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2017: A Year in Books and Blogging

At this time of year, I like to take a look back over the last 12 months at my year in books and blogging.  It’s partly an excuse to roll out some funky graphs, but also a chance to send a big thank you to the authors and publishers who’ve provided copies of their books for review, as well as to my fellow bloggers – book people really are the best kind of people!

I’ve already posted by favourite books of the year, which you can see here.  It was particularly difficult to put the list together this year, as I’ve read some fantastic books, and there were several that I really wanted to include in my list.

To put it into context, during 2017 I’ve read 123 books, totalling 42,195 pages, which breaks down like this:

2017 infographic

Not too shabby, eh?

Of the titles I’ve reviewed this year, the most viewed were:

  1. The Baltimore Boys by Joël Dicker
  2. Autumn by Ali Smith
  3. Final Girls by Riley Sager

Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas!

Christmas tree

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Or, Happy Holidays, if Christmas isn’t your thing.

I’m taking a brief break from the blog over the festive period, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the wonderful people who have visited Jo’s Book Blog over the last year, to all the publishers and authors who’ve allowed me to read and review their books, and especially to my fellow bloggers for stopping by to have a chat about bookish things and for sharing my posts!

I’ll be back next week (quite possibly a few pounds heavier) with my end of year wrap up post where I share my top books of 2017.  Until then, take care, and enjoy the festive season!

Jo ❤

Birthday Tag

I saw this tag over on Zuky’s wonderful blog and I thought it looked like good fun!  So yes, today is my birthday, and whilst I’d rather not admit how old I am, you’ll be to work it out from the answers below if you really wanted to, so I’ll ‘fess up right now and admit that I’ve just turned 34!  Moving swiftly on…

Can you name any celebrities who celebrate their birthday on the same day?

The main one that I’m aware of is Billy Connolly, but having resorted to Google, I also share my birthday with:

Katherine Heigl, Stephen Merchant, and, somewhat less exciting, Ted Bundy

Is your birthday a (national) holiday?

My birthday does occasionally coincide with Thanksgiving in the US, but other than that the only noteworthy point is that it’s Evolution Day:

Evolution Day is a celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin on 24 November 1859.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

I’m actually quite pleased by this, as I’m strongly in favour of the evolution theory over creationism.

Somewhat less fun, who died on your birthday?

Freddie Mercury 😦

freddie mercury

What is your star sign?

Like Zuky, I’m not interested in astrology, but in the spirit of the tag, I’m a Sagittarius:


Strengths: Generous, idealistic, great sense of humour

Weaknesses: Promises more than can deliver, very impatient, will say anything no matter how undiplomatic

Sagittarius likes: Freedom, travel, philosophy, being outdoors

Sagittarius dislikes: Clingy people, being constrained, off-the-wall theories, details

There’s some truth in there, but I’m sure a lot of other people could say the same…

What is your Chinese sign?

chinese pig sign

Pigs are diligent, compassionate, and generous. They have great concentration: once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it. Though Pigs rarely seek help from others, they will not refuse to give others a hand. Pigs never suspect trickery, so they are easily fooled.

General speaking, Pigs are relatively calm when facing trouble. No matter how difficult the problems are Pigs encounter, they can handle things properly and carefully. They have a great sense of responsibility to finish what they are engaged in.

On which weekday were you born?

I was born on a Thursday.  I choose to take the “Thursday’s child has far to go” rhyme in a positive light, assuming that it means that I will have a long and successful life.

What song was at number one in the charts when you were born?

Uptown Girl by Billy Joel

(given it was the early 80s, it could be worse, right?)

How was the weather when you were born?

It was 4°C and frosty in Nottingham on the day I was born.

Thanks to Zuky for highlighting the website where you find this out!

Anything important ever happen on your birthday?

Other than the arrival of yours truly, you mean? 😉

In the spirit of the bookish nature of this blog, 24 November 1983 (the actual day I was born) was also the publication date for Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic – the first novel in the Discworld series.

Other than that:

1429 – Hundred Years’ War: Joan of Arc unsuccessfully besieges La Charité

1859 – Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

1877 – Anna Sewell’s animal welfare novel Black Beauty is published.

1932 – In Washington, D.C., the FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (better known as the FBI Crime Lab) officially opens.

1940 – World War II: The First Slovak Republic becomes a signatory to the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis powers.

1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is killed by Jack Ruby.

1969 – Apollo program: The Apollo 12 command module splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to land on the Moon.

1971 – During a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (aka D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.

1973 – A national speed limit is imposed on the Autobahn in Germany because of the 1973 oil crisis. The speed limit lasts only four months.

So there you have it!  A little bit about me and 24 November generally!

Unique Blogger Award

unique blogger award

Many thanks to Mischenko who blogs at ReadRantRock&Roll for nominating me for the Unique Blogger Award.  Mischenko’s is a blog that’s quite new to me, but one that I’m really enjoying.  I particularly like the Wednesday “Breakfast and a Book” posts!

The Rules

Share the link to the blogger who has shown love to you by nominating you.

Answer the questions.

In the spirit of sharing love and solidarity with our blogging family, nominate 8-13 people for the same award.

Ask them three questions.

Mischecnko’s Questions

  1. If you were to write a non-fiction book, what would be your subject of choice?

I’d love to say that I’m expert in some particular field, maybe related to the industry in which I work, but the truth is that I’m not, and I work in financial services, which few people are all that interested in.  Thus, any non-fiction book I wrote would undoubtedly be related to books in some way.  As a lover of post-apocalyptic fiction, I quite like the idea of reviewing the various ends that have been imagined for us, and maybe assessing the likelihood of each one actually happening.  Morbid perhaps, but I’d find it interesting.  (There’s a reason I’m not writing a non-fiction book!)

  1. Name a book that you extremely disliked this year, or last?

Earlier this year, I read Enduring Love for my book group, and I didn’t really enjoy it.  I don’t think it was a bad book, it just wasn’t to my taste.  An interesting idea, but the delivery didn’t do it for me.  I’m not averse to reading other novels by McEwan, however.

  1. Which author would you enjoy meeting the most? Doesn’t have to be living.

For me it would have to be Sir Terry Pratchett.  I’ve technically met him at a book signing, but it was so brief (and several years ago!) and as one of my favourite authors, I’d have loved the opportunity to sit down with him and just chat and laugh at the world.

My Nominations

Stuart at Always Trust in Books

Tina at Reading Between the Pages

Natalie at The Owl on the Bookshelf

Laura at Snazzy Books

Jo at Over the Rainbow Book Blog

My Questions

  1. What’s your favourite book of 2017 so far?  And I am going to insist upon a single book!
  2. I love Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and the idea of being able to jump into and out of different books.  If you could jump into any book, what would it be and why?
  3. What is your favourite quote?

Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson – Extract and Giveaway

Today I’m delighted to share with you an extract from Murder in Little Shendon by A. H. Richardson, and I have a giveaway for you as well!  For details of how to enter, see below!

murder in little shendon

Murder in Little Shendon is the first in a series featuring sleuths Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon, and is followed by Act One, Scene One – Murder, and Murder at Serenity Farm.

Here’s the synopsis for Murder in Little Shendon:

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.

Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From his housekeeper to Lady Armstrong and her household staff. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion.

Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community?

A murder mystery that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The three sift methodically through the Alibis and life stories of the suspects until they uncover…

You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead — it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

And here’s an extract from the novel:

Chapter One – A Killing in The Bygone Era

BARTHOLOMEW FYNCHE LEANED OVER HIS DESK, adjusted his pince-nez and peered down at the document on his desk. He gave a series of grunts, which culminated in a long “Hmmm”.

He scratched a brief note on the pad in front of him. He always used a pen and ink because he did not approve of ballpoint pens and regarded them as signs of an uncivilized society.

Mr. Fynche turned his attention to the small jade horse in front of him, running his fingers over it gently, almost lovingly. He frowned, took a deep breath, and removed a key from around his neck. He unlocked a drawer to his desk, placed the small statue inside and carefully locked it again.

He glanced at the French Ormolu clock on the wall before consulting his watch, and pursed his lips together in annoyance. He didn’t like people who were not punctual. Time was money, and his time was particularly precious.

The retired Mr. B. Fynche had been involved in a number of most interesting exploits in his life, not the least of which involved his extraordinary knowledge of rare documents, famous objets d’art, and rare paintings. It was rumored that he had been involved with MI5 just after the war, but no one was quite certain about this. Nowadays he puttered fairly contentedly in his antique shop, which he had named The Bygone Era.

He did the occasional appraisal for some local villagers and was occasionally persuaded to go into London (a trip he detested) to authenticate something or other for the odd client he had. He was, as far as anyone knew, unmarried, quite without family, with the exception of a sister who was rumored to live in New Zealand and a brother who was deceased.

At first glance, Fynche’s little shop seemed to be an untidy mass of bric-a-brac, consisting of small statues, framed documents, interesting looking things in glass cases, paintings of all descriptions, prints, watches, chains and… much much more. Mr. Fynche however, knew exactly where everything was, referring to it on occasion as organized clutter.

Today was Thursday, better known as early closing day when most if not all the shops in the village closed about noon, and The Bygone Era was no exception. Fynche liked to lock the doors, put up the CLOSED sign and busy himself with his latest project, and he had many of those.

The little man glanced down once again at some notes he had made. For the first time in his life, he was not quite sure how to deal with this. Probably the best policy was to be frank and explain that this was not something with which he chose to be involved. He scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. Perhaps no mention of the police should be made at this juncture, for he felt instinctively that he would have to be careful here.

A knock on the door interrupted his reverie and Fynche’s eyes again darted up to the clock. He frowned, realizing that the knock was coming from the back door, which was rarely used. Thoroughly disgruntled, the old man unlatched the door.

“Come in,” he said curtly, “and see that you close the door behind you.” He paused, then growled in a surly manner, “You’re late; we need to talk.”

“I’m sorry. There was some work left to do,” answered the other. A breeze blew through the open window behind Fynche’s desk.

“Close the window, please. That wretched cleaning woman always leaves the window open, and it blows my papers all around.”

“Very well.” His visitor closed the window obediently.

“Come around to the front, where I can see you. Something quite interesting has come up and we need to talk. Clearly, decisions have to be made here. Did you hear me…?”

Fynche made a half-turn, threw up his hands defensively, and gave a smothered cry, but it was too late. The broad brass base of an Edwardian candle holder was wielded aloft and came crashing down with a sickening thud into Mr. Fynche’s skull. Blood flew everywhere, seeping into the dark wood of the desk and into some papers and puddling on to the floor.

Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, open-mouthed and eyes glazed, his hands futilely clutching at the air, slumped over the side of his chair and onto the floor… very very dead.

The visitor spent a moment or two looking around the cluttered shop, hunting for something, but then thought better of it. With a sudden gesture, the visitor pried a large gold ring from Mr. Fynche’s finger, hastily made the decision to leave and, used The Bygone Era’s back door as the avenue of escape. The door was closed quietly, and the visitor slipped out noiselessly into the anonymity of the bustling throng of last-minute shoppers in the High Street. It was a bright sunny day in late spring.

About the Author

A. H. Richardson

H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones, a children’s chapter book, in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

A.H. Richardson also enjoys writing murder mysteries and who-dun-its. She is the author of the Hazlitt/Brandon series of murder mystery novels. The series follows a pair of clever, colorful and charismatic sleuths – Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The series includes Murder in Little Shendon, Act One, Scene One – Murder, and Murder at Serenity Farm.

Hazlitt Brandon MM'S.png

H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to


Kelsey at Book Publicity Services has very kindly offered to provide one copy of Murder in Little Shendon (Kindle of paperback, and open internationally) to one lucky reader.

To enter, either leave a comment below, or retweet my pinned tweet by midnight (UK time) in 17 July 2017.

Good luck!

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Is it mid-year already?  How did that happen?!

Many thanks to Tina at Reading Between the Pages for tagging me into this.  We, or at least I, so rarely get the time to pause and take stock, and it can be nice to look back over the last 6 months, as well as ahead to what’s coming up.

1) The best book you’ve read so far this year?


Ask me on a different day and you’ll get a different answer, as I’ve read some amazing books this year, but the one that sprang to mind when I read the question was The Dry by Jane Harper.

I loved the setting, the characters, the writing, the twists in the plot.  Basically, this book has it all.

2) Your favourite sequel this year?


I adored Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, and I was eagerly awaiting Waking Gods, which did not disappoint.

I love the epistolary format of both novels, and it was interesting to see what became of the characters a few years down the line, as well as finding out more about the nameless interviewer.

3) A new release that you haven’t read yet but really want to?

new boy

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier.  Part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, this is the first in that series that is based upon a play that I’m familiar with, telling as it does the story of Othello in a rather different setting.  I’m really looking forward to reading this!

4)  Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?


There are so many releases that I’m looking forward to over the second half of the year, but the one that springs to mind is Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.  I LOVED Nevernight, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

5) Your biggest disappointment?


The Sellout by Paul Beatty.  This was a book chosen by my book group, and I was looking forward to it as it also fits in with my Booker Prize Challenge (yes, that is still going on, although I haven’t read a Booker winner for longer than I care to admit).  The main issue was that I couldn’t get into it – I found it to be extremely hard work.  Additionally, the humour is very American, and as such, I found that some of it went over my head.

6) Biggest surprise of the year?

a clockwork orange

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.  This was another book group read, and one that I enjoyed much more than I expected to.  It’s not an easy read, and the language is difficult to get to grips with, but it’s worth persevering with.

7) Favourite new to you or debut author?


G. X. Todd, author of Defender.  I loved her debut novel, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment in this series.

8) Your new fiction crush?

Hmmmm… I always struggle with this one, as I don’t really do fictional crushes.  Nope, sorry – can’t think of any! ☹

9) New favourite character?

for the winner

This is another tough one, but I’ll go for Atalanta from For the Winner.  I loved her attitude to life, and her determination to be treated as an equal, despite the view that women were largely considered to be property at the time.

10) A book that made you cry?

Eleanor Oliphant

It doesn’t happen often, but Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine prompted a tear or two.  Whilst I didn’t take to her at first, Eleanor is a great character, and I was fully invested in her story by the end.

11) A book that made you happy?

I’m struggling with this one!  I genuinely cannot think of a good answer to this question.  I have a tendency towards books that are bleak in nature, and so happy isn’t usually a factor.

12) Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year?

the girl on the train

I really enjoyed the adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train.  I loved the book, and thought that the film was really well done.

13) Favourite book post you’ve published this year?

I think that it’s nice to do the occasional post that isn’t a book review, and I do particularly like writing up by experiences at Hay Festival.  I also enjoyed putting together my Blogiversary Giveaway post, as it was a chance to give back something to everyone who has supported me over the last two years.

14) The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year?

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey.  I think that these pictures don’t quite do it justice, but the cover is lovely, and I love the little cut out detail, and the two little embossed people.  And those end papers!

15) What are some books that you need to read by the end of the year?

Here are a few of the books from my TBR that I REALLY want to read:

Skitter by Ezekial Boone – the follow up to The Hatching which I read last year and really enjoyed, despite the spiders!

The Ice by Laline Paull – I loved The Bees and can’t wait to read her second novel

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – a book I picked up this year’s Hay Festival.  I’m less familiar with Norse mythology, but I’m really looking forward to this

Yesterday by Felicia Yap – a debut novel that will be published in August, and that I’m lucky enough to have a proof of!

I’m tagging in:

Renee @ It’s book Talk

Laura @ Snazzy Books

Susan @ Books from Dusk Till Dawn

And anyone else that feels like taking part!

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my two year blogiversary giveaway to win this little bundle of goodies:

giveaway 1

Once again I was overwhelmed with the support and good wishes from you guys – book people really are the best people!

I’m thrilled to announce that the winner of the giveaway is:

Emma at

Congratulations, Emma! I’ll be in touch shortly to get your details and will get your prize sent over to you in the next few days.  I hope you enjoy it!