July/August Reads & reviews

Happy Monday everyone. Another short and sweet round-up of my latest reads!

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE BY CELESTE NG

Good Reads Blurb:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Review: 3/5

If I’m being honest, I was really underwhelmed by this book and I partly blame the trailer for the television series that I watched. It’s been marketed as this crazy thriller and for me the book isn’t like that at all, nor do I believe that it’s meant to be. I really liked the characters; being a creative I felt like I could really relate to the struggles that Mia goes through, from juggling two jobs, to trying to explain to people that working minimum wage jobs seems worth it because you truly believe that one day you’ll succeed in your art. I also liked that the book focuses on different generations and I loved the dynamic that it added but overall I was waiting for drama to explode that just didn’t happen. I blame Cara Hunter for raising my expectations too high on waiting for plot twists. A good family drama with interesting twist and turns but the ending didn’t feel finished to me, it felt underwhelming and unresolved. 

I FOUND YOU BY LISA JEWELL

No Way Out Good Reads Blurb:

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.

Review: 3/5 

This was a random choice, I’ve never heard this recommended but I really liked the audio-preview. The plot had me hooked straight away and I really liked Alice’s character, a typical northern mum who wants to look after everyone. Her life by the sea was so comforting, it made me want to dive into the pages. My issue was that the book massively lulled in the middle and the pace completely dropped. The ending redeemed it with its clever dual timelines and shock plot twists but I felt like it could’ve been much shorter. Still – a great thriller.

THE LIST BY JOANNA BOLOURI

Good Reads Blurb:

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn’t feel fabulous. It’s been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she’s always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe’s got her work cut out for her.

Review: 4/5

This was SO funny, it literally had me laughing out loud to myself. If you want a funny chick-lit with cracking characters that you’ll just relate to and absolutely adore then this is it. An outrageous protagonist, so many ludicrous situations, and a slightly guessable ending but all wrapped up into a charming Bridget-Jones style comedy. Highly recommend!

THE CHILD BY FIONA BARTON

Good Reads Blurb:  

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

Review: 4/5.

Another book that wasn’t on my radar and I’m so glad that I read it. I always love dual timeline stories as I’m sure you can tell. Kate was a great lead, a driven journalist who’s no-nonsense and funny. It was interesting to read a crime novel from the point of view of a reporter, instead of a detective. I really cared about the story and the women involved and the last minute twist at the ending had me all teary. A really well crafted thriller, I’ll be reading more from her!

THE FAMILIARS BY STACEY HALLS

Good Reads Blurb:  

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

Review: 5/5.

Oh my goodness. I am so so so glad that I picked up this book. I’ll be honest I was put off by the beautiful cover (how ridiculous of me) and it’s period nature, I was worried that it would be pretentious. I was so wrong. This is such a moving and beautiful story about some incredibly brave women trying to navigate through a mans world. The characters were so believable – and despite the time difference, they were relatable and real. I didn’t want it to end and I was so scared for their fates. I’ll definitely be reading more from Stacey Halls!

THINK OF A NUMBER BY JOHN VERDON

Good Reads Blurb:  

Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.

What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air. Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.

Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.

In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.

Review: 2/5.

This wasn’t a bad book by any means. It’s intelligent, scary and witty – but my god, it’s too long. Far too long. 8 hours into this I wanted to give up but I persevered for the sake of it to finish it. The characters were intelligent but I didn’t care for them. It was very much bleak and dreary, it reminded me of Stephen King’s writing style that I’m not big on. A very long and bleak crime thriller, just wasn’t for me.

OUR STOP BY LAURA JANE WILLIAMS

Good Reads Blurb:  

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.

Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.

Review: 2/5.

After the last book, I was reaaaally hoping for a great read. This has been raved about on Instagram, and I love Carrie Hope Fletcher as a voice-actor but this book did not do it for me. First of all – Nadia is left for her job four days a week. How is she still in employment?? I found her character so frustrating, girl get your crap together! Secondly, I found the male character super creepy. He sees this girl on a train and instead of saying hello, he puts out a newspaper AD and becomes absolutely obsessed with her. The sweetness was well-intentioned but it just came across as creepy for me.

What did you all read in July and August?

 

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