January Wrap-Up!

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

January is always a tough month for me due to very sad memories but this year I focused on escaping into books as much as I could and as a result I’ve had a great reading month. Here are the 23 books I read in January….

Spiders from Mars by Woody Woodmansey (my review is here)

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polinski by Samantha Geimer

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson (my review is here)

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (my review is here)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

How Much the Heart Can Hold by Carys Bray et al

Lies by TM Logan (my review is here)

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson (my review is here)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Loving the Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell (my review is here)

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest

Howards End is on the Landing: My Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill

Rattle by Fiona Cummins (my review is here)

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

The Girl Before by JP Delaney (my review is here)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Life of Rylan by Rylan Clark-Neal

Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

 

I managed to review eight of the above books, along with two the two titles below which I’d read at the end of 2016 but didn’t get a chance to review them at the time. Click the titles to read the reviews if you’d like to:

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

I’m planning reviews for at least a few more of the above books so hopefully they’ll be up on my blog soon.

 

I also wrote blog posts about my Top Ten Fiction and Top Ten Non-Fiction reads of 2016. I shared my Reading Bingo 2016 results, which was a lot of fun. I hadn’t planned my reading to fit the bingo challenge so I was thrilled to find that I got a full house! I also wrote a post about my Christmas Book Haul.

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I then confessed to the State of my TBR and my plans to reduce it this year. I started the year with 1885 books (that I already own) on my TBR and as of the end of January my TBR stands at 1901 (not including the 6 books I’m currently reading). In fairness, I have read quite a few books off my TBR in January but I also had my birthday and my lovely husband bought me 21 books! I feel like I’m doing well with my TBR considering how many books I added to it with gifts and review books. I really hope to get my TBR back to around 1885 this month and then I’ll be (sort of) back on track to try and reduce it.

One of my other aims this year was to read some of the longer books that have been languishing on my shelves for a long time and I’m sticking to that so far. In January I read two books that were over 500 pages each – The Poisonwood Bible and The Book of Strange New Things so I’m pleased with that. I’m also currently reading The Luminaries, which is almost 900 pages long. It’s important to me to read books that I’ve owned for a long time and still not read so I need to focus on that a bit more this month.

I’ve used Goodreads to track my reading for quite a few years now and I’ll continue to do so but I recently found a spreadsheet online where I can track my reading in more detail. I’m finding it fascinating to see where my habits lie when it comes to the books I read. This is the lovely YouTuber who kindly shared her spreadsheet Portal in the Pages


 

How was your January? Did you read any good books? Please tell me what your favourite book from January was, and if you have a January wrap-up post on your blog please feel free to share the link below.

 

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WWW Wednesdays (11 Jan) | What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.


What I’m reading now:

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The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

This was a Christmas present from my husband and I’m very much enjoying reading it. It’s a book I want to take my time with but it’s a great read and so far I’d definitely recommend it.

Synopsis:

Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.
Morley will offer a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.

 

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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (due for release 26 Jan)

I am reading a review copy of this book and enjoying it so much. It’s a beautiful novel and there references to books are wonderful. I can’t decide how it’s going to turn out in the end but I’m sure it’s going to continue to be a beautiful read.

Synopsis:

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

 

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I’ve had various copies of this novel on my shelves for around 17 years and yet I’ve managed to not read it in all that time. I have no idea why because it’s beautifully written and I am enjoying it so much. It’s one of those books that makes me look forward to getting back to it when I’m not reading.

Synopsis:

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it–from garden seeds to Scripture–is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband’s part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters–the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father’s intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility.

Dancing between the dark comedy of human failings and the breathtaking possibilities of human hope, “The Poisonwood Bible” possesses all that has distinguished Barbara Kingsolver’s previous work, and extends this beloved writer’s vision to an entirely new level. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.

 

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Lies by TM Logan

I requested this one from NetGalley on impulse because I loved the cover and knew it was a psychological thriller. It’s a fast-paced read and I’m enjoying it.

Synopsis:

WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES? 

A gripping new psychological thriller of secrets and revenge.

When Joe Lynch sees his wife enter an underground car park in the middle of the day, he’s intrigued enough to follow her down.

And when he sees her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, he naturally goes to her defence – and doesn’t for a minute believe the accusations Ben makes against her.

It’s pure misfortune that, just as the clash becomes violent and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s son has an asthma attack, and Joe has to take him to safety.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell

I was contacted by the publisher asking if I’d read and review this book for a blog tour. I agreed as I’ve suffered with PTSD and severe anxiety in the past and whilst I’m ok now it’s something that I do need to be mindful of. I’m always interested to read books on the subject of mental health as I feel with the distance I have from my own experience that I can really assess their usefulness. I’ve only read a few chapters of this so far but it’s a good book with lots of helpful ideas and suggestions. My review of this will be up on my blog on 23rd Jan during the blog tour.

Synopsis:

An essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness.
Like many people, Gail Marie Mitchell battled with anxiety and depression for many years, finding it exhausting, stressful and demoralising at times.

Realising that this approach to her condition was futile, Gail chose a different approach: acceptance.

Taking control in this way removed some of the pressure and enabled Gail to focus on developing coping strategies, creating the tips and tools that are included in this empathetic and practical book.

Gail focuses on the positive aspects of her condition, showing how a person living with mental illness is so much more than the label that society puts on them. She found acceptance empowering, enabling her to live her life to the full. Perhaps not the life she had planned, but one that is happy and fulfilling and that she loves. She is Loving the Life Less Lived.

By sharing her experiences and describing what she learnt from them as well as the resulting coping strategies, Gail has created an essential companion for anyone dealing with mental illness and their family and friends.

 


What I recently finished reading:

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Relativity by Antonia Hayes

I was offered the chance to read and review this book for a forthcoming blog tour and I jumped at the chance because the synopsis had me wanting more. I can’t quite express right now how much this book has meant to me as I read it, it’s really had me hooked. I’ll be reviewing this on as part of the tour on 17 Jan so please look out for it. 

Synopsis:

Ethan is a bright young boy obsessed with physics and astronomy who lives with his mother, Claire. Claire has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he’s becoming increasingly curious about his father’s absence in his life, wanting to fill in the gaps.

Claire’s life is centred on Ethan; she is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son, and of her own feelings. When Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event from when he was a baby, Claire’s tightly held world is split open.

On the other side of the country, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart. Then a sudden and unexpected call home forces him to confront his past, and the hole in his life that was once filled with his wife Claire and his son Ethan.

When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that – like gravity – pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I have never read a full-length Rainbow Rowell novel before and I’m not sure why I haven’t. This is such a lovely book – it’s easy to read but kept me hooked at the same time. I think I’ll be reading more by this author in the future.

Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

 

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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I devoured Agatha Christie novels when I was around the age of 11 or 12 – they were the first books my local library would allow me to take out without my mum being present so I really associated them with feeling grown up. Somehow this novel is one I’ve never read so I snapped it up in the recent kindle sale and I devoured it. It was brilliant and I highly recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

Synopsis:

First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

 

 

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The Girl: A Life in the Shadows of Roman Polanski by Samantha Geimer

I’m thinking of doing a review on this book so I won’t say too much here. My main thought on it is that I got more out of this book than I expected to and it really gave me pause for thought at various points. It’s a very interesting insight. 

Synopsis:

In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, “the girl” at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions.

March 1977, Southern California. Roman Polanski drives a rented Mercedes along Mulholland Drive to Jack Nicholson’s house. Sitting next to him is an aspiring actress, Samantha Geimer, recently arrived from York, Pennsylvania. She is thirteen years old.

The undisputed facts of what happened in the following hours appear in the court record: Polanski spent hours taking pictures of Samantha-on a deck overlooking the Hollywood Hills, on a kitchen counter, topless in a Jacuzzi. Wine and Quaaludes were consumed, balance and innocence were lost, and a young girl’s life was altered forever-eternally cast as a background player in her own story.

For months on end, the Polanski case dominated the media in the US and abroad. But even with the extensive coverage, much about that day-and the girl at the center of it all-remains a mystery. Just about everyone had an opinion about the renowned director and the girl he was accused of drugging and raping. Who was the predator? Who was the prey? Was the girl an innocent victim or a cunning Lolita artfully directed by her ambitious stage mother? How could the criminal justice system have failed all the parties concerned in such a spectacular fashion? Once Polanski fled the country, what became of Samantha, the young girl forever associated with one of Hollywood’s most notorious episodes? Samantha, as much as Polanski, has been a fugitive since the events of that night more than thirty years ago.

Taking us far beyond the headlines, The Girl reveals a thirteen-year-old who was simultaneously wise beyond her years and yet terribly vulnerable. By telling her story in full for the first time, Samantha reclaims her identity, and indelibly proves that it is possible to move forward from victim to survivor, from confusion to certainty, from shame to strength.

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Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

This is a review book so I will be doing a full review very soon. For now I’ll say that it’s fast read and one that I enjoyed.

Synopsis:

You went to bed at home, just like every other night.
You woke up in the back of a taxi, over 250 miles away.
You have no idea how you got there and no memory of the last ten hours.
You have no phone, no money; just a suicide note in your coat pocket, in your own writing.
You know you weren’t planning to kill yourself.
Your family and friends think you are lying.

Someone knows exactly what happened to you.
But they’re not telling…

 

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Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I wanted to read this memoir before I read her latest one as I already had it on my audible account. It was a very emotional read, given that Carrie Fisher died recently, but it was lovely to hear her stories especially the ones that show the love she had for her mother. I definitely recommend reading this.

Synopsis:

In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. “But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabres.” Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

 


What I plan on reading next:

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The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

This is another review book. I’m not going to get it read and reviewed before the release date but hopefully I’ll have a review in the next week or so. I love Emily Barr’s novels so was irrigated to read her venture into YA. I’ve heard good things about this so am looking forward to starting it soon.

Synopsis:

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

 

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Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I was excited to be approved to read this on NetGalley recently. It just sounds like a noir novel with a psychological thriller edge and I’m really in the mood to read something like this. 

Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

 


 

What are you reading at the moment? Have you finished any good books recently? Any books you’re looking forward to reading soon? Please feel free to join in with this meme and share your link below, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below.

Weekly Wrap-Up (8 Jan 2017)

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

 

It’s been ages since I’ve done a weekly wrap-up post but I really want to get back into doing them on a more regular basis as I always used to enjoy putting them together.

I don’t have much news this week apart from what I’ve been reading. I have really enjoyed blogging most days over the past week, it’s been a while since I had so much to post. I’m hoping to get some reviews scheduled for the next week or so.

This week I’ve read five books:

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Spiders From Mars by Woody Woodmansey

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Girl by Samantha Geimer

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (audio book)

 

This week I’ve blogged five times:

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Tuesday: My Top Ten Fiction Reads 2016

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Wednesday: My Top Ten Non-Fiction Reads 2016

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Thursday: My Christmas Book Haul

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Friday: My Reading Bingo Results 2016

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Saturday: Stacking the Shelves (7 Jan 2016)

 

This is what I’m currently reading:

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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (review ebook)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Loving the Life Less Lived by Gail Marie Mitchell (review book)

Relativity by Antonia Hayes (review book)

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

 


 

What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. :)


 

SundayBlogShare

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 

 

My Christmas Book Haul!

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It seems a little late to be doing a Christmas book haul but I really wanted to share the books that I got for Christmas and haven’t been able to get this post together until now. As a lifelong bookworm I sometimes get one or two books for Christmas but up until I met my husband these book were always books I had asked for as most people say that they can’t buy me books because either they think I already have everything, or they think books are boring! My husband has always given me some books for Christmas as stocking fillers and I’ve always been so happy and grateful for them. This year though I got a book mountain. I think there are twenty-six books in total…

Firstly, I got this gorgeous set of eight Vintage Christmas books

They were in a lovely set together and I’ve already read two of them. The titles are:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham

Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg

If On A Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome

I love that some of them are more winter reads than Christmas reads as it means I can continue reading them now Christmas is over. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the more festive ones as next Christmas gets here.

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I also got this beautiful Puffin hardback edition of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This book was one of my all-time favourite reads a a child and whilst I still have my original copy, it’s so old and battered that I wouldn’t dare re-read that edition. I’ve kept looking at this hardback copy online but couldn’t justify buying it for myself, I’m over the moon to finally own it and will definitely be re-reading it this year!

Continuing the theme of childhood reads, he also gave me this beautiful slipcase edition of Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass. It’s such a beautiful set and I’m looking forward to re-reading these books.

I have a pet guinea pig (called Robson), who is so adorable, so these next two books were perfect for me. I’m now wondering whether I could bribe Robson into dressing up as Oliver  Twist! Haha!

Back to serious reading now… Here are the novels that I was given:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

What I Had Before I Had You by Sarah Cornwell

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm

The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle

The Non-Fiction books I got:

The Age of Bowie by Paul Morley

Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland

Turn Around Bright Eyes by Rob Sheffield

The Girl by Samantha Geimer

There was one short story collection:

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This book is called Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai and it sounds like such a brilliant book. I can’t wait to dip into these stories. Also, what a gorgeous cover!

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It’s become something of a tradition to get me one of the illustrated Carol Ann Duffy poem books for Christmas and this year he chose Another Night Before Christmas because it is illustrated by Rob Ryan, whose illustrations I love.

 

The final gifts weren’t books but they were partly related to books…

Two Penguin mugs – A Common Reader by Virginia Woolf and A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf. I’m still not sure how my husband knew I adored Virginia Woolf but I’m over the moon with these mugs!

An Aladdin Sane necklace that I first saw earlier this year and have wanted ever since. I’m so happy to finally own it (and it fits with me also getting another Bowie biography). I also got a gorgeous sunflower necklace from the same company as it’s my favourite flower.


 

I was very spoilt and don’t think receiving so many books for Christmas will ever be topped! It was wonderful… and my husband, who hates wrapping presents, wrapped everything individually too so it was like being a kid again having so much to open on Christmas morning!

 

Did you have a nice Christmas? Were you given any new books, or have you bought some yourself for Christmas?