Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

Star Rating: 4/5
Title: The Wicked Girls
Author: Alex Marwood
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery, Thriller and Crime

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One fateful summer morning in 1986, two eleven-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.

Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of sickening attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their wicked secret hidden?

I have been reading this book for a very long time. My thesis has completely taken over my life and made my desire to read fiction pretty much nonexistent! There was a point where I just stopped reading for – probably an entire year. But this started to help me get back into reading and I found myself lost in the story.

Firstly, I loved how this book went back and forth between the present day and the past of the girls in the story. It kept me going and it didn’t reveal what happened immediately which helped as you really wanted to know how it happened. I did have to keep reminding myself who was who when they were adults as they of course had changed their names, but after a while I started to get used to it.

I really enjoyed the fact that the two girls ended up with two entirely different lives, ones which meant that one would resent the other for being able to have a good, nice life after everything that happened. I found myself feeling sorry for the characters despite their past, which is likely due to the way in which the murder occurred.

I don’t want to give away too much about the story, but this book was almost like a story in a story. Which kept it really interesting and was a good parallel with the past events. I really enjoyed the novel, the writing and the characters. I would definitely like to read more from this author, I really liked the style of writing!

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge (Helen Grace 1)

Star Rating: 4/5
Title: Eeny Meeny
Author: M J Arlidge
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 448
Genre: Mystery, Thriller and Crime

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The girl emerged from the woods, barely alive. Her story was beyond belief. But it was true. Every dreadful word of it.

Days later, another desperate escapee is found – and a pattern is emerging. Pairs of victims are being abducted, imprisoned then faced with a terrible choice: kill or be killed.

Would you rather lose your life or lose your mind?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace has faced down her own demons on her rise to the top. As she leads the investigation to hunt down this unseen monster, she learns that it may be the survivors – living calling cards – who hold the key to the case.

And unless she succeeds, more innocents will die . . .

For quite a while now, I have been struggling with reading for pleasure. I know that when I pick a book up, I will enjoy it and can read for quite a while; however, as I have been reading a lot for my PhD recently, I have been finding it difficult to have the motivation to pick up a book in the first place.

I decided to try a brand new author, but a book that had been recommended to me. This case, the book was recommended to me by my mum, who loves crime fiction. I decided to give it a go.

Firstly, I thought the premise of this book was incredibly interesting. The problem with crime fiction can be that a lot of them will use serial killers and it can get very tedious reading book after book with a very similar premise; but, this book was very original. Without giving anything away, this killer doesn’t actually do any killing themselves. They simply kidnap people in pairs, lock them away, and tell them they can be let go if one of them kills the other. It was something I myself had never read before.

All the way through the book there was chapters of a flashback perspective. You don’t know who the flashback is from or why it’s being included, though you begin to guess, which I really enjoyed and thought it added to the story very well.

I really enjoyed the authors style of writing, as someone who is only just getting into crime fiction, I feel like he is a good author to start with as it’s easy to follow, the language makes it easy to picture what’s going on and you get very involved with the characters themselves.

One small word on the ending itself, I definitely did not guess it and I was not expecting it either. I will definitely be reading more books by this author and I recommend giving him a try. This was the first book in the Helen grace series and I can’t wait to delve into her life further.

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Star Rating: 3/5
Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 359
Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Young Adult
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Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

I’m aware that it has been an incredibly long time since I last read and reviewed a book. I have been in what feels like a year long reading slump, every time I picked up a book I would get bored so easily and would never have the desire to pick it up again. But, suddenly, I felt like reading again and I decided to try and start fresh with a book I hadn’t read at all and this is what I chose. Dear Killer has been on my shelf for 3 years now and I didn’t realise until I saw it in my purchase history just how long it had gone unread!

I actually hadn’t heard much about this book in reviews or on youtube – I just saw the title and was intrigued by it. I have mixed feelings about this book, hence a rating of three stars. This book has gotten me back into reading, the first time I picked it up I sat and read for hours, but I felt like it was long drawn out and could’ve cut out 100 pages easily. I found myself starting to get bored around the 250 mark and wanting something exciting to happen. I really liked the beginning of the book and I was intrigued by the premise of a killer who only killed those that had been requested by the public – something I had never really seen before.

I have to say, i was impressed by the fact that the author was just 17 years old – it definitely didn’t read that way and I wasn’t thinking that the writing was juvenile in any way, it was quite well written, i just felt as though it was very drawn out.

The main character, Kit, was a character that I surprisingly liked – despite her being a serial killer. She called herself “Diana” whenever she killed and she used it as a way to separate herself from the killings and to be able to deal with her crimes. I do wish the whole “Kit/Diana” concept had been explored more, it also seemed like a nod to multiple personality disorder but then it wasn’t explored in much depth so it was hard to say. I absolutely despised Kits mum, it also bugged me slightly that Kit called her “mom” despite the novel being set in England.

The character of Alex, the policeman, was one that I also wasn’t convinced by. I felt like his mannerisms and the way he spoke was quite flat – as though all of the characters in the novel had a similar personality, I guess this will change as the writer becomes more experienced.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, I just wish that the writer had cut it shorter and fleshed the characters out some more.

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Star Rating: 5/5
Title: A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author: Sara Barnard
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult
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Steffi doesn’t talk.
Rhys can’t hear.
They understand each other perfectly.
Love isn’t always a lightning strike. Sometimes it’s the rumbling roll of thunder…

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk and, as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the second novel that Sara Barnard has released and is available to buy starting from the 12th, which is this Thursday! Her Debut Novel, Beautiful Broken Things, took the internet by storm with thousands of bloggers, including Zoella, praising it as a must read book. I am yet to read her debut, even though I do own it. When I had the opportunity to read and review her second novel, I jumped at the chance! I wasn’t sure what to expect from the author, there is often times where the Debut novel of an author is their biggest success and I think that I am unique in the fact that this is the first time I have experienced Sara Barnards writing.

Just a quick mention to the beautiful cover. It is definitely one of those books that someone is likely to pick up just because the cover looks pretty. The same is true for a beautiful broken things. I think you can tell from the style of the cover that it is from the same author. I really like this kind of consistency with book covers as it takes me back to the days of Jacqueline Wilson where I would see Nick Sharratt’s illustration and instantly know it was her.

I have always really enjoyed books that have a first person narrative; I feel like this allows me to connect to the characters more and to understand their thoughts and feelings. I really loved the main character, Steffi. As someone who has struggled with social anxiety I really felt for her in her daily struggle to just be able to talk without feeling like the centre of attention.

Perhaps my favourite part about this book, and something which a lot of other books don’t touch on in topics like these is the attitude of Steffi’s mum. She didn’t quite understand how big of a deal some of the small things were to Steffi and when Steffi had originally become mute at a very young age, I thought her mother handled it in a very selfish way. She cried and shouted at Steffi as though the anxiety was something she was doing on purpose. These kinds of attitudes is something that people with anxiety struggle with day to day and it’s something that can even make things worse as you feel guilty for what your loved ones are feeling even though you can do nothing about it.

Rhys was the best character anyone could hope to come into Steffi’s life. He didn’t care that she doesn’t talk and he helped her to communicate in ways that she felt more comfortable and in a way that she felt entirely normal.

I don’t want to give any more away about the story in general. But I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend that if you are thinking of giving Sara Barnard a try, that you do!

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Star Rating: 5/5
Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Hodder
Pages: 240 
Genre: Young Adult

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From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she’s an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can’t get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, determined not to think about it. But, try as she might, it just won’t go away.

After reading Wintergirls I was a bit skeptical about reading another book, because I have found sometimes it is a mistake to read the most loved book by an author as compared to all the others, it just doesn’t compare. However, I loved speak, I think I enjoyed Wintergirls more because I can relate to it a lot more than Speak. Although, this is such a fantastic book that it is still highly recommended.

I just want to quickly mention that this book deals with a very sensitive subject which may be triggering for some people. It is beneficial to do extra research about this book if you think that you may have some difficulty with the themes surrounding it.

Laurie Halse Anderson handles the subject really incredibly. Her writing is just so beautiful and her characters are so well rounded and they just seem like I am reading about a real person. Reading this book has proved to me just how brilliant of an author Laurie Halse Anderson is, she takes such raw, sensitive, real life subjects and she creates stories that just show the trauma and the backlash surrounding these events. It is hard for me to talk about this book without giving too much away, but I just want to say that this book is amazing and definitely worth a read.

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Star Rating: 4.5/5
Title: Forgive me, Leonard Peacock
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult

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Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

You may have noticed the lack of words I have used for the genre of this book and that’s because it’s really difficult to talk about its themes without giving away parts of the book. I basically went into this book knowing very little – I knew what was revealed by the blurb and that’s what had sold me on picking the book up, that and I wanted to give Matthew Quick another go after reading The Silver Linings Playbook.

I really loved this book, I really loved that you learnt a lot about Leonard Peacock throughout this whole book, it’s almost like you are going through his journey with him. At first it’s pretty unclear as to why he wants to kill himself and his former best friend, it gets more obvious as the book goes on why he wants to kill himself but the reason for wanting to kill his former best friend is unknown until quite far into the book.

I was devastated by this book, it took me on a rollercoaster ride and it made me feel things that I didn’t know that I could feel. The whole way through this book I just wanted to give poor Leonard a huge hug and after we find out his reasons for his murder-suicide plan, I just want to hug him even more.

He’s an incredibly lovable character and he is incredibly well written, I adore Matthew Quicks writing and the things going through my mind that I thought may be the reason for the murder-suicide were nowhere near the truth. In other words, Matthew Quick did an amazing job of not giving anything away and not making the ending predictable, which I absolutely adored.

In terms of the characters in this book, it makes you very sad when he explains about how he knows these people, why they deserve a goodbye, it shows how lonely he really is and how much he has shut himself out from the rest of the world. I would have to say my favourite character was Walt, the old man who lived next door to Leonard who he would watch old films with, I just adored the two of them together.

I think that if you enjoy books with twists, that keep you guessing and that have slightly darker themes, you would really love this book. So far I love this so much more than The Silver Linings Playbook and I really enjoyed reading it.

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction

Book Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Star Rating: 5/5 
Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Corgi
Pages: 96 
Genre: Thriller

You’re seventeen years old and your father is the most notorious serial killer America has ever produced. He brought you up. Taught you everything he knows. Everyone in your ordinary American town knows who you are.

So even though Dear Old Dad is safely behind bars, when the killing starts all over again, you are the first person the police come to see. They don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture. And neither do you.

Anyone who knows me at all would probably pick up this book and assume I would like it, even just from the title. I have actually wanted to read this for a long time, it had been on my wishlist for a while and when I was sent the third book in the series (Blood by Blood) in the post, I took this opportunity to buy the first two, and I am now halfway through the second book.

I’ll start off by saying if you love crime, psychology, criminal profiling… you need this book. It was everything I had hoped for in a book and this is definitely now up there with my favourites right next to 1984 by George Orwell.

This is about a boy named Jasper Dent whose dad is a world famous serial killer, he taught Jasper all the tricks of his trade right from when he was a young boy. There is a constant theme throughout the book that you want to know if Jasper is going to be able to not turn out like his dad, it has a subtle Nature vs. Nurture debate throughout which I absolutely adore. We follow Jasper as murders start to happen again in his town, it’s also about him trying to prove that he’s not like his dad.

In terms of characters. I really love Jasper, I feel sorry for him, with the upbringing he has had and the effect it has had on him, but admire the fact that he’s not just going to give in and turn out like his dad had planned and how everyone thinks he is. Admittedly, there are times where I thought he was a little strange, but what can you expect when you’ve grown up with a serial killer for a dad?

Howie is another character in the book, Jaspers best friend, he is featured heavily in this book and we get to know him quite a lot, I really like Howie, I also really like the uniqueness to him of his disease, I’ve never read a book where someone has had haemophilia and it was really interesting to learn about. I could tell throughout the book that there was a strong bond between Jasper and howie, which made me warm towards Jasper more.

The story in general had me on my toes the whole way through, I was gripped. I wanted to know more about Jasper’s upbringing, I wanted to know more about Billy Dent (Jaspers father) and at the same time I also wanted to know about the murders that were happening in the town. There was also the need to know more, and there still is at the end of the book, especially when it comes to Jasper himself, the general story of I Hunt Killers may be over, but Jaspers is not, which is what made me pick the second book (game) up which I am thoroughly enjoying.

The writing in this book is amazing, the characters are written just as they should be with so much depth, the story is so cleverly planned out and there has clearly been a lot of research when writing this book which I highly admire. I enjoyed every aspect of this book and would highly recommend it to anyone.