January – March 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

July 1, 2020 in Wrap-Ups

Woohoo, we’re officially in the second half of the year which means it’s the perfect time for me to do a mid-year reading wrap-up talking about all of the books I read in the first six months of 2020. All 56 of them!

Instead of bamboozling you with over 50 mini reviews all at once, I’ve decided to split this post into three parts. You’re currently reading 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 reads!

What can you expect from my mid-year reading wrap-up? A one-sentence summary followed by a short review and any content warnings that stuck out to me. Sounds good, right? Let’s get going!

Books I Read in January 2020

The Woman in Our House
by Andrew Hart

A nanny moves into a family’s home but she comes with a fake identity and a dangerous amount of baggage.

This domestic thriller fits nicely into the “who can you really trust with your children?” trope. It was a bit of a slow-burner at first but once things started happening, it was exhilarating. Basically it’s about a mum who wants to return to work but she’s not entirely comfortable with the idea of a live-in nanny. She makes arrangements anyway and winds up with a nanny who has a fake identity, a cat, a dark past – oh, and the children keep getting sick or injured in her care. It’s a bit of a nightmare situation at face value but once you uncover the truth, it’s even worse.

Content & Trigger Warnings:

Graphic depictions of violence, domestic violence, injury to children, child abuse, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, attempted murder

Imaginary Friend
by Stephen Chbosky

A young boy follows his imaginary friend into the woods and isn’t seen again for 6 days.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was my absolute favourite book as a teen so I was desperate to read this. It’s a creepy horror novel about a little boy with learning difficulties who triggers the apocalypse. Chbosky’s writing style is beautiful and the way he deals with each character’s traumas is honestly another level. But I have to admit that it was disturbing as hell and I struggled to sleep for several days. Some scenes are just very graphic, intense and terrifying.

Content & Trigger Warnings:

Graphic depictions of violence, domestic violence, injury to children, child abuse, sexual assault, attempted murder/murder, torture, other horror elements

Books I Read in February 2020

All The Missing Girls
by Megan Miranda

A young woman leaves her hometown following her best friend’s disappearance but returns after her dad’s death and as soon as she does, another girl goes missing.

Book #3 was hands down one of my favourite reads so far this year. The writing style is a little confusing as it goes back and forth between timelines and I know that’s a big deal-breaker for some readers but I actually kind of enjoyed it? Miranda brings to life some wonderfully complicated characters and the protagonist, Nicolette, is one of the most relatable characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I genuinely felt for her throughout the story. 

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, pregnancy loss

All The Missing Girls - Megan Miranda

Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service
By Theodore Kinni & The Disney Institute

An insightful look at how the Walt Disney Company goes above and beyond for their customers and how you can adopt these strategies into your own organisation.

This is a really informative non-fiction for anyone who deals with customers. It’s directed more at those in positions of power and shares practical ways to adapt some of Disney’s core techniques and values into businesses or organisations of any shape and size.

Permanent Record
by Edward Snowden

The man who whistle-blew on the US government reveals how the government infringes on our personal privacy and why he felt it necessary to share this classified information with the world.

After watching ‘Snowden’ last year, I became very interested in the whole scandal. It’s a bit of a slow-burner at times but I found Snowden to be a very relatable, socially conscious young man who put his entire life on the line to do what he felt was the right thing. And if that makes you a villain, well, we’re all doomed.

The Assistant
by S.K. Tremayne

A divorcee moves into her friend’s mostly vacant London flat and is tormented by the smart devices she finds there.

I have one main thing to say about this book and that is: if your tech starts talking to you at night, burn it all. This was unlike anything I’d ever read before. A woman is literally stalked by her smart assistant and it’s absolutely terrifying how extreme things get.

Content & Trigger warnings:

References to suicide, blackmail and gaslighting

The Wife Between Us
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

A woman obsessively tries to discourage her ex’s new fiance from marrying her former husband.

Another domestic thriller – all except this time dealing with the husband/wife dynamic. I struggled to get into this at first and was really disappointed as I’ve loved Hendricks and Pekkanen before so I re-read the synopsis. That’s what pushed me to keep reading and honestly, it was a wild ride worth holding on for. Once things start happening, you’re suddenly like “oh right, I get it now.” It’s a great book.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Domestic abuse, infertility, cruelty to animals

Books I Read in March 2020

Someone We Know
by Shari Lapena

A mother’s attempt to apologise for her teenage son’s breaking and entering hobby puts the family in danger when a murderer realises that someone might have witnessed their crime.

Before I started reading this, I thought it was going to be a simple ‘the kid witnessed the crime’ type of story. But it’s actually so much more than that. All of the neighbours have their secrets. There are twists and turns around every corner. Personally it’s not as good as The Couple Next Door but it’s still thrilling and highly enjoyable. 

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, threats and violence

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
by Holly Jackson

An A-level student starts digging into a closed missing persons turned suspected murder case determined to prove the innocence of the killer.

There was so much to love about A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder that I don’t know where to start! Both Pip and Ravi are these incredibly likeable, relatable and realistic characters. You genuinely want them to uncover what happened five years ago, you want justice for Ravi’s late brother, Sal, who was suspected of murdering his girlfriend before killing himself. The plot does have a Serial-esque vibe to it but in the best possible way.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, threats and violence, suicide, sexual assault, cruelty to animals

A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson

One of Us is Lying
by Karen M. McManus

A classmate dies in the middle of detention and everyone present had a motive for killing him so who did it?

Another gripping young adult (YA) mystery, this time dealing with the death of a classmate during detention. There are a few narratives which can be hard to follow at times however these main characters are extremely well-written complex personalities with secrets to hide which makes it worthwhile.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, bullying, mental illness, homophobia

You are Not Alone
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

A woman who witnesses the suicide of a stranger becomes embedded in her life and finds herself in grave danger.

Another one from the dynamic duo! In this book, a dangerous group of women befriend the woman who witnessed their late friend’s suicide and start gaslighting her. This was possibly my least favourite Hendricks & Pekkanen book so far but that’s not to say that it wasn’t a worthwhile read. It just felt like it lacked the same level of tension in comparison to some of their other work.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, gaslighting, manipulation, stalking, suicide

Miss Marley: The Untold Story of Jacob Marley’s Sister
by Vanessa LaFaye

A sort-of prequel to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol that examines the relationship between Clara Marley, a kind young woman, and her brother Jacob who is seduced by wealth in his determination to never be homeless again.

I love A Christmas Carol. It’s easily my favourite classic novel. So when I started this book, I wasn’t really sure what to expect other than some sort of prequel to that. What I found was a stunningly human story about what truly matters in life. Clara is a wonderfully relatable heroine – she goes from hardship to hardship, fighting for a better life on her own terms against her brother’s wishes. It broke my heart to learn that the author died before finishing this story because it was a work of art.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Homelessness, poverty, death

The Roommates
by Rachel Sargeant

When a flatmate goes missing during Freshers week, three girls go to great lengths to find out what happened to their new friend.

This thriller reminded me of my uni days – although obviously they weren’t quite so dramatic or eventful. Although the plot is action-packed and thrilling, I didn’t ever warm up to the characters as individuals? As a group, they sort of balance each other out so it’s good that for the majority of the book they have a team dynamic or I think I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book half as much.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Abduction, attempted murder/murder, stalking

An Unwanted Guest
by Shari Lapena

A group of random strangers are trapped in a remote lodge in the middle of a blizzard when they start getting killed off one by one.

This ‘whodunnit’ style thriller wasn’t my cup of tea, I’m sorry to say. It was enjoyable enough for sure but it didn’t grip me nearly as much as I’d hoped especially as I’ve really enjoyed Lapena’s other work. That said, I had no idea who the murderer was so that’s something!

Content & trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, sexual assault

The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets
by Sophie Hannah

An anthology of short stories that examine the many secrets that people keep from the world.

This collection of secret-driven short stories has brought me to the conclusion that I simply don’t like short stories. I really enjoyed the first story featured here, The Octopus Nest, which was captivating and full of suspense but the other stories were mostly lost on me.

Spare Room
by Dreda Say Mitchell

A woman moves into the spare room of a house she’s been dreaming about for years but things quickly become sinister when she finds the suicide note of the room’s previous tenant.

What an intense book this was – yikes. If you’re looking for a thriller that has a lot of shock elements and is moderately creepy, this is the book for you. I don’t even know where to begin here: with the suicide note of the previous tenant, with the sociopathic landlords, with the haunting memories our protagonist has of her childhood? Those are just tiny snapshots of themes that run throughout the novel and steadily steer it towards its dramatic climax. It can be a bit too graphic/intense which is why I didn’t give it that final star but it’s a fantastically well-written book that I highly recommend to fans of psychological thriller books.

Content & Trigger warnings:

Attempted murder/murder, cruelty to animals, attempted sexual assault, gaslighting, suicide, mental illness

If you’ve enjoyed part 1 of my mid-year reading wrap-up, make sure you keep an eye out for part 2 which will be released later this week. The best way to keep updated at present is to give me a follow over on Twitter.


  • Navita Bhatia July 3, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    I was actually in lookout for a good read now as I am about to finish my last one. Your post came just in time. I guess I would like to go with ‘ Be our guest’ and ‘ a fantastic book of everybody’s secrets’. Thanks for these wonderful recommendations and short reviews.

    • Hayley July 4, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      You’re very welcome Navita, I’m glad you enjoyed it and hope you enjoy the books!

  • Jenny in Neverland July 4, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    You have my EXACT taste in books so thank you for these recommendations! I didn’t know Stephen Chbosky had a new book – but Perks is one of my absolute faves so I’ve added Imaginary Friend to my wish list! I’ve read The Ice Twins from S.K Tremayne and loved it so The Assistant is also on my list. That sounds so creepy!

    • Hayley July 4, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      <3 Thank you so much Jenny, I hope you enjoy Imaginary Friend as much as I did!

  • Hannah July 4, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    That first one sounds like a great read, I love the dramatics of everything and then she has a cat as well haha! It sounds like there are some great reads, so whenever I’m struggling for something else to read, I’m definitely going to come back to this post xx

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

    • Hayley July 4, 2020 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you so much Hannah!

  • Lauren July 7, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve read One Of Us Is Lying and Miss Marley both of which I really enjoyed. I lot of these books sound like they’d be my sort of thing, I’ll have to add them to my list!

    • Hayley July 7, 2020 at 8:10 pm

      Yes! Our book tastes definitely overlap from time to time don’t they? Hope you enjoy the ones that have taken your fancy!

  • […] 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 […]

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