June Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

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. 🙂

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WWW Wednesday (5 Jul) What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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:

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I had this pre-ordered on Kindle as I’ve been so keen to read it. I started it last night and it’s brilliant, I really am getting so much out of it. In fact I’m finding it so brilliant that I’ve now ordered a hardback copy to have on my bookcase. I highly recommend this book!

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I’m a huge fan of Lucy Clarke and always look forward to a new novel from her. I’m so pleased to say that this book absolutely lives up to her previous books and I’m utterly engrossed in it.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve listed this here but unfortunately I’m not actively reading this at the moment due to it being a large paperback and I physically can’t turn the pages just now. I have been very much hooked on the novel though and hope to be able to read more soon.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This book is so much more than I even expected it to be and even though it’s a short book I’m deliberately reading it slowly to take it all in.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I’ve read a few more chapters of this book this week and am finding it such a powerful read. I recommend this book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I’m hoping to finally read a big chunk of this book in the coming week as my non-fiction mojo seems to be on its way back.

 

What I recently finished reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I hadn’t heard about this book until I saw Gemma being interviewed on This Morning last week and I immediately bought the ebook. This is an incredibly moving book and one I want to review once I’ve got my thoughts together.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

I’ve had this on my TBR for ages but it’s never got to the top of the mountain but when I saw the audio book was on my subscription service last week I decided to listen to it. I did find it very predictable which was a little disappointing but it was an enjoyable enough listen.

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This was my latest pick from my #20BooksofSummer challenge and I really enjoyed it. I read it over two days and found myself completely hooked. I recommend this one and am kicking myself for leaving it on my TBR for so long before picking it up.

What I plan on reading next:

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’ve been so excited to read this book for a good few weeks now and it’s finally time! I’ve heard so many good things about it and I think it’s going to be a real treat.

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

This was a book I hoped to read last week but didn’t manage to get to it. I’m going to make it a priority this week though and am really looking forward to it.


 

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! (2 Jul)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been another quiet week but I’m slowly having a de-clutter of the kitchen, which is proving very satisfying. I’ve discovered that I’m inadvertently a collector of jars – there were jars shoved in the back of a lot of cupboards and I had no idea I’d kept so many. They’ve now gone for recycling and we now have more space to put things away! Isn’t it funny how you don’t even realise the way your hoarding tendencies are playing out until you see the evidence for yourself?! Ha!

It was also an exciting week this week as my cousin has released his debut album. He lives in America so it’s wonderful that we live in an age where I can buy his album on iTunes in the UK on the day it was released! I’m so proud of him – his late mum and me were very close and I just know she would be bursting with pride at how he’s following his dreams.

 

This week I’ve finished reading three books:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This has been on my TBR ever since it was first published so I made it one of my choices for the #20BooksofSummer challenge and I’m so glad I did. I found myself really engrossed in this novel and very much enjoyed reading it.

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book caught my eye on my kindle last week and I immediately started reading. I got completely wrapped up in this novel and am still thinking about it now, a week after finishing it. I highly recommend this one.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was another of my #20BooksofSummer picks and I adored this novel! I’m not the biggest fan of Pride and Prejudice but this modern take on it was brilliant. It’s a great read for the summer and I definitely recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up post

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

Friday: Guest post by author Emily Benet on her ideal hen party as part of The Hen Party blog tour

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I bought this book after seeing Gemma on This Morning last week and I started reading it right away. It’s a tough read because you see the pain the family were in when Milly went missing and you know it’s not going to have a good outcome. This is a very powerful book, I recommend it.

A Line of Blood by Ben McPherson

This is my current audio book – I picked it on a whim and it’s an okay listen. I’m about 20% in and it’s lacking something for me at the moment but I’m intrigued enough to keep going for now so hopefully it will pick up a bit soon.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’ve had to leave this to one side this week as I just haven’t been able to turn the pages of a print book. I was really engrossed in the novel though so I really hope I can get back to it soon. If all else fails I’ll look at getting the ebook or the audio so I can carry on with it.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a book that has got to me in ways I wasn’t expecting when I started reading so I’m now reading it much slower and savouring it. It’s a beautiful book though and one I’ll be recommending.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert AND The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Both of these books have been on hold again this week. I feel like I need to add them here as they are on my currently reading shelf and I do hope to continue with them soon. Both are brilliant reads, it’s just not been the right time for me to read them recently.

 

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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: 1973

Additions:

Books bought/received for review/gifts: 9

Subtractions:

Books read this week: 3

TBR Books culled this week: 0

Total:

TBR now stands at: 1982

 


 

How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a good week, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading over the last seven days. If you do a wrap-up post please feel free to share a link below.

WWW Wednesday (28 Jun) What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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:

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

This is one of my picks for my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. I’ve had this on my TBR ever since it was first published so I’m really happy to finally have got to it. I’m really engrossed in it and wondering where it’s going to go.

The Child by Fiona Barton

I’m really enjoying this book, it grabbed me in the first few chapters and I’m finding myself thinking about it when I’m not reading it which is always the sign of a great novel. The only reason I’ve not read it quicker is because my copy is a large paperback so it’s difficult to hold for longer periods of time.

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

This is a novella and I thought it would be a quick, easy read. It’s actually a book that has really got under my skin and I’m finding it an emotional read at the moment so now I’m savouring every page. It’s a beautiful novella.

Baby Lost by Hannah Robert

I still haven’t managed to read any more of this book but the issue is entirely with me, not the book. I’m really hoping my non-fiction reading mojo returns soon so I can get back to this because it is such an interesting and moving book.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

I did read a couple more chapters of this at the weekend and am finding it fascinating but my mood really isn’t for non-fiction just now so I’m just going to dip in and out of this and hope my mojo returns soon.

What I recently finished reading:

Guilty Innocence by Maggie James

This book was brilliant! I got the ebook a few months ago after reading reviews on some of my favourite blogs and it caught my eye on my kindle this week. It’s a very difficult subject matter to write fiction about children who murder but Maggie James got the balance right. I’m going to try and review this at some point but for now I definitely recommend it.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This was one of my #20BooksOfSummer and it was excellent. I have to be honest here and say that I’m not the biggest fan on Pride and Prejudice but it is a book I’ve read a few times over the years so I know it well, and this take on it was just brilliant! I very much enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this and highly recommend it.

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan

I loved this book. It was one of those novels that really makes you think about what you’re reading as you’re reading it. I was engrossed in the pages but at the same time my brain was ticking over about what was going on. The writing is so good! I’ll be reviewing this one as soon as I get my thoughts together (hopefully soon!).

What I plan on reading next:

Last Seen by Lucy Clarke

I was planning to read this last week but didn’t get around to it so I’m putting it in my plan to read this week as I really want to read this asap!

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I was sent a copy of this book for review last week and I’m really keen to read it so hopefully I can get to it this week too.

 

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.

girls on fire robin wasserman

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?

Weekly Wrap-Up and Stacking the Shelves (5th December)

I don’t know where the weeks are going at the moment, I can’t quite believe that it’s Saturday again already and time for my weekly wrap-up post!

I’ve realised over the last few days that due to my physio schedule increasing I simply don’t have the energy and brain power to read as many books, or to write as many reviews or posts on my blog. I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to post as and when I can, or whether to try and make some sort of schedule so I still have regular posts. If any of you have any suggestions on how to manage book blogging alongside a hectic real life then please let me know in the comments. Any and all advice is much appreciated.

This week on my blog I’ve posted my usual WWW Wednesday, and Book Beginnings posts. I also did my monthly wrap-up for November.


 

My week in books:

I’ve read four books this week and have managed to review all of them.

(Please click on the links below the images to read my reviews)

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman

Don’t Jump by Vicki Abelson

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce


 

stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought this week:

This week there has been a huge sale on Kindle books due to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and I went completely and utterly one-click happy! I was debating whether to post pics of all of the books I bought as it will show how out of control I’ve been this week, or whether I should just post highlights. In the interests of always been truthful on my blog, I’m listing them all. Please don’t judge me!

The first four books are books I already own, and have already read, in print but when I spotted them on sale as ebooks I decided to buy them in this format as well.

The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder

The Enchantment of Lily Dahl by Siri Hustvedt

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Janette Winterson

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

The following are all books on my wishlist that dropped in price over the past few days and so I couldn’t resist buying them!

The Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante (sale)

The Novel Cure by Susan Elderkin (sale)

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (sale)

Little White Lies by Lesley Lokko (sale)

The Gallery of Lost Husbands by Natasha Solomons (sale)

Vagina: A New Biography by Naomi Wolf (sale)

Do Me No Harm by Julie Corbin (sale)

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (sale)

Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter (sale)

The Other Child by Charlotte Link (sale)

Winter Flowers by Carol Coffey (sale)

The Island Hideaway by Louise Candlish  (sale)

Never Broken by Hannah Campbell (sale)

The House of Frozen Dreams by Sere Prince Halverson (sale)

The Happy Hoofer by Celia Imrie (sale)

Oswald’s Tale by Norman Mailer (sale)

 

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde (sale)

Murder by Sarah Pinborough (sale)

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough (sale)

Skellig by David Almond (sale)

Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking (sale)

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (sale)

All Day Long by Joanna Biggs (sale)

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (sale)

Coming Up Trumps by Jean Trumpington (sale)

Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill (sale)

26 Miles to the Moon by Andrew Males (sale)

Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid (sale)

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (sale)

No Place to Die by Clare Donoghue (sale)

Learning to Speak American by Colette Dartford (sale)

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett (sale)

 

The next four books are all Christmas books that I couldn’t resist buying even though I’m not sure I have time to read all the Christmas novels I already own!

Enid Blyton’s Christmas Stories by Enid Blyton (sale)

Wish Upon A Christmas Cake by Darcie Boleyn (sale)

A Wedding at Christmas by Chrissie Manby (sale)

The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse (sale)

And the last two books that I bought this week were two books that I’ve had on my wishlist for ages and couldn’t resist them any longer. The Melissa Hill book was just released on Thursday and I’ve been waiting for it to be out!

A Diamond from Tiffany’s by Melissa Hill

Paulina and Fran by Rachel B. Glaser

 

Review books received this week:

Snowed in for her Wedding by Emma Bennet (ebook)

Callie’s Christmas Countdown by Julie Ryan (ebook)

Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon (ebook)

As Weekends Go by Jan Brigden (ebook)

A Savage Hunger by Claire McGowan (ebook)

The Ballroom by Anna Hope (ebook)

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell (print book)

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald (print book)

The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements (print book)

 

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And I won a proof copy of The Missing Husband by Amanda Brooke in a completion run by Shazsbookblog.

 

 

Book Beginnings (4th December)

Book beginnings is a meme set up by Rose City Reader. Every Friday post the first line, or few lines, of the book you’re reading along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Then add a link to your post on Rose City Reader’s blog.

My Book Beginning

the hidden legacy

The Hidden Legacy by G. J. Minett

November 1966: John Mitchell

It’s a quarter to ten when he reaches the school gates. Ten minutes, he thinks, ten minutes.

He’s have been here earlier, but he had to wait until his dad was safely out of the way. The last thing he needed was awkward questions. What’s with the duffel bag, son? What’s wrong with your satchel? What have you got in there anyway? 

I find these opening lines very intriguing – I really want to know why this boy has a different bag to usual and what he’s carrying with him to school. My suspicion is even higher because he’s hiding it from his dad and has risked being late for school rather than have his dad ask questions. I’ve not read the synopsis of this book yet, I bought it because I’ve seen so many people recommending it on twitter, but I suspect this boy is carrying a gun to school and is intending to shoot his fellow students. The fact that the novel is called The Hidden Legacy would fit with this too – the idea that an action has consequences that can last for many, many years.

I bought this book this week and I’m so keen to keep reading now, I might have to allow myself a day or two off from reading review books so that I can read this one!