Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read so far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

I've decided to do a Top 5 rather than a Top 10 as I've only read 24 books this year so far - on track for my Goodreads goal of 50 this year but it's not really an outstanding total. These books aren't in any particular order as I couldn't bring myself to decide on one

Still Alice is one of the books I read at the beginning of the year and I absolutely adored it! It is about Alice who has early onset dementia and how her and her family live with that knowledge.
And the Mountains Echoed is another book I read at the start of this year. This was a book club read (though we never actually got round to discussing it and since then book club has ceased to exist!) and I'm really glad that I picked it up. It's heartbreakingly beautiful and I'd recommend it to everyone!
The Well of Ascension is the second in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. This is fantasy at it's best! I was engaged in the plot from start to finish and can't wait to read the final book in the trilogy - once I get round to purchasing it!
The Forgotten Garden is a book I read just last month and was a bit of an impulse buy. I loved it. Kate Morton is a masterfully storyteller and the mystery in this book kept me hooked. This book made me fall in love with books and reading all over again. I've since gone on to purchase all of her released novels.
The Chosen Queen is a book I read at the start of this month after winning a copy that the author was running a giveaway for. It's the first in a new historical trilogy about the women behind the battle of 1066. This book focuses on Edyth, the only woman who was ever Queen of England and Queen of Wales. I loved how Joanna Courtney tells Edyth's story and really look forward to the second in the trilogy that comes out later this year. If you like Phillipa Gregory and Elizabeth Chadwick you'll love this book too! 
What have been your favourites this year so far? 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Big Bargain Book Haul

I have accumulated quite a number of books over the course of this year so far. Here are some of the ones I could find amongst my stacks. The best part is I didn't spend a ton on these, any I bought were under £2 and any books I didn't buy I either won.

There's an excellent local charity bookstore a couple of towns over in Thornbury who sell all their paperbacks for 50p each. My husband and I often find ourselves wandering in there for as long as our son will let us without getting bored. Here are the books I've bought from there:


Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland

by Sarah Moss

After previously seeing Mercy from Mercy's Bookish Musing haul this in a video last year, it went straight to my to-read list. I feel very lucky to have found it for 50p! This non-fiction is about Sarah and her family moving to Iceland and their experiences there.


by Anna Hope

I've been interested in this novel since I saw the advertisements for it on goodreads just prior to its release. This copy I found new and unused, total bargain! It's a book about the effects World War 1 on three women.

The Forgotten Garden

by Kate Morton

I've seen Kate Morton books floating about but had never picked one up myself but after curiously reading the blurb I just had to buy it. The Forgotten Garden is a mystery about how an English girl ends up abandoned on an Australian port.

The Joy Luck Club

by Amy Tan

This was just a book I stumbled on and decided was finally time to read. This novel follows four recently emigrated Chinese women who have settled in San Francisco and their daughters know little about their Chinese heritage and think that it is irrelevant to their American lives.

Falling Leaves

by Adeline Yen Mah

I read my mother's copy of this when I was about 11 and found myself intrigued by the Chinese culture and how different it was from any I had ever experienced. This is a memoir about an unwanted Chinese daughter in communist China.


Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

by Jung Chang

I felt the need to buy this after buying myself a copy of Falling Leaves as it is a critically acclaimed history of China. The book follows three generations of women in the author's family and covers China's twentieth century in a masterful way.

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

I have never read anything by Neil Gaiman before, though I have been meaning to, so when I saw it I knew it was the perfect opportunity. This is a story about some ancient gods and their struggle to survive in the modern world as their followers have abandoned them for modern technology and consumerism. Shadow, after being released from prison, gets thrown into a journey travelling across America in an effort to help the gods win and return to their former glory.

The House at Riverton

by Kate Morton

After a previous visit to this bookstore where I bought The Forgotten Garden and loved it, I returned solely with the purpose to purchase any Kate Morton novels I could lay my hands on! I found this, her first book, where I had found her second. This is a pretty beat up copy but I don't mind. The House at Riverton is about a retired previous housemaid of Riverton and the secrets of the house that she kept. Secrets begin to unravel and long forgotten memories resurface as a filmmaker comes to ask about the tragedy at the lake.

Innocent Traitor

by Alison Weir

I saw this on my first visit to the bookstore but didn't pick it up. When returning for the second time I was on a bit of a historical fiction kick so this inevitably was bought. This is historian Alison Weir's first historical fiction. It focuses on the life story on the Tudor heroine Lady Jane Grey who was born into dangerous times as Henry VIII grand-niece.


The Kindness of Strangers: The Biography

by Kate Adie

For a time in my teenage years I wanted to be a journalist, in particular a foreign affairs correspondent, this is when I heard about Kate Adie and how marvellous she is. Obviously this book is about Kate's life from her post-war childhood to her days reporting from all over the world, notably from trouble spots. 

There is another good charity bookshop a couple of towns away in the other direction. It is more pricey but you can find some gems there.


The Secret Keeper

by Kate Morton

As explained above, any Kate Morton novel is now an instant buy for me. I picked this pretty decent copy up for £1.80. A novel about wartime secrets and family loyalty that moves between the 1930s, 1960s and the present.
On a sunny May bank holiday Monday, my little family all walked down to the local car boot sale for a browse. There wasn't a whole lot there but I did come back with this:

The Storyteller

by Jodi Picoult

I had previously lent this from the library but had to return it before I was able to finish it. I was planning on purchasing it new at somepoint, but when I found it for 30p I couldn't resist! In this novel we meet Josef Weber, pillar of his community, who has been hiding a secret. After seventy years he decides to confess to a new friend, Sage Singer and it shatters all she thought she knew about him.
Now here are some books I have won over the past few months:
I received both of these books from Goodreads First Reads

A Memory of Violets

by Hazel Gaynor

A historical novel set in two eras about two long-lost sisters who have ended up living very different lives and a young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

The Enchanted

by Rene Denfeld

This story is told from the perspective of a prisoner on Death Row who sees the enchantment in his bleak surroundings and uses his imagination as a way to stay sane. He also tells the stories of other people he encounters in the prison; the priest, the lady investigator and York, a fellow inmate. Through this novel Denfeld shows us that monsters are created, not born.

Both of these were won from Twitter

The Water Book

by Alok Jha

This is a non-fiction about water and how important it actually is. The first part focuses on how water is crucial to our survival and the second about how water has shaped the world we live in. Its purpose to change the way we see water and to appreciate it more.


The Chosen Queen

by Joanna Courtney

The author hosted a giveaway on her twitter page and I was delighted to have won. The Chosen Queen is part of a new historical fiction trilogy about the women behind the battle of 1066. This, the first novel, is about Edyth - the only woman who was queen of both Wales and England.



by Rachel Cusk

Another twitter win. This novel was on the Bailey's Fiction Prize Shortlist this year. It is about a woman who arrives in Athens to teach a writing course and the narratives she becomes audience to from the people she meets.
So those are the physical books I have bought/received over the past several months. I have acquired some Kindle books and children's books lately too, so I may do posts on them too.
There will likely be another physical book haul over the next month too - as it's my birthday! I'm not asking for many books this year (as I still have loads on my shelves to read!) so will likely be a small haul post.

Which books have you bought lately?

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Unexpected Blogging Hiatus

Sorry that it's been so long! I took an unexpected hiatus after my laptop decided to shut down permanently. I tried blogging on my iPad but found it more than a little difficult. So having finally replaced my laptop, I'm back and ready to recommit to more frequent posting.

In my absence I have read quite a bit, with a few book slumps scattered throughout; and have discovered that my son loves books just as much as I do. So over the next week or so I'll catch you up on what I've been reading and buying, and maybe a little bit on the books my son loves too.
Hope you're all having a good week and that you have lots of exciting reads lined up for the summer!
Beth Marie xx