My January Wrap-Up post!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

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

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

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

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

 

Here are the 19 books I read this month:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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

The Deaths of December by Susi Holliday

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

Forgiveness is Really Strange by Masi Noor

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

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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

South and West by Joan Didion

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

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

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

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

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

Out of Orange by Cleary Wolters

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

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

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

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

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

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

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

In The Days Of Rain by Rebecca Stott

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

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

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

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

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

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

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

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

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

The Break by Marian Keyes

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

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

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

Winter by Ali Smith

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

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My favourite novels that I read in 2017

My Favourite non-fiction books that I read in 2017

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

My reading bingo results for 2017

Review of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

My Christmas book haul

My January book haul

An additional January book haul (oops!)

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

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The state of my TBR:

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

 


 

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

WWW Wednesdays (31 Jan)! 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 Note by Zoe Folbigg

I have an ARC of this which I got after seeing the author interviewed on TV around the time the book was released so I’m happy to finally be reading this one. It’s an easy read and I’m really enjoying it so far.

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

I picked this book up yesterday and am hooked! I didn’t know much about this book going into it and have no idea where it’s going to go. It’s got me guessing though and I’m keen to read more!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still dipping in and out of this book and finding lots to motivate me.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Spaceman by Mike Massimino

This was a birthday present from my husband and I started reading it the minute I finished opening my presents (a birthday book haul post will be up soon!). It was such a brilliant read, I loved every minute of reading it.

Winter by Ali Smith

I’ve been reading this for a while as I was struggling with physically holding the book but yesterday I managed to read the second half of the book in one go and I adored it. This is a brilliant book and I’m already looking forward to the next in the quartet!

The Break by Marian Keyes

I couldn’t get into this the first time I started it but wanted to give it another go as I do love Marian Keyes writing. I picked it up at the weekend and ended up reading it in two sittings and I very much enjoyed it. I’ll hopefully get my review of this posted soon.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This book was so good! I love the way it was told with the two main characters timelines moving in opposite directions, and it kept me on my toes all the way through. I’m still trying to write my review but hopefully I’ll get it finished soon, I recommend this though.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this book last Thursday and read it the same day. It’s a very open and honest and heartbreaking memoir.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I read and reviewed this one last week so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to know more. I enjoyed this book.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Waco by David Thibodeau

I put this in my planned reading a couple of weeks ago and didn’t manage to start it so I’m going to aim to get to it in the coming week.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

I really want to read this book as I’ve heard so many great things so it’s on my next-to-read pile and I definitely want to get to it this week.

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I downloaded an ARC of this from NetGalley recently and have been keen to read it as soon as possible. It’s due out in February (I think!) so now seems a good time to pick it up!

 

 

 


 

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 Weekly Wrap-Up (28 Jan)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

This week has been a mixed week really. It was the anniversary of my mum’s death earlier in the week, which hit me harder this year than in previous years. It’s strange how grief can still catch you offguard even after the passing of time.

In happier news my husband took me out for coffee and cake mid-week – it was the first time I’ve left the house since before Christmas (apart from a couple of hospital appointments) so it was really lovely.

It’s my birthday this weekend. I won’t be opening my presents until later on today but there are a few book-shaped parcels so I’m thinking I might have another book haul soon!

 

This week I’ve finished reading four books:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I finished this book yesterday and it was so good! I read an ARC so I hope to get my review written and posted very soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend this book!

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I bought this last week and read it the same day. It’s a very moving and honest memoir; a book that will stay with me.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

I listened to the audio book of this and really enjoyed it. I got completely swept up in Marianne’s story. I reviewed this book yesterday so you can read more of my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this book last weekend and I still don’t have the words. It was so stunningly beautiful and I already want to read it again. This is my new favourite book and I highly, highly recommend it!

 

This week I’ve blogged four times:

My Weekly Wrap-Up post

WWW Wednesday post

Stacking the Shelves post

Review of Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

The Break by Marian Keyes

I picked this up yesterday afternoon and am really enjoying it. I wasn’t sure about the premise at first but Marian Keyes’ writing is so lovely that I got completely hooked and am now loving it!

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this book this week and am now really in the mood to find some de-cluttering to do. I don’t agree with all of Marie Kondo’s ideas but I still enjoy her books.

Winter by Ali Smith

I was finally able to pick this up again this week and managed to read another chunk of it. I had hoped to finish it yesterday but alas my hands let me down and I couldn’t read a print book. Hopefully I’ll get to read to the end very soon because it really is a brilliant read.

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The State of the TBR:

Well, if you saw my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday you will know that I’ve added seven books to my TBR this week. I was good though and have already read one of my new books so only six are being added to the TBR. I’m feeling really pleased with myself though because I also got rid of 24 books over the past week, which means my TBR has actually decreased by seventeen to 2737!

 

 

 


 

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. 🙂

#BookReview: Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald @LindaMac1 #blogtour

Meeting Lydia Audio -1

About the Book

When Marianne comes home from work one day to find her husband talking to a glamorous woman in the kitchen, insecurities resurface from a time when she was bullied at school. Jealousy rears its head and her marriage begins to fall apart. Desperate for a solution, she finds herself trying to track down her first schoolgirl crush: Edward Harvey. Even thinking his name made her tingle with half-remembered childlike giddiness. Edward Harvey, the only one from Brocklebank to whom she might write if she found him.

 

My Thoughts

I really enjoy listening to audio books, it means I can still read when my body doesn’t allow me to hold a print book or my kindle, so when Anne Cater from Random Things Tours offered me the chance to listen and review Meeting Lydia I jumped at it! I was drawn to the gorgeous cover and was intrigued by the premise of the book.

Meeting Lydia is about a woman in her mid forties, who is sent into a tailspin when she finds her husband talking to a younger, attractive woman. This coincides with Marianne suspecting she may be starting the menopause, and with her daughter about to go off to university so she begins to feel that she is unravelling.

I’ll be honest and say that I did find it a little difficult to get into this book as I couldn’t initially place the timeline, possibly because I was listening to an audiobook and couldn’t easily flick back the pages to figure it out. Once it dawned on me that this is set in the early 2000s I was fine from there on in. Marianne, encouraged by her daughter, decides to join Friends Reunited so see if anyone from school is on there. She becomes quite fixated on finding Edward, a boy she didn’t know well at school but that she had felt an affinity with. When she finds him they begin an online friendship reminiscing about school days and slowly building up a picture of their lives now. I loved the book as it got further into this relationship because it felt like I was in Marianne’s head and could really understand her better. She seemed to fantasise about what she would say to Edward and things became a little blurry as to what she had actually emailed to him and what she had only thought about saying to him. She almost has a fantasy life in her mind and I could really understand how this gave her escapism from her own mundane life.

The novel explores how Marianne feels about her school days. She was bullied at school but never spoke about it to anyone, and yet now she is going through a confidence crisis it seems like how she felt as a child is now haunting her. All the insecurities that came from not feeling good enough as a child are an echo of how she feels now as she reaches mid-life. This really connected with me, it’s easy to dismiss what happens when we’re children but sometimes the things that we couldn’t talk about then can re-emerge at vulnerable points in our adult lives.

Marianne wasn’t easy to like in the beginning of this book, she seemed quite unable to express her feelings to her husband and yet somehow holds this against him. There is also the way she is a bit hypocritical in being annoyed about his friendship with a woman and yet she has stared an online flirtation with a man. I feel like the book really did explore her thoughts and feelings as it went on and I grew to really have sympathy and a much better understanding of her. As I got further into the book I began to wonder if Edward really existed in the present day or if the whole thing was just a fantasy that she needed to escape the way she felt her life becoming undone. I think there is an element of this being left to the reader’s interpretation and I really liked that. I think we’ve all wondered about people from school and in the days before Facebook it was much harder to reconnect and to find out what had happened to old friends so you could only wonder what became of them.

I ended up really rooting for Marianne, and for her to open up to her husband and for them to try and fix their marriage. I believed Johnny when he said he wasn’t having an affair, it really did feel like Marianne’s insecurities about her changing body and her feeling older had built things up to be more than they were. I can sympathise but always believed that an honest conversation with her husband would go a long way to her finding happiness with him again.

I really enjoyed this audio book and have to mention the narrator, Harriet Carmichael, who really enhanced the experience of listening to this book – she really brings Marianne to life in a way that feels exactly right.

Meeting Lydia is a really interesting exploration of what it is to reach middle age and to wonder what might have been, to wonder if what you have is all there is; it’s a book about the insecurities that can hit at various points in life but especially as you begin to see yourself getting that bit older. Linda MacDonald writes with sensitivity and a delicate hand, yet is unafraid to tackle the issues of middle age. I recommend this audio book!

I received a copy of this book from Audible via Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. All views are my own.

Meeting Lydia is out now as an audio book, ebook and paperback!

 

About the Author

Linda - Author Photo

Linda MacDonald

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, Cumbria. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught in a secondary school in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write and paint. In 1990 she returned to teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’. She has now given up teaching to focus fully on writing.

Her four published novels Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind, The Alone Alternativeand The Man in the Needlecord Jacket can each be read independently but are also a series. A fifth part is at the embryonic stage.

 

About the Narrator

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Harriet Carmichael

I’ve always loved doing voices.  I grew up with Radio 4 being on constantly in the background. Somehow the voices and accents broadcast over the years soaked in. And now I do voices. Or if you ask my agent, I’m a “voice artist”.

For the last seven years I’ve spent most of my days in front of a microphone: as myself; as seven-year-old boys; talking baboons; angsty teenagers (usually American); androgynous talking cats; Glaswegian Grannies; the cast of The Archers

After university I trained at The Oxford School of Drama and then acted mainly with touring theatre companies – some brilliant, some not so… I had a lot of fun, but once I started doing voiceovers in warm studios with good coffee, being on the road lost some of its appeal.

And the voice can do much more than people think. Tone, timing, pitch and accent can all vary depending on the job. From commercials and corporates to cartoons, computer games and audiobooks, it’s a brilliant job and, really, I owe it all to Radio 4.

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at these stops:

Meeting Lydia Blog Tour Poster

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jan)! 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:

This is How it Ends by Eva Dolan

I picked this up the other day and I’m really enjoying it. I love how it’s told in a non-linear fashion so that a picture of what is going on is gradually being built up. It’s a book that I keep thinking about when I’m not reading it, which is always the sign of a good read.

Meeting Lydia by Linda MacDonald

This is my audio book for this week and I’m enjoying it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I accepted it for review but it’s got me wanting to listen to more whenever I can. I’ll be reviewing this on Saturday so look out for my thoughts then if you want to know more.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I’m still reading a chapter of this here and there and enjoying it. I don’t agree with all Marie Kondo’s ideas but all books on de-cluttering get me in the right mindset to have a sort out, which I love.

Winter by Ali Smith

I managed to read a bit more of this book this week and am still finding it such an incredible novel. I just wish the hardcover wasn’t as tightly bound as it is because it means I just can’t hold it to read for more than a few minutes at a time.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon

I read this over the weekend and I just completely and utterly adored it. It’s a stunning book and I already want to pick it up and read it again! I’m in the middle of writing my review so I hope to get that posted soon.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

This book was eye-opening! I found it so readable, and I read it in just two sittings, but it was heartbreaking at times. It’s a real insight into the NHS and I highly recommend it to everyone.

In These Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott

I listened to this on audio book and got completely engrossed in it. It’s such an honest and moving memoir, one that feels like it will stay with me for a long time to come.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

I really loved this book, it was so good. I’m struggling to review it because I enjoyed it so much but I definitely recommend it.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Confession by Jo Spain

I won a copy of this book a while ago and have been so keen to read it, especially after seeing the rave reviews it’s getting, so I’m going to try and pick it up this week.

The Break by Marian Keyes

This is a review book that I’ve had for a little while but have been keen to read it. I did start it once before but it was the wrong time so I put it to one side and now I feel like I’m just in the right mood to read a Marian Keyes so I’m putting this on my TBR for the coming week.

A Book of Untruths by Miranda Doyle

This is another review book that I’ve had for a little while now and it was calling to me when I was looking for my next read so I’m going to try and start this over the next week or so.

 


 

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.