Sunday 16 December 2018

My December TBR feat. Costa Book Awards 2018*

This post is a paid collaboration with Costa. All words, images and opinions are entirely my own.

We're well on our way into the festive season, expecting some snow flurries this week and the Christmas break is tantalisingly close - so what better time to curl up with a steaming mug of coffee and a good stack of books? This month I've got a very special selection of books picked out because I'm thrilled to once again be working with the lovely folks at Costa on the Costa Book Awards 2018!

The Costa Book Awards have been going since 1971 and the reason why I love these awards in particular is because they celebrate the most enjoyable books with a wide appeal, the books people really *want* to read, instead of feeling like they should read them. These awards are completely unpretentious, they just celebrate having a good time whilst reading - and I'm all about that!

The shortlisted books are all from authors living from in the UK or Ireland and are spread across five fantastic categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children's, so there's something for every reader. I'm going to be reading the four shortlisted books in the Novels category before the category winners are announced on the 7th January - and I can't wait to get stuck in!

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
Beginning in Rome in 1955 we see the great modern painter Bear Bavinsky, surrounded by admirers, but this story is not his. It's his son, Pinch's. We follow Pinch over the course of his life as he attempts to live up to his great name but finds a life marred by twists, compromises and pain. Yet Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will forever leave his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.

With Bohemian Rhapsody being my favourite film of the year, the 70s and 80s are periods I'm really keen to find out more about and this book starts in the mid-50s and spans the next thirty or so years so I'm really excited about that. I love stories that cover longer periods of time and this seems to be almost a Bildungsroman which is right up my street. Having studied and had a passion for art in the past, I'm also interested to read about the art world of this time period.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis's old life is shattered. She is transformed from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the god-like warrior Achilles as a prize of war. And she's not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long and bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters. This novel seeks to break the silence of these forgotten women in history.

We learn about the Trojan War as children, but it is always a man's story. We don't hear of the women whose lives were torn apart. I think this one is going to be quite brutal but I'm definitely ready for it. I want to hear what these women's lives were like and hear them tell their story, even if it's heartbreaking. There's been a bit of a buzz about this one on booktube and Twitter so I'm keen to see if it lives up to the hype.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne have grown up in the same small town in Northern Ireland, but have led very different lives. Connell is popular where Marianne is an outcast. Connell's mother works as a cleaner for Marianne's family and when the two strike up a conversation one day, something that will forever change the fabric of their lives begins.

This is the only one of the shortlist which I've already read and I really enjoyed it, whilst also having a lot of complicated thoughts and feelings about it. I'm going to share my full thoughts in my review post but for now let's say that it's a love story without being a romance and it will suck you in completely.

From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
Farouk’s country has been torn apart by war. Lampy’s heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John’s past torments him as he nears his end. From war-torn Syria to smalltown Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

I've heard such great things about Donal Ryan's writing so I'm going into this with kind of high expectations but I'm sure it'll meet them. I love stories which bring several separate characters together in an interesting way and it seems like this is going to be an emotional story. I feel like I might need the tissues for this one!


So there we have it, the four shortlisted books in the Novel category of the Costa Book Awards 2018. I'll be reading them over the next couple of weeks and putting up a review post with my prediction of the winner just before the announcement on the 7th of January. Keep an eye on my Instagram too for some snippets of reviews as I read them!

Which of these books are you most excited to read? Let me know in the comments!


*This post is part of a series of posts that are sponsored by Costa. All words and images are entirely my own and 100% honest.

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