2019 Reading Challenge: What I Read in March
March has been an excellent month for my reading challenge. I was lucky enough to be approved to review several books through NetGalley (I’m still working my way through them!) and to be sent a few books from publishers, which made me really happy!
Dougie’s sleeping has been pretty horrendous, so I’ve had several nights where I’ve been sat by his bed while he falls asleep, so I’ve had my Kindle for company. I’ve also listened to a couple of audiobooks, and I’ve shared my thoughts on whether they should be counted towards a reading challenge here.
Eve of Man (Giovanna and Tom Fletcher) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Eve is the first girl born in 50 years, and now, age sixteen, it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. She has been kept away from the opposite sex for all her life, but now, three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate, until she meets Bram. Eve realises she wants control over her life. She wants freedom.
This is a book that has been on my TBR for such a long time. I love dystopian novels, and I was so intrigued by the premise. I knew it was going to be part of a trilogy, so I had already accepted that I’d be left wanting more! I thought the story was extremely well written, and I really enjoyed seeing the characters develop. I’m looking forward to the next instalment, though I’d really like to find out more about why no girls were born for 50 years!
Bring Me Back (B.A. Paris) ⭐⭐
Finn and Layla were a young couple very much in love. After a holiday together in France, Finn stops at a service station, and when he returns to the car, Layla is gone. This is the story Finn tells the police, and it’s true, though it’s not the whole truth. 12 years later, Finn is settled with Ellen, Layla’s sister. He gets a phone call – someone has claimed to have seen Layla.
I’ve read Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown by B.A. Paris, I really enjoyed Behind Closed Doors, but as I said in my review in February, I wasn’t as much a fan of The Breakdown. Unfortunately, this was also the case with Bring Me Back. I was intrigued by the story, but I thought the ending was completely unbelievable, and I didn’t connect with any of the characters. I got bored by all the Russian dolls lying around everywhere, and it just didn’t work for me.
Fierce Fragile Hearts (Sara Barnard) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Two years after a downward spiral took her as low as you can possibly go, Suzanne is starting over. She’s back in Brighton, the only place she felt she belonged, back with her best friends Caddy and Rosie. But they’re about to leave for university. When your friends have been your light in the darkness, what happens when you’re the one left behind?
Fierce Fragile Hearts is described as the companion novel to Beautiful Broken Things (which I hadn’t realised when I bought it). I haven’t read Beautiful Broken Things yet, but while I didn’t have all the background information on Suzanne and her friends, I still really enjoyed the book as a standalone novel. I’ve since bought Beautiful Broken Things to read. It took me a while to warm to the characters, but I thought it dealt with tough issues very well. It is beautifully written and is brilliantly descriptive. YA fiction isn’t something I’d usually read, but I’d really recommend this book.
The Perfect Child (Lucinda Berry) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hannah and Christopher are a happily married couple. They desperately want a child but have been unable to conceive and so are looking at adoption. One day, Janie, an abandoned and abused child turns up at the hospital where they both work. Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah that they should be the ones to adopt her.
[Gifted for review by NetGalley]
Our Little Lies (Sue Watson) ⭐⭐⭐
Marianne has the perfect life – three wonderful children, a beautiful townhouse and a husband who is a successful surgeon. Her past often hurts her, she lost her mother when she was a child and spent much of her childhood in care. Her husband, Simon, is the envy of every woman they meet. Marianne left her glamourous career when she met Simon, and is too busy with her children to have friends – and Simon doesn’t really approve when she does make friends. When Marianne hears Simon mention another woman’s name, she can’t move on from her suspicions and paranoia.
I really struggled with the character of Marianne at first. I found her quite irritating and she grated on me a lot. As the book went on however, I found myself sympathising with her a lot more, and eventually found myself rooting for her. I did enjoy the twist at the end, it wasn’t what I expected. It’s not a ground-breaking thriller, but I did enjoy it.
Listened to audiobook
Crazy Busy Guilty (Lauren Sams) ⭐⭐⭐
Georgie Henderson is discovering that juggling being a single Mum and a Good Working Mum involves replying to emails at midnight while breastfeeding, trying to purée vegetables and plan language lessons for your baby daughter. Her ex gets applauded for just showing up to see his daughter, and her newly-single best friend is on a journey of self discovery which involves dating young bartenders and changing careers.
I enjoyed Crazy Busy Guilty. I thought it was funny and relatable, particularly the balancing act that working Mum’s have to learn. The idea of whether Mums can “have it all” is a subject often visited in books like this, and I think this story looks at it well. This is the sequel to She’s Having Her Baby, and although I think you can read Crazy Busy Guilty as a standalone book, I think you’d struggle to relate to the characters if you hadn’t previously met them, I found Georgia slightly irritating at times, particularly the way she was with Nina, her best friend.
Crazy Busy Guilty is released 1 April 2019
[Gifted for review by Legend Press]
Playgroups and Prosecco: The (mis)adventures of a single mum (Jo Middleton) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Frankie is a single Mum whose life revolves around her kids, 14-year-old Flo and 3-year-old Jess. Frankie’s local playgroup is ruled by Instagram Mums with perfect husbands who only feed their children organic vegetables and would never dream of bribing them with chocolate buttons. Frankie manages to form a sub-group of single parents – Mums need playdates of their own!
This book, written by the fabulous Jo, AKA Slummy Single Mummy is an absolute joy to read. It’s written in diary form, each day summarised by a tally of things such as number of Jaffa Cakes consumed, number of glasses of Prosecco and embarrassing encounters. The book is charming and relatable, and I was laughing out loud at some of the tales. Plus, it made me really crave Jaffa Cakes (and wine). Frankie also ventures into the world of online dating which is really funny to read.
Playgroups and Prosecco is released on 2 May 2019
[Gifted for review by NetGalley]
I Looked Away (Jane Corry) ⭐⭐⭐
49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got. One day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson, and what follows will change her life forever.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started reading this book, but I was quickly hooked, and it became so much more than what the blurb suggested. The fact that Ellie was a grandmother was a nice change, hearing about her past and childhood was really interesting – most of the thrillers I’ve read lately, the protagonists are young men/women. I found the relationship between Ellie and her grandson really wonderful, and the relationship with her baby brother, Michael. I don’t want to say too much about the story as I don’t want to give anything away, but I spent a lot of it trying to piece things together, trying to understand the chain of events. It is very well written, and it gave me a lot to think about. The authors note at the end was really interesting, particularly the references to her research.
I Looked Away is released on 27 June 2019
[Gifted for review by NetGalley]
The Hunting Party (Lucy Foley) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old university friends gather for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Emma, the newest member of the group has organised this trip, desperately trying to fit in to the group of old friends. The group consists of beautiful Miranda and her husband Julien, Samira and Giles with their new six-month-old daughter, Nick and his partner Bo, Emma and her boyfriend Mark, who has always had a crush on Miranda, and Katie, a London-based lawyer, single, and best friends with Miranda. By the end of the trip, one of them will be dead.
I was really excited to read this book, and my wonderful friend Kate bought it for me. The Hunting Party is brilliantly written, with plenty of twists. Aside from the group of friends, there is also an Icelandic couple staying in the lodge, and Heather, Doug and Iain who work on the estate. I really liked the characters, especially Heather and Doug. I loved how you had no idea who was dead until the end, and there was a great twist when it was revealed. There were a few sub-plots, a couple of which I thought were a bit unnecessary, but overall I think The Hunting Party is a really well-written book, and perfect for anyone who loves a murder mystery!
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stuart Turton) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lord and Lady Hardcastle are throwing a party at Blackheath, a crumbling British mansion. This “party” is taking place on the anniversary of their sons death, and the invitees are the same guests that were there 19 years ago, and once again, it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed…again.
Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.
This book reminded me a little of running a marathon. I kept wanting to stop, then felt like I should go on, I stopped enjoying myself around the middle, but something kept pushing me on. I was so pleased when I got to the end, but also so relieved I’d finished. The plot is absolutely brilliant, I’ve never read anything like it. I think my main issue was I didn’t care about any of the characters, and there were also SO many characters I had to keep stopping and going back to check who was who. The story is intricately woven together, and full marks to Turton for the plot – it is so complex and fascinating, but I have to admit I felt like I was treading water for most of it, just trying to stay afloat and understand what on earth was going on. The ending is brilliant, and I’m so glad I finished it – I’ve given it four stars – I actually think it deserves five, but my absolute confusion at so much of the plot (while it probably added to how satisfying the ending was) has knocked a star off! I don’t think this is a very good review as I can’t really say much – if you like murder mysteries, Agatha Christie-style, or enjoying getting twisted in knots with Black Mirror-esque stories, you’ll love this!
Last Seen (Lucy Clarke) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. Isla’s son, Marley was never found, but Sarah’s son, Jacob, survived. On the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows. Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago, and they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried.
I really love Lucy Clarke’s psychological thrillers. Her stories are always beautifully descriptive and full of twists. Last Seen is set on The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast, and I could picture it perfectly. I was kept very much on my toes during this book – each time I thought I knew what was happening, everything would twist and I’d be thrown. Initially I really liked the character of Sarah, but as the story went on, my opinion changed. So much of the book is about relationships, particular the relationships between best friends and mothers and sons. I thought the dynamic between Sarah and Isla was really interesting. As I was reading, I thought there were maybe too many twists, but now I’ve finished, I actually think it worked perfectly, and the ending was really satisfying.
What have you read this month?