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Last year I managed to read a whopping 28 books! Which is by far the most I have ever read! I think I was only able to reach this number as we have been living a pretty relaxed life for the past 18 months. With backpacking and then spending 8 months working in New Zealand, I have had much more time on my hands than usual. But next week we are finally heading home, and will be settling back into normal life pretty quickly! So I have challenged myself to read 20 books in 2020, which I think is doable, I just have to make sure I prioritise it over watching random TV shows to pass the time.
I am well on my way already, with 6 of those 20 already read! Of course I enjoy reading, but having that goal definitely makes me want to read more. I just love building up those numbers and seeing my list of read books grow and grow. If you want to keep track of what I am currently reading or what I want to read next, here is my Goodreads account! So here i’ve got 6 book reviews for you of the books I have read from January and February…
THE HANDMAID’S TALE BY MARGARET ATWOOD
I am so glad I started off the year with this great book! I think most people by now have heard of The Handmaid’s Tale, even if just because of the TV series. Having been published in 1985, this was written quite a bit before my time and not a book I had ever heard about before. But after hearing more and more people talk about in 2019 I added it onto my reading list.
Through the tales of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, we learn what it is like to be a woman in this newly-founded religious state. Women have been stripped of their ability to handle finances and aren’t even allowed to read. The Handmaids are subjected to spend one night a month with their Commander in the hopes of getting pregnant. Most of the Wives can’t have babies themselves, so rely on these Handmaids to provide them instead. What makes this life even harder for the Handmaids is that they all remember the free lives they lead before Gilead.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Handmaids Tale, and if you haven’t read it already you absolutely should. Even though it is fictional, it is a little scary to think that the author drew ideas for this book from things she saw around her growing up and throughout her life. It is one of the few books I have read that has actually made me think! I think it is one that will always stay in my mind, and has made me realise how vulnerable women can be under the power of men. A definite 5/5!
THE TESTAMENTS BY MARGARET ATWOOD
I of course had to follow the Handmaid’s Tale with its sequel, The Testaments! I am so glad I didn’t have to wait over 30 years to find out what happened, as the ending of the first book was quite the cliff-hanger! The sequel is set 15 years after the previous installment, and is narrated by three female characters from Gilead. The first book was focused mostly on the Handmaids and how they were coping with the changes in their lives. So I really enjoyed how the sequel journeyed outwards into the other female characters in Gilead. We learn a lot more about the characters we met in The Handmaid’s Tale. And in by doing so, the reader sympathises with so many of the women in Gilead, not just the Handmaids.
For me it wasn’t a book that I found hard to put down, so it took me a couple of weeks to finish. I think the first installment was the better out of the two, but The Testaments is still a great read! 4/5
THE KISS QUOTIENT BY HELEN HOANG
After those two quite intense, thought-provoking books I was looking for something a lot less serious! All I knew about The Kiss Quotient was that it was a romance, so perfect for a quick light-hearted read!
It follows Stella, a 30 year old econometrician who has never been in a serious relationship. After receiving a lot of pressure for her mum to find a husband, she realises she needs to start dating. One slight problem, she hates sex. So she hires a male escort, Michael, to teach her how to be ‘good at sex’. As you can probably predict they start to grow feelings for one another, and it becomes a lot more than just sex. But Stella is afraid Michael will find out about her autism, which has held her back in social situations throughout her life.
In terms of the plot of this book, it is pretty predictable. But what made it different to so many other romance novels was Stella’s autism, and how this was portrayed throughout. I really enjoyed the exploration of the different thought processes of someone who has this disorder, and how the people around them respond to it. 3/5
SHOP THE BOOKS
SO LUCKY BY DAWN O’PORTER
Since reading Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter I have downloaded all of her books onto my Kindle! So Lucky is her newest release and focuses on three women who seem to have it all. But whilst to the outside world they are ‘so lucky’, they all have things going on in their lives that aren’t so perfect. The three characters come together at the end, united by their imperfections and vulnerabilities.
So far I have enjoyed every book I have read by Dawn, I am actually currently reading The Cows and loving that too! She never fails to make me laugh, and I appreciate that she explores different problems that modern women face with each character. 4/5
PLATFORM SEVEN BY LOUISE DOUGHTY
Next comes a book that I was a little unsure of to begin with, but I enjoyed it a lot more as the story went on. It is based around Platform Seven at Peterborough Station, where two suicides occur within the space of one year. Lisa Evans was one of those people, and ever since has been trapped within the train station as a ghost. She has never been able to leave, but one day she manages to follow someone out of the train station. Slowly she regains memories of her life, and the events that led to her death.
At first I didn’t like the inclusion of the ghosts, but it actually turned out to be a really interesting tool to re-tell the events of a thriller. It wasn’t my favourite out of this lot, but still worth a read! 3/5
CILKA’S JOURNEY BY HEATHER MORRIS
As the follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Cilka’s Journey is based on a true story that follows Cilka after the liberation of the camp by Russian soldiers. After spending three years in Auschwitz-Birkenau, she is captured as a prisoner and sent to a labour camp in Siberia to serve a 15 year sentence. She was charged with helping the Nazis, even though she had no choice in what happened to her, she just wanted to survive.
Her experience in Auschwitz sadly becomes an advantage as she takes other women under her wing to survive the labour camp together. After everything Cilka had been through, all the horrors she faced in Auschwitz, only to be sentenced to 15 years in Siberia! Well it certainly shocked me that this happened in real life! An emotional read, but a tale of true resilience. 4/5