Quick Reads 2016

Now as far as I am concerned, reading and chocolate make excellent companions as does tea and cake or tea and biscuits.

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However, the important thing in these combinations is actually the books.

One in six adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book. People’s reasons for not reading are varied: some people say they find books intimidating, that they struggle to find the time or that books are difficult or boring.

Books are, my passion, my saviour, my comfort, my teacher and my friend. Therefore I feel it is important to share that passion with as many people as possible. But I realise that not everyone feels the same as me.

For the last 4 years, Quick Reads has sent me their selection of books to talk about and share (the chocolate is simply a bonus). Which is why I am here again to tell you about 2016 selections, this the tenth year for this wonderful idea.

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Of course if you have followed my blog for a while, these books whilst they arrive at my house are soon dispatched to my father. He fits into many of the reasons for not reading. Thanks to seeing my mum and I read and the Quick Reads, he has started to embrace reading a lot more.

The 6 books are:

….an abridged version of Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography – I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, as well as a collection of short stories, The Anniversary: Ten Tempting Stories From Ten Bestselling Authors, edited by Veronica Henry, with stories from authors such as Jenny Colgan, Philippa Gregory and Matt Haig.

The other four titles are Too Good to be True by Ann Cleeves, A Baby at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond, On the Rock by Andy McNab, and The Double Clue: Poirot Short Stories by Agatha Christie, edited by Sophie Hannah and John Curran.

The Quick Reads books were published on 4th February.

I really think this is a great initiative and if I had the time, I would very much like to get involved more in helping people with reading and sharing the joy of such. In the meantime, this is my way of giving back something.

Blog Tour – Behind Closed Doors

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Now I mentioned about this book back in January here and as you can see the buzz around this book is gaining momentum and it is with great pleasure to be part of the blog tour.

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So what is coming up from me on the 9th – Well of course a review of the book, but also a piece written by the author, B.A. Paris.

Do spread the word, do come back and visit my blog and read about the book and what the author has to say.

I honestly think this is going to be a book that everyone is talking about in 2016!

The Ballroom – Anna Hope

John comes from Ireland. He had a past which he has lost and he has ended up far from home.

Ella had thrown something through a window. Her actions mean she has ended up away from home.

Charles wanted to prove himself, wants to make an improvement in people’s lives through music.

All three are captured in the heat wave of 1911.

They are in an asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

Their paths cross in different ways.

John is a threat to Charles.

Charles thinks that Ella can eventually leave

John and Ella normally segregated are brought together in the Ballroom.

This story, is quietly moving. Anna Hope has managed to take something which is very dear to her heart and turn it into a story with so much emotion, letting it run free across the pages as well as tightly bound in within the characters. I was left feeling moved and uplifted with the story and when I read the author’s note at the end I came away with another viewpoint.

As historical fiction this book is a must read. An area of history that has always fascinated in a macabre way but something that should not be simply brushed away into the annals of history and not spoken about. Anna Hope has opened the doors on an asylum and let everyone in to see what it was like. From the structure of the working day, the food they ate, the exercise given, the way out if there was ever one to be returned into society. And of course the treatment, no matter how harrowing it could be.

Away from those that lived within the institution walls, we learn how the government and certain members of society felt that they should be dealing with those behind these walls. It was frightening but fascinating to learn of the eugenics movement, to see names synonymous with other times in history such as Churchill, lead me to learn far more than I ever expected to.

And that is why this second novel from Anna Hope is just as good as the first. Sometimes second novels are notoriously pitched wrongly, are never as good as the first, are just the stop-gap until the excellent third novel appears. Here this theory does not apply.

Anna Hope’s novel The Ballroom, creates a world behind closed doors, brings in light, romance and the future to many. The ending you want perhaps does not happen, but the ending you get will leave this book with you for a very long time.

Definitely one of the books of 2016 to look out for.

The Ballroom by Anna Hope is out on the 11 Feb in all hardcover and ebook. 

You can follow Anna Hope on twitter @Anna_Hope where she says she likes the parts history leaves out. I concur and which is why I enjoyed this book immensely. 

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.

I need to read it again, but this time with a physical copy in my hand, I feel I need to hold it in my hands to experience it fully. Ebooks are all well and good but sometimes the only way to feel like you are experiencing a book and giving it your full attention is to be there turning the pages. 

 

 

January Roundup

Already a month done, already six books read and one abandoned. Pretty good going, but apparently I am still two books behind to keep on any sort of schedule for the 100 for the year. December 2016 seems such a long way off that I am not even thinking about it.

So what of January – well it has brought me new and old and some of the books have yet to even appear for review on my blog.

Plenty to look forward to and that was the case with Katie Fforde – A Summer at Sea, just the tonic you need for wet grey January days. If I dare say Katie at her very best.

Books that are no doubt going to be your favourite in 2016 that feature in January is always a tough call, but Anna Hope – The Ballroom will be up there. Quietly beautiful.

Realising that I was starting to get behind with the Sidney Chambers series, I tackled the third book James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil. Sidney is really settling in as a detective as much as a priest and the birth of his daughter is going to strengthen no doubt his place in society and the way he approaches life. I am intrigued as the years tick by in these novels how it is ever going to end. In the meantime I continue to collect the hardback versions of them to make sure they look neat on my shelf.

Jill Mansell seems to have captured me as much as Katie Fforde and I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know her writing more. You and Me, Always her latest novel, is enjoyable and had me laughing and crying in equal measures.

New to me was Christie Barlow – Kitty’s Countryside Dream, an author that is in the same vein as Fforde, Mansell so I thought I would give it a try when it appeared on my netgalley page. So glad I did, another female author to add to the many I enjoy reading.

Working my way through my own shelves, I picked up David Nicholls – Starter for Ten. Having read One Day some years ago and intrigued by whether I should buy his new novel Us, I thought I would go back to his earlier work. Very different, and rather an angst written novel. Uncomfortable to read perhaps, I have yet to formulate everything I want to say about this book.

There could have been a book seven for January but I decided to abandon it – The Silent Wife (see previous post during the month), how liberating and it meant that I was able to pick up and enjoy the other books for January.

So I start the new month reading a new book – I wonder what it will be?

 

A False Silence

I rarely give up on books if I am being honest. The author has invested time in writing it and there must have been something which captured my attention for me to have invested money in it.

Sold to me on the back of how good Gone Girl was, I purchased this book below.

It sat around on my kindle for a while and when it got chosen as one of my 2016 challenge reads, I thought it was a good opportunity to read it.

After having been captured by the thrilling read that is B.A.Paris – Behind Closed Doors (more of that coming soon) I wanted another thriller in a similar vein to many I have read before. I turned to The Silent Wife.

I wish I had not.

The book was a slow start, but that is okay because sometimes these things need to be.

But it did not pick up pace for me.

I disliked the main characters, Jodi and Todd. Todd thinks nothing of cheating on his wife. Jodi seems to put up with it all. There was still nothing that captured me, even when everything started to fall apart.

I got to the point, just about 50% of the way through the book where I felt I simply did not care enough to carry on. I did not care what happened to them and I did not want to witness anymore.

I put the book down. I filed it on my kindle under ‘unread’. I marked it as abandoned on my challenges page.

And I felt such a relief.

 

 

 

 

You and Me, Always – Jill Mansell

Lily’s mother Jo, died when she was eight, every year since then on her birthday she has had a letter to open from her mother. Now at twenty-five she has reached the last letter. What a wonderful gift to be left, but now it seems that Lily is very much on her own.

Although of course she has wonderful friends in Patsy and her rather annoying brother Dan. Then there is Coral who although now widowed, was friends with Jo and took her in and brought her up from the age of eight. The proverb “…it takes a village to raise a child…” is very much how Lily feels and how I felt after having read this book.

Patsy, is forever on her first date. Time is ticking by fast and she really is not sure if she will ever have children. She could be destined to be single.

Coral is still very much in love with her husband, Nick despite his sudden death. She throws herself into her work and thinks that maybe when the time is right she will feel something for someone else again. That again comes sooner than she thought when Declan appears.

Declan is the man who Lily’s mother was only ever in love with, truly. Can he be a part of Lily’s life nad will she learn even more about her mother now that the letters have stopped?

When Eddie appears in this little Cotswold village, Lily sees that maybe she might have found her true love but with Eddie there comes a catch?

This read has everything packed in and you are within the first few pages caught up with the lives of these women, you cry and laugh with them in equal measure. There is plenty of romance, some rather trying moral questions to answer but what this is a wonderful read to lose yourself in. I wanted the happy ending, and I had to keep reading until I got there. Another excellent book from Jill Mansell

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

You and Me, Always is published on 28th Jan 2016 in hardback. 

Hotel Alpha – Mark Watson

I have always been fascinated by books which contain hotels, as the inanimate object the building itself can be as much of a character as those that dwell inside it. Therefore Hotel Alpha was the  sort of book that was going to appeal to me.

Howard York – self-made man and founder of London’s extraordinary Hotel Alpha – is one of those people who makes you feel that anything is possible. He is idolized by his blind adopted son, Chas, and Graham, the inimitable concierge, whose lives revolve around the Alpha.

So we immediately know the three main characters of this novel. The book though is only told from the point of view of two of them –

Chas the blind adopted son. He has rarely left the hotel. The hotel is his womb, he exists within in and everything and everyone is there to protect him. But an outsider is suddenly there and a different opinion, a different influence suddenly makes Chas think that perhaps there is another life.

Graham has been there since the conception of Hotel Alpha, there is nothing he does not know or can do for the hotel or the owner, Howard. But as the Hotel moves forward, Graham seems to be always one step behind. Holding on to traditions, methods and principles of the past. Remembering how it used to be.

The Hotel Alpha is very much in the foreground, the events of the time setting, the Olympic Bid for example ground the book into a time that readers can perhaps relate to. Whatever happens in the world Howard is content that himself and Hotel Alpha are on the winning side.

There are doubts forming for Chas and Graham as things change and the past is pushed aside for the future, trouble is the past is where the secrets lie and perhaps it would be better if these were told.

An interesting book, a limited scope as most of the book is set within the hotel but it did rather concentrate your focus on what was happening there. I am not sure whether it all fitted together for me in the end but it was enjoyable nonetheless.