My Books of 2019

2019 has been another great year for books and it was a challenge to choose only 10 from those I have read in the last twelve months. Apologies to those who didn’t make it, but, after consideration, these are the ones who make my list (in no particular order).

The Silent Patient- Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

Alicia:

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Theo: 

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

Let Her Fly- Ziauddin Yousafzai

In this intimate and extraordinary memoir, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Malala, gives a moving account of fatherhood and his lifelong fight for equality – proving there are many faces of feminism.

“Whenever anybody has asked me how Malala became who she is, I have often used the phrase. ‘Ask me not what I did but what I did not do. I did not clip her wings’”

Let Her Fly is Ziauddin’s journey from a stammering boy growing up in a tiny village high in the mountains of Pakistan, through to being an activist for equality and the father of the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and now one of the most influential and inspiring young women on the planet.

Told through intimate portraits of each of Ziauddin’s closest relationships – as a son to a traditional father; as a father to Malala and her brothers, educated and growing up in the West; as a husband to a wife finally learning to read and write; as a brother to five sisters still living in the patriarchy – Let Her Fly looks at what it means to love, to have courage and fight for what is inherently right. Personal in its detail and universal in its themes, this landmark book shows why we must all keep fighting for the rights of girls and women everywhere.

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/let-her-fly-a-fathers-journey-and-the-fight-for-equality-ziauddin-yousafzai/

Hygge and Kisses- Clara Christensen

For readers everywhere who are embracing the Danish art of hygge –the first warm, wise and romantic hygge novel!

The perfect feel-good novel to curl up with – light some candles, wrap yourself in a blanket and relax …

Bo, 26, has always been careful, cautious. However, she’s just been made redundant and her life plan is beginning to unravel. Before she starts immediately applying for other jobs in a panic, her friend Kirsten persuades her to take a holiday, to visit Kirsten’s mother’s house in Aalborg, North Jutland, a part of Denmark Bo is ashamed to admit she has never heard of.

‘What’s the weather going to be like?’ she asks Kirsten hopefully, scrolling her cursor over the budget airlines webpage. ‘Terrible,’ Kirsten replies, ‘London is positively Mediterranean by comparison, and of course it’s November so it’ll be dark seventeen hours a day. But no one goes to Denmark to get a tan. You need a change of scene and to blow away the cobwebs, and trust me, Skagen will do that. Besides, the summerhouse is cosy whatever the weather, and you never know who else will be around.’

A few clicks later and there is no going back. And Bo’s life plan is about to be entirely rewritten.

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/hygge-and-kisses-clara-christensen/

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee- Casey Cep

The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted – thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial. Lee had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. She spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success and the mystery of artistic creativity.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn’t.

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/furious-hours-murder-fraud-and-the-last-trial-of-harper-lee-casey-cep/

The Flower Girls- Alice Clark-Platts

It’s been nineteen years since ten-year-old Laurel was given a life sentence and six-year-old Rosie was given a new identity.

The sisters were the very picture of innocence: two little girls who loved to listen to their mother’s bedtime stories and play make-believe in the garden. But then an act of unparalleled horror tears their family apart, leaving Laurel behind bars and Rosie moved to a different part of the country.

Neither sister has laid eyes on the other since then, during which time their lives have followed very different paths. But now – with Laurel coming up for parole – they look set to be reunited in court, and the world will be watching…

The Girl I Left Behind- Andie Newton

What would you risk to save your best friend?

As a young girl, Ella never considered that those around her weren’t as they appeared. But when her childhood best friend shows Ella that you can’t always believe what you see, Ella finds herself thrown into the world of the German Resistance.

On a dark night in 1941, Claudia is taken by the Gestapo, likely never to be seen again, unless Ella can save her. With the help of the man she loves, Ella must undertake her most dangerous mission yet and infiltrate the Nazi Party.

Selling secrets isn’t an easy job. In order to find Claudia, Ella must risk not only her life, but the lives of those she cares about.

Will Ella be able to leave behind the girl of her youth and step into the shoes of another?

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/blog-tour-the-girl-i-left-behind-andie-newton/

The Women at Hitler’s Table- Rosella Postorino

East Prussia, 1943. Hitler hides away in the Wolfsshanze – his hidden headquarters. The tide is turning in the war and his enemies circle ever closer.
Ten women are chosen.
Ten women to taste his food and protect him from poison.

Twenty-six-year-old Rosa has lost everything to this war. Her parents are dead. Her husband is fighting on the front line. Alone and scared, she faces the SS with nothing but the knowledge every bite might be her last.
 
Caught on the wrong side of history, how far is Rosa willing to go to survive?

Take It Back- Kia Abdullah

IT’S TIME TO TAKE YOUR PLACE ON THE JURY.

The victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.

The defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

WHOSE SIDE WOULD YOU TAKE?

Someone is lying.

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?

The Gift- Louise Jenson

The perfect daughter is dead. And a secret is eating her family alive…

Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/the-gift-louise-jensen/

Then She Vanishes- Claire Douglas

Jess and Heather were once best friends – until the night Heather’s sister Flora vanished. The night that lies tore their friendship apart.

But years later, when a brutal double murder shakes their childhood town, Jess returns home.

Because the suspect is Heather.

What happened to the girl you used to know?

My review: https://pickledthoughtsandpinot.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/then-she-vanishes-claire-douglas/