Sunday, 31 December 2017

My top reads of 2017...

Hi there,

I can't believe it's the end of the year already...seems like only a short time since 2016 was coming to a close. It's been a crazy and busy year, and I haven't done as much reading (or reviewing as I would have liked), but I really aim to get back on track for 2018.

There have been some AMAZING books this year, and a couple which have had a massive impact on my life and outlook. So here, are my top books of 2017...
A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

This was the first book I read this year, and one that has truly touched my soul. Whilst it is fiction, the the book is based around the story of Alice Martineau, a strong, determined, passionate, and inspirational lady who fought a chronic illness of Cystic Fibrosis, but never let it stop her living life to the fullest. Alice Peterson is one of my favourite authors and I devour her books, but for me this was on a different level, and Alice's story will move and inspire me forever. This was so much more than a book for me. It is beautiful, moving, funny, inspiring and perfect. You would be mad not to read it too.  

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world. 

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. 

But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

Buy on Amazon

The Woman at 72 Derry Lane by Carmel Harrington

My year wouldn't be complete without reading a new book from the phenomenal author Carmel Harrington. Everything stops when her books come out and I am transfixed. This book is no exception, infact I would say it is her best book yet. Touching on sensitive subjects (which Carmel is a master at), she has written a book that I could not put down. To say I loved it was an understatement. Packed with drama, fun, inspiration and amazing characters it has all the feels. I loved it and you will too.

On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.

But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.

Has help been next door without them realising it?

Buy from Amazon

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

This is another one of those books that grabs you, sucks you in, and refuses to let you go. It definitely has all the feels, and written so brilliantly that the characters become more than pages of a book, they come to life and give you all the emotions. I love books about groups of friends, and this one, like the previous two books are really moving, inspiring and have certainly made me treasure life more, as well as being a bloody good read.

Jill Mansell's enchanting new novel will drive readers to seize life with both hands and make the most of every minute...

Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out...

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more.
Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she's about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Buy from Amazon

Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

My reading year wouldn't be the same without a book (or this year, even better, two books) from the Erika Foster series. I cannot tell you how good this series is. I love thrillers and I adore Erika Foster. In Erika Robert has created a strong, ballsy detective who is so well developed as a character that she could be real. But this series is more than just Erika. Robert has a real talent for writing gripping thrillers that left me on the edge of my seat and awake long into the night as I can't put his work down. Full of action, suspense and thrills this is one series I hope goes on and on...

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. But it’s not the first time she’s seen such a brutal murder…

Two weeks earlier, the body of a young woman was found dumped in an identical suitcase. What connects the two victims? As Erika and her team set to work, they quickly realise they are on the trail of a serial killer who has already made their next move. 

Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the target of a violent attack. Forced to recover at home, and with her personal life falling apart, everything is stacked against her, but nothing will stop Erika. 

As the body count rises, the case takes an even more twisted turn when the twin daughters of Erika’s colleague, Commander Marsh, are suddenly put in terrible jeopardy. The stakes are higher than ever before, but can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

Buy from Amazon
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I must admit I was slightly nervous when I saw Teresa was writing a thriller as I know her work in the women's fiction genre, but I do love her writing style so through what the hell, let me give it a go - and boy am I glad I did!!  This is a really great thriller that captivated me from the start and was unputdownable. I found it was cleverly written with twists and turns, and very creepy too. I loved it and hop you will too!

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Buy from Amazon 

The New Beginnings Coffee Club by Samantha Tonge

I am a big fan of Samantha Tonge and her work, but The New Beginnings Coffee Club has taken her to a whole new level. This book was amazing and got me hook line and sinker. The plot and characters are so well developed and strongly written I really connected with them. I love a book about self discovery and second chances at life, and this ticked my boxes. It is more than an easy read, it is a book that gives food for thought and is uplifting and inspiring. I loved it (and isnt the cover stunning!)


Everyone deserves a second chance…don’t they?

Jenny Masters finds herself living the modern dream. Wife to a millionaire, living in a mansion and mother to Kardashian-obsessed ten-year-old April, there isn’t anything missing. Until, her whole world comes crashing down, forcing Jenny and April to leave behind their glittering life and start over with nothing.

With village gossip following her wherever she goes, she finds refuge and a job in the new coffee shop in town. As the days pass Jenny fears she doesn’t have what it takes to pick herself back up and give April the life she always wanted to. But with the help of enigmatic new boss Noah, and housemate Elle, Jenny realises it’s never too late to become the woman life really intended you to be!

Buy from Amazon

Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson

Oh my goodness! This book is simply beautiful and incredibly moving, but really uplifting also. It is based on such a sad circumstance that I wondered if it would just be a complete weepfest, and whilst yes, there were tears, there was also smiles and laughter too. This book was a real 'just one more chapter and then I'll put it down' sort that you know just wont happen! Beautifully written I adored it!

There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…

It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.

She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.

The worst day of them all. 

The day her mother died.

But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays.

As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way.

Buy from Amazon

Buttered Parsnips by Joe Lycett 

This year I discovered two new things, stand up comedy and audio books. I have started watching a lot of stand up comedy and it has made me realise that laughter really is be best medicine. My health is on the up, and I find myself feeling lighter than I have in a long time. One of the funniest comedians i have discovered is Joe Lycett. He is hilarious and totally appeals to my sense of humour. I was looking for something to listen to whilst out walking and then I saw this on Audible and bought myself a copy. I think it is safe to say that anyone I encountered whilst listening to it must have thought I was completely insane (they are not far wrong), as I sat there unable to contain out loud laughter. This book is brilliant in paper copy, but with Joe narrating it, it has a whole new life. Laugh out loud funny, this is one book you will never regret listening to (or reading). Roll on June when I can see him at the Apollo.

Dear Reader,

Life is hard. We are a bombarded generation: Facebook, billboards, Twitter, Instagram, taxes, newspapers, watches monitoring our sleep, apps that read our pulse, terrorism. There's such an onslaught to the senses these days it's a marvel any of us manage to get out of bed. I love bed.

While we are overwhelmed and confused by the miasmic cloud of information, there are those that seek to take advantage: there are parking fines, hate Tweets, Nigerian email scams and Christmas newsletters from old school friends about their ugly kids. And just as we're getting round to doing something about it, we're distracted again.

I, Joe Lycett, comedian, wordsmith, and professional complainer, am here to help. During my short life of doing largely nothing I've discovered solutions to many of life's problems, which I impart to you, dear Reader. Containing a centurion of complaint letters to unsuspecting celebrities, companies and anyone brave enough to clog up my phone, as well as illustrations, one-liners , jokes and life hacks, this little gem offers you a collection of tips and advice* for all manner of modern woe. By the time you have finished reading this book you will have learnt how to:

- Reverse a parking fine
- Manipulate the tabloid press
- Navigate social media
- Respond to hate mail
- Out-weird internet trolls
- Contest a so-called ripe avocado
- Send the perfect Christmas newsletter
- Defeat ISIS
- Take down multi-national companies

Joe Lycett x

* If you are looking for guidance with taxes, quitting smoking, moving house, love, divorce, education, healthcare or anything actually important may I recommend speaking to friends or family members and not consulting a book by a comedian who eats halloumi at least twice a day.

Buy from Amazon

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