Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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Like so many others, I am jumping on the Orient Express to find out who did ‘it’ before I see the movie at the cinema. I’ve been desperately wanting to read Agatha Christie’s books for a while, and there was no better one to start with! (very minor spoiler ahead that you might not spot but hey I’m warning you just in case!)

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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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

“The murderer is with us – on the train now…”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again..

My Review

Murder on the Orient Express is a classic crime thriller, and one of Christie’s many Poirot novels. Set primarily on a train called, you won’t believe this, the Orient Express, travelling to England, the story follows Poirot when it comes to his knowledge that someone on the trains been murdered. Temporarily employed by Company Director, M. Bouc, Poirot sets about interviewing the passengers and gathering evidence that will ultimately solve the crime. Everything that happens in the book has been meticulously planned, like any good crime novel should be, and we are shown through Poirot’s though process as he works his way through the evidence. The ending was certainly not predictable, and the ending was definitely climactic. I almost thought it would end on a cliffhanger, but it reigned in on the very last page. Christie really does leave you having until the last moment, which is a very clever writing skill to have. Everything mentioned throughout the fast paced plot was brought together at the end, nothing was left for us to wonder.

It is difficult to get attached to any characters in these sorts of books, as they all seem guilty until proven innocent. There is something very much reserved about all the passengers on the train, and M. Bouc didn’t seem the friendliest at times. I did find it strange in parts when we read Poirot’s thoughts as though he were speaking out loud, and he could also seem a little bit closed off at times, but as with many great detectives, they need time to organise their thoughts to solve the crime. The characters were certainly given plenty of background to their passenger personalities and their real identities, which made them feel a lot more realistic than some characters in crime novels can be. Especially seeing as this book is under 300 pages, it is packed with at least 12 very well developed characters.

As mentioned earlier, I was constantly trying to guess throughout the novel who the murderer was, and there were times when I guessed correctly, but when you’ve read the book you will understand why that’s the case! I felt like Poirot’s sidekick, trying to work through the evidence and unfold the crime. My favourite part was definitely the end when you finally find out who did it and how it all happened, it was extremely clever and well constructed on Christie’s part! The entire book was very well written, if a little difficult to grasp the wording at times, but this is probably due to the lack of classical literature in my read pile, and through no fault of the author. I was certainly gripped, and wish I had more time to sit down and really get deep into the novel, rather than reading it chapter at a time.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of crime novels, and all Christie fanatics who haven’t got to it yet!

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)

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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

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Hello fellow bookworms! I finally got round to finishing Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part, but of course, being a short story bind up, it was difficult to love every single story. I will be doing short overall review, plus a brief look at what I thought about the stories individually as well…

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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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman

Ten illustrated stories following the adventures of Simon Lewis, star of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments, as he trains to become a Shadowhunter. Simon has been a human and a vampire, but after the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, he isn’t sure who he is any more. When the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whomever this Simon might be… Join him on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. The series features characters from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, Infernal Devices, Dark Artifices and the upcoming Last Hours series.

My Review

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy follows on from Clare’s fantasy books, The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices (although having read Lady Midnight before this, I recommend reading this before the TDA books!) Set mainly in Idris, at the centre of education and training for young and aspiring Shadowhunters, this set of stories was the perfect way to see Simon in his new life after The Mortal Instruments, as well as getting to know some characters we didn’t get the the chance to meet in the books beforehand.

Favourite story: The Whitechapel Fiend or Nothing But Shadows

Least favourite story: The Evil We Love or Bitter of Tongue

Favourite new character (not appearing in previous books): James Herondale or George Lovelace

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy

I really enjoyed this introductory story to set the scene at the Academy, and also introduce us to some amazing characters we get to know over the rest of the stories. Didn’t have the history like the other stories did, but still a great story!

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

The Lost Herondale

It was great to be able to link this story to what I had read in Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows, and Catarina is such an interesting character. Slightly confusing at times, could do with a Herondale family tree, but a good story nonetheless.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

The Whitechapel Fiend

I loved this story, I didn’t realise how much I missed the Infernal Devices gang! Jem, Will and Tessa are such a perfect team, and I loved having the British history of Jack the Ripper behind this one! A definite favourite of mine!

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

Nothing but Shadows

Another story I thoroughly enjoyed, with the very relatable James Herondale, and a perfectly formed friendship in the end. This one also raises interesting questions for series to come, with the Shadowhunter-Warlock combination.

My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5

The Evil We Love

Not my favourite, I must admit, but still had some Shadowhunter history and a good storyline. It was one of the longer stories, but I feel like I already know a lot about Valentines Circle, it just didn’t spark my interest like some of the other stories did.

My Rating: 3.5 Muffins out of 5

Pale Kings and Princes

This was an interesting story on the faerie front, as we get more insight into what happened to Andrew and Arthur from The Dark Artifices, and how they came to know the faeries they way they did. Intriguing, and I’ve always loved Helen’s character throughout the books, it was great to read more about her life during the Cold Peace.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Bitter of Tongue

I was a bit disappointed with this one, I felt very confused by the whole kidnapping fiasco, but I think I find faerieland in general a little bit confusing and overwhelming. Also, why is Izzy always there? Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes it didn’t make much sense to have her turn up out of the blue.

My Rating: 3.5 Muffins out of 5

The Fiery Trial

Having read Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows beforehand (which isn’t recommended but it doesn’t matter too much!) I knew and loved Emma and Julian’s characters so much already. It was great to see more of Clary, and to also experience a Parabatai ceremony! There are also glimpses of Julian’s feelings towards Emma, but those are to be revealed in TDA!

My Rating: 4.5 Muffins out of 5

Born to Endless Night

Hooray for Malec!! I absolutely adore Magnus’ character, and his relationship with Alec is so perfect! This was another one of the longer stories, but I felt like this had more content that leant itself to future books, rather than expanding on information in previous books like The Evil We Love. The Lightwood family were a great addition to the story, and Simon’s relationship with Magnus and Alec was strengthened as well.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Angels Twice Descending

This was definitely the most heart-wrenching story of them all! We get an insight into what happens when a mundane ascends and becomes a Shadowhunter, and how they are feeling leading up to that point when everything in their life is going to change. Also, for those who have read it, you will understand why the end was just too much for me to bare!

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

What were your favourite stories from the Shadowhunter Academy? Did we enjoy the same ones? I’d love to know what you thought in the comments!

Until next time…

Jade 🙂

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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I’ve had this on my shelf for a while now, and wanted a short book to read and try to catch up on my Reading Challenge. This one only had little over 300 pages, so I was hoping to whizz through it, and it was a fairly enjoyable read in the end.

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

About The Book

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

My Review

Everything I Never Told You explores the YA genre, with a strange mystery vibe. It definitely contributes tropes of YA fiction through the characters age and issues the story tackles, but there is always the mystery of what happened hanging over the plot as well. The narrative is more of an exploratory one, rather than investigative as I initially thought.

Set in Ohio during the 1970s, we follow the Lee family on their journey to discover why their daughter Lydia was found at the bottom of a lake. The story jumps backwards and forwards in time, the changes of which were written extremely well written, and explores their family history, and what it was like for them to live as a multi-cultural family in those times. The story very much focuses on decoding the Lee family, finding out what goes on in each of the characters minds and how this affects their family life. The main focus is, of course, on Lydia, and life leading to her death in particular.

Everything that happened to each of the characters throughout the book was shown through their eyes, even if the story was written in (a sometimes confusing) third person. As we see things through many different points of view, not many things that happened were predictable, although James could sometimes be a guessable character. The most unpredictable turn of events was Lydia, which made sense seeing as she was the main focus of the story. There was nothing particularly climactic about the ending, but it was an overall interesting book with plenty happening at most points in the story. The plot was fairly fast paced because of this, and everything was logically set out to reveal important parts at just the right time. Nothing was included that necessarily seemed out of place, and by the end, everything was resolved.

With such a small cast of characters, each of them had a fully developed history and storyline which made them equally interesting. I found Lydia to be an extremely relatable character in terms of working hard to get what she wants and eventually breaking under the pressure put on her. She had a rebellious nature that became a seemingly large part of her the further into the book I got, and that seemed to be the case with many of the characters. Having characters like these, who are perfectly flawed, show us that no one in the world is perfect and everyone has their secrets. Due to this, the characters definitely felt real to me, because they were so relatable and didn’t seem polished in any way.

I was not necessarily kept guessing throughout the book, but I was constantly intrigued by the characters that continued to unfold and develop throughout the story. Eventually towards the end, you understand what happened to Lydia through her perspective, which was incredibly interesting. My favourite part of the book was when Nat was accepted into Harvard and the whole family make a fuss of him, when Lydia comes out and confesses she is failing Physics. This is quite a small section in the book, but I just felt it really demonstrated and embodied the feelings of each family member. Nat had finally achieved something his parents were proud of, and he was in the spotlight. His mother and father were pleased with his achievement, and Lydia finally shows that, as hard as she tries, she cannot be good at everything, no matter how much pressure is laid on her. The scenes that were written particularly well were those that really got into the depth of a character and understanding their history, and how that has affected their present. For example, understanding Marilyn and the relationship with her mother helped me to translate how Marilyn felt in the present day when mothering Lydia.

I possibly shed a few tears throughout this book, especially when Lydia was struggling with the pressure that has been put on her by her family, just because I found it very relatable, not because my family pressure me, but because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well, and feel knocked down when I don’t reach my goals. I feel as though there are many points in this book which other readers will connect with in different ways, and will strike people emotionally, but this was just one moment that really go to me personally. I wasn’t necessarily gripped by the story itself, but the characters made me want to come back and find out more about them. It was an overall quick read, with a lot of depth packed into just over 300 pages.

There are very few books that I have read lately where I can say I really learnt something about myself, but this was an exception. This book taught me that pressure is not always a good thing, especially in high doses, and that we can’t always be good at everything. The best we can do is always strive to do the best we can do, and not be put down if what we get in return was not up to our high expectations.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are lover of character driven novels, rather than plot driven ones. A solid YA book but with plenty to capture older readers as well.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

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

Amazon

The Book Depository

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

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Q&A Review

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This is a slightly different type of review for this week’s post, styled as a Q&A. My best friend and I had both read this book, and obviously, if you have read We Were Liars then you will understand, we had very mixed feelings about this novel! I thought it would be a good idea to have a more structured discussion, like a Q&A session, about the events in the book and how we felt about them, and see how far you all agree or disagree with what we thought

Please do not read any further if you have not read We Were Liars! This post will contains spoilers!

About The Book

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‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

Q&A Discussion Review

How would you describe the genre of this book?

Silence. When you start to really think about it, this question is a toughie. When we first picked it up, we thought YA and mystery, but there is so much more too it than we initially thought. It could potentially be classed as a thriller novel, as it has the shorter chapters, but it’s more of a psychological read, because it doesn’t have the drive that comes with a thriller, like a whodunnit vibe. A young adult psychological mystery was our final verdict. New genre on Goodreads, perhaps?

Where is this book set, both physically and mentally?

What is meant by this question is of course where it is actually set physically, but also where we are in Cadence’s mindset, as we are reading from her point of view. How is she feeling at different points in the book? So we know it’s set on the island and in various houses on the island, as a main physical setting. It’s tough to tell the first time you read the book to tell where we are with Cadence mentally, but it’s important to think about this because of the nature of the storyline. In the beginning, it all feels very real, but after the accident, and as the storyline unravels, we start to question Cadence’s ability to tell the story, and the mental setting becomes questionable, not unlike the unreliable narrator technique. Also, we know Cadence’s character is under a lot of pressure with everything that has happened in her family with her dad leaving, and also her thinking about going to college, and we thought about whether this possibly hindered her ability to come to the final realisation faster.

What do you think of the series of events that happened throughout the book?

So at the start of the book, we see Cadence’s dad leave her and her mum, so why is this relevant? We think it’s symbolic of the beginning of so many bad things happening to her, and also showing that she has lost the strength of the support system she had with two parents. She has her accident, she has to stay away from the Liars for a few summers, and her relationships falter with a lot of people. Thinking about Cadence’s relationship with Gat, it’s tough to say why it was included in the storyline. It was an addition to carry the story, but would anything have been different if the relationship was taken away, and they were just friends? It never seemed to develop into anything.

Where the events predictable?

Did we know anything going into this book? No! It is so much better to go into this knowing as little as possible, which of course makes all events unpredictable. After she has her accident, you start to see some relevance to the story, but the ending was such a shock. Everything was condensed into such a small book, you need to read it again and pick it apart to find the clues hidden within that you may not have seen the first time round.

Did you find the ending climactic?

In most mystery and thriller novels, the beginning sets the scene, the middle holds the investigation and the ends tells us who the culprit is, along with an epilogue or final chapter which wraps everything up. With We Were Liars, everything seems to merge, and because there wasn’t really any defining investigation to follow the story- it all seems quite mundane in a way- there is even more of a shock when everything comes to light. After finding out everything that happened, their lives seem to go back to normal in the last few pages, which is really strange, because what Cadence has learnt and come to terms with is far from normal. There is also a very strong sense of forgiveness in the end, considering the events. When everyone on the island finds out that Cadence knows, they seem very quick to forgive, almost like they have had the time while she has been recovering to learn to forgive what her and Liars did.

Did you have any theories about what might have happened?

I had one theory, because I always like to try and guess. My theory was maybe someone was waiting for Cadence to try and drown her, because she was the eldest grandchild and heir to the estate. I always thought it had something to do with the water, and I never imagined that the major event in the book wouldn’t be linked. There was also suspicion when Mirren was ill, and questions and theories surrounding that, which brings us to our next question…

Hints towards the ending? Did you spot them or did they contribute towards your theories?

Mirren being ill is now an obvious hint towards the final verdict of the storyline, but nothing ever had a lot of emphasis on it to draw your attention, which was probably done on purpose, to detract from that fact that it may have been a clue. The same thing with the Liars not replying to Cadence’s emails, and Mirren saying she never received her gift. The rebuild of the house was a massive hint, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on it!

What was your reaction to the plot twist?

It was the most dramatic part of the book. There wasn’t much of a build up which is what made it more effective and in-your-face woah!

Did you find the plot quite fast paced, or was it slow at times?

A mix of both. There were some parts that dragged on a lot, like Gat and Cadence spending time together. I was initially planning to read this in one day, but it took me almost a week! The chapters made it feel slightly faster paced because they were so short, but there were some parts that were quite repetitive and therefore slowed the pace a bit. This could have been done to make you pay attention to the important parts, by using repetition within scenes, even though they seemed mundane. It has been very cleverly written.

Did the author tie up all the loose ends that were introduced throughout the story?

Pretty much, we can’t think of anything within the plot that we’re still questioning.

Thoughts on the sentence and paragraph structure?

Why did the author split longer sentences into different lines? My idea was it could mirror the Liars on the different levels of the house at the end, by having different parts of the same sentence on a separate line. It could also hint towards the very broken family that you find out the Sinclairs are. Shorter sentences seemed to be fact, the piece of information that Cadence knows, whereas the longer sentences are more Cadence trying to figure out what has happened, which is why it seems more bulked out in the middle, and the broken sentences appear more at the beginning and end of the book.

Thoughts on the language and style of language used?

We’re thinking here about the very dramatic use of language for less dramatic circumstances. For example ‘He took out a hand gun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell.’ Language like this appears throughout the book and it is extremely metaphorical, because it isn’t actually happening. But we feel like nothing in this book is actually happening in a sense; therefore the language could mirror this in some way. Also, Cadence uses very specific and poignant language to describe the Liars in the beginning, such as describing Gat as ‘ambition and strong coffee’. We thought this could be written so specifically because the Liars do end up being characters in her head, and she therefore knows them as well as an author knows her characters, like she has built their personalities.

Who was your favourite character, and why?

All characters had a part to play, but none seemed significantly important at the same time. You can sympathise with Cadence because it is written from her point of view, but if I had to choose, I would choose Mirren, because she seemed the most chilled, and I know how important it is for a girl to have another girl to bond with. Gat didn’t seem real enough, and his relationship with Raquel was a strange addition, possibly to distract Cadence from him, and stop her falling for him too much. If she had fallen too hard, she may have figured things out sooner.

What did you think of the different characters in the story? (the Aunties? the Littles? Grandad?)

The aunties didn’t have a massive role to play until the end when they had the fight. Their characters developed into very selfish ones, and we found them quite distracting from the main plot, but again, this could have been another technique that Lockhart used to keep the reader from guessing the ending too quickly. There was one part regarding the Littles that stood out to me, which was when they had just finished a family dinner and Cadence asks the Littles to tell her about what happened, which is when she finds out they have been forbidden to say anything to her about the ‘accident’. I feel like people that young wouldn’t be able to understand, or even keep their mouths shut about what happened, so the aunties must have quite a strong influence over them. Grandad was a very mixed character, because at some points he could be the adorable, loving Grandad, and the next he could snap and be quite aggressive when people were only trying to help him.

Did the characters feel real to you?

The story was a lot more focused on the progression of events, rather than the character development. However, the situation the family was in was a very realistic situation.The Liars are more well developed, so they were the most real. The characters, while they did’t have a lot of development, they did have the background and family setup that made it feel more real. They didn’t have a perfect family.

What was your favourite part of the book, and why?

Probably finding out what happened, and Cadence actually having her accident. So kickstarting and rounding off the storyline were the favourite parts, because they were important parts in the plot. Her accident is a trigger for the reader to explore the story further.

What was your least favourite part of the book, and why?

THE DOGS DYING! They didn’t deserve it! Also the slower parts of the storyline that dragged on a bit.

Were certain types of scene written particularly well?

There was nothing that jumped out in particular, but at the same time, it was all, to some extent, written really well, for the author to be able to hide such a big surprise at the end through seemingly ordinary writing about realistic family disputes.

Did the book make you feel any particular emotions? Did you cry at any point?

The writing wasn’t necessarily emotional enough to cry (although tears may have been shed when the dogs die, just saying!) There was some anger when the aunties were arguing, or when Grandad lashed out when people were trying to help, but no particular rush of emotion.

Did the story grip you and keep you turning the pages?

Yes! But also, because of the way it was written, with no cliffhangers at the end of chapters, it seemed like a normal story. It wasn’t being told to create a climax at all because everything in the end is so sudden. This happened more towards the beginning transitioning to the middle.

Did you learn something? Morally or academically?

Don’t get four people to start a fire on different floors of a building!

Seriously though, we learnt that sometimes, it isn’t always about having material possessions, but building memories and moments with the people you love most in your life. This was most prominent when Cadence was getting rid of her things, and you can see her survive without them. You can have a minimalist lifestyle and still be happy.

The type of reader you’d recommend the book to?

We would recommend We Were Liars to readers around the 20 year old age range, similar to ourselves, and of course anyone older who appreciates this genre of literature, but not suitable for young readers. Anyone who enjoys a quick read.

 Are there any books or series you would compare it to?

There is nothing we can think to compare it too, it is such a unique story. It can loosely be compared to The Fault In Our Stars just for the plot twist and the shock of thinking one thing, and the opposite happening.

My Rating: 4 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

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

Amazon

The Book Depository

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

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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

her

‘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)