Book Reviews: March 2021

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Each month, I publish a “What I’ve Recently Finished Reading” post, so here’s a review of the books I’ve read during March.

As always, just in order of reading …

A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain, Simon & Schuster UK, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was fortunate enough to be able to read a publication copy of Heidi’s forthcoming book. A Taste of Home will be published on 29 April, 2021 but is available to pre order now.

A Taste of Home is hug of a book. There’s a budding romance on the cards; the loveable character of Bill, who you want to reach in and hug; and there’s also the element of learning to find a way through life when it’s been turned on its head. It’s a feel good, easy read novel, which is the root of Heidi’s success. A Taste of Home has everything you can want from a Heidi Swain novel, and I highly recommend it.

I have written a full, standalone review, which you can read here.

The Weight of Small Things by Julie Lancaster, Mirror Books, 2020

⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

I cannot remember who recommended this to me or where I saw it, but it’s been on my “want to read” list for a while.

I loved the book, I found it engaging, intriguing and it held my attention right the way through. It was definitely a book I didn’t want to put down. I fell in love with the characters (even though some are difficult to like) and I liked the writing style.

It is a very dark book, darker than I expected, but has lots of twists and turns and is unusual in many ways. It’s also written from a different perspective and I think that brings a lot to the book too.

All the way through I was quite sure I’d be giving this five stars, but for me, the ending disappointed. I can’t altogether but my finger on why but I didn’t feel it was quite complete somehow. I am sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me but for me the ending wasn’t quite right.

If I could give half stars (which I wish I could) I’d definitely say it’s a 4.5 – not quite a 5 but so, so close.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Canongate Books, 2020

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Oh my gosh! I have been waiting for The Midnight Library to come out in paperback because, well I’m a cheapskate (Goodreads only seems to let me choose the hardcover version though).

I had heard so many good things about this book and was desperate to read it. Well, I devoured it in around 24 hours and, if I didn’t have work to do and children to attend to, I would have read it in one sitting.

I loved the whole premise of the story (which I’ll admit I hadn’t fully grasped before starting, so discovering the whole plot as I went along was wonderful). Nora was an extremely likeable character and I could definitely feel some of what she felt as I read. The writing was brilliant, engaging and attention-holding. The short chapters make it easy to read and I was hooked right up to the very end.

I’d recommend this to anyone and everyone – it’s a book that everyone should read. Absolutely wonderful!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, Vintage, 2003

⭐⭐⭐

I read this as the March book pick for Clare Mackintosh’s book club and is probably not a book I would otherwise have chosen to read.

I finished it yesterday and am still not entirely sure how I feel about it, so writing a review is difficult. This is a book like nothing I’ve read before though I randomly had flashbacks back to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole but only in so far as the fact that the narrative is a child’s POV.

I didn’t find the story much of a murder mystery, nor was there a great deal of detective work. The story did however, give a lot of insight into the mind of an autistic child trying to navigate their way through the world. It also highlighted the impact that an autistic child can have on a family, although the family dynamic was likely dysfunctional even without the addition of a “special needs” child.

I am still in two minds as to whether I liked it or not. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone though, which edges my thinking to that I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I certainly didn’t rush through reading it (though I do like the short chapters) and it took me a few days, rathe than the few hours I usually take to read a book I adore.

It’s a book I feel I should like more than I did but, personally, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. A very split decision for me which is what I’ve gone down the middle with a three star rating.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh, Sphere, 2016

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have followed Clare on Instagram (and other social media) since I started my bookish journey. I stumbled on her Instagram by accident but find her really engaging and great to follow. I also joined her book club and have read every book since I joined but haven’t read a single one of her books. Until now.

By a series of coincidences, I See You ended up being the first book I got on [AFF] Bookswap. I had originally ordered I Let You Go but was let down by the swapper and the order was cancelled. I subsequently ordered it again from a different swapper, but I See You arrived first.

I had little idea of the story before I started reading, I just knew it was a thriller. I dived straight in and was hooked right from the beginning. I liked the fact there was a two person narrative and I found both characters to be likeable. I loved the writing style and was gripped by the story. It certainly makes you think! The plot as intricately woven; had twists, turns and developments that kept it captivating. I’ll admit I really didn’t see the ending coming (no spoilers). It was not the outcome I’d anticipated. In fact, I hadn’t got a clue who to suspect with any certainty.

I am so glad I finally read one of Clare’s novels. So much so, that I am going straight into reading I Let You Go which arrived whilst I was reading I See You. I’ve also placed Clare’s other novels on my must read list, so watch out for reviews on all of those in future, though I Let You Go will be next.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, Sphere, 2014

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

As promised, I moved straight from I See You to I Let You Go, which is Clare’s first novel. Clare has an exquisite writing style and her stories are so well planned and thought out, that you don’t see some of the twists and turns coming. I certainly don’t anyway. This story leads you away in one direction and it takes a long while before you realise you’re up a path you don’t recognise and then suddenly you turn a corner and all becomes much clearer. I am in awe of the cleverness of this story and the way Clare’s mind works.

This is a great book, a fabulous thriller and one that keeps you guessing and enthralled right to the bitter end. I have definitely found a new author, whose works I am keen to lap up. For anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, I highly recommend that you check Clare out.

What have you been reading recently? Please do let me have your recommendations in the comments below, as I’m always on the lookout for something new to read!

Photo Credit (cropped): Eea Ikeda on Unsplash

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