What Leslieanne Read in March...

So this is a slightly delayed reading round up, but quite frankly, if you throw a four day weekend full of chocolate and the first week of  Easter Holidays (my FAVOURITE holidays!) into the mix, a gal like me who is generally only just keeping up with life, is going to be subject to delays!

ANYWAY! Last month's books were a really mixed bag; content wise, so hopefully there's something for everyone to maybe stick on their to read list. Let's get cracking shall we?

First up - I did something I said I wasn't going to do - I binge read not one, but TWO old Matt Haig books. I hardly have anything of Matt's left to read now, but I don't care, they were both incredible, so it was totally worth it. In March I read...

The Radleys by Matt Haig
This is possibly my favourite one so far. But I've said that after every Matt Haig book I've read, so don't read too much into it!
Essentially, it's about a family of vampires, living in suburbia. Sounds absurd? Yes it does, but oh it is SO good. Clever, funny, and completely addictive. I went through a big vampire novel reading phase in my teens, from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice, and this is absolutely nothing like any of those. By which I mean, if horror/vampire style novels aren't really your thing, don't let that put you off giving this a whirl. Yes, there's bloodshed and a tiny bit of 'gore', but ultimately it's a beautiful story of the ups and downs of family life, with a few extra hurdles of the supernatural variety thrown into the usual mix of career/children/neighbour worries.
I loved it, and can't recommend it enough.


The Last Family in England by Matt Haig
Oh. My. Heart.
I can't lie, I very nearly abandoned this one very early on. You see it's written from the point of view of Prince, the dog member of the Hunter family, and on page three he tells us 

 'there was a strange sense of relief as I remembered what was going to happen today.
As I remembered I was going to die.'

I do not read books where animals die!! I still haven't watched Marley and Me because I know it will make me bawl like a baby and I don't need that kind of trauma in my life!
But, against my better judgement, (and because I'm now a very much confirmed Matt Haig fangirl) I took a deep breath and ploughed on with The Last Family England, and oh I'm so glad I did.
Yes, it was heart breakingly sad. Yes, I did read the last chunk through watery eyes, but it was still wonderful. Again, the premise (essentially, that the survival of human society depends on pet dogs keeping things under control), is bonkers, but that is what Matt Haig does so well. He has these completely bizarre and kooky ideas for stories, but then manages to pull them off as stylish, beautifully written books that although full of humour, take you on an emotional rollercoaster from one page to the next.

It's completely brilliant, definitely read it, but do have tissues to hand in case something gets in your eye.

Next up, there's one I picked up on a whim in a 3 for £5 bundle from The Works. (Which sometimes end up being some of my favourite reads! - Looking at you The Universe Versus Alex Woods!)

Before This Is Over by Amanda Hickie
You know when you see a lot of yourself in a character, but it's perhaps not the stuff you really want to admit about yourself? Yeah. This book mostly focuses on  the point of view of Hannah: wife, mum of two, and living her life in a permanent stress & anxiety level of Joyce from Stranger Things*, and I have to admit, I found myself relating FAR too much! (*In case you don't watch the show, that's HIGH.)

Turns out though, being a neurotic mother isn't such a bad thing when there's an epidemic on your doorstep, which is the premise of this book. Pandemic/Epidemic-induced dramas/stories are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine (it's the whole 'holy crap this could actually happen in real life' thing, which probably isn't all that healthy for someone with anxiety, but guilty pleasures are weird like that, right?), and this one was really, really good.

It's tense and chilling, in that it's so well presented as potential reality; there's no science experiment gone wrong, no zombies, no rabid monkeys running wild. There's just an infection that spreads quickly, is horribly contagious, kills within days and has no cure. Frankly, it's terrifying, but in the most mundane, everyday ways, which makes for an addictive book that I absolutely raced through.

If you're similarly fascinated by epidemic dramas and/or like the sort suspense that makes you read whole pages while holding your breath, this one's for you.

Next one, continuing Leslieanne's newfound appreciation for crime thrillers:

Hangman by Daniel Cole
 You might remember I read Daniel Cole's first book back in January, and despite thrillers not usually being my thing, I loved it. Well, turns out maybe thrillers are more my thing than I realised, because this one's equally good, if not better.

It's hard to tell you much about the story without spoilers, but I will say that if you read the first one and found the crime scenes a bit too grizzly, they only get moreso in this one!! Again though, it's done in a way that's not gratuitous, and technically they're a small art of the bigger picture. But yes; new story = new case, new serial killer, new dramas to unravel.

The main reason I enjoyed Hangman maybe even more than Ragdoll, is that it focuses on DCI Emily Baxter as the lead character - she has more of a 'supporting role' in the first, but I loved her, so was pleased to see her take the reigns in this one.  I didn't know until I read the author Q&A at the end of the book, that Ragdoll & Hangman are actually parts 1&2 of a trilogy, so now I'm very excited to get my hands on part 3! (Unfortunately, it's probably about a year away, but I'm confident it'll be worth the wait!)

Lastly, there's the one I didn't love, which I hate saying, but what's the point in doing a monthly review if I don't keep it real? So :

Another Place by Matthew Crow
Don't get me wrong, this is NOT a terrible book; and actually, it's probably partly my own fault I didn't love it, in that it's actually a Young Adult Novel (I grabbed it as 3rd in the 3 for £5 bundle from The Works without noticing!) - but I finished it all the same, and it was okay, it just didn't really properly pull me in, y'know?

It's the story of 16 year old Claudette coming home after a stay in hospital, prompted by a suicide attempt after an escalating depression. She discovers that while she was hospitalised, a friend from school has disappeared, and she basically makes it her mission to to find out what happened; and hopefully aid her own recovery in the process.

It's a well put together story, and great in terms of the sensitive yet unsentimental way it approaches the subject of mental health through Claudette's recovery, but for me, I could tell it wasn't written by someone who'd ever actually been a 16 year old girl, which was grating at times. Aside from that, the writing is generally good and obviously the narrative was interesting enough to keep me turning pages even after I realised my selection process clanger! As I said though, had I realised it was a YA book, I probably wouldn't have picked it up in the first place, so I feel like a bit of a grumpy old woman criticizing it when I'm hardly the target audience it was written for!

And that's the lot!
Told you it was a mixed bag! In all honesty though, I think that's an important part of keeping reading enjoyable - I'm pretty sure I'd get bored quickly if I only ever read the sort of books I know for sure I'll love.

As ever, I'd love to hear what you guys have been reading - especially if you've got your own thoughts on any of the above, and recommendations to add to my own list are always welcome too!

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