From the moment I knew we were all going to be inside for the foreseeable future there were two things I was really excited about:
- Playing as much Sims 4 as I want (it’s a guilty pleasure for us all!)
- Reading every book I had lying around the flat
We had just moved into our new flat about 10 days before lockdown so that made it all the more exciting; living somewhere new that I felt I could explore at my own pace now that I had every hour in the day to spend inside. That’s when I remembered all the books I’d hidden in our coffee table!
***DISCLAIMER*** I have a huge problem with hoarding large amounts of things as I see it as an achievement when I get through them, so now I have a coffee table FULL of books that I’ve challenged myself to read before the world goes back to normal. All but two books are not new, I found them at various different charity shops (you never know the gems you’ll pick up from a quick scout around a row of charity shops…not to mention the money saved).
From April to July I’ve been on a huge reading binge and have found so much joy in so many different genres that I’d never even considered before.
Please enjoy my top three!
You Let Me In- Lucy Clarke
Source: Found in charity shop
Image found on Amazon
This was my first time reading one of Lucy Clarke’s books and also my first time reading a book from the “Domestic Thriller” genre (I’m pretty sure that’s the name of the genre). I absolutely loved this book! It started off slow and being just under 500 pages it felt like maybe there was too much lead-up and not enough action BUT when things began to fall into place…I could not stop reading!
The narrative sounds pretty samey; A woman who seems to have it all, the house, the job and the money but there’s always trouble in paradise. The protagonist Elle takes you down a winding road of suspicion, she is a successful author working on a new book to follow up her international best seller of a first novel when she begins to notice things have moved in her home, words have been written on her windows and she can hear movement in rooms she isn’t in but whenever she gets close to an answer she ends up back at square one. I must have guessed wrong about 4 times on who I thought was the perpetrator of the creepy goings on but the real answer, although a tad obvious was so well crafted and lead to so much more (as well as another, even bigger plot twist) that it became one of my favourite reads of lockdown.
Under The Dome- Stephen King
Price: £10.99 (One of only two brand new books I’ve bought since November 2019)
Image found @ 12min Blog
This is the book I’d been most excited to read during lockdown, the further I got down my pile of books the more I kept glancing at this title just waiting to get my hands on it! I have been a fan of Stephen King for 2 or 3 years now and I can’t say it was a progressive step into fandom it was more of a headlong free-fall after reading Elevation in 2018 (and in my opinion that wasn’t even one of his best books!). The first thing that attracted me to the book was the sheer size of it, at a whopping 877 pages I knew this was going to be no quick read but I enjoy a challenge and hoped the length of the book meant there would be some interesting and in-depth story lines; which of course there were.
As with pretty much every Stephen King book the storyline is phenomenal. Centred around the lives of a seemingly normal town called Chester’s Mill in Maine, U.S.A, the lives of these “normal” people are uprooted when a see-through dome perfectly matching the proportions of the town, cuts them off from the rest of the world in an instant. Mix in some truly evil characters, the misguided, lost, confused and the brave and you get a book that sucks you in as if you were trapped in the Dome with them. The characters are led on a journey over a very short amount of time to try and find out why the dome is there, what exactly it’s made out of and more importantly how do we get rid of it?!
When you open the book, within the first couple of pages you’re greeted with a map of Chester’s Mill as well as a full list of EVERY character within the novel (definitely over 100 characters) and that includes pets. I figured this would come in handy as if there were this many characters I would need a list to refer back to just to keep track of them all! But fortunately I was mistaken, using his writing wizardry King is able to intertwine the lives of each character in a way where you not only remember them and their story but find yourself looking for their name and worrying about them when they aren't named in a defining scene.
As mentioned before, due to the sheer number of storylines they do move back and forth throughout the book, which I found to be a good distraction from thinking ahead too far and trying to predict things when you didn’t even know the full story but once you’ve been introduced to all the characters it’s not that difficult to keep up with them especially as the book progresses and the lives of the townspeople become further entangled.
Obviously I’m not going to spoil it for you or give away any teasers but the ending was so far from anything I could of dreamt up that at first I found it a bit ridiculous. I still don’t fully understand the reasoning for the Dome and the people/thing that put it there but I think there is supposed to be a metaphor or lesson within the ending that clearly I haven’t grasped. Nevertheless the book is an amazing read and will definitely keep you hooked despite the ever increasing page numbers!
If You Go Down To The Woods- Seth C. Adams
Source: Donation Library at a supermarket
Price: Just gave a donation
Image found on Amazon
When I saw this book on the shelf at the donation library I knew it was for me instantly; the freaky cover and the ominous title made me really excited. Adams did not disappoint, this book was altogether heartfelt and gut-wrenching at the same time. The novel is only 270 pages long so if you’re looking for a short, suspenseful read this is the one for you!
When thinking about what to say for this book I was trying to find something to compare it to and then it hit me…this book is the perfect hybrid of Lord Of The Flies (William Golding) and The Troop (Nick Cutter), I remember reading Lord of The Flies at school when I was 15 and it freaked me out so much that I knew I wanted to continue reading from that genre so a few years later during Halloween I found The Troop and it still creeps me out now; if you stumble across it PLEASE save it for your Halloween creepy reads.
If You Go Down To The Woods centres around Joey; a young boy on the cusp of manhood (and girls) who moves with his family from the warm climate of Los Angeles to a tiny town far from L.A.’s glittering lights. Here he stumbles across soon-to-be-friends who see themselves as an outsider just like him. An abandoned car, stack of money, hidden body and The Collector to deal with, I think Joey soon realises this town isn’t quite as sleepy as he first thought. The book deals with a lot of issues from domestic abuse, racism, sexism and also the confusion that comes with coming of age in small town U.S.A. For such a short book it really packs a punch and left me thinking about the story line for days afterwards, I urge you to find this one!
Favourite author from the book binge: Angela Hart
Although I have read a lot of books throughout this lockdown there is one author I have loved more than all the others; Angela Hart.
I read her books before lockdown and will continue to read them after, even as I write this I’ve just started another in her series! Her books centre around her experiences as a foster carer over the last 30 years and how each child, no matter how long they stayed has had a profound effect on herself and her husband Jonathan. The real-life almost autobiographical element of her stories really drags you in as if you were Angela having to help these foster kids and their complex needs.
I have read three books in her series which were; The Girl And The Ghosts, The Girl With Two Lives and The Girl In The Dark. My personal favourite was The Girl With Two Lives which told the devastating story of Danielle; a 12 year old struggling with her relationship with food, her relationship with school and some heartbreaking relationships with her family. I won’t spoil it as this book was a really special one, if you find it in a charity shop you should take it home!
If you’re like me and you like to find the first book an author wrote to see their progression in writing, I have a treat for you. Terrified is the name of Angela Hart’s first book in this series. It centres around Vicky, a young girl trying to build herself up after years of childhood abuse. I have yet to actually read this one but I will definitely get round to it!
And when you’ve gone through the series you’re gonna want to read her newest book to see her writing at its most current. The Girl With The Suitcase was released in 2020 so is VERY new. It centres around Grace, a little girl who has never really had a permanent home, she has always been moved from one foster home to the next and has never known a real family, will Angela be the person to give her all that? We will all have to read and find out!
Obviously all her books are available on amazon and such sites but every single book I have of hers I’ve found in a charity shop so they’re definitely floating about if you want to go the cheaper/ more sustainable route.
***QUICK NOTE*** As these are books of real lives they do feature some quite upsetting themes from physical/emotional/sexual abuse to eating disorders, behavioural problems and bullying so if you are sensitive to these topics just make sure you understand how far the book goes into these subjects before you read them.
I hope my little bio of Angela Hart has made you excited to read her books and plenty of others!
You don’t need to scour the internet for hours and spend all your hard earned money on brand new books, you just need to take 10 minutes out of your day to go into your favourite charity shops and have a good nose at the books they’ve got. I always set myself a challenge of walking in with a £10 note and seeing how many books I can buy for that amount (you’d be surprised). Then, when you’ve read through your new library of affordable books simply round them up and give them back to a charity shop or gift them to a friend you know would enjoy them!
So now you can buy some great books at cheap prices that you didn’t even know you were missing, as well as supporting a charity that may be dear to your heart. Now if you ask me, there aren’t many things better than that.
I hope your lockdown was peaceful and you got the rest you needed, now go out and find some awesome books!