One Of Us Is Lying, Katherine McManus – Book Review

I received One Of Us Is Lying in exchange for an honest review

One Of Us Is Lying was an entertaining, quick read which perfectly captures the murky world of High School – a great guilty pleasure read with a little more depth. Five students enter detention. Only four leave alive.

One Of Us Is Lying, Katherine McManus

All the stereotypical High School characters are here – the successful jock, the prom queen, the brain and the rebel. The only character who is a slight enigma, an outsider, is Simon, a character who dies within the first chapter. But why did he die? Who is a culprit and who is a victim? Using Simon’s death as a catalyst, the author casts a tale of High School secrets and lies.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the four survivors from the detention – Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper and Nate. Each has their own agenda and their own secrets to protect, and the multi-narrative works well.

This book moves quickly and has a little bit of everything – there’s plenty of controversy, she tackles some controversial teenage issues wrapped up in a tale of murder, with some romance thrown in. It’s a great piece of YA, although I have to admit that at times I felt the murder at the heart of the story got lost amongst the other mini dramas throughout the story.

But, there is a mystery at the centre of this story, and it’s told well with a twist I really didn’t see coming. It’s a light read, but it’s more intelligent than it first appears. Well worth a read for any fan of the YA genre, but maybe not so much for those after a thrilling murder mystery.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Mystery, Young Adult

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara – Book Review

I feel like A Little Life is difficult to review, because I’ve been so entirely immersed in these characters’ lives for so long, so entwined in the secrets, trauma, fear and hope of their stories, that I can’t look at this book objectively. It punches you in the gut with raw emotion and pain; with beautiful, elegant prose which never feels out of place despite its length, and with a touching tale of love, and a friendship which developed into more.

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

This book came highly recommended, to the point where I was bought it for Christmas 2016 after having it profusely recommending to me for a year. I’m glad it came with that personal recommendation though because without that I may have been hesitant about embarking on this epic tome. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Drama

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness – Book Review

Patrick Ness is an author who has been on my TBR list for years. I’ve heard so many great things about him, so I treated myself to a break from the Netgalley books to pick up one of my own – The Rest Of Us Just Live Here. But, in the end it left me with some mixed feelings.

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness

The premise is an original and intriguing one – the idea of taking your typical YA fantasy and turning it on its head; instead of following the character at the heart of the action, this story instead focuses on the outsiders. But, what I quickly realised, is this essentially makes the story just a standard YA contemporary tale instead. While there’s plenty of action going on with vampires, ‘the Immortals’ and a precious amulet, this activity is sidelined to small snippets which appear at the beginning of each chapter, while the main focus is on Mikey and his group of friends who are living their own lives, watching the aftermath of the ‘indie kids’ encountering ‘the immortals’ from a distance.

This clever concept ironically pokes fun at stereotypical YA novels, whilst being one itself. But once I settled into the unsettling way this novel does things, I found it excelled at both. The background action is fun, there’s echoes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a general sense of nostalgia for this genre. But the strongest thing that really carries this novel is the characters Ness has created in Mike, his sister and their friends Henna and Jared. These characters have all the typical teenage problems and then some, but they’re relatable and entertaining and the strength of their relationships is touching. I finished this book a few weeks ago and the characters still feel as strong as real people.

This wasn’t exactly the epic tale I was perhaps anticipating from such an established author, but it is well-written, quiet novel about friendships, relationships and growing up, set against an original backdrop. Ness is clearly a talented author, and I’m excited to go back and read some of his other novels.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Crime, Fantasy, Young Adult

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill – Book Review

I received The Lonely Hearts Hotel in exchange for an honest review

Heather O’Neill’s new Baileys award nominated novel completely blew my socks off. Between the blurb’s comparisons to The Night Circus and the Goodreads reviews slamming it for its controversial topics and crude nature, I had no idea what to expect. But as soon as I started the novel, it’s all there. Yes, it’s controversial, it opens with an incestuous scene and goes on to introduce orphans who are abused, punished and raped, and yet from the beginning there was something decadent, evocative and magical about this novel.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O'Neill

Set in Montreal during the Depression era, O’Neill sets the perfect scene for her bleak, brutal tale of two troubled orphans, isolated on a small island where the austere winters are palpable. The author explores the seedy underbelly of both Montreal and New York, and the glitz and glamour of the 1920s entertainment industry, making for something that’s both dark and escapist but, overall, incredibly atmospheric.

Despite the harsh themes and grim setting, the characters are the true light of this novel. I often talk about character development, but the author really has nailed it here – in Rose and Pierrot, she’s created not one but two incredibly unique, whimsical characters who are loveable, authentic and sympathetic. We follow the pair  from their formative years in an orphanage through to adulthood and beyond. Throughout, many forces seem to be working to keep these star-crossed lovers apart.

It took me a while to get through this one, but that was solely because I wanted to savour it. Books like this don’t come along often. It’s unusual and controversial – there’s orphans, abuse, heroin, clowns, prostitutes and lots of sex. But if you can get past the initial shock at the frank manner in which many degrading events are portrayed, you may just find that this book is just as full of positive themes – there’s freedom, feminism, love and much more all wrapped up in beautifully poetic prose and a magical story.

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Drama, Historical

Dare to Remember, Susannah Beard – Book Review

I received Dare To Remember in exchange for an honest review

Dare To Remember is an interesting, well-written debut, but I’d recommend you don’t go into this expecting the fast-paced thriller that the blurb suggests. It didn’t exactly set the world alight, but it is a good, slow-burning psychological drama and a character study.

Dare to Remember, Susannah Beard

The story follows a couple of years in the life of Lisa Fullbrook, opening immediately after a brutal attack. Lisa and her best friend, Ali, were attacked in their own flat, and Lisa wakes up groggily in hospital – she’s the only survivor. Shaken by the loss of her friend and haunted by survivor’s guilt, Lisa moves out of the city to a small village, where she lives a reclusive life trying to work through her trauma. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Drama, Psychological thriller

Stacking The Shelves (April 22nd)

stackshelves

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, where book bloggers share the books they have added to their shelves that week.

The rules of Stacking The Shelves

  • Participants are to create their own Stacking the Shelves post and link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • Posts can be laid out any way you want.
  • The host site posts updates on a Saturday but bloggers taking part can post any day they choose.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on a Saturday and add your link.
  • Visit other participants sites to find out what they have added!

It’s been a little while, but here’s what I’ve added to my shelves over the past couple of weeks!
Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Book Memes, Stacking The Shelves

Defender, G.X. Todd – Book Review

I received Defender in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited to read this debut as the author lives quite local to me, something I don’t come across often. But, in the end, I took a while to get round to it and when I finally did, it didn’t blow me away. Maybe someone from Birmingham in the UK just wasn’t able to conjure the dry, empty landscape of a post-apocalyptic Texas which I wanted. Or maybe, it’s to do with the plot. Either way, I know this book worked for a lot of people, but I struggled to connect with it the way I’d hoped to.

Defender, G.X. Todd

The premise of this novel is great – a blend of your typical post-apocalyptic theme with a touch of some more supernatural science fiction thrown in. It’s an ambitious tale, touching on themes of sanity, grief and survival. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Drama, Dystopia, Thriller

He Said/She Said, Erin Kelly – Book Review

I received He Said/She Said in exchange for an honest review

Erin Kelly is an author who I’ve meant to read for years – I’ve actually had her debut The Poison Tree sat on my shelf for longer than I can remember. I finally got around to trying this author when this new release popped up on Netgalley, and I loved it.

He Said/She Said, Erin Kelly

The story starts as Kit, a serial eclipse chaser, is leaving his pregnant wife Laura behind to see the 2015 eclipse abroad. The writer takes us back in time, to the first eclipse the couple watched. At a festival in Cornwall years earlier, the two witnessed their first eclipse together, but they also witnessed a brutal attack on a girl named Beth, which changed the course of their lives forever. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Psychological thriller

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman – Book Review

I naturally seem to gravitate towards psychological thrillers and dramas and, recently I realised that my reading had got quite dark – just over the past couple of months I’ve read books covering murder, cults, incest and more. A Man Called Ove was my attempt to change that – I was looking for something heartwarming and humorous, and this was perfect. I really enjoyed this book.

A Man Called Ove

Everyone has someone a little like Ove in their lives. He doesn’t mince his words, he’s a stickler for rules and he’s the epitome of the term ‘stuck in their ways’. He’s only driven one brand of car his entire life, and he can’t quite understand why anyone would want to do any different. Each morning, he walks a circuit of his neighbourhood to check for burglaries, even though one has never occurred in the decades he’s lived in the area. But scrape back the curmudgeonly veneer you’ll find a softer side to Ove. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Comedy, Drama

Foxlowe, Eleanor Wasserberg – Book Review

I received Foxlowe in exchange for an honest review.

Using a naive young protagonist as our narrator, Eleanor Wasserberg peels back the layers of what life may be like living within a small commune or cult, realistically portraying the effects of brainwashing from a young age and what can happen when one follower stands out from the crowd.
Foxlowe, Eleanor Wasserberg

There’s something distinctly chilling about Foxlowe right from the opening lines of the first chapter; “Tiny red beads came from the lines on my arm. These soft scars gave way like wet paper.” It’s told from the point of view of Green, a young girl growing up in Foxlowe, a mansion housing a commune within the English countryside. Isolated and sheltered from society, the ‘Family’ (as they call themselves) have developed their own set of rules and way of living; they believe the Bad is everywhere Outside, where people have become corrupted by money and power. They live self-sufficient lives, growing their own crops for food and creating artwork which they sell at local markets to raise money. There’s echoes of paganism in their rituals, living right by the ‘standing stones’ they mark the Solstice twice a year, and celebrate the harvest of that autumn brings. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Drama, Psychological thriller