60. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
Story – Told in letter from Eva to her estranged husband Franklin, this is the story of motherhood that’s not bathed in any rosy glow. It’s a story of a family where something dark and evil and heartbreaking lurks beneath the apparent success. We know almost from the start Eva’s son Kevin is responsible for a mass school shooting, but the book is going to take us through every miserable minute of what led up to it, starting from Eva’s reluctant decision to have a child in the first place.
Thoughts – This is not a happy, fun read. In fact, it’s rather brutal- if you want a book that’s going to make an impact on you this one is a sure bet. The first time I read this I finished it feeling like I’d been punched in the gut, and even on this second read through it’s pretty harrowing. But it’s an amazing character study, and a fascinating story.
59. Dragonfly in Amber – Diana Gabaldon
Story – The sequel to Outlander sees Claire and Jamie in France, relying on Claire’s nebulous grasp of Scottish history to try and alter the future. But past and future can’t be controlled, and beyond all the intrigues and plots looms the shadow of clan destruction at Culloden.
Thoughts – I enjoyed this a lot. Not as much as the first one perhaps, since I’m less into political games, but it’s still a great read. Really good, escapist fiction for a boring school holiday!
58. My Sister, The Creep – Candice F. Ransom
Story – This is the third book in the ‘My Sister, the…’ series. (Coming after My Sister, the Meanie, and My Sister, The Traitor.) In this book Jackie is starting high school as Sharon leaves for college, and feels as though she’s finally going to have it all her way. However Sharon’s influence seems just as strong as ever, even when she no longer lives at home.
Thoughts – I love this book. I love all of them, I have no idea how many times I read My Sister, the Meanie when I was growing up. I always thought Jackie and Sharon were so funny, and I strongly identified with the difficulty of being the younger sister of a pair and feeling like you were always overlooked!
57. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Story – It’s 1945, and Claire Randall is enjoying a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in the Scottish Highlands when she walks through an ancient stone circle and walks through time. Finding herself in 1743, Claire is immediately caught up in the battles and intrigues of the clans, becoming more involved than she would have ever dreamed possible when she is forced to wed one of the highlander men.
Thoughts – This is a reread for me, and I love this book. I know it has its problematic rape elements, but it’s a cracking read. Fast paced, romantic, great characters- it’s just a really fun, historical read.
56. The Cry – Helen Fitzgerald
Story – Joanna accompanies her husband Alistair on a trip to Australia to see his daughter from his previous marriage whom he hasn’t seen in years. With them is their infant son Noah, who is tragically not going to survive the journey.
Thoughts – I liked this one. The characters were all fairly horrible and did things I can’t imagine doing, but it all made a horrible kind of sense in that world. I have other books by this author, and I think I’d like to read them too after reading this one.
55. A Game for All the Family – Sophie Hannah
Story – When Justine Merrison moves herself, her husband and her teenage daughter Ellen out of London she plans to do absolutely nothing. However her daughter begins to seem withdrawn, and then Justine reads Ellen’s chilling tale of family murder and begins to investigate.
Thoughts – This was the most irritating book I’ve read all year. It sounded good, but it was just full of the most ridiculous situations and lies upon lies upon lies from all the characters, so I had no idea who was telling the truth. Was it an unreliable narrator, or was the whole, unbelievable mess actually supposed to be happening? I really didn’t enjoy it at all.
54. Born Survivors – Wendy Holden
Story – This is the story of three Jewish women who managed, against all odds, to hide their pregnancies from the Nazis and carry their babies to term while prisoners, giving birth amongst the chaotic end of the war.
Thoughts – This book was amazing! I kept telling Troy about it while I was reading because I couldn’t believe how the ladies managed to survive. They all ended up in Auschwitz where they managed to hide the fact that they were pregnant from Mengele, and then the three of them were all transferred out to work in a factory. They managed to conceal their pregnancies almost until the end, and by the time the first baby was born the Nazi regime was collapsing. The first mother gave birth in the factory barracks, the second on the train, and the third right at the gates of Mauthausen concentration camp, which is where they were until liberation. Unbelievably, none of the mothers knew of the other, and it was only years later that the ‘babies’ put the story together and met each other. Absolutely amazing, wonderful story.
53. I Am Death – Chris Carter
Story – Once again detectives Hunter and Garcia are on the trail of a serial killer, who is abducting, torturing and murdering women in the most brutal ways possible.
Thoughts – The books by this author are good. Good characterisation, good trail of clues and discoveries towards solving the crime. But this one involved a child and that pretty much seemed to step over my line of gruesomeness I can cope with. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’ve liked this author’s other books, and since I’ve been ambivalent about the violence in those ones you can imagine how bad this one was.