My Reading Challenge 2019 – What I’ve Read Lately

August 27, 2019Hels

I can’t believe it’s the end of August already?! These last few months have been crazy, but hopefully now our house is liveable, I’ve been able to get some reading done, so here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

Marriage Betrayal (Shalini Boland)*

Author: Shalini Boland

Genre: Psychological
Page Count: 400
Published: 8 July 2019

My rating:

Plot:8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)
Ending:7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)


Faye Townsend has planned the perfect summer trip for her family. But returning to the small seaside town her husband grew up in does not go to plan, the rain pours and the long days become stifling. And then the unthinkable happens…

Her husband Jake and her six-year-old son Dylan go for an early morning walk along the beautiful, windswept cliffs. They don’t come back.

I’ve read a couple of books by Shalini Boland and I really enjoy her writing, and Marriage Betrayal was no different. I thought Faye was a really interesting character, at the beginning she felt a bit flat but as the story developed, so did she. There is a lot more to this story than I initially thought, and I enjoyed finding out about Lainey and Jake’s childhood.

I found the ending a bit too neat and convenient, but actually that didn’t really bother me -there aren’t that many characters in the book, so it wasn’t a particularly surprising finish, but it was satisfying, and there are some great little twists. Sometimes you can read a thriller that is so complex you’re left reeling and a bit confused, whereas Shalini Boland’s books, while suitably twisty, are actually quite straightforward thrillers – if that makes sense!

[Gifted for review by NetGalley]


The Last Widow (Karin Slaughter)*

Author: Karin Slaughter

Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 464
Published: 13 June 2019

My rating:

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


Michelle Spivey is abducted from a shopping centre as she is leaving with her daughter, and the police have no leads. A month later, medical examiner Sara Linton is having lunch with her family and boyfriend, Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, when sirens interrupt their day. Trained to help in emergencies, Will and Sara run towards the sirens to try and help, but the situation spirals out of control…

Karin Slaughter is one of those crime writers that always manages to amaze me. I loved returning to the characters of Sara and Will (though if you haven’t read any other Karin Slaughter books, I think they can all be read as standalone stories) and I thought this storyline was fascinating and heartbreaking. The Last Widow takes the reader to the Appalachian Mountains, through an undercover operation, and to a radical group who have a terrible plan. My only criticism is that the story is told from several different perspectives, which is fine, but especially at the beginning, the same few minutes are told over and over – I understand why its done like this, and it does paint a much fuller picture, but it did get a little repetitive at first. As with all the other Karin Slaughter books I’ve read, The Last Widow isn’t a particularly easy read, it’s very graphic at times, and there are some quite upsetting moments, but it is an excellent book, and perfect for anyone who loves crime thrillers.

[Gifted for review by NetGalley]


The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted (Robert Hillman)

Author: Robert Hillman

Genre: Romance / historical fiction
Page Count: 317

Published: 2 April 2018

My rating:

Plot:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6.0 / 10)
Ending:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)


Tom Hope is a farmer, and he doesn’t think he’s much good at it, but he does his best. When his wife suddenly leaves him, he assumes he wasn’t a good husband. When she returns, pregnant with another man’s child, he discovers he does have a talent – as a father, but when she takes the boy away, his heart breaks all over again.

When Hannah Babel moves to town to open a bookshop, Tom believes the two of them can be happy together. It’s 24 years since Hannah and her husband and son arrived at Auschwitz, and her heartbreaking story is told.

I was drawn to this book by the bright, beautiful cover, and my initial judgment (yes, I judged it by its cover) was that it would be quite a lighthearted read about a bookshop. I was very wrong!

Read my full review here


An American Marriage (Tayari Jones)

Author: Tayari Jones

Genre: Contemporary American fiction
Page Count: 321
Published: 19 March 2018

My rating:

Plot:7 out of 10 stars (7.0 / 10)
Characters:6 out of 10 stars (6.0 / 10)
Ending:6 out of 10 stars (6.0 / 10)


Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Until one day they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.

This book is absolutely beautifully written and incredibly thought-provoking, and I would highly recommend it. My main issue with the story was that if I’m totally honest, I didn’t find either of the main characters particularly likeable. I loved Big Roy, and found the dynamic between him and Celestial and Roy really interesting, and I think it was through that that I eventually felt settled in the story.

The story is told through alternating perspectives, and I really enjoyed the epistolary section of the novel, though as the timeframe covered was so huge, I sometimes found myself flicking back through the pages to double check whereabouts in time we were. I thought that the way the story dealt with Roy’s incarceration was brilliant, and the stress and consequences of it were portrayed well, but I found the end a bit…disappointing.


Her Last Move (John Marrs)

Author: John Marrs

Genre: Crime thriller
Page Count: 349

Published: 8 Nov 2018

My rating:

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


He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career – and she knows that it will make or break her. But how can she identify one face in a sea of thousands? With the help of Police Super Recogniser Joe Russell, she strives to catch a glimpse of the elusive murderer, but he’s watching her every move.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?

My friend Kate recommended this book to me, and oh my gosh it was intense. I absolutely love crime thrillers, but I don’t usually get too creeped out by them. This one however, really got me! I made the mistake of reading it at night once Dougie had gone to bed when I was alone, and when my neighbour knocked on our door at almost midnight (we’d left the parking light on on our car) I was absolutely terrified!

I warmed to the characters immediately, especially Joe, and spent a lot of time texting my friend with my theories. There are a LOT of twists in this, there were a couple of moments where I felt there were maybe a few too many twists, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. I thought the ending was very bold, but satisfying, and parts of the story were utterly heartbreaking.


What have you read lately? Do any of these sound like your kind of books?

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