REVIEW: A Little Life

“Life is so sad, he would think in those moments. It’s so sad, and yet we all do it.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I always love a good challenge and I love pushing myself to try things that will take me out of my comfort zone. So when I saw everyone reading A Little Life, I knew that if I only read one book this month, it had to be this one.

“Wasn’t friendship it’s own miracle, finding another person who made the entire lonely world seem somehow less lonely.”

What Did I Think?

A Little Life is one hell of an emotional rollercoaster but I knew what I was getting myself in for before opening up its pages. When I finished the book, I was seemingly OK, yet after telling my boyfriend that I’d just finished the book, the FLOOD of tears just came. All of a sudden I was a blubbering mess, having taken the time to reminisce on what I had just read/experienced. 

The book follows the life of tortured soul Jude St Francis, who goes throughout life suffering from his experience as an orphaned boy. It’s hard to sum up the story without spoiling it all for you, but the story starts by following four friends and throughout the book we follow how their friendship evolves, with the focusing shifting more towards two of the boys, Williem and Jude. 

Friendship is such a huge factor in the book, and I’m glad that Jude had so many supportive people around him. Although he had an awful start in life, you join his story when things begin to look up for him, but as with any heartbreaking story, it’s not always happy forever. 

I was nervous about reading this book because it is over 700 pages, but I never felt at any point that the story was dragging or I was becoming uninterested. The story is so encapsulating that I was hooked on every page which really and pleasantly surprised me. 

Jude experienced a life full of suffering and his story, albeit fictional, has made me aware of the different ways people deal with trauma; especially childhood trauma which we are too young to process at the time. Suffering, especially when it comes to mental health, can take many different shapes and forms, and if anything this book has made me understand and empathise with those whose history and hurtful memories affects their personality and the way they live for years later. 

Before I go, let me just say that if you are thinking of reading this book, I need to warn you that there are EXTREMELY distressing and difficult moments within the story. So much so, I couldn’t go straight to sleep after reading this book in case I had nightmares. Thankfully, I have read distressing content like this before so I could in a way, process it. However, if you haven’t read anything distressing before, I can imagine it is an incredibly difficult read so just be aware.

“There’s no expiration date on needing help, or needing people. You don’t get to a certain age and it stops.”

A Little Life

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Picador
Published: 2016
# of Pages: 720
Genre: Contemporary, Queer Fiction
Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse, child abuse, violence, prostitution, violence, self-harm, explicit scenes, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, medical pain, amputation, Stockholm syndrome, depression, suicide, death, grief
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

Richard & Judy’s Autumn 2020 Book Club Picks

If you haven’t heard about the Richard & Judy Book Club before this is how it works: Richard & Judy pick six books every season that they believe will get us reading, thinking and talking about exciting new stories.

Their website includes details on each book, exclusive interviews and reviews by both Richard and Judy. I was lucky enough to receive the Autumn 2020 Book Bundle and here are the books which have been chosen for this season:

The Heatwave – Kate Riordan

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. Elodie is dead. In Provence, under a sweltering sun, Sylvie returns to the crumbling family home of La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma.

Yet every corner of the house is haunted by the memories of Elodie, her first child – memories she has tried to forget, but whose long-ago death the villagers certainly haven’t. As temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, memories of Elodie spread further through Sylvie’s mind . . .

Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what happened to Elodie all those summers ago. And it could change everything.

The Confession – Jessie Burton

When Elise Morceau meets the writer Constance Holden, she quickly falls under her spell. Connie is sophisticated, bold and alluring – everything Elise feels she is not.

She follows Connie to LA, but in this city of strange dreams and razzle-dazzle, Elise feels even more out of her depth and makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.

Three decades later, Rose Simmons is trying to uncover the story of her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was a now reclusive novelist, Rose finds herself at the door of Constance Holden’s house in search of a confession.

Can You Hear Me? – Jake Jones

Jake Jones has worked in the UK ambulance service for ten years: every day, he sees a dozen of the scenes we hope to see only once in a lifetime.

Can You Hear Me? – the first thing he says when he arrives on the scene – is a memoir of the chaos, intensity and occasional beauty of life on the front-lines of medicine in the UK.

As well as a look into dozens of extraordinary scenes – the hoarder who won’t move his collection to let his ailing father leave the house, the blood-soaked man who tries to escape from the ambulance, the life saved by a lucky crew who had been called to see someone else entirely. Can You Hear Me? is an honest examination of the strains and challenges of one of the most demanding and important jobs anyone can do.

The Boy From The Woods – Harlan Coben

Thirty years ago, a child was found in the New Jersey backwoods. He had been living a feral existence, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. Everyone just calls him Wilde.

Now a former soldier and security expert, he lives off the grid, shunned by the community – until they need him. A child has gone missing. With her family suspecting she’s just playing a disappearing game, nobody seems concerned except for criminal attorney Hester Crimstein.

She contacts Wilde, asking him to use his unique skills to find the girl. But even he can find no trace of her. One day passes, then a second, then a third. On the fourth, a human finger shows up in the mail. And now Wilde knows this is no game. It’s a race against time to save the girl’s life – and expose the town’s dark trove of secrets.

Rough Magic – Lara Prior-Palmer

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km.

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

Many riders don’t make it to the finish line. In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families.

Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

Fifty Fifty – Steve Cavanagh

Two sisters on trial for murder.

They accuse each other.

Who do YOU believe?

‘911 what’s your emergency?’ ‘My dad’s dead. My sister Sofia killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’ ‘My dad’s dead. My sister Alexandra killed him. She’s still in the house. Please send help.’

One of them is a liar and a killer. But which one?

AND THERE WE HAVE IT!

Get in the autumn mood with these fantastic reads! I believe you can buy the bundle for £25.99 from WH Smith right now!

The Picture of Dorian Gray: AUGUST BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION SUMMARY

There was one hell of a drama with choosing August’s book as the poll was tied between The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women with 91 votes each. So I had the final deciding vote, and I thought we’d go with the one that not many people have read before. 

Here’s how the book club discussion went:

Q1: Did you enjoy the story? How long did it take you (if at all) to get into the book?

Most people agreed that it didn’t take them long to get into the book and as it is only short, most people were able to binge it in only a few sittings! 

The general consensus was that people were pleasantly surprised with how much they ended up liking/enjoying this book. Some members had tried to read this book once before but found it easier to get into this time around.

Q2: Do you think Lord Henry impacted Dorian’s behaviour?

I think we all agreed that Lord Henry impacted Dorian’s behaviour at some point in the story. Members stated that Henry introduced the darker side of life to Dorian, especially with the yellow book that seemed to be a turning point for Dorian.

Dorian was young and vulnerable and he looked up to Henry, and a few members made the comparison of Basil (angel) and Henry (devil) with their impact on Dorian; however, a few of us did agree that although Henry introduced this way of life to him, it was Dorian’s decision to behave that way and therefore he MUST take responsibility for his downfall.

Q3: Do you think the picture really was changing? How did this impact Dorian’s behaviour?

It was interesting that nearly all the members didn’t even question if the picture wasn’t changing; they took it as fact. Yet when we considered it, it added another level to the story.

We agreed that the portrait allowed him to do what he wanted because he could just hide behind it. That perhaps Dorian wanted/imagined the picture changing so he felt less guilty about his actions. 

Of course, he wasn’t alone in seeing the picture’s changes so we wondered whether his encounter with Basil was actually about his actions and the person he had become, and the painting was simply part of his psyche?

Q4: Do you consider Basil and Dorian’s relationship to be more than just friendship?

Our members were torn on this one. Most of us agreed that it was unquestionable that Basil was infatuated with Dorian but we were torn on the reasons why. Some believed that it was purely because of what Dorian offered Basil in terms of beauty/art, whereas some believed it was purely love.

I think one thing we all agreed on was how Basil’s love for Dorian was unrequited, as Dorian definitely didn’t feel the same way. However, it could be argued that Basil loves the Dorian that he paints and not the Dorian at the end of the novel.

As a whole, we thought that this Basil and Dorian’s relationship is down to the reader’s interpretation which was probably intentional by Wilde.

Q5: Let’s consider the female characters in the novel…why are they important?

Members definitely agreed that female characters were practically non-existent in The Picture of Dorian Gray. I think we all agreed that they were used as plot devices and nothing more, which is a real shame.

Some members also argued that the women in the novel were referred to as the ‘weaker sex’, ‘decorative sex’ and as ‘playthings’ and possessions that can be manipulated and used. It’s obvious that they were used to highlight the actions of men.

Q6: Art is mentioned a lot during the novel, what do you think Wilde’s opinion towards art was?

I think we all agreed that Wilde was a Romanticist. Through The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde is playing with the idea that art is worshipped by society. That art can be beautiful and admired, but one must always read between the lines and look beyond the beauty on the surface.

This way of thinking is still kind of relevant in today’s society with social media; that people only post the happy stuff and we shouldn’t take everything we see in art as gospel truth.

Q7: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book,” Why do you think Wilde said this? Do you agree?

Being a book club of passionate readers, there were some GREAT reactions to this question. Many agreed that books are entirely down to the reader’s interpretation.

Take The Picture of Dorian Gray, for instance, some members saw a romantic relationship between Basil and Dorian whereas others didn’t. 

What some view as moral others will view as immoral and vice versa, but that is the beauty of literature, everyone’s interpretation is equally important regardless of moralities presented in the literature itself. We all agreed with one of the members who said that ‘books should be accessible to all and should go beyond moral boundaries so that a reader can explore their own views and test their limits.’

Q8: The Picture of Dorian Gray was used against Wilde during his court trial to prove he was having (illegal at the time) homosexual relations with a twenty-two-year-old poet named Lord Alfred Douglas. Can you understand why the book was used as evidence?

As a book club, we were again undecided on this question. We agreed that the book had homosexual undertones, but whether it was substantial enough to be used in court is a whole different level. 

A few members stated that art/literature should be kept separate from the author/creator. Yet, there were a lot of similarities with the description of Dorian and the appearance of Lord Alfred Douglas, so it became easy for people to draw similarities between Wilde and Basil and even between Wilde and Henry, in the way Wilde corrupts young and naive men.

September

It’s Brontë month at the book club and we all voted to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. We will also be doing lots of charity events this month to help raise money for the Brontë Parsonage here in the UK after the news that due to COVID, it was struggling to remain open. If you wish to join in on all the fun, click here to join the Facebook Group.

The BBC National Short Story Award

I was kindly asked to be involved in the launch of the 2020 BBC Radio 4 Short Story Award by Comma Press and I couldn’t believe my luck! I was gifted a copy of the 2019 anthology and as someone who hasn’t really read that many short stories, what better opportunity to broaden my horizons and fall in love with a form that has been entertaining readers for years.

The Award

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on Radio 4 and published in an anthology. The 2019 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for ‘The Invisible’, a timeless story set in Wales and inspired by social divisions and folklore. Previous alumni of the award include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Jon McGregor. 

The 2019 Shortlist

‘The Children’ by Lucy Caldwell – A writer researching the life of 19th-century child custody reformer, Caroline Norton, draws parallels between motherhood then and now.

‘Ghillie’s Mum’ by Lynda Clark – A mother and son struggle to fit into society with their seemingly uncontrollable shape-shifting abilities in this story of mental health stigma.

‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ by Jacqueline Crooks – Three children’s ancestors watch them from the stars, as their mother’s house is haunted by her past on a far-away island.

‘My Beautiful Millennial’ by Tamsin Grey – The story of a young, Leave-voting woman in London who escapes her relationship with the older man taking advantage of her vulnerabilities, and finds friendship on a tube populated with myriad kinds of people.

‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd – The values of a small farming village are challenged by talk of a wealthy community living on the other side of the lake that only one person can see.

The 2019 Short Story Award Winner

Nikki Bedi

The 2019 award with Cambridge University was chaired by Nikki Bedi, a television and radio broadcaster with a passion for making arts and culture accessible. Her introduction in the anthology was highly motivating and discussed the form of short stories and how they aren’t the warm-up act; they are the main event. As she states, short stories are ‘gifts of concision, they demand one’s total attention’ and she ‘relishes in devouring, digesting, being moved and surprised by a perfectly-formed short work.’ 

‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd was crowned as the 2019 winner. Her piece The Invisible was described by judges as a “timeless” and “deeply tender” story influenced by Brexit, social division and folklore.

The BBC Radio 4 Short Story Award 2020

Jonathan Freeland

Radio 4 presenter, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland is chairing the judging panel for this year’s award, which is even more special because it is the 15th anniversary of the prize!

Freedland will be joined by a group of acclaimed writers and critics on the panel. Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask winner and Jhalak Prize shortlistee; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7:15 pm on Friday 11th September 2020. The stories shortlisted will then be broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 14th to Friday 18th September from 3:30 pm to 4 pm. Excitedly, the announcement of the winner of the award will be broadcast live from the award ceremony on BBC Radio 4 from 7:15 pm on Tuesday 6th October 2020.

ARC REVIEW: Imperfect Women

Why Did I Read This Book?

I was kindly gifted this as part of a Twitter competition I won and I couldn’t believe I managed to get an ARC of this gorgeous and enthralling novel. It was published on June 16th, so my review is a bit late to the party, but this is one that kept me on my toes…

What Did I Think?

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

The book follows three women who lead very different lives to one another. One is gorgeous and rich, the other has always put her career first and the third had children young and from there, being a stay-at-home mum was her only option. 

Imperfect Women is kind of a murder-mystery but also a great depiction of womanhood. As I mentioned before, it follows three very different women and how their careers, children, and relationships have ruled their life. There are a lot of controlling men in the novel and there were numerous times where I was left with my blood boiling. 

Although it is fantastically written, I did manage to guess the plot pretty quickly but maybe that’s the beauty of this novel; that you know who did it but you’re desperate to find out HOW. One thing I definitely didn’t guess was all the other exciting and gob-smacking moments throughout the novel.

The novel is split into three different parts and in each part, we are introduced to a new narrator and their story. I found it interesting that I also disliked all three women at some point throughout their stories but I think this was intentional by the author; proving once and for all that not all women are perfect.
Imperfect Women is one that was gripping from the start and was extremely easy to read. I thought it gave such a true representation into how there is always one rule for women and another for men in all aspects of society.

Imperfect Women

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Publisher: Orion Books
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 304
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Trigger Warnings: Murder, manslaughter, depression, abuse, adultery, drug abuse
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

REVIEW: Educated

“You could call this self-hood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

The other month I bumped into a fellow book lover when out walking my three dogs with my mum, and was informed about a local book club that met once every month in the park across the road from me…WHAT A RESULT! I joined them in time for their August discussion which was Educated by Tara Westover.

What Did I Think?

I have to say that I had seen this book everywhere but never really delved into what it was about until my friend told me. Then when it was picked for book club, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

It took me a while to get into and throughout the whole of the book, I found it difficult to read. There are some extremely graphic scenes in this book and I don’t know whether it was because I was reading in the car but I felt quite nauseous when reading about Tara’s experience on the farm.

Educated is a memoir based on a young woman’s experience of growing up in an extremist Mormon family in America and we follow her on her journey to education, even if it means that she loses everything that was important to her growing up.

I had never really known about Mormons and this book does a great job of educating people on how other religions/societies choose to live. Obviously not all Mormon families are extreme like Tara’s was, but I’m so glad she shared her story and her experience so people can understand how hard it was for her to get to where she is now. She is one of the strongest people out there; there were so many chances and opportunities for her to just give up but she didn’t. She fought for her freedom and chance of a new life and I’m so glad she did.

Tara always believed in the best in people but was always let down by those around her. In my opinion, she trusted too many people but I have never been in her situation so I guess it is hard to comprehend how I would respond to the things she was experiencing. The more I read this book, the more I found myself getting angrier and angrier at her family, her mother, her father, her siblings and sometimes even Tara herself.

I think this story shows how family love and loyalty can make you put up with awful treatment and situations because they are your blood. They say that blood is thicker than water but sometimes, you have to cut all ties for a better and happier life.

“You’re at least 20. Aren’t you?
I turned 16 in September.
Oh. Well, don’t worry about it then. You can stay…hard to keep track of how old you kids are.”

Educated

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Published: 2018
Publisher: Windmill Books
# of Pages: 384
Genre: Memoir
Trigger Warnings: Violence, graphic scenes, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, religion, paranoia, cult, domestic abuse
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

Translated Fiction on My Bookshelves

Have you ever read any translated fiction? I personally never have and when I got my first book in a recent subscription box, I decided to start looking for other translated fiction in a bid to help me diversify my reading. I thought I’d share the recent books I’ve bought to help me do just that!

The Discomfort of Evening

The Discomfort of the Evening is being named as ‘a radical reading experience that will leave you changed forever’. As winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize, this book, written by Netherlands prize-winning poet, follows Jas who lives with her devout farming family in rural Netherlands.

One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; and resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns.

As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all. 

Get your copy here!

The Dead Girls

The Dead Girls is a black comedy, that is both moving and cruelly funny, and Ibargüengoitia’s work is a potent and entertaining blend of sex and mayhem.

In 1960s Central Mexico, two sisters, Delfina and María de Jesús González, known as ‘Las Poquianchis’, run a small-town brothel. Kidnapped, drugged and beaten, their young workers are desperate for escape.

The Dead Girls is the discovery of these young women, buried in the back yard. In the laconic tones of a police report, Jorge Ibargüengoitia investigates these horrific murders and their motives.

Get your copy here!

The Adventures of China Iron

This book was the book I mentioned in my introduction. I received this beautiful copy in my August Books That Matter box. This was the first translated fiction book to sit on my bookshelves so I owe Books That Matter a huge thank you!

The book charts the adventures of Mrs China Iron, Martín Fierro’s abandoned wife, in her travels across the pampas in a covered wagon with her new-found friend, soon to become lover, a Scottish woman named Liz.

While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina’s richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to its national struggles. 

Get your copy here!

Convenience Store Woman

I had seen this book floating around my social media channels and never knew that it was translated fiction until I watched one of Beth @ BooksNest videos where she discussed this book.

It follows the story of thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident Keiko Furukura. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but when at the age of eighteen she begins working at the Hiiromachi branch of “Smile Mart,” she finds peace and purpose in her life.

Managers come and go, but Keiko stays at the store for eighteen years. It’s almost hard to tell where the store ends and she begins. Keiko is very happy, but the people close to her, from her family to her coworkers, increasingly pressure her to find a husband, and to start a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action…

Get your copy here!

Before The Coffee Gets Cold

Similar to Convenience Store Woman, Before The Coffee Gets Cold is one I didn’t know was translated fiction and another one I found through Beth’s videos.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold…

Get your copy here!

Kitchen

I can’t believe I’ve only just found out about his book but since buying my copy in a local bookstore in Manchester, I’ve seen it EVERYWHERE I go!

Kitchen is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. 

Mikage, the heroine of Kitchen, is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, she is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who was once his father), Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale and companion story.

Get your copy here!

AND THERE WE HAVE IT!

I hope there are some books featured here that have tickled your translated fiction taste buds and be sure to let me know if you have read any of these or plan to!

My Top 5: Thrillers

So I’m introducing a new series to my IGTV and my blog which is called My Top 5. Every month or so, I will introduce my top 5 books in a certain genre and talk about why they sit proudly on my favourites shelf.

First up is my top five thrillers of all time. These are some thrillers that have completely blown my mind and kept me on the edge of my seat whenever I read them. There are some on here that have become so hyped up that they fail to have that ‘shocking’ effect on readers because they go in expecting so much more from the story which is typical with hyped up books. But for me, these books have been some of the best I’ve read and here is why:

Before I Go To Sleep – SJ Watson

No I didn’t just pick this book because the author has the same last name as me…

When I read this book, I didn’t expect it to be anything like it was. My best friend and book friend recommended it to me and it is probably the best plot twist to date that I have read. I don’t think I’ll ever be as shocked as I was when reading this book.

Now a major film starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, Before I Go To Sleep, follows a women who, after waking up one day, loses all her memories and is forced to piece together segments of information to find out who she is but not everyone is telling her the truth.

My description of this book doesn’t do it any justice to what sort of surprise the book has in store for you but I would highly recommend this debut novel!

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

Now I’m aware that now this book isn’t considered one of the greatest but when this first burst onto the scene it was BRILLIANT!

I think the reason why so many people loved it is because we’ve all been sat on a train and have, at some point, looked out to some beautiful houses on the journey and imagined what it was like to live there.

Paula Hawkins took this concept and completely turned it on its head and made it a fantastic thriller that took the world by storm. I remember being obsessed with it when it came out and I think we even picked it for our university book club pick!

The book follows a series of events narrated by a number of unreliable characters and makes you question the people you sit next to on a train…

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Another thriller that took the world by storm and is also a major film starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Gone Girl for me and for many others was unlike any other book I had read before. It was gripping and one of those books that makes you forget that the read world exists.

It is now cast as a ‘global phenomenon’ basically because of its shocking story and unreliable protagonist. It follows the story of a husband searching for his missing wife, whilst being the main suspect in her disappearance.

It is one that has stayed with me for years after reading and the film is just as creepy…

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

This is one that I read quite recently for Beth’s Book Club and I have to admit, I went into it not believing the hype.

It took me a while to understand the narrator change but once you get your head around that, it does not take long for you to become obsessed. I think I read it in one day because I needed to know who the culprit was…

With more twists and turns that the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, I See You follows a women who found her picture in a classified section of the local newspaper. She is determined to find out who is responsible nut along the way finds out the disturbing reason why…

The Whisper Man – Alex North

Another recent read, The Whisper Man helped me kick-start my year and helped me out of a deep reading rut.

I was absolutely terrified when reading this book but I loved it. It has everything a horror/thriller read should have in my opinion and I couldn’t sleep with my door open for weeks.

This debut book by Alex North is a psychological thriller that explores father-son relationships, betrayal, abduction, murder and loss. With plots twists and supernatural elements that will shock you to your core, The Whisper Man is the perfect crime thriller.

AND THERE WE HAVE IT…MY TOP 5 THRILLERS!

Let me know if there are any on here that feature on your list of favourite thrillers or if you decide to read any of my recommendations!

See you next time for some more of my top 5!

ARC REVIEW: The Education of Ivy Edwards

“You know that feeling where you feel like you should be doing better but then one day you realise that maybe you’re exactly where you should be.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

This ARC was sent to me by Hachette and I couldn’t believe my luck when it arrived and it was such a beautiful book! I’m really enjoying these millennial fiction books at the minute because they are so relevant and show that young people don’t have it easy.

What Did I Think?

The comedic elements in this story were comedy GOLD! Hannah Tovey’s humour is second to none there were numerous times during the book where I literally laughed out loud.

The Education of Ivy Edwards follows the story of a thirty-one-year-old who’s fiance breaks up with her unexpectedly one day and her whole life as she knows it turns upside down. She has to learn how to be single and find her happiness again. Her only saving grace is that she has a job (albeit it is one where she works for an absolute psycho) and she has friends that love to party so she can basically drink away her sorrows.

Ivy’s mother is one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read and maybe that is because she reminds me of my mum at times. Ivy’s mother over-dramatically reacts to the smallest of inconveniences and doesn’t seem to care that both her daughters are struggling with the bumps in the road that life keeps throwing them.

There were some moments in which I found quite random and didn’t seem to add to the story and some of the characters in the book, like her sister and her friends were unbearable but overall, I really enjoyed this fantastic and funny story. I particularly loved reading Ivy’s journey to self-love and acceptance and her story definitely showed that adult life can be HARD and it’s OK to go off the rails sometimes.

The Education of Ivy Edwards

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published: 2020
Publisher: Piatkus (An Imprint of Little Brown Book Group)
# of Pages: 324
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Comedy
Trigger Warnings: Drug and alcohol abuse, breakups, depression, sexual scenes, death, grief
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells

ARC REVIEW: Never Say No

“Sometimes saying no to one thing can help you say yes to another.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I requested this book on NetGalley because it looked funny and a great easy read. And I’m happy to report it was EXACTLY that…

What Did I Think?

Hailey has always been told she can have it all. And saying yes to every opportunity that comes her way seems like the obvious way to make sure she gets it. This novel explores the danger of stretching yourself too much and how you can’t please everyone. 

A number of times throughout the book, I questioned whether I actually liked the main character or not. She went through some hard times and I could relate to how she worked hard to be accepted at work but her personal and social life had to suffer to make it work. 

Sometimes I saw her as selfish and self-centred and if I’m honest, downright stupid in some situations. I loved how the author explored the reasons why the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it really reminded me of Suits/Devil Wears Prada. Although there were moments of seriousness, I enjoyed the easy-to-read chapters and the humour. I read it in one day and I would definitely recommend this as a great summer read!

“Maybe monogamy didn’t limit you to one person but a thousand different versions of them; everything they are and the promise of all they are yet to be, all wrapped up in one.”

Never Say No

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Publisher: Bookouture
Published: 2020
# of Pages: 301
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Trigger Warnings: Adultery, stress
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells