2019 Reading Challenge: What I Read in April

April 30, 2019Hels

April has been a wonderfully bookish month for me, and I’ve made my way through some amazing books.

I’ve been lucky enough to be sent several books for review, as well as being invited to the publication day breakfast for Beth O’Leary’s amazing debut novel, The Flatshare (I’ve been banging on about this book for the last few weeks, I definitely recommend getting it if you’ve not read it already!)

My Lovely Wife

Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Page Count: 384

Published: 26 March 2019



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:5.5 out of 10 stars (5.5 / 10)
Ending:9 out of 10 stars (9.0 / 10)

 

Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again, neither are you. But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women.

The book was recommended to me by the wonderful Amy, and it only took a couple of sentences before I knew I was going to love it. It’s hard to review this story without giving too much away but I shall do my best!

Millicent and her husband, whose name is never actually mentioned, live with their two children in the suburbs in Florida. She works as a real estate agent, and he teaches tennis, but behind the scenes, the couple have a sinister secret. My Lovely Wife is pretty far-fetched, but I think it works so well. My main issue with the story was that I didn’t connect with any of the characters – I appreciate that you aren’t really meant to relate to the characters, but I did find the husband quite…dull. However, considering the story is told from his point of view I was still completely gripped, which is a testament to Downing’s writing. I thought the ending was brilliant, especially considering how many different threads are woven into the story. I read this book in a day because I just had to know how it ended.

The Mother’s Mistake

Author: Ruth Heald

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Page Count: 374
Published: 11 June 2019



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Ending:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)

 

Claire and her husband, Matt, move to the countryside with their new baby. They are moving into his husband’s deceased grandmother’s cottage, with his Mum, Ruth, living next door. While her life may seem perfect, behind closed doors Claire is struggling. Her mother-in-law is making things difficult for her, her husband is constantly out at work, and her past is coming back to haunt her.

This book has all the gripping, twisty-turny moments you want from a thriller. Aside from this, it also deals with post-partum depression, and Claire’s struggles as a new Mum, which I think was very well written. We learn very early on in the story that Claire witnessed something extremely tragic three years earlier, but I wasn’t sure how this was connected with the story – it’s very satisfying when it is all revealed. There are two main plots running through this book, and I think it was very well done. I really liked the character of Claire, and there was the recurring question throughout the book about whether mistakes should be forgiven.

The Mother’s Mistake is heartbreaking as well as thrilling, and I’d really recommend it.

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

Sleep

Author: C.L. Taylor

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Page Count: 368
Published: 4 April 2019



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:7.5 out of 10 stars (7.5 / 10)
Ending:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)

 

Sleep (C.L. Taylor)

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. After being involved in a tragic accident, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare. Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel, and they’ve set their sights on Anna.

I absolutely love C.L. Taylor’s books, and I was really looking forward to reading Sleep. The story is told from the POV of several different characters, mainly Anna, who is struggling with guilt-induced insomnia following a tragic accident. A terrible storm leaves the group stranded in the hotel, unable to contact the outside world, and we learn more about the characters as the days go on.

The story also jumps back to those Anna left behind, including her ex-boyfriend. It’s an interesting mix of characters, though there were a LOT of characters so I had a few moments where I was flicking back through the pages to confirm who someone was. I understand why the story moved between the guests at the hotel and the other characters, as well as an unknown character, but I think it would have felt more claustrophobic and suspenseful if the story had stayed just with the characters in the hotel. I found the big reveal a little anti-climactic as I’d kind of worked out who I thought might be the murderer, but not the connection or motive. The last chapter however had an excellent twist, and gave the story a very satisfying end.

The Flatshare*

Author: Beth O’Leary
Genre: Romantic Comedy

Page Count: 336

Published: 10 April 2019



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:7.5 out of 10 stars (7.5 / 10)
Ending:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)

 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

I absolutely loved this book. Despite the fact I had work and a toddler that had no interest in going to sleep, I read it in a day – it was one of those books I would open at every available second. It’s one of those stories that is really easy to get lost in, and there is much more to it than I thought.

Read my full review of The Flatshare here

*The Flatshare was kindly gifted to me for review by Quercus

The Missing Wife*

Author: Sam Carrington
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Avon
Published: 27 June 2019



My rating:

Plot:7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)
Ending:5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

 

Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate. Her husband and best friend, Tiff, organise a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person in particular she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore. When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.

I was so looking forward to this book, but unfortunately it fell flat. The premise was interesting but I thought the ending was completely far-fetched. I totally sympathised with Louisa and her sleep deprivation, but the story repeatedly mentioned how she wasn’t sure if she had fed her baby, her confusion and the periods of missing time, and I found myself feeling increasingly concerned for her baby. She is also an unreliable narrator, which I know was part of the story, but I don’t feel like it was totally resolved.

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

The Stranger in My Home

Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Page Count: 465
Published: 28 September 2016



My rating:

Plot:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)
Characters:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)
Ending:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)

 

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine – the absolute centre of Alison’s world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison’s baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable. The daughter she brought home doesn’t belong to her.

I did enjoy this book, I’ve read a couple of books by Adele Parks before and I love her writing style, though this one didn’t flow as well as some of the others I’ve read by her. I wasn’t sure where the story was going after the first few chapters and it was a slow burner – I wasn’t sure how it could be sustained, but I was intrigued, and I think ultimately it was worth the journey. There are a suitable amount of twists and turns, some were a bit unnecessary but they did help the story move forward, and there’s a great revelation towards the end. I found Alison grated on me slightly as the story went on, and I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters, but it’s still a good read, and the storyline is intriguing.

 

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop*

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Genre: Fiction/Chick-Lit
Page Count: 250

Published: 4 March 2019



My rating:

Plot:7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)
Ending:5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

 

Rosie works as a Michelin-starred Sous Chef with her life meticulously planned out, but on her birthday, her husband tells her he is leaving her for another woman. Devastated, Rosie drunkenly purchases a bright pink camper van and plans to travel the country selling homemade cakes and tea.

This book is kind of like a giant hug. It immediately made me want to buy a camper van and bake cakes and drink tea while reading books all day, and I loved that part of the story. I’d have liked a bit more background on the supporting characters – Max had the potential to have a lot of depth, but it often felt like it was brushed off because of his appearance, his time in the army for example, would have made for a really interesting subplot but it wasn’t really mentioned. The dialogue was often a bit too sweet for me, and the plot was fairly predictable, but it fitted in well with the charm of the book. It’s a very easy read, and is an ideal holiday read!

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

Beautiful Bad*

Author: Annie Ward

Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 400
Published: 21 March 2019



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6.0 / 10)
Ending:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)

 

Maddie and Ian met when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. Following a terrible accident, Maddie is left badly scarred and begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo. From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of shocking crime.

This book is absolutely fascinating. The first chapter sets the scene for a terrible crime, and the story moves from Maddie and Ian’s time in the Balkans, to the days leading up to the crime. There is so much more to this story than I first expected, the story travels around the world, describing life in the Balkans during turbulent times, it deals with PTSD and therapy, and the intricacies of Maddie and Ian’s marriage. It’s very well written, and perfect for anyone who wants to read a thriller with a bit of a difference.

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

A Nearly Normal Family*

Author: M. T. Edvardsson
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 480

Published: 11 July 2019



My rating:

Plot:9 out of 10 stars (9.0 / 10)
Characters:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)
Ending:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)

 

Every murder case starts with a suspect. What if the suspect is your daughter? Would you believe her, or the evidence against her? The father, the pastor, believes his daughter has been framed. The mother believes she is hiding something, and the daughter believes they have no idea what she’s truly capable of.

The story is told from three points of view, the father, a pastor, Stella, the daughter and the mother, who is a lawyer. It’s set in Sweden (the book has been translated), and it was really interesting learning more about its legal system. The plot is complex but woven together tightly and beautifully. It poses moral dilemmas, and questions how far a parent will go to protect their child. The story doesn’t throw out twists and turns for the sake of it, but builds suspense brilliantly. I loved how at the beginning, the reader is like the father, confused, uncertain and unsure of what has happened, but by the end, when we reach the mother’s point of view, everything is slotting into place. I absolutely loved this story, and would really recommend this book.

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

Beautiful Broken Things

Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: YA/Fiction

Page Count: 322

Published: 11 Feb 2016



My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8.0 / 10)
Characters:7.5 out of 10 stars (7.5 / 10)
Ending:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)

 

Caddy and Rosie are inseparable, and their differences have brought them closer. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

I actually really enjoyed reading this as a prequel to Fierce Fragile Hearts. It was great learning more about the characters and hearing things from Caddy’s perspective. I think Fierce Fragile Hearts would have felt more powerful if I had read these books in the right order, but knowing what happened in FFH didn’t take away from my enjoyment of Beautiful Broken Things, which was my concern. These stories are incredibly relatable – while the characters are much younger than I am, I do remember what it was like being that age, and although Facebook wasn’t really around when I was 16, the conversations and interactions between the teenagers felt very familiar. The book deals with a great deal of difficult topics, and it feels very well researched.

Come Back For Me*

Author: Heidi Perks
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Page Count: 322

Published: 11 July 2019



My rating:

Plot:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)
Ending:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

 

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body. For Stella Harvey the news is doubly shocking. The body has been found in the garden of her childhood home – the home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago. She is left questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the isolated island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers, and the people on the island will go to any length to protect their secrets.

I really wanted to love this book. The premise sounded fascinating, and it was written well, but it was just all a little too much. There was a lot going on, a lot of threads to the story that weren’t wrapped up as neatly as I wanted and a lot of it felt a little bit far-fetched. I loved the relationship between Stella and Bonnie, and that was the storyline that kept me reading. I’d have liked more descriptions about the island, it sounds like such a fascinating place and yet there was very little detail about it.

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

 

Do any of these sound like your kind of books? What have you been reading this month?

Bookshop

The Stranger in My Home
The Missing Wife
Sleep
The Mother’s Mistake
My Lovely Wife
Beautiful Bad
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
A Nearly Normal Family
The Flatshare
The Stranger in My Home
The Missing Wife
Sleep
The Mother’s Mistake
My Lovely Wife
Beautiful Bad
Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
A Nearly Normal Family
The Flatshare

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