My Favourite Stand-Alone Books

I often prefer reading standalone books as opposed to book series purely because I hate having to wait for the next book to come out. With this in mind and with the current global pandemic, I thought I’d share a small list of some of my all-time favourite standalone books. I read a variety of books, so this list has no set theme.  Let me know if you have read any of these and whether or not you liked/disliked them!

If We Were Villains – M L Rio

SYNOPSIS 

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else’s story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

SYNOPSIS

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.
What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.
Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.
Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight and gives these women back their stories.

Song for Night – Chris Abani

SYNOPSIS

Trained as a human mine detector, a boy soldier in West Africa witnesses and takes part in unspeakable brutality. At 12 his vocal cords are cut to prevent him from screaming and giving away his platoon’s presence, should he be blown up.

Awaking after an explosion to find that he’s lost his platoon, he traces his steps back through abandoned villages and rotting corpses and through his own memories in search of his comrades.

Song for Night is a lyrical, poignant journey through the nightmarish landscape of brutal war.

Childhood’s End – Arthur C Clarke 

SYNOPSIS 

Earth has become a Utopia, guided by a strange unseen people from outer space whose staggering powers have eradicated war, cruelty, poverty and racial inequality. When the ‘Overlords’ finally reveal themselves, their horrific form makes little impression.

Then comes the sign that the Overlords have been waiting for. A child begins to dream strangely – and develops remarkable powers. Soon this happens to every child – and the truth of the Overlords’ mission is finally revealed to the human race. . .

Swastika Night – Katherine Burdekin 

SYNOPSIS

SWASTIKA NIGHT takes place seven hundred years after Nazism achieved power, by which time Adolf Hitler is worshipped as a god. Elsewhere, the Japanese rule the Americas, Australia, and Asia. Though Japan is the only rival superpower to the Nazi West, their inevitable wars always end in stalemate. The fascist Germans and Japanese suffer many difficulties in maintaining their populations, because of the physical degeneration of their women.
The protagonist is an Englishman named Alfred on a German pilgrimage. In Europe, the English are loathed because they were the last opponents of Nazi Germany in the war. Per official history, Hitler is a tall, blond god who personally won the war. Alfred is astounded when shown a secret, historic photograph depicting Hitler and a girl before a crowd. He is shocked that Hitler was a small man with dark hair and a paunch. And his discovery may mean his death…

Educated – Tara Westover 

SYNOPSIS

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education and the price she had to pay for it.

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neil

SYNOPSIS

eves are designed, not made.
The School trains them to be pretty
The School trains them to be good.
The School trains them to Always be Willing.

All their lives, the eves have been waiting. Now, they are ready for the outside world.
companion . . . concubine . . . or chastity
Only the best will be chosen.
And only the Men decide.

We Were Liars – E Lockhart

SYNOPSIS 

We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?

Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys 

SYNOPSIS

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.

An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.

Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love – first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose…

Will hope keep Lina alive?

Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray, is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini  

SYNOPSIS

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

 

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If We Were Villains – M L Rio

SYNOPSIS

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

REVIEW

INCREDIBLE!

That’s only one word to describe this book. Some more would be: brilliant, spectacular, amazing, beautiful, etc; I could go on for a while! This book made me laugh and cry. It made my heart skip a beat and it made me want to throw the book to the other side of my room. But most importantly, it made me really think!

“Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?”

The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man that I can’t suppress a smile.

“ I blame him for all of it,” I say.

Our protagonist, Oliver, is an interesting character who initially comes across as the quiet and plain one of the group. However as time progresses and he explains the tragic events that led to his incarceration we learn that he is an absolute saint simply disguised as a wallflower. Although he doesn’t realise this himself either. Oliver is unlike anyone I’ve ever met or read about, yet I can relate to him. I felt every bit of his pain and frustration. I understood his confusion and his anger.

I loved that all of the characters were actors. The mentality that actors lose themselves as individuals is interesting. I ca understand how a playing a character or persona can hinder one’s own personality. It’s such an important thing to talk about because in modern day society individuals change to fit standards, sometimes forgetting themselves as individuals.

All of the characters were very different, therefore they all played a huge role in the book. Some very important and heavy topics are discussed within this book and all though there is a lot of romance… it is not a major part of the plot which I was pleased about.

If you love Shakespeare, Mystery, Crime and LGBTQA+ undertones then you will ravish this book! Even if all of that doesn’t sound like your usual cup of tea, give it a go because it’s such a relatable book and it really draws on human emotion. I can easily say without a doubt in my mind that this is possibly one of the best books I have ever read!

5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!!!

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Goodreads – Katerina Turner