Book Reviews

Turning Pages …

As I’ve said previously, I’ve been trying everything I can think of to distract myself at the moment. Reading, after skincare and makeup, is my next passion – actually maybe it is before skincare and makeup… I don’t know! Anyway, I love reading. I always have to have at least 30-40 minutes before bed, wallowing in another life/place/experience  (this does usually turn in to 60-90 minutes quite regularly!). Recently though, sleep as been eluding me and my concentration hasn’t been able to focus on reading as much as I’d like. However, back in the summer months and up until the end of October, I was devouring fiction at a rate of knots. As a side to the beauty angle, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and talk about some of my recent reads … hopefully someone might pick up a recommendation or two.

(FYI, my preferences for fiction are (rather nonintellectual – sorry!): murders, detective procedural (I wanted to be a detective and can’t quite get over the fact that I’m not!), trashy chick-lit (the trashier the better – think Footballers Wives but worse), psychological thrillers, travel.) I know – an English teacher should have better taste and be reading something more ‘appropriate’ …. but after a day of attempting to make sixteen year old’s like (or at least appreciate) Macbeth and Carol Ann Duffy , I just can’t be doing with it – I need an escape! But, if it makes any difference (and gives me back any credibility), The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice are my favourite novels EVER!) 

Enjoy 🙂

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  1. The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (as Agatha Christie). I had high hopes for this as I LOVE Christie. It was good – but not as good as Christie. Hannah captured Hercule Poirot perfectly, but the story was a bit bonkers to be honest. Took a lot of flicking backwards and forwards to work out what the hell was going on – way more labour intensive than Christie’s usual work. I enjoyed it because there were murder(s – I don’t want to give any spoilers so hence the single/plural question) – and I love Poirot. But it was lacking something I think… 3/5
  2. Eeny Meeny by M.J Arlidge. This is the first novel by Arlidge in this serial-killer series. Set in Southampton, I really really enjoyed this. It is a classic police/detective fiction procedural – similar to Peter James’ (who I adore) Roy Grace series. Also, because it is set in Southampton, it seems more ‘realistic’ to me – I know some of the places mentioned. I didn’t guess the ending – which is a rare bonus- but it is quite brutal in places. DI Helen Grace (no relation to Roy) is a really interesting lead detective – not quite all she seems. I’ve since read the other three that follow this and will definitely read any others. 5/5
  3. Summer at the Lake by Erica James. I’ve read and enjoyed several of James’ novels before so I knew this would be similar. It is a lovely, cute, romantic story spanning several characters. It is an easy read but I actually was interested in the characters (which I find doesn’t always happen in chick-lit … sometimes the characters are bloody irritating!) – and I loved the fact the location moves to beautiful Italy mid-way through; anything that involves gorgeous descriptions of stunning places is good with me. This is the kind of novel you’d read by the pool on holiday and leave on the hotel bookshelf afterwards (speaking of which – I always do this and write ‘Jane – Isle of Wight’ inside the cover; I find it fascinating to see where the book has been and who’s read it). I’m not emotionally attached enough to keep the book, but I enjoyed nonetheless. 4/5
  4. Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. This was one of those novels that I had heard so much about – it was all over the place – so I thought I’d give it a go. Whilst I like a psychological thriller, I’m not especially drawn to domestic violence (obviously…) so, yes the thrill of the chase was the ‘thrilling’ bit and it did grip me, I was a bit uninterested in the subject matter – to be honest. Again, as a thriller, it was great – and some might love it – but for me, there was just something missing. I did find the main character quite irritating, which didn’t help. I’ve since read another of Haynes’ novels and the same thing happened (Human Remains – which was just grim quite frankly)- there was just something not quite right; I had a similar problem with Gone Girl (I actually preferred the film by a mile). Maybe it is more that I don’t like/appreciate her writing style rather than something wrong with her novels … I don’t know. Odd. 3/5
  5. I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh. I loved this book – it totally had me gripped all the way through; I would liken it to The Girl on the Train for keeping me reading. I can’t really say much without spoiling it, so I’ll keep it brief! The mystery is interesting and keeps you guessing. The main character is a bit of an oddball and you don’t know whether to like or hate her … There is a serious moral question running through it. The ending is ‘right’. Loved it and would definitely read more from Mackintosh. Give it a whirl – especially if you liked The Girl on the Train. 5/5
  6. Temptation Island by Victoria Fox. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and you’d be right – this is about as trashy as it gets! And I bloody LOVED it! There is sex (and some rude bits!), money, blackmail, murder, secrets, lies, adultery, fast cars, tropical locations, super yachts, revenge, conspiracy – everything. Jackie Collins for a slightly younger audience! It is 650 pages long or something, so quite a read, but I stayed up until 4am to get through the last 100 pages. It is a multi-character novel that all links up about 3/4 of the way through. Couldn’t put it down! 5/5
  7. The Sleeper by Emily Barr. I’ve read every one of Barr’s novels and loved them all. Barr’s ‘thing’ is that her novels are all set (or end up) somewhere far-flung, meaning that alongside her trademark psychological thriller plot, you get some amazing description about some amazing places; Thailand in this case (my most favourite place in the world). The ‘sleeper’ refers to the Sleeper Train from London to Penzance – setting for an adulterous encounter that changes everything… As usual with Barr, there are secrets and lies and an intriguing plot. Definitely check this one out if you love travel and thrillers – and check out her other novels too (Baggage, in Oz and Cuban Heels, set in Brighton and Cuba are favourites of mine). 5/5
  8. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gilbraith (aka. J.K Rowling – the worst kept secret in the literary world!). I’ve just finished this novel and loved it; it really is a return to an old fashioned murder mystery format. Cormoran Strike (what a name!) is a fabulous character – complex and intriguing. The setting for the novel is wealthy London – complete with rappers, models, druggie actors and fashion designers – again, full of lies, secrets and red herrings. I really enjoyed this and have already purchased the second and third novels (The Silkworm and Career of Evil). I wasn’t the biggest fan of Harry Potter, but, in my opinion, JK Rowling has hit the jackpot here. I just hope and pray that if/when these novels are made in to films/tv programmes, they keep them set in London (I’m looking at you, Girl on the Train, which is apparently being moved to NY!…..Grr). 5/5
  9. A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood. This book was lent to me by someone who knew I loved the TV series Death in Paradise (Ben Miller, followed by Kris Marshall, set on the fictional island of Saint Marie in the Caribbean). I can sense some eye-rolling, but I loved this series: beautiful location and scenery; easy to follow plots; half humorous acting; good old British detective running the show; actors who who spend 10 minutes trying to work out what else they’ve been in; the beautiful Cammile (she was for Steve). Perfect. This novel was written by the script writer for DIP – and it is a plot not yet featured in the series. It is very well written – Thorogood has managed to write the characters perfectly in to a novel; you cannot help but picture them. The plot is good – not too brain taxing (I guessed it about half way through but it didn’t lose any enjoyment) – simple to read and if you love DIP, I’d definitely recommend it; if you weren’t a fan of the series and you prefer much more ‘realistic’ crime fiction (like Peter James/M.J Arlidge) then I’d give this a miss as you’ll probably be disappointed. 5/5
  10. (Not pictured as I’ve lent it to someone) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. If you’ve not read this yet, where the hell have you been?! This is THE book of the year it would seem – this year’s Gone Girl but much better. This novel is the psychological thriller at its best. I whizzed through this so quickly as I just could not wait to get to the end – and when I did reach them end, I was gutted it was over! I’m very disappointed that the film has been moved to the USA … why do they do that?… Hopefully though Emily Blunt (who is playing Rachel) will do a decent job. Anyway – this is a fabulous novel – read it! 5/5

Hope that was interesting… I’ve got Christmas fiction coming soon… I am partial to a bit of festive-based literary enjoyment at Christmas time.

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