January 2016 favourite reads

Deborah Cook Life 14 Comments

Editor’s note: Please welcome back Deborah from Debbish dot com who’s sharing her favourite new releases with Styling You readers each month. 

Happy 2016! No doubt you’ve had time to make, break and revisit your resolutions already… or if you’re like me, you’ve given up on the notion entirely.

It’s a bit of a thing in the book blogging community to sign up for ‘challenges’ and set reading goals for the year. I’m not much of a joiner however, so my own 2016 goal is less etched-in-stone than some half-hearted plan to broaden my reading repertoire. I’m not saying I’m gonna start reading celebrities’ memoirs, self-help books or (god forbid!) cookbooks… but I am trying to read more Australian authors, in addition to the occasional romance.

And I’ve started the year on the right foot, with Victoria Purman’s Hold On To Me— a romance set in a coastal South Australian town featuring a feisty but romantically-jaded business owner and a hunky slightly-younger builder. I live in a small tourist town as well so could very much relate to the setting and surrounds of this novel which is part of Purman’s Boys of Summer series. And better still, the sex scenes didn’t make me queasy!

hold onto me book blog

And then there was Numbered by Queensland sisters Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter. It’s a book about love, friendship, cancer and a bucket list; the latter involving some great travel destinations. The novel’s sad but uplifting at the same time. If that makes sense.

numbered book blog

Naturally my favourite reads this month have also included my usual mind-twisting fare.

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood
Firstly a heads up that it’s almost impossible to read this book without remembering the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann!

In Marwood’s fictitious version the story unfolds over two weekends. The first involves a gathering of friends and family to celebrate a 50th birthday. The birthday ‘boy’ (Sean) is — quite frankly — a charismatic prick with a habit of marrying then ditching his mistresses. A late bloomer, he’s only on wife number two at the time of his birthday, as well as (born again) dad to 3yr old twins Coco and Ruby.

Sean and his friends are wealthy and influential, so when Coco goes missing during the celebrations, there’s a media frenzy.

Fifteen years later we meet the same group, this time gathering for Sean’s funeral. Naturally the past rears its ugly head.

I tore through this book which features some seriously unlikable though complex characters. Marwood slowly and deftly reveals the events of Coco’s disappearance and I found myself as frustrated as I was intrigued because, well… I can’t tell you that (cos #spoiler) but I seriously hope karma exists in Marwood’s imaginary world!

the darkest secret book blog

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Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
While on the subject of twins… Helen and Ellie are identical but even at six years of age, everyone accepts that Helen is the leader. She’s smarter and more resilient. Ellie is… well she’s the follower and a bit of a dreamer. And then one day, just for fun, they decide to swap places. But Ellie won’t swap back and Helen can’t convince anyone she’s not her scatty sister. Their distracted mother doesn’t seem to notice and everyone else follows suit. Years pass and Helen rebels. No matter how hard she tries she never measures up to her sister (who she renames Hellie!).

Twenty-five years after the swap we meet the adult Helen and her life is a mess. Estranged from her family she’s forced to revisit Hellie and her old life.

This is fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Again I found myself piqued at the sense of injustice. However it’s also an interesting look at how the perceptions and expectations of those around us influence how we act and who we become. I’m fairly sure there’s an entire PhD thesis buried in here!

beside myself book blog

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The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
Hepworth’s earlier novel The Secrets of Midwives has been hugely popular and her latest seems to be following suit. I wanted to include it here but must admit I haven’t read it myself.

It’s centred around Anna, who developed Alzheimer’s disease at 38yrs of age. She moves into an assisted living facility where she meets Luke, another young resident, and they fall in love despite their disintegrating awareness.

As my father had dementia I struggle a little with this topic, so am shying away from the book at this stage. It’s receiving lots of positive reviews however, particularly in relation to the way it handles the dilemmas facing those with dementia as well as their loved ones who may feel they ‘know’ best.

the things we keep book blog

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And that’s it for me this month. I’ve already read a couple of fabulous books which will be released in February so look forward to sharing those with you next month!

Do you have any reading-related goals for 2016?
Any suggestions why twin-related novels make such good reading fodder?

debbishDeborah blogs about books, not-dieting and life in general at debbish.com. Her life-long love of reading is only surpassed by her addiction to vanilla diet coke, baths, chocolate and champagne. 

Comments 14

  1. Whew! I just finished The Darkest Secret on your recommendation here Deborah. What a read!! I usually read about 50-70 books a year. Except for last year, where I read 3. Just couldn’t get my reading mojo on. The Darkest Secret was a great way to break that drought and I promptly downloaded Marwood’s other two books. That ending, though!

  2. Have you read any Joy Dettman? I highly recommend Malawindy, and it’s follow up. (She ‘is’ a distant relative, but her books are truly fantastic).

    1. I have Courtney though not for a while. And in fact I just checked and I have some of her books on my shelves from late 90s (early 2000s) it seems, including Malawindy!

  3. Ah so many interesting reads! My twins are identical but I don’t think they could long term fool anyone with a swap. Hard to be someone else!

    1. Ah-ha that’s what Helen thought. She assumed Ellie would give herself away easily but ‘somehow’ no matter what Helen did, things just got worse (so she gave up eventually); and Ellie shone… as Helen.

  4. Since my bestie (and hot SY model) Peta is a twin and is HAVING twin girls, I am fascinated by twin-talk. I was an only child until the age of 10, so always wonder about having such a shared history with someone for my entire life. Weird. And yes, I reckon there’s always an evil twin 😉

    1. Books about twins seem to come in batches! Beside Me is a challenging read. In some ways 6yr old Helen treats Ellie abominably (having learned that from the adults around her undoubtedly). Perhaps a little time ‘as’ her sister would have done her good. But when Ellie won’t change back it gets interesting!

  5. So many books to read so little time! I’ve heard good things about Liane Moriarty so might give one of her books a whirl. I also want to read Carla Zampatti’s “My Life: My Look”, and hopefully some of it will rub off on me! I recently saw the film “Carol”, and am now interested in reading “The Price of Salt”, the novel it was based on by Patricia Highsmith (who also wrote “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr Ripley”). Just finished Margaret Atwood’s “The Heart Goes Last” – a great but uncomfortable read.

    1. So many of this year’s Academy Award Best Film nominees are based on books aren’t they? I’m not sure if I’ve ever been quite so conscious of it before! Room is one of my favourite books ever and I loved the movie, The Martian.

      I know what you mean about The Heart Goes Last… a strange one, that’s for sure Inese.

      1. Yes! I’ve seen the shorts for “Room” it looks a powerful film (as undoubtedly the novel was) but I think I will have to time my ‘viewing’ and ‘reading’ of it – when I am ready to put myself through the spin dryer cycle of the myriad of human emotions featured. Looking forward to your post next month!

  6. Thank you for the book reviews I’m always looking for a great book to read! I know I’m late to the party but I’ve just read Big Liiitle Lies by Liane Morighity,I couldn’t put it down or actually my iPad was in my hands all the time,I use overdrive from the library and I’ve just started The House of Memories by Monica Mcinerary and that is proving to be good too.Thank you Deb Xx

    1. Hi Lisa, I was a latecomer to Big Little Lies as well and only reviewed it on my own blog this past week. I gave it 4 stars but didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped… I wasn’t sure if that was because my expectations were too high, or because I didn’t have kids and perhaps couldn’t completely relate?!

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