Welcome to my January 2018 Reading Recap where I get to look back over a fun month of reading! I read eight books during the first month of 2018 and I most definitely went on a thriller binge and read some tense, enjoyable books. I’m feeling quite a bit more relaxed about my reading this year. In 2017 I set a really ambitious reading target and while I did eventually reach that target, I went through a couple of bad reading slumps throughout the year and struggled to not feel like reading was a chore at times. Sure eight books is quite a lot to read in a month, but at no point did I feel like I was obligated to read any of the books I chose, and that was a refreshing change.
I also, without meaning to, only read books written my women this month. That may also partly explain why I loved reading so much this month, although none of them were Australian so I shall try to address that in February.
January 2018 Reading Recap
The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin [GR]
This book was a charming and utterly heart-warming way to kick off my new reading year. It’s the story about a cranky bookstore owner whose life is changed forever when a rare book, his most prized possession, is stolen from his home. One of the main characters Amelia is a publishing sales rep and it’s very clear that Gabrielle Zevin has a huge passion not just for books but also for the people that help bring books into this world and into the hands of readers. A.J.’s bookstore is on an island called Alice Island but the whole time I read this book I was picturing the beautiful Eagle Harbour Book Co.
on Bainbridge Island just off the coast of Seattle that I was lucky enough to visit last year. This book is a treasure. 5★
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin [GR]
This book asks readers the question of how they would live their life if they knew the precise date on which they would die and then follows the lives of the four Gold siblings as they do precisely that. The Immortalists is split into four parts and each part follows the life of one of the siblings following on from the day the visit a gypsy who claims to be able to tell people their death date. For me the first part was the strongest and the remaining three parts didn’t quite pack the same emotional punch, but Chloe Benjamin’s writing is fantastic and despite its January publication date, I expect to see this book on many best of 2018 lists at the end of the year. 4★
Unsub by Meg Gardiner [GR]
Speaking of books making it onto best of lists, this book was on many best of 2017 lists as one of the year’s best thrillers, and when my copy finally arrived this month I devoured it in 24 hours. This book is utterly brilliant and my mind is still blown that no Australian publisher has the rights for it, but it’s easy to get from overseas and many Australian bookstores are now ordering stock from the US as well. The story follows Caitlin Hendrix, a Narcotics detective in San Fransisco, who has to face childhood demons when The Prophet, the serial killer that eluded her former-detective father for many years, reemerges after a twenty-year absence. This book was inspired by the Zodiac Killer but at every plot twist and turn Unsub reads like a unique thriller that merely tips its hat at its inspiration and then keeps moving. It’s clever and sharp and expertly plotted, and perfect for fans of Criminal Minds (of which I am a massive fan!) and anyone who enjoys tense and thrilling crime fiction. 5★
Friend Request by Laura Marshall [GR]
This book was addictive. I set out one Saturday afternoon in January to read a few chapters of this and was finishing the final page at some ridiculous hour of Sunday morning. The story alternates from the present day to 1989 when a young schoolgirl mysteriously disappears on the night of a school dance. In the present chapters, the missing girl who has long been presumed dead sends a Facebook friend request to some of the students who knew her prior to her disappearance in the lead-up to their high school reunion. There were some clunky aspects to this book and I didn’t love the main character Louise, but there’s a lot to be said about a book that demands to be read in a single sitting. The author’s sophomore novel Three Little Lies
is out later this year. 4★<
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna [GR] (Not pictured)
This was another addictive novel that deprived me of sleep this month. Two girls are abducted from a car park in a small Pennsylvanian town and an unlikely due of an enigmatic bounty hunter and a retired cop work together to locate the girls. The bounty hunter Alice Vega is a brilliant character and I hope we get another novel with her in it. The thing I loved most about this book was how the timeframe kept the suspense high – it’s only set over a handful of days and every minute matters when solving an abduction, so the author’s ability to keep adding to the tension was fantastic. There are *a lot* of characters in this book, so you may find yourself doing what I did and flipping back and forth trying to remember who’s who. It’s worth it, though. 4★
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh [GR]
If you’ve ever read a Clare Mackintosh novel then you know that it’s best going in knowing as little as possible about the book, so I’ll keep this brief. The cover says ‘The police say it was suicide, Anna says it was murder, They’re both wrong’ and I found that really intriguing. I can’t imagine how much fun Clare has plotting her novels and this one is just as twisty and surprising as her previous novels. They’re all standalone, though this one isn’t out until March, so you can read them out of order. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, I highly recommend them. 4★
The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton [GR]
My January thriller binge ended with The Perfect Girlfriend, a debut thriller that’s also not out until March. This book was intense. The main character Juliette is struggling to accept that her suddenly ex-boyfriend Nate has ended their relationship, and she’s prepared to do anything to get him back. She trains to become a flight attendant for the same airline that Nate is a pilot with, and that’s just the start of her obsessive plan to get her happily ever after back on track. This is another book where it’s best to know as little as possible, but be prepared for a wild ride. We’ve had a girl on a train, now get ready for a girl on a plane. 4★
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit [GR] (Not pictured)
I listened to this via audio and I think that may be why my rating isn’t super high. I liked the first essay but I felt the content got weaker as I kept listening. I don’t doubt that Rebecca is a talented essayist; I’m just not convinced that all the pieces needed to be included. The narrator was also fairly painful to listen to, but fortunately it’s a quick listen and I suspect it would also be a quick read. One thing I did really admire about her writing is her meticulous attention to detail. Some of the essays are superbly researched and very well argued. 3★
This brings us to the end of my January 2018 Reading Recap and as I write this in early February I’m pleased to let you know that my thriller binge has continued. Have you read any of my January reads yet? Leave a comment and let me know!