Backlist Briefs: A Round-Up of My January Backlist Reads


Those who follow my blog know that one of my big goals for 2020 is to read more of the books I own.  My goal is to read at least 50 of the unread books that are currently sitting on my shelves.  I had a pretty good January so I’m feeling like this goal can definitely be achieved and hopefully even surpassed.  Rather than try to post individual reviews for each of my backlist reads, especially since there were 9 of them in January, I decided an end of the month round-up with my gut reaction to each book would be a much more efficient way to share my reads.  So, without further ado, here’s a round-up of my January backlist reads.



THE FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary.  I was drawn to The Flatshare because of the premise – two strangers who, because of their opposite work schedules, are sharing a one-bedroom apartment.  The main characters, Tiffy and Leon, were so lovable, both individually and together as their relationship gradually evolves when they become post-it note pen pals, writing each other the cutest little notes every day. The Flatshare is just an all-around entertaining read that features humor, flirty banter, a wonderful cast of secondary characters, romance and more than a few hilariously awkward moments. 4 STARS

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER by Josie Silver.  One Day in December is such a charming and heartwarming read, but also one that had my emotions in knots at times.  Everything about the story just sucked me right in.  I adored Laurie from the very moment we meet her. Laurie is feeling down, and as she’s sitting on a bus pondering her sad situation (nowhere job, lack of love life), her eyes lock with a handsome man standing on the bus platform. Somehow she knows this man is meant to be her soulmate. Laurie pines for her “bus boy” for a year, looking for him everywhere she goes. Laurie finally finds him at a Christmas party and it’s clear that he recognizes her too, but there’s just one big problem – “Bus Boy” whose real name is Jack, is dating Laurie’s roommate and best friend, Sarah. I loved Laurie and Jack, but I also loved Sarah, which just made everything all the more gut wrenching. I was glued to the book because I just had to know how it was going to work out. I loved the balance between the funny, rom-com moments, the potentially heartbreaking moments, and the overall heartwarming ones. I had such a wonderful experience reading One Day in December that I immediately requested an ARC of Silver’s next book and look forward to diving into it. 5 STARS

GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert.  I have to admit that the super cute cover is what first drew me to Get a Life, Chloe Brown.  Chloe suffers from chronic pain and leads a pretty dull and quiet life. After a near death experience she decides it’s time that she starts living her life again.  I loved Chloe right from the start and thought it was absolutely adorable that she drew up an actual plan for how to get a life, complete with a numbered list of things to do. I fell in love with her even more when she recruited Red Morgan, the sexy tattooed handyman to help her.  The chemistry between Red and Chloe is off the charts and I loved all of their adventures together as Chloe put her “Get a Life” plan into motion.  If you’re looking for a read that will put a smile on your face, this is your book!  4.5 STARS


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ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman.  Eleanor Oliphant is a character that I won’t soon forget. She’s painfully awkward in social situations. Because of her social awkwardness, she lives a lonely life.  I felt so sympathetic toward Eleanor because it just seems such a sad way to live. I also found her quite funny, particularly the way she would comment to herself about other people and their social awkwardness. I adored the blossoming friendship between her and Raymond, the IT guy at work. They’re both pretty clueless about social interactions but somehow they still just work together.  It was really cute. We also learn the heartbreaking truth about Eleanor’s past and begin to understand why she’s the way she is. So yes, this book had my emotions all over the place – chuckling to myself one moment, near tears the next. This was just such an unexpected gem of a book and I highly recommend it, especially the audio version. The narrator captures Eleanor’s personality perfectly. 4.5 STARS

ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER by Hazel Prior.   This was one of my most anticipated reads of last year, but it ended up just being an okay read for me.  I liked the unique idea of a friendship (and maybe more) developing from a mutual passion for harps. I also loved the quirky, endearing characters, especially Dan the Harpmaker, whose kindness knows no bounds. The friendship between Dan and Ellie was really sweet, but even with that, the story fell a little flat for me and I can’t really put my finger on why.  3.5 STARS

MIRACLE CREEK by Angie Kim.  This book caught my attention when I learned that it was set in my home state of Virginia.  And all I can really say is WOW.  Miracle Creek is a riveting courtroom drama that focuses on the fallout from the explosion of a hyperbaric chamber at a special treatment center that has left two people, one only a child, dead. What follows is a heart-wrenching story filled with secrets, lies, and plot twists galore. I really loved reading this dark tale and as I followed the drama unfolding in the courtroom as we got closer and closer to the truth of what happened, I felt my jaw drop several times.  Truly a stellar debut from Angie Kim and I look forward to reading more from her.  4 STARS


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THE WHISPER MAN by Alex North.  The Whisper Man is gripping thriller about a small town with a dark past.  Widower Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake have moved to the town of Featherbank in hopes of getting a fresh start.  Twenty-five years ago a serial killer nicknamed ‘The Whisper Man” killed five young boys in the town. The Whisper Man has long since been caught, but another young boy goes misses not long after Tom and Jake move to town. When Tom and Jake, find themselves caught in the middle of this terrible nightmare, the story takes an even darker and more twisted turn. Suspenseful, atmospheric, and disturbing, The Whisper Man had me turning the pages late into the night, and of course, looking over my shoulder the entire time.  4 STARS

MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite.  I listened to the audio version of this book and enjoyed it overall. It’s a dark read but not really what I was expecting based on the title. I thought it would be a suspenseful thriller but it’s actually more of a family drama about the relationship between two sisters. My only real complaint with the story is that I wish it was longer so that the main characters could be fleshed out a bit more. Still a very solid read though. 3.5 STARS

A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT by Sabaa Tahir.  I found the second installment of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series to be every bit as riveting as the first installment.  I’m all for an action-packed story and that is definitely the case with this book.  There are numerous fight scenes, which were a pure adrenaline rush, and there’s also some fantastic character development, especially with Laia, who is growing up right before our eyes, and then surprisingly with Helene, a character I thought would only play a minor role. This is definitely one of the more interesting fantasy series I’ve read in a while.  4 STARS.





24 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    Great format for backlist reviews! So glad to hear you loved One Day in December, I’m anxious to hear what you think of her new one!

  2. Lindy@ A Bookish Escape
    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape says:

    Congrats on tackling your backlist, and making such good progress on this goal in January! It sounds like many of these were really good reads! The Flatshare sounds good. I really enjoy the pen-pal trope, and the way you describe the humor, and flirty banter makes me think this is a book I would enjoy! Great mini-reviews! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I’m still seeing posts flooding my feed on Instagram for get A Life Chloe Brown and everyone seems to absolutely love it! A Torch Against the Night is one that’s been on my shelf since I read book one when it was released, not sure why I din’t continue the series but super excited to continue seeing how much you loved it! I’m reading a mixture of backlist books and new release review copies at the moment and really enjoying the variety. Wonderful review Suzanne, so glad you enjoyed these!

  4. verushka
    verushka says:

    YES, I’m so pleased you enjoyed The Flatshare! My Sister the serial killer — yeah, tthe MCs could have been fleshed out more, I must admit.

  5. Sam@wlabb
    Sam@wlabb says:

    I read four of these, and all were good for me, with One Day in December being my favorite. I loved getting to spend so many years with those two, even if all the bad timing and missed connections made me nuts.

  6. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books says:

    I enjoyed The Flatshare but ultimately it wasn’t quite the MOG-I-love-this-book experience I kind of expected. It’s one that I had been waiting for a long time so maybe I over-hyped it to myself. LOL I liked Tiffy and Leon, loved how they got to know each other and came together, loved Leon’s brother, but it just didn’t have that spark for me. I think I gave it 3.5 stars. (I think?) One Day in December is one that just checked all my boxes. I loved it. I adored Laurie and Jack (oh my goodness, how I ached for them both) and, like you, thought the balance between humor and heartbreak was so perfect. Eleanor Oliphant is one that’s been on my radar for quite a while. Sounds like I really need to make time for it.

  7. Dini @ dinipandareads
    Dini @ dinipandareads says:

    Wonderful mini-reviews! I think I’m quite preferring reading and writing mini-reviews these days lol Glad to see that you enjoyed the majority of these reads. I haven’t read three of these books but I agree with your reviews on the others and I’m pretty sure I rated them the same. The only one I really didn’t enjoy that much was My Sister, the Serial Killer. It was wonderful writing but I’m so picky with characters and I did not like them at all in this book 🤣

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I hear you on My Sister, the Serial Killer. I felt like I really didn’t get the characters very well, which always makes me like a book less.

  8. Olivia Roach
    Olivia Roach says:

    I loved Eleanor Oliphant back when I read it so I am glad you could like the book so much too. I also really enjoyed my sister the serial killer. Not the most amazing book ever but it was as you said – pretty solid – and it was a quick breeze through read. I want to read The Flatshare and think I will enjoy it too!

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