My 15 Favs of 2015!

2015 has been a wonderful bookish reading year for me.  I’ve chosen 15 as my top/best/favourites.

These are those that have left a mark. They’ve lingered in my head, heart, and soul for various reasons. They’ve made me laugh, cry, rejoice, and, stop and think. They’ve made me feel astonished, angry, happy, sad, tearful, shocked , astounded, thoughtful, grateful, and hopeful. They’ve made me talk non-stop about them, recommend them, tweet the hell out of them, and shake my book cheerleading pom poms for them.

So here they are……in no particular order,  apart from how I lay them out on my floor.

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(I’ve snuck in only one that is published in 2016, I’ll be tweeting about ‘the ones that definitely shouldn’t be missed in 2016’.)

Mobile Library by David Whitehouse (Picador)

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida (Atlantic)

Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey (Simon & Schuster)

Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye (Orion)

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (Quercus)

The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett (W&N)

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink (Picador)

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon (Borough Press) (Jan 2016)

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah (Doubleday)

A Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (Faber & Faber)

All Involved by Ryan Gattis (Picador)

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt (Scribner)

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger (Tinder Press)

The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood (Scibner)

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale (Tinder Press)

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A BIG thank you to Waterstones, Dulwich Books, Foyles, and Daunts for letting me give you money for these wondrous reads!

 

 

 

 

 

My 15 Favs of 2015!

Adventure to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.

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I consider myself an organised person and I can also read a map, yet on my journey to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival managed to miss my connecting train, and then the ferry, which when I got on went to East Cowes not Cowes and then got a little lost between the ferry and the B and B. I arrived a giggling mess!

It’s probably a good job I hadn’t booked to see any of the events on that day considering it would have been quicker to fly to Turkey.

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The B and B was very quaint and the landlady was absolutely barking. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many ‘things’ in one room! It was definite risk assessment for what could be potentially broken seeing as I’m a little clumsy. How that starfish perched on the bathroom sink the size of an iPhone remained in one piece is beyond me.

The first event I attended was the Grip Lit Crime Panel, with Colette Mcbeth author of Precious Things and The Life I Left Behind, Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go, and Rebecca Whitney, author of The Liar’s Chair. This was chaired by Fanny Blake.

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This was a great event. I find the writing process fascinating, whether plot or characters are decided upon first. How some authors just start writing, and how some have to know exactly where the story is going to go and how it will end before fingers touch keypads.

Clare told us how she walked into the Devon sea in October fully clothed as she wanted to know what it would feel like for her character! That’s hardcore!! Rebecca said how she will often write out of sequence, which was met with horrified gasps from Clare and Colette. Colette shared how she couldn’t understand why she’d been invited to a ‘psychological thriller authors’ event as she thought she’d just written a book! These were three fabulous authors to be put together and Fanny was a great chair.

My next event was Historical Fiction ‘Hearts and Minds’ with Anna Hope, author of Wake, Lucy Ribchester author of The Hourglass Factory, and Lissa Evans, author of Their Finest Hour and A Half and Crooked Heart and children’s fiction too.IMG_1285 FullSizeRender

This was once again chaired by Fanny Blake who needs to have her own tv or radio book related show as she is a great host!

This event was FAB! Lissa told us that she wrote Crooked Heart because she’d done so much research for Their Finest Hour And A Half that she had to write another book set in the same time period. Lucy was inspired by circus acrobatics and Suffragettes. Anna too was inspired by Suffragettes and women’s roles. There was a very lively debate had by these three with a lot of Woman Power in the room! I went straight to the tent after to purchase all three books which I had signed. I was so delighted to meet Anna as Wake was one of my favourite books from last year. I was further delighted when she told me The Ballroom, her second novel will be published next February. Cannot wait!

Saturday evenings event was Debut Writers Salon with Lucy Foley, author of Lost and Found. Kate Hamer, author of The Girl In The Red Coat, and Sarah Leipciger, author of The Mountain Can Wait. This was chaired by Georgina Moore.

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What a great trio of authors. Lucy talked glamour and nostalgia and shared how she was keeping the memories of her Grandmother alive through her writing. Sarah told us how she met some ‘people’ online who after vetting that she wasn’t part of an anti gun organisation gave her invaluable information on guns and hunting that was relevant to her story. Kate got us all ‘oohing’ when she shared exciting news that there may be a film in the pipeline! Again another very great chair from Georgina Moore. Lots of questions from the floor too.  Excuse the poor quality of the photos here. I was tweeting and taking pics with a wad of tissue up my nostrils trying to stem a nosebleed…..all for a good cause!

Georgina had invited me to the Author’s dinner that night. Oh I was mightily chuffed and slightly starstruck to be sat with Patrick Gale, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Fanny Blake, Lucy Ribchester, Elizabeth Preston, and Jo Dawson.

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I was buzzing all evening!  Mahoosive thanks to Georgina for that!

Sunday morning and my last event at the Isle of Wight Literary Festival with Rachel Joyce and Patrick Gale.  This was a packed out event.

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Rachel talked about Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy. She regaled story’s of her Father, one of them which had the audience tittering was that he’d hated the sea, couldn’t swim, didn’t like boats and yet wore yacht shoes most of his life. She told us about The Snow Garden, her collection of short stories that are all interlinked due for publication in November and that there is a novel next year! Lots of smiling faces in the audience at that news.  Rachel and Patrick were a natural pairing with such enlightening and flowing conversation.

I had such a marvellous time. It was wonderful to go to the events I’d booked. Such an array of awesome authors.  It was good to see Karen Dennise (myreading-corner.blogspot.co.uk) and meet Alison Percival (alisonpercival.com) Check out their posts of the festival too!

A massive congratulations to Fanny Blake, Georgina Moore, and Patrick Gale for brilliant chairing of their events. I see television book presenting for all of them……

It was a truly inspiring four days being amongst lovely bookish people. I shall go back next year for sure!

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Adventure to the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.

Whoop whoop! Isle of Wight here I come…..

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Woo hoo!!! It’s Isle of Wight day!

I’m rather excited for my little adventure.

Not only is it my first visit to the Isle of Wight itself, but it’s my first literary festival. Bonkers right!

My suitcase is packed with appropriate weather attire I hope? Biker boots, scarf, hat, knitwear…..I’m obviously under the assumption that it’s going to be chilly.

So far I’ve booked the Crime Panel ‘The Art of Grip Lit’ with Colette Mcbeth,  Rebecca Whitney, and Clare Mackintosh.

Historical Fiction Debate ‘Hearts and Minds’  with Anna Hope, Lucy Ribchester, and Lissa Evans.

And the Debut Writers Salon with Sarah Leipciger, Kate Hamer, and Lucy Foley.

I will also be hunting down Cathy Rentzenbrink,  Patrick Gale, and Georgina Moore for hugs.

I shall report back, but because I am far more comfortable with a pair of scissors and comb, there may be no instant reporting!

Whoop whoop! Isle of Wight here I come…..

Me, heartbreak, and After You.

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As I wrote on Twitter I rarely cry in real life but books and films seem to tug at my heart. I’m sure some psychotherapists would have something to say about that….

I’ve had my heart broken many times, in fact I’ll rephrase that, I’ve had it smashed to smithereens.

So much so, that it feels like it’s held together with a bit of thread, Blu-Tack, and maybe some double sided sticky tape. Yet I’m still an utter romantic and believe in love. And big, like ‘in the movies love’ (I know, I know.)

I wasn’t nervous about reading After You, after all, Me Before You was an amazing book and Jojo Moyes is a fantastic writer. I personally don’t understand the whole ‘Oh, what if they do something to the character that I don’t like?’ Surely we need to place our trust in the author knowing that they wouldn’t potentially write a book if they didn’t want to, despite pressure from readers ;D

I saw the BBC News interview with Jojo Moyes where she said that so many of her fans had asked for a sequel. If there was no story for Lou then there wouldn’t have been After You.

But I, for one, am so glad there was!

After You is so wonderful. I’m feeling slightly bereft this morning that I finished it. I’m gazing at my TBR wondering what can possibly be next…

If you loved Me Before You, then you will adore After You.

If you are grieving, or have grieved, or have ever had your heart broken, then I urge you to read this book.

What I personally love so much is the absolute authenticity of modern relationships that Jojo Moyes captures.

That scariness of venturing into something new.

The ‘Moving On’ group with their dilemmas of when is ok to let go or start again.

Those same dilemmas that Lou faces that anyone who has had their heart broken will understand.

Jojo Moyes conveys this so well, with words like this……

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And this……

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And this…….

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My faith in love ‘like in the movies’ may have been restored.

So go people, off to your bookshops to buy and read this absolute gem!

And I, am off to join Tinder, to see if I can find me a Sam.

Me, heartbreak, and After You.

Talking about books, not reviewing them………

I never had any intention of reviewing books on my blog as there are marvellous book reviewers out there already, but I still want to talk about books.

I’ve just finished Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, published by Quercus books on 3rd September. I woke this morning at 10, after having a migraine yesterday and obviously needing some extra sleep. (Never sleep that late usually!) It was still lingering in my head after reading 50 pages last night.
I haven’t moved for nearly 3 hours, apart from getting up and making a cup of coffee and popping for a wee!

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I truly love a book that makes you feel like you’ve been hit with a sledgehammer, and Asking For It is one of those books.

I’m in that state now when I’m not quite sure if I can pick another book up today or even tomorrow….I might have to suffice with Marie Claire magazine or a box set.

Here are some other books that have had a similar affect on me this year, and all for various reasons.

The first is All Involved by Ryan Gattis, published by Picador. This is a sledgehammer book for me because it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I was left reeling for days afterwards, the characters going round and round in my head. I’ve recommended this to so many people, including a 68-year-old female client of mine who was astounded that ‘this young man had written such a remarkable piece of literature’ based on true events.

Another sledgehammer book for me is The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink published by Picador. This affected me for very personal reasons and I’ve recommended it to many. It’s a book that I feel changes your outlook on life.

A couple of other sledgehammer books for me read this year are, The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett published by W&N and, Letters To The Lost by Iona Grey published by Simon and Schuster. These, because they restored my faith in love and both made me sob! You’ve got to love a book that reduces you to a weeping mess! Ask anyone who knows me well about my dating history and you’ll know why these books affected me as they did!!!!

So coming back to Asking For It. It was a tumultuous read. It’s made me feel angry, sad, shocked, and sick at times. I have shouted out loud. It is a truly powerful read because it is so so real.
I feel like Louise O’Neill is today’s hardcore equivalent of Judy Blume, dealing with controversial adolescent issues.
Louise O’Neill is an outstanding  writer, and as with Only Ever Yours writes so clearly about today’s modern society

Talking about books, not reviewing them………

Me…….

I’m a hairdresser who loves to read. Ever since I was a child I’ve always had my nose in a book, often being told by my Mum to put my book down and go outside to get some fresh air. My love for books has never abated and a few years ago I was part of a PanMacmillan/Picador readers panel and got to read some amazing books and meet some incredible authors. This fuelled my love even further.

And then I discovered Twitter and all these people on it that were shouting about their love for books and reading and I, became one of them. I shout loudly about the books that excite me and authors I admire. I adore discovering a debut as much as reading an author’s fourth novel. What I love is that authors interact! That double take when someone like Judy Blume, who was so influential in my teenage reading choices, tweets back. If I were younger I would have definitely done many a cartwheel whereas *does cartwheel* suffices plenty.

I’ve been a hairdresser for eons and I still throughly enjoy it, not only is there immense satisfaction when someone is happy with their hair but also my clients know that I read so much so I’m always being asked for book recommendations, be it as a gift for someone they know or a summer reading list. Two things I love being combined, so you can imagine my utter delight when a very lovely Communications Director asked me if I would snip the hair of a very very lovely novelist, *does cartwheel, forward roll, and backflip* A whole hour to talk, gush, ask them serious and silly questions, and they get a haircut!

This is ‘Notes from the Chair’.

Me…….