Reading Challenge: 40 books – reviews of books 11-15!

Last year I read 35 books for pleasure. This year I am aiming for 40! After every 5 books I’ll be writing a round-up blog review (without any spoilers!) and all books are linked to Goodreads.
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena:
I am very late to this particular bandwagon but, if you haven’t actually read this book yet, you’ve got a great story to look forward to – one that I whizzed through in two days.
Anne and Marco’s baby Cora was kidnapped the night they left her alone to go to a dinner party at their next door neighbours’ house. What follows is almost a twisty reversal of every action and decision made by the couple in the lead up to the night Cora was taken. The omniscient narrator states the facts of the story and describes the feelings of all characters so brilliantly you are immediately submerged into their not-clear-cut-afterall-family. To sound like a complete reviewer cliche: it is gripping.
Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris:
Finn & Ellen are engaged to be married; living in their country cottage, their lives seem idyllic. But Finn was in love with Ellen’s sister Layla before she disappeared without a trace 10 years previously.
Although I was really interested to get to the bottom of Layla’s disappearance, I didn’t actually engage with any of the characters and felt they lacked depth, despite their constant questioning of the mystery of the Russian dolls, which keep appearing out of nowhere as a link to the past. I felt their tension but I didn’t empathise with them unfortunately.
Nevertheless, it was quite a good read and I didn’t expect the twist!
The Cows by Dawn O’Porter:
Another book I wish I had read sooner because it was BRILLIANT! I was constantly desperate to read more yet trying to make it last so it didn’t end too soon! It seems as though everyone is reading and enjoying this book since @mrsgifletcher featured it on her Instagram stories.
It’s the story of three very different women – Tara, Cam and Stella – and how their contrasting (and often complicated) lives eventually intertwine in surprising and compelling ways.
The characterisation is superb, for the primary AND secondary characters; it’s simply impossible not to become invested in their lives and emotionally attached to their stories. It’s funny, shocking and completely addictive. Throughout, you’ll wonder which character you most identify with and whose life you would rather choose. I cannot recommend it enough (plus @hotpatooties’ Instagram stories are extremely entertaining!)!
Along Came A Spider by James Patterson:
This is the first James Patterson novel I have ever read and I really liked it. Detective/Doctor Alex Cross is a sympathetic, likeable, admirable character (although in my mind he’s more of a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson than a Morgan Freeman as in the movie version!) investigating the ‘Son of Lindbergh’ child kidnapping/serial murder cases in collaboration with the FBI.
As it’s the debut Alex Cross story, Patterson brings him to life by describing his history, family and dogged determination to catch the kidnapper/killer and how he handles the tangible and emotional hurdles he has to overcome in order to do so.
The multi narrative gives you an all-consuming knowledge of the various characters, crimes and deception committed throughout the story, with a surprising twist at the end. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series.
The Fear by C. L. Taylor:
The Fear has been on my to-be-read list for a while. Reading the blurb, I thought it would be a bit of a stop-gap book – a brain break easy read – but it was much better than I expected! I got hooked in quickly and zoomed through it in no time.
It’s the fast-paced story of Louise Wandsworth who, as an adult, must face up to difficult events and the worst kind of predator from her teenaged past and, in the process, try to save teenager Chloe Meadows (and potentially others) from harm too.
The character of Louise is written bravely, despite her traumatic experiences, and the story as a whole offers a warning to other teenage girls who may be going through, or have lived through, something similar to Louise and Chloe.
Have you read any of these books – what did you think? My previous reviews can be read here and here.
As a reading obsessive, I’d love to discover a new author with an entire back catalogue to devour (particularly crime fiction!), so please feel free to send me your suggestions!

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