I hate to say it, but I'm behind with my reading challenge. Goodreads is reminding me daily that I'm two books behind schedule in order to reach 100 by the end of the year. This month has been light on the reading-front. I spent about two weeks battling through Helter Skelter, which was so much longer than I expected (although very interesting, which kind of made up for it). The thing is, when it's sunny outside, it's so tempting to just drop everything and head to the pub garden rather than battening down the hatches with a book. Still, I set myself a goal and I'm intending to see it through - so binge-watching Orange is the New Black will have to wait for me to catch up with myself.
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
I am endlessly fascinated with cults, and serial killers. They are both so out of my realms of understanding, and I am desperate to wrap my head around their motivations and experiences. So the story of Charles Manson and The Family, who infamously committed a string of murders in California in the 1970s is, as you can imagine, the perfect marriage of two of the most bizarre and interesting, not to mention horrifying, parts of existence. This non-fiction book, written by the prosecutor who tried Manson and his co-defendants, is a bit of a slog and includes a LOT of detail. If you want to know the real ins and outs, then this is the book for you. Although I found the book interesting, there wasn't enough depth into the characters and motivations for my liking; perhaps, because it is impossible to know why these women would kill on Manson's command, and how he came to have that sort of power. Oddly enough, there was one moment where I actually sympathised with Manson - a brief, but surprising feeling given who he is and what he's done. This is the first true-crime book I've read, but I don't think it will be the last.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Oh, this book is heart-wrenching. Truly, truly heart-wrenching. I'm sure you know it, but if not then The Lovely Bones tells the of the aftermath of the murder of a teenage girl and how her family and friends come to terms with her death, with a surprising twist: Susie herself is telling the story from heaven, and has to come to terms with things herself. I choked up so many times, particularly when her Dad was struggling. It's the worst thing you can ever imagine, but then life still has to go on. This book is beautiful, and it will make you cry.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
This book is in hot contention for the best book I've read this year. I'll be thinking about it for a long, long time. It tells the story of Rosemary and her unusual family; at the beginning you think that she's just your average slightly-spoiled, rebellious college girl, but quickly you realise that there is SO much more behind the scenes. This book was really unusual, and had me totally hooked. I loved how Fowler wove in some pretty serious, meaty issues but with such a human touch - it didn't feel preachy but at the same time you felt like you'd learnt a lesson when you put it down. Definitely give this a go if you're looking for a new book.
Black Iris by Leah Raeder
I keep finding myself drawn to these kinds of Young Adult fiction books this year; they're easy, they're escapism and they're a little bit thrilling. This dark, sexy tale, however, is one of the better ones, with some fantastic writing to boot. I loved the language throughout, and the level of suspense. I got a bit tied up in the plot by the end, which felt a little bit convoluted, and I would question the motives of some of the characters, but I was hooked until the end. Want a decent beach read that isn't just fluff? This is it.