Reading is one of those simple pleasures in life. There’s an easiness in picking up a book and getting lost in another world. It’s helped me escape from life when I needed it but is something I’ve also kept up all year long.
This year, I’ve read more books than ever. 22 in a year is an achievement for me so I thought I’d share a short review of every book I’ve read this year to provide some inspiration for those looking for their next read. There’s been some really good reads which I’ve torn through and some that were disappointing.
Here’s my thoughts:
- The Thirst – Jo Nesbo
I’d heard lots of good things about Jo Nesbo and when this became a recommended read from the Richard and Judy book club, I thought I’d give it a go.
This was one of the books I tore though. I loved the central character, Harry Hole with his dry wit and unconventional policing methods. Set in Oslo, the story follows a case Harry and his team are working on trying to catch a killer who bites their victim’s necks.
It’s slightly graphic at times and kinda creepy but if you love a good crime novel then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.
2. The Last Anniversary – Liane Moriarty
I’ve read several of Liane Moriarty’s books but was quite disappointed with this one. It’s one of her older novels and definitely lacks the gripping story lines of her other books.
The book begins when Connie Thrum of Scribbly Gum island passes away leaving the residents of the island to ponder her legacy and family secrets.
It was a bit too sweet and silly for me but I still read it all. Maybe more of an easy read for the beach.
3. The Reykjavik Assignment – Adam Lebor
I won’t waste any words describing how much I didn’t like this book but it was one of the most boring books I have ever read. It’s about international relations and reporting of the United Nations. It was hard going, I didn’t understand much of it and definitely didn’t finish it.
4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
This was another book that I loved. It lived up to the massive hype surrounding it and I’ve never read something so heart breaking yet so funny at the same time.
Eleanor is one of those characters that just captures your heart. An original, an introvert and an optimist until a change in her routine throws her completely off course. I can’t recommend this book enough.
5. Phantom – Jo Nesbo
Phantom wasn’t quite as good as The Thirst but a book I still enjoyed reading. The plot centred around Harry’s son Oleg and how he managed to get caught in the drugs trade in Oslo.
A dark, sad read but another which was so tense that I just couldn’t put it down.
6. The Girl Before – JP Delaney
The idea behind this book seemed creative and original but it just lacked something for me. Emma is looking for a new place to live and stumbles upon the beautiful One Folgate Street. However, the house comes with strict rules imposed by the strange owner.
I did really enjoy this book but felt that some of the plot twists were a bit dramatic and ridiculous at times.
7. The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena
This book was plugged as one of the must reads of the Summer and I can see why. It hooked me from the start and I didn’t see most of the twists coming until the end.
It all becomes a bit cheesy and predictable at the end which really disappointed me after such a good plot line.
The story is centred around Anne and Marco who go over to their neighbours for dinner, leaving their baby asleep at home. When they return, their baby is gone and it’s all very much a who dunnit situation from then on. Good read if you discount the ending.
8. Greatest Hits – Laura Barnett
I’d already read ‘The Versions of Us’ by Laura Barnett which I loved so thought I’d give this one a try. This book was very similar to the film, ‘A Star is Born’ and followed Cass Wheeler, a successful singer who retired mysteriously at the height of her fame.
Two decades later, she is spending a single day in her recording studio, picking out tracks for a very personal Greatest Hits album. Each chapter of Greatest Hits opens with one of these songs and takes the reader back through Cass’s life, from her childhood, through her earliest days as a singer, to the terrible crisis that caused her to flee her own life.
Another book that I fell in love with and one that I just didn’t want to end.
9. Everything I know About Love – Dolly Alderton
This book was one I’d heard mentioned lots in the bloggersphere and without knowing what it was really about, I bought it on a whim.
I don’t think I have ever laughed at a book as much as Dolly’s. Based on events from her life, the book looks at different kinds of love from friends, family and partners and tells the story of finding your way through life. It’s life affirming, hilarious and relatable. I will probably read it again.
10. Keep You Safe – Melissa Hill
This book wasn’t bad but not one of my favourites. It’s centred around the controversial topic of whether you should get your child vaccinated and what happens when you don’t.
It was a sad story about an un-vaccinated child that becomes ill from another child who also hasn’t had their vaccinations except one child is allergic to vaccinations and the other isn’t.
I felt like I couldn’t relate to the characters enough in this book and they weren’t likeable enough. However, it was a good story line and raised some questions around what is right for your children.
11. He Said/ She Said – Erin Kelly
I really enjoyed this book. It was set in Cornwall during a solar eclipse and has such a unique story premise. It’s about a rape case but the book uncovers many secrets about each of the characters as the story goes on.
I wasn’t fond on the ending as it didn’t really seem believable but it was still a good read.
12. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
I’d heard this book being raved about everywhere but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. The story is set around the Richardson family and the shy mother and daughter who rent a house from them.
I didn’t warm to any of the characters throughout and the story just wasn’t strong enough. The story was gripping enough to make it an okay read but overall, I was disappointed.
13. Need You Dead – Peter James
Peter James is one of my favourite authors and this book did not disappoint.
A body of a woman is found in a bath tub which Roy Grace is sent to investigate but all is not as it seems. Definitely read if you’re a fan of crime writing.
14. The Love Letter – Lucinda Riley
This is a book I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post and was a cheap book I picked up in Sainsbury’s. It turned out to be really good and you can read more about it in my previous post here.
15. Where The Light Gets In – Lucy Dillon
This was another cheap book and more of a light-hearted, easy read. I surprisingly enjoyed it though.
It focuses on the life of Lorna whose dream is to run an art gallery. She purchases a small town one and slowly befriends a local artist who opens her eyes to the beauty of what art can do.
It’s hard to explain the book without giving much away but it was a really touching read that is uplifting throughout.
16. Snap – Belinda Bauer
This book recently won a national book award but I unfortunately really struggled with it.
It got off to a really good start when we are introduced to a young boy called Jack in a broken down car who is waiting for his mum to return after calling someone for help at a nearby phone.
The book then skips to Jack and his two younger sisters living in their house alone after their dad leaves and I just couldn’t get on board with it. Maybe it was too sad but the characters were slightly strange and I found myself not really caring about what happened. Would not recommend.
17. You, Me, Everything – Catherine Issac
This was a fairly easy read but I absolutely fell in love with this book. It was so honest and dealt with some sensitive issues such as terminal illnesses and unwanted pregnancies.
I found the main character slightly frustrating as the whole book is told from her point of view but would still recommend.
18. The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman
This book is a strong contender for my favourite read of the year. It was so beautifully written and captured just what it’s like to grieve – I never wanted it to end.
It weirdly reminded me of the Back to the Future film as the basis of the story is about a girl called Luna going back in time to try and change the course of her mum’s life to stop her killing herself. Powerful and captivating. I need someone to read this so I can talk about it with them!
19. Together – Julie Cohen
Again, this was another book that I loved. It was quite similar to The Notebook as it’s based on a love story of a couple in their 70’s and flicks back through their life.
It was so relatable and I just adored both the main characters. I probably read this in about a week. You need to read this.
20. Bring Me Back – B.A Paris
Next, is Bring Me Back which I’d heard lots of good things about. I’m glad to say it was a great read and had me up late at night racing through the tense chapters.
21. Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan
I bought this book due to the raving reviews and absolutely loved the characters and story line.
The plot is centred around a rape scandal between an MP and his secretary. The book skips between the MP, his wife and the lawyer on the case all telling their side of the story. It also goes back to the couple’s uni days at Oxford, giving an insight into the lives of the privileged elite. It’s gripping and feminist and probably quite realistic of how this country is run.
22. Three Things About Elsie – Joanna Cannon
Lastly is the wonderful book that is Three Things About Elsie. This was another Richard and Judy book club find and was a really touching read.
The way it was written and the central character Florence, reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Florence is 84 and lives in Cherry Tree Care Home. One day, she takes a fall and starts contemplating her life whilst waiting to be found.
It’s such an empowering book which touches on what it’s like getting older, friendship, the past and dealing with grief. I sped through this book and have already passed it on for someone else to read. A great way to round up my reading for the year.
Next year, I’ll be setting myself a target of 35 books to read. I felt I could have read a couple more this year so next year I’ll be making use of my GoodReads account and documenting what I’ve read.