Okay, I’ll admit it — I do kind of pride myself on being a book worm. I think nothing can compare to the feeling of being totally immersed in a story, wrapped up in someone else’s imagination in an entirely different world, following characters you love or hate on their journey. Summer is the perfect time to tackle that TBR List, which is exactly what I did on the side of the pool or on the beach on my recent holiday with my best friend Cait — I read five books and started a sixth in just one week! I’ve also been making the most of the heatwave we’re experiencing in England, putting my feet up in the garden with a cuppa and a good book.
Here are my top three!
1) BEHIND CLOSED DOORS | B. A. PARIS
MY RATING: ★★★★☆
Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.
Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call — so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?
And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?
The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
When I started reading Behind Closed Doors, I was expecting a fairly run-of-the-mill, predictable thriller — boy, was I wrong! All it took for me to be hooked was the first few pages. From the very first chapter, you’re plunged into the tension-soaked atmosphere that carries you throughout the whole story; I read the entire thing in one sitting at the side of the hotel pool on holiday and I don’t think I unclenched once for the whole time.
You kind of get swept away with the love story element. Grace isn’t unlucky in love more than just too busy for it, but she’s not getting any younger when she meets the handsome sophisticated Jack, who is by all appearances perfect. Like Grace, you’re so busy swooning that you don’t fully realise the true horror of the situation until it’s too late.
2) THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS | M. R. CAREY
MY RATING: ★★★★✭
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius”.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parker keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
This book is one of my favourites that I’ve read this year, never mind this summer. It’s 100% up my street and has every ingredient of my perfect read.
Unless you have any idea about the plot (which I didn’t), it takes a little while to fully understand what’s going on, but when it clicks into place, it’s kind of horrifying and really, really sad. Obviously you’re rooting for Melanie and Miss Justineau (absolute badass), but even the “bad guys” you can’t wholly condemn, even when their actions seem totally despicable.
It’s action-packed, emotional and beautifully-written with a good meaty concept to sink your teeth into (pun most definitely intended).
3) INTO THE WATER | PAULA HAWKINS
MY RATING: ★★★✭☆
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead.
They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.
But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all, she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool…
For everyone who read The Girl on the Train, you’ll be familiar with the anticipation surrounding Paula Hawkins’ second novel Into The Water. I was gripped at first by the the general feel of the book; it reminded me of Wuthering Heights in the sense that the story revolved around a seemingly innocent setting that keeps obsessively dragging the characters back into its depths.
A general theme that I felt ran through this book is that everything needed a bit more flesh. The characters were well-rounded and flawed, but I couldn’t find myself connecting with any of them in particular. I also felt that there were some subplots that I would be really interested to read more about, such as the different women through history who have died in the Drowning Pool.
It’s not a book I’ll read again, but it’s a nice easy-read thriller with some interesting sinister undertones running through.
What books have you read this summer?
Let me know your recommendations! Until next time x