Wednesday 4 March 2020

2020 Reading Challenge | Books 1-5

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Last year, I decided to set myself a Reading Challenge through Goodreads. I aimed for 80 books but ended up falling short, reading just 57 books. I wanted to do another for 2020 and realised that with 52 weeks in a year, my target of 80 in 2019 was totally unrealistic. This year, I've set myself a target of 60, hoping I can beat last year by 3. Feel free to add me on Goodreads to share reviews.

I will do my book reviews in the same way as last year, by way of round ups after every five books. Here's what I've been reading lately.

1) Sleep by C.L. Taylor - 5/5 

Blurb: All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn't feel so guilty...

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying - about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Review: A dark, twisty book that I absolutely loved!

Anna is driving three colleagues back from a work retreat and they get into a car accident. Two of her colleagues die and the other is injured. She feels a lot of guilt over what happened so she decides to move to a remote Scottish island and work at a hotel.

Before she left, she was receiving eerie messages which continue even after she moves. You suspect every person staying at the hotel and the twists and turns are great.

2) Little Friends by Jane Shemilt - 3/5 

Blurb: Their children are friends first. They hit it off immediately, as kids do. And so the parents are forced to get to know each other. Three wildly different couples. Three marriages, floundering.

There are barbecues, dinner parties, a holiday in Greece. An affair begins, resentments flare, and despite it all the three women become closer.

Unnoticed, their children run wild. The couples are so busy watching each other that they forget to watch their children.

Until tragedy strikes.

Because while they have been looking the other way, evil has crept into their safe little world and every parent's nightmare is about to begin...

Review: The story follows three families; Eve and Eric and their children Poppy, Sorrel and Ash; Grace and Martin and their children Charley and Blake; Melissa and Paul and their daughter Izzy.

The three families spend a lot of time together, even holidaying together, when their children become friends. The POV flits between Melissa, Eve and Grace and it's written well. The women are so caught up with their own lives and what the others are doing that they don't realise what's going on right under their noses. 

I enjoyed the story but there was no chase, urgency or anything that really gripped me. I had guessed the ending so the red herrings that were thrown in just weren't effective.

3) The Chain by Adrian McKinty - 4/5 

Blurb: You are not the first and you will certainly not be the last.


You will become each one.

Your phone rings.

A stranger has kidnapped your child.

To free them you must abduct someone else's child.

Your child will be released when your victim's parents kidnap another child.

If any of these things don't happen, your child will be killed.

You are now part of the chain.

Review: Rachel's daughter Kylie is kidnapped and receives a call telling her that in order to get Kylie back, she must kidnap someone else's child and give their parents the same call that she is receiving. Rachel and Pete, her ex-brother-in-law, then try to work out who is behind The Chain.

The plot is great but a little unbelievable at times. I didn't like Rachel's character progression either. I saw where the story was going and was annoyed that Rachel didn't see it when all of the signs where there. I've only dropped one star though as it is generally an enjoyable book.

4) Stop at Nothing by Tammy Cohen - 4/5 

Blurb: Tess has always tried to be a good mother. Of course, there are things she wishes she'd done differently, but doesn't everyone feel that way?

Then Emma, her youngest daughter, is attacked on her way home from a party, plunging them into a living nightmare which only gets worse when the man responsible is set free.

So when Tess sees the attacker in the street near their home, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. But blinded by her need to protect her daughter at any cost, might she end up putting her family in even greater danger?

Review: I am conflicted about this one. I've rated it 4 but really it's 3.5 rounded up.

The plot is great! Tessa's daughter Emma is attacked by a man when she gets off the bus and is stopped by a kind passerby, Frances, who ends up escorting her home and builds a relationship with both Tessa and Emma. 

Tessa is divorced and is still coming to terms with the fact that her husband left her for another woman. She becomes fixated on finding the man who attacked her daughter, going as far as finding out his name, where he lives and looking up his social media profiles.

I don't want to spoil the ending but to me it was pretty obvious where it was going to go and Tessa's fixation on making the attacker pay was a bit long and drawn out. I liked it but I didn't love it.

5) If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane - 5/5 

Blurb: Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance
(They set the rules via email)

Everyone can see they're head over heels 
(They staged the photos)

This must be true love
(They're faking it)

When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she's blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together.

So when she gets stuck in a lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet...

But this fauxmance is about to get complicated. You can't break your heart in a fake relationship - can you?

Review: The fact that I finished it in 24 hours speaks volumes. I've said before that romance or 'chick lit' would never be my first choice because I love crime thrillers too much but my mind may be changing!

Laurie and Dan have been together for 18 years, since university, until he tells her that he doesn't want that life anymore. They work at the same law firm in different departments so will end up seeing each other quite a lot.

One of Laurie's colleagues, Jamie, is looking to make partner and as Laurie is held in good standing at the firm, he suggests they fake a relationship to make him look better and to make Dan jealous.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It has so much depth, the characters are well developed and it was just a fun, easy read.

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