My Top 5 Books of 2016

Hi guys, and happy Friday! as much as I can’t believe it we are already at the end of December and New Year is knocking at the doors. I have such mixed feelings about 2016, it was full of lovely moments, worthwile people and situations, things that I’ll never forget, new beginnings, new chances, new friends but it was also full of sad, painfull moments and I feel like saying, get lost 2016! It is time for something new and positive.

In 2016 I read 195 books. Not as many as the previous year but with life getting in the way and time being so precious I am glad that I could read so many books at all! And those were brilliant books, that I adored and gushed about. However, and I am not sure why, probably because I read so much and am picky, not many books have made it to my Hall of Fame – in fact, I am shocked that there are so few but I think that really, I love many books but only few of them have blown me away – the book must really have this something special!  And so, this year, there are only 5 of them – the very special ones, the crème de la crème of all the books that I had a pleasure to read. Here they are!

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 These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton. What can I say? I truly adored this book, it had everything I need and want from a book. All my family and friends have read this book thanks to my reccomendations and all of them loved it! The way the author captured all the feelings in this story and it touched and moved me, it made my cry and laugh, tit made me talk to the characters and experience everything together with them – a gorgeous, unforgettable book!  Here is my review of this astonishing novel.

Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin. Already in 2015 51aqd3kunvlher novel “The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” has made it to my top read, and in 2016 Ms McPartlin has – again, and thanks so much for this! – delivered a beautiful, moving novel with a twist. I laughed and I cried when reading it, and I couldn’t stop to admire the incredible writing style and the way the author has written this story, and I can tell you one thing: whatever you do, please read this novel! Here you can read my review of this emotional, exceptional story.

29750478The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling. It was a story that just blew my mind away – it had all that I’m looking for in a book: it was full of warmth, INCREDIBLE humour, fantastic, vivid characters and it had one of the best plots ever, and well, it took place mostly in a bookshop! I still can remember how much warmth and feeling there were on the pages and this feel – good factor, and that it made me feel warm and happy. Here you can read my review of this gorgeous, charming, heart – warming book!

A year without Lisa Dickenson’s book would be a lost year, guys! I’ve no idea what ‘ve been 28798187doing before Lisa started writing books – I just can’t imagine my bookshelf without her gorgeous, heartwarming paperbacks! If you haven’t read You Had Me at Merlot I can only say drop whatever you do and buy it! It was a MUST READ this summer, and not only summer because it’ll brigthen the most grim days. It really deserves a standing ovation, folks, Lisa’s humour is an exceptional one, and you always have a feeling that her characters are your best friends – so no matter what, dear Lisa, please keep the books coming! You Had Me at Merlot  had all what I am looking for in a book and even more and I. FREAKING. LOVED. EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.OF. IT. So there. Yes. I loved it. In case you don’t believe me, check my review here pretty please.

29622942And last but not least. It is a book by the author that her debut novel has also found itself on my top reads in 2015 list, and it always warms my heart to see that the second dreaded book is as great as the previous one! Please say hello to A Life Without You by Katie Marsh, a story that I loved with my whole heart. Full of emotions, tricky decisions to be made, brilliant characters and complex plot, written in incredibly beautiful way – and here you can read more why I loved this book so much.

Book of the Month: April

Hi guys! It’s happening again – it’s time to share my Book of the Month with you, which I am only too happy to oblige. I’ve noticed that even though I am reading the same great number of books in one month, I’ve become much more picky and only few books give me a bookish hangover this time. In April it was a book by Anna McPartlin – „Somewhere Inside of Happy„. I laughed and I cried when reading it, and I couldn’t stop to admire the incredible writing style and the way the author has written this story, and I can tell you one thing: whatever you do, please read this novel! Here you can read my review of this emotional, exceptional story.

Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

Somewhere Inside of Happy

by Anna McPartlin

 

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 7th April 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‚And just like that my boy was gone.’

Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.

Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.

Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.

From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes this heart-breaking yet uproariously uplifting new novel about love, resilience and the life-changing power of hope.

 Rating: 5/5

 

The first book that I read in 2015 was Anna McPartlin’s „The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” and believe me, I have never forgotten this novel. It made such an impression on me that I couldn’t stop talking about it every time when I had a chance, and I kept my eyes peeled for Anna’s next release. When my review copy of „Somewhere Inside of Happy” arrived I couldn’t stop admiring this book’s cover – it’s in a rather unusual yellow colour, but it’s beautiful and so very optimistic. And I didn’t wait long to start reading, and when I started, I couldn’t put it down.

 I know I’ve read only two books by this author, but one thing  grows clear for me, that Anna McPartlin  is an absolute expert of writing books about often difficult, taboo, emotional subjects in a way that always leave you feel warm deep in your heart and optimistic.

 The story is told from multiple points of view, and each of the voices is incredibly distinctive and clear. So we have Maisie there, and her story is bitter – sweet, fun and sad; Jeremy, so much more mature than his age, the responsible and loving Jeremy; his sister Valerie, larger than life and with big mouth, but it’s all only a mask, as she’s fighting her own demons and she only wants to hide her insecurities; Bridie, Maisie’s mother, and it was incredible how well the author captured her characters and how well she pictured a person suffering from dementia, how much emotion and understanding she was able to put into Birdie’s words; Fred, the police officer who knows the family and its history and who so often picked Maisie up after she fell; we also have Jeremy’s friends and Maisie’s ex – husband, and Anna McPartlin did it again – she wrote incredible, down – to – earth characters that made you root for them immediately from the beginning. Maisie Bean Brennan deserves standing ovation. I loved her from the opening scenes and I’ve never stopped loving her. She was strong and fierce, and vulnerable, and so normal, and I am not going to forget her. She had such a hard life and yet she finally found the courage to leave the abusive husband, and when she thinks her life is maybe not perfect but OK enough, the next tragedy strikes, and I don’t know how I would cope in this situation and if I would be able to forgive, just like Maisie did. We also get a chance to experience about Maisie’s very turbulent past, especially the times when she was married – reading it I have unconsciously clenching my fists and my heart went to Maisie. She’s a fighter, this one. A real fighter.

As we read, it turns out that almost all of the characters have some issues  that overwhelm them, that have secrets but they try not to show anything, they want to be strong and keep going.

 However, I have one small, teeny tiny „but”. We know from the beginning that something very sad and emotional is going to happen, and we also know what it is: that Jeremy dies – this is NOT a spoiler! There came a moment that I started to feel desperate for it to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I DIDN’T WANT it to happen, my whole being was begging NO, if I could I would change it, but on the other hand this whole situation felt a little too dragged on. I also started to hope that, somehow, it isn’t going to happen, the whole story in between has kind of watered down my alertness. But even with this feeling, the pace was brilliant and the story has broken my heart.

 The story also surprised me with its message, to be honest, but not in a bad way. Maybe I didn’t realise that it’s still such a taboo subject, still so controversial but Anna’s take on the issue was truly heart – breaking and incredibly sad. It also gives us a very clear insight into what life in a small town in Ireland in the mid 90s could look like for some people.

Also, Anna McPartlin has managed to put into words the absolute feeling of despair and disorientation the family felt after Jeremy went missing, from all the family member – they all missed him so much and all in their own way, and she wonderfully, brilliantly described all these feelings. They were palpable through the pages and they broke my heart more than once, but also, in a very clever way, the author managed to divert our attention from these sad events using this fantastic, inimitable, down – to – earth Irish humour – I loved it!

There were many moments in the book that made me laugh and cry, but I must mention one of them, that especially stuck in my memory. It was so moving in my opinion – when Rave used the words „somewhere inside of happy” about Jeremy. It was a short scene, a moment, but I am never going to forget it.

 ”Somewhere Inside of Happy” is this kind of book that I’d love to be able to read over and over again for the first time. It had me hooked from the start to the end, it was a powerhouse of a book and it made me feel so very emotional. It is already one of my top reads this year. It is so emotional that it made me cry actual tears, and I don’t often cry like a crocodile when reading. Yes, the books might make me sad and shed some tears, but they don’t often leave me in such a snotty state, and at the same time feeling so optimistic and full of hope.

 ”Somewhere Inside of Happy” is one of the warmest, heartbreaking books I have ever read. The author perfectly mixes the darkest, important issues with her exquisite sense of humour and delivers a fantastic, unputdownable book with fierce, strong and vivid characters. It is a story that for sure is going to stay with you for much longer –  just like „The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes” is still with me, I won’t forget „Somewhere Inside of Happy”. It tugged at my heart – strings, I felt a part of this story, I kept my fingers crossed for the characters and I cried together with the broken family. With such a subject you could think it’s going to be a sad book, and it is, but it is also incredibly uplifting and I felt so proud at the sight of Maisie telling us to be proud and live the life we want to live. It was a beautiful book. Beautiful. Highly, highly recommended!

 

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Top Ten Books in 2015

So guys, here we are, at the end of the year – can’t believe it, to be honest. The older I am, the quicker the time passes by. Nevertheless, what a year it was, with its ups and downs, but let’s concentrate on the books. I read 211 books in 2015, most of them I rated with 5 stars, because… well, because they were absolutely brilliant novels! I discovered new authors to me, fell more in love with „old” authors, was part of many wonderful Blog Tours, interviewed many great people, was honoured to post many fantastic Guest Posts… And today I am going to tell you about my top reads in 2015 – and believe me, it was a very tough choice! The books haven’t been put into order – it would be impossible!

 

I Hope You Dance by Beth Moran – a book that took my breath away. A bitter – sweet, true to life story exploring family life – fantastic!

 

My Everything by Katie Marsh – one of the best debut novels I have EVER read – so very maturely written cracker of a book about journey through life, about developing , about getting to know each other again, about following your dreams, compromises and backing down in the name of love.

 

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major – another incredible debut. After reading this book I couldn’t settle for another novel for a long time, as it left me with a major bookish hangover. This rare gem of a book that you are going to lose yourself in and forget about everything that’s surrounding you. It’s going to leave a large impact on you and your feelings.

 

The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts – I love good historical fiction, and this book is for sure a VERY good historical fiction. It’s a perfect mix of history, romance and drama. The writing style is hooking, realistic and so very vivid and the story was, in fact, unputdownable. I’d recommend it to all, no matter if you like historical fiction or not, because it’s one helluva novel!

 

Amy Snow by Tracy Rees – this book was one of the biggest surprises this year, I really haven’t expected it to be SO good! A brilliant, compelling story that takes us on a journey through early Victorian England and gives us a bunch of strong female characters, some male characters that look so weak in comparison to our girls, but also some that are really worth to make acquaintance with, and of course give us a look at the society, with all its stereotypes, as well as intriguing mystery.

 

The Day We Disappeared by Lucy Robinson – a year without Lucy’s book is a lost year. I can’t imagine not having Lucy in my life and all her novels were rated by me with 5 stars. „The Day We Disappeared” is an incredible story of secrets, friends, family and honesty. I can only say, drop everything you do and go and buy this book – and you don’t have to thank me for recommendation this time.

 

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor – it was my first book by Hazel Gaynor and it left me speechless. It was a wonderful, beautifully written novel that is going to stay with you for a very long time, a book that comes upon once in a while and a book that you don’t want to leave, to depart with.

 

Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley – though I think I should put here all books by Cathy Bramley, as they all deserve to be mentioned! There is everything you could wish for in a book, humour, sadness, love, friendship, hope, together with fantastic writing and brilliant characters. And who knows, maybe you’re going to discover that you do have green fingers after reading the book? Highly recommended, this book for sure is going to lift your mood up and it could be a perfect escape for some time! I have read it twice already!

 

The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester – another fantastic debut this year, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for a long time! There was everything that I could wish for in a book: brilliantly created atmosphere, fantastic times, vivid characters, mystery, drama but also a lot of dark and sharp humour. Full of twist and turns, surprises and gasps from me.

 

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin – last but not least, and I think this book has the biggest impact on me, and if I were forced to choose my absolute winner I guess this would be THE ONE.  Be prepared that when you start reading the book, you won’t be able to put it down. I have found myself reading it and reading, thinking only one more page. You know what’s going to happen, you know there is no hope, but nevertheless, you keep reading because you just want to know. After I finished this book I couldn’t move for some time, and it’s good that I was home alone, that nobody’s seen the tears pouring down my face. I knew how it’s going to end, but nevertheless, it didn’t make it easier for me. But it was without a doubt one of the most stunning, moving, beautiful books that I have come across.