April – Lion, Big Little Lies and The Secret Life of Bees

As I was at home for the first few weeks of April – and busy trying to do as much and see as many people as possible in 17 days – I didn’t get to read as much as I usually do and by the time I returned to Spain I had only read the first few chapters of Lion. I thought this would be first month where I only completed one book but in the end I’ve finished 3 books – 2 read in the last 6 days of April – and they have all been excellent. They all revolve around a search for the truth which for some is found within in another person and they all show strong friendship and familial bonds. 

Saroo Brierley- Lion/ A Long Way Home: A Memoir
My Mam and Dad had seen this at the cinema and after loving it my Mam decided to read the book. She enjoyed it and recommended I read it too, which I did. Although it took me nearly 3 weeks between starting and finishing it, it was a surprisingly easy read – during which I definitely cried multiple times. It is the true story of Saroo who got onto the wrong train in India when he was 5 years old and, after growing up in Australia, begins to search for his family. It was heartbreaking to read but with the photos in the middle – I definitely looked at these before I even decided to read the book – I knew that he would find his family. However it was still incredible to read about his sheer determination to track down the town where he had been born and lost his family. 
Liane Moriarty – Big Little Lies
As most people know – and anyone who has read even one of these blog posts – I am drawn to books that have been adapted into films or TV shows. So when I discovered the TV show – starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shaileene Woodley, Laura Deen and a host of other famous faces – was based on a book, I knew I had to read it before I would be able to watch the show. The TV show is being raved about by everyone I know who has watched it – I haven’t started to binge yet – and I am not surprised as the book was superb. Over 3 days I laughed, I cried, I sent quotes to my friends and at one point I even threw my kindle across my bed as the twist came as a massive shock to me. After I made it past the halfway point I couldn’t put it down and walked across the road still reading it and for the first time read on the bus on the way back from school. The story follows a group of mothers of kindergarten children in Sydney and tells their story leading up to the murder of one of the parents. It deals with a multitude of issues that women face such as domestic violence, abuse, problems with their children while also depicting female friendship as the incredible force that it is. I couldn’t recommend Big Little Lies highly enough. 

 Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
I picked this book up in a second hand book shop in Vigo but had planned to read it later and try to read a book in Spanish first but when Katie said she had read it and loved it, I decided to start reading it straight after I finished Big Little Lies. I read it in 2 sittings – 2 3 and a half hour long but still – and it was an absolutely stunning read. It is set in South Carolina in the 60s and follows the story of Lily Owens who runs away from home with her black maid, Rosaleen, and finds refuge in the house of the Boatwright sisters who keep bees and sell the honey. The civil rights movement that was taking place at the time is mentioned throughout – Rosaleen wanting to register to vote, racism, Martin Luther King – the story focuses on Lily’s search for more information about her mother who dies when she was 4 and the importance of female role models. It is an excellent book that I would definitely recommend.

March – The Hundred Foot Journey and Girl Up

Last month I read fewer books than the previous 2 months but they were excellent, made even better by the fact I was able to read them while sitting on the beach in the sunshine. 

Richard Morais – The Hundred Foot Journey

I had had this book since the film was first released in the cinema and my Mam had picked it up in Tesco on offer. I had planned to read it and watch the film after but after watching the film earlier in the year – and absolutely loving it – I decided it was time to give the book a try. It was different to the film, Hassan wasn’t quite as friendly and lovely as in the film and there was no Hollywood ending. However it was still excellent. I struggled to read it while hungry as it is full of detailed descriptions of amazing sounding food that in reality I probably wouldn’t eat but sounded so tempting I was close to eating my book. The book also came across as more real, the characters are more well rounded – less perfect and more likely to be asshats. All in all it was a very entertaining read and one I would definitely recommend- just probably for when you’re not starving!

 

Laura Bates – Girl Up

I had bought Girl Up last summer after seeing it just about everywhere but again I hadn’t gotten around to actually reading it. I wish I had read it sooner. What a book! It discusses a multitude of different things that young girls deal with every day. It is both overwhelmingly honest and full of humour. I have never read anything more relatable and it has also prompted many discussions with my flat mate who has borrowed it and read it quicker than she has ever read another book. It is an incredible read that I would recommend to everyone and should be given to every young girl as there is so much that would have been exactly what I needed to read while I was at school. In short, this book should be read by every female. 
 

February – Anne of Green Gables, Scrappy Little Nobody and The Sister

Yet again last month all of the books I read were written by a woman with a female at the centre of the story – or stories – and they have been excellent once again. Two have even centred around red headed females which I found strange as they were chosen by chance to read in the same month. With the weather being so good, reading between classes was a joy in the sunshine meaning that again I finished 3 books last month – success!
Lucy Maud Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables is one of those classics I knew very little about until I started using Pinterest. I was forever scrolling through screenshots from the film but it wasn’t until I watched an adaptation with my Mam – it had Martin Sheen in and I feel like it was potentially on Hallmark – that I decided to give it a read. As it’s a classic the book was free on my kindle – winner – so while trying to expand my reading horizons I downloaded it. I found it very easy to read and it was a perfect accompaniment to my cups of tea at the beach during my breaks at school. It’s also always nice to read a book with a redhead as the main character – even if she spends the first half of the book complaining about it. As with other books I have read recently I thought it seemed to end quite quickly – although maybe it just feels that way when I’m enjoying a book so much – and after all the posts on Pinterest I’d expected a lot more Gilbert Blythe. All in all I liked the book a lot and am definitely enjoying reading more of the classics that I feel like should have already read. 
Anna Kendrick – Scrappy Little Nobody

I knew I wanted to read this as soon as Anna Kendrick posted a picture on instagram saying it was going to be a thing. I got it for Christmas and managed to stretch reading it over a good 5 weeks by reading a little everyday before going to sleep. I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I cringed – it was exactly what I expected and I loved finding out a little more about an actress that I love so much. It was split into sections and contained anecdotes about her love life, career, family and friends. Before reading it I hadn’t realised she’d been a child stage actress and found it interesting to read about how she had grown up while working. I’ve already lent the book to 2 of the other girls here so I think it will be well and truly read and enjoyed. 
Louise Jensen – The Sister

I decided to give this a read after it came up as a recommended read after Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. It was labelled as a “psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming” which – without giving too much away – would have been more believable if the book wasn’t named The Sister. That’s not to say the book wasn’t good or that I guessed exactly how it was going to end but another name may have been a better choice. When I first started I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to finish as Jensen does have a strange writing style which I found a little irritating at first. However once I got halfway through – and the plot began to thicken – I was gripped and finished it in a few hours. I have since downloaded her other novel in the hope that it will be as easy to read and help to fill the time.

January – Little Women, Sharp Objects and I Left My Tent in San Francisco

For those of you who regularly read my blog you’ll be aware that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read at least one book a month. This month I have actually finished 3 since returning to Spain in the New Year. While trying to think of a title for the post I realised that all 3 books were written by women and have female protagonists. This wasn’t intentional but after the way this year has started – and after the inspiring Women’s marches across the world – it does seem quite fitting. It is also not that surprising, I am halfway through another book by a woman and many of the books loaded onto my kindle are by women. So here’s to a year full of fascinating, exciting and heart-breaking stories by incredible women, and men.

 

Louisa May Alcott – Little Women

I started reading Little Women before Christmas, and after a break while I was at home, I finished it in my first week back. I feel like I had maybe started to read it at about 9 at my Grandma’s house while unable to find anything else but had given up after a few pages and watched CBBC instead. I read the entire book in my breaks and thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the characters’ lives while drinking cups of mint tea and listening to the waves. I definitely found myself getting caught up in their lives – I quite often would rage to Else about what I’d read that day – and was intensely disappointed when the ending wasn’t as predictable as I’d first thought. It has, however, showed me how many of the classics I’ve yet to read and has given me the push to download a lot more onto my kindle ready for the next time I need some more sentimentality in my life.

 

Gillian Flynn – Sharp Objects

This has been on my kindle since the last time I was in Spain after I was blown away by Gone Girl and decided to read anything I could find by Gillian Flynn. However after reading Dark Places and its depictions of satanic rituals and intensely gory murders I had to take a break and never managed to convince myself to go back and read Sharp Objects. After finishing Little Women I knew I wanted something a little more gritty and some more suspense and twists so I decided to just get over it and start. I am so glad I did. It reminded me why I had started with my Gillian Flynn obsession in the first place – enough hints to keep you guessing but not so many that the ending is insanely obvious. The one thing I disliked was that the ending seemed a little rushed – most of the book is spread over the space of about 2 weeks but in one chapter towards the end they squeeze in a few weeks of what’s happened. Reading crime novels again has reminded me of one of my favourite modules at university and has prompted me to download a lot more to keep up the suspense.

 

Emma Kennedy – I Left My Tent in San Francisco

I decided to read this as I felt like I needed something lighter after Sharp Objects and knew Emma Kennedy would pull it out of the bag. I read another of her books The Tent, the Bucket and Me last year after watching The Kennedys, which is based on the book, and cried laughing from start to finish. The Tent, the Bucket and Me recounts her disastrous childhood holidays while I Left My Tent in San Francisco details her summer in USA with her best friend, Dee after graduating from Oxford. As with The Tent, the Bucket and Me they face a number of hilarious disasters along the way as their trip does not go at all as they had planned. One of the biggest problems Emma faces is the decision about what to do with her life now that she’s finished university – Dee is going to be a Doctor so has her life mapped out. I have never identified with someone more. When I graduated a lot of my friends were heading straight back to University- or had just finished their training – in order to become a teacher. Meanwhile all I knew was that I didn’t want to become a teacher- great Erin, that’s one job out of 1,000,000 that you can cross off your list. A year and a half later and I’m still no closer to a decision. What I enjoyed about I Left My Tent in San Francisco is that despite not having a clue about what she wanted to do Emma Kennedy has gone on to write 9 books and a TV series. Not everyone knows what they’re going to do at 22 – or 23 in my case – but that’s fine, we’ve got our entire lives to figure it out.