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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Books Waiting to be Read

Books to read in 2018

Books to read in 2018

For me, books make the perfect gifts. I love buying my favourite books for people & the thought that someone else might get as much joy as I did from reading a certain book is such a nice feeling. I also really like discussing my favourite books with people and listening to their take on it. Receiving books is so nice too, adding a book to your collection that you may never have picked yourself but it ends up becoming a favourite read is exciting to me. It is safe to say the book fairies were very kind to me this Christmas and I received quite a few new books to kick off my reading list for 2018.

St Petersburg by Jonathan Miles 

I have always been fascinated with in Russia because I feel like it’s quite a dark, unknown place with a very interesting, rich history. It’s so different from anything I have ever known and I love learning all about its past. This book spans three centuries from Peter The Great right up to Putin. It is a hefty book but I started it on Christmas Day and I’m flying through it at some speed. I’ve read about 150 pages and so far it’s very interesting and quite shocking in parts. It’s described as ‘An epic tale of murder, massacre and madness played out against squalor and splendour. It is a remarkable portrait of a city and it’s people.’ What country sparks your interests?

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

I’ve read the first book in this Scandi series, Little Book of Hygge & I have to tell you I’m 100% onboard with the whole lighting candles, drinking hot drinks and snuggling under a warm blanket (even when it’s not Winter). I also read The Year of Living Danishly which is a similar book but it takes a more in-depth look at the reasons people in Denmark are inherently happy. It was fantastic, a real eye-opener to learn what almost simple pleasures and small changes in your life can bring you that sense of happiness. This Lykke book seems to be in a similar vein so I’m excited to read it to learn just what happiness means to the people of Denmark and see if I can adopt some new behaviours to increase my own happiness.

Lagom by Linnea Dunne

This is another Scandi inspired book and although written by a different author to the Lykke and Hygge books is it similar in that is discusses the art of balanced living and just how important that is to our relationships and happiness. It is not about the Danes this time but focuses on the Swedes, who also rank very highly on the happiness scale. It looks like a refreshing take on how to find a healthy balance in life to ensure you have time to relax, be sociable and not let work become your entire life. It sounds very interesting and something I think we all strive to achieve a healthy work-life balance is the dream and Sweden appears to have it all worked out. I really like the simple illustrations in these books, they make so nice to flick through even after you’ve read them.

Berlin Style Guide by Ellen & Petra

I adore Berlin and have visited 5 times over a 30 year period and it is safe to say I have seen Berlin go through some major changes and some more subtle changes. It is a mysterious City and one that nurtures creativity. At face value, it feels very quiet, stark and utterly freezing in the Winter but if you get to know it and take time to seek out its beauty it is a city that welcomes you in and gives your soul doses of creativity and inspiration. I love exploring its city streets and each district is very different. This Berlin Style Guide takes you through 8 of Berlins suburbs and in each you get so many recommendations of delicious places to eat, stylish, quirky places to shop, beautiful places to get coffee and many hidden gems that will get your creative juices flowing. It has been so well curated so that you feel like you’re an honorary Berliner (for a few days at least). I love flicking through this guide and bookmarking places I have to visit on my next trip.

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood 

I don’t know much about this book, it was a gift from my friend Hayley (who has excellent taste in books). What I do know is it written by the same author that gave us A Handmade Tale so I am expecting great things.

Orwell on Truth

This was bought for my husband but I will be reading it after he has finished. ‘This selection of George Orwell’s writing, from both his novels and non-fiction, gathers together his thoughts on the subject of truth. It ranges from the discussion of personal honesty and morality to freedom of speech and political propaganda. Orwell’s unique clarity of thought and illuminating scepticism provide the perfect defence against our post-truth world of fake news and confusion.’

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Books I’ve Read Jan – April 2017

The Books I've Read in 2017

 The Books I've Read in 2017

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

This is the second book I’ve read from Fredrik Backman and I have to say I was a little worried it wouldn’t live up to ‘A Man Called Ove’, which was my favourite read of 2016. I quickly realised Britt-Marie Was Here was going to be a wonderful read. It is about a lady who after decades of hiding away from the world has developed a strong belief of how certain things should be done. She takes a job in Borg, a very small, run down & neglected town in Sweden where she in fact discovers her self worth. Britt-Marie makes friends with people that challenge her, encourage her and even fall in love with her and in return she gives the entire town hope. This book evokes such a mix of emotions but ultimately it is a story of letting go of the past, rediscovering your dreams and letting people into your heart. I urge you to add it to your reading list.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

I wasn’t so keen on this book – I found it frustrating at times. It is about a young couple whose son has autism and through trying to learn to cope and navigate through the early years of his life they have stopped communicating as a couple and live very separate lives. The dad also struggles to connect with his son and finds it difficult to understand his world. Through the videogame Minecraft comes a bit of a breakthrough which proves to be the catalyst that helps this family to communicate and appreciate a new side to their son. The Dad Alex also realises that he has been holding on to a lot of pain from his childhood and it is stopping him from moving forward in all aspects of his life. I know this is a bestseller and has been well received but I just found it to have so many Minecraft references that it got a little annoying.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

This story is mainly set in South Carolina and centers around a young girl named Sarah Grimke whose family are very wealthy and much like most wealthy families in America at this time (1803) own quite a few slaves. It follows her defiance to accept her 13th birthday present which is in fact a slave girl of the same age as herself named Handful. Sarah educates herself to a level that is not usual or accepted amongst women in America at this time and she longs to be the first ever female judge but that is a dream beyond what society can allow. Sarah and Handful struggle to understand the world and how cruel it can be, but they both find the strength to make a difference. This is a book about ambition, loss, pain but ultimately on all sides it is about the need to be free.

I was surprised to learn this story is based upon the Grimké sisters who were in fact real-life abolitionists and in a way you could say early feminists. I read this book really quickly and I want to read more from Sue Monk Kidd.

The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George

This is a story about love, loss and friendship. It is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures and if you have a romantic soul like me then you will love this story. It is mostly set on board a book barge in the centre of Paris and that in itself was enough to make me purchase this book. I love that the main character, Jean Perdu, doesn’t let people pick their own books, he chooses their books for them almost like a prescription from a doctor. It follows his journey to try and mend his broken heart and you’re taken along for the very scenic ride. I 100% recommend adding this to your reading list for 2017.

Most Recent Books Read in 2017

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This thought provoking novel doesn’t hold back, it brings to the forefront subjects and situations that are still very much part of the modern world.  It talks openly, honestly about racism, discrimination and  privilege in America. I don’t want to give too much away as the story is gripping from the get go but this one book that brings you face to face with some very hard hitting situations that make you feel uncomfortable at times.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I read this book without knowing anything about it – sometimes that is how you discover some incredible reads although I am not too sure I would class this as one of those. The main characters, Wavey & Kellen, I thought had a very uncomfortable story to tell. At times I really rooted for them but more often than not I was unsure how I should feel about their relationship. For me this was a heartbreaking read and I was left feeling the main character Wavy was let down by almost everyone. If you’re looking for quite a shocking, coming of age novel then add this to your reading list.

In Order to Live by Park Yeon-mi

I’ve watched a few documentaries about people that have escaped North Korea but this account from Park Yeon-mi was so hard hitting. I had no idea that her struggle was going to get so much worse once they’d fled North Korea. This true story follows Park’s desperate, poverty stricken life first living under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-il in North Korea then as her family attempts the dangerous journey into China. It is incredible just what the human spirit can overcome and Park’s account of what her family had to endure in North Korea and then as defectors of the regimes will stay with you for a long time.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This really reminds me a book I read last year called ‘All The Light We Cannot See‘ It is similar in that it is set first in Paris and then in rural France during the German Occupation of the Second World War. It follows two sisters that couldn’t be more different and we get to see the War from a female perspective. You get lost in the details and are quickly transported to the French countryside but the harrowing effects of the Nazi occupation are hard to ignore. The sisters are both trying to get through the War as best they can one desperate to make a difference and the other focused on staying safe. I sped through this and loved it just as much as I’d hoped, make sure you have a tissue to hand, as I think you will need it.

What have you been reading so far in 2017? Let me know if you read any of the books I have mentioned.

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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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