Top Ten Tuesday: new-to-me authors I discovered in 2022

It’s been a while since I participated in the TTT, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. But I always tend to participate when this topic is on: new authors I’ve read in the previous year. I did read lots of books from authors I haven’t read anything from before, but today I choose 10 authors I want to read even more novels from.

  1. Jennifer Saint

I read both Elektra and Ariadne from this new voice in greek myth retellings. I loved both books and look forward to her new release ‘Atalanta’.

2. Miranda Malins

Also a relatively new author. I read Malins’ second book ‘The rebel daughter’ about Bridget Cromwell. I want to read her other book covering Frances Cromwell, the youngest daughter. And I’m curious what she’ll write about next. Another member of the Cromwell family or a whole other period?

3. Michelle Moran

I loved Nefertiti and want to read Morans other books about Ancient Egypt. She also wrote a book about Madame Tussaud and Napoleon’s second wife Marie-Louise for example.

4. Kate Quinn

Having finally read something from Kate Quinn, I want to get my hands on her other WOII and, more importantly, Ancient Rome and Borgia novels as this are time periods I find even more interesting.

5. Frances Quinn

Another Quinn :), I don’t need to say anymore that I loved this book. I already bought The smallest man and hope that Frances soon publishes a next novel.

6. Elodie Harper

And another new name in the historical fiction genre. Harper brought Ancient Rome to life and I’m excited to see if she chooses the same setting after finishing her ‘The wolf den’ trilogy.

7. Sarah Penner

The lost apothecary didn’t make it to my top ten, but I enjoyed this dual timeline novel. An ideal summer read. I already have Penner’s next book ‘The London Seance Society’ as a review copy for this year.

8. S.J. Parris

Heresy was the first book in a series surrounding Giordano Bruno in Elizabethan England. I enjoyed this mystery and want to try the next book ‘Prophecy’ somewhere this year.

9. Lars Mytting

When you can bring a small rural Norwegian community alive, you can craft a good story. Lars Myttings writing stands out and is different from other books. Again, there is a sequel novel I’m planning to read this year.

10. Stuart Turton

If we talk about being different and standing out, that’s exactly how I would call my experience of Turton’s second novel ‘The devil and the dark water’.

What new authors did you discover in 2022?

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My 2023 TBR

Every year I make a list of 10 backlog books (so no new releases) that I want to read in the coming year. Mainly consisting of books I already own or of favourite authors, this should be an easy task. Last year I scored 8/10, I hope to do even better in 2023.

  1. Written in my own heart’s blood by Diana Gabaldon

A book I didn’t manage to read last year. A bit on purpose as I want to take my time for the Outlander series and, with my busy private life, I wouldn’t be able to do that. After my move this year I hope to focus on this big book.

2. A column of fire by Ken Follett

The other book of my 2022 list I didn’t get to. I hope to finally grab my hands around it in 2023. This is also a big book that will take some time, but I know that I’ll enjoy it.

3. The steel beneath the silk by Patricia Bracewell

The last book in the Emma Of Normandy trilogy. I’m curious to see where Bracewell will end her story (and what she’ll write next).

4. The reindeer hunters by Lars Mytting

After reading The bell in the lake it’s time to return to Norway for this second part in the Hekne series. An ideal winter read.

5. Kingdom come by Toby Clemens

‘Kingdom come’ is the last book in this series about two common people during the Wars of The Roses. I hope this series will give Thomas and Catherine a great ending. And too bad, we haven’t got any other books from Toby Clemens in a while.

6. The queen’s promise by Lyn Andrews

A novel that has been on my physical shelves for a few years now so it’s finally time to read it. It’s about Anne Boleyn and her infatuation on Henry Percy. Books about Anne Boleyn are always tricky, so let’s see if I like this one.

7. The stone rose by Carol McGrath

The final book in the she wolves trilogy, but they can all be read as stand alones. This is about queen Isabella of France becoming the wife of Edward II. A dangerous couple.

8. The heretic queen by Michelle Moran

I want to read more about Ancient Egypt so this next book from Moran about Nefertari seems like the perfect start.

9. The marriage portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

I’m so excited that I’ll be going to Florence in March. And it just seems nice to read this book set in 16th century Florence before my holiday. I already have it on my shelves so that should be easy.

10. The woman of Troy by Pat Barker

This list can’t be complete without a Greek myth retelling on it. I still need to read Barker’s follow-up novel of ‘The silence of the girls’. In 2022 there were other myth retellings to lead me away from my cause, but this year I will get my hands on this one.

Ten books to look out for. Do you have a 2023 TBR?

My ten favourite books of 2022

Last week you got an insight into my bookish year in numbers, today I present you with my 10 favourite reads. All my five-star books are of course included and then there was the difficult choice to pick six books from all those four-star-books. I decided to list the books that I still remember very well at the end of the year, which is always a good sign.

That bonesetter woman by Frances Quinn

I fell in love with Durie Proudfoot who aims at a career of bonesetter in 18th century London. This story has it all: three strong woman with lots of subplots such as the menagerie in The Tower of Londen and the Foundling hospital.

The price of blood by Patricia Bracewell

The second book in the Emma Of Normandy trilogy. It took me a while to start this one but it’s an equally good book as Shadow on the crown. There is this constant struggle between England and the Danes and also a strong power battle within king Aethelred’s court. I hope to finish this trilogy in 2023.

When Christ and his Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman

This first book of Penman’s Plantagenet series that centers on Eleanor Of Aquitaine and Henry II focuses on the Anarchy and the big power struggle between Stephen and Maude. I fell in love with the fictional Ranulf and with Stephen’s queen Matilda. Penman’s works are long, a bit dry at times but so good.

Stone blind by Nathalie Haynes

Medusa’s doomed story is told from her own perspective. Haynes has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I love how she always chooses so many different perspectives to build a complex and human story about women in Greek myths. I didn’t know so much about Medusa and Perseus as about the Trojan War, so I enjoyed this immensely.

The wolf den by Elodie Harper

A book series about the Romans always peaks my interest. But this trilogy is for everyone who wants to read about friendship and hope. Amara is a prostitute in the wolf den brothel in Pompeii against her will. She tries to survive together with the other four women there. I also enjoyed the second part ‘The house with the golden door‘ this year and am curious to see how Amara’s story will end in 2023.

Essex dogs by Dan Jones

I enjoy a good war story once in a while especially when it comes from an historian as Dan Jones. It’s his first historical fiction novel. Essex dogs tells the story of a bunch of English and Welsh soldiers in the Hundred Years War in France. An original setting with a lot of subplot lines which makes me look out for the sequel.

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

My first introduction to the story of Nefertiti, wife of Achnaton, and one of the famous figures of the 18th dynasty. Her life is told from her sister Mutnodjmet’s perspective. Moran writes accessible story and fills up the many gaps about Nefertiti’s life convincingly, although I’m no expert in this period.

Heartstone by C.J. Sansom

One of my favourite Matthew Shardlake novels is ‘Heartstone’ in which Matthew travels to Portsmouth to solve two crimes against people who don’t want to be helped. In Portsmouth Henry VIII’s army and his war ships ‘The great Harry’ and ‘The Mary Rose’ are preparing for an invasion of the French.

Cloud cuckoo land by Anthony Doerr

We had to wait a while for a new book of Doerr. Cloud cuckoo land has a total different premise than ‘All the light we cannot see’. It tells the story of five outcast kids in three different eras (13th century Turkey, 20th century America and the distant future). This is a very detailed story so you have to take your time for it, but it’s worth it.

Anne Boleyn, a king’s obsession by Alison Weir

It was difficult to make a choice for this tenth spot, but I decided to grant it to Weir because her Anne Boleyn book is good enough. It isn’t a positive portrayal of Anne but it’s an interesting one with a human Anne who’s not without flaws. I also read Jane Seymour’s story this year and enjoyed it a lot less.

Almost made it to the top ten: Ariadne, Wildevrouw (Dutch novel about 16th century Antwerp) and The honey and the sting.

Did you read any of these books? What was your favourite read in 2022?

My bookish 2022 in numbers

As always, I’m happy to receive my Goodreads year in books but I also keep some other metadata (century, country, language and format) in my bullet journal. In this blogpost I take you through my stats.

General

  • I read 46 books in 2022. That’s two less than last year, but still a very high number. And obviously enough to exceed my reading target of 40.
  • Those 46 novels accounted for 18.863 pages.
  • On average, the books I read were 410 pages long. That’s a bit higher than last year (402). I like big books and I’m not sorry about it :).
  • The longest books were Anna Karenina (803p.) and When Christ and his Saints Slept (784p.). The thinnest was The Trial by Kafka (255p. but it felt longer ^^).
  • My average rating was 3,6 stars. I always tend to end up around this number.

Format

  • I borrowed 20 books from the library, read 21 books on my Kindle e-reader and only 5 books from my physical shelves.
  • 11 of these Kindle books were review copies from Netgalley, my favourites being ‘Stone blind‘ and ‘That bonesetter woman
  • Let’s say I bought or received more than 5 physical books :p. I bought four books in London, two from a gift card and received two books as a gift from my boyfriend. I have no idea how many e-books I bought. And I probably forget a few.
  • I read 12 books in Dutch and 34 in English.

Genre & rating

  • I read 5 classics, but stopped reading for the Classics Club as I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. My private life is quite filled at the moment with the construction of my house and I just need lighter entertainment at the moment.
  • All 41 remaining books fall under the broad genre of ‘historical fiction’.
  • I gave four books five stars’ and only one book ‘The trial’ two stars. Although I have the feeling there were a few books that also weren’t my cup of tea at all. Maybe I was less picky this year.

Setting and era

These are the countries in which my books took place:

  • England: 25 books
  • France: 5 books
  • Italy: 4 books
  • Greece: 4 books
  • United States: 2 books
  • Egypt: 1 book
  • Australia: 1 book
  • Norway: 1 book
  • Belgium: 1 book
  • Indonesia: 1 book
  • Turkey: 1 book

It’s funny because it’s exact the same number of books set in England and France as last year. I read more books set in Italy and in general read about three more countries. However, diversity in the countries I read about is something I still want to work on. I hope to get more different countries at the end of 2023.

As always, diversity is there in the overview of the centuries in which my books were set:

  • B.C.: 4 books (Ancient Greece and Egypt)
  • 1st century: 2 books
  • 10th century: 1 book
  • 11th century: 1 book
  • 12th century: 1 book
  • 13th century: 1 book
  • 14th century: 1 book
  • 15th century: 4 books
  • 16th century: 6 books
  • 17th century: 6 books
  • 18th century: 5 books
  • 19th century: 5 books
  • 20th century: 4 books
  • 21th century: none

The 16th and 17th century top this list. I’m happy to see that after a few years where I didn’t read a lot of 16th century or Tudor books anymore, that I was back at it this year. The 17th century is always a bit of an unexpected result but I guess just a lot of books get published set in that era. For next year, I hope to keep such good numbers in the B.C. and Ancient Rome eras, because I always love to read about ancient times and the Romans.

People

These are some of the historical people I read about for the first time this year.

I’m happy with my 2022 reading year and I’m looking forward to what 2023 will bring.

Do you keep track of your reading stats?

Books coming out in 2023 that I can’t wait to read

Instead of looking back to what I’ve read in 2022 (I wait for that until I finish the last page of 2022), I want to look forward to the new books that will hit the shelves in 2023. I haven’t been asking a lot of e-arcs yet. But I’ve taken a look in the upcoming (historical) books list of Goodreads and some other websites to compile this list. All of them are from authors I’ve previously enjoyed reading.

The temple of Fortuna – Elodie Harper

The third and final book in this much beloved trilogy. I loved to read about Amara’s journey in Pompeii. And as we all know, it will not end well for the city, but how will it end for Amara?

Atalanta – Jennifer Saint

Ariadne and Elektra were great books, so I don’t expect less from this one. Atalanta is a mythical figure I absolutely know nothing about. So this should make for even greater reading pleasure.

The London Seance Society – Sarah Penner

Anything set in (Victorian) London might do the trick for me. I enjoyed The Lost Apothecary and am curious about this one with a different topic.

The king’s pleasure – Alison Weir (The heart and the crown is the UK title)

A book from Henry’s viewpoint! Which is I believe difficult to write, but I didn’t dislike Henry in the Tudor queens books I’ve already read from Weir. I’m curious to see what she makes of him.

Prize women – Caroline Lea

Anything by Lea is an auto read as I loved The glass woman. I still need to read The metal heart though. This novel is set in Canada in the 1920’s.

Disobedient – Elizabeth Fremantle

My favourite author writing about the paintress Artemisia, a historical figure I’m quite interested in. Especially as it will bring us to Italy. And I believe it’s the first time Fremantle doesn’t write about the English court?

A marriage of fortune – Anne ‘O Brien

I keep an eye on anything ‘O Brien writes. Although I still need to read many of her books, including the first book about the Paston family of which this is sequel.

The shadow of Perseus – Claire Heywood

Heywood’s Daughters of Sparta wasn’t bad at all. I enjoyed reading it. Now she’s writing about Perseus and Medusa, it feels reminiscent of Stone blind.

The stolen crown – Carol McGrath

I still need to read her last book ‘The stone rose’, but I’m curious about this novel that tells the story of Empress Matilda.

Of course, there will be a few more books that will attract my intention during 2023.

Which books are you looking forward to?

20 books of Summer: the recap

I’m not ready yet to say goodbye to summer, but it’s time to do a recap on my ’20 books of summer’ challenge. This challenge is hosted by Cathy of 746 books and the idea is to create a list of 20 books to read and review between the 1st of June and the 31st of August. Here you can read my sign-up post with my original list of twenty books.

I’m happy to announce that I managed to read 12 books during the last three months. Ten of them are from my original list, I also read two extra review copies. Last year, I stranded at 14 books, but that was because my holidays got cancelled, while this year I went abroad for two weeks during this three-month-period. And when I’m on holiday, I tend to read a lot less than usual. So, in the end I’m quite happy with my result.
These are the books I’ve read:

My favourite reads were ‘That bonesetter woman’, ‘Stone blind’ and ‘The price of blood’. I enjoyed participating in this challenge (thanks Cathy for hosting!) and I’m looking forward to join again next year.

Did you finish this challenge?

Top Ten Tuesday: new-to-me authors I discovered in 2021

It’s been a while since I participated in the TTT, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, I list 10 authors I read a book from for the first time in 2021. That wasn’t easy, because more than half of the books I read in 2021 where from ‘new’ authors. As I started the classics club project, I discovered a lot of classic authors too. So I decided to make a selection based on ten authors I would like to read more books from.

  1. Gill Paul

Gill Paul was one of those authors on my still to try list. Her dual timeline novels mostly tackle the lives of royal or noble women. In The collector’s daughter we meet Lady Evelyn Herbert who was the first woman to step into the tomb of Tutankhamun. She’s recovering from another stroke when an Egyptian researcher Ana stands at her doorstep asking questions about missing artefacts.

Paul writes with extensive historical knowledge but this book is a light read. However, I’m curious to discover some of her more older books now.

2. Annie Garthwaite

As this book conquered a spot in my top ten of 2021, it’s no surprise that I list Garthwaite’s Cecily. She’s a new voice in historical fiction and I hope she will publish many more books surrounding a strong female lead character.

3. Nathalie Haynes

Nathalie Haynes wrote my favourite Greek myth retelling I’ve read so far. I’ve enjoyed some podcasts with her after her release of ‘Pandora’s jar’, a non-fiction book about the role of women in Greek mythology. I definitely want to read her other novel ‘The children of Jocasta’ and I’m hoping she will one day write a novel about Cassandra.

4. Nicola Cornick

Another must loved author of historical fiction who writes dual timeline novels. The last daughter is set during the Wars of the Roses, one of my favourite periods. I hope to start ‘The phantom tree’ one day, as I’ve heard it’s one of her best books.

5. S.D. Sykes

I read the first two books in the Oswald De Lacy mystery series set right after the great English plague epidemic in the 14th century. Sykes writes clever murder mysteries without losing sight of the intriges of the De Lacy family. I hope to continue this series in 2022.

6. Kate Mosse

An author I was more or less avoiding because I thought her books were too much ‘Dan Brown’. But I am really enjoying this series set during the Huguenots Wars in Southern France. Mosse brings an original perspective to the 16th century. I usually read books about the Tudor period, but the Valois dynasty in France proves equally interesting.

7. Sarah Burton

Apart from the beautiful cover, ‘The strange adventures of H.‘ proved an unexpected gem. Sarah Burton writes with a modern ironic voice but still with a lot of respect for the historical facts (in this case plague-ridden 17th century London). One of the most original books I’ve read in 2021.

8. Toby Clements

I’m in the middle of his Kingmaker series and hope to finish it in 2022. It seems, Toby Clemens hasn’t published any other novels since finishing the series in 2017. Too bad, because I really believe he’s got skill to write bloody battle scenes from a common soldier’s perspective.

9. Anne Brontë

The last Brontë sister I needed to read a book from. ‘The tenant of Wildfell Hall‘ is one of my favourite classics of 2021 and I’m happy to read ‘Agnes Grey’ in the near future.

10. Claire Heywood

Daughters of Sparta was Heywood’s debut novel and an excellent Greek myth retelling. Nothing is known about her future writing plans, but I’m hoping it will again cover some strong female characters.

Were also new-to-me authors in 2021 but didn’t make it to my top ten (because I’m not sure I want to read other work from them): Karen Maitland, Jane Healey, Meghan Masterson, Delia Owens, Michael Ward, Catherine Clemens (will she ever publish another novel?) and a range of classics authors.

Authors of which I’m sure I don’t want to read another novel from (at the moment): Milwood-Hargrave, Mark Knowles and Elizabeth Macneal.

What’s your favourite new author you’ve discovered recently?

My 2022 TBR

Last year I made a TBR of 10 books for 2021. I listed ten books I wanted to prioritize from my never ending to read shelf. The focus was on ten books I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I managed to read 8 of them. Not too bad :). So I decided to make a new list for 2022 to see where I’ll end up in 365 days from now.

This is my 2022 list:

  1. The Tudor crown by Joanna Hickson

The sequel to ‘First of the Tudors‘ (which I rated with 5 stars last year) about the rise to the top of the Tudor dynasty during the Wars of the Roses. Apart from a more human Margaret Beaufort, I really hope to meet Jasper Tudor, Jane en their children again.

2. Anne Boleyn, a king’s obsession by Alison Weir

I still have this love-hate relationship with Alison Weir, but I liked the first book in this series about Catherine Of Aragon enough to move onto one of my favourites: Anne Boleyn. But I have never before read a novel with Anne portrayed as I have her in my mind. And I don’t expect Weir to do just that, but she’s welcome to surprise me ;).

3. Written in my own heart’s blood by Diana Gabaldon

I’m one of these Outlander fangirls. I love both the books and the Starz series. After finishing the 8th book, I decided to wait with this one as it was the last one published at the time. But now that ‘Go tell the bees that I’m gone’ is finally released, I can start WIMOHB! John Grey is one of my favourite characters so if you know how the last book ended, you can understand I’m anxious to read on :).

4. A column of fire by Ken Follett

Follett now takes us to Kingsbridge during the reign of Elizabeth I. After having loved ‘World without end‘ this year, I just want to continue this series. I know some characters will feel the same again, but for me Follett is pure entertainment.

5. A tapestry of treason by Anne ‘O Brien

Set during the same events as Queen of the North, we follow the rebellions against Henry IV through the eyes of Constance of York, lady Despenser. I didn’t like Constance as a character in Queen of the North, but I expect to sympathize more in this novel. I also don’t know a lot about her and the early York family, so I hope to learn more about them.

5. I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

I was happy to add this to my kindle collection and then forgot about it :). I never really read about American women or America’s history, but I enjoyed the musical ‘Hamilton’ a lot. So it’s time to go to the other side of the Atlantic with my reading too.

6. Circe by Madeline Miller

Attentive readers know that this one was on my Christmas wishlist and I indeed got it as a gift from my boyfriend. I’m definitely going to read more than one Greek myth retelling, but Circe has been praised so much that it’s time to read it.

7. The honey and the sting by E.C. Fremantle

Another Christmas present was the hardcover version of ‘The honey and the sting’ 😍. I still have ‘Walk the lady’ to read from the same author, so I’ll take up one of these two in 2022. As you know, I have this obsession to always leave one book unread from my favourite authors.

8. The price of blood by Patricia Bracewell

This also made it to last year’s TBR, but I didn’t grab it in the kindle store and thus didn’t read it. But I’m still eager to continue the story of Emma Of Normandy.

9. Heartstone by C.J. Sansom

The next installment in the Matthew Shardlake series will bring us towards the end of Henry VIII’s reign and the war with France. I’m curious to see how Matthew and Barak will handle their next challenge.

10. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

After having enjoyed Mosse’s other series about the Huguenots Wars, I want to start the Languedoc trilogy of which Labyrinth is the first book. I don’t know if I will like it as much, but we’ll see.

Of course, I’ll also continue my classics club project, read some new releases and ARC’s and continue a few series (Marwood and Lovett, Oswald De Lacy, Kingmaker…).

Have you read any of these books? Which ones are on your TBR?

My ten favourite books of 2021

Last week, I presented you with my bookish year in numbers. This week, it’s time to list my ten favourites of 2021. With 4 five-star-reads and 20 books that received four stars, the choice was tough. Let’s go!

First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson *****

Joanna Hickson takes us to the Wars of the Roses and focuses on the perspective of the early Tudors. In this book we meet Jasper Tudor and his fictional Welsh niece Jane Hywel. It offers a whole new perspective on the known events and a human Margaret Beaufort (which is quite an accomplishment). In my opinion this is Hickson’s best book so far. I’m looking forward to read the sequel ‘The Tudor crown’ in 2022.

The Romanov empress by C.W. Gortner *****

The ideal winter read. This extensive novel covers the life of Dagmar of Denmark, better known as tsarina Maria Feodorovna. Wife to Alexander II and mother of Nicholas II, we discover the last decades of Romanov rule through her eyes. This is a fascinating book about a tragic end to a dynasty.

A thousand ships by Nathalie Haynes *****

I read this one during my cancelled holiday and enjoyed it a lot. This is the Trojan war trough the eyes of the women, girls and goddesses who lost everything. Their home, their family and their body. It’s my favourite Greek myth retelling so far and I discovered some new stories that I didn’t know yet.

World without end by Ken Follett

The long anticipated sequel to ‘Pillars of the earth’. In World without end we again follow four youngsters during their life in Kingsbridge. They are bound by secret in which even the king and queen are interested. The cruel 14th century is the setting this time, so poverty and disease are all around. These really are the Dark Ages.

The burning chambers & The city of tears by Kate Mosse ****

2021 was the year in which I discovered Kate Mosse’s books. Both books take place in 16th century France during the Huguenots Wars. Minou Joubert receives a mysterious letter and at the same time helps the Huguenot Piet flee the city. In ‘The city of tears’ the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre is one of the key events and it’s still so important to create awareness around what happened there. I’m looking forward to the third part in this series and hope to start more books from Mosse in 2022.

The color purple by Alice Walker ****

This modern classic is about the black sisters Celie and Nettie growing up in early 20th century America. The book talks as much about racism as about feminism. Apart from Nettie and Celie, there are some other black women that are part of the main cast. The novel mainly consists of letters from Celie to God, written in poor English. This all contributes to the general atmosphere. A book every woman should read at least once.

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Am impressive debut novel from a new voice in historical fiction. Garthwaite writes about the life of Cecily Neville. Wife of Richard, duke of York, and mother to both Edward IV and Richard III. Garthwaite takes us to the sparks of the Wars of the Roses during the Hundred Years Wars. The book opens with Cecily being witness of the burning of Joan d’Arc. I’m looking forward to her next novel, a sequel perhaps?

The scarlet contessa by Jeanne Kalogridis ***

Do you know that feeling that sometimes a book stays longer with you than you thought when you finished it? That’s why there are some three stars reads in this top ten. ‘The scarlet contessa’ tells the story of Catherina Sforza, one of my favourite historical persons. Although the book certainly has its flaws (too much magic and a high focus on Dea, Catherina’s maid), this was the only book I read set in renaissance Italy. Because of it, I again began reading about that period a lot. So, it deserves a spot here.

Winter pilgrims (Kingmaker #1) by Toby Clemens ***

Another three star read that stayed with me much longer. And yes, again about the Wars of the Roses. Thomas and Catherine, are two ‘normal’ people trying to make sense of this conflict and survive. This is an action-pace novel that focuses on the battle (also the smaller ones, which I appreciated). Clemens is no Conn Iggulden nor Bernard Cornwell, but he writes in the same tradition. However, I must admit that I liked the second part in this series ‘Broken faith‘ a lot less. I will continue this series in 2022.

The tenant of Wildfell hall by Anne Brönte

My first book of the year and also the first classic I read. This epistolary consists of letters from Gilbert to his brother-in-law. He tells the story of his new neighbour Mrs Graham who has come to live at Wildfell Hall. Gilbert immediately takes a liking to her, but Mrs Graham carries with her a conflicted past and dares not to open up to him. A lovely Brönte novel.

Have not made it to the top ten, but deserve a head ups: Revelation by C.J. Sansom (Matthew Shardlake never disappoints), The true queen by Alison Weir (finally again a Weir novel that I did like) and Protector by Conn Iggulden (for introducing me to such a fascinating period).

What was your favourite book in 2021?

My bookish 2021 in numbers

I was happy to receive my Goodreads year in books. Especially as 2021 was my best reading year ever, so I’m just going to take you through my reading stats :).

General

  • I’ve read 48 books in total. That are 9 books more than in 2020 and the highest number ever.
  • Those 48 books counted for 19.329 pages. Wow!
  • My books were on average 402 pages long. I’m happy to have an average above 400 again 🙂 I tend to read ‘big’ books so you can see this represented in the stats.
  • Ken Follett’s ‘World without end‘ with 1.014 pages was the longest one I’ve read, the 221 pages of ‘Rags in time‘ made for the shortest read.
  • My average rating was 3.5 stars.

Format

  • I varied a lot in formats and read 20 e-books and 28 physical books. I still love the smell of a real book, but I’m already attached to the ease of reading on my kindle before I go to sleep.
  • Of those 20 e-books, I received 9 books as an e-arc via Netgalley. Of which ‘Cecily‘ was definitely my favourite.
  • I only read 4 physical books that I own, so the other 24 came from the library that I visited frequently. I really hope to read more from my own shelves in 2022.
  • I didn’t buy a single book in 2021. And funny enough, this wasn’t on purpose. I blame covid-19, I guess? I received some books as a gift and listed a few for my christmas wishlist. Edit: I discovered that I bought 5 books during a library sale (for 1 euro per book).
  • I read 11 books in Dutch and thus 37 books in English.

Rating

  • I honoured 4 books with the full 5 stars and they will no doubt make it to my top 10 of 2021.
  • I also gave no less than 20 books four stars (which means I enjoyed them), so it was a good reading year. However, it will be difficult to choose my other 6 favourites to compile my top ten.
  • There were also some disappointing reads that only received 2 stars. ‘Far from the madding crowd‘, and ‘Amenable woman‘ are the ones that I remember being not my cup of tea. And both books disappointed me the most.
  • I only DNF one book, an e-arc from mystery author Paul Doherty. I won’t pick up any of his other books soon.
  • I must admit that my historical fiction books got a higher rating in general than the 12 classics I read. I gave a lot of classic books 3 stars, while I tend to rate a historical book with 4 stars.

Setting and era

I intend to keep these stats in my bullet journal for 2022, because now I was just counting this backwards and I’m not sure if I have covered everything correctly. I consider 36 books as historical fiction (I exclude most of the classics and I also count some books rather as novels than as historical – for example ‘Where the crawdads sing‘).

These are the countries in which my historical fiction novels took place:

  • England: 25 books
  • France: 5 books
  • Greece: 4 books
  • Italy: 1 book
  • America: 1 book
  • Norway: 1 book
  • Egypt: 1 book
  • Russia: 1 book

England and France again top the list. However, I would have a liked a more diverse list here. But well, I do love books set in England. And it’s hard to find other books, when those in set in England just grab my attention immediately.

Regarding the era, I did a lot better in terms of diversity:

  • Ancient Greece: 4 books
  • 10h century: 1 book
  • 12th century: 1 books
  • 13th century: 1 book
  • 14th century: 4 books
  • 15th century: 6 books
  • 16th century: 5 books
  • 17th century: 7 books
  • 18th century: 2 books
  • 19th century: 1 book
  • 20th century: 4 books

Most of the books were set during the 15-17th century. I read 5 novels that took place during the Wars of the Roses this year, one of my favourite periods. And it surprised me how every novel presented me with a new perspective on the same events. I didn’t read a book about the world wars, neither did I read a story set in ancient Rome (for the second year in a row).

People

These are some of the historical people I read about for the first time this year.

So if I look back on all these numbers, I can only conclude it was a great reading year. And that I’m already looking forward to my next ‘year in books’.

Do you keep track of your reading stats? How many books did you read in 2021? Which one is your favourite?