Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

So, today I chose Winter Holiday Books because I can’t wait for winter to arrive: it means Christmas, holidays, the streets decortaed with wonderful lights, people wearing gloves, hats and scarves. I love it! But winter is also a great time of the year to curl up with a hot chocolate and a good blanket to watch an old movie and read. That is the perfect evening for me. Here we go: Top Ten Winter Holiday Books.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.- I read it two Christmas ago and I loved it.

2. Elegy for April by Benjamin Black.- The story takes place in a cold winter in 1950’s Ireland. A classic detective book.

3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.- The perfect book for any time of the year, but it is long and so good that needs long evenings with a blanket.

4. When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson.- The story takes place in the last weeks of November and the first ones of December. I highly recommend reading it during those weeks too: sharing the time of the year with the characters is a wonderful experience.

5. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.- This is a cozy reading, perfect for those late evenings when you arrive home feeling cold, tired and just need to get in bed and take a deep breath. This book will help.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.- A classic! Cozy, adorable and a very well-known work.

7. Howards End by E.M Forster.- The book is amazing, but it also has a wonderful adaptation directed by James Ivory. Both the book and the movie make great choices for a cold day at home. I highly recommend both.

8. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier.- It is an eerie, haunting story. Got some candles?

9. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.- This is a book about people who love literature, to read, to buy books, open them, smell the pages etc. Perfect to get into a more even bookish mood before Christmas.

10. Lamb by Christopher Moore.- Moore revisits Jesus’ life from the point of view of his childhood bestfriend. I tell you, this is Jesus you’ve never heard of before and you’ll love.

Best Books of 2011

2011 has been a great reading year for me. I tend to take into account the quality of what I read and not the number of books I read. Sometimes, a single book can change your life in ways that fifty other books did not. So, I am happy to say that I read books that reminded me of how much I love sitting on my bed, with a blankett and a good book. Or how it can help me to read a few chapters of a book I love to keep on working on those awfully boring papers for school.

Here you have, Books and Reviews’ best books of 2011!

Lamb (Christopher Moore) 4,5/5 - A humoristic re-writing of Jesus Christ’ life narrated by his childhood bestfriend who accompanied him until her death. Sweet and funny, incredibly full of values to live your life by. Review here.

Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood) 4,5/5 – What can I say about Margaret Atwood? I simply adore everything she writes. This book was a journey into a 19th century woman’s mind and how she managed being accused of murder. Review here.

Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) 4/5 – A Classic. It was dark, thrilling, and very psychological, in every sense of the word you can imagine. You can read my review here.

The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown) 4,5/5 – A book I bought for light reading and loved so much as to want to re-read it. The Andrea sisters just reminded me how much I love books: from the font, to the quiality of the paper or the design of the cover. A must read. Also, the author was kind enough to let me interview here. You can read my review here and the interview here.

When Will there be Good News? (Kate Atkinson) 4/5 – Everyone kept insisting on how wonderful Kate Atkinson is and I did not belive them. Shame.on.me. She is as wonderful as an English female author of detective fiction can get, which is awesome. Review here.

The Dinosaur Feather (Sisel Jo Gazan) 4,5/5 – A crime novel set on a college and with the incredible combination of dinosaurs, academics and a thesis. Simply perfect! Review here.

Two of my passions: reading and bunnies.

I am incredibly proud of myself for having reviewed all these books that I loved so much. I wanted to share them with all of you and, hopefully, having helped you to discover new titles. But, the best part, is that we got to share opinions.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and 2012 is full of happiness, health, love, projects and books for all of you. Thanks for visiting Books and Reviews and a especial thanks to those who took time to comment, enriching the blog and fulfilling its mission: spread the literary love.

When will there be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has become the new queen of detective fiction. A professor of mine almost obliged me to read her and I took the wrong turn of waiting a year. Shame on me. She is a great author. My first choice was When will there be Good News?

4/5

Summary from Amazon:

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…
On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…
At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…
These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls “an absolute must-read.”.

The first thing that attracted me to the story was the setting and Reggie’s job as a nanny. But, once I was reading the book, I liked everything about it, not only the Edinburgh as a northern and cold city, but how it affects the characters. Then, I fell in love with Joanna Mason.

The characters are incredibly complex and although they come from a previous novel, it is incredibly easy to identify yourself with any of them. They are incredibly human and strong and at times, I found myself wishing Joanna was my friend and I could help Reggie. In fact, I have to admit I found Joanna quite inspiring, even a role model to face everyday life and just, be a better person.

The style is quite simple, yet it catches your attention and makes you keep on reading. The story is divided into chapters that also help to make it incredibly addictive. Despite of this description, that makes it sound as the usual bestseller, there is something high-quality about the prose. It is well-constructed and incredibly well-organized. There are four voices: Reggie, Joanna, Jackson and Louise and they all manage to come together in very different and unexpected ways.

The plot is very rich thanks to the different four points of view and I would like to highlight Atkinson’s mastery to create such realistic characters, flawed yet with the opportunity to redeem themselves at every minute. Despite their problems and flaws they are always willing to keep living and improve their lives, no matter how difficult it seems. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

I loved  and adored this book. It was set in December (I read it last November) and there was a Christmasy tone that made the plot, not literally, full of lights and red and happiness. The characters were perfectly designed to fit into this setting and even improved the tone with their own experiences and optimism. To prove my point, here you have some of the most inspiring quotes:

Everything about her life was just lovely.

She had been to a place no one would choose to go to, and she had come back.

Live your life, don’t endure it.

No, not those kinds of things. I mean the way we live our lives. There isn’t a template, a pattern that we’re supposed to follow. There ‘s no one watching us to see if we’re doing it properly, there is no properly, we just make it up as we go along.

Gift Ideas – Crime Novel

So, this post is supposed to inaugurate the Gifts Ideas series. Because it’s already Christmas time and sometimes we find ourselves wondering what to buy for that friend, that cousin or even our closer beloved ones! The best option is always a book.

Crime novels have become really popular recently, but sometimes it is hard to sail through the selves full of titles and authors in bookshops. The problem is that many times, the plots are too easy or predictable, the characters are plain and reading is like eating fast food: it may look good but it leaves you hungry.

The crime novel I recommend everyone is When will there be good news? By English author Kate Atkinson. Everyone kept telling me about this author and how wonderful her novels are. I thought they were exaggerating. Shame on me, for not believing them, she is great.

Summary from Amazon.com:

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson, the critically acclaimed author who Harlan Coben calls “an absolute must-read.”

The plot is complex but not as much as to force the reader to take notes to follow it. But the best part of this book is the characters: they are realistic and human. They are like the hard-working girl who smiles at you and always seems self-composed; like that man who is still hopeful despite everything went wrong. We all know people like that, right? I personally fell in love with Joanna Mason (and if you read the book, you’ll understand why) and would describe her as, one of those women you’d love to befriend.

So, When Will there be good news? is the perfect novel for both die-hard fans of the genre, but also to anyone who wants to enjoy a good read and is looking for something less commercial than the average novels flooding bookshops.

  • For whom: Youths/Adults who love crime novels.
  •  Price: from $9,99 to $12,68
  •  Commentaries: the book does not need any special literary knwoledge, but the avid reader of English literature will find small gifts, as references, to many 19th century authors.