Best Books of 2019… So Far!

Best Books of 2019 So far!

By the end of June this year I’d already read 162 books so I thought it might be nice to write a post about my favourite books that I’ve read this year so far. Some were published this year and some were published a while ago but all are books that I’ve read and loved between 1st January and 30th June this year!

These books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So without further ado…

 

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Senseless by Anna Lickley

This book had to be on my list because it has such an honest portrayal of what it is to have a disability. I could identify with a lot in this novel and it’s so rare to see myself represented in a novel in this way so I feel a real connection to this book. It’s a really good novel all-round and I recommend it. My review is here if you’d like to know more.

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Song of the Robin by R.V. Biggs

This is a book I almost didn’t pick up but I am so glad I did because it’s such a brilliant novel. There is a real mystery running through the book, which had me enthralled. I also really connected with the exploration of grief. My full review is here.

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The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

This is quite a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about it so I had to include it in this post. This is a novel that rewards the reader taking their time with it and once you’re invested it will have you hooked all the way to the end. I loved the way it captured how life is, how grief is and how time feels during pivotal moments in life. My review is here.

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The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I read this book very early on this year and it has really stayed with me. It’s a book that really looks at what it’s like to live in a small community and what happens when idle gossip fuels a rumour. I loved this book. My review is here.

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

This novel is such a brilliant look at domestic violence from so many angles and I found it really got under my skin. It’s such a great debut and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be out! My review is here.

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Amazing Grace by Kim Nash

I was so excited to read this book and it completely and utterly lived up to my expectations. It’s a gorgeous feel-good novel! My review is here.

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Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

This book is beautiful – it’s funny and moving and just such a heart-warming novel to read. It’s definitely a book that I want to re-read at some point. Here is my review.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is a recent read but Donna Tartt is one of my favourite authors and I loved The Goldfinch so much that it had to make my list. I haven’t managed to review this one yet but I hope to soon. In the meantime, I highly recommend it!

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The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby

I found this book so gripping and moving, it had me under its spell from start to finish (and beyond because I still think of it now) so I had to have this one in my list! My review is here.

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Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! It was such an incise look at how modern life is, at our obsessions with social media and appearing like we have the most perfect lives. It is shocking and moving, and I still can’t stop thinking about this novel! My full review is here.

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Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

This is such a brilliant thriller novel. It’s a prescient novel but also such a stunning read. My review is here.

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Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

I adored this book! It’s a look at what happens when someone is told they have three months to live but it’s such a life-affirming, uplifting read in spite of what has happened. It’s wonderful and I recommend it! My review is here.

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A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

This novel is the most stunning and accurate portrayal I have ever read about what it is to be a sibling. I found it breathtaking at times and I know this is a book I will be thinking about for a long time to come. My review is here.

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was the very first book I read in 2019, and what a way to start a new year! This is such a stunning novel and it felt like such a treat to read it. I’m sad I didn’t manage to review it but I highly recommend it all the same!

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The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner

I listened to this book on audio and I just got lost in it. It’s such a beautifully written novel about the aftermath of the war on four characters, and I just loved it. I want everyone to read this book! My review is here.

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The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

I only read this psychological thriller very recently but it couldn’t not be on my list of best books. This is one of the best books in this genre that I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. My review is here.

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The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

I started reading this book one afternoon and I literally didn’t look up from the page until I finished reading. This is an incredible and stunning novel, one that will stay with me. My review is here.

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The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

I read this book out in the garden over a couple of lovely sunny afternoons and I just got lost in its pages. There is a dreamlike quality to this novel and I still feel slightly under its spell now! My review is here.

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I part-read and part-listened to this book and I loved every single second of it. It’s one of my all-time favourite audio books and I highly recommend it. I haven’t managed to post a review yet but I plan on doing so soon.

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The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This was one of my picks for my 20 Books of Summer and I completely and utterly feel in love with this novel. It’s such a gorgeous novel that is both laugh out loud funny, and heartbreakingly moving. I adored it and hope to review it soon.

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Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

This book is amazing. I still don’t feel like I can do justice to it, I still feel like it’s got a hold on me that I can’t explain. My review is here and I just urge you to please go read this book if you haven’t already!

 

 

What are your favourite books of 2019 so far? I’d love to know!

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: The Blue Bench by Paul Marriner | @marriner_p @annecater @audibleuk #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Margate 1920. The Great War is over but Britain mourns and its spirit is not yet mended.

Edward and William have returned from the front as changed men. Together they have survived grotesque horrors and remain haunted by memories of comrades who did not come home. The summer season in Margate is a chance for them to rebuild their lives and reconcile the past.

Evelyn and Catherine are young women ready to live life to the full. Their independence has been hard won and, with little knowledge of the cost of their freedom, they are ready to face new challenges side by side.

Can they define their own future and open their hearts to the prospect of finding love? Will the summer of 1920 be a turning point for these new friends? As the body of the Unknown Warrior is returned, can the nation find a way forward?

 

My Thoughts

The Blue Bench is a novel following four characters in the aftermath of the first world war. Edward and William have returned from the front but they are forever changed by what they have been through. Catherine and Evelyn are two young women keen to get on with their lives. The book is about their journeys as they each try to look to the future. The novel is predominantly told from the perspectives of Edward and Evelyn but all four of these characters feature all the way through.

The Blue Bench opens with a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which for the people concerned is an annual pilgrimage. The book then goes back in time to 1920 when we meet Edward, William, Catherine and Evelyn. It is such a beautiful and moving novel. It is a melancholy book but there are moments of lightness to balance the dark. It’s a meandering story that follows these four characters as they each try to build a life for themselves in the new world they find themselves in post war.

Edward was the character I was most fascinated by. He has suffered an horrendous facial injury in the war and has to wear an uncomfortable tin mask. He suffers great pain and requires more and more painkillers to get any kind of relief and this leads to him procuring these medications by whatever means necessary. I felt such sympathy for him as he struggles. I have no idea what it is to go to war but I do know what it’s like to have an obvious disability and to suffer with chronic pain, Paul Marriner captures this so well. Edward is a wonderful pianist, he enjoys playing piano and it seems to take him out of his real life for a while. People really enjoy his playing but it still is shocking to some of his audiences when they see his face; it’s as if the beauty of his playing is somehow cancelled out for people by the injury to his face. There is always something of a distance around Edward, even when his closest friend William is with him, it’s as if he can no longer allow himself to fully engage with people and life. I could feel his loneliness even when he was with people. I was rooting for him all the way through the novel and was hoping that he would beat the odds and find some happiness and calm in his life.

William is different to Edward, he’s more outgoing and a bit of a ladies’ man but he does have a caring side to him. He looks out for Edward, and tries to keep his mood buoyed up. Catherine and Evelyn are great characters too. I loved their friendship and the way they supported and encouraged each other. It’s so wonderful to find a novel where there are female characters who have each other’s backs, I really enjoyed reading about their growing friendship and seeing where life took them.

I very much appreciated how real events and people were interwoven into this novel, particularly the way the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier came to be. I found these parts of the novel incredibly moving. I knew about the unknown soldier but to see the story of this brought to life in this story gave me goosebumps. It’s a real gift to write a work of fiction but to bring in real elements of history and make you feel as if you were there, to give you a new understanding of just how much something mattered.

I listened to The Blue Bench on audio book and the narrater, Colleen MacMahon, is wonderful. The pacing of the book was just right and she struck the right tone for the nature of the novel. She really made this book a joy to listen to and I will definitely be looking out for more audio books narrated by her. The audio is nineteen and a half hours long but it was one of those books that I was loving so much that I just didn’t want it to end.

I felt really quite bereft on finishing this novel. I loved every minute that I spent listening to it and I miss the characters. I still find myself wondering about them, they became so real to me. The Blue Bench is an incredible novel and one I won’t forget. It is a melancholy read, there is pain and sadness running through it but there is also fun and laughter and love – the novel may be set just after the Great War but the themes are universal and timeless in many respects. It’s a true reflection on how life is and I adored it beyond words. This will be one of those rare books that I will re-read in the future because I loved it so very much. I recommend this to everyone, it really is a stunning novel!

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Paul Marriner for my copy of this audio book. All thoughts are my own.

The Blue Bench is out now in audio book and available here. It is also

 

About the Author

Paul Marriner Author picture

Paul grew up in a west London suburb and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two children. He is passionate about music, sport and, most of all, writing, on which he now concentrates full-time. Paul has written four novels and his primary literary ambition is that you enjoy reading them while he is hard at work on the next one (but still finding time to play drums with Redlands and Rags 2 Riches).

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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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. 🙂