I’m probably committing some kind of petty crime using 2018 in a title when we’re half way through February 2019. BUT I really enjoyed a lot of the books I read last year and it feels like an equal crime letting them go without sharing them here. I didn’t make it to my target of reading 18 books, but I did make it to 11 books in a year where wedding planning took over. I think I did quite well overall.
So, here’s what’s I read last year. If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you thought and if you’ve got any recommendations please do leave a comment!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman – Eleanor lives a solitary life and that’s just the way she likes it. Until one day she’s inconvenienced by an unavoidable act of kindness and it turns her view of the world upside down. At times it’ll have you laughing out loud, at others your heart will sink with the painful reality of loneliness. Overall, I thought it was a good, easy, enjoyable read and would recommend it to others. But I didn’t love it because it was a bit predictable. Reese Witherspoon has optioned it for a film and it’ll be interesting to see who plays the lead role and whether they’ll keep its British humour.
The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah – Bold and compassionate Isabelle lives in Paris, whilst her loyal and careful sister Viann lives with her family in the French Countryside. When World War II strikes and the Germans occupy France, they each take different paths, facing life-threatening risks and challenging the relationship between themselves and their father. This was definitely one of my favourite books from last year. There was a time when I thought I’d read enough books set in the the First and Second World War, but this proved there are just so many more stories to tell. One of those heart-wrenching, cant-put-it-down books.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane – Lisa See – In a remote mountain village, Li-Yan and her family live around the seasons and the farming of tea, guided by the ancient ritual and routine of the Akha people. When Li-Yan has a baby out of wed-lock, she leaves the village on a journey to give her daughter up for adoption. The story is split between Li-Yan’s discovery of the modern world and her daughter’s quest to understand her identity. It’s a really interesting insight into another culture, the role that tea plays in their life and rituals and the importance of identity.
The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware – A modern-day thriller set on a cruise ship in Iceland. I thought this was an easy read and something you could get through quickly. But the central character was unconvincing and in my opinion it was a little bit like the book version of a badly acted film.
The Invitation – Lucy Foley – A few years after World War II, Hal and Stella are drawn together on a sultry evening in Rome. From different worlds, they part ways until a year later when Hal joins a trip along the Italian Riviera promoting a new film. Given that I enjoy a weekend episode of Poirot, this was right up my street as a bit of an escapist read. It would make the perfect holiday book.
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles – Following a Bolshevik tribunal in 1922, the Count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel opposite the Kremlin. The story follows Rostov’s journey from material possessions to emotional fulfilment during a tumultuous time in Russian history. This book has all of the glamour of the period whilst providing a snapshot of a country I’ll admit to not knowing much about. It was a bit slow to start, but has a really heart-warming end.
La Belle Sauvage – Philip Pullman – This book returns to the world of humans and daemons that we were first introduced to in ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. It’s a prequel to the series with Lyra’s start in the world under the watchful eye of Malcolm Polstead. I got lost in this book on holiday last summer and really enjoyed returning to this imaginative world. The only thing I found frustrating was that I wished I could have remembered more about the previous books and the links to what happened later on.
The Light we Lost – Jill Santopolo – Lucy and Gabe meet at Columbia University on the day the Twin Towers collapse. Life brings them together again a year later and the story of their relationship unfolds. Although this was a bit of an easy chick-lit read, what I really liked about this book was Lucy narrating the story as if she’s telling someone else and this really works well as you reach the end.
Educated – Tara Westover – Tara grew up in the mountains of Idaho within a family controlled by the strong beliefs of their father. It’s the book of the moment and once you’ve read it, it’s easy to see why. Each chapter will have you gripped, reading on in disbelief. It’s amazing what Tara achieved.
A Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden – The second book of the Winter Night Trilogy, set in the wilderness of Northern Russia. It’s a world full of magic and Russian folklore and the ideal book to immerse yourself in during the cold months of winter. I preferred the plot of the first book more than the second, but it was still enjoyable overall.
Any Human Heart – William Boyd – The journal of Logan Gonzago Mountstuart chronicles his life from his school days to his death, taking you through a number of poignant points of time, meeting many infamous names along the way. This was my last book of 2018 and came recommended by quite a few people. I really enjoyed it as it brought to life so much in so few pages, but at times this did feel a bit far-fetched. I didn’t really warm to Logan and I think that was purposeful.
That was a bit of a bumper blog post, so if you made it to the end – well done! I’m hoping to go back to sharing book reviews more frequently this year to give more regular recommendations 🙂
Oh and if you’re on Goodreads, I’m always looking for people to follow and find it’s such a good way to find a variety of new books to read. You can find me here.
Just to let you know, I’ve used affiliate links in the above through Amazon. This means I might earn a couple of pence if you order a book using these links, but you won’t be charged more than normal. I only use these because I’m really nosey and like to find out what people buy based on my recommendations (I hope you don’t mind!)