The New Year started with a bang as a lot of blog tour commitments and ARC dates meant a busy reading month. Perhaps because of this, I read 15 books in January. That might also be why I finally made it into the UK 100 Most Popular Reviewers on Goodreads – but just for one week.
January was an embarrassment of riches, with multiple 5 star reads. However, I’ve whittled it down to my five favourites, in no particular order. Click on the book title to read my full review.
Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
Once upon a time there was a boy who fell through a crack in time but he didn’t fall all the way.
Following the momentous events at his school’s annual dance, Oliver lies in a coma – neither here nor gone but ‘suspended’ somewhere in between. The reader shares his family’s desire to find out what exactly caused the events of that day. I described the book as ‘an examination of the impact of a tragedy on a family and a community, and an exploration of the ‘locked in’ state’. It’s also about needing answers and about clinging on to hope.
The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford
“You do not leave a child alone to face the dark.”
Based on accounts of people who lived through it, the book tells the powerful and, at times, harrowing, story of the Warsaw ghetto during the occupation of Poland by the Nazis in World War II. And of one of Poland’s heroes, Dr Janusz Korczak. Of the half a million people who lived in the ghetto, less than one percent survived to tell their story. It’s a story of cruelty and barbarism but also of courage, resilience, hope and love.
Beautiful Star & Other Stories by Andrew Swanston
History is brought alive by the people it affects, rather than those who created it.
A fascinating collection of stories based on events in history seen from the point of view of the ordinary people caught up in them. Recommended for any lover of history (I think it might even convert some people who think history is dull) and those for whom the lives of the people who fought in a battle are more interesting than the battle itself.
Carol by Patricia Highsmith
‘Was life, were human relationships always like this… Never solid ground underfoot’.
Published in 1952, originally with the title The Price of Salt and under a pseudonym, Carol tells the story of the relationship between two women, at a time when this would have been considered an aberration. It may well have been groundbreaking at the time but, in the end, I found it simply the tender, emotional, passionate story of two people exploring the attraction they feel for each other. The recent film adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara is also highly recommended. You can read my comparison of the book and the film here.
Nucleus (Tom Wilde #2) by Rory Clements
A secret so deadly, nothing and no-one is safe.
It’s 1939 and Britain is beset by enemies at home and abroad. Add to the equation recent breakthroughs in atomic science and you have a race between competing powers for control of the brains who can harness atomic power for good or for ill. I loved Corpus but Nucleus, if anything, was even better. I described it as having ‘more thrills than a 100mph burn-up on Tom Wilde’s trusty Rudge Special’. Highly recommended for historical thriller fans.
What were your favourite reads last month?