Sweetpea – C.J. Skuse

33229410.jpgRhiannon seems relatively normal. She lives with her boyfriend and her little dog, goes to work, and spends time with her friends. Except she has one little secret: she’s a serial killer. Every day, she makes a kill list. From her cheating boyfriend to the man on the checkout in Lidl, Rhiannon is after revenge.

The idea of this story is really good: our protagonist is a murderer living a normal life alongside her secret killing. However, Sweetpea doesn’t quite pull it off. Rhiannon is such a dislikeable character – no, hateable – that there is no empathy or support for what she’s doing. A main character needs to have at least some likeable traits – especially such a controversial character – so that the reader can make a connection, but Rhiannon has none. She’s just an awful, terrible person who makes nasty and offensive judgements (i.e. against disabled people) and gets aroused by necrophilia (trust me, it’s as disgusting as it sounds). This idea could have worked and it is a genuinely interesting story, but I couldn’t get beyond my absolute hate for Rhiannon. I wanted her to lose, which is generally the wrong way to feel about the main character of a story.

On a more positive note, the book is well written and good enough that I did read it the whole way through. The story is gripping and, despite my distaste for Rhiannon and her activities, I had to find out what was going to happen. (I did take a break and read another book in the middle of this one, to give myself a rest from the horrors of Rhiannon’s murder and sex life, but I couldn’t not finish it).

If you are a fan of dark characters and unusual crime stories, Sweetpea might be right up your street – it just wasn’t up mine. But be warned: this book contains VERY adult content and graphic descriptions of murder and (creepy and gross) sex, which there is NO mention of in the book description, hence why I gave it a go.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Halfway Bitten – Terry Maggert (Halfway Witchy #2)

28758197.jpgCarlie and her waffles are back. This time, Halfway is being inundated with creepy clowns and vampires, and some human murders make it clear that something is not right. It’s up to Carlie, Gran and Wulfric to find out what’s going on, and to make it stop.

I enjoyed reading about Carlie again. Her life has developed a little: she’s dating Wulfric and it’s going pretty well. Brendan the librarian has become more involved in Carlie’s witchy business as well, which is a nice addition. The plot is intriguing: the murders are pretty horrific and, as ever, the characters are very varied and likeable. My biggest complaint would be that most of the book is made up of talking and finding out what’s going on – there’s very little action or actual story development until the end. Also, there were a few plot-holes, particularly with the Anna thread of the story, because this seemed to be a huge deal at the start of the book and then at the end she and Carlie had made up but I missed how and when that happened.

Basically, Halfway Bitten is entertaining and magicky, but not quite as good as the first in the series. And that ending!

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One Of Us Is Lying – Karen M. McManus

32887579The Breakfast Club meets Gossip girl in this murder drama. Five very different students walk into detention, but only four walk out alive. Bronwyn, Nate, Addy and Cooper all find themselves under investigation for Simon Kelleher’s murder. All four have secrets that Simon was going to reveal to the whole school, so all four have reasons for wanting to shut him up. So did one of them do it, or are they being framed?

I enjoyed this book a ridiculous amount. It’s the perfect hybrid of a murder mystery/thriller and a YA high school drama – an unlikely combination, but one Karen McManus pulls of exceptionally well. The mystery aspect is very good: I knew who didn’t do it but I never guessed who did. The mystery and investigation fitted into the story very well, with no genre-clash at all.

The teen drama part was GREAT. I haven’t read a non-fantasy YA in ages and I forgot how much I love them. My favourite part was the relationship between Bronwyn and Nate. It was totally predictable but so sweet and I was really rooting for them. The other characters were great too: Addy and Cooper both developed well and turned out to have a lot more depth than they first appeared to. Even the side characters like Maeve and Janae were interesting and (somewhat) likeable.

One of Us is Lying is a clever murder mystery, as well as a well-written and enjoyable drama. I loved it – I read it in two days, only putting it down because I had to sleep. If you like teen drama and murder (in books, of course – not actual murder), look no further.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Liebstar Award

Kee @ Kee the Reader nominated me for this a while ago and it’s taken me so long to get round to it! (Full disclosure: I forgot) So thank you for the nomination 🙂 Better late than never!

The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they gave you.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs.
  4. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Favourite Genre?

I’m honestly not fussy about genre, but I guess fantasy (dragons please).

 dragons GIF

Favourite book quote?

“A teller of tales will never die, but will live on in stories – for as long as there are folk to listen.” – Joanne Harris, Runemarks.

Ebook or Physical books?

I prefer having a physical book to hold and to put on my shelves, but ebooks are so handy, I love them too,

Book you’ve bought because of its cover?

Almost every book – I’m terrible for judging a book by it’s cover. Most recently, the hardback edition of Strange the Dreamer with the blue pages because it’s beautiful.

Would you rather Hang with the Dregs from Six of Crows or the Night Court crew from ACOMAF

I actually haven’t read either of these yet (I know, I’m so behind) so NEITHER THANKS.

Favourite Author?

Joanne Harris is amazing.

What book would you want to be made into a TV series?

I think the Stephanie Plum series would be a really fun TV show.

What are you currently reading

I’m reading an ARC of Sweetpea by CJ Skuse and honestly I am not loving it (very violent and unpleasant).

Best book to movie adaption

Lord of the Rings was basically flawless.

 lord of the rings hobbits the shire GIF

Favourite Middle Grade book

I’m from the UK and am not sure what Middle Grade actually constitutes, and am not sure I’d have read any for a very long time anyway.

Favourite book about mental illness

Now You See Me by Lesley Glaister. It’s so beautiful I love it.

I nominate:

Emma @ Afterbutterflyrain
Tiffany @ Tiff the book nerd
Emma @ What Emma’s Reading
Megan @ Bookslayer Reads
Alex @ WhimsyPages
Danielle @ Books, Vertigo and Tea
Krysti @ YA and Wine
Hayley @ Rather Too Fond of Books
Chelsea @ The Suspense is Thrilling Me
Sue & Imogen @ Doddy About Books

Your questions:

  1. What colour book do you own the most of?
  2. TV adaptations or movie?
  3. Favourite fantasy world?
  4. Reading indoors or outdoors?
  5. Book that has disappointed you recently?
  6. How old is your blog?
  7. Do you have a blogging schedule, or post when you want to?
  8. Vampires or werewolves?
  9. What’s your favourite under-hyped book?
  10. How do you organise your books?
  11. YA heroes or heroines?

Hush, Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick

6339664Hush, Hush is basically an angelic imitation of Twilight. Nora is made to sit next to a moody teenage boy – Patch – in school and finds herself drawn to him despite (or because of) the aura of danger around him. The parallels with Twilight are many, and are laughable. She even googles what she thinks is going on, exactly like Bella does with Edward. There are so many flaws: Nora doesn’t even bat an eyelid at the fact that Patch is possibly a fallen angel, and deals remarkably well with multiple people trying to kill her. In fact, she manages to maintain her focus on her attraction to Patch throughout the entire book. The girl has questionable priorities but fantastic concentration.

I actually did quite like Nora. She’s surprisingly un-whiney for a YA protagonist, and Patch is an incredibly clichéd but likeable character. Looking back, the story is actually pretty awful. Not much happens; almost the whole book is about Nora and Patch’s blossoming romance, with very little actually being about angels and whatnot. Yet, I really enjoyed it. It’s hard to pinpoint what I actually enjoyed about this book because I’m not even sure what was going on for half of it, but I couldn’t put it down. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a paranormal YA romance, all I know is I loved it and will definitely be reading book #2.

Goodreads | Amazon

Murder on the SS Rosa (Ginger Gold Mysteries) – Lee Strauss

34323870In this short prequel to the Ginger Gold Mysteries series, fashionista Ginger Gold is travelling from Boston to London when the ship’s captain mysteriously turns up dead and stuffed into a barrel of pickles. With a host of possible culprits, Ginger gets stuck in investigating the murder (against the wishes of the handsome Chief Inspector Basil Ward), only to discover that she herself is a suspect! Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and clear her name, Ginger follows the clues to solve the case, with a little help from her dog, Boss, and her dear friend, Haley.

This is a sweet and short mystery, inspired by Agatha Christie, with lovely descriptions of scenery and clothing in the 1920s. It’s a straightforward story, as Ginger follows clues and conducts interviews to solve the case. It’s actually a little too twee for my tastes – I prefer my mysteries to have a bit more grit – and I didn’t like Ginger very much. She’s shallow and frivolous when it comes to clothing, and a nosy busy-body in terms of the mystery. There was a legitimate detective on board and no need for her to get involved. Although, a past in espionage or something similar is alluded to, so she can be forgiven for her curiosity.

All in all, it’s a twee and harmless murder mystery, very clearly in a copy-cat style of Agatha Christie. Perhaps lacking the depth and intelligence of a Christie novel, it’s still worth a read for lovers of straightforward and stylish murder mysteries.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Final Girls – Riley Sager

30215662Ten years ago, Quincy Carpenter was the soul survivor of a horror-movie style massacre that happened on a holiday with her friends. To her dismay, Quincy is dubbed a Final Girl by the press, and becomes an unwilling member of a very exclusive group with two other Final Girls, Lisa and Sam. Despite attempts by Lisa and the media, the three girls never meet. Desperate not to be defined by what happened to her, Quincy struggles to move on with her life. She has a successful website and a nice, lawyer boyfriend. All is going quite well, until the news that Lisa has been found dead, with her wrists slit. Until Sam turns up on Quincy’s doorstep and draws her back into her pain and anger. In a rollercoaster of events, Quincy finds herself under suspicion from the law, doubting Sam’s motives, and terrified by her own actions.

I spent about two thirds of this book thoroughly enjoying it but finding it pretty predictable. I thought I knew who was doing what (although not why), but WOW was I wrong. There are so many twists and layers, but they make perfect sense. Every mystery in unravelled in an unexpected but perfectly plausible way – it’s brilliant.

I actually didn’t like the characters very much – especially Quincy. She was quite wimpy and really annoying how she refused to tell anyone what was going on or ask for help, even though she had people she knew would be willing to help her. But considering her background I was able to forgive her for her silly decisions. I also didn’t like the amount of sexual content, but that’s just me (don’t worry, it isn’t overly graphic or unnecessary – I just don’t particularly enjoy reading about sex), but the things I didn’t like didn’t detract from the suspense or mystery at all.

Final Girls is a brilliant story: Clever and very well-written. The best thriller of 2017 (so far).

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

991197Persepolis is a must-read graphic novel, which tells the story of Marjane’s childhood growing up in Tehran during the Islamic revolution. It is a fascinating and shocking tale, as she faces the challenges of growing up in a country in turmoil, being sent far away from home at a young age, on top of the regular struggles of adolescence. Persepolis is a remarkably honest account of a rather remarkable life.

It is a truly eye-opening account of a life so different to my own. Marjane’s style is very candid and self-deprecating, which makes her character very accessible. I did of course read the English translation, so I can’t say much about her original writing, but the English version of the complete Persepolis is very well-written and easy to read. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is a graphic novel; there is still a large amount of text and the images really complement the story.

The artwork is simple and accessible, while every part of the story feels honest and relevant – there is no divergence into confusing history lessons or incomprehensible metaphors about thoughts and feelings that many graphic memoirs seem to have. Instead, the story is quite straightforward and comes across as completely true and believable, even to someone who has never experienced the things Marjane had to go through.

Goodreads | Amazon

Dream Waters – Erin A. Jensen

29445507Following the lives of some troubled characters living in a mental institute, this story deals with issues of sanity, reality, love and obsession. Charlie has been plodding along just fine in the institute, plagued by visions of other people’s ‘dream’ forms, but coping quite well considering. Until Emma arrives. A stunningly beautiful (ugh) girl with a mysterious past, who wants nothing more than to be reunited with her (obsessive and controlling) husband. Forming an unlikely bond, the two help each other through their problems, and Charlie takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of Emma’s mystery, despite the terrifying dragon that follows her and protects her.

The story is interesting and well-written. But there are many issues. Firstly – because of the cover and some of the reviews I’d seen – I thought this was going to be a YA book; it isn’t. That isn’t a criticism of the book itself, but I did struggle to get my head around that to begin with because I had to adjust all my expectations, so do bear that in mind. This book is not YA. Other than fantasy (and maybe a touch of romance), I’m not sure how else to categorise this book, but it is definitely more than just a fantasy novel. Secondly, all of the patients appear to have been committed fairly, and really do have psychiatric problems, so it’s hard to see how the series can progress. I have little desire for characters who seem to belong in a mental institute to be released, and these ones don’t have curable illnesses that they can recover from. Thirdly, Emma and David’s relationship is obsessive and borderline abusive. They are in love, which is nice, but it isn’t healthy and I struggled to watch Charlie be drawn into that. He was nothing but sweet and helpful, whereas Emma was selfish and cruel to use him and David is quite clearly a violent lunatic. I didn’t really enjoy reading about their relationship.

However, I did like Charlie, and I liked reading about Nellie and Bob. They were both sweet and likeable, and – in their strange ways – only wanted to help. I only wish Charlie had listened to them more. I did enjoy most of this book and it really is well-written, but it wasn’t quite my cup of tea and I probably won’t be continuing with the series.

I received a copy of this book from the author who was kind enough to gift me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

32860254.jpgLoosely based on real events, The Witchfinder’s Sister is an atmospherical drama following Alice on her return to the home of her childhood after her husband is accidentally killed. She arrives to find things have changed dramatically, and quickly learns of her brother’s work finding and questioning witches. Alice does her best to thwart Matthew, and to help his powerless victims, but he won’t be stopped. All Alice can do is watch and wonder just how far he will go.

This story is heavy and harrowing. The plot develops slowly which, instead of being boring, adds to the tense atmosphere and realism. The most disturbing thing is that Matthew Hopkins did exist and, though this story is fictional, it is based around truth, with real victims and well documented trials.

I enjoyed the writing style. The language used is old-fashioned but very readable, and Beth Underdown sets the cold and harsh atmosphere magnificently. My only area of criticism is in Alice’s character, because I found her weak and repetitive. Some allowance can be made for her weakness, because in that day and age there would have been very little she could really do. She had little-to-no influence over the men, so the other women’s expectation that she could stop her brother was unfair. However, she was also so naïve and refused to believe anything anyone said against her family, even when it was staring her in the face. This was annoying.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The atmosphere and tension were near perfection in this story and the general content is fascinating, but other elements could have been better.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon