Aesthetic: grey skies and rain, cosy blankets, a cup of tea and a fabulous book. Bras and pants not included.
From the moment I started reading chapter books, I always considered myself someone who loved Historical Fiction (thanks Jackie French) or Fantasy (thanks J.K. Rowling). Whenever I’m on the lookout for new books or new series to read, they’re the first two genres I turn to. Meanwhile, my favourite kind of TV shows are Crime Fiction (Criminal Minds, Elementary, CSI, Law & Order, Monk… I could go on). Yet for some reason, in all my 22 years of living, it never once occurred to me to pick up a Crime Fiction book.
I don’t know what changed, but I finally read Mystery/Thriller and now you can consider me obsessed.
I was really surprised last year to find so many books that I adored. Maybe it’s that I’m becoming an easier critic, or maybe I’m finally starting to ~know~ myself well enough to pick the right books. Whatever it is, these books kept me entertained on long train (and plane) journeys and they each evoked different emotions in me – tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of frustration… Basically I’m always crying. But it’s totally worth it because these stories are ones I could read over and over.
Since Sydney is supplying the rain (a forecast of storms all weekend), here I am, supplying the books that will keep you occupied during the wet days. Happy reading!
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
5/5 stars. I did not expect to respond or love this book as much as I did. I thought this book would just be about a man called Ove and the fun little adventures he went on in his old age. In a way, it is exactly that – but there are so many little things about this book that affected me in a big way.
The funniest thing about Ove is that he is an unlovable and uncharming character, but he manages to be so in a completely lovable and charming way. He’s the type of person who basically gets annoyed at everyone for everything. At the same time, it was all explained so logically that his black and white perspective becomes a cute trait rather than something nitpicky. This book is a heartwarming reminder that some of your best adventures start when you least expect it.
11/22/63 by Stephen King
5/5 stars. This is the first book I’ve read by Stephen King and I was pleasantly surprised. I know him only as a writer of Sci-Fi and Horror (not usually what I read), but this book was thought-provoking, well-paced, well-researched and his amazing ability to story tell was obvious. It’s a hybrid of many genres (a love story, sci-fi time travel, historical fiction, thriller, mystery), but he writes with such expertise that it all feels normal and not convoluted.
The story is about an average high school teacher, who finds a portal that takes him back in time. With the urging of the man who showed him the portal, he decides to take on the mission of preventing the assassination of JFK. It’s a monster of a book and the story is so complex that there were so many ways it could’ve gone wrong, but the pages flew by and Stephen King did a fantastic job.
Dublin Murder Squad Series by Tana French
5/5 stars. Words cannot express, nor do justice to, the sheer perfection that is this series. Each book is based on a different murder and a different detective from the Dublin Murder Squad. I can go on and on about French’s superb writing, her ability to pace the book slowly enough to be suspenseful but not so slow that it’s boring, the interesting murder mysteries, the flawless character development… But nothing I can write or say is good enough to describe just. how. good this series is.
Each book is exceptional, but my favourite books in order are:
- The Trespasser – Book #6 (I wish I could erase my memories so that I could re-read this book afresh. I’m still in a book hangover because of it.)
- The Likeness – Book #2 (Serious Donna Tartt’s The Secret History vibes.)
- In The Woods – Book #1 (Oh, Rob.)
- Broken Harbour – Book #4 (Oh, Scorcher.)
- Faithful Place – Book #3 (Oh, Frank.)
- The Secret Place – Book #5 (Completely different from the rest of the series, this book has time jumps and multiple narrators.)
Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
5/5 stars. This series is the most addictive book I’ve read in years. It starts off as a murder mystery, about a girl (Mac) whose sister is brutally murdered in Ireland. Mac listens to the last voicemail her sister left her (all frantic and weird), and after the police decide they have too little information to keep pursuing the case, Mac decides to fly to Ireland to figure out who killed her sister and seek vengeance. Instead she finds herself in a different part of Ireland – a fantasy one, steeped in history and fae and folklore. Basically, mystery + fantasy + mythology = all the stars.
What I love about Mac is that she is the perfect mixture of ass-kicking warrior and nail-painting, pink-wearing princess; the perfect mix of strength and femininity. Also, the lead main character is so indescribable that he’s made my permanent book boyfriends list and I am dying for a book about his backstory.
Before I leave you to this series, I feel it’s my duty to let you know that I only really adored the first 5 books. The next 3 after that are a sort of spin-off, still necessary to the series though, but the magic wasn’t the same.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
5/5 stars. Picture Ocean’s Eleven and then add a new fantastical world full of magic, forbidden love and the fate of world resting on a bunch of criminals. They need to break into a prison that’s located in a country that has never been breached EVER in its history. If you like the sounds of that, this book is a must-read. There’s a second book too which I haven’t read yet, because I’m just not ready to let the magic end yet!
D.I. Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons
4/5 stars. Here’s another Crime Fiction series that I came across and really enjoyed, although it’s completely different from Dublin Murder Squad because (1) it’s a lot more procedural and (2) the focus of the series is one Detective Inspector, Kim Stone, and each book is about various cases she’s assigned. Another difference is that these books are very fast-paced and centred on the case (whereas DMM was as much about finding who the detective was and solving the case). We get glimpses of who Kim Stone is, but only small details throughout the series.
One thing that is apparent from first book to last is how dedicated and brilliant she is, as she works through completely different cases – from murders and kidnappings, to cold cases and serial killers. You’ll love this series if you love thrillers!