Book Reviews

My Book Reviews for March 2020

Here are my book reviews for March 2020, and my writing news. What a funny old month! Productivity slowed during the second half as I came to terms with the enormity of the crisis we all face. No doubt I will settle into the new normal and soon be able to concentrate on new reading and writing. I hope we all find our way through this.

Despite the distraction of a global emergency, I managed to write some book reviews for March 2020. These are the great books I read:

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

A mother and child flee a windowless shack in the woods, and are reunited with family members who never gave up hope. But the nightmare for all of them is only just beginning.

This was a great page-turner. It’s real strength was in its three narrators:
Hannah – a child rescued from a lifetime held in captivity;
Lena – a kidnapped woman, now released;
Matthias – Lena’s father who has been searching for his missing daughter for fourteen years.

All three should evoke the reader’s sympathy and yet their narratives are unsettling and quite possibly unreliable. The author keeps up the tension until the end.

An original take on a difficult theme.

The Mothers by Sarah J. Naughton

This book took me back to my mother and baby group days. How I used to envy the yummy mummies with their immaculate clothes and sleeping-through-the-night babies.

This story is about five such mummies: sophisticated lawyer Chrissie; housewife Bella; working mum of twins Electra, hippy Skye and kick-ass Jen.

As the story progresses and we see something of their home lives over a three-year period, it turns out that maybe they’re not so yummy after all.

When one of the husbands disappears, we also meet police detectives Iona and Yannis. (These two were a delight and would make great series characters.) They smell something decidedly off among the Yankee candles and aromatic supper parties.

I picked up the clues that Sarah J. Naughton carefully laid and was delighted with the denouement. In the closing stages of the journey I had the same heart-pounding feelings as when I read Katharine Johnson’s The Suspects. Fans of one will probably like the other. I loved both.

The Mothers is a sexy, speedy and fabulous thriller that kept me reading until 1.30am. I will be getting another book by this author very soon.

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

This is an unnerving, claustrophobic, gruesome and brilliant captivity story, told from three viewpoints:
Thirteen-year-old Elissa is drugged and kidnapped at a chess tournament. She wakes up manacled to the wall in a filthy and cold cellar.
Elijah is a twelve-year-old boy who visits her in her dungeon. He says he wants to help, but is he all that he seems?
Mairaed is the detective in charge of the police operation to find Elissa. She works with determination despite living through her own personal tragedy.

The first half of the book reminded me of The Collector by John Fowles. There was a gripping, painful, awkward battle of wills between chess champion Elissa and her unpredictable visitor, Elijah.
In the second half, the mental battle moved elsewhere when each heart-pounding revelation was followed by an even bigger shocker.

Not only is Sam Lloyd a terrific plotter, he is an accomplished writer. The narration was so smooth, I took it for granted as I raced through, eager to find out what would happen next.

This must surely become one of the biggest hits of this surreal year.

My Writing News

The Roommates finally appeared in my local Waterstones – a week before the High Street sadly had to close down. It can still be ordered from Waterstones Online, a sterling service by the Waterstones warehouse staff and the Royal Mail.

I am grateful to student journalists who managed to find time to post content about The Roommates despite coping with massive disruption to their studies and trying to get home before lockdown:

Roehampton University – review: “I finished it in less than five hours…Yeah, I was hooked”

Derby University – review: “The best thing about The Roommates is that you can’t help but fall in love with the characters from the first page, and the writing from each girl’s perspective is both enjoyable and brilliant.”

Brunel University – interview

University of Liverpool – interview

University of Kent – interview

I was delighted to record interviews with XpressionFM at Exeter University and CSRFM, community radio station funded by the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University.
I was also interviewed live by the talented student presenters on Burn FM, the radio station of the University of Birmingham, where I’m currently a student.

This follows on from some great publicity in the university press last month.

So that’s my news and book reviews for March 2020.
Stay Safe, Everyone.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Under the name Rae Sargeant, she writes the Gleveham Killers Suspense series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend. Her titles as Rachel Sargeant, with HarperCollins, are: The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university during freshers' week; The Good Teacher, a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams, and The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

Comments (1)

  1. Lesley Mumbray-Williams 31st March 2020 at 4:37 pm

    What you ought to be reading, Rachel, is the books of the wonderful Lee Child, the greatest ever!

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