Sunday 12 March 2023

Five Recent Reads I've Loved + Mini Reviews

Books, books books! This year is flying by - I feel like I say that all the time but a new month means a quick refresh on what I've been reading over the last month. I've read fourteen books since January so I thought I'd pick out five that really stole my heart. They're all (almost) new authors for me and I'll definitely be looking at their book history to see what else I can pick out to read. 

I also have a mammoth amount of books to get through again, my TBR pile is never-ending and I'm a nightmare for continually adding to it so I've placed a ban on myself until I've worked through what I have at home - not including 99p Kindle offers, oops!

I have five mini-reviews for you today and if you want to keep up with what I'm reading then you can follow me on Goodreads too - Alice Spake // Goodreads.

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I finished 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff in January and oh my gosh, what a heartwarming read. The memoir holds twenty years of letters spanning from 1949 to 1969 between a writer from New York with an antiquarian taste in books and a bookseller based in London. What started as a search for a rare edition turned into years of correspondence and ultimately friendship, all of which is gathered beautifully in this book.

It's full of charm, wit and humour and I'm so glad I've read it, I just couldn't put it down. Most copies come with the accompanying sequel The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street included so be sure to check if you pick a copy up as it is the final piece to the story.

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen
All My Mothers by Joanna Glen was on my tbr pile for most of last year after seeing a few people on Instagram rave about it but I kept putting it off - I suppose I'd seen how hyped it was and didn't want to be disappointed. I've also read The Other Half of Augusta Hope, her first book and didn't particularly enjoy i. I eventually opened the first page and fell within its pages almost immediately. It's a charming story of love and family being found in the most unexpected places and I devoured it.

It was honest, witty and incredibly beautiful. The characters were instantly likeable and I found I turned each page desperate to know more. Funny in parts, heartbreaking in others, it's one that may stay with you for some time.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
If there's one book you should immediately add to your list, it's A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. This is the first book of hers I've read and I've quickly added a load more to my Goodreads esp The House of Spirits as it's been highly recommended.

Spanning from 1934 to 1994, this is the story of the lives of Victor Dalmau & Roser Brugeura, combatants of the Spanish Civil War and how they found refuge in Chile after being displaced before the 1973 coup took hold in Chile some years later. While this is fiction, there are a number of parts that are actually factual and the way it is all pieced together is explained in the Author's Note.

Beautifully written, harrowing in parts and I didn't want to put it down. I felt completely drawn into the characters, I wanted to know every little bit about them and then some, so much so that I definitely finished the last few chapters with tears in my eyes. If you enjoy historical fiction then this would be perfect for you!

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
I kept seeing this so one morning when I had the time to grab a coffee on my own, I picked this up too. Lessons in Chemistry was witty, quirky and while heart-wrenching in parts, so wholesome. Set in the 60s, it tells the story of chemist Elizabeth Zott causing a ruckus at Hastings Research Institute, mainly because she's a woman with opinions that won't make the coffee.

I thought it was a really great debut, it was well written, the characters were incredibly likeable and I genuily did not want to put it down. I lived up to all the hype for me and I'm so intrigued to see what Bonnie Garmus releases next.

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay
Finally is Love & Saffron, a press sample that I was sent in February. Although a short story, this is very similar to 84 Charing Cross Road as the book is made up of letters. In the early 1960s, Joan Bergstrom writes to columnist Imogene Fortier, sending along a sample of saffron. Joan and her mother were fans of Fortier, which is what prompted the young twenty-seven-year-old Joan to write to Imogene, who was in her late fifties, at the time.

The saffron triggered a memory for Imogene's husband, Francis, and awakens a culinary flair Imogene never knew existed which prompts Imogene to answer Joan's fan letter, spawning an unlikely, but profound friendship between the two women. As the years pass, they share their ups and downs, highs and lows, advising and offering support and encouragement to one another unwaveringly. It is a beautifully captivating, emotional and shows how a friendship can be born out of just about anything. A thoroughly enjoyable read that I'd recommend anyone to read.

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