August wrap up

Books read: 5
This month I read fewer books than usual, but those that I did read were longer and quite intense (4 3 2 1 was just under 900 pages while The Ministry of Utmost Happiness tackled some really complex social and political issues and was definitely not a quick book to read). I really enjoyed The Word is Murder – which was a really unique take on the classic detective novel.

  • The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
  • The Word is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy
  • The Readymade Thief, Augustus Rose
  • 4 3 2 1, Paul Auster


Books acquired: 7
I was much more reserved this month than I was last month – acquiring just 7 books compared to last month’s 24. I’m really looking forward to reading City of Circles and American War, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. Continue reading

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Writing book reviews: how to get started

As book bloggers, writing book reviews is a core part of what we do. However, I’ve heard from lots of people who say that review writing is the most challenging or least fun part of blogging.

I’ve written posts in the past that set out some of the reasons that I personally find writing reviews difficult. There are a lot of times where I’ve gone to write a review but put it off – sometimes I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head down on the page in a way that makes sense or think of the right phrasing, or sometimes just I draw a blank and can’t think of anything interesting to say.

Assuming that at least some other people out there also suffer from the same issues – I thought I’d share some of my experiences, processes and tips for writing book reviews.

I know that everyone writes their reviews differently and I’m by no means an expert! If you’ve been blogging for a while and already have your own style for review writing, this post might not be so useful for you!

However, if you are at all interested in hearing my thoughts and top tips for writing book reviews, please read on! Continue reading

July wrap up

Books read: 7
In July I finally got around to reading A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – which might just be my favourite read so far this year. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it, but it definitely lived up to expectations. I also really enjoyed The Heart Goes Last. I wasn’t at all sure about The Butcher’s Hook though.

  • A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson
  • The Owl Always Hunts at Night, Samuel Bjork
  • The Butchers Hook, Janet Ellis
  • Frostblood, Elly Blake
  • The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood
  • The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
  • The Diabolic, S. J. Kincaid


Books acquired: 24
This month I made the mistake of looking through the Kindle books selection on Amazon, and there far too many deals on books that I wanted to read. I also received a number of ARCs that I’m looking forward to reading this summer and took some out of the library – which given how many books I’ve acquired this month wasn’t a very sensible idea! Continue reading

April wrap up

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Books read: 6
Compared to usual, I haven’t had a great month for reading. Of the books I did read, my favourite was probably Flame in the Mist, followed by Magpie Murders and How to Stop Time.

Books acquired: 5
I spent less on books this month than usual. Three of these books were reduced on Amazon and I got a couple of ARCs from Netgalley. I also put in a couple of pre-orders for May but I haven’t received them yet.

  • Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
  • How to Stop Time – Matt Haig
  • The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Blog posts published: 9
April was actually my second best month for blogging in terms of visitor stats since I first began blogging in January 2013 – so thanks everyone for reading my posts and chatting to me! Unsurprisingly, my giveaway of A Court of Wings and Ruin was the most popular post. Other top posts were my discussion post looking at what makes fan fiction and a review of Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.

 TBR for May:
Realistically I don’t think I’ll get around to reading the last one on this list, as it’s been on my TBR list since January. But you never know, May might be the month I finally get to it. I’m already part way through The Green Road, so hopefully should finish this one off quite quickly.

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas
  • The Green Road – Anne Enright
  • House of Names – Colm Tobin
  • The Ice – Laline Paull
  • Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  • The Wise Man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

Challenge progress:

Goodreads Challenge: My Goodreads reading goal is to read 50 books this year. I’ve now completed 27 books – meaning that I’m currently ahead of schedule by 11 books. (27/50)

Beat the Backlist Challenge: The Beat the Backlist challenge is all about knocking off titles that have been on your TBR for a while. Books need to have been published prior to 2017, and I’m only including books that I actually bought before 2017 and that have been sitting around waiting for me to read them – so no new purchases or library reads.

This month, none of my reads qualified, so my total remains at just two books towards a goal of twelve. (2/12)


How was your April? Did you read anything great?
What do you have planned to read in May?

Back to Blogging

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a while now, an unconscious decision that mainly came down to work commitments, a long commute and general life meaning that I’ve had very little time to dedicate to writing reviews. But 2017 is a new year, and I’m trying to start the way that I mean to go on…

My 2017 blogging resolutions:

Start writing – This one is pretty self-explanatory. The longer it’s been since my last post, the more I feel guilty for neglecting The Stacked Shelf. I’m starting off by aiming for at least two posts a month – something that’s hopefully manageable without being too daunting!

Making reviewing more interesting for me as a writer – Sometimes I’ve found that reading a book critically and analysing the main talking points takes away from the experience as a reader. I’m also guilty of sometimes seeing reviewing as a chore that has to be done rather than a way of sharing the things that I’m really interested in with readers. This year, I’m going to try not to overthink it, and to keep review posts shorter and centred on what I really enjoyed/didn’t enjoy about a book.

Read more classics – This one’s been on my resolution list for many years, and despite building up quite a collection of classic reads on my shelves, I’ve yet to really get stuck in. I’m aiming to start with something with something shorter and more manageable – The Scarlett Letter – and work my way up to some of the more weighty tomes (Anna Karenina I’m looking at you!)

Break out of my comfort zone – When I first started blogging I tended to read a wider selection of genres. Recently I’ve been guilty of just sticking to what I know. I’ll be trying to branch out and get recommendations from other reviewers for books that I wouldn’t usually read.

Persevere even if something doesn’t immediately catch my interest – These days, much of my reading gets done on the way home from work, when all I want is something easy and interesting to read. If something doesn’t catch my interest immediately, it joins the pile of unread books that’s been steadily building. 2017 may not be the year that I tackle the whole pile, but I’ll be trying not to add to it!

Literary locations of New York

IMG_2019A few months ago, I published my guide to London’s top literary locations. I’ve been lucky enough to have taken a trip to New York recently, and I thought that this month I’d give you a round-up of my literary picks for the Big Apple. Continue reading

Spreading some Christmas cheer

It’s the time of year when every company pushes out all the stops in terms of marketing to help maximise sales or to get their message across to the masses. This year, there are bookish giveaways and gift guides galore. It’s well worth having a look around on Twitter to keep up to date with everything festive, but here are a few of my favourites to get you started

Headline launched an online advent calendar on Monday 1st December, with a different giveaway going up each day. So far, there have been signed copies of novels by Martina Cole and Victoria Hislop, as well as a Downton Abbey TV tie-in book bundle.

An interactive Christmas gift guide has been designed by Hodder and Stoughton, which lets users answer questions with details about the person they’re buying for. The guide then recommends books from both Hodder’s frontlist and its backlist as gifts. I tried it for a couple of different people – one worked really well and I actually got some good recommendations, but the other one not so much! A good idea though and a bit of fun!

Elsewhere, Curtis Brown Literary Agency is running a Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway every working day until the 16th December. This kicked off on 1st December with a giveaway of ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ and will see different authors pick their Christmas giveaway choices throughout the promotion. To be in with a change to win, visit the @CBBookGroup Twitter page.

On a more charitable festive note, the English PEN and the Howard League for Penal Reform are hoping to raise awareness of and support for the Books for Prisoners campaign, which calls on the government to overturn the ban on sending books and other essentials into prisons. A digital advent calendar has been launched, which features authors such as Monica Ali, and supporters are asked to recommend the books they would send to prisoners using the hashtag #booksforprisoners.

If you’ve noticed any other good promotions in the run up to Christmas, let me know!