April & May 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

July 5, 2020 in Wrap-Ups

A few days ago, I shared the first part of my mid-year reading wrap-up. The plan was to split it into two parts but I read so many books once lockdown started that writing this post got overwhelming pretty quickly! So it’s now a three-part series instead – woohoo! 

Part two covers everything I read in April and May – books #17 to #40. You might already know how I feel about some of these if you’ve read my O.W.Ls readathon wrap-up but those weren’t the only books I read in April and I’ve never shared what I read in May so still lots of new mini reviews to take a look at!

Once this mini-series is complete, I promise I’ll start doing monthly reading wrap-ups. Even if only for my own sanity! I’ll also be introducing a book of the month segment which I’m very excited about and I’ll be reviewing every single book I read on Goodreads and Instagram. For now though, let’s take a look at those books!

Books I Read in April 2020

I AM THAT GIRL: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose and #bethatgirl
by Alexis Jones

A powerful guide to living your best life for young women.

I often find that these personal development type books come across as really preachy or condescending. That was 100% not the case here. In fact, it left me feeling overwhelmingly positive about what I’ve achieved and where I’m at in my life which is a pretty big feat really. It’s so easy to read and is especially relevant to women in their 20s and 30s when you’re expected to have it all figured out.

The Perfect Mother
by Caroline Mitchell

A desperate young woman moves in with a celebrity couple who are adopting her unborn child but everything unravels when she discovers that the last woman who moved in with them has never been seen again.

This one oozed tension, making it a great psychological thriller. You really do sympathise with the main character who kind of feels like she’s in no position to raise a child. But then she finds herself trapped in this nightmare and you’re desperate for her to escape.

Attempted murder/murder, sexual assault, imprisonment, traumatic birth

I Spy
by Claire Kendal

A young woman is in hiding after she is asked to carry out espionage on her dangerous husband.

Another gripping thriller! Our main character here is a woman who desperately wanted to be a spy but failed her interview with MI5 only to be later recruited to keep tabs on her husband. What makes it stand out so much is that this woman isn’t just in danger, she’s constantly moving closer and further away from it. It’s handled really well and the result is an explosive psychological thriller.

Attempted murder/murder, scenes of violence, domestic abuse

You Let Me In
by Lucy Clarke

A woman becomes fearful for her safety after she rents out her beach-front home on Airbnb.

You’ll never want to list your home on Airbnb after reading this book, I tell you that much. It’s a stark warning about how you don’t know who you’re letting into your home. A lot of disturbing stuff happens once the homeowner returns and it gets intense. Naturally, no-one believes our protagonist. 

Sexual assault, violence, attempted murder

You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

A man investigates violent crimes and discovers that a well-respected doctor has found a way to physically split himself into two personalities: the “good” Dr. Jekyll and the “bad” Mr. Hyde.

I’d never read this classic until now but obviously I was familiar with the general plotline and its theme of duality. Still, it wasn’t what I expected it to be? In my head it was going to be from the narratives of Jekyll and Hyde, teasing you into the realisation that they were one and the same. But actually it’s narrated by one of Dr. Jekyll’s acquaintances – a lawyer, if I recall correctly?

Murder, assault, violence

Verona: a Ghost Story
by Benedict Ashforth

A couple struggling with infertility take a trip to Verona but find themselves haunted by a centuries-old curse.

I read this on a fluke really because I needed a short story for a readathon and went browsing the Kindle Singles section. It’s pretty dark however it’s absolutely brilliant. I do enjoy a good ghost story and this was one I’ll never forget.

Infertility, abortion, suicide, filicide, child death, murder

by Sophie Draper

As a woman dares to leave an unhappy marriage, her teenage son goes missing and all the family’s secrets come to light.

Now I’d heard a lot of great things about Magpie that sadly it didn’t live up to, in my opinion. None of the main characters were likeable or relatable and what sympathy I could muster up for our protagonist was purely on the basis that I’m a mother too and a missing child, however old, is a pain I hope I never experience. So that had a pretty big impact on my overall enjoyment and investment. But I must admit that the ending makes it all worth it.

Death, emotional abuse, child death

Magpie by Sophie Draper

The Near Witch
by Victoria Schwab

On the night that a stranger appears in the town of Near, children start going missing from their beds and the townspeople are quick to point the blame, but was this the work of the stranger or a curse inflicted on the town by the fabled Near witch?

There’s so much that I could say about this book that I have no idea where to start. First of all, it’s another level of magic. The world building is immersive and atmospheric. You’ve got these fantastic characters who compliment each other so well. Witchcraft and curses and children disappearing into thin air. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite books of all time not just this year.

Child adbuction, occult, attempted murder/murder

Little White Lies
by Philippa East

Seven years after her abduction, a girl is found and reunited with her family but everyone is keeping secrets about what really happened that day.

This was a gripping domestic thriller about a young girl re-integrating with her family after being imprisoned for almost a decade. It was really intriguing and I loved all the shocking twists as each family member’s secrets spilled out. However, my only gripe with the book was its ending. I felt that there were more natural endings earlier on in the book and that maybe it just went on a tad bit longer than necessary?

Child abduction

Little White Lies by Philippa East

Those People
by Louise Candlish

A provocative couple move onto a quiet suburban street and cause a great deal of disruption and animosity which ultimately results in the untimely death of two people.

I expected better if I’m being completely honest. The way that others rave about this book meant that my expectations were sky high and I was ultimately left very disappointed. It’s a slow-burner with the most unlikeable cast of characters I’ve ever read. Still, the need to know what happened does push you through the long chapters where you don’t care all that much about what happens or to who. And I mean, I didn’t hate it? It just wasn’t for me.

Attempted murder/murder, alcohol and drug abuse, harm to children

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by J.K. Rowling

An illustrated exploration of mythical beasts.

First of all, the visuals on the animated Kindle version are fantastic. The content, however, left a lot to be desired. I consider myself to have an interest in mythical creatures but this failed to hold my attention for more than a few minutes at a time. There was a joke in there about ghosts that gave me a giggle but that was the highlight… and that was right at the start if I recall correctly?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brene Brown

An exploration of shame and how embracing our imperfections allows us to see that we are enough, exactly the way we are.

Brene Brown just gets it. I spent the large majority of this book (and Daring Greatly, which I’ll talk about later) nodding along in agreement. Everything just kind of clicked into place in my brain like yes, I needed this book. I needed these exact words. I’ve been trying to incorporate some of these strategies into my life and honestly, I feel so much lighter because of it. Highly recommended!

Two Can Keep a Secret
by Karen M. McManus

Twins move in with their grandmother in a small town – a town that has a history of missing and murdered girls and it’s just started happening again.

This was my second Karen McManus novel of 2020 so in comparison, Two Can Keep a Secret was my favourite. I’d love to see a sequel here because honestly, it was just a million times better than One of Us is Lying – which is saying a lot because that is amazing too. Ellery is a fantastic, down-to-Earth, highly relatable teenage girl who loves true-crime podcasts. So for me, I wanted her to solve the mystery of all the missing/dead girls and I wanted her to live to tell the tale. It’s also fast paced with a lot of action. But my absolute favourite thing? The last page. It left me breathless. Hands down, the best final page of 2020 – so far.

Attempted murder/murder, abduction, references to a hit and run

The Perfect Neighbours
by Rachel Sargeant

A woman moves to Germany to join her expat husband and despite her best efforts to fit in with her new community, she winds up accused of murder.

I really enjoyed reading The Roommates so jumped at the opportunity to read another of Sargeant’s thrillers but personally, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped. A lot happens and it flicks between two narratives (Helen and the mysterious student Fiona) so at times it felt very disjointed and hard to follow. I think the biggest problem for me was that the emotional investment just wasn’t there – I didn’t consider any of the characters to be even remotely likeable. 

Attempted murder/murder, cruelty to animals, sexual assault, manipulation, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, graphic violence

The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant

Books I Read in May 2020

Only the Innocent
by Rachel Abbott

The murder of a famous philanthropist leads detectives to uncover all of his dirty secrets.

I love Abbott’s DCI Tom Douglas series but until now I hadn’t read them in any particular order. (Oops!) So the first book in the series was new to me even though the series as a whole was not.

DCI Tom Douglas is quite possibly the most compassionate fictional detective of all time. He’s by no means perfect but he is an all-round good guy who wants to do the right thing. The story is the polar opposite of Douglas’ character: dark, twisted and full of inhumane acts against other people. It was one big shock fest and when it all the secrets finally came to light, it was sordid as hell.

Attempted murder/murder, domestic violence and abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, rape, incest, paedophilia, human trafficking, mental health, gaslighting

The Independent Guide to Disneyland Paris 2020
by G Costa

The most recent instalment of this Disneyland Paris travel guide range talks about what changes are coming to the park in 2020 and beyond as well as offering advice on how to plan your trip.

I read the most recent instalment of the Independent Guide to Disneyland Paris while planning a future trip. The content is more or less the same in each update with the odd reference to something that’s new for that calendar year for example new attractions, ride closures, hotel refurbishments. Personally, I think that the guide lacks depth and personality so if you’re looking for information ahead of a trip then I’d recommend checking out blogs/vlogs instead.

The Twisted Tree
by Rachel Burge

A girl with a visual impairment runs away to Norway to visit her grandmother but discovers that her grandmother died, her grandmother’s home is now inhabited by a strange teenage boy and there’s a creature on the loose killing people.

This wasn’t a book I’d normally go for but I’d heard great things about it – and it genuinely lives up to the hype! It’s atmospheric and magical while still managing to be immensely creepy. There are some mild horror elements and the odd scene of gore – but not enough to put me off or distract from the beautiful storytelling.

Horror elements, some gore

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

When I Was You
by Minka Kent

A woman suffering from memory loss starts questioning everything she knows when she discovers that another woman has stolen her identity – on paper and in real life.

When you think of identity fraud, this isn’t it. If someone steals your identity, this is pretty much your worst case scenario which is what I think makes this book stand out most. It’s not so far-fetched that it’s implausible, it’s just a tale of very extreme gaslighting and our protagonist, Brienne, just so happens to be on the receiving end but she doesn’t know it yet. It’s an incredibly tense, fast-paced thriller – one that I strongly recommend!

Gaslighting, attempted murder, mental health, being committed to a mental health facility (sectioned) 

The Weight of Lies
by Emily Carpenter

While writing a tell-all about her horror writer mother, a young woman winds up on the mysterious island that was the setting for her mother’s bestselling novel and certain events make her question just how much of the novel was fiction.

This was by far one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. The island is atmospheric in a derelict mostly uninhabited kind of way and that takes the already ever-growing tension to new heights. It’s told in a very unique way with chapters of the horror novel woven in, giving you the clues needed to put the pieces together yourself. That said, the “clues” went over my head leaving me with the shock of a lifetime at the end!

Scalping, attempted murder/murder, racism, filicide, horror elements

The Weight of Lies - Emily Carpenter

The Doll House
by Phoebe Morgan

A woman is tormented when pieces of her childhood doll house start randomly appearing in her home and workplace.

Let me start by saying that this was not at all what I was expecting – it was better! There was so much tension and suspense that I doubted every single secondary character and hated everyone for being so dismissive of Corinne’s distress. The scenes of maternal distress were the ones that affected me the most so naturally I spent the last few chapters trapped inside the pages of this book unable to do anything else and when I reached the ending, it left me desperate for more.

Attempted murder/murder, drug use and abuse, child endangerment, child abuse, home invasion, cruelty to animals/references to dead animals, infertility

by Neil Gaiman

A young girl discovers a door in her new home that leads to an alternative universe with alternative parents but they don’t want to let her leave.

An enjoyable and quick read but very creepy for a children’s book – though certainly not as disturbing as I was led to believe. In fact, the illustrations were scarier than the story itself. (I found myself avoiding the illustrations for this reason – again, I’m a big scaredy cat!)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
by Suzanne Collins

The backstory behind Panem’s tyrannical President Snow who, as a teenager was a mentor to the District 12 tribute in the 10th Hunger Games.

Like many other fans of the Hunger Games trilogy, I had very high hopes for this prequel. But I was actually left feeling very conflicted to the point that I generously gave it a 4 star rating.

The thing I loved the most about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? Sejanus Plinth. That was a book I would have felt satisfied reading. Instead we got this kind of ‘how Coriolanus Snow became a sociopathic jerk’ backstory when spoiler alert: he was kind of a jerk to begin with. Sejanus, in contrast, had so much potential and honestly, he deserved so much better.

I obviously can’t leave this review without discussing the relationship between Snow and the tribute he’s mentoring in the Hunger Games, Lucy Gray. It felt overly performative to me? Like it wasn’t entirely sincere on either side? I guess that’s why Katniss and Peeta were such a sore spot for him later on? So yeah, very mixed feelings about this one but I’d still recommend it to fans of The Hunger Games anyway even if only for a spot of context.

References of cannibalism, terrorist attacks, graphic violence, cruelty to children, attempted murder/murder

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins

The Need
by Helen Phillips

A paleobotanist who has uncovered a series of bizarre items in her current dig site realises that there is a deer-masked intruder in her family home.

First of all, I was surprised to learn that this was in the runner for Goodreads’ Best Horror award last year. Surprised because it didn’t feel massively horror-y to me. There were certainly scenes that I was grateful I read in the day, with my husband at home to stop me freaking out and emptying out every toybox, cupboard and the like but these all happened fairly early on and were more thrills than scares?

What did stand out to me about The Need, however, was the way that it portrays motherhood and in particular, maternal loss. It was gut-wrenching. I cried through the final pages and so it took a few days to actually make sense of what had happened at the end of the story. It’s wonderful and raw and yeah, you need to read this book.

Child death, grief, terrorist attacks, home invasion

The Waiting Room
by Emily Bleeker

A grieving wife with debilitating postpartum depression discovers that her daughter is missing but no-one believes her.

I don’t know what I was expecting but this was not it. That said, The Waiting Room is a thrilling powerhouse of maternal guilt, postpartum depression and grief that it doesn’t even matter that it’s not what you thought it would be. One particular moment broke me, literally had me aching inside as the tears poured down my face. Any book that can cause an emotional reaction like that is a winner in my eyes.

Child death, postpartum depression

Phew! We’re done for today but keep a look out for the final part of my mid-year reading wrap-up where I’ll be talking about all of my June reads. All 16 of them! See you real soon!


  • Lauren July 5, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    You’ve read so much! I just can’t get into reading at the moment. Hoping it picks back up when I finish work for the 6 week holidays.

    • Hayley July 5, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      To be fair you’ve had a lot going on, I probably would have struggled to read under those circumstances too! I’m sure you’ll get your book mojo back over the summer. 🙂

  • Anika July 5, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Great list! I haven’t read Two Can Keep a Secret but I loved One of Us is Lying so the sequel definitely has to go on my list, it sounds amazing.

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:42 am

      You definitely should, it’s incredible!

  • Alexis Farmer July 5, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Dang you were busy! Lol. I need to read Fantastic Beasts

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:43 am

      I had a lot of free time while my husband wasn’t working haha. Thanks for stopping by Alexis!

  • Pri July 5, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    So many great books! Definitely want to read I Am That Girl!

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:44 am

      I Am That Girl is fantastic, I hope you enjoy it!

  • Molly @ Transatlantic Notes July 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Reading took a bit of a backseat this year for me but I’m picking it up again — your list of reads has some really interesting books that I’ll check out. Thanks for sharing!

  • That Happy Reader July 5, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Great post! I want to read The Waiting Room. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy The Waiting Room 🙂

  • Deandra July 5, 2020 at 10:01 pm

    I have “I Am That Girl” but I have yet to read it because I’m terrible with staying up on my reading game. This makes me want to pick it up asap. I’ll have to dust it off lol

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Haha I feel you, I put off reading it for about 5 years but it’s sooo worth it. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Saloni Miglani July 6, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Wow, you’ve read so much this year – great post! Have added Little White Lies to my never-ending TBR. 🙂


    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:46 am

      Thank you so much Saloni, I hope you enjoy Little White Lies! 🙂

  • Liz Hartley July 6, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Wow you have read so many books! I will defo be adding to my to-be-read list after reading this, always love getting book inspo!

    • Hayley July 6, 2020 at 10:46 am

      Thanks Liz, I hope you enjoy reading the books you add to your TBR! 🙂

  • claire July 6, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Wow I can’t believe how much you’ve read, I find this level of reading inspiring.

    Although my wallet is not happy about just how many of these I have added to my goodreads, but I can’t wait to check them out. Thank you for sharing x

    • Hayley July 8, 2020 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Claire, sorry about your wallet haha. I read a lot of them via my local library’s eBook service which helps keep costs down a lot, worth checking to see if that’s something available/accessible to you? 🙂

  • Emily July 6, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    You read so much!! I can’t wait to try some of these so thank you!


    • Hayley July 8, 2020 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Emily, hope you enjoy the ones you read! 🙂

  • lifestyleseason July 6, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Great post! I’m trying to get into reading so thank you for all of the suggestions! Some of them sounds really good!

    • Hayley July 8, 2020 at 11:05 am

      Thank you, hope you enjoy reading them! 🙂

  • Aiden July 6, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    You read so much! I barely finished two books this year because I’m in a major reading slump. Great choices

    • Hayley July 8, 2020 at 11:07 am

      Thanks Aiden! Yeah I think the state of the world this year has made it both more difficult and easier to read – depending on the person. I know a lot of people are struggling to read while the world itself feels so heavy? Still all it takes is one great book to rekindle that reading fire… 🙂

  • Hannah July 7, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    I have heard some mixed reviews on the hunger games, but I really can’t wait to read it for myself. I just hope I enjoy it haha. Great post xx

    Hannah | https://luxuryblush.co.uk/

    • Hayley July 7, 2020 at 8:10 pm

      I hope you enjoy it too, fingers crossed! And thank you 🙂

  • Allie Mackin July 9, 2020 at 8:22 pm

    Ah very inspiring and helpful so many cool book, thanks for posting 🙂

    Allie of

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Allie! 🙂

  • Sarah July 10, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    You read quite a few books over those two months. I like the mix that you have read. Honestly, I have only heard of a couple of these books and have actually only read one, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. So needless to say, I am curious about a number of these and will have to add them to my TBR.

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Sarah, hope you enjoy any of the books you wind up reading! 🙂

  • Gabby July 10, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Hayley, I’m always so impressed by how much you read! Honestly, I wish I could read this many books in a whole year, lol! All of these books sound incredible, but I’m especially intrigued by “Two can keep a secret” – I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing these books, girl!

    PS: love the new theme you have!

    Much love always,
    GABBY | http://www.gabbyabigaill.com

    • Hayley July 23, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Thank you so much Gabby! Two can Keep a Secret is one of the best books I’ve read this year so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂

  • […] finally made it to the third and final part of my mid-year reading wrap-up! As I mentioned in part 2 (aka my April & May wrap-up), I’ll be doing monthly wrap-ups from now on so you won’t have to suffer through posts […]

  • […] part 1 which will cover all of the books I read between January and March. Part 2 will cover April & May reads and Part 3 will cover all of June’s […]

  • Leave a Reply

    I accept the Privacy Policy

    Hey There!

    Hey There!

    I'm Hayley - a UK book blogger & reviewer. Also: introvert, homebody & mum. Kinda emo. 🖤🤍💜

    Pronouns: she/her

    Please note: I am currently not accepting book review requests.

    Follow Happily Ever Homebody on WordPress.com


    Hayley by the Book receives compensation in the following ways:

    • Free books in exchange for honest reviews
    • Commission from affiliate links

    For more info please check out my Disclosure page.

    Let’s Connect

    Latest Posts




    Professional Reader

    Reviews Published

    10 Book Reviews