Tag Archives: Beat The Backlist

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


This is my first post in around ten days, as I’ve been on holiday!  Go on, admit it – you didn’t even notice that I wasn’t here, did you? 😀

This month I’ve managed to read two of my backlist titles from Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge, and it’s getting to the point now where I don’t think that I’ll be able to read all of my backlist before the end of the year. 😳

  • This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab – regular readers of my blog will know that I love Schwab’s novels, and this one was no exception
  • The Loney by Michael Andrew Hurley – I was a little sceptical about this one as it’s had quite mixed reviews, but I really liked it

I’ll be doing mini reviews of the books I read whilst I was away, including the two mentioned above, in the next few days.

TBR Watch

You won’t believe this but I DIDN’T BUY ANY BOOKS IN AUGUST! (And yes, that is worth shouting about!)  I received a few books to review, but haven’t purchased anything.  This won’t last, as I have Godsgrave on pre-order so I’ll be getting at least one book this month.  Because of this incredible restraint, by TBR is continuing it’s slow but steady downward trend:

TBR 1 Sep 17


Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


Another month gone, and I’m still woefully behind in Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge, although I did manage to tick off three titles from my backlist this month:

  • Way Down Dark and Dark Made Dawn by J. P. Smythe which I enjoyed but didn’t get chance to review
  • The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 – 2047 – which I started, but wasn’t really enjoying so I gave up on it ☹ (it had great potential, but there was so much focus on the economics that I just couldn’t get into it)

TBR Watch

I was doing really well this month, and I only bought two books – History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund and Exit West by Mohsin Hamid following the Booker Prize longlist announcement.

But I received two books to review, and three other books arrived:

  • Out of Bounds by Val McDermid from Susan at Books from Dusk Till Dawn
  • The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker from Zuky at Book Bum
  • House of Fiction by Phyllis Richardson – a book I backed through Unbound which explores the houses that inspired various works of fiction

So, my TBR hasn’t gone down quite as much as I’d hoped, but it has gone down!

TBR 1 Aug 17

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


We’re halfway through the year (seriously, where does the time go?!), and it’s time to take a look at my progress in Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge.

I set my self a target of reading 47 backlist titles, which is all the titles I’d bought prior to 2017.  So far, I’ve read 19 of them.  It’s progress, although maybe not quite as much as I’d hoped.

Here are my outstanding titles:

# Title Author
1 Long Dark Dusk J. P. Smythe
2 Wake Elizabeth Knox
3 The Bickford Fuse Andrey Kurkov
4 The Mandibles: A Family, 2029 – 2047 Lionel Shriver
5 The Transmigration of Bodies Yuri Herrera
6 Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain Barney Norris
7 The Lost Time Accidents John Wray
8 Wolf Winter Cecilia Ekback
9 Bodies of Water V. H. Leslie
10 101 Detectives Ivan Vladislavic
11 What is Not Yours is Not Yours Helen Oyeyemi
12 Hag-Seed Margaret Atwood
13 Wood Green Sean Rabin
14 Dark Made Dawn J. P. Smythe
15 Even the Dogs Jon McGregor
16 The Mountain in my Shoe Louise Beech
17 Star-Shot Mary-Ann Constantine
18 Desire for Chocolate Care Santos
19 A Lovely Way to Burn Louise Welsh
20 The Sunlight Pilgrims Jenni Fagan
21 The Kind Worth Killing Peter Swanson
22 Doorways Robert Enright
23 The Wolf Road Beth Lewis
24 This Savage Song V. E. Schwab
25 The Loney Andrew Michael Hurley
26 The Eleventh Letter Tom Tomaszewski
27 I, Robot Isaac Asimov
28 The Power Naomi Alderman

There are some great sounding books in there – I just need to make a bit of space to get to them!

TBR Watch

Last month’s pledge to buy no new books fell by the wayside pretty early on, but whilst I didn’t keep to it, I did read more than I bought, so there has been a slight reduction in my TBR.  And by slight, I mean it’s gone down by two.  But it has gone down!

TBR 1 Jul 17

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


This will be a relatively brief post as, after making great progress in Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge in April, I’ve not read a single title from my backlist this month! 😦

This means that my backlist still numbers 30 titles.

TBR Watch

To make matters worse, I bought a phenomenal number of books in May, meaning that my TBR has taken a turn for the worse (or better, depending on your perspective 😉 )

TBR 1 Jun 17

So, no new books for me for a while!

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


Hi everyone!

It’s been a quiet week on Jo’s Book Blog as I’ve been on holiday.  Whilst I’ve not been blogging, I have at least been reading, and I’ve made a fairly significant dent in Novel Knight’s BTB Challenge!

The backlist titles I read on holiday were:

  • Thirst by Benjamin Warner
  • Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
  • Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker
  • 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I also read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon shortly before going away, which means that I’ve ticked six books off the backlist in the last month!

I probably won’t do full reviews for all of these titles, but I will try to do mini reviews at some point to share my thoughts on the books I read while I was away.

TBR Watch

And, my holiday means that I’ve actually managed to reduce my TBR a little!  And by a little, I mean four.  But I’ll take it!

TBR 1 May 17

I’m likely to undo this progress next month, however, as I’ll be going to the Hay Festival, and I fully intend to buy all the books while I’m there!

Beat the Backlist Challenge Update


My participation in Novel Knight’s Beat the Backlist Challenge was aided significantly this month by the BTB Readathon, and I managed to read four books over the 3 day period:

  • Nod by Adrian Barnes – a unique tale in which the majority of people stop sleeping, causing wide-spread psychosis and a rapid deterioration in civilisation
  • A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth – a dark and gripping story about obsession – I thoroughly enjoyed Ashworth’s debut
  • The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Steven Baxter – for me, this was a somewhat disappointing tale about the discovery of a series of parallel earths
  • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli – humorous and a little odd, I can honestly say that I’ve not read anything quite like it…

I now have 36 backlist titles to read by the end of the year, and it feels as though I’ve made slow but steady progress.

TBR Watch

Whilst I can’t honestly say that my TBR has decreased this month, I can at least say that it hasn’t increased either, and I’m counting that as progress! 😃

TBR 1 Apr 17

This isn’t due to any kind of restraint on my part, however – I’ve just managed to read more than I usually do!  I’d make some kind of promise about requesting and buying fewer books this month, but to be honest, I wouldn’t believe it, and neither should you.

Happy reading!

BTB Readathon – March 2017

As part of her Beat the Backlist challenge, Novel Knight is running four readthons throughout year to help people achieve their targets, and the first of these ran from the 10th to the 12th of March.  As this happened to coincide with a lazy weekend, I decided to take some time out from the review copies and tackle some of my backlist, and I managed to read four books over the three days (yes – it was a REALLY lazy weekend!):

Nod by Adrian Barnes


Dawn breaks and no one in the world has slept the night before.  Or almost no one.  A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same mysterious dream.  A handful of silent children can still sleep as well, but what they’re dreaming remains a mystery.  Global panic ensues.

A medical fact: after six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis sets in.  After four weeks, the body dies.  In the interim, a bizarre new world arises and swallows the old one whole.  A world called Nod.

Nod was originally published in 2012, and was republished in the UK by Titan Books in 2016.  It’s a wonderfully unique end of the world novel in which our end is brought about by an epidemic of chronic insomnia which affects 99.9% of the population.

As is often the case, there are those who will seek to take advantage of such a situation, and in Nod this comes about in the form of Charles, formerly of figure of contempt, but who has seized the opportunity to establish a new world order, and he fully intends to be at the helm.

I thought that the structure worked brilliantly, opening on day 18, and then reverting to day 1, as the majority of people experience their first day without having slept.  It doesn’t take long for a “them and us” attitude to become the norm, as those who can’t sleep look enviously upon those who can, eventually coming to revile those that they may have loved at some point, and the sleepers quickly learn to hide themselves away.

I did find the novel to be a little slow in places, although it’s an intriguing tale, and explores a unique apocalypse.

A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth

a kind of intimacy

Annie is obese, lonely and hopeful.  Armed with self-help books, her cat and a collection of cow-shaped milk jugs, she moves into her new home and sets about getting to know the neighbours, especially the man next door.  She ignores her neighbour’s inconvenient girlfriend, but it’s not quite as easy for Annie to dismiss her own past.  As Annie’s murky history of violence, secrets and sexual mishaps catches up with her, she cannot see that she has done anything wrong.  She’s just doing what any good neighbour would do, after all…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I thought that Annie was a fascinating character, who was at times vulnerable, yet also a little terrifying.  It’s clear from the beginning that there’s something not quite right with her tale, and whilst she evokes sympathy, I found that I was questioning her narrative, particularly as you begin to get insights from her new neighbours.  Ashworth drip feeds Annie’s back story throughout the novel, and whilst I didn’t find it particularly surprising – there are enough hints early on that I guessed some of what happened – it was still shocking.

If I guessed Annie’s backstory, I didn’t guess the outcome of the present-day narrative, in which Annie becomes increasingly obsessed with her neighbour, Will – someone she believes she has a connection with, and who, in her mind, undoubtedly feels the same way about her.  Annie’s behaviour becomes increasingly unhinged, and leads to a stunning finale.

Told with snatches of dark humour, A Kind of Intimacy is wonderful novel about obsession with an unforgettable character.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

the long earth

1916: the Western Front.  Private Percy Blakeney wakes up.  He is lying on fresh spring grass.  He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees.  Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin.  Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive (some said mad, others dangerous) scientist when she finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a …potato.  It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way Mankind views his world for ever.

And that is an understatement if ever there was one…

The Long Earth is a novel that I’ve had on my TBR for quite some time.  I bought it as I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s work, and whilst I haven’t read anything by Stephen Baxter, I’ve heard good things.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed by it.

The title refers to a series of parallel Earths, which seem to be the same as ours in terms of the date, time of day and geography, but have been completely untouched by humans.  When the instructions for building the gadget described above are posted online, people find that they can “step” from one Earth to the next, and can keep going, possibly forever.

It took me a while to get into this novel – I thought that the premise was interesting, but the delivery fell a little flat for me, and there’s a fair amount of exposition in the beginning, necessary, perhaps, but not particularly well done.

Given this is the first in a series, it felt like a lot of scene setting, but didn’t interest me enough to make me want to rush out and buy the sequel.

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

the story of my teeth

Gustavo ‘Highway’ Sanchez is a man with a mission: he is planning to replace every last one of his unsightly teeth.  He has a few skills that might help him on his way: he can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums, he can interpret Chinese fortune cookies, he can stand an egg upright on a table, and he can float on his back.  And, of course, he is the world’s best auction caller – although other people might not realise this, because he is, by nature, very discreet.

Studying auctioneering under Grandmaster Oklahoma and the famous country singer Leroy Van Dyke, Highway travels the world, amassing his collection of ‘Collectibles’ and perfecting his own specialty: the allegoric auction.  In his quest for a perfect set of pearly whites, he finds unusual ways to raise the funds, culminating in the sale of the jewels of his collection: the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ – Plato, Petrarch, Chesterton, Virginia Woolf et al.

Written with elegance, wit and exhilarating boldness, Valeria Luiselli takes us on an idiosyncratic and hugely enjoyable journey that offers an insightful meditation on value, worth and creation, and the points at which they overlap.

The Story of My Teeth is a novel I picked up at last year’s Hay Festival, having enjoyed hearing Luiselli discussing her novel.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve not read anything else quite like it.  It’s humorous and borderline absurd, but extremely experimental, and it didn’t really suit my tastes, although you might enjoy it if you’re looking for something different.

I’ve since read other reviews that suggest, somewhat counterintuitively, reading the afterword first.  With hindsight, I would recommend this unconventional approach, as I think it sets the scene nicely.

Not bad, just not for me.