I go through phases with reading where I find myself reading four or five books in a week, then don’t pick anything up for ages. March was a really good month for reading for me, but it kind of dwindled in April because I was just so busy
watching NCIS with college deadlines. April as a month seems to have passed at lightning speed, I was only just getting used to it and suddenly it’s May already?!
Anyway, since my last reading update I’ve managed to squeeze in some really good books – and some not-so-good ones too – so I thought I’d post a little update on what I’ve loved and loathed book-wise. As always, I keep track of what I’m reading over on Goodreads so be sure to add me as a friend to see what’s next on my pile. I set myself a slightly under-ambitious challenge of reading 20 books this year and I’m already 12 books in, so I think I’ll manage to reach 20 in no time. Plus, I have a 12-day trip planned (I loved Croatia so much when I visited last year that I’m heading back again in June!) which is sure to be spent reading by the pool.
I like a mix of genres in my reading material, with thrillers being one of my favourites. That’s pretty noticeable in this month’s selection as I seem to have been going through a bit of a thriller binge, which is a far cry from my self-help/getting my life in order phase from the end of last year. I’ve had to force myself to take a step away from the self-help books as they weren’t helping my dwindling mental health, instead, I chose to focus on getting lost in fictional worlds.
If we start back at the very end of February, my thriller phase started with a couple of reads by C.L. Taylor, an author I knew I was a fan of since reading The Accident a couple of years ago. My brother gave me The Lie for Christmas and after hearing that it was supposedly going to be made into a television show I had to give it a read. This psychological thriller focuses on Jane and her attempts to forge a new life for herself after a girls holiday five years prior went horribly wrong. The trip of dreams turned into an unforgettable nightmare, and no matter how hard she tries to escape the past is bound to catch up with her. Although it was a bit of a slow starter, as the plot thickened I became sucked into the story and was desperate to find out just what had happened on what should have been an adventure of a lifetime. It took a turn I was absolutely not expected, and once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers then you have to give this a read.
After The Lie, I decided to read a short story also by C.L. Taylor called The Lodger, which is available for free if you sign up to her book club newsletter. Laura’s fiancé passed away one year ago, but she still feels his presence with her. She still lives in their home and is still close with their shared friendship circle, sometimes she still gets an odd feeling he never left. It’s only 9000 words, so it is over quite fast, but it’s gripping from the very start and constantly has you guessing. I wish it had been longer because I would have loved a bit more character development, but for a free short story, it isn’t half bad.
Next on my list was The Roanoke Girls, which Amazon recommended to me, and ended up being possibly one of my favourite books of the year. The Roanoke Girls are seemingly perfect, from the outside it looks like they have it all, but there’s a sinister secret lying beneath it all that the founding generation try to ignore. Every Roanoke girl ends up running away or dying, but why? The story focuses on Lane, one of the only girls who managed to make it away from the twisted house, but when her cousin Allegra goes missing she has no choice but to return. This book will send shivers down your spine, it’s absolutely chilling and very sick and twisted. It won’t be for everyone because the story line is quite disturbing, but it’s beautifully written, incredibly atmospheric and it captivates you from the very start.
I actually bought Gone Astray for my mum for Christmas, but when I was perusing the bookshelf in search of my next read I decided to try it out for myself. Gone Astray is the first in a series following DC Maggie Neville, a family liaison officer with the police. Lesley and Mack Kinnock are astounded to win a £15 million jackpot on the Euromillions, but it changes their life forever. One sunny afternoon Lesley returns to their home in an exclusive gated estate to find their darling daughter Rosie has disappeared, leaving nothing but a pool of blood in the back garden. This book is full of unexpected twists and turns, with dangerous secrets threatening to ruin lives forever. The story is absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t wait to uncover more of the truth with each chapter, with a shocking twist at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and will definitely be picking up the next DC Maggie Neville novel in the future.
I’ve loved every one of Gillian Flynn’s books that I’ve read, but The Grownup didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Another short story, The Grownup follows a young woman who is forging an easy living as a cheap psychic who tells people exactly what they want to hear – until she meets Susan and learns about her house of horrors. It soon takes a twisted turn – just what I like – but then it takes another. And another. And soon you’re left wondering just what the hell is actually going on… It had a lot of potential but the ending was just… disappointing. It did, however, have Gillian Flynn’s typical snarky writing style which I love, but 60 pages were just not enough to properly set the scene and explain what had actually happened in this case. It felt rushed, and I was really expecting more from it.
Another book with a lot of potential is Her by Harriet Lane. Dubbed “the ultimate frenemy thriller”, Her is all about the collision of two women from two different worlds. The pair meet and form a quick, albeit tense, friendship but it isn’t the first time their paths have crossed. Emma doesn’t remember Nina, but Nina remembers Emma and she also remembers what Emma did. This is a more subtle thriller, with tension building as it progresses, but although it was set to be a brilliant read the ending fell flat. There was an underlying sinister thread woven throughout the whole book, but it felt like it never really reached any sort of peak, and the ending was abrupt and, to be honest, a bit boring. It’s a shame really, because I was all set to love it, but I was expecting some shocking plot twist and it just did not deliver.
In a sharp contrast to my run of psychological thrillers, Wish You Were Here by Catherine Alliott is the type of easy-to-read chick-lit that is perfectly suited to a summer holiday read. My mum had read it whilst on holiday in April and passed it on to me on her return. I do love a bit of fluffy chick-lit and this was no different! Flora, James and their teenage daughters are offered the chance for a holiday of a lifetime at a beautiful chateau in the south of France thanks to a good deed. Flora jumps at the chance for a summer escape but isn’t prepared for the arrival of a mystery guest and a good old helping of family baggage. There are so many stories that intertwine into one, making this a really well-rounded novel that is an easy, heartwarming read. Unlike some other books of the same vein, this is a little bit darker than a lot of Catherine Alliott’s previous work, with some twisted secrets coming to light. I really loved this, it was an easy read but still had the twists and turns that I look for in a good book! It’s definitely one to pop in your suitcase for your summer adventures.
Finally, a quick detour back to the “guide to life” style that I know and love. When Lis passed on How To Be A Grown Up full of praise I knew it was going to be a good one, and I feel like it’s the book I’ve been searching for all this time. Described by Lis as a “professional big sister handbook”, How To Be A Grown Up is a guide to navigating life with a plethora of practical and emotional advice for making it through. Covering everything from self-confidence, working environments and learning to love spending time on your own, this is a really comforting read and serves as a brilliant reminder that you’re doing alright. It’s honest, sassy and hilarious – a must read.
So all in all, I’ve had a relatively good bunch of books recently! I’ve not quite decided what I want to read next so as always I appreciate recommendations in the comments. Like I said before I love most genres, but I’m a particular fan of thrillers, crime, dystopian fiction and YA. My holiday is coming up fast, particularly considering I only booked it a couple of weeks ago, so it’s time to start stocking up on my poolside reads.