What a month. A summer following months of lockdown means that we have been outside as much as possible, enjoying the days together before the kids headed back to school. We still managed a few weekends away in our new caravan though which was the perfect setting to read.
I managed 6 books this month, with a mix of genres as well as a little walk down memory lane. This brings me to 51 books in 2020. Soooooo close to my target of 52!
No One Saw by Beverly Long AD | eARC
When five-year-old Emma Whitman goes missing from her day care provider, it seems that no one saw anything. However, with a grandmother who is adamant she dropped Emma off with her teacher and a teacher who is adamant that no one saw Emma all day, it is clear that someone is lying. However, will the detectives be able to find out who before it’s too late.
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Beverly Long and I don’t think it will be my last. Although it’s obviously part of a larger Detective A. L. Kittridge series, it reads as a standalone book which was nice.
No One Saw had a great pace and was written in a style that really kept you with A. L. and his partner Rena through the investigation. It wasn’t action packed, but the writing style really flowed well and it kept you enthralled every step of the way.
The Hand The Eye and The Heart by Zoe Marriott
Wow. What a book. I love a good fairy tale retelling and this rework of Mulan is beautifully written and filled with wonderful themes of identity, friendship and love.
I love how The Hand The Eye and The Heart delves down deeper beneath the traditional themes of family and honour usually associated with Mulan, and adds in the additional question they have about their gender and identity as a whole.
I found Hua Zhi incredibly likeable and I found myself with them every step of the way, hoping that they get their happy ending. Brilliant book and one i would recommend to anyone like me who loves a traditional story retold.
I read this on BorrowBox too which is free to use through your local library, so it’s definitely worth checking it out before buying books.
Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
Midnight Sun is the much-anticipated novel which retells Twilight but from Edwards point of view. I re-read Twilight back in May when I realised that this follow up was coming out and couldn’t wait to delve into this copy as soon as it dropped on my kindle.
As with many much-anticipated things though I was a little disappointed but it’s hard to put into words exactly why. I think overall it’s because Edwards voice just isn’t what I imaged it would be. Jesus that boy can WHINE. For a vampire who is more than 100 years old, he seems to be a love-sick puppy in the throws of whiney teenage angst for most of the time.
I couldn’t help but think that maybe Meyer has lost her love for this series and that’s what’s showing through. Perhaps some leftover bitterness over the first leaked manuscript or just a lack of patience for the teenage world now. Or maybe it’s just me that’s grown too much to be able to pick this up and enjoy it as a fresh “new” book. I don’t know. Whatever it was, it tainted the book for me.
HOWEVER (and this is a big however) I still really enjoyed the book and am incredibly glad I read it, and will most likely read it again with fresh eyes and lower expectations. And this is most likely where my disappointment stems from. A bit like when they make your favourite book into a film, it is never quite as good as you imaged.
There are a lot of good bits though. Midnight Sun feels more mature than the rest of the series. Whether that’s because Meyer has lived in the Twilight world she created for so much longer, that it’s written from Edwards perspective (after all he was born in 1901) or whether it’s just because I’m 10 years older now, I don’t know. But it was interesting to read something that was both so familiar and yet so different at the same time.
All in all, it this was a delightful and nostalgic trip down memory lane. Edwards POV gives a lovely insight into many of the characters that I loved more than 10 years ago.
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Yeah, this one shouldn’t be a surprise!! After reading Midnight Sun, I had the urge to re-read the second book in the Twilight Saga. I have no doubt that the other two books will follow at some point too!
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
The clue is probably in the title, but Jesus this was dark. So much so that I took a break at about 30% read to indulge in a little Bella and Edward with New Moon above for some relief.
Expertly written, it follows Vanessa’s story; a story that is incredibly difficult to read at times. You see, at 15 Vanessa starts a relationship with her 42 year old teacher. A dark and twisted relationship that lasts well into her 30’s and moulds her entire life. Written in both the present – where in the midst of the me too movement other victims of his come forward – as well as in the past.
What is different about My Dark Vanessa though is that Vanessa doesn’t see herself as a victim. Instead she sees what they did as the ultimate love story with echoes of Lolita woven throughout. This is the hardest part to read and what Russell handles so brilliantly in her writing. She recognises that abuse like this is rarely black and white for the victims and expertly shows us through the two contrasting timelines just how disjointed from the truth Vanessa’s perspective is.
I can’t say I enjoyed this book. It left me so incredibly sad over how much damage was done and the lies that everyone tells themselves in order to survive. Both Strane’s lies and manipulation to live with what he did, and Vanessa’s to simply survive.
“Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?”
There is no doubt that My Dark Vanessa is a compelling read though. Horrifically captivating as you turn the pages on Vanessa’s story. It is written in the grey area of a topic that from the outside looking in we want to make black and white. Unfortunately for those people who live and survive it though, it continues to exists in a shadow that follows them for the rest of their lives.
The kindle edition is currently £2.99 if anyone wants to give it a go.
Afterlife by Stephanie Hudson
This was a 99p Facebook ad sponsored by which popped up on my newsfeed one day and intrigued but the premise I handed over my pound in return for what ended up being a pretty massive book (530 pages!)
Keira is running from her past. With arms she hides and a history she fiercely protects, she has moved from the UK to the US to start again. However, when she meets Dominic Draven, a new obsession is sparked. Draven has secrets of his own though as well as a tendency of blowing hot and cold, leaving Keira unsure about where she stands and whether she can save her heart which already seems to be lost.
The story itself have enough substance to keep you interested and by the end of the book you have a cast of pretty great characters that you are curious enough to wonder what happens to them next. However, with 12 books in the series, this is a marathon not a sprint!
What I really liked about it though is this is also a book with a lot of fun. Hudson is a British writer and her quirky sense of humour (and very British love for a good cuppa tea) shines through in her writing. I did find Keira’s timidness annoying at first but she soon finds her backbone and as her story is slowly unveiled, the reasons why become clear.
This is a great book for anyone who likes their stories with a good dose of the supernatural and at 99p, it’s a bargain.
Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks AD | eARC – abandoned!
Unfortunately I abandoned this one. It’s not something that I ever do lightly as I like to see books through to the end. However, I could only push through to 61% of this one. I had to jump ship when an additional awful character joined two other awful characters who simply should have in all honestly divorced a VERY long time ago!
I can usually look past unlikable characters if the plot is good and the story makes it worth it, but to be honest this is one domestic drama that did nothing to grab my attention and sadly even less to keep it. Sorry!
And that’s it! Gutted to have abandoned one, but I’ve got to the point now where life is just too short to keep reading a book that you are just not enjoying.
- Books read this month: 6
- Books read so far in 2020: 51
- Books abandoned: 1
What about you? Have you read anything this month that you would recommend?
DISCLOSURE: some of these books have been gifted to me by the publishers via NetGalley in return for my honest opinion. These books are clearly marked with AD and described as an ARC (Advance Readers Copy). I am not paid to do this, I do it because I love to read. The decision to include them on this blog is my own and I am under no obligation to do so.
* I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk.