‘The Porpoise’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m reviewing The Porpoise by Mark Haddon which was very kindly sent to me by Vintage Books for the Tandem Collective readalong over on Instagram! It was fascinating to discuss this one with other readers – though it definitely divided us! Read on to see what I thought of it…

the porpoise mark haddon


synopsis

In a bravura feat of storytelling, Mark Haddon calls upon narratives ancient and modern to tell the story of Angelica, a young woman trapped in an abusive relationship with her father. When a young man named Darius discovers their secret, he is forced to escape on a boat bound for the Mediterranean. To his surprise he finds himself travelling backwards over two thousand years to a world of pirates and shipwrecks, of plagues and miracles and angry gods. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, Haddon conjures the worlds of Angelica and her would-be savior in thrilling fashion. As profound as it is entertaining, The Porpoise is a stirring and endlessly inventive novel from one of our finest storytellers.


my thoughts

This is definitely a marmite book! When it started, everyone in the readalong group was intrigued and looking forward to seeing where the story would go. Some remained intrigued throughout and loved it, others got lost along the way. I fall somewhere in the middle but leaning towards the group that lost their way a bit.

This book definitely has one of the most captivating and powerful opening chapters I’ve ever read. I immediately wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the book didn’t really focus on the characters or plot that were introduced in the opening sections. It digressed into what felt like a different story altogether. I know the links were there but I was just desperate to know more about Angelica and how she coped with her abusive father, and it was frustrating to be taken away from that.

As it turns out, she copes by losing herself in stories within her own head. And that’s where the book became a bit tricky. There are stories within stories and I found it hard to feel invested in all of them because we never really spent enough time with any of them before jumping off somewhere else again. By the end, I felt unsatisfied because I hadn’t seen enough of certain characters or didn’t know how their stories ended.

In a sense, The Porpoise reminded me a little of a David Mitchell book, where things are confusing and you don’t understand how they link together but you can only hope that the payoff will eventually be worth it. In this case, I sadly don’t think that it was.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastically clever book and I can definitely appreciate it as a brilliant work of literature. It’s possible though that it was simply too clever for me. A lot of things went over my head; there was symbolism I couldn’t quite grasp, even though I knew if I only could, it would tell me something profound. I feel like this would be a great book to study but as an escapist read for the current times, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

the porpoise mark haddon


Have you read this book? Or any of Mark Haddon’s other books? I’ve read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime but this was SO different! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it 🙂


 

‘What’s Left of Me is Yours’ spoiler-free review!

Hey lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for What’s Left of Me is Yours by Stephanie Scott! Have a look below to see what I thought of this one 🙂

whats left of me is yours


synopsis

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the “wakaresaseya” (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. When Satō hires Kaitarō, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Satō has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitarō’s job is to do exactly that–until he does it too well. While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitarō fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter’s life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, Stephanie Scott exquisitely renders the affair and its intricate repercussions. As Rina’s daughter, Sumiko, fills in the gaps of her mother’s story and her own memory, Scott probes the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.


my thoughts

This was an assured debut that I enjoyed reading. The story is a mix of a romance and a mystery, focusing on a subject that I have never read about before – the marriage breakup industry. Apparently, it was based on a real-life trial which is SO fascinating! It did have an almost true-crime vibe to it, which I really liked.

I loved how Scott executed her story. The past and present were spliced together and we were given a look into various character’s perspectives. I particularly enjoyed the chapters written in Sumiko’s voice; it felt like I was hearing a story told by an old friend and I couldn’t help feeling every emotion right along with her.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was the setting. I felt transported to the vibrant city of Tokyo, as well as the more rural parts of Japan. Scott really captured the setting well and I could picture even the tiniest details. She also treated us to some great foodie descriptions – and you know how much I love those!

I also connected with the story as a result of all the photography talk. Seeing one of my own hobbies depicted so passionately was simply lovely and added an extra level to the book for me personally. And I have to say, the part of the book where the title makes sense was beautifully done as well.

I will admit that I was expecting a twist of some sort towards the end which I didn’t get, but that’s no fault of the author! It was my own brain running away with itself haha. And I did appreciate the way she brought everything full circle. She held my attention from start to finish, which I’m so grateful for in the current climate.

If you’re interested and would like to purchase a copy of this one, the hardback is  available via Waterstones.com here or Blackwell’s here. And since physical books aren’t as easy to get hold of at the moment, you can also purchase the eBook (£9.99) here or the audiobook (£19.99) here. (These are not affiliate links, the publisher just asked that we spread the word about how you can get your hands on this one!)

whats left of me is yours


To see what other readers think of this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Whats Left of Me is Yours BT Poster


Sending love and strength to everyone right now! I’m here if anyone wants to chat x

‘The Lost Child’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I hope that you’re keeping safe and well, and that you’re still able to enjoy reading 🙂 I finally seem to be getting my reading mojo back after a rough few weeks and hope to get back to blogging properly soon as well. Thank you to everyone who has been taking the time to leave me comments; they warm my heart and I promise to respond to them as soon as possible.

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis. And hooray, I don’t need to apologise to anyone today because I managed to finish the book on time! I’m not sure how coherent this review will be as my head is still a little bit fried but I’m hoping it makes enough sense hehe. Read on to find out why you should pick this one up during lockdown… 😉

the lost child


synopsis

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca lives in fear of her father’s temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, she hears a visitor at the door and a violent argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, Rebecca’s parents are dead and the visitor has fled. No one believes Rebecca heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby. But fatefully the trail leads to the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca…Seaview Cottage.

As Iris races to unravel what happened the night Rebecca’s parents were killed, it’s time for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.


my thoughts

This was an incredibly easy book to get invested in. The scenes set in the present are extremely gripping and then you have the backstory adding so much more. The way everything gradually begins to come together as the book progresses was nothing short of awesome.

The author was able to keep me guessing for a good while with chapters written from an unknown perspective; just when I thought I had figured out who was speaking, Gunnis would throw me off the scent again. I love when a book can do that.

The gradual reveal was really well executed and had me hurtling towards the end of the book, desperate for answers. This is the perfect book to lose yourself in at the moment.

There are a lot of perspectives to get your head around at first and it took me a while to get everyone straight in my mind but after a while, this was no longer an issue and I knew who everybody was and how they all linked up. I love books where history seems to repeat itself so if that’s something you like too, I would recommend this one!

I will say that there were quite a few mistakes in the ARC that occasionally pulled me out of the story a little but hopefully these were caught before the final printing!

This book takes an important look at a mental health issue which is not often discussed and I found it fascinating to read about. The story hurtles along at break-neck speed towards its conclusion and never once relaxes the pace, so the reader is gripped from start to finish. And I think that’s something we all need from our books in the current time.

the lost child


To see what other readers think of this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

The Lost Child BT Poster


What books have you been picking up during these testing times? Let me know in the comments! x

‘A Theatre For Dreamers’ blog spot!

Hello lovelies. Today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson! Once again, I’m failing in my duty as a blogger because I was meant to be posting a review today but I just haven’t been able to finish the book in time. I’m working longer shifts these days and just feel generally exhausted, so whenever I’m trying to pick up a book and read, I’m falling asleep after a few pages (and that is no reflection on book quality!) I’m not trying to make excuses here, I just want to offer an explanation and an apology to everyone who was expecting more from me for this blog tour. And hopefully it’s enough that I’m still featuring the book in some way!

Can you tell my anxiety levels are high these days? Haha. Let’s take a look at A Theatre For Dreamers, shall we?

Final Theatre Dreamers Cover


synopsis

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.


Author information

Polly Samson Author pic

Polly Samson is the author of two short story collections and two previous novels. Her work has been shortlisted for prizes, translated into several languages and has been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. She has written lyrics to four number one albums (anyone a Pink Floyd fan?!) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

pollysamson.com            @PollySamson

 


For more information and to read reviews of the book and interviews with the author, check out the other stops on the blog tour!

A Theatre For Dreamers BT Poster


A Theatre For Dreamers released on April 2nd 2020! Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy to review (which will be done as soon as possible!) x

 

 

‘Rules of the Road’ spoiler-free review and EXTRACT!

Hello lovelies! Today is the final day of the blog tour for Rules of the Road by Ciara Geraghty. And I’m delighted to be featuring an extract from the book alongside my review!

rules of the road


synopsis

When Iris Armstrong goes missing, her best friend Terry, wife, mother and all-round worrier, is convinced something bad has happened.

And when she finds her glamorous, feisty friend, she’s right: Iris is setting out on a journey that she plans to make her last.

The only way for Terry to stop Iris is to join her, on a road trip that will take her, Iris and Terry’s confused father Eugene onto a ferry, across the Irish sea and into an adventure that will change all of their lives.

Somehow what should be the worst six days of Terry’s life turn into the best.


my thoughts

When I read the synopsis for this one, I was immediately reminded of one of my favourite ever booksThe Universe Versus Alex Woods. So while I knew it would potentially be a difficult read at times, I also hoped that it would be worth it. And I’m pleased to say it was!

Rules of the Road is a heart-warming read, with a hugely endearing cast of characters. Terry’s father, who has a diagnosis of dementia and ends up being dragged along on an unexpected adventure, was a particular favourite of mine. I also loved all of the side characters that were introduced.

I did find myself questioning some of Terry’s decisions at times but I could also understand why she would be acting that way under pressure. The author definitely did a good job of creating realistically human characters in this sense.

I have always loved road-trip stories and this one is no exception, even if it does have sad undertones. I appreciated the author’s exploration of difficult topics and found that it was done sensitively but not in a morbid way.

I’m not going to spoil the ending; you’ll just have to read it for yourselves 😉 And if you can’t wait that long, you can read an exclusive extract from the book below!

rules of the road


For a taste of Geraghty’s writing, keep reading for an exclusive extract!

I drive to Iris’s cottage in Feltrim. The curtains are drawn across every window. It looks just the way it should; like the house of a woman who has gone away. I pull into the driveway that used to accommodate her ancient Jaguar. Her sight came back almost immediately after the accident, and the only damage was to the lamp post that Iris crashed into, but her consultant couldn’t guarantee that it wouldn’t happen again. Iris says she doesn’t miss the car, but she asked me if I would hand over the keys to the man who bought it off her. She said she had a meeting she couldn’t get out of.

‘It’s just a car,’ she said, ‘and the local taxi driver looks like Daniel Craig. And he doesn’t talk during sex, and knows every rat run in the city.’

‘I’ll just be a minute, Dad,’ I tell him, opening my car door.

‘Take your time, love,’ he says. He never used to call me love.

The grass in the front garden has benefitted from a recent mow. I stand at the front door, ring the bell. Nobody answers. I cast about the garden. It’s May. The cherry blossom, whose branches last week were swollen with buds, is now a riot of pale pink flowers. The delicacy of their beauty is disarming, but also sad, how soon the petals will be discarded, strewn across the grass in a week or so, like wet and muddy confetti in a church courtyard long after the bride and groom have left.

I rap on the door even though I’m almost positive Iris isn’t inside.

Where is she?

I ring the Alzheimer’s Society, ask to be put through to Iris’s office, but the receptionist tells me what I already know. That Iris is away on a week’s holiday.

‘Is that you, Terry?’ she asks and there is confusion in her voice; she is wondering why I don’t already know this.

‘Eh, yes Rita, sorry, don’t mind me, I forgot.’

Suddenly I am flooded with the notion that Iris is inside the house. She has fallen. That must be it. She has fallen and is unconscious at the foot of the stairs. She might have been there for ages. Days maybe. This worry is a galvanising one. Not all worries fall into this category. Some render me speechless. Or stationary. The wooden door at the entrance to the side passage is locked, so I haul the wheelie bin over, grip the sides of it, and hoist myself onto the lid. People think height is an advantage, but I have never found mine – five feet ten inches, or 1.778 metres, I should say – to be so. Imperial or metric, the fact is I am too tall to be kneeling on the lid of a wheelie bin. I am a myriad of arms and elbows and knees. It’s difficult to know where to put everything.

I grip the top of the door, sort of haul myself over the top, graze my knee against the wall, and hesitate, but only for a moment, before lowering myself down as far as I can before letting go, landing in a heap in the side passage. I should be fitter than this. The girls are always on at me to take up this or that. Swimming or running or pilates. Get you out of the house. Get you doing something.

The shed in Iris’s back garden has been treated to a clear-out; inside, garden tools hang on hooks along one wall, the hose coiled neatly in a corner and the half-empty paint tins – sealed shut with rust years ago – are gone. It’s true that I advised her to dispose of them – carefully – given the fire hazard they present. Still, I can’t believe that she actually went ahead and did it.

Even the small window on the gable wall of the shed is no longer a mesh of web. Through it, I see a square of pale-blue sky.

The spare key is in an upside-down plant pot in the shed, in spite of my concerns about the danger of lax security about the homestead.

I return to the driveway and check on Dad. He is still there, still in the front passenger seat, singing along to the Frank Sinatra CD I put on for him. Strangers in the Night.

I unlock the front door. The house feels empty. There is a stillness.

‘Iris?’ My voice is loud in the quiet, my breath catching the dust motes, so that they lift and swirl in the dead air.

I walk through the hallway, towards the kitchen. The walls are cluttered with black-and-white photographs in wooden frames. A face in each, mostly elderly. All of them have passed through the Alzheimer’s Society and when they do, Iris asks if she can take their photograph.

My father’s photograph hangs at the end of the hallway. There is a light in his eyes that might be the sunlight glancing through the front door. A trace of his handsome- ness still there across the fine bones of his face framed by the neat helmet of his white hair, thicker then.

He looks happy. No, it’s more than that. He looks present. ‘Iris?’

The kitchen door moans when I open it. A squirt of WD40 on the hinges would remedy that.

A chemical, lemon smell. If I didn’t know any better, I would suspect a cleaning product. The surfaces are clear. Bare. So too is the kitchen table, which is where Iris spreads her books, her piles of paperwork, sometimes the contents of her handbag when she is hunting for something. The table is solid oak. I have eaten here many times, and have rarely seen its surface. It would benefit from a sand and varnish.

In the sitting room, the curtains are drawn and the cushions on the couch look as though they’ve been plumped, a look which would be unremarkable in my house, but is immediately noticeable in Iris’s. Iris loves that couch. She sometimes sleeps on it. I know that because I called in once, early in the morning. She wasn’t expecting me. Iris is the only person in the world I would call into without ringing first. She put on the kettle when I arrived. Made a pot of strong coffee. It was the end of Dad’s first week in the home.

She said she’d fallen asleep on the couch, when she saw me looking at the blankets and pillows strewn across it. She said she’d fallen asleep watching The Exorcist.

But I don’t think that’s why she slept on the couch. I think it’s to do with the stairs. Sometimes I see her, at the Alzheimer’s offices, negotiating the stairs with her crutches. The sticks, she calls them. She hates waiting for the lift. And she makes it look easy, climbing the stairs. But it can’t be easy, can it?

Besides, who falls asleep watching The Exorcist?

‘Iris?’ I hear an edge of panic in my voice. It’s not that anything is wrong exactly. Or out of place.

Except that’s it. There’s nothing out of place. Everything has been put away.


As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews, and maybe even a giveaway!

Rules of the Road BT Poster

‘The Dark Side of the Mind’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely people! Today, I’m rounding off the blog tour for The Dark Side of the Mind, an absolutely fascinating read by forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. This one is an absolute must for anyone interested in true crime or the way human beings think and behave!

Copy of Copy of Copy of Marching to the Brand Beat


synopsis

Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.


my thoughts

The Dark Side of the Mind is an absolutely fascinating book. Part memoir, part true-crime non-fiction, it provides a gripping insight into the human mind in some of its darkest moments.

I have always been fascinated by how the mind works (I have a career in psychology and did consider specialising in the forensic field at one point). So I already had a good feeling about this book before I even opened it. But Daynes’ writing was superb so I loved it even more than I thought I would. I often struggle with non-fiction but had no such issue here thanks to Daynes’ conversational tone and use of humour. It really does feel like you’re listening to a friend tell you about her day at work.

I genuinely couldn’t get enough of the anecdotes that were shared throughout this book. Daynes took me through a whole range of emotions and kept me reading late into the night to see how she handled the different situations. I felt gripped by every single case she presented.

It was interesting to get an insight into the author’s personal life as well as her profession. I had thought that these moments might distract from the main focus of the book but this was not the case; instead, they added to my enjoyment.

The book did make me feel quite reflective about the short time I spent working in a secure mental health hospital (and the reasons why I subsequently left the post). Daynes’ descriptions did not match up with what I had experienced and it made me feel quite sad at what I saw certain patients go through. Thankfully, that particular place seems to be in the minority.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys true crime or learning about the way the human mind works. I would certainly read more books by Kerry Daynes!

dark side of the mind forensic psychology


As always, if you’re interested in finding out more about this book, check out the previous stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Dark Side of the Mind BT Poster

‘The Aosawa Murders’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for The Aosawa Murders, published by Bitter Lemon Press! If you’re a fan of Japanese fiction, you’ll want to check this one out…

aosawa murders


synopsis

The novel starts in the 1960s when 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a party given by the owners of a prominent clinic in a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.

The police are convinced Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the killings. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.


my thoughts

This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read! The structure of this one absolutely fascinated me; I found it so clever. The book is written as a series of monologues from various characters connected with the mass murder case, and this vast range of perspectives makes it so intriguing to read. As a reader, you are being given clues and snippets of information from different sources and trying to reach a conclusion as to what happened. And let me tell you, Riku Onda had me doubting myself a lot!

You would worry that in a book with so many perspectives, it would be difficult to distinguish between characters. However, I found that each one had a distinctive voice and I never once felt confused. There were some perspectives that I enjoyed more than others but I think that’s only natural when there are so many characters to contend with.

There is admittedly a certain level of detachment that comes from Onda’s unique monologue style. I did feel that I was being held at a distance for the duration of the book, but I feel it worked for this particular story and added to the intrigue of it all!

I will say that if you like clear answers at the end of a book, this one may not be the right choice for you. I was left a little confused at the end as things didn’t really resolve. Though I can see and appreciate that tying things up neatly was not the author’s intention. I’m still not sure I’ve reached a definite conclusion as to ‘whodunnit’ – and it might be that I never do. The constant switches in perspective made me feel so uncertain and like I was missing crucial details – but maybe that was the point? Can we ever truly understand the motives behind a crime like the one presented here?

Overall, this was an intriguing read that I would recommend to fans of Japanese fiction or those who like their murder mysteries a little bit different!

aosawa murders


If you’re interested in this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Aosawa Murders BT Poster

‘Real Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for Real Life, published by World Editions! Read on to find out more about this one…

real life


synopsis

At home there are four rooms: one for her, one for her brother, one for her parents…and one for the carcasses. The father is a big game hunter, a powerful predator; the mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with her brother, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the chimes of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world.

The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and illusion collide.


my thoughts

I was unsure what to expect from this book and I remain unsure as to how I would describe it. The book defies categorisation. But nonetheless, I was utterly gripped by it. Real Life was a strange reading experience but one which captivated me from start to finish.

The matter-of-fact tone of Dieudonné’s writing contrasts with some quite grisly imagery, and I was genuinely horrified at times. This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. There was one particular section of the novel where I felt I couldn’t get my breath. Any author who can evoke such a physical reaction in their reader is one of clear talent.

However, there were also moments that were poetic and starkly beautiful. I would disagree with the word “funny” in the blurb as there is nothing amusing about the author’s portrayal of domestic abuse. It is raw and unflinching. Nevertheless, there is something truly special about the events in this book.

This is a clever novel, unlike anything I have read before. It certainly won’t be for everyone but if you feel like you could stomach the graphic moments, it’s definitely worth the read. I feel like this one will stay with me for a long time.

real life


Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

Real Life BT Poster

‘Beast’ spoiler-free review!

Hi lovelies! Today, I’m on the blog tour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, the latest instalment in the Six Stories series. I haven’t read the previous books but this one totally worked as a standalone and I’m sure the others would too. But I’m definitely interested in going back now and reading the earlier instalments after how much I enjoyed this one!

beast


synopsis

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’…


my thoughts

First of all, it was delightful to read about the North East of England, where I grew up! It’s always a weirdly awesome feeling, reading about somewhere you know – or is that just me? Not only that but having lived through the ‘Beast from the East’, there was a great sense of reality to this book. It made me feel even more invested.

This sense of place is one of Beast‘s biggest strengths. Wesolowski really captures the bleakness of the rugged coastal village of Ergarth and it worked so perfectly for the story he was telling. I could visualise everything so clearly and could almost feel the biting cold of that snowstorm all over again.

Beast has a fantastic conversational tone, being written in the format of podcast episodes. I thought this was a really clever framing device to keep the reader hooked.  You can’t possibly put the book down in the middle of an episode! The style makes for a fast-paced read with great flow. I think it would translate so well to audiobook!

I really enjoyed all the different perspectives that were presented and the slow piecing together of what happened. As a reader, you begin to question things and doubt what you thought you knew until the ending totally blows you away.

Overall, I thought this was a unique thriller that kept me gripped from start to finish. Beast takes an important look at society’s obsession with social media and the need to be ‘liked’, and I’m sure it will make many readers uncomfortable at times. But I highly recommend it!

beast


 Have you read any of the Six Stories books? Do you like the sound of this one? Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!

FINAL Beast BT Poster

‘All The Rage’ spoiler-free review and giveaway!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m on the HUGE blog tour for All The Rage, which is out in paperback today! This is the first Cara Hunter book I’ve read and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed it 😀 And I’m delighted to be able to offer one of YOU a copy of your very own because I accidentally ended up with two! So if you enjoy my review and like the sound of this one, make sure you leave me a comment saying you’d like to be entered in the giveaway! ❤

all the rage


synopsis

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back…


my thoughts

As I mentioned previously, this was the first book I’ve read by Cara Hunter and I wasn’t disappointed! All The Rage was extremely compelling. I found it effective the way scenes would chop and change quite quickly, giving short bursts of information; this made for a very fast-paced read and made sure I couldn’t put the book down before finding out the next snippet! The book includes a range of formats, with social media conversations, courtroom transcripts and psychiatric reports all adding a sense of realness to the story and further heightening its gripping nature. It’s certainly a very readable book that will keep you up long into the night!

I will be completely honest and say that it took me a short while to get into the book. Normally, I like my thrillers to grab me within the first few pages and not let go. With All The Rage, it took a little longer for me to become invested. There were a lot of characters to try and keep track of in my head and I was mixing people up quite a bit because I’m silly like that. But then something was revealed around page 50 (which I can’t even hint at because SPOILERS) that got me hooked! From then on, my brain was ALL ABOUT this book.

As I said, there are quite a few characters in All The Rage. I didn’t realise before I picked it up that it’s actually the fourth book in a series so maybe I wouldn’t have struggled so much if I’d been on board from the beginning. That said, I still wholeheartedly believe that this book can be read as a standalone without the prior knowledge! I enjoyed getting to learn the dynamics of this particular police team and following the various subplots which were set up. Everyone felt realistically human, though my favourite character was definitely DC Somer who brought a slightly softer edge to a very masculine-feeling group.

Overall, I found this to be a complex and compelling read with a unique angle which I’ve not seen done before in a thriller. I truly appreciated the important issues which this book addressed while still managing to stand as an entertaining piece of fiction. It’s hard for a book to be original in this saturated genre but I think this one has managed it well.

all the rage


All The Rage is out today, January 23rd! Will you be reading it? Check out the other stops on this huge blog tour for more information and reviews! You can also sign up to Cara’s newsletter here!

And if you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a brand new paperback copy of the book, leave me a comment below! (UK entrants only, sorry!)

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