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Georgie Minter-Brown

Official blog of actress Georgina Minter-Brown covering travel, beauty, fashion and lifestyle.

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Monday, 26 August 2019

What I've Read (So Far) in 2019

What I've Read (So Far) in 2019


Contains gifted items (marked with a *) and affiliate links

If you remember from my New Year's Resolutions from the start of the year, I set myself a pretty big task. I wanted to read 15 books this year, and I thought I'd comfortably reach that (maybe even going a few books over). 

When I found myself at the start of June already smashing that goal, I had to rethink my reading goal for this year, and so upped it to 30! If you told me a few years ago that I would be reading that many books in the space of a year, I would have laughed so much my TBR pile would have fallen on me and crushed me. 

I've always been a bookworm, but I think we all end up convincing ourselves that due to work and social commitments that we just don't have time to read anymore. However, I think we can all find the time to pick up a book and get lost in it, even it's a little every day. I set my alarm earlier in the mornings to read before starting work, and go to bed earlier to do the same before sleeping. I also have started making sure I have my Kindle in my bag whenever I know I'll be sitting on a train for a long time. 

Seeing as I'm about two thirds through my reading challenge this year, I thought I'd give you a quick run-through of what I loved and what I wasn't so keen on in case you're looking for some new books to indulge in this year!
What I've Read (So Far) in 2019


GODSEND BY JOHN WRAY*


This story follows Aden, a teenage American girl who converts to Islam and joins an extremist radical group in Pakistan posing as a young man. However, the life she dreamed of turns out to be one of violence and loss, and she must fight to protect her secret and protect herself. 

The idea for this book is fab, and it has been really well researched, however, I found that the writing style was too beautiful for the story meaning I sometimes got confused as to what was happening. I also found it really hard to connect to Aden, as I couldn’t place her in either the hero or anti-hero slot. I was really disappointed with the ending, as it seemed slightly rushed and you are left thinking where the rest of the book has gone!

THE WATER CURE BY SOPHIE MACKINTOSH*


A dystopian world where women are not safe from male violence, we find three sisters hidden away from the world on an island where they are taught how to stay pure in a toxic society, and what happens when three men turn up on their shores. 

You can’t deny that this book is written in the most hauntingly beautiful way. Even if it takes you a little while to fully get into this, this is a must-read. This novel really highlights the true power that all women have deep within us, regardless of the number of times we are pushed down. I was completely hooked from halfway through, and by the end, I actually gasped out loud at the plot twist.

Kay was a junior doctor for 6 years, and while working for the NHS he kept a diary of his experiences on the hospital front line up until a devasting experience caused him to reconsider his career choice. 

This is one of the few books that made me laugh out loud (literally), gasp, squirm with disgust and cry whilst reading it. Kay’s writing is fantastic, but despite the comedy, it sheds a light on the pains and struggles of working for the NHS and how they are really being stretched to the limit. I have a newfound respect for anyone who works for the NHS now.

HOW TO STOP TIME BY MATT HAIG


A love story, written by one of my favourite authors, follows Tom who has an unusual condition where he ages really slowly. He has experienced everything from performing with  Shakespeare, exploring with Captain Cook and drinking with Fitzgerald but has been told by others with the same condition never to fall in love as he'll outlive them. We follow him as he starts to find love again after losing the love of his life centuries before. 

This was so beautifully written - I never got bored as we bounced back and forth across centuries, and I fell in love with the imperfect Tom. I thought it might slow down nearer to the end but it’s surprised me by hooking me completely!

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES BY SUE MONK KIDD


Set in South Carolina in 1964, this book tells the story of Lily, who keeps thinking back to her memories of when her mother was killed. After her black nanny Rosaleen insults three racists on her way to register to vote, and is consequently arrested, Lily decided to spring Rosaleen free from jail, and herself from her angry abusive father. They find themselves outside the house of beekeeping sisters and they soon start to learn about female power as much as beekeeping. 

This is a book I know I will return to time and time again. So beautifully written (you can tell I like well-written prose by now), while taking you on a wild rollercoaster of emotions. This has a magic to it, reminding you to love and appreciate nature as well as those around you.

THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER BY LIDIA YUKNAVITCH*


This memoir by a lifelong swimmer turned artist moves you through many topics including gender, sexuality, violence and family and how they are affected by grief at a young age. We are taken on the journey of a life filled with addiction, self-destruction, and then ultimately survival. 

At first, I really wasn’t sure about this book. Yuknavitch writes in such non-linear lyric passages (her own words) with very little punctuation at times that I really had to concentrate to understand what was being said. But as I got used to her writing style, the more I got sucked into this memoir. 

She doesn’t hold back, especially when talking about her sexual encounters with both men and women! 

This definitely isn’t a relaxing read- probably why it took me a little longer to read this than other books of the same length. However, I unexpectedly loved this, to the point where it will remain on my bookshelf as I feel I can dive back into this when I need to.  

AN EDITED LIFE BY ANNA NEWTON


Our beloved Anna is here to help us to declutter our lives, from our wardrobe to our phones with this realistic, helpful guide for those who aren't necessarily wannabe Marie Kondo's!

If you need to get your butt into gear to sort out your life, this is the book for you. 

I’ve already started to apply some of the strategies to my work, life and home and I already feel a lot more organised! I feel with some books by bloggers they can be hit or miss, but I think Anna was born to write! 

This will be on my bookshelf for years to come as I’ll know I’ll be referring back to it a lot.

THINGS IN JARS BY JESS KIDD*


In the dark back streets of Victorian London, a female private investigator is pulled in to a world of fanatical anatomists and surgeons while investigating the disappearance of an other-worldly girl, all while helped by an unlikely ghostly companion.

This is probably my favourite book I’ve read this year. I was completely sucked into the world of Bridie Divine, and I was gripped from start to finish. 

At first, I thought Bridie was just going to be a female Sherlock Holmes, and while there are some similarities between them, like disguises and addiction, she soon started to stand out as her own protagonist. 

The thing that made this book special is the mix of fantasy and supernatural with a classic detective story, with moments of comedy and sadness. 

I love Jess Kidd’s writing style, which can easily go from stunning description to gripping moments to comedy scenes. I love it when I learn new words in a book and there were moments when I found myself picking up a dictionary. 

I’m desperate for more- really hope this gets made into a trilogy or series!

TSOTSI BY ATHOL FUGARD


Written by one of the world's leading playwrights, Fugard explores personal and political struggles in South Africa. Over the span of 6 days, we discover a young gang leader who has repressed his past and is taking part in violent crimes as a distraction. When he finds himself holding a baby in his arms one night, he is confronted with memories of his own childhood and how love once existed in his life. 

This is an interesting read, with a great insight into life in South Africa in the 1950s. This is written in such an honest way, but adding a strange beauty to it through Fugard’s writing style. 

You can definitely tell he’s a playwright due to the way dialogue is sometimes thrown in unnecessarily or how he will launch off at a tangent in the middle of a scene as if the character were given their own monologue to tell their story. 

Because of this, I actually found the story didn’t flow as much as I would have liked- it’s definitely not as gripping as I thought especially due to the murderous nature of tsotsis in the townships. 

I still think this is a beautiful and important read all the same, worth picking up but I’ll be moving this along now I’ve read it.

What I've Read (So Far) in 2019


LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE BY CELESTE NG


In Shaker Heights, a placid suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned out to the finest detail from the colour of the houses to the lives that reside in them. That is until Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive and start renting the Richardsons' house. Soon, all four children are drawn to Mia and Pearl, but Mia holds many secrets in her past. Mrs Ricardson grows suspicious of her and starts to try and discover exactly what Mia is hiding, but her obsession comes at a cost to her family. 

I had heard mixed reviews on this but I found myself really hooked to this story, to the ins and outs of the lives in Shaker Heights.  As I come from a small town, I found this all totally believable, how rumours can stir and how small things can become big news. 

Even though I was hooked, I wasn’t hugely into the characters- I found them a little too superficial for my liking. I definitely recommend it, but it didn’t blow me away.

THE HOBBIT BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN


A true classic, following the journey (or there and back again) of hobbit Bilbo as he is employed by a band of dwarves and a wizard Gandalf to help them steal back their treasure and mountain taken from them by a terrifying dragon. 

I will love and cherish this book forever! Such a joy to reread as an adult, and the magic is still very much alive as the first time I read it. I struggled at times with Lord of the Rings, but this is not as heavy on the description but still, Tolkien brings the story to life in my head. 

Also after reading this after watching the films, I was pleasantly surprised about how true they kept it, even down to using the same dialogue as in the book!

MURMUR BY WILL EAVES*


Taking its cue from the arrest and chemical castration of mathematician Alan Turing, this is the fictional account of a man struggling with the stress of forbidden lust and love as a homosexual at a time when it was dangerous to be one. 

I’m so gutted I didn’t enjoy this more, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’m completely fascinated by Alan Turing‘s life, especially as my grandma worked at Bletchley Park, but even for someone who knows a bit about his life, I really struggled and nearly gave up with it! 

The book is split into sections of his journal, dreams and letters. I felt like I now have to go and look this up properly online somewhere as it’s not clear how much of this book is fiction. The first and last section of the book (the journal parts) is actually beautifully written, but quite short compared to the middle section of dreams and letters and that’s where the book lets itself down for me. 

I completely understand why Eaves has included these weird and bizarre dreams to show Turing’s suppression, but they are written in such a way that I couldn’t get the flow of them. I feel like with some of them I just glazed over them as I had no clue what was going on! I think that this book is really excluding itself to readers who have no previous knowledge of Turing’s life, as it gives no further explanation of insight into certain parts of his life. 

I’m glad this is a short book as I think if it was any longer than 200 pages it would have been a DNF for me!

THE MINIATURIST BY JESSIE BURTON


Set in 17th Century Amsterdam, 18-year-old Nella arrives in the city to start a new life as the wife of a wealthy merchant trader. From the get-go, however, she learns that her household is not like most in religious Amsterdam and her life changes when her husband presents her with a beautiful miniature replica of her house.

What a truly magical book - I was drawn in straight away and couldn’t put it down! I felt like every time I picked this up, another twist took place so that this always had my attention. 

Burton has really done her research, and I appreciated the glossary at the back for all the different Dutch terms. 

I loved all the characters (even the annoying ones) but was left a little disappointed as to what happened to one of the main characters at the end (I won’t say who, I don’t like spoilers). It may have been left open for a second book, or to give her vanishing an air of mystery, but I would have liked a bit more to go into explaining her character, she was slightly too aloof for my liking.

LIFE OF PI BY YANN MARTEL


The son of a zookeeper, Pi, is travelling from India to start a new life in Canada with his family and various zoo animals when a storm sinks his ship, and he finds himself aboard a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra and a Bengal tiger. Sounds like a bad joke doesn't it? But this is a tale of survival for both the animals and Pi as they slowly drift across the Pacific. 

This is such a magical book, and really lived up to the expectations the film set for me. Martel’s storytelling is fantastic, and I loved the jump between the narrator's notes at the start of a chapter talking about Pi telling his story. 

At times, things would become a little slow and drawn out, but would soon pick up again so I wasn’t left waiting too long for things to happen.

NIGHT BOAT TO TANGIER BY KEVIN BARRY*


In the dark terminal of a Spanish port, two ageing Irish gangsters, Maurice and Charlie, sit waiting for Maurice's estranged daughter to arrive. Over the space of one evening, this book takes you on a journey of their pasts filled with drugs and violence. 

This book really surprised me as it wasn’t what I was expecting. The blurb says this is a book “drenched in sex, death and narcotics”, but I think these are pretty minor points in this story. 

For me, the themes of mental health and love stand prominently. Through the violence and crime comes a subtext that highlights why the characters act the way they do, and Maurice clearly is going through a lot. Also the love he has for Cynthia, Dilly, Karima and even Charlie really drives the story. 

It took me a while to get used to the writing style, but when I did I found Barry’s storytelling rather captivating!

THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS BY RUTH HOGAN


When Anthony Peardew leaves everything in his will to his assistant Laura, she finds that he hasn't only left her with a beautiful house, but also an office filled with lost items ready to be reunited with their owners. Fuelled by the devastation of losing the love of this life, he has collected lost things over the years and he now sets her the monumental task of finding homes for his lost things. 

As I read this I slowly fell in love, as everyone who has read this had told me I would. The parallel stories that go on throughout the book of Laura and Eunice was a fantastic idea, and I loved how Hogan seamlessly switched between them. This definitely had an air of the mysterious and supernatural that I wasn’t expecting but absolutely loved. 

IN MINIATURE BY SIMON GARFIELD*


This non-fiction takes a big look at small things celebrating everything from flea circuses, miniature crime scenes, model villages and railways. As well as this, Garfield also explores the history, psychology and obsessiveness behind miniatures and their makers. 

This book is fascinating- not one I’d necessarily pick up if I was in a bookshop, but I think that’s the beauty of gifted books and you can discover some real gems. I had just finished reading The Miniaturist when I got asked if I wanted to try it so it was perfect timing!

This is written in a way that anyone can read it, and if you don’t know a thing about miniatures then you’re not made to feel stupid. At times things get a little slow and go off at a tangent, but as soon as the next subject comes around I was drawn back in straight away.


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I really hope you enjoyed this post and got some reading inspo! 

If you want to keep up with what I'm reading on a regular basis then be sure to follow me on Goodreads.

To shop all the books I've read in the past, take a browse of my Amazon shop! 

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2 comments:

  1. Your reading list is amazing, I wish you to keep up with reading. :) I'm definitely going to check out the Edited Life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be reading a lot more over the next few months! Yes totally recommend it :)

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