2018 – in books…

With the end of the year less than 2 weeks away it’s time to start the yearly round-up posts. Today it’s my year in reading. As a side note, I’ve also published this post to my author page.

How many books did I read?

According to Goodreads, so far this year I’ve read 95 books – although there were others that didn’t make it to Goodreads. That’s a few less than last year – not that it matters.

Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but I read most afternoons for an hour after I log off from the day job – it’s the equivalent to the time I used to spend reading on the bus and helps me switch my brain out of corporate and into creative. I also read every night before I go to sleep. I read books instead of magazines at the hairdressers, at the beach, lying in or beside the pool. Plus this year I’ve had a couple of long-haul flights (during which I sleep precisely zero hours) and spent a reasonable amount of time in airports waiting for delayed flights to and from Sydney. It adds up.

And the ones that didn’t make it to Goodreads? Mostly genre romances that were devoured in an hour or so and are sweet but guilty pleasures – like vegemite and cheese on white bread with butter.

The longest book?

Ok, I’m not great with commitment, so the longest book I read was Erica James’ Love and Devotion at 536 pages. Again, according to Goodreads, my page count was greater than last year.

Any new series?

Absolutely. There was Debbie Johnson’s Comfort Café series, Jenny Colgan’s Mure Island series, E.V. Harte’s Tarot Detective series and Helen Pollard’s Little French Guesthouse series.

Additions to favourite series?

I was fortunate to get an advance copy for review purposes of Sulari Gentill’s latest Rowland Sinclair adventure, All The Tears in China. Thankfully there was also a new Rebus from Ian Rankin, In A House Of Lies and an addition to Anthony Horowitz’s Hawthorne tales with The Sentence Is Death.

Series I missed this year?

Nope. All good.

Thanks for the recommendation…

I rely on my book blogger friend Debbish for additions to my to-be-read pile, and she certainly didn’t let me down in 2018. A new bloggy friend – Sammy from The Annoyed Thyroid was also a reliable source of reading recommendations.

Any 5 star reads?

Yes – I was obviously feeling very generous this year as I handed out 5 stars to 17 reads. I’m not a great critic – if I’ve really enjoyed something it will get the marks from me. As for my favourites out of this list? That’s a tad tougher, but here is my top 10:

  1. The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover
  2. Paris Is Always A Good Idea, Nicholas Barreau
  3. The Man I Think I Knew, Mike Gayle
  4. The Chilbury Ladies Choir, Jennifer Ryan
  5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
  6. Café By The Sea, Jenny Colgan
  7. The Wife Between Us, Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen
  8. A far Cry From Kensington, Muriel Spark
  9. Sunshine At The Comfort Food Café, Debbie Johnson
  10. Gardens Of Delight, Erica James

Close behind – and also with 5 stars – was Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland and Three Gold Coins by fellow Sunshine Coastie Josephine Moon.

Any books adapted into a movie?

I tend not to read blockbusters – in much the same way that I tend not to watch anything nominated for an Oscar. I’m a bit of a reverse snob in this way. This means that often I don’t watch movie adaptations. This year, however, there was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – which I read before I watched the movie.


I’m not normally a non-fiction reader, but, in addition to Richard Glover’s The Land Before Avocado, read some memoir this year – mostly foodie related, of course.

There was Nigel Slater’s Toast and Eating For England, and John Baxter’s A Paris Christmas and The Perfect Meal. Away from the foodie genre, I enjoyed Billy Connelly’s Billy, and Ailsa Piper’s Sinning Across Spain – Walking The Camino.

Craft books read?

No, not this year.

Any business books?


What annoyed me this year?

I read way too many books this year where sub-plots were added late into a book for the sole reason of enabling the author to tie together loose ends. There were also too many books that told us in the last couple of chapters about the character’s growth without showing these traits throughout. Oh, look! She used to be like x, now she’s like y…that sort of thing. Show don’t tell.

This cost at least six books on my list from getting a 5-star rating.

What is concerning is that all were traditionally published yet they felt like they needed tightening editorially. Perhaps I only noticed because I’m aware that this is something I’m guilty of too – like typos in quickly cobbled together posts…whatevs..

Festive Reads

A new category this year…

  • The Christmas Secret, by Karen Swan
  • A Paris Christmas, by John Baxter
  • A Gift From The Comfort Food Cafe, by Debbie Johnson
  • The Mother of all Christmases, by Milly Johnson
  • Christmas at Claridges, by Karen Swan
  • Island Christmas, by Jenny Colgan
  • Bella’s Christmas Bake Off, by Sue Watson
  • Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan


I have some more non-fiction on my to-be-read pile and a couple of cookbooks that need to be actually read rather than flicked through. I’ve also added some food critics to my list – for research purposes and a couple of travel memoirs for dreaming purposes.

Book-related resolutions?

This isn’t great news for the authors that I support, but my resolution this year is to go three months without buying any books at all. I have books on my bookshelf – both physical and virtual – that are crying out for attention and yet last year (and the year before and the year before that and…you get the idea) spent the equivalent of a very good holiday on books and music. I intend to work my way through some of these this year. And yes, I said all of this last year too! Anyways I’ll revisit my progress (and my willpower) at the end of March. Oh, exceptions to this rule are books bought at airports which everyone knows don’t count. It goes without saying that if you decide to take on this challenge it will be with the exception of buying my books.

What about you? Any favourites? Recommendations? 

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle, and, of course, me.


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

14 thoughts

  1. Thank you, Jo, for your Top 10 books and some. I’ve got the short list from Debbish blog and will add yours to my reading list in 2019.

    1. Thanks, Natalie. Deb is a very reliable source of new reading material! I respect her reviews so much. Thanks for linking up each Thursday to lovin’ life & for your connection this year. I plan to get my act together with the Wellness Wednesday linky next year – probably through the author site as a sort of healthy writer type of initiative.

  2. Feeling very chuffed to get an honourable mention in this post! I’m pleased you enjoyed The Man I Think I Know – it was definitely one of my favourite books of the year too! I loved Jenny Colgan’s Mure Island series too – did you read the Christmas one? I’ve rediscovered the joys of the local library this year – I’ve found some fabulous reads and this pleases my book loving, minimalism loving heart no end! Wishing you a booktastic 2019!

    1. I’m reading Island Christmas at the moment – and loving it. What I like about Colgan’s style in this series is how she narrates it – as a storyteller. One of my aims for next year is to actually visit our local library – both as a reader and as an author. It continues to shock me just how much money I blow on books and music.

  3. I can’t believe you managed to plough through that many books as well as keeping up with all your other commitments Jo! I can’t count how many books I’ve read this year – a lot of lightweight stuff, YA fiction, and anything that caught my eye at the library. That being said, I have a lot more spare time than you so I’ll be having a look at your top 10 and putting in some book requests on Overdrive (because I’m cheap and can’t justify buying them!) Happy Christmas and thanks so much for your lovely comments and support through the year – looking forward to 2019 and all it brings with it!

    1. I don’t relax easily Leanne & I spend a reasonable amount of time either on planes or waiting for them too – during which I read. Next year I intend going minimalist and introducing myself to my local library – both as a reader and as an author. Hopefully, we’ll get to catch up in real life next year!

    1. It’s hilarious – and a great look into not just the 70s, but Australian culture in all of its dubious glory.

  4. Wow 95 books! I used to read a lot more than I do now. My old train commute twice per day was great for reading (up to 45 mins each way) and then I used to read before bed too. Nowadays there’s no commute, and a tendancy to not give myself permission to read unless away on holidays or all jobs are done (I’m so mean sometimes). Trying hard to read more though! Thank you for the book recommendations! I love that I have bloggy friends (like yourself, Deb and Sammie!) to always keep me aware of good books to add to my reading list! #TeamLovinLife

    1. It’s funny but my afternoon reading is much the same as my commute – and serves the same purpose. I’m a lot easier on myself re getting things done. As hubby said to me today ‘It’s the only way you relax” – and it is. I don’t watch a lot of TV and tend to clean only on Saturday mornings.

  5. 95 books! Woah! I was happy with my 44 😛 I can’t even do the 52 books in 52 weeks a lot of people aim for. Richard Glover’s latest is definitely on my list for next year – I really enjoy his writing.

    1. I’m a shocker Sanch – have always read a LOT. Maybe if I read less and wrote more I might have achieved some more of my writing goals lol.

  6. That’s a good amount of books. I think I only read about 5 books this year. Not because I don’t want to read … I just don’t find the time until summer time where all reading is done at the beach. Which is lucky because I got 3 books for Christmas and I’m off to the beach today to get started!!

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