November Reads

November Reads

Sitting down to reflect on what I read last month and it seems unreal it’s December already. This year has passed in a Covid fuelled blur. In a year where everything felt scary and bleak I have rekindled my love for reading. Books are not only a hobby for me but an escape as I know they are for so many of us. With that in mind, here are my November reads:

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber.

Rating: 5/5.

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This short story follows Ashley a graduate student living in California and her journey home to spend Christmas with her family in Seattle. Unable to get a flight back home she opts for the rental car, the only issue Dash a former intelligence officer has his eyes on the car too. Luck is on her side as Dash is also heading to Seattle, they decide to share the ride and this is where their journey truly begins in more ways than one.

I really loved this short novel, it was so cleverly written and kept me engaged throughout. I certainly started off my Christmas reads on a high this year.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Rating: 5/5.

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Set in 1940 London, Emmy is doing everything she can for the war effort, she dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent a dream she had all but given up on until she sees a chance to get the perfect job, or so she thinks, at the London Evening Chronical. There she works as a typist to Mrs. Bird, an advice columnist with very strict rules on what she will and will not advise on but Emmy’s conscience won’t let her ignore.

I really enjoyed this novel, getting a glimpse into what women’s live were like during the war was fascinating. Whilst the men were fighting on the battlefield women too were fighting their own battles back home. Overall a great novel, well written, gripping and engaging throughout.

After the Fire by Will Hill.

Rating: 4/5.

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“The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade. Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences. But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths. Then came the fire.”.

I really enjoyed this novel, the blurb didn’t give much away which is why I chose to copy it for you all to read above, but I liked that I was going into the book learning new things with every page. I had no clue where the story was going or what would happen, it was full of twists and turns, and so well researched that it felt real. The only reason I gave this 4/5 instead of 5/5, was because there were pages I sped through more interested in getting to the more juicy ones.

No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett.

Rating: 3/5.

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Meet Eden, a typical teenage girl on the crisp of adulthood, she had her best friend Lacey and the guy she’s had a crush on forever, Will. When Will dies, and Lacey and Eden begin growing apart she finds solace in “In Good Company” a digital service offering AI companions fuelled by the audio uploaded by it’s users, one of them being Will. Although he’s not here anymore she can call up the line any time and here his voice, even talk to him as if he was.

I honestly didn’t know how to feel about this one, it was a great original idea, but I must admit I found it a little creepy. I also grew frustrated with Eden as the novel went on. However I did enjoy it overall, and I think it taught me some things I didn’t know about grief too.

Another Cup of Christmas by Jenny Kane.

Rating: 3/5.

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Set in the cosy Pickwicks café in Richmond we follow those who work their as they prepare for a Christmas fundraiser to help support the hospital that helped their cook and part-owner Scott when he was injured in an accident. Waitress Megan is in charge of organising the event alongside Nick the ward administrator, so far they’re co-workers but could they be more?

This was a lovely short story, full of all the good things, and by that I mean food, Christmas and romance. It was a very short read at 65 pages long but it didn’t feel rushed and was full of character.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen. M. McManus.

Rating: 2/5.

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Set in the small town of Echo Ridge, where Ellery’s aunt went missing at seventeen, and just five years ago the homecoming queen was killed. An outsider Ellery moves to the town to live with her grandmother, but it’s a town filled with secrets, some more deadly than others.

I have really enjoyed other novels by this author so I had high hopes for this one, sadly I just couldn’t get into it, I didn’t find the plot particularly engaging but the authors strong writing style helped me see it through.

October Reads

October Reads

Wow, how is it November already? This year has been a blur. As we get further into the academic year I haven’t been able to spend as much time reading as I would like to. My goal for this month is to find more time to relax with a good book. I had planned for this post to go up yesterday but thanks to a monster migraine all my plans got put on hold. Anyway it’s here now, without further ado here are my October reads.

The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse.

Rating 5/5.

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This was the first book I read this month and wow did I start the month off with a bang. This is book is haunting, mesmerising, thrilling, I can’t even put into words how much I loved this. It does tackle some dark topics, but it does so with realism and sensitivity. The novel is set in the 1960’s and follows twins Maisy and Duncan, at the being of the book they are sent to live with their grandmother after there mother is sent to an asylum. They are given freedom and make new friends, everything’s going fairly well, until one day Duncan doesn’t come home. Soon after the bodies of other young boys are found in the local area, crushing the polices hope of finding him alive. Again, such a great read.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.

Rating 5/5.

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Another five star read, the blue castle follows Valancy Stirling an unmarried twenty-nine year old striving to escape her strict household and fine the true love she has waited her whole life for. This novel has been on my reading list for far too long, and I regret not reading it soon. It’s an enchanting tale, a really cosy read for cool Autumn nights.

Miss Clare Remembers by Miss Read.

Rating: 4/5.

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This is another novel in the Fairacre series, in which Miss Clare looks back on her life growing up in the countryside. I really enjoy these novels, they’re the ones I go to when I wanted to feel comfort, something that I feel often since the pandemic started. It’s nice to just escape reality for a while.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas.

Rating 3/5.

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Two cheerleaders were killed in an driving accident, then two more were murdered but since the man who committed the crime was shot at the scene, the families are left with no answers. Then the last death, Monica’s sister, who took her own life. Everyone around her wants to remember but Monica just want’s to forget, but things aren’t what they seem and soon everything starts to unravel around her. I actually started this novel back in March, read a few pages and tucked it away in my bookshelf. I enjoyed this novel, it was well written, and an interesting plot.

Thanks for reading! What novels have you read this month? Would you recommend them? x

September Reads

September Reads

September was a busy month for me, and I enjoyed lots of amazing novels. Autumn is my favourite time of year, cool walks watching the leaves fall from the trees is paradise for me.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Rating:5/5.

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The Miniaturist was by far my favourite read this month. We follow eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman who travels to Amsterdam to start her life as the wife of a very successful merchant. I really enjoyed the storyline and the strength of our main character, she was witty and determined. She receives a dollhouse replica of her home, but when she enlists a miniaturist to furnish it she ends up getting more than she bargained for.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 5/5.

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First a big thank you to Mridula over at ecstaticyetchaotic.wordpress.com, for this recommendation. A Monster Calls is a heartfelt, raw and honest tale of grief, of acceptance and of guilt. It forces us to re-examine our own judgements and understandings as we hear the story of Conor, a thirteen year old boy who’s mother is battling cancer. Every night he has a dream, but one night something changes, when he wakes the dream doesn’t end, and a visitor is at his window. This book honestly blew me away in so many ways, I cried at many times and just wanted to reach out and hug Conor.

Storm in the Village by Miss Read.

Rating: 5/5.

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Another heart-warming read in the Fairacre series. This time theres trouble in the village as Farmer Miller’s Hundred Acre Field is slated for a real estate development. A familiar cast of characters, a story filled with hope, community and love.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 4/5.

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Another by Ness, if you haven’t noticed he is becoming a firm favourite of mine. This novel is focused on Todd Hewitt, the only boy in his town, a town filled with men who can hear each others thoughts after becoming infected with the so called Noise germ. He has lived there his whole life, and yet they are hiding something. Forced to flee with only his dog by his side, he makes his way into the outside world where he stumbles across the one thing he never thought he would see, a girl. This was a great read I felt really engaged with the story, it really packed a strong emotional punch. It’s the first in the series, and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.

Rating: 4/5.

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I started reading this novel back in March it took me a while to really get into it. I actually ended up watching the film which ironically made it easier for me to really understand and get into the book. It is brilliantly written, I love to read the classics because they are so varied, it’s interesting to see which novels have been favoured by readers over the years. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is as the name suggests centred around a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime. She teaches at a school for girls in Edinburgh, Scotland. There she has her most cherished students and confidants, the Brodie Set.

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop By Rebecca Raisin.

Rating: 3/5.

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This was a fun read that dealt with grief and loss with great respect and understanding. Aria Summers lives the perfect life free with her best friend on the open road. She travels in her campervan book-shop making enough to live the life she loves. After her husband died she swore she would never love again, but when Jonathan enters her life will all that change?

August Reads

August Reads

Check out my August reads below, ranked highest to lowest rating:

The Girl from Galloway by Anne Doughty

Rating: 5/5.

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It’s 1845, in County Donegal, Ireland and one day Hannah McGinley’s daughter comes home disheartened that her school may have to close as one of the teachers is moving away. Despite her busy schedule, Hannah steps up, but times are tough and can she support her family and the school?

This was my favourite read this month, it was beautifully written and filled me with the sense of nostalgia I constantly search for within the pages of novels. Strength and determination underpin every chapter, as we watch this family, this community fight to not only survive but to thrive.

 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Rating: 5/5.

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here asks readers the question, “what if you aren’t the chosen one?”. It follows Mikey a normative kid about to graduate highschool who’s trying to muster up the courage to ask out his friend Hanna.

I loved this book, it was a very close second favourite of the month. Some people get drawn in by book covers, but I am by titles. “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” rolls of the tongue, it speaks to readers or at least to me. I haven’t read anything like this before, it explores the narrative of  fighting the bad guys, but from the eyes of bystanders.

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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Little Women follows sisters, Meg, Jo and Beth taking the reader on a journey of their lives, those in it and where it leads them.

This is a novel that I have been meaning to read for a while, I had high expectations of it and whilst it was not a bad book, it was amazingly written and Alcott brought the characters to life, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

 

The Market Square by Miss Read.

Rating: 3/5.

The Market Square (The Caxley Chronicles, #1) by Miss ReadThe Market Square gives readers an insight into the history Caxley and the lives of those who live there. Caxley is a market town close to Fairacre where Miss Read’s Fairacre novels are set. It is also often referenced within her Fairacre novels as a place the people there travel to occasionally.

I really enjoyed the novels I have read so far by Miss Read so was excited when I saw this pop up on my local online library. It was well written but for me didn’t have the spark of the Fairacre series.

 

Heavily Meditated by Caitlin Cady.

Rating: 2/5.

48848535. sx318 This is a book about Meditation, from the perception of Cady. I personally have been meditating for four years now, so I like to think I know a bit about it, but still you can never know too much.

What first interested me about this was the idea it was a beginers guide, a way to help introduce more people to meditation, which is amazing. If you have never tried meditation I would recommend giving it a go, it’s not for everyone but if it works for you it can bring meaningful peace and change into your life.

I personally didn’t enjoy this book, it does provide some infomatiom but I found it felt empty, the book lacked substance for me. I don’t dislike Cady’s writing style and I did enjoy hearing about how meditation has enriched her life. Overall this just didn’t resonate with me, and that’s okay, it’s not a bad book, it just wasn’t for me.

 

Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom

Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom

*I received a free copy of this audiobook through NetGalley in exchange for a review.

My rating: 3/5.

44404178. sy475 “What if a viral pandemic put women in charge of the planet?”

This novel is set in 2099 and follows our main character Athena Vosh. When the novel begins it has been nearly fifty years since an experimental virus accidentally wiped out all the men on earth. Yet a controversial project aims to change that, they want to bring men back, but they are not without opposition. Now their project has been sabotaged, and it seems like Athena might just know more about it than she lets on.

Dystopian novels have always appealed to me, and I was very excited to read this when I stumbled across it. It has been out for a while now and initially I was drawn to it when searching through Netgalley’s new audiobook option. I really enjoyed listening to it in audiobook form and I think the narrator Alex Ford did a brilliant job bringing this novel to life.

Athena is a fairly relatable character, despite the unrelatable setting, although we are in the midst of a global pandemic right now, but I don’t think this one will wipe out all the men on earth, at least I hope not. Athena has a strong voice throughout the novel, and a lot of us will relate to coming of age and finding out who we are.

The plot is well thought out, I really felt how passionate the author was about the topic. Especially with all the feeling and energy, he put into writing both sides, those for men coming back and those who aren’t. He created a futuristic utopia, peace on earth but at a huge cost. I liked that this novel portrayed a strong world lead by women, and the independence and freedom that came along with it.

This was Boostrom’s first novel, and it was a solid one with well thought out characters that tackled difficult topics while asking us, what if we could have a life full of peace and how much would we be willing to sacrifice for it. I love a story that makes me think, and forces me to look outside myself and my own experiences and consider the wider picture.

Overall, this was a stand out first novel, the author has already expressed he wishes to write a sequel which I think would be a great way to build on the story as this novel left me with so many questions, in the best possible way.

 

July Reads

July Reads

I can’t believe it’s August already! Despite everything this year seems to have flied by. Take a look below at the books I have been reading this month starting with my favorites.

Village Diary by Miss Read.

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Miss Read is one of my favorite discoveries of this year, luckily she has a sizable selection of published works I can sink my teeth into.  This is part of the Fairacre series, the vibe is still very wholesome and makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew.

Rating: 5/5.

 

Quentins by Maeve Binchy.

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When I first started this novel I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into it. The novel is focused around the restaurant Quentins and the lives of those intertwined with it. Ella Brady seeks to capture Dublin from 1970  to the current day, through the eyes of Quentins. This novel is filled with twists and turns, full storylines and believable characters.

Rating: 4/5,

The Girl With No Home by Sheila Newberry.

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This novel follows Jerusha Carey, abandoned at seven years old by her mother. We watch as she comes to terms with the abandonment and the understandable feelings that follow. It was a pleasure to read, Jerusha’s strength was unwavering despite all the challenges she endured.

Rating: 4/5.

 

The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller.

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This novel follows too passionate sisters, Nora and Kit. They live different lives Nora runs the family diner, and Kit spends her time creating movies and writing scripts. I really enjoyed this novel, I have been reading quite a few historical ones recently so it was a refreshing change to read something contemporary.

Rating: 4/5.

 

Alice Taylor Across the River and House of Memories by Alice Taylor.

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After reading the first book in this trilogy I couldn’t wait to read more, and I was not disappointed. Each page drew me deeper and deeper into the lives of our characters. Farming was a constant theme throughout, as the author guided us through the highs and lows, tackling topics such as domestic abuse and sexual assault with understanding.

Rating: 3/5.

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The third and final book in the series offered closure to the readers, showcasing the growth of the characters, how they overcome diversity and thrive.

 

Rating: 3/5.

 

When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke.

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To avoid any spoilers, this novel is a follow on from the first in the series “When Calls the Heart”. I did enjoy the first novel despite it being very different from it’s tv adaptation, however I personally couldn’t get into or connect with this second book. It was published in 1985 and it definitely shows it’s age, although of course it is set further back still. There were some parts I enjoyed, especially learning about day to day life in that time peroid, but I found the main character hard to like in this novel, especailly in comparison to the first. She seemed very disempowered, and especially at the begining lost a lot of her independance and voice. Of course some of the view points in this novel are thankfully outdated, but I did find it frustrating and the injustice and discrimination people face both today and in the past sickens me. My rating for this novel is 2/5.

Overall I read a lot of great books last month, as things start to get more fast paced in my life I expect I won’t be able to read as many. I feel really greatful to have been given some space in my life to reconnect with reading. It is such a challenging time right now, and it’s scary, people I love have gotten sick or are at significant risk if they do catch Covid. I think most of us have had our lives touched in someway by this pandemic. Reading is and always has been, an escape for me.

What did you read in July, and what are your plans for August?

In Her Eyes by Sarah Alderson

In Her Eyes by Sarah Alderson

*I received an ebook copy of this novel for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5.

Ava has the kind of life many dream of, a beautiful house, good kids, and a loving husband. Something many would be jealous of, that is until it all comes tumbling down, when one night Ava finds herself in the middle of a violent home invasion, and now her daughter is left fighting for her life.

But was the attack wasn’t random, so just who was behind it? And why did they do it? Ava isn’t out of danger yet and she’ll have to uncover the truth to keep herself and her family safe.

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

*I received an ebook copy of this graphic novel for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5.

This graphic novel follows Nova Huang a teenage witch who spends her days working at her grandmother’s bookshop, loaning out spell books and looking into supernatural phenomena going on within their New England Town. One night she stumbles across Tam Lang, who happens to be a werewolf and her childhood crush.  Battling a demon in the woods alone Tam asks Nova for help, together they explore witchcraft, occult rituals, untested magic, and rekindle a flame that never quite went out.

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By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West

This novel follows Autumn Collins, who ends up locked within the library for a whole weekend by accident. Only she isn’t alone locked in there with her is Dax Miller, and although she knows little about him she knows he’s trouble. Only Dax isn’t exactly who she thought he was, and she begins to realise they have a better connection than she could have ever imagined. But what happens when they get out, life returns to normal and Autumn is reconnected with her almost-boyfriend Jeff.

Rating: 2/5.

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The Story Girl by Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Story Girl by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Rating: 4/5

Bev King and his younger brother Felix travel to Carlisle for the summer, there they meet Sara Stanley, the Story Girl. At just fourteen Sara has already mastered how to tell enchanting stories, captivating both children and adults. Join Bev, Felix, and friends as they embark on an unforgettable summer, filled with memories, and of course stories, they will never forget.

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