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The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

A huge thank you to Francesca Russell, who sent me a beautiful hardback copy of The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish. I waited until my recent holiday to Menorca before tucking into The Swimming Pool, and spent the majority of my time either on the beach or at the hotel swimming pool, devouring each chapter. The main character, Natalie Steele, is an instantly likeable and relatable character. A teacher, wife and mother of a teen daughter, Natalie Steele understands the hardships faced by a middle-class family living in London. Her daughter, Molly, suffers from aquaphobia – an abnormal fear of water – which is so bad that she tenses at even the mention of “lido”. Natalie, ridden with guilt from an incident that happened when Molly was a baby, suffers equally, if not more, with her daughter. Continuing with their autonomous – but not unhappy – way of life, the Steeles’…

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger

The night was still black when Curtis pulled his suburban away from the curb and turned toward the mountain highway, leaving his apartment, his sleeping street behind him. – Opening sentence I requested a copy of The Mountain Can Wait via BookBridgr, and would like to thank Katie for accepting that request and sending me this beautiful book. Set in the Canadian mountains, The Mountain Can Wait revolves around single father Tom Berry, and his son Curtis. Tom Berry is a quiet and practical man, who owns his own forestry businesses and dreams of retiring in a restored barn where his two grown-up children can come and visit. Curtis, who is less like his father and who wears his heart on his sleeve, just wants to run and hide from the thing that he’s done. But can he run from this? And even if he can, can he run from his…

The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

Jeffery Stone looked over the sea of despondent young faces as he gave assembly, occasionally glancing up at the steel frame of the atrium. – Opening sentence The Teacher begins with the mysterious and sinister death of the headmaster of a private boys’ school; a truly gripping opening that sets the tone for the rest of the book. A psychological crime thriller, The Teacher describes itself as “most definitely not for the faint-hearted” – an enticing statement! After reading American Psycho, I felt like nothing would be able to shock me anymore – and I started The Teacher with similar expectations. And I was right – The Teacher didn’t shock me in the sense that I was expecting.  Despite having its fair share of gruesome murders (and an appallingly sinister story), there wasn’t enough detail described to make my toes curl and stomach churn in horror or disgust. Perhaps that’s just because I’ve become desensitised to gore generally, but…

Alcatraz #1259 by William G. Baker

Hello. – Opening sentence In September 2015, after almost a year of saving money (I’m not all that good at saving money), I flew to San Francisco and spent two weeks travelling to LA with a bunch of strangers. It was awesome. I saw some amazing sights, met some amazing people, and had some amazing experiences. Whilst in San Francisco, I visited the famous Alcatraz Island, home of the now-decaying Alcatraz prison that once held some of the biggest names in American crime history (Al Capone and Whitey Bulger to name a few). I walked through the cell-block, sat on the concrete bleachers in the recreation ground and attempted to imagine what it must have like to live for days on end in the dreaded “hole”. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for those who lived their sentences in Alcatraz, but I remember thinking how cruel…

Stoner: A Novel by John Williams

William Stoner entered the University of Missouri as a freshman in the year 1910, at the age of nineteen. – Opening sentence I won this copy of Stoner: A Novel from a Twitter competition by @vintagebooks, and have to admit I had unheard of it before then. Described by The Sunday Times as “the greatest novel you’ve never read”, I was excited to get started and delve into the mystery of this book. Stoner follows the life of William Stoner, the son of a farmer born in Missouri in 1891. After starting as a freshman at the University of Missouri in 1910, Stoner quickly becomes an assistant professor of English and remains a teacher at the same university until his retirement in 1955. A man with no particular talent or interests, apart from his love of literature, Stoner’s life is full of no particular achievement or accomplishment; he doesn’t leave behind any particular lasting impressions when he is…

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

I watched the film adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest back when I was studying A-Level Psychology, long before I read the book. That’s not the order I like to do things, as I always feel like the film influence’s my experiences of the book, and that was just the case with this story. Despite the book version of McMurphy – the story’s main character – being a redhead, I could only picture Jack Nicholson throughout my reading journey. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Jack Nicholson plays the role spectacularly, but I imagine I would have viewed the character differently if my first encounter had been through the book. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest has long been considered a classic (it’s on almost every “Top 100 Books to Read” list), as the narrative serves as a study of the institutional processes and the human mind…

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read this book in less than 8 hours, from cover to cover. Okay, so that might have had something to do that I was stuck inside all on my own for the day – but it’s also an amazingly good book! It’s all about an online virtual reality game, which has taken over the way the world is seen and used. Set in the future, the world has crumbled into decline, with the ‘global energy crisis’ and the biggest recession in human history. As such, people spend all their free time logged into the OASIS, which provides a realistic escape from reality, enabling the user to become whoever they possibly want. The creator of this game, James Halliday, is the richest man on the planet. When he dies, he leaves a hidden easter egg in the OASIS, and whoever first finds that easter egg will inherit his entire fortune.…

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