February 2021 Reading: Circus of Wonders; The Hobbit; Kololo Hill; The Mysterious Affair at Styles; The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson; The Strays of Paris; Nightshift; The Murder on the Links; Old Bones; Cemetery Boys; Fortune’s Hand

Somehow, I have managed to read eleven books this month, probably helped by the fact that I’ve not been sleeping all that well. I have read some brilliant new books, revisited some old friends, and discovered authors I can’t read more of. I’ve also been cracking on with Ducks, Newburyport – I am really enjoying it, and if I wasn’t a book blogger (perish the thought!) I’d be very tempted to just devote a couple of months to it and let it take me over! BUT there are many other literary delights awaiting, and I do enjoy the spice of variety!

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal (2021)

I was so excited to receive an advanced copy of Elizabeth Macneal’s second novel, having loved her debut The Doll Factory. It isn’t out until May, but I just couldn’t resist diving straight in. It was just what I needed to kick off the reading month – a fabulous novel that ticked every box for me. I adored it. You can read my full thoughts here. This is one to get pre-ordered for sure!

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien (1937)

I reread this as a precursor to a marathon Lord of the Rings readalong I’m doing with some of my crew from The Write Reads. I haven’t read it in years, and it was an unexpected joy to return to Bilbo’s story. I had such a lovely, nostalgic time rereading The Hobbit – I’d forgotten enough of the details to keep me interested, and the parts I remembered felt like visiting old friends. I’m really glad I decided to join in with this readalong. I’ve started rereading LOTR and I am absolutely loving it, too.

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah (2021)

Sometimes I get a really strong feeling about a book before I even read it. I just knew that I was going to love this debut novel by Neema Shah, and it did not disappoint for a moment. This is a powerful story beautifully told, and I can’t stop shouting about how wonderful it is! For more, see my full review here.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920)

I do love a debut novel, even if it’s one from over a hundred years ago! Along with some of my crew from The Write Reads, I’ve embarked on a Poirot readalong, so I’ve gone back to the start. I enjoyed this one, though not quite as much as the two I read last month. It was good to meet Hastings, though, and I love the dynamic between him and Poirot.

The Last Words of Madeleine Anderson by Helen Kitson (2019)

I am a big fan of indie publisher Louise Walters Books, and since I managed to get a spot on the blog tour for Helen’s second novel, Old Bones, this month, I decided to read her first novel, too. I have to admit, it took me a while to get into this book, as the story is really quite peculiar, but once I abandoned myself to the quirks of the narrative, I really enjoyed it. It serves as a good introduction to the village of Morevale, too.

The Strays of Paris by Jane Smiley (2021)

I am a big fan of Jane Smiley, and I was really excited to discover that she has a new novel out. The Strays of Paris is a lovely slice of escapism, beautifully written, the perfect distraction from all the chaos going on in the world right now. You can read my full review here.

Nightshift by Kiare Ladner (2021)

I was completely sucked into the half-lit, nocturnal world of this gripping debut novel. I read the whole book in one go, unable to stop reading the story of Meggie’s obsession with the mysterious Sabine. Highly recommended – check out my full review here.

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (1923)

More Poirot, and more Hastings, in this France-set adventure. It took me a bit longer to read this one, possibly because it gets even more complicated than usual towards the end, with red herrings leaping about all over the place, and rather a lot of mistaken identity. I enjoyed it, though, and I liked seeing Hastings get more involved in the action.

Old Bones by Helen Kitson (2021)

My second Helen Kitson book of the month returns to the village of Morevale, this time centring on three women in their sixties. Past disappointments cast a shadow over their present, and secrets come to light in surprising ways. You can read my full review here.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (2020)

This was another Write Reads crew readalong, and I am so glad I read it. I don’t read much YA at all, and I really don’t know why! This story of the brujx in LA ,who have access to the spirit world, and Yadriel’s quest for acceptance by them, is fresh, funny, occasionally terrifying, and often very moving. I loved it, and it has made me want to read more in this genre. Luckily I know a few readers who might have one or two further suggestions for me!

Fortune’s Hand by R.N. Morris

My final read of the month was perhaps the biggest surprise. A historical novel based on the life of Walter Raleigh may not sound like it is going to be a particularly wild ride, but that is exactly what this bold, experimental, thrilling book is. The writing is astounding – R.N. Morris is a fiercely talented author – and the originality of this book absolutely blew me away. You can read my full review here. If you are at all tempted, do check this one out, it is something very special indeed.

All in all, it’s been another fab reading month. I have also launched my new business, providing creative writing feedback, which is off to a good start, and of course juggled the joys of lockdown life with two smalls. I have masses of exciting books to look forward to in March, and I am holding out hope for a little more sleep, too!

Happy reading!

Ellie x


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