Wednesday 17 April 2019

2019 Reading Challenge | Books 16-20 Round-Up

I seem to by flying through books this year and it's already time to write my round-up of books 16-20! You can catch up with 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15. Don't forget to add me on Goodreads too!

Cape May by Chip Cheek - 3/5 

"September 1957

Henry and Effie, young newlyweds from Georgia, arrive in Cape May, New Jersey, for their honeymoon. It's the end of the season and the town is deserted. As they tentatively discover each other, they begin to realise that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happily-ever-after fantasy.

Just as they get ready to cut the trip short, a decadent and glamorous set suddenly sweep them up into their drama - Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara's lover; and Alma, Max's aloof and mysterious half-sister.

The empty beach town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, make love, and drink a great deal of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with irrevocable consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives..."

It's 1957, Effie and Henry are 18 and 20, newlyweds, and visit Cape May for their honeymoon to Effie's family holiday home as she remembers wonderful summers there. It's Fall so the place is deserted, apart from one other house which they discover belongs to Clara Strauss, a lady who Effie doesn't think fondly of. They develop a new friendship with her, her lover Max and his younger sister Alma.

The book mainly focuses on this honeymoon period in Cape May in the 50s. Effie and Henry discovering each other properly for the first time, but also how the other half live (sex, drinking, losing their innocence) and the whole experience changes them. It is filled with sex scenes, I'm no prude, but there are maybe a bit too many than are needed and they don't really add much to the story.

I went through the book loving parts of it but then feeling let down and a little bored, which is my reason for the 'middle of the road' rating. The honeymoon, and main part of the book, I feel is stretched and a little thin and repetitive, but those last scenes after they leave Cape May and we hear about their future were probably my favourite parts. The scenery descriptions in the book were wonderful too.

Thank you Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for the ARC. 

The Rumour by Lesley Kara - 4/5 
"When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now, there's no going back.

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flintstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago - no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman. 

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? 
How dangerous can one rumour become? 
And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she's unleashed?"

I really enjoyed this book. It's set in a small seaside town where everyone knows everyone. A rumour starts between the school mums at pick up time that a child killer is living amongst them with a new identity under witness protection.

Rumours keep flying around the town and you start to feel wary of everyone. I didn't see the twist coming at all! A very good read.

As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Cheney - 3/5 
"'My wife! I think she's dead!' Matt frantically calls to park rangers, explaining that he and his wife, Marie, were out hiking when she stumbled off the cliff edge and fell into the raging river below. They start a search but aren't hopeful: no one could have survived that fall. It's a tragic accident.

But when police discover Matt's first wife also died in suspicious circumstances - a fire in their family home - they have a lot more questions for him.

Is Matt a grieving husband, or has he just killed his second wife? Detectives Loren and Spengler dig into the couple's lives to see what they can unearth. And they find that love's got teeth, it's got claws, and once it hitches you to a person, it's tough to rip yourself free.

So what happens when you're done making it work?" 

I went into this book excited by the blurb - a man whose two wives both die in suspicious circumstances years apart? I was expecting him to have been let off of the first one somehow, then a huge investigation starts after the second, but it was sort of all over the place.

It started very strong. The timeline flips between the circumstances surrounding Matt's first wife Janice's death, then his second wife, Marie's, in present day. It then goes into an investigation but a subplot is introduced here, regarding one of the detectives (whose name is Ralph Loren and I honestly couldn't stop thinking of Ralph Lauren every time) but I didn't care too much for that. I just wanted to hear about the wives' deaths and what actually happened.

In the interest of keeping my review spoiler-free, although the writing and descriptions were great, I honestly felt myself getting a bit bored of the incessant twists and turns. I had quite a few eye roll moments and I groaned a little at the ending. It felt like too much.

I did like the references to how women can be just as strong as men, it's all about empowering women and I really liked the female officer, Spengler. It had the makings of a great book. The actual main plot was decent but too many twists for me.

Thank you Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for the ARC. This book will be published on 16th May 2019.

The Girl At The Door by Veronica Raimo - 3/5 
"A tense, provocative and nuanced novel about a rape accusation in an idyllic commune.

I was in my sixth month when the girl came knocking.

The girl came empty handed. On the threshold, her hair down, her jeans tight.

'Are you the professor's wife?' the girl asked me. 'I have to speak to you,' she said.

'The professor raped me,' the girl said." 

This book is set in Miden, a society constructed after something called the Crash. It is run by Commissions, you need to be vetted before you can live there, it is a place where positivity is enforced and you even need permission for people to visit.

It is told from the perspective of Him (the professor) and Her (the professor's sixth month pregnant girlfriend) - we don't learn any names throughout. One day, "The Girl" tells the pregnant girlfriend that her professor raped her a couple of years back.

The story follows life for the two of them in Miden, after moving from their country, as well as the Commission having to basically decided whether or not the professor is guilty by having his friends and peers fill out questionnaire's about his character.

The writing style, I didn't gel with, and a lot of it confused me. The information about Miden was peppered into each chapter and I think I would have preferred a proper bulk background of the commune at the beginning.

Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the ARC. This book will be published on 11th June 2019.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister - 5/5 

"It's the end of the night. You're walking home on your own.

Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Getting faster.

You're sure it's him - the man from the bar who wouldn't leave you alone.

You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor. Now what?

Call 999 
Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope your husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you.


Stay silent. You didn't mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. For ever.

Which will it be?" 

I don't think I'll ever not like a book that Gillian McAllister has written.

Joanna is being harrassed by a man in a bar whilst on a night out with her friend. When walking home, she hears footsteps approaching, getting faster. She panics, pushes him and he falls down concrete steps. He doesn't move.

The chapters flit between 'Conceal' - Joanna choosing to run from the scene and pretend is didn't happen; and 'Reveal' - what happens if she stays and calls an ambulance.

It's so cleverly written, the timeline is exactly the same but just tells you what happens with either decision. It's such a great read and you really can imagine yourself in that position and feel the way Joanna is feeling.

Have you read anything good lately that I should check out?
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