2013 has been a good book year.
I’ve read several memorable titles, and as the end of the year approaches I’m starting to think about which have been the best. It’ll be a tough choice!
There are two novels I’ve read recently that have been more than just great stories – they have inspired me. I’m in that limbo phase where I’m finishing up editing book three and just about to start planning the next, so it was great to read two novels in close succession that made me desperate to start writing book four…
I think either of these could be my favourite book this year!
1) The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence.
I know I’m a little bit late to the party (it was released in May), but I loved it.
If you haven’t read this yet please, please grab a copy now and clear some time in your diary to get lost in this beautiful book for a few hours.
I was attracted to it partly because the cover is awesome and also because the blurb was so inviting… “Alex Woods knows that he hasn’t had the most conventional start in life. He knows that growing up with a clairvoyant single mother won’t endear him to the local bullies. He also knows that even the most improbable events can happen – he’s got the scars to prove it.”
That’s a damn good blurb.
What I discovered upon reading was a moving, complex plot that tackles a sensitive and controversial issue, and yet somehow Extence writes this in a blissfully clear and easy-to-read voice. I was hooked, completely. I read it late into the night, and woke up early in the morning to continue reading because I was desperate to know what would happen to Alex.
I won’t give too much away, but eccentric protagonist Alex has gone through something remarkable that has led to a strange kind of fame that follows him wherever he goes. This, naturally, makes life difficult because as Alex highlights – “In secondary school, being different is the worst crime you can commit.” He then sparks up an unlikely friendship that leads him to his greatest adventure yet.
Things I loved about this book… (Where to start) It made me think so much that I got a book hangover, Alex is a likeable outcast (I love characters like him), the mystery throughout is gripping, and it is a book about bravery and fighting for what you know is right – against all odds.
Alex Woods’ character is written by Extence so skilfully that he is the perfect narrative voice – I couldn’t imagine it any other way. The author manages to capture the naivety of youth with the bravery and boldness it possesses that often melts away in adulthood. The descriptions of bullying are so spot on you start to feel upset on his behalf (it took me back to some of my own tough times when I was a kid), and his dilemma is sensitively explained and played out in a plot that keeps you guessing.
Absolutely. Loved. It.
Thank you Gavin Extence for writing this book!
2) The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty.
The Husband’s Secret was published in August this year and has been everywhere. I knew that when I had a spare moment I just had to read it too.
Mother of three Cecilia Fitzpatrick discovers an old envelope in the attic. Her husband’s writing on the outside of the letter says – “to be opened only in the event of my death.” Curious, she opens it – and time stops. John-Paul’s letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
It took me a little while to get into this book because there are a few plot lines running side-by-side at first and it requires some concentration, but as the stories start to melt together the real tension begins. From then on, it’s almost impossible to put down.
I genuinely didn’t expect the twists and turns in this plot (and there are a few). It’s so cleverly written and Moriarty’s style is quite unique. Some of her descriptions are really unusual and I loved that.
I liked how the different plots became intertwined and you started to see how different decisions would affect people, and the shockwaves that would result. Cecilia’s dilemma is the stuff of nightmares, but how will she handle it? What would have happened if she’d never discovered the letter? How much are you prepared to stick by someone you love?
The Husband’s Secret reminded me a little of Gone Girl. This book was a fast moving page turner that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a bit of suspense…