My year of rest and relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Amy My Year of rest and relaxationA young, beautiful, wealthy, young woman lives an enviable life in New York City, but is miserable, so, with the help of her crazy psychiatrist, decides to enter drug induced sleep for a year, in the hope she will feel better. Quirky, horrid, funny and terribly black, this won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

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Siracusa by Delia Ephron

amy-siracusa.jpgI raced through this psychological thriller, where four people look back at a disastrous holiday, telling the tale of what went wrong when two couples, one with a daughter, go on holiday together to Siracusa. It’s an intriguing, compelling, and creepy story about marriage, secrets, perceptions, and Americans abroad.

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The bookshop of the broken hearted by Robert Hillman

Amy bookshop of the broken heartedIn 1960s rural Australia, kind and gentle farmer, Tom, wife has left him again, this time taking the young boy Tom raised, though the child wasn’t his. A glamorous older woman moves into town, a survivor of Auschwitz, determined to open a bookshop. Tom and Hannah find love, but making a new life is complicated. There is sweetness and humour here, and a lovely setting; I think it would make a popular movie. For me, there wasn’t enough character development, the villains were unconvincing (not the Nazis!) and I just wasn’t captured by this story.

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The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

amy-nevermoor.jpgI once grew my hair to look like Audrey Tautou in Amélie. I realised that the comparisons were not in my favour. Comparing new books to Harry Potter is a similarly risky move, but in this case, I think it works. As I read Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow, I was strongly reminded of Harry Potter many times, but in a good way. The story of cursed child, Morrigan’s, rescue from death, and removal to Nevermoor where she competes to join the Wundrous Society is full of delightful characters, twists and turns, joy, fear, sadness, laughs and a lot of fun. It’s great for younger readers, and, like all good books for young people, for those of any age who love a heartwarming, sweet, and funny tale of wonder.

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Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Amy LullabyThis book starts with a murder scene; the nanny kills her two young charges before attempting to kill herself. What follows is the lead up to the horror, and it is a clever and disturbing look at the struggles of modern parenthood, career, city living, and the fascinating situation of inviting someone into your one to care for your children. I raced through it to the abrupt, but not unsatisfying, end.

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Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Amy HappinessFour and a half stars for this, my favourite Forna book yet. It’s the story of two people who meet by chance, in London, neither of them English. Jean is an American, studying urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist. They join together, along with a crew of immigrant workers, to search for a lost boy, and find more than they were looking for. It’s a quiet novel, very thoughtful and intelligent, and I just fell in love with the characters.

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You me everything by Catherine Isaac

Amyyou-me-everything-9781471149153_hrThis is chick lit with an educational purpose. A single mother, Jess, and her ten year old son travel to France to spend time with his father. Jess and Adam split up ten years ago, but her mother, who is ill, is keen for her grandson to connect with his father. Her mother’s illness weighs heavily on Jess, and this trip is significant for a number of reasons. The French countryside is lovely, the characters attractive and the interactions pleasantly predictable. The education is related to a particular disease, but the moral is not unusual for this sort of book; live life to the full. I must have seen this highly recommended somewhere, to have put it on my list, and it certainly wasn’t horrid, but I need a bit more to be really moved by a book. For fans of Me Before You, which doesn’t mean that someone dies!

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Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Amy WarlightIn post-war London, two teenagers, Nathaniel and Rachel, are left in the care of an odd, possibly criminal man, and his assorted friends. It is a confusing time, and years later Nathaniel looks back and tries to make sense of it. It’s an evocative story about intelligence work during WWII, the perspective of young people, parenthood, and memory.

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Hold by Michael Donkor

amy-hold.jpgThree and a half stars for Hold, a story about Belinda, a Ghanaian teenager who, having adjusted from village life to that of a housegirl, makes another move, to London. In London, she lives with a Ghanaian couple, and their daughter, Amma, who is struggling, and her parents hope Belinda can get her back on track. It is a quiet coming of age story, dealing with culture, duty, shame, belonging and growing into a sense of self. My favourite character was the younger Mary, left behind in Ghana; spirited and funny. The pace of this novel is slow, and it didn’t move me quite as much as I feel it could have.

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