I can’t believe November is over and December is upon us. I’m so not ready for Christmas and another New Year! It seems crazy that we’re already here again, but I do think every year it comes around faster than the last one. It must be a getting old thing 😆
November has been another great reading month for me with 12 books overall. Seven were from NetGalley and one I was kindly sent by the author and then four others. I read nearly all my planned eight books but didn’t finish ‘The Moonstone’ and was never quite in the mood for ‘Blackberry and Wild Rose’. The latter will be on my December TBR list as I need to read it before it’s January 10th release date.
I have been on a thriller kick this month and seven of the books I’ve read are in this genre. It used to be pretty much all I read and I still find it’s my go-to genre for a quick read or when I’m in a reading slump. I also read eight debut novels this month and my overall favourite book of November was a sensational debut that is released in January. So here’s what I read this past month*:
1. ‘Darkened Light’ by Sabina Langer ⭐⭐⭐.5
This book had been kindly sent to me by the author. It’s a fantasy novel, which is something I don’t often read, but I really enjoyed this fun story about an elven mage, a runaway, a boy who should have been sacrificed and a troublemaker who all have to learn to work together to save their world from destruction by the Dark Lord. Out now.
2. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This spectacular debut took my breath away and was easily my favourite book this month. It’s a story about a young girl named Kya, who lives alone on the marsh after being abandoned by her family, and the investigation into the death of local football hero Chase Andrews, who is found lying by the marsh. It takes place in dual timelines, and spans many years as we watch Kya learn to survive and ultimately flourish but unable to shake the label and suspicion of being “The Marsh Girl”. She’s quickly a subject of gossip and accusations relating to Chase’s death and the police struggle to separate fact from fiction. This book took me by surprise in so many ways and is one of those that just gets hold of your soul and never lets go. A book everyone should read. Out January 10th.
3. ‘Last Lullaby’ by Carol Wyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was only my second read by this author but it cemented her a must-read author from this point on. The second in the Detective Natalie Ward series, Last Lullaby sees the team tracking a killer who brutally murders young mothers while their children are shut in a nearby room and leaves a word written in blood on the wall. There were fantastic chapters where the mysterious killer was talking to their psychiatrist that gave me chills as we got a glimpse into his sickening psyche. A crime series not to be missed, I’m now waiting on book 3, which Ms. Wyer assures me is coming soon. Out December 7th.
4. ‘The Liar’s Wife’ by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When Ella wakes after surviving a hit and run she’s told that her loving husband has hardly left her side and will be back soon. The problem is she has never been married. She instantly recognises her “husband” and realises she must do as he says or risk him exposing her long held secret. This intense, addictive and harrowing thriller blew me away. I devoured it in less than 24 hours as I just couldn’t stop reading and Jacob was the most malevolent and vile example of a husband I’ve read. When all was revealed I was not prepared for it at all and still can’t thinking about one of the best endings I’ve read this year. Out now.
5. ‘The Next Girl’ by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A newborn baby is found abandoned and her DNA shows her mother is Debbie Jenkins, who disappeared without a trace 4 years ago. Now DI Gina Harte and her team are now certain she was abducted and the race is on to find the mother before it’s too late. At the same time Gina is dealing with awful flashbacks and nightmares from her abusive marriage. Can she find the abductor, rescue Debbie and reunite a family despite few clues and while trying to overcome her own trauma. In the summer I had read the second book in this series ‘Her Final Hour’ and instantly bought this book. Both books are gripping, well written thrillers and I’m excited about book three, which is out in the new year.
6. ‘She Lies In Wait’ by Gyth Lodge ⭐⭐⭐.5
In July 1983 seven teenagers go into the New Forest for a night of camping, drinking, drugs, frolics and fun. In the morning one of them, 14-year-old Aurora Jackson, is missing. After an extensive investigation lasting months it becomes a cold case, her fate remaining a mystery that haunts the small town she lived in and those who knew her. Thirty years later a 10-year-old girl is hiding in the woods when she finds a hole that’s the perfect spot. She feels a branch in her back and pulls it away only to discover it is in fact a human finger. Aurora has been found at long last, close by to where she disappeared. Despite her being found in a place it seems only those there that night knew about, the others remain steadfast in their claims of innocence. As the police dig deeper cracks appear, one time loyal friends start to turn and long held secrets begin to be revealed. Unfortunately this book didn’t live up to its claim of being the biggest crime debut of 2019 for me. It was a good thriller book if you take aside that expectation, but it was a little flat and slow at times which is why I didn’t give it 4 stars. Out March 21st.
7. ‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Alicia Berenson is discovered in her lounge covered in blood while the body of her husband Gabriel sits nearby. He had been shot five time with his rifle. Alicia doesn’t protest innocence or claim self defense, in fact she doesn’t say anything and hasn’t in the six years since that night. Psychotherapist Theo Faber is obsessed with the case and applies for a job at the hospital treating Alicia as he’s sure he is the one who can get her to finally speak. This magnificent debut novel is ingeniously written as with one chapter, a paragraph and finally a short sentence, the writer mercilessly takes your breath away. He transforms thisfrom a great book into a mind-blowing and sensational book with a twist you truly couldn’t have foreseen. THIS is the book I would call the crime debut of 2019. Out February 7th.
8. ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the harrowing and poignant true story about Slovakian Jew, Lale Sokolov, who was detained at Auschwitz-Birceneau and given the unenviable position of Tätowierer. He is someone who tries to look at the positive side of things and immediately begins sharing his extra rations and using his new position to smuggle in food and other items for people, all at great risk to himself. Just a few months after his arrival Lale meets Gita and despite the inhumane and desolate situation they are in, love blossoms and they vow to stay alive and marry after the war. This was a heartbreaking, beautiful and mesmerising book that I will never forget. Out now.
9. ‘Roam’ by C. H. Armstrong ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Roam is a story about a normal family going through familiar problems, and a normal teenager with normal teenage problems. But there’s one thing that isn’t normal: they’re also homeless and currently sleeping in the back of their van and eating free meals at the soup kitchen, all whilst trying to settle into a new town. Living this way makes every little thing that much harder, including starting a new school, as sixteen-year-old Abby finds out. This was a well written novel that really makes you think. You are reminded how being homeless can happen to anyone, the struggles that those in that situation face and there is more good in the world than bad. It was my first book by this author but I know it won’t be my last. Out February 5th.
10. ‘The Promise’ by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Three girls. One dead.” Three young girls make a terrible promise to never speak of that awful night and what they did. But what did they do? What awful thing could these girls have done that lead to someone dying in a blood-filled room? When Beth and Sally find out their old boarding school is being torn down they know their secret could be revealed so they hire Private Investigator Matthew Hill to track down their estranged friend Carol so they can decide what to do. But Carol doesn’t want to be found and someone begins making threats towards Beth and her family. Could someone else have seen what they did? And why are they so eager the truth remain a secret? This was a captivating thriller that was full of twists, bombshells and surprises. Out February 7th.
11. ‘The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock’ by Imogen Hermes Gowar ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I haven’t actually decided if I’m giving this four or five stars yet so this rating may change by the time I write my review. I read this book along with two of my bookstagram friends and it wasn’t at all what I expected, but not necessarily in a bad way. It is the story of Jonah Hancock, a merchant who is surprised by one of his captains telling him he’s sold his ship for what appears to be a mermaid. Gossip soon spreads and Jonah decides to display his mermaid and soon everyone want to see it, including those in high society. While at a grand party one night he meets Angelica Neal, a courtesan. He instantly thinks she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen and their encounter sets them both on an unexpected path. I did find it was slow at times and rushed at others and that sometimes I was confused by the choices made by the characters and the direction the story took. This book is one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve read and is full of an attention to detail that really makes you believe it’s written many years ago, and not a debut novel from 2018. While not quite the read I expected, it is a fantastic novel and one I recommend to lovers of historical fiction. Out now.
12. ‘An Anonymous Girl’ by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Jessica Farris is living paycheck to paycheck working as a make-up artist in New York, so when she signs up to take part in a Morals and Ethics study she thinks it’s an easy way to help pay her rent that month. The person in charge of the survey, Dr. Shields, thinks Jess is special and proposes expanding the study for more money, to which she agrees. As Jess is instructed to do increasingly bizarre things by Dr. Shields, she starts to question what is really going on. Is this really still a study on morality and ethics or is there another agenda entirely? As she tries to unravel the truth enigmatic doctor and the study, things begin to happen that make Jess believe she is in danger and has made a big mistake. This was an unputdownable, cryptic and, at times, unnerving book. Dr. Shields was is a glorious villain and the story has a surprising twist and dramatic conclusion that has you on the edge of your seat. Out February 7th.
So that’s my wrap up for the month. Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR list? How many did you read this month? Comment below.
Thank you to Sabina Langer for my copy of her book and to NetGalley and the publishers for my copies of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, ‘Last Lullaby’, ‘The Liar’s Wife’, ‘She Lies In Wait’, ‘The Silent Patient’, ‘The Promise’ and ‘An Anonymous Girl’.
*Full reviews for the books mentioned in this wrap up can be found on this blog.