What I Read: June 2020

Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

What a book! Beautifully written, and stunningly descriptive! This book is set in two different timelines. In the first, from 1952, we follow Kya’s life from the age of five. The other is set in present day 1969, where Chase Andrews’ death is being investigated. Even though the beginning was very slow, boring at times and hard to get used to the language, I couldn’t stop reading it, even though I don’t really read these kinds of books! I was left feeling very sad for Kya, first her mother leaves, then her siblings and even her awful father. Left on her own by the entire town, she survives without schooling or any aid. I got so emotionally invested that I really hoped through the whole book she would have a happy ending. The marsh is a character on its own. The way Owens writes about nature is very poetic and it transports you in time to the marshes of North Carolina. This book is a love letter to nature, but it is also a beautiful story about surviving and about what you can accomplish when people believe in you. At the same time, it’s a story which causes us to examine our prejudices against those who are different from us and It’s also a story about the beauty of human relationships, and how much they give us, even through the simplest of interactions. I could write forever about it but all in all it’s thought provoking, and emotional and so different from anything I’ve ever read before. I highly recommend it!

5/5

Laura Jane Williams: Our Stop

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.

Our Stop is a light, sweet and funny rom-com, a perfect summer read. The idea was sweet but by the end, I got annoyed with the amount of times they missed each other. If I’m honest I think this happened a few too many times and it made the book a bit predictable. I found myself getting a bit frustrated with it. I liked Daniel’s character but I couldn’t understand Nadia at times. Even though it was constantly pointed out how Nadia is smart, her decisions were questionable at times and her life is in such a mess that she can’t even take a 7:30 train for two days in a row (another frustrating thing). I ended up skimming some pages because I just wanted them to finally meet.

Overall, I loved the city aura and the cute meet moment. I really liked the characters and idea behind the story, but the repetitiveness and constant missed opportunities started to take away from the romance.

3/5

Mark Edwards: The House Guest

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side. So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York. They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her. As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

I have read all books by Mark Edwards but I’m sorry to say this one is somewhere in the bottom half. Although this story is written in Edwards’ speedy, fun, action-packed style which I love, the plot simply didn’t hold my interest. Initially, as events occurred following Eden’s stay at the house, the plot was quite intriguing but once the explanation was revealed, it fell a bit flat. It was just a bit unbelievable I actually can’t say much more than that, for fear of giving away spoilers, but the direction the story took was very meh for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this book is bad, I loved the New York setting and the pace was great but it’s just not up to Mark Edwards usual standards.

3/5

Candice Carty-Williams: Queenie

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

This book is advertised as a modern day Bridget Jones. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t expect romance and comedy. Instead you will get very difficult story of a young Jamaican British woman who is going through a difficult period in her life and completely self-destructing. The first half of the book really got on my nerves, as it was a never-ending series of bad decisions and their consequences. But the second half, when Queenie finally, finally starts getting her shit together and puts her life back on track, was definitely better. This book is hard to read at times because it explores topics such as racism, anxiety, mental health, domestic violence, gentrification, sexualisation of the black body, consent, miscarriages, childhood trauma, sexual harrassment and so much more, so be prepared.

3/5

Alice Feeney: His & Hers

Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it. When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown―the sleepy countryside village where she grew up―Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it. DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation. One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth.

I read Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are by the same author but it was just an average read so I I wasn’t even sure if I should even read this one. But my mind was blown! This was much more twisted than I was expecting. This book is full of everything you love to hate, unreliable narrators, unlikeable characters with messy pasts and creepy woods. I was second guessing everything the whole way through as the story unravelled. Just when I thought I had everything figured another twist would take me in a new direction. Alice Feeney cleverly overlaps the narrators own versions of the truth, weaving them together and slowly revealing the full story to the reader chapter by chapter.  I read so many psychological thrillers so you’d think I would be able to work it out… not this time. Overall, I loved this book and cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m sure it will be in my top 10 thrillers in 2020.

5/5

Christy Lefteri: The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo gives names and faces to the people we see on the TV as a Syrian refugees. People who were living their lives, working their jobs, raising their families, and enjoying everyday home life until the war and fighting killed their friends, neighbors, and family. From its first pages, this book will hit you hard. And even though it’s a fiction, it’s realistic, Lefteri knows what she’s writing about. She worked as a volunteer at a refugee center in Athens for two years. The story is not about war, but rather the effects of war on the mind and body. It contains disturbing content, and I would recommend reading this while in a good state of mind. It’s a very thought provoking, heartbreaking, beautifully written book that everyone needs to read.

5/5

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