I post the majority of my book reviews to my Goodreads profile, but occasionally like to hand-pick those that have earned five stars to share here. I haven’t been as voracious in my reading appetite this year, and have indulged in some books that I’ve read before, but still there were some great highlights along the way.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I love Anna Kendrick a lot, so it was no surprise that her memoir was right up my street. Having said that, I was a bit taken aback by the book because it was basically like reading inside my mind - some of the anxieties, some of the anti-social tendencies, some of the obsessive compulsive stuff, you mean Hollywood stars feel like that too?
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I thought it was really well written, and easy to follow despite the difficult timelines throughout. I also liked that some time periods were jumped quickly, whereas other times we got stuck in the one spot - Bridget’s flu or getting out of the Blitz alive.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
At first, I thought this was just going to be another book about a taciturn Scandinavian man - an older gentleman, grumpy at the world but with a strong moral fibre and deep down a good heart. It was that, of course, but it was so much more. The way the story is structured, gradually filling in the back story of Ove’s life, whilst also gradually giving him reasons to keep going in the future, was perfect.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
It’s a tragic piece, terribly sad in places, but equally full of hope - cancer is such a common disease now that these sort of stories and feelings will affect many people in their lifetime. Knowing that life can go on, however painful it may be, is a good thing, a strong feeling.
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
The crux of a shorter work like this is getting straight to the heart of the ethical problems that arise. In this case, we’re talking about a world where if you are murdered, you get a second chance at living, so an entire industry is created around dispatching people. Plenty to discuss thereafter.
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Love some of the concepts in here, such as the Queen treating all of her books the same as she does her subjects, with an equal attitude. Or that once the public get wind of her reading, they are suddenly presenting her with books as presents or their own works for a royal opinion.
Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson
Initially, the story is gentle - growing up is hard and Poppy isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. But gradually, real life gets in the way, relationships change, and stuff happens. I really enjoyed the way the characters changed and grew but ultimately kept a big part of what was special about them from the beginning.
Sully: Miracle on the Hudson by Chesley B. Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow
I found it inspirational to read about how he doesn’t consider himself a hero, but that working hard and diligently preparing for every eventually allowed him to land the plane successfully. It’s not always about being the brave hero, but sometimes being the one squirrelling away in the background doing the job well can also make a difference.
The Calling: A John Luther Novel by Neil Cross
It’s short, sharp, bristling with tension and anger, confusion, betrayal and generally a sense of foreboding and doom. It casts Luther as the bad guy - the one at the end of the horror film, calmly walking after victims knowing that he’ll get his way in the end. And yet, as we all know, flawed as Luther may be, he’s also brilliant.
Where Rainbows End by Cecilia Ahern
A story told in the form of communications between Rosie and her friends and extended family, this chronicles almost fifty years of love, loss, drama, tears and tantrums. It draws you in from the very beginning, and even though some of the letters or emails are a bit clunky (they have to be to get the story across in a less than natural form), it’s all very believable and readable.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I love it for the simplicity - there’s advice and guidance, even a touch or two about grammar, but for the most part it is about writing for the sake of writing. The joy of it, the craft, the determination and will, and of course, the pride in the end result. Inspirational for many reasons, this book.