Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Recent Reads

 If you read my post about my Goals for 2019, then you’ll know that this year, I’m hoping to read a lot more. So I thought it would be quite nice to talk you through books that I’ve read, a few at a time, in case you’re looking for something new to read. I always think it’s quite nice to be recommended a book by someone else – it’s how I discover a lot of the books I read. Although I’ve called this post ‘Recent Reads’ I will admit that some of these books were read quite a few months ago, before I started on my goal of reading more! But hopefully you will still enjoy hearing a bit about them.

Things Get Better by Katie Piper

I’m a massive Katie Piper fan and have read a couple of her books before, so when this one popped up in my Amazon recommendations it made its way straight to my basket! It wasn’t actually what I was expecting, as I assumed it would be the next part of her story, following on from Beautiful and Beautiful Ever After. But with this book, Katie reflects on each stage of her recovery to help people feel like they’re not alone. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to her experiences, but although she discusses how each stage relates to her own recovery, I found it very easy to apply my own experiences to what she was saying.

Katie discusses a whole range of emotions and situations including hitting rock bottom, counting your blessings, facing your fears, forgiveness, goal setting and dealing with setbacks. I could really relate my own problems with mental and physical health to the things she was saying in the book, and I liked the fact there are practical tips of things I could do to help myself depending on my stage of recovery. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and loved the way it is presented, as it makes it easy to dip in and out of. Unlike some self-help books, I didn’t find it at all patronising (probably because it is so personal to what Katie has been through, so I really felt like she understood) and I definitely picked up some good advice for getting through difficult times.

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

I’ll be completely honest and admit to the fact I had never really given Giovanna Fletcher much thought as an author before reading this book. I’d been watching and really enjoying her YouTube videos for quite a while, but for some reason it had never occurred to me that she might be a good writer. So when I saw this book in WHSmith as part of Zoella’s Book Club back in 2016, I read the blurb on the back and decided to pick it up. Now I’m only wishing I picked up one of her books sooner!

Billy and Me is a classic love story and perfect for if you want an easy to read book that will take you away from the stresses of day-to-day life. It’s about Sophie May, who works in a teashop in her little village and lives at home with her Mum. She gave up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world because of a secret she’s kept for years. But then Billy comes along – an ambitious actor who Sophie falls in love with. Her world is turned upside down as Billy whisks her away from the comfort of her quiet life and into the spotlight. 

The story follows Sophie and Billy’s blossoming relationship, but also looks at the secret that has kept Sophie stuck in her small town for so long. This was a book that I just couldn’t put down – just when you thought one thing was happening, something else would change things and another twist would make me keep on reading. I became really quite invested in the two main characters and desperately wanted to see them both happy together! After enjoying this book so much, I definitely now plan to read some other books by Giovanna Fletcher.

Room by Emma Donoghue

I love a good drama, whether it’s on the TV, in the cinema or in a book, so when my friend sent me this book as a present, I was excited to get stuck in. I had heard a lot of talk about the story, as it has also been made into a film (which I’m yet to see – I prefer to read a book before seeing the film adaptation) and from what I’d heard it sounded good.

The story is written from the perspective of Jack, aged five, who lives in a single, locked room with his Ma. I won’t lie; it took me a while to get into this book and to get my head around the writing style. As it’s written from the point of view of a five year old, the sentences can be a bit choppy and confusing, but once I’d got used to this style I found I started getting into the actual story a bit more. I did find the style of the book a little bit strange; as some of the speech felt a lot younger than most five year olds I’ve met, especially as his only role model is his Mother, who speaks perfectly normally.

Although I enjoyed the idea of the book, I do feel like it could have been a lot more gripping and interesting. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I just felt like the ‘climax’ of the story was actually a bit of a disappointment. As it was building up, I had all these hopes of what the story might hold, and I just wonder whether these could have been developed more than they were. I also felt like the second part of the book had stories in it that could have been explored in much more depth, and felt I had a lot of questions that weren’t really answered. I will be really interested to watch the film now and see how they’ve adapted it from the book.

My Beautiful Struggle by Jordan Bone

This is a book I had wanted to read for ages, as I’m a big fan of Jordan’s YouTube videos and attitude towards her disability. So when my blogging friend, Sophie, posted it on her Instagram Stories asking if anyone would like her finished copy, I quickly sent her a message. I was aware of the basics of Jordan’s story, but found reading her book gave me a much more in-depth knowledge of her accident and how it has affected her. Although I don’t have the same disability as her, I felt I was able to relate to a lot of what she wrote – the stages of getting your head round a life changing disability or illness, those initial bleak days of not knowing how you will continue and then moving forward and learning to live a life with your new restrictions. It was nice to feel like I wasn’t alone in some of the things I experience.

I really like how, in this book, Jordan relates parts of her journey to applying different types of make-up. It definitely helped the story to flow in an interesting way that I haven’t seen in other books before. And although the book addresses some really dark times in Jordan’s life, the relation to make-up just emphasises how she has turned her difficulties into something positive. I would always feel really uplifted and motivated after reading each chapter and was sad to get to the end. As someone with a disability, it’s so nice to find others that I can relate to and look up to, to bring something positive to my own life. And Jordan is definitely one of those people.

The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond

This is another of those easy-to-read, cosy, uplifting stories that just make you feel good inside. It follows the story of Evie, who has always been the black sheep of her family. She feels stuck in a life she isn’t enjoying with a boyfriend that just isn’t really ‘her’ anymore. But then her aunt Jo dies suddenly and leaves Evie her beloved beach café in Cornwall. It’s the opportunity that Evie needed – she leaves her old life behind and sets off for Cornwall to get the café, and her life, back on track.

Cornwall is somewhere I have only visited once briefly, but somewhere I am dying to see more of, so I absolutely loved reading through these pages and feeling like I was right there, in this cute little café looking out onto the beach. It’s your typical romantic novel, but as far as I’m concerned you can’t beat a good romance. I really liked Evie and could relate to her feelings of being lost in life and not knowing how to move forwards. So I think I became quite invested in her new venture of building the café back up again and finding love at the same time. There were a few twists and turns that added a bit more excitement and interest to the book, but overall it was just a nice book to snuggle down in the evening with (or take on holiday to read by the pool, if you’re lucky enough to be doing that!)

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I’ve already read her books about Rosie Hopkins and have a few others on my shelf that I’m waiting to read. This particular one was my Christmas read for 2018 and it was just what I want from a Christmas book – cosy, warm and heart warming. It’s about Polly Waterford who runs the Little Beach Street bakery in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne (can you tell I have a bit of a thing about Cornwall?!) She lives in an old lighthouse with her boyfriend, Huckle, and their adopted pet Puffin, Neil. 

This book visits Polly, Huckle and Neil in the lead up to Christmas, when Polly’s best friend Kerensa discloses a secret that could damage Polly and Huckle’s relationship forever. At the same time, a face from the past reappears and things for Polly become even more complicated. The story follows Polly trying to navigate these new obstacles and try to get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas. For me, this was a lot more than just a simple romance story. There are secrets, betrayals and unexpected surprises along the way, as well as a lot of humour in the form of Neil the Puffin, all of which made it a really lovely book to relax with as the chaos of Christmas set in.

And that’s all my recent reads for you this time! I’m hoping to make this an on going series, so as I read a few more books, I can tell you about them each time and hopefully give you some inspiration for new reading material. If there are any books that you think I might enjoy, please do let me know, as I’m always looking for new things to read.     

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of the books in this post, or will you be reading any now that you’ve read about them?

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