Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a book that took me completely by surprise. I had heard great things about it so when I had the opportunity to review the book I jumped at the chance. All I knew about the storyline was what I had read in the synopsis: Continue Reading
We’ve made it through the first four months of 2017 without blowing up the planet. So to celebrate I’ve decided to have a look through the books I have read so far this year and pick out my favourites.
This year so far I’ve read 34 books which sounds like a lot (for me anyway) but it’s actually because I have got massively into graphic novels and manga which are obviously quicker to read. I’ve read a really interesting mix of books this year and I’ve enjoyed most of them, which is always a plus.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. I can easily fall into a reading slump if a book doesn’t instantly grab me but I whizzed through this one. I could not put it down. It might sound ridiculous but reading this was like reading a movie – fast-paced and just absolutely mind-bendingly awesome.
If you’re interested in science and the prospect of multi-verses then you’ll love this book.
I’d heard a lot of hype about The One Memory of Flora Banks so I jumped at the chance to get an early copy.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
The Atomic Weight of Love follows Meridian, an intelligent and brilliant young woman, from the age of seventeen when she’s starting university in 1941, to the present day when she’s in her eighties.
While at university she falls in love with an older man, Alden, an intelligent but mysterious professor. They end up getting married and she follows him to Los Alamos where he’s working on a secret project (which we later find out is the atomic bomb). For him she gives up her hopes of studying for a PhD and of furthering her career in ornithology (the study of birds).
We follow our main character through the decades as she makes and loses friends, falls into temptation with a younger man and deals with the changing roles and increasing power of being a woman.
This novel is many things – it definitely has a feminist slant as Meridian promotes this throughout her story. At the end of the book we learn what she is up to in her later years and it really is fantastic.
It’s also a very erotic novel in parts, as we’re with her as she discovers the power and freedom of sex and truly explores it for the first time. Continue Reading
This book was just delightful. A Boy Made of Blocks follows Alex and his son Sam, who has autism, as their relationship develops through their shared love of Minecraft.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.
Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.
As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.
Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.
Already a hit in its homeland of The Netherlands, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old, is the tale of a delightful old man and his friends. I find it intriguing that we don’t know who the author actually is – all we know is that he is working on another diary. Although the book is published as fiction, I like to think that Henrik is really out there, carrying on his adventures with his friends in the brilliantly named Old But Not Dead Club.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
‘Another year and I still don’t like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.’
Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is … elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums?
Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs – not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in – the woman Hendrik has always longed for – he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.
The indomitable Hendrik Groen – Holland’s unlikeliest hero – has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.
Watching Edie is a fast-paced, intriguing psychological thriller. I’d already heard great things about it so jumped at the opportunity to review it.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.
Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…
But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…
This month was a good month for new books!
The Muse by Jessie Burton – I loved The Miniaturist so I’m really excited to read this. And oh my gosh, how pretty is the book? This novel follows two stories, one in London and one in Spain, linked by a mystery masterpiece. Reviews for this have been great and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I’d heard so many good things about this book and just had to pick it up. This follows a grumpy old man called Ove and, having just finished an ARC of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen (83 1/4 Years Old), which I loved, it sounded like the perfect follow up.
As a huge Fan of SK Tremayne’s The Ice Twins, I jumped at the chance to review his new book: The Fire Child.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?
As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
‘You will be dead by Christmas.’
I thought writing about the books I’ve read so far in 2016 would be a good introduction to the types of books I usually read (and my thoughts on them).
Autobiographies / memoirs
I started the year reading Alan Sugar’s autobiography What You See is What You Get. I don’t read a great deal of memoir-style books, however having just finished watching The Apprentice UK, I was intrigued to read more about Sir Alan. I’d previously read his side-kick Karren Brady’s book Strong Woman – both were great books which I rated 4/5. A few months later I ended up reading his book Unscripted – mostly about his time working on the Apprentice which, as a huge fan, I really enjoyed (4/5).
Throughout the first few months of the year I read a few other autobiographies – Sue Perkin’s Spectacles (brilliant book) and Mary Berry’s A Recipe for Life (both 5/5). I also read Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road as part of Emma Watson’s book club, which I also gave full marks. Another great feminist read was Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her – it was a bit of a slow burner for me but it ended up being a fantastically funny read about her journey into the male-dominated world of comedy (another 5/5). Continue Reading