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!

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 (3 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!

My Current Reads

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd I’ve been thinking about how to learn more and understand more about #BlackLivesMatter and I spotted this book on my shelves and decided to start reading it yesterday. It’s an interesting and personal look at the beginnings of the movement and also what happened in Ferguson. I’m keen to read more so if you have any recommendations on where to go next please leave them in the comments below.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve been wanting to read this one since it was long listed for the Women’s Prize this year and again, as above, it called to me from my Kindle yesterday and I started reading it. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so real. I’m very much enjoying this book and am looking forward to reading more.

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This is the first book that I’ve picked from my 20 Books Of Summer stack and I’m adoring it so far. It feels like such a good book to start with as it’s summery and easy to get in to. I’ve had this book on my TBR for years now and am wishing I’d picked it up sooner.

My Recent Reads

HeatStroke by Hazel Barkworth

I read this novel in one sitting yesterday whilst out in the garden and it was such a perfect way to read this book. This is one of those novels that has a strange dreamlike quality to it because of the intense heat that’s running through its pages. I really did love this book and I’ll definitely be looking out for more by this author in the future.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This is another novel that I pretty much read in one sitting as I simply had to know what had happened and how it was all going to turn out. It’s an exploration of motherhood and friendships, and the secrets and hidden thoughts we keep from others. I found this novel very moving and so well-written, and it had me gripped from start to finish.

Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie

I requested this one from NetGalley as the blurb really caught my attention. It’s about the decision a woman takes not to report a suspected assault, but it’s also an exploration of what happened to her when she was younger. It’s a very prescient novel and one that should be widely read.

Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing

This is an essay collection that I had an eARC of but decided to buy the audio book and listen to it. I enjoyed a lot of the essays, although some felt too short and too surface level. On the whole I would recommend this one, and I’m keen to read more by the author in the future. I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above if you’d like to know more.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I’ve had a copy of this on my NetGalley shelf for over a year but for some reason hadn’t picked it up. I finally read it this week and I devoured it in a couple of sittings. I adored this book and am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. You can read my review by clicking on the title above.

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost

I also had a copy of this book for review but ended up borrowing the audio from BorrowBox and listening to it. I really enjoyed it, it was good escapist summer reading.

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

When I posted my WWW Wednesdays last week I was waiting on the last stave of this from Pigeonhole so only had three or four chapters to read so most of it was read before this week. Anyway, the end was worth waiting for because it was so twisty! I very much enjoyed this novel and plan on going back and reading Phoebe Morgan’s previous novel soon.

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

This book is stunning! I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Roanoke Girls but this book is even better. I can’t stop thinking about Evie and wondering how she’s doing now. If you like crime novels set in a small town then this is one for you! I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above to know more of what I thought.

What I Might Read Next

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This has been on my NetGalley shelf for ages and I still want to read it as much as I ever did so hope to get to it this week. I loved the author’s previous novel The Rumour so have very high hopes for this one.

Mine by Clare Empson

This is another NetGalley book and I’ve been wanting to get to this one for a while so am adding it to my TBR for this week and hopefully I’ll manage to get to it this week.

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

I’m such a big fan of Claire Douglas so am very excited to have a NetGalley of her forthcoming book and really want to read it asap. I hope to get to it this week!

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is the next book that I hope to get to from my 20 Books Of Summer TBR. I’ve had a copy of this on my bookcase for around three years now and I still want to read it so hope to get to this one in the coming days.

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! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

What I’m reading now: 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Cormoran Strike series so when I spotted this book in my Audible library I decided to make it my next listen. I’m only about three hours in but I’m definitely gripped and am keen to see there this novel is going.

What She Saw Last Night by Mason Cross

I’ve had a couple of days where I couldn’t read print this week so I had to put this down but I’m back reading it now and I’m super intrigued about what is going to happen.

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I haven’t read any more of this book this week as I got engrossed in another non-fiction book but I will definitely pick this back up in the coming days as I’m very much enjoyed David Jason’s stories.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This book is stunning! I deliberately made myself read this slowly as it’s such a beautiful novel and I didn’t want it to end. I loved this story and how it was told. I will review this one once I’ve got my thoughts together.

The Murders at White House Farm by Carol Ann Lee

This is such an interesting book and I’m really glad I read it. It gives background to the Bamber family, and it explores the murders and the investigation. It did feel like the author was standing back and really assessing what happened whilst also giving space for the reader to have their own thoughts about it.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

I enjoyed some parts of this book but I didn’t enjoy it as much as other books by the author. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find more of my thoughts here.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Mothers by Sarah Naughton

I’ve had an ARC of this on my TBR for a few weeks now but have read some great reviews of it over the last week or so and I can’t wait to read it so I hope to get to it this week.

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This is another ARC that I’ve had for a while and now I’m so keen to read it so hopefully I’ll also manage to read this one this week.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I’ve been trying to focus on mostly reading my unread review books in recent weeks and I was mortified to spot this on my NetGalley shelf and to see how long it has been there as it is a book I still really want to read. So I’m going to try and get to it this week.

 

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. 🙂