Mini Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it! It follows Vanessa both in the present day and in the past when she had a relationship with her teacher Jacob Straynewhile she was still a student. Vanessa hears that a woman who went to the same school has accused Strayne of grooming and abusing her and she wants Vanessa to also come forward. She is stunned because she believes her and Strayne were in a loving relationship. As the novel progresses it’s very uncomfortable to read how Strayne clearly groomed Vanessa, and to see how she viewed it as a mutual attraction. It’s also hard to read how she has remained friends with him in all the years since. Over the course of the book Vanessa is forced to confront what happened between her and Strayne and it’s devastating. This book is so stunningly written and it never shies away from the reality of what happened to Vanessa. This is a book that will really stay with me and I highly recommend it.

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so have been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The novel follows Jamie and his wife Claire, and a younger couple they become friends with, Kit and Melia. Claire and Jamie live in a big posh house that Claire inherited but Kit is obsessed with money and status. The novel opens with Jamie being questioned as Kit has disappeared and it seems he was the last person to see him. The timeline then goes back and forth between the present day and the year previous when the two men first met and became friends. This novel is increasingly dark and twisted and I loved that! Everyone in this book seems to be obsessed with status and where they are in relation to others which makes them so unlikeable and yet fascinating at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with this one, it keeps you guessing! I recommend it!

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so I was excited to read her new one. This book follows two women – Jenna and Sophie. Jenna is a busy A&E doctor and mum of two. She seems to have a perfect life but now someone is stalking her. She is increasingly anxious about the stalker and tries to find out more about them. Then one day he arrives in A&E after a serious accident and she is the doctor in charge. She has to decide if she’s treat him like any other patient or take matters into her own hands. Sophie is feeling increasingly trapped in her relationship. She loves the apartment they share but her boyfriend is tracking her movements and wanting her to account for where she has been every minute of the day. I was curious if the two women’s lives would interconnect and what would happen with Jenna’s stalker. I was gripped by this one and found it a fast-paced read. The first half is quite a slow-build and then the book starts accelerating – I really liked this pacing, it made me feel like I was trapped in this situation with Jenna. I recommend this one!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve previously read and loved The Rumour by this author so was looking forward to this one, and I did really enjoy it. It follows Astrid who is a recovering alcoholic and as a result of her problems is back living with her mum. She joins a local AA meeting and there meets two women – Rosie and Helen. She hits it off with one but is quickly suspicious of the other. She also soon feels like she is being followed and watched. I do love an unreliable narrator so loved how I wasn’t always sure about whether Astrid was telling us the truth of what happened. I enjoyed seeing Astrid trying to make a new life for herself and felt for her when she agonised over how much of her past she should reveal, and when. I did see where this book was going from early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment as I was keen to know if Astrid was going to be okay in the end. Plus there was more than meets the eye when the denouement does come!

That Was The Month That Was… June 2020!

June was one of those strange months that has sped by whilst also going really slowly. Does that even make sense?!

I’m still shielding and it looks like I will be until 1 August so nothing has really changed for me even though from what I see on the news a lot of the country is slowly returning to some kind of normality. I haven’t left the house yet, mainly because my asthma is really bad at the moment and it’s impossible to wear a mask when my breathing is already bad. My husband is still on furlough and we still don’t know when he’ll be returning to work, we’re waiting to hear.

Football is back so we’re enjoying watching that. It’s great having all of the matches televised although it does mean that some days we’re in danger of having square eyes! The waiting to see what’s happening with Newcastle United is getting endless now but what can you do?! At least it looks like we’re not going to be relegated!

My reading mojo is back in full swing and I read 30 books in June! It was helped by some sunny days in the garden where I only take a book out with me (no phone or laptop!) so I’m not distracted by anything. I also treated myself to some new wireless headphones so that I can listen to more of my audio books.

The Books I Read

The Posts I Blogged

Mini Book Reviews: The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper, The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel, His and Hers by Alice Feeney, and Funny Weather by Olivia Laing

Monthly Wrap-Up: That Was The Month That Was… May 2020

Mini Book Reviews: The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan, One Split Second by Caroline Bond, Living My Best Life by Claire Frost, and In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Mini Book Reviews: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell, When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill, Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa, and Born Lippy by Jo Brand

Review: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You by Louise Voss, Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan, While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins, and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Review: Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstoke by Hazel Barkworth, Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie, All The Lonely People by David Owen, The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

Review: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

How was June for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that June has been okay. What was your favourite book from June? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (1 Jul 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

I have a month of Kindle Unlimited at the moment and this book was one that really caught my eye. I started reading it late last night and I’ve been engrossed in it. It follows Jack – a man on the run following the murder of another man in a nursing home. The novel goes back and forth in time through Jack’s memories as he travels the North Yorkshire Moors in an attempt to escape. It’s beautifully written and reminds me of home. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one.

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

My husband bought me this for my birthday earlier this year after we’d been engrossed in the TV drama Chernobyl and he knew I wanted to know more about what happened. I finally picked the book up this week (one of my 20 Books of Summer TBR) and have been gripped by it. It’s really well-written and very readable. I’ve already learnt things I didn’t know before and am keen to read more of this in the coming days.

Recent Reads

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

I finished reading this yesterday and I can’t stop thinking about it. This is Patrisse’s memoir and she tells the story of her life, and of her father and her brother Monte and how they got trapped in the system. It’s heartbreaking and it will make you angry, it should make you angry. It was interesting to see how all the things in Patrisse’s life led to her, along with two other women, beginning the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a book that everyone should read and it’s certainly one that will stay with me.

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so was keen to get to this one. While it wasn’t quite as good it was still a very good read and it kept me guessing all the way to the reveal, which doesn’t happen very often so I was thrilled by that. It follows Jenna, and A&E doctor who has a stalker and one day the stalker is admitted to hospital after an accident. The story is narrated by Jenna, and Sophie, the sister of Jenna’s stalker and it’s really gripping.

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

I was a huge Mike Gayle fan back in the day but somehow haven’t read anything by him in quite a few years now. I spotted this book on my Audible account when I was looking for something to listen to and it was lovely to get back to a book by him. This follows a man trying to cope with life and his two young daughters after the sudden death of his wife. It also follows his late wife’s mum who moves in to help the family cope. It was an enjoyable listen.

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

I read this book a stave at a time on the Pigeonhole app and that was such a fun way to read this book, I quite enjoy being left on a cliffhanger and eagerly anticipating the next stave the following day. This novel follows Marie, whose best friend Nina has recently died. Marie wants to help Nina’s family and soon makes herself indispensable to them. It feels like Marie is far too obsessed but there is more to this novel than meets the eye and I really enjoyed the ride!

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

This is a memoir that explores what it is to struggle with your weight – both the physical weight of your own body but also the weight of being black in America and the weight of all the things that make you who you are. I listened to the audio of this and it was excellent. Kiese writes in such an open way about the things he has experienced and the affect it’s had on him and it’s impossible not to be moved by his story. I recommend this one.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is a lovely novel about the love between two friends – Hannah and Mona, who work together at the 24-hour cafe. The novel is first narrated by Hannah and later by Mona so we get to see both of their perspectives and to understand how they got to where they are. We also get to meet some of the customers of the cafe and I loved the snapshots we get of other people’s lives. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here.

All The Lonely People by David Owen

This is a thought-provoking novel that explores loneliness in such a different way. Kat is lonely but finds her people online, until one day a ‘prank’ is played on her that is so vile she feels she has no choice but to delete everything. She then literally begins to fade away. Wesley is one of the boys involved in the prank but he is also lonely. I found this such an interesting novel and it’s one I keep thinking about. I reviewed it here if you’d like to know more. I recommend it.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I loved this book! Queenie is such a real character, I was fully invested in her story. She’s in a relationship with a man who is gaslighting her, she medicates herself using sex and she’s trying to make a success of her career. She’s so feisty and no-nonsense but you start to see her vulnerable side and you just root for her all the way through his book. I was so angry at the way men treat her at times and wanted her to kick them all into touch and be happy. I definitely recommend this one.

What I Might Read Next

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve had this on my NetGalley shelf since before it was published and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet as I loved the author’s previous novel, The Rumour. This book is about Astrid, an alcoholic who is going to meetings and is working on righting her wrongdoings. But now someone knows what Astrid is running away from and they’re going to make sure she knows just what she did. This sounds great and I’m looking forward to picking it up.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I love Lisa Jewell’s novels so am delighted to have a copy of her new book from NetGalley. This is about Saffyre, a troubled woman who is dealing with the trauma of her past. One day she goes missing, and the last sighting of her is outside Owen’s house. He’s a loner who’s invisible in his own life, and now the finger of blame is pointing at him because he’s different. I can’t wait to read this one, it sounds so good!

Spring by Ali Smith

This week I got approved to read Ali Smith’s Summer on NetGalley so I really need to get on and read Spring asap. Spring is one of my 20 Books of Summer so I was planning to read it this summer anyway but now I have a push to read it sooner rather than later. I’ve really enjoyed the first two parts of this quartet so can’t wait to read more.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

I was sent a copy of this book for review quite a while ago now and I love Ruth Hogan’s writing so I don’t know why I haven’t read it before now. I added it to my 20 Books of Summer TBR as it sounded like a summery read and I can’t wait to get to it. It’s a novel that explores grief and the way the chance encounters we make with other people can bring us back to life again.

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (24 Jun 20)! What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan Cullors & Asha Bandele

At the time of writing this I’ve only read the opening pages of this book but I can tell that this is going to be a memoir that is completely engrossing. I wanted to read this one while They Can’t Kill Us All is still fresh in my mind as I feel this is going to be a good companion book to that one in understanding how the Black Lives Matter movement is evolving.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I started reading this novel in March and was really enjoying it but then my mind become so full of anxiety over Coronavirus that I hit a reading slump and just couldn’t read anything. I knew this was a book that I wanted to come back to so yesterday I picked it back up and started it again from the beginning and I’m enjoying it every bit as much as I was before.

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

I’m reading this book on the Pigeonhole app and am utterly gripped, I find myself eagerly refreshing the app after midnight each day waiting for the next stave (set of chapters) to arrive on my phone. This book follows Marie who is most definitely an unreliable narrator! Her best friend Nina has died and Marie is determined to help her grieving husband and children through this awful time. She inserts herself into their life and is fixated on being a part of their family. I’m really enjoying this one!

All the Lonely People by David Owen

This is a NetGalley book that I’ve had on my Kindle for quite a long time. I’m so pleased that I finally picked it up now as it’s such an interesting read. It follows Kat and Wesley, two teenagers who go to the same school. Kat has been the victim of a horrible campaign that has forced her offline and isolated her and she finds herself literally fading. Wesley got involved with two other boys who are behind the attacks on Kat but he feels awful about what he’s done and wants to somehow fix it. It’s a very prescient and powerful novel.

Recent Reads

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

I’ve been reading this book over the last couple of weeks and have deliberately taken my time with it as I wanted to really take in what I was reading and process it. Olusoga takes us through the forgotten history of black people in Britain and I learnt so much that I didn’t know before. I really appreciated how this book joined so many dots for me that I hadn’t fully connected before. I learnt about the white parts of some of this history in school but it was never, ever taught to us how it connected to what was happening in America and across the world as part of the slave trade. I’m ashamed that I’ve never properly sought out this history before but now I know better I’m determined to do better. As an aside I’ve discovered that the TV series of the same name which accompanies this book is being repeated on BBC4 if anyone is interested in watching it.

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

This book is brilliant! It follows Charlotte as she shares her dating disasters but the novel has so much depth and it deals with some very serious issues. Charlotte has had quite a few dating dramas but through the novel she meets her Mr Right on Tinder but things don’t work out and we slowly find out what happened. I couldn’t put this book down, I read it all in one sitting as I just wanted to know what was going to happen. I reviewed this book yesterday so you can find my full thoughts here but I absolutely recommend this one.

#MeToo by Patricia Dixon

I got a month of Kindle Unlimited a few days ago and downloaded this book as I’ve seen it featured on quite a few blogs recently. It was a quick and gripping read. It follows three characters – Stan who is in prison convicted of raping his girlfriend; Billie who was Stan’s ex-girlfriend; and Kelly the woman who accused Stan of rape. I enjoyed seeing how this story played out and getting the different perspectives as a picture gradually emerges of just what happened the night of the rape. I read this in a couple of sittings and was gripped by it.

The Old You by Louise Voss

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer and I’m so pleased I finally picked it up. It follows Lynn as she comes to terms with her husband being diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Strange things start happening in and around the house and Lynn begins to doubt her own sanity. This is such a twisty book that you completely derails you on more than one occasion. I love Louise’s writing and this is one of her best novels. I’ve already reviewed it so you can find out more here.

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

I borrowed this book from BorrowBox this week and read it in one sitting. It follows a teenage boy whose brother has been on death row for most of his life and he gets to visit him during the two months before he’s due to be put to death. This is an emotional read and I got swept up in this story. It’s heartbreaking but also beautifully written.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I started reading a NetGalley Arc of this but switched to audio book when I was struggling with it. It worked better for me on audio but ultimately this wasn’t really a book for me. I have reviewed this so you can see more of my thoughts here.

What I Might Read Next

How to be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

I want to read this book as soon as I’ve finished reading When They Call You A Terrorist. I have Stamped from the Beginning by this author on my TBR but I think How to be an AntiRacist is the one I want to read first. As I watch documentaries and news reports and listen to the discussions that are happening in the wake of George Floyd’s murder I am increasingly aware of the insidious nature of the racism that people think isn’t racism and how we need to be better at calling this out. I think this book will open my eyes even further so I’m keen to read it very soon.

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so am excited to read her new one, I have such high hopes for this one. This book follows Jenna – a wife, mother and a doctor but she’s also the victim of a stalker. But one day her stalker is brought into the hospital after an accident and she suddenly finds the power back in her hands. I’m so intrigued by this and can’t wait to start reading it!

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

I’ve read and loved all of Louise Jenson’s thrillers so when I found out she had a book coming out under a pseudonym in a different genre I knew I had to read it! This follows a couple – Anna and Adam – who believed they’d be together forever but now a few years down the line cracks are showing and something happens to break them apart. This sounds like such an emotional read but one I’m really looking forward to picking up.

The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page

I was sent a copy of this book a while ago for review and haven’t managed to pick it up so I put it on my 20 Books of Summer TBR and hope to pick it up this week. I’m hoping for the predicted heatwave to finally arrive so that I can read it in the garden. This book follows Stella who runs a cafe that never sleeps, and two women who work there – Hannah and Mona. People come to the cafe for all sorts of reasons and I’m looking forward to meeting the staff and customers in this novel. It sounds like a lovely summer read!

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a new #BookHaul (2 May 2020)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

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Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas 

I’m a huge fan of Claire Douglas’ writing so I was delighted to be approved for this one on NetGalley yesterday. I can’t wait to read this so don’t think it’ll be waiting on my Kindle for too long!

 

 

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Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie

I also downloaded this one from NetGalley on a whim as I saw the blurb and was immediately intrigued and wanting to know more!

 

 

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Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah

I bought this one on Kindle too when I spotted it in the sale for 99p.  I’ve enjoyed many of Sophie Hannah’s previous novels and this one sounds weird and I want to know more.

 

 

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Landsliding by Mandy Jameson

I saw this book mentioned on twitter and I loved the sound of it so immediately bought a copy for my Kindle.

 

 

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Inside Out by Demi Moore

This is a book that I’ve seen so many positive reviews of so even though I aren’t massively interested in Demi Moore I was drawn to wanting to read this book (if that makes sense!).

 

 

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Just My Luck by Adele Parks

I got this book from NetGalley a couple of days ago and started reading it straight away. I’m very much enjoying this one and am keen to keep reading, which is great when I’m still getting over my reading slump.

 

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Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel so when I spotted she had a new book out I knew I had to get it!

 

 

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The Storm by Amanda Jennings

I don’t know a huge amount about this book but the blurb really drew me to it and so I requested it on NetGalley!

 

 

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The New Girl by Harriet Walker

This is another NetGalley book and is another one I’m really looking forward to!

 

 

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One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel, in fact it was one of my favourite books of the year so when her publisher emailled me to ask if I’d like to read a new one I couldn’t reply fast enough! I plan on picking this one up very soon and have very high hopes for it.

 

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SpaceHopper by Helen Fisher

This book sounds like a really moving read and is one I’ll need to be in the right mood for but I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

 

 

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The Catch by T. M. Logan

I loved T. M. Logan’s previous novel The Holiday so have been eagerly anticipating this one and am very happy to have a copy on my Kindle now!

 

 

 

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂