I’ve been flying through books this month thanks to having a few days of leave and a flexi day. The weather’s not been great either, and I’ve been choosing to read over doing puzzles as well. As usual it’s been a mix of crime, thrillers, romance and chick lit with a couple of more reference books thrown in. The latter tend to take me a lot longer to read so I flit with those as I get bored of reading those non stop.
My book of the month was The Reading List. If you’ve not read it, I’d recommend it if you like books about books, discoveries, and friendship seeing you through hardship. Get the tissues ready though if you’re anything like me!
Books read in March – 21
Here’s my thoughts on a selection of the books read this month (I’ve decided to move to monthly round ups rather than quarterly, as I’m getting through too many books to save for a 3 monthly post). You can see all my books for the month over on my Goodreads.
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Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
This book took me a while to get into. It starts outlining the cases, which gives it more of a non fiction, true crime feel. I nearly gave up but ploughed on. The story flits between several crimes and missing persons, which means you really need to think about the characters in each.
It also tells the stories of the main characters, their suffering and the potential for what comes next for them, depending on whether the crimes get sold. There are some really odd characters – Amelia and Julia, with their eccentric rich family background being the main ones. I didn’t expect the ending with them, I thought Jackson was worth more than the ending.
Not one of my favourite books, and I’m not sure I’d want to read further books with this lead character in it.
The Marriage Secret by Carey Baldwin
Holly seems to have the perfect marriage to Zach, but he isn’t as perfect as he seems, and once Holly sees some dangerous actions and behaviours from him once their baby is born, she decides to stand up for herself and her daughter, planning how she can leave and take them to safety. It seems she’s not the only one he gaslights and treats badly.
She relies on her friend Tamara to plan her revenge and way out. But Tamara has secrets of her own, and what’s been happening with these students Zach’s been mentoring who are ending up dead?
I did guess part of answer, but not quite all of it. It’s a good ending and the right outcome with some good advice comes out at the end.
The Reading list by Sara Nisha Adams
If you believe in the magic and importance of books and how they can make people feel and change lives, then The Reading List is a book for you. If you’re not a big reader, but want to get into reading then this book is also for you. Be warned, if you don’t spend the last third of the book sobbing through it, then you’re made of sterner stuff than me.
This is a story about a community, a library, and the power of books, as different people find a reading list left in different places for people to find. A list of books with messages that can help people at points in their lives and teach them lessons.
There are multiple sad stories for those main protagonists, an unlikely friendship pairing of widowed elderly Mukesh, and 17 year old Aleisha, the latter finding the reading list during her ‘boring’ summer job. Lonely Makesh comes to the library to return a book his late wife Naina had at home, and asks for help finding books to read. The list inspires them both in discovering a love of reading, of finding themselves, and finding peace with everything that’s gone on in their lives and is to come.
It’s not really a surprise as to who the lists come from in the first place for the reader, but this really is a special book. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. After all, I don’t think you can beat a book about books and reading.
I have to admit being a bit embarrassed at only having read one of the books on the Reading List (which I hated), and partially read a couple of the others. But it’s made me think maybe I should go back and read some of these classics. If I can bear more tears while reading!
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
I wasn’t sure what to think of this book, the first in the series, about eldest Maia who’s hidden away at her adopted father’s spacious home Atlantis, never wanting to risk putting herself out there compared with all her different sisters. When their father Pa Salt dies, he aims to set them free to look into their original birthplaces and to find themselves.
Maia ends up heading to Brazil, where she (with the help of an author she translated his novel) starts to live her life, finding out about her start in life, her ancestors and their interesting story of true love vs duty, Paris vs Rio. The story is told through both Maia’s travels, letters from her great grandmother and narration of the past history by her grandmother’s childhood friend and maid. There’s a lot of back and forth through history, a look at how women’s place in relationships and society has changed, and interesting history and information about Rio de Janeiro and Paris of old. And a modern romance story (although I did wonder what the relevance of Zed and his father was – why was he rich/famous rather than just a name, given he played very little role in this book. Maybe he appears in other books in the series).
I really enjoyed the book once I got into it. Whether I’ll stick at all 6 sisters’ stories will still be seen because there’s a couple that are annoying already. But I like the mix of travel, history, relationships of the past and contemporary period.
The Wedding Crasher by Abigail Mann
This book was a bit confusing at first. It does jump around between the different years of photography teacher Poppy’s life, her previous friendship years ago with Will, and the end of her marriage, along with being dragged away from her solitary holiday to help out her best friend Lola’s latest wedding planning job on an island….with old friend Will being the groom.
Some characters had some ‘avoid at all costs’ personalities, others were more amusing, and of course there were some antics to be had while trying to make the wedding (and bizarrely a business announcement) run smoothly.
Yes, we got the ending I expected and wanted, but I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters other than Will. Even Poppy was a bit insipid and needed standing up for herself earlier than she did. Middle of the road read.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
Initially reluctant grad student Olive tries to support her best friend in getting together with someone she’d dated before, and ends up kissing hotshot but aloof Professor, Adam as the first man going past. They embark on a fake relationship to keep the story going and help her friend, and Adam’s chances of getting his latest grant funds released. A bit of an unbelievable reason but while Olive tries to progress her own research study, Adam ends up losing some of the aloofness as they become friends.
Olive’s concern grows as her feelings for him grow despite the agreement they wouldn’t. But a setback for her acceptance to complete her research at a lab run by Adam’s friend causes problems in their budding relationship.
It’s a romcom so you can imagine how it ends. I quite enjoyed this book. Yes it’s a bit unbelievable at the start, and there’s some silly juvenile parts in it. But it’s a book with some fun characters, the support of good friends and the belief of a good man.
Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas
Jess is now a journalist, who gets put onto a job trying to get the story out of her teenage friend Heather who’s in a coma after allegedly shooting 2 ‘strangers’ then turning the gun on herself. She finds herself drawn back into her former friend’s family, and tries to get to the truth while navigating her relationship, her previous job and her suspicion she’s being watched.
The story involves a lot of intertwined stories and it’s nice to really get a feel for all the different characters. We get taken back to years before, and the time that led up to Heather’s sister’s disappearance and their falling out.
Jess has her own demons from work, relationship struggles, friendships (or lack of them), and trying to fit back into a place she used to call home.
It’s an interesting book which I couldn’t put down, trying to work out who was innocent and who wasn’t.
What have you been reading this month?