2021 May Reads
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
The Great Gatsby (
I mean, we’re only halfway through June, so I’m not toooo late with sharing reviews of my latest reads! May was a good month for reading, a couple of really great books (Project Hail Mary was definitely my highlight!)
The Queen of Wishful Thinking (Milly Johnson) ⭐⭐⭐
When Lewis Cawthorne has a heart attack in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lew opens the antique shop he always wanted.
Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.
As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve…?
This was my second Milly Johnson book, and another I enjoyed. It’s fairly obvious from the beginning where the story will end up, but I enjoyed the journey. Each character is dealing with an unhappy marriage, and I think Johnson deals well with difficult topics. Lewis and Bonnie are both good characters, and I enjoyed seeing their relationship flourish. I sometimes find Johnson’s writing style quite dated, and it’s seriously lacking in diversity, but the story itself is enjoyable, and it’s great escapism.
The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew (Milly Johnson) ⭐⭐⭐
Sophie Mayhew looks like she has the perfect life. Wife of rising political star John F. Mayhew, a man who is one step away from the top job in the government, her glamour matches his looks, power, breeding and money. But John has made some stupid mistakes along the way, some of which are threatening to emerge.
Bursting out of the restrictive mould she has lived in, Sophie flees to a place that was special to her as a child, a small village on the coast where she intends to be alone.
There she finds she becomes part of a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long. Now she must decide: where does her real future lie?
Mmm… So this was the third Milly Johnson book I listened to, and it’s probably my least favourite so far. Maybe it’s because I’ve pretty much listened to three of her books back-to-back, but I found myself getting frustrated by the clichés and the way in which all the characters are written. I know commercial rom-coms tend to follow a certain style, but it felt very repetitive and so predictable. I loved Sophie’s relationship with Luke, the son of the (obviously attractive) vicar, and as always the story deals with huge, difficult topics, including a tragic death, but they were never fully explored and I didn’t always feel like they were properly dealt with. Things felt very rushed, despite the length of the book.
The Dinner Guest (B P Walter) ⭐⭐⭐
Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.
Matthew: the perfect husband.
Titus: the perfect son.
Charlie: the perfect illusion.
Rachel: the perfect stranger.
Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen. And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand.
I enjoyed The Dinner Guest while I was reading it, but it didn’t stay with me once I closed the book. I was intrigued about where it was going, although I did guess the culprit fairly early on, mainly because there were so few characters, there were no other options! I found it hard to care about any of the characters, other than Titus early on in the book.
Just My Luck (Adele Parks) ⭐⭐💫
For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends, the Pearsons and the Heathcotes. But then, one Saturday night, the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone doesn’t tell the truth. And soon after, six numbers come up which change everything forever.
Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth £18 million. And their friends are determined to claim a share of it.
I don’t totally know what to make of this book. The premise was fascinating and I was really intrigued, but the story spiralled very quickly and felt completely ridiculous.
There are a few chapters of this that I really struggled to listen to, particularly with regards to the subplot about Toma, a widower who lost his wife and son. I guessed the connection here, but it was probably the most satisfying part of the ending, but I did find the flashback of his story very difficult.
The story made me think a lot about how winning the lottery could affect people, how different people would react etc, but overall I just couldn’t connect with the book.
Last Night (Mhairi McFarlane) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Eve, Justin, Susie, and Ed have been friends since they were teenagers. Now in their thirties, the four are as close as ever, Thursday night bar trivia is sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe she should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed still thinks about it, too.
But then, in an instant, their lives are changed forever.
This was my second Mhairi McFarlane book, and it didn’t disappoint. It started off quite slowly but then a lot happens in just a few chapters. Once the cast of characters were introduced, I could guess where it was going, but there were plenty of little twists and turns on the journey.
Sometimes it felt a little rushed, but it’s very well written, and I think it deals with the huge themes of loss and grief really well, and sensitively. I really liked Eve, I found she was a really relatable protagonist, and I really liked how she dealt with certain situations.
TW: Grief, loss, abuse
Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.
Or does he?
Ohhhh what a book. The Martian is one of my all-time favourite books, but I wasn’t a fan of Andy Weir’s second novel, Artemis. Nevertheless, I had high hopes for Project Hail Mary, and I absolutely loved it.
It’s not a perfect novel, there were a few things I had an issue with, and it felt very much like it was written with a film adaptation in mind, but it was completely gripping and I couldn’t put it down. I loved Rocky, and the relationship formed between Rocky and Grace. I thought the concept of the story was absolutely fascinating and it felt so plausible. Weir is so good at ramping up the pace and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. There is a LOT of maths and science-y jargon so I had to read a few parts twice, but I genuinely didn’t mind. I even bought the audiobook once I finished the book as I want to start it all over again!
What have you been reading lately?