40. Elena Vanishing – Elena and Clare Dunkle
Story – Elena lives in Germany with her parents, who are with the military. Elena is ambitious, driven and a perfectionist. She’s also anorexic. This is the true story of several years of Elena’s life and the ups and downs her illness caused her and her family.
Thoughts – A hard one to read. Anorexia books always are, although I don’t think I’ve read any for years. It’s difficult to read any book that puts you in the mind of someone with a mental illness, and that’s what Elena has. It’s a heartbreaking story of how much of her life she lost while she was in the grip of this disease, because she lived with it for years. I was moved enough by the book to look her up online, and I was genuinely glad to see that she is doing so well.
39. Free-Range Knitter – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
38. Knitting Rules! – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
37. Yarn Harlot – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Thoughts – They’re all books about knitting. They’re funny and cute and educational and interesting, but probably only if you are also into knitting.
36. What She Knew – Gilly Macmillan
Story – Rachel Jenner and her son Ben were enjoying one of their regular walks in the woods with their dog, when Ben asked if he could run ahead to the swing. Thinking she ought to encourage his independence, Rachel agreed – something she would come to regret bitterly, because when she reached the swing there was no Ben. He had been taken.
Thoughts – I don’t know what’s with all these kidnapped children stories that are turning up lately. Maybe it’s a case of facing the darkest fear of every parent? The idea of my child being taken, and of having to live the rest of my life in a kind of horrible limbo of now knowing, is excruciating to think about. Anyway, this story dealt with it well I thought. The characters were interesting and relatable and I liked the way the relationships shifted under the pressure of the situation. I liked the way it contained sections from different points of view, so that we saw the thoughts, motivations and actions of people involved.
35. The Flyaway Girls – Julia Lawrinson
Story – Gymnastics is Chelsea’s life. She’s the hardest worker at her club, determined to do her very best to get into their Nationals team. But then a new girl, Telia, joins the club and right from the start it seems that she has more natural talent than Chelsea ever will. Seeing her gymnastics dreams slipping out of her grasp, Chelsea also has family problems to deal with and wonders if she will ever make it.
Thoughts – This was a good story, with a lovely main character. Chelsea’s focus on her dreams was touching, and I thought the way that the ups and down of her relationships with her friends was written was great. It was probably aimed at a younger age group than I first thought – Chelsea was actually eleven and I think girls around that age would really like it.
34. Hello From the Gillespies – Monica McInerney
Story – Every year, Angela Gillespie sends out her Christmas letter on December 1st. But this year when she sits down to write it, she gives in to a momentary impulse and, unlike her usual cheerful, glossy missives, she writes the truth. The truth about her four children, all floundering in their own ways, the truth about her marriage, the truth about the secret fantasy life. She never intended to send it…
Thoughts – I’ve read a few things by this author and although they’re always enjoyable and have engaging characters, they also have a kind of sameness to them. You know that it’s all going to work out, and everyone will end up better than they started out. This doesn’t stop it being a fun, easy read – I loved the family relationships and the way they all came together in such challenging circumstances.
33. After Anna – Alex Lake
Story – Julia Crowne is late picking up her five year old daughter from school one day and walks into every parent’s worst nightmare – Anna has disappeared. For a week the police search as Julia is crucified through the press for her ‘neglect’, and then, with no explanation, Anna is returned. But settling back into normal life is impossible, as the repercussions from the stressful time make themselves felt.
Thoughts – This was not bad. I found the whole matter of the disappearance interesting, and the resulting breakdown of the already damaged relationship between Julia and her husband Brian was well written. However it was one of those books where the character’s behaviour is so frustrating that you want to shake some sense into them! I also figured out who it was really early on, which always make me enjoy a book less – especially since I was already frustrated with Julia, having her do absolutely the worst things possible just made me grit my teeth!
32. The Silent Cry – Cathy Glass
Story – Another fostering memoir by Cathy Glass. In this one Cathy becomes involved with a family down the street when Laura, a new mother, seems ill and acts out of character in the school playground one morning. Cathy tries to help, but the process is a difficult one as Laura and her family seem determined to hide the fact that something is very wrong.
Thoughts – I don’t know why I read this one. Well, I do – it’s about post natal depression (and in this case postnatal psychosis) and despite the fact that it often makes me feel horrible I am interested in that subject and how it is portrayed in fiction. However I should know better than to read any of the Cathy Glass books, because they just end up irritating me! Cathy is obviously an amazing woman, but I don’t think she’s an amazing writer. I know she’s writing real life and it doesn’t come with a nice trajectory like a fiction story does, but there’s so much random information about her day to day life thrown in with the main story that I find distracting. I mean, I want to know about Laura and her family, not about Cathy taking her toddler to the pool!
31. How Hard Can Love Be? – Holly Bourne
Story – The sequel to “Am I Normal Yet?” this book follows Amber as she goes to America for the summer to visit her recovering alcoholic mother and work at her summer camp.
Thoughts – I enjoyed this book, but it was a slight disappointment after Am I Normal Yet? I didn’t feel Amber in the same way I felt Evie, and I felt the supporting characters weren’t as strong in this one. However I always love a good summer camp story! I also liked the fact that there wasn’t a nice, tidy resolution at the end…human relationships are messy and people are flawed and sometimes okay is the best you can hope for.
30. The Beast – Roslund-Hellstrom
Story – A Swedish crime book, the first in a series about these detectives. Four years after he brutally assaulted and murdered two little girls in a basement, Lund escapes from prison. This is the story of the police chase, and what can happen when people take the law into their own hands.
Thoughts – Interesting book, kind of different from the usual police procedural thing. A horrible killer, and the book clearly shows the frustration that can abound in such cases. I enjoyed it, although I don’t know how memorable it’s going to be.