Thursday, 19 September 2013

My top 5 books read this Summer by Caroline Finnerty

Today's selection of top 5 books read this summer has been chosen by Irish author Caroline Finnerty whose latest book The Last Goodbye is out now.  And thanks to Caroline I've now added another couple of books onto my ever increasing Amazon wishlist!

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

This was the first Kate Atkinson book that I have ever read and I will be going through her backlist to read more. I loved the premise behind this book about a girl called Ursula Todd who gets to relive her life again and again. I’ve always been intrigued by this concept of parallel lives or how the choices we make can result in different outcomes. A difficult concept to write about but Kate Atkinson pulls it off brilliantly.

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. 

The search for Robert brings Gretta's children — two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce — back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share. 

I’m a huge fan of Maggie O’Farrell and her family sagas and she doesn’t disappoint here. I kept reading this and waiting for our own heat-wave to materialize, pity it only lasted for two weeks... 

The Story of Before by Susan Stairs

On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. Bu t she cannot see the outline of that thing - she cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the shape of their future will be carved into two parts; the before and the after. 

Or that it will break her heart and break her family. 

This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.

This book is written by fellow Irish author Susan Stairs and it’s hard to be believe that this is her debut novel. I read a review of this book and thought it sounded like my kind of book and I wasn’t disappointed. Beautifully descriptive and will bring you right back to your childhood for anyone who grew up in the seventies or eighties. The writing is eerily beautiful with some twists and turns. Without giving the story away, this ending made me so angry (in a good way). My advice to anyone reading it is to make sure you have a packet of Kleenex handy. A book that will stay with you a long time after - my favourite read so far this year. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer & Annie Barrows

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey. 

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society— born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. 

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.” 

This was a book that I had wanted to read for a while because the title is so quirky and caught my imagination so I was delighted when my book club chose it as their next read. It’s written through a series of letters and it is through these letters that we learn about the main character Juliet and lives of her friends and the islanders on Guernsey. Just like the title it is a quirky and charming read, full of warmth and humour.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Birdsong spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. 

Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in Amiens in northern France in 1910 to stay with the Azaire family, and falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters, and Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western Front. His love for Isabelle forever engraved on his heart, he experiences the unprecedented horrors of that conflict - from which neither he nor any reader of this book can emerge unchanged. 

This was in my to-be-read pile for a while having heard lots of people talking about it. Although the jacket describes it a love story set in WW1, it is so much more than that. Although the story itself is fictional, the accounts of the awful battles that the soldiers had to endure and they awful conditions that they lived in will really stay with you afterwards.


  1. What a fab list. I am actually half way through Guernsey ... and have Birdsong on my shelf awaiting a free slot in my reading schedule. Thanks for a super blog and keep posting.

  2. I haven't read any of these books and they all sound so enticing! Loving this feature Shaz, but I'm never going to be able to read all the books I'm lusting after : ))

  3. Not read any of these will look out for them :-)

  4. Not read any of these will look out for them :-)