Books of the Year 2015...

Hi All,

December has been a whirlwind for me and I have come hurtling to the end of the year. I thought that I couldn't let the year end without telling you my favourite books of the year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the authors, publishers and fellow bloggers, readers and friends that I have had the pleasure to interact with this year, through a mutual love of reading.

I am particularly grateful to the members of the Book Connectors group on Facebook, a lovely bunch of supportive people. All that has happened is my massive book list has grown even longer. This group has given me more confidence with blogging and interacting with people.

I haven't read as much as I would like this year, things get in the way but on the whole I have enjoyed most books that I have read. Anyway time for me to stop waffling.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May 2016 bring you all lots of love, happiness, luck, and good health. Also of course lots of new books to discover.

Best Wishes,

Leah x

I never thought that I would be able to choose one book as my book of the year, but I have known since March, it would be this one. I think of it regularly. I have chosen this one because of its originality, its beautiful writing and how it had the absolute ability to move me. I always think that the best books have the ability to educate, to inspire and to engage deeply with a reader. This is one of those books that will always be special to me and to top it all off, it was also the first time my review has been quoted inside a paperback.

My book of the year is: 

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah

I have included my original review below:

I have put off writing this review for two days, not because I didn't like the story, but because anything you will read below will not serve to do this book justice.

The A - Z of You and Me is the story of Ivo, who is in a hospice. He is a troubled man with a troubled mind. He has regrets over things in his life and most probably the biggest regret of all, is the love that he has lost.

Sheila, his nurse senses that he needs to take his mind off of what makes him anxious and suggests playing a game called A - Z. Basically he has to choose a body part for each letter and think of a story or memory for each letter.

Here begins the recollections, piece by piece as Ivo looks back over his life.

It is on a very rare occasion that I have sat down to read a book and have completed it in one sitting, absolutely transfixed and unable to move until the end. I was left devastated with the tears pouring down my face. This is one of those books.

This author has been compared to Chris Cleave and David Nicholls. The latter incidentally being one of my favourites. I would suggest that the comparison is unfair. When you can write something as equally unique as it is movingly beautiful, you shouldn't be compared to anyone.

The language in this book is wonderful, there is not a superfluous word or a phrase too much, or out of place. I found it to be very poetic and even lyrical in places, for this reason it came as no surprise to find out that the Author is also a musician.

I found the alphabet game an interesting concept and something that I haven't come across before, it really helped with the flow of the story and the individual recollections.

At this point you might be thinking that this is a total weepy story, in parts that may be correct but not in the entirety. You see there is a dark humour that lifts the pace, there is the warmth of Sheila the nurse. I believe and hope that we all shall know a Sheila when the time comes.

This is essentially a story of friendship, acceptance, forgiveness and love. It is one that I will never forget. I found it refreshingly honest that as Ivo looked back over his life there was touches of realism, it wasn't twee or sentimental in any way. I really appreciated it for that. Ivo realises the mistakes and accepts it.

This book has moved me and it has changed me, and isn't that what it is all about? I want to knit hearts and blankets, that is all.

It is only March and I don't know if anything will top this one this year for me. Essential reading.

I also have some other books that I would also like to mention in no particular order, my other favourites for various reasons this year are:

How to Be Brave by Louise Beech

This is a novel about how stories bring magic to our lives. Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat where an ancestor survived for fifty days. Natalie struggles when nine-year-old daughter Rose is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and refuses her life-saving injections and blood tests. When they begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar they realise he has something for them - his diary. Only by using her imagination, newspaper clippings, letters and this diary will Natalie share the true story of Grandad Colin's survival at sea, and help her daughter cope with her illness and, indeed, survive. This is a haunting, beautifully written, tenderly told story that wonderfully weaves together a contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child's life through the medium storytelling with an extraordinary story of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War.

My review is here.

Escape to Perdition by James Silvester

Prague 2015. Herbert Biely, aged hero of the Prague Spring, stands on the brink of an historic victory, poised to reunite the Czech and Slovak Republics twenty-six years after the Velvet Revolution. The imminent Czech elections are the final stage in realising his dream of reunification, but other parties have their own agendas and plans for the fate of the region. A shadowy collective, masked as an innocuous European Union Institute, will do anything to preserve the status quo. The mission of Institute operative Peter Lowes is to prevent reunification by the most drastic of measures. Yet Peter is not all that he seems. A deeply troubled man, desperate to escape the past, his resentment towards himself, his assignment and his superiors deepens as he questions not just the cause, but his growing feelings for the beautiful and captivating mission target. As alliances shift and the election countdown begins, Prague becomes the focal point for intrigue on an international scale. The body count rises, options fade, and Peter's path to redemption is clouded in a maelstrom of love, deception and murder. Can he confront his past to save the future? This is a high quality page turning thriller and perfect for fans of Le Carre.

My review is here.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.
A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive,Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.
"I wrote this book because the oldest clich├ęs remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven't been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free."

My review is here.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.
But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?
In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

My review is here.

Anything for Her by Jack Jordan

Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you. 

Louise Leighton’s life has fallen apart, all because of one fateful night. Her husband is an adulterer, her sister is his mistress, and soon, Louise will lose everything she owns. But she never imagined she would lose her daughter. 

Eighteen-year-old Brooke Leighton is missing. It’s up to Louise and the Metropolitan Police to find her. Has Brooke run away? Or has she been taken against her will? And can Louise aid the investigation without mentioning the night where all of her troubles began? 

If she mentions that night, she will incriminate her daughter for heinous crimes. But if she doesn’t, she may never find Brooke; and if she has been abducted, the person who took her may come for Louise, too. 

Sometimes the past comes back to kill you.

My review is here.

Anyway that is Six Picks from me. Thanks for taking the time to read and see you in 2016.

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