20 Book Goals for 2020

Hi all, in this post I thought I would list 20 book related things that I want to do in 2020.

So here are my 20 for 2020.

1. Read 12 classics (one a month).

2. Read the four Jane Austen’s that I didn’t read in 2019 i.e. Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice. This is assuming that I finish Persuasion by the end of the year. Otherwise it will be five! I read Northanger Abbey earlier in the year.

3. Read an Agatha Christie book. This will take me back to my teens! We didn’t have YA in my day. I went straight from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie.

4. Read something by Trollope – really? I didn’t particularly love Rachel Ray so why am I doing this to myself?

5. Read Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I’m hoping Santa buys me this for Christmas.

6. Read another Stephen King (as if I need a target to do this).

7. Read a YA book.

8. Read a Science Fiction book.

9. Look into Netgalley – I must admit I’m in two minds about this as I’m put off blogs that are just ARC reviews. I’m sure some of the bloggers don’t even read the books. A whole new blog post there. If I do join I will limit myself to how many books I review. There’s enough out there that I want to read without reading books before they are published but I will research it.

10. Read a book about Africa.

11. Read a Biography.

12. Read an Autobiography.

13. Read the new Marion Keyes book due out in 2020. I think it’s called Grown Ups.

14. Read at least 4 non-fiction books.

15. Keep book reviewing books I read on this blog.

16. Do a book tag – I’m not sure I like these but let’s give it a go.

17. Have 100 followers by the end of the year.

18. Improve my Goodreads publication year graph by having at least a dot in each box.

19. Spend more money on books. This will seem strange as most people want to cut down their book spending. I get most of my books from the library or charity shop so I want to start buying myself more new books.

20. Read at least 30 books in 2020. I’m currently on 53 books read in 2019 and I hope to get a few more books read before the end of the year. I don’t like to set a high reading target as I don’t want to be stressing about not meeting it. 30 is doable and lets me have a break from reading if I want to concentrate more on other hobbies or try new things.

Have you set any reading targets for 2020? What do you think of mine?

Book Review: The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

I must admit I like not love Ruth Ware books. I’ve read ‘In a Dark Dark Wood’ and ‘The Woman in Cabin 10’. This book was available on the Libby app from the library so I thought let’s give it a go.

Here’s the Goodreads summary:

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realises very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the centre of it.

I like Ms Ware’s writing. I didn’t like or dislike Hal to start with but I could feel her poverty and loneliness and I enjoyed the background of Brighton. As the story went on I did like Hal and wanted her to be okay. I was happy when the family took to her and started to look after her.

The story soon moves from Brighton to Penzance in Cornwall with a new set of characters. I think I can guess the twist but it’s a good read getting there. There are notes of Rebecca and Agatha Christie. It’s like we’re going back in time even though the story is set in the present and the going back in time is only twenty years ago.

Ruth Ware is good at creating an atmosphere. I can feel Hal’s hunger and her feeling uncomfortable about the situation. The big falling apart house, the dead unlikable grandmother, the mysterious housekeeper, the handsome uncle and later on snow.

There were two things that I didn’t like or understand about the book.

Firstly all the travelling between Brighton and Penzance. Penzance is about the furthest you can go in the UK. I did a Google search and the train journey between Penzance and Brighton is about 7 hours with at least two changes. Hal went back to Brighton at least once (I’m forgetting the story already). It didn’t add to the plot and just seemed to slow everything down. The first time she went back was to look at her mother’s papers which she could have just taken with her. The second time she went to the station it was snowing and the train was cancelled so she was stranded at the station. Now I can understand this if it’s the 1920’s but in the present day you would expect the trains to be cancelled at the first drop of a snowflake. You would check on your phone or phone the station beforehand and you certainly wouldn’t drop somebody off for a 7 hour train journey when it’s snowing without checking that they got on a train.

The other thing that puzzled me was why was there so much secrecy about being the father of a child? Today and even 20 years ago there’s no shame in fathering a child outside of marriage. Why kill to keep the secret? Perhaps Ruth Ware would be better off setting her books in an earlier time period.

My score is 3 out of 5

I did like the book. It was an enjoyable read. I’ll read more Ruth Ware for a bit of easy escapism but I’m not her number one fan. I did guess some but not all of the plot and I would have liked a 6 months later chapter at the end just to check that Hal is warm!

My Reading by Year of Publication

One thing I love to do on Goodreads is to click the Reading Stats button. There’s an option to look at books read by year of publication.

Here’s my graph:

The graph shows books read by publication date. As you can see I mostly read books from the year 2000 onwards. In 2019 I have read a handful of books from earlier years. One of my aims for 2020 will be to read more books published in the 18th and 19th centuries. I want at least one dot in all of those boxes!

I can’t believe that in 2019 I’ve read nothing from the years 1900 to 1950. In fact I haven’t at all since 2014 apart from Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901).

I’m trying to read a classic a month and I will carry that on into 2020. That should help spreading my dots around.

The oldest book I’ve read this year is Northanger Abbey which was published in 1818.

Do you look at your reading by publication date? What’s the oldest book you’ve read this year?

Book Review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

After reading All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson @astrisbooks (sorry I don’t know how to tag a person on WordPress) recommended that I read ‘The Kind Worth Killing’ so I put a hold on it on my library Libby app. I was excited when it appeared and started reading it straight away. The cover blurb said ‘Gone Girl on Speed.’ I love Gone Girl so this sounded promising.

The story starts in an airport bar where two strangers meet and start drinking and talking. What’s not to like. The pace is good from the start – no hanging around to get into the story. It’s pretty obvious quite early on that Lily is a psychopath.

everyone is going to die eventually. If you killed your wife you would only be doing to her what would happen to her anyway. And you’d save other people from her. She’s a negative. She makes the world worse.

Lily – The Kind Worth Killing

So a Dostoyevskyian theme. It’s an uncomfortable but addictive read. In fact I put all my other books aside so I could finish this one.

I liked how Lily read Agatha Christie in her childhood. The names of the books mentioned brought back memories for me as I read a lot of Agatha Christie in my teenage years. I must read one again. A target for 2020 perhaps?

I loved this book. The twists were great. As soon as I thought the book was dragging or that this would happen then something unexpected happened. The pace was relentless throughout. The writing was great too. I enjoyed this more than All the Beautiful Lies but I could tell that it was written by the same author. There were some similar themes. The book is about death and there are some great quotes.

Some of the gravestones had lettering that had worn away to unreadable hieroglyphs, and many depicted winged skulls, and the words Memento Mori, Remember that you will die.

The Kind Worth Killing

I ended up rooting for Lily. I wanted her to get away with everything. Does that make me a bad person? I liked Ted too and I wanted them to get together.

I would continue to survive, knowing, as I’d known that night in the meadow, the stars pouring their light down on me, that I was special, that I was born with a different type of morality. The morality of an animal – of a crow or a fox or an owl – and not of a normal human being.

Lily

Every hundred years, all new people.

Lily’s dad

Even at the end when we go to the point of view of the detective the book was still great. So many books get boring when they do this.

The ending was fantastic. All the loose ends wrapped up or are they? I would love another book about Lily.

My score for this book is 5 out of 5

So another 5 out of 5 thriller. Most thrillers are okay or a disappointment to me so it’s great to have read two excellent ones in a row.

Peter Swanson is an amazing author and I’ve only heard of him via Booktube (possibly Gabbyreads?). He’s not big in the UK, I don’t know why. Luckily four of his books are on my library Libby app without big queues so I can read more of him. He is now one of my favourite authors.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Book Review: Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope

I’ve never read any Anthony Trollope so I thought I’d give him a try. I also want to set myself a target of reading one classic a month. I listened to this book on librivox.org where you can listen to classics for free. I must admit that this wasn’t my first choice Trollope but the narrator on the one I originally chose was so awful that I had to choose another book.

The story is about Rachel Ray and her relationship with Luke Rowan.

The Goodreads blurb is below:

The love that develops between Luke Rowan and Rachel Ray is not universally welcomed. Mrs. Tappitt- a rich, influential, and bad woman – wishes him to marry one of her own daughters, while Rachel’s mother and older sister are not sure he is worthy of her. After many adventures, everybody gets what they deserve.

The book was delightful – balls, tea parties, small villages, gossip, widows, letters, clergy men, breweries and a bit of racism thrown in.

I don’t like night walkings in churchyards

Mr Comfort, Rachel Ray

The chapter headings were fun too. ‘Luke Rowan takes his Tea Quite like a Steady Young Man.’ is my favourite one.

The book took a bit of getting into but the joy of an audio-book is that it accompanies me as I do the housework so it was easy to get through a few chapters a day. I wish audio-books would tell you when you have already listened to a chapter as I always listen to some of them twice by mistake.

There were a lot of characters with fun names – Mr Prong, Mr Comfort, The Tappitts. Rachel seemed quite bland as did Luke so yes they probably deserved each other. I was rooting for Rachel just so she could get away from her spineless mother and domineering sister. In fact Mrs Prime was my favourite character. I think the book would be boring without her story. It was also interesting to read about the financial implications for a woman getting married in those days.

My score is 3 out of 5

I did like the writing but in places the pace was too slow. I’ve no idea how the election fitted in and it distracted from the main story. I will try reading more Trollope although to be honest there will be no rush to do this. I’ll try a book and not an audio-book next time so I can skim read the boring bits and enjoy the language more.

This will be my classic for November as I started it at the end of October and have only just finished it. December’s classic will be a Jane Austen.

Have you read any Trollope? What would you recommend that I read next?

Book Review: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

I loved Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney so I was really excited to see ‘I Know Who You Are’ in the charity shop’s buy one get one half price sale.

I liked the book straight away. I love a crazy first person narrative.

What is the book about?

Aimee Sinclair—well-known actress on the verge of being full-on famous. If you saw her, you’d think you knew her. One day towards the near-end of her shoot on her latest film, Aimee comes home from filming to find her husband’s cell phone and wallet on the dining room table. He never goes anywhere without them. But he’s nowhere to be found. She’s not too concerned—they had a huge fight the night before. They both said things they didn’t mean. He might have done things he didn’t mean, things she can’t forget. Even though she has a history of supposedly forgetting. After all, she’s a very good actress.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who wandered away from home. We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers or bad things will happen. Well, bad things happen.

What I thought

To start with I got confused and thought we were in America as Pinewood Studio was mentioned and I thought that was in America but it seems it isn’t.

Again I love Alice Feeney’s writing style.

Sometimes it only takes one person to believe in you, to change your life for ever. Sometimes it only takes one person not believing in you to destroy it. Humans are a highly sensitive species.

Aimee Sinclair – I Know Who You Are

Well what can I say .. this book was amazing. So many twists and when I thought I’d guessed the twists I hadn’t. It is a very creepy and disturbing book but I loved it.

I want to write more but don’t want to give any spoilers which is hard for a thriller. The characters were well written and most not pleasant at all. The bond between Maggie and Aimee was interesting and I think they did love each other. I was touched by Maggie’s ending.

My score is 5 out of 5

I’m thinking is this a 4 or a 5 – looking at my other ratings on Goodreads it is a 5. I preferred this book to ‘Sometimes I Lie’ as the ending is more tidy .. mad but no loose ends except for one maybe.

Alice Feeney will now be one of the authors that I can’t wait to read. This book is probably not to everybody’s taste as it covers lots of unpleasant themes but it is a great read.

Things that are a little bit broken can still be beautiful.

Alice Feeney

Book Review: The Man that didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh

I bought this ebook from Amazon for 99p as I was waiting too long for the audio-book from my library. I’ve wanted to read this for some time. Sadly it turned out to be another popular book that I did not like.

My first impressions were that it was ok. A few cliches – dead child in car accident, single parent best friend, annoying child, going to America to escape something that happened in your past. Apparently there is an amazing twist in this book so let’s see if I can guess it!

The Goodreads description of the book is below:

Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.

My thoughts half way through … Well it is ok. I’m finding it odd that a 40 year old woman has a fling with a man for a week and when he doesn’t call she can’t just let things go and realise he’s not interested in her. I’m also not feeling the chemistry between Sarah and Eddie. All I can remember is that he is broad and has a round face and wears shorts so he reminds me more of a village idiot than a romantic love interest. Their seven days together are not described only the first and the last day so it’s hard to care why he didn’t call.

The author’s writing style is a bit annoying. There’s a lot of description and lots of needless adverbs. In fact I stopped reading the story at one point and counted the adverbs on a page. What does squarely even mean? There are too many friends and family which slowed the story down. I would have liked to know more about Hannah but she was a minor character.

I know Gloucestershire well and Gloucestershire is not near London. Why would you live in Gloucestershire and play for a football team in Battersea. It would be a five hour return journey at least. It doesn’t make sense and that part of the story was irrelevant anyway.

I did not guess the twist so that was well done but to be honest by that point I didn’t even care. The second twist .. it was just too stupid.

When I saw that the third part was narrated by Eddie I just skim read the rest of the book as I didn’t really care.

I do understand that the book is about grief but time does heal so I found it odd that 19 years later things were still so raw with some of the characters.

My score for this book is 2 out of 5

I was thinking of a 1 out of 5 but I did finish the book so a 2 is fairer.