The holiday period saw a slight decrease in reading activity, due to my personal holiday tradition of curling up on the sofa with a roast dinner, the cat and a load of old films. I keep a list throughout the year of things I’d like to watch at Xmas, and then I do.
So the past couple of weeks have been less bookish than normal. But still, here’s what I’ve read.
The Revolution Will Be Digitised by Heather Brooke
This book wasn’t quite what I expected, and I mean that in a good way. It’s about current thought revolutions surrounding free speech, the internet, and humanity, and it focuses largely on Wikileaks. It’s a lot more balanced and nuanced than I expected; certainly written from the perspective of an inquisitive journalist rather than someone who has a specific agenda to push.
Brooke also discusses her personal reactions to the people she met – particularly Julian Assange – whilst researching the area. Although I liked the personal touch, at some stages it did read a bit like a full-on attack, or perhaps just a list of complaints. I found that a bit irritating at times, but on the whole it’s an interesting read if you’re into freedom of information.
After You by Jojo Moyes
OMG she wrote a sequel guys GUYS SHE WROTE A SEQUEL!
If you read Me Before You and sobbed like a baby, the news that Moyes has finally produced a follow-up novel will be welcome. Assuming you like trying to subtly cry on the train to work, anyway.
After You picks up where its predecessor left off: Lou’s life has barely moved on. She’s working a dead-end job she hates, drinking too much in her spare time, and not really doing anything with her life. But can a serious accident following the appearance of a mysterious girl change her life for the better?
It didn’t move me as much as Me Before You did – that book’s a hard act to follow – but it was a good read and certainly one that Moyes’ fans will enjoy.
Only We Know by Karen Perry
1984. Three children on holiday in Kenya. A Bad Thing happens.
Decades later, the children are reunited by circumstance, and their dark secret seems to be coming back to haunt them.
A pretty run-of-the-mill “I have a dark secret” book, Only We Know stands out because it has not one, but two, twists. One of them is fairly obvious, but the other I only guessed a couple of chapters before it happened.
Perry is also good at evoking the feeling of being in a place: the beat of the Kenyan sun, the contrast when the protagonists are back in Dublin as adults, the setting of a somewhat hastily arranged wedding.
A steady, classic thriller, satisfyingly twisty.
Follow Me by Angela Clarke
I enjoyed this one for two reasons: the characters were relatable, and I could imagine it actually happening.
We have all been Freddie. Working a job she doesn’t really like, wishing she were an intrepid investigative journalist with an interesting lifestyle, she spends her days being yelled at by her horrible coffee shop boss and her evenings alternating between drinking too much, wasting time on the internet and writing in exchange for “exposure”.
When she suddenly ends up as part of a police team investigating the “Hashtag Murderer” – someone who’s killing people off and tweeting about it – Freddie is thrust into a world she knows little about, and for which she is drastically ill-prepared.
On top of all this, one of the other team members is her old schoolfriend Nasreen, whom she hasn’t spoken to since a shared dark secret drove them apart when they were teenagers.
Can Freddie keep it together and resurrect her old friendship, without her world crumbling around her? You’ll have to read it to find out.
Infinintely relatable, frequently hilarious and realistically cringey, Follow Me is truly a crime novel for the modern age.
Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell
First things first: I really liked the cover. It’s one of those dark ones with the words cut out.
The story follows two young women, Lois and Carly May, who were abducted as children. Yes, it’s another novel about people with a shared dark past.
After they were returned home, the girls were separated by their respective families and haven’t been in touch since. Until Lois writes a novel that’s loosely based on their experience, and Carly May, now an actress in LA, is given the script for the film adaptation.
Inevitably, the two are thrown together and have to deal with the issues they never quite overcame.
It’s an interesting book, not least because there’s just so much going on. There are flashbacks to the girls as children; the requisite updates on their lives as adults; and a whole chunk in the middle that’s taken from Lois’ novel. It sounds like this shouldn’t work, especially with it being a debut novel, but somehow Mitchell manages to bring all the threads together neatly for a climactic ending.
After Anna by Alex Lake
This was good, although if you’re a veteran reader of thrillers then you’ll probably guess the twist really early on. However, obvious twists aside, it has a couple of truly chilling, make-your-hair-stand-on-end moments that make reading it worthwhile.
Julia arrives at her daughter’s school one afternoon to every parent’s worst nightmare: Anna has disappeared. A frantic search ensues, with the whole village getting involved, including Julia’s husband and mother-in-law: both complex relationships at the best of times. And Julia’s just asked for a divorce.
However, the real drama begins when Anna is returned, perfectly safe and seemingly unharmed. She can’t remember anything from her time away, but Julia has a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t the end of the story – and she’s right.
Chilling in places and never boring, After Anna is a good solid thriller that’ll make you feel nicely unsettled.
What did you read over the holiday period? What do you think I should read next?