The Binding by Bridget Collins

This was just one of those stunning books that will stay with me for a long time.  I can’t explain in enough words just how much I adored reading this book, and I really didn’t want it to finish.

The Binding follows the story of Emmet Farmer as he becomes a binder’s apprentice and learns the trade of locking people’s memories away in books – meaning their minds get wiped and they can continue their lives as normal.  Whilst living with the mysterious Seredith, Emmet meets a man called Lucian Darnay – and struggles to identify with the huge range of emotions and dreams he keeps having regarding him.  The story then follows the incredibly complex relationship that envelopes Darnay and Emmet and we see the huge consequences for many other characters, simply as a result of Darnay and Emmet knowing each other.

I thought that the whole story of The Binding had such a unique and fresh quality to it and it was quite simply beautifully written.  The book is written in three parts and  I particularly loved the second part where we found out how Lucian and Darnay properly met – I raced through the third part as a result, and instantly wanted to go back at the end and read the first part of all over again with a fresh new perspective.  The descriptions were so vivid that I could completely imagine this intricate world that Bridget Collins describes and I found myself becoming so absorbed in it.  I thought the way that Lucian Darnay in particular was written was so clever, I went from immensely disliking him at the start to wanting nothing more than for him to be happy and live the life he wants.  I think for me that was why I loved this book so much, I was really rooting for the two main characters and I found myself caring about them.

The genre of this book could be said to be historical fiction, and for a genre that I may not usually choose I just thought it was simply outstanding.  A definite 5 stars for The Binding.

The Binding


On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond

This is a beautifully written story about four friends who meet, as they always do, for a low key birthday lunch. The horrific accident they suddenly witness has far reaching repercussions for all of them, and forms the basis of the book. Laura, India, Eve and Jo are the main characters and we follow each of their lives, with Laura facing up to a life without the baby she so desperately wants, Eve discovering a lump and the emotional turmoil that brings, Jo navigating a new relationship after a recent divorce, and India having to finally lay events from her past to rest.

I loved the way that each chapter focussed on a different character – it kept the story fresh and interesting, especially as each of the women’s lives intertwined in different ways. There were a couple of moments early on where I thought I had guessed where the story was going to go, and I felt worried that I sussed it all out so early on, but Lucy writes in such a lovely way that I was completely wrong and it was a real surprise to discover some twists and turns along the way.

I would highly recommend this book as a feel-good read, with at least one of the characters guaranteeing to pluck at your heart strings or remind you of people you may know! Although I have to say my favourite character ended up being Lewis!! The way the prologue in particular was written was absolutely beautiful and has really stayed with me.

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry was a lovely feel good read whilst I was on holiday. It’s no secret that I love books by Heidi Swain so I chose to read this one as it seemed to be a similar genre.

The main plot focuses on Rachel, her Mum Jill and Rachel’s adorable daughter Maisie, who I completely fell in love with. Rachel needs to make the family farm more sustainable after a recent family tragedy. With her Mum she sets up a pudding business and Rachel, despite a bit of an age gap, grows closer to her neighbour Tom who she has known since childhood.

My thoughts: I loved the family feel of this book and I was surprised at how quickly I took Rachel, her Mum and Maisie to my heart. I woke up wanting to know how they were getting on one day!! Having family that live in the countryside myself, I could really imagine it all happening and pictured the perfect setting in my head. This made the whole book come to life a lot more for me, and I really liked the bond of the whole community (again a similar thread that runs through Heidi Swain’s books).

Overall I would give Rachel’s Pudding Pantry 4 out of 5 stars and I would recommend it as a feel good relaxing read. I’ve already downloaded Caroline Roberts’ sequel Christmas book ready for when December arrives!

The Cherry Tree Café by Heidi Swain

I first came across Heidi Swain this summer when I was looking on my kindle for a new book to read whilst on holiday. I read “Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage” and just instantly fell in love with the residents of Wynbridge, and Heidi Swain’s writing style. I immediately wanted to read everything she had written and immerse myself even further in the small village of Wynbridge, so I bought a further four of her books!

The Cherry Tree Café was the first book that Heidi wrote and I loved starting right at the very beginning of her journey, meeting all the characters for the first time and finding out a bit more about those that I had come across in ‘Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage’.

The Cherry Tree Café focuses on the story of Lizzie and how she has to return to Wynbridge feeling sorry for herself and ready to start again. She faces many life-changing decisions (that I think a lot of people in their late 20’s can relate to) and this was one of the aspects that made the book so enjoyable for me, because as a reader I almost felt the need to shout at the book when it looked like Lizzie was going to make the wrong choices! For a debut novel I thought ‘The Cherry Tree Cafe’ was absolutely outstanding and I would highly recommend if you want to read a book where it feels like the characters really become friends. Whenever the door opened of ‘The Mermaid’ I felt like I was personally welcoming the characters in!

I am currently reading my third Heidi Swain book and so far they have all followed a similar pattern of a resident returning to Wynbridge and using the magic of the place to rebuild their lives. The character’s are so likeable that I have enjoyed following this same theme and always look forward to seeing how life will work out for them.

I cannot wait to continue to read everything Heidi has ever written….next up will be her Christmas offerings!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

For me this book was just an absolutely stunning piece of writing. Right from the very first page I was so intrigued by the premise of it, being narrated by “death” and following a girl who never knows he is there. It was such a unique way of storytelling and had me instantly gripped.

The story was very different from what I imagined it to be about when I bought the book, however I mean that in a good way. Underneath it all is a simple story of the trials and tribulations of a young girls life, but due to the nature of the subject matter I found it fascinating.

Markus Zusak has a poetic way of using words and I found myself devouring the last chapter, becoming increasingly engrossed in his words and imagery and symbolism. It was just stunning. I was desperate for it to finish to find out where the story would go, but on the other hand I put off finishing it for quite a while as I just didn’t want to leave this girl and her story. I wanted to know if Liesel would be ok, where her own story would take her and how her experiences would shape her.

This book will stay with me for a long while. It was so different to what I have read before but I genuinely think it is up there with one of my favourite ever books.

Hear the Echo

by Rob Gittins. 

This book is set in South Wales in two very different eras – during the 1930s and 1940s, and the present day.  It is based around the lives of two women, Chiara and Frankie, and follows their journey as they discover more about themselves and the consequences of decisions they have to make.

I loved this book and although it took sometime for the connection to grow with the character of Frankie, by the end of the story I felt like she was a firm friend and I wanted to make sure she was ok, and wanted to know that things would work out for her. The way Rob Gittins leaves it until the very end to weave the two stories together was a very clever technique, turning the book into a real page turner for me, as I came to like and care about the characters so much more.  Any questions that I had throughout the book were answered by the end and I loved the way two character’s lives mirrored each other in what appeared at first to be such a subtle way. 

We first meet Chiara when she is a young girl living in Italy, and follow her as she moves to Newport and progresses into adulthood, having to grow up very quickly and be thrown into an unfamiliar world.  Because of seeing her immediate vulnerability I found her character to be warm and somebody that I wanted to learn more about.  We meet Frankie in very different circumstances(!) however as her story continues it becomes clear that she is in fact very strong and her true positive qualities are soon discovered.

I would highly recommend this book to anybody that loves reading about different countries and past eras, and that loves a book with many twists and turns along the way.  There was never any point in the book where I correctly guessed what would happen.  Highly recommended, and if Rob Gittins were to write similar books to this I would be definitely putting them at the top of my reading list. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

This book was so beautifully written and I loved the way that it became so easy to be engrossed in the character’s lives. I was sceptical at first about whether I would want to read a book written entirely in a letter format, but I found it intriguing and it made me want to read on to find out the contents of the next letter that Juliet would send or receive!

This book focusses on a young journalist called Juliet Ashton, who,after the second world war is struggling with writer’s block. She receives a mysterious letter from a man, Dawsey Adams, who has come across a copy of a book she once owned. From there the conversation begins and the story really develops. I loved the way that on the one hand it was like reading someone’s personal diary, and on the other hand it taught me a great deal about the German occupation in Guernsey that I was previously unaware of.

The story is written in such a beautiful way that I found myself picking up clues about how events may unfold, and there were enough surprises in the book to maintain the momentum and interest of the story. It was just so lovely to read and I am very glad I read this before watching the film, which I am assured is equally as good.

As it was set in 1946 I find myself wondering what Juliet Ashton would be doing now, how her life would have panned out, and this is yet another book I have read where the characters have really felt like friends. Highly recommended.

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

This is the second book I have read by Sarah Morgan, the first being Holiday in the Hamptons, and it was really interesting to see how she had continued the theme of sisters, and the close and often complex relationship that forms and changes between siblings. I love the way that Sarah Morgan focuses on the little details of a person’s character or memory, often long forgotten moments, and brings them to the forefront of her exploration of families.

I absolutely adored The Christmas Sisters. From beginning to end I couldn’t wait to turn the page and I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading the book, wondering what they would be doing…quite a few times I had to remind myself that they were not real people! That is how Sarah Morgan weaves her magic, she creates characters that are so likeable, real and relateable that they wind their way into your subconscious and end up feeling like old friends.

The story focuses on three sisters; Posy, Hannah and Beth. They have all taken different paths in life yet every Christmas they come together in Scotland, not always through their own choice. The story picks up when all three sisters appear to be at very different crossroads in their lives and they end up having to face some difficult truths, some uncomfortable conversations and some life shifting realisations.

Sarah Morgan writes in such a way that I really did feel this book was like a hug in a mug, ‘cosy’ was one way I described it when I was asked, and I mean this in an entirely positive manner. It is the perfect book to read with a warm blanket, hot cup of tea and a few hours of ‘me’ time.

My only regret is that it was not longer and I wish that there was a sequel, as I would love to know what the McBride sisters are up to now!

The book believer – the beginning.

Welcome to my blog. Here I will be posting reviews of books I have read – I aim to be completely honest and post reviews even of books that haven’t appealed to me, to show complete transparency.

I love reading. It really is that simple. I always have done and through my job as a teacher I aim to inspire young minds to love reading (and writing) too.

I hope that this blog will inspire people of all ages to get reading again, to pick up books, and to find themselves immersed in the incredible world of books.

I’m going to sign off with my favourite quote about reading:

“Everyone is a reader…..some just haven’t found their favourite book yet.”