That Was The Month That Was… January 2019!

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January is a month that I’ve struggled with in recent years but actually this January didn’t weigh on me quite as much so I feel like I’ve made progress in coming to terms with some things. I also turned 40 this month so am determined that my 40s will be fabulous!

I always plan ahead to keep my mind occupied in January so this time my plan was simple… read lots of good books! And I definitely succeeded with this! I read more books in January then ever before (since I started keeping record of what I read) and ended up finishing 34 books over the month! I can’t pick a single favourite as pretty much every book was really good but I have to give a special mention to Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn because that book was incredible and it won’t let go of my thoughts!

I also managed a lot more blogging in January than I’ve done for a while and I’m really enjoying it. It feels like my blogging mojo is fully back now after the wobble I had over the summer so hopefully it will stick around now!

 

Here are the books I read in January:

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This was a Christmas present from my husband. I’ve been wanting to read it for a while and it was worth the wait because I loved it. I already feel that this will make my favourite books of the year so 2019 was off to an amazing start!

Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield

I had an ARC of this book but I decided to listen to the audio book while I was feeling unwell and I very much enjoyed it. I’m fascinated by the idea of fate so this book was right up my street. I do plan on reviewing it when I get a chance.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

This was another excellent book that I just couldn’t put down! I’ve already reviewed this so you can see my full thoughts here if you’d like to.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This book a really good way to pass a cold, wintery day when I needed some escapism! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages and so I decided to part listen to the audio and part read it and I adored it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more!

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

This book was brilliant, it more than lived up to my expectations for it and is another book that I think may well be on my top books of the year! My review is here if you’d like to read it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

This book is so atmospheric and had me gripped from start to finish. Find out more in my review here.

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

This was an interesting introduction to reducing plastic but I was hoping to learn more. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for somewhere to start though.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I’d had an ARC of this on my TBR for quite a while and I finally picked it up in January and I ended up reading it in one sitting, it was so good! Here’s my full review!

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

I bought this book sometime last year and I spotted it when I was tidying up my shelves last month so kept it out to read. It was a good thriller, it kept me turning the pages!

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible. I loved it, even though it broke my heart. I know this book will be in my favourite reads of 2019, it just won’t let go of me. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

The Party by Lisa Hall

This book was an okay read, it was one I read over the space of a couple of hours but it wasn’t as thrilling as I’d hoped.

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock 

I’ve had the audio book of this for ages and it caught my eye when I was going through my Audible app recently. I very much enjoyed learning more about Roald Dahl, and I now want to read all my favourite of his books!

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

I’ve wanted to read this ever since I first heard about it so when I spotted it on an Audible deal recently I snapped it up. I listened to it over a couple of days and found it really interesting. It didn’t have the same lasting impression as Adam Kay’s book but it was a good listen.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this last year and finally picked it up a couple of weeks ago and I devoured it in one sitting. It is such a brilliant novel, I loved it! My review is here if you’d like to know more.

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

This was a really good thriller and another book that I flew through as I simply had to know how it would all end. Here’s my review!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I’ve read and enjoyed Fiona Barton’s previous two novels so I was delighted to receive a copy of this one. This is a brilliant novel, definitely Fiona’s best yet and I loved it. My full review is here if you’d like to know more.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This is another ARC that has been on my TBR longer than it should but when I did pick it up I devoured it. I was gripped from start to finish. I hope to get my review finished and posted soon.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

This was a really good read, although I struggled at times with the child narrator. Here’s my review.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

I read this novel in one sitting over the course of an afternoon and I loved it. I was intrigued from the opening chapter and it had me hooked right to the end. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

I had an ARC of this so I read it while also listening to the audio book and I really enjoyed it. It’s such a wonderful novel, one that I think I might re-read in the future. I hope to get my review posted soon.

Bring me Back by BA Paris

Sadly I didn’t really get on with this book, it was too far-fetched to me and it just didn’t gel at all. I have enjoyed a previous book by the author so maybe this just wasn’t the right book for me.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

This book has been on my TBR since it was first published but I’ve put off reading it because it felt like it was no longer for me. I’m so glad that I gave it a go though as I got a lot more out of it than I was expecting to so I recommend it.

Diversify by June Sarpong

This book was hit and miss for me. There were chapters that really struck a chord and others that didn’t. I’m glad I read it though, it was interesting for the most part.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I finally read this book and I can totally see why it got so much praise last year! I loved it too, it was so different to other books in this genre and I really appreciate how much work it must have taken.

Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

This was a good read, it wasn’t as good as the previous book Normal but it was still a book that I read in just two sittings.

Notes on A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

This was another Christmas present and I’m glad I picked it up when I did. I found it even more useful than I was expecting to and I think it is a book that I will go back to in the future.

A Very English Scandal by John Preston

This audio book was fascinating, shocking but really interesting. I already knew some things about this case but there was so much I didn’t know. I was hooked all the way through this book, it left me reeling!

Senseless by Anna Lickley

This is such a good novel. It’s got a great storyline, which I really enjoyed and it also has excellent disability representation, which I very much appreciate in a novel. I’ll be reviewing this in February for the blog tour!

Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages & Co. by Anna James

I got this book for Christmas and I saved it to read on the anniversary of my mum’s death when I knew I would need a comforting read. This book was everything I hope it would be and so much more besides, I adored it! I’m hoping to get a chance to re-read A Little Princess soon as it’s reminded me how much I loved that novel as a child.

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This book was beautiful, so much more more than I was expecting it to be and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this so you can see that here if you’d like to know more.

The Cactus by Sarah Hayward

This book is gorgeous! I read it in one sitting and I completely and utterly fell in love with it. I’ll definitely be reviewing this one soon but in the meantime I highly recommend it!

Someone Like Me by MR Carey

I was sent an ARC of this and was told it was a thriller so I was a bit discombobulated when I started reading it. I’m still not sure what I think of it but I did read it in just a couple of sittings so it definitely gripped me!

Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

I read this book in one sitting and it kept me up way past my bed time as I just couldn’t put it down! I reviewed this one yesterday so you can find that here if you’d like to know more.

 

January Blog Posts & Reviews:

My Favourite Novels Read in 2018

My Favourite Non-Fiction Read in 2018

Reading Bingo for 2018! Was it a full house for me??

2018 Reading Reflections, Statistics and Plans for Tackling the TBR

 

Stacking the Shelves (5th Jan)

Mini Crime and Thriller Book Reviews featuring A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay, The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah, All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew and Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke)

Review of The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Hyde

New Year Book Tag

This Week in Books (9 Jan)

Review of The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

Review of The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Review of The Rumour by Lesley Kara

Stacking the Shelves (12 Jan)

Review of The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Review of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This Week in Books (16 Jan)

Review of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Review of Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

Stacking the Shelves (19 Jan)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up and How the #KonMari Method Changed My Life!

This was a much more personal post than I normally share on my blog but I wanted to share how following Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering methods had actually made a huge difference to my life!

Music Monday: In My Life by The Beatles

Review of Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

Review of The Suspect by Fiona Barton

This Week in Books (23 Jan)

Stacking the Shelves (26 Jan)

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

This Week in Books (30 Jan)

Review of Spare Room by Dreda Say Mitchell

 

The state of my TBR:

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Well, in 2018 I succeeded in reducing my mammoth TBR… but 2019 has been the month with all the books. I started January with 2447 books (this is books that I own, I don’t add books to my TBR if I don’t own them) and have ended the month with 2464 books. Oops! This is in spite of me reading 34 books off my TBR this month, the fact is that I’ve acquired 51 books so overall my TBR has increased by 17 books. My plan is to reduce my TBR by 20 books every month so I need to do some serious reading and/or unhauling (unhauling keeps autocorrecting to unfailing and I was so tempted to leave it at that! Haha!) in February to get back on track! In all seriousness though I’m not worried as last year the reduction of my TBR happened over the course of the year so I feel sure I’ll be back on track come December 31st!

 


 

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

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#BookReview: Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn | @r_welbourn @unbound_digital @annecater #RandomThingsTours

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About the Book

Is it possible to keep secrets in the age of social media? When someone lives their entire life in the spotlight, what could they possibly hide from you? Ideal Angels explores just that. It s the story of one man, one woman, one week. They meet, fall in love, and never look back. Eloise s phone is never far away, furiously cataloguing their ups and downs. But there are always shadows, lurking just out of reach. The moments after the camera flashes, unseen, uncaptured. The threat of an inescapable doom. How much can one person change you? How much can one person be your downfall?

 

My Thoughts

Ideal Angels is about an unnamed protagonist who lives a normal, fairly underwhelming life going to work and coming home, spending a lot of his time alone. Then on a night out he meets Eloise and immediately feels a connection to her. They swap numbers and the next time they meet up things become intense very quickly. Eloise is obsessed with social media and records every little detail of their time together. He isn’t keen, he doesn’t use social media but he allows her to keep taking photos because he is infatuated with her.

I found myself swept up in Ideal Angels from the opening pages. It’s written in a stream of consciousness style a lot of the time so you very quickly get inside the narrator’s head and come to understand why he is the way he is. He maintains that he’s okay alone and doesn’t need anyone but he radiates loneliness. I worried for him when he met Eloise, it felt from the off that he was going to get his heart broken. She’s so vivacious and spontaneous and he just isn’t so I felt she would quickly pull away from him and he would be distraught. There is a sense of melancholy even in the happiness he has found, like he has the fear of it ending even as it’s just beginning. I think most of us can identify with that feeling – that moment when you know you’re in love with someone, and the realisation that you are so vulnerable now, so out there to be hurt.

I loved reading about these two falling in love over the week they spend together in this novel. There are moments of real joy and happiness, and I was rooting for it all to work out. The protagonist becomes more accepting of Eloise’s need to be sharing everything about their life online, yet is steadfast in his not wanting to be online himself. It’s as if he’s decided that as long as he’s not looking at her online profiles then it’s not like she’s really sharing every minute detail of their lives.

I can totally see how social media is an obsession for Eloise and why she needs to keep up her profile, and to play to her ‘friends’. We all want to be liked and these days having lots of twitter followers makes us feel part of things: validated. I first joined twitter almost ten years ago in the worst moments of my life, I was lonely and I had no one. There was always someone online to talk to, and it was such a friendly place back then. I still have friends now that I made back then, one of them became my husband! In the end twitter got too big, it was impossible to keep up and people were less and less chatty, it felt like shouting into a void. I tweeted less and less – I became much more like the protagonist in Ideal Angels, social media was something I was aware of but didn’t really participate in. It’s a double-edged sword – it can make you feel part of something, but it can also make you even more aware of how lonely and isolated you really are.

On a side note I loved the references to Hull in this book. I felt like I was right there with the protaganist and Eloise as he shows her where he grew up. I remember when the shopping centre stripped out all the interesting shops on the top floor and made into a cinema. And I spent many a night at the Welly back in the day. Perhaps it’s in part that I know those places but I really connected with how removed he felt that everything had changed. I guess we can all understand how sad it is to go back to a place from our past and find nothing is the same, we can’t keep things the same except in our memories. This seems like such a poignant moment for me, the realisation that the Eloises of this world are perhaps desperately trying to hold on to everything but it’s not possible to have that much control. Life moves on, things change. Social media isn’t always about people showing off to their followers, sometimes it’s trying to preserve something in order to feel like you have meaning.

In the end we come to see that both of these characters are struggling in their own ways. Eloise appears to be living a happy full life but really there’s no substance to the instagram side of her and she has insecurities underneath. As I came to see there were cracks under the surface I could see how these two people connected with each other so quickly and how they fell for each other.

From the very beginning of this novel I felt like I was going to get my heart broken by these characters, and this feeling lingered even in the happy moments. This novel is such a mirror of how life can be – it’s hard to live in the moment, and when you let yourself relax and be happy at the good life has brought you there can be such a sting in the tail.

This book is so prescient in the social media age we live in, and also with regards to its look at mental health. It’s a stunning novel and one that has really got under my skin, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished reading. I loved the wry humour that runs through it, and also the beautiful way with words that Robert Welbourn has in his writing. And even though this novel broke my heart in the end, I completely and utterly fell in love with it. I can already say for sure that Ideal Angels will be one of my favourite books of 2019 because it’s such an incredible novel.

Ideal Angels is prescient, stunning and unforgettable! I highly recommend it!

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

Ideal Angels is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Robert Welbourn is Yorkshire born and bred – he’s lived there almost all his life, and now written a book set there. He’s had a passion for books as long as he can remember, and has been writing his whole life. His favourite authors are Bret Easton Ellis and Stephen King, and he cites Ellis as his number one influence.

He studied English Literature at Salford University, and this confirmed that he wanted to spend his life working with books. He currently works in marketing, but is hoping to spend his life telling stories.

Twitter@r_welbourn

 

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

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This Week in Books (16 Jan 2019)! What are you reading?

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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

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I’m really gripped by this book, it’s my favourite Fiona Barton novel to date! I was engrossed in it most of yesterday afternoon and can’t wait to get back to it.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I had a break from this novel for most of this week but I’m back reading it again now and hope to finish it soon. It’s a good read but I find the child’s voice and perspective a little too much at times.

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I’ve read a couple more chapters of this over the last week and am still finding it fascinating. It’s a brilliant book.

 

Then

The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson

I bought this as an audio book recently and listened to it over the last couple of days. It was an interesting book and gave an insight into different aspects of nursing. I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would but I would still recommend it.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

This book was brilliant, it’s a perfect psychological thriller and I literally read it from cover to cover in one sitting! I’ve already reviewed this so if you’d like to know more you can read my thoughts here.

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

I found this novel so gripping! It took me a couple of chapters to find my feet with it and then it became really hard to put down. I’ll be reviewing this one next week on my blog so keep an eye out for that soon.

Storyteller: The Authorised Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock

I listened to this on audio book over the last week or so and really enjoyed it. It was so interesting to learn more about Roald Dahl and it’s made me want to go back and re-read all my childhood favourites by him, followed by his adult fiction that I’ve never read.

The Party by Lisa Hall

This was a quick and enjoyable enough read.

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This book is incredible! I’m going to be reviewing it on here tomorrow and am still tweaking my review because I loved it so much that I’m struggling to get my thoughts in order on the screen.

The Second Sister by Claire Kendall

This is the first novel I’ve read by Claire Kendall and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be but it kept me hooked all the way through. I’ve got The Book of You on my TBR so plan on trying to get to that soon.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I had this book on my TBR since March 2018 but I finally picked it up in the last week and I read it in one go! It was such a good read, and I loved it. I’ve already reviewed this book so you can read my full review here if you’d like to know more.

 

Next

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

I’m going to be on the blog tour for this in a couple of weeks time so I’m planning to read this in the coming week. I think this could be an emotional read for me but I’m looking forward to reading it all the same.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while so I want to try and read this in the next few days if I can. I’m really keen to get to it.

Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages and Co. #1 by Anna James

I got this for Christmas and have been saving it to read this week as I knew I’d want a comforting, easy read in the next few days. I feel sure this will be that book.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

This is a book I’ve always loved but I haven’t re-read it in a really long time so I think this week might be a nice time for me to pick it up again.

 

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 (9 Jan 2019)! What are you reading this week?

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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

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

I’ve had an unread ARC of this from NetGalley for longer than I should have but I finally picked it up this week and am finding it gripping so far.

Trauma: From Lockerbie to 7/7: How Trauma Affects Our Minds And How We Fight Back by Gordon Turnbull

I’ve been reading this one on and off for a week or so now and am finding it utterly fascinating. I’m always interested in reading about trauma having suffered from PTSD myself and this book is particularly good. This book looks at Turnbull’s career but also how he, and others in psychiatry, came to understand trauma and how best to treat it.

 

Then

No More Plastic by Martin Dorey

I bought this in the kindle sale this week and it was an okay read. I was a little disappointed because I didn’t really learn anything that I didn’t know before but it is a good book to get you motivated to think more about how much plastic we use and to start doing something about it.

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

This is such a fantastic novel – really atmospheric and gripping. I’ve posted my review of this on my blog today so please check that out if you’d like to know more.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I half read and half listened to this book and I very much enjoyed it. It worked really well as an audio book and I think listening to it heightened my enjoyment.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

This book was so good! I found it near impossible to put down and loved every minute that I spent reading it. I hope to have my review posted in the next few days so please look out for that.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This was an enjoyable read, and is a perfect book for this time of year. I would’ve liked a bit more depth to the characters but none-the-less this is a page turner.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

I loved this novel – it was thrilling and gripping and I couldn’t put it down. I’ve already reviewed this one so if you’d like to read my thoughts on it please click here.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I got this book for Christmas and it was my first read of 2019 and what a read it was! I absolutely adored this novel and feel sure that it will make my top books of this year. I already want to read it again!

 

Next

Ideal Angels by Robert Welbourn

This is a bit different to my usual reads so I’m really looking forward to reading it in the coming days, I think it’s going to be a good one!

Into the Silent Sea by Claire Stibbe

I’m on the blog tour for this one in a couple of weeks so am hoping to read it this week. I did read the opening chapter when the book arrived and I feel sure that I’m going to really enjoy this one.

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

I really enjoyed The Confession by Jo Spain so when I spotted her new one on NetGalley just before Christmas I couldn’t resist requesting it. It’s been calling to me ever since and I can’t resist any longer!


 

 

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. 🙂