My Favourite Books of 2018 #bookblogger #bestbooks2018

Where did it go?!  As we reach the last day of the year I thought it was about time I looked back on the books I read in 2018 – and it’s been an absolutely astonishing year in terms of numbers of books I managed to read, and the quality of the stories I’ve discovered!    GoodReads is currently telling me I’ve read 256 books this year…. yep I’m shocked too!   If you’d like to look at all the books I got through then click here and you’ll be able to see them in all their glory!  You’d also think that reading that many books would mean your bookshelves at home would be empty and your TBR pile was a now manageable amount…. you’d be very, very wrong!!!

So choosing my favourite reads of the year has been a nightmare!! My thanks to ALL the authorsย  and publishers of books that I read this past year for so many wonderful stories! I could have included about 50 of these books that have been outstanding, but have narrowed it down to my Top 25 of books that have just stayed with me, stolen my heart and blown my socks off this year!ย  In no particular order here they are……click on the title for my GoodReads review link

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

The Lido by Libby Page

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine Arden

Circe by Madeline Miller

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse

A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

Flames by Robbie Arnott

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas

The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks

The Parentations by Kate Mayfield

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

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What a year!  Looking back at those just makes me want to pick them all up again and re-read!! Any of these make your final lists?!  Could so easily have picked so many more but very happy with this little lot as the outstanding reads of 2018 for me!

Roll on 2019!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – December 29th 2018

Hello!  Hope you are well! I’ve got a stinking cold so am not a very happy bunny today! Currently sneezing, sniffing and coughing my way through the day and leaving a trail of tissues in my wake!  

Christmas is already seeming like a distant memory, and it did affect my reading time for a couple of days as it was all just too much! BUT  I still managed to finish 4 books this week so keeping the pace up so happy with that!  Book hauls weren’t my fault this week – I’m blaming Santa and those who bought me gift vouchers and I’ve already posted the results of those up – so I’m claiming this week as a ‘no book’ haul week!

Here’s a quick look back at how my week shaped up book wise!

BOOKS FINISHED

Tin Man by Sarah Winman  – 5 stars

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M.Harris  – 5 stars

Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood – 4 stars

Odette by Jessica Duchenย  – 3 stars

CURRENTLY READING

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden (Winternight Trilogy #3)

I love this series so really don’t want it to end!

One girl can make a difference…

Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.

Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all… 

The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey

Published by Eye Books – 1st January 2019

Every day for a year, Catherine Chidgey recorded the words and language she came across during her day-to-day life โ€“ phone calls, television commercials, emails, radio shows, conversations with her family, street signs and satnav instructions. From these seemingly random snippets, she creates a fascinating portrait of modern life, focusing on the things that most people filter out.

Chidgey listens in as her daughter, born through surrogacy, begins to speak and develop a personality, and her mother slips into dementia. With her husband, she debates the pros and cons of moving to a new town. With her publisher, she discusses the novel she is writing. While, all around, the world is bombarding her with information.

In The Beat of the Pendulum, Chidgey approaches the idea of the novel from an experimental new direction. It is bold, exciting, funny, moving and utterly compelling.

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Wonder how long I can keep the no haul weeks going…. it definitely needs to be a thing in 2019 as the books are taking over my home again!  Hope your bookish week has been good too!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year – may there be yet more wonderful books for us all to explore and enjoy!!

HAPPY READING!

Post Christmas Book Haul!

What happens when you give a bookish person a book token or two for Christmas?! And then mix in a sale at Waterstones…. you get this!!!  And there’s still money left over so I might have to force myself to buy more!  How awful for me!

Anyway, here’s a little look at the latest books that have arrived for me to enjoy!  

The Little Book of Sloth Philosophy by Jennifer McCartney

Relax, unwind and soak up the wisdom of the sloth with the slowest page turner youโ€™ll ever read.

From tidying and Hygge, to living Lagom, the endless pressure to be happier, live better, sleep soundly, and eat mindfully can be exhausting. But this yearโ€™s lifestyle trend finally delivers the perfect antidote โ€“ welcome to the year of the sloth.

Sloths are mindfulness in action. Contemplative, deliberate, relaxed, and focused. They resist the rat race, the incessant pressures from society to be more productive, and they donโ€™t care how many steps theyโ€™ve logged on their fitness tracker. Long-limbed, a little bit shaggy, and a lot wide-eyed, theyโ€™re wonderful creatures, not to mention completely adorable.

Here you can enjoy take-it-slow wisdom inspired by sloths; including advice on sleep (more restorative than a 6am run), eating and โ€˜exerciseโ€™ (sloths are the original pioneers of slow food and yoga after all), work (did you know that lazy people have higher IQs?), family life, and love.

Dispelling over-complicated myths about productivity, this brilliant book confirms that it really is OK to be a sloth.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

A psychological drama of cat and mouse, A Ladder to the Skyshows how easy it is to achieve the world if you are prepared to sacrifice your soul.

If you look hard enough, you can find stories pretty much anywhere. They donโ€™t even have to be your own. Or so would-be writer Maurice Swift decides very early on in his career.

A chance encounter in a Berlin hotel with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann gives him an opportunity to ingratiate himself with someone more powerful than him. For Erich is lonely, and he has a story to tell. Whether or not he should do so is another matter entirely.

Once Maurice has made his name, he sets off in pursuit of other peopleโ€™s stories. He doesnโ€™t care where he finds them โ€“ or to whom they belong โ€“ as long as they help him rise to the top.

Stories will make him famous but they will also make him beg, borrow and steal. They may even make him do worse.

The Glorious Life of the Oak by John Lewis-Stempel

The Glorious Life of the Oak explores our long relationship with this iconic tree; it considers the life-cycle of the oak, the flora and fauna that depend on the oak, the oak as medicine, food and drink, where Britain’s mightiest oaks can be found, and it tells of oak stories from folklore, myth and legend.

The Wood by John Lewis-Stempel

From ‘one of the best nature-writers of his generation’ (Country Life) and 2017 winner of the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing, this BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’ is the story of a wood – both its natural daily life and its historical times. Cockshutt is a particular wood – three and half acres of mixed woodland in south west Herefordshire – but it stands as exemplar for all the small woods of England.

For four years John Lewis-Stempel managed the wood. He coppiced the trees and raised cows and pigs who roamed free there. This is the diary of the last year, by which time he had come to know it from the bottom of its beech roots to the tip of its oaks, and to know all the animals that lived there – the fox, the pheasants, the wood mice, the tawny owl – and where the best bluebells grew. For many fauna and flora, woods like Cockshutt are the last refuge. It proves a sanctuary for John too.

To read The Wood is to be amongst its trees as the seasons change, following an easy path until, suddenly the view is broken by a screen of leaves, or your foot catches on a root, or a bird startles overhead. Lyrical, informative, steeped in poetry and folklore, it is both very real and very magical.

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

Poet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of fairytales poetically retold for a new generation of women. 

Traditional fairytales are full of clichรฉ and gender stereotypes:beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take the glory.

But in Nikita Gill’s new prose and poetry collection, Fierce Fairytales: And Other Stories to Stir Your Soul, she rewrites the fairytale classics and reworks their old-fashioned tropes into empowering and inspirational stories. Meet the grief-stricken Ursula, the troubled Wendy Darling, the wolf in the concrete jungle, and the courageous Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own…

Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton

A whole new way of looking at the world – and your life – inspired by centuries-old Japanese wisdom.

Wabi sabi (“wah-bi sah-bi”) is a captivating concept from Japanese aesthetics, which helps us to see beauty in imperfection, appreciate simplicity and accept the transient nature of all things. With roots in Zen and the Way of Tea, the timeless wisdom of wabi sabi is more relevant than ever for modern life, as we search for new ways to approach life’s challenges and seek meaning beyond materialism.

Wabi sabi is a refreshing antidote to our fast-paced, consumption-driven world, which will encourage you to slow down, reconnect with nature, and be gentler on yourself. It will help you simplify everything, and concentrate on what really matters.

From honouring the rhythm of the seasons to creating a welcoming home, from reframing failure to ageing with grace, wabi sabi will teach you find more joy and inspiration throughout your perfectly imperfect life.

This book is the definitive guide to applying the principles of wabi sabi to transform every area of your life, and finding happiness right where you are.

Someone Like Me by M.R.Carey

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME. SHE SOUNDS LIKE ME. NOW SHE’S TRYING TO TAKE MY PLACE.

Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.

But there’s another side to Liz—one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.

And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it. 

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#BookReview Tin Man by Sarah Winman

About the book

This is almost a love story.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that. 

Published by Tinder Press

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

I didn’t think this book had captured my heart totally UNTIL the last page which I read through teary eyes and realised how much this simply beautifully written book had crept inside my soul, and I’d lived the lives of these characters alongside them and felt every high and low of life with them.

It’s not a simple story of love but one of friendship, adoration and grief. Told from the point of view of both Michael and Ellis, it follows both men over the years and the impact that their connection has on each other, and also how the role of Annie is so pivotal and important to both men and their relationships. The 3 of them are integral to one another.

It features the tougher parts of their lives as they both are trying to figure out how their pasts have affected their behaviour and emotions – whether they are shutting out feelings or behaving erratically in their later lives – and it is tenderly dealt with by the author who gives them space to breathe and discover themselves.

Incredibly this book is only just over 200 pages long and packs so much in to keep your heart and mind captivated. Stunning.

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Christmas 2018 Book Haul

Hello!  Merry Christmas!!  Hope Santa treated you all! He appears to have thought I’ve been a good girl this past year, so was treated to a lovely haul of book shaped items this year – along with some book vouchers (so I’ll be posting up what I’ve bought with those when I’ve been out shopping!!) – so I just thought I’d share with you what I got, as I know we’re all nosey and love looking at a few books!

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Not a bad little haul eh! Didn’t come with extra bookshelf space though so now to wonder where to put them all!

Click on the title for a link to the GoodReads page if you want to read more about each book!

The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada

Insomnia by Marina Benjamin

House of Glass by Susan Fletcher

The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin

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Very happy with that little lot!! Where to start?! If you’ve read any of them I’d love to hear which one you’d start with!

 And 2019 definitely needs a self imposed book buying ban for a month… or 12!!

#BookReview The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M.Harris

About the book

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in. 
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale. 

Published by Gollancz

Purchase Links

Goldsboro Books– signed first edition

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

A beautiful book, both inside and out, telling the story of Selkies and how the wants and whims of Folk can change their destiny and their way of life. 

The author does a wonderful job of exploring the folklore behind Selkies and weaving a wonderful tale of how selfish someone can be in their desire to get what they want, at the expense of the happiness of the other person. 

The two main characters are fascinating creatures – a young selkie prince is bored of his life in the water and dreams of walking on land amongst the ‘Folk’, and Flora is sick of being on her own and hears of a way to meet the man of her dreams. As time goes by, both of them begin to question the way their lives are turning out and it is an absorbing tale that unfolds of how the past has a way of catching up with you and that the truth is never far away.

I loved the magical feel of this story and the illustrations throughout are also exquisite and add the perfect finish to this book. I loved it!

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#BookReview Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

About the book

Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It’s a moment they’ll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson.

Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright. 

Nicola is a rising star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has lost its allure, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is just about the last straw…

Dmitri loves conducting his pop-up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist.

Can their hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?

Published by Aria Fiction

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

I really enjoyed this story that features 2 characters who aren’t perfect but tragedies in their past explain their insecurities and reluctance to trust people. And they both deal with their pasts in different ways – Nicola is all about work, creating an image that her successful lifestyle fulfills her, whilst having very little belief in herself as she’s treated appallingly by the married man she’s had an affair with for 3 years. And Dimitri throws himself into working with the choir and charity work – putting others before his own happiness at times, despite his sister supporting him to start thinking of himself for a change.

When a chance meeting brings these two characters together, the sparks fly almost instantly but they are so down on themselves as people that they take a while to admit their true feelings and find the happiness they both deserve.

I loved how relatable both characters are in this book and once they’d thrown off their pasts and woke up to their often destructive behaviour, it really brought them out of themselves and let them follow their dreams!

It’s not all a light and fluffy read as some of the things they’d been through are discussed but it still made for a engrossing read and I look forward to reading more from this author in the past.

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – December 22nd 2018

Hello! And Merry Christmas one and all!! I hope your households are all calm and ready for the big day!!  I think (!) I’m all set – and if we’ve forgotten anything then tough!  And the moving around of books on the shelves has begun just in case Santa brings some book shaped things my way!! 

On the reading front, it’s been a slower pace of things again this past week with just 3 finished. But there has been additions to my book collection – despite my best efforts – but NONE from NetGalley so at least I’m making progress on that front!

Here’s a quick look back at all things bookish!

BOOKS FINISHED

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – 5 stars

Audiobook

The Shape of Us by Drew Davies  – 4 stars

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor  – 3 stars

BOOKHAUL

A couple of books I treated myself to, a couple of books from publishers to review, and a couple of books I’ve won!! Happy me!!

The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes  – bought from Goldsboro Books

The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation. 

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant. 

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly. 

This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.

Blue Salt Road by Joanne Harris – bought from Goldsboro Books

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in. 
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Echoes of Grace by Caragh Bell – received from Poolbeg Books

Even in death, love survives

Grace Molloy was the darling of the theatre scene.  Young and

dazzling, she gave it all up to marry the playwright Henry

Sinclair, thirty years her senior. Then, one stormy night, she died

giving birth to her daughter, Aurora.

Left with no memory of her mother, Aurora is raised by Henry and her 

nanny, Maggie, in a huge old house on the Cornish coastline.

All the little girl has of Grace is a portrait โ€“ a painting of a woman

in a white dress, her beautiful face frozen in time.

Aurora grows up, resembling Grace in looks and talent.

She pursues her dream of being on

the stage and soon achieves great success in the world

of theatre, like her mother before her. Then a secret unfolds

  โ€“ a secret that could threaten all that she holds dear . . .

Echoes of Grace is the story of a young woman who, having

overcome a painful past, must now embrace it to find her real self.

The Year After You by Nina De Pass – received from Ink Road Books

New Yearsโ€™ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend, Georgina, doesnโ€™t.

Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides that packing her off to a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow wonโ€™t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.

On the plus side, up in the vertiginous Alps, Caraโ€™s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows about her past. And she intends to keep it that way. But her classmates, Ren and Hector, have other ideas. Cara tries to keep her distance, but sheโ€™s drawn to the offbeat, straighttalking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are determined to break down the
walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to. 

The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Yearโ€™s Eve. But Caraโ€™s quite sure she doesnโ€™t deserve a second chance

Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood – signed copy I won

Worlds collide when two strangers meet at Waterloo station. It’s a moment they’ll never forget. Perfect for the fans of Milly Johnson.

Christmas is a joyous time, but not everyone is merry and bright. 

Nicola is a rising star at the top of the corporate ladder, but her personal life is a disaster. Her office affair has lost its allure, and the last thing she wants to think about is Christmas. A night of cancelled trains and festive Christmas carols at Waterloo Station is just about the last straw…

Dmitri loves conducting his pop-up choir during the festive season, meeting people, and spreading joy and cheer around London. But he carries deep secrets from his past that robbed him of his dream to become a concert pianist.

Can their hearts and souls be unlocked by music and moonlight and will they discover the healing power of love?

Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – proof copy I won from the lovely Ova at Excuse My Reading

One girl can make a difference…

Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.

Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…

๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ„

CURRENTLY READING

The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey

Published by Lightning Books – January 1st 2019

A found novel

LONGLISTED: OCKHAM NEW ZEALAND BOOK AWARDS

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2017 BY RADIO NEW ZEALAND

Every day for a year, Catherine Chidgey recorded the words and language she came across during her day-to-day life โ€“ phone calls, television commercials, emails, radio shows, conversations with her family, street signs and satnav instructions. From these seemingly random snippets, she creates a fascinating portrait of modern life, focusing on the things that most people filter out.

Chidgey listens in as her daughter, born through surrogacy, begins to speak and develop a personality, and her mother slips into dementia. With her husband, she debates the pros and cons of moving to a new town. With her publisher, she discusses the novel she is writing. While, all around, the world is bombarding her with information.

In The Beat of the Pendulum, Chidgey approaches the idea of the novel from an experimental new direction. It is bold, exciting, funny, moving and utterly compelling.

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And there we have it! Have you read any of these?! Would love to hear your thoughts!ย ย 

And I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

About the book

Harriet and Vesey meet when they are teenagers, and their love is as intense and instantaneous as it is innocent. But they are young. All life still lies ahead. Vesey heads off hopefully to pursue a career as an actor. Harriet marries and has a child, becoming a settled member of suburban society. And then Vesey returns, the worse for wear, and with him the love whose memory they have both sentimentally cherished, and even after so much has happened it cannot be denied. But things are not at all as they used to be. Love, it seems, is hardly designed to survive life.
      One of the finest twentieth-century English novelists, Elizabeth Taylor, like her contemporaries Graham Greene, Richard Yates, and Michelangelo Antonioni, was a connoisseur of the modern worldโ€™s forsaken zones. Her characters are real, people caught out by their own desires and decisions, and they demand our attention. The be-stilled suburban backwaters she sets out to explore shimmer in her books with the punishing clarity of a desert mirage.

Published by Virago

MY REVIEW

This was the December pick for the Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project book club on GoodReads.

I found this to be a book of two halves! The first half was very slow and featured two characters in Harriet and Vesey who proved themselves to be very unlikeable people in their attitudes and behaviour towards other. But the second half, when you’d got used to their traits and self-centredness!, was typical Elizabeth Taylor as she used their situation to her benefit in showing off how times change people and their attitudes and how they’re often left regretting things they’d done.

Harriet and Vesey grew up together, and Harriet became infatuated by him but their lives went separate ways and she ended up married to Charles – a much older but safer, kinder man – but her thoughts always seemed to come back to Vesey and when they meet up again years later, those thoughts resurface. Despite Charles doing all he could for his wife, he never seemed to be good enough and he was the character I had the most sympathy for!

There was very little drama in this story, and it felt like the author was unsure of what path to send the main characters on – should they get their happy ending despite their selfish behaviour, or should they be punished and suffer! I know which outcome I would prefer them to face!

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#BookReview The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

About the book

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

Richard Flanagan’s story โ€” of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle’s wife โ€” journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Taking its title from 17th-century haiku poet Basho’s travel journal, The Narrow Road To The Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

Published by Vintage Books

Literary Awards Man Booker Prize (2014),ย Miles Franklin Literary Award Nominee (2014),ย Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Fiction (2014),ย Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Book of the Year (2014),ย Bad Sex in Fiction Award Nominee (2014)The Athens Prize for Literature – ฮ ฮตฯฮนฮฟฮดฮนฮบฯŒ (ฮดฮญ)ฮบฮฑฯ„ฮฑ (2016),ย Prix Relay des Voyageurs Nominee (2016),ย Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2015),ย Queensland Literary Awards for Fiction Book (2014),ย Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2014),ย Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2014),ย International DUBLIN Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)

Purchase Link
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MY REVIEW


Listened to the audio version of this via the Borrowbox app from the library.

An astonishing story full of love, loss and the horrors of war from a variety of perspectives. It’s also the tale before, during and after of the impacts of relationships and atrocities witnessed have on those involved. And yes there are some cliche moments dotted throughout, but overall this is historical fiction written exceedingly well and you’re left haunted and deeply moved emotionally in equal measures.

The story centres around Dorrigo Evans and his extraordinary life and through his memories we get to witness a love affair that was doomed from the start, his time at a prisoner of war camp in Japan where friendships were formed and the darkest times witnessed, and to life after the war and how being back in the real world felt so hollow and his thoughts would often go back to the past and what he had lived through and lost.

The strongest part of the book for me was the time of War, and the way it was told from the perspective of the prisoners alongside that of the Japanese officers were equally powerful. The despair on both sides of what they were experiencing wasn’t easy reading at times but made for such a compelling story.

An extraordinary story and one I was glad to hear the author reading on the audio version.
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