I could never have predicted that these books would become some of my favourites, and that's one of the reasons why I think I love them. They're a breath of fresh air.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
When Alice finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of Alzheimer's Disease she is just fifty years old. A university professor, wife, and mother of three, she still has so much more to do - books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But when she can't remember how to make her famous Christmas pudding, when she gets lost in her own back yard, when she fails to recognise her actress daughter after a superb performance, she comes up with a desperate plan. But can she see it through? Should she see it through? Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging on by a couple of frayed threads. But she is still Alice.
I remember buying this simply based on the reviews, but couldn't see myself loving it. How could I relate to the main character when we're so different? Well, I loved it. Reading the progression the disease has on someone, seeing them slip away, and the effects it has on those closest to them really makes an impact. There's a part near the beginning where Alice is eating an ice cream, and she doesn't want the day to come when see can't even remember how to prevent it dripping down her hand. Towards the end of the book, she's eating an ice cream with it dripping down her hand, and it's a sad moment. I'd wholeheartedly recommend giving this book a read.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver . . . There's Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son's tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they'd be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell...
I read this ages ago, so I can't remember all the details, but I know I loved it. This was another book that I thought wouldn't be for me, and I actually disliked the first however many pages. I ended up loving it, though, and it's one of those books which opens your eyes and makes you think about the wider issues in this world. I don't agree with the hype surrounding a lot of things, but I can see why this book is loved by many.
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
France, 1916. Sophie Lefevre must keep her family safe whilst her adored husband Edouard fights at the front. When she is ordered to serve the German officers who descend on her hotel each evening, her home becomes riven by fierce tensions. And from the moment the new Kommandant sets eyes on Sophie's portrait - painted by Edouard - a dangerous obsession is born, which will lead Sophie to make a dark and terrible decision. Almost a century later, and Sophie's portrait hangs in the home of Liv Halston, a wedding gift from her young husband before he died. A chance encounter reveals the painting's true worth, and its troubled history. A history that is about to resurface and turn Liv's life upside down all over again . . . In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for what they love most - whatever the cost.
A book following the history of a painting? Not for me, I said. Again, I was wrong. I couldn't get into it at first, but soon couldn't put it down. I didn't realise how caught up I was in the past until it flicked to the present and I just had to know what happened. Slow at first, but I'm glad I persevered.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop, and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now, and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
This is another book which really makes you think, and I love it for that. It's so much more than your typical romance. It looks at serious issues, and shows you that some things are not black and white. The ending reinforces this, and left my emotions torn for the characters. Definitely give this a read, if you haven't already.
Belle by Lesley Pearce
She witnessed a murder - and now her life is in danger . . . Fifteen year-old Belle, though raised in a London brothel, is an innocent. But when she witnesses one of the girls brutally strangled by a client, she is cast into a cruel, heartless world. Snatched from the streets and sold into prostitution, she is made a courtesan in New Orleans. At the mercy of desperate men who crave her beauty and will do anything to keep her, Belle's dreams of home, family, and freedom appear futile. Are Belle's courage and spirit strong enough to help her escape? And what will await her at the end of the long, dangerous journey home?
I bought this from a charity shop because the blurb instantly intrigued me. It's a large book, but so eventful that it didn't drag. The topic is one that grips you, that's for sure. There were a couple things that could have been improved upon, though. The main character was a little too naive at times, especially towards the end of the book when you think she'd learnt her lesson. The ending was also left a little too neat for my liking. It's still a book I'd recommend, though. I haven't read the books following this one yet because I read some major spoilers, but they're on my list of ones to get around to.
I haven't featured any dystopian books in this post because my favourites are parts of series. I feel like it's difficult to capture a dystopian society in one book. Some of my favourites include the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and of course The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins.
Please leave your book recommendations below!