August has been a bumper reading month. I’ve managed to get through 10 novels and I haven’t even been on holiday!
Here’s what I’ve been reading (affiliate links included):
Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey
One of the most anticipated books of the past few months, Elizabeth is Missing is a crime thriller with a twist – told through the eyes of an elderly woman with dementia who is convinced that her best friend has disappeared, but who doesn’t know if she can trust her own memories.
This is an excellent concept for a mystery, and takes the idea of the unreliable narrator to new extremes. But it is a difficult book to read, as you can’t help but empathise with dementia sufferer Maud and her family. The decline in her memories and personality is tragic.
But it’s interesting to piece together the clues that lead to a completely different conclusion than Maud had imagined.
Precocious, by Joanna Barnard (read my review)
This is the story of a woman who resumes an affair with her former teacher, after running into him years after leaving school. There are a lot of unresolved feelings between them, which soon give way to a darker revelation about his past behaviour.
Joanna Barnard’s debut won the inaugural Bath Novel Award and it’s a tightly written, fast paced story that examines the idea of memory and obsession.
Sleeping Murder, by Agatha Christie
This month, I reread several of my old Agatha Christie mysteries, which have been sitting on my bookshelf since I was a kid. Reading them was a bit of a cheat, as I wanted a quick and engaging read that would bump up the total number of books read this month (and year), but it was nice to be absorbed by a few old fashioned tales of murder.
In Sleeping Murder, a young newly-wed couple arrive in England and purchase a beautiful house by the sea. But after several unsettling occurrences, they learn that the wife actually lived in that same house as a child, where she witnessed a murder. Determined to discover the truth, the couple dig into the mystery, uncovering more than they bargained for.
Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
A popular YA story set in a world where there are two types of people: Reds and Silvers. The Silvers rule over the common Reds, using their powers to threaten and oppress. But when a Red girl discovers that she has powers of her own, the whole world is turned upside down and she finds herself caught in a dangerous power struggle.
I’ve read a lot about this over the last few months, so when I came across it in the library I didn’t hesitate to add it to my pile of books. I’m glad I did, as it was a really great read, full of action, adventure, peril and just a dash of teen romance.
As the first part in a series, I’ll be watching out for the next book.
Sparkling Cyanide, by Agatha Christie
A year ago, George Barton’s young wife Rosemary committed suicide at her birthday party. But after he receives an anonymous note, he begins to suspect that her death was something more sinister. In an attempt to uncover the truth, he arranges another party, but it doesn’t have the outcome he imagined…
One of my favourite Christie mysteries, this one is a fun and entertaining read.
Even the Dogs, by Jon McGregor
A beautifully written tale that follows a group of destitute, drug-addicted friends after one of their number is found dead in his flat.
I’ve read both McGregor’s previous books and his writing is powerful and observant, while poetic in style. This isn’t an easy read and deals with some of the darker sides of life on the fringes of society, but it’s moving and doesn’t shy away from the reality of life as a drug user or alcoholic.
In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware
When Nora is invited to the hen party of her old friend Clare, who she hasn’t seen for a decade, she’s reluctant to accept. But in the end she decides to join the party, at an isolated house in Northumberland.
When Nora wakes up in hospital with a head injury and a police officer guarding her door, she can’t remember what went wrong. And she doesn’t know if she was the victim of something awful, or if she is a killer…
I picked this book up after seeing great reviews across the blogosphere. The idea of a hen party as the setting for a murder mystery intrigued me, as did the location of Northumberland. It may be a little melodramatic in parts, but this was an exciting and atmospheric thriller that I can imagine being made into a film at some point.
And anyone who’s ever been on a hen weekend – awkward or not – will be able to relate to some of the issues and arguments that crop up. At least, before the murder that is!
My Soul to Take, by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
When a murder takes place close to a new hotel, built on supposedly haunted land, lawyer Thora is drawn into the case, as her client, the hotel’s owner quickly becomes a suspect. Her investigation uncovers a sinister story that goes back decades and just might explain all the strange occurrences in this remote area.
This book is part of a crime series written by one of Iceland’s most popular authors, following the adventures of a female lawyer who often ends up involved in supernatural-esque mysteries. The chilling crimes are always juxtaposed against a backdrop of cosy yet frustrated domesticity, as Thora juggles her case along with her family life.
If you’re into Scandinavian crime fiction, I would definitely check out Sigurdardottir’s work, in particular one of her latest books, which I reviewed earlier this year.
Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie
A violent uprising in a Middle Eastern country has unexpected ramifications for the students and teachers at exclusive girls’ school, Meadowbank. When the games mistress is found shot dead, Hercule Poirot must find the person responsible, before they strike again.
Another of my favourite Christie stories.
A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie
Miss Marple investigates after a series of deaths within a wealthy household appear to mimic an old nursery rhyme. There is no shortage of suspects, but just who could the killer be, and will they strike again?
Have you read anything good this month? Reading back over this post, murder seems to be a common theme for me…perhaps I need a change of pace for September!
N.B. I received a copy of Precocious from the publisher via Netgalley, for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.