Historical Fiction Challenge 2022

Marg at The Intrepid Reader hosts the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created where you can add the links for the books you have read.

Everyone can participate! If you don’t have a blog you can post a link to your review if it’s posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.

Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

I love historical fiction so in 2022 I’m hoping to reach the Medieval level, that is read 15 books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2022. I’ve listed these in the order they are to be released. Some of them are review copies from NetGalley. The descriptions are from NetGalley or Amazon.

13 January: The Key In The Lock by Beth Underdown – By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the death of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose murder decades ago haunts her still. For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

20 January: The Man in the Bunker by Rory Clements – In the gripping new spy thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Hitler’s Secret, a Cambridge spy must find the truth behind Hitler’s death. But exactly who is the man in the bunker?

27 January: The Second Cut by Louise Welsh – – Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.

3 February: The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths – Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are on the hunt for a murderer when Covid rears its ugly head. But can they find the killer despite lockdown?

3 February: A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham – Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer. He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.

10 February: I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomens – Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love.

1 March: The Chapel in the Woods by Dolores Gordon-Smith – Jack and Betty Haldean’s weekend in the country is disrupted by sudden, violent death in this intricately-plotted 1920s mystery. This is the 11th Jack Haldean Murder Mystery.

3 March: Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook – 1886, Bannin Bay, Australia. The Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them on these shores beyond shining pearls and shells like soup plates – the things her father has promised will make their fortune.

5 May: The Hiding Place by Simon Lelic – Four Friends. One Murder. A Game They Can’t Escape. DI Fleet is up against some of the most powerful people in the country as he attempts to discover the truth about what happened on the day of the game…

2 June: The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley by Sean Lusk – A beautifully crafted historical mystery bursting with wonderfully realised characters, a sense of fizzing energy that brims over every page and immersive storytelling that will take the reader from 18th century London, across Europe and, finally, to the bustling city of Constantinople.

Just Like the Other Girls

I read Just Like the Other Girls, a psychological thriller, by Claire Douglas in November. My copy is a NetGalley review copy that I’ve had for over a year! I really should have read it earlier. It was published in August 2020 by Penguin.


Una Richardson is devastated after the death of her mother. Hoping for a fresh start, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of elderly Mrs Elspeth McKenzie. But Elspeth’s home is not as safe as it seems. Kathryn, her cold and bitter daughter, resents Una’s presence. More disturbing is the evidence suggesting two girls lived here before.

What happened to the girls? Why will the McKenzies not talk about them? As the walls close in around her, Una fears she’ll end up just like the other girls . . .

My thoughts:

Like the other books I’ve read by Claire Douglas this revolves round family secrets and mother/daughter/sister relationships and there are enough twists and turns that at first puzzled me, but it didn’t grip me as her earlier books did. Although it begins well and at first I was intrigued by the mystery, I thought there were too many coincidences to be credible and it was just too far-fetched. This means that the chilling atmosphere that had been built up at first faded away. Having said that I did want to know how it would end so I read on but was not surprised by the final reveal.

  • Publisher: Penguin (6 Aug. 2020)
  • Language:‎ English
  • Print length: 388 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN: ‎0063138115
  • My rating: 3*

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin, the publishers for a review copy.

What’s in a Name 2022

This challenge, hosted by Andrea at Carolina Book Nook runs from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category. Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

Click on the links below for more examples and info about the categories.

It’s a challenge that looks deceptively simple because ‘all’ you have to do is read six books from six categories – but each year there is at least one that that takes me nearly all the year to find. This year it looks like there are two – the first two! I have plenty of titles to choose from for the other categories, but not for the first two.

Mount TBR 2021 Final Checkpoint & Sign Up for Mount TBR 2022

We’ve come to the end of Bev’s Mount TBR Challenge, so it’s time for the final checkpoint!

I began the year aiming for Mount Vancover – that is 36 books and I made it, ending the year by reading 40 of my TBRs, although I haven’t managed to review each one. These are the books I read:

  1. The Measure of Malice edited by Martin Edwards
  2. Exit by Belinda Bauer
  3. The One I Was by Eliza Graham
  4. Cruel Acts by Jane Casey
  5. The Cutting Place by Jane Casey
  6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  7. English Pastoral by James Rebanks
  8. The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood
  9. Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
  10. For the Record by David Cameron
  11. The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley
  12. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn – Reached Pike’s Peak
  13. We Are Not In The World by Conor O’Callaghan
  14. A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
  15. Ice Bound by Jerri Nielsen
  16. Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
  17. The Mirror Dance by Catriona McPherson
  18. Inland by Tea Obreht
  19. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  20. Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger
  21. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
  22. Katheryn Howard: the Tainted Queen by Alison Weir
  23. An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
  24. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn – Reached Mount Blanc
  25. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge
  26. Enigma by Robert Harris
  27. Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen
  28. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  29. Dead Tomorrow by Peter James
  30. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronvitch
  31. Fludd by Hilary Mantel
  32. Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
  33. Country Dance by Margiad Evans
  34. Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas
  35. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  36. The Quiet American by Graham Greene – Reached Mt. Vancouver
  37. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
  38. The Grand Banks Cafe by Georges Simenon
  39. The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon
  40. Fifty-Fifty by Steve Cavanagh 

My thanks to Bev for hosting Mount TBR 2021. And so on to Mount TBR 2022

Books must be owned by you prior to January 1, 2022. No library books.  Any reread may count, regardless of how long you’ve owned it prior to 2022, provided you have not counted it for a previous Mount TBR Challenge.  Audiobooks and E-books may count if they are yours and they are one of your primary sources of backlogged books. You may count “Did Not Finish” books provided they meet your own standard for such things, you do not plan to ever finish it, and you move it off your mountain [give it away, sell it, etc. OR remove it from your e-resources].

There is no page limit–if it was published as a book, it counts. No single short stories–but collections of short stories do count. And you do not have to review the books you read.

There are a number of different levels to choose from:

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro*: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s (*aka Cerro El Toro in South America)
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

and for now I’m aiming to climb Mt Vancouver, which is to read 36 books and hope to move up to the higher levels if I can.

Six Degrees of Separation: from Rules of Civility to The Serpent Pool

It’s a New Year – welcome to 2022!

And it’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

The chain this month begins with  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, a book I haven’t read. Set in New York in 1938, it begins, appropriately for today, on New Year’s Day.

My first link is to another book by Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow – another book I haven’t read, but one that is on my TBR list. Both books have received rave reviews, so I’m hoping they aren’t over hyped! The Times describes it as ‘A book to spark joy’. I do hope so.

My second link is The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith, the second book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series. It’s historical fiction is set in London in 1920 with flashbacks to Russia in 1917, beginning with an episode in Moscow in 1917 as an unnamed man in a bearskin coat enters the house of an aristocratic family to find a scene of carnage.

Moving from Moscow my third link is via the name Poppy. This time it is the author’s name, Poppy Adams and her book, The Behaviour of Moths. I thought this was a brilliant book! It’s the story of two sisters, Ginny and Vivi. Vivi, the younger sister left the family mansion 47 years earlier and returns unexpectedly one weekend. Ginny, a reclusive moth expert has rarely left the house in all that time.

My fourth link is to the word ‘moth’, but this time used as a name. Moth is Raynor Winn’s husband and their story is told in her book, The Salt Path. Despite finding out that Moth has a rare terminal illness, the couple decided to walk the South Coast Path. He had been diagnosed with a brain disease for which there is no cure or treatment apart from pain killers and physiotherapy. It’s not just the story of their walk, but also about their determination to live life, about overcoming pain and hardship, and the healing power of nature. 

My fifth link is via the place, Penzance, which is one of the places the Winns went to on their walk. Penzance is the setting of W J Burley’s crime fiction novel, Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death. Wycliffe is mystified by the murder of Matthew Glynn, a respectable bookseller who was found bludgeoned and strangled and there are plenty of suspects, including his brothers and sister and their grown-up children. 

My sixth link: is to another bookseller, Marc Amos, a rare book dealer who owns a secondhand bookshop in Martin Edwards’ Lake District murder mysteries, featuring DCI Hannah Scarlet, in charge of the Cumbria’s Cold Case Team. Amos is her partner and in The Serpent Pool George Saffell, one of Marc’s customers, is stabbed and then burnt to death amidst his collection of rare and valuable books.

My chain started in New York and travelled via Moscow, and in various periods of time and places in England, ending up in the English Lake District. It links together historical fiction, nonfiction and crime fiction.

Next month (February 5, 2022), we’ll start with a book that topped Best of 2021 lists, No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.

Let’s hope this new year will be a happy and healthy one and for those of us who love reading, may we all enjoy lots of good books!

Looking Back at Books I Read in 2021

2021 was an odd year in many ways and the various events affected my reading. There were times when I didn’t want to read and several times when I certainly didn’t want to write about the books I did read. In total I read 80 books and didn’t write about 19 of them. I will write about two of them at least, a NetGalley book and also The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel.

I began the year determined to read Mantel’s book as I’d bought it in March 2020, but as the months went by I kept reading other books instead. After a good start I just couldn’t get interested in it and I’d loved the other two books in the Wolf Hall trilogy, but this third book was just dragging along. I left it for a few months and finally finished it just before Christmas.

I took part in four Challenges

Back to the Classics – completed 6 out of 12 categories
Mount TBR 2021 – read 40 of my TBRs meeting my target of reading 36 books
Wanderlust Bingo – still ongoing, completed 11 out of 25 categories so far
What’s in a Name? – completed 6 out of 6 categories

My Year in Books 2021 – this is one way of looking at what I read. I saw this on Cath’s blog Read Warbler and was inspired to do my own.

How do you feel? Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger

Describe where you currently live: Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?  A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson

Your favorite form of transportation is (with): The Railway Children by E Nesbit

Your best friend is: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

You and your friends are: The Killing Kind by Jane Casey (no way!)

What’s the weather like? Ice Bound by Jerri Nielsen

You fear: The Madness of Crowds by Douglas Murray

What is the best advice you have to give? Don’t Look Now by Daphne du Maurier

Thought for the day:   I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston

 How would I like to die? (from) A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry

What’s in a Name Challenge Wrap Up Post

This challenge was hosted again for 2021 by Andrea at Carolina Book Nook. It ends tomorrow, 31st December 2021.

The idea of the challenge was to read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category. I’ve managed to complete the challenge by finishing reading Fifty Fifty only the day before yesterday and have not had time yet to write my review.

These are the books I read, with links to my reviews

  1. One’ or ‘1‘: The One I Was by Eliza Graham
  2. Repeated word: Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh – review to follow
  3. Reference to outer spaceThe Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley
  4. Possessive nounThe Queen’s Spy by Clare Marchant
  5. Botanical wordA Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
  6. Article of clothingThe Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge

My thanks go to Andrea for hosting this challenge – it was not as easy as I thought it would be, but it was most enjoyable finding books to fit the category, especially for the ‘repeated word’.

Andrea is hosting this challenge again for 2022 – and I’ll be signing up for it in a later post.

Throwback Thursday: Curtain by Agatha Christie

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for Throwback Thursday. It takes place on the Thursday before the first Saturday of every month (i.e., the Thursday before the monthly #6Degrees post). The idea is to highlight one of your previously published book reviews and then link back to Davida’s blog.

Today I’m looking back at my post on Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case by Agatha Christie, one of my favourite Agatha Christie books. I first reviewed it on December 2, 2010.

My review begins:

Curtain was first published in 1975, but it was written in the 1940s during the Second World War. Agatha Christie had written it with the intention that it be published after her death, but in 1975 her publishers persuaded her to release it so that it could appear in time for the Christmas season – a ‘Christie for Christmas’.

In this book Poirot and Hastings have come full circle, returning to Styles, the scene of their first case. Poirot is now an old man (just how old is not revealed  – I think if you go by the chronology of the novels he must have been about 120, but there is no need to be too precise), and close to death.  Hastings is the narrator of this mystery. He is saddened by the devastation age has had on Poirot

Click here to read my full review

The next Throwback Thursday post is scheduled for February 3, 2022.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read In 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is Best Books I Read In 2021. I’ve read 18 books this year that I’ve rated 5* on Goodreads, so it’s difficult to choose the 10 ‘best ‘ books, but these are the ones that I enjoyed the most, in the order I read them:

The One I Was by Eliza Graham – historical fiction split between the present and the past following the lives of Benny Gault and Rosamund Hunter. Benny first came to Fairfleet in 1939, having fled Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport train. As an adult he bought the house and now he is dying of cancer. Rosamund returns to Fairfleet, her childhood home, to nurse Benny. I was totally engrossed in both their life stories as the various strands of the story eventually combined. 

English Pastoral by James Rebanks – nonfiction, inspirational as well as informative and it is beautifully written. I enjoyed his account of his childhood and his nostalgia at looking back at how his grandfather farmed the land. And I was enlightened about current farming practices and the effects they have on the land, depleting the soil of nutrients.

Ice Bound by Jerri Nielsen – nonfiction – Dr Jerri Nielsen was a forty-six year old doctor, who took a year’s sabbatical to work at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station in Antarctica, the most remote and perilous place on earth. In the dark Antarctic winter of 1999 she discovered a lump in her breast. Whilst the Pole was cut off from the rest of the world in total darkness she treated herself, taking biopsies and having chemotherapy, until she was rescued by the Air National Guard in October 1999. 

A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson – a novel focused on three main characters, Elizabeth, Liam and Clara, each perfectly distinct and finely described. The setting in a small town in North Ontario in 1972 is excellent. It looks back to events thirty years earlier when Elizabeth Orchard first met Liam who was then a small boy of 3 when he and his family lived in the house next door and the events that followed.

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey, a police procedural and a psychological thriller. It’s a mix of courtroom scenes, police interviews and terrifying action-packed scenes. I was totally engrossed in it right from its opening page all the way through to the end. 

Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger – a beautiful novel, a story of three people living in different countries and in different times. How their stories connect is gradually revealed as the novel progresses. As the author explains at the end of the novel it is a mix of fact and fiction and has its basis in truth.

An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris – historical fiction about the Dreyfus affair in 1890s France. Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, was convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment at Devil’s Island. It’s narrated by Colonel George Picquart, who became convinced that Dreyfus was innocent. Harris goes into meticulous detail in staying accurate to the actual events, but even so this is a gripping book and I was completely absorbed by it from start to finish.

A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry – a combination of historical fact and fiction, a tale of murder and medical matters, with the social scene, historical and medical facts slotting perfectly into an intricate murder mystery. It’s an exceptionally excellent murder mystery and an informative historical novel, with great period detail and convincing characters.

Fludd by Hilary Mantel – a dark fable of lost faith and awakening love amidst the moors.The story centres on Fludd, a young priest who comes to the Church of St Thomas Aquinas to help Father Angwin, a cynical priest who has lost his faith. I enjoyed it all immensely – partly about religion and superstition, but also a fantasy, a fairy tale, told with wit and humour with brilliant characterisation.

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – the story of a party of nineteen girls accompanied by two schoolmistresses who set off from the elite Appleyard College for Young Ladies, for a day’s outing at the spectacular volcanic mass called Hanging Rock. The picnic, which begins innocently and happily, ends in explicable terror, and some of the party never returned. I loved the detailed descriptions of the Australian countryside and the picture it paints of society in 1900, with the snobbery and class divisions of the period.

Have you read any of these books? What books have you enjoyed the most this year?