What’s the best thing about summer holidays? The time to spend with loved ones? The chance to explore new places? Escaping from the office? Ice cream? All these are important, but the very best thing about holidays as far as I’m concerned is the extra reading time. I even look forward to plane and train journeys as long as I have enough books to keep me going…and that’s rarely a problem. One of the unexpected perks of having my first novel, The Daughter’s Secret, published last year has been ‘meeting’ some fantastic book bloggers on Twitter. They have opened my eyes to books which would otherwise have slipped beneath my reading radar, and helped me discover lots of new authors. These days it feels like every time I go online I end up with a new book for my ‘to be read’ list!
I’ve read all sorts this summer – from sagas set in the 13th century to science fiction set in space, as well as some non-fiction in preparation for my first foray into writing historical fiction. I also, of course, read plenty of contemporary fiction. Some of these were new titles hitting the shelves for the first time this summer, while others have been around (and in some cases on the giant pile by my bed) for a few years.
My top five contemporary summer reads this year – in no particular order, it was hard enough whittling it down to five – were:
* The Girl in the Red Coat – Kate Hamer. This had been sitting on my shelves for more than a year. I’m so glad I finally dusted it off and took it with me on holiday, especially as parts of the book are set in North Norfolk where I was staying. There are lots of books about missing children around at the moment but The Girl in the Red Coat is a truly original take on the topic and I couldn’t put it down.
* The Good Father – Noah Hawley. I was blown away by this fast-paced literary thriller. Rheumatologist Paul Allen must face the unthinkable when his son is accused of murdering a popular presidential candidate. We follow Paul as he struggles to uncover the truth and come to terms with his relationship with his son. Not to be missed by fellow fans of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and definitely one of my books of the year.
* The Fever – Megan Abbot. I don’t think anyone captures the thrills and horrors of being a teenage girl quite like Megan Abbot. In The Fever a mysterious illness sweeps through a US high school, affecting Deenie Nash’s best friend but leaving Deenie untouched. In the days that follow, Deenie’s life starts to come apart at the seams and her brother and father are swallowed up in the hysteria and speculation that consume the town.
* Raven Black – Ann Cleeves. Not only is this the first in Ann Cleeves’s hugely popular Shetland series, but it’s the first of her books I’ve read. I loved the island setting and the twists and turns as this mystery unfolds. It’s safe to say that I’ll be heading back to Shetland with Ann very soon. I’m also looking forward to watching the television adaptation of the novels – the scenery must be stunning.
* Cut to the Bone – Alex Caan. I’ve just started this debut and it has me gripped. Set in London, it takes us into the dark and intriguing world of YouTube vloggers. With millions watching her online, how can vlogger Ruby have vanished into thin air? I can’t wait to find out!
What did you read this summer?
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