Books by Black authors reading list

The last month or so I’ve been trying to be a bit more conscious about what I’m reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love my female-authored thrillers, the ones you can read in a day and end up all blurring into one after a while. But these are usually written by white women, about white characters in white situations – and sometimes I want more.

So, like many of us, I have been actively seeking literature that will actually stay with me and teach me something. We all have to start somewhere and I understand that my (minuscule) part in dismantling systematic racism is going to take more than picking up a couple of books or watching a couple of films. But we have to start somewhere.
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Be Kind(le) Always

I’ve always been staunchly again the Kindle. I know it’s a silly hill to die upon but that’s just who I was until a few months ago. My justification was always that you can’t beat a real book – the smell of its pages (even more potent when secondhand obviously), the crack of the spine as you settle in for your newest adventure – I know, I know, there are bound to be people cringing about that last statement but I’m a spine cracker and proud.

But I’ve found myself in a Stephen King renaissance the last few years and I could no longer deal with the heft of his novels. My favourite place to read is in the tub and my delicate wrists (the only delicate thing about me, let’s face it) just couldn’t lift Insomnia anymore. Conversely, I once dropped a copy of IT in the water and it swelled to twice it’s size – quite impressive when it was already the thickness of two telephone books strapped together. My friend Matt displays his books proudly upon his shelves, while I drop mine in the bath, lend them out, leave them on buses and lose them forever.

I should probably be taken out and shot.

Anyway, I finally relented and treated myself to a Kindle small enough to slip in my bag and it’s honestly been a game changer. I can read anywhere I like without fear of spraining my bird-like wrists or weighing myself down. And it must have changed things really because I am already half way through my Goodreads challenge for the year. I’ve never completed it and I think I’ve got a real chance this year. Sure, quarantine might have played a part but I like to think this clever little device has been key.

When we move house (god willing), I’ll have at least an hour’s commute into town and that’s where I think this plan will really come into its own. I can’t wait to plug in and zone out with King or anyone I choose. It’s literally a brave new world just there for the taking. Here’s what I fancy next:

  1. The Southern Books Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  2. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  3. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  4. The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby
  5. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  6. Pine by Francine Toon
  7. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  8. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  9. See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

What are you reading?

Isolation Reading List

Right now I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything more than Gilmore Girls reruns but in my ideal quarantine scenario – if I can get there – I’ll be reading as much as I can. This is what I have on my Isolation Reading List.

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Goodreads Challenge so far

I’m 10 books into my 40 book Goodreads Challenge (and two books ahead of schedule!) and I thought I’d share what I’ve read so far.

Why not, eh? I guess one good thing about social lock-down is lots of time for hot baths, candles and books aplenty.

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.

When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

I really enjoyed Dark Matter, a vivid and haunting ghost story that really put the shits up me for a while, so this was a no-brainer. I adored this one too – it’s deliciously Gothic and creepy, and I’d put it in the same category as The Silent Companions which I also loved. In Wakenhyrst, we join protagonist Maud as she navigates a difficult childhood in a sprawling manor house – and learns to despise her tyrannical father after the death of her beloved mother.

When she stumbles across his diary, she gains a glimpse into the mind of an obsessive weirdo haunted by a painting and very possibly his own guilty conscience. But obviously, it’s a million times more eloquent and beautiful than I’ve just put it.

Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

This one took quite the turn and ended up being a lot less enjoyable than I hoped it would be – but it’s not bad. While I usually hate lazy comparisons on book covers – this one, likening it to Apple Tree Yard isn’t far off.

Honestly, I spent most of this book annoyed with Alison’s husband who’s just a horrible shit. None of the characters come off particularly well actually which might be why I skim read a lot of the end and was deeply fatigued by the climax, which is bonkers.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead. She’s posed on a swing on her boarding school’s property, dressed all in white, with no known cause of death. Whispers and rumors swirl, with no answers. But there are a few who know what happened; there is one girl who will never forget.

Even though this is witchy as hell I did not get on with this one very well. In fact I was bored if you must know. It reminds me of The Craft and matches it well in angst levels but just doesn’t have even half the soul. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for any of the main characters or what eventually happened to them. Shame really because on paper, it’s a bit of me.

Red Snow and Black River by Will Dean

Red Snow: TWO BODIES. One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who;s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?

Black River: Tuva’s been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?

Two corkers from the author of Dark Pines, the book that introduced us to deaf reporter Tuva Moodyson, an absolute powerhouse of a woman, and heroine.

Red Snow is absolutely magical, centering around the local liquorice factory and a slew of mysterious deaths. Will Tuva get to the bottom of all this intrigue while holding down her day job, her relationships and her side assignment – delving into the factory owners’ family history? You’ll see.

Black River takes us on Tuva’s third exhausting journey as she frantically searches for her best friend who’s disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Is Gavrik the new Midsomer? I love these books which have a distinct Scandy style that reminds me a tiny bit of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, one of my ultimate faves. I definitely recommend highly.

The Silence by Daisy Pearce

She’s broken. She’s vulnerable. She’s just what Marco was looking for.

Loved. You can read my standalone review here. If you like.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

I love a missing person story and find it so satisfying when the mystery of what happened to them is finally solved. This was a pretty decent page turner and I’m here for it.

When Nicolette returns home to help her brother sort out her dad’s house, she’s forced to face up to some painful reminders of her past. Namely her childhood sweetheart Tyler, her moody sibling and the mystery of what really happened to Corinne. When local girl Annaleise Carter goes missing too, it brings up a lot of bad feeling – and things might just be about to get a whole lot worse…

What You Did by Claire McGowan

A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend?

I’ve read a lot of similar books this last few months and they’ve all started to blur into one. What You Did was a quick read with interesting themes but I can’t say it stood out much. Main character Ali has the perfect everything until one night, during a drunken reunion with her six university friends, her best friend accuses her husband of sexually assaulting her.

Who’s Ali to believe? Well, I’ll leave the rest to you if you care. There are worse ways to spend a rainy Sunday morning in bed if you don’t mind your subject matter super dark and unsettling.

The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett

It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Melletts life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.

This was the first book I read this year and it was incredibly quirky. It’s also very dark and fun. That’s about all I can tell you really as it’s been a while. Eleanor makes dubious life choices but they’re somehow relatable and I liked her for being like someone I’d have a laugh with IRL. Another missing person mystery, not at all what I was expecting and all the better for it.

The Woman in Our House by Andrew Hart

What happens when you open your home to the perfect stranger?

Anna Klein is keen to return to her job as a literary agent after the birth of her second child. When she and her husband find super nanny Oaklynn Durst it seems like this dream is set to become a beautiful reality. Except… well, you didn’t think it would be that easy did you, Anna?

Of course Oaklynn isn’t who she says she is and when the girls, who are over the moon about their new nanny, start to get sick and injured, Anna starts to take note. But what’s the story, morning glory? You won’t hardly believe it – or you probably will, it’s not rocket science. It is quite fun though.

What are you reading?