Reading goal 2022

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I only started reading for enjoyment again last year, after years of not really picking up a book. For me this past year of getting into reading again has made me a lot happier, more focused and a lot more reflective. I’ve enjoyed finding a hobby that is relaxing but also uses imagination. I feel inspired and find myself recalling the stories in my head and the enjoyment I got from them. This is why I decided to write about the books I’ve read to recount the experience and also for others to find books to try.

My goal for 2021 was to read 30 books and I ended the year having read 41 which I was so pleased with. The goodreads challenge kept me on track and I enjoyed a variety of books I probably would never have picked up. My new goal for this year is to read more non-fiction. I’ve not been one to want to read anything but fiction as I see reading as a break, I spend my day normally at work and then I have coursework and other things that take up my time, so reading became my hobby but I’ve realised non-fiction doesn’t need to be textbooks or complicated, long winded novels. they too can bring enjoyment, insight and be beneficial for many reasons.

I started this goal by this month reading ‘shy’ by Annie Ridout. First of all this book is eye catching, it has a yellow cover and hot pink words on the front, I know what you’re thinking, ‘you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover’ but we have all done it right? In this case I think not only does the bright cover bring me joy but the comforting words in side brought to me a lot of inner peace that I needed. As a shy person I often feel ashamed and boring, often making me dread social events, even though I enjoy seeing people. I have often felt that shyness is a fault that I need to work on. but ‘shy’ enforces that it is not a fault it does not need to be cured or exorcised from a person and shy people should not always have to adapt themselves for others.

There have been many books and articles written about how to be more extroverted. How to be less shy. How to be more outgoing, I like that this book looks at all these societal ideas and says introverts should not always be the ones having to change themselves and maybe situations should be made with introverts in mind. With the right environment a shy person can thrive and grow in confidence. Shy is not synonymous with weakness or failure.

With shy children it’s so important to go at their pace and to also take them seriously when they do feel ready to try something. Even if we don’t imagine them being able to muster the confidence to do it. They need to be given the opportunity to try. And maybe Succeed. And possibly fail but we can’t say: I don’t think you are ready for this. As thats for them to decide.

Shy

Growing up quiet and rather shy I did often feel like I wasn’t taken seriously or listened to but that has also followed me in my adult life at times, those that give me the time and support I need have seen the real me.

It’s so important that we think about how we can support each other and help each other to thrive in our own way not underestimate someone who is quiet or not listen and help them progress as you feel they aren’t able to. This book is packed with great quotes, tips, research and experiences from professionals from all walks of life. The book discusses the differences between social anxiety, shyness and being an introvert. It is such an interesting read split up into 10 easy sections and whether you read it for yourself or to support your friends, family, your children, your partner or just get a better understanding of how shyness affects people and how it can lead to great success.

My thoughts on: Nothing to see here by Kevin Wilson

book review

A brief Synopsis … doesn’t do the story justice

Lilian attends an elite boarding school as a scholarship student where she befriends the beautiful and wealthy Madison. Despite their differences they form a close friendship and become inseparable. Later during their time at boarding school a scandal forces Lilian out of the school. Madison and Lilian continue to keep in touch writing letters to each other although a reunion is yet to happen. Years later Lilian receives an urgent plea for help from Lilian in the form of their usual letters. Intrigued, Lilian follows up no longer making excuses to not meet.

Jasper, Madison’s husband has twins from a previous marriage and they are now faced with having to care for them full time following devastation. Knowing Lilian will be discreet and keep her secrets Madison knows she’s the only one she can turn to.

You see, children can often have little quirks and they are a big responsibility but the responsibility and need for a lot of care increases ten fold when they can SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST at any given moment. Although they remain unharmed it is not ideal for the senate to have fire children.

The book was published in October 2019 by Ecco press and it wasn’t until 2021 that it caught my attention. I purchased the book and was excited to read it but as with all things for me it took a while to get round to reading it. It is my fourth read of 2022 and I am not disappointed! Not one bit.

I had expectations of the book to a certain extent but I hadn’t thought too much about it, I knew others had enjoyed the book and I knew the general idea of the story but that’s as much as I had processed. I picked the book up and after only a few pages I knew it was going to be an interesting read.

What I liked about this story was how loveable Bessie was. She is ten years old but she understands a lot. Their upbringing had not been easy and it seemed they had to teach themselves a lot of what we all take for granted and Bessie would beat herself up for not knowing things when she had not been given the tools in life to have the chance to learn. She was sweet, honest, funny and wise and she was my favourite character. creating many moments in the book that bought tears to my eyes. I loved The way Lilian interacted with the kids and the way she thought of them. To take on another families children and treat them as your own and love them unconditionally is a strong thing to do and really shows her character. The love in this book was powerful and moving

Even though I actually did not like to be touched, I just let it happen, I allowed it, it was fine

Page 167

Roland and Bessie, the twins, and Lilian really opened up and allowed each other in which was something none of them would have done for anyone before and this bond really made this book memorable. We all want unconditional love and to feel safe and this was captured perfectly throughout the story.

They would always, kind of, belong to me. I had never wanted kids, because I had never wanted a man to give me a kid. The thought of it, gross; the expectation of it. But if a hole in the sky opened up and two weird children fell to earth, smashing into the ground like meteorites, then that was something I could care for. If it gleamed like it was radiating danger, I’d hold it. I would.

Page 168

Although the fire caused the children to be isolated and experience life differently, Bessie confessed she never wanted it to leave she wouldn’t know what to do without it. Roland and Bessie had been treated badly by those who should love them unconditionally and should protect them from harm so when they didn’t have that, they had the fire to protect them. Their innocence and naivety makes you love these children even more and just want to wrap them up and tell them it’s all okay.

I loved this book, I loved Lilian, Roland and Bessie and was invested in their well-being the whole way through routing for them and I think that’s what I want from a book, to connect with the characters and feel for them. the book was comforting, hilarious, bizarre and warming.

I 100% would read this book again and I wouldn’t normally say that so if you take anything from this please give it a try.

What can I say about The last house on needless street by Catriona Ward

book club pick, book review

I read the last house on needless street throughout April for my book club and wow was I impressed. This book has so many twists and turns and really grips you as a reader. I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller.

Now I can’t say too much about the story without giving anything away so you will have to read it for yourself but I 100% know you won’t be disappointed.

Goodreads summary:

The story keeps you guessing throughout and is told through a number of perspectives, all of which we are unsure we can trust completely but all I can say is, get your hands on a copy and you will not be able to stop reading.

I know some people have found it strange and have given up at the introduction of Olivia but please please please give it a go.

What I thought about: The Push by Ashley Audrain

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⭐️ 5/5 stunning!

The push is heart wrenching, when I was only half way through I could already feel the pain in my chest, the tears welling in my eyes and an intense feeling of dread. This story is so raw and so honest. It explores motherhood and the relationships between mother and child and also how this can affect other relationships. To have your deepest fears actualised in the form of broken, damaged relationships and isolation, when with the ones that you should have the closest bond. To be a family often is synonymous of being a unit that will always be a team but this is shattered and the devastating story explores this so well.

Although at present I do not have children myself, I can imagine that to be a mother is a huge change and will be challenging in many ways. It is difficult to adjust and to have the responsibility for this new life and they look to you for love and support, what if this doesn’t happen though?, what if you feel they hate you?, or don’t want you, what if you can’t connect and you feel like you are going insane and no one can see this or will help you.

This book was a whole journey for me. The book explores 4 generations of women in Blythe’s family. Her grandmother (Etta),her mum (Cecilia),Blythe and her daughter Violet. Although the focus is on these women, it delves into relationships outside of this but also gives us insight into the life of these women and the heartache and battles that they have been through and why their actions may be a reflection of their treatment. Also how their experiences have been similar & how they have handled certain things that have happened to them.

This book is not a light read and I found it quite intense and quite difficult in parts where it can be quite graphic and does not hold back but I also liked that about the book, I felt immersed in this story and intrigued to keep reading. The book explores growing into womanhood and then motherhood. It also looks at relationships and how they can be toxic and damaging and how people can be gaslighted. I would agree with people who say this is not a psychological thriller in some ways, yes it’s fast paced and there are twists and it’s exciting but I feel like it’s much deeper and really trying to explore in more depth the fears and struggles that women face in life. Society norms of growing up happy, beauty, growing into a woman, getting married, having a baby etc.

This book gave me chills, it is a stunning book that is gripping and hard to put down, definitely a book I would re-read and that’s saying something. I would recommend this book if you are okay with darker, more unnerving reads however I definitely need something a bit lighter as my next read. But oh wow! Was it amazing! Breathtaking.

A Few Books On My TBR List

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Being a bit of a newbie to reading there are SO many books I want/need to read however not being superhuman I’m not sure I will be able to read them all in 10 months or so. But I will try to read as many as I can. Wish me luck!

Here are 6 books on my TBR list, just a small selection. Please let me know any thoughts on them or any suggestions for books you have read and loved, or that you want to read. In no particular order:

1. Writers and Lovers – Lily King

This book has had so many wonderful reviews which initially drew me in. The art work on the cover is also another factor of why I looked into this book. The story follows 31 year old Casey who is trying to navigate life and also write a novel. A story of love, loss and trying to find your way in life to the next phase. Really excited about this one! I think this will be the next book I read.

2. The starless sea – Erin Morgenstern

Again another highly regarded book amongst readers and another stunning cover. I don’t know too much about the story but it stems from the main character, Zachary, finding a strange book in the university library that sends him on a quest. The story has mystery, adventure, puzzles and twists and turns to keep you gripped. It sounds like a fun story and I’m definitely in need of an adventure.

3. When all is said – Anne Griffin

This novel is a highly praised Irish novel. I stumbled across this book when looking for recommendations to read in 2021. This story follows Maurice Hannigan on a single night at the Rainford House Hotel. Maurice orders 5 drinks throughout the night to toast 5 different people in his life who are vital to him. Through these people, the ones who have left, Maurice tells his story. There are themes of love, highs, lows, regrets and feuds. I would like to read this book as it sounds like it will be moving, interesting, funny and sad at the same time. A journey to really get to know our main character and how he got to where he is today.

4. The push – Ashley Audrain

This is a psychological drama about family and choices. A story of motherhood and those feelings and fears of a new mother. Blythe Connor wants nothing more than to be a warm, comforting mother and be everything to her new baby that she never had but as the difficulties and struggles of early motherhood set in, Blythe feels as though there is something wrong with her daughter. Or is it all in her head? Blythe’s husband Fox dismisses these thoughts and Blythe begins to question her own sanity. I feel this book will be an exciting, gripping journey where we question what’s real and is our narrator reliable and what can we believe.

5. The heatwave – Kate Riordan

This is a thriller about mother and daughter set in France in the 1990s. There are unusual fires across the countryside and Sylvie receives a letter calling her back to the old family home in the south of France. Sylvie returns with youngest daughter Emma, filled with dread on returning to this place. Sylvie tries to protect Emma from family secrets and the truth of what happened here, what happened to Elodie, Sylvie’s other daughter, her mysterious death at 14. it looks to be about family secrets, manipulation, dysfunctional relationships and it’s all a mystery. Again lots of good reviews for this book.

Luster -Raven Leilani

Edie is in a dead-end job and finds her self struggling to succeed at what she enjoys, painting. Edie is feeling lost and that no-one cares that she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She then meets Eric, a white-middle aged man with a suburban family, including a wife – who has agreed to a sort of open-marriage. they also have an adopted black daughter. In a world where she is constantly navigating sexual and racial politics. Edie finds herself falling into Eric’s world…and family. This book examines the life of a young black girl and the longing for a sense of belonging and fitting in. this book has been described as funny and provocative and has been well received. this book would be something ive not really touched on before but would be really interested to read and find books with similar themes.

If you have any thoughts let me know I’d love to hear from you and what books are on your TBR list this year!

Keep reading 🙂

Xxx

The Midnight Library – Review

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘The Midnight Library’, I feel like this book doesn’t even need an introduction. I feel as though i’m very late to the party but still glad I came. The Midnight Library was written by Matt Haig and was published in September 2020. The story follows Nora Seed who decides she no longer wants to live and there is no way she wants to be in this life. Although, the idea initially sounds as though it may be quite a sad story to follow, I found this book a delight to read, I hung on to every word and felt quite uplifted.

There are themes of regret, love, family, mental health and generally answering all those what ifs. The idea of being able to change all those regrets and live those ‘imagine that’ moments really gripped me initially but I also loved the characters. I wanted Nora to find happiness, I wanted her brother to find happiness and I wanted all the character’s to have the ending that they deserved. I found that this book really made me reflect on life and my effect on other people and how small acts of kindness may actually be significant.

Having finished the book last night, I woke up this morning feeling I now want to live a life where I don’t want to sweat the small stuff and I want to have a positive impact in life. I also understood that although you may have regrets, sometimes thats just the way things need to be and no matter how many times you may try to change destiny, theres just no budging.

So I guess really what I am saying is this book inspired me to share and try something new.

give this book 5/5 & I recommend the book to ABSOLUTELY anyone

xxx