One thing I do on holiday is read. Constantly. If I were a spy and the secret police of the country I was snooping on caught me, all they’d have to do to make me confess would be to say, ‘We’re sending you on holiday for two weeks. Without a book!’ I’d be talking before they had time to turn on the tape recorder. Here are the nine I read this time. If the first book hadn’t been 750 pages, it would have been more.
If you think women belong in the kitchen, Donald Trump deserves that mulligan, and the #MeToo movement is deluded, avoid Sleeping Beauties. This tale of what happens when women the world over fall asleep, to be cocooned in a strange material that results in blood and violence when ripped open, is one more excellent book from Stephen King. Writing with his son Owen, the two have come up with a celebration of women, a dig at machismo, and wrapped it all up in a violent, genuinely exciting page-turner.
Jacqueline Wilson published Best Friends in 2004, when email was still a big thing and mobiles weren’t everywhere. So this story of two friends separated when the parents of one move away to a new job relies on one of them borrowing a friend’s email account to stay in touch. Nowadays they’d just be texting and facetiming each other every second. But the story’s still good, and the main dilemma’s the same: what to do you do when your best friend moves away and makes new friends with an unbearable little snob of a princess?
I ripped through The Bone Field in a day. Blistering pace, clever plot, characters a little bland but still interesting enough to keep you reading. It’s the first Simon Kernick I’ve read and it certainly won’t be the last. But I’ve got one gripe: the book ends with a character killed off coming back from the dead. And then it stops. Literally. No explanation. Nothing. Now I can put up with this in a TV series, when I know there’ll be new episodes arriving next year. But in a book which ISN’T identified as part of a series, but is offered as a standalone story, it comes across a pretty cheap ploy to make you buy the follow-up.