My Top Ten Books of 2017

My Top Ten Booksof 2017

Hi guys! Exactly one year ago I was sharing my most favourite reads of 2016 with you, and now it’s time to do the same with the 2017 reads. What is so special about this is the fact that there are the same authors on both lists!

In 2017 I haven’t read as many books as I’d like. The current number is 156 and when some might say wow, I know that I struggled to get to this number – life getting in the way, child growing up and serving as a taxi to bring her to and back from her activities, looking after the dogs, going to work that lately is very stressful… But let’s not whinge, altogether it was not a bad year, and not only in a bookish sense, but let’s focus on books, guys, this is why we’re here, right? I’ve read many brilliant novels, introducing me to characters that are going to stay with me for ever, and I spent thousand of magical hours in my fictional worlds, and here are some of my most favourite ones. They are not in particular order but there is one book that immediately springs to mind and so I just have it to place it at the very top of my list.

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

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February releases brought one of my most anticipated books this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrow” she has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. I absolutely loved this book and it’s going to stay with me for ever!

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

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One novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again. “My Sweet Revenge” was a bittersweet story with strong and solid characters, with laugh out loud moments and many twists and turns, and you really couldn’t be sure what to expect and – and it was the best! – who to trust and which information is true, the author has really messed with her readers! Absolutely brilliant read!

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

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I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.

The One by John Marrs

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Oh holy moly, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. When I started to reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Literally. This book. THIS BOOK. It was freakingly brilliant. So refreshing, so original, so unpredictable – one of the best novels this year, believe me. This novel was unputdownable. It was exciting and addictive, and as the chapters were so short, I more than often found myself telling only one chapter and coming out for an air few hours later. It is so, so cleverly plotted, full of shocking twists and turns. “The One” was one of the most unpredictable reads you can ever wish for.

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

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There can’t be a list without Lisa Dickenson’s book on it!!! “Catch Me if you Cannes” was packed full, as it usually is with Lisa’s stories, of incredible, belly – ache one – liners. There is something magic and addictive to Lisa’s writing. It’s so light and easy to follow, and it leaves you full of sparkles and will to live, really. But it’s not only laugh – out – loud story about the adventures of two best friends, oh no, Lisa, as usually, has added some softer and emotional moments to the plot as well, that just made me love the story much, much more!

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

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This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best!

The Break by Marian Keyes

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“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour.

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

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This book made me laugh so hard and I couldn’t wait to discover what’s going to happen. It is this best kind of book when you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible but on the other hand you don’t want it to end. It was a brilliant, entertaining story about love, family and finding your priorities, relationships and seeing that grass is not always greener on the other side. It had me emotionally involved and just pushed all the right buttons for me.

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

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“The Year of Saying Yes” was a story about learning things about yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning that impossible is nothing. It shows that no matter what we think about ourselves, we’re strong enough to face the challenges – in a brilliant, hilarious, light – hearted way. I really can’t wait to see what Hannah Doyle has in store for us, because this book was a real winner and it is a novel that should be shouted about from the rooftops.

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

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This book is  pure genius. A bloody good psychological suspense/thriller with a writing style that just draws you in, and you can’t stop reading. “Sister, Sister” is a story of betrayal, lies and secrets, an absorbing and disturbing psychological suspense with greatly developed characters full of secrets and issues, all so significant to this story and they keep you guessing till the end. This is this kind of a book that you say to yourself you’re going to read only one chapter more and come up for a breath few hours later.

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Book of the Month: January & February + Q&A with Alice Peterson

Oh guys! Oh my word! I know, I know, it’s almost the end of March and I am posting about my favourite books in January and February only now! Mea culpa, really, but you know that life is a bitch, all the time getting in the way. I have so little time to read right now, moreover, not only have I a little time for it but I started to read so, soooo slowly – WHY??? OK. Whatever. Here are the two of my most favourite books this year and if you scroll down a little, there is also a Q&A with Alice Peterson – this lovely girl found some time in her tight schedule to answer my questions about one of the most special books in the world – “A Song for Tomorrow”. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Alice!

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So let’s start with January. It was a really good bookish beginning to the year but there was one novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character! It was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again! Here you can read my review.

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So. And then there came February, bringing with one of my most anticipated releases this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrowindexshe has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. Please, read my review of this heart – breaking novel here and if you haven’t read the book yet, do this immediately! Also, here is a link to my Alice Martineau’s favourite song “IF I FALL” – it’s is beautiful. The first things my daughter says when we get into the car is that she wants to hear the songs of this beautiful lady – she means Alice.

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Q&A with Alice Peterson

  1. “A Song for Tomorrow” is a book full of incredible emotions – how hard was it to write this novel? To put all those feeling into words? To do Alice justice?

For each book I write, I put my heart and soul into all my characters, but this book is different in that my main character Alice is inspired by the singer Alice Martineau, who was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). In some ways, it was easier writing about Alice Martineau than a fictional character as I was able to talk to her family and friends, her boyfriend, her music manager, her vocal coach, her consultant, and people who live with CF, so I got to know Alice from every single perspective. I remember her father, David, saying to me with a twinkle in his eye, ‘you will know things about our Alice that I don’t know’. At times it was emotional writing the story because it was true. I found describing the mother’s point of view particularly poignant. I wanted to do Alice justice because she was a wonderful inspiring person but I also wanted to do her justice for her family and friends. I wanted them to feel the book truly celebrated her life and talent in the way she deserved.

  1. Alice is a true inspiration – did she inspire YOU in some ways?

Oh yes, in every way. CF is a genetic life-shortening condition that slowly, through repeated infections, destroys the lungs, but never once did Alice moan or feel sorry for herself that this was the pack of cards she’d been dealt. Nor was she some saint who sweetly put up with it. She was one of those people who turned her life experiences into something positive – which was her music. Alice also knew her time was short (life expectancy with CF in the 1990s was 31) so she lived life intensely – and by that I mean she threw herself into friendships and relationships. Clearly Alice had a huge heart and capacity to give, and people fell in love with her. Central to A Song for Tomorrow is the love story between her and Tom and this part of the book really inspired me. It made me realize the strength of having someone by your side. Alice’s success in becoming a signed recording artist with Sony (her album, Daydreams, was released in 2002) wasn’t only down to her own ambition – she was helped so much along the way with the unconditional love and support of her parents, her brother, her close friends and her boyfriend.

  1. Alice, what happened with Tom? I need to know – please, do tell us.

The lovely Tom has married and had children, but he remains close to Alice’s family. He still flies planes too!

  1. How much fiction and how much truth is in the story?

Alice in my book is very much Alice Martineau. I shall never forget Alice’s brother, Luke, reading the book for the first time and saying ‘Alice walks off the pages’. So, the heart of the book is true – Alice’s journey to become a singer when faced with the obstacles of living with CF. We also kept Alice’s medical condition, the love story and her family as close to the truth as possible. The surrounding characters, including the anti support group, are entirely fictional – as are many of the events that take place.

  1. I am sure there are many such inspirational people like Alice in the world – why did you choose to base your book on her and her story?

You’re right, there are many inspirational people out there, but as a writer you have to strongly identify with someone so this is why I chose to write about Alice. I read about her in a weekend magazine back in 2002. Immediately I was drawn to the headline: Alice Martineau – beautiful, talented and on a triple transplant list. There was a picture of a twenty-eight year old woman sitting on some garden steps attached to an oxygen machine. I admired Alice’s ambition to be a singer when she was attached to machines keeping her alive. I also connected to Alice’s courage when faced with overwhelming adversity since I too live with a chronic autoimmune condition. I understand the emotional and psychological impact an illness can have, not just on the individual but on an entire family. It’s their story just as much as Alice’s.

  1. Which of the books that you’ve written means most to you and why?

That’s a hard question! They all mean so much to me in different ways. If I had to choose, I’d say A Song for Tomorrow, just because it’s so closely based on truth, and I have greatly enjoyed working on the project with Alice’s family and friends. But By My Side is also close to my heart. And then there’s my own personal story, Another Alice – which is important to my family… Sorry, can I have three?

A Song for Tomorrow, Simon & Schuster, February 9 2017

www.alicepeterson.co.uk

www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

 

31674505Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 9th February 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world.

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. So has Tom. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their own hearts.

Rating: 5/5

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NOTE: Guys, this is going to be a rather personal and long review. I know that some readers don’t like it so please feel forewarned.

I am a big fan of Alice Peterson and is I knew from the beginning that I am going to enjoy this story, as she has never disappointed me, but in fact I had no idea how much it’s going to affect me, how much it’s going to pull at my heart strings and how special this book is going to turn out.
This book. “A Song for Tomorrow”. What can I say? That everything changed for me after reading this book? That for sure I’m not going to read such a wonderful book ever again? That now I really know what a major book – hangover is? That life is a bitch? I love Alice Peterson and her stories but with this one she has exceeded herself on each level and let me tell you right at the beginning that it is this kind of book that you want to read for the first time over and over again. If I were to describe it in one word it would be BEAUTIFUL. It was like this with this book, guys: I loved it, I loved every single word of it but I also couldn’t wait to finish it, to know how it’s going to end – as it could really go many ways. The way Alice was full of hope till the very end broke my heart, and I myself couldn’t stop but hope for a miracle, for this triple transplant to go through.

“A Song for Tomorrow” is like no other story. Based on true story of Alice Martineau, a girl born with Cystic Fibrosis, whose biggest dream was to become a singer, telling how many obstacles she needed to conquer to make her dream come true. A poignant story about incredibly strong, stubborn girl who didn’t want to live limited life and who refused to be defined by her illness. A girl who wasn’t afraid to dream and to make the dreams come true. Story of a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend who loved and was loved so much.
When I was somewhere around 30% done with the reading, I googled Alice Martineau and guys, when I saw her photos I couldn’t believe it, because she looked exactly as I have imagined her! I also looked for her songs and after hearing the first one I immediately went and ordered her CD – her voice is incredibly sweet and mature and the songs tell us so many stories! Thank you Alice Peterson for introducing Alice Martineau to my life. She has conquered so much in her life: her life expectancy was ten years when she was born and she lived till almost thirty. She proved she can live “normal” life with CF, she can work as a model, she can have friends, she can have a boyfriend, she can have sex and she can travel. There was so much warmth and optimism in her and you could very quickly feel a part of her life. She was for sure one of the most wonderful characters I’ve ever read about. To say that Alice was inspirational would be an understatement. She was much, much more than that. She reminded me of all the things important in life, how important it is to confront a difficulty, to live full, to never give up. Alice was jumping out of the pages! Her charisma, her humour were exceptional and I wasn’t surprised that people couldn’t say no to her, what with her gift of gab. She was determined to become a singer and when Alice wanted something, she did everything to achieve it. You can’t not love Alice. Actually, all characters in this book are just brilliant, and I loved all of them. Except for Ethan, of course. Alice’s friends, her anti – support group were adorable, her family was one and only. It must be a real luck to be surrounded by so many people who love you so much, and give this love back.

And to be honest, I feel ashamed. I feel ashamed in comparison to Alice Martineau and her spirit, her life motto “make every day count” and “never take anything for granted” and when I think how much of my life has already passed me by, how much happened without me and that I don’t have a dream in my life, that I am complaining because I have a headache, that perhaps I don’t enjoy life as much as I should. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for many things in my life, but it’s just that after reading such stories you start to think and the conclusions you come to are not always the most optimistic ones. I would love to have Alice’s spirit, to be as brave ( I know. I KNOW, the taboo word, forgive me Alice!) as she was.

We have some distant friends whose daughter has CF. She’s 7 years old now. They organize fundraisers and they collect money for CF research. They try to live normal life, however hard it is, and I think we can never imagine it. Alice Peterson, however, has showed us how difficult it is, she told us all the aspects of being ill, what does it involve and how much influence it has on all lives. I couldn’t stop admire Alice and her family, how they almost never lost their optimism, how they loved each other and supported each other, how they understood each other without words and how they tried to always find this something positive out of this serious situations. The relationship between Alice and her mum was beautiful! So full of love, partnership and understanding, and I could only admire Alice’s parents for being so strong. And there were many emotional, moving moments in this book but the ones that mostly brought tears to my eyes were the entries from Alice’s mum diary. They were written in a funny, light way and they showed how much strength were in this woman, but underneath you could easily spot how sad they were. The love story of Alice and Tom was one of the most beautiful I have ever read. Tom has fallen in love with Alice at first sight and even though he was scared, so scared to lose her, he was determined to be with her. Their love was beautiful, pure, genuine, but also not a bed of roses. All the feelings and emotions were SO GENUINE.

In the end I was a snotty, weepy mess. “A Song for Tomorrow” was the best example of how genius a writer Alice Peterson is – I can’t stop admiring how wonderfully and effortlessly she brings all the emotions to life, how she puts them into words and how she makes the reader laugh through tears. She is exceptionally good in writing heart – breaking and at the same time uplifting stories. I think that this book is Alice Peterson’s best book yet. She has never feared to write about touching, tricky issues, to bring things that make some lives unbearable but this time she’s really outdone herself. The way she has dealt with the subject is just indescribable, the story is full of compassion, understanding. If you think that this book is going to make you feel low than I can assure you that it won’t. If you think that this story is going to focus only on Alice’s disease than I can assure you it isn’t. Because it is also a story about the power of love, about unconditional love, about accepting and letting go. This book is a MUST READ. It is one of the most beautiful, captivating novels I have ever read. It is a book that you will never going to forget, I can bet. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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