books

"It had me hooked from the very first page." 14 books we couldn't put down this month.

This month, I read the new thriller by TikTok sensation Colleen Hoover and let's just say I now understand the hype. 

The rest of the Mamamia team discovered some locked door mysteries, a few memoirs from some of our favourite Australian celebrities, and a collection of short stories you need to add to your reading list ASAP. 

Here are the 14 books we couldn't put down this month: 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 

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"I feel like I’m late to jump on the Brit Bennett bandwagon, but her book The Vanishing Half is probably in my top five favourite books ever. The character descriptions are so vivid and bold, and her storytelling is captivating. I read it in three days and will definitely pick it up again in a few months to see if I missed any hidden details. It’s also a great book to help you get out of a reading slump." - Emily Vernem, co-host of The Undone. 

Ugly Love and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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"I read both Ugly Love and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover in a weekend over the break. My friend recommended them both ages ago, but I was in a bit of a reading slump which these got me right out of. Both books gave me all the feels. Hoover's writing is so easy to read, but packed with emotion and really makes you feel like you're connecting with the characters. I can't wait to read more of her books!" - Simone Masci, Sales Manager. 

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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"I'm really into my gothic thrillers at the moment, and this book definitely ticked that box. Set in the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most sought-after and mysterious buildings, Jules Larsen is employed as an apartment sitter. But there are rules - no visitors, no nights away from the apartment, no disturbing the other residents. It's all a bit strange - and then Ingrid, another apartment sitter in the building, disappears. As she searches for Ingrid, Jules delves into the building's dark past and comes to the terrifying conclusion that she might be next. The ending was... far fetched. But I enjoyed it nonetheless." - Polly Taylor, Commissioning Editor. 

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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"Heckin' gripping. This book in a snapshot is about how the hopes and dreams of a whole community are basically pinned on the success of the local junior hockey team. I don't actually know anything about hockey (lol) but the small town life vibes couldn't be more bang on. Beartown hones in on the large cast of rotating characters and their own story arcs, and how their problems and secrets are all interconnected. I couldn't put it down! I found the questioning of morality and loyalty, its ripple effects, and the toying of right vs wrong pretty compelling. Also, the last 150 pages were incredible. Expect more 13 Reasons Why vibes than The Mighty Ducks like I did." - Shell Webb, Branded Content Editor. 

Caught In The Act by Shane Jenek AKA Courtney Act 

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"Since starting Caught In The Act, I've not been able to stop thinking about it. I was already a fan of Courtney's, but I didn't expect to be hooked in like this. It explores sexuality, the gender spectrum, self expression, coming of age, fame and love in such an authentic manner. Also, did you know Courtney is friends with The Veronicas from childhood? So many great stories from Australian Idol days, Drag Race and Mardi Gras. I honestly felt sad to finish reading it." - Rose Kerr, Podcast Producer.

Fancy Meeting You Here by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

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"This book started off a little slowly but before I knew it I was hooked. I read it super fast. The main character was thrown back in time and had a second chance of re-living her 20s. She wanted to find herself and her independence, build a career and work on a screenplay she had been trying to write for the last decade. I know time travelling sounds a bit cliché, but it was done in a really clever way. Loved it." - Bridgette Bathgate, Course Manager.

Your Own Kind of Girl by Clare Bowditch

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"I didn't realise how cathartic it would be to listen to this book. Honestly, this was beautiful (Clare's voicing is incredibly soothing!), like a warm and wholesome chat with a great friend. Not the story I was expecting from Clare at all! But most definitely a story I needed. Huge bonus of listening to this audiobook, rather than reading the physical copy, was that each chapter is welcomed by one of Clare's original songs relevant to that part of her story ahead. Her Dutch mum also pops in at the end of the audiobook and recites her traditional apple tart recipe and it's the kind of stunning content we need to help put us back together from 2021. It's a must-read to tell all your mothers, sisters and aunties about." - Shell Webb, Branded Content Manager.

Verity by Colleen Hoover

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"I'd seen all the hype around Colleen Hoover's books on TikTok, so when I was sent a copy of her new thriller Verity, I sat down to read it immediately. It had me hooked from the very first page and I sped through it. It's the kind of book I'd call a 'Dirty Little Thriller', full of twists and guaranteed to get you out of a reading slump. Is it the most realistic plot? No. But is it a thoroughly enjoyable read? It sure is." - Keryn Donnelly, Pop Culture Editor. 

Dissolve by Nikki Gemmell

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"I'm a sucker for reccos and haven't picked up a book on my own merit for years, but I was browsing the bookshop the other day (with strong intentions to not buy anything) and was drawn to Dissolve by its very vibrant cover. I read the first few pages in the shop. It's a memoir by an author and journalist from Sydney, and she writes about being a creative/working in the creative industry as a woman and how hetero relationships/the patriarchy intersect with that. I LOVE it. Full disclosure, I'm about three quarters of the way through, but all of it has resonated so much." - Emma Gillman, Editorial Assistant.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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"This one has been on my radar for years, but all the TikTok hype finally made me pick it up. And I can now say that I hold so much regret in my heart for not picking it up sooner. 

The novel kicks off with Oliver Marks being released from prison after serving 10 years in jail for a murder he may or may not have committed. The lead detective on the case never really believed the story he was told, and now, after hearing Detective Colborne is retiring, Oliver is finally ready to tell him the truth. The book then flashes back 10 years prior to follow Oliver and his six other friends studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college. Soon, one of them ends up dead. What follows is the unravelling of years of friendship as they all desperately try to prove to the police (and themselves) that they are not at fault. It’s truly an exploration of the complexity of human relationships and now, I'm NOT okay (in the best possible way)." - Brydee Goodall, Branded Content Coordinator.

The Dark by Emma Haughton

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"The Dark is a claustrophobic, locked-room thriller set on a remote UN research station in Antartica. A&E doctor Kate North is sent there as an emergency replacement for the previous doctor, Jon-Luc, who has died in a tragic accident out on the ice. After suffering her own personal tragedy, Kate thinks the challenge and change of scenery is just what she needs - but she quickly learns all is not well on the base. As total darkness descends on Antartica, Kate begins to suspect Jon-Luc's death wasn't an accident. But as she asks questions, she's walking straight into danger." - Polly Taylor, Commissioning Editor. 

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

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"I finally read Sorrow and Bliss over the holidays and now I know what all the fuss is about. It's funny and sad and the characters are so well developed I felt incredible affection for them by the end of the book. It's like Marian Keyes meets Fleabag." - Keryn Donnelly, Pop Culture Editor. 

Love Stories by Trent Dalton

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"Beautiful heart-twisting tales crammed carefully into a truly happy novel. I’ve never witnessed an author have such genuine adoration and deep respect of love as a topic or a practice. The perfect pick up after a heavy read, and one you can easily dip in and out of." - Katie Stow, Evening Editor.

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

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"After seeing Keryn Donnelly (our Pop Culture Editor) read this I immediately put it on my list. It's the perfect twisty, thriller cross with trashy TV show story that gets you out of a reading rut. Easy to read, and keeps you guessing for more. I devoured it in only a few days. " - Lily Allsep, Social Media Manager. 

Keryn Donnelly is Mamamia's Pop Culture Editor. For more of her TV, film and book recommendations and to see photos of her dog, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

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