During 2020 many of us decided to utilise the extra time we were given as a result of each lockdown. I myself had the best ideas, and wished to make changes in my life. Productivity was going to be my friend. However, as I look back I couldn’t tell you one thing that changed over that period of time. I woke up (late), and spent my day either watching Netflix or volunteering (being able to volunteer one or two days a week really has saved both my mental health and my motivation since July!).
So as always, the New Year rolled around and I decided definitively that 2021 was going to be different. I was going to be the best version of myself that I could be (without putting too much pressure on myself). My goals were to eat well, to journal and to read 52 books in 52 weeks!!
It may sound like a HUGE goal, but what is a challenge if not unachievably achievable. Inspired by Orlagh Claire, I was determined to make use of my time and read, something I have loved to do since such a young age. So to keep myself accountable, I will be posting my reads on Instagram as well as a monthly review right here on my blog.
So without further ado here are the four books I have read this month!
Title: Messy Wonderful Us
Author: Catherine Isaac
Genre: Fictional Romance
The story starts with Allie, a research scientist who discovers a letter in her Grandmothers house. A letter that leads to some big questions about her late Mother’s life before Allie was born. After hiring a private detective, Allie heads to Italy (Lake Garda) with her best friend Ed who himself is having a slight marriage crisis. Together they work there way through Italy, searching for answers and finding more than they bargained for!
As soon as Allie and Ed entered Italy I immediately felt transported to the sunny country, which during January in the UK (and a national lockdown) was such an uplifting thing. If anyone has seen the film ‘Letters to Juliet’ this book has so many similar features. (Also if you haven’t seen the film then what are you playing at?! I advise you check Netflix immediately!).
The story is full of twists and turns as Allie discovers her past, and I for one was shocked at points, certainly not expecting the story to go the way it did. Catherine Isaac writes beautifully, is compelling and wrote deeply. I felt a real connection to the characters and an urge to continue reading, which is always a great sign! I am looking forward to reading more of Isaac’s books, and maybe even hold some hope for a sequel?…
Title: In Five Years
Author: Rebecca Searle
Genre: Fictional Romance
Dannie is a Manhattan lawyer. Successful and knows exactly what she wants out of life and when. After getting engaged and receiving her dream job, her five-year plan is on track. Until she falls asleep and wakes up in a strange apartment, with a different man and a different ring on her finger. The date? December 15, 2025. She wakes up back in 2020, unable to shake the dream that seemed so realistic. Dannie carries on her ‘perfect’ life with her best friend Bella at her side. Then, four and a half years later, Dannie meets the man from her dream.
This book is an interesting one. The concept is great! But the book short. With just 251 pages, it was one of the quicker books I have read this year. I was compelled by Dannie and Bella’s life long friendship, which unknowingly is the key message Searle puts across. Both joyful and devastating this book was a rollercoaster, but my attachment to the characters was not as prevalent. More book may have solved this, but at the same time I don’t think there was much more that Searle could have written. This is certainly worth the read, but I cannot say it is a book I will call one of my favourites.
Title: I Owe You One
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Fictional Romance (Can you see a theme starting to appear?)
Fixie Farr has a complicated family, and always strives to put family first. She is set on ‘fixing’ things and struggles to stay away when things go awry. One day a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to keep an eye on his laptop for a moment, and ends up saving it from disaster. Sebastian, an investment manager, insists on paying Fixie back so write an IOU note on a coffee sleeve. After Fixie’s childhood crush returns to town, he insists Fixie uses the IOU to get him a job. As a result Fixie and Seb end up in a back and forth of IOU’s, from small favours to life changing ones.
I LOVE a Sophie Kinsella novel. She writes with such ease, and I find I always get sucked into the story wanting more. I Owe You One was no different. I was compelled by the obvious connection between Fixie and Seb, but also had an anger towards the majority of the other characters (a sensation I have never had before). Fixie’s family are self-centered and disregard Fixie for 80% of the story. They are rude and I just got very frustrated each time Fixie says “family first” and brushes over the issues. I found a lot of myself in Fixie, trying to do her very best without upsetting anyone, and I have to admit I can be a fixer when I want to be! Either way I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the different vibe I felt from it. Refreshing!
Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Genre: Historical/Adult Fiction
Set in North Carolina, Barkley Cove is a quiet fishing village filled with rumours of “the Marsh girl”. Kya Clark lives out in the marsh alone after her family slowly left one by one. She was forced to fend for herself and became fascinated with the marsh and all the nature within. Slightly wild herself, she walked barefoot and was deemed unfit for ‘regular’ society. Then in 1969, a former High School quarterback, Chase Andrews, is found dead and Kya becomes the villagers first suspect.
For me this was definitely different to other books I tend to reach for. Being set in North Carolina and on a marsh, it was quite hard for me to visualise having little knowledge of these places, let alone during the 50’s and 60’s. However, once I persevered and got to grips with the story I was compelled. Kya is an intriguing woman, holding all people at arms lengths in case they leave (If you’re a One Tree Hill fan you’ll understand my reference when I say “people always leave”). The story had an endearing love story woven in, contrasting with the strong woman portrayed in Kya. Independent. Brave. The ending had me shook, it was subtle and I actually had to reread the last two pages to make sure I understood correctly!
I understand why this book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller. It is certainly worth the read, being unique and charming at the same time.
So that is all! If you got to the end of all of that then I applaud you! Do let me know some of your favourite reads, I am always looking for recommendations from all genres.
Only 48 to go now!