What I Read: January 2021

Matt Haig: The Midnight Library

After life becomes to overwhelming for Nora to handle, she decides she no longer wants to live. She finds herself in-between life and death in the Midnight Library. Here, there are thousands upon thousands of books showing all the alternative lives she could have lived if she didn’t make certain mistakes. Nora now has the opportunity to find her perfect life, but will she go for it?

It’s been weeks since I’ve finished this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a really cool concept that between life and death there is a library where you get an opportunity to see how your life would look like if you’ve made a different decision. I think a lot about this, what my life would be like had I made different choices. This book forces you to ask hard questions, like what makes a life worth living and are your dreams really something you want? I love the way this book talks about regrets and how most of the time our regrets are bunch of nonsense and are out of our control but they still are causing a major burden on our life. The writing is amazing and picks up really fast. Once you get into the book, it’s hard to put it down. A must read! I would recommend it to everyone!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Eve Chase: The Glass House

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

The first bit had me slightly bored, and the characters were all a bit confusing as we switched between 3 different POVs, two from the past and one from the present. But as we keep going, things clear up, and you just get sucked right into the imagery, and the deep, dark secrets of the Harrington family. It takes a talented storyteller to pull off a multi-layered, emotional story like this but Eve Chase does a great job! This is very much a slower paced character driven story and despite the inclusion of a dead body, it’s not a crime story. It’s more of a domestic drama with a mystery which builds slowly. Not the type of the book I normally read but I really enjoyed this one. This is the first book I’ve read from this author but I will definitelly read more!

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Cara Hunter: In the Dark

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive. No one knows who they are — the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

Last month I started DI Adam Fawley series by reading one book each month so here we are! I love this series so much and I can’t believe I just discovered Cara Hunter! I liked this one even more than the first one. Loved that this book kept me on my toes with lots of suspects along the way. It’s really fast paced with lots of twists . At first it seems like an open and shut case but as the story unfolds it is revealed to be grittier and darker! If you haven’t read the first one, it’s ok because it can be read as standalone even though it could help if you knew backstories of investigative team as we are getting more of it in this book. If you are looking for a fast paced, easy read, I high recommend this one.

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C.J. Tudor: The Burning Girls

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself. Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider

Since reading The Chalkman C.J. Tudor is on auto-buy for me. Her books just never disappoint me. This is a complex mystery, a bit of a character driven slow burn, but the fact that it is composed of 3 POVs moving about in different directions really produced an eerie, page turning journey. I have to warn you, this is a pretty dark book. There are quite a few of in depth events of bullying, and some of the plot parts are boarder line horror. Too be honest I thought it will be much scarier when I saw the name of the book but luckily it wasn’t the main story of the book. On the other hand, the atmosphere of the small cottage coupled with the crumbling chapel, had me freaked out and I was yelling at the characters for going places. There are some surprising twists and turns. Although, some big clues are given early on, and if one catches on, not much will be surprising. Overall, this was fun, quick read. I recommend it to those who love a good thriller, tons of twists, and a hint of horror. 

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Brit Bennett: The Vanishing Half

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

I loved the premise and the theme of the book, it covered wide range of subjects from colourism and passing for white, classism, domestic violence, racism to identity issues and LGBTQIA+. It was fascinating and sad seeing how different the lives of the twins, their daughters, and their significant others were. Not only because of the choices they made, but in a way their race played a part too. But…even though this book’s message was heavy, relevant and timely it was sometimes a chore to read. I felt it was lacking depth, especially with the trans character Reese. I still don’t understand why this is brought up in this story if there wasn’t intention to be explored more. Also first 1/3 of the book was very slow and the ending was strange and hurried. I turned the last few pages expecting some of the loose ends to be tied up, but there were no real answers. Overall, this book is equally educational and entertaining. I feel my expectations were too high but that’s not the reason someone else won’t like it.

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Hazel Prior: Away With Penguins

86 year old Veronica McCreedy is a very wealthy woman living in a coastal mansion, The Ballahays, in Ayrshire. She has been lonely and alone for a long time, with no family, divorced, her only human contact is with Eileen who comes in to clean. Veronica is contemplating her life and what do with her money, when a grandson is unearthed, Patrick, living in Bolton. Patrick’s life has fallen apart, his girlfriend, Lynette, has left him, leaving him gobsmacked, having to move, and financially poorer. When Veronica and Patrick soon meet, expectations are not met, and intentions are misunderstood. Their parting is laced with mutual disappointment. Veronica then stumbles upon a television show about penguins one night – and falls head over heels for the pint-sized feathered friends. Quicker than a blink, she books a trip to a penguin research centre in Antarctica in order to learn all about the adorable creatures.

If, like me, you adore penguins, then Hazel Prior’s moving and hopeful novel will be the perfect read. This book is so charming and comforting, it’s like a big mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows . The story alternates between Patrick’s and Veronica’s points of views. Veronica is one of those prickly characters who sneaks up on you until you find yourself cheering her on. Patrick may seem like a lost young man drifting through life, but there is so much more to discover about him. In the beginning I didn’t like Patrick’s chapters but later I got into it.With a little bit of romance, gentle humour and an environmental message, this is definitely one for the penguin lovers out there and for those who enjoy a heartwarming, feel-good tale.

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