How to stop time by Matt Haig

cynthia-how-to-stop-time.jpgTom is not an ordinary person, he has a condition that makes him age very, very slowly. Through Tom Matt Haig explores what time and memory means to us humans. We are always thinking of the past or the future. Perhaps we should allow ourselves time to live in the moment, open ourselves up, and be willing to love — Cynthia

Imagine once you hit puberty, your ageing slowed, so that when you were over 400 years old, you looked around 40. How would you live, how would your memory work, what would be important to you? This is the situation for Tom Hazard, who has struggled for centuries to live with his past, and keep his secrets; knowing he mustn’t make connections, but keep moving on. Now, he questions the meaning of life, and what makes it worthwhile. It’s an imaginative story, full of historical detail, deep questions and sweet relationships — Amy

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Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Amy CloudwishCloudwish is the story of a girl whose parents came to Australia by boat, after the fall of Saigon. She has a scholarship to a fancy, private school in Melbourne, and tries to find her own space in two different worlds. There’s lots of typical, coming of age issues, but also plenty of diversity, a hint of magic, a sweetly complicated romance and Jane Eyre; a lot to like about this book.

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The Essex serpent by Sarah Perry

Amy The Essex SerpentIn the 1890s, newly widowed Cora Seaborne leaves London for a village in Essex. She is now free; free to explore nature, to spend time with friends, old and new, and to be caught up in superstition and legend about the Essex Serpent. Slow to get going, it’s a book about intellect, the blurring of friendship and romantic love, faith and reason. There is a very strong sense of place, and such vivid characters.

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Under the Spanish stars by Alli Sinclair

Cynthia Under the Spanish starsThis was a lovely romantic story set in two storylines; the present day and the Spanish Civil War. The dual storylines worked well together and contained a good mix of history, romance, travel and mystery. I think this story was so enjoyable because I had read Golden earrings by Belinda Alexander earlier in the year which covered the same topics and hence the subject matter and the Spanish terminiology were familiar, increasing my undestanding and enjoyment.

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Summer crossing by Truman Capote

Amy summer crossingAs with Go Set a Watchman, I had qualms about reading this, as Truman had abandoned it, and didn’t want it published. Funny, given the connection between Truman and Harper Lee. Still, I read it, and while it really can’t compare with his later work, I did still enjoy it. It’s a New York story, of youth, wealth and intoxicating love; slim, in more ways than one, but I’m glad I read it.

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Insomniac city by Bill Hayes

Amy Insomniac CityInsomniac City is a love story, about a man who falls in love with New York City and Oliver Sacks. It must be more than twenty years since I read my first Oliver Sacks book, and I have read many since, feeling so drawn to this gentle, ever curious, genius of a man. And, while I am not especially keen on the US as a whole, New York is different, magical somehow. So, this memoir of Bill Hayes’ moving to New York and loving Oliver Sacks until his death, was totally captivating to me. A whimsical , quirky, deeply moving book about love, loss and life well lived.

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Beautiful messy love by Tess Woods

Renee Beautiful Messy LoveTess Woods’s debut novel, Love at First Flight, stayed with me long after I finished reading it, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her second novel, especially when I discovered that Beautiful Messy Love was the story of the children from the first book. Beautiful Messy Love is a stand alone novel, though.

I found Lily very relatable – in my early 20s, I also struggled with studying a difficult university degree and debated whether to finish it. My heart went out to Anna and I loved Tante Rosa – the grumpy Egyptian matriarch made me smile. My favourite character would be Toby’s brother, John – he cracked me up so many times with his inappropriate, self-absorbed comments.

I went from laughing at hilarious one-liners to sobbing, on multiple occasions – a roller coaster of emotions. Two intertwining love stories, overcoming issues of race, religion, fame and grief. This book is firmly at the top of my Best of 2017 list.

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