Synopsis: Welcome to Woodland Hills, Louisiana: a place of lush, sweltering summers, neighbourhood cookouts in every backyard and vats of chilled beer under the crepe myrtles.
A terrible crime is just about to take place…
One day Lindy Simpson cycles home from school and straight into a trap: someone is lying in wait for her, a wire strung between lampposts blocking the path. She is raped just yards from her front door. No one sees a thing and the perpetrator is not caught. Her fourteen year old neighbour has cherished a crush on Lindy, the ultimate girl next door, since they were kids. After her assault he becomes determined to solve the crime, investigating each suspect in the neighbourhood. But before this long, hot summer is out, it will become clear that the friendly community of Woodland Hills has much to hide.
Behind every white picket fence in suburbia lies a tangled web of darkness. In his zeal to solve the mystery, the teenage detective stumbles across a sinister world he doesn’t recognise, drawing ever closer to a terrifying denouement. My Sunshine Away is an extraordinary debut novel from a unique new literary voice. Childhood in small-town America is filled with dreamy, technicolour days of innocence, but beneath the homely comforts and familiarity, this world is rotten to its very core.
Let’s judge a book by it’s cover: If I had seen this book sitting on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up unless I read the synopsis. So let that be a lesson to us all.
My thoughts: At first this book was giving off a bit of a Virgin Suicides vibe to me, but then it came into it’s own and all of the unconscious comparisons fell to the wayside. This was a brilliant book, I read the bulk of it over the course of a weekend and stayed up way past my bedtime powering through the final hundred pages because I just could not put it down. This is the first book since The Book Thief that had me in tears by the time I turned the last page.
Characters: One thing that stood out for me was how the author really made Baton Rouge feel like an additional (and imporatant) character in the story. I think the quote below is testament to that.
Quote: “And so the soul of this place lives in the parties that grow here, not just Mardi Gras, no, but rather the kind that start with a simple phone call to a neighbor, a friend. And after the heat is discussed and your troubles shared you say man it’d be nice to see you, your kids, your smile. And from this grows a spread several tables long, covered in newspaper, with long rows of crawfish spill steaming from aluminum pots, a bright splash of red in the blanketing green of your yard. it is food so big it must be stirred with a paddle. You gather around this. You worship it. There is nothing strange about that. Only the unfortunate don’t see it this way.”
Would be a good read for: Someone looking for a book to read while sitting under the air conditioner on a hot summer’s day. Also absolutely everyone else because this book is a new favourite of mine, and I’ll be recommending it to people for the rest of the year. Get used to it.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – I’ve been recommending this book left right and centre. Thankfully, nearly everyone that has read it on my recommendation has loved it as much as I did (and those that didn’t are clearly fools). This book brought back my excitement for reading. I devoured it within a few days, and loved every minute of it.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson – If you read my review of this book earlier in the month you probably already know that this was one of my favourites of the year so far. If you’re in the market for a dark and slightly twisted thriller, definitely pick this up. I can see this setting the benchmark for other books I pick up throughout the rest of the year. Which is unfortunate for them, of course.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – This was a bit of an epic read, and it was ambitious of me to pick this up while trying to complete a 50 Book Challenge, but I couldn’t put this down and raced through it in a week. This had some Australian leanings to it, which I really loved, and all of the characters were so well developed. I have to admit, I became a bona fide Liane Moriarty fangirl after reading this.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – Is it cheeky of me to have two Liane Moriarty books in this list? Well sorry not sorry because this was another amazing book, and I loved it. It had been sitting on my to-read shelf for months gathering dust, but after I saw Tonile give it a high star rating on Goodreads, I knew I would love it. And I did. And I bet you would too, so pick it up.
Seed by Lisa Heathfield – I really enjoyed this, and it is definitely the best YA book that I’ve read this year so far. This was very different to all of other young adult books I’ve ever read, granted there were some hints at the subject matter usually found in a YA romance, but this went in a totally unexpected direction towards the end. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a YA fan.
Money, by Martin Amis
Petals On The Wind, by Virginia Andrews
Oryx & Crake, by Margaret Atwood
Surfacing, by Margaret Atwood
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
The City Of Falling Angels, by John Berendt
I’m Travelling Alone, by Samuel Bjork
Clade, by James Bradley
Deception Point, by Dan Brown
Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown
Inferno, by Dan Brown
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
The Passage, by Justin Cronin
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Not That Kind Of Girl, by Lena Dunham
Shades Of Grey, by Jasper Fforde
Cutting Teeth, by Julia Fierro
The Narrow Road To The Deep North, by Richard Flanagan
The Signature Of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
A Little History Of The World, by E.H. Gombrich
The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green
The Red Queen, by Phillipa Gregory
The White Queen, by Phillipa Gregory
Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen
Five Quarters Of The Orange, by Joanne Harris
Running Like A Girl, by Alexandra Heminsley
High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby
Modern Manners, by Dorothea Johnson
Schindler’s List, by Thomas Keneally
It, by Stephen King
The Stand, by Stephen King
Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger
The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Next, by Stieg Larsson
California, by Edan Lepucki
Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
Life Of Pi, by Yann Martel
A Game Of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
A Clash Of Kings, by George R.R. Martin
A Storm Of Swords, by George R.R. Martin
A Feast For Crows, by George R.R. Martin
Snowdrops, by A.D. Miller
Pretty Is, by Maggie Mitchell
The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais
What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
1Q84 (book 2), by Haruki Murakami
1Q84 (book 3), by Haruki Murakami
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami
A Time To Run, by J.M. Peace
The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
Across The Universe, by Beth Revis
Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins
Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling
The Dark & Hollow Places, by Carrie Ryan
The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold
Seating Arrangements, by Maggie Shipstead
Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey
The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Dracula, by Bram Stoker
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt
The Internet Is A Playground, by David Thorne
Tresspass, by Rose Tremain
Angelology, by Danielle Trussoni
Both Flesh And Not, by David Foster Wallace
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace
My Sunshine Away, by M.O. Walsh
Zone One, by Colson Whitehead
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Yep, that’s a long list. These are the books I’m hoping to read and cull before we head into 2016. It’s actually extremely unlikely that I’ll get through all of these by next year, but I’d be happy to get through at least 25% of the list. Prior to this blog post going live you may have noticed the list showing at the top of the page, I’m going to keep track of the books I read throughout the year and strike them out when I’m done. Let’s see how many I get through… Wish me luck.
Synopsis: Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy, no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.
In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse…
…until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.
Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.
They’re being hunted.
Trapped underground with someone, or something, out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to her friend’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here…” in this bone-chilling sophmore novel by the acclaimed author of The Merciless.
Let’s judge a book by its cover: I bought my copy of this book on kindle, so I didn’t get to spend much time ogling the cover art. Which is a huge shame, because look at how beautiful it is. Heart eyes.
My thoughts: This book had a lot of potential, and I was actually picturing this making a pretty decent horror movie. Sadly, about halfway through it was like the author had had one too many glasses of red wine and decided to throw caution (and reality) to the wind. I wasn’t a big fan of the dangerous ideas being thrown around in this book. Like, it’s fine if your best friend pressures you to do drugs (even if you’re fresh out of rehab) and makes fun of you for wearing your seatbelt when you’re speeding down the highway. No. There were many other examples of extremely poor ideas being thrown around, but I don’t want to spoil the book for those who are still interested in reading it. I’m old enough to not be swayed by the ideas in this book, but then I am not the target demographic.
Characters: My favourite character in the book was Woody, mostly because in my mind I was picturing Miles Teller playing him in the film rendition of the book. And Miles Teller is a babe.
Quote: “He’s rolled his sleeves up, so I can see his muscles tense as he plays, and his t-shirt sticks to the small of his back, revealing a narrow line of skin above the waistband of his jeans. My cheeks burn.” Fun fact about me: Muscly man arms are my jam. I have never related to a protaganist more than at this moment.
Would be a good read for: Honestly, if you don’t go into reading this book taking it too seriously I think it would be a fun Halloween read. It would also be good for people like me who are about 100 books behind in their 2015 book reading challenge, because it’s such a fast paced and easy read.
Are you in? Wonderful, here’s how it will work:
My first post of every month will be an announcement of the monthly book club book, which will be determined by a week-long poll that will show up on the sidebar of the site during the previous month. I will put the call out for book suggestions for the following month in the comments of the announcement post.
We all then have a month to source and read the book in question. I’ll try to make sure that the book options for each month are easily available, and possible to read within the time frame of one month.
I’ll put together some discussion questions that will be posted in a round-up style post at the end of the month. If you have reviewed the book on your blog during the month, you can send me the details of your post and I will link it here. I will also be holding a twitter chat at the end of the month, prior to the round-up post going live, for us all to discuss the book. The hashtag will be (you guessed it), #LATBSSBC
I think this will be a bit of fun, and will hopefully motivate and inspire some of us to get reading this Summer. Let me know if you’re planning on joining in, and if I don’t already follow you on twitter, please let me know so I can amend the issue ASAP. Be sure to vote in the poll in the sidebar, and keep an eye out for the announcement post on September 2nd. Team LAATBSSBC!
Synopsis: ‘Hello there.’
I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.
‘Do I know you?’
Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?
Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?
A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.
Let’s judge a book by its cover: I don’t think this edition’s cover art reflects how dark the book was, but I can see what they were trying to do with the airport scene. Also, it gives me a little bit of anxiety to look at because I really hate flying.
My thoughts: I think this book should be getting way more hype. It was one of those amazing books where I went into it thinking I knew what was going to happen, and then at different points throughout the story the author pulled the rug out from underneath me and everything went in a totally different direction to what I’d expected. I found it hard to put down, and managed to fly through it over the course of a weekend (when I could take a break from all the other fun stuff I was doing, like grocery shopping and cleaning the house).
Characters: All of the characters in this book were incredibly well done. Lily in particular was written with fascinating depth. You may not like any of the characters in the story, but I’m sure you’ll agree that they were all very well written.
Quote: “My only companion at that moment was my younger self, the one who tipped Chet down that well. I imagined she was there with me. We locked eyes, not needing to speak to each other. We understood that survival was everything. It was the meaning of life. And to take another life was, in many ways, the greatest expression of what it meant to be alive.”
Would be a good read for: This is such a cliché term of phrase at this point in time, but I think people who liked Gone Girl will like this. Basically if you’re in the mood to curl up on the couch on a rainy Sunday afternoon with a really gripping read, this is for you.
There is one problem with me diving headfirst into my ‘to be read’ pile, and essentially it’s that all of the books I’ve purchased over the years that sit (unread) on my shelf are, well, hard. I’m currently 11 books behind in my 50 Book Challenge for 2015, and I’m running low on “easy to read” books. I noticed recently (while staring warily at my overflowing bookcase) that I have a tendency to buy hard copy versions of meatier books, and opt for the kindle version of more lighthearted YA reads. 11 books down in my 50 Book Challenge and books like Infinite Jest waiting to be cracked open? As much as I love David Foster Wallace, no.
So here’s the plan (because I do love a plan, a list, or any kind of organizational strategy). I’m going to try and stick to a schedule with my reading for the rest of the year. But I also want to keep things a bit interesting and fun, because I’m a book blogger now apparently. BOOKS ARE MY LIFE NOW GUYS. Each month I will endeavour to read 4 books: 1 Kindle book + 2 books from my ‘to be read’ pile + 1 library book. Sounds easy enough, right? I’m going to try to stick to this loose schedule for the next couple of months, but I may have to reassess it when my so-called “Summer Of Reading” rolls around (in short, I have three months off work at the end of this year, and I plan to spend a lot of it reading).
If you’re interested in seeing a blow-by-blow demolition of my ‘to be read’ pile (basically a long list of books I have to read with a line crossed through them when I’m done), please let me know. I’d be more than happy to share my progress. I know I’m not the only one who likes lists. Wish me luck!