Books I’ve Acquired – January 2023

  • Writing Popular Fiction – Rona Randall
  • Writing a Thriller by Andre Jute
  • And Only to Decieve by Tasha Alexander
  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
  • Will by Christopher Rush
  • Death of Blue Blood (Murder She Wrote) by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
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Book Cover Love #6

Angelfall by Susan EE

This is one of those books that I bought simply because I loved the cover. The colours, the grungy style of the artwork and those angel wings…it immediately captured my attention.

I read and reviewed this book back in June 2016, and I ended the review with: “As paranormal reads go, this was both entertaining and captivating and I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of the genre.”

You can read the review in full here.

A Changing of Reading Habits

I’m not sure why, but this year I have completely ignored my own personal reading challenges. July came and went and so did Indie Only Month. Then August said hello, and then goodbye, as did Historical Fiction Month…

These little challenges have structured my reading year for the last ten years in some instances. And, each year, I have looked forward to them with relish and excitement, usually spending the preceding weeks and months putting together wish lists for books to be read and reviewed during the time set aside for the challenge.

Yet this year, things have been different. In part, I think it has been down to the fact that I am not reading as much as I have done in previous years. That’s not to say I’m not reading, I am, I just feel I am being more selective about what I read, as well as being a lot more critical of books I’m not enjoying or don’t live up to hype or expectations. In years past, I would have persevered with a book that felt a little slow or too bogged down in unnecessary detail. This year, if a book doesn’t grab my attention, I put it down and struggle to pick it back up – if I pick it back up at all.

It’s worth pointing out at this juncture, that if I have read a book this year, and gone on to review it, and that review has been positive, I really, really, meant what I said. It has taken a good book to get me through these past months, so if I said I liked it, I liked it a lot.

Another trend I’ve noticed with my reading habits this year, is that I have planned little of what I wanted to read. Instead, I am picking whatever takes my fancy, whether I’ve read it before, had it for years, or only bought it that morning. Usually, I have a pile which are my “next-to-read” books. That doesn’t seem to be working for me at the moment.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I’m also finding that I am reading more than one book at a time, something I’ve not done since university. Now, I regularly have three books on the go. The first is The Lord of the Rings which I am reading as part of a read along over on my writing site – feel free to head on over there and join in. It’s low commitment at only half a chapter a week. Then I have a book by my bed, which admittedly I don’t read more than a handful of pages before I’m too sleepy to read. The third book sits on my coffee table, and I’m finding, this book sees the most progress.

Looking ahead, there are still two more challenges tentatively marked on the calendar: Halloween Reads and Festive Reads Fortnight. I am not planning on ruling them out at this moment in time, yet I do find myself wondering if I may have outgrown them.

So for now, the badges for the challenges will remain, as will their prominent links to the relevant pages on this site. Whether I will keep them up next year or look to restructure my book reading and reviewing system, remains to be seen, but will probably depend on how the last quarter of this year goes… However, I can’t ignore the fact that at the moment, I am posting twice a week with little difficulty, something I’ve struggled with. And that suggests to me very little planning seems to be working for me, for now, at least…

Book Cover Love #5

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

I love all of Karen Maitland’s stories that I’ve read.  She is, I think one of the best historical writers writing today.  And, I love the covers of her books as well as the tales inside of them.  They always ooze medieval eeriness…

I’m planning on re-reading The Owl Killers and posting a review of it in the not-so-distant future (I hope!).  It was this book that first introduced me to Maitland’s wonderful storytelling abilities, but the focus of this post is perhaps the book she is most widely known for…Company of Liars.

The cover art is simply amazing.  The colour, size and style of the lettering quickly create a feeling of the historical but it is the wolf’s head with the crosses and skulls and the runes, etc. that truly evoke a medieval atmosphere as well as the fear that naturally accompanied the spread of the plague.  This is certainly one of my favourite book covers of all time.

You can read my review of Company of Liars, posted on this site in August 2014, here.  Or visit my A-Z Review Index to find links to other Karen Maitland books I’ve reviewed.

Quoting the Poetical #1 – Else Lasker-Schuler

Inspired by today’s Google doodle, and with one of my goals for 2020 being to explore more new-to-me poetry and poets, I’m starting a new series on Sammi Loves Books, Quoting the Poetical.  Like the “Quoting the Classics” series I posted a few years ago, I aim to share beautiful and inspiring snippets of poetry, but unlike that first series, it won’t be a weekly challenge rather, a series I can add to perhaps once a month or so…

So, for the first post in this new series, here is a beautiful quote from a poem by Else Lasker-Schüler:

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Strand by strand, enamoured colours,
Stars that courted each other across the length of heavens.

(From An Old Tibetan Rug by Else Lasker-Schüler,

original and translation found via Wikipedia) 

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Book Cover Love #4 – Indie Only Edition

Death At A Drop-In by Elizabeth Spann Craig

I had a handful of book covers that I thought I might use for this post, but ultimately, it had to be a cover from one of my favourite cosy mystery series, the Myrtle Clover Mysteries by Elizabeth Spann Craig.  But which one?  Again, a tough decision, because I like them all.  The soft, pastel colours immediately give the impression of a cosy mystery and the cover art is always eye-catching.

In the end I had to go with the cover for Death At A Drop-In.  Why?  Because of the cat.  Why else?

My rating for Death At A Drop-In was 4 out 5,  and you can read my review of it, posted in November 2017 (note: read and reviewed outside of Indie Only Month), here.

Favourite Books from 5 Years of Indie Only Month


For my first bookish-themed post for Indie Only Month 2019, I thought I would look back at some of my favourite reads from previous years.  I’ve been dedicating the month of July to indie authors and indie publishers since 2014, and from looking at the books listed below, the challenge has helped me to discover some great book series over the last five years…

Indie Only Month 2014

One of my favourite reads from Indie Only Month 2014 was Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland.  Self-published before attaining almost* every writers dream – getting discovered by a traditional publisher – this book introduced me to her work.

[* I say almost, because I’m aware there are plenty of indie authors out there who are not only happy remaining in control of their writer career, but who are also very success at it.]

You can read my review of Hollowland here.

Indie Only Month 2015

In 2015 I discovered Amber Lynn’s Avery Clavens series. For that year’s Indie Only Month, I read the first two books, Not In My Job Description and Just Another Day at the Office.  Here’s a quote from my review of Book 1:

The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.

I remember bits and pieces from this series (most notably that, for some reason, I didn’t read the last book), but the quote above has persuaded me that it might be a good idea to go back and re-read it from beginning to end.

You can read my review of Not In My Job Description here, and Just Another Day At The Office here.

Indie Only Month 2016

It was during Indie Only Month 2016 that I read, reviewed and fell in love with the Earthen Witch books by Sarah Doughty, reading Just Breathe and Focus, and ensuring that the following Indie Only Month, I read the third book in the series, Listen.

You can read my review of Just Breathe here, and Focus here.

Indie Only Month 2017

2017’s challenge month introduced me to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover mysteries, one of my favourite cosy mystery series.  Each year since, I have read and reviewed – and thoroughly enjoyed – one book from the series for Indie Only Month – as well as more throughout the year.  I can’t get enough of them!

You can read my review of the first Myrtle Clover story I read, A Body In The Backyard, here.

Indie Only Month 2018

From last year’s list, two stories really stand out: Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Grant, which was a thoroughly entertaining read, and Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons, a paranormal mystery that once it got going, I struggled to put it down.

You can read my review of Not Famous in Hollywood here, and Winter Prey here.

Book are so much more than stories

I’ve finally made a breakthrough in understanding my personal psychology when it comes to book-hoarding…Books, to me, are so much more than stories.  They are memories, markers of events, reminders of friendships, notable birthdays…and that is why, I can’t get rid of them.  Even after I’ve read them and know it is unlikely that I’ll not do so again. Or, that I don’t think it possible that I’ll read them at all.

This thought struck me the other day when I was glancing at my bookshelves.  In my head, as I took in the titles and authors, I began thinking over the pertinent information I associated with the books.  That one was a present from my Nan and Grandad…I bought that one in that bookshop in Shrewsbury that’s no longer there…I remember picking that one out after a lecture in my first year at university in the Waterstones on campus…I was given that one after my Dad had read it and said he thought I would like it too…I was reading that one when we went on holiday to [insert destination here]…


Now I understand why I have so many books taking up so much space in my small home.  And with this dawning of understanding, I have realised that no matter how hard I try to whittle away at their numbers, I will always be fighting an uphill battle, because I’ll not only be rehoming my books, but my memories also.

Quoting the Classics – Part 2

“Quoting the Classics” was a challenge I set myself in 2015.  Each week, for the duration of the year, I was to post a quote from a classic, so that by the end of if, I would have collected together 52 quotes.

It was an interesting exercise, and so I thought, four years on, I would revisit the challenge, and post ten of my favourite quotes from those collected.  You can find the first five posted here, Quoting the Classics – Part 1.  The second five can be found below…

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Book Cover Love #3

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

Two things struck me when I first stumbled across this book in a book shop: the first was the colour and the second the title.

The colour of the cover is striking.  The marbled red with the image in white makes the whole cover eye-catching and immediately evokes a feeling of Victorian Gothic.

The title, The Somnambulist, also grabbed my attention.  It’s one of those words that I really like the sound of, and one you don’t come across too often. And, I think, it conveys a lot.

My rating on Goodreads was 3 / 5 and you can read my review of The Somnambulist by Essie Fox, posted in April 2014, here.