My Reading List 2018

Over the past couple of years, I have documented every film that I have watched and reviewed them all using Letterboxd. As a way to motivate myself to read more, I thought I would do the same for what books I have been reading, using Goodreads as a way to set myself a reading challenge every year.

After reading only 6 books last year, I kept my target low this year and set myself the goal of 10 books. However, I somehow managed to read 20 books this year, mostly due to reading a book a day on my honeymoon.

Here’s how my 2018 challenge went, with a short review and rating for each of the books that I read:

1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Review to come.

Review to come.

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Review to come.

2. The Maze Runner: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Concluding the Gladers’ adventures following on from The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure sees Thomas, Minho and Newt take on WCKD one last time, as we find out more of the reasons behind their actions and whether the world and its survivors can find a cure to the disease that has taken over it.

There are some good sci-fi elements to the story as a handful of things are revealed, but much of what we are told needed a lot more detail and attention as there’s still a lot left unanswered and explored. The problem is that boys don’t seem to be bothered about saving the world, only about getting themselves free. They could be the cure – actually, Thomas IS the cure and he could have saved Newt – but even these facts aren’t enough. Instead, the book tries to make us believe that WCKD are the bad guys. Sure, they have put the group through some unnecessary torture and there’s a lot to dislike about them, but shouldn’t we be wanting these characters to sacrifice themselves for the greater good? There could have been ways for the good people in WCKD to win over or some other way to get around this but, instead, the story seems to get lost in itself a little, as Dashner gets caught up in the action and avoids the more mature themes that could have been central to this finale.

You can read my full review here.

3. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Review to come.

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4. The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn

Review to come.

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5. The Lie by C. L. Taylor

The Lie is the perfect example of why C.L. Taylor is one of the best authors of the thriller genre. Haunting and compelling, this addictive psychological thriller draws you in from the very first page, when Jane receives an anonymous note saying that somebody knows who she really is. From that point onwards, you’ll find it difficult to put this book down.

Having read all of her other books before divulging in this one, it is The Lie that gripped me the most. Taylor completely absorbs you into her story as a group of friends become entangled in a dangerous cult. It’s a plot that I haven’t seen explored before so I was immediately intrigued by it. An incredibly haunting encounter, one that makes you want to shout at the characters to warn them of whatever it is that lies ahead, you will find yourself hurriedly turning every page, wanting to find out more.

You can read my full review here.

6. The Escape by C. L. Taylor

Like many of C.L. Taylor’s books, The Escape is narrated by a female character facing a troubling situation. To make matters worse, Jo also suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia. She’s had a troubled life. A previous miscarriage and her struggle with mental illness have put a strain on her relationship. Pushed to the edge, you are really drawn into her nightmare as she is forced to step out of her comfort zone and make some difficult choices. When no one else will believe her, she must do whatever she must to protect her daughter.

There’s something about her that women – especially mothers – will easily relate to. However, she is a very frantic character and her actions and mindset are all over the place, which is no surprise considering the whirlwind of a situation she is in. But she acts on her mother’s instinct, which is exactly what anyone else would do, and her fast pace keeps you on your toes.

You can read my full review here.

7. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

The Mountain Between Us is one of my favourite books; a remarkable story that breaks me into pieces with its heartbreaking ending with every read. Part survival story, part romance, the story is told through two narratives. In the present, Ben is stranded with Ashley in a desolate landscape as the two are drawn closer through their experience. But every night, whilst Ashley sleeps, Ben talks to his wife through a voice recording device, looking back on how they met and fell in love, leading us all the way up to their recent separation.

With these two contrasting stories, you don’t just keep reading to find out if they make it, you also keep reading to see what it is that Ben did to end his marriage and to see whose love prevails. You are torn between wanting Ashley to be loved by somebody like Ben, and with Ben reconciling with Rachel to prove that “love is worth doing.”

You can read my full review here.

8. The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Set in Australia in the 1920s, The Light Between Oceans is a beautifully written book exploring a heart-wrenching moral dilemma between a husband and wife. With alluring descriptions of the Australian coast as the story’s backdrop, the artistic setting of The Light Between Oceans is contrasted with the loneliness of Janus island and its lighthouse, as well as the two characters who reside there. Tom is used to being alone and battling his own demons, whilst Isabel moves away from her busy life on the mainland with the intent to fill her life on Janus with a family of her own. But after having two miscarriages and a stillborn, Tom and Isabel soon begin to feel the confinements of living so far away from the rest of the world.

Dealing with such a delicate topic in this claustrophobic setting, it’s easy to feel Tom and Isabel’s suffering from the outset, making The Light Between Oceans a difficult story to delve straight into. With this slow start and depressing atmosphere, you aren’t urged to keep reading until your eyes can’t physically stay open any longer at first, but this will suddenly change around halfway through.

You can read my full review here.

9. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone isn’t your basic thriller. The premise may be around the disappearance of a teenage girl, but when some of her bones are found early on in and her disappearance is explained halfway through, the focus, instead, is on those who are left behind.

A typical thriller would drag out the investigation and unravelling of what has happened to a missing person to emphasise the darker tones of the story, but it would then rush the ending and miss out on a more emotional approach. What Then She Was Gone does is to put a fresh spin on the genre, giving away much of the mystery quiet early on. This may leave little to figure out by the second half, but it also means that it packs an emotional punch as we see the effects that the death has had on our protagonist, the mother, Laurel.

You can read my full review here.

10. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is one of my favourite recent reads. It is beautifully original and subtly unpredictable, told through the eyes of an awkward character who we are all the more happy to admit that we’ve felt like or agreed with at some point in our lives.

For a character who we would typically think was unrelatable, I smiled throughout at Eleanor’s naivety, awkwardness and bluntness, and related quite often to her way of ways of thinking about the world. I wouldn’t say the things that she says out loud, but we all have days when we want to shut out the world because of how idiotic the people residing in it can be. If you’ve had a day recently when you’ve thought “Ugh, I hate people”, then this book is most definitely for you.

You can read my full review here.

11. Unseen by Karin Slaughter

Maybe it’s because this is the first Will Trent book that I have read and that there were so many characters to get to know, but I found this book very difficult to get into and keep up with. There are various stories that come together, the plot jumps around with flashbacks and flashforwards, and the characters have all kinds of intertwining relationships as Will works undercover with a different persona, just to confuse things all the more.

Once I got my head around who everybody was, however, and as the two ongoing investigations collide, it’s very easy to get stuck into the mystery of how these stories link together. Their conclusions are equally intense and shocking, with the final few chapters being completely unpredictable. There’s one chapter, in particular, that is left on a massive cliff-hanger which is what kept me reading. Annoyingly, it’s a long way off when you find out what Lena had been detailing in her past because of the interchanging viewpoints, but it really does grip your attention.

You can read my full review here.

12. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

A powerful and engrossing mystery thriller, Pretty Girls is one of the scariest books I have ever read. Packed with complex characters, disturbingly dark themes, and a number of unforgettable twists, this is a book that will literally get your heart racing.

I’ve struggled to get into the Karin Slaughter books that I’ve read so far, but I found Pretty Girls incredibly easy to get stuck into. The premise is set up really well, with many of the first chapters opening up so many questions and twists in the plot that your intrigue will quickly take over.

What will make this book stick in your head, though, is the sense of fear (but also of sheer repulsiveness) that eats away at you throughout. Everybody loves a thriller, but we are so used to reading about murder and abuse and feeling comfortable with the lack of gruesome details. But Slaughter does not hold back. Pretty Girls is an incredibly dark and graphic book, detailing the murder scenes with excruciating detail. It is very violent and gory and feels very much like a horror story for the most part.

You can read my full review here.

13. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Review to come.

Review to come.

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14. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A haunting tale about family, love, and grief, We Were Liars is a moving and poetic young adult thriller that is a simple read, but also simply beautiful to read. Full of alluring imagery, I flew through reading this and took it all in, which is exactly how it should be read.

Telling the audience from the beginning that something has happened to Cadence to cause her illness and that there is a period of time that she can’t remember, we know that there is going to be a big twist and that the book is leading up to something. I certainly wasn’t expecting the answers that we are given and found the ending very powerful, so it’s no surprise that this book was winning so many awards around the time of its release.

You can read my full review here.

15. This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

There are really only two words that can describe this book and they are both quoted on the cover: This is Going to Hurt is both painfully funny and painfully heartbreaking. We’ve all heard nurses and doctors talk about how over-worked they are, but This is Going to Hurt really hits home about the realities of it.

A tale of brutal hours, poor pay, and a crippling shortage of staff, it is a revealing portrayal of the day-to-day life of a junior doctor that is a vital read in our current times. It’s not only interesting to learn about the effects that working so many hours has on their home lives, which Kay talks about with brutal honesty, but it’s also insightful to the see the effects of such a demanding job on the patients.

You can read my full review here.

16. Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

Lying in Wait is a standout thriller because it does a lot differently. Firstly, it is one of the main characters who commits the crime in the first paragraph. Opening with the line “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it”, you know that this is going to be a brave and daring novel, and it hooks you from the start.

Set in 1980s Dublin, Lying in Wait is told across an epic 36-year timeline as we witness the consequences of these characters’ actions and lies. It’s a very psychological story, focusing on the feelings of control, obsession and possessiveness, and it is full to the brim of betrayal. More of a confessional tale, this isn’t your typical mystery because we already know who committed the murder. Instead, it’s a search for answers as we want to find out why this crime was committed and how the lives of the characters involved will continue to go on.

You can read my full review here.

17. Sleeping In The Ground by Peter Robinson

With an opening scene featuring a wedding and a sniper that you’ll never forget, Sleeping in the Ground is a rain-drenched and gloomy investigation that asks the question, “What kind of person could commit this kind of mass murder?” Sparking an investigation set against the backdrop of the dreary Northern countryside, this atmospheric and chilling story sees DCI Banks forced to look into the past, whilst also having to deal with his own.

Having not read any of the other DCI Banks books, Sleeping in the Ground works great as a stand-alone story. With meticulous research into police procedure, Robinson uses precise detail and develops the investigation brilliantly. It may not be the most engrossing work, but the proceedings, instead, feel very real, seeing the team undergoing surveillance, talking to family members, checking phone records and historical databases, and interviewing suspects at the local pub.

You can read my full review here.

18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Review to come.

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19. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Review to come.

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Review to come.

20. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Review to come.

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