Book List

nineteen minutes - jodi picoult

Nineteen Minutes

by Jodi Picoult

My thoughts: If for some reason you still need to be convinced that guns should be banned, this book is for you. Even if you already know this, this book is a heart-wrenching reminder of it. A difficult and incredibly well-written book on a highly controversial subject.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Auberge de Jeunesse, Nouméa, New Caledonia, September 2019)

503 pages / published 2007 by Atria Books

Purchase your own copy to read here!

vinegar hill - a. manette ansay

Vinegar Hill

by A. Manette Ansay

My thoughts: Woah. This was a tough read, not for difficulty of language but for content and subject matter (divorce, religion, abuse, relationships, children, marriage). Ansay writes of complex and harsh truths that make the reader uncomfortable enough to want to know more and understand. Beautifully and carefully written.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Bamboo Travellers Hostel in Nadi, Fiji, September 2019)

240 pages / published 1994 by William Morrow and Company, Inc.

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perfect match - jodi picoult

Perfect Match

by Jodi Picoult

My thoughts: This is a compelling book to read dealing with a number of intense subject matters. I am consistently impressed by Jodi Picoult's writing and attention to detail. I find I always finish her books wiser and more educated and aware of the difficulties in the world around me. This one centres on sexual assault and the lengths a mother would go to protect her child. A brilliant yet heart-wrenching read.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Gold Coast Inn in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, September 2019)

368 pages / published 2002 by Simon & Schuster

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the memory garden - rachel hore

The Memory Garden

by Rachel Hore

My thoughts: The details in this book, based in lovely southwestern England, are pure magic. I delighted in every page, the careful writing weaving pure and beautiful tales, those of both present and past all surrounding an old garden full of mystery and wonder. It has a sense of longing and of belonging. I loved this book.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Oarsman's Bay Lodge in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, September 2019)

419 pages / published 2007 by Simon & Schuster UK

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Alice Jones: The Ghost Light

by Sarah Rubin

My thoughts: In this book, led by young sleuth Alice, we delve into the world of theatre and mystery following an intriguing story about a missing diamond necklace. An easy but appealing and enjoyable book that holds on to you throughout the tale.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Nabua Lodge in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, August 2019)

283 pages / published 2017 by Chicken House

Purchase your own copy to read here!

one of us is lying - karen mcmanus

One of Us is Lying

by Karen M. McManus

My thoughts: I don't tend to read mysteries or murder novels but on a remote island in Fiji with few other options, I picked this one up and I am glad I did! I got through it in one afternoon, unable to put down the exciting if easy-to-read story of four students who all may or may not be co-conspirators in a fifth student's murder. A satisfying yet unpredictable end; an enjoyable and clearly written read.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Nabua Lodge in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, August 2019)

358 pages / published 2017 by Delacorte Press

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44 scotland street - alexander mccall smith

44 Scotland Street

by Alexander McCall Smith

My thoughts: This book was a whimsical and lovely read full of many delights. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Pat and her father, the delicacy of a second gap year (her first having taken her where mine has taken me: New Zealand and Australia), the stories of a gifted childhood and the underlying sense of adventure, honesty and discovery. I perhaps lost a bit the ultimate connection between all of them, aside from their shared address and felt many stories began but yet left unanswered questions (especially in Bertie's case); I will have to continue the series to find the answers!

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Wayalailai Island Resort in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, August 2019)

326 pages / published 2005 by Polygon

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the lost book of the grail - charlie lovett

The Lost Book of the Grail

by Charlie Lovett

My thoughts: An immaculately written book with a careful attention to detail and history. I enjoyed discovering so much about the myths and legends of the Holy Grail, something we all seem to know about but not to really understand. Not a book I would normally read - it's highly religious - but I genuinely appreciated the love of books and of mystery wound through the tale.

(Mailed to me as a gift by mother whilst traveling New Zealand, June 2019)

317 pages / published 2017 by Viking Penguin

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the storied life of a.j. fikry - gabrielle zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

My thoughts: This book was a pure delight. I read it in one sitting taking just 2 hours whilst traveling across an island in Indonesia stuffed into the back of a bus and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed a bus ride as immensely as I did this one. Everything about the book offered joy and a fond reminder as to why we read, why we share, why we appreciate the little moments and most importantly, why we love. A tender, dear book.

(Mailed to me as a gift by mother whilst traveling New Zealand, June 2019)

258 pages / published 2014 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the jane austen book club - karen joy fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler

My thoughts: While this book had good intentions and beautifully entwines Jane Austen with the day-to-day lives of six wonderful characters, more than once I found myself lost in the complex web of stories. At times I felt that parts were skimmed over and at other times I read details I found redundant. If you like Jane Austen, you'll like this book simply because it brings her to life in yet another way, but I'm not sure I quite enjoyed the read simply because of the confusion.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, June 2019)

257 pages / published 2004 by Penguin Group

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the long forgotten - david whitehouse

The Long Forgotten

by David Whitehouse

My thoughts: A lovely, heartfelt book with a gorgeous use of the English language, this book is a complex tale entwining the stories of a handful of different people each on a journey of understanding, discovery and love. An easy read, this uplifting tale leads to the final conclusion in an unpredictable way.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Packer Box Hostel in Nusa Penida, Indonesia, August 2019)

289 pages / published 2018 by Picador

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9 months in tibet - rupert wolfe murray

9 Months in Tibet

by Rupert Wolfe Murray

My thoughts: This book is inspirational. Rupert writes about his experiences hitchhiking from Scotland to Tibet in the 80s, pre-internet and pre-cell phones and pre-social media travel crazes. A highly dense book, I was thrilled by every paragraph, feeling as though I was in every country with Rupert every step of the way. He set a goal with this book to "encourage people to overcome their fear of travelling alone by sharing [his] story and explaining how [he] did it." Well, mission accomplished. I'm off to keep exploring the world with a renewed vigour in my step.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, June 2019)

368 pages / published 2016 by Scotland Street Press

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Those Faraday Girls - McInerney, Monica

Those Faraday Girls

by Monica McInerney

My thoughts: While I disregarded this book in the early stages, I quickly found myself unable to put this one down. It's written warmly and smoothly, with unexpected twists and intricate plots that leave you desperate to understand what happens in this jumble of a complex family.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, June 2019)

634 pages / published 2007 by Penguin Group

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the bronze horseman - simons, paullina

The Bronze Horseman

by Paullina Simons

My thoughts: The Bronze Horseman is an epic book filled with so many fascinating and quite heart-wrenching details about Russia during the Second World War. It shines light on a part of the war I didn't know nearly enough about, down to the smallest yet most important details and moments. There's an intense love story woven in and, while I don't believe that we need a partner to save or complete us, it brings a sense of hope and purpose.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, June 2019)

637 pages / published 2000 by Harper Collins

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the secret life of bees - monk kidd, sue

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

My thoughts: The Secret Life of Bees is, in short, profound. Indirectly covering difficult and important topics - love, racism, abuse, death - this book is gripping, fascinating, intense, beautiful and poignant. Seen through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Lily Owens who was raised by a single father, this story twists and turns with hard truths and a powerful lesson in life and in love.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, April 2019)

274 pages / published 2002 by Headline Book Publishing

Purchase your own copy to read here!

the girl who saved the king of sweden - jonasson, jonas

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

by Jonas Jonasson

My thoughts: This book was a fantastically witty and highly detailed recounting of some of the most bizarre events that the mind could conjure as they played out throughout the joint history of Sweden and South Africa (and some bits of China sprinkled in) in relation to the life of one very extraordinary woman, Nombeko Mayeki. I found the humour to be the perfect amount, following characters who were so unapologetically themselves.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, April 2019)

419 pages / published 2014 by Harper Collins

Purchase your own copy to read here!

Plain Truth

by Jodi Picoult

My thoughts: A gripping narrative that details the highly complex and mostly unknown day-to-day life of the Amish and how an unthinkable crime disrupts everything they know. A very well-researched book in which you never know what's coming next.

(Picked up from the free book shelf at the Albatross Hostel in Kaikoura, New Zealand, March 2019)

504 pages / published 2000 by Allen & Unwin

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The Elephant Keepers' Children

by Peter Høeg

My thoughts: A brilliantly witty novel that keeps you in fits of giggles while unraveling a highly complicated tale chasing policemen, terrorists, religious fanatics and all sorts of other fascinatingly believable characters around Denmark.

(Picked up from a free book exchange in Punakaiki, New Zealand, February 2019)

390 pages / published 2013 by Vintage Books

Purchase your own copy to read here!

cooper, jilly - riders

Riders

by Jilly Cooper

My thoughts: A long and gripping novel that details almost a decade of romance, horses and the drama between the top athletes in the field of Great Britain's horse-jumping team leading up to the Los Angeles Olympics. Sex, horses and drama - what else could you want? Perhaps some clarity to make it a bit easier to follow the intensely complicated tale...

(Picked up at a free book exchange at the end of the Queen Charlotte Track in Anakiwa, New Zealand, February 2019)

919 pages / published 1985

Purchase your own copy to read here!

open house - mansell, jill

Open House

by Jill Mansell

My thoughts: A whimsical love story with all the qualities of a family rivalry turned on its head by the young heir and heiress' attraction to each other thanks to brilliant brains, wit and dashingly good looks. An easy read with a satisfying, if predictable, ending.

(Picked up at the YHA Hostel free book shelf in Canberra, Australia, January 2019)

448 pages / published 1995 by Headline

the bookmans tale - lovett, charlie

The Bookman's Tale

by Charlie Lovett

My thoughts: A riveting book delving into the history and truth of William Shakespeare and his plays. While sometimes confusing to keep up with all the different eras in his writing, this book is a wonderful analysis of the truth of Shakespeare with an almost too-good-to-be-true romance wound in.

(Lent to me by my mother, January 2019)

368 pages / published 2014 by Penguin Random House

Purchase your own copy to read here!

first impressions charlie lovett

First Impressions

by Charlie Lovett

My thoughts: A beautifully written love story that unites the old and new with Jane Austen's witty writing and passion for friendship and words. Some characters could have been further developed but a wholly wonderful tale.

(Lent to me by my mother, November 2018)

308 pages / published 2014 by Viking

Purchase your own copy to read here!

lord, walter - a night to remember

A Night to Remember

by Walter Lord

My thoughts: A fantastic, gripping account of the night the Titanic sank - every moment recrafted and the tales of the survivors and those lost with the ship woven to such precision, it feels like you're on board.

(Purchased at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, USA, August 2018)

209 pages / published 1955 by Holt Paperbacks

Purchase your own copy to read here!

heading out to wonderful - goolrick, robert

Heading Out to Wonderful

by Robert Goolrick

My thoughts: A dark, draws-you-in, can't-put-it-down sort of read. Thoroughly deep characters with tales that tug on your heart in ways you didn't know it could.

(Purchased at Bookshop Santa Cruz, California, USA, July 2018)

304 pages / published 2012 by Algonquin Books

Purchase your own copy to read here!

wilson, frances - how to survive the titanic, or the sinking of j bruce ismay

How to Survive the Titanic or the Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay

by Frances Wilson

My thoughts: One of the best accounts of the Titanic I have yet read, with gripping details and a fascinating description of the aftermath which is not so widely covered.

(Borrowed from Vancouver Public Library, Canada, July 2018)

329 pages / published 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing

Purchase your own copy to read here!

shaffer, mary ann & barrows, annie - the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My thoughts: A compelling and truly lovely book written entirely in letters between characters. More than anything, this book makes you want to give up everything for an idyllic island life among friends.

(Saved from the dump pile in my apartment block in Vancouver, Canada, May 2018)

274 pages / published 2008 by Dial Press Trade Paperbacks

Purchase your own copy to read here!

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