Last year, I really got back into reading. I’m not entirely sure what stopped me in the first place, but I soon discovered that it was a great outlet for my anxiety. Over time I began to wrack up a long list of titles that I wanted to read, and I figured that I really should get cracking. My husband usually makes fun of me for being such a quick reader, but funnily enough, it’s taken me quite a long time to get through the following six books. I generally only read at bedtime for a few minutes, so it takes me longer to get through your average book than most, but since the beginning of the year, I wanted to share with you the books that I’ve read and enjoyed over the last few months. This is my first attempt at doing book reviews since doing A-Level English Literature, so I hope you enjoy!
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Where the Light Gets In – Lucy Dillon (Black Swan, 2018) ★★★
From the Back:
‘You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’
“It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.
Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.
But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world…”
Where the Light Gets In tells the story of Lorna, who moves back to her hometown to pursue her dream of running an art gallery, but must also deal with a number of ghosts from the past before she can fully make the fresh start she wants. It tells the story of friendship, family, and the importance of believing in yourself. In addition, it’s a great read for any animal fan with two loveable canine characters!
While this was a little slow to get into in places, overall, it was really enjoyable with some wonderful imagery and a lovely message underneath. Word of warning though, have some tissues to hand towards the end!
The Break – Marian Keyes (Penguin, 2018) ★★★
From the Back:
“’Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’
Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.
He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together.
Six months in South-East Asia. And nothing she says can stop him.
But when does a break become a break-up?
For a lot can happen in six months. And it’s enough to send Amy and her family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers teetering over the edge.
When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married?Will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?”
The Break follows Amy, who’s husband decides to take off on a six month break to Asia – but he’s not leaving her. With a very quirky and large family that’s never short of drama, we follow the six months in which Amy is left to her own devices to manage her job and her family. It covers a number of difficult topics, such as Alzheimer’s, abortion and marriage separation, all with a decent amount of humour thrown in.
This was very funny in places, and certainly had a fair few plot points that kept me interested. My only complaint was that it felt a little longer than necessary, especially towards the end. I think it would work really well as a holiday read, because the shorter chapters mean you can smash through most of the book within a few days. However, as a book that I kept on my bedside table, reading a chapter or two every evening, it took me months to get through it!
It’s Not Me, It’s Them: Confessions of a Hopeless Modern Romantic – Joel Dommett (Headline, 2018) ★★★★
From the Back:
“As a 17-year-old virgin working . . . for Virgin, Joel Dommett has grand ambitions. Firstly, he is going to swap suburbia for the bright lights of Showbiz. Secondly, he is going to find ‘the one’ in the first forty people he’s going to sleep with.
What follows is a series of disastrous romantic encounters, including carpets mistaken for toilets, futile grand gestures and the catfishing to end all catfishing.
Featuring genuine teenage diary entries and told in Joel’s trademark self-deprecating style, this is the brilliant first book from the UK’s most exciting comedian.”
I’m a big fan of books by comedians. I love reading an insight into their lives and their relationships as it gives a different perspective to the person that you see on stage. Joel Dommett’s memoir tells us all about his various relationships over the years, from his first girlfriend to the unfortunately infamous catfishing incident, along with everything in between.
It’s incredibly honest and laugh out loud funny in places, and if you’re a fan of Joel’s stand-up I would 100% recommend. Whether or not you’ve followed his career pre or post I’m a Celeb… there’s plenty of hilarious stories that we can relate to one way or another!
You’re the One That I Want – Giovanna Fletcher (Penguin, 2014) ★★★★
From the Back:
“Maddy, dressed in white, stands at the back of the church. At the end of the aisle is Rob – the man she’s about to marry. Next to Rob is Ben – best man and the best friend any two people ever had.
And that’s the problem.
Because if it wasn’t Rob waiting for her at the altar, there’s a strong chance it would be Ben. Loyal and sensitive Ben has always kept his feelings to himself, but if he turned round and told Maddy she was making a mistake, would she listen? And would he be right?
Best friends since childhood, Maddy, Ben and Rob thought their bond was unbreakable. But love changes everything. Maddy has a choice to make but will she choose wisely? Her heart, and the hearts of the two best men she knows, depend on it…”
I read a few of Giovanna Fletcher’s books last year and I’m also a fan of hers on Instagram, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this one. The story is told through the eyes of Maddy and Ben, and we follow them through their childhood right up to the present day, where Maddy and Rob are getting married. It’s the classic will-they-won’t-they love story, and it keeps you guessing right up until the end.
I really enjoyed this – it had some very likeable characters, and I genuinely couldn’t predict the outcome at the end. It was incredibly light hearted and funny in places, and I often found it very difficult to put down! If you love a rom-com in book form, I would definitely recommend.
Dream a Little Dream – Giovanna Fletcher (Penguin, 2015) ★★★
From the Back:
“Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).
So it’s not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn’t nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.
Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams . . . do they?”
After how much I enjoyed You’re the One That I Want, I couldn’t wait to get started on Dream a Little Dream. It tells the story of Sarah, who finds herself in complete shock when the handsome stranger she’s been dreaming about suddenly appears in real life.
At first I found this very difficult to get into, mainly because I found the character of Sarah very unlikable. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but I found myself getting a little bit annoyed with her attitude, especially towards her ex’s new girlfriend. However, as the story progressed, I found myself empathising with her a lot more. Despite the shitty cards that she had been dealt with in terms of her job and her past relationship, it becomes clear she’s a good person and that she really cares about her friends. I ended up taking this on holiday with me and I finished it in one afternoon because I couldn’t put it down.
Listening to the Animals: Becoming the Supervet – Noel Fitzpatrick (Trapeze, 2018) ★★★★
From the Back:
“Growing up on the family farm in Ballyfin, Ireland, Noel’s childhood was spent tending to the cattle and sheep, the hay and silage, the tractors and land, his beloved sheepdog Pirate providing solace from the bullies that plagued him at school. It was this bond with Pirate, and a fateful night spent desperately trying to save a newborn lamb, that inspired Noel to enter the world of veterinary science – and set him on the path to becoming The Supervet.
Now, in this long-awaited memoir, Noel recounts this often-surprising journey that sees him leaving behind a farm animal practice in rural Ireland to set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world. We meet the animals that paved the way, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs.
Noel has listened to the many lessons that the animals in his care have taught him, and especially the times he has shared with his beloved Keira, the scruffy Border Terrier who has been by Noel’s side as he’s dealt with the unbelievable highs and crushing lows of his extraordinary career.
As heart-warming and life-affirming as the TV show with which he made his name, Listening to the Animals is a story of love, hope and compassion, and about rejoicing in the bond between humans and animals that makes us the very best we can be.”
Anyone who is a fan of Noel Fitzpatrick, or an avid animal lover, needs to read this book. It’s the most amazing memoir that tells us the story of how he began the journey of becoming a world-class orthopaedic and neurological veterinary surgeon. What’s most important is the message he puts across, in that, if we all just took a moment to listen to the animals, the world would become a much better place.
If you regularly settle in to watch The Supervet, this book will give you that wonderfully warm and fuzzy feeling, reading about Noel’s love and respect for his parents, his adoration for his dog, Keira, and a handful of amusing stories from throughout his career. This was another holiday read of mine, and I just couldn’t put it down. Of course, if you regularly watch The Supervet, you’ll be well aware of what a lovely person Noel Fitzpatrick is, and reading this will make you love him even more.
If you’ve been inspired, you can purchase any of the books I’ve talked about in this post via Amazon. Simply click on the links provided! What books do you recommend I read next? I’m open to suggestions, so let me know in the comments!