Summer reading – mini reviews *SPOILERS*

MINI BOOK REVIEWS

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The Beach by Alex Garland

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“Richard lands in East Asia in search of an earthly utopia. In Thailand, he is given a map promising an unknown island, a secluded beach – and a new way of life. What Richard finds when he gets there is breathtaking: more extraordinary, more frightening than his wildest dreams.

But how long can paradise survive here on Earth? And what lengths will Richard go to in order to save it?”

THIS MIGHT BE ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS EVER! Hands down my favourite read of all the books on this list. Loved Garland’s writing, the premise and the ending. He manages to capture the slow descent from paradise to hell in this wonderfully written, truly immersive and thought-provoking novel. The only element that I found a bit odd was the main character’s dark imaginary friend, who pops up randomly now and again throughout. Everyone should read this book!

9.5 /10


Room by Emma Donoghue

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“Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside.

Devastating yet uplifting, Room by Emma Donoghue is a luminous portrait of a boundless maternal love. It has sold more than two million copies, was a number one bestseller and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes. Few books have reached modern classic status so swiftly.”

At first I didn’t like the narration of this, which is told from the P.O.V of a five year-old, who refers to things by weird names. Once you get used to that, this novel is truly heart-warming, yet frustrating at times. One critique I would have though – why did the mother decide to hatch an escape plan at this precise moment in time? Yes the child just had his 5th birthday, which could be seen as the turning point, but by no means did he seem ready or mature enough to participate. Why would she put her 5 year-old son in such a dangerous position, after being so over-protective for the past 5 years? It just seemed really at odds with her character, and not something I thought she would do.

This aside, it was another of my favourite reads, and I can’t wait to watch the film.

8/10


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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“We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?”

Although I’ve heard mixed reviews on this book, I personally LOVED it. Yes it’s written uniquely, but I actually liked how it was written and thought it was interesting – short and to the point, just how I like it!

I didn’t see the twist coming (which makes me feel a bit stupid now as it’s not too far fetched and there are clues along the way…), and the setting was super interesting and a perfect fit for the story. Lockhart provides just enough description to set the scene successfully, but without boring the reader (I’m the sort of person that will skip whole paragraphs and pages of description) so I thought this was great.

9/10


Beneath the Lake by Chris Ransom

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“Thirty Years Ago

On a camping trip by a remote lake, the Mercer family enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime – until a violent tragedy forced them to make a decision that would haunt them for ever.”

To be honest I thought this book was weird. I really wanted to enjoy it but the way it was written made the characters and events seem distant and two-dimensional. The premise is compelling but I was put off by the rest of the narrative. Not much else to say really…

4/10, Didn’t finish.


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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“Her perfect life is a perfect lie . . . Ani FaNelli is the woman who has it all: the glamorous job, the designer wardrobe, the handsome and rich fiancé. But behind her sharp edges and meticulously crafted facade lies the darkest of pasts . . .

When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley school, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she’s turned her life around since then. She’ll even let the production company film her lavish wedding, the final step in her transformation.

But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani’s past threatens to come back and haunt her. And as her immaculate veneer starts to crack, she is forced to question: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for – or, will it at long last, set Ani free?”

Another of my favourite recent reads the storyline and characters are complex and believable, the climax is shocking yet fitting and her writing is witty, sarcastic and sheds light on many important themes and issues. I found myself wanting justice for the main character, and shockingly, didn’t see the twist coming. If you like Gillian Flynn’s writing, then you will most likely enjoy this!

8.5/10


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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“When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.”

This fantastical novel started really slow, and I did skip some of the description, but overall I enjoyed this book. I do however feel like half of the story could have been cut without losing anything of importance, and I did feel the romance was a bit forced at times. The inclusion of horrific beasts and magical creatures adds a layer of uniqueness, but to be honest, this genre (fantasy) isn’t really my cup of tea. Will probably read the next book at some point though.

5.5 / 10


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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“Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.”

Having read numerous great reviews on this (and based on the beautiful and intriguing cover), I was expecting an amazing read. What I got was a novel thick with description but really lacking in excitement. The notion of travelling through various continents and time periods sounded amazing, but I don’t think this novel explored the potential of this idea as much as it could have. I also didn’t really care for the romance. All in all, I would describe this book as OK, but could have been better, and I’m not overly keen the read the next instalment once it’s out. 

6/10


The Three by Sarah Lotz

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“The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…”

This was written as a kind of case-study / non-fiction book detailing the crashes of three passenger airplanes, the only survivors of which were three young children. Although many people have said they hate the way it’s written, I really loved it (I love non-fiction books so I like the way Lotz has incorporated this style into a work of fiction). I also normally don’t enjoy having several narrators, but I feel it really added another dimension to the telling of this story. There were also elements of the novel that were chilling, often sending shivers down my spine, which in my opinion is the sign of a good thriller! As with Lotz’s other novel which you can read my review on here, I didn’t like the ending as I felt like she was just trying to avoid actually answering any of the hard questions she set up to answer throughout.

7/10


On Writing by Stephen King

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“Find out what books and films influenced the young writer, his first idea for a story and the true life tale that inspired Carrie. For the first time, here’s an intimate autobiographical portrait of his home life, his family and his traumatic recent accident. Citing examples of his work and those of his contemporaries, King gives an excellent masterclass on writing – how to use the tools of the trade from building characters to pace and plotting as well as practical advice on presentation. And King tells readers how he got to be a No. 1 bestseller for a quarter of a century with fascinating descriptions of his own process, the origins and development of, e.g. Carrie and Misery.”

AMAZING. That’s it really. Every aspiring writer or anyone with an interest in King should read it. It’s humorous, entertaining and full of good advice. I just wish it had been longer!

10/10


The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

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“THE 1st WAVE

Took out half a million people.
THE 2nd WAVE

Put that number to shame.
THE 3rd WAVE

Lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks . . . Four billion dead.
IN THE 4th WAVE,

You can’t trust that people are still people.
AND THE 5th WAVE?
No one knows.

But it’s coming.

On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs.

Runs from the beings that only look human, who have scattered Earth’s last survivors.

To stay alone is to stay alive, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope.

Now Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

Another disappointment – I bought this ages ago and was mega excited to read it, but I found it hard to follow in places. I didn’t really understand how the romance bloomed between the protagonist and her almost-killer (why try and kill someone and then immediately nurse them back to health?)! Interesting enough but I felt it was perhaps a bit sloppy. Not overly keen to read The Infinite Sea, but we will see….

6/10


The Siren by Kiera Kass

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“Throughout the ages, the Ocean has occasionally rescued young women from drowning. To repay their debt, these young women must serve for 100 years as Sirens, remaining young and beautiful and using their deadly voices to lure strangers into watery graves. To keep their true nature secret, Sirens must never speak to humans, and must be careful never to stay in the same place for too long. But once her century of service is over, each Siren gets a chance to start over – a chance to live the mortal life that was almost stolen from her.

Kahlen became a Siren after her family died in a terrible shipwreck, decades ago. And though a single word from her can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny… and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all of the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.”

Honestly, this fell flat, probably because this is aimed at a younger audience (I’m 23, and this is probably more for younger teens). Interesting yet slightly weird premise (BRB just going to talk to the sea who I love but is also trying to kill me and is forcing me into doing things that I don’t want to do…).

I also though the relationship was silly – why did Cole not question Kahlen’s inability to talk, and is it really possible to have a relationship without communicating properly? Perhaps, but to be honest I didn’t really care for the relationship at all. As well as this, I thought the ending was ridiculous – Kass somehow managed to bend all the rules that she had previously placed in her story-world, just to achieve a happy ending, which I feel was a bit of a cop-out.

That said, I like her writing style, and the uniqueness of the premise, I just feel like this wasn’t really my cup-of-tea.

5/10


The Moth Catcher by Anne Cleves

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“Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they’re away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley – a beautiful, lonely place to die.

DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures.

Those who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam’s daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here . . .”

A decent enough murder mystery but a bit flat and boring. This book is a good example of where the blurb sounds super amazing but the actual story doesn’t quite match up. The blurb places a lot of emphasis on the shared interest of the murder victims (moth catching), but this plays such a small part in the actual story. I would even argue that it’s totally unnecessary, which is a shame as this was the reason I bought the book in the first place (I thought it would add an interesting sub-storyline / theme / layer to the story). I can’t even remember what happened at the end, which shows how much of a non-event the ending of this book was. In fairness, the book was written well, had an intriguing setting and some interesting characters, it just lacks that extra edge.

6.5/10


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