I can’t quite believe it’s already February, I’m half confused at where the time has gone, but also relieved because January felt like it lasted an absolute lifetime. Either way, it’s time to do a monthly roundup on what books I read in January 2021. I’m not really sure why I wrote that like I do this monthly, I am in fact an avid reader of other people’s monthly reading updates, but have strangely never written one myself!
So I thought, I read books every month and I can never remember what I thought about them (I have the memory of a goldfish), other than my Goodreads rating, so, let’s start this little series. I’ll just get straight into it, with the four books I read over January 2021 (a new personal best I think, there’s definitely room for improvement though).
THE SWITCH – BETH O’LEARY (4/5 stars)
I had been excited about this book for a while after reading Beth O’Leary’s other book ‘The Flatshare’ last year and absolutely loving it! The premise of the book is about twenty-something Londoner Leena Cotton and her newly-single, eighty-year-old grandma Eileen, who are both sick of their lives. So, after Leena is ordered to take a sabbatical from work for two months and she learns her grandma is looking for love, which she can’t find in her small rural village, she decides it would be a great idea to swap lives.
This book, like ‘The Flatshare’, I thought was incredibly wholesome and cute, but I unfortunately just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. Although I liked ‘The Holiday’ vibes, I felt that Leena’s perspective was a bit flat and predictable, also, I didn’t like how O’Leary portrayed her as the damsel in distress, which I found at points quite irritating. However, I did rate this 4 stars because Eileen’s parts made up for all of that for me, I thought she was more likeable and interesting and definitely the shining star of this book in my opinion.
GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER – BERNARDINE EVARISTO (5/5 stars)
Girl, woman, other won the Booker Prize in 2019 for a reason – oh my it was so good! I actually listened to this as an audiobook which in hindsight I’m so glad I did because each person Bernardine wrote about, I now relate to where and when I listened to it, which is kinda cool. This is a novel about 12 women but also a sweeping history of the British black experience. In this book, Bernardine takes us through a broad and diverse range of black women’s stories, each from different countries, ages, class and occupations, but all ultimately exploring their identity in a white dominant culture.
I loved how each character was portrayed as so human and raw, that even though I had absolutely nothing in common with some of the characters I could relate to them anyway. Similarly, I enjoyed the obvious but not obvious link between every three characters which kept me on my toes and overall thought it was a beautifully written and an imaginative read. My only small negative (not enough to rate it lower than 5 though) was some of the slang words that Bernardine used during either the chapters of either Carol or Yaz. As someone who is a similar age to those characters, it just made me hyper-aware that an older woman was writing this novel because I felt the wording was a bit out of touch. However, it’s still a fantastic read and I urge everyone to give it a read!
THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE – STUART TURTON (5/5 stars)
I have never been so confused but so gripped by a book. The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle can only be described as an Agatha Christie novel meets ‘Groundhog Day’. Evelyn Hardcastle, the young daughter of the house is tragically killed at the end of a celebratory party, but Evelyn does not die just once, the night day will repeat itself until one of the guests, Aiden can solve her murder. But if that’s not enough, each day Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest.
I thought this was such a great and gripping read, but for pretty much the first half of the book, I had absolutely no idea what was going on or where it was going. Now I’ve read it all I realise Turton may have done that on purpose because as we are reading it through Aiden’s mind, he is also confused, lost and getting drip-fed information. If that is the case, which I think it is, it’s absolutely brilliant and it’s because of this I got so consumed in this book.
Whilst I found myself having to Google characters at the beginning to remember who they were or re-read bits to make sure I understood, which often means I would soon switch off. When Turton would let us in where Aiden would discover something new, I could feel the cogs turning in my brain, that would lead me to being challenged and intrigued. It was just simply so well written and a brilliantly crafted ‘who did it’ type book, that I’ll definitely be re-reading at some point.
A WALK TO REMEMBER – NICHOLAS SPARKS (2/5 stars)
This was another book in January that I was a bit disappointed by. A walk to remember written by well-known author Nicholas Sparks is based in 1958 North Carolina and follows Landon Carter a highschool student who falls for the last person in town he thought he would, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister, Jamie Sullivan. A twist of fate made Jamie his partner to the homecoming dance and Landon’s life had never been the same.
I won’t lie I was expecting big things for this book, since I loved the film, but oh boy did it disappoint. It’s worth noting I had no clue how different the film and book was until after I had read it, and when they made the film adaption, they really did adapt it! Quite a lot of the scenes I liked so much in the film was nowhere to be seen in the book and the magical connection between Jamie and Landon that I felt whilst watching the film, just wasn’t there for me. In the film, you can really see Landon have to work and earn Jamie’s trust, but in the book, it all felt quite idyllic and I think because of that, I felt a bit detached and sceptical about their relationship. Don’t get me wrong I still devoured the book in less than 24 hours, there’s no denying Spark’s is fantastic, gripping writer, but for the reason that I’m a big fan of the film and the book just didn’t hit the mark, I had to rate it 2 stars.
I hope you all enjoyed my first ‘books I read in…’ series, I can’t wait to write next months already! Let me know in the comments if you have any book recommendations, that you think I’ll love.