The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo – Book Review

It’s rare I read romance these days, but this one had been compared to one of my all-time favourites – David Nicholls’ One Day – so I picked it up for a change of pace as my Valentine’s read.

The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

It took me a little while to get into – this book is a romance and it is really romantic – it felt cheesy and a little over-the-top to me at times. But it is written well, and short, pacy chapters combined with authentic characters soon had me racing through the story.

The book opens on September 11th; the day the twin towers were hit and two students in New York, Gabe and Lucy, came together and their lives were changed forever. We then follow them through the years – all told from Lucy’s point of view – as the two grow up both together and apart, starting families, building careers and chasing their dreams. Continue reading

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The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker – Book Review

I received The Dreamers in exchange for an honest review.

This was such a unique, surreal book – it seems to have received mixed reviews, but I’m definitely a fan. The topic – a mysterious sleeping sickness which sweeps slowly over a town – was a new one to me, and the writing style had a unique, elegant quality which made it stand out.

In an isolated Californian town, a University student falls asleep in her dorm and doesn’t wake up. Soon, the mysterious sleeping sickness spreads. Doctors travel to the town to analyse what could be happening, the town begins to make national news and a quarantine is put in place as things worsen. But still, there’s no answers. People are just falling asleep and not waking up, with no explanation.

BThe Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker

This novel deals with incredibly emotional subject manner while somehow not getting too emotionally involved. There’s a feeling of distance – almost dreamlike – in the lyrical prose with which the story is told, but it’s undoubtedly beautiful. The author offers vignettes of interconnected lives which come together to paint a picture of a town in crisis. A complete stranger could save another’s life, or pass on the fatal virus with the most innocuous contact. Continue reading

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The Hunting Party, Lucy Foley – Book Review

I received The Hunting Party in exchange for an honest review

This was a great little seasonal thriller which I read near the end of last year. It has all the elements of a classic whodunnit with tons of atmosphere; a fractured group of old college friends, a remote location in the Scottish Highlands and a cold, bleak winter. Throw in a snowstorm and a murder and you’ve got all the trappings for a great story, and this one didn’t disappoint.

The Hunting Party, Lucy Foley

There’s quite a large cast to keep track of here; nine friends (and a baby) plus the few staff who care for the estate where the group decide to spend New Year’s Eve. The book alternates between different viewpoints, and in the beginning I found it a little difficult to keep track of, but as the author goes deeper into our flawed collection of character’s lives, this wasn’t a problem. Continue reading

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2018 Wrap-Up: My Top Ten

Happy New Year! (Okay…it probably is too late to say that now…)  Once again I feel like I sadly neglected my blog in 2018 – it was a busy year for me personally. But, this wrap-up is a tradition now in its fourth year and, even though we’re pretty far into January, here I am again with my top ten books read last year. Covers link to my review or Goodreads if I failed to do one.

This book blew my mind – it’s such a powerful, poignant novel which stands the test of time so well. One which shot into not just my top ten of the year but of all time.

 

Another highly original book with a powerful message – I really should have got around to reviewing this one. It’s a clever, shocking and unique take on feminism, one fully deserved of all its accolades.

 

This, like Flowers For Algernon, is a poignant, powerful exploration of humanity – one of those I feel everyone should read. I’ve only read two books by this author but everything I’ve read, I’ve loved.

 

Ah, Eleanor. I gave into the hype on this one and it was totally worth it. Eleanor is an awesome, unforgettable character and I had so much fun following her journey.

 

Unlike many of the others on this list, I don’t think this book has received enough hype. This one tackles issues of AI and technology, wrapped around a very touching, human plot. It’s clever, and well worth a read.

 

This time-travelling Golden Age mystery was trippy, gripping fun! I read it near the beginning of 2018 and it kept me guessing throughout.

 

A raw, unflinching look at racism in America today, this one was totally worth the hype. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s on my list.

 

My Halloween read which was a whole lot more than a scary story. This was a gripping apocalyptic tale complete with sinister creatures and a strong main character who I was rooting for throughout.

 

A story of four lives, revolving around a psychic’s death prediction. A captivating story which spans decades across various states in America. I loved this one.

 

So it was a toss-up between this and The Butterfly Garden for my final spot, but I decided to go with something a little more lighthearted. This was a truly heartwarming story of romance and music; a great read to warm the soul.

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Final Girls, Riley Sager – Book Review

I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but this debut thriller got a lot of hype on release, I had to give it a try, It didn’t disappoint – this is a fast-paced thriller ride with plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading into the small hours.

The ‘final girls’ – a title dubbed by the media – are all sole survivors of massacres. There’s Quincy, our narrator and protagonist who survived an attack during a weekend away with friends at Pine Cottage. She’s thrown together with Sam, who took down a murderer at the hotel where she worked, and survivor of a sorority knife attach, Lisa.

Final Girls, Riley Sager

The story alternates between past and present, as we learn what happened to Quincy at Pine House, and in the present day when Lisa is found dead and she and Sam are thrown together as the last two final girls. In the present day, Quincy is doing well – she’s moved on from her past and has a successful baking blog and lives with her lawyer partner, Jeff. But when Lisa is suddenly found dead and Sam turns up on her door, the straight-edged world she’s created for herself begins to fall apart at the seams and she discovers a different side to herself and starts to wonder what really happened that fatal night at Pine Cottage. Continue reading

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Bird Box, Josh Malerman – Book Review

This was a book I picked as one of my Halloween reads this year but I was wrong to pigeonhole it as a straightforward horror – it’s a lot more than that. This bizarre, original novel is difficult to categorise or describe. It’s got horror elements; it’s creepy and tense and it had me constantly on edge, but it’s also an awesome tale of apocalyptic survival.

Bird Box

Something is happening. People are losing their minds without reason, killing anyone close to them before turning on themselves. It’s an epidemic; it’s all over the news; first in only far-flung locations but gradually it creeps closer to home and gets harder to ignore. There’s myriad theories as to the cause but eventually everyone seems to settle on the same one; it’s something they see that changes them. It’s something outside. Continue reading

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The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal – Book Review

I received The Doll Factory in exchange for an honest review

This is being billed as Picador’s debut of 2019, was apparently subject to a 14-way bidding war and has been snapped up for television already. I can never resist a shiny new debut, and this one didn’t disappoint. It’s an evocative, gothic Victorian thriller which starts slow before building a crescendo to fever pitch.

The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal Iris lives out her life working as a seamstress in a doll shop with her sister, but she dreams of being an artist. She gets her chance when she’s approached by aspiring artist Louis Frost, who asks her to model for him and in exchange offers her painting lessons. Iris seizes the opportunity, even though it goes against her parents’ approval and risks her own social downfall. But as she’s drawn into the alluring world of art, she also meets Silas, a strange purveyor of curiosities who provides many of the artists with props for their paintings. And as Iris’s relationship with Louis develops, so does Silas’s slow-burning obsession with her. Continue reading

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We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson – Book Review

This is the first I’ve read by Shirley Jackson, a classic horror which seems to have stood the test of time. It’s a strange little novel; gothic and creepy but also quiet. The plot moves slowly, and it feels like what’s most eerie is what isn’t said about the strange Blackwood family who live in the castle.

 We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson

There used to be a lot of Blackwoods, living in their sprawling New England mansion on the edge of a sleepy village. But as the book opens, only three remain – 18-year-old Mary Katherine, nicknamed Merricat, her older sister Constance and their wheel-chair bound uncle Julian. The rest of the family died years earlier, in an mysterious incident over dinner. Continue reading

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Flowers For Algernon, Daniel Keyes – Book Review

It’s rare that, when reading a book, I have to sit back and just take a moment to admire the author for what they’ve created. Flowers For Algernon is just such a truly powerful, stunning exploration of the human psyche,  of what it means to be intelligent and of the value of a person’s feelings. This book may have been published in the early 1960s, but it’s one that transcends time, and is just as relevant and readable now as it always was. It’s a truly stunning novel.

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Charlie Gordon is a 32-year-old with severe learning difficulties. With an IQ of 68, he spends his days sweeping a bakery and his nights at a night school for adults struggling to learn to read and write. But he has a motivation to learn which makes him stand out, and he’s put forward for a ground-breaking new operation to accelerate his intelligence. He’s the first human ever to receive this surgery which has only ever before been performed on mice – the most successful being Algernon. Continue reading

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Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough – Book Review

So, I’m very late to the party but I finally thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and give this one a try. And it lived up to the hype. Sort of.
Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough

Comparisons to Gone Girl and Girl On The Train are inevitable; this is a taut psychological thriller centred around a seemingly perfect couple who, of course, have secrets lurking under the surface. It’s told from the alternating points of view of Louise and Adele. Adele is married to psychiatrist David, and Louise works as his secretary. Louise becomes entangled in an affair with David and a friendship with Adele, balancing a fine line between the two, and drinking plenty of wine to numb the pain of her situation. But through the alternating narratives, it soon becomes clear all is not what it seems with Adele and David’s marriage. Continue reading

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