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Monthly Reads - April & May + Pay It Forward

At the start of the year I promised to write each month about the books I've been reading and then 'pay it forward' by sending one of them to readers of this blog. And yes, it's fair to say that I've failed to do this since March and for that I apologise. However, I have been working on a writing project that is taking up the majority of my time and alongside that dealing with some unexpected family problems. As I've mentioned before,  something's gotta give and at the moment it's writing here on the blog.  In order to play catch up, I've joined April and May together and as always I want to 'pay it forward' with my book purchases.  If you would like to receive any one of these titles below then please let me know which one either by leaving me a comment below, sending me a direct message on Instagram @jenlittlebirdie or emailing me on jenlittlebirdie@yahoo.co.uk. Sorry, but for postage costs this will be UK only. I'll be randomly selecting a reader towards the end of June but please make sure to leave me some contact details to be able to find you. Last time @jennastobbs received my copy of 'The Year of Less' by Cait Flanders and I do hope you enjoyed reading it Jenna. 

This isn't everything I read in April and May but they are by far and away my favourites:

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark -  I read this several years ago and it simply rocked me to my core. I started thinking about it again recently and regretted not keeping my copy to read again. Luckily my husband stumbled across it in a secondhand bookstore, bought it as a surprise for me and I was over the moon. Set on the Isle of Arran in the West of Scotland, Elizabeth Pringle leaves her house in her will to a woman called Anna she barely knew over thirty years ago. Sadly Anna is now struggling with dementia and the decision of what to do with the house now falls to her daughter, Martha. Completely puzzled as to why a woman her Mother has never mentioned would leave her a house, Martha travels to Arran to try to find the answer. The novel alternates between characters as we discover just who Elizabeth Pringle really was and the difficulties Martha faces with her mother in hospital and a sister who won't help. It's charming, gentle and completely captivating and with her beautiful insights into the island, it made me long to return to Arran, somewhere I haven't visited for over thirty years. A gripping story that genuinely stays with you for a long time after reading. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng  - Back in February I read the wonderful debut novel 'Everything I Never Told You' by Celeste Ng which  I found to be profoundly moving. I couldn't wait to read this new one which has only recently been published in paperback. 'Little Fires Everywhere' tells the story of Mia, a single mother and struggling artist who moves her teenage daughter Pearl around, never settling anywhere permanently. Pearl is desperate to put down roots, to stay in school and make friends. Mia rents a home from the well to do Richardson family in the upmarket suburb of Shaker Heights and soon Mia and Pearl become more than just the Richardsons' tenants. Mia ends up working for the family whilst Pearl is increasingly enchanted by the teenage children and their 'normal' lifestyle. The more bohemian qualities of Mia and Pearl's lifestyle have equally enamored the Richardson children. Everything seems to be going well until one of the Richardsons' friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby and a custody battle erupts that puts Mia and Mrs Richardson on opposing sides of the argument. I'm going to say no more about the plot, other than there are some pretty big surprises to enjoy and the book is so far one of my favourites of 2018. Her characters and style of writing remind me very much of Anne Tyler, who I consider to be one of the finest writers of all time. 

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor - having seen this in the bestseller charts over the last few months, I picked it up as it sounded like a great crime novel. And whilst it kind of is a 'crime' novel - a girl goes missing whilst on holiday, what has happened to her plot - it's very much more than that.  Set over a period of thirteen years, we follow the characters in a moorland village and the aftershock that a stranger's tragedy leaves behind. I found it hard to get in to at first, yet eventually started to relax into the style of writing and ended up enjoying it tremendously. It's slow moving, very gently paced and is essentially a book about nature, the landscape and the rhythm of the seasons. 

The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey - I picked this up at the lovely bookshop in the Piece Hall at Halifax. I knew nothing of the writer or that the book has already been made into a movie, I simply loved the blurb on the back cover - 'Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh'. So far, so zombie apocalypse......And whilst it is very much a tale of humans trying to survive in a world that has been taken over by a deadly bacterial virus, transforming humans into zombies, it's also so much more. Melanie is a child, who along with several other children is being kept in a military base and being 'educated' by various different teachers. The question of course, is why? Melanie is the star pupil, eager to learn all about the world she remembers nothing of as she has only ever seen the confines of her cell and the classroom. Of course, the inevitable happens (not really a spoiler!) as the military base is taken over and a small group including Melanie have to try to survive and reach a safe place. It's a great thriller, at times a little gruesome but it's also heartwarming and reaffirming. I'll be looking out for the film too.