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Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjon

The October evening is windless and cool. – Opening sentence I didn’t really have any expectations for Moonstone. I’d heard good things about it, and because it was set in Reykjavik, Iceland, where I was heading for a long weekend – I picked up a copy from BookBridgr. I certainly didn’t expect to be confronted with a graphic sex act on page one. It kind of made me want to hide what I was reading, in case people knew. And because I knew nothing about Moonstone beforehand, I didn’t know if it was some sort of erotica novella. Back in the hostel, in the privacy of my room, I continued reading. And I’m glad I did, because what I read wasn’t erotica, but one of the most deeply moving stories I have ever read. Based on true events that happened after the war in 1918, Mani Steinn is a boy…

Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

The small, female oblong stood in the shadows beyond the doorway. – Opening sentence Harmless Like You may be one of the most haunting books I have ever read. In that sense, it reminded me a bit of Stoner, another book who’s main character lives a painfully slow and lonely life. The story is told by two narrators, Yuki and Jay, who’s stories are separated by fifty years yet are combined in an unbreakable way; mother and son. Yuki is a high-schooler in New York in the 60s. Born in Japan, her english-speaking father was assigned a position in America, so Yuki has grown-up with only her parents word for how wonderful Japan is (and how they can’t wait to go back). However, Yuki doesn’t want to go back. She has no memories of Japan, and when her parents speak in Japanese and talk about their old life it feels…

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it. – Opening sentence When I picked Lying in Wait from my bookcase earlier this afternoon, I didn’t intend to read it all in one sitting – I just couldn’t stop reading! Lying in Wait is dramatic and ensnaring straight from the off. Seriously – just look at the first sentence (above)! That pretty much sets the tone for Lydia Fitzsimons, a wealthy, upper-class housewife who lives in her father’s stately home in Ireland with her husband, Andrew, and their son, Laurence. With a secret, troubled past, Lydia is heartbroken after a series of miscarriages after the birth of her first son. Desperate, and somewhat neurotic, she enlists the help of her husband to find an alternative solution…but not everything goes to plan. Now with two secrets, Lydia must ensure that Laurence continues to grow up to be a…

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola

Through her left eye she could see nothing now. – Opening sentence I received an intriguing-looking proof copy of The Unseeing from @TinderPress a few months ago, and was immediately drawn into the mystery. I knew The Unseeing was based on a true Victorian crime, which intensified my expectations. I know how the Victorians were quick-to-judge and unjust (compared with our standards) in their methods and treatment of prisoners, so I had a rough idea what to expect. I have to admit, however, I initially struggled through the first chapter – it didn’t grab my full attention from off. But I kept reading, and after the first chapter I got into it and from there it flowed naturally for the rest of the novel. The Unseeing follows the stories of Sarah Gale, a woman with a death sentence for the murder/dismemberment of her ex-lover’s new fiancé, and Edmund Fleetwood, appointed…

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…

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