2019 Reading Challenge – What I Read in October

October 29, 2019Hels

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

So that’s it. October is nearly at an end and I can’t believe it! The clocks have changed, the evenings are darker, the pumpkins have been carved and the knitwear is well and truly a wardrobe staple. I’ve had an annoying run of illnesses this month, a cold which led to a chest infection which led to an asthma attack, followed up by a lovely bout of sinusitis. Dougie’s sleep has been inconsistent to say the least, and Baby Bump kicks me so aggressively I’m struggling to sleep even when Dougie is actually asleep in his own bed! Nevertheless, it’s been such a lovely month – pumpkin picking, my birthday, a theatre trip and plenty of time with Sam & Dougie.

One perk of being ill however, is that I’ve managed to do quite a bit of reading this month. I’m definitely out of my reading slump and I’m so happy about it! I’ve managed nine books this month – I think I might just squeeze in a tenth but we’ll see!

The Holiday (T.M. Logan)

Author: T.M. Logan
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 480
Published: 25 July 2019


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)

 

Seven days. Three families. One killer.
It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence. But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends. One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

I’ve read T.M. Logan’s other two books, 29 Seconds and Lies, and really enjoyed both, so had very high hopes for The Holiday. The book throws you straight in at the deep end, when Kate starts to believe her husband Sean is having an affair with one of the women in the villa – one of her best friends. As this happened within the first few pages, I knew there had to be more to it than this, and so I was immediately intrigued by where the story was going. 

One thing I thought the book did brilliantly, and which also made me sad, was the topic of how kids grow up, how they go from relying on you for everything, to pulling away, not wanting to be hugged by you and not needing you as much, but no matter what, parents will go to the ends of the earth to protect them. I genuinely found myself getting emotional at this, and immediately wanted to go and give Dougie a cuddle! 

Overall, this is a really good read. It’s quite a slow burner, there were an awful lot of red herrings that I didn’t always feel worked – not much really happened until the last quarter of the book, and I didn’t find myself particularly liking any of the characters, but it’s well-written and I enjoyed the ending. 

 

Nathaniel Grey and the Obsidian Crown (Farrell Keeling)*

Author: Farrell Keeling
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 368
Published: 20 July 2019


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)

 

Read my full review of Nathaniel Grey and the Obsidian Crown here

 

Here to Stay (Mark Edwards)

Author: Mark Edwards
Genre: Domestic thriller
Page Count: 370
Published: 1 Sept 2019


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

 

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for. The Robinsons arrive, and Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

I read this book in a day. I’ve previously spoke about how much I love Mark Edwards’ stories, and this one did not disappoint. As the story went on, I was rooting for Elliot, I grew increasingly frustrated and disgusted with the Robinsons, and I was desperate to discover how it would be resolved. 

The story was set where I used to live – West Dulwich, which made it even more believable for me – although the street where Elliot lives is fictional, I could picture it perfectly as it was so like the houses near our old flat (that I was always jealous of!) and the mentions of places such as West Norwood Cemetery. 

Domestic thrillers are what Mark Edwards does best, and this was up there with The Magpies, the first of his books that I read (highly recommended!) – I really liked the character of Elliot, I thought he was great, and I think the book was brilliantly written, well-plotted and suitably unsettling. 

 

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a **** (Gill Sims)

Author: Gill Sims
Genre: Fiction / Humour
Page Count: 330
Published: 15 April 2019


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

 

Ellen dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours.

I was so excited to read this, having absolutely loved Why Mummy Drinks and Why Mummy Swears, and while I don’t think this was quite as good as the first two, it was still a really good read. I love the style of Gill Sims’ writing, it’s relatable and genuinely funny (although the repetition of “eleventy billion” can get a bit irritating at times!)

Ellen has separated from her husband, and I really enjoyed hearing about how she learns to navigate single parenting and tries her hand at internet dating. It’s interesting to see how her relationship has developed with her children who are now teenagers, and there were some really lovely moments between them. 

It’s a really fun, easy read – I found some parts felt a little like they were trying too hard to capture the same relatability of the earlier books, but it’s still definitely worth a read!

 

Watch Me (Angela Clarke)

Author: Angela Clarke
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 368
Published: 3 Dec 2016


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

 

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears. This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking. 

They have 24 hours to save the girl’s life.

This book is the second in a series – Social Media Murders, and while I think it can be read as a standalone book, I found it took me a while to feel invested in it as there were a lot of references to the previous book. The majority of the story is a countdown, a race against time to save a young woman’s life, but I didn’t feel like the tension was built up very well. 

I thought the way in which the dark side of social media was written about was very good, and as a parent, it is something I am extremely conscious of. I didn’t particularly care about any of the characters, but maybe this would have been different if I had read the first book. The concept of this story is good, but I would have liked a bit more tension. 

 

Lies Lies Lies (Adele Parks)

Author: Adele Parks
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 446
Published: 5 October 2019


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

 

Daisy and Simon’s marriage is great, isn’t it?

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. A happy little family of three. And so what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes – Daisy’s used to it, she knows he’s letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And that happy little family of three will never be the same again.

This is one of those books that was popping up everywhere and I was really excited to read it. I’ve read several books by Adele Parks and I love domestic thrillers. 

Unfortunately, this fell a little flat… It all started off brilliantly, I was gripped to the story, to the unravelling relationship and was intrigued about where it was going. I thought the storyline about Simon’s descent into alcoholism was well written, but I couldn’t stand the character of Daisy, and that, along with some horrendously unnecessary animal violence, was my biggest issue with the book. I did like the way in which the lies unfolded, but I didn’t find the story itself believable at all. 

House of Straw (Marc Scott)

Author: Marc Scott
Genre: Thriller
Page Count: 397
Published: 6 November 2018


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)

 

Read my full review of House of Straw here

No Way Out (Cara Hunter)

Author: Cara Hunter
Genre: Crime / Police Mystery
Page Count: 384
Published: 18 May 2019


My rating:
Plot:8.5 out of 10 stars (8.5 / 10)
Characters:9 out of 10 stars (9.0 / 10)
Ending:9 out of 10 stars (9.0 / 10)

 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is fighting for his life.

Were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true – this fire wasn’t an accident. It was murder.

I’ve had this book for a while and all I can say is that I wish I’d read it sooner. It’s definitely not an easy read – there were several times when I wanted to just grab my son and cuddle him and not let him go, but it’s brilliantly written and I thought the plot was very impressively woven together. There is a lot happening – a lot of twists and turns, but I think it is a very plausible story. I found the format of the book enjoyable – with texts, chat rooms and certificates included – it gave another layer to the story. 

I thought the ending was really satisfying, and I’m really looking forward to reading more books by Cara Hunter.

 

All The Rage (Cara Hunter)*

Author: Cara Hunter
Genre: Crime / Police Mystery
Page Count: 464
Published: 23 Jan 2020


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

 

A distressed teenage girl is found on the outskirts of Oxford. The story she tells is terrifying: grabbed off the street, a plastic bag forced over her head, then driven somewhere remote and subjected to an assault.

DI Adam Fawley is doing the best he can to investigate, but the teenager refuses to press charges. All he can do is try to ignore the sickening feeling he’s seen something like this before…

But when another girl goes missing, Fawley knows his time is running out.

When I was approved to review this book by NetGalley, I was so happy, particularly as I’d just finished No Way Out. I read All The Rage in a day and was so happy to be surrounded by familiar characters. The police procedural focus of these books is one of my favourite things, it’s so well done and makes the story feel even more satisfying. 

I was really intrigued about how the story would tie together, as there were a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t guess the ending. I think my main criticism is that there were maybe too many characters, sometimes I found myself checking back to work out who fitted in where. I really liked Faith, I thought she was a great character, and I loved her attitude. 

I enjoyed the fact that there was a stronger focus on the police team as a whole, I loved finding out more about them, as well as learning more of DI Fawley’s backstory. While ultimately I preferred No Way Out (I’ve also just purchased the previous books in the DI Fawley series – yay!) this is still a really well-written crime story.

One thing I really like about the DI Fawley series is that although they do follow on and previous cases are referenced in the books, I think they can be read as standalone novels. 

*Gifted for review by NetGalley

 

Have you read anything good this month? Do any of these books sound like something you might read?

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Review: House of Straw (Marc Scott)*

October 24, 2019

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Review: Home Work (Julie Andrews)

November 7, 2019