It’s been a biggie for books this summer. First I did my week of travelling (lol), followed by some lonely weeks of unemployment and then no wifi so I spent a lot of time reading. I’m so glad I did. Reading is a form of escapism for me as it is for lots of people and I’ve got a real mixed bag this time around. From supernatural to thriller to murder to Denmark, there is lots to chose from if you are looking to add to your reading list!
Lord of the Shadows by Cassandra Clare
I’m a longtime fan of Cassandra Clare’s work – it is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. I fell head over heels in love with her The Mortal Instruments series when they first came out and I still follow her characters now. While my interests when it comes to reading differ a little bit compared to little old fourteen year old me, I still come back to old favourites now and again. Lord of the Shadows is the second instalment in this series by Cassandra Clare, following on from the first book and following a different set of characters from the Shadowhunter world, this time set in Los Angeles. It still features the likes of Jace and Clary and Magnus but focuses on the parabatai bond of Emma and Julian, the movements of the racist Cohort faction of the Shadowhunter world and rise of the Fae people.
Clare’s writing style always sucks me in and I get very attached to her characters. I counted down the days to this second instalment being released as I needed to know what would happen to Julian and Emma and their family and friends. If you like an easy story with twists and turns – Clare’s books are for you. They always hold me hook, line and sinker and always leave me wanting more. I can’t wait for the third book to find out what will happen next!
Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
Thrillers are another favourite of mine and my parents dubbed this book “better than The Girl On The Train”, which of course, left me feeling intrigued. It wasn’t until I was on the other side of the Atlantic on that trip to the USA when I got around to reading it. And I was hooked. I was completely unsure of the motives of the characters throughout and had no clue about what was really unfolding. Be prepared for the mother of all plot twists at the end and as someone who likes to see justice served, left me feeling highly uncomfortable.
All of the characters are described vividly and it appears to be a normal group of people in normal circumstances. Decades old secrets and fights arise and our protagonist is completely lost in the story. The main character is very unlikeable but the writer’s sublime writing style teaches you to view him in a whole new way. Definitely read if you were a fan of Gone Girl | The Girl On The Train.
A Season Of Secrets by Margaret Pemberton
I really wanted to love this book but I just didn’t. It follows the life of three aristocratic women, the daughter of an Earl from Yorkshire, their childhood friend from the village and their American cousin as they manoeuvre through growing up with class barriers, differing lifestyles, romances, political climates and moving between Yorkshire, London, Berlin and New York.
It was easy enough to read and I love historical romances, with this book being set in one of my favourite time periods, the 1920s and 1930s, but it just didn’t tick for me. I understand that life is hard at times but everything which could possibly go wrong for some of the characters went wrong. Their lives just felt like losing battles and I just wanted the book to end to be honest. Some of the characters (Thea, Rosalind) were interesting and I really cared about their story, others (Violet, Olivia) were just plain annoying and I couldn’t be doing with them and others (Carrie, Gilbert, the stepmother) were just boring.
For all of the mishaps that happened throughout the book, I was a bit annoyed everything ended up being a happily ever after and everyone ended up with their true loves – some relationships just appeared out of nowhere! I did enjoy the beginning of this book but I would have preferred if the author had dealt with one period instead of following the characters through a period of 20 years. It was a still good book which had lots of interesting storylines so definitely give it a whirl if you want something easy but don’t hold your hopes too high.
Five Get Into A Fix by Enid Blyton
I am longtime fan of Enid Blyton and since discovering the treasure trove that is Barter Books in Alnwick a few years back, I’ve been slowly adding to the Enid Blyton collection I amassed as a child. When we move, Dad has given me the go ahead to put all the books in the house into one room (the smaller fifth bedroom) to have a “library” of sorts and I am SO excited. My endless books supply no longer has no purpose!
Whilst in Barter Books a few weeks ago when dropping off some of my parent’s books they no longer wanted, I found this little champ and picked it up. I love the simplicity of Blyton’s book and they always make me smile (and hungry when it describes their amazing meals in full)! This was just another great little mystery story that was so easy to read and escape too. The Five escape to Wales after Christmas to ski but are soon entranced by the mysterious house on the hill with “supernatural” goings-on that terrify the locals!
The Muse by Jessie Burton
I absolutely adored Jessie Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist, set in Amsterdam in the 1860s. The story is fantastic, Burton’s writing is so intricate but I felt the ending lacked a little. I didn’t feel satisfied but that was not the case with The Muse. I love books which flick between the past and the protagonist in the future, unravelling the mysteries of the past. The Muse focuses on a mysterious painting by a mysterious painter which comes to light in the 1960s, many not aware it even existed. Odelle Bastien, the Trinidadian protagonist and typist at an art gallery tries to uncover the history of the painting in 1960s London whilst negotiating her personal life and trying to figure out her mysterious boss Marjorie Quick. In 1930s Spain, it follows the Schloss family and unfolds their connection to the painting. It flows seamlessly together and is a very enjoyable and satisfying read.
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Is this one of my favourite books ever? Quite possibly. My dad passed this on to me and I wasn’t expecting much. I tried to learn more about hygge last Autumn/Winter when it was all the range but I didn’t get far in the book I bought about it. This book however was a brilliant read. It follows expat Helen Russell’s move from central London and the fast-paced world of work in the UK to rural Jutland in Denmark after her husband gets a job at Legoland. I loved Helen’s witty writing style, her outlook on Danish life as an outsider and her mission of discovering the secrets of the happiest people on Earth. The journey Helen took me on as a reader was extraordinary, it was so interesting to learn so much about Denmark through her words: from taxes to childcare to hobbies to Christmas. It is threaded with facts which I’m all about and is a brilliant memoir of her time in Demark.
Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas
I love a good thriller and this book by Claire Douglas hit the spot completely. It follows Libby on a house-swap in Cornwall where a series of strange and unsettling events happen which Libby believes is connected to her past. When they return to Bath, more unexplainable things happen and Libby begins to doubt her husband Jamie and his intentions. From memories of Thailand in 2008 to current day Bath, this book tells a fantastic story of deception, lies and what can happen when you they catch up with you.
The Burning by Jane Casey
One of my colleagues from the lab gave this book to me before she went on maternity leave and I read it in one night. I love a murder book from the point of view of a detective and I immediately liked Detective Sergeant. She was witty, smart and didn’t mess around. It tackles sexism in the police force, the conception of stereotypes and unmasks the serial killer targeting London with the heinous crime of beating up women and setting them alight. The murder which this book deals with mostly is deeper than that, uncovering a murder in Cambridge from many years before. A easy-to-read detective murder book with a satisfying ending.
Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
I should not have waited so long to read this. I completely understand the hype. It is such a poignant and heartbreaking story of how depression, anxiety and mental illness can ruin you. It can make everything bleak, like your future is none existent and play with your head in the nastiest of ways. This book is a mixture of a memoir, a self-help book and an overview of mental illness. It was so interesting to read from a learning point of view but it could be really helpful to someone who is struggling. I’m keeping this one my bookshelf to read time and time again if I need it. I loved the chapter with the tweets using the #reasonstostayalive as it did a lot of good and shared some lovely things.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
After reading The Year of Living Danishly and becoming a bit obsessed with Denmark, I picked up this beautiful little book that I got for Christmas but didn’t make it past the first chapter on lighting. Back then, it kind of went over my head and I didn’t really get hygge but after reading Russell’s experiences with hygge, I was intrigued to learn more. This is such a happy little book full of lovely recipes, fashion tips, ways to experience hygge through all four seasons, what hygge actually is and lots more of this Danish key to happiness! Such a lovely little book that I think I’ll be referring to a lot in the winter months as I try to get a bit more hygge.
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
This book is crazy disturbing and dark and twisted. And such a good read if that kind of thriller is your thing. I picked it up in Sainsbury’s on a whim after finishing The Muse and finished it that night. And then I didn’t sleep till 3.30am because I was so disturbed and unsettled by what I had read. It had my stomach churning but I had to keep reading, I had to find out what was happening and once I found out, I needed it to come to light in the book for the other characters as well. It follows Lane Roanoke who moves in with grandparents she never knew and a cousin she didn’t know she had in rural Kansas after her beautiful tortured mother commits suicide. The story weaves between Lane’s first (and last) summer at Roanoke when she discovered the truth behind her family and her return almost ten years later when she finds out her cousin Allegra has gone missing. The Roanoke girls are renowned for their beauty and spirit and this fantastic thriller uncovers the dark truth behind it all.