What I Read in June
After a mammoth reading month in May, I was back to a normal reading pace in June managing to read through 5 books. One being a picture book so actually it’s more like 4…
Here’s what’s been on my kindle this month.
The Fear by C. L. Taylor
Taylor has done it again! After really enjoying The Missing back in April, I went looking for anything else C. L. Taylor had written and was so happy when I came across The Fear on BorrowBox.
When Lou was 14 years old, she ran away to France with her karate teacher Mike. Things very quickly escalated and took a very dark turn. She is now 32 years hold and returns to her hometown to find that not only has Mike somehow rebuilt his reputation, but he is also grooming another young girl. Thirteen-year-old Chloe Matthews.
Determined not to let history repeat itself, Lou sets about not only saving Chloe but also finally making face up to what he did to her. Things do not go to plan though and not only do things escalate quickly, but Lou once again becomes the prey.
C. L. Taylor writes in a style that I really enjoy. Short snappy sentences which keep the story moving forward at a great pace. The Fear is told from Lou’s perspective both in the past and present, Wendy (Mike’s ex-wife) in the present as well as poor Chloe who you cannot help but want to reach out to and hold. Like many paedophiles, Mike preys on damaged children to manipulate and groom, and Taylor does not shy away from the level of damage this can cause.
The plot does go a little bit bizarre but never quite so insane that it makes you want to stop reading. However, it is certainly packs in the twists that leaves a number of possible plot threads open right until the end. This is incredibly skilfull as it means that you don’t quite know how it’s all going to end until you are in it. I can’t say any more without giving away spoilers but it’s a good read for anyone who enjoys this kind of genre.
The Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle – AD | eARC
Charlotte – or Charlie as she was known when she lived on the “wrong side of the hill” – married in money when she met and fell in love with Paul. Recognising that his emotional scars from their pasts matched her own, she thought she found a home, love and security in her marriage.
The question is though, how far would you be willing to go to keep a secret that would destroy your life? When Charlotte finds the body of a woman in the lake by her house – only 4 years after Paul’s ex-wife dies in the same spot – she just can’t let it go. Especially when Paul lies about knowing who she is. That small lie grows until Charlotte is left uncovering even more lies that leave her wondering when and where it will stop.
Told in two narratives – Charlotte in the present and Jax in the past – both draw together until the events of one single night are finally uncovered. The impact of which lasted for 20 years.
I loved Charlie as a narrator. Bright, funny, curious and open about her flaws, I found her to be engaging and informative. Her brother Chet and their relationship a welcome balm to the toxic relationships which seem to be woven throughout Lake Crosby.
Easily my favourite thriller of this year so far, Stranger in the Lake drew me in with a brilliantly planned out plot which was wonderfully written. Some twists you could see coming whereas others really did come out of nowhere which was a nice plus. I would say a few of the characters could have played a bigger part – Sam and the Sheriff to name two – but then I understand that it would be easy to get distracted which would have impacted the pace and the story on a whole. This is my first Kimberly Belle book, but I have no doubt that I will be reading more.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
This month I joined a virtual book club and my first book with the group was Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and I am so pleased! It’s been on my “to read” list for ages and this was the perfect excuse the crack the spine on it.
Wow, what a book. It honestly blew my mind within the first chapter. It took me a while to get through; not because I didn’t want to read it, but because I wanted to concentrate on what was being said.
This is the book that everyone should read at least once in their life. I pride myself on the fact that not only do I see colour but recognise that our differences are what makes the world such a beautiful and interesting place. However, I can see that I am also part of the problem. Not through my actions, but just by quietly being part of a system and not noticing its faults. Why would I? It’s designed for people that look like me. The sections on feminism in particular blew my mind.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race helped me to take off my white tinted glasses and actually look around me for the first time while noticing things. Things that pass me by but are a huge part of the narrative that forms a person life should they belong to an ethnic minority. Once you see them, it’s difficult to then unsee them which is surely a good thing. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it should be. There were times where I could feel a white defensiveness rising up – especially around class and feminism – and it was interesting to experiencing it in the context of reading the book and being able to reason that it’s not an either / or situation. A black woman experiencing sexism does not take away from my experiences. However, it is up to me to recognise that while I may have been on the receiving end of the shitty behaviour during my life, I am incredibly lucky that it has not been amplified by the colour of my skin.
Whenever I read a book on a divisive topic I try and find one from the other side to balance it out. After all a well written piece can be accused of bias and propaganda. However, just the interview with Nick Griffen within why I’m not is enough not to put me off ever doing that. Anyway, you could argue I’m seeing the other side of the argument every time I switch on the news or watch TV.
Consider me woke and willing to learn. I know I will come back to Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race time and time again, learning something new from it each time I do.
Thank you Reni Eddo-Lodge for writing this book.
The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. L. Tudor
This was utterly brilliant and creepy AF.
Joe’s sister went missing 25 years ago. Although only missing for 48 hours, when Annie comes back, she is not Annie anymore. She is something else.
Joe may have left Arnhill, but he has not escaped his past. Now a heavy drinker and gambler, Joe’s life in crumbling around him when he gets the email; “I know what happened to your sister.” So, Joe finds himself back in Arnhill, looking for both escape from mounting debts and revenge. However, what he finds instead is ghosts at every turn.
I loved this book. Joe’s narrative is a wonderful mix of vulnerability and depressed honesty laced with a dry sense of humour which appeals to me. With echoes of Stephen King in its pages, drama and intrigue weave itself in amongst the sinister and supernatural. You never quite know which way the book will turn until the very last moment which makes for gripping reading.
The language is wonderfully descriptive, so much so you are immersed into the story and can almost feel the dread building in your own stomach as the truth as to what really happened to little Annie Thorne comes to light.
Horror was my first literary love and I am so happy to have found a female British horror writer to lose myself in the pages of.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
I wouldn’t usually include a book like this in my monthly count, but the truth is I just love it. There are so many moments that are just beautiful within its pages and it’s been a big part of our lockdown.
I’ve already read it a few times both on my own and with the kids. I love sitting down with a hot drink to flick through the pages. It sounds idyllic but it’s a lovely little lockdown escape. If you were a teen who loved Winnie-the-Pooh, then you will love this too.
It will certainly live on our bookshelf for many years to come.
And that’s it. That’s what’s got me hooked this month. It’s been a good month reading-wise: quality over quantity as I would recommend all 5.
Have you read anything this month you would recommend?