Summer Reading List (part 1)

I’ve always been addicted to reading – a delicious lunch, sitting by the pool, going to the beach, getting tucked up in bed and travelling all feels like a waste if I don’t have a good book to read. I thought that I loved physical books (the feeling of turning each page, holding it in my hands, knowing how far along I was, flicking back to certain parts) and would never cross to the dark side and get a Kindle, but I was so wrong. This Christmas I was gifted a Kindle and it’s one of the best things to ever happen to me (only being slightly dramatic here). It’s so light, you have all of your favourite books with you, you can adjust the font etc and the books are so cheap to buy! It’s no wonder bookstores are going out of business when they’re selling books for $30 but you can buy the same ones for under $5 on a Kindle. Anyway, having a Kindle has opened up a whole new world of books for me. I no longer have to wait 2 weeks for them to arrive from the Book Depository and have discovered some amazing new authors due to Kindle’s recommendations. My favourite genres are psychological thrillers, horror and basically anything that’s a page turner. It’s two weeks into the new year and I can already tell that 2019 is going to be a great one for reading. Here are the 5 books that I’ve read since Christmas!

‘The Haunting of Hill House’ by Shirley Jackson

You’ve probably heard of the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House which is based on this novel – it basically gets 5 star reviews from everyone for being utterly terrifying. As I soon came to discover, it’s very loosely based on the novel. This novel begins with Dr. Montague searching for evidence of a genuinely haunted house – a sort of academic experiment. He soon recruits Eleanor (whose perspective the novel focuses on), Theodora and Luke. The four of them move to Hill House in the hopes of experiencing something unnatural, which they sort of do – or is it in their minds?

I had high hopes for this novel – Stephen King hailed it as being “as nearly perfect a haunted-house tale as I have ever read” and it’s described as being ‘thrilling’. However, this novel wasn’t in the slightest bit scary. At all. I spent the entire time waiting for the novel to take off, waiting for something exciting or terrifying to happen… but nothing happened until the last page and instead the whole book felt like a first chapter.

The redeeming factor was that this book is written absolutely beautifully. Shirley Jackson’s writing is poetic, distinctive and emotive – prose at its finest. At times she dedicates entire pages to mundane interactions, but she makes them fascinating to read about. Verdict: don’t read this if you want a thrilling page turner, but do read it if you want to read a beautifully written book (a rare gem).

‘Something in the Water’ by Catherine Steadman

After finishing The Haunting of Hill House this book was a breath of fresh air – a complete page turner! The story is written through the eyes of Erin and the first page begins with her digging a grave – then it rewinds a few months. Her and her fiancé, Mark (an investment banker), are madly in love while struggling a bit as Mark loses his job, but they decide to splurge on their honeymoon to Bora Bora anyway. The book clips along nicely and soon they’re scuba diving on their honeymoon where they discover something in the water (see what I did there?) that completely changes their lives. The novel then focusses on how they deal with what it is they find. Maybe that plot description sounds a bit boring, but saying anything else would spoil the book – just know that I couldn’t read this book fast enough! There’s also a great twist at the end.

One of the things that I really loved about this book is that Erin thinks exactly the same why I think. Her thought process makes perfect sense to me (although sometimes she did really stupid things and I wanted to scream at her!) and the whole book had a very real feel to it. It’s a total thriller, it’s written so well and I was genuinely sad to finish it. This is actually the author’s first book, but she’s coming out with a second one soon and I can’t wait! Verdict: I definitely recommend it!

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ by S.J Watson

This book follows a woman named Christine who suffers from memory loss. Each time she falls asleep her memory ‘resets’ and she wakes up with absolutely no relocation of the previous day – she doesn’t remember her husband, her past, her home, her interests… she’s basically entirely reliant upon her husband to explain to her each morning who and where she is. Early on in the novel we learn (as does Christine) that Christine has been working with a doctor to try and recover her memory. As part of this attempt, the doctor gets her to keep a diary (secret from her husband) where she can record what happens each day. Christine begins to learn that her husband often lies to her and may be hiding something – all the while she is having flashes of memory back to the night that she lost her memory.

This book is definitely a thriller! It can be a tad repetitive as Christine relearns about her life each morning, but it moves along quickly and there are many twists and turns. There’s constantly a feeling that something bad is about to happen or Christine is about to uncover something shocking. The best twist happens at the end! The only problem with this book is that it steadily becomes more and more predictable. The writing is good, but it’s nothing compared to The Haunting of Hill House. Overall, the book is an easy read, a decent page turner and it draws you in straight away. Verdict: would recommend.

‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes

You is told through the eyes of Joe Goldberg, a New Yorker who becomes obsessed with a girl named Beck who happens to visit the book store he works at. He stalks her Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and eventually ends up stealing her phone so he can know everything about her and read her emails. He orchestrates events so that they meet, tries to become the boyfriend he thinks she needs and tries to make her fall in love with him. He also has no problem resorting to murder when people get in his way of winning Beck’s heart. You is really fascinating because it’s told from the point of view of the stalker, so as you’re reading it you know that his thoughts and actions are insane, but you also understand why Joe does what he does and you can often sympathise with him.

Part of the charm of You is Joe’s thoughts. They’re twisted, dark, crude, offensive and yet funny and often true. He’s extremely honest and also deranged. This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I don’t think that it will be for everyone. I’ve started watching the Netflix version of the book, but it’s quite different – I think that Joe was cast well, but the other characters seem to be quite different than their original book counterparts (update: only made it through two episodes before I had to stop because it was just so bad). Verdict: if you’re not easily offended then you might like it, but maybe read a snippet first – it’s definitely a page turner and I read it in a couple of days!

‘Hidden Bodies’ by Caroline Kepnes

Hidden Bodies is the sequel to You. The second I finished You I downloaded Hidden Bodies (thank you Kindle) and was expecting another creepy page turner, but let me warn you now: this sequel is nowhere as good as the first. The novel follows You’s protagonist Joe as he leaves New York and heads to Los Angeles where the dead bodies of his past begin to haunt him. Joe’s thoughts are still dark, terrible and kind of funny (which is part of the charm of You), but honestly, the plot is dreadful. It’s an easy read and the chapters usually end on a cliff-hanger, but about mid-way through the book I got bored. In You Joe often seems likeable and the reader almost feels sympathy for Joe, but Hidden Bodies is a bit too crude and Joe steadily loses all of his witty appeal. The plot is all over the place, it is extremely unrealistic, the writing style seems to have changed a bit too and the whole book has a different vibe than the first. You should have been a one off book. Verdict: would not recommend.

What books have you read lately? Would you recommend any? I’d LOVE to hear. I’m looking for my next read now!

This post is not sponsored, nothing was gifted, all photographs, writing and opinions are my own.

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