Now we’re talking (or reading). I managed to squeeze a mighty eight books into the month of October, making up for only three in September.
Honestly, I don’t really know how I did it since I also managed to squeeze in a four day trip to Italy, a weekend in Cardiff and starting a new job into the same month.
Maybe it’s because I purchased a bigger bag to bring on the tube and have been reading when traveling into the city. Yes, let’s go with that.
Anyhow, I read some crackers this month and one might just be the best book I’ve read this year. Reviews below!
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
In the midst of war, he found love. In the midst of darkness, he found courage. In the midst of tragedy, he found hope. Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
My rating: ★★★★★
This book has been on my shelf for so long, so it was about time I got around to reading it. I bought this book at the end of last year as I had seen it time and time again on my Instagram feed, and was constantly being recommended to me. I can definitely see why and this is why I gave the book 5 stars. The book tells the story of a Syrian husband and wife making their journey to the UK to seek asylum. We often see and hear news stories of refugees coming to the UK on small life rafts, with stories of others who weren’t successful in their journey. Reading this story from the Syrian couple’s point of view really details the trials and difficulties that these people go through and why they leave their countries to come to the UK. This is one of the reasons I love to read, as it opens your eyes to other worlds and other lives that are so different to your own that we are often oblivious or ignorant to. Hugely recommend reading this.
Nobody’s Perfect by Stephanie Butland (Gifted)
When her daughter was born with cystic fibrosis, Kate Micklethwaite vowed that Daisy would never be defined by her health issues. Kate is determined that her perfect little girl will be known for her love of butterflies, croissants and bouncing on trampolines, not for her condition. Kate does all she can to be the perfect mother – whatever that means – and yet, somehow, has started seeing herself the way others see her: single parent, source of small-town scandal, drop-out, former mistress. Half a family. When Daisy starts school, Kate meets her new teacher, the kind and charming Mr Spencer Swanson. Now, with more time on her hands Kate can finally start thinking about her own future. With her Open University dissertation deadline looming, Kate needs to decide what she wants next. But as she and Spencer get to know each other, Kate notices that people are whispering behind her back once more…
My rating: ★★★★
I didn’t know anything about Cystic Fibrosis before reading this book, but I’m now much more educated on the condition. I thought this book was going to take more of a twisted turn than it did, so I would say I was a little disappointed as it could have turned into a thriller-type novel but I don’t think that was intended for the plot. This might be because I’m watching the new series of You at the minute. However, the book was a lovely read to see from the point of view of a mother with a child who has CF and wants her to live as normal a life as possible. However, I will say that the love interest was showing too many red flags for my liking and I’m not a fan of how the book ended – but I won’t spoil it for you.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a distribution warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend Eileen is getting over a break-up, and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?
My rating: ★★
Ok, unpopular opinion – this was awful. I gave it two stars as the writing at points is quite beautiful and I could tell Sally Rooney was almost writing about herself at times through one of the characters. However, I was confused at the beginning as to who was who, who was living where and who the male characters were. There was no real plot to the story and there was a lot of NSFW content which I felt quite awkward reading on the tube, I won’t lie. I highly doubt this will be made into any series/movie any time soon as quite frankly, nothing really happens other than looking at people in their mid-twenties/thirties navigate their quite boring and ordinary love lives. This is what Sally Rooney is known for, and she does really delve into her characters quite well but the lack of quotation marks didn’t work for me in this book and nor did the story in general.
Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (Gifted)
The son of a white American mother and a Black Kenyan father, Obama was born in Hawaii, where he lived until he was six years old, when he moved with his mother and stepfather to Indonesia. At twelve, he returned to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. Obama brings readers along as he faces the challenges of high school and college, living in New York, becoming a community organizer in Chicago, and traveling to Kenya. Through these experiences, he forms an enduring commitment to leadership and justice. Told through the lens of his relationships with his family—the mother and grandparents who raised him, the father he knows more as a myth than as a man, and the extended family in Kenya he meets for the first time—Obama confronts the complicated truth of his father’s life and legacy and comes to embrace his divided heritage. On his journey to adulthood from a humble background, he forges his own path through trial and error while staying connected to his roots. Barack Obama is determined to lead a life of purpose, service, and authenticity. This powerful memoir will inspire readers to examine both where they come from and where they are capable of going.
My rating: ★★★★
I was so excited when this landed in the mailroom for me as I’ve been wanting to read this ever since reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. I have A Promised Land on my bookshelf but have you seen the size of the book? Intimidating. So this was a much gentler introduction to the writing of Barack Obama and learning about his upbringing, childhood and family. If you’re a fan of Obama you’ll really enjoy this book and the tales within it. It’s extremely interesting to learn how and where he grew up and the people he met along the way before getting into politics (which the book doesn’t really cover).
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
My rating: ★★★★★
You may have noticed in the introduction to this blog post that I claimed one of the books on this list to be one of, if not the best book I’ve read this year. Well, this is it. As you may have guessed by the 5-star rating. Even though this book is a work of fiction, I really wish it wasn’t. I wish this powerhouse Evelyn Hugo really did exist and I could delve further into the news articles and stories as well as her acting career. This is the most beautiful love story between two people amidst seven marriages and a very famous life in Hollywood. I hope this is turned into a movie or TV series because I’ll be right there on my sofa when it’s released on Netflix. Make sure you read this as soon as possible!
How to Save A Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy by Lynette Rice (Gifted)
A cultural touchstone, it introduced the unique voice and vision of Shonda Rhimes, it made Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh and T.R. Knight household names, and injected words and phrases into the cultural lexicon like ‘McDreamy,’ and ‘you’re my person.’ And the behind-the-scenes drama has always been just as juicy as what was happening in front of the camera, from the high-profile firing of Isaiah Washington to Katherine Heigl’s fall from grace and Patrick Dempsey’s shocking death episode. The show continued to haemorrhage key players, but the beloved hospital series never skipped a beat. Lynette Rice’s How to Save A Life takes a deep dive into the show’s humble start, while offering exclusive intel on the behind-the-scenes culture, the most heartbreaking departures and the more polarizing plotlines. It’s the perfect gift for all Grey’s Anatomy stans out there.
My rating: ★★★★
This caused another ‘oh my God!’ reaction when I received it in the post room. My favourite TV show of all time (so good I’m making my boyfriend rewatch with me from season one – yes I know it’s a feat, but a feat I’m happy to dive into over these oncoming winter months) has been wrapped up in a book full of interviews and quotes from everyone involved in the show. From actors to writers, to producers, to reporters, extras, to anyone that had any involvement with the show over the last fifteen or more years. I learnt a lot about what happened behind the scenes, why certain people were fired or axed from the show and surprising to me, a lot of relationships off screen that weren’t too pleasant. If you like Grey’s Anatomy, I would definitely recommend this to find out so much more!
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?
My rating: ★★★
I have seen this book everywhere over the past year, so finally had to get my hands on it. Richard Osman is currently sitting at number one and two in the bookseller’s charts with his second edition of this series seemingly another roaring success. I have heard however, that the second book is better than the first so did go into this read a little apprehensive. It took a while to get into, but I was eager to keep reading halfway through and to work out the answers. A classic ‘who-dunnit’ read starring some pensioners which did make it laugh out loud funny at parts. A wholesome and easy read.
The Understudy by David Nicholls
For Josh Harper, being in show-business means everything he ever wanted – money, fame, a beautiful wife, and a lead role on the London stage. For Stephen C. McQueen, it means a disastrous career playing passers-by and dead people. Stephen is stuck with an unfortunate name, a hopeless agent, a daughter he barely knows, and a job as understudy to Josh Harper, the 12th Sexiest Man in the World. And when Stephen falls in love with Josh’s clever, funny wife Nora, things get even more difficult. But might there yet be a way for Stephen to get his Big Break?
My rating: ★★★
Since I finished The Thursday Murder club on Friday morning, a few days before the end of the month, I needed a quick read that would fit in just before November started. Add in that the weekend was spent in Cardiff, I didn’t have high hopes in finishing the book, however, a three hour train journey each way was just the right amount of time to consumer The Understudy. This book was a light-hearted easy read about working in the arts industry and life not living up to expectations. I could imagine watching this on screen as a quirky romcom on a Sunday afternoon starring Emilia Clarke and Hugh Grant. Didn’t knock my socks off, but was a pleasant read all the same.