Goodreads Top Five Fiction Books

Top Goodreads Fiction Reads

The Winners of the Goodreads 11th Annual Readers Choice Awards have been announced. These awards are as voted by Goodreads readers. Below, are the top five books nominated. Disappointingly, I’ve only read two of these books. The Testaments is one of my top reads in 2019, and I would rate The Normal People as the book I enjoyed the least in 2019. These awards have me questioning my judgement on that, so I may need to revisit it.  I do plan to read the books on the list that I haven’t read so far. Click on the list to see all nominated books. M

Best Books 2019

The Winner

The clear winner was The Testaments by Margaret Atwood with 98291 votes. This book received over 50,000 votes more than the second place winner. So it is a very clear and in my opinion well deserved winner.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Top Five Nominated Books

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

98291 votes

Normal People by Sally Rooney

40081 votes

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

29342 votes

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

26653 votes

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

21524 votes

My favourite Genre: Historical Fiction

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Winner of Historical Fiction Genre

The following two books placed highly in the Historical Fiction Genre. I have read them both and they were in my top reads of the year. Both are historical fiction based on fact.
I’d recommend both of these books as being well worthwhile reading.

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

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Do you agree with the books that made the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  I promise to reply to all comments.

© 2019 Copyright. all rights reserved: bestbookishblog.com

 

 

My Top 8 Books for 2019

I’ve read some great books this year, both fiction and non fiction, including a few genres that I don’t usually read. The main one that I tried was crime, which meant I read a few crime books that I did enjoy, but still crime isn’t a favourite genre of mine. Having said that, I quite enjoy listening to crime audio books.

Following is a list of the eight books that I enjoyed the most in 2019, in no particular order. If I had to choose one of these books as a favourite, it would be The Chocolate Maker’s Wife. This book contains all that I love about my favourite genre of historical fiction based on fact.

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

The Binding by Bridget Collins

11.22.63 by Stephen King

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak

This will be my last post for 2019. Merry Christmas and a happy and safe new year to all. Watch for the first review of 2020 early in January

Have you read any of my top eight books for 2019? Do you have a favourite for the year? I love it when we interact and I promise to reply to all comments.

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Images and author information: Goodreads and Booktopia

© 2019 Copyright. all rights reserved: bestbookishblog.com

Six Christmas Book Suggestions

I do love to read Christmas books in December. I particularly enjoy the Christmas Classics but I’ve noticed a few recently released Christmas books that look interesting

So following are the Christmas books that I’d most like to read during December this year. I probably won’t have time to read all, but will definitely choose a few to read.

Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and A Merry Very Victorian Christmas May be more difficult to get hold of, but they should be available in most local libraries.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Daniel Kirk.

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Letters from Father by J.R.R. Tolkien

The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Hercules Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

A Merry Very Victorian Christmas: Trivia, Tales and Traditions from 19th Century America by Janet Emily Demarest

Do you think these Christmas books look interesting? Maybe you have read some of them. What are your thoughts? I love it when we have a conversation and promise to reply to all comments.

Follow me on Instagram at bestbookishblog to follow my Christmas-book-a-day suggestions

5 Historical Non-Fiction Books Read Recently

This post is not a review post but merely a list of the non-fiction that I’ve been reading lately, with a short description taken from the back covers. I did enjoy reading each of these books, but don’t feel ready to review them just yet. They may appear as a book review in 2020, or they may not.

Cardinal: The rise and Fall of George Pell by Louise Milligan

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Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most powerful Catholic, was found guilty of five sexual crimes against children and has been sentenced to six years jail. He is the most senior Catholic figure in the world to be charged by police and convicted of child sex offences. The abuse involved choirboys at Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The royal commission into institutional Responses to Child Abuse brought to light horrific stories about abuse of the most vulnerable. Pell portrayed himself as the first man in the Catholic Church to tackle the problem. Louise Milligan pieces together decades of disturbing activities highlighting Pell’s actions and coverups. Cardinal has won many awards. (from the back cover)

Murder, Misadventure & Miserable Ends; Tales from a Colonial Coroner’s Court
by Catie Gilchrist

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Single & Free: Female Migration to Australia 1833-1837 by Elizabeth Rushen

Henry Shiell was the Sydney city Coroner from 1866 to 1889. In the course of his unusually long career, he delved into the lives, loves, crimes, homes and workplaces of his fellow Sydneysiders. He learned of envies, infidelities, passions and loyalties, and just how short, sad and violent some lives were. but his court was also, at times, instrumental in calling for new laws and regulations to make life safer. With few safety regulations, the colourful city was also a place of frequent inquests, silent morgues and solemn graveyards. this is the story of life and death in colonial sydney (from the back cover)

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Between 1833 and 1837, fourteen ships carried nearly 3000 single women from Britain and Ireland, to the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. The women migrated in response to promotional material which emphasised the shortage of women in the Australian coonies. Life at home contrasted dramaticaly with the opportunities provided by the colonies and many enterprising women were encouraged to migrate.

The life experiences of these women demonstrate that they were drawn from a wide cross-section of nineteenth century society. They contributed to the develpment of the colonies through their employment as domestic and agricultural workers, their enterprises as dressmakers, midwives and teachers, as wives and as mothers of the rising generation. This book tells their stories.

Solomon’s Noose: The True Story of Her Majesty/s Hangman of Hobart
by Steve Harris

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The story of a young convict, Solomon Blay, who became Her Majesty’s hangman in Van Diemen’s Land. the man who personally had to deliver an Empire’s judgment on 200 men and women, and endured his own noose of personal demons and demonisation in order to “survive”; all in the context of the great struggles of good-evil, life-death, hope-despair, which drew the attention of Darwin, Twain, Trollope and Dickens as Van Diemen’s Land evolved from a Hades of Evil to sow the seeds of nationhood.

The book paints a vivid picture of the society and poverty from which Blay’s character was forged in England and the desperate, brutal nature of being a convict in Van Diemen’s Land. Solomon’s Noose is an important book in exposing the dark ‘underbelly’ in the formation of modern Australia.

1788 The Brutyal Truth of the First Fleet by David Hill

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In 1788, 11 small ships set sail from England on an eight-month-long voyage over the roughest of seas, carrying 1,500 people, food for two years, and all the equipment needed to build a colony of convicts in a land completely beyond their experience and imagination. In Portsmouth, the fleet’s preparation was characterized by disease, promiscuity, and death. The journey itself was one of unbearable hardship, but also of extraordinary resilience. Upon their arrival, however, the colonists faced their biggest challenges of all: conflict, starvation, and despair. Combining the skill of a vigilant journalist with the magic of a master novelist, this entrancing history brings the sights, sounds, sufferings, and joys of the “First Fleeters” back to life. Journals, letters, reports, and pleas to England are all interwoven here with the author’s own insight, and together they convey the innermost horrors and joys of the very first European Australians. The result is a narrative history that is surprising, compelling, and unforgettable.

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Bendigo Writers Festival 2019

I have been looking forward to the Bendigo Writers Festival held recently on Aug 9, 10 and 11, since attending last year. This year was the 8th festival, and as expected, was bigger and better than ever. In the words of the organisers – “Festival 2019 – our eighth – was a brilliant success, with record attendance, and a dazzling lineup of writers that delivered a program, bristling with energy and joy”

I had been unwell, with a virus in the week leading up to the Writers Festival, but was determined to go and to enjoy the weekend. Unfortunately, I had to leave each session with a coughing fit, so decided to stay home and try to recover on the Sunday. As a result, this year, disappointingly, I only saw a few sessions. Those I did see were really great, so I’m looking forward to reading the books of those authors.

Following are the sessions that I did get to see.

Hang On Help Is On It’s Way – Meshel Laurie

Meschel Laurie, well known comedian and TV personality spoke about her experience of Buddhism and how she was able to adapt it to fit in with her family and working lifestyle. This event was held at the largest Buddhist Temple in the Western World, The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion just outside Bendigo.

 

Regret – Sarah Lawrence hosts Ginger Gorman, Lee Kofman and Alice Pung

I’m a huge fan of Alice Pung, having read her book Unpolished Gem, recently, so for me, this session wasn’t to be missed and it didn’t disappoint. The panel discussed their work that has been published, and how they have dealt with mistakes they have made, and their regrets at what they may have written. I found it interesting to hear of how these authorsdealt with subjects that may cause hurt to family and friends.

Democracy and it’s crisis – Professor A.C. Grayling with John Brumby

A.C. Grayling is a British philosopher and author of over 30 books on philosphy and ideas. In the program, this discussion was to be about where democracy has gone wrong, and how to fix it. But it was about much more than that. There was discussion of Brexit, and how it has come to be a crisis in the UK. which I found to be very informative. This subject could have been very dry and boring but the guest and host kept the conversation moving along quickly, making it easy and very interesting listening.

Rebels and Trailblazers –   Claire Wright talks to Billy Griffiths

Discussion about the suffragettes and their place in history, and how they were ignored and excluded from positions of politics and power. As a result, it is not well known that they had a huge impact on the history of Australia. What kind of women were the suffragettes?  Claire Wright places these women of history back into the history books, where they have previously been omitted. Discussion centred around the authors book about the suffragettes, Daughers of Freedom, which I’m very keen to read.

The following books are those written by the above authors that I’m looking forward to  reading. Watch out for reviews coming soon.

Buddhism for the Unbelievably Busy

Her Father's Daughter

You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World

I’m very much forward to the Bendigo Writers Festival in 2020, where I will dosing up with Vitamin C in the lead up. I plan to be fit and healthy and able to immerse myself into books and authors for the entire weekend.

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

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Summary

Damnation never tasted so sweet…….

When Rosemund Tomkins was born, in London in the 17th Century, the midwives believed she was so unusual with her very dark eyes and strange laughter, that they thought she would live a charmed life. But her unfortunate life could never be described as being charmed.

After living a life of poverty and abuse, circumstances found Rosemund married off to a wealthy nobleman, which sees her life change drastically and undergo a transformation unimaginable to her. In no time at all Rosemund presides over her extremely popular chocolate house, making her the darling of the rich and famous.

But there is much bad news coming and Rosemund’s seemingly charmed life takes a turn for the worse. As she experiences The Plague and the Great Fire of London, Rosemund realises that she will be forced to make the decision to walk away from the life she has come to love and lose her wealth.  Her other choice is to make a deal with the devil…..

My Thoughts

This historical novel perfectly depicts seventeenth century London as the city is coping with the return of  King Charles to the throne. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the chocolate making, which was new at the time, and the way the wealthy flocked to the chocolate house which was new to the times. I especially loved the descriptions of the additives that were added to chocolate to cure all ills.

Rosemund’s experiences of The Plague and the Fire of London, were both educational and compelling to read. I now understand more about this period of Restoration London, with its political and religious upheavals and dramas. Poverty and wealth existed side by side, with all the challenges that such diversity could bring.

The Chocolate Maker’s wife is a story of treason, deceit and lies that oozes chocolatey deliciousness. I found this book to be ‘unputdownable’, and read all 588 pages very quickly.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About The Author

Karen Brooks was born in Sydney and now lives in Hobart, Tasmania, with her partner and two children.

In 2007, Brooks received a citation from the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, part of an Australian Government program to recognise and reward teaching excellence in higher education.  Brooks was made Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of Sunshine Coast. She has established both a national and international reputation for her work, and her research and social commentary is regularly published in Australia and overseas.

Recommendations

‘A gripping historical thriller that will quite literally steal your breath’ – Kate Forsyth

‘Meticulously researched and historically compelling’ – Australian Books Publishing

 

Published in 2019 by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty. Ltd

Have you read this book? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to your comments made in the section below.

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My #AtoZChallenge Links

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Following is a list of the links to book reviews done during the  Blogging from A to Z April Challenge . I hope you find something to read here.

A is for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
B is for Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
C is for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast
D is for The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
E is for Elevation by Stephen King
F is for Fragments by Toni Jordan
G is forThe Good People by Hannah Kent
H is for Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach
I is for I Was Here by Gayle Forman
J is for Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
K is for Keating by Kerry O’Brien
L is for The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
M is for My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy
N is for Nowhere Child by Christian White
O is for Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
P is for Places We Swim By Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon
Q is forThe Queens Colonial by Peter Watt
R is for Ransacking Paris by Patti Miller

S is for Stasiland by Anna Funder
T is for Toymaker by Liam Pieper
U is for Untold Story by Monica Ali
V is for Voyage to Australia – Private Journal of James Bell
W is for We were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
X is for X by Sue Grafton
Y is for You by Caroline Kepnes

Z is for The Zahir by Paulo Coelho

#AtoZChallenge Reflections

 

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

It’s now three days since the challenge ended, so time for my usual end of challenge wrap.

Successes

This year I was more organised than I have been in any previous AtoZ Challenges. When the challenge started, I had all posts, up to the letter T, completed and ready to go. This really took the pressure off, and allowed me to read more posts than usual on other AtoZ Blogs.

Finding new and interesting blogs is a highlight of the challenge for me, but usually I get frustrated that there isn’t enough time to devote to this. This year, I read blogs on the subjects of family history and genealogy, travel, health, fitness, books, movies and music. There are so many more topics that bloggers write about, than I ever previously knew about. Over the past four years, the AtoZ Challenge has opened my eyes to these amazing blogs and bloggers.

I really enjoy reading and commenting on a diverse range of blogs, reading their replies and getting to know bloggers from all around the world. This is a huge highlight of the challenge for me.

Another highlight is the comments that other AtoZ bloggers left on my blog. Even though I’ve been blogging for many years, this blog is only six months old. I was quite humbled that it was so well received during the challenge. There were so many lovely and supportive comments left for me over the past month. I am very proud to say that I have answered all comments. I’m very diligent about that, as I feel if someone has taken time to leave me a comment, the least I can do is reply.  A bonus is that from comments left, wonderful conversations often do develop.

The Challenges

I wrote that what worked was having all posts up to T complete at the start of the challenge. But it wasn’t ideal that posts after T hadn’t been completed. I had read the books to be reviewed after T, and planned to write the reviews in the first two weeks of the challenge. But of course the best made plans often don’t happen, and I had a bit of a panic and a few late nights in the final week, getting the posts completed. Note to self: next year complete all posts before the challenge begins.

Even though I visited, read and commented on many blogs, I would have liked to spend more time doing this, than I was as able to do. I’m genuinely interested in other blogs and bloggers, so spending time visiting blogs and commenting is a pleasure.

Over the next month, I plan to continue visiting AtoZ bloggers that I missed. I will be posting about some of these blogs, that readers here may be interested to make contact with.

Looking to 2020

At this point in time, I intend to be back for the AtoZ Challenge in 2020. I am planning to participate on this blog and also on my Family history/Genealogy blogTracking Down The Family. Doing the challenge on two blogs is a huge challenge. I know this as I did it once before, but I’m very keen to do it again. This will take planning and perfect organisation.

My promise to myself is that just for a change, I will be this person who has made the perfect plan and is perfectly organised. For me, this is part of why AtoZ is a challenge. Other bloggers will know that it isn’t easy to publish a post every day.  But getting to the end of the month, knowing that I have done exactly that, is what makes me feel proud of myself and I love that feeling.

I give many thanks to all of those bloggers participating in the AtoZ Challenge who took the time to visit and read my posts. I do appreciate that you were interested enough to take time out from what I am aware is a very busy month. I’d love you to come back and say hello during the year. But otherwise I will look forward to reconnecting with current and new challengers next year.

Big congratulations to all AtoZ Bloggers who completed the challenge. You did it! So it’s time now to celebrate your success. 

 

 

#AprilAtoZ Challenge B -Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

 

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

My theme is Book Reviews. I will be posting reviews for every day of the alphabet.

Summary

Burial Rites is a first novel, based on an actual event in Iceland in 1829. A man and woman faced execution for a murder that occurred on an isolated farm. There were no prisons in Iceland at this time, so the young woman, Agnes Magnusdottir, was kept at a farm where she had lived in her earlier years. The farmer and his wife were her guards during the long dark winter before her execution.

The family are horrified at being forced to house a murderer, and at first ignore Agnes, while going about their daily life. But as Agnes’s date with death comes closer, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story that they have heard.

My thoughts

Kent had me hooked from her opening sentence on page one: They said I must die. They said that I stole the breath from the men, and now they must steal mine”

This book is definitely not a light, happy, read. The actual event covered in this story, is well known and well documented in Iceland. It is considered to be a dark event in their history.  This novel is about the sad and dark story of Agnes, and her wait for execution during the long long Icelandic winter. There is very little happiness for Agnes as she waits.

Recommendation

Before I read this book, I had expected it to be so bleak that it would be an impossible enjoyable read. But enjoy it I did. I had never previously heard of the true story of Agnes. and Kent had me feeling very sad and without hope for her.

There are multiple narrators to the story and Agnes also speaks to the reader in the first person. I found myself reading her sentences over and over, as they were so beautifully written and poignant.

I have read this book twice, and listened to it once on audio. I never tire of reading and hearing Hannah Kent’s beautiful words that evoke perfectly, the darkness of a long, dark Icelandic winter.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Awards

Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2014)
Guardian First Book Award Nominee (2013)
Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for People’s Choice (2014)
Davitt Award for Debut Novel (2013)
Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction (2014)
Australian Book Industry Award for Literary Fiction (2014)
Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee (2014)
The Stella Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2014)
Specsavers National Book Award Nominee for International Author of the Year (2014)
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2013)
International Dublin Literary Award Nominee for Shortlist (2015)

About The Author

Hannah Kent

 

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985.  Burial Rites is her first novel and has been translated into over 30 languages and won many awards. Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary publication Kill Your Darlings

 

 

Published in 203 by Little Brown and Company – Hardcover 336 pages

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

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AtoZ2019tenthAnn

 Images: Goodreads

Theme Reveal – Blogging April A-Z Challenge 2019

What is Blogging April A-Z Challenge?

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a new blog post every day in April, except for Sunday. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example, April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B, and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Bloggers can choose a theme to blog about. My links, at the end of this post, to my previous A-Z challenges show examples of themes. Some bloggers choose not to have a theme, and they post on different topics every day. It’s up to the individual blogger, as to how they wish to participate. I do prefer to have a theme as it gives me focus and structure. You can find more information here

My previous A-Z Challenges

This will the fourth year that I’ve participated in the challenge. But this year it’s especially exciting for me, as 2019 is the first year that I participate on this blog, which is very new, having been launched in January 2019.

Theme Reveal

This post today, is my Theme Reveal post which is where I announce my theme for the Challenge. Bloggers who choose to have a theme, usually write a ‘Theme Reveal’ post, which is published in late March.

My theme for 2019 is Book Reviews. The theme continues on with the usual content of this blog, but by the end of the month there will be 26 new reviews published. One for each letter of the alphabet. Reviews will be both new releases and older publications. They will be both fiction and non-fiction What they will all have in common, is that I will have read every book, so you can be guaranteed that all reviews will be my honest opinion.

If you are after a recommendation for that next book to read, or just want the enjoyment of reading about books, do join me in working through the alphabet of books in April.

To ensure that you don’t miss a post, you can sign sign up for email alerts in the sidebar. You can also follow me on social media:

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Link to Theme Reveal posts from previous years participation in the Blogging April A-Z Challenge.

A-Z Challenge 2016 – Bendigo 
A-Z Challenge 2016 – Towns in Victoria
A-Z Challenge 2017  – My Ancestors
A-Z Challenge 2018 – The Story of Me