My 2018 reading challenge: What I read in August
August was a really good month for reading, and I think I read a good selection of books. I also took part in the book tour for Lucy Knott’s debut novel, How to Bake a New Beginning which was really exciting.
51. The Couple Next Door (Shari Lapena)
Married couple Anne and Marco are at their next-door neighbours’ house for a dinner party. They have left their six-month-old baby asleep at home next door, as the hosts didn’t want them to bring her. When they return home, their daughter is not in her cot. The story picks up the pace as the police are called and a desperate search gets underway.
I really enjoyed the first third of this book. I felt really involved, and I wanted to know what happened, who was responsible and why. However, as the book went on, I felt a bit disengaged with it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, but I kind of stopped caring about the characters. I felt like it went from being a gripping story to a tale trying to squeeze in as many twists as possible. There were some almost pantomime-esque moments, and it just didn’t work for me.
52. Three Things About Elsie (Joanna Cannon)
Florence lives at Cherry Tree, a residential home for the elderly. She has fallen in her flat, and as she lies there, waiting for someone to find her, her thoughts turn to her past, with secrets coming to light and a familiar face of someone she thought had died years before…
Aside from having the prettiest cover, this book is absolutely wonderful. It’s sad, poignant, beautifully written and full of so much love and warmth. It took me a while to get into it but I’m so glad I did, because I think it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. The narrative moves from Florence waiting for someone to find her to the last few weeks in the home, with chapters from Florence and staff members. We quickly become aware that Florence may not be the most reliable narrator, but I found I was happy to go along with her on her journey.
53. The Light Between Oceans (M. L. Stedman)
54. How to Bake a New Beginning (Lucy Knott)
This review is part of the How to Bake a New Beginning book tour.
How to Bake a New Beginning is the story of three sisters, Amanda, Sabrina and Louisa, who, after a devastating death in their family, go to stay with family in Italy over the Christmas break. Each sister is dealing with their own issues but they come together as a family to support each other. The trip to Italy is a life-changing experience for each of them.
This book is Lucy’s debut novel, and it really made me smile. There is so much passion and heart in this book. I loved the recipes at the beginning of each chapter, and the descriptions of all the food in the story made me so hungry each time I picked it up! Italy is one of my favourite places in the world, and Lucy really brought it to life. It’s a really lovely book and you can tell how much love went into it. It’s quite an easy read, and as it’s set at Christmas time, it would be a perfect holiday read.
Thank you so much to Kelly for organising this book tour!
55. The Ex-Wife (Jess Ryder)
Ahh back to my old favourites. My recommended reads everywhere are full of suggestions like “the gripping psychological thriller with a twist you will never see coming…”
The Ex-Wife is the story of Natasha, newly married to Nick, with a beautiful daughter, Emily. The only problem is Jen, Nick’s ex-wife, who is still very much in their lives. One day, Nick disappears with Emily, leaving Natasha devastated and determined to do whatever it takes to get her daughter back. The story is told through alternating points of view which will leave you guessing, and I spent a lot of the time trying to work out who was trustworthy.
I enjoyed this book. I felt like parts of it were a bit unbelievable, and I had an inkling of where it was going but it was a good read and worth reading if you are a fan of psychological thrillers.
56. The Wife Between Us (Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen)
I’d seen this book advertised quite a lot, and was really looking forward to reading it.
Vanessa is reeling from her divorce from Richard, a wealthy, handsome man. She moves through the days in a haze of alcohol and doesn’t have anyone in her life, other than her Aunt Charlotte. This is actually a really hard book to review without giving away too much of the plot! There are a lot of twists and a lot of assumptions that you end up making before the plot unfolds. It explores marriage, the control someone can hold over another person, and the consequences of actions.
It’s written by two authors, and I’m really impressed at how they’ve done it. I don’t think you’d know there was more than one author as it flows very well. I feel that maybe there was one too many twists in the book, but it was a really good read.
57. The Friend (Teresa Driscoll)
Sophie is on a train from London when she receives a phone call explaining that her son has been rushed to hospital, along with his friend. Fear and panic overwhelm her and the story moves between Sophie on the train, and the events of the last few months leading up to it.
Sophie has befriended Emma, a young woman who has moved to the village with her son, Theo. Not everyone in the village is as taken with Emma, but Sophie is very loyal to her, and the two are soon spending a lot of time together, and their sons become firm friends. A tragic incident in the village brings the police and a private investigator to the area (if anyone has read Teresa Driscoll’s I Am Watching You, you’ll recognise a few characters!) and you start to realise that maybe Emma is not what you think.
This book took me a while to get into, but once it got going I really enjoyed it. Initially I thought the ending seemed a little abrupt, but the epilogue takes the reader forward a few years and everything is rounded off nicely.
58. Her Name Was Rose (Claire Allan)
When Emily steps aside to let a young mother and baby out onto the street, she has no inkling that what happens next will change everything. Emily watches as a car drives straight into the woman, killing her instantly. Emily begins to obsess over the woman, whose name was Rose. She finds out everything she can about Rose, her grieving husband and young baby. Rose has left a gaping hole in so many lives, and Emily starts to believe that she can fill that space.
I really enjoyed this book! There is a bit of a sub-plot about Emily and her ex that felt a bit unnecessary, but aside from that I thought it was very good. I was hooked until the end and it does keep you guessing.
What have you been reading this month?