My 2018 reading challenge: What I read in May
May was a great month for my 2018 reading challenge!
It started out pretty slow as I was reading a pretty hefty novel, but it was definitely worth it!
27. All The Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Trying to write a brief review for this is very hard!
It takes place primarily during the Second World War, which is one of my favourite genres to read about. The story follows Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a young French girl, who has been blind since she was six, and Werner Pfennig, a German boy who is very talented at science and radio mechanics. His skills gain him a place at a Hitler Youth academy. When the Germans invade France in 1940, Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris and head for Saint Malo and great-uncle Etienne, who suffers from shellshock from WW1.
The chapters are very short, which initially I struggled with as I kept wanting to read more about each character, but as I went on, I realised how perfectly written it was. It took me a while to read, it’s a long book anyway, but not the most fast-paced, but I was happy not to race through it as I wanted to savour it.
28. The Girl Before (J.P. Delaney) ⭐⭐
Ohhh my old favourite, psychological thrillers with a twist. I found the concept of the book really intriguing – One Folgate Street is a minimalist, high-tech house in London designed by a famous architect and has a low rent (I know, I know, an impossibility in London). The tenant must agree to abide by the 200 clauses in the contract, which include no clothes on the floor, no pets, no children… The story jumps between Emma, a former resident of this house, and Jane, the current tenant, and their relationship with the architect. Jane learns what happened to Emma, and mysterious parallels start to emerge.
I read this book pretty quickly, and I wanted to get to the end and find out what happened, but for me, the story fell flat. There was a kind of Fifty Shades-esque feel to it, which just made me feel a bit awkward, and I didn’t really trust either of the narrators.
29. The Lying Game (Ruth Ware) ⭐⭐⭐
This was another book that was really hyped up and I was really looking forward to reading it. At school in a place called Salten, four friends, Isa, Fatima, Kate and Thea played a game called The Lying Game, where they told lies to teachers and students, and scored each other. Now grown up, Isa, a new mother, receives a text in the middle of the night that simply says: “I need you.” She drops everything, and takes herself and her six-month-old daughter back to Salten and to Kate’s house. Fatima and Thea also show up, and as the story goes on, it becomes clear that a lie they previously told has come back to haunt them.
I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, though it didn’t stick with me once I’d finished it. I felt like the story got a bit knotted in the middle and I felt some of it was a bit rushed, but it’s an enjoyable enough read.
30. The Other Woman (Sandie Jones) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ahh now this psychological thriller was one I did enjoy! I read it in a day, and I thought it was very different from similar books I’ve read. Emily meets Adam, Adam takes Emily home to meet his mum, Pammie, and Pammie is an absolute nightmare. It doesn’t sound like much, but I was genuinely texting Kate (who recommended this book to me) exclaiming how much I hated Pammie!
It’s very well written, and really enjoyable. There is obviously a twist at the end and I did guess it but I thought it was very well done, and I’d recommend it if you enjoy psychological thrillers.
31. Checking Out (Nick Spalding) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a funny, quite light-hearted and sweet book, and I really enjoyed it. Nathan is 33-years-old, and has created The Foodies, which are a kind of singing and dancing group of characters for children. He is successful and rich… and then gets told he has an incurable brain tumour. Obviously he makes a cup of tea first, but then he realises he doesn’t know how long he has left, and wants to do something with his life.
This book could be incredibly depressing, but it’s really not. It’s got some genuinely funny moments that made me laugh, but it did ultimately make me stop and think about how we don’t know what could happen to us, and to make the most of every second.
32. I Am Watching You (Teresa Driscoll) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I Am Watching You is the story of 16-year-old Anna who goes missing on a trip to London with a friend. Ella witnesses Anna on the train with her friend and a couple of guys who are showing an interest in the young girls, and when she overhears that the men have recently been released from prison, she wants to intervene and call the girls parents. She
The story unfolds, told from the different perspectives of Ella, the witness, Sarah, the friend, Henry, the Dad and Matthew, the investigator. It’s a good read with quite a satisfying twist, although I felt like some bits were quite rushed, and I’d have liked a bit more closure on some of the sub-plots.
33. Truly Madly Guilty (Liane Moriarty) ⭐⭐
Truly Madly Guilty is the story of three very different couples living in Australia. Sam and Clementine are a busy, married couple with two daughters, and are planning to visit their friends Erika and Oliver, but their plans change slightly and they are all invited to Erika’s neighbours barbeque. The story flashes between the present, and the day of the barbeque, where something terrible happens, but we don’t know what.
I had high hopes for this book as I loved Big Little Lies, but for me, it fell a bit flat. I wasn’t gripped by the story, and it took me a few days to finish as I didn’t have that overwhelming urge to find out what happened. I struggled to relate to any of the characters, and while there are some very touching moments in the book, and it’s well written, it just wasn’t the book for me.
34. The Retreat (Mark Edwards) ⭐⭐⭐
Lucas is a novelist, known for writing horror books, but is struggling with his new book, and so he goes to a writer’s retreat in a rural village in Wales where he grew up. The woman who owns the house, Julia, lost her daughter, Lily, and her husband two years previously. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, but Julia refuses to believe that Lily is dead. Lucas is determined to find out what happened, and the story takes the reader through haunted nights, old folk tales and villagers with secrets.
I did enjoy the book, although probably not as much as the other books I’ve read by Mark Edwards. The story itself is really intriguing, and different to anything I’ve read before, but I felt like it got a bit over-complicated around the middle.
35. Anna (Amanda Prowse) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“One love, two stories” is the description on the front of this book. I assumed each half of the book would be the two stories, but actually this is the first of two books, and now I have to read the second.
Anna has spent much of her childhood in care, and all she wants is a family. She has a lot to deal with in a very short space of time, but I love her attitude towards life. She then meets Theo, and the two of them begin a relationship. We get snippets of Theo’s life, but the majority of that will be in the second book.
I fell in love with this book almost as soon as I started it. The characters were charming and relatable, and there was much more to the story than I expected. I’m really looking forward to reading Theo’s side of the story!
What have you been reading this month?