My Top 40 Favourite Books Read in 2019… Counting Down From 40 to 21!

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So it’s time for me to share my favourite books that I read in 2019 and I have to say that this list has been weeks in the making! 2019 was my best ever year of reading in terms of how many books I read (at the time of writing this post I’ve read 375 books over the year), I have no idea how I read so many and I don’t expect it to ever happen again! It’s also been a year where so many wonderful books have found me and it’s been a near impossible task to make this list.

So I finally got my list down to forty books and am splitting it into two. Today I’m sharing the books that were listed from 40 – 21 on my countdown and I’m sharing them in no particular order – these books were all fabulous and I highly recommend them!

Click on the title of a book if you’d like to see my review! 🙂

 

The Family by Louise Jensen

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing and have loved every novel she’s published and The Family was every bit as good, if not better, than her previous books.

Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson

This is one of those books that made me feel emotional as I was reading it but it’s continued to run through my mind in the months since I read it. I found it a quiet book that has such a huge impact.

Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott

I read this book fairly recently and I adored it. It’s a quirky book that has such emotional impact. I keep thinking about this one and I already want to re-read it.

How To Say Goodbye by Katy Colins

This is a novel I picked up after reading an interview with the author and the book more than lived up to my hopes for it. It made me tearful at times but it’s such a beautiful book and one I really loved.

Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

I didn’t expect this novel to make as much of an impression on me as it did but it’s a book that won’t let go of me. It’s so much more than I thought it was going to be and again it’s one I keep thinking about.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

This is such a wonderful novel about books and libraries, I adored it. I think it might actually be my new favourite Jojo Moyes book!

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This is a debut novel and it’s so well-written. I found this book really hard to put down and I loved the depth to the story being told. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I read this in one sitting, I just couldn’t stop reading and it’s a book that’s really stayed with me so it had to be on this list.

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This was a book that took me a little while to get into but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it was a book that left such a profound impact on me. I still think of this novel and I will re-visit it in the future.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

This was my first Doug Johnstone book and I loved it so much that I’ve since bought most of his previous novels and plan on reading my way through them in the new year.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

This is such a brilliant book, it’s so dark and so funny! Plus the menopausal main character is so memorable and I could identify with some of her thinking!

Looker by Laura Sims

This book is a fascinating look at what leads someone to obsession and really gives an insight into where this behaviour may lead.

Postscript (PS I Love You #2) by Cecelia Ahern

I love PS I Love You when it was first published and so this sequel is one I was highly anticipating. I loved it, I think it may even be better than the first book!

Violet by SJI Holliday

This is such a brilliant novel following two women and you’re never quite sure if what they tell you is true and if they can be trusted. It’s a real cat and mouse novel and I loved it!

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

I also loved this book! It’s such a clever way of setting out a novel with the play, pause and rewind elements. It’s one that is really staying with me.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I’m a huge Donna Tartt fan so I’ve been saving this to read and I finally got to it in the summer and I adored it. It’s a huge book but I read it in just a few days as I just got completely engrossed in the story. It’s brilliant!

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

I had to include this book as it was such a different and unique read. You follow Lauren in her life but early on in the novel she has an accident and at this point you begin to follow Lauren as she continues on after she survives, and also you follow her loved ones as they come to terms with her death. It seems like it might be hard to follow but it really isn’t. This book is wonderful!

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This is another book that I devoured! I loved the crime mystery that runs through the novel but more than that I loved the main character. She’s really stayed with me and I keep thinking about her and wondering how she is.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

I adored this book, it’s such a moving and at times heartbreaking book but it leaves you full of hope. I hope more people pick this one up.

The Wayward Girls by Amanda Mason

This is a book I was so nervous about reading because I’m such a wimp but I ended up reading the whole novel in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. It’s such a fascinating novel about two girls and their family and the haunted house they live in. I loved it!

 

Tomorrow on my blog I’ll be sharing the next part of my favourite books 2019 with the Top 20 so please look out for that then. What are your favourite books that you read this year? I’d love to know. 🙂

 

If You Like That, You’ll Love This! #Fiction #NonFiction #BookPairings

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It’s week 2 of Non-Fiction November and this week’s prompt is over on Sarah’s Book Shelves and it is all about pairing up non-fiction books with fiction.

I thought this was going to be really difficult but once I took a few minutes to think about it, and to scroll through my Goodreads account, I came up with a few!

Firstly I have a couple of nonfiction books to recommended.. If you loved one then I think you’ll love the other too!

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer + Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

I read both of these books in 2019 and they are both such fascinating reads. Each features explorations of very cold, inhospitable places and reflections on what happened along with some history. Dead Mountain is looking at a mysterious case from the 1950s where a group of experienced explorers all died in very strange circumstances. Into Thin Air is about a group who climb Everest in the 1990s but something goes wrong near the summit and people died. Afterwards there was a lot of discussion about the truth of what happened that day. I think if you enjoyed one of these books you would also enjoy the other.

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink + Past Caring by Audrey Jenkinson

I read these books quite a long time ago but it’s testament to them that I still remember them so clearly. The Last Act of Love is an incredibly moving book about the aftermath of an accident that seriously injured Cathy’s brother. She and her family looked after him from then on until his death. Past Caring is a book that I discovered in the months after my mum died and it was a huge help to me. It’s all about how it feels, and how to cope, when you have been a carer for a loved one who has since died. It’s hard to suddenly not be a carer anymore, to not be needed when it’s been your life for so long. I recommend both of these books – the first is a book for everyone and the second is more for if you have been caring for someone, it really is an excellent resource.

 

Then I have some fiction books that I’ve read and enjoyed so have paired them with some non-fiction titles that are linked in some way.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett + How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS by David France AND And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Schilts

I just finished reading Full Disclosure at the weekend so I haven’t yet written my review. As soon as I started writing this post though I knew I had to include it. It’s about a teenage girl who is HIV Positive (which she contracted from her birth mother). She lives with her two dads and lives a very normal life. The book is a brilliant portrayal of what it is to live with HIV in the present day and I recommend it. I wanted to pair it with two books that both give such an excellent overview of the history of HIV and AIDS. Randy Schilts book is an older book so it doesn’t cover more recent developments but it is still a very good read. David France’s book is very recent and I found it fascinating. Both non-fiction books are well-researched but they’re written in a very accessible way and I would recommend them to anyone wanting to know more.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith + It’s All in Your Head: True Stories of Imaginary Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan

The Things We Thought We Knew is a brilliant novel following a teenager who is bedbound with chronic pain. Through the novel we learn that her childhood best friend went missing and she has struggled to cope with the loss. Her situation is complex and I felt such sympathy for her. I adored the novel and am keen to re-read it. The non-fiction I recommend after reading the novel is It’s All in Your Head. I read this book whilst recovering from neurosurgery and I got engrossed in it. It’s a book by a doctor who is exploring illnesses where there is no apparent physical cause. She never says it’s all in your mind in a dismissive way, it’s more a fascinating look at how our minds can cause symptoms to present in the body. These symptoms need treating just as much as actual physical illness but O’Sullivan shows how patients and doctors need to be open to exploring other avenues such as psychotherapy. I loved the book and highly recommend it.

Carry You by Beth Thomas + Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman

I read Carry You about five years ago and it’s a book that’s really stayed with me. It’s a contemporary novel and the main character is trying to re-build her life after the death of her mum. I loved the book and want to re-read it soon. I’m pairing it with Motherless Daughters, which is a book I discovered in the months after my mum died. It was the book I needed in those months and I recommend it to anyone who has lost their mother. I liked how Hope tells her own story but the book also contains lots of other women’s stories too so it really is a book for any woman whose mother has died. It’s perhaps not a book if you haven’t experienced that loss but it’s one to make a note of, I have since gifted copies to friends who are grieving the loss of their own mother.

Still Lives by Maria Hummell + After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry 

I read Still Lives very recently and found it a really interesting read. It features an art exhibition by a female artist who has painted herself into the murder scene of women who became infamous after their deaths (such as Nicole Brown-Simpson). It’s a crime thriller but what stood out to me was the exploration of how society either fetishises murdered women, or it ignores them completely to focus on the killer. I’m pairing this with After the Eclipse, which is one of my favourite non-fiction books that I’ve read this year. In this book Sarah Perry writes about the murder of her mum when she was a young teenager. Sarah explores her own emotions from the time but also looks back on the time through her adult eyes. She really made me think about how in our fascination with true crime documentaries we often almost forget that the murdered woman was a person, she had a family and friends. This is a book I recommend to everyone.

The First Time Lauren Pailing by Alyson Rudd + I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

I read The First Time Lauren Pailing Died a few weeks ago and enjoyed it. It’s about Lauren Pailing and she has a fairly ordinary life but when she’s a teen she dies in an accident. At this point we see the aftermath of her death and how it affected her loved ones but we also see Lauren survive the accident and go on with her life. She later dies again and the splits occur once more and you follow all the timelines. It’s such a good read, and even though it sounds confusing I found it easy to follow. I think if you enjoyed this book you should read I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m the biggest fan of her writing so was eager to read her first non-fiction writing and it’s a brilliant book. Maggie looks back on her life through each of the times that she had a brush with death. This book really resonated with me and I’m definitely going to re-read it next year. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it.

Histories by Sam Guglani + Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon

Histories is an interlinked short story collection that I found really powerful. You see the hospital through the eyes of different people who are there – doctors, nurses, cleaners, admin staff and patients and each story adds depth to another story in the book. It’s a great read and really stays with you. Breaking and Mending is Joanna Cannon’s reflections on her time as a junior doctor and it’s an incredibly powerful book. I found it breathtaking in how she shows the realities of working in the NHS and it’s made such an impression on me. This is a book I recommend to everyone.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech + Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is one of my favourite novels so I recommend it if you haven’t already read it. It follows Ben who is working at a lion reserve in Africa, which he’s always dreamt of doing but he’s not happy. Over the novel we find out about Ben’s relationship with Andrew and it’s such a stunning read. It made me cry when I read it but now when I think of it I remember the beauty and hope in the early days of Ben and Andrew as they fall in love. I’m pairing this with Good As You, which is a book looking back at 30 years of what it is to be gay in Britain. It’s one of those non-fiction books that you learn things from but it’s written in such a way that you fly through it. I was picking it up every chance I had, just like I do with fiction. Both books have heartbreak and hope and I recommend them.

Accidental Emeralds by Vivienne Tuffnell + The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Accidental Emeralds is a poetry collection that I read around the time I started reviewing books on my blog. It’s a beautiful collection that looks at longing and love through the changing of the seasons. I loved the collection and plan to re-read it but I was very apprehensive about reviewing it because I never feel like I’m clever enough to fully understand how to write about poetry. Earlier this year I read The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt which is a brilliant book that looks at a selection of poems and explores them in a way that makes poetry feel so accessible. The book even made me re-read a poem that I detested while studying at school and I ended up finding I really enjoyed it. The Point of Poetry is for everyone and I recommend it to anyone who has ever felt intimidated to read poetry or to write about it.

The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister + Stand Against Injustice by Michelle Diskin Bates

This pairing was a late edition to this post but I wanted to include it anyway. The Evidence Against You is a crime thriller that follows a young woman as her father is about to be released from prison. He was convicted of killing her mother but now he’s  protesting his innocence. She doesn’t know what to believe but she decides to try and find out what the truth is. A couple of weeks ago I read Stand Against Injustice which is about a terrible miscarriage of justice. Barry George was wrongfully convicted of murdering TV presenter Jill Dando and this book, written by Barry’s sister, explores what the family have been through over the last twenty years. It really gives an insight into what it is having a loved one in prison, and how much it takes to fight for justice. I highly recommend this one.

 

 

#BookReviews: The Wave | The First Time Lauren Pailing Died | I Spy | The Most Difficult Thing

MINI REVIEWS

I’m back with some more mini book reviews today as I continue in my attempts to catch up on reviewing the books that I’ve read over the summer months!

 

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The Wave by Virginia Moffatt

I was really drawn to the premise of this book – the idea of a tsunami heading towards the Cornish coast leaving the people there with no real chance of escaping it is chilling but also an intriguing set up for a novel. I found this book really hard to put down. I really liked most of the characters and there were some really moving moments within the story. I did find it a little jarring at times though as I didn’t believe that people who have chosen to spend their final hours on the beach enjoying their last moments of life would then end up debating politics. It seems to me that in that situation people would be more likely to be either in quiet reflection or bonding with others as they talked about their lives – their happiest moments and their regrets. As I said before though I still found this a compelling book that I didn’t want to put down and even though we know how the story is going to end for these characters, I still spent the whole book hoping it would be different for them. I’ll definitely look out for more from this author in the future.

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The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

This is such a fascinating novel that follows Lauren Pailing through multiple alternate lives. Each time she dies a new life begins for the people that loved her. So the further into the book you get the more strands of each version of Lauren’s life are being followed. It may sound complicated but it was actually really easy to follow each life as it quickly becomes clear where you are in each particular strand. In each of Lauren’s lives a man has disappeared and she is convinced that she needs to find him. In time versions of Lauren begin to have memories of a life she didn’t live but another version of her did and this is where the novel got really interesting for me, I loved the way the author explored how other versions of us might still be a part of us on some level. The novel explores themes of relationships, grief and parenting in such a sensitive way. This is such a stunning novel and one that has really stayed with me since I read it. I’m already excited to read whatever Alyson Rudd writes next!

 

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The Most Difficult Thing by Charlotte Philby

This is such a good novel full of intrigue and suspense! It’s part spy novel, part thriller and part family drama and this made for such a great read.  On the surface Anna is successful in her career at a magazine, she’s happily married and adores her three-year old twins but all is not quite as it seems. Her life is on the verge of unravelling and slowly we get to see who she really is but also who the people around her really are. It becomes something of a cat and mouse but you’re not always sure who the good guys are. I found this such a compelling read that was hard to put down. The ending was so brilliant and perfect in my opinion but I also feel it might divide readers! I recommend it!

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I Spy by Claire Kendal

This is another really good spy novel that I enjoyed over the summer. Holly has always wanted to be a spy but when she gets the interview she fails and has to reassess what she’s going to do with her life. Then one day she has a random encounter with a woman and child that sends Holly’s thoughts spiralling. The novel goes back and forth in time and you gradually get to understand who Holly is and what this woman has to do with her life. This is a book that takes genuinely unexpected turns at times and it kept me gripped from start to finish. I’m a fan of Claire Kendal’s previous novels but this one is now my favourite of hers. It’s such a great read and I recommend it!