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my 2018 book recommendations

Last year I set myself the modest challenge on Good Reads of reading a book a month. By the time our summer holiday came round in August I’d plodded through 5 and looked like I was going to fall woefully short of my target, but in the following 4 months I read 19 more and finished the year with a tally of 24.

A few things happened in the latter half of the year to turn my reading year around. Firstly I started to get unapologetically picky about what I chose to read and wouldn’t buy anything with less than top reviews on Amazon (and believe me there are loads and loads of books like that, so you never run short). I also decided to dump anything that didn’t grab me quickly when I started reading and finally (the hardest part) whenever I picked up my mobile out of boredom, I made a conscious decision to put it back down and read a book.

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The year in books – August

My quest to document my reading in 2016 has drifted a little over the last couple of months when I got sidetracked by some underwhelming reads, but I got back on track in August with a cracking read with an uncomfortably familiar story.

the drakest secret

The Darkest Secret By Alex Marwood is the story of a missing child, set over two weekends 10 years apart. In 2004 property developer Sean Jackson is spending the August bank holiday weekend celebrating his fiftieth birthday with close friends and family, at a house he’s recently developed at the desirable millionaire’s holiday spot of Sandbanks.

Amidst the drinking, excesses and his crumbling second marriage are several children including Sean’s three year-old twins CoCo & Ruby. At the opening of the book we are told CoCo disappeared from her bed on the Sunday night, but on the book’s cover is the strapline “They said Coco went missing in the night. They lied.”

Alternating chapters between the unfolding story of what happened in 2004, tell the story of what is happening today to Sean’s remaining twin and the older children from his first marriage, all of whom have just heard news of Sean’s death. The cast of characters from 2004 also appear in the present, with some playing slightly different roles from those they had a decade ago.

The plot is a little slow to unfold but I was drawn to it not just by its similarities to the Madeleine McCann case, but also by the novel’s setting in Poole, a couple of hours along the coast from where we live. After a few duff reads over the summer this one didn’t quite deliver the twists and turns it was promising (I predicted the ending from a long way off, which isn’t usual for me) but it did hold my attention and I was engrossed by the characters. I’d recommend The Darkest Secret as a really enjoyable and intriguing read.

This month I’m taking a break from fiction (though I’m looking out for recommendations for my next novel if anyone has one?)  and instead reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, it’s a book I came to via a recommendation to read The Slight Edge. Both apparently have a similar philosophy and I’m enjoying reading my choice so far.

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