Just Charlie G

Allegiant Veronica Roth Allegiant forms the final part of the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, now also a series of films.  As the final part of the series it’s quite difficult to review this without giving away too much but here goes!

The first thing to mention is that the Divergent Trilogy is very much aimed at the teen/young adult market. This is rarely off putting for me at my ripe old age, I loved the Hunger Games books and I really enjoyed this trilogy for the most part.

The series is set in the future, in, where a dystopian society is divided into five factions. The storyline closely follows the lives of Beatrice Prior (Tris) and Tobias (Four), their friends and their lives as one faction declares war upon the other factions. Allegiant takes places after this violence, when Tris and Tobias hope that by leaving the city and seeing what is out there behind the wall, they may find peace and a new life. Of course, it was never going to be that simple and what lies behind the city walls is not what they could have ever imagined.

The first two books in the series are narrated by Tris, while Allegiant, the final book, is narrated by both Tris and Four and this change works well.

Characters are really well crafted and I personally found all of the books incredibly well written.

I think it’s fair to say Allegiant has had its fair share of flack, a quick scan of Amazon reviews show that many readers were unhappy with this final chapter in the story, and while I can see why many were disappointed, it’s not a feeling I share.

Allegiant took me far longer to read than it should have done, it certainly wasn’t as gripping as Divergent and Insurgent, but I still enjoyed it and at no point did I find myself not wanting to continue reading. The story plods more, it’s not a page turner, but its still a worthy read if this is a genre you’re interested in and of course, if you’ve read the the first two books you’ll probably be compelled to read to the end anyway, even if you are not enjoying it.

I must say that I was surprised by the turn the book took in the last section, and while some were unhappy with the shock turn of events, I felt the surprised, and that’s a good thing. I don’t really like predictable. Let’s just say, its not a happy ending.

You’ll have to read this yourself to make up your own mind, but I’d say do so with an open mind. You might find that like me, you really enjoy it.

I’m giving this one three stars, purely because its not as great as the other two books but its far from terrible 🙂

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*Book received free of charge for review purposes via NetGalley

Starting the week off with a little book review. I hope no one minds me popping up book reviews, I do read a fair amount and  quite enjoy sharing my thoughts. This time round it’s Security by Gina Wohlsdorf.

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

First thing to mention is that this book is, as far as I’m aware, not released until June 2016. The second thing to mention is that this thriller is not for the faint-hearted. If however you like your sex and violence to be pretty graphic, you might enjoy this one.

The story is set in the new, not yet opened, exclusive Manderley Resort hotel and while the staff work to get the hotel ready for it’s discerning clientele, a killer moves among them, picking them off one by one.

The novel is written from an unusual perspective and it is not until a fair way into the book that it becomes clear who is narrating. I can’t tell you because that would give it away, but I enjoyed the perspective.

The story was exciting and readable but as I say, extremely graphic. Essentially this was a slasher film in book form, I love a good thriller so I was undaunted although its fair to say I’ve been giving my tumble dryer wary looks since reading this.

The writing style, I’m not sure where to start with this. I found the language, in parts so hard to follow. I was reading an advance electronic copy so I am not sure if this was in part down to formatting errors, in fact I’m certain that it was, but in combination with the quirky style, it wasn’t an easy read to start with, hopefully some of the issues will be ironed out by the time the book is released.

There isn’t much of plot and interestingly, you never find out why all this was happening, but if you like a good graphic thriller, full of tension and action, this is a fun little read, perhaps avoid eating while you read.

It’s not an amazing book, or a must read, but if you find yourself looking for something to read, so long as you don’t mind gore, this is as good as any.

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Three out of five stars for this one, based mostly on the fact that in parts it was tricky to read and lacked any substance. I don’t always want substance though and for those times this fits the bill.

*Book received for Review Purposes via Netgalley

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Happy New Year! I’m starting off the year with a book review, A Passionate Spirit by SC Skillman.

Two things sold me on this book, firstly the cover. Contrary to the popular saying, I do believe you can judge a book by its cover, and I found this one very attractive. Secondly, of course, the description.

Set in the Cotswolds Hills, Zoe and her husband, priest Theo, run a retreat/holistic centre of sorts. When two new guests arrive, Natasha and James, Zoe immediately feels uncomfortable with them, while her friend Alice, who also works at the centre, shares her concern. A series of dreams, and spooky sightings add to Zoe’s sense of unease, and while the domineering James attempts to muscle in on the running of the centre the otherwordly Natasha charms centre staff and guests alike, including Zoe’s husband Theo, while revealing an impressive gift of healing.

While Zoe and Alice believe that not is all as it seems all around them, Natasha and James begin to take over not just the centre, but lives, leading to a confrontation of epic proportions.

For the first quarter of this book I wasn’t sold, it was perfectly readable, but I felt that what was happening could have been creepier, and more insidious and I also felt it was a little predictable and that we’d been told too much too soon, so what was there left to look forward to?

Turns out actually a lot, as Natasha and James started to take hold of both the centre, and the people within it, the story picked up pace and for me became a page turner. I needed to know, were there supernatural forces at work? Was Zoe imagining it? Were Natasha and James just fraudsters? Was this a story about a cult?

I was pulled in, hook, line and sinker, picking up my kindle at every opportunity to find out what happened next and the end was not disappointing.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in cults, the supernatural and thrillers in general.

What I especially loved were the authors notes at the end, talking about her inspirations for the novel, including the Australian cult, The Family, which sent me scurrying off to the google for an hour after I’d finished the book. A great read.

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Four out of Five stars for this one, it’s only missing a star because I was unsure at the start, whereas a five star book generally has me hooked from the beginning.

*Book received for Review Purposes via Netgalley.

The ice TwinsI read this book recently and absolutely had to write about it, so from the outset I’d say this is a must read. I’ve not read any books by S.K Tremayne before but I understand that this is actually a pseudonym, and the author is in fact Tom Knox.

If you like a creepy book, look no further because I’ve not read anything this unsettling for a long time. As such I had to actually read this in short bursts before putting it down again…but it was so compelling It’d be back in my hands within the hour.

The Ice Twins follows the story of Sarah and Angus Moorcraft, the parents of identical twins Kirstie and Lydia. When Lydia dies in a fall the remainder of the family struggle to adjust to life and to deal with their grief, and they relocate relocate to a Scottish island, where they are the only inhabitants.

The story starts it’s disturbing descent when the surviving twin Lydia, starts to insist she is in fact, the dead twin Kirstie. What follows is the most creepy decline in the whole family’s behaviour, Lydia seems unable to tell which twin she is, and the parents, still struggling with their grief, are unable to cope with this decline in Lydia’s behaviour. Was it Lydia who died, or Kirstie?

I won’t tell you if this a murder mystery, or a ghost story, or a psychological thriller, because that’s one of the amazing things about the book, the not knowing what is going on.

The writing is, in my opinion, fantastic, I found it incredibly atmospheric, the descriptions of Torran (Thunder) Island were so well done, I can visualise it perfectly and there were many sections in the book where my heart was racing, and the end was fantastic.

It’s hard to say much without giving anything away, but I absolutely hand on heart recommend this book.

Once upon a zombieChloe recently received the above book, Once Upon a Zombie, Book One: The Color of Fear.

She’s read it and I’ve read so here’s what we think! My first comment is about the cover, I think its beautiful! It reminds me very much of the paintings by Margaret Keane. Actually, the official cover has been changed since we received this Cinderella version. The new cover is the equally gorgeous Alice in Wonderland.

Once upon a zombieThe book is part of the Once Upon a Zombie franchise which is kind of a big deal in the US, and as well as this book there are dolls and costumes available, here in the UK. The book is aimed at children aged between 8 and 14 ish but I’d say that depends on how sensitive your child is, Chloe, was quite nervous to read this, if you’re at all familiar with Monster High, I’d say this is a step up in age suitability from that.

I like reworkings of fairy tales and this is no exception.

The prologue explains  that fairy tale authors have been rising from their graves.

The story is based around a 14 year old girl, Caitlin Fletcher,  who is afraid of everything, and her sister Natalie who is bright and brave. Their lives change when Caitlin is tricked into going into a rabbit hole. It’s not just any rabbit hole though, it is actually Lewis Carroll’s grave and Caitlin ends up in the fairy tale universe…but its not pleasant, the world is decaying and teeming with zombies.

The plot is a rehash of Alice in Wonderland, mixed up with zombies and a touch of high school drama and of course a plot twist I can’t go into!

It was a great read, a real page turner, and its far more worthy than I’d expect a book of this sort (attached to a toy franchise I mean) to be. The characters are engaging, and all the fairytale favourites are present and correct, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella,  and Snow White and its an exciting race to the conclusion.

My only downside to the story itself is the beginning which is a bit annoying, but that’s short lived and before the zombie storyline really kicks off.

Chloe found the book an uncomfortable read but I tried to encourage her to read it regardless. The reason being, the main character, Caitlin, suffers with severe anxiety, like Chloe, which she works through in the book which I felt would be great for Chloe to read. The reason it was difficult was because of her sensitive nature, she read it afraid that on each next page would be something she was scared by, but actually, that really wasn’t the case, and she did enjoy it. Her issues weren’t to do with the gruesomeness of the story which was fine, but more that she was expecting there to be gruesomeness she wouldn’t like. Based on that, I’d say, proceed with caution if you have a sensitive child.

All in all a great read though and one I’d definitely recommend. Makes a nice dark change from Rainbow Fairies and My little Ponies.

*Once Upon a Zombie received free of charge for review purposes.

 

 

Gretel and the Dark

This could be the shortest book related post ever because what I want to say about this book is “buy it, buy it now”. Done.

This is a book that when I got it, I thought I was going to love it, but when I started it, it took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but things changed quickly.

It’s hard to write about this book without revealing massive spoilers but in short.

In Vienna, 1899, celebrated psychoanalyst Josef Breuer is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, beaten, head shaved the girl claims she isn’t human and has no name. Breuer resolves to find out who she is and what has happened to her. He names her Lillie and starts working with her to find her past.

Running in alternative chapters we have the story of Krysta, in Germany some years later.  Krysta is  a spoilt, unlikeable child, her Papa works in the infirmary with the “animal people”. Krysta is left to her own devices much of the time and lives in a world of fairy tails.

Nearly the whole way through the book the stories run separately leaving you to guess how they are connected. I guessed incorrectly the whole way through until the big reveal which left me breathless. Literally. I haven’t read a book like this for a long time. My heart was pumping, I was turning pages like lightening, wanting to know what was happening but also not wanting to know.

This isn’t a Disney style fairy tale, this a dark, haunting, disturbing and amazing read.

The author Eliza Granville has had a life long  fascination with fairy tales and their symbolism and the novel was inspired by the fact that the Third Reich placed a particular emphasis on these macabre tales.

I think I read somewhere that this was a novel written for young adults but I’d have to say this is a thoroughly adult novel. That’s not to say it’s unsuitable for teens, but what I am saying is that the way it’s written isn’t young at all, this is very adult.

I’ve not read a book that has affected me like this one has for a long time. I swear I forgot to breathe last night when I read the last couple of chapters.  The chapters in this book are long. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to read it, you’re going to want to read a full chapter at a time, at least! The first couple of chapters are harder work, but stick with it before you know it you’ll be absolutely gripped.

It’s hard to say a book like this is enjoyable, because the subject matter is so dark and disturbing, but enjoy it I did, as I raced through it trying to work out what was going on.

Oh just read it. Best book I’ve read in AGES.

*Book provided for review purposes*

Sinead Moriarty This Child of Mine

This Child of Mine by Sinead Moriarty, is the tale of two women, Anna and Laura, and teenager we know as Sophie…when the two family’s worlds collide, there are unbelievable consequences.

I’ve never read a Sinead Moriarty novel before, so I had no expectations other than the synopsis on the back cover made me feel this book would be my cup of tea… and it was, and it wasn’t.  Let me explain, I don’t read as much as I used to, from several books a week pre-children I now tend to read one every six months or so, and depending on how gripping it is, it can take me a long time to read it, simply as I don’t have time in the day, and when I fall into bed at night, I am so tired, that if I can manage any at all, it’s generally only a page or two at a time.

So I confess, I picked this up, wasn’t immediately gripped and then I didn’t pick it up for a good couple of months. One evening I picked it up, forced myself to push on with it, and before I knew it I was gripped. For me, this was a really slow starter. The book is divided into two parts, the past, and the present, and for me the past was a bit of a slog, it went on for far too long, but once you get to the present day you’re flying. I can’t say much about the story without giving it away, but its extremely well written. I did struggle to connect with any of the characters, none of them were particularly likeable apart from perhaps the WAG character Lexie, and Holly, Sophie’s best friend, but their parts were fairly minor. So it’s something of an achievement that even with characters I didn’t like, I was still gripped…you really want to know what will happen next.

It’s a slow start, and the characters aren’t all that likeable, but the storyline is gripping enough to hold your interest, and I’d say this was a great holiday book! If you’re jetting off somewhere, buy a copy of this for your sun bed lounging.

Ultimately, it wasn’t a brilliant book for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, but the writing was exceptional, with characters being well padded out so you felt you really go to know them, and the storyline was emotional and exciting, not unlike something you might see on Eastenders.  It was apparently the number one bestseller in Ireland for quite some time, so it’s well worth a read.

You can purchase this in most book stores or on the Penguin website.

*Book provided free of charge for review purposes*

Ha! If ever there was a book for me it was this one, Mutton by India Knight.  With less than a year to the ripe old age of 40 with my love of make up and Topshop, I often wonder if I qualify for the title mutton. I mean what do people see when they see this wrinkled old face (I’m only slightly exaggerating…) sauntering into the playground  to collect her kids, wearing Nike Blazers and slightly too much make up for the school run?

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With that in mind, Mutton is a book that made me roar with laughter! Although really it’s about women about ten years older than me there was still plenty for me to identify with… to botox or not to botox for starters. The absolute highlight of the book though is the prologue. A checklist of signs that you are getting older. Many of which I recognise. Particularly inexplicably saying “oof” every time you sit down or stand up, as though its a massive effort.

So, Mutton is about Clara Hutt who has featured in previous novels by India Knight. This time addressing the issue of age and whether to age gracefully or to age with a little bit of help.

Its a great read, and it’s well written book although certainly not a literary classic, and there’s plenty of India Knight’s sharp wit. Seriously, though, if you’re fast approaching 40 or beyond this is well worth a read for the prologue alone.

Very good….now, where’s number of my local botox clinic?

*Disclosure – PR Sample*

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

All my life I’ve been a prolific reader and I’m not terribly fussy about what I read either, I love classic literature but also love nothing better than a easy to read  thriller or a horror, well pretty much anything, just keep your “chick lit” and 50 Shades, anything else and I’m up for giving it a go.

But when I had kids, I stopped reading, partly because I breast fed for years and only had one hand so reading just wasn’t all that easy, and once you get out of reading, it seems that it’s hard to get back into it. Over the last year though I’ve started picking up books again and would say I’m right back where I used to be, nearly. I ready every night before I sleep, more often if the book is especially gripping.

And so we come to Tigers In Red Weather. Gosh it took me ages to read! This book was, for me, slow going but not at all in a bad way, I wasn’t bored, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it just wasn’t a page turner and I just picked it up and read a chapter here and there until I’d finished.

The story is about Nick and her cousin Helena who have grown up together and they spent every summer at Tiger House. As adults with husbands and kids of their own they still spend their Summer’s at Tiger House, but then came the Summer that changed everything. It’s really tricky to tell you much more than that about the story because to go into any detail would give away plot lines but I can tell you a bit about the book.

There are five main characters and the chapters are all written by each of them. The great thing about this is how well developed the characters were and each character was distinctive…it also meant that there were characters whose chapters I enjoyed reading much much more and indeed I did fly through their sections, whereas there were other characters who I didn’t enjoy reading about so much and I just plodded through those.

All five character’s views and stories combine perfectly to fill out the story and fill in the gaps. The first character, Nick, who is the centre of all the others, is perhaps the character I enjoyed reading the least so it meant the book was a slow starter for me picking up pace as we moved along.

In terms of writing, Tigers in Red Weather is exceptionally well written and conjures images of the eras (1945- 1969) so perfectly you can almost taste the Martini’s.

Highly recommended if you like a slow paced start, building up to the “event”, fantastic writing, wonderful character development and darn good book.

So a beautifully written, slow builder of a book, well worth a read unless you love a fast paced thriller in which case, this probably isn’t for you!
Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

*Book provided for Review purposes*

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Soooo, as part of my new blogging routine which means leaving the weekends free to talk about non-beauty related things, today I’m doing a short book review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Gone Girl isn’t a modern literary classic but it is well written. Gone Girl isn’t for the sensitive souls out there. It’s not especially violent, it’s not packed with sex, but sections of the book are written in a quite aggressive manner, with some very crude language. I’m not bothered by such things, but if you are, then avoid!

“‘What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?’ Just how well can you ever know the person you love? This is the question that Nick Dunne must ask himself on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police immediately suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they aren’t his. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what did really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife? And what was left in that half-wrapped box left so casually on their marital bed? In this novel, marriage truly is the art of war…”

So, Gone Girl follows the tale of a husband and wife. At the beginning of the book the wife goes missing leaving behind a scene which would suggest she had been assaulted and abducted.

The story is told from two perspectives, the wifes (in the form of a diary) and the husbands, in alternate chapters.  As the story unfolds, you learn that the characters are largely unlikeable but in particular, the husband comes across as particularly unpleasant but there are secrets on both sides.

So the story follows his hunt to find out what happened and her diary of her life pre-disappearance.

In the middle of the book is the biggest twist! The whole story changes, abruptly. I have read reviews where people didn’t really enjoy the first half but loved the second. I just really enjoyed the whole thing, it’s a really page turner.

If you love a good crime/thriller and you don’t need to like the characters to enjoy a book, give it a go, it won’t change your life but it’s a really good read and if you’re jetting off on holidays, this is a great beach read!