4 Books I've Read In 2019 So Far

In 2019 so far, I've been on a MAJOR roll with my reading and boy am I loving it. I was blessed to receive some cracking titles in my stocking at Christmas (and boy does that feel like a long time ago) and I've been loving getting my nose into them slowly but surely as the months have gone by. Don't get me wrong, it's not been a piece of cake to find time to sit down and have a good ol' read without the feeling that I should be doing 1001 other things instead, but I've been taking my own advice - from my 'How To Find Time To Read in 2019' post - and making time for this favourite hobby of mine.

I've been reading a good blend of new picks and firm favourites, and today I've tried to pick four of the titles I've read in the first part of the year which I haven't previously introduced you to. This is not only to add a bit of variety to my book posts but also so I can pretend that I haven't just been re-reading the Harry Potter books for the umpteenth time.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Sarah's Key is a hard-hitting piece of historical fiction which centers around the real-life event of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup in 1942, in which over 13,000 Jewish people were arrested, held in in-humane conditions and then shipped off to Auschwitz. Much of the story focuses on the complicity of the French police in the round-up, something which has been very much forgotten by history

The titular character is ten year old Sarah, who is arrested along with her family at the start of the novel. Unaware of horrific reality of their arrest, and under the impression that they will be freed after a few hours, Sarah locks her four year old brother in a hidden cupboard before they leave. She vows to return and rescue her brother, and the novel follows her story as she desperately tries to keep this promise following her arrest. The novel interweaves the story of Sarah with that of Julia, an American journalist living in Paris and researching the events of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup ahead of the 60th anniversary. Whilst I did find myself initially getting tired of the chapters focused on Julia - no doubt fueled by my emotional connection to Sarah and eagerness for the author to continue her story - as the novel went on and her connection to Sarah's story grew more explicit, I began to enjoy her character and what it brought to the story as a whole.

Sarah's Key is a hugely emotive and poignant novel that I simply could not put down. It's beautifully written and the historical element was truly fascinating. This was the first novel I read in 2019 and it's a story that is going to stay with me for a long time to come.

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens 
We're back in historical fiction territory now and heading back to world war 1 and the battlefields of the Ypres Salient with the novel Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens.

Valentine Joe tells the story of fourteen year old Rose who visits the Ypres Salient with her grandad in search for the grave of his uncle. When visiting a cemetery she is drawn to the grave of Valentine Joe Strudwick, a soldier who died in 1916 at the tender age of fifteen. From this moment a slightly supernatural twist is added to the novel and Rose finds herself time-travelling back to 1915 where she interacts with the young soldier himself, taking on the role of an angel on the battlefields with a goal of changing his fate.

It was the setting that really enticed me to read this book as I've been lucky enough to visit Ypres (a beautiful town in Belgium) and the surrounding area twice before as part of my history studies. One significant location is Essex Farm, once the location of an advanced dressing station and now a cemetery and the final resting place of over a thousand soldiers who died on the surrounding battlefields. The concept of the story centering around a cemetery which I myself have visited really added an extra dimension of emotion to the novel. And just when you think your heart has been touched enough you find out that Valentine Joe was a real soldier; a real fifteen year old boy who gave his life fighting to give the world the freedom it has today.

Valentine Joe is definitely written with a younger audience in mind but even as an adult I found it to be a really enjoyable read. I did find that due to it being a shorter novel, in order to accommodate younger readers, it lacked the detail I was craving it to have. Yet it still managed to be a truly touching and heartwarming tale and one I'd really recommend if you're after a slightly shorter read.

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer
A few months back I raided a whole heap of charity shops with my favourite book-hunting sidekick - also known as my Nanny - and, after noticing a 50p sale, left with my arms laden with lots of juicy new reads. One of these new books was The Girl In The Red Coat, a mystery thriller by Kate Hamer. I know the phrase 'don't judge a book by it's cover' is one of much importance to book-lovers, but I must say that it was the intense scarlet cover and the emphasis on the colour red in the title which initially caught my eye.

The Girl In The Red Coat shares the emotional journey experienced by Beth, who sees her own worst nightmare come into fruition when her eight year old daughter Carmel goes missing at a local festival. The chapters alternate between the narrative of Beth, as she hunts for her daughter and tries to learn to adjust to life with a piece of her missing, and Carmel, as she finds herself at the hands of strangers in a completely alien place.

Hamer has created a truly fascinating character in Carmel and it was her character's quirks that propelled me deeper into the story. I won't lie, I felt less initial attraction to the character of Beth but this did grow as the story progressed itself. I found the use of alternating perspectives carried the story well but did struggle, especially towards the ending, with the frequent jumps in time which left me with a number of questions about the occurrences we weren't privy to. I'd love to know what you think of this element of the story if you've read The Girl In The Red Coat; you know me, always up for a literary discussion!

(bonus points if you've spotted that my book is upside down in this photo - smooth Chloe, smooth)

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Good Me Bad Me is a dark and intensely gripping psychological thriller which marked Ali Land's debut novel. I rarely tread into the land of thrillers but I was both thoroughly impressed and highly unsettled at the same time!

Meet Milly, a fifteen year old girl who has just been given a new identity; a new family; a new life. Why, you may ask? Her mother is a serial killer.  After turning her mother into the police, Milly begins to learn to navigate her new life but the ghosts of her horrific past loom over her and she struggles with the war that's being fought inside her head between the 'good' and 'bad' parts of her psyche.

The story is told solely through Milly's eyes; combining her internal thoughts, snippets of dialogue  and the heavy presence of her mother's voice inside her head. It explores not only Milly's new life but the build up and event of her mother's trial and the impact it has on Milly, who is forced to relive not only the heinous crimes she witnessed but also the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother.

Good Me Bad Me is an extremely well written novel which focuses on the psychological aspect of the crimes and their repercussions, sparing the reader from having to hear any of the gruesome details of the murders. The constant twists and turns and gripping pace make it so compelling, to the point that I actually devoured the whole book in one go. Who needs a life when you can stay in all day and read about serial killers hey?

I'm currently reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and I'm already insanely in love with it! No doubt you'll hear me talk all about it when I've finished it.

Have you read anything good recently?

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