On the Shelf: March 2023 reads

In March 2023, I read:

  • It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover
  • A Writer’s Diary by Toby Litt (non-fiction)
  • The Red House by Roz Watkins (proof)
  • Babel by R F Kuang
  • The Marriage Act by John Marrs
  • The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah
  • The Change by Kirsten Millar

I’m a big fan of Roz Watkins’ novels so I was honoured to be sent a proof of her next book. Brimming with tension, The Red House is a fast-paced thriller with an intriguing premise and a contemporary twist.

Watkins uses her intimate knowledge of the Peak District to produce an atmospheric and gripping novel which features a sinister house surrounded by marsh land, a young woman desperate to leave her past behind her, and a constant search for justice. 

The Red House will be published on 22 June 2023.

Babel by R F Kuang was one of my favourite books this month. This fantasy adventure takes us to an alternative history where scholars are able to weave magic through translation. Robin, the hero, is at first overwhelmed and excited when he is accepted into the elite Royal Institute of Translation, nicknamed ‘Babel’, but quickly realises the devastating power the institute yields. The book explores the relationship between language and colonialism. It was a wonderful, thought provoking and challenging read.  

My other favourite book this month was The Change by Kirsten Millar. The menopause brings about the emergence of dormant powers for the heroines of this novel: Harriet, Jo and Nessa. The women team up not only to hunt down the killer of young women in their neighbourhood, but to avenge their deaths. The novel delivers a powerful message about the way women are treated in society wrapped up in a satisfying and pacy thriller.  

On the Shelf: October 2021 reads

In October 2021, I read:

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly
  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara 
  • Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
  • Crossing the Lines by Amanda Huggins (proof copy)
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency 2: The Edge of the Ocean by L D Lapinski

I am a big fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, so I was excited to read the spin-off which takes us back to the origins of the Games when Cornelius Snow is a young man, acting as a mentor to one of the tributes. I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book if you haven’t read the others, or you weren’t a fan of the original books, but it was great to be back in this world and I am hoping this is the start of a new series.

Watch Her Fall is set in the world of ballet, and it was fascinating to get a peek behind the curtains of a professional dance school. I was a bit disappointed though that the whole book wasn’t set in this world though. A very enjoyable read and a good, twisty plot that kept me guessing.

I had come across Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line when it was appearing on the shortlists of writing competitions before it got a publishing deal. I’d always loved the title and the opening sequence, and the rest of the novel didn’t disappoint. It follows a group of street kids in India solving the mystery of the disappearance of children from their shanty town. Heart-breaking at times, and hard-hitting in its depiction of poverty, I am definitely following this series.

Confessions of a Bookseller is a non-fiction book I was given for my birthday. I enjoyed the wry humour and the ups and downs of running a book shop.

Crossing the Lines is an atmospheric and haunting coming-of-age story of a young girl escaping her fate and returning to her roots. With compelling characters and evocative prose, this is a journey of self-discovery that will stay with you long after you read the last line. Crossing the Lines was a proof copy and was published in November 2021.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Strangeworlds Travel Agency 2: The Edge of the Ocean. It’s a middle-grade book so I am not its intended audience, but I just love the world(s) L D Lapinski has created. I am definitely going to be reading the rest of this series. I’ve bought these books as Christmas and birthday presents and they always get the thumbs up from young readers.