Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Recently Added To My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday topic is books recently added to my TBR list. These are the books that have most recently landed on that ever growing, almost toppling over tower of books to read.  

(Clicking on the images will take you to Goodreads for a description)

 







   

There's a theme running there...and a LOT of black! I'm loving psychological thrillers with no sign of getting tired yet, but I still like mixing it up with some contemporary fiction and YA. 

These are books I've recently become the owner of, either through the Amazon Vine Program, Publishers, Netgalley or bought. 


Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.


Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating... 


(From Goodreads.com)

Published by Sphere November 2014 (HB) May 2015 (PB)


I came by I Let You Go via a LOT of extremely positive recommendations. With over 200 5* reviews on Amazon, this book looked like a winner. So I'm not going to lie that when I first started it I was a bit disappointed. After the first shocking scene, the first chapters didn't grab me at all. In fact, it took me a week to get to the 20% read mark on my kindle. There isn't anything particularly wrong with it, and granted I was working crazily stupid hours that week at work, I just didn't feel inclined to pick it up or felt particularly drawn or excited by the characters.

But then, around that 20% mark, things changed. The plot thickened, I became intrigued by main character Jenna and swept away by the atmospheric descriptions of the remote Welsh coastal village where Jenna has retreated in seclusion. I thought I understood her need for solace, her grief and pain. And then WHAM! Clare Mackintosh throws a twist I didn't see coming a mile off that literally made me gasp.

Hands down, this is the best twist I've read in a long time. It was just so unexpected,it left me wondering if I'd missed any clues. Looking back on the other reviews, I can see I didn't. Mackintosh wove this story to snare the reader into comfort, only to shake them all up and completely spin them around. It's genius writing.

The rest of the book takes a different tone as a third character is introduced. One who will unsettle you and leave shivers creeping down your spine. I was gripped by this shocking and suspenseful book. At it's heart is a message about domestic violence, and I thought Clare Mackintosh got the mix of secrecy, fear and shame from Jenna just right. It certainly drives home that you can never be certain at what goes on behind closed doors, despite outward appearances.

The twists keep on coming right to the very end page. I marvel at how authors keep the threads of such complex plots, and in I Let You Go, it is done with seamless perfection. It's a shame that in the first few chapters I almost dismissed this book as not for me and I'm so glad I didn't. It's probably the best psychological thriller I've read this year, and believe me, it's been one hell of a year for them. If this genre is your thing, the I Let You Go is a MUST read, and I recommend it without hesitation.

My copy was a proof courtesy of the publishers and Netgalley.

Book Review: Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel

A stunning coming-of-age debut full of love and danger, secrets and lies: this is a dark, tense, hard-hitting novel about two girls forced to grow up fast… 

When fifteen-year-old Becs meets Bracken, she is convinced she’s found her soul mate. So what if he’s much older? He understands her, she feels free with him and when he holds her she feels safe.


But is she?


Some young women in the local area have recently been sexually assaulted. It’s the talk of the school. And when Bec’s best friend Mary-Jane becomes the latest victim, the true dangers hit home: just as Becs is starting to wonder about her future with Bracken – poor M-J rapidly shrinks away from life. . . 


Set during the sweltering hot summer of 1976, Pretty Thing is a powerful coming-of-age novel, a story of first encounters, dark obsession, broken trust and last chances – perfect for readers of Meg Rosoff, Lauren Oliver and Annabel Pitcher. I pits true love against real life and ask: is love all you really need? (From Goodreads.com)


Published by Corsair (UK) February 2015

Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel was one of those books I picked up and became immediately involved in, right from the very first page. Set in 1976, Nadel effortlessly captures the atmosphere of the time and despite being born the year after the book is set, I had the odd memory of the late 70's/early 80's vividly evoked. I thought the language and tone of the character's conversation was particularly convincing, helped along with a pretty cool soundtrack of seventies classics.

I also found main character, 15 year old Becs, convincing. She comes across as both naive and mature in comparison to modern teens. I'm not going to lie, I found the affair between Becs and Bracken sinister and unsettling. Nadel certainly takes a no holes barred approach, delivered with brutal honesty. I admired how in such a short book, she created multiple, complex relationships for Becs and allowed her to grow and develope throughout the book. Over one summer and 250 pages we witness her metamorphosis into a stronger, independent young woman in charge of her own destiny.

I think readers will find some of the attitudes and actions uncomfortable in 2015. It reminds me how the world has changed in the last forty years, particularly for young females and also helps with the sometimes rose-tinted spectacles I occassionally look back with. While it's marketed at Young Adults, I actually think this may appeal to an adult audience just as much, if not more. I'm not sure I liked the very ambiguous ending, leaving Becs future a mystery to the reader. I know how I hope it went, but I think I'd have liked the author to tie things up a little more.

 Overall, I was surprised by this book, I read it in a couple of sittings and it left me with quite a bit to think about.

My copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes




Books I Wish I Could Read For The First Time... Again

A few days ago, while wasting time on Twitter, I spotted a tweet by a fellow blogger linking to her latest post about books that had fell 'Between The Cracks' This week it was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and my immediate response was "I'm Jealous". OK, that may seem a fairly odd response, but oh! how I wish I could read that book again for the first time! I absolutely adored the intricate, spellbinding world in this book and was absolutely mind blown. It's a feeling that just can't be recaptured in subsequent readings. (My original review is HERE if you would like to see just how much I did love it) 

It got me thinking about other books that I really, really wish I had never read JUST so I could experience them for the first time again. Two more immediately sprang to mind. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack is one I'm sure lots of people will feel the same about. I was bought this book as a gift when it first came out, and to be honest, wasn't really sure it would be for me. I read a LOT of chick lit back then and stuck with the same, safe authors and formats I was familiar with and wasn't sure I liked the idea of Death as the narrator. If The Book Thief taught me one thing, it was to open my mind more to the wonderful world of books. Actually, it taught me much more than this. It was life changing. 

The other book that jumps right out as a book I'd love to experience for the first time again is one that I count as my favourite book of all time, The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I was so utterly blown away, madly in love, breathtakingly mesmerised by this book, when I turned the last page I immediately went back to the beginning and read it again. I've read it a tonne of times since, but never has been as magical as that very first time. 

I'm not that much of a re-reader. Like book lovers the world over, my 'want to read' piles and lists mean there isn't enough hours in the day (or night). I have read these three books again (and again) though, and no doubt I'll carry on pulling them out every now and then as they remain firm favourites. But, damn, I wish I could read them again for the very first time!

Do you have books you'd love to experience for the first time again? Let me know in the comments or write a post of your own and feel free to come back and link to it.


Book Review: Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern

Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.

Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.

Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can't explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…

This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there's magic in it. (from Goodreads.com)

Published by MacMillan Children's Books March 2014 (UK) 

When I read the synopsis to Amy & Matthew, I had to read the book. Cerebal Palsy is a condition which affects 1 in 400 people born in the UK (Scope) yet as a general population we know very little about it and it's largely misunderstood. I was the same, until I began working with Young Adults with CP. 

What I loved about Amy & Matthew is it's ability to shatter preconceptions. Cammie McGovern doesn't shy away from the issues that people may first imagine when they think of CP and gloss over them, but by giving Amy a voice she really allows us to see the person behind the disabilty. I also loved that she didn't make Amy a victim or someone to be pitied. She's bright, strong, ambitious and focused.  She's also at times stubborn, selfish and thoughtless and makes some pretty poor choices. In other words, she's a real, multifascted person like anyone else.  I LOVED her.

The aspect of the relationship I found most interesting between Amy and Matthew was the unexpected dynamics. Matthew suffers OCD, he struggles with rituals, a dibilitating fear of hurting others and a severe lack of self belief. Matthew offers Amy the oppotunity she most desperatly wants, to have friends. By becoming a 'peer aide', Amy can be herself at school rather than being isolated by being constantly accompanied by an 'Adult' assistant. But this relationship is equal, and Amy's compassion towards Matthew's difficulties is inspiring. 

I took a lot away from this book, some of which I'll be more aware of in my work. I'd never considered how it must feel for a teenager to be constantly shadowed by an adult and how that in itself can be isolating from their peer group but once I'd read it, it made perfect sense. The frustration Amy feels when people say 'Hi' but then don't wait for her to reply via her pathway (a computer communication devise) also struck a chord. I see this happening a lot. But it also reminded me that disabilities aren't always visable. Strength and support can be found in unexpected places and inside, people are rarely who we presume them to be from outward appearences. Amy and Matthew celebrates differences and acceptance, and proves love and friendship have no barriers if we only give it a chance. We need more books like this.

I read a proof copy supplied by the Amazon Vine program 

Book Review: The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer's stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel's mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children's festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.  (from goodreads.com)  

Published February 2015 by Faber (UK)

The Girl In The Red Coat was a 'Waiting on Wednesday' pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I'd spotted on twitter. Yet I was still completely unprepared for this utterly compelling book!

The story starts off by introducing us to single mum Beth and her eight year old daughter, Carmel. Carmel is instantly interesting- being a little difficult in an otherworldly,distant way. As a single parent myself, I related with Beth, I think Kate Hamer really captured feelings I'd also experienced perfectly in the early parts of the book, before Carmel's disappearance. So right away I was invested in these two characters.

I thought I knew how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to some twists and turns, but was pretty confident I knew what the format would be. How wrong was I! Yes, The Girl In The Red Coat is the story of a missing girl, but put any preconceptions aside...this is completely different to anything else I've read recently. Spanning several years, we follow both Beth and Carmel's unexpected journeys. There's a more subtle, developing terror in this book, rather than one explosive incident and it kept me hooked.

I've found this review so difficult to write, and know I haven't done any justice to the book at all, but I really don't want to give anything away. The Girl In The Red Coat is written with such emotion at times, especially from Beth, that her grief, panic and desperation was tangible. In Carmel, I found myself rooting for this quietly stubborn and strong child veiled in an air of etherealness. I raced through the book, hours slipping by and unable to put it down. I was so desperate to know how it ended, I even stayed up from a twelve hour night shift to finish the last 50 pages, despite being exhausted. This is a book that will creep under your skin and consume your thoughts, even after the very last page is turned. All I can say is read it...you won't be disappointed.

My copy was an advance proof courtesy of the publishers and netgalley

Waiting On Wednesday: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine


Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.


In a dark, dark wood 


Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 


There was a dark, dark house


Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?


And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room


But something goes wrong. Very wrong.


And in the dark, dark room.... 


Some things can’t stay secret for ever. 

Published by Harvill Secker July 2nd 2015 (UK) 

This came to my attention when someone posted a picture of the gorgeous looking proof of this book (I can't remember who now) I instantly checked it out and yep, sounds good. On the wishlist it goes.

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together. 

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is. 

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back? 

Published February 2015 by Hodder and Stoughton  

Depression and mental health in general is something we don't take seriously enough in our teenagers. It's easy to brush it off as teen moodiness and sulkiness. In 'My Heart and Other Black Holes' Jasmine Warga takes the topic of depression and suicidal thoughts and manages to convey the crippling sadness of main protagonist Aysel very well. As someone who did have a difficult adolescense, I related to those feelings of despair and the metaphor of 'a black slug' for Aysel's depression really struck a chord.

But this books also investigates a darker, more modern topic relevant to teenagers today. The internet, specifically Suicide websites. I'll be honest, as a parent this scared me. Aysel meets Roman on a site for people looking for suicide partners, and as they set 'the date' the slowly begin to get to know each other. I could feel the pressure Aysel started to feel under from Roman and it chilled me. I didn't like him all that much and didn't relate to him the way I did Aysel.

 However, the developement of the relationship between the two was sweet and tender. There's a part of me that sighs at the 'love solves all problems' message that could so easily have dominated this story. Thankfully, Aysel's new found hope in life isn't confined to her growing fondness for Roman and I hope this isn't lost on a younger audience.

There is a lot of good in this book. It's written very, very well and I think anyone who has suffered depression, teens and adults alike, will relate to Aysel and her feelings. The first half of the book was excellent, but then I felt the second half was rushed and it lost me a little. The parent in me says I'd recommend this book to other parents of teenagers happily, as an excellent insight into depression in teenagers. As for it's target market, I think it would be ideal for mature young adults. I would look out for more from the author in the future, who really does have a beautiful way with words.

Published February 2015 by Hodder (UK)

My copy was an advance reader from the Amazon Vine program


Waiting On Wednesday: We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine   

We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman




Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there.


Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time… 

We Are all Made of Stars is an uplifting and heartfelt novel about life, loss and what happens in between from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book.  

Published May 2015 by Ebury Press, UK 

I loved The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. It was all at once beautiful, touching, heartbreaking and inspiring. I'm really looking forward to this one. 

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Favourite Books Of The Last 5 Years

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

The theme this week was top ten favourite books from the last 3-5 years. I went with five, as pretty much exactly five years since I started blogging (January 2010...where has the time gone!) I've read some amazing books in that time, but looking back, these are the ten that stand out as the ones I loved the very, very most.  








 

Would any of these books feature on your top ten list? 




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