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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Five Favourite Reads of 2016

Five of my favourite books from 2016

Five of my favourite books from 2016

I enjoy reading but I over the past few years I noticed I wasn’t making as much time to read and I didn’t realise just how much I missed getting lost in a book and how much it can spark my creativity

So I thought I would share my Five Favourite Books of 2016, I have no idea why I gave myself the almost impossible task of picking only five but I have some incredibly good books to recommend. Let me know if you have read any of my recomendations and what your favourite books of 2016 were.

The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

I’m drawn to books that are set in my favourite city of Amsterdam and this book is centred around a young dutch girl called Hanneke who lives in Amsterdam during the Nazi Occupation. Through buying and selling goods on the black market for her boss she is asked to find a young girl that has gone missing and this is a lot more dangerous than she ever thought. This book is heartbreaking, heartwarming and makes you think if you’d ever have the strength to be that brave and selfless in such an impossible time.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What a charming story of a father and his young daughter, Marie-Laure during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Marie-Laure is blind and her father builds her a scale model of Paris so she can learn where everything is and navigate around the streets by counting drains, trees and other points of interest. Doing this she memorises her favourite routes but they have to flee Paris, along with some precious cargo that her father is sworn to keep safe and out of the hands of the Nazi’s. They stay with family by the coast and this is when the story introduces you to a young German boy called Werner whose story runs parallel to Marie-Laure and you’re wondering when their paths will cross. This is much more than a war story its about resistance, propaganda, trust and the kindness people show one another even in the most desperate of situations. This is quite an unusual read but although sad at times it has moments of magic and hope.

Favourite books of 2016

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is about widower who is unapologetically grumpy and although he has always enjoyed his own company, after his wife died he became more solitary. That was until his quite life was interrupted by a young family moving in next door. They see something in Ove and take him into their hearts and through them we begin to learn there is a softer, gentle side to Ove. This is a book that will leave your heart full and a tear in your eye.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

This is about real life couple Helen & Russell who are young professionals from London who move to Denmark (initially for one year) after Russell is offered his dream job at LEGO. Helen is less then enthusiastic about the move to rural Denmark but it actually turns out to be a year of discovery for both of them. This book was born out of Helen’s findings after researching just what makes the Danes the happiest people in the world. I found this so interesting, learning all about how the Danes put emphasis upon the work life balance, take time to socialise and really explore what job makes them them feel fulfilled. I would find myself reading passages out loud to my husband and trying to find ways of implementing a few of the key factors in my own life, mostly the eating of more sweet treats! My friend Hayley & I often talk about what it would be like to live there and how the Danish really seem to be the happiest people.

The Lady in The Van by Alan Bennett

I loved this book and the story told by the incredible playwright and author Alan Bennett. It is a true story, quite often heartbreaking but ultimately a story of kindness. I think because Alan has such a way with words and the ability to describe a situation so you feel like you are seeing and experiencing it first hand. The Lady in The Van is Alan documenting a series of events & encounters with Miss Shepherd a homeless lady who comes to park her van in his driveway and stays there for 19 years!

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