Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Heights by Juliet Bell. Review

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the authors for my advance reading copy of The Heights. This review is unbiased and honest.

I always have a mixed bag of feelings when it comes to retellings. In fact nearly every retelling I’ve ever read has been disappointing, unable to live up to the great story they’re trying to reproduce. Wuthering Heights is one of my all time favourite books, so I was both excited, and full of caution when I requested The Heights, how would Heathcliffe and Cathy’s love story live up to a modern retelling? Very well it turns out!

Cathy Earnshaw lives in a typical 1980s Yorkshire town, during the Miner’s Strike, with her mother an unhappy housewife, her father a disgruntled miner and her brother Mick who is frankly a bit of a yob. Then one day, her father brings home Heathcliffe, a dark, strange little boy who quickly becomes Cathy’s best friend.

That is, until Cathy befriends the new, posh kids in school, Isabelle and Edward Linton, and abandons Heathcliffe to marry Edward, who she sees as a ticket out of her horrible life.

The rest of the story plays out exactly as in the original with the tragic deaths of many of the main characters, leaving their children in the care of The now insane Heathcliffe. I loved the idea of Lockwood as a police officer, Ellen Dean as a Social Worked and Joseph as the local priest. It generally just worked really well.

The Heights really explored the themes of incest within The story, the idea that Heathcliffe was the bastard son of Cathy’s father and therefore her half brother, something that unbelievably never crossed my mind before. The story flicks between past and present, between DCI Lockwood’s investigation in 2008/9 and the events which happened in the 80s and 90s and brought about the tragedies now being experienced.

Wuthering Heights of course remains not only one of my favourite novels but a novel which is favourite of many in the world, one of the great classic novels which remains timeless, and finally we have a retelling which does it justice.

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November Wrap Up 2017

It’s a big one this month! I had a 2 week break in Tenerife and we literally stayed in a villa in the middle of nowhere, so with nothing else to do, I had no choice but to read, read, read!

Ive read 32 books this month, totalling 10,979 Pages.

Midnight Crossroad, Day Shift and Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/midnight-crossroad-by-charlaine-harris-review/

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/day-shift-by-charlaine-harris-review/

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/20/night-shift-by-charlaine-harris-review/

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/into-the-water-by-paula-hawkins-review/

Pieces of You by Ella Harper

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/pieces-of-you-by-ella-harper-review/

Peggy and Me by Miranda Hart

Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/tess-of-the-dubervilles-by-thomas-hardy-review/

Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R Green

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/into-the-thinnest-of-air-by-simon-r-green-review/

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/the-lie-tree-by-frances-hardinge-review/

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/the-cruel-prince-by-holly-black-review/

The Girl You Lost and The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/the-girl-with-no-past-by-kathryn-croft-review/

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/the-girl-you-lost-by-kathryn-croft-review/

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/the-hate-u-give-by-angie-thomas-review/

The Girls by Emma Cline

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/the-girls-by-emma-cline-review/

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/truth-or-dare-by-non-pratt-review/

A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/the-blade-itself-by-joe-abercrombie-review/

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/see-what-i-have-done-by-sarah-schmidt-review/

Faking Friends by Jane Fallon

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/faking-friends-by-jane-fallon-review/

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the illustrated edition by JK Rowling

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/look-for-me-by-lisa-gardner-review/

A Journey Through The History of Magic by The British Library

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/a-journey-through-a-history-of-magic-review/

The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/the-sacrifice-box-by-martin-stewart-review/

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-knight-of-the-seven-kingdoms-by-george-rr-martin-review/

Across the Wall by Garth Nix

Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/07/lips-touch-three-times-by-laini-taylor-review/

Contagion by Teri Terry

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/07/contagion-by-teri-terry-review/

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/american-gods-by-neil-gaiman-review/

Cold Christmas by Alastair Gunn

https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/cold-christmas-by-alastair-gunn-review/

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Review

This book has always been on my mental TBR but I hadn’t actually added it for some reason. Then I actually picked a copy up from the hotel ‘library’ on holiday in June, didn’t get chance to read it there, brought it home and it’s sat on my shelf ever since. Anyway, I have now read it, and best of all enjoyed it!

I was lucky enough to read the extended, republished version which is quite a lot longer than the originally published version, I’ve heard it described as ‘too much description but not enough happening’, fortunately, I didn’t find it so!

We start the novel with Shadow, in prison and not far from release when he receives the news that his wife Laura and his best friend Robbie have been killed in a car accident. On the plane Home, he meets an unusual character who calls himself Mr Wednesday. Finding himself employed by this rogue, as a bodyguard, driver and errand boy, Shadow is sent on a journey beyond his wildest dreams as he finds himself entangled with gods and humans of equally despicable intent.

Although this was a big book, it was an easy read, I found I’d devoured hundreds of pages without even realising! While the story may to some, appear slow going I found that the whole book was a climax rather than a build up to a final climatic moment. And I hadn’t worked out most of the secrets!

An interesting outlook on not one set of Gods but all gods and the idea that they were brought to America along with their people and left their gods to die.

Into The Thinnest of Air by Simon R Green. Review.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and Simon R Green for my ARC of Into the Thinnest of Air which is Book 5 in the Ishmael Jones series.

Penny and Ishmael are off to a fancy dinner with some of Penny’s father’s friends in Cornwall. Having just acquired The Castle, an inn fraught with rumour of the supernatural, Albert & Olivia are hosting a dinner party to be staged exactly like the one where hundreds of years ago, the innkeeper killed all his diners because of voices he was hearing in his head.

But things start to go wrong when one by one, the guests are picked off and disappear, but only when left alone. Most of them think the explanation lies within the supernatural world of ghosts and bogeymen, but Ishmael just isn’t convinced…

What I absolutely adore about the Ishmael Jones series is something I can’t really put my finger on. But since reading book 3 last year I’ve been hooked. I’ve tried to describe them to my partner but I get as far as ‘well it’s about an alien who has become a sort of detective in the human world’ and then realise I’m not doing it justice.

So all I can suggest is reading them for yourselves to really get the feel of why they’re so great, they’re such easy reads, designed to be devoured in one sitting. They’re funny, I love the relationship between Penny and Ishmael, I love that Ishmael can do loads of cool stuff because he’s an alien, but I also love that Penny, a human woman can also kick ass! I really need to get the 1st and 2nd Books read now.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. Review

A unique blend of historical and fantasy fiction. The Lie Tree is one of a kind.

Faith and her family are moving to the island of Vane so that her father the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly can consult on a new archeological dig. To most people Faith seems shy and demure but inside she is burning with questions about the world and in particular science.

But when her father’s body is discovered Faith can not accept the ruling of suicide or accidental death, so she begins her own investigation and uncovers her father’s biggest secret; The Lie Tree.

The Tree feeds off lies and in return reveals secrets. Faith sees it as an opportunity to discover the secrets of her father’s death, but doesn’t realise she is putting herself into the same kind of danger.

A cross between a Victorian Murder mystery and a YA fantasy series. A truly brilliant piece of fiction which brings brand new ideas to the table.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. Review

I first heard about this novel when I received the Waterstones Weekly email and it was a recommended read. I had heard of Lizzie Borden but didn’t really know much about her so it intrigued me and I added it to my TBR. A day later I was in the airport and saw See What I Have Done in WH Smith. I couldn’t resist and bought it to bring away with me.

For those who don’t know, a bit of background on Lizzie Borden. In 1892 in a place called Fall River in America, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered with an axe. The House was shut and locked up tight, the elder daughter Emma had gone to live elsewhere, the uncle John was out conducting business and only Lizzie, and Bridget the maid remained at home. All of the family were sick with potential food poisoning and Bridget heard nobody enter or leave the house. Nevertheless, Mr Borden and his wife were dead. Lizzie was tried and found not guilty of the murders, but even all these years later, suspicion is on Lizzie and theories run rife. See What I Have Done is Sarah Schmidt’s retelling of the story and what she thinks might have happened.

The story is an intriguing one, made more so by the fact it’s remained unsolved for so long. Sarah Schmidt herself admits in the afterword that she had no interest in Lizzie’s story but became haunted by her after reading a pamphlet about her. She writes the story well, despite the events taking place over 100 years ago, the story doesn’t feel old or overdone. Maybe that’s because I’ve not read anything about Lizzie before but I did think the writing was done well.

All of the characters are very intrigued but of course Lizzie more than anyone. Sarah writes her as slightly mad, childish despite being 30 years old. She needs constant love and attention. Her obsession with eating pears only adds to the image of a girl more than a little bit mad. She is angry, bitter, needy and insane and half the time you wish you could slap her across the face. This portrayal of her was absolutely fantastic.

A novel which will stay with me for a while and definitely an author to watch!

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor. Review

As a rule I’m not a huge fan of short stories or novellas. But as far as I’m concerned Lips Touch Three Times is one of the best set of stories I have ever read. Better even than some of the full novels I’ve read!

Starting with Goblin Fruit Laini Taylor takes us on a Journey with a girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful, dark and mysterious. But the goblins do. And the goblins are watching, waiting for the right moment to pluck her like a juicy piece of fruit.

Spicy Little Curses sees a demon and an ambassador to Hell, squabble over a terrible curse and hundreds of lives at stake, but will true love save the day?

Finally, in my personal favourite, and the longest story in the book, Hatchling takes the reader on a journey to Russia and the soulless Druj, one in particular who is desperate to restore his mortality.

All three stories were unputdownable. Mysterious, interesting and thought provoking, not to mention one of best writing styles I’ve ever come across, consistent as always with Laini Taylor’s writing, she really is something else!