I realised the other day that I started to blog about what I had been reading and, like everything else, I forget to keep it up. I am going to try to write more regular blogs this year (I promise I will update the renovation journey at some point too). Here’s a look at the books I read this month and my thoughts on them.

Just as a little recap, I used to absolutely love reading. Then I went to university and all I had time to read were textbook and journal articles (nothing much has changes – MSc life). However, when lockdown started back in March I desperately needed something to entertain me and distract my mind and thus the bookish Meg returned. I aimed to read one book per month in 2020 and exceeded this by reading 21. I am aiming for 25 books in 2021!

Now I have to say, this has been a strong start to the reading year and it makes me slightly apprehensive moving forwards that I’ll soon end up in slump but we won’t let my inner pessimist win!

Book 1 – No Exit by Taylor Adams

‘A thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath. A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

Overall I really enjoyed this book – it was definitely a fast-paced and nail biting read. The premise is that of a nightmare and this book genuinely had me on edge from start to finish. A solid thriller with lots of twists and turns. 

At times it is a bit senesationalised and reminds me of a movie rather than a believable book but that’s part of suspending your disbelief I guess. I saw the first twist coming but there were plenty of turns that blindsided me and I finished the second half of the book in one sitting! I also really loved the prologue and thought this finished everything nicely.

3.5/5 stars!

Book 2 – The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

‘Between life and death there is a library. When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

The prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective’ – The Midnight Library 

What can I say about this book other than I bloody loved it! Such a unique and interesting premise and full to the brim with beautifully explored themes of life, regret, mental health, grief, change, perspective etc. It’s just incredible. I was worried that it would be a bit ‘teeny’ but I was wrong.

It was so beautifully written. The language, description and character narrative is so engaging. I honestly think this will stay up there as one of my favourite books I’ve read. The plot is fantastic and didnt go where I thought it would. I was also worried that the ending may not live up to the rest of the book but I was very pleased to be wrong. I loved the way it ended. 

A beautiful, unique and moving book that explores the highs, lows and complexity of what it means to live. Utterly brilliant. 

5/5 stars.

Book 3 – The Whisper Man by Alex North

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town: Featherbank. But Featherbank has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window.

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll the whispers spoken” – The Whisper Man 

Oh my goodness! What an incredible book. Probably the best crime thriller I have read. I didn’t know how I would take to it as the premise is so scary and I’m not a huge horror fan but it’s the perfect mix of scary, thrill and crime.

The whole plot is truly terrifying and this book made me very paranoid at home alone at night. Genuinely had me gasping out loud at times and a real page-turner once you get going that made me want to race through it but also savour the book as I didn’t want it to end. So many twists and turns that I did not see coming and some oh so dark themes – muder, child murder, child abuse, grief, paranormal activity, macabre, sexual deviance, alcoholism, abuse to name a few. 

The writing is excellent and the changes in narrative is not usually something I enjoy when it’s numerous characters but this works so well. Each character can be distinguished and I looked forward to the swap in perspective as it really enhanced the storytelling. The ending was also perfect which is a hard to come by and nothing was overally sensationalised in my opinion which has been the case with. lots of other books in this genre.

A book like this is a rare find and I would urge anyone who loves a good thrill to read this book immediately. Just make sure you’re ready to have the fear instilled in you.

5/5 stars.

Book 4 – The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window.’

“It’s weird how easily you can get to know someone from the traces they leave behind” – The Flat Share 

I chose The Flat Share to finish off January as a much needed change of pace and it truly didn’t disappoint. I had originally bought this to take on holiday last year and have been avoiding it as it made me sad but I finally decided to get a grip!

Such an interesting premise that was not at all the cliche, over the top romcom I thought it would be. I was immediately invested in all the characters, particularly Tiffy and Leon, and devoured this book over a weekend. I am always hesitant when I know a book is going to cover elements of domestic abuse as it’s my line of work, but this was very well done and I feel captures the reality of gaslighting and dealing with trauma and tactics of perpetrators post break up. Loved the Johnny White (I’m a sucker for a cute old man) and Holly storylines and thought all the characters were so interesting and engaging. 

This book reminds me of how I felt reading Me Before You and has now been added to the romcom hall of fame. Just a great light-hearted-heart-warming bit of fiction.

5/5 stars.

There we have it! 4 books to start of the year and a really strong bunch – some of my new faves. I am trying to read a mix of genres this year so am happy with two thrillers, a contemporary rom-com and a straight up fiction. Fingers crossed February brings some good picks too – leave me your book recommendations in the comments!

Meg xo

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