February Reads (2018)

Somehow I managed to read 12 books in February.

I must have been seriously neglecting my studies – okay I WAS seriously neglecting my studies, and probably my housework too. Okay! Definitely neglected the housework. But I did still go to work every day. So responsible.

It’s a bit of a stray from my usual minimalism posts, but people seemed to enjoy my last book related post, and books are the one thing I can’t minimise. But also, I won’t try to minimise because they add so much value to my life.

So without further ado (waffle), here are my February Reads in the order that I read them (I think)…

Still Me by JoJo Moyes

The third instalment of the Me Before You series. This one follows Louisa Clark on her trip to New York where she has taken up the position of assistant to Agnes Gopnik, whilst trying to maintain her relationship with Sam who has stayed in London. In usual Louisa Clark style there are some mishaps along the way which add a touch of hilarity and heartbreak. A lovely read which will satisfy anyone who loved Louisa’s character and wants to keep up to date with what she’s up to!

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

A very necessary read! As a white person myself this was truly eye opening. I do acknowledge my own position of privilege and I 100% agree that white privilege is a real thing and can’t grasp how people can deny it! This was really insightful, shared some unknown stories from modern day and historic Britain and overall just felt a like a much needed addition to this debate. I’d highly recommend you give this a go.

The Accidental by Ali Smith

I read Hotel World by Ali Smith last year and I adored her writing style. I haven’t had a chance to pick up another Smith novel since then due to uni work so I was excited to get stuck into this. I have to say, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Hotel World but that’s not to say it wasn’t good! I loved getting to heard from different perspectives and loved the way in which Amber shook things up and challenged social norms.

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

The follow up to Ahern’s Flawed. A YA dystopian series and Ahern first foray into the YA genre. I really enjoyed Flawed back when I read it so was excited to finally get my hands on the sequel. Unfortunately I didn’t love it. The story felt quite 2 dimensional to me, in a way I think it was slightly too young? More teen than young adult if that makes sense in my opinion. I also couldn’t help but draw similarities between this and the Hunger Games in the way in which the protagonist is portrayed and her influence on the ‘rebel cause’ and of course, it could in now way compete with the Hunger Games so that probably influenced by view.

Trying by Emily Phillips

This novel struck a chord with me. Infertility is not something which people tend to talk about and Phillips approached it in such an open, informal and realistic way. I think this story is really, really important and will hopefully help to end the stigma attached to infertility. I didn’t think it was flawless, personally I didn’t like the portrayal of the main couple’s relationship. It felt quite negative and there didn’t seem to be much emphasis placed on how fertility struggles can strengthen a relationship but other than that it was fab. And also tackled other issues surrounding fertility and motherhood such as same sex adoption, post natal depression and miscarriage.

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

This novel wasn’t what I expected. Instead of focusing on the crime and the aftermath like most thrillers do, this focused on the build up to the crime and mental deterioration of the nanny Louise which led her to commit the crime. It reveals the crime on the cover and in the opening line and the reader is never in doubt of who has committed the crime, but as we are taken back in time and introduced to Louise it’s hard to reconcile her with her actions. To me, that’s what made this novel so interesting! As the layers to Louise are stripped back and we learn more and more about the stresses that she faces. Not your usual thriller but very interesting nonetheless. Also a really quick read!

The Woman in the Window by A.J Finn

This book seems to be everywhere at the minute! A clear favourite for many readers. To me it felt like a merge between Gone Girl and Girl on a Train, so if you loved them then you’re onto a winner! There were some twists that I didn’t see coming but made perfect sense once revealed and other’s that I did guess at. There were even times were I too was doubting whether Anna was reliable or not! Wonderfully written, join the masses and get this one on your reading list (if you haven’t already!)

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

This came to be by way of an Amazon recommendation, and I definitely enjoyed it. The machines know me too well. It’s another thriller style novel based around an CIA analyst whose world is turned upside down by something she discovers at work. I was left second guessing myself throughout and had no idea who to trust (okay I did not trust the guy but the novel had me thinking I was wrong). Again some good twists and that epilogue – I knew it!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Read this! I feel like that is all I should say. Just read it! I adored this book and adored the character of Eleanor. She has a heartbreaking backstory which plays out through the novel and has a clear influence on her behaviour. I didn’t see the big twist coming, but did figure out the more obvious one (because it was obvious maybe?). Since finishing this I find myself hoping that Eleanor is going to get her happy ending and live a good life and have to keep reminding myself that the girl ain’t real!

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust Vol 1) by Philip Pullman

Hmm. Like many people I am a huge fan of the His Dark Materials series and had this book on pre-order for months! Sadly, it’s not left me desperate for the 2nd volume which I think says it all. It was well written – it is Pullman after all – but there just seemed to be unnecessarily dark scenes (rape guys, in a book that’s linked to a children’s series – and one that didn’t seem to add much to the narrative..why?!) and also not much seemed to actually happen. I get that it’s setting up for the next volume but it’s still hefty book in itself and all that for minimal story progression, I don’t know. Also, not sure how I felt about the mystical/surreal elements, they jarred. And the ending just felt very rushed, we’d come on the long rambling journey and then poof it’s done now, thank you. I’d love to hear some different views on this because I want to love it so bad. Maybe I missed the point? Help me guys!

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

After my slight disappointment in Perfect, I decided to go back to some of Ahern’s usual work. This is where she excels, stories for adults that are magical and heartwarming. How she comes up with these ideas I don’t know! The story itself is quite standard, your usual tale of family life, relationships, secrets and love. But the marbles just made it! Such an unusual hobby to focus on but the descriptions had me vowing that when I have a child I will make them a marble collector just so I can experience some of the wonders described! A lovely, light read. Classic Ahern.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Another lighthearted read in typical Kinsella style. I have read two other Kinsella novels before, the first in the Shopaholic series (which as a minimalist who’s never been a big shopper and has always hated debt, this gave me serious palpitations) and also I’ve Got Your Number which was delightful. My Not So Perfect Life didn’t disappoint! It was funny, heartwarming, romantic, friendly – all the good things. But also managed to confront some serious issues such as work place bullying and the negative impact of social media in a natural way which didn’t feel preachy.

(Photo is a screenshot from my bookstagram account @bakerreadsbooks – come find me on instagram if you love books! Yes, I am a minimalist that hoards books…)

*Books are all linked to Amazon/Waterstones depending on where I bought them from. Not affiliate and not a sponsored post, just for your convenience if you feel like you want to buy one – you could check out your library but a lot of them are fairly new so you might struggle.

 

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Books I read this Summer

I read a lot this Summer.

I should have been reading my uni reading lists in preparation for my final year, but alas, I didn’t make too much headway with that.

But let’s not dwell on it. Here are a few that I did read, in order of personal preference:

I also read The Full Harry Potter Series by J.K.Rowling, but I can’t rank these because I have read them about 15 times and they are too full of nostalgia and memory and will forever inhabit a special place in my heart.

I love nothing more than reading a good book, it’s the reason I took the wild decision to study a full time English Literature degree alongside full time work.

As I get older I’m trying to really expand my reading, branching into different genres and trying out new authors, as well as diving into some of the classics.

I’m also very pleased to have several books on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet.

Yes, I have been stockpiling – very bad for my inner minimalist, but my inner bibliophile can’t resist.

This makes me happy because when you have those days or evenings where nothing will work other than a bath followed by an snuggle down in bed with a good book and a mug of tea, you need new books on hand! I’m most looking forward to reading Autumn by Ali Smith, because Hotel World made me bawl my eyes out, it really hit a nerve.

So yes, slight detour from usual content, but my books are my babies and they bring me so much joy, they are comfort food for the soul and essential nutrients for the brain!

Let me know your favourite summer reads, and whether you also struggle to release your books!

Also, if you’d like to see book reviews on the blog just let me know!

Finally, all my links take you to the Waterstones website, simply because it’s thanks to their weekly and monthly emails that I came across half of these novels (it’s one mailing list I won’t even opt out of). But I do also pick up a lot of my books from Amazon, and you can get really good second hand copies from Amazon as well. I’d also encourage you to shop your local charity shops – you can’t always get exactly the book you’re looking for but it’s a great way to stumble across something new.