Review of ‘Her’ by Harriet Lane

I picked up Her when I was on holiday last year, as I had seen it in a bookstore when it was first published and it sounded like a really good read. I have since been very put off by the cover, and it’s overall Goodreads rating, but I thought I should probably just suck it up and see why everyone thought it wasn’t very good.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

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‘Her’ by Harriet Lane

Two women; two different worlds.

Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.

Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control.

When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did. 

But what exactly does Nina want from her? 

And how far will she go in pursuit of it?

My Review

Her is described as a thriller novel that follows the story of Emma and Nina. Nina remembers Emma, for a reason not yet known to us, but Emma doesn’t remember Nina. The plot line explores their developing relationship, and how Nina tries to draw Emma into her life and find out more about her, whilst knowing this secret about her that isn’t revealed until the very end of the book. Don’t get too excited though! While the story was unpredictable, the main bulk of the story was set up for a massive climax at the end, which was disappointingly not there. The book in itself was fairly well paced for a thriller novel, but I feel like the author could have done a lot more with the ending than she actually did. I was in the position where I was thinking ‘there aren’t enough pages left for everything to happen’ and the reason being that those things just didn’t happen. I felt like there was no closure whatsoever for the entirety of the storyline. It all seemed logical but nothing was really tied up in the end, which left me feeling extremely disappointed and frustrated!

Despite saying that about the anti-climactic ending, the rest was the story was surprisingly OK. I always found Emma to be a scatty mother of 2, always trying to keep on top of everything in a very realistic way, and I found Nina to have some creepy stalker traits which I’m guessing was the point of her character. The characterisation made it feel much more realistic than the story allowed it to be. I was constantly trying to guess how Nina knew Emma, and how the story would end with the two characters, and while I haven’t been left confused, I just wish there was a bit more to get excited about in the end.

My favourite parts of the book where the chapters from Nina’s perspective because of the way the story was written. Emma would describe everything from her point of view, with Nina included in the narrative, and then Nina would describe exactly what happened on her end and why she did certain things, which I think added to her creepy personality. The character descriptors where written particularly well, which added to the realistic-ness of their personalities. I wasn’t really struck with any particular emotions when reading the book, but then I never really expected to be. The main feeling I expect from thrillers is the sense of shock and realisation when something is revealed, but, for obvious reasons, I didn’t get this! I was kept turning the pages because I wanted to find out the whats and whys of everything, so Lane did well in that respect to kept me hooked, but, if the ending is anything to go by, she didn’t do it for any particular reason.

I’d love to say I would recommend you go and read this book, but I really don’t think the excitement of the build up is worth it. It’s more of a ‘I don’t know what to read so I’ll just pick this up and hope it’s good’ type of book. Sorry for the disappointment!

My Rating: 3.5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is the book that has been on my TBR list for the longest, it’s always been at the top of my Goodreads shelf as the first book I added and it has taken me years to get round to reading it! Im very glad I decided to tackle this modern classic because I did really enjoy it, more that I initially thought.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s glittering Jazz Age masterpiece.

Jay Gatsby is a self-made man, famed for his decadent champagne-drenched parties. Despite being surrounded by Long Island’s bright and beautiful, Gatsby longs only for Daisy Buchanan. In shimmering prose, Fitzgerald shows Gatsby pursue his dream to its tragic conclusion. The Great Gatsby is an elegiac and exquisite portrait of the American Dream. 

My Review

The Great Gatsby is a modern American classic that follows Jay Gatsby in a state of wealth, trying to chase his dream of being with the girl he was caotivated by years before, but who is now married. Narrated by Gatsby’s neighbour Nick Carraway, the reader gets an insight into his life, Gatsby’s life and Daisy and Tom’s life, the couple that live across the way. Being such a short book, everything has quite a quick turn around, but flashbacks help us to understand the story, charcaters and their relationships better in the midst of all of the parties and dates and other events. I never knew the story of The Great Gatsby, so the plot line was definitely unpredictable, especially the stunning conclusion. Everything seemed logical, with the climactic ending sewing everything together.

I very much enjoyed Gatsby’s character for his charm and ease of life, but I think Daisy was also a wonderfully written character. The characters did feel quite real to me, while the situations may have been slightly ‘out-there’ in some places, the charcaters felt very realistic.

The storyline was one of those that does keep you guessing, because you never really know how it’s going to end. It’s not like a thriller where you’re guessing the culprit throughout, but rather trying to guess how the character’s lives will turn out at the end of the book. My favourite part of the book was the argument scene between Gatsby and Tom, because it was the moment I found everything got very serious and heated and added a bit of oomph to everything. Scenes like this that were a bit more heated were written very well, but also the more romantic scenes, as I think these were the ones that captured the most emotion in the character’s relationships with each other.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got round to reading this book, because it was exciting and capturing in a way I didn’t think it would be. I would recommend it to any fan of classic literature, as it really is up there with the book you must read before you die.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I’d been meaning to read this book for a very long time, after everyone said how amazing it was, but I always wondered how I would talke to it, not being a frequent memoir reader myself. I’ve always been somewhat interested in mental health, and reading about it and exploring other people’s lives who live with it makes me question my own.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig

What does it mean to feel truly alive?

This is the true story of how Matt Haig came through crisis, triumphed over a mental illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again. Moving, funny and joyous, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

My Review

Reasons to Stay Alive is a memoir exploring Haig’s journey through depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, and how he found certain aspects of life helped him through particularly difficult stages, and how tasks that may seem easy for people who don’t suffer from depression/anxiety, became more difficult as his illness developed. The reader is given a large insight into Haig’s personal life, which is explored through a series of life events, lists, quotes and advice. For anyone with mental health problems, this book is like a bible, and give hope that you are not alone in your illness, even though fit may seem like you are. For people interested in exploring their own mental health, this book can almost guide you through symptoms, daily life and what it is really like to live with severe clinical depression. It was extremely interesting to read how Haig has explored his own mind in-depth to understand his depression and know what particular things can trigger it, what can calm it, and what he can do to just block everything out.
In particular, I found the moments that I could connect to the most interesting, for various reasons. I understand that every case of mental illness is different, and, apart from having similar symptoms, no one can experience the same case of depression or anxiety or OCD, etc. It was intiguing to find some aspects of the book I felt were really true for me, and others that were quite personal, and very different to some of my experiences. The lists helped a lot with understanding the wider general depression and anxiety signs and symptoms in a way that they haven’t been taken from the NHS website, but written by someone who has ‘first hand experience’.

Aside from the fact this book was mainly about depression, there were parts that really made me giggle in a way that I completely understood what was being said; it was so relatable to the point that it was funny. The book is called ‘Reasons to Stay Alive, and among Haig’s exploration into his own mental health, it also provides immense help, and really does, within the content, give you reasons in life and in yourself, to stay alive.

The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if you aren’t able to see it.- Matt Haig

I feel like anyone who picked this up would find something in it that they can relate to or find comfort in, although I do recommend it more for the slightly older reader, and especially those who know they are, or think they are, suffering with any kind of mental health issues, and also those with an interest in finding out more about what it’s really like to live with depression. If you feel like reading a book about depression that isn’t completely depressing, read this one!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository 

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of Flawless by Sara Shepard

After reading the first Pretty Little Liars book I was desperate to move on and find out more, but unfortunately I was disappointed with what I was given. The book, in itself, was not bad, but the continuation that I was expecting was not quite right.

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘Flawless’ by Sara Shepard

In the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, where the sweetest smiles hide the darkest secrets, four pretty little liars–Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna–have been very bad girls. . . .

Spencer stole her sister’s boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya . . . as much more than a friend. And Hanna’s obsession with looking flawless is literally making her sick. But the most horrible secret of all is something so scandalous it could destroy their perfect little lives.
And someone named “A” is threatening to do just that.
At first they thought A was Alison, their friend who vanished three years ago . . . but then Alison turned up dead. So could A be Melissa, Spencer’s ultracompetitive sister? Or Maya, who wants Emily all to herself? What about Toby, the mysterious guy who left town right after Alison went missing?
One thing’s for certain: A’s got the dirt to bury them all alive, and with every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message A sends, the girls get a little closer to losing it all.

My Review

Flawless is a Young Adult mystery thriller novel, the continuation of the Pretty Little Liars series, and looks into the messages from A in more depth, and devlops relationships between the characters. Set in Rosewood, Emily, Hanna, Spencer and Aria continue to go about their daily lives, but still receiving messages from the strange ‘A’ who seems to know everything about them, and continues to threaten them. As much as the events have changed with the storyline, what happens is pretty similar to the first book, which made it slightly less interesting for me. The outcome was predictable, as we all know conclusions can’t be made that quickly based on no particular evidence, but one of the end events was unseen and changed the situation the girls were in quite considerably, which made the ending climactic (although I do believe it is slightly different in the TV series, but I haven’t seen it!). Due to the fact that the plot was so similar to the previous book, I found it quite slow paced, but all logically thought out and nothing left untied (apart from the end which continues on to the third book).
My favourite character was probably Emily, as she seemed the most true to herself during the book, and I felt I could empathise with her situations at times. The other characters did feel occasionally real for me, through dealing with their everyday problems, but could also feel slightly plastic in others, especially Hanna’s character.

Inwas kept guessing throuh most of it, constantly thinking about who A could be, then we still don’t find out, but knowing we won’t find out sometimes ruins the fun of guessing. My favourite part of the book was the ending, because it was the most exciting part, and compared to the rest of the book, it was actually living up to the genre classificat of ‘thrilling’. These parts were written particularly well, as it created a tension that wasn’t there for the rest of the book, so also provided a contrast. After this, I’m not sure whether I will end up reading the next book in the series, because althought the ending made me want to find out more and what will happen next, I don’t want to repeat what I just went through of reading similar plot lines repeated throigh the books with a thrilling end.

If you enjoyed the first book, you are most likely going to want to read the next one in the series, but I would like to advise you it can be quite ‘same-y’ in places, so beware of that, but if looking for a continuation of the story then by all means go ahead, especially if you want to continue through the rest of the books and find out who A is!

My Rating: 3 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository 

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ by Sara Shepard

I had been told that the TV show was definitely worth a watch, but as soon as I found out I could read the Pretty Little Liars book instead, I jumped at the opportunity!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book


‘Pretty Little Liars’ by Sara Shepard

Everyone has something to hide-especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna.

Spencer covets her sister’s boyfriend. Aria’s fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily’s crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful. But they’ve all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished. 
How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and the dirty secrets they’ve kept. And guess what? I’m telling.

-A

My Review

Pretty Little Liars is a YA novel following a tight knit group of friends, all with secrets they trusted Ali with, but one secret that binds them all. When Ali goes missing and is presumed dead, the girls move further apart. Ali was the only one who knew, but when the girls start to receive odd notes, texts and letters, making them believe that the sender ‘A’ knows things no one but Ali knew, things start to get creepy. Set in the wealthy town of Rosewood, the book follows the girls as their secrets unwind and they fear the worst secret is yet to be revealed. The events are told through third person narrative, slightly predictable events, but still exciting with a fast pace, climax and cliffhanger at the end, definitely making me want to read the next book straight away. 

It was easy to connect to all of the girls, as their characters were well developed, but I think Spencer was my favourite out of them all. The character descriptions brought them to life and they were all very unique in their personalities. The story, although the events were predictable, the guessing game of who ‘A’ is, especially at the end, definitely keeps the mystery alive. My favourite part of the book was the cliffhanger at the end, because it just made me want to read more. The mysterious scenes were written particularly well which gripped me and kept me turning the pages.

I would definitely recommend Pretty Little Liars to any YA lover, and anyone who has heard good things about the TV show!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Subject 375’ by Nikki Owen

I received a copy of Subject 375 through NetGalley following my receipt of the sequel, The Killing Files (obviously had to read the first in the series before the second!) The plot sounded intriguing and slightly different to an average crime thriller, and I was definitely right about that!

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

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‘Subject 375’ by Nikki Owen

Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder.

DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember… 

A strange room. Strange people. Being watched. 

As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive.

My Review

Subject 375, also known as The Spider In The Corner Of The Room, is a crime thriller following Maria Martinez as she starts to uncover who she truly is and why she has been accused of a murder she doesn’t remember committing. Slowly, as the storyline develops, we discover there are plenty of secrets being kept from her, and that has been the case for her whole life. Soon enough, everything is is revealed and Maria has to fight against the world’s biggest national intelligence agencies to stay alive. There was no way any of this could have been predicted, as a reader, which made it all the more exciting with an incredible climactic ending. It was fast paced in parts, but sometimes the plot was difficult to follow, but all threads tied up in the end.

It was very easy to like Maria as the main female protagonist in the book, as she was the one being targeted and at her most vulnerable being in a new environment, prison of all places! I could feel sympathetic towards her as shocking facts were uncovered about her life. Harry and Malthus were also likeable characters, but it was not until later in the book that I started to feel less uneasy about who they might be and who’s side they were on. The character’s definitely felt real to me, all of them being well developed with their own backstory, however small their role was in the book.

The plot was written in such a skilled way, with flashbacks dotted about, and the past and present tenses coming together at the end so we could understand the chronology of the story. This method of writing is great for keeping the reader guessing as, when something happens in one tense but then switches to another on a cliffhanger, it keeps us engaged and wanting find out more, which continues to happen each time the tense changes. My favourite part of the book was when the two tenses came together and I could finally start to make connections in terms of who was who and what was happening, which was when the novel really started to climax without having the full story revealed until the very end, and even then there was still plenty left in the dark for the sequel!

I would definitely recommend this book to any lover of crime thriller and also people who like their books on the scientific, spy themed side. If you enjoy the book, you will be pleased to know it is the first in a trilogy, with The Killing Files (The Project Trilogy #2) having just been released.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)

Review of ‘Black Eyed Susans’ by Julia Heaberlin

My story of how I came to own this book is a funny one! I kept on trying to buy it, but my gift card kept being declined. One day, after it had been declined, I went home to see I had an email from NetGalley saying it was able to request. I jumped on the chance and managed to get approved to read it! No more struggles of declined gift cards, and a free book as well, what more could you want? Enough of that, lets have a look at how truly amazing this book really is…

Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:

About The Book

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‘Black Eyed Susans’ by Julia Heaberlin

A girl’s memory lost in a field of wildflowers.
A killer still spreading seeds.

At seventeen, Tessa became famous for being the only surviving victim of a vicious serial killer. Her testimony put him on death row. Decades later, a mother herself, she receives a message from a monster who should be in prison. Now, as the execution date rapidly approaches, Tessa is forced to confront a chilling possibility: Did she help convict the wrong man?

My Review

Black Eyed Susans is fast paced, suspenseful thriller following the story of Tessa, the girl who survived her serial killer’s attack. Set in America, we learn about Tessa in both the present day, and back in 1995 after the trauma. The events that happen in both tenses of the book slowly start to intertwine and unravel the story, but you can keep on guessing until the last second before the final hint is given to who the killer was, and I guarantee you’ll guess wrong! We are shown the events through Tessa’s eyes, and connect with her as a victim of trauma. The story is definitely not predictable whatsoever, and has an amazing twist right at the end, creating an immense climax. Everything is revealed slowly throughout the book so it keeps you turning the pages, and by the end everything is tied together and is logically explained with the most incredible writing.

Tessa was the easiest character to connect to because she was the main focus of the story, but I also enjoyed Jo and Charlie’s character, as they were the females in her life that gave her peace of ind and grounded her through everything, and they were very unique in their personalities. The characters certainly did come to life in front of me, thanks to the talented writing from Heaberlin, and, as I mentioned, I was constantly trying to guess who the killer was! My favourite part of the book was definitely the climactic ending, I was reading so fast the words were almost blurring in front of me, the tension was built up so immensely I almost burst with suspense and excitement! Overall the plot line was gripping and well thought out enough to keep the reader guessing from start to finish.

I would definitely recommend this book to any thriller/suspense lover, and also crime lovers and possibly even someone who loves a bit of science involved in their investigations!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):

Amazon

The Book Depository

  Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)