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.

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June Wrap-Up post!

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June has flown by and I can’t believe it’s already July! The highlight of June for me was going to see Kraftwerk with my husband and it was absolutely brilliant. I still can’t believe that we managed to get tickets to see them!

I’m still going through my medication changes so I’m very up and down depending on where I am in the reduction plan. I was offered a new kind of treatment to potentially help with pain management and the person who is doing the treatment has ended up working with me on my PTSD. It’s been amazing for me to finally be shedding those symptoms, and once we’ve worked through those I’ll be starting on the pain protocol to see if it can help me cope better with my pain levels. It’s very draining, mentally and physically, but it’s worth it to be finally dealing with some very traumatic memories.

I also wanted to say here that I am so grateful to all of you who keep reading and sharing my posts, to those of you who comment and check in to see how I am. I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me. I feel terrible that I’m not managing much time online at the moment and aren’t keeping up with all of your blogs just now. I promise that when I feel stronger I will be back commenting and catching up. In the meantime though – thank you so much.

 

Here are the 15 books I read this month:

 

Be Awesome by Hadley Freeman

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

 

Fabrice Muamba: I’m Still Standing by Fabrice Muamba

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

A Year Lost and Found by Michael Mayne

 

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett


June Blog Posts & Reviews:

I wrote my regular blog posts this month – my Weekly Wrap-Ups, WWW Wednesday posts and my Stacking the Shelves posts so I’m pleased that I didn’t miss any of those.  I didn’t manage to write as many reviews as I’d hoped but I did get five reviews posted which is better than nothing. I also had two fab guest posts from authors Kate Vane and Emily Benet.

Here are the reviews I shared in June:

I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

 

Here are my blog posts from June:

Kate Vane wrote a guest post for my blog all about choosing the title of her novel The Former Chief Executive

Emily Benet wrote about her perfect hen night in celebration of her brand new novel The Hen Party


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The state of my TBR:

As any of you who read my weekly wrap-ups will already know, my plan to reduce my TBR this year has gone completely awry! Books are my pick-me-up so when I’m having a tough time I end up looking at books online and often end up buying one or two. My TBR is now very out of control, not helped by the fact that I didn’t read as much this month as I normally do!

I began this year with a TBR (this is books that I own) of 1885 books and it now stands at 1981 owned but unread books! My aim now is to just really try not to let it get over 2000. I need to get back to at least not buying anymore books than I can read in a month so that my TBR doesn’t get any bigger. My willpower is weak at the moment though.

So far this year I’ve read 129 books, and my target for the year is 200 so I’m definitely on track to achieve that. My Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge to make 100 of those books ones I owned before 31 Dec 2016 is on track. Of the books I’ve read so far this year 52 count for this challenge, which I’m very pleased about.


Quarterly Stats!

 

At the beginning of this year I started tracking my reading and book buying on a spreadsheet for the first time and I’m finding it fascinating to see the patterns in my reading. This is something I’ll definitely be continuing with. I decided to show my stats every three months so it’s that time again!

 

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As I said above I’ve read 129 books this year so far, which amounts to 43,464 pages! I’m really interested in keeping an eye on my total page count as well as books read as it means I’m reading for enjoyment, regardless of how long a book is, rather than focusing on shorter books to get my books read numbers up.  Most of my books fall into the 300-399 pages bar but you can see I have read a couple of much longer books as well as a few shorter books.  The average length of book comes in at 339 pages, which I’m pleased with.

 

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I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for many years now and I enjoy the stats that I get from there but it doesn’t give a great deal of info. One thing I’m really enjoying about having my own spreadsheet to track other data, and it’s fascinating me to see the breakdown of author genders. This year I’m not consciously picking authors by gender so this is purely how my reading naturally has been. It’s interesting to see that in the first six months of this year 70% of my reading has been books written by female authors.

 

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I read quite a lot of non-fiction last year and wanted to keep that up this year. It was my aim to try and make sure that at least a third of my reading was non-fiction or memoir. Of the 129 books I’ve read so far 35 are non-fiction, so this isn’t quite on target but I have had a month where I’ve needed escapism and fiction so it’s not surprising. I feel sure that my non-fiction mojo will come back and I’ll end up being back on target.  I am reading a wide variety of genres in general though, so I’m pleased overall. The genres I read most of are general fiction, thriller and non-fiction.

 

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I’m also tracking how I acquire my books, which is also interesting to me. I’m happy to say that I buy the majority of my books, or have received them as gifts. I do get quite a lot of books from NetGalley and from publishers, which I am so grateful for but I think it’s good to see that I’m buying more books than I get sent as I do want to always support authors by buying their books, as well as reviewing them.

 


 

How was your June? I hope you all had a good month and that you read 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. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-Up! (25 Jun)

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This week has been very quiet, and yet eventful at the same time. I’ve made a huge leap forward in terms of finally beating my PTSD once and for all. I faced a big fear this week and it was actually okay so I feel like that’s been a huge achievement. It’s left me feeling very drained so I’ve not been reading as much, or blogging ,but hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I really enjoyed reading this. It was different than I was expecting but it’s one of those books that is really unsettling and gives you a lot to think about. I’m hoping to get my thoughts together so I can review this soon but I definitely recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This is the first book I’ve finished from my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. This was one of my three alternates but it was the one I most felt like reading so I went with it. I enjoyed this, it kept me hooked all the way through but I felt it was lacking something. I’m still planning to review it but need to get my thoughts together first.

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This book has been on my TBR for ages so when I spotted the audio book on my subscription service I decided to part listen and part read it. I very much enjoyed this one, it had an intensity to it that I wasn’t expecting and it really made an impression on me.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

                 Review of Exquisite by Sarah Stovell for the blog tour

Monday: Review of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

I bought this book a while ago after reading some great reviews and it caught my eye on my kindle yesterday so I started reading. It’s such a good book – one of those books that stays in my head even when I’m not reading and that I can’t wait to get back to. I definitely recommend this and it’s currently only 99p on kindle, which is such a bargain for a great read.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I was sent a surprise copy of this for review a few weeks ago and I finally got to start reading it this week. I’m really enjoying it, it’s great to see journalist Kate back as she was my favourite character in The Widow.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

I was expecting this to be a book that really grabbed me but I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read. I love when a book surprises me in this way and I’m really looking forward to reading more of it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’ve really been loving reading this one, it’s a perfect summer read. I’m reading this as part of my #20BooksOfSummer challenge and I’m so glad I finally picked this up.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve not read anymore of this over the last week as I just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to read this but it is such an incredibly moving book and I will get back to it soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m still not in much of a non-fiction mood but I did read another couple of chapters of this book this week and it’s so interesting. I hope to be able to read a bigger chunk of this soon.

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Update on my TBR:

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1956

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 20

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1973

WWW Wednesday (21 Jun) 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:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my choices for my #20BookofSummer and it’s such a great read for this time of year. I’m really enjoying this novel and definitely recommend it.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

As I think I said last week I’m not really in the mood for non-fiction so this book is still on the back burner. I’m hoping my non-fiction mojo returns soon as I definitely want to get back to this soon.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This is my other non-fiction read and it’s also been put to one side this week but again I hope to get back to it soon. Fingers crossed for the non-fiction vibe returning before too long.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I had to put this to one side this week as I was reading another review book that had similar themes and didn’t want to get the two mixed up in my head. I’m back reading this now and am really enjoying it.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This is a book that has been on my TBR for ages but has never reached the top but when I spotted it on my audio book subscription the other day I decided to listen to it. I got so engrossed in this novel, it really grabbed me and I recommend it.

The Law of Similars by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of my alternate choices for #20BooksofSummer but it ended up being the one that called to me the most so I decided to read it. I feel a bit conflicted about it as I really enjoyed reading it, it held my attention throughout but it left me feeling a little deflated. I’m hoping to review it if I can get my thoughts together about it soon.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I loved this novel and read it in one sitting as there just wasn’t a place where I could stop reading – I simply had to know what was going to happen. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

This novel was incredible. It was one of those books that I picked up at exactly the right time and it was such a moving and soothing novel. I honestly think this will be one of my books of the year! I’ve already reviewed it so you can see why I loved it so much here.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

I’ve been reading this over the last couple of weeks and I have enjoyed it so much. There was so much more to the book than I was expecting and I think it’s one that will stay in my mind for a while to come.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been so excited about this book as I’m a big fan of Lucy Clarke’s writing and I simply can’t wait any longer to read this!

Three Days and a Life by Pierre LeMaitre

This arrived just the other day and I’m so keen to read it so am hoping to get to it this week!

 

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.

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?

February 2017 Wrap-Up!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

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.

 

Weekly Wrap-Up (12 Feb)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a bit of a stressful one at times. Last weekend was horrible  – both stressful and upsetting for me. Firstly there was a mix up over my pain medication, which was very worrying but eventually got sorted late in the evening on Friday. Then Saturday morning brought a stressful and upsetting letter, which couldn’t be dealt with until Monday so I spent the whole weekend feeling awful. It’s on the way to being sorted out now but it’s frustrating when you have to deal with the effects of companies being incompetent. The stress left me feeling really unwell for a few days so I had a quiet couple of days at the start of the week and tried to escape into some books. I haven’t managed to blog as much as I would have liked, or to read and share posts, but I’m trying to catch up now.

Then my Kindle Voyage died. I predominantly read on Kindle so I feel lost without it. I do have instant replacement warranty on it but the company aren’t replying to emails and Amazon are being very unhelpful. Luckily, I have my iPad so can read on the Kindle app  but it’s not so good on the eyes to read off a screen so I can’t read for long periods on it, plus my iPad is heavy for me to hold. All of my notes and highlights for recently read review books have been lost too so I’m going to have to try and write reviews from memory, which isn’t the best. I just hope I can get a replacement Kindle soon.

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In better news, I’ve finally managed to regain access to my Facebook account. I still don’t know what happened with FB but I’m just glad it’s back up and running. If you want to like my page, you can find me here. Also, feel free to send me a friend request, my account is here.

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I also decided to join Instagram so I’m now sharing photos of what I’m up to and what I’m reading on there. You can find me here or search for me, I’m Rathertoofondofbooks on there.

 

This week I’ve finished reading eight books:

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This book was so beautiful, I loved it. It’s definitely a book that will stay with me and I’m sure I’ll re-read it in the future. 

F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin

My husband bought this as a surprise to cheer me up this week and it was a perfect gift after a stressful week. The title alone made me giggle! I enjoyed reading this short book – it’s great for people who are pedantic about apostrophes but it’s also a great book for people who want to learn more about how to use apostrophes.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This book really got under my skin and once I had an ebook copy I flew through it in one sitting, I honestly couldn’t put it down. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

I read this novel in one sitting – it’s such a fast-paced book that hooked me in from the opening pages and next thing I knew it was a few hours later and I’d finished it. I was sent this for review so hopefully I can get that written very soon.

Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

I have no idea where my copy of this book came from, I found it when I was sorting out my books but I’m pretty sure I didn’t buy it. I opened it to see what it was about and before I knew it I’d read the whole thing. It’s a book about a school shooting but it focuses more on the mindset of the killer than his actions.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I love Chris Bohjalian’s novels so was really looking forward to reading this one when I got it for my birthday. It was a good read, not my favourite by this author but still an enjoyable book.

The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond

I listened to the audio book of this earlier this week and really enjoyed it. It was the right book at the right time when I was feeling very stressed out. It was great escapism.

Last Night Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

I very much enjoyed this novel. Like Station Eleven it has a lot of layering, and gradual adding to the depth of the story, and I loved it.

 


This week I’ve blogged three times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap Up (5 Feb) post where I shared all of my blogging, reading and real life news from the previous week

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post where I shared what I was currently reading, what I’d  recently finished reading and what I was hoping to read next

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post where I shared all the books I’d added to my bookcases in the last seven days

 


This is what I’m currently reading:

A Game For All the Family by Sophie Hannah

I’ve had this book on my TBR since it was published so it’s great to finally be reading it. It’s such an engrossing read, and it has a modern-day Agatha Christie feel with the way the mystery is being set out. I can’t wait to find out how it all turns out in the end!

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

I really enjoyed the previous book in this series so was looking forward to this one coming out. I finally got to start reading it yesterday and it’s very good. It’s so fast-paced and has me hooked!

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

I bought this book on a whim last month as I loved the cover and the title. I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but I’m enjoying it and keen to see where it goes.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

This novel is beautifully written. I’m deliberately taking my time over this one as I want to savour everything about it. 

And The Sun Shines Now: How Hillsborough and the Premier League Changed Britain by Adrian Tempany

This book is a fascinating exploration of football since the 80s and how the political landscape of the time has had such an impact on how football has changed.

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

This is a collection of essays and is such an important read. I’m reading it slowly so that I can give myself time to really think about each essay in turn.

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

I’m still reading this book and still very much enjoying it. 


Update on my TBR…

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Wrap-Up: 1904

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 16 (I did buy couple of audio versions of books I already owned so my TBR only increased by 13. See the books I added this week in my WWW Wednesday post)

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 8

Books I’m currently reading: 7

TBR Books culled this week: 2

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1900

 


 

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 


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. 🙂

WWW Wednesday (8 Feb)

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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:

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Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

This books was one of my recent birthday gifts. I started reading it last night and it’s a beautiful read. I want to savour the writing so plan on reading this slowly but I highly recommend it.

Synopsis:

‘I am thinking of the days without end of my life…’

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War.

Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’ve owned the ebook of this for ages but it never seems to get to the top of my TBR… it was recently offered for free on Audible so I downloaded it. I started listening to the audio book today and am really enjoying it. Patti Smith is the narrator so that really adds to the listening experience.

Synopsis:

A prelude to fame, Just Kids recounts the friendship of two young artists–Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – whose passion fueled their lifelong pursuit of art.

In 1967, a chance meeting between two young people led to a romance and a lifelong friendship that would carry each to international success never dreamed of. The backdrop is
Brooklyn, Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, Scribner’s Bookstore, Coney Island, Warhol’s Factory and the whole city resplendent. Among their friends, literary lights, musicians and artists such as Harry Smith, Bobby Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, Sandy Daley, Sam Shepherd, William Burroughs, etc. It was a heightened time politically and culturally; the art and music worlds exploding and colliding. In the midst of all this two kids made a pact to always care for one another. Scrappy, romantic, committed to making art, they prodded and provided each other with faith and confidence during the hungry years–the days of cous-cous and lettuce soup.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. Beautifully written, this is a profound portrait of two young artists, often hungry, sated only by art and experience. And an
unforgettable portrait of New York, her rich and poor, hustlers and
hellions, those who made it and those whose memory lingers near.

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And The Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany

This book is a really interesting read. I remember watching the Hillsborough disaster on the TV with my parents and being horrified at what I was seeing. I’ve followed the investigations into what happened in recent years but what I had never really thought about was how much football was changed by what happened that day. I was only 10 so didn’t really remember what football was like before then. This book looks at what happened that day, the politics surrounding the aftermath and how the Premier League came to be what it is today.

Synopsis:

On 15 April 1989, 96 people were fatally injured on a football terrace at an FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield. The Hillsborough disaster was broadcast live on the BBC; it left millions of people traumatised, and English football in ruins.

And the Sun Shines Now is not a book about Hillsborough. It is a book about what arrived in the wake of unquestionably the most controversial tragedy in the post-war era of Britain’s history. The Taylor Report. Italia 90. Gazza’s tears. All seater stadia. Murdoch. Sky. Nick Hornby. The Premier League. The transformation of a game that once connected club to community to individual into a global business so rapacious the true fans have been forgotten, disenfranchised.

In powerful polemical prose, against a backbone of rigorous research and interviews, Adrian Tempany deconstructs the past quarter century of English football and examines its place in the world. How did Hillsborough and the death of 96 Liverpool fans come to change the national game beyond recognition? And is there any hope that clubs can reconnect with a new generation of fans when you consider the startling statistic that the average age of season ticket holder here is 41, compared to Germany’s 21?

Perhaps the most honest account of the relationship between the football and the state yet written, And the Sun Shines Now is a brutal assessment of the modern game.

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Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

This is such a wonderful book. I loved Will Schwalbe’s previous book so have been keen to read this one. Unfortunately the NetGalley copy is really difficult to read because of all the copyrighting through the book so I may have to leave this one for now and wait until I can buy a copy. The actual writing is wonderful though.

Synopsis:

Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape into another reality?
For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions.
In each chapter, he discusses a particular book-what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. These books span centuries and genres (from classic works of adult and children’s literature to contemporary thrillers and even a cookbook), and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honour those we’ve loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully.
Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: “What are you reading?”

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The Good Immigrant ed. by Nikesh Shukla

This has been on my wishlist for a while so when I spotted it in the Kindle sale last week I snapped it up. I’m reading it slowly so that I can really take in and think about what is being said. I highly recommend it.

Synopsis:

How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport?

Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants – job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees – until, by winning Olympic races or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and – most importantly – real.

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

I’ve not managed to pick this up since last week as I’m still struggling to hold the print copy. I’ve really enjoyed what I have read but it’s just slow-going with my health being what it is at the moment.

Synopsis:

Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

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The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

I’ve managed to read a bit more of this over the last week as the section I’m up to is set out in really small segments, which are perfect for dipping in and out of as and when I can manage to hold the book. 

Synopsis:

Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.
Morley will offer a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.

 

What I recently finished reading:

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Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

I was sorting through my books over the last few days and found I owned a copy of this. I don’t know where it came from as I’m sure it’s not mine but I opened it to see what it was about and ending up reading it in one sitting. It’s about a school shooting but has more depth to it than I expected.

Synopsis:

A disturbed high-school student with authority problems kills one of his teachers and takes the rest of his class hostage. Over the course of one long, tense and unbearable hot afternoon, Charlie Decker explains what led him to this drastic sequence of events, while at the same time deconstructing the personalities of his classmates, forcing each one to justify his or her existence.

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Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

This was another of my birthday gifts and I really enjoyed reading it. I would say that it’s not the best book by this author but it is a really good read. 

Synopsis:

Emily Shepard is on the run; the nuclear plant where her father worked has suffered a cataclysmic meltdown, and all fingers point to him. Now, orphaned, homeless, and certain that she s a pariah, Emily s taken to hiding out on the frigid streets of Burlington, Vermont, creating a new identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson.
Then she meets Cameron. Nine years old and with a string of foster families behind him, he sparks something in Emily, and she protects him with a fierceness she didn t know she possessed. But when an emergency threatens the fledgling home she s created, Emily realizes that she can’t hide forever.”

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The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond

I listened to the audiobook of this over the last few days and really enjoyed it. It was an easy read but one that I found engaging enough to keep me interested. It’s made me want to pick up more of Lucy Diamond’s novels in the future.

Synopsis:

The best things in life . . . can be just around the corner

Rachel and Becca aren’t real sisters, or so they say. They are stepsisters, living far apart, with little in common. Rachel is the successful one: happily married with three children and a big house, plus an impressive career. Artistic Becca, meanwhile, lurches from one dead-end job to another, shares a titchy flat, and has given up on love.

The two of them have lost touch, but when Rachel doesn’t come home one night, Becca is called in to help.
Once there, she quickly realizes that her stepsister’s life is not so perfect after all: Rachel’s handsome husband
has moved out, her children are rebelling, and her glamorous career has taken a nosedive. Worst of all,
nobody seems to have a clue where she might be.

As Becca begins to untangle Rachel’s secrets, she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about
her own life, and the future seems uncertain.

But sometimes happiness can be found in the most unexpected places . . .

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Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

I very much enjoyed this book and am so glad I finally picked it up. It’s an intriguing story that is beautifully written. I can see how Emily St. John went from here to Station Eleven. I definitely want to read her other books soon.

Synopsis:

Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he’s not ready to let her go, not without a fight.

Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel’s Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and – ultimately – about the nature of obsession.

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This book is huge but I still read it over just ten days and I loved it. The story goes round and around and the characters kept on surprising me. When I wasn’t reading it I couldn’t wait to get back to it and now I’ve finished it I really miss it. I highly recommend this.

Synopsis:

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.

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Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn

This isn’t really a book to read but I’m including it because the paintings and quotes kept me engrossed looking at this for a whole afternoon, even though it’s only 112 pages long. I’d recommend this to all book lovers, it’s a gorgeous book. I think it’ll be one I often get out to look at.

Synopsis:

A treasure of a gift for the well-read woman, this collection brings together 50 stirring portraits, in watercolour and in word, of literature’s most well-read female characters. Anna Karenina, Clarissa Dalloway, Daisy Buchanan…each seems to live on the page through celebrated artist Samantha Hahn’s evocative portraits and hand-lettered quotations, with the pairing of art and text capturing all the spirit of the character as she was originally written. The book itself evokes vintage grace re-imagined for contemporary taste, with a cloth spine silk-screened in a graphic pattern, debossed cover, and pages that turn with the tactile satisfaction of watercolour paper. In the hand and in the reading, here is a new classic for the book lover’s library.

 

What I plan on reading next:

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The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

I bought this at the end of last week and I can’t wait to start it, it sounds so good!

Synopsis:

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?

 

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Watch Me by Angela Clarke

I really enjoyed Follow Me when I read it so have been eagerly awaiting the second book in this series. I hope to get a chance to start reading it over the next few days!

Synopsis:

YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I can’t believe that I’ve not read this novel before! I finally bought myself a copy this week and don’t think it’ll be on my TBR for more than  few days as it sounds incredible.

Synopsis:

Latin terrorists storm an international gathering hosted by an underprivileged country to promote foreign interest and trade, only to find that their intended target, the President, has stayed home to watch his favourite soap opera on TV. Among the hostages are a world class opera singer and her biggest fan, a Japanese tycoon who has been persuaded to attend the party on the understanding that she will perform half a dozen arias after dinner.

The tycoon’s engaging and sympathetic translator plays a vital role in the subsequent relationships between so many different nationalities closeted together, interpreting not only the terrorists’ negotiations but also the language of love between lovers who cannot understand what the other is saying.

Ultimately, it is the terrorist strike that does more to promote foreign relations than anyone could have hoped to achieve with the party.


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.

Weekly Wrap-Up (5 Feb)

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I don’t have much news from this week, it’s been quite a quiet week really. I’ve been slowly carrying on with my decluttering and have filled another three huge bin bags with either things for the charity shop, or rubbish. I’m still feeling ruthless so will be carrying on with the decluttering for a while yet! I need to get around to clearing some shelf space as currently all the lovely books I got for my birthday are in a box as there is literally no space to put them on any of my bookcases or shelves! Eeeek!

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I had the ebook of this on my TBR for ages but just never got around to it so when I spotted it on an Audible deal recently I snapped it up. I’ve listened to it over the course of a couple of days and it was ok. I think the book has been so hyped for so long that it was going to be a huge ask for it to live up to. It was enjoyable enough but I was a bit disappointed.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I love love love this book! It was close to 900 pages long and I’ve read it over the last ten days or so – I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, and now I’ve finished it I really miss it. It made me remember how much I used to adore reading big books and I’m definitely going to make more effort to read longer books. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it yet.

Well-Read Women by Samantha Hahn

This is a book I got for my birthday and I adore it. It’s such a beautiful book and whilst it’s only 112 pages and is predominantly paintings I’ve added it as a read book here because I literally spent a few hours looking at the paintings and reading the quotes. This is a fabulous book for a book lover – I’m definitely going to be buying copies as gifts in the future.

This week I’ve blogged five times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up (29 Jan) where I shared all my book, blogging and real life news from the previous week.

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday (1 Feb) where I shared what I was currently reading, what I’d recently read and what I was hoping to read next.

Thursday: January Wrap-Up where I wrapped up the first month of 2017, sharing all the books I’d read, links to all my reviews and blog posts, and how my plan to reduce my TBR was going.

Friday: My Birthday Book Haul where I shared my huge haul of books that I was lucky enough to receive for my birthday last weekend.

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves where I wrote about the books I bought myself or received for review over the last seven days.

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

I completely and utterly fell in love with Will Schwalbe’s previous book so I’ve been really keen to read this one. So far the book is wonderful but unfortunately my copy is from NetGalley and the formatting is making it very hard for me to read. I’m considering putting it to one side for now and buying my own copy to read. 

The Good Immigrant ed. by Nikesh Shukla 

This is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages so when I spotted it for the bargain price of £2.99 on Kindle this week I snapped it up. I’ve read the first four essays so far and it’s a very thought-provoking read. I want to read this slowly and give myself time to really think about what’s being said so I’m reading an essay or two each day. I definitely recommend it though. 

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

When I started reading this it seemed very different from Station Eleven (which I read a few years ago and completely adored) but as I get further into it and more and more layers are peeled back it’s really clear how the author got from here to there. I’m really enjoying this book.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

This book, like the two below, is a really enjoyable novel but my reading of it is being hampered by my struggles with holding a physical book at the moment. The novel itself is really engaging though and I would recommend it.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This is a really heavy , stiff paperback book to hold so I’m struggling to hold it open to read. I’m enjoying the story but may have to give up on this one until I can get hold of an ebook version.

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

I’m still enjoying this book but the format is slowing my reading down. My husband is thinking of getting the audio book version as I’ve been recommending the book to him ever since I started reading it so I may well end up listening to it with him.

 


Update on my TBR…

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Weekly Wrap-Up: 1889

Books bought/received for review: 12

TBR Books culled this week: 0

TBR now stands at: 1904

I really hope to at least get my TBR back under 1900 this month – ideally by reading lots of my own books and not accumulating more, but I do need to do a cull at some point too to make room for my birthday books.


 

SundayBlogShare

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 


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. 🙂

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 and she gave me, amongst other things, some Amazon vouchers and I’m so tempted to spend them on some new books but am trying to resist for now!

I wasn’t well enough to go out and celebrate my birthday but still had a really lovely day at home. Books are such an amazing gift, especially for someone who’s housebound most of the time, as they are a gift that lasts for such a long time.

 

I’ll still be joining in with Stacking the Shelves tomorrow as I have bought a couple of audio and ebooks this week so look out for that post then.

 

WWW Wednesday (1 Feb) What are you reading?

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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:

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Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

I read Station Eleven a couple of years ago and loved it so much that I always wanted to read her earlier novels. I finally picked this one up this week and am enjoying it so far.

Synopsis:

Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he’s not ready to let her go, not without a fight.

Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel’s Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and – ultimately – about the nature of obsession.

 

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Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

This was one of the surprise birthday gifts from my husband at the weekend and I was so pleased to receive it. I love Chris Bohjalian’s novels so I immediately started reading this. It might take me a bit of time to read it as it’s a hardback but I’m very much enjoying it.

Synopsis:

Emily Shepard is on the run; the nuclear plant where her father worked has suffered a cataclysmic meltdown, and all fingers point to him. Now, orphaned, homeless, and certain that she s a pariah, Emily s taken to hiding out on the frigid streets of Burlington, Vermont, creating a new identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson.
Then she meets Cameron. Nine years old and with a string of foster families behind him, he sparks something in Emily, and she protects him with a fierceness she didn t know she possessed. But when an emergency threatens the fledgling home she s created, Emily realizes that she can’t hide forever.”

 

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The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This book is HUGE and as a result has been languishing on my TBR since I bought it when it was first published. I’ve now got an ebook copy so it’s easier for me to read. It’s such a great novel and I’d highly recommend it. I’m about 40% through it now and really look forward to getting back to it when I’m not reading it.

Synopsis:

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.

 

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The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

I’ve not managed to read much of this book since last week as I’m really struggling with print books at the moment. I’ve requested a NetGalley copy of it so if I get approved I reckon I’ll read it in one sitting as it’s a really good read.

Synopsis:

Beautiful.
Rich.
Mysterious.

The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away, or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents’ estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it really means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing – and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

 

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The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

As with the above book I’ve not managed to read much of this book this week either, entirely down to my pain levels and lack of dexterity in my hands. If I hadn’t been going through a bad few weeks I reckon I’d have read this within a day or two as it’s brilliant.

Synopsis:

Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.
Morley will offer a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.


What I recently finished reading:

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Blood Wedding by Pierre LeMaitre

I’ve had a rough few days health-wise and spent ages scrolling through my kindle looking for something to read. For some reason this book caught my eye and I literally read the whole thing in one sitting. It was brilliant, such a fast-paced engaging read.

Synopsis:

Sophie is haunted by the things she can’t remember – and visions from the past she will never forget.

One morning, she wakes to find that the little boy in her care is dead. She has no memory of what happened. And whatever the truth, her side of the story is no match for the evidence piled against her.

Her only hiding place is in a new identity. A new life, with a man she has met online.

But Sophie is not the only one keeping secrets . . .

For fans of Gone Girl and Lemaitre’s own internationally bestselling AlexBlood Weddingis a compelling psychological thriller with a formidable female protagonist

 

the-life-of-rylan

The Life of Rylan by Rylan Clark

This is another book I picked up on a whim whilst feeling unwell. I listened to the audio book and it was such a fun listen. I am a Big Brother (and Bit on the Side) fan and so it was interesting to learn more about Rylan. It’s a great listen for when you’re feeling in need to cheering up.

Synopsis:

Well hark at you, stumbling upon my autobiography. Bet you wouldn’t have put money on that three years ago, eh?! Please don’t stress yourself out too much though, it’s actually socially acceptable nowadays that you’re interested.
Firstly I’d like to emphasise that I have WRITTEN THIS BOOK MYSELF, so be assured you’re getting the TOOTH, the WHOLE TOOTH and NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH! (Which was my original choice of title, but babe, we’re so over that) This book documents my story, year by year, from my humble beginnings growing up in the East End of London, becoming one of the nation’s most talked-about people overnight to finally moving up the spectrum from guilty pleasure, and getting nearer to national treasure. It will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly you’ll discover who I really am. If it doesn’t do any of those things you’re not legally entitled to a refund – just clearing that up ;-). I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it. This book has been like therapy, and LORD was I in need. Enjoy!

 

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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

I finished reading this book at the end of last week and it was utterly wonderful. I loved everything about this book and highly recommend it. I hope to get my review written for this within the next week or so but am struggling to get my thoughts together at the moment, as is often the case with books I’ve loved.

Synopsis:

MEET THE ‘KEEPER OF LOST THINGS’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.
WE’RE ALL JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND…

 

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is such a fun read, I loved it. The 80s references are great, and the story is really engaging and engrossing. I recommend it.

Synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

 

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney

This is a fast-paced read that keeps you hooked all the way through. I’ve already reviewed this so you can read that here if you’d like to.

Synopsis:

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the TrainThe Girl Before is being brought to the big screen. The film is set to be directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.


What I plan on reading next:

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Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

This was another birthday present and I can’t wait to read it. As I’m typing up this post I’ve just seen that it’s won the Costa Book award so I’m even more keen to read it! 

Synopsis:

‘I am thinking of the days without end of my life…’

After signing up for the US army in the 1850s, aged barely seventeen, Thomas McNulty and his brother-in-arms, John Cole, go on to fight in the Indian wars and, ultimately, the Civil War.

Having fled terrible hardships they find these days to be vivid and filled with wonder, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and imperilled when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

Moving from the plains of the West to Tennessee, Sebastian Barry’s latest work is a masterpiece of atmosphere and language. Both an intensely poignant story of two men and the lives they are dealt, and a fresh look at some of the most fateful years in America’s past, Days Without End is a novel never to be forgotten.

 

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This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel

I won a beautiful proof copy of this book last week and so plan to read it very soon as it sounds like a wonderful novel.

Synopsis:

Laurie Frankel’s THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is a warm, touching and bittersweet novel about a family that’s just like any other – until it’s not. For readers of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES and THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY. ‘A lively and fascinating story of a thoroughly modern family and the giant, multifaceted love that binds them… Sparkles with wit and wisdom’ Maria Semple, bestselling author of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE. 

Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time – and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl.

As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?

Warm, touching and bittersweet, THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS is a novel about families, love and how we choose to define ourselves. It will make you laugh and cry – and see the world differently.

 


 

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.

 

 

Weekly Wrap-Up (29 Jan)

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This is my birthday weekend and by pure chance my husband has the weekend off so it’s been lovely spending time with him. He spoilt me with lots of new books, which I will either post pics of in a book haul this week or in my Stacking the Shelves post on Saturday. I did know about some of the books but some were surprises so it was a nice mix. He also had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered, which was lovely.

We celebrated my birthday with a takeaway as I wasn’t well enough to go out but that was still really lovely. I want to see the new Trainspotting film but the cinema is really difficult for me to manage but I’m hoping we can see it in the next week or so as a belated birthday treat.

I’ve been slowly de-cluttering my house again since the beginning of the year, having been inspired by reading Unf*ck Your Life by Rachel Hoffman. Yesterday my husband took ten full bin bags of clothes, shoes, handbags and books to the charity shop for me. It feels really good to have got rid of so much, and I still have more sorting out to do so I expect there to be more for the charity shop soon. I’ve been listening to audiobooks whilst decluttering so I’m still getting lots of reading done.

 


This week I’ve finished reading five books:

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

This book is wonderful, I adored every single second I spent reading it. I’ll be writing my review of this soon and hope to have it up on my blog in the next week or so.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I can’t believe I thought this book wouldn’t be for me for such a long time purely because I’m not a gamer. I’m so glad I gave it a chance, it’s such a good read. I especially loved all of the 80s references and was on the edge of my seat as the quest reached it’s final stage! This wasn’t an ARC but I may still review it on my blog if I get time.

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

I enjoyed this thriller for the most part but it did take a turn that I thought was gimmicky and it took away from my enjoyment a little. I reviewed this book on my blog last week and you can read that here if you’d like to.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

This book has been on my TBR since it was first published but the length of it it put me off picking it up. I’m so pleased that I finally got to it as it was a brilliant read. I still keep thinking about it and highly recommend it.

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

This is a brilliantly creepy and sinister read. I almost didn’t pick it up as I’m easily scared but the great writing in this book over-rode my fear factor and I couldn’t put it down. I reviewed it last week so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

 


This week I’ve blogged six times:

(Click the links next to the day of the week if you’d like to read the posts)

Sunday: Weekly Wrap- Up

Monday: Review of Loving the Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell

Tuesday: Review of Rattle by Fiona Cummins

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Friday: Review of The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves

 


This is what I’m currently reading:

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

I haven’t hauled this book yet as it was one of my birthday gifts but I immediately started reading it so wanted to add it in to this post. I’m only a couple of chapters in so far but I’m enjoying it. I’m a big fan of Chris Bohjalian’s novels so was very excited to receive this surprise gift.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This book has been on my TBR for ages but I always put off picking it up because it’s huge! This year I’m trying to read as many books off my TBR as I can to reduce it but I wanted to make sure that I factor in reading the books that have been on my TBR for a really long time. I’m very much enjoying this novel, I’m about a third of the way through it and it’s keeping me hooked. 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

I’ve been slow getting to read this book as it’s a print book and I’ve had a bad week so it’s been a struggle to hold print books. I am enjoying this novel though and now I’m feeling a bit better I hope to read this book in full over the next couple of days.

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

I’m still very much enjoying this book. It’s taking me a while purely because it’s a big, heavy hardback and it’s a struggle for me to hold it and turn the pages at times. It’s a great biography  though and I recommend I highly recommend it.


 

Update on my TBR…

TBR at the start of January 2017: 1885 (see my State of the TBR post)

TBR in last week’s Weekly Wrap-Up: 1880

Books bought/received for review: 8

Birthday books added 28 Jan: 21

TBR Books culled this week: 4

TBR now stands at: 1899