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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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

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This was my most anticipated read of the year, and I have to say it did not disappoint! John Green is one of my favourite authors, and his books give you so much to think about, and this one was no different.

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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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

My Review

Turtles All The Way Down is the long awaited YA novel from John Green since the release of The Fault In Our Stars. We follow a young girl named Aza, her best friend Daisy, and son of millionaire, Davis Pickett. Set in Green’s home city, Indianapolis, the story follows these characters through life, loss, and friendship. For me, the characters made the story, and while the plot was important, and very well developed, the characters, particularly Aza, were the stars of the book. Green’s writing always tackles issues in life in very particular but extraordinary ways, and Turtles even more so than others, in my opinion. His mind works in complex but incredible ways that forms characters and stories that make you think about the book days after finishing. His way with words is highly commendable, and an absolute joy (sometimes, they can also destroy your life) to read. The underlying plot that runs alongside main issues tackled through character relationships was interesting, adding a mysterious vibe to the novel, and while it wasn’t the central point of the novel, it drove the narrative well, and everything was tied up at the end.

It’s so difficult to not fall in love with all of the characters that John Green writes into existence. And it really does feel like they are in the room with you! Aza’s charcater was incredibly well developed and made the book such a powerful novel. The way Green has written about mental health in such a sensitive and important way really translates what he has experienced in his own life, and helps any reader understand what it’s like to live with OCD and anxiety. This was the most powerful, creative, and informative book tackling mental health I’ve read to date.

I could not put it down, and there was always this nagging sensation that kept me guessing where Pickett Sr was, even with everything else going on around it. My favourite part of the book was all of it. No seriously I can’t choose! It was all written so well, and I did find that times when Aza was arguing with her conscience were particularly powerful, as it put OCD compulsions in perspective for someone who may not suffer from it.

There were several humorous points throughout the novel, little tidbits that Green added that just made me giggle, but overall, the book stirred a lot of different emotions. The power behind the writing made me feel sad and anxious and worried, but also made me feel happy and warm on the inside. John Green books have a way of making you feel like you are on a literal emotional rollercoaster!

I learnt a lot reading this book, not just about mental illness, but also about life in general. As with many of his other books, Green has laden Turtles with quotes that will soon become some of the most important quotes in YA literature. As I said earlier, John Green’s mind and way of thinking is so vast and extraordinary, I swear there is not a lot this man doesn’t know, therefore it is such an experience reading his books. I can highly recommend Turtles All The Way Down to anyone who is a fan of Green’s writing, or of YA and books that tackle mental health issues in general. Go out and buy this book now, because I believe everyone should read it!

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)

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 🙂

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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What a well known book, and I've only just got round to reading it! I can tell you, I'm so glad I picked it up! Miss Peregrine's was a story I knew I always wanted to read, and it had been there on my shelf for a while, along with it's sequel, Hollow City, but it always seemed to get overlooked when I was choosing what to read next… not this time!

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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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine's children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

My Review

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a Young Adult novel, but first and foremost follows the fantastical paranormal genre. Set partly in America, but mostly in Welsh territory, we follow Jacob on his journey as he discovers that the stories his grandfather, Abe, told him as a child, were true. Unbelievably so! In and out of another time, Jacob learns more about the children labelled 'peculiar' and also learns they are in great danger. As Jacob delves deeper into the world of peculiar, and into himself, he understands this is just the beginning for his relationship with the peculiar children that take shelter with Miss Peregrine.

The events throughout this book have been so carefully thought out, introducing the reader to a new realm of magical happenings. It is incredibly unpredictable, possibly because we are so unfamiliar with this new world Riggs has created, and finishes with a climactic ending to lead perfectly on to Hollow City. There is never a dull moment in this book; every part is as thrilling as the last, making it a fast paced, compelling story line. The addition of photographs throughout the book also drives the story and makes it a faster read. Despite being a newly formed world, everything is logical and, although threads are left untied at the end, we know there will be questions answered in the following books.

We are introduced to so many characters throughout the book, mainly the family of peculiar children. I loved Millard, I thought his character was so quirky, and him lacking any physical form made his actions even more hilarious at times. Emma and Jacob's relationship grew on me, and was such a delight to read when it was fully developed. It wasn't the kind of relationship that was all 'in your face' like some books, but very subtle among the other events, that just adds a bit of light-heartedness to the story. Despite the paranormal traits of the peculiar children, Riggs has done a great job of merging fantasy and realism, making it seem more realistic. The blend of present and past, and making the reader understand that the peculiars live in the past, makes it feel like it's real, rather that placing them in another world that is less realistic.

From the moment the monsters were mentioned, and when Abe speaks to Jacob in the beginning about them, I was constantly trying to guess what they were and why they were so frightening. There was plenty more to keep me on the edge of my seat as well, trying to figure out what would become of the peculiar children. My favourite part of the book was when Jacob travels through the loop for the first time, and meets the peculiar children. Emma and Millard are amazing at this point, already so well characterised for people we've just met. The end was also extremely thrilling and spiked my excitement for the next book! The action scenes were really well written, describing everything that was going on and striking fear through me as if I was there! The entire book contains extremely good writing, especially with the incorporation of photos to bring the writing to life even more. I found myself laughing at several parts of the book; there were some pretty humorous parts in the story, particularly, as I mentioned earlier, Millard and his invisibility!

There were times when I could not put this book down! I found it so captivating and unlike anything I've read before. I cannot wait to finish the trilogy and find out how it ends (here's hoping that I don't use any of these beloved peculiars on the way, because I fear for their lives now I know what they're facing!)

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy or paranormal writing, or even just a fast paced book with eccentric, peculiar characters, because you will find all of that in Miss Peregrine's!

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)

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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Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

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I was very excited when I saw Paula Hawkins was releasing a new thriller, since I loved The Girl on the Train, and was ready to read more from the author of such a great book! Unfortunately, I was disappointed, possibly because I went in to it with such high hopes. 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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‘Into The Water’ by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Review

Into The Water is Paula Hawkins’ second stand alone novel from the mystery thriller genre, and is set in a small British town, following several different characters and their actions and reactions to the death of a local woman, Nel, in a famous part of the river known as The Drowning Pool. The events that happen throughout the book are cleverly shown to the reader, allowing us to try and guess the outcome of the investigation. Nothing is given away, but I still found it slightly predictable because of the limited character selection, and the ending wasn’t as exciting as I expected, as it was with Hawkins’ first novel. The point of view that the chapters were written from changed with the characters. For example all of Jules’ chapters (Nel’s sister) were written in first person, but all of Mark’s chapters were written in third person. This change in perspective threw me off in the beginning, but I got used to it as the book went on. I did think that this was done for a reason, but unfortunately I could not find any valid literary reason for Hawkins to do this. However, having Jules’ speak in first person narrative created a sense of her talking to us as if we were Nel. This filled in Nel’s character, placing us in that position and therefore allowing us to sympathise more with what happened to the characters who were close to her. The plot was mostly fast paced because of the shorter chapters, and cliffhangers featured at the end of each character point of view. Everything, as with any thriller, was fairly logical, although there were some parts that didn’t make sense, and didn’t fit with the storyline. They had no reason to be there, for example, the history of the other women in The Drowing Pool. It created a false lead to a possible link between the women in the pool, which would have made it slightly more interesting and exciting. There were a lot of red herrings in the story line, making it too complex, and some were not really tied up at the end like a good thriller should be.

I wasn’t really overcome with a sense of favouritism for any of the characters, although I did feel sympathetic towards Jules and Lena, because of what I previously discussed about first person writing. Every character had a darker side to them, which made them slightly less likeable, but if I had to pick, Jules seemed the most kind, and genuinely worried about Lena losing her mother. The setting helped the characters feel more realistic, and they were written with a fair bit of development and character history, which made them more interesting to read. I did find Erin’s character to be a little on the flat side, and that Hawkins left it too late in the story to introduce her past misdeeds. If they were important to the storyline, they should have been introduced a lot sooner, but alas, they were not at all relevant, and could have been missed completely and allowed the character room for a bit more development within the story.

Of course, because it was a thriller, I wanted to try and guess what happened, but I did’t feel a strong urge to try and guess who did it, because I didn’t really find a lot of drive in the story line. The police investigation seemed to fall a bit flat, because they didn’t really find a lot of evidence, and relied a lot on what people said. I like to read a thriller with a string of evidence that I can unpick as I read it, and that makes me guess what happened, but evidence seemed to be a bit thin on the ground where this story is concerned.

However, I would like to applaud Hawkins writing style, and her very clever use of language throughout the book. She references the water, and vocabulary relating to the Drowning Pool, which could also be related to the characters being ‘drowned’ by their emotions. These vocabulary choices were one of my favourite things about this book.

The beginning was a lot more gripping than the middle to the end of the book, because it was setting the scene and I wanted to find out what had happened. As the story unravelled it started to become clear there wasn’t really a lot to uncover, and with the lack of evidence, there wasn’t the promise of a shocking ending to keep me turning the pages.

The characters were well written, but I didn’t think the storyline and the outcome of the crime was as exciting as some other thrillers I’ve read, and not as good as Hawkin’s first novel. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, then you might feel the need to read this book, but you may be disappointed.

My Rating: 3 Muffins out of 5

Where To Buy

If you want to have a read 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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