Monthly Archives: December 2016

My Favourite Books of 2016

And so with not that long to go until the clock strikes midnight here in the UK and we say fare thee well to 2016 (and in some cases goodbye and good riddance) I thought that I would share my favourite books of 2016. With a bit of a difference. Normally, bar one year I think in Savidge Reads whole history, I do two lists of the books I loved. Those that came out in the year it has been and then the best of all those I read published in the years before. Well… After one of my slumpiest most unreaderly years I didn’t have enough for either, quite (well maybe actually one, but time has been tight with the madness between Christmas and New Year) and so in a change to the normal schedule I have made a video of my FIFTEEN favourite reads, with a few honourable mentions.

So grab a cuppa/glass of prosecco/some hair of the dog, and have a gander at the video below where I talk you through them all, how modern.

I will be reviewing those I haven’t already on the blog in the next few weeks, when Savidge Reads returns to some kind of routine. I am hoping for a much, much, much better reading year in 2017 so hopefully I will have two (written) posts at the end of next year. But more about next year in the New Year, which is now very very nearly here (and may have been for some of you) so I shall simply finish off by wishing you a very very very Happy New Year…

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…Here’s to a new year of fantastic books, lots of bookish chatter and may it be wonderful for all of us. As always thank you for sticking by the blog in the last, somewhat ropey, year. I have a good feeling about 2017.

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Merry Christmas and a Happy Boxing Day

Belated Christmas wishes to you. After waiting what seemed like forever for Christmas and the Christmas break to come suddenly it was upon me and then it had gone so I didn’t get a chance to wish you all a very very very Happy Holidays and a…


I had a lovely, lovely Christmas. I hope you lovely lot did too whatever you were doing?

I know Savidge Reads has been a bit ropey with content (and reading which has been awful for me, I never have slumps like this) in the past 6 months so I appreciate all of you who have stuck by and popped by. You wait for 2017 it’s going to be all fresh and new, you’ll see.

In the interim I am celebrating my favourite day of the year today… Boxing Day. A day spent having a big lie in, a lovely leisurely brunch and then long walk in the countryside with my family before heading home with my brother and sister in tow for a week having lots of fun with them while they stay here and my mother has a holiday.


Very lovely times ahead. How were your christmases, or holiday if you don’t celebrate Christmas? I would love to know. I’ll be sharing the (impressive considering people don’t normally by then for me) pile of books I got with you tomorrow, what did you all get?

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Christmas Wishlists & How You Could Win Yours…

I don’t know if you have noticed but Christmas is arriving fairly shortly. I have to admit that despite putting up the tree and having made one or two (well 17) videos for Vlogmas this year, I have mainly been in denial. I was too ill with a dercum’s flare up to go to the Christmas party which normally sets my ‘season to be jolly’ bells off. I have also been in a slight end of the year anxiety meltdown, does anyone else get really tense by the end of a year. I love the start of a new one, it’s like a lovely new diary – all those crisp white pages. The end though, oh it’s battered to bits and everything feels like its unravelling rather than being tied up.  I have digressed, oops.

Anyway, I have been being forced into thinking about it by being asked by my mother (mainly, often) what on earth I would like for Christmas. The answer is obviously books or book vouchers. Well, she won’t do vouchers so of course a list helps. Well just as I was thinking about the books I would like for Christmas something very fortuitous happened. A new bookish social media site called Bookwitty got in touch asking if I would like to give my readers anywhere in the world a chance to win the top five books they would most like. I instantly said ‘of course’ because who doesn’t want to win some books at any time of the year. I know, you want me to shut up and tell you how to do it. Well I shall leave instructions under this little video of Bookwitty which looks like it might be a potential book website of choice for the future (I have had a play around with it and entered the competition myself, I am no fool, before just so I could see if it was good before I sent you there and it is) so have a gander.

How to create your list and win the five books…

  • Sign up at Bookwitty.com
  • Create a reading list of five books that you want for the holidays by clicking on Add content/Reading list y December 22nd 2016.
  • Link your new reading list to the topic page: Holiday reading list contest.

And you’re all set! The winner will be announced on December 23rd. Good luck!

Now I have to say I really found this link the most helpful explanation of how to do it, so off you pop, have a gander and have a go and you could win five books (worth upto $125 in total) and considering there are only five or so entries I would get clicking over there sharpish.

Oh and what were the five books that I wanted most for Christmas? How nice of you to ask the books are…

The Book of Bees by Piotr Socha

9780500650950How do bees communicate? What does a beekeeper do? Did you know that Napoleon loved bees[unk] Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This book answers all these questions and many more, tracking the history of bees from the time of the dinosaurs to their current plight. I saw this at the Wellcome Collection bookshop and thought it looked stunning. Plus I have a small obsession with bees. Not wasps, they are horrid.

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Stories by Kathleen Collins

9781783783403Lovers. Lovers who meet at Civil Rights Conferences, sit-ins, church rallies, art galleries. Lovers who send letters back and forth from maximum security prison. Lovers with dislocated jaws. Lovers who lose themselves or shoot themselves. Lovers who let go too soon. Love that is “colour free”. Love that makes men cry. Love that defies the strictures of race and class. In prose that slips between lush sensuality and electric melancholy, Kathleen Collins has gifted us a universe of lovers. Of poets and freedom riders struggling to get through hot lonely summers, spending night and day in dingy New York apartments. A universe of young women who step outside of their father’s homes, grow their hair wild and discover sex. Of young men whose daredevil antics disguises an abiding sadness. I saw this on the Book of the Month subscription service (they so need to ship to the UK). Admittedly this is a tough one as it isn’t out in the UK yet but will be from Granta in Feburary and I have all the wants for this.

Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Victorian Home by Lucinda Hawksley

9780500518380Bitten by Witch Fever presents facsimile samples of 275 of the most sumptuous wallpaper designs ever created by designers and printers of the age, including Christopher Dresser and Morris & Co. For the first time in their history, every one of the samples shown has been laboratory tested and found to contain arsenic. Interleaved with the wallpaper sections, evocative commentary guides you through the incredible story of the manufacture, uses and effects of arsenic, and presents the heated public debate surrounding the use of deadly pigments in the sublime wallpapers of a newly industrialized world. I saw this in Foyles earlier this week and it was too heavy for me to carry home, sadly. It is also quite expensive but when you open it up you know why, it is stunning. Plus, it has witch in the title, is about arsenic and the Victorians = ultimate winner.

The Other World, It Whispers by Stephanie Victoire

9781784630850From the secrets of the forest, to the magic of the sea, these nine stories tell of what happens when passion, desire, loneliness and imprisonment lead us on a search for freedom and empowerment – no matter what the cost. A woman makes a deal with gods and goddesses in order to bring a slanderous town down to its knees, a man who has lost everything finds himself in the graveyards of Paris, turning to dark magic to ensure success, an opulent masked ball becomes the stage of spite and revenge, a teenage boy who believes he is in the wrong body calls out to mermaids to enchant him. With strands of classic fairy and folklore weaved through, the unknown – the silent and dark – is explored. Where spirits, deities and witches lurk, but also where the beauty of life and renewal can be found. I have seen this on Jen Campbell and Jean’s channels on booktube and have been jealous ever since. It is a collection of modern fairytales, or a modern collection of fairytales depending on your view.

Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived But Will Never Die by Alex Werner

9780091958725Ever since his creation, Sherlock Holmes has enthralled readers. Our perception of him and his faithful companion, Dr Watson, has been shaped by a long line of film, TV and theatre adaptations. This richly illustrated book, compiled by Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London, is an essential guide to the great fictional detective and his world. Using the museum’s unrivalled collections of photographs, paintings and original artefacts, it illuminates the capital city that inspired the Sherlock Holmes stories, in particular its fogs, Hansom cabs, criminal underworld, famous landmarks and streets. Accompanying the landmark exhibition at the Museum of London, the first since 1951, this book explores how Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes has transcended literature and continues to attract audiences to this day. I bloody love Sherlock Holmes and I saw this when I went to the Museum of London and nearly bought it then, but I was being good for which I am now kicking myself.

So there is the top of my Christmas wishlist. Do go over to Bookwitty and win some books, I would love it if one of you lovely lot won out, that would be ace. Do also tell me which books you would love to get for Christmas in the comments below, and if you have read any of the above tell me about that too – no spoilers. Thanking you.

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Oops I Did It Again…

1622-stacked-and-wrappedYep, once again I have left Savidge Reads dead and deserted for far, far, far too long. Two weeks roughly, who do I think I am?

I was thinking about closing the blog until the end of the year and wishing you all a Merry Christmas and then returning with a slight revamp in the New Year but I still have so many brilliant books to tell you about that I have read this year so am going to focus on getting them up and out there.

That said I will be making some blog resolutions and changes for 2017 though, nothing too drastic, in fact kind of the opposite, it’ll have me blogging more regularly I think. Yes I know I have said that before. I do think moving and the end of the year has played quite a part in my book and blog funk. As have work, which is mental as I have taken on a lot more work, which is very exciting and seeing me work on some amazing events which I am very happy about. Plus there is the relaunch of The Green Carnation Prize 2016, which you can find out all about here.

Speaking of the end of the year, is anyone else freaking out about how soon the end of the year is and how all those books they so thought they would read in 2016 might now not get read. I have been having some right old strops and stresses at myself in the last few weeks. That said most of my books are still in boxes with no sign of being unpacked until the library is built (with walls being knocked down and all sorts first) until mid to late January so I can’t get to them anyway which I think has added slightly to my book and blog funk in the end part of this year. I have unpacked all the books I have read and loved though and the sitting room is looking lovely and oh look suddenly I am blogging again, funny how my bookshelves and my book psyche seem so linked with one another.

How is all with all of you lovely lot? I would love to know what books you have been reading and loving, any favourite books of the year yet? Any books you are desperate to get for Christmas or buy for your nearest and dearest? Anything you think I should be getting to before 2016 disappears? Do let me know. Let’s have a natter in the comments below, I have missed it.

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Sunday Times Peter Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2016 – The Shadow Prize Winner

After several hours of delightful debate and discussion (oh and some amazing cake) last Saturday the Shadow Judges (myself, Kim ofReading Matters, Eric of LonesomeReader, Naomi of The Writes of Women and Charlie of The Worm Hole independendly chaired by the lovely Dan Dalton of Buzzfeed) for the Sunday Times Peter Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award 2016 chose our winner…  An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It by Jessie Greengrass.

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It was a very, very tough decision as the shortlist was so, so, so, so good. We are all thrilled with the result as we think this collection of short stories is incredible and Jessie is going to be an author you all need to keep your eyes on. I would highly recommend you go and get your mitts on it along with the rest of the shortlist which I will leave links for below.

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Oh and I did mention that I would be giving away the shortlist to one lucky reader of the blog and, drawn at random, that lucky reader is… anneinsouthampton, so do email me Anne with your details and I will get them out in the post to you next week.

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Charlie, Eric, Dan, Naomi, me and Kim

The official winner will be announced next Thursday evening, the 8th of December, do you think our winner will match theirs?

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