Monday 5 February 2018

Home by Amanda Berriman @MandyBerriman @DoubledayUK @sophiechristoph #MyLifeInBooks #BlogTour

Jesika is four and a half. 

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn't draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby. 

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

Home by Amanda Berriman is published by Doubleday / Transworld on 8 February 2018, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. This is the author's debut novel.

Home is a beautifully written story in a wonderful voice. My review will be posted here on Random Things soon, but as part of the Blog Tour, I am delighted to welcome the author here today. She's talking about the books that are important to her in My Life in Books.

My Life In Books - Amanda Berriman

The Way to Sattin Shore by Philippa Pearce
Philippa Pearce was one of my favourite authors as a child and this is the first book I remember strongly identifying with – like the main character Kate, I was growing up in a single parent family with a yearning to know more about my Dad. Kate’s determination to seek what she needed, ignoring the adults around who told her otherwise, inspired me and gave me hope. It’s a book I’ve always carried close to my heart.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Twenty years ago, before kindles were a thing, I went backpacking and discovered the delights of Youth Hostel book swaps. I read so many books that year that I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself – when you’re desperate for a read, you take whatever you can get! This was my favourite pick. I laughed out loud so many times, but I also identified with Marcus – I was far from being one of the ‘cool kids’ at school and could never keep up with trends. Also, ‘Dead Duck Day’ will, for so many reasons, stay with me forever.

The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
This was the first book I remember making me feel proper blood-boiling anger for inequality, misogyny, patriarchy and injustice towards those on the margins of society (the most recent was Emma Flint’s excellent Little Deaths). My mum gave it to me sometime in my late teens and I don’t think I had a full understanding then of exactly what it was I was railing against, but I knew it was something much bigger than the plot and characters of this book alone, and something I knew had to change.

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors and there is so much I love about her and Pride and Prejudice but, wow, Longbourn is so much more! Firstly, it’s a compelling and powerful story about social inequalities. But secondly, by telling the ‘below stairs’ story within the timeline of Pride and Prejudice, Longbourn makes you look at the original characters from an entirely fresh perspective – and it utterly transformed the way I thought about not only Pride and Prejudice but all of Austen’s novels.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Every now and then my sister buys me a ‘must read’ for birthday or Christmas. This is the best of those. An intense, mystical book about power and control, it illustrates the beauty and the ugliness of people and explores what happens when power and control are challenged by those who are being manipulated, all told against the backdrop of the mysterious, magical Night Circus. I couldn’t read anything for weeks after finishing it – and several years on still find myself day-dreaming about the Night Circus appearing at my door!

The First Fifteen Lives of Lives of Harry August by Claire North
I love books with head-hurting-wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey plots. This one is my favourite (closely followed by The Time Traveller’s Wife and My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time). Every time Harry August dies he is reborn to the beginning of his life, but he carries with him all the memories of his previous lives. Near the end of his eleventh life he receives a message that sets him off on a quest to save the world - complicated because he keeps dying and being reborn. It’s one of those books that you end up flicking back to re-read passages as you try to slot all the pieces together, and completely un-put-downable!

The Wool Trilogy by Hugh Howey
There are certain series of books (Dragonriders of Pern, His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Hunger Games) that take over my life and give me insomnia (by which I mean I can’t put them down at a sensible time and go to sleep!) This is one of those. It is set in a dystopian world where people live in an underground silo, a hundred and forty four floors deep. I think about it all the time; when you discover how they ended up there and who is in control and what the silo is all about, it doesn’t feel too many steps from where we are now.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
"If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for?" This is the book that helped me to make sense of all the thinking I had been doing about religion, faith, spirituality and what it is to be human – sparked originally by Jill Paton Walsh’s thought-provoking A Knowledge of Angels. Pi is, without a doubt, the fictional person I would most like to sit and have a chat with about all of that. (Though preferably not while shipwrecked at sea with a large tiger.)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I belong to a book group, and like the Youth Hostel books swaps, it has introduced me to so many books I may not have chosen. I knew nothing about this book when I started reading it and by the time I finished, I was feverishly googling to find out as much as I could about a country and period of history that I had barely heard of. It is a truly fascinating, compelling, heart-breaking read that broadened my understanding of the world – I love books that do that.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd)
I can’t talk about this book without crying and anything I can say about it doesn’t do it justice. It’s a book that takes you right to the heart of what grief is, holds you tight but doesn’t shield you, makes you stare it in the face until you are completely broken and then gently guides you to a place where you can start putting yourself back together again. Patrick Ness is a genius. (See also the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Crane Wife and The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Amanda Berriman - February 2018

Amanda Berriman was born in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills.
She works as a primary school teacher and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two children and dog.

Follow Amanda on Twitter at @MandyBerriman

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