What I Read: April 2020

Rebecca Serle: In Five Years

After nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal on the same day, type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

I picked this book up because I expected something light and fluffy and I can now say that this book is most definitely not that. I would not categorise this as a romance, maybe women’s fiction but on the more sentimental side so expect tears. If I knew the real theme of this book at the time I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. But in the end I actually quite liked that this book was not what I was expecting because it’s rare that i’m ever surprised this much by a book. The thing I enjoyed the most about this book was the friendship between Dannie and her childhood best friend Bella and this story really centred around that friendship. I also love that this book takes place in New York and features a lot of my favourite areas in the city like Rockefeller, Dumbo, Brooklyn bridge, Washington Square and so many more! The New York vibes were really great. I would probably have given it five stars but I just couldn’t connect with the main character Dannie and the ending was a bit random and inconclusive.

4/5

Rachel Abbott: Right Behind You

Imagine the scene. You’ve just enjoyed a lovely dinner with family when you get a knock at the door. Two police officers, wanting to take your partner in for questioning. Two more people saying that they need to speak to your young daughter about alleged abuse. Traumatic enough right? Well imagine that this is the last you see of them and your partner and your daughter are now missing. This is exactly what happens to our protagonist Jo whose entire world is torn apart in one single night. So who do you turn to when you don’t know what has happened or if you can even trust the police?

Usually everything that Rachel Abbott writes is 4 or 5 stars for me as she’s one of my favourite thriller writers but this one lacked something. I believe that even fiction needs to be believable on some level to be good but there are parts of this story that were too unbelievable, particularly the end. Without revealing too much, I enjoyed the story until a certain point.  It had great potential and introduced enough characters for me to start questioning their motives, the mystery element kept me turning page after page, and I was surprised by who the criminal turned out to be but towards the end everything just became too far fetched.

3/5

Riley Sager: Lock Every Door

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

This is the first Riley Sager book I’ve read and I’ve already ordered the next one! I loved it but I understand it’s not for everyone. It has a dark, creepy, gothic feel and it is a slow burn. It gives you plenty of time to think, analyze, and be wrong about what’s going to happen next. I found it exciting and original with lots of twists and turns. The very last twist? I had no idea THAT would happen! I also loved the setting, The Bartholomew is such a presence in Lock Every Door that it became a character. There was the feeling that perhaps the residents weren’t controlling the building, and perhaps the building was controlling them. I loved it! I’m not going to go into anymore details though as I don’t want to spoil it.

5/5

Beth O’Learly: The Switch

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

After reading The FlatShare last month by the same author I rushed out to pre-order this book. And it didn’t disappoint. This is exactly the kind of sweet content everyone needs in their lives right now. I loved O’Leary’s style of writing and I fell in love with both, Leena and Eileen. I honestly thought I would have enjoyed Leena’s chapters best, but they were both as charming. Eileen is so brutally honest that it made me laugh out loud. On the other hand, it was nice watching Leena learn how to love herself again. The portrayal of life in Britain is just perfect! I laughed constantly through Eileen’s first days in London, because it was just so accurate. If you weren’t born in London how people behave on a daily basis can be a massive shock, and this was just captured so perfectly. Similarly the life in little villages, and how little details become huge parts of your life. Light in tone for the most part, but like The Flatshare, does incorporate serious topics such as grief, loss, loneliness, domestic abuse, mental illness, unhealthy coping strategies, and cheating. I just have so much love for both books that I will probably force everyone I know to read them!

5/5

Harriet Tyce: Blood Orange

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down because of its fast pace. I finished it in 2 days after hearing some great reviews online. But… I didn’t think it was one of the best thrillers I’ve read. I thought it had potential at the beginning but something went wrong half way through. Alison is most definitely an unlikable protagonist. I had a hard time buying her as a lawyer. She’s a train wreck – but like an accident, it was hard not to look and wonder what was going to happen next. Her husband and her lover are no better, but even though I found the characters unsettling, I kept reading as I wanted to see what the promised twists might be. I was surprised even though I was suspicious about a certain character straight away which proved to be correct, but not in a way I expected. So I gave this half a point extra for that. Interestingly, I found the case that Alison was working on – a domestic murder trial – more gripping than the actual plot but I also think this book could’ve been written without that case being mentioned. With themes of alcoholism, infidelity, gas lighting, emotional abuse and rape present throughout, it makes for a heavy read that some readers may find triggering. Gentle readers, this may not be one for you.

3.5/5

Christina Lauren: Unhoneymooners

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

So the plot sounds a bit ludicrous but I’m always willing to lower my believability standards a bit when it comes to romance novels. If you’ve ever watched a classic Hollywood rom-com, this is the same thing just in the form of a book! It was funny, cheesy, predictable and overly dramatic. Every single cliche you can imagine was in this book but… I liked it. I chose it because I expected it to be like that, a light funny read and I laughed and turned pages and finished it in two days so it was a success.

I really liked Olive as a female lead character. She felt normal and relatable. Sometimes writers go to the extremes and make the characters either so perfect or have them be so unbelievably messy you question how they can even function. Olive just struck the right chord and I enjoyed the banter back and forth between her and Ethan.

All in all, the perfect summer read!

4/5

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