My name is Caley (pronounced in a way that rhymes with ‘Sally’ and ‘ballet’. I like long walks on the beach, coffee, and am friend to all cats.
I’m here to talk about books. Books I’ve read. Books I’ve loved. Books I’ve loathed. Along with my lofty reading goals that I will no doubt ignore in favour of reading whatever my heart desires at that moment in time.
I read a big mix of books so I hope we’ll have some reads in common and can chat about them
As it’s almost the end of January, it’s time for me to wrap up all of the Scottish fiction that I’ve read this month. If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll maybe know that I love Scottish fiction and make a conscious effort to read books by Scottish authors every month.
This month I only read 3 books by Scottish authors. Sort of. I only finished 3 books by Scottish authors because I’m doing a buddy read of Lanark by Alasdair Gray and am only half way through it. So maybe it’s 3.5 books?
Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.
In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.
Check me! Reading another book from my 23 in 2023 pile. This is a level of focus that I will be unlikely to carry on throughout the year but I’m still going to take this an an achievement. I have wanted to read this book for so long, it was on my 2022 to be read pile but I didn’t get to it. I know I put off reading this because I was worried that I just wouldn’t be hydrated enough for all the sobbing I expected.
Well I think I’m going to shock some people by admitting that I didn’t cry. I felt sad but I didn’t cry and I usually cry at everything.
This book was split into two halves- 1986 and modern day.
The first part set was in 1986 during a music festival in Manchester and this part really wasn’t for me. I almost DNF’d this book because I disliked this part of the book so much! We were introduced to the gang and got to witness their excitement at being in Manchester living their dream. I found the characters to be infuriatingly obnoxious and pretentious. It was like when you watch a film and people start dancing and singing in public and you think ‘some people are just trying to eat their dinner in peace/get home from work/enjoy a walk in the park etc’. They were annoying and loud and I really just did not like any of them. I was told to persevere because the book would pay off and I’d regret DNFing.
The second half was much better. The main characters are older but only a little less obnoxious. Tully had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and this half was about him and his plans. This was a tough and very heartbreaking section of the book. It raised some really good questions regarding end of life.
I did like this book but I didn’t love it. I feel like something was missing. Lovable characters. This book would have been absolutely heartbreaking and so powerful if I loved Tully. There was nothing in this book to show me why everyone loved him, I was just told that he was the best. I just needed to see it for myself. I wanted to love this book and I just didn’t.
I know that this book was based on the author’s friend and their life and passing . You can really tell how much the author just loved their friend, that came across.
In every person’s story, there is something to hide…
The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.
What a week I have had! I had planned to read and Vlog a specific book but I ended up hating it. Luckily, I was in a position to be able to pick up another book and The Woman in the Library really did deliver! I had planned to take this book to the library but it was closed, however I still had a fantastic experience with this book.
I read this book in under 24 hours. I was just so invested and eager to find out what was going to happen next. This is the first book I’ve selected from my 23 books in 2023 pile and I’m starting strong. I am a huge fan of murder mysteries and feel that this book gave me something extra and really felt fresh and exciting. I utterly adored this book and highly recommend it.
Finally! I finished a book this year and I loved it. It took me a while to get into my reading groove for 2023 and I’m so glad that this was my first read of the year. What a start!
I got this book in my office Secret Santa last year and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since. Yes, I was my own Secret Santa and I chose well because I had a brilliant time with this book.
I can see me reading this book over and over as it was such a comforting and cosy read. The hype definitely was real with this book!
One of my favourite things about the new year is setting some fresh goals.
Last year I set far too many specific goals which ended up being a little unachievable. I’ve learned my lesson and am still setting a lot of goals but they are less specific and hopefully more achievable.
I will still be participating in Read Christie and reading 23 specific books for 2023 but that’s where the specific reads end.
I’m aiming to complete 5 book series this year but I’m not certain which ones. I’m going to leave that open just now and hopefully they will just happen during the year as I have a few final books in a few series that I’ve preordered.
In addition to these goals, I’m hoping to read books with titles covering A-Z as well as participating in a Buzzword challenge.
I’m so excited for all these goals and a fresh year!
They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.
Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.
When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.
Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.
I was originally a little bit apprehensive going into this book. I love a book with strong female characters but I don’t read a lot of assassin/secret agency books. I was very pleasantly surprised and I had a great time with this one!
I had been very excited to read this one as I am a sucker for a female led story and female friendship.
I really enjoyed the characters. The main characters were 60 year old women and I felt that their interactions were so reminiscent of when I’d see my mum chat to her friends. I really appreciated that the characters weren’t described as being wee old ladies! They had known each other for 40 years and when they got together they somewhat regressed and silly in jokes and their dynamic felt very realistic. I was so worried that they’d be described as being a bit doddery and delicate as so often happens when people write older characters but these characters worked for me.
I do feel like I kept forgetting one of the main characters as there was a bit of development that I felt was lacking. There was the main character, there was the woman who was mourning her husband and was ready to retire, the other two characters merged into one. I kept forgetting there were four main characters and not three.
The story was told through dual timeline. I love a dual timeline! We flipped between a modern day setting where the women were being hunted down and were unsure who to trust and 1979/80. In the flashback sections, I got to learn about the society and how the women were recruited and trained.
I could have happily read an entire book about the founding of the Sphinxes! I wish there were more flashbacks.
There was a betrayal on this book and it felt very obvious who was behind it. I also felt that I saw the twist coming very early on. This disappointed me a little as I think the book could have gone down a different route and done something shocking to the plot.
I really enjoyed this though. I enjoyed the characters, mature female friendship, and women using their skills to win the day. I enjoyed the way that they put their years of work to good use and were forced to work without their usual resources. I highly recommend this one!
Once it hits 29th-31st December my reading is all about finishing off any books that are partially read. I don’t want to carry a book through years, it makes me feel uncomfortable. So I tidied up my active reading list, by reading them, and this allowed me to choose my favourite books of the year. I was reluctant to choose until I’d finished everything because what if one final twist turned an ok book into a favourite?
I also got my stats. I love reading stats and I use both Goodreads and Storygraph so the pages read don’t match. As storygraph was closer to the page numbers when I was logging the books at the time of reading, I’m going with those page figures as being the most realistic. The number of books read was the same across apps and in my own handwritten notes.
I had a fantastic year of reading but did have way too many low books that I should have given up on because my average rating got brought down. I had 44 books that were rated 2 stars or less and I wonder if I knew that I was never going to enjoy them enough to give a 2.5 or above…I did but I hoped to be proven wrong.
One of my reading goals for 2023 is to dnf more!
With Vlogmas over, I’m going to be going back to having reviews as well as vlogs. December was all Vlog but I have missed reviews
This year I participated in Read Christie again this year and it was so much fun having a set read to enjoy. I also enjoyed being able to chat about each read when the month came to an end.
Of course, I had to rank them. Nobody asked for this but I did it anyway. So I have ranked all twelve of the Read Christie picks from least to most favourite. The top 5 spots were exceptionally difficult to determine but I’m happy with the positioning.
I will be participating in Read Christie again in 2023 and I’m so excited that next year will be themed around methods and motives which I think is going to be really fun.
For the last few years, my Boxing Day highlight has been the Waterstones sale which gives 50% off of hardbacks . This year was no different.
I was very lucky and received some money for Christmas. That became ‘book money’ which let me approach the sales feeling poised and ready to invest in my reading future.
My partner and I actually arrived before the shop opened so we queued for a few minutes with the other 4 people in Aberdeen that were after a bookish bargain at 10am on Boxing Day.
We were in and out in 16 minutes which feels like a record! To be fair, the branch here is pretty small and there aren’t usually that many hardbacks, so it was easy to spy what books were included in the deal.
I came away with 9 books plus a calendar (one book was a cookbook that wasn’t in any deal). My boyfriend got 4 books and none of them were on offer. I now have two Waterstones credits to use as I was only one stamp away from getting 1 credit.
I do wish I got some of the memoirs I was tempted by but I really haven’t read a lot of non fiction in 2022 that it felt as if those books would be bought to just sit on my shelf and that didn’t feel in the spirit of the season.