Thursday, 22 August 2019

Recent Reads

I spoke in my last ‘Recent Reads’ post about the fact I am trying to read more books this year, as part of my Goals for 2019. I feel like my progress has slowed a little bit, partly due to my health not playing ball, but also because I feel like I’ve got distracted by other things. But I think the good thing about goals are, that you can keep refreshing and re-starting them whatever the time of year. So, I’m trying once again to make more of a conscious effort to set aside more time for reading, rather than scrolling aimlessly on my phone and watching another episode of The Simpsons! Despite my progress slowing down a bit, I have still got through quite a few books in the last few months, so I thought I would do another ‘Recent Reads’ post to tell you all about the books I have managed to read. 




How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

I have loved Cecelia Ahern’s books ever since I read her first novel, P.S. I Love You (if you haven’t read it, I would wholly recommend giving it a read!) So every time I see her release another book, I’m usually pretty quick to add it to my collection to read, as she is yet to write something that I haven’t enjoyed. How to Fall in Love actually came out in 2014, so it’s taken me a while to get round to reading this one (I blame having too many books on my bookshelf!) but I’m happy to report that I thought this was just as good as her other novels.


This book is about Christine Rose, who is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin (all of Cecelia Ahern’s books are set in Ireland) late one night when she sees a stranger, Adam, poised to jump. Like any normal person, Christine is concerned and wants to help, so she ends up managing to talk him into a reckless deal: if he gives her two weeks – until his 35th birthday – she will prove that life is worth living. The story follows the two characters through the next two weeks, as Christine discovers that what she has promised is perhaps not as easy as she first thought. 

As someone that tries to raise awareness of mental illness, I loved the fact that this book centred on exploring mental health and suicide. It’s a very difficult topic to get right, but from my perspective, I felt that Cecelia Ahern did a really good job. Trying to convince a suicidal person to live is a huge task, especially for one person, and I think that came across well throughout the book – she doesn’t make it seem easy and I liked the fact she detailed the ups and downs of mental illness, and how someone can seem to be doing better when in actual fact they are still struggling just as much. I also think it’s good that Cecelia Ahern chose Adam to be the person struggling with his mental health, as so often, it’s women’s mental health that is focused upon, whereas this raises the profile of mental health and suicide in men. Overall, I would definitely recommend giving this a read if you’re looking for a new book to get stuck into, especially if you’re a fan of Cecelia Ahern’s other books.

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

I don’t actually remember ever buying this book or having received it as a gift, so I’m not 100% sure how it ended up on my bookshelf! I want to start by saying that this was a difficult read, mainly due to the topics and themes in the story. It is about a young girl called Ellie Frias, who has never wanted to be popular – she just wants to blend in and to be accepted. But then Caleb Breward changes everything. He tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it. Ellie loves Caleb, but she’s not always sure that she likes him – as they say though; love is blind. But one night, Ellie discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first girl Caleb raped, but she was the first he murdered.


The story is told in a mixture of flashbacks to when Ellie was alive and through Ellie’s eyes now that she is dead. She witnesses Caleb shatter the lives of other girls again and again, all the time waiting, hoping, that one day, someone will find her and uncover the secrets buried with her. You can tell from the blurb that it’s not going to be an easy book to read and I did struggle to keep going with it at points. I definitely had to be in the right frame of mind to sit down and read it, so I wouldn’t say it’s one of those books you can just pick up and put down whenever you fancy getting lost in a story. 

I thought the writing was very powerful and it does raise awareness of sexual violence with great empathy. Some parts felt a bit repetitive whilst others felt quite rushed, but overall it was an extremely emotive book to read. For anyone thinking about reading this book, I would definitely include a trigger warning though, as some of the content can be quite graphic and disturbing. 

After You by JoJo Moyes

I picked up After You after enjoying the first book in the trilogy, Me Before You. I was a bit dubious about where the story could go, after feeling it had been fairly wrapped up in the first book, but somehow JoJo Moyes managed to find a fork in the road that allowed the story to continue. This book demonstrates that when one story ends, another begins. It continues to focus on Lou Clark (who you will remember from the first book as one of the central characters). She has a lot of questions. Like how she’s ended up working in an airport bar, or why the flat she has owned for a year still doesn’t feel like home. But she does know that something has to change. And then, one night, it does. A stranger turns up on her doorstep, but Lou isn’t sure whether they hold answers to her questions or if they just bring more questions with them. She could close the door and continue her simple, ordered, safe life. Or she could open it and risk everything. 


It had been a while since I’d read Me Before You, so I was a bit worried that I would have forgotten about everything that happened. But luckily this book had lots of little ‘prompts’ that reminded me of things I thought I had forgotten, so I found it very easy to pick back up again. I had found the first book quite compelling, being someone that has a disability and able to relate to some of the things Will was feeling. And I felt that this book helped me to get to know Lou Clark a bit better and to understand her more as a separate person to Will. It was interesting to see where her life went after the turbulent time she had throughout the first book. I’m now looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy – Still Me.

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

I remember winning this book in a competition with Mind. I’d never really heard anything about it before, but when I saw that it was about someone’s journey with mental illness, I’ll admit I was a bit concerned that I might find it a difficult read. On the contrary – it was brilliant! Bryony Gordon - a hugely successful columnist for the Telegraph, a bestselling author, and a happily married mother of an adorable daughter, writes the book. Bryony has OCD. It’s the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. But it got to a point where Bryony became fed up of keeping silent about her illness, and so she decided to share her story. 


I honestly couldn’t put this book down! There were parts that had me in fits of laughter and parts that nearly made me cry. It is written with such honesty and openness, and really gets across just how all-encompassing mental illness can be. I found myself nodding along to so much of it because I could relate to what Bryony had been through and, in some cases, it was the first time I had heard of any one else having the same thoughts and feelings that I’ve had. It was strangely comforting to hear someone else talk about such terrible and frightening thoughts because it helped me to realise that I’m not completely mad (or if I am, then at least it’s not just me!) 

Reading this book also brought me huge amounts of hope. Bryony’s 20’s were not good – nothing really went right for her and she often felt like things were completely hopeless. But in her 30’s, things started to turn around. She met her now husband and had a beautiful daughter. Obviously we are all different and have different paths, but just hearing that things can get better, even if they have been awful for so long, gave me hope that the same could happen to me. 

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland

I can’t believe it took me so long to get round to reading Louise Pentland’s first book, Wilde Like Me. I’m a big fan of Louise’s and have watched her channel/read her blog since pretty near the beginning. So when I knew she was bringing out a book, I knew it would be something I would want to read. I even pre-ordered it so I could get my hands on a signed copy! But for some reason it then sat on my bookshelf for way too long before I got round to reading it. And I only wish I had started earlier!

The book is about a lady called Robin Wilde, who is a single Mum to Lyla. She’s great at her job and has a best friend and Auntie who love her to bits. From the outside, everything looks great. But Robin has a secret. Behind the mask, things can often feel grey and lonely. She struggles to fit in with the other school mums, finds online dating despair inducing and worries about being able to give Lyla the very best. But after four years (and two months and twenty four days) of single-mum-dom, Robin realises it’s time to get out there and change her life. Exciting new opportunities are soon on the horizon, and the story follows Robin as she decides whether to seize the possibilities she creates for herself and finds out what surprises her life has in store for her. 


I found this such an easy read, which is just what I was looking for. I didn’t have to concentrate too hard and could just get lost in Robin’s world for a while. It was such a feel-good book and I loved following Robin as she branched out and found some inner confidence to start making things happen. Every time I closed the book (which wasn’t easy to do because I kept wanting to read on!) I just came away feeling uplifted and happy – just what I need in a book! Now that I’ve read this book, I’m excited to move on to the next two Wilde books in the trilogy!

And there we have it – my recent reads for you this time round! I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing my reviews of these books and that it’s given you some inspiration of what to read next if you’re struggling to decide. If there are any books you think I might enjoy, please do let me know, as I’m always looking for new things to read (even if my bookshelf is overflowing!)


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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