Tuesday 19 February 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 1-5 Round-up

In the tail end of 2018, I decided that I wanted to get back into reading. I read a lot as a child and teenager but I found that I obviously had less time after becoming a parent and dealing with newborns and toddlers. Now that C and E are 6 and 4 they are more independent so I get more time to myself, especially in the evenings when they are in bed. I started using my Goodreads account (feel free to add me as a friend) and noticed that I could set a Reading Challenge for the year. I didn't see the point of setting one so close to the end of the year so I decided to wait until the beginning of 2019.

I have decided to push myself a bit and have set my 2019 Reading Challenge to 80 books. With only 52 weeks in a year, it'll be no mean feat but I am determined to try. I do share my reads as I go along on my Instagram stories and you can see them in my Highlights too. After every five books I read, I will do a little round-up on the blog about what I've been reading, rate them and give a brief review. 
Here's what I've read so far:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - 3/5

"A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight.
A prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. 
A scandal that will rock Westminster.
And the women caught at the heart of it."

I bought this book because I'd seen it on the shelf of a few supermarkets and kept being drawn to it so I had really high hopes that it would be good.

The book started really slowly and I didn't feel myself liking any of the characters at all. The jumping between narratives and timelines confused me, I don't usually get too confused by this but it just happened too much.

It took the twist to happen, around halfway through, to pique my interest but then it sort of went downhill again. The story itself was generally good but it felt a bit too unrealistic and the cliffhanger style ending irked me a little.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult - 4/5

"The Center for women's reproductive health offers a last chance at hope - but nobody ends up there by choice.
It's very existence is controversial, and to the demonstrators who barricade the building every day, the service it offers is no different from legalised murder.
Now life and death decisions are being made horrifyingly real; a lone protester with a gun has taken the staff, patients and visitors hostage.
Starting at the tensest moment in the negotiations for their release, A Spark Of Light unravels backwards, revealing hour by urgent hour what brought each of these people - the gunman, the negotiator, the doctors, nurses and women who have come to them for treatment - to this point.
And certainties unwind as truths and secrets are peeled away, revealing the complexity of balancing the right to life with the right to choose."

I won this copy from a web giveaway at NB Books and I couldn't wait to get stuck in after reading the blurb even though it probably isn't a book I would choose myself.

A Spark Of Light is a very, very good book centering around a women's reproductive health centre and tackles the topic of pro-life and pro-choice. I wasn't a fan of how the story was told backwards chronologically at first (I think I like things more linear), but those two twists that I didn't see coming at the end made more sense that way and I knew instantly why it had been written in that style.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward - 5/5

"Maddie and Ian's romance began when he was serving in the British Army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend Jo in Europe. Now, sixteen years later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America.
But when an accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo. 
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, the years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
But what in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?"

This isn't the actual cover as I won this uncorrected proof copy from the publisher, Quercus Books, in an Instagram giveaway.

You are drawn straight in with a main character who is obviously struggling, mentally, and then a murder. The chapters flit between the Day of the Killing, the week's leading up to the killing, Maddie's therapy sessions and from the early 2000's to present day - all focusing on Maddie and Ian, how they met and how their relationship develops. It has a fantastic twisty ending and everything is tied up very nicely. A very good read! It will be published on March 21st and I would really recommend getting your hands on a copy.

Apple Of My Eye by Claire Allan - 4/5

"Eliana Hughes should be over the moon. She has her dream job, a loving husband and a baby on the way.
But when a threatening note arrives at the hospice where she works, Eli's life begins to spiral out of control. As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to expose Eli's husband as a cheat, Eli finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts. And as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.
Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother - and stay one..." 

I had Apple Of My Eye on my Goodreads 'want to read' list for months leading up to it's publication date and I found it on sale at Tesco a few days after it's release and couldn't leave without buying it. It is a really fantastic thriller told from the perspective of Eli (Eliana), her mother Angela and a third unknown woman, "Louise". It is so creepy the whole way throughout and I liked that it was locally based (Belfast/Derry). I was kicking myself that I didn't see "it" coming!

Believe Me by JP Delaney - 4/5

"A British drama student in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.
When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to help lure their suspect into a confession. But it Patrick Fogler really a killer... Or is there more to this set-up than she's being told?
And that's when Claire realises she's playing the most deadliest role of her life..."

One word to describe this book would be: bizarre. But not in a bad way. The book that you start reading seems completely different to the book that you finish reading. 
Claire, a British actress in the USA, starts working for a divorce firm trying to catch out straying husbands via hidden camera in a bar. A murder occurs and she helps the police out, trying to trap the suspect but it completely spirals. It's a book full of murders that all seem to be based on an obsession with Baudelaire's 'Les fleurs du mal' poetry. 
It is so twisty that you don't know which way the book is going to go and I actually sat in disbelief at the end and I already feel like I need to read it and enjoy it again.

Have you read anything good lately or have any recommendations for me? 
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