7 Best Books for the New Year

I can’t believe we are already three weeks into the new year.  If you love the feeling of a fresh page that can come with a new year, why not settle down with an awesome book about new beginnings and starting over to inspire you in 2017!  Here are some of my favourite…

Unknown.jpeg1. The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

One of the things I love about it is that although it is about new beginnings she doesn’t abandon her whole life to make it happen (despite the name), she discovers a new way to enjoy what she already has – although some much-needed changes are made along the way.  A book about fiding your own inner strength and making positive changes.

This book is  also wonderfully uplifting

 

 

Unknown-1.jpeg2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I have spoken about this book before.  It is moving and powerful and you may need some tissues at the ready.    The main theme of this book is identity and how much you identity is tied into your family and the people around you, as well as asking the question about if it is possible to ever really ‘start over’ again.

A moving book that is highly recommended.

 

 

Unknown-2.jpeg3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you haven’t read the book then I am sure you have seen the movie with Julia Roberts (which I equally love).  This book is creative non-fiction and Gilbert’s personal experience of the year after her divorce.  Its honest and moving and will probably have you wanting to travel the world by the end.

Touching and inspiring novel.

 

 

images.jpeg4. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This is a poignant and moving novel – especially in light of the recent inauguration and possible wall building – is about people moving to the United States of America as a way to make a new life and discover their place in the world.  Themes of family, identity and what it means to be an ‘American’ wrapped in a story about different forms of love.

A novel to make you questions why people do the things they do.

 

Unknown-4.jpeg5. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben

This is a great book to start the year with.  Another non-fiction book in which Ruben decides to start the year making changes to her life to make herself happier.  Ruben does a new thing every month with each chapter showing what she does that month so you can try to emulate these ideas.  In my case I didn’t follow everything but picked out the parts that I knew would work for me.

Great read to motivate yourself.

 

Unknown-5.jpeg6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Two books by Elizabeth Gilbert on one list – outrageous!  But if you write books about making changes and positive living, I guess that’s inevitable on this type of list.  I’m such a massive fan of this book, all about living creatively which is clearly completely up my street.  You don’t have to be in a creative industry or anything, this book is more about being creative everyday and is a great place to start bringing joy and creativity into your life.

Inspiring, creative living.

 

Unknown-6.jpeg7. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Again, even if you haven’t read the book you may have seen the awesome film.  The plot is not a million miles away from Eat, Pray, Love in that its a woman trying to figure out what makes her tick after the loss of her mother and recent divorce.  Rather than travelling the world she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, spending much time on her own to reflect and think.

Very honest and raw reflective memoir of change.

 

Please do comment below and let me know if you have read any of the books and what you think of them, and what books you would recommend that are around based around new beginnings or starting over.

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Book Review – Where’d You Go Bernadette? By Maria Semple

If I could give this book 6 stars I would. It’s intelligent, thought-provoking and moving whilst being hilariously funny but my favourite thing about Where’d You Go Bernadette? is the unusual way the story is told. Through the paper trail of emails, faxes, letters, notes and Bernadette’s daughters opinions on the paper trail – all of which lead to Bernadette going missing.

I think that it is quite rare that you find a book that is a piece of good literary fictions as well as gripping and funny.  It says so much about the way we live now, rising questions like, what is privacy and what crosses the line during a time when so much about everyone is so readily available?  Brings up so many questions, I think it would make a fabulous book club book.

I so enjoyed this book, I just wish it had been double the length.

Happy Reading! Nx

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Book Review – One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Ann Bickley

I first heard about One Million Lovely Letters about a year ago when a friend sent me the link to the website.  I was beyond amazed by the concept – if you feel like you need a hug in an envelope, email Jodi Ann Bickley and she will handwrite you a letter to remind you how awesome you are.  See – amazing!

I looked for the website recently because I had a story idea that’s based on a similar concept.  When looking, I saw that Jodi Ann Bickley has written a book by the same name which was immediately ordered and quite literally devoured by me.

image1.JPGI think everyone should read this book.  It should be on the school syllabus.  It should be a staple in everyone’s lives, because it essentially reminds the reader that we all that have a choice to be a cloud or a ray of sunshine in someone else’s day.

Having said that, it’s not all “life is perfect, be positive and everything is completely fabulous all the time.” Jodi is beautifully honest about some pretty brutal emotional and physical difficulties and illnesses that she’s been/going through.  About how even when things are starting to go right, she still has personal hurdles to overcome.

This book reminds us that everything is not perfect – it never is – but we still have the option to be kind.

The story itself is captivating but the language used and they way the story is told is equally gorgeous.  The author is a poet (by day) and I think it really come across in the beautiful language and Bickley has an amazing way of drawing you in and expressing so much emotion through her words.

This book feeds your soul and is well and truly on my ‘favourite books of all time’ list.

My children (like me) think that getting post is the best thing ever but (again like me) they only get anything around their birthday.  About half way through the book, I decided to write my children (ages 6 and 4) letters to remind them how awesome they are.  I posted them and they were so excited finding them on the doorstep and even more excited when they realised it was from me.  It was so much fun getting to see their little faces as they read how much I love them.  They both have them under their pillows now.  Such a simple idea but it brought so much joy to all of us.  I implore you to do the same.  Write a letter to someone and let them know how awesome they are.

If you are feeling inspired by the concept, One Million Lovely Letters is currently collecting  letters from all over the globe to go into an exhibition so are asking lovely people to post lovely letters.  Here is Jodi Ann explaining all about it…

One Million Lovely Letters the book (plus Jodi and the whole One Million Lovely Letters concept) is a massive 5 out of 5 for me.

Get it, read it, share it – your life will only be inhanced by reading this wonderful book.

Happy Reading x

Book Review – A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

Exquisitely wonderful is the best way to describe this book!

I was sent a copy of ‘A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding‘ by Jakie Copleton from THE Book Club (TBC) in exchange for an honest review and gosh… am I pleased I put myself forward to read it when they asked.

The novel opens with a bang!  Immediately there is a completly unexpected mystery.  The story is mainly set against the back drop of the atomic bomb being dropped in Nagasaki, Japan during World War Two, such an interesting period of time that I have rarely read about from this point of view and made a wonderfully and moving setting.  Centring on a woman who is reflecting on her life, the decisions she made and how they impacted on her family as a whole.  The story moves back and forth in time, through the woman’s memories, her daughters diary and letters written long ago, all of which slowly build a picture that helps solve the questions posed in the first chapter.

From about half way through, I could barely put the book down as the drama and momentum build with all the pieces of information starting to fall together and unraveling in surprising ways.  I loved reading about Japan during the second world war, learning so much about the country, customs and history through the beautiful descriptions Copleton includes throughout.
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A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding‘ is such a wonderful book and I would recommend for anyone to read it.

4.5 Stars from me.

Happy reading x

Book Review – The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

Hello all,

I just had to recommend this book to you all…

RomCom isn’t usually my genre of choice, favouring literature, drama and thrillers but as I was going on holiday I thought I go for something more uplifting and I’m so pleased I did.

Most importantly, it was still very well written, very important to me.  One of my favourite things was that good and bad things happened throughout the novel rather than that common – something goes wrong, everything turns out alright. I found this a much more interesting read and kept the novel a real page turner.

I thought this was the perfect summer read, very funny and thoroughly enjoyable. So lovely to have something uplifting to read after quite a lot of thrillers recently.

I have never read anything by this author before but have been busy downloading and starting reading everything else she has written I enjoyed it so much.

It’s also only 99p on Kindle at the moment and only £3.49 in paperback, so if you are looking for something interesting, well written, funny and uplifting, get downloading now!

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The 5 Most Popular Posts of 2015

I actually cannot believe today is New Years Eve and the end of 2015!  As NYE can make us a little reflective, I thought that I would give you all the links for the 5 most popular posts on this blog in 2015!

  1. The Stupid Things People Say When You Have Cancer! – This is actually my most popular post of all time, I think because it is just as useful for people who don’t have cancer as those who do.
  2. Top 5 Things to do When Someone Has Cancer – I imagine this is for a similar reason, it’s useful for everyone.
  3. Holy Island by LJ Ross – Book Review – This book was such a huge success for LJ Ross and people seem to like reading about Holy Island, just as much as they like reading Holy Island.  Final instalment is out this year, can’t wait!
  4. Kiddie Friendly Green Juice – AKA Dinosaur Juice – This post was actually from 2014 but remains one of my most read this year!  Clearly I need to be doing more posts on the healthy juices I get my kids to drink.
  5. The Problem with NOT Losing Your Hair When You Have Cancer – I remember being so nervous when I wrote this post.  It is a side of cancer that you don’t hear very much about and I was worried about people’s reaction to the post.  But I needn’t have been, you guys couldn’t have been kinder and I got some very sweet messages from people who had exactly the same thing.  I’m so pleased this post made it onto the list.

So there they are, my top 5!  Are they yours?  Was there another post you preferred?  Let me know in the comments.  And if there is anything you would like me to write more about, please feel free to let me know about that in the comments too.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!! Nx

Happy-New-Year-2016

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Book Review – A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

images-2I am in mourning.  Mourning the loss of every character I am now completely in love with after reading A Place Called Winter.  I am aware that may make me sound crazy but this is one of those books that embeds itself so deeply under your skin you never want it to end.

Gale has written numerous novels before but this is the first one I have read.  It is drama and there are moments that will make your heart cry but there are also the warmest moments set in the harshest on conditions.  Nevertheless, if you are in the middle of chemotherapy and feeling very emotionally raw, maybe wait!

The novel is mainly prose, almost like poetry it is so beautifully written and the story is experienced through the eyes of the protagonist Harry Cane – the real Great-Grandfather of the author – who moved to Canada in the early 1900’s to set up a homestead but no one ever knew why, Gale has then used artistic licence to imagine all the blanks.images-3

My favourite thing about this novel is the depth and heartfeltness of the characters.  The whole book is character driven and (with the exception of the antagonist) I think you will fall in love with every single one of them.

It is set in such an interesting era that I knew nothing about and the circumstance that Harry Cane finds himself in, repeatedly adds to the characters and the depth of the beautiful story.

I highly recommend this book, it may even be one of the only books I read more than once.

A Place Called Winter is available now online and in bookshops.

 

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Book Review – Sycamore Gap by L.J. Ross

You may remember that a few months ago I gave a glowing review for LJ Ross’ debut novel Holy Island, the result was that I couldn’t wait for Ross’ second novel in the DCI Ryan series.  Thankfully, I know Ross so I could badger her (repeatedly) and get added to her beta list, yay!

Unknown-2I thoroughly enjoyed Sycamore Gap.  I really liked Holy Island but I definitely think this sequel is better. From the word go I was completely in the midst of this captivating story, still set in the North-England, with the location adding to the story significantly.

We get so much more insight into the characters, learning about Ryan’s past as it comes back to impact on the present, including all the relationships between the characters.

What I like most about this novel is the way it intertwines.  That is the story, the characters, the crimes, the past, they all intertwined and connected with Ross pulling at the various threads to draw the conclusion out.  I did also really love the imagery drawn from the location, I am desperate to visit Hadrian’s Wall now.

You don’t need to have read Holy Island to understand Sycamore Gap, there are enough tip its of information to keep things clear – without going on about the first book.  Having said that, I would read both, just because they are both awesome.

I could not put this novel down as the crimes, suspense and questions build but Ross has balanced the dark excellently, offsetting it with humour, some good old banter and Frank’s enviable ties.

It’s no surprise to me that Sycamore Gap has flown into the number 1 spot on the Amazon bestseller lists, just like Holy Island before it.  I would definitely recommend this book.

Sycamore Gap is available now on Amazon Kindle, currently only £1.99

Holy Island is available now on Amazon Kindle, currently £2.55 and in Paperback, currently £8.99

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – Book Review

Oh my gosh!  What a page turner.  I actually can’t believe how addictive this book is.  I was up hours past my bedtime  because I just… couldn’t… stop!

Sometimes I don’t like ‘twist’ books because you feel the whole book is just building for the twist and misses substance in the mean time.  This was NOTHING like that.  The parts in-between the incredible twists were just as wonderful, with heartfelt and moving story lines threading through the narrative.  Mackintosh’s insights into the human spirit and what makes people do the things they do are thought-provoking and insightful.

Part two of the novel is not for the fainthearted but the pace of the book builds in the most incredible way – hence me still being up reading just hours before my kids woke up!

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An amazing read, completely recommended.

Happy reading x

Landfill by Helen Gordon – Book Review

I read this book after doing a fabulous workshop with the author.  I know Landfill by Helen Gordon has received mixed reviews but I loved this book.  It is one of those books that get’s under your skin and you think about when you aren’t reading.

My favourite thing about this book is the language.  It is so beautifully written, with words and sentences that catch the heart.  Which is fitting as this really is a book about the heart.  It’s not non-stop action or about resolving issues as book these days so often are but about going through an emotional change within.

A thoroughly enjoyable novel, with language you can just get lost in, perfect for me.  I would certainly recommend Landfill.

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