10 Books In 10 Weeks

I’ve always been a big reader right from the get-go, but more often than not, life gets in the way and books slide down the priority list.

After joining a monthly book club (mostly food, wine and gossip) with friends, it inspired me to whip out my Kindle and get back onto the reading wagon.

Here are my opinions on 10 books I’ve recently read:

1. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Set in the early 1950’s, Eillis is a young Irish woman who leaves her home and family to emigrate to America. Eillis feels lost and homesick, to begin with, but as she tentatively steps into a new relationship as well as a career, she is confronted by the devastating choice of either her duty back home or her new life.

I quite like immigrant stories which is why I chose this book, and it proved to be a ‘nice’ and quick Sunday read. Although I enjoyed it, the plot is rather slow and Eillis irritates me somewhat. Sweet story but forgettable.

2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth Jefferson is a labour and delivery nurse who is told to stay away from the newborn son of a white supremacists couple. However, when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth finds herself to be the only nurse in the room. Should she obey her orders, or intervene?

I’ve shied away from Jodi Picoult books in recent years as I felt like they were getting a little repetitive with the court talk, yet this one showed an interesting insight into today’s racism. It’s a great current issue story to delve into, but if you don’t enjoy ‘message’ books and prefer the escapism of fiction, this would not be the best choice.

3. The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster-Blake

TV producer Lily discovers her best friend is dating her colleague and so this book is a funny, heartfelt novel about what happens when life, love, work and friendships collide.

I watched the Channel 10 TV series of The Wrong Girl, which is why I decided to read it. Although the storyline is quite different, it’s a fun chic-lit read. However, the first thing I noticed is how bland the writing style is. It put me off at first, but I eventually fell into the story more. 

4. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This book revolves around a schoolyard scandal – was it murder or a tragic accident? It focuses on the lives of a close-knit school mum circle and their individual stories leading up to that pivotal moment.

A friend of mine chose this title for book club and to begin with, I thought it was just another mystery book. However, I loved it – I thought it was really clever how small parts of each character’s lives were released, yet they joined seamlessly together at the end. I’ve also just found out that this book has been made into a mini TV series, due for release in February – I can’t wait!

5. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

In 1991, eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was abducted and kept captive for eighteen years. This memoir covers the period from the time of her abduction up until the present.

I stumbled upon the Captive For 18 Years: The Jaycee Dugard documentary on Netflix which told of Jaycee’s experience, but I wanted to read more about it in her own words. I like that the narrative was kept simple as you can hear it from that young girl’s perspective, but it did repeat itself quite a lot. A tragic story but one of strength and resilience too. 

6. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl from a small village looking for employment. She finds a job working as a carer for wheel-chair bound Will, and after a rocky start, their friendship blossoms. Louisa sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

I watched the movie first which was amazing, and the book is just as good too. Such a different plot than the usual stories today and it really makes you think of other people’s circumstances in a different light. I loved Louisa’s character too; definitely my favourite book in a long time.

7. After You by Jojo Moyes

After You is the sequel to Me Before You and is set 18 months later. Louisa is dealing with the aftermath and is struggling to come to terms with what happened.

Although it was nice to see ‘what happened next’, I sort of wish I hadn’t read this. I imagined a completely different and happier future for Louisa, so it was really disappointing reading about this other life she has fallen into.

8. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

A young couple leaves their six-month-old baby at home while they go to dinner next door, and when they return she has disturbingly disappeared. This suspense novel is a ‘whodunit’ type, full of secrets that keep you turning the page to find the answers.

I had an inclination about half way through on what the twist is, but I’m never right with these type of things so I ignored it. Turns out I was right, but it’s great, better than that Girl on the Train ending so I would recommend this if you do enjoy crime-thrillers.

9. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia’s life was perfect; she has a loving family, a doting boyfriend, and a special gift for music. However, tragedy strikes when her family’s car ploughs into another, and almost everything is taken away from her in a moment. This book explores memories, living and dying, and how difficult it can be to choose.

I also watched the movie of this book first and really enjoyed the classical music dynamic of it. Out of body experiences have always interested me and so this story is a great piece of fiction to imagine how this would feel.

10. The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland

The Anti-Cool Girl is an honest memoir about Rosie’s difficult childhood. With two addicts for parents, one suffering from schizophrenia and the other bipolar, she grew up amidst rehab stays, AA meetings, overdoses, and many dodgy boyfriends in her mother’s life.

Although the subject matter is confronting and you feel terrible for her, Rosie tells it with such humour that you can’t help but laugh along. An interesting read, which makes you appreciate your own positive upbringing.

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