Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Amy MiddlesexI really love this book! In order to tell his story, Cal Stephanides needs to go back and start with his grandparents. What follows is the epic story of a Greek family, beginning with an escape from burning Smyrna to their settling in Detroit. It is full of real history thrillingly entwined with the imagined; the Nation of Islam, the riots in Detroit (David Bowie song!) and an experience of being intersex. It is heartwarming, funny, over the top and very real at the same time.

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How to find love in a bookshop by Veronica Henry

Amy How to find love in a book shopIt turns out that I can enjoy a book like this, if it is set in a book shop, in the Cotswolds. Emilia’s father has died, leaving her a book shop that isn’t doing very well. As she decides whether to keep it going or not, a cast of her customers also find themselves at crossroads. It’s heartwarming, comfortably predictable and sweet, without being cloying. I couldn’t read only this sort of book, but it was an entertaining interlude.

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The enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Amy Enchanted AprilThis is a thoroughly enchanting, magical experience. Four ladies answer an advertisement to rent an Italian chateau for a month, in the hope of escaping their dreary lives in London. In the explosion of flowers and bright sunshine they are each transformed. Beautifully written, so that I could smell the flowers and thrill at the gardens overlooking the sea, it is also a warm, life-affirming book and surely the next best thing to a month in an Italian chateau.

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Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

amy-whered-you-go-bernadetteThis is a really delightful book. It’s about a woman who is struggling to come to terms with disappointments and find her way. She is a much loved mother to 15 year old Bee, and all sorts of complicated things to other people in her life until she disappears and Bee sets out to find her. It’s clever, funny, quirky (not self consciously so), has a great sense of place and is so life affirming, a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

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A man called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Tracey RRL A man Called OveI loved this book because it conjured up a host of emotions in me. Reading about a grumpy, yet lovable, old man’s struggle to come to terms with the loss of his beloved wife who was the colour in his otherwise black and white world and his one man war against a wolrd that insisted on not following his rules made me feel sad, happy, angry, frustrated, annoyed, laugh out loud and giggle, but most of all it warmed my heart and left a smile on my face. This easy to read book with chapters that could be short stories in themselves left me feeling uplifted whilst wiping away a tear or two.

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One small act of kindness by Lucy Dillon

Jeannie One small act of kindnessI have thoroughly enjoyed all of Lucy Dillon’s light, warm novels and this one was no exception.  Libby and Jason Corcoran have moved back to Jason’s hometown to bring the B&B owned by his grieving mother Margaret back to life as a boutique hotel. A car accident leaves a young woman with no memory of the last few years, with her only identification a note containing the address of the Corcoran’s hotel.  A friendship develops between the mystery woman and Libby, who is determined to help her find out the truth about her identity. With characters you care about, including Lord Bob the basset hound and other dogs (true to the style of Lucy Dillon!), this is a pleasant read, if a bit predictable, all about kindness, trust, love and DIY.

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Suri’s wall by Lucy Estela

DONE Suri's Wall by Lucy Estela and Matt OttleyNominated for the 2016 Children’s Book Council’s Picture Book of the Year Award.

This story is about how one young girl’s imagination is awakened  and shared with the children around her, suffusing them with hope for a better future. A story about being different, feeling safe, imaginations and the nurturing of hope. Parents and teachers will enjoy sharing the visual smorgasbord created by illustrator Matt Ottley blended with the tantalising words of author Lucy Estela.

I hope everyone has the wonderful opportunity to experience this book. It will be so hard to pick the best out of all these fantastic books on the shortlist for the Children’s Book Councils’ Book Week Picture Book of the Year Award.

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