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Recent Reading #3

Around the New Year, I saw lots of blog posts, tweets and all sorts going round about the GoodReads 2016 Reading Challenge. Basically, you say how many books you aim to read in a year and track them as you go. I realised that I have no idea how many I should aim for. How many do I read? Not a clue. So rather than set a target, I decided to track all the books I read using the GoodReads app.

Admittedly this app isn’t the best in my opinion. I find it hard to organise my ‘shelves’ through the app itself, so I usually just use the app for updating progress and login on the computer to organise things. Also, I should point out that it’s not ideal when using a site like NetGalley (more to come in another post) where you receive pre-release books… but eh. I’m making the best of it.

So far, I’ve read 30 books this year.

To be honest, I thought I would make it through more than that.. but in the last few months I’ve slacked off a little. I like to take a break now and again, and listen to podcasts or blogs instead.  Here are my favourites out of the 30 I’ve read so far.

Click to view the book on Amazon (*affiliate links*):

 

Alan Cumming

Not My Father’s Son: A Family Memoir – Alan Cumming

This is a memoir by the actor, Alan Cumming OBE. You may know him better as Eli Gold in The Good Wife (I certainly do). I don’t quite remember how I came across this, but read some reviews and decided to download it. I’m not a fan of memoirs or autobiographies of celebrities – most are ghost-written, irritating, show-off pieces of crap. This is so different. Cumming’s voice is evident throughout, and the story is so engrossing. It tells of his involvement in the show ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and revisiting horrendous childhood at the hands of his abusive father. It really is a both harrowing and, at times, hilarious read. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of his or not.

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Broken Sky

 Broken Sky (The Broken Trilogy #1) – L.A. Weatherly

Another day, another dystopian reality, another strong female lead – except the twist with this one is that it is set in an alternative 1940s. Amity is a peace fighter, a pilot who fights in air battles with other world peace fighters in order to pass international law. There’s a rising power which slowly starts to affect her and those she loves. I wasn’t too sure how I’d feel about this novel, but by the end I was hooked. The plot was unique, the characters interesting, and the ending to the first book… well, you’ll see. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

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The Last Girl

The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy #1) – Joe Hart

The same genre as the previous, The Last Girl follows Zoey, who we learn has been isolated as part of a medical programme; a virus has swept the world, causing only male babies to be born. Zoey becomes more and more suspicious of what she’s been told, and is left with no option but to try to escape. Some parts were a little ‘out there’ but overall I enjoyed this book and will pick up the rest of the series.

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The Girls

 The Girls – Emma Cline

OK, so I think just about everyone read this book this summer. I was intrigued by the plot – in 1960s California, a lonely girl gets involved with a group of older, ‘cooler’ girls, who it turns out are part of a cult – as it seemed to be ripped completely from the Manson Family. Spoiler: it’s not far off. But, hearing it first person was fascinating. The prose is heavy and over the top in places, and I can imagine some people giving up. I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t my top read.

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Kill Me Again – Rachel Abbott (DCI Tom Douglas #5)Kill Me Again

I’ve talked about how much I’ve loved Rachel Abbott’s books before in Recent Reading #2 and when I saw this had been released I snapped it up and I really wasn’t disappointed. Maggie’s husband Duncan disappears, leaving her two children at home alone. At the same time, women are being murdered who look remarkably like a victim from 12 years previous – as well as Maggie and Tom’s ex-girlfriend Leo… Maggie learns her husband is not who she thought he was, and Tom has a race against time to solve the murders, and save the women. As we move through this series the character of Tom Douglas continues to develop and the writing is still just as intoxicating. I’ll be following Rachel Abbott’s career closely, as she’s easily my favourite crime writer now!

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Cold Killing

 Cold Killing (DI Sean Corrigan #1) – Luke Delaney

I only found out afterwards that this was written by an ex-Met Police detective, and now it explains so much. This is an expertly written crime debut. Sean Corrigan is an intriguing character – despite a difficult childhood, he is seemingly well functioning, with a good career, wife and two kids. However he has an uncanny knack of getting inside the head of a criminal, as he connects to his own dark side. I really enjoyed this, and having learnt there are others in the series (this was published in 2013) I’ll be looking them up too.

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Behind Closed Doors

 Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

Jack and Grace seemingly have the perfect life: successful, good looking, powerful. But behind closed doors things are not what they seem.. I won’t give away any spoilers as it really helps to know little about the story line, but it’s a fantastic psychological thriller. I found some parts really emotional and I’m not sure I’ve ever hated a character so much! The characters are really well formed and rounded, though I could perhaps say some parts are a little far-fetched. However, it’s a cracking read if you’re willing to just go with it.

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Currently reading….

All The Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

I’m not a big fan of historical novels, so this – set in WW2 – is a bit of a departure for me. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I loved the title and the cover artwork, and the description sounded OK, so thought I’d give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed; quite the opposite in fact – I’d not read the reviews, so I didn’t know it was a NY Times bestseller or a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it’s easy to see why it is both. The writing is simply beautiful. The storylines of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl from Paris, and Werner, a bright young German soldier are deftly woven together. I’m enjoying reading it so much that I don’t quite want it to end…!

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Check out my previous Recent Reading posts:

Recent Reading #1

Recent Reading #2

 

Let me know your thoughts on the books featured!

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Recent Reading #2

As you may have gathered by now, I read a lot of books and as my last book recommendation post went down well I thought I’d give an update on what I’ve been reading recently.

 

How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

If I’m honest I bought this because it was 99p and in the Bestseller list on the Kindle Store, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a well-written, fast-moving thriller. Basic intro storyline: Susan Webster is trying to build a new life having been released on early parole for killing her son – despite not remembering anything of the crime. Slowly, Susan begins to realise things may not be as she was told. Is her son alive? .. For a debut novel, the writing is really quite accomplished and kept my interest peaked throughout. I’m looking forward to the next from this promising newcomer.

 

The Back Road; Only the Innocent; Sleep Tight; Stranger Child – Rachel Abbott

Rachel Abbott has quickly become one of my new favourite crime writers. Each one of these books deserves the high ratings they have from Amazon users – though I think my favourite was Stranger Child. DCI Tom Douglas is a intriguing character and the more you learn about him through the series, the more you want to learn! Each book is absorbing, with twists and turns but still always credible. Definitely worth a read – then you’ll be recommending them too!

 

The Roy Grace Series – Peter James

I was a bit late to the party when it comes to Peter James and in fact I read #8 in the series, Not Dead Yet, before any of the others – I enjoyed it, so recently started at #1 with Dead Simple and #2, Looking Good Dead. If you want classic British crime, this is the series you should pick up. Gripping, with very different themes in each. My only criticism comes from the problem of reading two books in the series one after the other which is obviously not going to affect many people. But. I’m all for reiterating the setting, the character etc, but the descriptions (particularly of his office) are almost identical between the first two books, so much so that you could probably copy/paste one into the other. Like I said, if you were reading these as they were released – or at the very least with a fair gap in between – it wouldn’t be a problem, but if I like an author I tend to read a few (have you noticed?) and it was just something that annoyed me.

 

You Had Me At Hello; Here’s Looking At You; It’s Not Me, It’s You – Mhairi McFarlane

I think I’ve probably tweeted Mhairi while reading each of her books to tell her how distractingly brilliant they are. I even nearly missed my stop on the train while reading Here’s Looking At You! To be honest you just have to have a glance at Mhairi’s Twitter feed to get an idea of just how witty and entertaining these books would be. The lead female characters are so believable, so honest, that I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thought, “Dear God, that sounds like something I would say…!” It’s just so refreshing to read a rom-com that is realistic with likeable protagonists. I eagerly await each new book – fingers crossed the next won’t be too far away..

 

The Black Echo – Michael Connelly

And now to one I didn’t enjoy so much. I bought a selection of Michael Connelly books having never read them, and I took #1, The Black Echo, on holiday with me. I love crime books obviously but this time it just didn’t click. I didn’t connect with Bosch, and I found the writing style stilted at times. This series has masses of fans around the world, so maybe it’s just me… I’m going to give the next book in the series a go and hope it’s just the mark of a debut – plus it was written over 20 years ago, so I might also try a more recent book in the series too to see if the writing style has evolved.

 

Have you got any recommendations for me?

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Recent Reading

Kindle

I read a lot of books; ever since learning to read at a very young age I’ve always found a lot of pleasure in a good book. These days due to my commute involving around 40 minutes on trains I tend to read on the way to and from work, or more recently, in the park at lunchtime. It’s such a good way to escape from the stresses of the day.

A few Christmases ago my lovely husband gave me a Kindle e-book reader and to be honest, it has changed my reading habits quite a lot. Where in the past I would make do with picking up random books in charity shops for 20p each and the odd bestseller in WH Smith’s, generally Kindle books are a bit cheaper than bookstore books, and sometimes not a whole lot more than 20p – plus obviously so much easier to carry in your handbag! Plus it means I can find a new book on the go, wherever I am. The ability to sync between your physical Kindle and the iOS and Android apps is an absolute revelation – I love being able to swap between devices depending on battery life, screen size and so on.

That being said, I still love the sensation of reading a real book. The weight of it in your hand, the presence on your bookshelf. E-books will never rival that in my opinion, no matter how practical they may be!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading recently, in no particular order:

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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The Divergent Trilogy: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I absolutely loved these books. Yes, they are technically written for teenagers. Yes, you could just go watch the film (which I haven’t seen, by the way) – but the books are epic. Much better than the oft-compared Hunger Games trilogy and nothing at all like Twilight in my opinion. This is the story of Beatrice (“Tris”) Prior, who lives in a dystopian society where the population has been divided into factions based on their natural personality traits. There’s drama, action, intrigue… and a bit of a love story of course – but Tris is smart, capable, brave and isn’t defined by who she loves, but by her love itself. Excellent reading.

 

All The Pretty Girls by JT Ellison
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The Taylor Jackson Series – 7 books (yes, 7!):  by J.T. Ellison

The books in this series are, in order: All The Pretty Girls; 14; Judas Kiss; The Cold Room; The Immortals; So Close the Hand of Death; and Where All The Dead Lie. I’m not sure how to even begin to tell you how highly I rate these books and their author. To be honest, I tend to mostly read crime books, and these are some of the best I’ve read in a long time. The series focuses on Taylor Jackson, a Lieutenant in Nashville Homicide, and her boyfriend John Baldwin, a profiler with the FBI. It is best to read them in order as there is quite a bit of back-story – particularly the final few as one of the storylines comes to a head. There’s a secondary series focusing on one of the other characters (Samantha Owens, the medical examiner), which I’m looking forward to starting soon.

 

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
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A Dance With Dragons, book 5 from the Song of Ice and Fire series (‘Game of Thrones’) by George R. R. Martin

Despite the Game of Thrones TV series currently working its way steadily through the Song of Ice and Fire series, I decided to start reading them. I’ve now finished all 5 volumes (sometimes split into 7 or 8 seperate books) and can’t wait for the next one… unfortunately I will have to, as it’s not due for release for another year! George R. R. Martin is an unbelievable storyteller; the setting and personalities are so well described that its not really surprising that the books lend themselves to the screen so well. In fact the TV series does follow the storylines relatively closely, but the books enrich the world of Westeros even more than the TV series ever could. Plus there’s the added bonus (in the real-life book versions, at least) of the Appendix at the back, with family trees and such should you get your Tyrion mixed up with your Theon! I won’t spoil it for you – but I will say that some of your most loved characters have some great storylines coming up!

 

Have you read any of these books? Which will you be adding to your reading list?

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