Inspired by #bookloversday I thought I'd do a little post dedicated to the books that have captivated and inspired me over the past year, maybe longer, if that book was exceptionally good. Firstly, this post is a day late because I forgot to write it yesterday, naughty me. #Bookloversday is on the 9th August, not the tenth, so mark your calendars ready for next year and remember to celebrate it on the right day, unlike me.
I have quite a collection of books, something that is constantly expanding and being reorganised, I'm very particular with the arrangement of my books. As you can see in the above pictures, this is just one shelf that I am organising into a rainbow just because the colours are so pretty, I thought I'd try to highlight them. The shelf below has the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, which was a staple of my teenage reading, along with some non-fiction books that I purchased as writing aids. The ones you can see are mainly about crime and psychology and such, something to help me with the crime novel I'll inevitably write someday. The shelf below is a bit of a mixture, at the back is my theory books from university - which were expensive and I refuse to just give away - poetry book, the likes of Shakespeare, Marvel e.c.t. and, classic books. These consist of things such as Dracula, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Jane Eyre, and many more titles. Yes, it's a real mixture. There's only one more shelf for books, and that's reserved for crime fiction.
There are also a couple of boxes now in the loft, yes, I'm a bit of a book hoarder but if you'd seen my Nans house you'd know why she's an avid reader too. So, it was only right that I studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. This meant I had to buy even more books, with eight modules in the first two years, that added up to more money than I'm willing to share. But, I bought the books because I didn't want to risk getting them out of the library, it's too risky. I did this a few times, of course, with things I just refused to buy, like a short story collection that was almost £20 and I knew I'd never read again. I'm a sucker for book shops and fairs.
My local church has a book sale every first Saturday of the month and you can pick up a variety of books for such a fair price, like £1 or 50p.
That's enough about me, let's get onto the books.
Laline Paull's The Bees
I saw this book on twitter and the cover immediately grabbed my attention. I love anything to do with bees, so the bright yellow and beautiful gold honeycomb pattern screamed to me. I knew nothing about this book past the words from the authors on the front cover but I knew I needed it. My grandad suggested a trip to Waterstones when he visited me at University and I couldn't resist looking for this book, I scoured the store until I found it and when I found it, I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to find somewhere to sit and start reading but I was at the height of my third year of university and knew I couldn't afford the precious hours of reading for pleasure. I sent the book home with my Grandad and when I finished a few weeks later, I read this book. It was the first thing on my mind.
AND it was worth the wait.
This book it absolutely fantastic. I want to avoid giving too much away (I say "spoilers" to myself and think of River Song). The Bees has all the drama and excitement of Margaret Atwood's the Handmaid's Tale with the added sting (do you see what I did there?) of bees. I kid you not, this novel somehow manages to capture the totalitarian societies explored in novels like the Handmaid's Tale and put it into a new world, quite literally into a bee hive and it's beautiful. The narrative comes from Flora 717, a lowly sanitation bee who is born deformed, bigger and uglier than her sister bees. She is saved by a priestess bee and given a different vocation, above that of her sisters. The novel follows her on her journey through a hive and thrives on the dystopian genre in the social hierarchy of bees and other insects we encounter on the journey. The novel explores many social issues through the bizarre but fascinating choice of the insect world and evoked more about human nature than one would have thought possible for a book about the lives of bees.
The Bees is the perfect mixture of fantasy and reality. It's terrifying but in a good way.
Sharon Bolton's Daisy in Chains
I can't lie, I love to be surprised. I love the element of mystery in crime novels. I love calculating my own theories and formulating who I think did it. There's nothing worse than a crime novel where you guess the murderer within the first few pages. That being said, this novel was the perfect balance of suspense and guess work. Yes, I guessed some stuff but not the entire plot and I love that. I love knowing that I'm on the right track. It's probably one of my only talents but it's about 50/50. I had no idea of the complexity of this novel and I'm so glad I didn't. I picked it up thinking that I'd be reading a novel about a lawyer defending a killer while trying not to fall for his charms. Instead, I read a complicated tale of a life, misery and the past. The past echoes throughout the novel and weaves a narrative of its own that constantly impacts against the present day.
This novel was a page turner. I read it over the course of two days.
I was immediately captivated by the character of Maggie Rose, a lawyer and true-crime novelist, from her childlike manner of sitting on a chair to the intelligence she displayed throughout the novel. I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about her character. I wanted to know why she had blue hair and why she was even considering defending Hamish Wolfe.
The story is both intriguing and addictive.
Stuart Finnie's A Thousand Blue
I've said everything I have to say about this novel in my blog post: A THOUSAND BLUE BY STUART FINNIE; MY FIRST EVER REVIEW AND THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE.
So please, if you want to know more about this book, please check out that blog post.
This novel is very close to my heart and captures the moments of life that shape a woman into the person she becomes, it's evocative and truly inspiring. If you read anything this year, please let it be this.
J. L. Carrell's The Shakespeare Secret and The Shakespeare Curse.
|I'm sorry about the sticker, it's pretty stuck down. I got both|
of these books from a church book sale, the first one, my
Nan donated and bought for me on the same day
without realising. She paid for her own book.
The Shakespeare Curse takes our protagonist to Scottland in a landscape haunted by Macbeth. More murder and intrigue and a hint of the supernatural, this novel is the perfect follow on to the Shakespear Secret.
I can't really say much without giving the plot away which I really don't want to do.
Chris Mooney's Fear the Dark
Sarah Hall's The Beautiful Indifference
This is the fifth instalment of Chris Mooney's Darby McCormick series. I bought this at a church book sale and read it without any further information, so I had no idea that it was the fifth book. Yes, there were hints that it wasn't the first but honestly, it's the kind of book you can read without the rest of the series. I really enjoyed it. Darby McCormick, the protagonist, ventures to a town in Colorado to help deal with a murderer killing entire families in their homes. Yes, gruesome but very interesting. Darby is a forensic investigator and alongside her narrative, you get the narrative of the murderer in first person narration unlike the rest of the novel which is in third person. (I prefer third person narration.) The killer is watching the teams every move and it's a sensational read.
Secondly, I recommend the entire Darby McCormick series.
Each book deals with a new case, all of which are different an exciting and leave you wanting to know more, in true crime fiction form. The first book gives you a little bit of an origin to the character before we see her in her first case. This is a case that resonates with her past and pushes her to explore things she never thought she would. I love it. I highly recommend it.
On a side note: I guessed right in this book. It was so satisfying.
The Secret Friend, the second book in the collection is just as gripping. It's really interesting. My copy is a little worse for wear after I took it with my sunbathing on the hottest day of the year - the pages started to fall out and I had to stick them in with enough skill that I could finish the book. There are moments in this book that are unforgettable.
I won't go through each book but this series is very good. I love them.
I know he has released at least one more (if not two) since that I need to update my collection with.
This is a stunning collection of seven short stories, all of which are unique and silently disturbing. Each narrative is potent and both visceral and affecting. She somehow manages to bring together dark and light, beautiful and ugly, to represent the different walks of life each narrative takes. This is a raw and disconcerting set of stories that I highly recommend to any lover of short stories, budding writer of someone wishing to explore life in general, there is something for everybody in this collection.
Iris Murdoch's The Time of Angels
I'd read some Murdoch before at university but the Time of the Angels was on the reading list in my last year for an ethics module. I read this while sitting on a beach in Venice and I finished it in one sitting. I'm finding this really difficult to summarise, so here's the blurb:
'Carel is widowed rector presiding over a London church destroyed during the war. The rectory is home to an array of residents: his daughter, Muriel; his beautiful invalid ward, Elizabeth; their West Indian servant, Pattie; Eugene, a Russian emigre, and his delinquent son, Leo. Carel's brother, Marcus, is co-guardian of Elizabeth, but his attempts to get closer to the rector are constantly rebuffed.These seven characters maintain a constant dance of attraction and repulsion, misunderstanding and revelation, the centre of which is the enigmatic Carel himself - a priest who believes that God is dead, His angels have been released.'
The novel deals with morality in an age where religion was being questioned. There are symbols at every turn from the fog surrounding the rectory at almost all times to the ruined church. It is a brilliant book and there are questions of religion and morality throughout which made this the perfect read for an ethics course. I actually did my essay on this book.
I'm going to finish here or this post will never end. If we've learnt anything from this post, it's that I love reading books and will talk about them for ages. Please, feel free to comment your thoughts on any of these books if you've read them or would like to, or even suggest some books, I'm always looking for recommendations. As ever, thank you for visiting my blog and reading this post, I'll see you next time. x