We stayed in Jozi these holidays, only like the second time in about 10 years and while it wasn’t the most exciting of holidays, I did get to spend a lot of quality with my Kindle and I aside from completing my Good Reads challenge of 50 books in 2014, I read three amazing books! Books I loved so much, with stories that sucked me in right from the first page and I completed them within 24 hours each. The type of books that left me with a book hang over and a need to read more and know more about the characters in them!

The Sweet Gum Tree – Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum TreeSweet tea, corn bread, and soup beans—everyday fare for eight-year-old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family. But nothing was ordinary about the day she met ten-year-old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town. Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love. The future looks rosy until the fateful night when Frank Anderson, Nick’s abusive father, is shot to death in his filthy trailer.Suddenly, Nick is gone—leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant. For the next fifteen years she wrestles with the pain of Nick’s abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends. But finally, she’s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she’s content if not happy — until the day she looks up and sees Nick standing across the counter. He’s back…and he’s not alone.Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength. Only one thing might break the protective wall she’s built around her emotions—the truth about Frank Anderson’s death. But when that truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion that could destroy as well as heal.

This was a beautiful read, filled with beauty, love, heartache, angst, forgiveness, redemption and so much symbolism, not to mention drama. I was hooked on the story from page one and couldn’t put it down. It’s well written and the characters, I felt, are intelligently developed throughout the book. I love a book that can make me laugh and cry and this book did exactly that.

I’ve had this book sitting on my To Read list for well over a year and just never felt compelled to read it but boy, I’m so glad I did! I LOVED it! Definitely one of my top 5 reads for the year! If you haven’t read it yet, do it, do it now!!! It’s an amazing read!

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover

Ugly LoveWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

I know this one sounds like a trashy Mills & Boons book and it is to a certain degree, it’s perfect holiday reading but having said that, you can expect a whole lot more from this book, it’s written by Colleen Hoover after all and she is an amazing author, I’ve not read a single one of her books that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy!

Hoover once again does not disappoint with this novel, well developed characters that you’ll love and hate and a completely original story line. The book will see you intrigued, fascinated, irritated and down right angry with the characters as Hoover takes you on a journey into the ugly side of love.

In The Stillness – Andrea Randall

In The StillnessNatalie is a wife.
Natalie is a mother.
Natalie is a cutter.

Clawing at walls built by resentment, regret, and guilt, Natalie cuts as an escape from a life she never planned.

Staying present is only possible when you let go of the past. But, what if the past won’t let go?

Yoh! This book was hectic! Exploring darker themes of depression, PTSD & cutting. I found my toes literally curling and my heart racing in a number of scenes. It’s a powerful, candid, dark and deeply emotional read and I loved every second of it!

Weaving the darker themes together through the eyes of the heroine as she battles to come to terms with her life as a SAHM, something she never wanted, married to a man she greatly resents. It’s a fascinating look at the impact on choices and misunderstanding in our lives.

I loved it, started it yesterday morning and finished it this morning! An absolute must read!

If you read any of the above books, please come back and share your thoughts? I’ve also shared the links to the Kindle editions above, so you can do a one click purchase.

Now I’m off to explore some more books to read as part of my good reads challenge for 2015, one book down, another 49 to go!