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.