Saturday 21 December 2019

My 2019 Reading Challenge - Update #5

It's time for my final reading challenge roundup of 2019! I can't believe it's time for this already. When I started with these posts earlier on this year, I'd just set myself a challenge of reading 30 books and whilst I thought that was do-able, I didn't think I'd exceed it to the point I have. I've just reached book #100 so if you've read each of these updates, well done and thank you because I know that's a whole lot of books to read about! I wanted to do a final update before I share my top 5 books of 2019 which will be up soon so let's get started.
books stacked on top of each other held up in front of bookshelf

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton - ⭐⭐

I think this had the potential to be something really brilliant, and maybe some people thought it was, but I just really struggled with it. I went into it with high hopes and I actually think it started off really well. From the beginning Juliette is an obsessive and controlling woman, desperate to get her ex Nate back, and she really doesn't hold back in going to extreme lengths to get what she wants but then it just went a bit flat. There was a lot of build-up for nothing major and I found the ending didn't quite pack as much of a punch as it could have done.

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This had been recommended to me over and over again so after sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time, I finally read it and overall I was pretty impressed with it. It started off with a bang, petered off for a while and then started to get really juicy. I did wonder at first if it was going to be a little too American and just something that had been done many times before but it picked up and I ended up getting really invested in Kailyn and Daxton's relationship. You could feel the chemistry between them and I'd love to see it come to life on screen one day. 

Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was tempted to write a separate review of this as it was so mindblowing but I think I'd end up giving out so many spoilers so I thought better of it. I can't quite explain how much this book surprised me though. There are so many twists and turns throughout and whilst you think you know which woman is the crazy one, and possibly out to steal a baby from another character (I know!) BAM, you realise you were wrong all along. There are a few chapters towards the end which are really clever as you don't know which person is narrating unlike the rest of the book and then right up until the very final sentence, it's just shock after shock. Outstanding. I am shook.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I put off reading this for a long time because I'd watched a film very similar a while ago (The Ones Below) or so I thought anyway, but the book was extremely different and really followed a different path to the one I was expecting. When a couple leave their baby daughter at home to go round to the neighbours for a party, they assume she'll be fine... when they return home, she's gone. Initially I suspected a few people but I soon figured out there were going to be a lot of twists coming and in the end I was so shocked with who the kidnapper turned out to be. A really clever plot with lots of suspicious characters, I do just wish they'd been a bit more about the couples neighbours as I think they were a bit underused throughout.
The couple next door by shari lapena held up in front of bookshelf

Here To Stay by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I had been wanting to read something by Mark Edwards for absolutely ages and I think I picked well for my first book of his as this blew me away. Elliot meets Gemma and falls in love quickly, so quickly in fact that they get married within months. Everything is going great until Gemma's parents arrive, initially intending to stay for a few weeks. Elliot soon realises though the danger he's put himself in by marrying someone he barely knows, and her parents have no plans for leaving. It was fast paced, infuriating at times (I wanted to scream at Gemma's parents!) and genuinely scary at points. So impressed.

The Last Affair by Margot Hunt - ⭐⭐

I thought The Last Affair started well, we get thrown straight in with a murder and whilst we know who the victim is we have no idea who has killed them, but pretty quickly I realised that was the most exciting part of the book. There was just nothing that stood out to me and it all just felt very flat.

Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

God, this was intense! I had to just sit and think for a while afterwards as the last few chapters were full on and I needed a little time to piece everything together. Another book by Mark Edwards that was incredibly gripping right from the very first page. This time the book focused on Andrew and his new girlfriend Charlie - she's beautiful, clever, edgy, he can't believe his luck. But when weird things start happening in his flat and his friends find themselves in danger, he realises Charlie might not be the girl of his dreams, more like the woman of his nightmares. Or is someone else trying to ruin his life? I honestly had no idea where this was going to go in the second half of the book and I LOVED the final twist.

My Great Ex-Scape by Portia MacIntosh - ⭐⭐

This started off so well but just kind of became a bit of a mess. Rosie gets dumped by her boyfriend on live TV but then receives a bouquet of flowers with the message 'I love you, I should have never let you go, I want you back' and there are 5 people it could be. Her journey to figure out who has left this message takes her back to her childhood home, on a cruise, even all the way to New York but she ends up meeting them all SO fast and there was just no suspense there. In my opinion there was no chemistry between her and any of the ex's and she had good reasons to split up with them in the first place so it was just all a bit random that she would then forget all that after all this time. This had so much potential but after the first few chapters it just lost it's way.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After being on my to read list for a long time and only hearing good things, I went into this expecting a lot and it was BRILLIANT! It's going to be tough choosing my top 5 books of the year but I definitely think this is a contender. When Diana dies with a suicide note close-by claiming she no longer wanted to live because of her battle with cancer, her family are devastated but then the autopsy finds she had no cancer. So, what happened to Diana? Every person becomes suspicious and from here it's a tale full of twists and turns as we try to figure out the murderer. A whodunnit that's been executed incredibly well and will keep you guessing the whole way.

Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Back to my fave, Paige Toon and she did not disappoint with Chasing Daisy. It was another book of hers that surprisingly took me a little while to get into but once it got going, I couldn't put it down. It's hard to explain the plot of the book without spoiling it and there's a shocker of a moment halfway through so all I say is, if you like a love story with a bit of heartbreak, read this 😂 In all seriousness it's incredibly emotional for the second half of the book and really made me think. Chasing Daisy is yet another story of Paige's that would make an incredible film, please somebody pick it up and make it!
Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon held up in front of bookshelf

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page - ⭐⭐⭐

Ahh I wanted to love this so much but it just wasn't on the same level as The Lido for me. I reviewed The Lido by Libby Page earlier this year and it's stuck with me since then so I had high hopes for her second book but it just didn't grab me emotionally like I wanted. Don't get me wrong it's still a great book and a lovely premise but it's definitely not a book full of moments you'll remember or characters you'll really root for, in my opinion anyway. It felt more like a collection of short stories.

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler - ⭐⭐⭐

This really did keep me guessing until the final few chapters! 18 months ago Gemma met Danny and quickly they fell in love & got married, but one Friday Danny doesn't come home from work. Days go by and then Gemma realises a serial killer, targeting men who look just like Danny is on the loose, could he be in more danger than anyone ever expected? On the hunt for Danny, Gemma realises though there might be more she doesn't know about her husband than she thought. Really well paced, the characters developed nicely and a satisfying ending.

The Assistant by S.K. Tremayne - ⭐⭐⭐

Well this had made me 100% sure I never want an Alexa or any sort of technology like that in my home! Newly divorced Jo moves into her friends flat who is upto date with all the latest technology and the home is controlled by a Home Assistant called Electra. All seems normal until one day Electra says one sentence that throws Jo's world upside down 'I know what you did'. Years ago something happened involving Jo that only few people know about, so how does Electra know and why is she being targeted? This was a really refreshing thriller to read as whilst it had its faults in places and S.K. Tremayne's writing style wouldn't be my usual choice, it felt very current. You'll struggle to find someone who doesn't have some sort of technology like this in their home now so it felt scarily real!

The Cake Shop In The Garden by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After lots of thrillers & mysteries, a Carole Matthews book was just what I needed. A light-hearted love story that I could just sit back and enjoy. Fay is running her cake shop from her own home and garden whilst caring for her mother and whilst she's happy, is it really setting her world alight? That would be a no, until handsome Danny turns up out of nowhere and shows her how much more could be out there if she just took a chance. I just loved everything about this and baking features heavily so it was something that was always going to be my sort of thing.

Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The follow-up book to The Cake Shop In The Garden and just as full with love, cake and happiness. I adore Fay & Danny's relationship and I'm so glad we have another book to really see their relationship flourish. The thing I've loved the most about both this and the previous book is that the majority of the characters are so likeable and I genuinely cared for them all. I could read about Fay, Danny, Lija, Stan and Rainbow over and over. I really hope there's one final book about them all at some point as my only slight criticism of this would be that the ending felt quite abrupt and could have done with an epilogue to really give the perfect ending.
Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews held up in front of Christmas tree

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

What a festive book to end the year on! This was a book I kept thinking about reading for a while so when I had pretty much ran out of every book on my shelf and saw this for just 99p on Kindle, I thought why not? There are so many positives to this book, I'm not even sure where to start. First of all such an interesting premise, characters you're never sure you should trust or not, suspense at what's going to happen next, it just had it all. A really clever story, though I was slightly disappointed with the ending and feel maybe a few chapters could have been filled out slightly but on the whole a brilliant book to end the year with.

And that concludes my final 2019 reading challenge update of the year! I can't quite believe I've managed to read so many books this year and whilst I'm doubtful I'll match it next year, I'm going to give it a good go. I now need to try and whittle it down from 100 to just 5 for my top books of 2019 so come back in January if you want to see what I've picked!

Have you read any of the books I've mentioned?

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jennyinneverland said...

The Mother in Law sounds brilliant! That's definitely on my to-read list. I read The Couple Next Door after hearing SOOO many people rave about it but i found it very "meh"? x


Sophie said...

Congratulations on reaching 100! I skimmed through a couple of these because I got a couple of these for Christmas and have one or two more waiting for me in my Kindle Unlimited library right now. I'm looking forward to reading The Mother in Law! x


Heather Nixon said...

I haven't read any of these - my TBR is huge for 2020 x

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