Monthly Wrap-Up: February

So we are two months in to 2021 and we are still in full national lockdown here in the UK. Up until last week, we had no idea when and how we were going to get out of this, but an announcement from Government last week said that we hope to back to full ‘normality’ by July 21st and the whole country seems to be happier and more hopeful. Combine that with the lovely spring weather we are currently experiencing, things are looking up!

Like I said, February was a weird month because there didn’t seem to be any way out of national lockdown, and so subsequently I spent most of my weekends reading and chilling out.

I read seven books during February and it might be the lockdown taking it’s toll but I found that I was reading books, enjoying them but not LOVING them if you get me. I wanted to give a few books 5-stars, but felt like they were missing something. What exactly they were missing though, I just couldn’t quite put my finger on. I guess I’m perhaps being too critical and over-thinking the rating I give books. I feel like a 5-star read HAS to leave you gob-smacked and IN LOVE with the story, yet none of the books I’ve read recently have been doing that for me. Anyway…

So let’s take a look at the books I read this month…

“Or perhaps all adults feel like that at times. Like we’re just playing at being grown-up, but inside we’re still children, shuffling around in oversized clothes, wishing someone would tell us that monsters don’t exist.”

As you know by now, there is nothing that excites me more than a devilish thriller that I can sink my teeth into and The Burning Girls was just that. I had to forcefully tear myself away from the pages and I can easily see how some may devour this book in one sitting.

I absolutely adored C.J Tudor’s writing. She let us grow close to the protagonists but made sure we didn’t trust any of them. The character development is so effortless, I didn’t realise it was happening until the very end.

The pace of the book was also phenomenal. The short, quick chapters were just enough to entice you in, and then brutally leave you hanging. I love to work out the plot/culprit whilst I’m reading, and I loved that every chapter gives you a hint of a clue but still leaves you itching to know more…

Although the book is quite dark and gruesome in some parts, the writing is impeccable and personally, I think it is everything you want from a thriller. Quick chapters. Short sentences. Unnerving scenes. Unpredictable characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m so glad that it was my first book thriller of 2021. I loved it that much that I actually texted my best friend, telling her to grab a copy so we could discuss. Definitely one to add to your TBR if you love an edge-of-your-seat thriller dipped in history.

The Burning Girls

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Published: 2021
Genre: Thriller, Horror
# of Pages: 400
Trigger Warnings: Murder, death, suicide, abuse, child abuse, blood, homelessness, sexual abuse
Links: GoodreadsAmazonBlackwells

“In the wrong hands, a secret is a weapon.”

‘Daughters of Night’ isn’t really a sequel as such to her first book ‘Blood and Sugar’ but it does include similar characters, the main one being Caroline Corsham.

After witnessing the brutal murder of a local/well-known sex worker whilst in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, she sets herself on a mission to hunt down the murderer and get justice. Yet along the way, she finds herself getting mixed up in all sorts of deception and deciet and finds herself in very treacherous water…

This books is THICC but one that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Each chapter gives just enough for you to keep you wanting more. I think my guess on ‘who done it’ changed about 15 times haha.

I am really enjoying this genre and I think if you already love historical fiction, I think you should try historical crime fiction. I definitely don’t think you’ll be disappointed with ‘Daughters of Night’ anyway!

Daughters of Night

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Mantle
Published: 2021
No. Pages: 498
Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Thriller
Trigger Warnings: Death, Sex, Prostitution, STDs, Terminal Illness, Divorce, Paedophilia, Murder
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

“What is better than believing you are heading towards love?”

Open Water is Caleb Azumah Nelson’s highly anticipated debut novel and one that will leave you questioning the concept of love.

In the novel, Caleb BEAUTIFULLY describes what it’s like to experience love for the first time, as well as exploring deeper into what it means to be a Black man in London.

The book is written in such a way that it simply feels like the narrator is writing every thought that comes into their head. Through repetition and stunning metaphors, you really begin to get inside the narrator’s mind and feel how they are feeling.

Although I will never know the brutal truths of what it’s like to be a Black man living in London, I have experienced first-love, and Caleb perfectly sums up the empowering feelings of need, want and even euphoria when you first fall in love with someone.

It took me a while to get used to the writing style but after a 1/4 of the way through, I realised that in order to enjoy this book, you have to slow down and take in every word. An experience that I haven’t had to the opportunity to do for a while and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Open Water

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Viking
Published: 2021
No. Pages: 157
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Cultural
Trigger Warnings: Depression, broken masculinity, racial prejudice, racial abuse, racism
Links: GoodreadsAmazonBlackwells 

“When I come, it’s like falling into a bottomless black hole. I’m so overwhelmed by pure sensation that I feel nothing. But this time, it’s pure white light. I’ve been shot into a galaxy of luminous, trailing stars.”

The blurb makes it sounds deliciously dirty and naughty but I was left wanting so much more. Don’t get me wrong some of the scenes are RAUNCHY and ridiculously sexy, but I felt like it was a bit ‘tame’ on that front.

However, sex aside, one thing I did enjoy about this book was the exploration of relationship dynamics. We have so many different types of relationships going on in this book and it was refreshing/interesting to see how dating/love/sex have changed in modern times. Daisy Buchanan perfectly sums up this feeling that ‘there should be more to life than this’ and hence why our narrator/protagonist goes searching for more and more…

Overall, I enjoyed it but I wasn’t overly blown away by it. It might just me but I WANTED MORE. It did spark very interesting questions about modern dating/relationships though which was really fun!

Insatiable

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Sphere
Published: 2021
No. Pages: 337
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Trigger Warnings: Sex, Group Sex, Psychological Abuse, Guilt, Broken Marriage, Miscarriage, Depression
Links: GoodreadsAmazonBlackwells 

“If there is one thing the lost are able to recognise it is the others who are just as wounded and wandering.”

As you all know, I’m a huge lover of classics and The Great Gatsby has to be one of my favourite books because in just over 200 pages, the most incredible story takes place. In NICK, the story is just as exciting and was the perfect escapism I needed. Very different from The Great Gatsby, NICK is a far more focused on the violence and lawlessness of pre-prohibition America, and provides a stunning depiction of life post-WW1. With compelling characters and a sense of uneasiness, this book beautifully and cyclically provides a real understanding of the loss and guilt caused by war.

By the end, I was ready to read The Great Gatsby for the one millionth time! Thank you to No Exit Press for approving my advanced copy on NetGalley.

NICK

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2021
No. Pages: 304
Genre: Retelling, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Trigger Warnings: WW1, post-war depression, PTSD
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

I’ve seen this book floating around Bookstagram for quite a while now, so when I received my copy in my Richard and Judy Book Club Winter Collection, I couldn’t wait to read it and even bumped it up a few spaces on my TBR. Shameful behaviour, I know haha!

The book follows a wealthy family from London that have moved into a Manor House in a forest for the summer after a miscarriage and scandal had been stamped on the family name. The mother, her two children and the nanny all move to this manor house and whilst they are there, stumble across an abandoned baby that they take in and look after. Yet their family secrets and scandals are ruining this ‘perfect’ family, and is continuing to do so to other families years later.

What I loved about this book was not only how the author, Eve Chase, created suspense and how excellently she created the sense of scandal and secrecy, but how she questioned the sense of belonging through the use of different characters and narratives. We have three women in this book who do not know where they belong and through each of these women’s narratives, we hear and feel their insecurities and worries. We see through Hera, Rita and Sylvie, all the ways that someone can feel lost and unloved which was heartbreaking and emotional to read. Not just your average thriller that’s for sure.

Another thing this book did was make me impossibly broody. Now I’m not sure whether it was the timing of reading this book which made me yearn for a baby as I was just about t have my time of the month, or whether it was the gorgeous descriptions of babies gurgling and giggling. Either way, it made me very broody.

Overall I thought it was a fantastic book and I couldn’t find much wrong with it other than the pace of the book becoming VERY quick at the end. Yet the storytelling and character development was excellent and I’m excited for what else Eve Chase has in store…

The Glass House

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2020
No. Pages: 387
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Trigger Warnings: Child loss, post-natal depression, cheating, adoption, abandonment, murder, teenage pregnancy
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

I re-read Jane Eyre with the ‘Let’s Get Classical Book Club‘ and I’m glad to say that I loved it even more than I did the first time round, which was over 6 years ago. I found the story and the way it was written even more encapsulating and relatable than I did when I studied it during my first year of University. It’s no wonder that Jane Eyre is arguably the most famous Bronte novel!

Jane Eyre

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Publisher: Wordsworth Editions
Published: 1999 (my copy), 1847 (orignal)
No. Pages: 410
Genre: Classics
Trigger Warnings: Abuse, orphan, orphanage, boarding school, psychological abuse, fire, injury
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

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