February in Finland Giveaway: The Brothers


***Competition Closed***

As there were only two entries the winner was decided by a coin toss and that winner is…



To help celebrate my February in Finland reading month, the wonderful people at Peirene Press have given me a copy of The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg to giveaway.

Finland, 1809. Henrik and Erik are brothers who fought on opposite sides in the war between Sweden and Russia. With peace declared, they both return to their snowed-in farm. But who is the master? Sexual tensions, old grudges, family secrets: all come to a head in this dark and gripping saga.

My review is still to come but I wholeheartedly agree with Peirene’s summary of this short novel of only 112 pages:

‘This is a historical novel in miniature form. It deals in dark passions and delivers as many twists as a 500-page epic’.

To win: leave a comment below saying which classic or epic novel you would like to see written as a gripping yet succinct 112 page novella.

Entries close midnight on Tuesday 23rd February. The winner will be selected randomly. UK entries only.

February in Finland




January 2016 Reading Round Up


January was a busy month for me on my blog. I read a total of eight novels* which is a great start to the year. The previous two Januaries I had read a combined total of one novel but this was mostly due to guests staying on after Christmas.
*Some of these novels were short but I am currently working my way through A Brief History of Seven Killings so it all evens out in the end!

For the first time in a long while there were two book reviews that I kept going back and editing as I found it hard to articulate exactly what I wanted to say (The Fine Colour of Rust) and I missed too much of the author’s intention by rushing to get my review published (The Natural Way of Things).

The Natural Way of Things was by far my most popular review this month and I gave away a copy of The Fine Colour of Rust in the Australia Day Book Hop Giveaway.

Reading Challenges

I read three books for my Australian Women Writers Challenge and one overlapped with my Women’s Classic Club Event (Tirra Lirra by the River). I also read two for the Japanese Literature Challenge 9 which takes a break this month until later in the year.

Unfortunately I failed to join in the Wharton Review or Vintage SF Challenge but was supporting them both in spirit and in the sidebar!

Picks of the Month

So, which two books do I highly recommend you rush out and buy? Eva Dolan’s brilliant third Zigic and Ferreira crime instalment After You Die, and Kenneth Cook’s outback thriller Fear is the Rider.


Coming Up

In February I am planning to read some Finnish novels in my February in Finland (personal but all welcome) event. I hope to finish A Brief History of Seven Killings and keep working through the 19 Ian Rankin novels I haven’t yet read!



Japanese Literature Challenge 9 Round Up


Today the Japanese Literature Challenge 9 draws to a close. Thank you Dolce Bellezza for hosting!

I planned to read eight books this year but only read seven. I did start and abandon an eigth – Mari Asakasa’s Vibrator. It was only short but I found the narrator’s world to be too disaffected and alienated for my liking. However, I can see why it won prizes in Japan.

My favourite reads this year were:

Audition by Ryu Murakami – absolutely fantastic! Hilarious and oh-so-wrong at the same time! Read it!

Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura – Very dark but also surprising.

Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami – Oh so very odd. Highly memorable.

To see the whole list click here.

I really enjoy this challenge and this year I got sidetracked from my reading list by stumbling over a few titles I hadn’t heard of before. Next year I hope to follow my original plan and work through the back catalogues of authors I have previously discovered in this challenge – Ryu Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto, Yoko Ogawa and Keigo Higashino.


February in Finland 2016

February in Finland

This month I’d like to get back to my Finnish heritage and read some novels from Finland that have been languishing on my TBR pile for too long. There are four novels I plan to start with:

Two Crime Novels

The Hummingbird by Kati Heikkapelto

The Healer by Antti Tuomainen (I have already read his fabulous second novel Dark as My Heart)

Two Literary Novellas from the Peirene Press

White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen

The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg


I have about 5 other books on my shelf but I will start with these.

Finnish novels are usually overshadowed by the Scandi neighbours but it seems there is a small but steady stream now being translated into English.

If you happen to read a Finnish book this month or have done in the past, please leave your link or any comment below.  English and Suomi welcome 🙂


Australia Day Book Giveaway



***Competition Closed***

Winner (thanks to a random number generator) is Annie Pink Shoes. Thanks for entering!


Happy Australia Day!

I have a copy of The Fine Colour of Rust by P.A O’Reilly to give away internationally. Why this book? Living expat in London I read a lot of Australian novels but this is one of the few that really made me miss Australia. It is funny and heart warming and better than your regular chick lit.

Here is the blurb:
Loretta Boskovic never dreamed she would end up a single mother with two kids in a dusty Australian country town. She never imagined she’d have to campaign to save the local primary school. She certainly had no idea her best friend would turn out to be the crusty old junk man. All in all, she’s starting to wonder if she took a wrong turn somewhere. If only she could drop the kids at the orphanage and start over . . .

You can read my review here.

The Fine Color of RustThe Fine Colour of Rust

What I loved about this novel was how the author captured the essence of the Australian way of life – the heat, the dry landscape, and the importance of picking up coloured cardboard on the way home from school for a project.

To win: leave a comment below saying what you would expect to see in a novel that would make you think it was quintessentially Australian.

Entries close midnight AEDT on 27 January and the winner will be chosen randomly through a lucky dip!

Thank you to Book’d Out for hosting this blog hop giveaway. Click here to join in the other giveaways.




2016: A New Direction

Perhaps it is a bit dramatic to infer I have a whole new approach for my blog in 2016 but you know how it is – after a while you mull over things and think about what you’d like to do differently.

A new tagline

Recently I changed my tagline from Too Many Books to Reading for Pleasure.

Too Many Books was how I felt when I started this blog – Oh, so many books out there I’d like to read. So many possibilities! Unfortunately over the last couple of years this tagline started to take on a more sinister feel. I was drowning in books both physical and kindle. Sure, I had a couple of book buying binges in sales but many of these wonderful novels I wanted to read came from super kind publishers. There were not enough weeks in the year to topple the TBR pile so I recently had a giant book cull.

Now, I plan to read what I am in the mood for and not feel guilty about all the unread gems on my bookshelves.

The case against ARCS

This leads from the previous point. Not only is it too easy to drown under piles of ARCs but I will never be a blogger who times reading and reviews to release dates. I don’t have the time. I really admire all the bloggers who can do this and ARCs are designed for these wonderful people. I read about a book a week and when you throw in a few ARCs and some library books, I’m OK buying the rest. The longer I blog the more I respect the authors and their royalties. I am not signing off ARCs for good. There are some authors I love that I am desperate to read as I can’t wait until the release date (Thank you, Eva Dolan!) and others that (like library books) allow me to test the waters with one novel before I am so utterly addicted I go and buy the whole series (I’m looking at you, Anya Lipska!).

Reading Challenges

I am definitely going to do my two favourite Challenges again (Australian Women Writers Challenge and Japanese Literature Challenge) but feel like branching out a bit more. Just look at my sidebar! I tried to join in three readalongs in 2015 (War and Peace, Kushiel’s Dart and Emma) but failed at all three when I ran out of time. I have to be a bit kinder to myself and just enjoy supporting a challenge if I can’t end up finishing it. I may even branch out and get in touch with my Finnish heritage by hosting a February in Finland event but let’s just see how January goes first!

Goodbye to Ratings!

I see this debated a lot and recently wondered what my ratings were actually achieving. The weirdest book I read this year – Asa Nonami’s Now You’re One of Us – I only awarded three stars but I don’t want people to avoid reading it because of this rating. I’ve managed to publish reviews in December with no rating and didn’t end up hyperventilating so it is possible.

Monthly Round Ups

Well, maybe I shouldn’t get too ambitious…


Aus Women Writers Wrap Up: 2015

I am delighted so say that I read 15 AWW books this year which made up over a quarter of the books I read.

All the books can be seen above but if you want a list then please click here.

I had a great time reading all the books this year so it is hard to pick a favourite one or favourite author. However, two things have surprised me:

Short Story Collections

Much to my surprise I have read three short story collections this year. It’s not a genre I dabble in too much but all three collections are so fantastic they have changed my opinion about the genre: it can be addictive reading!

Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Close to Home by Robin Barker (also the most popular review on my blog this year by far!)

I also have a copy of Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals which I hope to get to soon.

Classic Review

I read and reviewed Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip quite late in December and have been amazed at the number of views. I suspect everyone loves a (contemporary) classic!

I still have a substantial pile of AWW books from my 6 week sojourn in Australia so I am really looking forward to 2016!


A Year in Books 2015: Crime Special!

I read a lot of crime novels about 15 years ago but I sort of fell out of favour with the genre. However, this year I have had a bit of a crime renaissance. I can’t say I’ve read a huge number of crime novels but these five have been standouts:

Where the Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska: This is where my crime renaissance began. It reminded me how fantastic and addictive crime fiction can be. East London meets Euro Noir. Read it!

The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen: I became so addicted to the Department Q series that until I finished all six novels I had some sort of strange affliction that prohibited me from reading anything else. This is the most current book in the series and in my opinion the best. I love Carl Morck!

Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan: This is the second book in the series. The first book had me intrigued but this novel had unbelievable characterisation and a slick story. I am lucky enough to have an advance copy of number three but am keeping quiet until it is published in January.

A Killing Winter by Tom Callaghan: A crime novel set in Kyrgyzstan? Better than you could possibly expect. The slice of post Soviet life is most haunting.

Dark as My Heart by Antti Tuomainen: A Gothic, Greek tragedy Scandi Noir mash up set in Helsinki? Yes please. As fantastic as you could imagine.


A Year in Books: 2015

This year I read and reviewed a total of 55 books this year. Wow!

Nine books were real standouts:

Three are novels that challenge and reinvent traditional genres

Expect the unexpected in these titles:

How to Be Both By Ali Smith – challenges our preconceptions of Renaissance art and gender. A case study in duality.

The Engagement by Chloe Hooper – Gothic literature in a contemporary Australian setting.

Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven – reinventing traditional indigenous storytelling. Don’t assume you will know what’s coming.

Three more were by Australian authors

The Golden Age by Joan London – The story of Perth in the 1950s, Hungarian immigrants and a polio institution. Beautiful.

Black Rock White City by A.S Patric – Melbourne, immigrants from the Serbian war and Kafka-esque elements. Devastating.

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham – The perfect small town Australia novel. Hilarious and full of sorrow at the same time.

Three I read in lovely hard cover editions

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota – The lives of immigrant Sikhs in Sheffield. Worthy of the hype.

Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback – A chilly historical tale of a Finnish family and murder in Swedish Lapland.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum– American expat wife in Zurich embarks on an affair. Full of boredom, consequences and nuances of expat life.


Multiple books by a single author:
I read six books by Jussi Adler-Olsen, three from Anya Lipska and two each from Chloe Hooper, Yoko Ogawa and Jeff VanderMeer. What an interesting mix!

Busiest and quietest months:

I only wrote one review in January, July and August but wrote 11 in September when I was catching up from my long summer holiday in Australia.

Most Popular Reviews

My most popular review by far, was Robin Barker’s short story collection, Close to Home.

The second most popular review was The Strays by Emily Bitto.

Only a few views behind this was The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler Olsen.

Barely anyone read my review of The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo. Maybe Harry Hole just isn’t trendy enough anymore!


2015 Reading Bingo



Thank you to Cleo at Cleopatra Loves Books for reminding me to do this again. I had just as much fun doing it this year as I did last. Only one fail again this year!

A book with more than 500 pagesThe Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen

A forgotten classic – Fail! But I have bought a copy of Thea Astley’s A Descant for Gossips!

A book that became a movieThe Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

A book published this yearDark as My Heart by Antti Tuomainen

A book with a number in the titleNine Days by Toni Jordan

A book written by someone under thirtyHeat and Light by Ellen van Neerven

A book with non-human characters – This may be a bit of a stretch but Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback

A funny bookThe Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh is quite cynically funny…

A book by a female author – So many to choose from! Hardboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

A book with a mysteryNow You’re One of Us by Asa Nonomi. An incredibly odd story. Exactly what is the family’s secret? Du Maurier’s Rebecca it ain’t!

A book with a one word title Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

A book of short stories Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

A book set on a different continentAudition by Ryu Murakami

A book of non fiction Girt by David Hunt

The first book by a favourite authorWhere the Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska

A book you heard about onlineDisclaimer by Renee Knight

A best selling bookAll the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A book based on a true storyThe Golden Age by Joan London is about a polio institution in Australia in the 1950s.

A book at the bottom of your TBR pileRevenge by Yoko Ogawa. I ended up borrowing it from the library twice before I read it!

A book your friend lovesThe Strays by Emily Bitto

A book that scares youBlack Rock White City by A S Patric. How can people recover from that sort of trauma?

A book that is more than 10 years oldA Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper (published 2002)

The second book in a seriesTell No Tales by Eva Dolan

A book with a blue coverThe Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

FREE SQUARE – I will choose the short story collection Close to Home by Robyn Barker as it is the most popular review I’ve written this year by far!