In December, I read:
- Tall Bones by Anna Bailey
- The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister
- Explore Everything: Place-hacking the city by Bradley L Garrett (non-fiction)
- The Switch by Beth O’Leary
- The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
I bought Tall Bones after hearing Anna Bailey speak at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate last summer. This atmospheric, haunting and chilling debut novel is set in small-town America and revolves around the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl after a party in the woods. The depiction of teenagers in a rural setting felt very authentic to me and I really enjoyed the twists and turns and the shocking reveal. However, for me, it was the characters that really made this novel special and I’m very much looking forward to her next book.
If you are an aspiring writer, I would recommend Gillian McAllister’s The Honest Authors Podcast, which she co-hosts with Holly Seddon. I really enjoyed The Evidence Against You – the protagonist’s father was convicted for the murder of her mother seventeen years ago, but was he innocent? After being released from prison, he wants to reconcile with his daughter and tell her the truth, but can she trust him? I loved the central relationship between father and daughter as they tried to come to terms with their past and discover what really happened.
Explore Everything is a book about urban exploration that I read for research for my next novel. I found this book fascinating and it really made me question issues such as property ownership, our surveillance society, and the ethics of trespass.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary was a fairly light read, set in Yorkshire and London, and is about an urban twenty-something who swaps lives with her grandmother in the Yorkshire Dales. I preferred The Flat Share by the same author, but this was still an enjoyable read.
I’m a big fan of Joanne Harris and The Strawberry Thief matched up to my high expectations. The latest in the Chocolat series, this is about the younger daughter of Vianne Rocher, Rosette. When an old man leaves his woodland to the innocent teenager, old secrets and rivalries emerge. It made me realise that I have missed one of the books in this series, so I need to go back and read The Lollipop Shoes. I love the way Harris weaves magic into her novels and I found myself completely immersed in her world. It was an excellent book to herald the new year.