WHAT I'VE BEEN READING LATELY (HORROR, COMFORT LIT, AND AN ACTRESS-TURNED-AUTHOR)

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For this month, I thought I'd try something new and post shorter reviews of some of the books I've been reading lately/am reading at the moment. All of the titles are, I daresay, ideal for the warmer season, whether you're looking for spine-tingling horror, light, fun beach reads, or simply a plain old good book. Enjoy! I will be writing all about my summer reading plans shortly, so stay tuned for that!

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill it stephen king Joe Hill, Horns

NOS4R2 (UK title) by Joe Hill

Ever since his debut novel Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill has been a force to reckon with in the horror genre. His books, while genuinely creepy, are tinged with a dry wit and an excellent eye for the morbid and the strange. His works are often very touching, too, especially when treading into coming-of-age territory. One could, of course, argue that his flair for the macabre yet heartfelt runs in the family, seeing how his father is a certain Stephen Edwin King. In NOS4R2 – you work it out... – his heritage is more evident than ever. It is a big old sweeping horror story in the classical sense with plenty of references - obvious as well as more thematic ones - to the old man's oevre. Still, Hill manages to pull his own weight, drawing the reader into the terrifying world of Christmasland (note to self: so glad that I didn't read this at Christmas time!). If you're a fan of fun, epic horror with a nice coming-of-age streak to it (think IT or indeed Hill's previous novel Horns), you will devour this. At just over 700 pages, it is a hefty read, but one that you will undoubtedly breeze through. The antagonist, diabolical, freakishly ageless Charlie Manx is almost as scary as Pennywise the Clown, while the protagonist, Vic, is relatable and human both as a child and an adult. Hill's previous novels, while deeply enjoyable, have been very laddish in their outlook on life with very little female representation. Therefore, I was particularly pleased with the character of Vic – that, and the fact that Hill dedicates the novel to his mother Tabitha King, the storytelling queen. Now he just needs to pick up his dad's publishing pace!

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

You just have to love Lauren Graham, right? She seems just as sympathetic outside Stars Hollows, and as a massive Gilmore Girls fan – well, Lauren Graham fan in general, really – I was pleased to learn that she has written a novel. Someday, Someday, Maybe tells the tale of struggling young actress Franny, who has six months left on her deadline to make it in New York City. Between the odd detergent commercial, endless auditions and acting classes, she is no way near her dream and occasionally longs for a quiet normal life with her highschool sweetheart. Still, she does not want to give up just yet - or does she...? Someday, Someday, Maybe is a light, fun read with a nice wit and several laugh-out-loud moments, very much what you would except from Graham. Ideal for lazy summer days.

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell

Okay, so the concept of lazy summer days (and lazy summer reading) may be a bit of a paradox when you have two four-year-olds at home, but on those rare occasions when I can actually sit down and relax during the day and when sun is shining, I love settling down with a new Lisa Jewell novel. She is the queen of comfort lit, always sympathetic and engrossing, light yet substantial, with a large heart in the centre of her stories. Before I Met You, just out in paperback, is no exception. I haven't finished it yet since a ghost story on orphan choir boys came in the way (as they tend to do...) but so far, I am very satisfied. Looking forward to reacquainting myself with Jewell this summer, when her new novel The House We Grew Up In is published.

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Fans of supernatural horror in general and spine-tingling chillers in particular ought to do themselves a favour and get acquainted with Hammer Books, which is also the UK home for Sara B Elfgren's and Mats Strandberg's Engelsfors books (yay!). So far, I've read and enjoyed Helen Dunmore's The Greatcoat and Jeanette Winterson's The Daylight Gate (Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, reissued by Hammer upon its theatrical release, is an old fave) and Sophie Hannah's The Oprhan Choir is another good choice for fans of old-fashioned ghost stories. Hannah, who normally writes tense, page turner-y thrillers, balances the mundane and the supernatural very well in this novella about Louise who is tormented by her neighbour's constant music playing at night. When she relocates to the countryside, she finds that the music has continued to haunt her - only now the pop tunes are replaced with eerie choir music, hitting particularly close to home for personal reasons.... The Orphan Choir is a fast read, ideally devoured in one tense sitting. It does not quite reach Susan Hill's exceedingly high standards, but it is thrilling, atmospheric, and - frighteningly enough - very real in its depiction of bleary-eyed reality versus something far more sinister. Hopefully, this isn't a one-off for Hannah as I would very much like to read more by her in this vein. I am also eager to read Hannah's latest (non-supernatural) thriller The Carrier.

Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg - The Circle (Engelsfors books) Helen Dunmore,  The Greatcoat Helen Dunmore,  The Greatcoat Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson Susan Hill  - The Woman in Black The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

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