Books I’ve Read in 2019 Part 1

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I found this book frustrating, I just couldn’t enjoy it at all. I feel like I need a medal for getting to the end. I found it complicated and confusing. Evelyn Hardcastle is killed at a family party in the British countryside but all is not as it seems. Aiden must solve her murder or he won’t be able to escape. This crime, fantasy novel re-lives the same day over and over again. Aiden has his own mistakes to make peace with alongside solving a murder that no one wants to be solved. For eight days Aiden finds himself in a different body, all of which give him clues to the murder but that doesn’t mean he is any closes to piecing all the information together. I really didn’t enjoy the flitting back and forth of characters and it took me ages to remember who was who, I almost gave up but was invested to finish so I could at least see if there was closure.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh

After reading This is Going to Hurt, I was on a roll of reading medical themed books and this one sounded super interesting and a little different to Adam Kays. It is about one of Britain’s leading Brain Surgeons who is coming up to retirement and he is reflecting on his career. Henry Marsh takes you on his journey and tries to capture the unbelievable stress, motivation and often tragic consequences of working as a brain surgeon. He is incredibly skilled and is asked to perform surgeries that others think are impossible. His technical ability is thanks to years of practice, successes and many losses. It is a world we don’t often get to see but Henry Marsh brings you along and let me tell you it is one hell of a ride. This is a rollercoaster of a read, I finished it so fast if you’re a bit squeamish (like me) you might feel a bit queasy in parts but it is so worth it.

Books I've Read in 2019 Part 1

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t read a lot of YA books but this one came highly recommended. It is a story of a young black teen who finds herself caught up in the Black Lives Matter movement. It follows 16-year-old Star and her struggle to live two sperate lives. She witnesses a crime and wrestles with what she saw and doesn’t know how to go about doing the right thing. Especially when you’re 16 and your family, neighbourhood and school life are worlds apart. It is a quick read and one I really enjoyed.

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse

This was an odd story and I struggled to find the motivation to finish it. The story centres around Bobby, a 12-year-old boy who is pretty much alone. His father is abusive, lazy and neglects even his son’s basic needs. He is a loner until he meets Sunny and they become the very best of friends, the story takes a twist when Bobby meets another friend Rosa who’s Mother Val is everything Bobby never knew he needed. Caring, understanding and nurtures his soul until he is able to come to terms with what happened to his own Mother. It is a story that is a little far-fetched and odd in places but I did finish it and I can’t deny that It’s made me want to go on a road trip in a Mobile Library.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I saw so many people reading this and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I am almost sorry to say I expected it to be a little more gripping maybe more excited. I love Michelle Obama and think she is incredible and so wanted her to run for Presidency, but I just found her book a little dull if I am honest. She is very straight-laced and although parts of her life were without question a struggle and her determination to educate herself and push to be a woman in high-powered man’s world was inspiring there was little excitement. Not what I hoped it would be, maybe it is because I recently read Marylin Manson’s biography and this couldn’t be any further from that.

Books you must read in 2019

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney

I am not usually one for books that have an element of magic/fantasy, I don’t know why but they never seem to appeal to me. So I must confess that I bought this book entirely because it had a pretty cover (sorry, not sorry) and I have to admit I actually enjoyed it, despite it being quite a raunchy read. I think at times it was too erotic & I am in no way a prude, I just think there were too many sexual references. The story itself was gripping and had plenty of twists and was a real page-turner. It’s set in 1756 and follows the story of a young penniless girl through her highs and lows on the road to freedom and success, but her journey is by no means easy. Described by the author as, Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice. Murderer?

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

I read this over New Year and I loved it. I couldn’t put it down. I felt it was a more grown-up version of Eleanor Oliphant. A story of social awkwardness, second chances and an unusual family dynamic. The story centres around, Sarah Green a woman in her 40’s who won’t let anyone get close to her, she needs to be in control of every aspect of her life. Until a sequence of events makes her realise we are never fully in control and by letting a select few people know the real you, leads to a much more fulfilling life. I adored Sarah Greens character in this book her stubbornness, naivety and vulnerability make you really cheer her on from the sidelines. If you’re looking for quite an easy but thought-provoking read I highly recommend The Cactus By Sarah Haywood.

The Choice: A true story of hope by Edith Eger

After reading Man’s Search For Meaning last year this book kept getting recommended to me on Amazon & I thought I’d give it a go & I am SO glad I did. Both books are very similar in that they’re about surviving Auschwitz and how the people who managed to survive the longest were the ones who refused to succumb to depression or a broken heart but instead had an attitude of hope which gave their life meaning and purpose. The Choice is written from a female perspective and through her practice as a psychologist the people she councils help her gain perspective, forgiveness and live an authentic life. For years Edith is unable to acknowledge what happened to her during the war and in the years just after it ended, the years that shaped the young girl and women she became. For years it was too painful for her to deal with but her story is a testament that you can become the person you’re meant to be at any age and despite anything the world can throw at you. She is a true inspiration, a survivor and her story although hard to read you will not want to put this book down!

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Books I’ve Read Lately 2018 Part 2

Books I've Read in 2018 Part 2

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

I kept seeing this book in Waterstones & heard so many people saying how good it was so I knew I had to read it too. It did not disappoint & lived up to every good review I’d read. I loved it and was completely gripped from beginning to end. This book is the diary entries from an NHS Junior Doctor from 2004 until 2010, I laughed (a lot), cried and quite often gasped out loud at almost every page. This is an eye-opening, honest and quite often shocking account of working on the front line in the NHS from a Junior Doctors perspective. I loved the way is written and I won’t give anything away but I cried and laughed in equal measures. It is heartbreaking to think our NHS staff are working almost 100 hour weeks at the expense of their mental and physical well-being. I urge you to add this book to your reading list, I think it should be a mandatory read for everyone.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Another true story and an account of a middle-aged couple who find themselves in a situation beyond their control and completely out of their depth. This book gave me the sobering realisation that we are all only ever one step from losing everything, I found this humbling and inspiring. I felt like I was walking with Ray & her husband Moth every step of their journey. This story will lift your spirits, inspire you to embrace the unexpected and reminds you to be a little kinder to people you meet along the way. I found this book to be a quick read and I recommended it to my Mum who also really enjoyed it too.

Stalins Daughter

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan 

I am completely fascinated by Russia and always gravitate towards books about its rich history and culture. It’s a country that has been through so many changes and it’s people have so often triumphed over adversity. I couldn’t wait to read this book when I heard about it.

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan is an in-depth account of the little princess of the Kremlin who never escapes her father’s legacy. Svetlana endures so many tragedies in her early life, most at the hands of her brutal father Josef Stalin but after his death, she learns more about the extent of his reign of terror and makes the decision to defect from Russia.
Then begins a life of emotional turmoil and her constant search for peace that sadly never came. This is an emotional account of Russia’s most important defector. I found it heartbreaking that she wasn’t able to become her true self. The world just wouldn’t allow her to be anything other than Stalin’s Daughter and that was such a heavy burden to bear.

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

This book by Viktor E Frankl who is a Holocaust survivor and a leading psychiatrist explores what keeps people from giving up & what gives a life meaning and purpose. He talks about his time in Auswitch and how the people who managed to survive the longest were the ones who refused to succumb to depression or a broken heart but instead had an attitude of hope which gave their life meaning and purpose. They were the ones that helped people at any cost even if they made the smallest difference, they were the ones that refused to give away their inner fight for survival. You learn a lot about the strength of the human spirit.  It is a very interesting book and one that makes me realise your attitude can have such a positive impact upon everything you do. If like me you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or having a low time of it, this book might help you focus and make some positive changes to the way you think and your ability to focus on the good.

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

This is a book about solving a crime that happened years before, about understanding family lies and secrets that stop the truth from surfacing. It all centres around what happened to Gabriella 30 years ago and her sister Anna returning to the family home to finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I thought it was a little hard to follow in places but I couldn’t put it down and loved the twists and turns. If you like crime/mystery novels this is one to add to your reading list for 2018.

The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is so out of my comfort zone and not the usual genre I go for, it is what I would call a crime/fantasy/thriller. Most people describe it as a gothic novel and I would agree. Set against the backdrop of post World War II Barcelona and centres around the enchanting Cemetery of Lost Books and what one boy discovers there. The Shadow of the Wind’ becomes a hunger to discover what really happened to its author Julian Carax to save those left behind. There is no quiet moment in this book, my heart was always in my mouth and I couldn’t put it down. It is enchanting, harrowing and the plot is so dark in places that I was scared to read it at night (what a wimp, I know). I enjoyed it from start to finish and want to read more books from Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Bring Me Back by B A Paris

Bring Me Back by B A Paris

Now, this was a book I really did not enjoy, it was disjointed and odd. It is about the disappearance of a young woman 12 years ago & the odd things that start happening that question what really happened to her all those years ago. If she is dead or alive. I found the whole book far-fetched and not very well written. Not a book I would recommend at all!

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

I loved Jamie Ford’s debut novel ‘Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweetwhich was a lovely read and I so wanted this book to be as good but although I enjoyed it and loved the main character Ernest Young, I just felt the story wasn’t as gripping. It is set in Seattle and much of the plot centres around the fate of a young Chinese orphan who finds himself in an adult world and all that comes with that life. The story flits between Ernst as a young boy & as an older man and I quite like the way this is done. Although I wouldn’t say this is a must read I would say it is a nice, easy read.

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

This was the second book in this roundup which I wasn’t blown away by. It was quite boring in parts and often I felt the story was rushed. This is a story that will leave you with more questions than answers and I struggled to connect with any of the main characters. This is a book to avoid!

If you have any book recommendations please leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Books I’ve Read Lately 2018

Books I've Read Recently

Books I've Read Recently

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

This is based on the life of Lale Sokolov and I think the fact it is an account of real events makes it even more gripping. Books about this time in history are always harrowing and quite difficult to wrap your mind around but what I found different about this account of Auschwitz was the beautiful glimmers of courage, hope and ultimately love that can blossom even in the darkest moments. I read this book in a couple of days, I wanted to know what was to happen to Lale so couldn’t put it down. If you need a quick but thought-provoking read then I highly recommend adding this to your reading list.

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea

I haven’t finished this, I often have a few books that I leave and come back to, for many reasons but the fact I haven’t been able to get to the end of this particular book is because it is just so heartbreaking. This is how Amazon summarise it, ‘The harrowing true story of one man’s life in—and subsequent escape from—North Korea, one of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes’

It really is harrowing, the humiliation, suffering and loss that this man endures during his life in North Korea are unimaginable at times. I found it was so dark and sad in parts that it was hard to read. I feel guilty that I am unable to finish it and can put it down because this is someone’s account of real-life events and they had to live them. I almost feel I have to finish it because Masaji Ishikawa was brave enough not only to survive this ordeal but commit his story to paper.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Yes, yes. I know everyone (literally everyone) is reading this at the moment and I jumped on the bandwagon. It is a slow burner, in the beginning, I was worried that maybe I just wasn’t going to get the hype but about a quarter of the way in the story steps up and you get to know Eleanor a little more and start to will her character on. It is an easy, quick read but the story and characters are endearing, kind and it makes you want to be more friendly and compassionate. If you’re on the fence about reading this, I say buy it & read it. I guarantee you will enjoy it.

BOOKS I'VE READ LATELY 2018

The House at Bishopsgate

The funny thing about this book is I read it without realising that it is, in fact, the last book in a trilogy. Looking back now I have finished this book I think it is important that you read the first two books because they introduce the characters and you’re invested in the story and its history. I am tempted to go back and read them just so I can add some background to the story. Amazon summarises this as ‘Vividly evoking Jacobean society, The House at Bishopsgate is a sumptuous, richly woven story of marital secrets and sexual jealousy, from a master of historical fiction’.

I liked the story but didn’t connect with the main character, I found her a little annoying and meek. I wanted her to act more like the lady of the house. That being said I did like how descriptive it was about the house and London, I often felt like I could hear the comings and goings of the maids and the busy London street. I wouldn’t say this is a page turner, more of a slow read, the final few chapters were a little more lively. Let me know if you have read this trilogy and if I should read the first two.

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters

I have literally just finished this book, I found myself racing through it just so I could find out what happens. It is a page-turner and the story reminded me of the Light Between The Oceans. I think it’s because both books are set at a lighthouse on quite a remote Island. This book has so many twists that keep you guessing right up until the very last page. I was completely gripped. I don’t want to give anything away but it is set at a lighthouse station on the Ontario side of Lake Superior and you follow the life of the family who controls the light. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming, a real rollercoaster of life and emotion. I loved it and thought there was something quite magical about the remoteness of the lighthouse and how isolated they were out there.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret 

I saw the film over Christmas and was blown away by the story and the way it was filmed, I didn’t even know it was based on a book, or how beautiful the book was. This is a lovely story but the book has these incredibly detailed drawings & illustrations that bring the characters to life. It is like a graphic novel and it made the book even more special. The book is about an Orphan clock keeper and thief, twelve-year-old Hugo who lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. I urge you to read the book and watch the film, both are fantastic in their own way. Thank you Hayley (hayleyfromhome) for lending this to me, I may have to buy my own copy just to look at the pictures all over again. 

HUGO

HUGO Book

HUGO

If you have read any of the books I’ve mentioned let me know if you enjoyed them & also if you have any book recommendations I would love to hear them.

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