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Welcome to the December edition of Bookish, and Merry Christmas! And what better way to spend the holidays than losing yourself in a book or two? I hope you enjoy this month’s recommendations!

A Tapping at My Door

David Jackson

Genre: Thriller/Murder Mystery

For Fans Of: Jessica Jarlvi

What’s in the pages? When the police discover a dead woman with missing eyes, the body of a raven and the phrase “Nevermore” attached to the bird, they have no leads. It’s up to DS Nathan Cody to solve the case, but ever intruding flashbacks from his past and the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong are still fresh. 

Will he be able to solve the case before it’s too late?

Why should you read it? A Tapping at My Door is one of the best murder mystery books I’ve read this year. Protagonist Nathan Cody is a likeable but flawed character with a short fuse and a dark past that he just can’t seem to let go of. 

The plot starts with a fizzle instead of a bang, slowly building the atmosphere with the story beginning with a tapping at the door. This technique is a highly effective way to get the reader invested in a story that, once it has you hooked, just will not give up on demanding attention. Furthermore, it has an explosive ending that is on point and will blow you away.

I recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in murder mystery or thriller books. You will not be able to put it down!

Daddy    

Emma Cline

Genre: Literary Fiction  For Fans Of: Grady Hendrix

What’s in the pages? In this collection of short stories, Emma Cline explores the darker side of the human experience. 

Whether it’s a story about a family’s Christmas time that is derailed by the darkness caused by the history of a troubled husband and father; or the one about a young woman trying to make it as an actor in L.A. and working in a sleazy costume shop. Struggling to make ends meet, she turns to a more unconventional way to make money but then has to face the risks of the game she’s playing. These beautiful, engaging, and sometimes humorous stories put masculinity, power and relationships under a microscope and examine them with an intricacy rarely seen in fiction.

Subtle, sophisticated and displaying an exceptional understanding of human behaviour, these stories are unforgettable.

Why should you read it? In Daddy, Emma Cline has managed to perfect the art of character studies within short stories – taking the time to truly build each protagonist in each of the stories so that you care and can empathise with them, even if they are horrible people (and in most cases they are). 

A lot of this book wasn’t made for me, and I struggled to relate to it. But, nevertheless, I still enjoyed it. I thought I would recommend it because many people who read this column would really like it. 

If you are a fan of books about people and the connections of their lives or are looking for an easy read, then this is the book for you this holiday season!

The Mountains Sing 

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Genre: Historical Fiction    For Fans Of:  Chanel Miller

What’s in the pages? The Mountains Sing is a captivating novel about family, tradition and the Vietnam War told through a multigenerational narrative. 

This is the history of the Tran family that started in 1920 with Tran Dieu Lan fleeing her family farm with her children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. 

It then travels in time to Há Noi, telling the story of her young granddaughter Hương, coming of age as her family go off to fight in a conflict that will undoubtedly rip her county and her family apart. 

Why should you read it? The best way to describe Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s The Mountains Sing is like a beautiful car crash. It’s a book covering such horrible events that you wish you could look away, but the writing is so beautiful that you have to carry on reading and admire it. Furthermore, the author has such command of language and storytelling that it envelops you into the story and keeps you invested in the characters, scenery and language (some of which is not in English).

The Mountains Sing is a refreshing look at an age-old conflict that has been approached in the west with a mostly ‘one side of the argument’ lens. This novel manages to bring the human costs of the Vietnam conflict to life while filling this novel with hope, kindness and love that is refreshing and inspiring. 

I recommend this book to everybody, saying that it is one of the best books of the last ten years and is required reading for any bookworm or bookish person. Exquisite, timely and poignant – this could be the quintessential novel about the Vietnam war – don’t miss it!

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