Books that leave you speechless + Fiona McIntosh Giveaway

Already in my relatively short life span, its safe to say I’ve read hundreds of books, possibly approaching thousands. Each one brings something different to light. A new way to think about a particular issue, or simply the push in the right direction to think about a concept. Feel good books make you happy when perhaps you haven’t been. A psychological thriller can question what you would do if you were in the same situation.

We’ve all read books that have left us speechless. Books that are just so powerful, so emotional, so all consuming, that you simply can’t put them down. The characters become like second families and the world they live in becomes interchangeable with our own. They can make you laugh, cry and fall in love and they have no qualms about doing so. They can become keys of knowledge or feel good entertainment. Every now and then though, there are rare ones that simply leave you begging for more. The ones you can’t put down. The ones that have the power to change your life is some shape or form. They not only captivated you, but willingly draw you so deeply into their world that you can no longer see the distinction between the two. That leave you speechless. Books like these can make you cry before you even realise what is happening. They make sad day’s happy, and sometimes normal days sad. These kind of books are diamonds. And they need to be appreciated.

There is a lot of websites out there advocating the best books you’ll ever read. This isn’t my intention here. Rather I want to share some books that made me speechless for whatever reason. Books that may not be literary masterpieces, but they move you as the reader. And why am I doing this you may wonder?

I recently read Fiona McIntosh’s The French Promise, and have since added this to the list of books that have left me speechless. It is beautifully written and a fascinating tale of what it means to love, to have lost somehow and the fickle and consuming nature of revenge. It’s a book that made me laugh and cry while I feel in love with the characters.

In honour of this book I’m running a giveaway to win a  copy of Fiona McIntosh’s book. I stayed up late multiple nights to read and finish the narrative and was completely and utterly undone by the story. The characters felt like long lost family members and were so real to me that I became invested in their fictional lives. I cried and cried when particular characters died, but I also caught myself smiling in the middle of the day, at work, in a crowded shopping centre when I thought about the prose and what was happening in the story. The tale is haunting and beautiful. It’s about love and loss, and the cost and length’s that people will go to enact revenge for past wrongs. Simply put, this book got to me in ways I didn’t expect.

Which got me thinking about books in general that have had such a profound effect on my for whatever reason. Below is my list of those novels short-listed.

When You Wake and Fine Me Gone by Maureen McCarthy

 is probably one of my all time favourite novels ever. It is the first novel that captivated me and transported me to a place that wasn’t limited by my knowledge of the world. I probably read this particular novel when I was thirteen and it sparked my fascination with the written word once again (I hadn’t been reading for a long time prior). Since then I haven’t stopped reading. I’ve also become obsessed with Ireland. But that’s another story all together.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.

I don’t think many people haven’t read these books (although I can tell you that one of my sisters has never read one. She’s 20 this year, meanwhile the youngest sister is approaching nine and has read three). Through the use of magic, Rowling has done what many authors have failed before her to achieve. She created a main stream phenomenon that dealt with some pretty heavy concepts and she rocked at it. Sure her writings not flawless, but she is a natural born storyteller and has wowed the world many times over by doing so.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

I read this while in high school before Picoult became a house hold name in Aus. The narrative got me exactly where it wanted me and then twisted the knife and went the opposite way. No other tale has ever been less predicable or true to life as this one. It was heart breaking, but more importantly real. Something I needed at the time after having lost a school friend to cancer the year before.

The Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons.

 My best friend recommended this to me in High school claiming it was the Bible. I thought she was over exaggerating and took my time getting to it. She wasn’t lying. I’ve re-read this series at least three times and still love it. The history entwined with the romance and adventure made me a recluse as I inhaled the books wanting to know what happened

If I stay by Gayle Forman

was a novel I picked up last year and it not only had me crying, but whilst reading it I was a wreck. I couldn’t imagine being in any of the characters positions. Nor did I want to. Such Poignant writing that if you haven’t already read, you should seriously consider picking up. Family is number one, and this book reminded me of that.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

This was my first Green novel and since then I’ve brought them all. Its a tear jerker, laced with humour and unexpected kindness and reality. It made me re-think the way I looked at life and past experiences.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult.

This novel brought me out of my childhood in many ways, but also feed my growing fascination with the Amish culture. This narrative made me question whether I could ever be that dedicated to my faith and lifestyle to go without. It made me look more closely at society in many ways as well. I re-read this novel often and still love it to bits.

More recently, another book was added to this list.

The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh.

As an avid believer in the narrative and the strength of the story I want to share this particular story in the hope that you may love it just as much as I did.

This giveaway is open to Australian residents only (sorry) . To enter the giveaway simple leave a comment telling me the books that  rendered you speechless. For an extra entry subscribe to my blog and let me know via your comment.  A couple of lucky readers will find themselves receive a copy of Fiona McIntosh’s The French Promise (the sequel to the Lavender Keeper).

I’m curious to know what books have had an impact on you? They don’t necessarily have to be books that changed your life or way of thinking. Just books that got you. That you loved and would recommend to everyone and anyone. Perhaps they are books you’ve read multiple times? 

Competition ends Friday April 12. The names of everyone who leaves a comment will be placed in a hat and the winners chosen at random. They will be notified by email (if you choose to leave it) or via a winner’s post on Saturday 13th April 2013.

Good luck!

Jess

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27 thoughts on “Books that leave you speechless + Fiona McIntosh Giveaway

  1. Brenda says:

    What a great giveaway Jess…thanks heaps!! Mine to Avenge by Kerry Letheby is a recent book I loved and would recommend to everyone (and did!) Web of Deceit by Katherine Howell is another one I loved and highly recommended. But Helene Young’s Wings of Fear, Shattered Sky and Burning Lies would have to be my all time favourites:) The worst part is there are so many I love and would recommend!

    • Jess says:

      Your welcome Brenda, I’m so excited about this giveaway because I really really loved this book and I’m sure more people will. And who doesn’t love a freebie anyway? I loved Helene’s books as well and I might have to check out Katherine Howell. I haven’t read any of hers before.

  2. Amy says:

    I have said it before and I will say it again, The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly left me speechless. It was phenomenal. I am also willing to say that John Green’s first book, Looking for Alaska, also left me speechless. I have yet to read The Fault in Our Stars but it is on the list, as is Mine to Avenge, it looks really exciting. I think it helps when other people praise books that you think are appealing, it helps build up the excitement before you begin reading.

    • Jess says:

      That it does Amy. I have Mine to Avenge to read in the next couple of days. And I’m keeping my eyes peeled for The Book of Lost Things, because you have recommended it so highly 🙂

  3. Jeanette Hornby says:

    I read Tim Winton’s ‘Cloudstreet’ when it was on the reading list at my son’s school a few years ago. It’s still my favourite (literary) book and I’ve re-read it since then and will probably seek it out time and time again. Love the way Winton creates the scene and portrays his characters. And yes, he’s an Aussie!

    • Jess says:

      Hey Janette,
      I read Cloudstreet when I was at Uni and I absoutely loved it. The rest of the class didn’t like so much, but I couldn’t get enough. Fantastic author. And yep, he’s an aussie! Got to support the local talent 🙂

  4. Dale Harcombe says:

    Great give away. Thanks. My list :The Friendly Persuasion- Jessamyn West, Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks, Love Anthony – Lisa Genova,The Help -Kathryn Stockett,Gilead – Marilynne Robinson, My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult, To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee, One Breath Away- Heather Gudenkauf.

  5. Dale Harcombe says:

    The Help- Kathryn Stockett, The Friendly Persuasion- Jessamyn West, To Kill a Mockingbird, – Harper Lee, Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks, My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult,

  6. Allyce says:

    My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin is a book that, while not so much speechless, left me very upset and extremely moved. I don’t know what about the book got to me, but it is a great read. Also anything by Diana Wynne Jones got to when I was younger and Howl’s Moving Castle was one that I devoured in an afternoon and left me wanting more!

  7. Elizabeth Lhuede says:

    Hi Jess

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway (and I’ve followed your blog).

    One book that rendered me speechless is Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy. It won the Prime Minister’s Prize in 2010. It’s a tough book, as it deals with how a homeless boy copes being brought up with a pack of dogs, but everyone I’ve recommended it to so far has found it worthwhile. Another one I found very moving is MJ Hyland’s Carry Me Down about an Irish family’s descent into poverty. I haven’t read any Fiona MacIntosh yet but, after reading your recommendation of French Promise, I’ve put her on my “must read” list.

      • Jess says:

        I just went to your site and followed you too. Loved your article on the issues and aspects of reviewing.

    • Jess says:

      Oh wow, I’m going to go and check out Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy now. I’ve seen MJ Hyland’s Carry Me Down somewhere recently and it did spark my interest, so I shall be reading that one sometime in the future.

      If you like a bit of history and a bit of romance then you are bound to love McIntosh’s books. I’ve only read The French Promise so far, but I went on a buying spree yesterday and brought a few more of her books. She mainly writes fantasy, but The Lavender Keeper and The French Promise aren’t fantasy and everyone I’ve talked to about them recently have all said the same thing. Extremely well written books that you can’t put down. I hope you enjoy them when you get around to them, but I’m almost 99% sure you will 🙂

      Thanks for the follow as well. Added the extra entry to your name for it too.

  8. John Mccready-Huntsman says:

    One of the very very many books that have left me speechles is ‘Holding the Man’ by Tim Conigrave. It is a memoir of love and loss in the age of HIV/AIDS in Australia. I have re read it many times and it does not fail to have an impact on me.

  9. JessS says:

    I’m not sure speachless is quite the right word because usually after I read a book that’s that incredible I get really bubbly and ramble-y, but here are the last few books that have really affected/impacted me anyway: The Angel by Tiffany Reisz, The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas and Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, though that was more of a oh-my-gosh-cliffhanger speechless.
    The French Promise sounds really, really good too! Thanks 🙂

    • Jess says:

      Hey Jess.
      I get a bit ramb-ly as well after finishing a fantastic book. Usually though my first instinct when I’ve finished the book is to close it and just sit there for a few minutes taking it all in. Then I spend the next week or so telling everyone and anyone about how great the book is and that they should read it.

      I’ve got teh Secret Keeper by Kate Morton but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Moving it up higher in my list now 🙂

      I hate it when books have those oh-my-gosh-cliffhangers. I tend to start thinking up what I want to happen and then spend the next twelve months or so impatiently waiting for the book to be released so I can finally get some answers.

  10. Sue says:

    Hello there, Jess. I’ve been reading and enjoying your reviews on Goodreads and have slutted over here on the smell of a free giveaway 😛

    Nice place you’ve got round here.

    Books that have left an impression? Hmm. You know, for so long I’ve felt so bad about my monumentally horrid memory that means that I can read something, be deeply affected by it, and then forget that I ever read it in the first place. But then I saw Helen Garner speak once and she said the same thing about herself and so now I feel a little better about it 🙂

    I really loved Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (non-fiction though). I love a good think, and that book brought me back to it twice. Granted, I was about 15 pages in the second time before realising that I’d already read it before but I loved it the second time too 🙂

    I just read recently Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett as part of the AWW Challenge and that has stayed with me for weeks after. Also Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders. Monkey Grip by HG. It by Stephen King left an impression on me when I read it as a 14 year old and I returned to it a few years ago on a whim. It left an effect on me then too but as I am unfortunately a bit of a literary snob part of me hates to admit it. Despite my snobby shortcomings, he is a rollicking good storyteller.

    Plus the other 30 that I can’t remember loving. They were all awesome 😛

    • Jess says:

      Hey Sue, thanks for making the trip!
      I’m glad you’ve been reading and enjoying my reviews on Goodreads, its hard to tell sometimes if anyone reads them. So thank you for reading them.

      A giveaway is always good fun 🙂 Got a few lined up over the coming months so keep an eye out for them as well.

      I so jealous that you’ve got to listen to Helen Garner speak. I’ve read her books and she never ceases to blow every preconceived idea I’ve had of them and the issues she covers totally out of the water!

      Don’t feel bad about not remembering. I once brought a book twice! When shopping I picked it up and thought ‘hey, this sounds really good and very much like another book I’d read and loved’. turns out it was the exact same book. Thank god the returns policy allowed me to get an exchange and choose something else that I hadn’t previously read or owned!

      I loved Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders. I think I’ve read it about three times. I first read it in high school and was totally enthralled by it. I haven’t read any of Stephen King’s novels as of yet, I have read is guide to writing or being a writer and found it very informative. I’ll have to read one of his books soon I think.

  11. Kathryn says:

    This IS a great giveaway – I went to a Meet the Author event for Fiona McIntosh today – I haven’t read any of her books yet, but I’m keen now – and I’ve just borrowed The Lavender Keeper! If anyone has the opportunity to hear her speak – I can totally recommend going along – she’s a fantastic speaker!

    Books that have left an impression on me… I just read Sue’s comment and I am afflicted with the same disease – I may have really loved a book while reading it, but a week later (deep into the next book or two) and I may have trouble recalling what I was reading a week ago! Now that I’m using the Goodreads website, I hope it helps me to keep track of what I’ve read a little better! However, I can’t put in all the books I’ve read before I started Goodreads – but I add them as they occur to me.

    There aren’t many books that have actually left me speechless, but books that have left an impression on me include The Shack by Wm Paul Young, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. I think I’d also have to include the Anne series by LM Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables etc) although they aren’t the type of book that I think of as most likely to make an impression, but I first read them as I was growing up (and childhood is impressionable!) and it’s possible I’ve read through the series about half a dozen times (and there are 8 books in the series, not counting the Chronicles and Further Chronicles). Or possibly more than half a dozen times… 😉 So I think that level of exposure makes an impression! Oh, and Jeffrey Archer often has a twist at the end of his novels that can shock me – it’s a while since I read Only Time Will Tell but I remember wondering what would come next – and yet I still haven’t gotten around to it!! There are certainly lots of good books that I could nominate, so I’d better stop there…

    Just off track a little – also on Sue’s comment and Jess’s response – Year of Wonders is one I want to read so I might have to bump it up the list after those recommendations!

  12. Kathryn says:

    I’ve already typed this once and it disappeared when I clicked post and things are never as good when I have to re-write them (possibly because by that stage I am a bit annoyed and over it!), but here goes.

    This IS a great giveaway, Jess. I went to a Meet the Author event for Fiona McIntosh at a local library today and I loved it. She’s really approachable and a great speaker. She was promoting her new book, which you are giving away and it was fascinating to hear about the sort of research she did for it and the first book – The Lavender Keeper. I hadn’t read either book but I will be reading both now – and some of her other books if I like these! I can thoroughly recommend her as a speaker if people get the opportunity to go along to meet her on her tour.

    I’ve just read the posts above and I am afflicted by the same condition as Sue – I may have loved reading a particular book last week, but trying to remember what I was reading then a week later (when I’m deep into the next book or two) is often a struggle! I’m now using the Goodreads website to keep track of what I’ve read (and what I want to read – an ever-growing list!) and hope that this will help to jog my memory about books I’ve read. However, I’ve only just started to use it within the last 6 months so there are obviously a lot of books I’ve read that aren’t on there – and if I have trouble remembering what I read last week, I’ve got no hope of remembering all the books I’ve ever read! But I’ve added what I do remember and add in others as they occur to me.

    As for books that have left me speechless – I don’t think there have been many – although some of Jeffrey Archer’s have a twist at the end that flip the story on its head. I’ve only read the first of the Harry Clifton series so far, Only Time Will Tell, and I remember being eager to get the next one as I finished the first (I think because it finished with a plot twist – although it was a while ago that I read it, so I could be wrong), but it’s now published, as is the third, and I’ve still only read the first!

    Books that have made an impression on me – where to start…?! And how many may I list?
    I think I’d have to pick:
    • The Shack by Wm Paul Young
    • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
    • 1984 (not in a good way – I think I was a bit traumatised by this and never want to read it again)
    • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (yes, it’s massive, but there are some beautiful passages in there and a wonderful story which I’m currently re-reading) and
    • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
    And I’d probably also have to say that the Anne series by LM Montgomery made an impression on me. Although I’d have picked those books as being not very likely to make an impression, I read them while I was growing up (always an impressionable age) and I may have read the whole series (and there are 8 books, excluding the Chronicles and Further Chronicles) about half a dozen times over the years. Or maybe more… 😉 And I think that kind of repeated exposure to anything would probably make an impression!

    Just a little off-topic – The Year of Wonders is on my to read list and after the glowing recommendations from Sue and Jess, I may have to bump it up my list!

  13. Kathryn says:

    I’ve already typed this once and it disappeared when I clicked post and things are never as good when I have to re-write them (possibly because by that stage I am a bit annoyed and over it!), but here goes.

    This IS a great giveaway, Jess. I went to a Meet the Author event for Fiona McIntosh at a local library today and I loved it. She’s really approachable and a great speaker. She was promoting her new book, which you are giving away and it was fascinating to hear about the sort of research she did for it and the first book – The Lavender Keeper. I hadn’t read any of her books, but I’ll be reading The Lavender Keeper and The French Promise now! I can thoroughly recommend going along if you have the opportunity to hear Fiona speak at any of the locations on her tour.

    I’ve just read the posts above and I am afflicted by the same condition as Sue – I may have loved reading a particular book last week, but trying to remember what I was reading a week later (when I’m deep into the next book or two) is often a struggle! I’m now using a website called Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read (and what I want to read – an ever-growing list!) and hope that this will help to jog my memory about books I’ve read. However, I’ve only just started to use it within the last 6 months so there are obviously a lot of books I’ve read that aren’t on there – and if I have trouble remembering what I read last week, I’ve got no hope of remembering all the books I’ve ever read! But I’ve added what I do remember and add in others as they occur to me.

    As for books that have left me speechless – I don’t think there have been many – although some of Jeffrey Archer’s have a twist at the end that flip the story on its head. I’ve only read the first of the Harry Clifton series so far, Only Time Will Tell, and I remember being eager to get the next one as I finished the first (I think because of a plot twist at the end, although I read it a long time ago and might be wrong), but it’s now published, as is the third, and I’ve still only read the first!

    Books that have made an impression on me – where to start…?! And how many may I list?
    I think I’d have to pick:
    • The Shack by Wm Paul Young
    • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
    • 1984 (not in a good way – I think I was a bit traumatised by this and never want to read it again)
    • The Chronicles of Narnia
    • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (yes, it’s massive, but there are some beautiful passages in there and a wonderful story which I’m currently re-reading) and
    • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
    And I’d probably also have to say that the Anne series by LM Montgomery made an impression on me. Although I’d have picked those books as being not very likely to make an impression, I read them while I was growing up (always an impressionable age) and I may have read the whole series (and there are 8 books, excluding the Chronicles and Further Chronicles) about half a dozen times. Or maybe more… 😉 And I think that kind of repeated exposure to anything would probably make an impression!

    Just a little off-topic – The Year of Wonders is on my to read list and after the glowing recommendations from Sue and Jess, I may have to bump it up my list!

    • Jess says:

      Hey Kathryn,
      I’m so sorry that something went wary with your original post, but thankyou so much for retyping because I absoutely loved your response.

      I actually had the pleasure of meeting Fiona McIntosh on Monday Night on the first day of her tour at a library event. It was a pretty big ‘fan girl’ moment for me I think, and like you I was completely wowed and amazed by the insights she gave and the stories she told. I’m almost finished writing a post on what I learnt, and it should go up either late Thursday or on Friday so be sure to check it out 🙂

      I’m so glad your going to read both of the books in this series. Fiona McIntosh is an amazing storyteller and I honestly can not recomend her writing enough.

      Goodreads is an amazing site, and so addictive. I could spend hours and hours on there and still discover a range of new books and authors, and others that I’ve read and forgotten about.

      AS to the books that made an impression on you, The Boy IN the Striped Pyjames left me crying and angry! I seriously ran around the house yelling about the end of the book. Although I should have guessed what would happen from the begining, I was led to believe that the ending was as sad as it was. It crushed my poor little heart for a while! Like you I also loved and read often The Anne of Green Gables stories. I think I reread them every few years or so. Such beautiful books 🙂

      I hope you enjoy The Year of Wonders. I look forward to hearing what you thought of it.

      • Kathryn says:

        I look forward to your post about meeting Fiona McIntosh, Jess!

        And yes, I agree – Goodreads is highly addictive! I started using it at the end of last year for the smartphone app and the ability to easily keep a list of TBR books when I’m out and about – it turns out it’s a little TOO easy to add books to my list…! I also love that it’s easy to access the list when I’m out and about and check out whether the library/bookshop has any of my TBR’s when I’m there.

        And thinking about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas more – I actually SHOULD have put it in the first category of books with a twist at the end that left me literally speechless – you ran around screaming, I sat there going “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…”!! And I knew nothing about it in the beginning – a friend lent it to me and refused to tell me what it was about. I had worked out where the family was while reading, but I didn’t see the ending coming!

        Not sure when I’ll get to Year of Wonders, but hopefully sometime this year!!

      • Jess says:

        I am so glad I’m not the only person who didn’t seeing the ending coming! I’ve spoken to a number of people who said they have and made out I should have. I just didn’t see it coming. It still amazes me. Have you seen the movie? I haven’t had a chance too. It was on TV not that long ago,a round Easter I think, and no one told me it was on. I walked out and saw the end though. I cried there and then as well. Didn’t need to run around this time, but it still got to me. Beautifully tragic ending that one.

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