The first month of 2020 is almost over, and as it comes to an end I realise I have bought more books than I am able to read one again. I am risking posting my January Book Haul too early, however, I am resisting the temptation to spend any more money. I am attempting to save for a little holiday in Prague in early February, which my favourite person in the world was generous enough to get me for Christmas. If I lose willpower (which is the most likely scenario), I will add the books to my February book haul post!
Which books have you hoarded in January 2020?
In the Time We Lost
by Carrie Hope Fletcher
Luna Lark used to love her name, but that was before people started saying it differently.
I’m so sorry, Luna.
Are you alright, Luna?
Everything will be okay, Luna.
Luna doesn’t want pity, what she wants is a fresh start. Somewhere she can make headway on her next novel, mend her broken heart, and – most importantly – keep herself to herself.
For that Luna needs the most remote place she can find: Ondingside, a magical little island off the wild coast of Scotland. And when the town is cut off on her first night by a freak July snow storm it feels like fate.
But Luna soon realises that being a newcomer in a small town might not be the best way to blend in. People are curious about her – handsome, kind, coffee shop owner Beau in particular. Will history repeat itself or will they have a future?
How pretty are the sleeve and the cover though?! Published in October 17th 2019, In the Time We Lost is a wintery read about romance, with a little bit of magic thrown in. I am going to be honest here, I picked up this book because of the stunning cover and that strange but wonderful magicky-feeling that can sometimes come over you when you listen to music or look at an out-of-this-world piece of art . . . anyone get me?
I have never read a Carrie Hope Fletcher novel before, so this would be my first experience. She is an actress, author, singer-songwriter and vlogger, so I feel like the novel could go one way or the other. She could be a very talented lady, or it could be a case of having one’s fingers in too many pies. I have read mainly good reviews, however, there also seems to be a fair amount of disappointed ones out there. I am still excited for this to be my last wintery read of the season and I will be sure to post a review!
The Forgotten Guide to Happiness
by Sophie Jenkins
Sometimes, happiness can be found where you least expect it…
Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.
Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.
When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?
An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.
This was one of my many charity shop finds and so it might not have been one that I would have been dying to read, however, the storyline sounds like something I could enjoy. I can certainly relate to the quote on the cover, “Sometimes we need a little help remembering what really matters . . . ” and the first sentence of the blurb is me all over.
Has anyone else read The Forgotten Guide to Happiness?
The Library of the Lost and Found
by Phaedra Patrick
A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime in the delightful new novel from the bestselling author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people, though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a mysterious book arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her grandmother Zelda, who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heart-warming reminder that even the quietest life has the potential to be extraordinary.
Perfect for fans of 59 Memory Lane, The Keeper of Lost Things and Something to Live For.
Books about books . . . what more could a bibliophile possibly want? I bought this at the same charity shop as “The Forgotten Guide to Happiness”, and both have been recommended to fans of “The Keeper of Lost Things”, which is STILL sitting unread on my bookshelf. I am thinking of a pick-n-mix reading trilogy.
The Garden of Lost and Found
by Harriet Evans
Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.
Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted The Garden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.
One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…
When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.
Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?
From “The Library of The Lost and Found” to “The Garden of The Lost and Found”. Magic and art in a historical fiction novel sounds like perfection to me. The Garden of The Lost and Found, published in April 2019 and written by Harriet Evans has received huge praise, being described as a “gorgeous, must-read”.
The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.
The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
Another wonderful bookshop book! The Little Paris Bookshop was originally written in German and was published in May 2013. Despite receiving mixed reviews, I think the storyline could be something so beautiful, but we shall see . . .
Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love
by Charles Nevin
Enough! For far too long, Lancashire has languished under the grimy pall of smoke and muck and mills and mines, enveloped in outdated condescensions, smothered by the easy dismissals that put down the north of England as just ‘up there’ and ‘grim’. Thank you very much George Orwell, Monty Python and every London cabbie.
But Lancashire is not up there. Lancs is actually situated in the centre of the British Isles. And far from being grim, it is a place of wit and wonder, romance and surprise, a land of exotic influence whose people have always looked outward to sophistications and influences beyond frontiers and seas.
Indeed, French writer Honoré de Balzac recognised these affinities and yearnings in the Lancashire people when he had one of his characters declare that ‘Lancashire is the county where women die of love.’
Mock if you like, but then think about it: where is the magnificent thoroughfare that inspired the boulevards of Paris? Where did they go to film Brief Encounter, the most romantic British film ever made? Where did the young Shakespeare dream of and draw on for his inspired imaginings?
Join Charles Nevin, Fleet Street journalist and humorist, as he returns to his roots and reveals all this and more. Discover the true Camelot and the beauty that is rugby league. See where Lancastrians go to die, but first visit Lost Lancashire and its great twin cities, Manchester and Liverpool. Mull over why Britain’s greatest comics, from Laurel to Coogan, Formby to Vegas, Dodd to Kay, Fields to Wood, Morecambe and Dawson, have all come from Lancs. Mere coincidence? Give over, and read on . . .
I had to buy this book. I have lived in Lancashire the vast majority of my life and I have a love/hate relationship with the county. The kind of love/hate you have for an irritating brother. Charles Nevin seems to have hit the nail on the head with the first paragraph in the blurb and I am excited to read about Lancashire from somebody who loves the place. Maybe some of my favourite spots will be mentioned? I am hoping to see lots of Lancashire slang and I am sure I will be left with a new appreciation of my hometown.
by Sophie Duffy
Cameron Spark’s life is falling apart.
He is separated from his wife, and awaiting a disciplinary following an incident in the underground vaults of Edinburgh where he works as a Ghost Tour guide. On the day he moves back home to live with his widowed dad, he receives a letter from Canada.
It is from Christie. Twenty-five years earlier, Cameron attends Lancaster University and despite his crippling shyness, makes three unlikely friends: Christie, the rich Canadian, Tommo, the wannabe rock star and Bex, the Feminist activist who has his heart.
In a whirlwind of alcohol, music and late night fox raids, Cameron feels as though he’s finally living. Until a horrific accident shatters their friendship and alters their futures forever.
Christie’s letter offers them a reunion after all these years.
But has enough time passed to recover from the lies, the guilt and the mistakes made on that tragic night?
Or is this one ghost too many for Cameron?
I am a little unsure whether or not I will ever get round to reading this . . . Published in October 2015, Bright Stars doesn’t appear to be one of Sophie Duffy’s most popular books, however, set at Lancaster University, only a few miles down the road from where I live, I couldn’t not buy it, especially when it is 50p in a charity shop (I have a problem).
by Ian McEwan
On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house.
Watching her too is Robbie Turner who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever, as Briony commits a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone.
I will be doing this one the wrong way round, however, having watched the film and adoring it, I am excited to try the book. It does annoy me a little when publishers use images from the film on the cover of the book, but another 50p Charity Shop special and a storyline that I know I love.
Women in Love
by D.H. Lawrence
Lawrence’s finest, most mature novel initially met with disgust and incomprehension. In the love affairs of two sisters, Ursula with Rupert, and Gudrun with Gerald, critics could only see a sorry tale of sexual depravity and philosophical obscurity. Women in Love is, however, a profound response to a whole cultural crisis. The ‘progress’ of the modern industrialised world had led to the carnage of the First World War.
What, then, did it mean to call ourselves ‘human’? On what grounds could we place ourselves above and beyond the animal world? What are the definitive forms of our relationships – love, marriage, family, friendship – really worth? And how might they be otherwise? Without directly referring to the war, Women in Love explores these questions with restless energy. As a sequel to The Rainbow, the novel develops experimental techniques which made Lawrence one of the most important writers of the Modernist movement.
A classic novel which I later realised I already own but am still yet to read. I was researching D.H. Lawrence a few months ago and absolutely fell in love with some of his quotes and poetry. He had a mind beyond the time in which he lived and sadly suffered a great deal of persecution throughout his life, leading him to live in voluntary exile. D.H. Lawrence was a creative and innovative author and I cannot wait to binge read his novels!
Life’s Little Ironies
by Thomas Hardy
The proverbial phrase ‘life’s little ironies’ was coined by Hardy for his third volume of short stories. These tales and sketches possess all the power of his novels: the wealth of description, the realistic portrayal of the quaint lore of Wessex, the ‘Chaucerian’ humour and characterisation, the shrewd and critical psychology, the poignant estimate of human nature and the brooding sense of wonder at the essential mystery of life.
The tales which make up Life’s Little Ironies tenderly re-create a rapidly vanishing rural world and scrutinise the repressions of fin-de-siecle bourgeois life. They share the many concerns of Hardy’s last great novels, such as the failure of modern marriage and the insidious effects of social ambition on the family and community life. Ranging widely in length and complexity, they are unified by Hardy’s quintessential irony, which embraces both the farcical and the tragic aspects of human existence.
I love a little irony and I love a little Thomas Hardy.
Melmoth The Wanderer
by Charles Robert Maturin
Created by an Irish clergyman, Melmoth is one of the most fiendish characters in literature. In a satanic bargain, Melmoth exchanges his soul for immortality. The story of his tortured wanderings through the centuries is pieced together through those who have been implored by Melmoth to take over his pact with the devil. Influenced by the Gothic romances of the late 18th century, Maturin’s diabolic tale raised the genre to a new and macabre pitch. Its many admirers include Poe, Balzac, Oscar Wilde and Baudelaire.
A fictional classic which was too dark for me to read as a child and gothic enough for me to love as an adult. I think I might save this for around Halloween time and scare the crap out of myself. There are a few bad reviews out there, however, I have also read reviews which sing its praises. For a book to have survived the bookshop shelves since the 1820s and have had admirers of the likes of Oscar Wilde, I am more than looking forward to delving into it.
The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry
London 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness: her marriage was not a happy one, and she never suited the role of society wife. Accompanied by her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, where she hopes fresh air and open space will provide the refuge they need.
When they take lodgings in Colchester, rumours reach them from further up the estuary that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for religion or superstition, is immediately enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a previously undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar.
Like Cora, Will is deeply suspicious of the rumours, but he thinks they are founded on moral panic, a flight from real faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, he and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart, eventually changing each other’s lives in ways entirely unexpected.
Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.
I have had the paperback of the Essex Serpent sitting on my bookshelf for three years and have still not gotten around to reading it, so when I saw this stunning hardback in a charity shop, I thought it was a sign that I had to buy it and actually get it read. The book was hugely popular when it was published in May 2016 and seems to have a “love it or hate it” effect on readers. Despite the differing feedback, The novel won the British Book Award of the Year 2017. I feel as if the reviews have put me off reading this book for a long time, but as always, you should make your own mind up about literature . . . and the cover is really pretty.
The Primrose Path
by Rebecca Griffiths
Haunted by her past. In danger from her present.
Isolated, alone, vulnerable.
Sometimes the danger is closer than you think.
As a teenager, Sarah D’Villez famously escaped a man who abducted and held her hostage for eleven days. The case became notorious, with Sarah’s face splashed across the front of every newspaper in the country.
Now, seventeen years later, that man is about to be released from prison. Fearful of the media storm that is sure to follow, Sarah decides to flee to rural Wales under a new identity, telling nobody where she’s gone.
Settling into the small community she is now part of, Sarah soon realises that someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything about her . . .
I wouldn’t describe this book as the kind that I would usually read, but I am trying to write mystery/crime fiction at the moment and needed some inspiration. I had been delving into classic mystery novels and I thought that this could be a different and more modern take. Although Rebecca Griffiths is not a hugely famous author, the storyline in the blurb gripped me and several positive reviews convinced me to give it a go.
by Anne Brontë
Agnes Grey is a trenchant exposé of the frequently isolated, intellectually stagnant and emotionally starved conditions under which many governesses worked in the mid-nineteenth century. This is a deeply personal novel written from the author’s own experience and as such Agnes Grey has a power and poignancy which mark it out as a landmark work of literature dealing with the social and moral evolution of English society during the last century.
A classic which I cannot wait to read. I recently posted a blog about Anne Brontë, and I bought this book after researching the amazing author. I had finished reading a fictional book, The Vanished Bride and I loved Anne’s character, after looking into the Brontë Sisters, I realised that the author, Bella Ellis was a huge fan of the Brontë’s and had based the characters personalities in the book, from their real-life personalities. The more I learned about the Brontë Sisters, the more I fell in love with them and I am looking forward to reading each one of their novels.
The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern
When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.
Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.
When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.
You are invited to join Zachary on the starless sea: the home of storytellers, story-lovers and those who will protect our stories at all costs.
The Starless Sea is the new novel from the author of The Night Circus, which has been widely adored since its release in September 2011. The Starless Sea was released in November 2019 and is receiving the same praise and adoration as Erin Morgenstern’s previous release. Not only are the covers of her books gorgeous, but each review also raves about the beautiful and magical storylines that help you escape into another world.
by Jessie Burton
From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women–a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London, and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain–and the powerful mystery that ties them together.
England, 1967. Odelle Bastien is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she starts working at the prestigious Skelton Institute of Art, she discovers a painting rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, a young artist of immense talent and vision whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is matched by the intrigue around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions, Odelle does not know what to believe or who she can trust, including her mesmerizing colleague, Marjorie Quick.
Spain, 1936. Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and an English heiress, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a poor, restless village on the southern coast. She grows close to Teresa, a young housekeeper, and Teresa’s half-brother, Isaac Robles, an idealistic and ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. A dilettante buoyed by the revolutionary fervor that will soon erupt into civil war, Isaac dreams of being a painter as famous as his countryman Picasso.
Raised in poverty, these illegitimate children of the local landowner revel in exploiting the wealthy Anglo-Austrians. Insinuating themselves into the Schloss family’s lives, Teresa and Isaac help Olive conceal her artistic talents with devastating consequences that will echo into the decades to come.
Rendered in exquisite detail, The Muse is a passionate and enthralling tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.
Written by the author of hugely popular “The Miniaturist”, The Muse is a novel by the multi-award-winning author, Jessie Burton. Although this novel was not as popular as The Miniaturist, the storyline sounds just as interesting and will be found on my 2020 to-read list.
A Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year
by Allie Esri
From Allie Esiri, editor of the bestselling A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year, comes this beautiful gift anthology of Shakespeare’s works.
William Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a handful of longer poems and you can discover them all here. Each page of this unique collection contains an extract, which might be a famous poem, quote or scene, matched to the date. Allie Esiri’s introductions give her readers a new window into the work, time and life of the greatest writer in the English language.
Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year is perfect for reading or sharing and brings you Shakespeare’s best-known and best-loved classics alongside lesser known extracts. Esiri’s entertaining and insightful thoughts on each entry will fill your year with wonder, laughter, wisdom and wit.
I just bloody love these books. I bought A Poem for Every Night of The Year towards the end of last year and I loved reading the different poems before bed. Then my friend from work bought me A Poem for Every Day of The Year for Christmas and that left me needing to buy the Shakespeare one too. Obviously. There is a fantastic selection of Shakespeare’s, best, most-famous, lesser-known and most-loved poems and quotes. I recommend these books to everybody, everywhere.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow
EVERY STORY OPENS A DOOR
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.
But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
The cover is one of my favourite things this January. You can probably tell from this list that I am a sucker for a bit of magic in a story and this one sounds sure to deliver. I am currently on the second chapter of this book and I am enjoying it so far. I, of course, had to start it in January.
If you have read any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts/read your reviews about them!