So I have to say, March wasn’t what I was expecting! This has probably been the most unusual month of my life and I’m pretty old! Despite my concentration being shot, I still managed to read 9 books – luckily I’ve had some great reads which has helped!
So what can you find in my wrap up?
Books I’ve read
Movies and TV I’ve watched
I have decided to start including some stats on these wrap up posts to try and encourage me to keep my TBR in check!
Books Read – 9
Books acquired – 18 (15 from publishers, 3 won)
Unhauled – 7
Total TBR – 239
Well I managed to reduce my TBR by 1 book! Not brilliant, but hopefully the lockdown will mean less books offered (as I have no self control) and I can actually get a handle on it in April!
Nothing at all this month but I had a few lined up which were cancelled.
I had a Brighton Waterstones event to hear Emily Elgar speak about her book Grace is Gone which I read earlier this year and loved. She was due to appear along with Stephanie Wrobel who was going to be talking about her book The Recovery of Rose Gold which I really want to read.
I was also invited by Myriad to the launch of She-Clown by Hannah Vincent, her debut collection of short stories.
And on the 30th March I was supposed to go to Piccadilly Waterstones to hear Kate Elizabeth Russell talk about her much anticipated debut, My Dark Vanessa. Luckily, the Waterstones Instagram page hosted a live event instead and it was almost as good as being their in person.
Wrap Up (all titles are links lead to my reviews)
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
How did I get it? Received a proof copy for a blog tour.
When Allison runs away from home she doesn’t expect to be taken in by Marla, an elderly woman with dementia, who mistakes her for an old friend called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. But as her bond with Marla grows, Allison begins to ask herself -where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really?
How did I get it? I borrowed a copy from the library.
Jack Chalmers is a man of few words, married to a woman of many. He and Bet have been together for seventy years – almost a lifetime – and happily so, for the most part.
All Jack and Bet want is to enjoy the time they have left together, in the flat they have tried to make their home. Their son Tommy has other ideas: he wants them to live somewhere with round-the-clock care, hot meals, activities. Bet thinks they can manage just fine.
When they strike up an unlikely friendship with Marinela, a young Romanian woman, Bet thinks she has found the perfect solution – one that could change Marinela’s life as well as theirs. But this means revisiting an old love affair, and confronting a long-buried secret she has kept hidden from everyone, even Jack, for many years.
Tender, moving and beautifully told, Sarah Butler’s Jack & Bet is an unforgettable novel about love and loss, the joys and regrets of a long marriage, and the struggle to find a place to call home.
How did I get it? I received a finished copy from Picador for the blog tour.
When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.
But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.
After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.
Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.
How did I get it? I won a copy in an Instagram giveaway
When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.
But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.
Will you listen to them?
How did I get it? I was sent a finished copy as part of the blog tour
Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.
For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.
Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet.
But it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.
Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?
How did I get it? I won a proof copy in a Twitter giveaway
If someone was in your house, you’d know.
But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare.
The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.
One by one, people Paige knows from the Deaf community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?
Was it an intruder?
Or was the murderer closer to home?
How did I get it? I was sent a finished copy as part of the blog tour
Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.
Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.
Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.
How did I get it? I won a copy in a Twitter giveaway
When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.
As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.
But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?
How did I get it? I was sent a finished copy as part of a blog blast
Movies & TV
We seem to have watched a few old favourites this month – being on lockdown we have more time together as a family and also there are obviously no trips to the cinema!
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
This was a re-watch for me. I saw it when it came out in the cinema and loved it and I was talking about it to a friend the other night so thought it was time to see it again! Such a great film: the timing line is clever, and the script is just brilliant. I love all the music too. There is a lot of swearing, some drug taking and violence as you’d expect from a Tarantino film but if you haven’t ever seen this, I’d urge you to do so.
Dr Ryan Stone, an engineer, and Matt Kowalski, an astronaut, are on a space mission together. However, when they are hit by high-speed space debris, they must find a way to return to Earth.
This is one we saw at the cinema when it came out and it was a breath-taking and intense experience. I was surprised that I was still as tense watching it at home. A really exciting film, with fantastic performances from Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
A Quiet Place (2018)
A family struggles for survival in a world where most humans have been killed by blind but noise-sensitive creatures. They are forced to communicate in sign language to keep the creatures at bay.
Yet another tense film – a family having to live in silence so they are undetected by violent alien creatures. There were many moments when I was holding my breath and the fact the mum is pregnant is like a ticking time bomb because how on earth is she going to give birth in silence? And we all know that babies are rarely quiet! Brilliant!
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
A young hobbit, Frodo, who has found the One Ring that belongs to the Dark Lord Sauron, begins his journey with eight companions to Mount Doom, the only place where it can be destroyed.
A small confession – I have never read The Lord of the Rings and I haven’t seen the films. I was heavily pregnant when the first one came out and there was no way I was sitting in the cinema for 3 hours and I spent the next 5 years or so pretty busy with young kids. My husband and older son have seen these and with the lockdown, we have whole weekends together as a family so we are all watching them.
I didn’t think it would be my sort of thing but I really enjoyed the first instalment – the 3 hours flew by and I’m looking foward to the next installment.
On the day of her prom night, seventeen-year-old Carrie discovers that she possesses telekinetic powers. She puts her powers to use when she is humiliated after a prank.
I think I must have watched this as a teenager and I have watched the remake more recently.
The original film is still quite atmoshephic and you can’t help feel sympathetic for misfit Carrie who lives with her religious mum. But it is also quite dated – the shower sequence at the beginning is like a soft porn film, teachers smoke in school, a teacher hits a student and boys most definately don’t respect their girlfriends.
Well what a month March has been! At the beginning of March we started to get rumblings that Covid-19 was going to impact us and people went mad buying soap and loo roll. We have some concerns in our household as my older son is on immunosuppressive drugs so on 16th March I started working from home, just a week before the rest of my company did the same. On 18th March my son’s hospital got in touch and advised for him to self isolate and avoid school. That evening it was announced that no exams would take place – he was due to take his A-Levels this year so he is now in limbo waiting to hear what that will mean for him. My youngest son finished school on 20th so we are contending with home schooling – he seems to be getting on quite well and quite enjoying it.
Working from home is going OK – I’m in daily touch with my colleagues over Microsoft Teams and I have enough work to keep me going for ever! I’m still a little worried about my job – who knows what effects these measures will have on businesses but for the moment I’m just carrying on and hoping for the best!
My younger son turned 13 on 12th March and we luckily managed to squeeze in a meal out his birthday followed by bowling and pizza with friends just a couple of days before we went into lockdown.
I don’t mind the lockdown too much (although I’m quite aware that could change). I obviously have plenty of books and I’m enjoying the more relaxed way of life. I have done some tidying and cleaning and I’m making sure I go for a walk every day. I’m obviously worried for my family and friends and I know this is going to get worse before it gets better but I’m trying to stay positive.
Thanks for reading my ramblings – who knows what April will bring? Stay safe lovely friends x