Reading Challenge: 40 books – reviews of books 31-37!

In 2017 I read 35 books for pleasure. In 2018 I was aiming for 40! My final 2018 (non-spoiler!) book reviews for 31-37 are as follows:

#31 Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Newly married Joey and her husband move in with Joey’s brother and his wife after returning from living abroad. Joey, despite being determined to make a go of her marriage and new life back in England, develops a crush on the hunky head teacher who has just moved in next door. What begins as a crush develops into an obsession but Joey isn’t the only one watching someone…

Murder, intrigue, humour and secrets – this book has it all. Like all recent Lisa Jewell books, the story is character driven, cleverly plotted and immediately absorbing.

#32 The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

An earlier story than ‘I Found You’ and ‘Watching You’, this book was quite a strange story, or rather non-story in that I didn’t feel it really went anywhere! Unlike Lisa Jewell’s more recent books, the characters were quite unlikeable in my opinion.

Adrian’s third wife Maya is killed but this is not a crime story per se – instead, the reasons behind Maya’s death are uncovered and explored by Adrian and his first two wives and five children who are all still very much integral parts of his life. As Adrian reflects on his and Maya’s marriage, he begins to uncover secrets and realise that his idyllic perception of his unusual family set up was not all as it seemed.

Adrian’s rose-tinted, blinkered character annoyed me immensely throughout this book – although the writer had done a good job in that a main character elicited an emotional response from me as a reader, it unfortunately wasn’t a positive one!

#33 The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

I wanted grisly – I got grisly, and I loved it!

The Fourth Monkey Killer (4MK) has struck again. Grieving detective Sam Porter is forced to cut short his bereavement leave to investigate the latest crime committed by 4MK. 4MK’s calling card is to remove the ear, eyes and tongue of his victims (hear, see and speak no evil as per the three wise monkeys) as a punishment for a crime committed by a family member – his overarching, moral message being ‘do no evil’ – the fourth monkey.

This multiple narrative story is told through various viewpoints including Detective Porter and 4MK as a child – giving us as the readers an insight into his twisted upbringing as well as his machinations as an adult. Will 4MK ever be caught or is he just too clever for the whole police force?

As a massive fan of crime fiction, I loved this book and its disturbing scenes, twists and turns but, be warned, it is quite gruesome in places!

#34 Caught by Harlan Coben

This was the first book I have read by Harlan Coben – I really enjoyed the TV series ‘Safe’ based on his book of the same name so I had high hopes for Caught as a stand-alone thriller. I was not disappointed.

This is the story of missing schoolgirl Hayley and the man – Dan Mercer – accused of and punished for her murder. Wendy is a journalist who initially believes the evidence against him until she begins to dig deeper into the investigation herself. Was Dan actually painted as guilty before he could be proved innocent? Wendy is determined to find out and navigates shocking discoveries along the way.

I was really impressed with the pace, characters and storyline of this book and would definitely recommend it!

#35 The Stranger by Harlan Coben

After enjoying Caught so much, I promptly chose another stand alone novel by Harlan Coben!

The Stranger whispers secrets to people – secrets that change their lives irrecovably. Adam learns a shocking secret about his wife Corinne that threatens their whole marriage. Corinne disappears after Adam confronts her about her secret and an increasingly harried Adam tries to find out the truth, not only about Corinne but about The Stranger’s motives. Whilst doing so, The Stranger continues to wreak havoc on others too – can Adam uncover the truth and put a stop to it all?

I didn’t love this book as much as Caught, but it was still a very good read!

#36 Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Another Harlan Coben – at this point I was definitely addicted!

Doctor David Beck is widowed after his childhood sweetheart wife Elizabeth is abducted and murdered out by his family’s lake house, yet 8 years later he receives a mysterious message with a link to an online camera and seemingly sees Elizabeth alive. Can David trust this message – is Elizabeth really trying to communicate with him?

Elizabeth’s message coincides with two bodies being found at the lake where she disappeared – is there more to that night than David realised? Will what he strives to uncover be what he desperately wants to know?

#37 Just One Look by Harlan Coben

Grace collects a packet of photographs from her local developers and is surprised to find a random photo amongst her family pictures. On closer inspection, Grace recognises a much younger version of her husband in the mysterious photograph yet when she questions him about it, he abruptly leaves the house and disappears in the middle of the night. Grace doggedly pursues answers and finds that her husband Jack’s disappearance is connected to The Boston Massacre she herself was crushed in years before. How is that event connected to the photograph and how can Grace find out the truth in time to save Jack?

*****

Although my original challenge was to read #40booksformy40th, I am proud to have read 37 – this equates to 1.5 weeks for each book. Some I read much faster than that but eventually I ran out of time!

My previous reviews can be read here (1-5), here (6-10), here (11-15), here (16-20), here (21-25), and here (26-30).

I am challenging myself to read 40 books again for 2019 – follow me on Goodreads to see whether I meet my challenge this year!

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