Mini Christmas Book Haul

 

As a bookworm and long-time book lover people often shy away from buying books for me for Christmas and birthdays, unless they’re ones I’ve explicitly asked for. This year I was pleasantly surprised, receiving a few books from family – I’ve included the blurb of each, below.

The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss (Granta)

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Adam is a stay-at-home dad who is also working on a history of the bombing and rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral. He is a good man and he is happy. But one day, he receives a call from his daughter’s school to inform him that, for no apparent reason, fifteen-year-old Miriam has collapsed and stopped breathing. In that moment, he is plunged into a world of waiting, agonising, not knowing. The story of his life and the lives of his family are rewritten and re-told around this shocking central event, around a body that has inexplicably failed.

In this exceptionally courageous and unflinching novel of contemporary life Sarah Moss goes where most of us wouldn’t dare to look, and the result is riveting – unbearably sad, but also miraculously funny and ultimately hopeful. The Tidal Zone explores parental love, overwhelming fear, illness and recovery. It is about clever teenagers and the challenges of marriage. It is about the NHS, academia, sex and gender in the twenty-first century, the work-life juggle, and the politics of packing lunches and loading dishwashers. It confirms Sarah Moss as a unique voice in modern fiction and a writer of luminous intelligence.

The Museum of You – Carys Bray (Cornerstone)

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Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.

Darren has done his best. He’s studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want – everything he can think of, at least – to be happy. 

What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother’s belongings. Volume isn’t important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.

But what you find depends on what you’re searching for.

Gold from the Stone – Lemn Sissay (Canongate Books)

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Lemn Sissay was seventeen when he wrote his first poetry book, which he hand-sold to the miners and mill workers of Wigan. Since then his poems have become landmarks, sculpted in granite and built from concrete, recorded on era-defining albums and declaimed in over thirty countries.

He has performed to thousands of football fans at the FA Cup Final, to hundreds of thousands as the poet of the 2012 Olympics, and to millions across our TV screens and the airwaves of BBC Radio. He has become one of the nation’s best-loved voices.

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What Alice Knew / November Reads  

November was a crazy, busy month with a small bout of ill health (thankfully I’m feeling right as rain now) and a career change under my belt. Sadly, my reading fell by the wayside. Rather pathetically I managed one whole book in November but at least it was a good one!

I received What Alice Knew (T.A. Cotterell) in the post from the lovely Becky over at Transworld Books to help me get Harry’s Book Club set-up and on the road.

As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I’d be in for a treat:

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up. 

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

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Without revealing any spoilers as I don’t want to ruin what is a fantastic book, What Alice Knew is not your average thriller. The storyline follows Alice, her husband Ed and their children, Arthur and Nell, through a moral dilemma, dissecting trust and honesty, questioning how far they’d go for familial love after Ed mysteriously disappears. Cotterell’s storytelling captivated me throughout, he crams so much tension in and explores many themes in the book, from loyalty to justice, with ease.

I really enjoyed Cotterell’s characterisation of Alice – as an artist she is a creative, complex and deep, someone who feels her way through situations. In contrast to this Ed is simple, straight forward and to the point. Throughout the book I found myself siding with Alice, then Ed, then Alice; it was like a tennis match between them as the story darkly unfurled.I loved that the ending was a complete twist and one that I wasn’t expecting. Since finishing the book the story has really stuck with me and made me question what I would have done in Alice’s situation.

From the moment I started this book I didn’t want to put it down – What Alice Knew is a gripping, psychological read and one that I am surprised to hear is a debut novel! It is currently available on Kindle, whilst the paperback is available to pre-order and due out May 2017.

4/5

As mentioned, this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and all views are my own.