READING | My Top 4 Summer Reads

It’s a yearly struggle for many people- which book will make the journey from shelf to sun lounger this summer? Unfortunately for me, my summer holiday has been and gone (and it was in Wales- not a sun lounger in sight!) but whenever I go for a relaxing holiday I love to take a good book with me to get stuck into. Let’s face it, there’s only so much action you can cram into each day on holiday!

Although I love a bit of chick-lit as much as the next girl, the books that have really grabbed me over the past couple of years have had a bit more substance, and have had me totally hooked. Whilst I’m not into full-blown horror or seriously twisted stuff (step forwards, Grey *shudder*), a good psychological thriller always has me reaching for the next page (or swiping, thanks to my handy mini e-reader). So, without further ado, here are my top four books you should seriously consider taking on holiday with you (or into the garden, or bed, or bath…)

The girl on the train cover

1. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins – buy here

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

After hearing about this book being raved about over social media, and just the general buzz around it, it was my first choice to take on my holiday to Wales. Straight away, I could see that it definitely lives up to the hype. The story seems pretty ordinary at first, and not exactly what the blurb leads you to believe.
To be fair, the description doesn’t give much away, and I’m not going to either because I don’t want to spoil it! Without giving too much away, the protagonist comes across as a bit of a psycho in the blurb, but her involvement with the idealistic couple is far more complicated than simply watching them from the train. If you read it, you’ll quickly realise this- it’s definitely not a spoiler compared to the rest of the book!
I was absolutely gripped to the twists and turns in the storyline from start to finish, and there are some pretty big bombshells dropped throughout the course of the book. I literally read it in less than five days because I could not put it down- a serious must read.

Close my eyes cover

2. Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie – buy here

It’s been eight years since Gen Loxley lost her daughter, Beth: eight years of grief in which nothing’s really moved forward, for all that her husband, Art, wills it to. Gen, once a writer of novels, has settled in to a life of half-hearted teaching, while Art makes his name and their fortune – and pressures her into trying IVF once again. For Gen, it seems a cruel act of replacement; life without Beth is unthinkable, unbearable – but still it goes on. And then a woman arrives on Gen’s doorstep, saying the very thing she longs to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was spirited away as a healthy child, and is out there, waiting to be found…So why is Art reluctant to get involved? To save his wife from further hurt? Or something much more sinister? What is the truth about Beth Loxley?

Ooh, this is definitely a good ‘un. Even though it’s actually been two years since I read it, it only feels like yesterday. The storyline is just so gripping- I actually chose to read this over Gone Girl (which had just come out at the time) because I really liked the sound of it, and my instinct was right. The twist in the story is a real shocker, which I think is why it has stuck with me all this time. I’m definitely going to be reading this one again now I have finished no. 4 on this list- it gives you a whole new perspective reading a book when you know how it ends.
For me, it is the perfect balance– the female protagonist is relatable and you really feel connected to her, but there are still plenty of thrills to get the brain whirring and the adrenaline rushing. Give this one a read if you’ve already read The Girl On The Train, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Oh dear silvia cover

3. Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French – buy here

Who is in Coma Suite Number 5?

A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife?

All of these. For this is Silvia Shute who has always done exactly what she wants. Until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops.

Her past holds a dark and terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors are set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. And she must lie there, victim of the beloveds, the borings, the babblings and the plain bonkers.

Like it or not, the truth is about to pay Silvia a visit. Again, and again and again…

This is another book that I read on holiday two years ago, so my memory is a little fuzzy. What I do remember is how much I enjoyed this book at the time. Dawn French is a brilliant writer, because she injects just the right amount of dark humour into the story to keep it from being dull. The format of the book is in chapters from the viewpoint of each person who is visiting Silvia, who is the main character despite being unconscious for the entire book. I love it when authors do this, as it allows you to make links in your mind between what each person says and put the pieces together as you read. I often miss these links until they become clearer, but you get what I mean.
This book is definitely gripping, but in a less urgent way than the others on my list, which makes it a slightly more relaxing read- aka. perfect sun lounger material.

Little face cover

4. Little Face by Sophie Hannah – buy here

She’s only been gone two hours.

Her husband David was meant to be looking after their two-week-old daughter. But when Alice Fancourt walks into the nursery, her terrifying ordeal begins, for Alice insists the baby in the cot is a stranger she’s never seen before.

With an increasingly hostile and menacing David swearing she must either be mad or lying, how can Alice make the police believe her before it’s too late?

I literally just finished reading this the other day, and although it’s a fairly old book in terms of recent years (it’s set in 2003, published in 2006) it is still a fantastic read. My dad saw it in the staff room at work and sent me a picture of the cover and blurb, because he knew I was after another thriller to read- great recommendation, dad!
It’s another thrill ride with plenty of twists and turns- sometimes frustratingly unclear until the chapters knit the pieces together. This is another book that tells the story from the viewpoint of different characters in each chapter, alternating between the protagonist Alice, and the police officer working on her case, Simon. The changes and developments in some of the characters are pretty shocking, which all adds to the drama and suspense.
I was left slightly disappointed at the ending, but the other big reveals in the book more than make up for this- definitely worth a read!

Now, I don’t claim to be a competent book reviewer by any means, but I hope that what I’ve said about each book is enough to assure you they are all excellent reads and perfect to take on holiday! If you’re looking for a lighter, less serious read then the books of Sophie Kinsella and Carmen Reid are my chick-lit all-time favourites.

Let me know if you give any of these a read!

Emma x

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  • reneejessome

    The Girl on the Train sounds very interesting! Actually, all of these sound pretty interesting! I must add these to my list! :)

    Renee | Lose The Road

    • Emma

      I’d definitely recommend The Girl on the Train for starters, Renee! Let me know if you manage to read any of them :)