no particular order and based on my enjoyment factor…

  • “The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew”, Milly Johnson
  • “Maybe This Time”, Jill Mansell
  • “The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton”, Anstey Harris
  • “Little Beach Street Bakery”, Jenny Colgan
  • “A Cornish Summer”, Catherine Alliott
  • “Swallowtail Summer”, Erica James

That’s what I’ve been reading, what about you? Any favourites or recommendations?

This post will also appear on my personal blog at and anyways so apologies if you see it twice!