It felt a lot colder this week, especially in the mornings when I was walking to work, I had to bring out my gloves for the first time! I’m not complaining though because I love it when it’s cold and sunny (not rainy) as it makes me feel Christmassy. Also, this week was the first time I listened to Christmas tunes, I needed a bit of a mood booster and there’s nothing like the excitement in the lead up to Christmas. I’m such a child when it comes to it! I even get a present from Father Christmas haha! But that’s mainly because I have a 10 year old brother who, we don’t know this year if he still believes. He’s not said anything yet so we’ll see but it’s usually this age that they figure it out.
Anyway, when it’s super cold outside, there is nothing better than getting your ‘comfies’ on, a blanket round you, a hot drink and reading a book snuggled up on the sofa. I am such a Grandma! If I had a fire in my house I’d light that as well to set the scene. Unfortunately living in a flat in London I don’t get that luxury haha.
I am a huge bookworm which stems from my mum getting me to read from an early age. In fact my claim to fame is that I won the ‘early learning reading prize’ at my primary school when I was 3 – the only award I ever won at school and I’ll never let my family forget it! Occasionally when we (my little sister too) were good we were allowed a treat, instead of sweets on a Friday night (which was my other friends rule with her mummy) we got to go to a bookshop and choose a book. I am convinced that is why both me and my sister are obsessed with books to this day. We always get books in our stocking and I have to refrain myself from going into a bookshop every week and treating myself to a book. It also doesn’t help that I actually LIVE above a bookshop!
So I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’ve read over the past few months. They might be good present ideas for Christmas or perfect if you’re going away this festive season.
So, going from top left and across, the first book is…
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
This book was a weird one. I read the blurb and thought it sounded quite intriguing and a different storyline but when I was actually reading it, it didn’t excite me as much. The storyline is based in LA in around the 90s but it’s not really relevant. It’s about a young woman who grew up in the city in the rough part of town. Her dad was not in the picture and her mum did a lot of drugs and had a lot of strange men come back to the trailer in which they lived. This young woman became friends with the wrong crowd and wounded up pregnant with no job to look after her son. So she started working in a strip club and a neighbour would look after her son. At her new workplace, she met a man who started to become a regular, coming in to see her perform every night almost. He became a little too obsessed and she decided to move to San Francisco to get away from him. But he found her. Fast forward a few years and she’s in a women’s only jail just outside of LA. The book does give an interesting insight into women in jail.
It’s not a happy book, I’ll tell you that. It’s quite dark and depressing, at times intense but there are also times where there’s not much suspense (hey I’m a poet!). I’m not a fan of a style of writing that means setting the scene lasts a couple of chapters. I’m like, I get it, can something exciting happen now?!
I’d give this book 3 stars.
Nine Perfect Strangers By Liane Moriarty.
I am a big fan of this author, having read I think all her other books. So was very excited to read this one. It’s not her best book but that’s only a preference and it was still very good.
It’s set in Australia at this hotel retreat for people who need a ‘detox’ or a ‘cleanse’. The first few chapters introduce you to the characters, all of which have some sort of drama going on in their lives. Everything all seems swimmingly at this retreat until suddenly, you turn the page and you can’t believe what you’re reading. There’s a shock ending that’s for sure.
I’d recommend this book, firstly to anyone who has LOVED Big Little Lies on HBO like me or any other Liane Moriarty books. I’d recommend this book to any Gone Girl lovers and any other books like that. It’s a page turner for sure if not quite at the very beginning. Stick with it if you’re already reading it.
I’d give this book 4 stars.
Angels by Marian Keyes.
Aww I love this writer too! I know this is an old book of hers but I read The Break last year and absolutely devoured it so wanted another one this year that I hadn’t read. Her writing style is just genius and she’s so funny. She’s also hilarious to listen to on podcast interviews of which she does quite a few. It’s a classic dramatic intense family life story of which she regularly writes about so you can imagine. I couldn’t put this book down from page 1 to the finish. It’s just utterly brilliant.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s wanting a can’t-put-it-down-even-when-walking kind of book.
It’s a 5 stars from me!
Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson.
I’ve talked about this book before earlier this year on another post. This book is so beautiful. It’s a real eye-opener and a real life story. It’s about 2 women who were family friends from an early age. They grew up together and were best friends, based in Paris in around the 1930’s. As young adults they were part of a secret kind of LGBTQ group, as back then you couldn’t openly be gay. They were all lovely friends who just wanted to be themselves in public but couldn’t. The young women themselves were lovers but had to pretend they weren’t and even get married to men they did not love to throw off any rumours or inklings of their true feelings. Then the Second World War broke out and we all know what happened there. They had to flee Paris and spent many years hiding and escaping the Nazi’s, who as you can imagine, were not a fan of LGBTQ people.
This book kept me hooked throughout and made me cry, my heart just melted for these two women who were just innocently in love.
I’d give this book 5 stars.
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
I LOVED this book so much and would read it again. In fact I think it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read all year. The story line is fantastic, imaginative and so gripping. It’s set in the future (but it’s not really Sci-Fi) in America, I think around Chicago but it’s not really important. The two main characters are a husband and wife in around their mid 30’s. America is not what we know it today, the economy has fallen and crime is riffling everywhere. This couple who had good steady jobs and a lovely house before, are living in their car (the only piece of their old life they managed to cling onto). Then they hear about a new kind of living, in a new purpose built enclosed city and they are intrigued, in fact they think anything is better than what they have now. But this city isn’t all it seems… (enter Eastenders ending for effect) haha. I won’t tell you the rest but trust me, this book is gooooooooodddd.
Anyone who loves a drama, loves a bit of a fantasy world book but at the same time, anyone who loves a reality check as what happened in that world could one day happen in ours.
It’s definitely a 5 stars from me, in fact can I give it 6 stars?!
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Oh another fantastic book! This one is also set in North America and is about different families in this ‘perfect’ town. It’s got quite a Pretty Little Liars vibe to it. It had me hooked from day one and unlike Pretty Little Liars, doesn’t drag on for too many seasons! Steadily throughout the book you start to uncover quite a few lies and secrets and connections to these families that were seemingly perfect at the beginning. Anyone who loves a gripping drama, it’s a must read.
I’d give this book 5 stars too.
Damaged Goods by Oliver Shah
Now I don’t always read a fiction book, I do love an intriguing non-fiction too.
This book is about the rise and fall of Sir Phillip Green, BHS, and the general retail industry in the early 2000’s. As someone who works in this industry myself, I found it very telling and hugely interesting. I knew snippets of the drama surrounding and circling Green but you can’t trust the articles in the newspapers fully and this showed me exactly what went down. If you’re interested in the business world then this is for you. Oliver Shah’s account is very non biased (he hates the guy but still) and his writing style is a joy to read, he told the ‘story’ in a quite light hearted way but not without expressing the severity and importance of what happened.
I’d give it 5 stars just for sheer shade and drama of it all.
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Aww this is a lovely book. One of those easy reads, a warm hug of a rom-com essentially. Perfect for these dark winter nights. It’s about young adults in London and going on internet dating (as we all do now with the likes of Tinder) so we can all relate. The author’s approach to this and the idea of computers being able to see everything we do and know everything about us was well put together. It’s not an intense drama as such but you fall in love with the characters and want to know what happens next to them at the end of each chapter. It’s relatable, funny, gripping and romantic all rolled into one and I finished it in about a week I think.
It’s another 5 stars from me.
Ordinary People by Diana Evans.
Now I’d heard good things about this book from several people and on Goodreads (of course I’m signed up to it). I was actually given this book by a read who thought I’d really enjoy it (you can see where this is going) but unfortunately I did not. It wasn’t ALL bad but I was bored, bit harsh sorry, but it’s true. It’s about (as you can guess) ordinary people living in London and going about their busy lives, who wants to read about ourselves? Haha. It’s about several different families so the chapters jump from one character to another, the only thing that gripped me was trying to figure out who’s talking in this chapter now unfortunately. These lives are full of drama and sadness and happiness like all our lives but there wasn’t enough ‘umph’ to keep me turning the page. I finished the book because I can’t NOT but I really was not enjoying it and couldn’t wait for it to end. Sorry to disappoint. Don’t just go off of my opinion though, sometimes people like a slow burner, one that ticks along steadily.
I’d give this book 2 stars I’m afraid.
You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane
Another lovely romantic book set in England, it’s one of those classic love stories about two people who have a long history together, were the closest of friends but never made that leap to the other side but both always thought they might quite like to. It follows their journey as years go by. The characters are fantastically relatable and you want the best for them like they are your mates. Anyone who loves a romantic love story then this is the book for you. It’s a good ‘un.
It’s a 4 stars from me (oooo that’s a new one) just because I wasn’t hooked all the way through but I was never bored either.
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood
Ah, so after reading her other book that I’ve just raved about so greatly, I wanted another one of hers and obviously everyone has heard of The Handmaids Tale. I hadn’t read it in school like some have and everyone always speaks so highly of it so I thought I’d give it ago.
I must say, I do not know what everyone has been going on about! It was good but it wasn’t on the amazing end of the scale of which I had imagined. The first half was slowly ticking by and dragging on for ages and I was waiting for something to happen. Then finally things started heating up a bit and towards the end I was hooked. Unfortunately it took 250 pages in to get to that point.
It’s a 3 stars from me, I’ve read a lot worse books and I still enjoyed the authors way of writing, it was the storyline the let it down for me.
Mythos by Stephen Fry
I know this is such a random book to have on my read list but I do love a bit of the Greek Gods; stems from doing Art History for A-Level. Stephen Fry of which I am a fan anyway has a truly amazing writing style. It was such a pleasure to read his words on paper and you can really imagine him saying them too, like on the audiobooks he records – anyone else love the Harry Potter ones featuring his lovely voice? This book tells the many different tales from the Greek Myths in a sort of light hearted way that Fry does best. I found it so fascinating. Stephen Fry starts of by introducing you to the main gods, for anyone who is not familiar, and helps build a family tree in your mind which will come in handy later. They are basically all incest the Greek Gods so the family tree is quite complicated. I can’t say it’s a ‘gripping’ book because it’s not meant to be but I thought it was wonderfully written, funny at times and hugely interesting. I learnt a lot more stories about the Greek Gods that I didn’t know and found it fascinating that quite a few of the words we use today daily stem from some of these stories.
It’s a final 5 stars from me!
So that’s the lot! Gosh that’s taken a long time to go through, I’ve had to rack my brain to try and remember the books I’d read and my thoughts and feelings at the time of reading. Luckily I have the Goodreads app which has a slight record. I hope it’s been helpful or interesting to all you fellow book worms. Or if you aren’t much of a book worm but want to be then there’s no better time to start! There’s nothing like escaping into a good book after a stressful day or whenever you need a break from the real world. It’s like a gateway to Narnia (also another great book).
In terms of what I’m reading next, this is my reading pile, below, I always have one next to my bedside table all piled up ready to go next.
I’m currently reading A History Of The World In 21 Women by Jenni Murray which I am finding so wonderfully fascinating . I am learning so much about incredible, powerful and inspirational women that I didn’t know much about. For example the first prime minister of Israel. It’s not all politics related though, Jenni Murray has carefully picked women from all sorts of industries and parts of the world, from Coco Chanel to Hilary Clinton. I’ll let you know my final verdict once I’ve finished but I’m loving it so far.
Lots of love girls xxxxxx