Hi all! I’m back today with another ‘Recently Read’ post. I’ve managed to get through several audio books these past few weeks while I’ve been redecorating my bedroom. Sadly, none of today’s titles were over 3 stars for me, but I glad I’ve made a dent in my Goodreads challenge nonetheless.
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters.
After finishing The Nightingale I needed something light and cheery! The Keeper of Lost Things had been on my TBR pile for a while so I was looking forward to getting stuck in. It’s a little different to what I’d usually go for but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. I thought the premise was original and the book overall was a sweet and easy read.
There are several stories intertwined within the main plot and the book jumps around quite a bit. It’s a little confusing at first but you soon get used to it. I loved the anecdotes about Anthony’s treasures and how they wound up lost; I actually enjoyed them more than the main plot line. The concurrent story of Bomber and Eunice was wonderful, too.
While there was a lot I liked about this book, there were several things I wasn’t a fan of. Unfortunately the author’s writing style wasn’t to my taste – I found it a little too forced and flowery at times which distracted from the story. I also really disliked the ghost thrown in halfway through; I’m partial to the supernatural but this felt overly twee and contrived.
On the whole, this was a pleasant, lighthearted read but it was a bit too cutesy for me in places!
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.
I’ve always enjoyed stories set during WWII so I had high expectations for Lilac Girls. It turned out to be a bit of a slow burner – I found the first half tedious and very nearly gave up. It took me a couple of weeks to finish as I really struggled to get through the first dozen or so chapters. However, I’m glad I persevered as the second half of the book was excellent.
While Lilac Girls has many beautiful moments, it’s also an incredibly harrowing read. The cosy cover does little to prepare you for the disturbing descriptions of Nazi medical experiments. Kasia’s chapters were the most engrossing for me and I liked that the book focused on her struggles not just during the war, but afterwards as well. Herta’s perspective was interesting but she was written in an almost sympathetic light which left a bad taste in my mouth.
I’d never heard of Caroline Ferriday before and I enjoyed learning about the wonderful work she did for the Ravensbrück ‘rabbits.’ I thought the fictional relationship between her and Paul was a nice addition and I liked that the author left a lot to the imagination. Kasia’s marriage to Petrick was also refreshing to read; it felt very realistic and made a change to your typical chick lit-esque romance.
I’d wholly recommend Lilac Girls to anyone who enjoyed The Nightingale (or any WWII inspired novel, for that matter). I just wish I’d found the first half more engaging as I’d have happily rated it higher!
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden there.
Upstate NY, 2017. Carly Kirk has always been fascinated by her aunt Viv who disappeared from the Sun Down before Carly was born. Using a small inheritance from when her mom dies, Carly leaves college to go to Fell to figure out what happened to her aunt thirty-five years ago. Soon, Carly is mirroring her aunt’s life, working as the night clerk at the motel, which hasn’t changed since 1982. The guest book is still handwritten, the rooms still have actual keys, and a haunting presence still lingers. Carly discovers that Viv had been trying to unravel mysteries of her own–including a possible serial killer working in Fell. If Carly can find the answers Viv was searching for, she might be able to solve the mystery that has haunted her family for years…
Sadly I wasn’t a fan of this one. The Sundown Motel read like a YA/Goosebumps book rather than the spooky, suspenseful thriller I was hoping for. I thought the dialogue was cheesy, the characters were tedious and supernatural element just didn’t do it for me.
The story was clever however I don’t think it was executed all that well. The narrative switches between Viv and Carly but their chapters were so similar I often forgot who’s POV I was reading. Both girls made the most frustrating decisions and I didn’t particularly care what happened to either of them.
This has a rating of 4.08 on Goodreads so it looks like I’m in the minority. If the plot sounds your cup of tea then definitely give it a go! It was entertaining enough for me to finish and I did enjoy seeing how the premise unfolded but it’s not a book I’d revisit.
Before I Say I Do by Vicki Bradley
It’s Julia’s wedding day. Her nerves are to be expected – every bride feels the same – but there’s another layer to her fear, one that she cannot explain to her soon-to-be husband, Mark. She’s never told him the details – and she is determined he never finds out.
As she begins down the aisle, spotting Mark in his tailored suit, she knows she is taking her first steps to happiness – her past is behind her, it can’t catch her now. Mark turns to face her…
But it isn’t Mark in the beautiful suit – it’s his best man.
Because Mark is missing.
And Julia’s past is closer than she thinks…
This is one for anyone wanting a dramatic whodunit. This has everything you’d expect from your classic thriller – shady characters, unreliable narrators and lots of twists. I finished it in a few days as I was dying to know how the mystery unravelled.
The narrative is split between Julia (the jilted bride) and Alana Loxton, a detective constable. I enjoyed both POVs but I think Alana was my favourite; I loved her character and the relationship between her and Kowalski, her partner on the case. Before I started this book I read that the author, Vicki Bradley, is an MPS detective herself. This added a real authenticity to the story and I enjoyed the glimpse into life on the police force.
While I really liked the overall premise, the ending was a bit too far fetched for me and rang similar to so many other crime novels I’ve read. There was also several scenes depicting the murder of a child which were hard to stomach and totally unnecessary (in my opinion). All in all, this was an easy, entertaining read but I think there are better thrillers out there.
What have you been reading recently? x
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