My 2018 reading challenge: What I read in April
This was a really good month for my reading challenge. I had a few hours to myself here and there, and made the most of having the extra time.
This month, I seem to have chosen books that I just can’t stop reading. I’ve even figured out how to balance the book on the hood and handlebars of Dougie’s buggy for when we’re walking around the park! I’m now just over halfway through my challenge of 50 books in 2018. I’m going to see how I go, but I might extend it and try to read 75 in the year…we’ll see!
19. The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is one of the best books I’ve read, and not just this year. War literature is one of my favourite genres, particularly stories focussing on the First and Second World Wars. I knew I had to read this as soon as I heard about it, and it did not disappoint.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the biography of Ludwig “Lale” Eisenberg, a Slovakian Jew and Holocaust survivor, who was the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist. Taken to Auschwitz in April 1942, aged 26, he contracts typhoid but is saved by Pepan, a French academic, and the current tattooist – he was the one who had tattooed Lale with his identification number. Pepan takes Lale under his wing and teaches him the trade, and when Pepan disappears, Lale becomes the tattooist of Auschwitz.
There is so much more I want to write about this book, but I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who chooses to read it (and you really, really should choose to read it).
He didn’t tell his story for 50 years, not until after his wife’s death in 2003. It is a story that tells the most unbelievable, heartbreaking memories, but it also shows the incredible strength and desire for survival, and the belief in a ‘tomorrow’ that Lale had. I honestly feel that everyone should read this.
20. Lies (T.M. Logan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you’ve read any of my other posts about what I’ve been reading this year, you’ll realise how much I’ve been enjoying psychological/crime thrillers. I read Lies in a day, it was one of those books that once I started, I HAD to finish. I’m really struggling to succinctly describe this book though as there is a lot happening!
Joe stumbles upon an argument in an underground car park between his wife and an acquaintance, Ben, and watches his wife storm off. He goes to speak to Ben to try and find out what was going on, and things become violent. Ben subsequently vanishes, and Joe finds himself under suspicion from the police. I felt like the answer was on the tip of my tongue throughout the whole book, but I didn’t guess the twist in the plot. One thing I found really interesting in the book was how social media and our reliance on phones was used throughout the book.
It’s a gripping book, and one that you will probably find you can read quite quickly as you find yourself drawn in, needing to know how it will end.
21. 29 Seconds (T.M. Logan) ⭐⭐⭐
Yes, it’s another book by T.M. Logan. There was a preview of this book at the end of Lies, and I knew I’d have to read it. If you could make one person disappear, leaving no trace or connection to yourself, would you do it?
Sarah saves a young girl in trouble, a seemingly selfless act, but a powerful, dangerous man is now in her debt, and he repays all his debts. He offers Sarah a way out of her desperate situation with her misogynistic, sexual predator of a boss, and all she needs to do is make a phone call.
There were a lot of different subplots within this story. Similar to Lies, there were many references of how technology is relied upon. I don’t think this was as good or as gripping as Lies, although there is a great twist that I thought was very well executed.
22. Lost for Words (Stephanie Butland) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When I started this book, I wasn’t immediately hooked. I was waiting for something to happen (I blame the crime fiction, I was confused about why no-one had been kidnapped or murdered), but as I turned the pages, I fell in love.
The book tells the story of Loveday, a young woman who has spent the last 10 years working in Lost for Words, a second-hand book shop (the dream) and hiding from her past. She doesn’t really have friends, other than Archie, the owner of the bookshop, and generally prefers books to people. Slowly her story is told through flashbacks, and the reader slowly learns what happened to her. The other key characters in this book, Archie and Nathan, are kind and caring, completely loveable characters, and I just loved everything about this story. There are some dark, sad and sinister moments, but overall it is such a warm, loving story, I was genuinely sad when it came to an end.
23. The Child Finder (Rene Denfeld) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I struggled with this book. Not because it isn’t good, but because it was almost too good. As you can probably guess by the title, it is about finding lost children. Sam came into the room while I was reading it and found me sobbing, desperate to go and get Dougie to give him a cuddle.
Naomi is the Child Finder, and as the book goes on, you realise that she cares so much, and is so instinctively good at her job because she was a lost child too. Naomi is looking for Madison, who was five years old when she got lost in snow-covered woods, three years earlier. The narrative switches throughout the book, and although I guessed what had happened around halfway through, that didn’t take away anything from my enjoyment of reading. It is so beautifully written I was completely gripped, although I quickly decided it was a daytime book, not one for a cosy bedtime read!
24. I See You (Claire Mackintosh) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was one of those books I’d seen a lot of people talking about, and as it didn’t seem to involve lost children, I thought I’d give it a go.
Zoe is on her commute home from work one evening and flicking through the newspaper, when she spots a photo of herself in the classifieds, along with a website – findtheone.com, and a telephone number. Her family aren’t convinced it’s her, and she tries to forget about it. Then, she sees a news report of a woman found dead in a park, and she recognises her – this woman’s photo appeared in the newspaper on a different date, with the same web address…
I really enjoyed this book. I thought there was just the right amount of tension and twists. I had my suspicions about who was behind the website about halfway through, but there was a lot I didn’t guess. The book emphasises how predictable people can be about their commutes, and as I was reading it, I realised just how set I am in my commuting routine – same train, same carriage, usually the same seat, and now I want to change things up a little!
25. The Forgetting Time (Sharon Guskin) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book caught my eye when Dougie and I were book shopping, and I’m so glad I picked it up. It’s a debut novel, and I was really intrigued as the subject wasn’t something I would usually choose. Four-year-old Noah lives with Janie, his “Mommy-Mom” as he calls her. He is terrified of water, has knowledge of books he’s never read, and keeps asking to go home to his “Mama”. Seeking help, Janie stumbles upon Dr Jerome Anderson, who has been researching reincarnation…
This is such an interesting story, and there are extracts throughout the book from real case studies about children who have experienced this, which I found fascinating. There are some really sad moments in it, but it is beautifully written and worth reading.
26. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I actually bought this book for Sam, but when I finished The Forgetting Time, I grabbed this to read while I was in Leicester for a weekend. I wasn’t sure if it would be my kind of book, but I’m really glad I read it.
It’s set in the 2040s, when the world is in decline, fossil fuels have been depleted and society is facing the consequences of global warming and overpopulation. People spend their days in the OASIS, a virtual reality simulator, which is both a virtual society and also an online role-player game. The creator has died, and has hidden what is known as an Easter egg inside the game. The first person who finds this will inherit his fortune, and OASIS. Wade, known as Perzival in the OASIS, is on the hunt for the egg…
There are a lot of 80s references which went right over my head, and a bit of the detail of the virtual worlds confused me a bit as there was so much to take in, but I really enjoyed it anyway. It’s a VERY male-dominated book, and I found the (very few) female characters a bit flat. I’d really like to see the film now I’ve read the book, I’m intrigued about how they have adapted it.
What have you been reading this month?