That Was The Month That Was… April 2019! #ReadingWrapUp

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April was a busy month for me so I’ve been feeling shattered but it was a productive month so it was worth it.

My husband had two weeks holiday from work and most of our time was spent shopping for a new car, and it was harder work than I’d envisioned. Our current car is old and we got it before my disability happened so it’s really not practical for me. We’ve now chosen our new car and are awaiting a delivery date.

We then spent a lot of our time binge-watching Line of Duty (I’d seen a couple of series but he’d seen none of it so we watched from the beginning). It was stressful avoiding spoilers for the current series as we were catching up but we finally watched episode 5 of series 5  late on Sunday night so we’re up to date ready for the final episode this weekend!

 

Here are the books I read in April:

 

Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

 

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

 

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

The Tapestry Bag by Isabella Muir

 

The Blame Game by C. J. Cooke

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up and The Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks by Mary Berry

 

April Blog Posts & Reviews:

That Was The Month That Was… March

Review of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Review of Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Review of Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

Review of 55 by James Delargy

This Week in Books (10 April)

Stacking the Shelves (13 April)

Review of Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

Review of The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

This Week in Books (17 April)

Review of Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

Review of Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

This Week in Books (24 April)

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Samantha Henthorn, Author of Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue (Guest Post)

 

The state of my TBR:

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So my TBR is completely and utterly out of control again! My plan to reduce my TBR by a small number each month so that it would be 200 books smaller by the end of this year has gone awry! Given my plan I should have 2367 or fewer books on my TBR but the actual number is 2526! Ooops! I was aware that I’m accumulating books faster than I’m reading them but I didn’t realise the numbers were so far apart from each other. I think I need to have another book cull and to really think more about the books I’m buying or accepting for review. (Or accept that I’m going to have a TBR mountain that I never get to the bottom of!).

 


 

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

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Book Review: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech | @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #CallMeStarGirl

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About the Book

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

 

My Thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing so I was thrilled beyond words to read Call Me Star Girl for this tour.

Call Me Star Girl is the story of Stella who is about to do her last ever late night radio show and she wants her listeners to share their secrets so that she can share hers. We get her story told in two timelines – the time around the murder and the present day. Stella was left by her mother as a young teenager and it’s something that she’s struggled with all of her life since then. Her mother Elizabeth is the other narrator of this book – it’s told alternately between them so we gradually get to fill in the back story of Stella’s life and to see what made her who she is.

Stella is in a fairly new relationship with Tom and she is very insecure about it. She’s convinced that one day he’ll realise that she’s boring and she’ll be left alone again. I felt so sorry for her as I learnt this about her. She clearly just wants to feel happy and secure with someone and will do anything to try and have that. Her relationship with Tom escalates and I worried about how it was all going to work out for Stella.

Stella works on a late night radio show and always feels okay about walking home alone. But then one night a book is left for her in reception with an intriguing note that doesn’t make sense to her, and later she finds that that same night a young woman was murdered in an alley nearby.

This novel is haunting! From the very beginning there is an uneasiness that settles around you as you read and yet you just can’t put the book down. This is Louise’s first crime thriller and she brings to it her incredible way of writing characters that are so real and believable. No one writes characters like her.

I felt really unsettled as Stella’s last show progresses. It’s clear that Stella is feeling on edge about being in the studio alone and she’s never felt that before. The murder is playing on her mind, it having happened so close to where she works and it feels like an element of paranoia is working its way into her thoughts. The writing is so evocative – I felt like it was me in that studio, I could feel the darkness encroaching and felt as if someone were right there waiting to attack.

Louise always works in an element of coincidence that often seems incidental but causes a huge shift for the characters it affects. In this novel there is more than one coincidence and the way these are threaded through the novel and how the strands interweave and separate again is so incredibly done. Throughout this novel there are stars – Stella is the first and her mother’s perfume in the bottle with the beautiful star top is the second and also a lot of of this novel is set at night and Stella likes to open a window to let the cold in. It is so emotive then that at its heart this is a novel about fate (things being set in the stars). As you get further into the novel it seems like Stella is on a collision course with fate – the way her mother abandoned her and came back and then Tom comes into her life and it seems like things might get better. Fate has her plan and things often happen outside of us, outside of our control but it’s like it was destined for certain things to converge.

The thing I love most about Louise’s writing is the way she always makes me feel such strong emotions as I read. I wondered whether it would be the same with Call Me Star Girl, which being a thriller doesn’t seem like it would but it absolutely does! I cried, I felt uneasy and tense; I also laughed at the idea of news being reheated (and as an avid listener of late night radio I shall forever think of the repeat news bulletins as reheated!).  Oh, and it made me so happy to find Bob Fracklehurst in this book! I just fell in love with this novel, and with Stella.

Call Me Star Girl is my top book of the year so far, it deserves all of the stars! It’s stunningly beautiful at the same time as being satisfyingly dark and gripping; it’s impossible to put down (and I really do mean impossible because even though it’s a couple of weeks since I read it, I still keep thinking about it). It’s stolen a piece of me. I can’t do it justice in this review but please just go read it for yourselves, I promise that you won’t regret it!

Many thanks to Anne at Orenda Books for my copy of this book and the blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

Call Me Star Girl is out now in ebook and is available for pre-order in paperback here.

 

I’ve previously reviewed these books by Louise Beech:

How to be Brave

Maria in the Moon

The Lion Tamer Who Lost

 

About the Author

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Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a GuardianReaders’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

 

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

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That Was The Month That Was… March 2019!

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March is the month that disappeared! I haven’t been up to much as my health’s not great at the moment and yet the days have flown by.  I have been doing lots of reading – mainly audio books as my eyes are still not great – but some print books too. I’m trying to spend less time looking at screens so apologies if I haven’t commented on your posts or shared things as often recently. I hope to get back to it soon.

 

Here are the 23 that books I read in March:

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

I’d had this book on my NetGalley shelf for almost a year but I finally picked it up in March and I loved it so I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I will review it soon but in the meantime I definitely recommend it!

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

I loved this crime novel, it has such a good sense of place and great characters. I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above if you’d like to know more.

Don’t You Cry by Cass Green

I listened to this on audio and it was an okay listen. I enjoyed it while I was listening but it’s not a book that’s really stayed with me.

Past Life by Dominic Nolan

This book is so good! It has so much depth to it and kept me hooked all the way through. I’ve reviewed this one so click the title to find out more of what I thought.

Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

This book is so hard to define but it was impossible to put down! I really enjoyed it. My review is already up so click the title to learn more.

Entanglement by Katy Mahmood

I had this book on my NG but I also got the audio book so part read and part listened to it. I very much enjoyed this one and hope to get my review finished and posted soon.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

This book is so good! It grabbed me from the first page and had me gripped right to the very end. I’ll be reviewing this one soon too!

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

This is another really good read! I think I read this in one sitting pretty much and love how even though I thought I had it all sussed there was more to come! My review is posted so please click the title if you want to know more.

Hold My Hand by M. J. Ross

I downloaded this on audio after reading Meggy’s great review of the second book in the series. I loved this and already have the next book on my phone to listen to soon!

Not Fade Away by John Gribbin

This was a really enjoyable book looking at the music of Buddy Holly.

Goodnight Malaysian 370 by Ewan Wilson

I got this one on my Kindle Unlimited free trial and it was an interesting read but there was nothing in it that I hadn’t already read from articles online.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I’ve had a copy of this on my NG shelf for way too long so when I spotted the audio book on my Scribd trial I decided to listen to it while reading. I adored the writing in this novel and will definitely be looking to read more Jesmyn Ward in the future.

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

This book was brilliant! I finished it a couple of weeks ago but it’s still going round in my head. I will be reviewing it once I get my thoughts together but in the meantime I recommend it!

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

I listened to this on Audible and really enjoyed it. It was gripping and I was keen to find out who was telling the lies!

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I listened to this one on Scribd too. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for ages and I enjoyed it but it’s not the best book by the author.

It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

This was also a Scribd listen and I was engrossed all the way through this book. It’s a great read and it really makes you think as you listen to both sides in the aftermath of a sexual assault.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This book is incredible and I feel sure it will be in my top books of the year. I was utterly absorbed in the story and I feel sad to have finished it. I highly recommend it and if you want to know more click the title for my review.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

I’m slowly re-reading all of this series so when I found this one on Scribd I decided to listen to it. It’s not my favourite in the series but I enjoy all of the books. Kinsey Millhone is great!

The Point Of Poetry by Joe Nutt

This book gave me some of my confidence back for reading poetry and got me to see poems I already knew in a new light. I recommend this book to everyone! Click the title to read my full thoughts.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is stunning! I loved every single second that I spent reading it and I’m sad to have finished it. This is also a contender for my top books of the year!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve wanted to read this one for a while so when I saw it on Scribd I decided to listen to it. It’s a brilliant book and I now want to get a physical copy to have on my bookcase.

Milkman by Anna Burns

I had the book of this but decided to listen to the audio while also reading it and I completely and utterly adored it. I feel like my thoughts on this book will keep developing for a while but I 100% recommend it!

55 by James DeLargy

I finished this book yesterday and I’m still thinking about that ending! This is such a good read, it’ll be one that stays with me!

 

March Blog Posts & Reviews:

That Was The Month That Was… February

Stacking the Shelves on 2 Mar

Mini Book Reviews of The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal, Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce, Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield and Someone Like Me by M. R. Carey

Review of The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray

This Week in Books 6 Mar

Review of Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis Goff

Stacking the Shelves 9 Mar

Review of Are You The F**king Doctor? by Dr. Liam Farrell

Review of Past Life by Dominic Nolan

Review of Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

This Week in Books 13 Mar

Review of Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F. Ross

Stacking the Shelves 16 Mar

This Week in Books 20 Mar

Review of Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Stacking the Shelves 23 Mar

Review of The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This Week in Books 27 Mar

Review The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

Stacking the Shelves 30 Mar

 

The state of my TBR:

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So I said in my February TBR update that my plan to reduce my TBR had gone somewhat awry. Well, in March it’s done waaay beyond that! Ooops! My plan was to reduce my TBR each month so that by the end of the year it would have 200 fewer books on it. At the end of February it was at 2482 and now it’s at 2500. That doesn’t seem too bad but it should be at 2387 if I was sticking to my plan. Ah well, I can’t really complain about having lots of lovely books to read. 🙂

 

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

This Week in Books (27 Mar 2019)!

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

 

Now

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve wanted to read this book for ages so when I spotted the audio book on Scribd I decided to listen to it. I’m very much enjoying this one.

TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover Up and the Conspiracy by Jack Cashill

I’m trying to make sure that I read some of the older books on my TBR and this is the one that was picked for this week. I don’t really know what to make of it but it’s interesting.

55 by James Delargy

This book is so good, I’m utterly intrigued by the two men and have absolutely no idea who is telling the truth and how this novel might end. I would have read it in one sitting if it wasn’t for my eye problems.

 

Then

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book was brilliant! I’m not sure how to find the words to write a review but I can say that I completely and utterly adored it.

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

This was such a good book and has got me wanting to read poetry again. I’ve got a review of this on here today so you can read my full thoughts there if you’d like to know more.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton

I’m slowly re-reading all of this series before getting to the last book, which I’ve not read yet. I found this on Scribd so it was great to enjoy the book in a different format.

It Happens All The Time by Amy Hatvany

This is another book that I’ve been so keen to read so I couldn’t resist it when I spotted it on my Scribd audio book free trial. I thought this book was so good and really made me think. I recommend it.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

This book was brilliant, I loved it and feel sure that it will be one of my favourite books of the year! I’ve already reviewed this so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I listened to this book on Scribd too and enjoyed it. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations but it was a good read and I’m glad I read it.

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

This was a recent Audible purchase and it was a fast-paced listen that kept me gripped all the way through.

 

Next

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

This book has been calling to me from my TBR and so it’s definitely next up in my reading plans.

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

I’m on the blog tour for this book next month so I’m keen to start reading it this week to give me time to read it. My eyes are really slowing down my reading of physical and ebooks these days.

Between the Regions of Kindness by Alice Jolly

I just received a copy of this last week but I’m so keen to read it, hopefully I’ll be able to make a start on it in the coming days.

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I’ve been so excited to read this book by the lovely Kim and hope to be able to get to it in the week ahead.

 


 

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

This Week in Books (20 Mar 2019)! What are you reading?

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

 

Now

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it so I was thrilled when I discovered it on audio during my current free trial of Scribd! I’m very much enjoying this and am intrigued to find out where it’s going.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I’ve only read a couple of chapters of this so far as my eyes are struggling again but I loved what I’ve read and can’t wait to read more.

White Lies by Lucy Dawson

This is another audio book that I’m mid-way through and I’m enjoying it. There are lots of lies happening and now I’m keen to find out what the truth of the matter is!

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

This is my current kindle book so I’m reading it with the font huge to try and help my eyes. I’ve only managed one chapter this week but I’m back engrossed in this book and am keen to read more.

 

Then

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

I knew I was going to love this book but it was even more brilliant than I was expecting it. My mind is spinning at the moment as I only finished it shortly before putting this post together but I definitely recommend it. I hope to review this one soon… once I get my thoughts in order.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I’ve shamefully had this on my NG shelf for almost a year unread but when I spotted the audio book on Scribd I decided to half listen and half read. I really enjoyed this novel, it’s one that is staying in my mind. This was my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be the last.

Goodnight Malaysian 370: The Truth Behind The Loss of Flight MH370 by Ewan Wilson

This was an interesting read that I got as part of my free trial of kindle unlimited.

 

Next

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt

I’m really keen to read this book, it sounds like it might be just the thing to give me some of my confidence back to read more poetry.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book has been calling to me ever since it arrived a week or so ago and I just can’t wait any longer to read it. Eyes permitting it’s top of my list for the coming days!

Sleep by C. L. Taylor

I’ve been so eager to read this one too so it’s a definite for this week!

Chickens Eat Pasta by Clare Pedrick

This is an audio book that I’ve been sent to listen to for a forthcoming blog tour so I think now will be the perfect time.


 

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

Stacking the Shelves with a New Book Haul (16 Mar 2019)!

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

 

Books I Bought This week

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry

I’ve been wanting to read this book for absolutely ages so I finally treated myself to it with part of my birthday book voucher. I started reading it yesterday and it’s really hard going in places but it’s so well written. It’s a non-fiction book about the murder of the author’s mother.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

This has also been on my wish list ever since it was published so when I spotted it on kindle for 99p yesterday I snapped it up. I think this is a book I’ll want to own in physical format but I like having it on kindle too.

The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

This is another book that I’ve been intrigued by for a while and finally bought it this week. I’ll need to be in the right frame of mind to read this one but I hope to get to it soon.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I haven’t read any Diane Chamberlain for absolutely ages but this new one really appeals to me so I grabbed a copy. I don’t think I’ll be long getting to this one.

Operation Lighthouse by Luke Hart and Ryan Hart

I can’t remember where I read an excellent review of this book fairly recently but the title stuck in my head and when I saw it on the kindle daily deal yesterday I snapped it up.

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

This is a recent audio book purchase from Audible. It was on a daily deal as I already have the second and third in the series on my TBR it seemed perfect timing to grab the first one. I can’t wait to get started on this series!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

This was another Audible daily deal purchase. I’ve enjoyed other Kate Morton books on audio so I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

Books I Borrowed This Week

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Hold My Hand by M. J. Ford

I borrowed the audio book of this from my audio book subscription service after reading Meggy’s fab review of the second book in the series. I’ve already listened to this whole book and I loved it so I plan on borrowing the second book very soon!

 

ARCS I Received This Week

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

I was so excited to open a package yesterday and find The Ringmaster inside! I read and reviewed the first book in this series last year and it was brilliant. I can’t wait to read this next installment!

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book also arrived yesterday and I squealed when I saw it! I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech’s writing and have been eagerly anticipating this book. I’ll be reading this one very, very soon!

 


 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

My Favourite Novels of 2018!

My Favourite Books 0f 2018!

Firstly, happy new year to you all! I hope 2019 brings you good health, peace and happiness!

2018 has been an amazing reading year for me. I read 290 books, which is the most I’ve read in one year since I started keeping track of my reading! Of the 290, 211 were fiction so that has made it so hard to pick a top 10 or even a top 20 so in the end I made a list of the books that have stayed with me the most and 27 novels have made my list! (My non-fiction picks will be in a separate post tomorrow).

Some of these books have stayed with me because they were well-written, some were impossible to put down and others brought out such an emotional reaction in me that they simply had to be on this list.

So without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2018 (click the title if you’d like to read my full review on each of these books)…

 

In reverse order: 

27. Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch

This is one of the best audio books I listened to this year and had to be on my list as it’s really stick with me.

26. The Lingering by SJI Holliday

This was an unsettling, creepy novel that I couldn’t put down!

25. You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s writing and this has joined The Sea Sisters as my favourite books by her!

24. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This was such a different read for me and I utterly adored it.

23. Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

This is a crime fiction novel that haunted me in the times when I wasn’t reading it, it definitely earned its place on my list.

22. The Date by Louise Jensen

I love Louise Jensen’s writing and this book was another brilliant read by her. It gave me an insight into a condition I knew nothing much about and the ending of the book gave me chills!

21. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I read this book in one sitting on a boiling hot day but the writing was so good that I could feel the snowy cold and the oppressive atmosphere of those trapped in the hotel with a murderer on the loose!

20. Odette by Jessica Duchen

This is such a beautiful book and it really resonated with me so it had to be on this list!

19. Attend by West Camel

This is a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about the characters and it’s staying in my mind so I had to have this in my top books.

18. Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies

This is a wonderful story about a young girl who wants to make it as a champion swimmer in a time when it’s not the done thing for females. It’s inspiring and beautiful and I knew it would make my top books of the year as soon as I finished reading it.

17. The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This is a bit different from my usual reads but it’s so beautiful and very moving in places and I still think about it.

16. Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

This was such a brilliant novel, and is another book that really has stayed with me.

 

15. The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

This was a very prescient and moving novel, and while it was hard to read at times for me personally the writing is so sensitive and honest that I couldn’t put it down.

14. Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did but it’s so stunningly written and the story is still swirling in my mind. It was an unforgettable read for me and deserves its place on my list.

13. Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

This is another book that was a bit different to my usual read but I devoured it. It’s funny and emotional and I adored it.

12. Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This is such a brilliant read, one I’ve been recommending to people ever since I finished reading it.

11. Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is my new favourite crime thriller series and I’m desperate to get my hands on the second book as soon as it’s out!

10. Him by Clare Empson

I got this book on a whim from NetGalley and I’m so glad I did. This really got under my skin and I couldn’t put it down until I’d read all the way to the end.

9. Miss Marley by Vanessa LaFaye with Rebecca Mascull

This is the only book on this list that I haven’t managed to review but I highly recommend it. It’s gorgeous and moving and just brilliant. It honours A Christmas Carol so beautifully whilst also standing on its own as a novella. The final couple of chapters were incredibly moving. I know this will be a book that I read every Christmas from now on so it absolutely deserves to be on this list.

8. Roar by Cecelia Ahern

This short story collection is brilliant. I loved every story and enjoyed finding the ones that resonated with me. It’s fabulous!

7. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This is such a magical and lyrical novel, it’s another book that is staying with me and I know I’ll want to read it again in the future.

6. The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse 

I was looking forward to reading this novel but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it did. It’s very moving and so fascinating, and the writing is stunning.

5. Snap by Belinda Bauer

This was my favourite crime thriller of the year, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve read a crime novel before that has made me cry in the way this did. It’s such a brilliant novel.

4. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This novel really connected with me in so many ways and my review ended up being very personal as the story got so entwined with my emotions at the time I was reading. It’s a beautiful novel and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.

 

 

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3. Love and Fame by Susie Boyt

This book is why I love blog tours – I was offered a copy of Love and Fame, a book I hadn’t heard of before and decided to give it a go. It’s such a witty, funny and moving novel about grief and loss in various forms. I absolutely fell in love with this book and it’s one I consider to be a firm favourite. I’m so glad this book found me!

 

 

And the next two books are jointly my favourite books of the year because I just couldn’t pick between them…

 

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I adore Louise Beech’s writing anyway but The Lion Tamer Who Lost stole my heart in a way that no other book has done in 2018. I keep thinking of the characters and wondering how they are, I keep thinking of how cruel life can be but how a novel like this does ultimately remind you why you need to keep going. I cried buckets reading parts of this book but I fell in love with it and it absolutely deserves this number one spot!

 

Let Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry

I hadn’t heard of this book before a copy got sent to me for review but it was serendipity that it came into my life at the perfect moment. This is such a beautiful, lyrical novel that had me sobbing one moment and feeling consoled the next. The characters are wonderful and the depiction of grief is so real, as is the way we find a way to start living with grief. A stunning book that I will treasure forever and ever!

 


Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Top Non-Fiction books of the year so look out for that then. In the meantime what were your favourite books of 2018? If you have a blog post please feel free to leave the link below. Happy New Year! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @AnneCater

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About the Book

Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?

 

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Louise Beech so I was beyond thrilled when invited to read and review The Lion Tamer Who Lost for the blog tour.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the story of Ben. He’s dreamt of going to Africa to volunteer on a lion reserve and the book begins with him having achieved this dream. It’s clear that Ben is unhappy and troubled though and that perhaps how he came to be in Africa is not how he dreamt it.

It’s also the story of Andrew. Andrew has a wish box and he truly believes in making wishes. He feels certain that if you wish for something very specific then it will come true.

I adored this novel more than I can even say! I love novels that explore the idea of fate and destiny and the idea that perhaps there is a person out there who we’re destined to meet. That the person will keep showing up in our lives until we meet at the right time. Ben and Andrew’s paths keep crossing until one day they finally get talking and they instantly click.

I loved that this book is set both in Zimbabwe and Hull; Louise Beech has such a wonderful way of really capturing a location and making it so real for her readers. I know the parts of Hull mentioned in this book really well but I’ve never been to Zimbabwe and yet each place felt equally vivid in my mind. I could smell the lion enclosures, I could taste the mud coffee in Africa and I felt like I was there.

The real beauty in this novel is in the characters. Ben and Andrew felt like real people to me and I miss them now I’ve finished reading. I loved seeing how they met, how they got together and how they fell in love. It was so beautiful. I was hoping Ben would find a way to come out to his dad, and that somehow it would all be okay.

It was incredibly moving how we see the lions in the reserve being nurtured to health and gradually gaining more and more freedom, it contrasted with the scene of lions in the circus. I couldn’t help but feel that the different stories of the lions was mirroring the times that the LGBTQ+ community have gone through. It certainly seemed to echo the pain of love and loss, of losing yourself and slowly finding yourself again that Ben goes through in the novel.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost broke my heart on more than one occasion as I was reading. I can’t bear it when people can’t accept two people who love each other just because of their own prejudices, so that made me tearful. The novel builds and builds and goes back and forth in time through Ben and Andrew’s story until we find out what happened and the way their story turns out had me sobbing my heart out. I can’t remember the last time I cried like that reading a book.

There is so much more that I could say about this book but I don’t want to risk any spoilers; this is one of those incredibly special books that doesn’t come along very often and you need to discover it for yourself.  The comparisons to Maggie O’Farrell are entirely justified – The Lion Tamer Who lost affected me deeply in the same way that O’Farrell’s After You’d Gone did. You know you have a special book in your hands when it makes you feel all of the feelings and it never, ever lets go of you even long after you’d finished reading.

I will never forget these characters or this story and I know I will revisit this book in the future. It’s such a stunningly beautiful, heart-rending read; one that will take a piece of your heart. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is now one of my most favourite books and I will be shouting from the rooftops for everyone to read it!

I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books and Random Things Tours. All thoughts are my own.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is out now in ebook and is due to be published on 20th September and is available here.

I’ve previously reviewed two novels by Louise Beech: How to be Brave and Maria in the Moon.

About the Author

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Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

 

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

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final

 

 

Stacking the Shelves with my latest #bookhaul (28 July 2018)!

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

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book as I love Louise Beech’s novels; she’s one of my favourite authors and it’s always such a treat to have a new book of hers to get lost in. I’ll be reading this one very soon.

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

It was lovely to be offered an ARC of this novel as I’d seen it around and it seems like my kind of book. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

 

 

When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamay

I’ve been aware of this book but wasn’t sure if it was for me. I spotted it in a kindle deal earlier this week though for 99p so decided to try it. I think I’ll need to be in the right mood for this one but hopefully it won’t be too long before I read it.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips

I was offered a copy of this for review and as soon as I read the blurb I immediately said yes, it sounds like such an intriguing and interesting book.

 

 

The Wives by Lauren Weisberger

This package arrived as a complete surprise! It arrived when I was having a bad day so it was perfect timing to cheer me up! It’s a copy of The Wives along with sunglasses, some delicious sweets and a pink nail varnish. I’m really excited to read this novel!

 

 


 

Have you got any new books recently? I’d love to know. Have you read any of the books in my book haul? Are there any that you recommend me getting to sooner rather than later? Feel free to leave a link to your own Stacking the Shelves post in the comments! 🙂

My Favourite Novels read in 2017!

My top fiction reads of

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

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

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

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

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The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

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

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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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

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The Way Back to Us by Kay Langdale

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

The wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

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

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All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

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

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

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

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

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

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

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

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Sweetpea by CJ Skuse

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

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Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

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

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The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig

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

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The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

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

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Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech

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

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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

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The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith

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

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Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin

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

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman

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

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

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

#BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

 

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech!

About the Book

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’ Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything. Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

My Thoughts

I read Louise Beech’s first novel, How to be Brave, last year and it was my top book of the year. I still find myself thinking about the characters and the story. So you can imagine how much I’ve been anticipating Maria in the Moon and I’m so happy to say that this completely exceeded my high expectations!

Maria in the Moon is so beautiful and incredibly moving. There are two strands to Maria in the Moon – the book is predominantly set in the aftermath of the horrendous floods that hit Hull in 2007 and focuses on Catherine. On being interviewed for the Flood Crisis helpline Catherine realises that she can’t remember a single thing from the year she was nine. This sets her mind in a spin as she begins to think back over points in her childhood to try and remember anything from that year. Catherine has had a difficult life – her father died when she was young, as did her Nanny Eve and she doesn’t have an easy relationship with her Mother which makes it all the more difficult for her to find out about her past.

I adored this novel; it is simply stunning and so powerful! I found I could really identify with Catherine. There are parts of her story that were really hard for me to read, coming a bit too close to my own experiences, but the writing is so beautiful that I had to keep reading through my tears. I was willing Catherine to remember what happened and for her to be able to come to terms with all aspects of her childhood. As Catherine begins to have strange fleeting flashes of what she thinks might be her memories there is a sense that you know what it coming before she does and the tension that builds in the novel from there is palpable.

‘When you’re nine,’ he’d insisted. When you’re nine. He died when I was eight.’

I sympathised such a lot with Catherine over the losses she’d experienced in her life. It’s such a difficult thing to not only to lose a parent but to lose how your life may have been if they had lived longer. The death of a parent changes how people see you, and how you see them, and it breaks some things in a way that they can’t be mended. Sometimes you get lucky and find a new normal with people and sometimes you just lose. I was willing Catherine on to find a new normal with the people left in her life to the point that I wanted to reach through the pages and tell the people around her to listen to her more. Louise Beech captured this so well, with such compassion and empathy in Maria in the Moon.

‘The image made my throat ache. He was perhaps the age my father would have been if he’d lived; I felt a pang of affection.

The part of the novel that focuses on the floods was so vivid and realistic. I lived in Hull during the floods that this novel centres around and whilst my home wasn’t affected, quite a few friends of mine were badly flooded. It was an horrendous time for people and Hull seemed to get forgotten about during that time and the city was left to fend for itself. Louise captures this so incredibly well, there were moments reading this that just took me right back there. All the skips in the street, all the ruined furniture, the people not knowing what to say to each other – it was heartbreaking. It genuinely feels that for anyone who hasn’t seen the devastation of flooding with their own eyes will really have a sense of how it feels after reading this book.

I have to just mention that I loved the references to places in Hull that I remember going to back in the day – the Christmas night out in Sharkeys in the novel brought back some fond memories for me. It’s so nostalgic reading a novel that is set in a time and place you have lived, and it gave me that weird sense of maybe having passed Catherine around there somewhere. Maybe in another time.

‘Without strong foundations, no external beauty can survive. Paint can only hide so much before the memories crawl out of the woodwork.’

Louise Beech has such an incredible way with words – she constructs sentences that really get you in your gut. There were many moments when I was reading this novel that I had to stop and take a breath but then I was compelled to get back to it. I loved the way Louise weaved the grief Catherine feels for her father in with the loss she feels about her home being so damaged in the floods. There is a part where she talks about her dad’s coat being like a cape to keep her safe but someone got rid of it after he died, and how she looked for that safe feeling but could never find it. It’s how she feels now about her water-logged home – that sense of her home being the cape that her dad allowed her to buy, to keep her safe, and now it’s broken and she can’t live there for a while. She doesn’t know if she will ever feel safe, and it’s clear she’s displaced and lost and grief-stricken all over again. We bought our house with the inheritance from my mum and because of that our home has taken on so much more meaning, so I really felt for Catherine.

Forgiveness and acceptance play such a big role in this novel – the issues are very sensitively dealt with and you can see all of the ways we all try to make sense of the things that have happened to us. For Catherine there was the way she had to deal with her childhood and the way she had to deal with her present and while they seem very different they are actually very similar. She chose to try and fix the brokenness by volunteering for the flood crisis helpline and actually this becomes the thing that breaks her down but leads to a sense of possibility.

This is a novel that is still lingering in my mind days after I finished reading it – it’s one that I actually don’t think will ever leave me and to be honest I don’t want it to. This is one of those very rare and very special novels that will make you feel all of the feelings, it will take hold of you and it won’t let you go. It’s an absolutely stunning novel and I highly, highly recommend Maria in the Moon!

Maria in the Moon is out now!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Maria in the Moon is out now.

(Bio taken from: LouiseBeech.co.uk)

 

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

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My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016

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At the start of 2016 I was undecided on what to set my Goodreads target at so I asked my husband to pick a number between 150 and 200 – he chose 180 (we were possibly watching darts on the telly at the time!). I was on target for the first part of the year and then over the summer I hit a horrible reading slump. I just couldn’t get into any books at all and barely read a thing for about three months. Eventually I got back into the swing of things but was fairly convinced I’d never make my reading goal. The thing that got me back into reading again was re-discovering my love for non-fiction and that joy led me to ending the year having read 211 books! I’m thrilled with what I’ve had the chance to read this year but it has made narrowing it down to a top ten near impossible. I’ve decided that as I read a real mix of fiction and non-fiction that I’d do a top ten of each – I don’t really consider it cheating seeing as 20 books in total is still under 10% of what I read this year.

Before I do my top ten I do want to do a couple of honourable mentions.

The first is to Katey Lovell for the wonderful The Boy in… series. I’ve spent a fair bit of time feeling rotten as my pain levels left me unable to concentrate and Katey Lovell’s series of short stories have got me through some really horrible days. They take 5 or ten mins to read and have honestly always left me feeling that little bit happier than I was before. These stories hold a special place in my heart and I love knowing I can always re-read one to cheer myself up.

Also, this is the year that I decided to try giving graphic novels a go. I’ve always felt a bit odd about them as, having never looked at one before, I assumed they were just like comics (and I never liked comics even when I was a child). However, I picked up Raymond Brigg’s Ethel and Ernest during my hideous reading slump and it was the perfect read in that moment. I couldn’t believe how much detail could be packed into a book with very few words and it really opened my eyes to this genre. I also bought my husband The Gigantic Beard that was Evil as a sort of joke and when I read it I couldn’t believe what a brilliant social commentary it was.


So now for my top ten fiction books of 2016! These books are in no particular order but I have picked two books that are my joint favourite books of the year!

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I adore Maggie O’Farrell’s writing – I read her first novel After You’d Gone on the day it was released and it’s still one of my all-time favourite novels. I greatly look forward to a new novel by her and was thrilled to receive a proof of this one ahead of publication. This Must Be the Place is a brilliant novel, one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

You can read my original review here: This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

This is the first Sarah Moss book I’ve read and it absolutely won’t be the last. I picked this up when I was in a major reading slump in the summer and somehow this grabbed my attention from the very first page and held me right until the end. I read this during my blogging break so I sadly haven’t reviewed it but I can assure you that it’s a stunning read and highly recommend you pick it up if you haven’t already.

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

This book is stunning and simply had to be part of my top ten of 2016, I knew it would make it as I was reading it. It’s a beautiful read and I recommend it to everyone.

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The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

This is a fascinating novel about Lucia Joyce, the daughter of James Joyce. It’s a book that will hook you in and will hold you in its spell right to the end. It made me want to learn more about Lucia Joyce.

You can read my original review here: The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

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Autumn by Ali Smith

This is one of the more recent reads in my Top Ten but it absolutely had to be included. Ali Smith is an incredible writer, I’ve loved everything that I’ve read of hers. Autumn is a book that got to me in so many ways on so many different levels and I’m sure it will stay with me for a very long time to come.

You can read my original review here: Autumn by Ali Smith

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The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

This book just captured me from the very start – I loved the two main characters and the bond they formed over such a short space of time. I think the thing that moved me most in this book was the idea of how life can be lost in an instant but the legacy, the memory left behind can still have such great impact on those that remain. This is a book I will definitely re-read in the future.

You can read my original review here: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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The Museum of You by Carys Bray

I loved Carys Bray’s first novel and so was very excited to be sent a proof of this one ahead of release. I read this over a couple of days, finding it very hard to put down. The idea of a young girl trying to piece together the memory of her mother in a tangible way is heart-breaking, and I felt so much for her. The reader knows more than the daughter, which makes it even more poignant to read her journey to put together what she knows of her mum. It’s a beautiful story that is ultimately heart-warming and one I still find myself thinking about months after I finished reading the novel.

You can read my original review here: The Museum of You by Carys Bray

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The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

I only read this novel recently but it had such an impact on me that I couldn’t not include it in my Top Ten of the year. A novel that explores assisted suicide, and yet is never mawkish and at times has a fair bit of black humour on the subject was always going to make for a fascinating read.

You can read my original review here: The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

And my joint favourite books of 2016 are…

Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

I read Ghostbird way back in March and fell completely and utterly in love with Carol Lovekin’s writing. It’s such a beautiful, moving and, at times, devastating novel with magical elements weaved throughout. It captured me from the very first page and I devoured it. It’s one of those novels that seems to cast magic from it, it made me feel soothed and healed as I read. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know since I read it, and I’m going to say it again here – if you haven’t already read it then please go grab a copy now, I promise you won’t regret it!

You can read my original review here: Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

This is a lesson for me in not getting my Top Ten books of the year done too early in December! I had this post prepared and ready to go and then I read How To Be Brave and knew there was going to have to be a re-jig as this novel went right to the top of my list! It’s a beautifully moving debut novel, that weaves together the story of a young girl and her mum coming to terms with serious illness alongside her grandfather’s battle for survival on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. It’s a novel that had such an impact on me and I keep finding myself thinking back to it. It’s another novel that gave me great solace when I really needed it and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You can read my original review here: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech


So, that’s my Top Ten fiction books of 2016. What have your favourite reads of this year been? Have you had a good reading year?

Look out for my Top Ten non-fiction books post coming up tomorrow!

#BookReview: How To Be Brave by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

How to be brave louise beech

About the Book

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.

My Thoughts

This book has been on my TBR for a little while now; it was one of those books that I strongly felt had to be read at the right moment for me. I was so right and I’m really glad that I waited until now to read it. As a lot of you know, I’m going through a lot of medical things and this book brought such a sense of solace to me.

This is such a beautiful novel that explores the relationship between mother and daughter, who are struggling to come to terms with the daughter Rose’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Rose’s father is deployed overseas and isn’t allowed to come home to support them so the two are left on this journey to come to terms with their new normal. An old journal of Natalie’s late Grandfather is found by Rose and this becomes the glue that holds the two together. Natalie promises to share her Grandfather’s story with Rose during the times when Rose is having her injections.

I hadn’t expected this novel to immerse me in the worlds of these characters quite so much. I felt the love and the fear and the angst in Natalie and Rose’s relationship. I felt such sadness at how detached they were becoming from each other whilst both still longing for the old connection before everything changed. I felt the pain Natalie was going through at having to keep her daughter well by putting her through the thumb pricks and injections, that Rose was constantly fighting against. It must be awful to know that you have to do it to keep your child alive but to not have any way to make a 9 year old comprehend that her life depends on this being done. I also felt for Rose – she is such a strong-willed girl, who loves books and learning; I was willing her on to find a way to cope with the diabetes.

Alongside this is the story of Natalie’s Grandfather – the writing is incredible because I really did feel like I was in that lifeboat with those men. I could smell the decay, I could feel the horrible dry skin and the swollen, dehydrated mouths as if it were me going through it. It’s inspired writing how his battle for survival mirrored Rose’s with the thirst and the longing for the things you can’t have, and mostly with the coming to terms with what life has thrown at you. The stories are woven together so beautifully, they occasionally intermingle in a magical, and yet somehow always believable, way.

This novel is stunningly beautiful, it’s devastatingly moving at times but will leave you feeling stronger and braver by the end. I recommend this book to everyone – it’s a must-read; it really is one of the best books I’ve read this year and it’s one that I want to re-read in the future.

How to be Brave is published by Orenda Books and is out now.

About the Author

louise-beech

Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Maria in the Moon will be released in 2017.

(Bio taken from Louise Beech’s website)

Pre-2016 Books I Most Want to Read This Year!

On Friday I wrote a blog post about the 2016 book releases that I was most looking forward to (you can read that post here), then after posting it realised that there are a lot of books published prior to this year that I am equally excited to make time to read. So this post is about some of the books that I’ve already bought and just ran out of time to read last year so am definitely going to make time for this year.

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

 This is a book that I got in 2015 and was very keen to read but it felt like a book that I should keep until I had the time to read it slowly and really absorb it. So I’ve saved it and plan to make time for it very soon.

Synopsis:

All the stories died that morning … until we found the one we’d always known.

When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother’s love … and what it really means to be brave.


 

The Hidden Legacy by G. L. Minett

The Hidden Legacy by G. L. Minett

I bought this book on release day but had to hold off reading it as I had a lot of review books to read at the time. I still haven’t managed to read it but I’m going to make some time for it soon. I reckon it’ll be one of those books that once I start it I won’t be able to put it down until I’ve finished it!

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 . . .

Bearing the scars of a recent divorce – and the splatters of two young children – Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way out to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she can barely be bothered to make the journey.

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 . . .

Graham Minett’s debut novel, The Hidden Legacy, is a powerful and suspenseful tale exploring a mysterious and sinister past.


 

Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson

Katherine carlyle

 

This book just sounds so intriguing and I know it won’t be on my TBR mountain for very much longer!

Synopsis:

Katherine Carlyle is Rupert Thomson’s breakthrough novel. Written in the beautifully spare, lucid, and cinematic prose Thomson is known for, and powered by his natural gift for storytelling, it uses the modern techniques of IVF to throw new light on the myth of origins. It is a profound and moving novel about identity, the search for personal meaning, and how we are loved.

Unmoored by her mother’s death and feeling her father to be an increasingly distant figure, Katherine Carlyle abandons the set course of her life and starts out on a mysterious journey to the ends of the world. Instead of going to college, she disappears, telling no one where she has gone. What begins as an attempt to punish her father for his absence gradually becomes a testing ground of his love for her, a coming-to-terms with the death of her mother, and finally the mise-en-scène for a courageous leap to true empowerment.


 

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

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

This book just sounds (and looks) gorgeous! I really wanted to read it last year but I had so many review books that I kept having to leave it for another day. This year I will definitely make the time to read it, it’s calling to me already!

Synopsis:

A warm, funny and nostalgic insight into two girls coming of age in more innocent times.

In 1983 in a south Tipperary town two 18-year-olds take a tentative step into the future: Mary to study accountancy, Cathy to become an au pair in Brittany. For the following year they exchange long gossipy letters.

Their letters are touching, funny, tender and gutsy, showing them sustaining a friendship across the miles, starting to grow up and to realise that the world is a more complex, challenging and exciting place than they had imagined. The letters also capture an era — the time of Kajagoogoo, Culture Club, Dynasty and Ronald Reagan — with charm, humour, pathos and a sense of wonderment about the future


 

The Museum of Things Left Behind by Seni Glaister

The Museum of Things Left Behind by Seni Glaister

The title of this book is what originally caught my eye, it’s excellent! When I read the synopsis I was sold, it sounds like something a bit different to what I’ve been reading and I can’t wait to read it.

Synopsis:

FIND YOURSELF IN VALLEROSA, A PLACE LOST IN TIME

Vallerosa is every tourist’s dream – a tiny, picturesque country surrounded by lush valleys and verdant mountains; a place sheltered from modern life and the rampant march of capitalism. But in isolation, the locals have grown cranky, unfulfilled and disaffected. In the Presidential Palace hostile Americans, wise to the country’s financial potential, are circling like sharks …

Can the town be fixed? Can the local bar owners be reconciled? Can an unlikely visitor be the agent of change and rejuvenation this broken idyll is crying out for?

Full of wisdom, humour and light, THE MUSEUM OF THINGS LEFT BEHIND is a heart-warming fable for our times that asks us to consider what we have lost and what we have gained in modern life. A book about bureaucracy, religion and the people that really get things done, it is above all else a hymn to the inconstancy of time and the pivotal importance of a good cup of tea.


 

The Silent Room by Mari Hannah

The Silent Room by Mari Hannah

I love Mari Hannah’s writing – her Kate Daniels’s series is brilliant and I’m always eagerly awaiting the next book. The Silent Room is a departure from Kate Daniels but I’m just as keen to read it, I’m sure it’ll be a great read!

Synopsis:

A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. On route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the investigation.

With a manhunt underway, Ryan is warned to stay away. Keen to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, he goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth. When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.


 

My Everything by Katie Marsh

My Everything by Katie Marsh

I bought this book the day it was released and was very keen to start reading it immediately. Unfortunately real life got in the way of reading for me quite a lot last year and so I simply didn’t get a chance to read this, it absolutely had to be in my top picks to read in 2016 though!

Synopsis:

A thought-provoking, emotive and page-turning debut novel: Hannah’s thirty-two-year-old husband has a stroke . . . on the day she was going to leave him.

On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband of five and a half years that she is leaving him, she finds him lying on the floor by their bed, terrified and unable to move. He’s suffered a stroke.

It’s unbelievable – Tom’s only 32. And now Hannah has to put all her plans on hold to care for the husband she was all but ready to give up on, only now feels she can’t. Tom can’t walk, carry out basic tasks, or go out to work, but after months of neglecting and disconnecting from his wife, the long period of rehabilitation he’s faced with does mean one thing: he has the time and fresh perspective to re-evaluate his life. He decides he must make his marriage work: Hannah is the love of his life.

But can Tom remould himself into the man Hannah first met? And can Hannah let go of what she thought she wanted – the new life she had planned – and fall in love with him again?


 

Forever Yours by Daniel Glattauer

Forever Yours by Daniel Glattauer

I loved Glattauer’s earlier novels Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave; in fact, Love Virtually is one of my favourite books! So I bought Forever Yours soon after it was released but then I’ve held off reading it, I’m not sure why though so this is definitely one to read this year!

Synopsis:

Judith, in her mid-thirties and single, meets Hannes when he steps on her foot in a crowded supermarket. Before long he turns up in the exclusive little lighting boutique that Judith runs with the help of her assistant Bianca.

Hannes is an architect – single and in the prime of life. Not only is he every mother-in-law’s dream, but Judith’s friends are also bowled over by him. At first Judith revels in being put on a pedestal by this determined man who seems to have eyes only for her. But as time goes by, she finds his constant displays of affection increasingly wearying and his intensive attention becomes oppressive and overwhelming.

In the end she feels cornered, controlled and stifled. All her attempts to get him out of her life fail. He seems to follow her all the way into her dreams, and when she wakes up he’s already waiting on her doorstep to pamper her afresh…


 

183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan

183 Times A Year by Eva Jordan

I’ve kept hearing about this book on twitter and was intrigued enough to buy it. I just didn’t get a chance to read it last year when it was released but it’s definitely one I want to read soon. It sounds like it’ll be a fab read!

Synopsis:

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud.

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course.

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way.

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.


 

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen

This book showed up on my Amazon recommendations one day and I just couldn’t resist buying it once I read the synopsis. So many times I’ve wished my mum was with me, especially during the hardest times but also during the happiest times, so this book appeals greatly to me. I plan to read it this month as I think it will be a book that offers real solace.

Synopsis:

For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her–the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.


 

The Prodigal by Nicky Black

The Prodigal by Nicky Black

I always love finding a new crime series and this one set in the North East sounds just like my kind of book. I’m very much looking forward to starting this one.

Synopsis:

Exiled from his beloved Newcastle sixteen years ago, Detective Sergeant Lee Jamieson is returning home in search of the teenage daughter he’s never met. With a good promotion under his belt and his parents gone, he’s ready to return to his roots and the warm Geordie spirit he has missed so much.

Much to his surprise, his first assignment is in Valley Park, a forgotten sink estate and home to some of the worst social deprivation in the country – the estate where he grew up, and where Nicola Kelly, the wife of a renowned local villain, calls home.

As Lee and Nicola’s lives become entwined through a series of dramatic events, they fall in love and embark on a dangerous affair that will change both of their lives forever. Nicola’s husband, Micky, has few scruples, and, as he feels her slipping away, tightens his grip on her affections.

In order for Lee and Nicola to be together, Micky Kelly has to go.


 

A Game for all the Family by Sophie Hannah

A Game for all the Family by Sophie Hannah

I love Sophie Hannah’s Culver Valley series so when I spotted that she had written a standalone book, I was intrigued to see what that would be like. I’m sure it will be brilliant and hope to read it soon.

Synopsis:

Justine thought she knew who she was, until an anonymous caller seemed to know better…

After fleeing London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine Merrison plans to spend her days doing as little as possible. But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to seem strangely withdrawn. Checking Ellen’s homework one day, Justine finds herself reading a chillingly articulate story about a series of sinister murders committed at the family’s new house. Can Ellen really have made all this up, as she claims? Why would she invent something so grotesque, set it in her own home and name one of the characters after herself? When Justine discovers that Ellen has probably also invented her best friend at school, who appears not to be known to any of the teachers, Justine’s alarm turns to panic.

Then the anonymous phone calls start: a stranger, making accusations and threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big ones and a smaller one for a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety. If the police can’t help, she’ll have to confront the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be…


 

Sue Grafton Alphabet series A-W

I’m also contemplating a year (or more likely a two-year) long re-read of Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I discovered this series a few years ago and devoured them up until the then latest book, which I think was R is for Ricochet.  I adore this series but I feel like I’ve left it so long since I read R that I want to go back and start again – maybe reading one or two books a month until I catch up to the latest book. I’m not a big re-reader but I just feel like I’d really enjoy re-visting Kinsey Millhone from the beginning! It seems like a good time to do it it with only Y and Z left to be published – by the time I’ve completed a re-read and catch up they are likely to already be out and I can read right through to the very end of the series!


 

Are there any books that you’re planning to make time for this year? Any books that you wish you’d read before now but just haven’t had a chance, or any books you’ve loved and plan to re-read? Please share in the comments below. 🙂

 

Weekly Wrap-Up and Stacking the Shelves (7 November)

This week has flown by! I’ve had a lot going on in real life this week and so haven’t read quite as much as I would have liked to but I still have lots of bookish things to share with you today.

I started my blog on 19th August this year but didn’t post my first review until 9th September so I’m almost at my two month anniversary of my first book review on here. It was lovely to notice that this week I actually posted my 40th review! I do review every book I read but I hadn’t realised that I’d already reviewed so many. It’s given me a much-needed boost after a week of not-so great news in real life.

I decided this week to add a new page link to the menu at the top of my blog. It is a list of my all-time favourite books. Even before I was a blogger I had a favourites shelf on my Goodreads account and a real-life favourite bookshelf in my home, and I realised when I read an incredible book this week that I really wanted to make a feature out of those books that are in another league of special. The books that rate 10 out of 10 and have that extra magical something that makes you want to treasure that book forever and ever, and you want to shout from the rooftops that everyone should read it! I haven’t yet got the skills to make this part of my blog look super fancy so it’s a work in progress but at least it’s there and every author that makes that section of my blog is very highly honoured. Here’s a link to the page: My Favourite Books of All-TIme! I also have a sideshow in my side-bar showing a loop of covers of the all-time favourite books!

This led me on to the realisation that as I’m a newbie blogger I’ve so far only reviewed one book that is on my favourites book shelf. So, for now I’m adding a list of my favourite books and ideally I’d like to re-read them all and do proper reviews. I don’t have time to do that as well as keep up with new books so I’m thinking i might start a mini reviews section on my blog where I share the blurb of a book and a few words about what it meant to me. This would just be for books on my favourites shelf so that you can all start to see why I love these books so much.


Also on my blog this week:

I currently have a fabulous giveaway (UK only) running for a gorgeous prize courtesy of Katy Hogan.

KATY HOGAN PRIZE GIVEAWAY

Katy Hogan has very kindly offered me this fabulous prize package so that I can run a giveaway. The giveaway is UK only this time. The prize is for one paperback copy of Out of the Darkness, a gorgeous Yankee Candle and a box of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. 

Please click here to read my review of this incredible book and to find the link to enter the giveaway. Good luck!



This week I have read four books and have posted reviews on all of them. (Click on the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews)

out of the darkness   12080721_10208053670124026_1305089176_n  time to die  how to stuff up christmas

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan (This book is the first book I’ve read since I started reviewing that has made it on to my all-time favourites shelf, it’s an incredible novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough)

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake


stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing all the books 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: 

the marble collector   katherine carlyle   night owlsabout sisterland   The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet   Indecent Acts by Nick Brooks   The Storytellers by Laurisa White Reyes  Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn  The Prodigal by Nicky Black

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

About Sisterland by Martina Devlin

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Indecent Acts by Nick Brooks

The Storytellers by Laurisa White Reyes

Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

The Prodigal by Nicky Black

ARCS I’ve received this week:

The Winter Wedding   look at me sarah duguid  Dead Pretty by David Mark  The Stylist by Rosie Nixon   The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas  The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce   Follow Me by Angela Clarke   Don't Jump by Vicki Abelson

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements (Paperback)

Look At Me Sarah Duguid (Paperback)

Dead Pretty by David Mark (ebook)

The Stylist by Rosie Nixon (ebook)

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas (ebook)

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce (ebook)

Follow Me by Angela Clarke (ebook)

Don’t Jump by Vicki Abelson (ebook)

Also, I won this lovely signed book in a giveaway this week. It’s How to be Brave by Louise Beech and I can’t wait to read it.

IMG_3031   IMG_3032

Book Beginnings (23 October)

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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

How to be brave louise beech

How to be Brave by Louise Beech

‘Still two of us left but we are getting very weak. Can’t stand up now. We will stick it the end.’

(K. C.’s Log)

There were two of us left that night.

Outside, the autumn dark whispered to me. Halloween’s here already, it said. The pumpkins are glowing, the smell the whiff of old leaves, of bonfires coming, of changes, of winter, of endings.

The opening of this book contains so much. Firstly, I noticed the connection between the quote that opens the chapter and the first line – it leaves a tangible sense of something awful lingering around the two people.

Secondly, the descriptions of the very time of year we are now in are so wonderfully evocative. I swear I can smell the bonfires and the old leaves. I love the almost staccato writing-style that describes the coming of winter and the sense of things ending.

I can’t wait to read further!