Category Archives: book review

The Dry by Jane Harper

I’ve read all three of her books now and loved them but I think this just edges it as my favourite.

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.
Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.
Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

Book Review Huh?

Okay then please answer the following questions:

Book Title:

The Dry

Author:

Jane Harper

What did you like about it?

Its so readable. Once you get into the skin of the characters you are hooked. Its so authentically written and its set in the outback of Australia where the temperature is really, really hot. I was reading this during the summer months and sweated even more as she described it all so clearly.

The story has many twists n turns and i lost count of how many times i tried to guess the ending but without any success.

Anything to dislike?

It is a very slow beginning as indeed are all of Jane Harpers books but stick with it because once it fires up the engine just doesn’t cool down.

Favourite characters?

Aaron Falk is so lovely he is the main character in the first two books and i really missed him not being in the third book at all (gasps) He is shown as being flawed, we’re not given a perfect human being but he has such lovely qualities its hard not to like him regardless.

Annoying characters?

Quite a few but I cant say without giving too much away. However i guess we have to have the bad ones to make the good ones stand out more.

Did you learn anything?

I learnt never to go to this part of Australia as I cannot tolerate heat in my own country and would probably be dead in a week.

I also learnt that i will never make a detective coz i am rubbish at picking up clues and solving mysteries.

Memorable moments?

The ending is wonderful and i never saw it coming and all through the book there is a (for me anyway) kind of red herring which never arrived but just waiting for it was so gripping.

All the feels or lacking emotion?

Not a lot of feels because its not that kind of book but like I said, Aaron Falk is so great and I felt for him on more than one occasion. Otherwise the rest of the characters are a bit on the non emotional side.

Would you recommend this to someone?

Yes absolutely i would, in fact i recommended all three of Jane Harpers books to my sister in law who bought and read them in three weeks flat.

All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison

The autumn of 1933 is the most beautiful Edie Mather can remember, though the Great War still casts a shadow over the cornfields of her beloved home, Wych Farm.

When charismatic, outspoken Constance FitzAllen arrives from London to write about fading rural traditions, she takes an interest in fourteen-year-old Edie, showing her a kindness she has never known before. But the older woman isn’t quite what she seems. As harvest time approaches and pressures mount on the whole community, Edie must find a way to trust her instincts and save herself from disaster.

To begin with I had such pre conceived notions about this book. I’d seen it mentioned all over You Tube and Twitter and thought it wasnt for me. It was too literary. Not my sort of thing.

Boy, was I wrong!

Edie’s character undergoes such a transformation throught the book but its done so gently you almost dont see it happening. Constance is a wonderful character with much to hide but her charm shines off the page and you can see why Edie is drawn to her.

To be honest now ive read it I find the blurb on the back to be slightly confusing and misleading. Maybe its just me though?

This is such a beautiful book. The writing is super smooth and easy to read. Her descriptions of nature are so exquisite it makes you want to run wild in fields and notice whats around you so much more.

Its quite slow paced and defintiely not plot heavy but it has a sting in the tail I never saw coming.

Its my best read so far of 2019.

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Oh my God, i love this book!

It is beautiful, it is sweet, it is heartbreaking, it is hopeful

It draws you in, hugs you tight, grabs your heart, twists it around then leaves you thinking about the words and feelings for a long, long time.


That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I’ll go wherever you go. But by dawn Ingrid, and her promise, were gone.
Ingrid’s suicide immobilizes Caitlin, leaving her unsure of her place in a new life she hardly recognizes. A life without the art, the laughter, the music, and the joy that she shared with her best friend…. But Ingrid left something behind. In words and drawings, Ingrid documented a painful farewell in her journal. Journeying through Ingrid’s final days, Caitlin fights back through unspeakable loss to find renewed hope.


Her writing is so beautiful, the words feel soft yet powerful and you cant help but love the character of Caitlin.

I also loved Taylor and Dylan and it was great to explore their connections to Caitlin too. Everytime I reached for the book I began to look forward to spending time with the characters and see where the story was going next. She has pitched the ending just right although I would love another book about this character and what shes doing now. If you read this Nina (highly unlikely) please update us!Given its themes I would like to think that all children should be given a copy of this book and that parents would benefit from reading it too. Ingrid’s story will stay with me for a very long time.

This is a top book of the year so far, and a solid 5 ***** read.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

If you’ve clicked here hoping to read another rave review of this book then i’m sorry to disappoint you but it ain’t gonna happen.

I actually bought the special Waterstones edition with the metallic blue spine, gorgeous endpapers and built in bookmark but at the end of the day its still a ‘crap’ book!

I know its just won the Costa Novel Award and most probably will go on to win the overall prize too but I JUST. DONT. GET. ALL. THE. FUSS!

Her characters are so unlikable!

There is little or no plot and each chapter moves on painfully slowly by a few weeks or months and gets nowhere!

Its virtually the same kind of ‘love story’ as book one with a needy woman and a sensitive man,

its pretentious nonsense,

I know heaps of folk who adore this book but its just not for me and thats fine, we cant all like the same things.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

What a fabulous book this is, I enjoyed every page and I’m so hoping that it will be the first in a duology or even trilogy? Fingers crossed!

City of Ghosts

Synopsis

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined. NYT bestselling author Victoria Schwab delivers a thrillingly spooky and action-packed tale of hauntings, history, mystery, and the bond between friends (even if that friend is a ghost . . .).

The character of Cass is a lovely creation. She is funny, brave, tough but vulnerable and needy at the same time.

I love that Victoria Schwab set the story in Edinburgh, its a place i’ve long wanted to visit and i loved the whole ‘fish out of water’, culture shock of the family as they learn about our British way of life.  The story is so funny in many places but never turns into a farce and then suddenly she writes some really moving dialogue and I was nearly in tears.

I cant recommend this book highly enough.

Is there a book similar to this or another book by V.E. Schwab maybe that I should try next?

Strike Your Heart by Amelie Nothomb

I was kindly sent an Autumn/Winter catalogue by Europa Editions to look through and I chose this book, mainly for its fascinating synopsis but also its very striking cover. So a huge thank you to Europa for sending me a copy of this and for enabling me to discover a new favourite author.
love those French flaps
This book is about love; too much love, not enough love, misguided love and about the relationship between mothers and daughters, between female friends and families in general.

This is Diana’s story. The story of a young, brilliant woman who grows up without maternal affection. It is the story of Diana’s relationships with other women: her best friend, the sweet Elisabeth; her mentor, the selfish Olivia; her sister, the beloved Célia; and, of course, her mother. It is a story about the baser sentiments that often animate human relations: rivalry, jealousy, distrust.

I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a writer adapt her writing style to match a character before. When she is writing the early story of Diane as a baby/young child her writing is beautifully simplistic and feels like it could be written by a child but as the character gets older so does the prose. Its astonishing! It moved me to tears in places and wreaks havoc with your emotions but its ultimately an uplifting read and well worth it. There are some fairly unpleasant characters here who never get our sympathy and some you just want to scream at. Diane herself is someone who seems at times to be too good to be true and something of a superwoman in her daily life but I can see why she is like that and Nothomb treats us to some gorgeously unredemptive characters. I read this over the course of one day and hated having to put it down for anything. Its not a long book at just over 130 pages but she packs so much into it.  She doesn’t waste a single word that’s not needed and whilst the story towards the end got a lot more complicated at times it didn’t put me off and I couldn’t go to bed until I’d finished it. I’m glad to see Amelie Nothomb has a large back catalogue of books I can look forward to diving into sometime in the future.

Graphic novel mini reviews

I’ve been on a bit of a graphic novel kick lately so here are two novels I can definitely recommend you pick up if you are giving this genre a try too.

Volume 1 of Alex + Ada

A soon as I saw this on book tube I knew I had to have it. The artwork is so beautiful. Its crisp, clear, minimal and very evocative. The colours are soft and muted but stand out well and the story is quite sweet in places. I think there are another 2 volumes out by now, i’m not sure if i’ll continue reading the series mainly because they are so expensive but maybe as a treat or a gift one time.

Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too

This is such a sweet, sweet little book. Its a quick read and can be read in one sitting but if you take your time to really take in the story on each page you’ll get more out of it for sure.

I can understand why graphic novels are as pricey as they are, I mean just look at the hard work that goes into the artwork alone!  But still they are more of a treat to myself or a Christmas/Birthday gift.

 

An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

I was kindly sent this by Quercus books after I requested a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The premise sounds so original and fantastic and i couldnt wait to get round to reading it.

Oh how disappointed I was though.

She has come up with such a cool and novel storyline. I just adore anything with time travel in and initially it did feel a bit like the Time Travellers Wife but she makes it very hard going trying to understand her concept. Its really not explained very clearly at all. Its very airy fairy in its writing style and she committed something which is one of my biggest bugbears with authors; she used a word which frankly i’d never heard in my life and actually had to split apart to read it!

Ive always said that if an author uses a long, obscure word that makes me break off from the narrative to look it up in a dictionary then they have already lost me!  I mean who has heard of synecdochical?

Hopefully it may disappear before the final published version.

It all felt a bit dreary to be honest and I couldnt feel anything for the main character, she just wasnt 3D enough for me.

I couldnt finish it sadly. I have loads of books to read for pleasure and review and cant waste my time on something that doesnt gel with me.

 

Light filters in – Poems by Caroline Kaufman

I was kindly contacted by Harper Collins and given a list of books to choose from to review. I chose this and they kindly sent me a ‘sneak peek’ of what it will look like when published. They also sent a lovely little bookmark and who doesn’t need more bookmarks (not me)

So a huge thank you to the lovely folk at Harper Collins.

I hadn’t heard of Caroline Kaufman before receiving this but she began by posting her poetry on Instagram and you can find her there as @poeticpoison

So what did I think?

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

Light filters in

Who wrote it?

Caroline Kaufman

Whats it about?

It’s a book of modern poetry written by a teenager to help her cope with and try to understand the depression she suffers from

Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

Its absolutely amazing and I loved it.
I’m often daunted by poetry especially modern poetry. I used to think that if it didn’t rhyme it wasn’t a poem (so not true) and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t ‘get it’ but there is no worries with Caroline’s beautiful words. For someone so young she has written some very mature poetry. There are a mix of poem styles, some rhyming, some not and some others that more closely resemble a short story.
Her struggles with anxiety and depression at such a young age are documented here but it doesn’t get maudlin or self pitying at all it’s simply honest.
Its just a small taster booklet with 24 or so poems but I believe the finished book will have 100 and I can’t wait to read more of them.

Gimme the Pros?

Each poem is a wonderful little work of art. Sad, funny, ironic, raw but always entertaining. And so clever with it. One of her poems can actually be read backwards as well as forwards and you get a different meaning each time. Now that’s smart!
Its illustrated by Yelena Bryksenkova with some cute little black and white line drawings which compliment the text really well.
Its definitely a book I want to quote and re-read many times over. Sadly as its a proof copy I can’t reproduce anything here but its out in hardback on 28th June.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here!

All the feels or none of the feels?

Oh all of them and more besides!  There is so much feeling in every poem whether it’s a few lines or a page.

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

10 of course!

Would you recommend I read this book?

If you love modern poetry and powerful words and honest feelings and want to be snuggled up in the beauty of them then yes, you need this book.

 

Poems for a world gone to sh*t – Review

This was lovely surprise bookmail from Quercus a few days ago.  They are a fabulous publisher who have been very kind to me over the years, so a big thank you to them.

Poetry is something I really enjoy and a little book like this to dip in and out of is always welcome.

Hey you have a book to review! Whats it called?

Poems for a world gone to sh*t

Who wrote it?

No one author, Its a compilation of poems, old and new

Whats it about?

Poems to make life better in this messed up world we live in right now

Now for the important bits, did you like it? (be honest now)

Its fantastic! I do love discovering new poets works as well as having a special old favourite poem just at my fingertips when i need a lift.

Gimme the Pros?

Its set out into separate chapters e.g

1. What the f**k?

2. get me the f**k out of here…  down to

5. life is still f**king beautiful

Its a gorgeously made little naked hardback and the poetry has been thoughtfully chosen to both amuse and enlighten us.

Hit me with the Cons?

No cons here.

All the feels or none of the feels?

All of the feels definitely, here are two of my favourites

Okay, so enjoyment factor out of 10?

20! its a beautiful little book

Would you recommend I read this book?

Yes in a heartbeat!  Its perfect for long standing poetry fans and for introducing poetry to those who may have thought it wasn’t for them.