My 20 Books of Summer Wrap-Up!

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The 20 Books of Summer reading challenge has now ended and I’m so happy to say that, for the first time ever, I read all of the books on my planned TBR! Woo Hoo! I’ve always managed to read at least 20 books over the summer but I have never, ever managed to stick to my planned list. I picked 20 physical books this time so it was an even bigger challenge for me so I really am proud of myself for completing it. I didn’t get around to reviewing the books I read but I do intend to review at least some of them soon.

Before I go any further, a huge thank you to Cathy at 746 Books for running this challenge. I really do love taking part each year.

Here are the books I read over the summer (in the order I read them).

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

A Question of Trust by Penny Vincenzi

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

Still Lives by Maria Hummell

Take Me In by Sabine Durrant

Inhuman Resources by Pierre LeMaitre

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

The Word for Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

Histories by Sam Guglani

We Own the Sky by Luke Allnutt

A Keeper by Graham Norton

Nevermoor #1: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

 

I have to say that I enjoyed every single book that was on my summer TBR, which is really something! I think if I was pushed to pick my favourites I would have to say that my favourite two novels were The Goldfinch and The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, and my two favourite non-fiction books were After the Eclipse and Take Courage. It was bittersweet reading A Question of Trust with it being the final book by Penny Vincenzi but I enjoyed it so much that I now want to make time to re-read some of her other novels.

The page count for my 20 books came to 7597, which is no surprise really considering how long The Goldfinch is and A Question of Trust is pretty huge too!

The fact that this year I made time to read my planned summer TBR as well as the other books that I needed to read (books for review and blog tour books) meant I was successful at completing this TBR. I’ve never done well with TBRs – I’m one of those people that absolutely loves planning what I’m going to read, and then the minute the challenge starts I want to read everything but what’s on my list! This time I planned it better and I feel so satisfied at getting to books that had been on my TBR bookcase for quite a while. I had a couple of books on my list that I’ve put off because they felt like they might be more difficult reads (like The Word for Woman is Wilderness for example) but I found I enjoyed them so much. It reminded me that I perhaps need to make a seasonal TBR to remind me of the books that I want to read but am intimidated by.

This year’s 20 Books of Summer has been absolutely wonderful and I already can’t wait for the next one! How did your summer reading go? Did you take part in the challenge? I hope you read some amazing books. 🙂

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Best Books of 2019… So Far!

Best Books of 2019 So far!

By the end of June this year I’d already read 162 books so I thought it might be nice to write a post about my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far. Some were published this year and some were published a while ago but all are books that I’ve read and loved between 1st January and 30th June this year!

These books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So without further ado…

 

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Senseless by Anna Lickley

This book had to be on my list because it has such an honest portrayal of what it is to have a disability. I could identify with a lot in this novel and it’s so rare to see myself represented in a novel in this way so I feel a real connection to this book. It’s a really good novel all-round and I recommend it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

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Song of the Robin by R.V. Biggs

This is a book I almost didn’t pick up but I am so glad I did because it’s such a brilliant novel. There is a real mystery running through the book, which had me enthralled. I also really connected with the exploration of grief. My full review is here.

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The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This is quite a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about it so I had to include it in this post. This is a novel that rewards the reader taking their time with it and once you’re invested it will have you hooked all the way to the end. I loved the way it captured how life is, how grief is and how time feels during pivotal moments in life. My review is here.

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The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I read this book very early on this year and it has really stayed with me. It’s a book that really looks at what it’s like to live in a small community and what happens when idle gossip fuels a rumour. I loved this book. My review is here.

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This novel is such a brilliant look at domestic violence from so many angles and I found it really got under my skin. It’s such a great debut and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be out! My review is here.

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Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I was so excited to read this book and it completely and utterly lived up to my expectations. It’s a gorgeous feel-good novel! My review is here.

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Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is beautiful – it’s funny and moving and just such a heart-warming novel to read. It’s definitely a book that I want to re-read at some point. Here is my review.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is a recent read but Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors and I loved The Goldfinch so much that it had to make my list. I haven’t managed to review this one yet but I hope to soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend it!

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The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I found this book so gripping and moving, it had me under its spell from start to finish (and beyond because I still think of it now) so I had to have this one in my list! My review is here.

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Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! It was such an incise look at how modern life is, at our obsessions with social media and appearing like we have the most perfect lives. It is shocking and moving, and I still can’t stop thinking about this novel! My full review is here.

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Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This is such a brilliant thriller novel. It’s a prescient novel but also such a stunning read. My review is here.

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Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

I adored this book! It’s a look at what happens when someone is told they have three months to live but it’s such a life-affirming, uplifting read in spite of what has happened. It’s wonderful and I recommend it! My review is here.

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A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This novel is the most stunning and accurate portrayal I have ever read about what it is to be a sibling. I found it breathtaking at times and I know this is a book I will be thinking about for a long time to come. My review is here.

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was the very first book I read in 2019, and what a way to start a new year! This is such a stunning novel and it felt like such a treat to read it. I’m sad I didn’t manage to review it but I highly recommend it all the same!

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The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

I listened to this book on audio and I just got lost in it. It’s such a beautifully written novel about the aftermath of the war on four characters, and I just loved it. I want everyone to read this book! My review is here.

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The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I only read this psychological thriller very recently but it couldn’t not be on my list of best books. This is one of the best books in this genre that I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My review is here.

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The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I started reading this book one afternoon and I literally didn’t look up from the page until I finished reading. This is an incredible and stunning novel, one that will stay with me. My review is here.

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The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I read this book out in the garden over a couple of lovely sunny afternoons and I just got lost in its pages. There is a dreamlike quality to this novel and I still feel slightly under its spell now! My review is here.

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I part-read and part-listened to this book and I loved every single second of it. It’s one of my all-time favourite audio books and I highly recommend it. I haven’t managed to post a review yet but I plan on doing so soon.

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The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This was one of my picks for my 20 Books of Summer and I completely and utterly feel in love with this novel. It’s such a gorgeous novel that is both laugh out loud funny, and heartbreakingly moving. I adored it and hope to review it soon.

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Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is amazing. I still don’t feel like I can do justice to it, I still feel like it’s got a hold on me that I can’t explain. My review is here and I just urge you to please go read this book if you haven’t already!

 

 

What are your favourite books of 2019 so far? I’d love to know!

 

 

 

 

That Was The Month That Was… May 2019!

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May was a month filled with books. I read 34 books this month – a mix of print, ebook and audiobooks and most were very good reads. This has been a bumper month of reading and I put it down to the lovely sunny days we had where I got to sit out in the garden, and then not been too well so needing more time to take it easy.

I was thrilled to discover that my blog now has over 9000 followers as of late May. Thank you to all of you that have stuck with my blog over the years, and to my newer followers, I appreciate you all.

Thank you also to everyone who has commented on my posts throughout May. I’ve been really struggling to type this month, and also with my eyes (looking at screens for more than a few minutes at a time is giving me awful headaches) so haven’t managed to keep up with replying but I do read and appreciate each one. I will try and reply to some of them but I likely won’t get to them all, so I’m saying thank you here.

 

Here are the books I read in May:

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

I loved this book about Mary, a menopausal probation officer who has reached the end of her tether. It’s a darkly comedic book and one that I think I’ll re-read at some point. Here’s my review.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

This is a novel that captured my heart in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Tyler is such a great character and I was rooting for him to find a way to escape from the life his older brother had trapped him in. My review is here.

The Furies by Katie Sise

I enjoyed this novel about a group of teenage girls and the element of witchcraft that they are obsessed with. I plan to review it soon.

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

This was a really good novel about the fall out from adoption and what happens when you keep secrets. I reviewed it here.

Missing Molly by Natalie Barelli

I bought this on a whim in a kindle sale and it was an okay read. I found it a bit too predictable overall but at the same time it did keep mew reading to the end.

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

This novel is beautiful and mysterious and I very much enjoyed it. I’m so glad that I was given the chance to read this for the blog tour as I’m not sure I’d have picked it up otherwise but now I’m a fan of the author and will definitely seek out other books by him. My review is here.

Keep Her Close by M. J. Ford

I listened to this on audio book and really enjoyed it. This is definitely a series that I will continue on with and so I’ll be eagerly looking out for the third book to be published!

How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

I still can’t resist books about organising homes so this one caught my eye. I actually enjoyed this one and as I struggle with pain and fatigue it was really helpful in showing me how even in just a very short period of time I can still have a housework routine.

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham

I feel very torn about this book – there were parts of it that I loved but also a lot of parts of it that felt very self-indulgent. I do enjoy Cunningham’s writing but this isn’t his best work.

10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe

I loved this thoughtful and moving novel about a teenage girl coming to terms with the death of her dad, and her subsequent depression. She finds a list he’s left and spends her last year at school trying to complete it. My review is here.

The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen

I won a copy of this in a giveaway earlier this year and it caught my eye on my shelf as I was in the mood for an essay collection. I actually really enjoyed reading this and it’s reminded me how much I enjoy reading essays.

We Are Not Such Things by Justine van der Luen

I’d heard good things about this book so when I spotted it on Scribd I decided to listen to it. I found it such a fascinating book about the murder of a young woman and the subsequent tensions in the area. It wasn’t exactly the book the synopsis made out it would be but it was still a really interesting read.

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor

I loved this fast-paced YA thriller and would recommend it!

Sunburn by Laura Lippman

I listened to this on Scribd having read some good reviews. I enjoyed it but I didn’t feel as gripped by it as I’d hoped I would be. I’ll definitely look out for more books by this author though as I loved the way the book was written.

At The Birth of Bowie by Phil Lancaster

I can’t seem to read enough biographies of David Bowie so I was looking forward to this one about his first band. I really enjoyed the stories in this book but it wasn’t quite as well written as I would have liked. I’d still recommend it if you’re a Bowie fan.

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

I loved this debut novel! I won’t say anymore here as I’ll be sharing my full review tomorrow. I will say that I highly recommend it though!

The Family Man by Tim Lebbon

This is a book that had been on my TBR for ages so I decided to make the effort to read it this month. Unfortunately I didn’t get on with it all that well. It did keep me reading until the end but it wasn’t really for me.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Orinkan Braithwaite

I’m so glad I picked this book up because it was so good and deserves all the praise it’s been getting. I was fascinated by the two sisters in the novel and the way their relationship works. This is a book that is really staying with me.

Take Me to the Edge by Katya Boirand

This is a beautiful poetry collection that also has fabulous photographs in it. I loved reading this and it’s a book that I will go back and dip in and out of in the future. I’ve already reviewed this one here.

Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

This was such a funny novel but also a book that made me think. It’s a book all about whether the grass is always greener. I recommend it! My review is here.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

I’ve had the audio book of this for ages but it felt like I’d missed the moment to read it. Then I saw that a follow-up book is coming out soon so I decided to listen to this one now. There wasn’t much in here that I hadn’t already heard but it was still shocking to hear all this stuff in the one book.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

Sadly I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I’d hoped, I think perhaps I’m the wrong age for it. Also I couldn’t even identify with the characters when I thought back to how I’d been at their age. I did love the writing though and am planning on reading Normal People as part of my 20 books of summer challenge!

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I enjoyed it. I’ll be reviewing this book later this month so please keep your eye out for that!

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I completely and utterly fell in love with this novel, it was absolutely brilliant! I’m so glad that I finally picked it up. I enjoyed it so much that I now want to go back and re-read The Mill on the Floss. It was studying that novel under pressure at Uni that put me off reading anymore Eliot but reading a classic in my own time was wonderful and I feel sure that re-reading The Mill on the Floss with fresh eyes might be a completely different experience.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I read this book in one afternoon because I just couldn’t put it down. It’s heartbreaking novel but so beautifully written. I hope to get my thoughts together soon so I can review it.

The Wych Elm by Tana French

I got an ARC of this but I also bought the audio book so I could part-read and part-listen and I’m so glad I did because it was such a brilliant book. I’m a fan of Tana French anyway but I think this might be my new favourite book by her. I hope to get my review posted on here soon!

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I read this book out in my garden over the course of a couple of sunny afternoons and it was sheer perfection! This is such a haunting, yet gorgeous book and I loved it. This is a book that will stay with me. I’ll be sharing my review later this month for the blog tour.

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This is a book that really got to me. It’s about three siblings and is told from each of their perspectives. It’s such a brilliant portrayal of sibling relationships and I adored it. I’m still getting my thoughts in order on this one but I definitely recommend it!

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

This is another book about siblings – two sisters and their partners. It’s a look at family ties and where loyalties lie. This book got to me way more than I thought it would, it’s a brilliant read. I’ll review it once I get my thoughts together!

The Holiday by T. M. Logan

This is a gripping thriller about four women who’ve been friends since their university days and are now turning 40. They go on holiday with their respective husbands and children and as secrets and lies are uncovered one of the party ends up dead! I will be reviewing this one soon but in the meantime I recommend pre-ordering it for your summer holiday reading!

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

I got a copy of this from NetGalley and then discovered the audio book on Scribd so I part-listened and part-read this. I really enjoyed it and was drawn to reading it every spare minute I could find. I’ll review this properly soon!

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

There’s a sticker on the front of this book warning that the reader will burn through it in one sitting and it turns out that’s absolutely true! Once I started reading this I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down until I’d read to the end. I very much enjoyed this book and will be sharing my review later this month.

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

This book was wonderful. It’s a book that I’d been much anticipating and it more than lived up to my hopes for it. I’ll be reviewing it later this month for the blog tour.

We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

I just finished reading this last night. It was a good read but it was lacking the emotional resonance that I was expecting it to have.

 

 

May Blog Posts & Reviews:

I managed to post reviews of fourteen books in May, which I’m really pleased with. I’m still reading more books than I’m managing to review but it feels good to be getting some written up and posted. I also wrote shared my regular weekly This Week in Books posts, my Stacking the Shelves posts.

I started off May by wrapping up Aprilwhich had been a good month of reading and blogging. I then reviewed The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir, which was such a fun audio book that I now plan on reading the rest of this series! My next review was of Doug Johnstone’s Breakers, which was a book that really got under my skin and I’m still thinking about now. I then read and reviewed The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond for the blog tour. This was a novel about adoption and was a great story plus it made me think. My next review was of R. V. Biggs’ Song of the Robin. I’m so glad that I was offered a chance to read this book because it is such a beautiful, surprising book and I highly recommend it. I was delighted to have the chance to read and review a wonderful poetry collection in May – Take Me to the Edge by Katya Boirand. This is a gorgeous book and one I will definitely continue to enjoy.  Next I did a summer thriller recommendations post which encompassed mini reviews of four really enjoyable novels (The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke, The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath, Don’t Turn Around by Amanda Brooke and Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox!).  I then read and reviewed a wonderful novel about a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father in 10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keeffe. The next book I reviewed was a brilliant, darkly comedic novel about menopausal Mary and I loved it – The Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald is one I won’t forget! After that I took part in the blog tour for Helene Fermont’s Because of You and shared my review. I was then hugely excited to finalise my planned TBR for the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge! It was hard to decide on a definite 20 but I got there in the end and I can’t wait to start reading! I was thrilled to be invited to read Jennie Ensor’s new novel Not Having It All for the blog tour and got to share my review a few days ago. I loved this book and recommend it! And last but most definitely not least I shared my review of The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner yesterday. This book has such an impact on me and I know I won’t ever forget it.

 

The state of my TBR:

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So my TBR…. Well, I’m starting to think that I’m wasting my time updating it here because I just can’t seem to control my book buying! At the start of May I had 2526 books on my TBR and now, even though I read so many books in May, my TBR stands at 2538! It’s only an increase of 12 but when I look at my plan to reduce my TBR by 20 each month this year my TBR should currently be at 2347! I just can’t resist the books! I am going to cut down a tiny bit on blog tours after June so that I can focus on reading the books I already own. I also need to try and stay away from NetGalley so that I can’t be tempted! Wish me luck!

 

 


 

How was May for you? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

This Week in Books (22 May 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

The Wych Elm by Tana French

I’ve had the ARC of this book on my TBR for a little while now but decided to buy the audio book so I could part listen and part read. I picked it up yesterday and I’ve already read over half of it. It’s such an engrossing read, I’m loving it as much as her murder squad series so far!

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

I also picked this up yesterday and am already completely invested in learning more about the family in this novel. It’s such a good book and I’m really looking forward to getting back to it tonight. Plus, hasn’t it got the most stunning cover?!

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

I’m really enjoying this novel too and it seems I’m all about family orientated novels this week as this one is about two sisters and their partners, but we know from the prologue that something terrible is going to happen to one of them. It’s really good so far!

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I’m loving this book so much. It’s about three sisters who went missing but only one came back. Now it’s a few years later but the mystery is still haunting for the people who were around at the time. It’s beautifully written and I’m deliberately reading this one slowly.

The Holiday by T. M. Logan

This is a really great read and perfect for these sunny days, I’d recommend it for your holiday reading this summer. The sun and heat in the book really comes through and the drama between a group of old friends and their families is gripping!

 

Then

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I’ve been reading this a bit every day for the past four weeks and I’ve absolutely loved it. I finished the novel yesterday and I’m kicking myself for not reading this sooner. I don’t know when classics started feeling intimidating to me because they never used to but Middlemarch has reminded me why I love them and I will make more effort to read them from now on.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I read this whole novel on one afternoon as it gripped me from the opening chapter and I just couldn’t put it down. It’ll be a hard back to review as I wouldn’t want to accidentally spoil anything but I will try and get a post up soon. In the meantime I definitely  recommend this one!

We Never Said Goodbye by Helene Fermont

I’m reading this one for a blog tour next month and I really enjoyed it. It’s the second novel I’ve read by this author and I do find that I get swept away in her novels.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

This was my second attempt with this novel and I’m sorry to say that while I did finish it it wasn’t for me. It did work better on audio than when I was reading it but I just couldn’t connect with the characters at all. It might be that I’m older than them and it didn’t reflect how I was at their age at all. I will say that the parts of the book when Frances suffers with her periods was brilliantly written, I don’t think I’ve read a novel that shows what this is like as well as this book does. I have Normal People on my TBR so I will read that at some point.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

I bought the audio book of this in an Audible sale last year but because I didn’t listen to it sooner it felt like I’d missed the right moment. Then I saw that the author has another book on Trump coming out soon so decided I would listen to this. It was I thought it would be and even though I knew most of this stuff about Trump it was still eye-opening.

Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

I read and loved Jennie’s previous novel last year (my review is here if you’d like to read it) so was thrilled to be offered the chance to read her new book. This is completely different to The Girl In His Eyes but it still showcases Jennie’s fabulous writing. I very much enjoyed this book and will be sharing my review on 30 May.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I’ve been so looking forward to reading this one and I’m so happy to say that I loved it. It’s about a woman who’s sister is a serial killer but it’s more about their relationship and how they are with each other. I recommend this one!

 

Next

The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett

I’ve been really looking forward to reading this book ever since I first heard about it. It’ll be my first book by this author and I’ve read so many great reviews of her previous books so I feel sure that I’m going to love this!

Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this book next month so have an ARC to read for that. I really like the premise for this novel and am really keen to start reading it.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’ve had an ARC of this novel for a while now but somehow haven’t managed to read it yet. I keep hearing amazing things about it and I definitely want to read it really soon – hopefully in the coming week.

 


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Music Monday: In My Life by The Beatles

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Today is my first time taking part in Music Monday (started by Drew at thetattoedbookgeek)! I keep meaning to join in but then time gets away from me. This week seemed a good time to start though as I wanted to pay tribute to my mum by sharing one of her favourite songs. It’ll be ten years this week since she died, and I miss her. My mum loved music and always had a record on when I was growing up – I definitely got my eclectic taste in music from her. 🙂

 

I’m unable to share the video on my blog but here is a link to the song on youtube.

 

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Rubber Soul by The Beatles 

 

In My Life is taken from the album Rubber Soul (I’ve pinched the photo above from my husband’s instagram – he’s a big music fan so you can follow him here if you’d like to).

 

The lyrics in In My Life are so poignant – they meant a lot to my mum (and to me now). She always used to turn the radio up full blast whenever this song came on and I can still hear her now telling me to shush for two minutes while she listened and sang along.

 

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more

 

 

2018 Reading Reflections, Statistics and Plans for Tackling My TBR in 2019!

You deserve the best and nothing less. We love you!

So this week I’ve posted my favourite novels read in 2018 and my favourite non-fiction books. Yesterday it was Reading Bingo time so today that means it’s my chance to reflect on my reading through 2018 and to share some of my stats!

I always set a reading goal on Goodreads as I enjoy tracking my reading on there throughout the year. I set my 2018 goal at 200 and I’m gobsmacked that in the end I read 290 books! This is the most I’ve read in a year since I started keeping track of my reading so I’m delighted.

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The longest book I read in 2018 was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – my copy had 1006 pages in it! It’s not my normal type of book but I very much enjoyed it and I flew through it. The shortest book was a Christmas short story called Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Mary Jane Forbes at just 13 pages. I read quite a lot of longish books in 2018 but a lot of the Christmas books I read were short which brought my average page count down a little. I still averaged 324 pages per book over the year though, which I’m really happy with as it means I’m not reading short books to get my numbers up (something I have done in the past!). I actually read 93,863 pages over the year (Goodreads has a couple of books that don’t seem to have a page count).

 

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The above picture shows all of my four and five star reads from 2018. It’s lovely to have read so many great books over a year. I have rated some books lower than that but I just wanted to show the books that I’ve really loved. 🙂

 

I’m still hooked on tracking my reading on a spreadsheet and actually use two as I found them both online and each one tracks different data (and I’m nowhere near savvy enough to know how to combine them so I shall continue to use them both!).

 

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Out of the 290 books I read last year 222 were by female authors and 60 were by male authors. The remaining 8 were co-authored. In 2017 I read 72% female authors and in 2018 this increase to 78% of my reading. This isn’t conscious and it was a surprise to me that the percentage was so high for female writers. I am wondering if I should try to balance this more this year or whether to carry on just reading as I am and seeing how it goes.

 

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I read fairly steadily throughout the year but my December reading has skewed things a bit. I did read a lot of books in the run up to Christmas but quite a few were really short books or poetry collections so it seems like I read more than I did. Having said that I did read a lot of pages in the month so it’s averaged out.

 

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I am pleased to see that I’ve read a reasonable spread of genres in 2018. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t read more non-fiction over the year – I did read 79 books but that only makes up 26.5% of my reading. I aim for around a third of my reading to be non-fiction so I want to focus more on this in 2019. I did feel like I’ve read a lot of thrillers last year and on this graph you can definitely see that this was my go-to genre over the year. I am pleased that I did get some other fiction, some poetry and even some science fiction in there though as I’m trying to keep trying different things with my reading. Overall I’m happy with the spread of what I read, and most importantly I enjoyed such a lot of what I read.

 

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I’ve been tracking the diversity of the books I’ve read in 2018 because the spreadsheet I used had it on there. It’s quite interesting to see how diverse (or not) my reading has been. I’m pleased that half of the books I read were diverse in some way but part of me wishes the percentage was greater. I don’t want to become too focused on these stats but I will make more effort to read more widely over the year ahead.

 

My TBR at the start of 2018 was 2757 books (this is print, ebooks and audio combined), which is all the books that I already own but haven’t read yet. I did want to try and be more mindful of my reading to book buying ratio over the year as I wanted to try and get to some of the books that have been on my shelves for a long time. I was hoping to reduce my TBR by around 200 books over the course of the year and so I’m really pleased to see that I ended 2018 with fewer books than I started with! I ended up with 2447 owned books, which is a reduction of 310 so I’m happy with that. This is from a combination of reading so many books over the year but also as part of my decluttering I accepted that there were books on my shelves that had been there for years that just don’t interest me anymore (so they went to the charity shop). In 2019 I think I’ll keep the same approach to my huge TBR – not to be too hard myself but to try and balance reading new books and review books with getting to books that have been languishing on my shelves for a long time.

 

So all-in-all 2018 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2019 (and attempting to reduce my TBR even further)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2019? If you’ve written a post about your reading reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.

 

 

 

 

 

Author Kate Vane shares her thoughts on memory in today’s post! #BrandNewFriend @k8vane

 

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Kate Vane, author of Brand New Friend, to my blog. Kate is sharing a fascinating post about memory and how easily things can become mixed up in our heads.

 

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One of the genres I love to read, but would hate to write, is historical fiction. I love the way that the best authors make the world of the past come alive, saving me the trouble of doing all the reading and research and weighing up the merits of the various sources.

However, I thought I would have no difficulty in setting the flashbacks in Brand New Friend in eighties Leeds. After all, I was there. But drawing on your memories is not as straightforward as it first seems. 

We mix things up. Each time we retrieve a memory, we potentially corrupt it, throwing in new details, erasing others, while being convinced by the veracity of what we recall. I found this when I came to fact-check my own head. A song that I thought was part of the soundtrack of my student days in Leeds was actually released a couple of years later. Conversely, I had forgotten that pound coins came out a couple of years earlier. 

I had one scene where two of my characters each go to the bar with their own pound note. When I checked, both notes and coins were in circulation at that time so I decided not to change it. I thought it was a nice image – and it showed the characters didn’t want to be stuck with each other after they had bought their drinks! 

Facts can be verified but it’s more tricky to regain the mindset of 30 years ago. What was it like when we didn’t have mobile phones? Most of us didn’t even have landlines in our student houses. You went to a pay phone if you had to call someone. Your friends lived close by so you mostly just went round to see them, and probably stayed for the afternoon or the evening. Money was scarce but time seemed limitless.

If you arranged to meet someone in a pub and they didn’t turn up, you just went home. You didn’t have that exhausting process where people send you texts every five minutes to make minor refinements to the arrangement (or even more absurdly, to tell you that they are progressing towards your agreed rendezvous exactly as planned). 

You only owned a few albums and played them to death, because they were relatively expensive, and you taped them and swapped tapes with people. If you really liked someone you made a compilation. If you knocked out the small squares on the top of the cassette it stopped you recording over it, but if you changed your mind, you could put tape over the holes. 

Although the characters and the story are fictional, I did draw on certain locations. For example the shared house where Paolo lives has the same layout as one of the houses I lived in. Like the characters in the book we spent a lot of time in the living room listening to music, and some of our friends were musicians and used to bring their instruments round and play. 

Now, when I try to picture how we were back then, the room seems really crowded. There are the people who were actually there, whose features have faded over time, and there are figures of characters from the story, who are newer and therefore more vivid. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the two. 

Beware of drawing on your memories because, like one of those home tapes, you are in danger of overwriting them!

 

About Brand New Friend

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

Friend. Liar. Killer?

BBC foreign correspondent Paolo Bennett is exiled to a London desk – and the Breakfast sofa – when he gets a call from Mark, a friend from university in eighties Leeds. Paolo knew Mark as a dedicated animal rights activist but now a news blog has exposed him as an undercover police officer. Then Mark’s former police handler is murdered.

Paolo was never a committed campaigner. He was more interested in women, bands and dreaming of a life abroad. Now he wonders if Mark’s exposure and his handler’s murder might be linked to an unexplained death on campus back when they were friends. What did he miss?

Paolo wants the truth – and the story. He chases up new leads and old friends. From benefit gigs and peace protests, to Whatsapp groups and mocktail bars, the world has changed, but Mark still seems the same. 

Is Mark the spy who never went back – who liked his undercover life better than his own? Or is he lying now? Is Paolo’s friend a murderer?

Buy from Amazon: https://mybook.to/brandnewfriend

 

 

About Kate Vane

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Kate Vane writes (mostly) crime fiction. Brand New Friend is her fourth novel.

She has written for BBC drama Doctors and has had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.

She lived in Leeds for a number of years where she worked as a probation officer. She now lives on the Devon coast.

You can find Kate at the links below:

Website: https://katevane.com

Twitter: @k8vane

Facebook: /k8vane

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

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My TBR for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge!

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I’ve decided, at the last minute, that I’m going to take part in the 20 books of summer challenge again set up by Cathy at 746 Books. Last year I did read 20 books over the summer but most of them weren’t books on my planned TBR and, due to life getting in the way, I don’t think I reviewed any of them.

This year I’ve chosen twenty physical books off my TBR that I definitely want to read soon. I do read a lot of ebooks and some audio books but it’s the physical books that are taking over my house so I’m going to try and only count physical books for this challenge!

So, without further ado here are my 20 books of summer…

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

This is a non-fiction book that feels like it’s going to be a heavy read; it’s also quite a long book but I do really want to get to this soon as I’ve seen really good reviews of it.

How To Be Human by Ruby Wax

I was sent this for review and it’s a book that was already on my radar as a book I must read so I definitely want to get to this. It sounds like a fascinating look at what makes us human!

Not That Kind of Love by Clare Wise and Greg Wise

I won an advance copy of this book last year and I really wanted to read it… but somehow it’s still on my TBR! It jumped out at me when I was sorting through my books recently so I’m hoping to get to it in the coming weeks.

Our House by Louise Candlish

I also won a signed copy of this a little while ago and as I’m a huge fan of Louise Candlish I want to read it very, very soon! It sounds like a really fast-paced, thrilling read so I’m looking forward to it.

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

This book has been on my TBR for ages and I’ve been really keen to read it but somehow haven’t picked it up yet. I’m hoping this summer will be the time!

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

I treated myself to this last year and it’s another book that I wanted to read asap… I’m sure I’ll get to it this summer though now I’ve put it on my TBR.

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

My husband bought me this book as an Easter gift and I so badly want to read it so I’m going to make time for it in the coming weeks.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is a review book that I was sent recently and I can’t wait to read it. It feels like it could be a book to read in summer so I’m adding it to this TBR.

Tell Me Lies by Rebecca Muddiman

I realise that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but this is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for ages. I don’t know why I keep doing this when it’s books that I really want to read.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave

This is a recent acquisition but it’s one that I want to get to while I’m still excited to read it so that it doesn’t end up languishing on the TBR mountain!

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

My husband bought me this book to cheer me up after an appointment and it feels like it’ll be perfect to read over the summer. I do love Zadie Smith’s writing to this should be a treat.

Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke

I read a review of this book a few weeks ago and immediately ordered a copy of the book. This is definitely a book to read in the warm, summer months and I can’t wait!

The Lido by Libby Page

I was sent a copy of this book for review and it simply has to be in my summer TBR as I’m keen to read it as soon as I can. It sounds like a gorgeous read and one that I will love.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

I was sent a surprise copy of this from the publisher and I kept it because it has a stunning cover and it sounds like a real me read. I’m hoping I get to this one soon as I’ve heard good things about it.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

I love Rachel Joyce’s writing so much (especially Harold Fry) so I don’t know why I haven’t read this one yet (I think it’s possibly that need to always have a book left to read by a favourite author!). I’m sure I’m going to love this book!

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

I received a copy of this in the post recently and it was a lovely surprise. I adored Ruth Hogan’s previous novel and so am really looking forward to reading this book.

You, Me and Everything by Jill Mansell

This is yet another novel that has been on my bookcase for ages. I’ve kept putting this one off because I think it might be a book that makes me cry but now it’s calling to me so it’s going on my summer TBR.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

I’ve had this book a while and I’ve not stopped being keen to read it and yet I haven’t got to it yet. I will make time to sit down with this over the summer.

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

I found this book on my bookcase during my recent sort out and I can’t think where it came from. I don’t remember buying it but when I read the blurb it sounded like a prescient book and one I felt I must read soon.

An Account of the Great Auk According to One Who Saw It by Jessie Greengrass

This is a short story collection that I’ve had for a while now and it really jumped out at me when I was sorting my bookcases so I’m determined to get to it this summer.

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So that’s my 20 books! I’m really excited to get to all of them so I have high hopes for actually completing this challenge this year! I feel like I’ve picked a good selection with a mix of crime & thriller, non-fiction, young adult, general fiction and a short story collection so hopefully I’ll get to read them all over the next few months!

Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you recommend I get to soon? What are you planning on reading over the coming months? Here’s to a summer filled with good books!

My Lovely Birthday Book Haul!

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It’s Stacking the Shelves day! Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

It was my birthday last weekend so today I’m sharing my birthday book haul! I was very spoilt for my birthday with lots of lovely gifts including some fabulous new books! My husband collects records in the same way I collect books so we understand each other and he never minds giving me books as gifts. I feel incredibly lucky!

 

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The gorgeous hardback of Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon! I did put this on my wish list as I read a proof copy and loved it so much that I knew I had to have a finished hardback as well.

 

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Spaceman by Mike Massimino

I’ve already read this book – I started it as soon as I finished opening my presents and I loved it so much. It’s such a good book, especially if you love the space shuttle and want to know more about how astronauts train.

 

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Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

I love Jenny Colgan’s books so I was super happy to open this gift. I’m excited to escape into this book soon.

 

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The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while but hadn’t actually seen it in real life until I opened my gift – it’s such a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m really looking forward to reading this short story collection!

 

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Relish by Prue Leith

I love Great British Bake Off and had seen Prue Leith interviewed on TV a couple of times while that was on and it seems like she has had a fascinating life. This book was such a surprise but I’m really keen to read it (it’s a doorstop of a book though so it might take me a little while!).

 

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The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim

This book is so gorgeous and it’s one I’m really intrigued to read soon. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 18 months or so working on health stuff and that includes regular mindfulness and mediation so this book seems like it will be a perfect read for me.

 

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The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie, N or M? by Agatha Christie, By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie, and Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

I’ve been enjoying re-reading some Agatha Christie books in recent years but I somehow never read the Tommy and Tuppence series so I’m looking forward to reading this set of books.

 

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Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore

This poetry collection sounds like it will be an emotional read but it’s a book I definitely want to read when I’m in the right frame of mind for it. I was excited to get a copy of it for my birthday.

 

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Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

I’ve been so keen to get hold of this book and almost bought it on ebook recently so I’m glad I didn’t because the hardback is stunning. I love Jon McGregor’s writing so this book will be a real treat to read.

 

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The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood

This hardback is another book that is so lovely and my photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a beautiful book with glossy photos and I’ve enjoyed looking through it. I’m excited to read it soon.

 

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I also got a Nirvana record, a gorgeous dressing gown, some lovely new toiletries, a bag, money and book vouchers! So I was very spoilt… 🙂

 


 

So that’s my most recent book haul! Have you got any new books this week? If you join in with Stacking the Shelves or if you’ve done a book haul on your blog this week please feel free to leave your link below.

 

My January Wrap-Up post!

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January has been a strange old month. I always struggle with January as it comes filled with a lot of sad memories for me.

It was my birthday though, which I find tough but my husband made it really lovely for me. He cooked a lush meal in the evening and we shared a bottle of wine while I opened the pile of presents that he gave me. I got some fab new books so will be doing a book haul very soon!

I read a lot of fabulous books in January so my reading year is off to a great start! I can’t pick a favourite from the books that I read, they were all very enjoyable reads.

I didn’t manage to review as many books in January as I’d hoped to as I had a wobbly MacBook but I did get a few blog posts up and now my MacBook appears to be fixed I’m hoping to catch up on my reviews very soon.

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I hadn’t read this in many years and couldn’t remember whodunnit so it was great to read this again with fresh eyes in a new edition. I really enjoyed this mystery and it got my reading year of to a brilliant start!

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was a really good crime thriller novel. It was ideal to read around the festive period but it could be read at another time of year if you’re keen to get to it.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This was an ARC so I will be reviewing it soon. I found it really made me think about the nature of forgiveness and gave me a lot to ponder on.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

I’d had this ARC on my TBR for a while but when I finally read it I enjoyed it. It was an interesting novel about family dynamics and how and why people disappear.

South and West by Joan Didion

I read Blue Nights last year and found it to be a really honest memoir about the loss of her daughter so I was keen to pick this travel memoir up. I find that I get utterly engrossed in her writing and I adore it.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

I got completely lost in this novel, it was such a prescient book and one that I’m still thinking about. I have already reviewed this one so you can read my thoughts here.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

I read this novel in just two sittings (and the only reason that it wasn’t one sitting was because it was late at night and I needed sleep), it had me hooked right to the very end!

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This was an audiobook and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a must read for fans of Orange is the New Black.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a long time and was hesitant to pick this up as I’d seen mixed reviews. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long though as I really did enjoy this quirky and interesting novel.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

This book was so good! It grabbed me from the start and had me engrossed into it right to the very end.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I got this book for Christmas and was so pleased as I’d been keen to read it. I read it in one sitting and it was such an interesting book – both funny and heartbreaking at the same time. It was certainly eye-opening!

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I’ve kept hearing about this book and when it won the Costa biography award I had to pick it up. I got the audiobook and found it really engrossing listening to this true story.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This book was just incredible. I read it on a weekend when I badly needed solace and this book gave me that and so much more as well. I’m still struggling to finish my review because I loved it so much. This is definitely a new favourite and I already want to re-read it!

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to this book on audio and really enjoyed it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can find out more of my thoughts here.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book on release day and read it in one go. It’s a heartbreaking read but it’s such an honest and open memoir.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This is another book that I’ve loved this year. It was so refreshing to read a book that is told in two timelines going in different directions and I very much enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Break by Marian Keyes

I struggled to get into this the first time I picked it up but I gave it another chance at the weekend and I’m so glad I did because I loved it.

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a book that I got for my birthday at the weekend and after looking through all of my birthday books this was the one that called me to me the most. I read it in two sittings and I loved every minute of reading this book.

Winter by Ali Smith

This book took me a little while to read as I was struggling to physically hold the hardback but the novel itself was brilliant. This is another book that I feel sure will be in my favourites list at the end of this year!

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

My 2017 reading reflections and plans for 2018, and the state of my TBR

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

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The state of my TBR:

I made the decision to work on my TBR more seriously this year; to try and read more of the books I already own rather than accumulating a lot more. I started the year with 2756 (this is books that I own)! Over the month it’s held steady-ish as I’ve been good at resisting buying too many books and I’ve also been better at DNFing books that I’m not enjoying. I had a little clear out too and got rid of a few books. Then at the end of the month it was my birthday and I got some books and also some book vouchers so my TBR has gone up again. I’m really pleased with myself overall that my current TBR is now 2752, which is four books less than it was on the first day of the year!

 


 

How was your January? I hope you all had a good month and that you read lots of good books. Did you read many books? What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know. Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your month’s wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read and comment back. 🙂

Reading Bingo Results for 2017!

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I really enjoyed looking through my reading at the end of 2016 to see if I could complete this reading bingo so I couldn’t resist having another go at it today to see if my reading in 2017 could fill the whole square. I didn’t plan my reading around the bingo, I’m purely looking back at the books I read to see if they fit! Here goes…

 

A book with more than 500 pages

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I read a few books that were over 500 pages last year but I’m choosing this book because it has 849 pages and was the longest book I read in 2017!

 

A forgotten classic

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The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

I’m not 100% sure that this counts as a forgotten classic but it’s the only book that I read last year that sort of counts so I’m using it for this square. It’s a brilliant novel so if you haven’t read it already I definitely recommend it.

A book that became a movie

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m intrigued to see how they’ve gone about making the movie adaptation when it comes out later this year!

A book published this year

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Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

This book was published in 2017 in ebook and I loved it. If you want to read my review on it please click the title above.

A book with a number in the title

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Three Days and A Life by Pierre LeMaitre

I read a few books with a number in the title last year but I’m using this one for this square because it’s one of those books that really got under my skin and I still think about it. I love this author’s writing.

 

A book written by someone under thirty

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Sofa So Good by Scarlett Moffatt

I was unsure how many of the books I read last year had authors under 30 but I knew Scarlett Moffatt definitely was and I very much enjoyed this book so decided to choose it for this square!

 

A book with non-human characters

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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This is a wonderful novel about a man who on a missionary trip to another planet, so this novel features alien beings.

 

A funny book

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How to be Champion by Sarah Millican

This is a funny book, because Sarah Millican is a very funny person so it counts as my choice for the funny book square. The book is also very honest and moving and I recommend it. You can read my review if you click the title above.

A book by a female author

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Most of the books that I read last year were by female authors so there were many books that I could have picked for this square but I decided to go with this one as it’s a book that I really enjoyed.

A book with a mystery

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I picked this book for my mystery square because it’s such a good novel with more than one mystery at its heart. I read most of this book in one sitting because I just had to know.. and the reveal when it came was stunning!

A book with a one-word title

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Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir

I wanted to feature this book in a post looking over my reading as it was such a great read. It meets the criteria for this square and gives me a chance to shout about it again. The follow up to this book is one of my most eagerly anticipated books, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! You can read my full review if you click on the title above.

A book of short stories

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How Much the Heart Can Hold

This is a gorgeous short story collection and I very much enjoyed reading it. The stories are each written by a different author and some I loved more than others but all gave me something to think about.

 

A book set on a different continent

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This book is set in America and I live in the UK so it definitely meets the criteria for this square. It’s also another chance to shout about this brilliant novel that still lingers in my mind almost a year after I read it.

 

A book of nonfiction

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Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby

This is a brilliant book by a leading heart surgeon all about his time as a surgeon. It’s a very open and honest memoir, a book that really moved me. I recommend this if you haven’t already read it.

 

The first book by a favourite author

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

This is a bit of a cheat for this square but I’m counting it because it’s the first non-fiction book by my favourite author. This is an incredible book, it was my favourite non-fiction book of 2017 and I’m going to be recommending it for a long time to come. I already can’t wait to re-read it!

A book you heard about online

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The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I heard a lot of booktubers talking about this book a while ago and so I bought a copy. It then languished on my TBR for a little while but I finally picked it up last year. I really enjoyed reading about Helen Russell’s year in Denmark and I recommend this one.

A bestselling book

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The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This was such a great novel, I really enjoyed every minute of reading it. It really does look at female friendship and also how society views women. It’s a book that’s stayed with me and one I hope to re-read in the future. If you’d like to read my full review please click on the title above.

 

A book based on a true story

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

One Night in November by Amelie Antoine

This book was the first that came to mind when thinking of a book based on a true story because I actually picked this up thinking it was a work of non-fiction. It’s a really harrowing book where the writer explores the terrorist attack at the Bataclan in Paris. I read it because I’ve been exploring trauma again as I worked through my own PTSD last year. You can read my full review by clicking on the title above.

A book at the bottom of your to be read pile

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was on my TBR for around twenty years before I finally read it last year! I bought it the year it was first released in hardback and it’s been with me through three house moves. I always knew that I would read it one day but for some reason it intimidated me and I kept putting it off. I’m kicking myself now because I when I finally read it, I loved it.

 

A book your friend loves

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

I could have used a lot of books for this one as I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging and see many book recommendations. I chose this one as I’ve not seen anyone say that didn’t enjoy it. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. My review is in the link in the title if you’d like to know more.

A book that scares you

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This book really scared me! I knew it was going to scare me when I first got it and I wasn’t wrong. I ended up finishing this late at night because I simply had to know how it was going to end before I went to bed, and I was so glad my husband was home with me because I was properly unnerved! I highly recommend this one though, it’s so good. My full review can be found by clicking on the title!

A book that is more than 10 years old

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I chose Bel Canto for this square because it fits the criteria but also because it was a chance to feature it on my blog. I took a long time to come to this book but found it a beautifully written novel and one that really got to me. I recommend it.

The second book in a series

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Watch Me by Angela Clarke

I had a couple of books that I could have picked for this square but I went with this one because I’m really enjoying the Social Media series. I have the third one on my TBR but haven’t managed to get to it yet, I definitely plan to read it in 2018 though.

Book with a blue cover

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Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I picked this book for this square because this book is such a beautiful thing to behold. I have read it and while I enjoyed it it isn’t my favourite by this author, the book itself is gorgeous though.

Free Square!

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The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

I listened to the audio book of this between Christmas and New Year and I loved it so wanted to use this for my free square. I highly recommend this to all book lovers!

 

So I managed to complete my reading bingo for 2017, which I’m happy about! Have you filled in the reading bingo square for your reading last year? I’d love to know your results if you have.

WWW Wednesday (10 Jan)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

Winter by Ali Smith

This book was one of my Christmas gifts from my husband and it’s such an incredible novel. I’m deliberately reading it slowly because I want to savour it, to make sure I don’t miss a thing.

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

This book is so good! It’s one of those books that’s really hard to put down and I may even finish reading it before this post goes up. I’m on the blog tour for it on Friday so my review will be up then.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

I started reading this before Christmas but got side-tracked by Christmas reading. I’ve been wanting to get back to it though so I’ve picked it back up this week. It’s such a heartbreaking book but so important.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I can never resist a de-cluttering book and this is my latest pick! I’m enjoying reading this and making paragraphs that I can refer back to. It’s inspiring me to want to have another clear out in my house once I recover from this horrible lingering virus that I have.

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

This is my latest audio book and it’s okay. I was intrigued when I spotted it as it’s by the woman who inspired the character of Alex in Orange is the New Black. So far it’s not grabbing me but I want to give it a bit longer to see if it picks up.

 

What I recently finished reading:

South and West by Joan Didion

I picked this up after really enjoying reading Blue Nights towards the end of last year. South and West didn’t move me in the same way but it was a really fascinating read non-the-less. I recommend this one.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

This is a review book that has languished on my TBR for way longer than it should have but I’m pleased to say that when I read it over the last few days I enjoyed it. I’m hoping to get my review written and posted for next week so pleased look out for that.

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

This is a graphic non-fiction novel and I’ve been really keen to read it so I was thrilled to spot it on Netgalley recently. It’s a short book but it really made me think. Once I’ve digested it a bit more I will be writing a review on here.

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

This was such a good read for around Christmas time and I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s a fast-paced read and I really enjoyed it.

What I plan on reading next:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I’ve had this book on my review pile for a while now and time has got away from me but I’m finally going to make this one of my next reads. I’m really looking forward to this, it’s one of my anticipated reads of this year.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I’ve been saving this book to read this month because Joanna Cannon’s writing always feels like a solace. I’m planning to find an afternoon where I can just curl up and get lost in this book. It’s another of my highly anticipated reads for 2018.

Waco by David Thibodeau and Leon Whiteson

This is another review book and I’ve been really intrigued to read this one as I’ve always been fascinated by cults so this book caught my eye.

 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

2017 Reading Reflections, Bookish Plans for 2018 & The State of my TBR!

 

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I set myself a goal to read 200 books in 2017 and that felt like a good number – one that would push me to read instead of faffing about but also one that would allow me to read some bigger books that have been languishing on my bookcases for a while. I ended up reading 252 books, which is the most books I’ve read in a year since I started my Goodreads account and began tracking my reading in 2010!

 

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According to Goodreads the shortest book that I read was Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope, which was 39 pages long. It’s such a gorgeous book and was a joy to read in the run up to the festive period. The longest book I read was The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton at 849 pages long. I devoured this book over the course of a few days and I loved it. I was expecting it to be a bit of a trudge at times but it it really wasn’t. I do think it’s a book best enjoyed in big chunks though, I don’t think I would have followed it so well if I’d dipped in and out of it over a longer period. My average page count for the year was 325 pages, which I’m really happy with because that’s roughly the length of an average-ish book so it means I wasn’t reading short books to make up numbers.

I took on the Mount TBR 2017 challenge on Goodreads last year and I chose to try and read 100 books from my TBR that I owned before the 31 December 2016 and I’m so pleased that I achieved this. One of the books that made it onto my favourite novels of the year was The Poisonwood Bible, which I had owned unread for around TWENTY YEARS! I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because I loved it and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. I haven’t signed up for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge as yet but I probably will do as it’s a good way to give some attention to books that have been on my TBR for a while.

2017 was the first year that I properly tracked my reading in a spreadsheet and I have to say that I have ADORED being able to see how my reading pans out in much more detail and to track things that Goodreads doesn’t really enable me to do.

 

 

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I discovered from my spreadsheet in 2017 that of the 252 books I read over the year 182 of them (72%) were written by women. I didn’t consciously seek to read more female authors over the year so it was interesting that I read so many more women than men. I’m now interested to see if this is usual pattern in my read as I go into my second year of tracking my books on a spreadsheet.

 

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I read more books in December than any other month… 29 books! This is because around Christmas I do like to read some poetry and also some children’s Christmas books, which are often shorter than novels for adults. My page count for December was still high at 8480. Going by page count February was my biggest reading month coming in at 8495 pages spread over 26 books!

 

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It was interesting to see where my reading tastes lie over the course of a year and to see what genres I read the most of too. 31% of my reading was non-fiction (spread over general non-fiction and memoir), which works out at 79 books. I’m pleased with this in the sense that I did push myself out of my comfort zone a bit more with non-fiction and read some harder books. I would like to increase the ratio of non-fiction to fiction in 2018 if I can. My fiction reading is mostly split between general fiction and thriller/crime fiction, which doesn’t surprise me. I love thrillers and knew I’d read a lot of them last year.

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This is a breakdown of my entire owned books TBR by page-length…

As some of you may remember I started tracking my TBR part way through 2017 as I was trying to force myself to get it under control. I thought it would be interesting to do TBR maths on my wrap-up posts to try and stop buying more books than I was reading. This ended in complete and utter failure! I had a couple of months in the summer where I wasn’t really reading or blogging much but I was still buying books to cheer myself up. Then during a de-clutter of my house I found a whole load of books that had never been added to Goodreads so had never been counted on my TBR. It all felt a bit overwhelming so after my blogging break I decided to scrap tracking my TBR but I promised I would start again in 2018 and I will. This year I’m using Portal in the Pages‘ fab spreadsheet again and she has now included a page where you can add your entire TBR of books owned before the start of the year and the spreadsheet will keep a running total. I am excited beyond words at this… Well, I was until I realised just how big my TBR is! My entire TBR of books owned-but-not-read-yet stands at 2756 books! Eeeek! I really am going to curb my book accumulating this year and am going to make a real effort to reduce this number so will be tracking my TBR on my monthly wrap-up posts, and possibly on my weekly posts too.

So all-in-all 2017 was a great reading year and I’m really looking forward to reading my way through 2018 (and attempting to reduce my TBR)! How was your reading last year? Did you have any goals, and if so did you achieve them? What are your reading plans for 2018? If you’ve written a post about your bookish reflections please feel free to leave a link in the comments and I’ll make sure that I read it.

 

 

My Top Non-Fiction Reads from 2017!

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Today I’m sharing my top non-fiction books that I read in 2017! I posted my fiction favourites yesterday, which you can read here, and because I have read quite a lot of non-fiction over the last year it seemed fitting that it got its own list!

So, in no particular order here are the non-fiction books that I loved in 2017:

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Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and finally picked it up towards the end of last year. I’m kicking myself for leaving it so long because once I picked it up I was engrossed until I finished reading the entire book. It’s a scary and fascinating story of a rare illness and how it affected her.

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The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson

This was my first ever Maggie Nelson book and it absolutely won’t be my last. Her writing is incredible and moving. This book is her exploration of her thoughts and feelings around the re-opening of the investigation into her aunt’s murder.

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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This book is described as being a biography of cancer and it’s fascinating! I put off reading it because I worried it would be very heavy but it actually wasn’t. I learnt things that I didn’t know and it was such a page turner of a book.

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Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand with Decca Aitkenhead

This book has made my list because it was such an honest and open memoir about Rio’s grief over the loss of his wife. Later in the book he shares the things that really helped him through the darkest days and all the suggestions are excellent. I recommend this to anyone but particularly those who are grieving. You can read my full review here.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite a while and somehow never picked it up until 2017. I’m so glad that I finally got to it because I loved every second that I spent reading this book, it’s wonderful.

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Good Night and Good Riddance by David Cavanagh

This is a book containing a wide selection of John Peel’s radio shows. There are descriptions of the shows, parts of transcripts and short lists of the bands and singers he had on his show. I adored this book, it reminded me all over again how many artists I discovered through listening to John Peel.

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It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

This is another book that I put off reading for a long time because it felt like it might be a bit too close to home for me. I’m so glad that I finally read it because it’s a really moving and honest account of living with MND. It actually felt quite life-affirming and it’s a book I highly recommend.

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is a brilliant book that really does what it says on the cover. I read this in one sitting when I bought it and have since dipped in and out of it, it is a comfort and a solace to have this book to go back to as needed.

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Good as You by Paul Flynn

This is a non-fiction book that I bought and started reading immediately. I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a look over the last thirty years of homosexuality in Britain and it’s fascinating from beginning to end.

How to Survive a Plague- The Story of Activists and Scientists by David France

How to Survive a Plague by David France

This book took me a little while to read but it’s one that has really stayed with me. It’s a look at the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and is a really detailed account of how it was for people dying from AIDS alongside what was happening politically and medically. It’s a harrowing read but one that I highly recommend.

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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

My list of non-fiction is roughly in no particular order but I have to be honest and admit that this book is my top non-fiction book of the entire year. I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan so to read this book and find out more about her life was brilliant. There were things in this book that sent shivers down my spine because similar things have happened to me, and it really made me think. This is a book that I want to re-read this year, and I fully intend to keep on shouting from the rooftops about how amazing this book is and how everyone should read it!

I really enjoyed the non-fiction that I read in 2017 and am already looking forward to discovering lots more non-fiction in 2018. Have you got a non-fiction favourite from last year? Or any books you can recommend me? Here’s to a great reading year in 2018!

My Favourite Novels read in 2017!

My top fiction reads of

In 2017 I read 252 books, many of them were such brilliant reads, so it’s been really hard picking my top books of the year. Today I’m sharing my top novels read last year, and tomorrow I will share my top non-fiction reads so please look out for that post.

In no particular order the novels that I have loved, and the ones that are really staying with me are:

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This book had (shamefully) been on my TBR for almost TWENTY years! I originally bought it in hardback soon after it was published and over the years have also bought a paperback and ebook copy but was still intimidated to start reading it. Well, I finally picked it up in 2017 and it’s been a huge lesson to me in not avoiding books because I adored it from start to finish. It really got to me and I still find myself thinking about it now.

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The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

This book made the list because I love the way it explored the idea of fate and whether some things are meant to be, or not. It really got to me and it’s a book that I often find myself thinking about. You can find my full review here.

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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

I loved this novel because I’m someone who wonders about lost things and this book gave me hope and comfort that the precious things I’ve lost over the years might be somewhere being looked after. You can find my full review here.

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The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

This is a novel that I read in one sitting, it just had me hooked from the very first page and I still find myself thinking about the family and wondering how they are now. The Way Back to Us explores family dynamics in a way that really makes you think and feel about each and every person involved. I highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

This is a wonderful novel about Della who wants to be a pilot in a time when it was near impossible for a woman to train as such a thing. I adored this book, and the characters in it. The writing is so evocative that I really felt I was with Della every step of the way throughout this book. You can find my full review here.

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All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the Wicked Girls is one of those really special novels that just gets under your skin very early on. I still find myself thinking about the characters in this small town and wondering how their lives turned out. This book is just incredible and I implore you to read it if you haven’t already.  You can find my full review here.

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

This is a fascinating novel looking at how women are viewed in the wake of something terrible happening. Ruth is a single mum who enjoys nights out once her children are in bed. One night her children go missing and the spotlight is on Ruth intensely from that moment on. She is judged by everyone for everything. This is a novel that really stays with you and I definitely recommend it. You can find my full review here.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

This is a brilliant crime thriller, one that has really stayed with me in the months since I read it. It’s a harrowing read at times but the writing, and the characters make it a book that you need to keep reading. I’m eagerly anticipating the next novel! You can find my full review here.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This novel is so good! I was a little apprehensive about it as I don’t like horror, I don’t like to feel properly scared but this book was just so brilliant that I couldn’t put it down. I loved every minute that I spent reading it and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. You can find my full review here.

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Sweetpea by CJ Skuse

This is another brilliant novel that I loved reading in 2017. It’s very disconcerting when you read a book about a serial killer but find yourself agreeing with some of the things that annoy her. It’s full of dark humour but it’s such a good read, one I’m sure I’ll go back to in the future. You can find my full review here.

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Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

This was a novel that I was desperate to get my hands on from the minute I first saw the publisher share a photo of the cover. The novel did not let me down! It grabbed me from the start and it kept me engrossed to the very end. It’s a novel about female friendship and obsession and it’s brilliant! You can find my full review here.

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The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

A quote from my own review of this book: ‘This is such a modern novel. On face value this is a novel about the breakdown of a marriage but it’s really about so much more than that. It’s such an incisive, multi-layered novel about the society we live in. It’s a character-driven story, which looks at class and race issues; it looks at how we define poverty. Amanda Craig really captures our society in a genuine and honest way, whilst also giving it a good dose of dark humour, wryness and wit’. The novel has really stayed in my mind since I read it so I highly recommend it! You can find my full review here.

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The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

This is such a gripping and compelling novel that really got to me. I hadn’t heard of it before I was offered the chance to read and review it but I fell in love with it on reading it. Hattie Hoffman is one of those characters that really got under my skin and my heart was breaking for her as I read her story. Go read this book if you haven’t already. You can find my full review here.

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Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

This book appealed to me because Louise’s first novel was one of my favourite books last year, and also because this one is set during the floods in Hull. I knew this book would be one I loved but it even surpassed that very high expectation. I got so engrossed in Catherine’s story and felt at such a loss after finishing this book. I still think about this novel and wonder how Catherine is. You can find my full review here.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

I won an advance proof of this book and was so excited when it arrived. It was one of the first books that I read in 2017 and it stayed with me throughout the year and absolutely deserves a place as one of my favourite reads of the year. This is such a visceral and evocative novel and I still feel like I’ve been in that house where Lizzie Borden took her axe. If you haven’t read this novel yet, go grab a copy and read it asap! You can find my full review here.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I loved this book from start to finish! Eleanor Oliphant is such a fascinating character, and one I couldn’t help but like. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a tender and moving look at loneliness, at how it is to be given a chance and what it is to find a friend having had a lifetime of just getting through the days. A beautiful novel that I highly recommend. You can find my full review here.

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The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This book came into my life at such a perfect time that it seemed meant to be. It’s an exploration of the complexities of pain, in all its forms, and how we deal with the darkest moments of life. Ravine is someone who will really stay in my heart, I won’t ever forget this book and what it means to me. You can find my full review here.

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Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin

I adored this novel, almost beyond being able to put into words. It had a lot to live up to as Ghostbird, Carol’s previous novel, very quickly became one of my all-time favourite books but I’m happy to say that Snow Sisters did live up to it. Carol is an incredible writer that weaves stories that just wrap around you and pull you right in. I highly, highly recommend this book. You can find my full review here.

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman

This book broke my heart – I read it in one sitting and I fell completely and utterly in love with it. It was stunning and it’s definitely a book that I want to re-read soon. I didn’t manage to write a review when I read it but I will review it when I read it again. It’s a beautiful novel and it’s stolen my heart!

So, there’s my list of the best novels that I read in 2017! It was an amazing reading year and I’m already so excited to be in a new year and discovering lots more fabulous books. What was your favourite novel from 2017? If you’ve blogged about it please feel free to leave a link and I will go read your post and leave a comment.

Tomorrow (all being well!) I’ll be sharing my top non-fiction reads from last year so please look out for that post!

WWW Wednesdays (22 Nov)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now:

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli 

I’ve heard about this book on a few BookTube videos recently and so put it on my wishlist. I then spotted it on my audio book subscription so I immediately downloaded it and am now half-way through listening to it. It’s a really interesting book.

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for a few weeks now and I finally started reading it last night. It’s such a heartbreaking book but it’s such an important and prescient read. I have such admiration for Trayvon’s parents in the way they have tried to channel their grief into raising awareness and to honour their son’s life. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one when I’ve finished reading it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon & Mary Phelan

This is such a lovely book, it’s a real feel-good and quite nostalgic read. I recommend this if you want a light-hearted book about two girls in the early 80s as they begin their adult lives.

Coco Chanel:The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

I’m enjoying this book so much. It’s only taking me so long to read it because my copy is a really heavy hardback – it’s a beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be keeping but it’s hard to hold and read for more than a chapter at a time. It’s printed on thick glossy paper and has lots of great photos throughout. I recommend it.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

This is still on my currently reading and I do intend to get back to it soon but I’ve been drawn to non-fiction on other subjects over the last week so I’m going with how I feel.

What I recently finished reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

This book has been on my TBR for over three years but when I finally picked it up this week I honestly couldn’t put it down. I read it in two sittings and it feels like one of this books that will really stay with me. I highly recommend it.

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

This is an audible book that I’ve owned for seven years and somehow have never listened to it! I was in need of something light to listen to at the weekend so put this on and I enjoyed it. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was younger but it was still interesting to see how Danny tracked down his old school friends.

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

This was a really fascinating book and the New York Stock Exchange and how companies would do anything to have the edge over others. I didn’t put it on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR because I was worried it might be a bit dry and take me a long while to read but I was so wrong. I found that once I picked this book up I didn’t want to put it down and ended up reading it in just a couple of sittings.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another audio book that I listened to on a whim. It was an easy listen and there were sections that really made me pause to think about my own life and how I view myself. As a whole it wasn’t quite as good as I hoped it might be but I’m still glad I read it.

What I plan on reading next:

Hystories by Elaine Showalter

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages and promised myself I would definitely get to it this November so I’m really hoping I can read it this week.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

I’m always fascinated by the books that Jon Ronson writes and this one sounds like it’ll be a brilliant read.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

I hoped to read this last week and didn’t get to it so I’m putting it on my TBR for the week ahead. I’m really looking forward to this one.


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Which books are you looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up (19 Nov)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

I want to start this post by saying a huge thank you to everyone who visits my blog, and especially to this who have commented recently. I’m aware that I’m slow to respond at the moment, and also that I’m not managing to comment on as many of your blogs as I’d like to, but I will get there. Please know that even when it takes me a while I respond, I do very much appreciate every comment.

This week has been quite quiet as I’ve not been feeling great. I have got a lot of reading done though, which has been lovely. I’ve been seeking escapism in books as I have another round of medical appointments and tests coming up and I don’t want to think about those until I have to.

Last night my husband and I curled up and watched The Deer Hunter, which we haven’t seen in a few years. It was so nice to just relax and watch a film together but it doesn’t matter how many times you see this film, it’s never not heartbreaking.

 

This week I’ve finished reading seven books:

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

This is a book that I was going to put on my #NonFictionNovember2017 TBR and then forgot about! I spotted it this week and was just in the mood to read it so decided to go ahead anyway. I read it in two sittings and found it such a fascinating insight into what goes on in Wall Street.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

I really enjoyed reading this book! I read it a chapter or two at a time throughout the week in between other books and it really worked for me like that. If I’m to be completely honest I did find the author a bit irritating and she didn’t seem to have much of a concept of how lucky she was but, having said that, I loved reading about the lifestyle in Denmark and it has made me want to move there! I’d still recommend the book too.

Whatever… Love is Love by Maria Bello

This is another non-fiction book that wasn’t on my TBR for this month but it caught my eye amongst my audio books. It was an interesting listen, and some parts were thought-provoking but I don’t think it’s a book that will really stick with me.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington

This is a novel that I read this week as I was in need of some escapism and non-fiction wasn’t giving me that so instead I picked up this book, which I owned before this year so it’s another one that counts towards my Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads. I enjoyed this thriller, it kept me interested all the way through and I’ll definitely pick up Sam’s next book, Bad Sister.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

This is such a powerful book about Rio’s grief after the death of his wife. I found it to be a really honest and moving book. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke

This was the other novel that I read this week when needing some escapism. I really enjoyed this book – I do love Lucy Clarke’s writing.

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very short book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I’m glad I finally got to it. It’s one of those books that makes you think about your own thoughts and ideas about things.

 

This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Thursday: Review of Thinking Out Loud by Rio Ferdinand (with Decca Aitkenhead)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

I just started this book yesterday but it’s already got me engrossed. I don’t think it’ll take me very long to read this. I’m expecting it to be quite harrowing at times but I’ve seen so many people recommend it that I have to read it.

Dear Cathy… Love, Mary by Catherine Conlon and Mary Phelan

This is letters between Catherine and Mary in 1984 – the year they leave school and one goes on to further study and the other goes to France to be an au pair. I’m so enjoying this one, it’s wonderful.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie

This is a really interesting look at Coco Chanel’s life and I’m really enjoying it. My copy of the book is physically very heavy so I’ll be quite slow to read this but it’s such a treat every time I pick it up.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week but I will be getting back to it soon as I was finding it really interesting.


 

How has your week been? What have you been reading? Please share in the comments below. If you write a wrap-up on your blog please feel free to share the link. 🙂

Mimi Thebo writes of the accident, PTSD & recovery that inspired her novel Hospital High @JHPsocial

Today I’m sharing a very inspiring guest post from Mimi Thebo, author of Hospital High, about how what happened to her when she was a teenager inspired her to write her novel.

 

When I was 14 years old, I died in a car accident. I didn’t stay dead, obviously, but I was badly injured. I spent my high school years in and out of hospital. Then, when I was patched up sufficiently, I started my life and never looked back.

It had been a grim time. Dad left the family before the accident and my grandma died after it – all within nine months. My mother and I suffered poverty…we couldn’t afford to heat the whole house and we went without food. The car might have hit the tree, but I’d lost more than my voice and my health in that time…I’d lost my whole way of life. My best friend had been driving the car, and so, inevitably, we grew apart and, by the following summer, I had lost her, too.

It was no wonder I never looked back on the events of 1974.

I got on with my life. I was lucky enough to go to university, and even with health and mobility challenges…and my father refusing to pay the agreed maintenance…I eventually graduated with a good degree. The doctors had told me I’d never be strong enough to work, but I pulled long shifts as a waitress to make the money I needed and was just fine. They’d also told me I should never marry, since I’d be ‘a burden’ to any future husband. But I met a boy who wasn’t frightened of that. We married and I moved to the UK.

I continued to prove the doctors wrong. I climbed mountains. I worked double shifts, sometimes 80 hours in a week.  In London, I learned to type and was soon running whole offices. But then I confounded everyone – I quit work, did an MA in Creative Writing and, within a year, had published two books and began lecturing at a university.

I had put the misery of my youth completely behind me.

Only I hadn’t.

I write stories of hope and recovery and redemption.  I write not just because I want to be a writer or want to make money, but because I want to inspire other people, to help them in their life journeys. And I wasn’t sure I was doing that. My books were good – good enough to get published and sell reasonably well. But they weren’t best-sellers or winning important prizes. There was something missing in my writing, something that made it too fluffy and light, even when I was trying to write about serious issues. And I knew what it was.

I hadn’t really dealt with that horrible time in my past. It was an editor who first suggested that I should write the story of my accident, but I didn’t even consider her suggestion. Ten years later, however, I was ready to listen. I had to confront my past and I had to do it the only way I knew how. I had to write it.

It took five years. At times, I was afraid reading my hospital records and remembering the things that had happened would re-trigger my PTSD.  I didn’t want to try writing about it during the teaching year or when I was solely responsible for my young daughter’s care. So I wrote it in the margins of school life; when school was in session and university wasn’t.

At last I finished writing about the most horrible time in my life. And then I wrote my breakthrough book for children, Dreaming the Bear – it was nominated for every prize in children’s fiction. Writing my trauma had worked for me. And it had worked in more ways than one. It made my writing stronger, but it also made me stronger.

Now the story of my accident, slightly fictionalised, is being published. I hope Hospital High helps other people to deal with their own trauma…  Perhaps it might even inspire them to get the pain of their past down on paper and out of their minds forever. It would make me very happy if it did.

 

 

Did you know writing can help you heal from physical as well as mental wounds?

Studies have shown that writing for a few minutes a day helped cancer patients respond to treatment, made people’s wounds heal faster and even lowered T-cell counts in HIV sufferers.

According to research, writing for twenty minutes a day has a profound effect on anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to write stories or poetry to get the benefit –and you don’t even have to write about worries or illness. You can get the benefit by writing about anything – even scribbling about fashion, football scores or gardening can improve your mental and physical health.

If you begin to enjoy writing for pleasure, there are writers groups and evening classes in every area. Contact your local library or the Arts Council to find one near you.

 

Hospital High is out now in ebook and paperback!

 

About the Author

Mimi Thebo image

 

Mimi Thebo is a Carnegie-longlisted author for children and teens. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, adapted for a BAFTA-winning BBC film, illustrated in light and signed for deaf children by ITV. Born in the USA, she is based in SouthWest England, where she is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol and a Royal Literary Fellow.

 

 

About the Book

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My life had been saved…and boy, was I annoyed. Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone’s working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn’t think ‘normal’ is enough… When she was fourteen, the author Mimi Thebo died in a car accident. Hospital High is a young adult novel based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident.

 

My TBR for the 20 Books of Summer!

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It’s 20 Books of Summer time! This is organised by Cathy at 746 Books and I’ve decided to join in this year and am really looking forward to making a start on my summer 2017 reading. I don’t normally make TBRs as the minute I make a list of books to read I almost immediately then want to read anything but those choices so this will be a real challenge for me! I’ve decided to just put books from my own TBR on this list and I will read review books in between these books.

So, here are my 20 Book of Summer for 2017!

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The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

My husband bought me this for my birthday last year and I was so excited to read it and yet somehow it’s still on my TBR so this book is one I definitely want to make the time to read this summer.

Synopsis:

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

The Green Road by Anne Enright

The Green Road by Anne Enright

I love Anne Enright’s novels so I bought this one when it was published and then I’ve been saving it for the right time. I really do want to read this so I’m not saving it anymore, I’m determined to read it this summer.

Synopsis:

Hanna, Dan, Constance and Emmet return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home their mother is about to sell. As the feast turns to near painful comedy, a last, desperate act from Rosaleen – a woman who doesn’t quite know how to love her children – forces them to confront the weight of family ties and the road that brought them home.

 

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The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

I so badly wanted to read this book when I first heard about it that I bought an American copy and had to wait three weeks for it to arrive. Then it got put on my bookcase and has stayed there ever since. As soon as I started making my books for the summer TBR I knew this book had to be on my list.

Synopsis:

Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.When an unfamiliar man s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.
The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind.

Christodora by Tim Murphy

Christodora by Tim Murphy

This book only came out this year and I’m determined not to leave it on my TBR for ages as I’m so keen to read it. It’s one of those books that I want to make time to read in big chunks and the summer seems the perfect time for doing that.

Synopsis:

In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbour, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly’s and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, the couple’s adopted son, Mateo, grows to appreciate the opportunities for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers.

As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnett

This is another book that I bought when it was first released and never got around to reading it. I still really want to read it so it had to be on my summer reading pile.

Synopsis:

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .

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The Life of Hunger by Amelie Nothomb

This is a book that has been on my wish list for over a decade and I finally got around to buying a copy in the edition I wanted a couple of months ago so I’m definitely going to make time to read this very soon.

Synopsis:

In a wistful, funny, clever, and eccentric fictional memoir, Amélie Nothomb casts herself as hunger – in all its many guises. Recounting the formative journeys of her youth, from Tokyo to Peking to Paris to New York, The Life of Hunger is a brilliant and moving examination of the self.

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’m starting to feel a little embarrassed now at how many books are on my summer list that I’ve owned since they were first out… but this is another one. I’m really keen to read this one as the premise intrigues me.

Synopsis:

The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.

Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.

Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men…

Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.

But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I’m a fan of Ian McEwan’s writing, although he can be a bit hit or miss. The premise for this book sounds fascinating so it’s another one that I had to put on my summer reading pile.

Synopsis:

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home – a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse – but not with John. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month-old resident of Trudy’s womb.

 

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jamson

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while too and have been keen to read it but it has felt like a book I should save for the summer so this absolutely had to make my summer reading plan.

Synopsis:

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin

I only bought this book fairly recently but I’m so looking forward to reading this short story collection so have added it to my summer reading.

Synopsis:

In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.

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The Past by Tessa Hadley

I’m a huge Tessa Hadley fan so have been very much looking forward to this novel. It’s one I’ve been saving for the warmer weather as it feels like summer is the right time for this book.

Synopsis:

These three weeks may be their last time in their family home; the upkeep is prohibitive, and they may be forced to sell this beloved house filled with memories of their shared past (their mother took them there to live when she left their father). Yet beneath the idyllic pastoral surface, hidden passions, devastating secrets, and dangerous hostilities threaten to consume them.

Sophisticated and sleek, Roland’s new wife (his third) arouses his sisters’ jealousies and insecurities. Kasim, the twenty-year-old son of Alice’s ex-boyfriend, becomes enchanted with Molly, Roland’s sixteen-year-old daughter. Fran’s young children make an unsettling discovery in a dilapidated cottage in the woods that shatters their innocence. Passion erupts where it’s least expected, leveling the quiet self-possession of Harriet, the eldest sister.

Over the course of this summer holiday, the family’s stories and silences intertwine, small disturbances build into familial crises, and a way of life–bourgeois, literate, ritualized, Anglican–winds down to its inevitable end.

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Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

I’ve had this book for a while and have been keeping it to read as a treat but now feels like the time. I’m really excited to read this book.

Synopsis:

From a prizewinning, beloved young author, a provocative collection that explores the lives of colorful, intrepid women in history. “These stories linger in one’s memory long after reading them” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis).
The fascinating characters in Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “collection of stories as beautiful and strange as the women who inspired them” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) are defined by their creative impulses, fierce independence, and sometimes reckless decisions. In “The Siege at Whale Cay,” cross-dressing Standard Oil heiress Joe Carstairs seduces Marlene Dietrich. In “A High-Grade Bitch Sits Down for Lunch,” aviator and writer Beryl Markham lives alone in Nairobi and engages in a battle of wills with a stallion. In “Hell-Diving Women,” the first integrated, all-girl swing band sparks a violent reaction in North Carolina.
Other heroines, born in proximity to the spotlight, struggle to distinguish themselves: Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s wild niece, Dolly; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s talented sister, Norma; James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia. Almost Famous Women offers an elegant and intimate look at artists who desired recognition. “By assiduously depicting their intimacy and power struggles, Bergman allows for a close examination of the multiplicity of women’s experiences” (The New York Times Book Review).
The world wasn’t always kind to the women who star in these stories, but through Mayhew Bergman’s stunning imagination, they receive the attention they deserve.

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant

Oh dear, this is another book that I’ve owned since it was published but haven’t managed to read it as yet. It sounds like such a great read so I’m putting it on my summer list and really hope to get to it.

Synopsis:

‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’

In the early seventies, a glamorous and androgynous couple known as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas, they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But their mesmerising flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories.

For Adele, who also has something to conceal, Evie becomes an obsession – an obsession which becomes lifelong after the night of Adele’s twentieth birthday party. What happened that evening and who was complicit are questions that have haunted Adele ever since. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for the past forty years.

From summers in 1970s Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after she has disappeared, Evie will go on challenging everyone’s ideas of how their lives should turn out.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time but I keep putting it off because it’s such an emotive subject matter. It caught my eye in amongst my books when I was deciding on this TBR so I’m adding it and hope I’ll be okay to read it this summer.

Synopsis:

Ellen Gulden is a successful, young New York journalist. But when her mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, she leaves her life in the city to return home and care for her. In the short time they have left, the relationship between mother and daughter – tender, awkward and revealing – deepens, and Ellen is forced to confront painful truths about her adored father.

But in the weeks that follow Kate’s death, events take a shocking and unexpected turn. Family emotions are laid bare as a new drama is played out, and overnight Ellen goes from devoted daughter to prime suspect, accused of the mercy killing of her ‘one true thing’.

One True Thing is the devastating story of a mother and daughter, of love and loss, and of shattering choices.

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In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

My husband surprised me with this lovely signed hardback of Judy Blume’s latest novel Christmas 2015 and I was so excited to read it as I’m a huge fan. It’s another book that I’ve been saving for the right time, which now seems silly so I’m going to enjoy it over the summer.

Synopsis:

In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.

Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.

The plane crashes bring some people closer together and tear others apart; they create myths and unlock secrets. As Miri experiences the ordinary joys and pains of growing up in extraordinary circumstances, a young journalist makes his name reporting tragedy. And through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

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Take Courage: Anne Bronte and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis

I treated myself to this book a few months ago and it’s been calling to me recently so I’m adding it to my summer TBR. Anne Bronte is my favourite writer of the Bronte sisters so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this book. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Synopsis:

Anne Brontë is the forgotten Brontë sister, overshadowed by her older siblings — virtuous, successful Charlotte, free-spirited Emily and dissolute Branwell. Tragic, virginal, sweet, stoic, selfless, Anne. The less talented Brontë, the other Brontë.

Or that’s what Samantha Ellis, a life-long Emily and Wuthering Heights devotee, had always thought. Until, that is, she started questioning that devotion and, in looking more closely at Emily and Charlotte, found herself confronted by Anne instead.

Take Courage is Samantha’s personal, poignant and surprising journey into the life and work of a woman sidelined by history. A brave, strongly feminist writer well ahead of her time — and her more celebrated siblings — and who has much to teach us today about how to find our way in the world.

Significance by Jo Mazelis

Significance by Jo Mazelis

I’ve had this book for quite a while too but recently I’ve seen a couple of reviews of it and it sounds like such a brilliant read that I simply had to add it to my TBR for the next couple of months.

Synopsis:

Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance. Lucy s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.”

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I can’t believe that I’ve not read this book before now. I’ve had it on my wish list for such a long time and only treated myself to a copy recently. This is a book that feels right for a long summer evening when I can just sit and read.

Synopsis:

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity.

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Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

I originally had a review copy of this from NetGalley but it was right before life got on top of me last year and I didn’t managed to read it. I knew it would be a book I’d enjoy so I bought myself a copy and really want to read it soon.

Synopsis:

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I feel like this book is a bit of a cheat because I only bought it very recently but I really want to read it as soon as I can so wanted to add it to this list.

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

I’ve also picked three extra books just in case I don’t get on with any of the books above…

 

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for quite a long while but it never seems to get to the top of my TBR during the summer months. I’m adding it as an extra in case one of my other books doesn’t end up grabbing me, but hopefully I will get a chance to read it this summer regardless.

Synopsis:

Nine Lives. Four Generations. One Family. The MacEntees are no ordinary family.
Determined to be different from other people, they have carved out a place for themselves in Irish life by the sheer force of their personalities. But when a series of misfortunes befall them over the course of one long hot summer, even the MacEntees will struggle to make sense of who they are.
As media storms rage about them and secrets rise to the surface, Deirdre plans a family party for her 80th birthday-and with it one final, shocking surprise.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Initially this book was in my 20 books of summer but I’ve already read a book by this author this year so it seems only fair to read some of my other books first. I really want to read this book soon though so if I have a good summer of reading and get through all of my other choices I will read this one too.

Synopsis:

From the number one bestselling author of Midwives comes this riveting medical thriller about a lawyer, a homeopath, and a tragic death.

When one of homeopath Carissa Lake’s patients falls into an allergy-induced coma, possibly due to her prescribed remedy, Leland Fowler’s office starts investigating the case. But Leland is also one of Carissa’s patients, and he is beginning to realize that he has fallen in love with her. As love and legal obligations collide, Leland comes face-to-face with an ethical dilemma of enormous proportions.

Graceful, intelligent, and suspenseful, The Law of Similars is a powerful examination of the links between hope and hubris, love and deception.

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown

This was also in my initial 20 books but I decided it might be a bit similar to another book on my list so I’m adding it here as an extra option. I love the sound of the book though so it’s another one that I will try to get to as well as all of my other selections.

Synopsis:

It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue; and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.

 


 

Anyone is welcome to join in with this challenge – just pick your 20 books (or 10, or 5) for over the summer and write a post about them. Then sign up to the page on 746 Books on 1st June! The challenge will run from 1st June to 3rd September 2017. You can share your lists and your progress on twitter using #20BooksofSummer

 

Will you be joining in with #20BooksofSummer this year? What are you planning to read over the coming months?

Lynda Renham on changing genre for her new novel #RememberMe! #guestpost @LyndaRenham

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Today on my blog I’m thrilled to welcome author Lynda Renham, who has written a lovely guest post for me about her brand new thriller Remember Me.

 

About the Book

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A new neighbour moves next door. They seem nice enough. You go to their house for dinner. It’s a nice house.  And then things start to change. The vase in your house is suddenly on their landing. The colour of your kitchen becomes the colour of their kitchen. How much of your life will SHE take? ‘Remember Me’ is an unsettling and on the edge of your seat thriller.

 Clare is glad when the new neighbours move in. It’s nice to have a new friend.  But as time moves on Clare begins to fear for her child and her own sanity. 

 

 

Lynda’s Post

As a writer the thought of changing the genre that I normally write was a bit nerve-wracking but I decided to go for it because I had such great ideas in my head and after all, a writer is a writer. We surely can’t be expected to write the same things over and over.

I love writing comedy and very much enjoyed writing ‘Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog’

However, a writer’s life is a lonely one. Every book is your new baby and how it is received by the readers becomes a really personal thing.

I had a fair amount of writers block while producing the new one. There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a lap top with a blank document on the screen and absolutely nothing in your head. I always turn to the fridge unfortunately. Or even worse, the chocolate basket that sits tempting me.

My new novel titled ‘Remember Me’ saw me consume a lot of chocolate.

It’s not scary. It’s a thriller rather than a horror story but there are a few twists and turns and the twist is quite unexpected. I hope very much you enjoy it.

I love to hear from my readers so do get in touch. I’m on Twitter @lyndarenham and I have a Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/lyndarenhamauthor/ Do join me and tell me what you think of the books.

The next book will be a romantic comedy again. It’s quite nice to chop and change a bit. I’m very much hoping my readers will enjoy this new book. You can buy it at the promotional price of 99p or if you’re part of Amazon’s prime subscription then you can borrow it for FREE.  Click here to go to Remember Me on Amazon.

 

About the Author

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I’m the author of the bestselling Romantic Comedy novels ‘Croissants and Jam’ ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’ and ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’  The Dog’s Bollocks Rory’s Proposal’ and ‘It Had to be You‘ I’m also the author of ‘The Diary of Rector Byrnes’ I live in the beautiful Cotswolds with my husband Andrew and one cat, named Bendy.

 

 

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See my new #bookhaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (11 March)

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

This week I received five ARCS:

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Sweet Pea by S.J. Skuse

This was surprise book post this week and I was thrilled when I opened it. Firstly, it has a stunning cover, and secondly, the synopsis sounds brilliant. I hope to get a chance to read this in the next couple of weeks.

Synopsis:

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

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The Good Guy by Susan Beale

This was the gorgeous book post that arrived on Thursday and I was so happy to receive it. I really want to read this one soon as it sounds so good.

Synopsis:

A deeply compelling novel set in 1960s suburban America for fans of The Engagements and Tigers in Red Weather.

Ted, a car-tyre salesman in 1960s suburban New England, is a dreamer who craves admiration. His wife, Abigail, longs for a life of the mind. Single-girl Penny just wants to be loved. When a chance encounter brings Ted and Penny together, he becomes enamoured and begins inventing a whole new life with her at its centre. But when this fantasy collides with reality, the fallout threatens everything, and everyone, he holds dear.

The Good Guy is a deeply compelling debut about love, marriage and what happens when good intentions and self-deception are taken to extremes.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras by Sara Taylor

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while so when I saw a NetGalley email yesterday that it was available as a Read Now book I immediately went and downloaded it. I really want to read this soon. Also, isn’t is another gorgeous cover?!

Synopsis:

I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong…

As Ma and Alex make their way from Virginia to California, each new state prompts stories and secrets of a life before Alex. Together they put to rest unsettled scores, heal old wounds, and search out lost friends. But Alex can’t forget the life they’ve left behind.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I can’t remember how I heard about this book but I’ve had a request pending on NetGalley for a couple of weeks now so was really happy to get an approval email this week. The book’s not out for a couple of months so I’m going to try and leave this one for a little while as I have other review books to read that are out sooner, but it’s going to be tough resisting it.

Synopsis:

Two people. One choice. What if?

11th September 2001. Lucy and Gabe meet at Columbia University on a day that will change their lives – and the world – forever. And as the city burns behind them, they kiss for the very first time.

Over the next thirteen years they are torn apart, then brought back together, time and time again. It’s a journey of dreams, of desires, of jealousy, of forgiveness – and above all, love.

And as Lucy is faced with a decision she thought she’d never have to make, she wonders whether their love is a matter of destiny, or chance. What if they should have been living a different life all along?

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

This is another NetGalley book and I’ve already started reading this one. I have to be honest that the book isn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be when I requested it, but I am enjoying it and it’s holding my attention so far.

Synopsis:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

 

These are the two print & eBooks I bought:

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Because I was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell

I’ve seen this book reviewed on some of my favourite blogs recently so I was unable to resist buying a copy on release day! I really like the sound of the plot and don’t think this will be on my TBR for very long.

Synopsis:

“Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity – and the safety of her children.

She’s lonely.

Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.

He’s lonely.

So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people. Two unhappy marriages. One dangerous, but inevitable climax.”

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg

A lovely blogger, BelleUnruh, mentioned this book in a comment on my post last week and when I looked it up I decided to buy a copy right away. It sounds like an emotional, but very life-affirming book and I’m sure it won’t be on my TBR for very long.

Synopsis:

Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with her husband, her two precious daughters, her enchanting surroundings, but the question she has carried in her heart since childhood—Will I die young?—is threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an answer, a diagnosis, is finally found: she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. But is it too late?

 


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.

 

 

 

February 2017 Wrap-Up!

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February has been an up and down month. There have been stressful things to deal with, and medical appointments and tests to get through. There was also a broken Kindle Voyage (eek!). Things eventually began to be sorted out and towards the end of the month I got a replacement Kindle through the warranty, and we got some unexpected good news in the post. My husband had two weeks off from work and whilst I wasn’t well enough for us to do much, it was lovely to have the time together.

It’s been a fab reading month, I still can’t quite believe how many great books I read in February! Unfortunately, whilst I’ve been reading a lot I’m struggling to write reviews at the moment. This, in part, is because I lost my notes when my Kindle malfunctioned so I will have to write reviews from memory (and my memory is awful), but also because I’m in the middle of altering my medication and it’s a struggle for me to get my words down coherently. I may have to just write some very short, basic reviews in order to catch up as the amount I now have waiting to be written is starting to stress me out.

 

Here are the 26 books I read this month:

Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin

Just Kids by Patti Smith

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Child Who by Simon Lelic

Final Girls by Riley Sager

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Black Wood by SJI Holliday

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

 


Here are the blog posts I wrote:

I wrote my regular blog posts – WWW Wednesday, Stacking the Shelves every Saturday and a weekly wrap-up on a Sunday. Other than that I shared my January wrap-up post at the beginning of February. I also wrote about my fabulous birthday book haul too. I didn’t manage to write and post any reviews, which I’m really down about but as I said earlier life is getting in the way at the moment. Hopefully I can catch up soon.

 


 

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The state of my TBR:

In January, I wrote a post about the state of my TBR and made a plan to try and read more of the books I already owned. This has already proved to be rather more difficult than I anticipated… I have read a lot more of my own books, rather than just focusing on new ones, but I’ve also been buying a lot of books. I did join the Mount TBR challenge on Goodreads in February though and have pledged to read at least 100 books that were on my TBR before the end of 2016 and have so far read 26 books that counted for that. This means that half of the books I’ve read this year so far have been my already owned books, and half were new or review books so am pleased with that ratio at the moment.

I’m also in the middle of a sort out of both my kindle books and my print books and am trying to make sure that all the books that are on my TBR are books that I really want to read. Anything that doesn’t appeal anymore is going to be deleted from my Kindle or taken to the charity shop. I’m also becoming much more okay with DNFing books – I’m fast realising that life is too short to push on with books that I’m really not enjoying. The combination of DNFing books and having an ongoing book cull has meant my TBR is currently going in the right direction! I now have 1861 unread books (as of 28 Feb), down from 1885 at the start of the year and hopefully I can keep reading my way through the TBR mountain.

 


 

How was your February? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from February was, and if you have a February wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.

 

My Birthday Book Haul!

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It was my birthday at the weekend and I was very lucky to receive lots of lovely new books so wanted to do a haul post.

My husband gave me 21 books! Some of them he chose from my wish list but others were brilliant surprises. I’m very excited to read all of my new books but I have to be honest and admit to an immediate favourite because it’s such a beautiful book.

 

It’s Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn. I’d not heard of this book before but it’s a perfect gift for a book lover. Samantha has picked some iconic women from literature and a favourite quote by them, and has then painted their portrait. I’ve added a photo of one of the spreads so you can see how gorgeous this book is. This is definitely a book that I’ll treasure.

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This was such a great surprise pick for me. I read Sebastian Barry’s Secret Scripture last year and really enjoyed it so I was really wanting to read this one. My husband must have had great foresight to pick this up for me as it won the Costa Book award this week!

 

These are two books that caught my eye online recently as I really wanted to read them both so added them to my wish list. They’re both huge hardbacks so will have to wait until I feel a bit stronger but I’m really looking forward to reading them.

 

These were two surprise books and both are perfect picks for me. I love Chris Bohjalian’s novels so am thrilled to have this one in hardback. It’s a beautiful book, the photo I’ve taken doesn’t do the cover justice. I’ve already started reading this one and am very much enjoying it. Whitegirl sounds fascinating and I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

These three children’s books are lovely. The Literature Book has lots of snippets about books and some great quotes in it, it’s perfect for me to flick through when I’m not feeling well enough to read a book. The Teddy Robinson Storybook is one my mum used to read to me when I was little but my copy got lost many years ago. This is part of the same series as my copy of The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse that I got for my birthday last year so I’m really happy to have matching editions. The Dylan Thomas book is a gorgeous clothbound hardback, with lovely illustrations. This will definitely be on my December TBR for this year!

 

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I really like the Penguin Little Black Classics so these were great choices for me. He picked up books by three classic authors that I love and all three of these books are ones I’ve never read before.

 

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I’ve never read any Angela Thirkell but she’s an author that I’ve heard great things avid recently so I asked for a selection of her novels. I’m really looking forward to starting these lovely Virago editions.

 

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The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker is another set of books that I’ve wanted to read for ages and have never got around to so I put these on my wishlist too. I hope to read these soon.

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Edna O’Brien has been an author I’ve wanted to read for the last couple of years but quite a few of her books seem to be out of print. I was so happy to receive these three books from my wish list and I really can’t wait to start reading!

 

 

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My husband also got me David Bowie’s Let’s Dance on CD. This is one of first albums I loved as a child, and whilst I fully acknowledge that it’s not his best work it is the album that made me love his music, and as I got older I gradually bought and fell in love with every single album he made. I can’t play records anymore as I don’t have the dexterity in my hands to use the turntable so I’m really happy to have this on CD again!

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I also received this gorgeous bouquet of flowers that had a lovely box of chocolates with them!

My lovely mum-in-law came round to see in my on my birthday a