A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Review. 

A Monster Calls is a short low fantasy novel by Patrick Ness, based on an original idea by Siobhan O’Dowd. Sadly Siobhan herself died of cancer before she could write the book. 

I’d actually seen the movie of this book before I read it so I had an idea of what happened and the sad theme. Connor is a young boy, 13 years old and his mother is dying, as he tries to deal with her imminent death, he is visited by a Monster who tries to teach him about things. 

‘There is not always a good guy. Nor is there always a bad one. Most people are somewhere in between.’

This novel is so real, it explores an extremely sensitive subject as seen through the eyes of a 13 year old boy who doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings about his mother’s illness. It is raw, tragic, and moving. 

For a children’s book it is extremely well written, passionate, heart rendering and most of all, honest. And that’s what it is really, a book about honesty and truth, the truth that’s deep inside us and which we don’t ever want to admit. 

Behind Closed Doors by Kathryn Croft. Review. 

I want to say initially that having seen some of the really bad reviews of this book on Goodreads, I really cannot understand them. I get that everyone’s entitled to their opinions but it’s really lost on me, how, if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers you couldn’t enjoy this book. 

Now that’s out of the way, I want to say a little something about Kathryn Croft. I was first introduced to her when I read her novel While You Were Sleeping last year. Kathryn started out as a self published author but was soon snapped up by publishers Bookouture, and there’s a reason for that. Kathryn is a really good author and writes fantastic psychological thrillers. She’s also a really great person and you can read my interview with her here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/author-interview-kathryn-croft/

As well as my positive reviews of the other two novels I’ve read by her here: 

While You Were Sleeping: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/while-you-were-sleeping-by-kathryn-croft-review/

The Stranger Within: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/the-stranger-within-by-kathyrn-croft-review/

Now, Behind Closed Doors is one of the novels Kathryn wrote as a self published author which means she wrote, edited and marketed that book herself. Which frankly to me makes it even more amazing! I really enjoyed it start to finish and couldn’t put it down! 

Olivia has just got divorced from her husband and moved into a flat with her 10 year old daughter Ellie. Soon after moving in, she befriends and becomes close to their upstairs neighbour Michael. But things start going downhill from there, Michael can be a little strange at times and Ellie hates his sister Chloe. To top it off, Olivia is having to deal with an ex-husband who doesn’t want to let her go, and now she’s got a stalker as well. As things start to get even weirder, Olivia doesn’t know where to turn or who she can trust anymore. Who is really out to get her? 

This novel was a real page turner. What baffled me most was that a lot of previous reviewers said the ending was obvious. I simply cannot agree, there were plenty of red herrings thrown in and just like our first person narrator Olivia, I didn’t have a clue who to trust, no sooner did I think I’d worked it out, I became suspicious of someone else. I did start to work out who it was eventually but not until about 95% of the way through, and even then I wasn’t expecting that ending! I’m still reeling and pretty certain I’ll have a book hangover for a few days while I try and process that! 

Well done Kathryn on another suspenseful, psychological thriller! 

Non Bookish (sort of) Nostaligia 

So tonight, I read the sequel to my favourite ever book The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. I listened to the song from the movie while I read it and I’m not ashamed to say it made me cry to return to that world and revisit the characters and the heartache and of course the nostalgia! 

So it got me thinking about other books I love that I actually saw the film first and how much they meant to me growing up. I’m sure all of us can relate to those few movies and books which still bring a tear to our eye. That made us feel so alive growing up like we could do anything, and those connections we had with characters. So I decided to list a few of my favourites here which really taught me about emotions and that the world was actually a much bigger place than the street I played on. 

The Last Unicorn, animated film and short novel by Peter S Beagle 

The Secret Garden, film, and novel by Frances Hodgson-Burnett 

Fairytale A True Story, film, I think this was a book also but I’ve never been able to find it. 

The Neverending Story, film, and book by Michael Ende 

And finally, although it’s not a children’s book or film, it’s one that makes me nostalgic for my late teens and early 20s. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, film and book by Truman Capote 

Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft. Review

This book has been on my TBR for ages after I read a piece about the author in Writer’s Mag. Her Last Tomorrow has an intriguing premise; would you kill your wife to save your daughter? 

Nick and Tasha’s lives fall apart when their 5 year old daughter Ellie disappears one morning. Then Nick receives an email ‘kill your wife if you want your daughter back.’ 

The premise was really clever, the kidnapper was a complete surprise and the novel was written well. It was certainly gripping as the reader wonders what will happen next, what will Nick decide, will he kill his wife? Will he get his daughter back? 

The only thing that bothered me about this novel was that I couldn’t really connect with either of the main characters who were both very self-centred and didn’t really come across as that bothered that their daughter had gone missing. I also found parts of it very unrealistic. 

But overall I enjoyed it, it did have a great psychological twist and was very fast paced. 

Cover Wars! UK vs USA 

I decided to do this after my fellow book lover Ann (Little Bear) mentioned on Twitter that a book I’d recently got had a better cover than the one in America, it piqued my interest so I decided to do some comparisons of some well known books and the different covers they have! Apologies if any of these are incorrect as I purely used google and Amazon for information! 

I figured the best one to start with was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone I think I still like the UK version best with the red train and the mention of Hogwarts and you can see Harry’s scar etc. It’s got more mystery while I feel that the US version gives too much away about the story due to the broomstick! 

This one is a real toughy Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone both have the mysterious qualities required but I think I like them both equally, I love the glamorous blue on the US cover but I like the half open door and piles of paper of the UK version. I think I’d pick up this book with either of the covers! 

For Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl I much prefer the US cover. I like the black and orange and the lack of an actor on the front cover. I think the UK one is a bit boring and looks more like a Jack Reacher cover! 

For me, the UK cover is much better for this one, especially for the age group it’s aimed at, the splash of colour and of course the Golden colour of the compass is really important. The black and white of the US version makes it look like a much older book that could be mistaken for a classic. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary is another draw for me, the first one captures Bridget perfectly as the smoking, wine sloshing singleton we all love but with a hint of mystery too which I feel is a little out of place. Meanwhile the US version really shows off Bridget’s funny, outlandish character! 

So, to conclude I think book covers on both sides of the pond have their own draws, and after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts! 

Darkling by KM Rice. Review 

Woaaaahhh… I’m still reeling from this one. This is a self published book and I can’t remember where I heard about it but it’s been on my tbr for quite a while and I’ve just read it through kindle unlimited. It’s not a long book, only about 170 pages but wow does it cut you deep! 

Willow lives in a village where darkness has fallen forever. It’s been a long time since the people of her village saw the sun. All they know is that something out in the woods brought this darkness, and it will take a sacrifice to bring back the sun. 

This book is one of the darkest, most incredible books I’ve ever read. Wintersong meets Roseblood this was creepy as hell but so, so good. I slipped inside this story and it consumed me, I was there, seeing events unfold with my own eyes, feeling the passions, the fear, no the terror of the characters. And for once there was no disappointing back story, this back story was fantastic. Yes there were a few holes in the plot but we’re talking about a book that hasn’t been through the process a traditionally published book has and frankly I was impressed with how well put together and how well edited it was. 

I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because it would spoil it and that’s why I haven’t included my usual gifs and pictures either, all I can say is seriously go and get yourself a copy of this book, I guarantee that you will not be able to put it down! 

Good Friday by Lynda La Plante. Review. 

Thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for my Advanced Copy of Good Friday. 

Previously, my experience with Lynda La Plante’s books have been one of my favourite crime/thriller series The Anna Travis series which I love! So I was excited to try a different series by this author. 

Good Friday takes us back to 1975 when the IRA were at large, bombing and attacking London on regular occasions. Jane Tennison who later stars as the main character in the more famous book and tv series’ Prime Suspect is the main character in this book and Good Friday is the 3rd book in new series Tennison which focuses on Jane’s earlier career before Prime Suspect. Jane is one of the only women in the Police Force and specifically one of the only ones ranked as CID. 

This novel is all about the IRA bombings which Jane inadvertently ends up caught up in and becomes a key witness. But in addition Good Friday is also about Jane trying to make it in what is essentially a man’s world. This is highlighted almost immediately at the beginning of the novel when Jane is appearing at court on a petty crime, only to see a man from her class at the police academy who has now become a high flyer in the infamous Flying Squad. 

Jane is constantly treat like a ‘ditzy’ woman and blamed for pretty much everything, although in some instances I could see why. She is a very frustrating character at times as she too easily plays into the role that’s been cast for her. 

However overall I really enjoyed this novel. Lynda La Plante writes in a style which I particularly like, wonderfully descriptive about outfits and food and settings. I’ve always liked that kind of writing it’s perfect when sitting in a comfy chair with something nice to eat or drink. I hope that makes sense!! 

The story is interesting and well put together. I didn’t know a lot about the IRA and the bombings of the 70s my sole experience of this has been my grandmother narrowly escaping a bombing sometime back then. So it was interesting to learn more about this. I did figure out who the suspect was pretty early on but this made for better reading as I waited for the characters to catch on. There were also a couple of well placed red herrings in there as well which threw me off the scent for a while! Reading Good Friday has definitely encouraged me to read more in this series and the Prime Suspect series as well! 

Everyday issues, political and social issues, everyday feminism.