Crime/Thriller/Horror

Book Review: Frankenstein

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Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – eBook, 126 pages – Published May 17th 2012 (first published March 11th 1818)

This book has been reviewed and studied so many times over the years, so I’ll keep this simple.

It is a classic novel, originally published back in 1818. This does mean that the language is harder to read and understand for some people, and the general culture and ideas are all rather different to what you may be used to. That’s always the biggest problem with reading and appreciating older novels – sometimes we just can’t enjoy the fantastic writing or the unique characters like people would’ve back when it was released.

We are first introduced to Robert Walton on an expedition to the North Pole, writing letters back home. The whole story is, in fact, him recounting what he is told by the man he picks up in his boat – Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s story is a familiar one; he created a monster, who subsequently felt lonely amongst this world of humans. This creature wanted a partner, a mate, but Frankenstein was unwilling to create yet another daemon of this kind. So he took revenge, slowly removing all of the Frankenstein’s loved ones until he no longer held the will to live himself.

It is actually a lot sadder than I ever knew. I didn’t know much, just the generic “Frankenstein’s monster” creation story. But this novel is full of heartache and loss, regret and terror. It’s about a scientist crossing the line of creation, only to suffer drastically for his ambitions.

Yet we are also given the “monster’s” account – his terrifying, lonely entry to the world, his plea for company, even his regret for the lives he took. I never really thought much about the creation himself, didn’t consider his side all that much. But this novel makes you think about him, and even causes you to sympathise with him.

I liked this book, but I feel like it’s one of those books you’re supposed to like. I’m not a huge fan of classic novels, but I can see past the difference in language and lifestyle. I just really appreciated the amount of emotion in this, and also it’s not-so-perfect ending. It isn’t a favourite, and it wasn’t a casual, easy read, but I will give it 3.5 stars.

Check out this edition here.

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Book Review: The Outs

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Well, this was… an interesting read…

Just gonna quickly put a little trigger warning in here, as there are graphic and emotional descriptions of depression and suicide. But the story isn’t about these things, and they aren’t properly talked about until far later in the novel.

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The Outs by E.S. Wesley – eBook, 365 pages – Published January 24th 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press

You’re thrown right into the deep end from page one, having to put the pieces together as the plot progresses. We meet one of our protagonists, Caleb, in an unfamiliar room with mysterious men and a random little girl. He ends up taking her with him as he runs, trying to figure out what he did during the Outs.

The Outs are kinda confusing. They’re moments in time where electrical appliances all fail, and anything that happens is forgotten as soon as the Outs end. Oh, and anyone killed during the Outs is resurrected from the dead.

I’m really not sure how to describe this book. The plot is super confusing – Caleb and his aphasic friend, Kitzi, take this weird little girl (Amanda) who somehow has powers over everyone and everything, in an attempt to stop Deeds and his army of Deadheaders. Caleb has a psychopathic voice in his head called Crimes, Amanda’s dreams come true, Kitzi’s suicide happens to have taken place at the same time the Outs started, she can smell the truth – and somehow they’re all connected to the Outs? These three individuals – and many others along the way – each have a big part in what is happening. But how?

Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are so many little ties and strings throughout this book that all add up, and I couldn’t possibly include them all.

It definitely is a unique book. The idea is pretty good, too – the whole “nightmares becoming real” and all. But I just didn’t connect; I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but I just didn’t feel involved in it.

I feel like I should’ve been able to sympathise with the characters more – they had good backstories, emotional and family issues that different people should be able to relate to. And the narration following Kitzi often makes references to comic books which I personally really appreciated. But I just didn’t quite feel them. Maybe it’s just me – there’s nothing wrong with the writing in particular, so maybe it’s just personal preference. I don’t know.

I had a few typos in my copy but I received an ARC, not a final copy, so that shouldn’t affect anyone buying the book. I loved the cover, and the art at each chapter start was great. Also, the inclusion of “Notes From Last Night” (a site where people recorded notes during the outs for after they forget) was awesome, too. It added a whole other dimension to the world, an extra little bit of interest.

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I wanted to like this, I really did. And I didn’t dislike it – but it didn’t feel like anything special to me. 3 stars for The Outs.

If you’re interested, you can check it out on Amazon.

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Book Review: Lost Girls

pro_readerThis was my first experience of Marsons’ D.I. Kim Stone series, even though it is the third instalment. I love thrillers and crime/detective novels, so I’m incredibly grateful to the author/publishers for allowing me a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Lost Girls (D.I. Kim Stone #3) by Angela Marsons – eBook, 442 pages – Published November 6th 2015 by Bookouture

A year ago, two young girls were kidnapped. Only one came home.

Two more girls have gone.
There are several obstacles for the team to overcome: Is it the same persecutor as last time? Will they be using the same location? What do they want? Are the girls even alive still?
Stone knows one of the mothers from her younger years spent in care. They never got on, yet she still requests Kim to lead the investigation.
Marsons gives an in-depth insight to the workings of the case, including the emotional effect on the workers. The use of a “profiler” was a nice touch, even if she was constantly hated and insulted at the start. (I’m looking into some kind of psychological side of crime for a uni course, so it was interesting to see what role she played. My psychology course at A Level also means I understand some of the references mentioned, which made me rather happy.)
With the help of a negotiator, a crazy psychic and the survivor of the last case, Kim manages to narrow down the search location. But the clock is ticking.
Throughout the course of this investigation, Kim is hung up on a previous failure. She’d always blamed a reporter for the death of a young man, but what if it wasn’t her fault? What if someone else was really to blame?
We also see into Kim’s past through small instalments of memories. Bit by bit, we conjure an image of her character, her experiences and feelings. She comes across as bit of a bitch, but shows her tenderness when trying to save the girls. Her relationships with different characters in the novel also reveal different strengths and weaknesses.
While the investigation is going on, the couples go through several different domestic issues. Leads are being found and extinguished all around, and the previous case notes provide little help. The tension builds as they struggle to keep hope alive.
The end includes a few somewhat predictable twists, but isn’t bad. Some non-crime-related developments are quite unexpected, though, proving that this is more than a simple detective novel.
An interesting read, but not particularly outstanding. 3.5 stars out of 5.

Buy it now!

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Book Review: The Lovely Bones

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – Paperback, 328 pages – Published 2002 by Little, Brown and Company

If my English Lang and Lit class hadn’t chosen to study this book this year, I probably never would have read it. At least, not yet. Not because I didn’t want to but simply because I may never have been motivated to do so. Honestly though, I’m very glad we chose this novel (even if I personally did not vote for it).

As I’m studying it for my exams, I really don’t want to spend too much time writing about it now. But I will do a quick review about the pros and cons of this novel.

So the book is about the death of a girl. Well, not about it, but it’s a very important aspect (obviously). The victim, Susie Salmon, narrates the story from beyond the grave in her “heaven”, recalling memories from her lifetime and also watching her family’s life unravel after her death.

There is an air of mystery to this, but not for the readers. We know from the start who murdered Susie, but her family do not. We follow them as they try to figure out what happened, getting closer and closer to the truth.

This book has an aspect of fantasy and supernatural to it, as well as mostly being a drama-based novel. We learn about Susie, and then we follow Ruth and Ray and her siblings, Buckley and Lindsey. We watch her parent’s marriage go through hell and back, and we even watch her murderer escape the town unpunished.

Everything about this is very interesting. The writing, simple but still detailed and descriptive; the characters, who grow and change as the book progresses; the plot, or multiple mini-plots, evolving around all the different characters.

I really liked this book, and at first I thought it might become a favourite. But it didn’t carry on quite as well as it started, and became more or more of a realistic, dramatic story about love and life. It’s so interesting to see how Sebold portrays heaven, and how the lives of her Susie’s friends and family are affected both directly and indirectly by her death. A good 4 stars for this book!

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Book Review: The Disappearances

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The Disappearances by Gemma Malley (The Killables #2) – Paperback, 414 pages – Published October 10th 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton

This is the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Killables which I read recently. It consists of the same characters as before, such as Raffy, Linus, Lucas, Evie, the Brother, and also some extra characters. It, obviously, takes place after the System has been shut down – this having caused some issues, such as the Disappearances.

This is written in a rather different way to the previous book, in that it is told from different viewpoints and even during different time periods. The reader must piece together what is happening without it being explained to them, and how it’s relevant to the plot. We’re given insights to the start of the Horrors and the past lives of some of the characters.

I was honestly quite surprised with how dark this was quite early on; I was expecting the Disappearances to have a happy ending, not the pile of bodies that is actually given. Personally, this made it more thrilling and exciting, though.

The love triangle is slightly irritating, as all YA love triangles are. But I like that Raffy has his issues – anger and possessive issues, in fact, which is a very real problem for many people. And the backstories of the characters make them so much more real and lovable.

I think I prefer this to the previous novel, if only just a bit. I think 4 stars is a good rating for this.

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Book Review: Kellie’s Diary #1

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Kellie’s Diary #1 by Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins – eBook, 50 pages – Published March 1st 2013 by Survive Entertainment

This was free in the Kindle store and despite not really knowing much about it, I decided I’d download it. It’s the graphic novel version of the first part of this collection, which is also available as an ordinary novel. It’s a short story, as I believe each individual story is.

As this is only a really short part of the collection, and I don’t want to spoil the story, I can’t really tell you much. But it is written fantastically, really capturing the voice of a young child. It’s based in the early nineties, when several children – and then teachers – start to fall ill and disappear. Kellie is later forced to fight for her life against the “monsters” – most commonly known as zombies. Yep, this is an apocalypse diary written by a small child, alone.

Of course, being “written by a child” means that description – even spelling – is not great. But that is obviously intentional and adds to the overall effect of the book. This particular edition happens to be designed to look like a notebook too, as opposed to the ordinary text of a novel.

I am really tempted to look into buying the whole collection. It really ends quite suddenly and unexpectedly, and I do want to know what happens to Kellie. Does she find her family? Does she even survive in the end? I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed this in the end. 3.5 stars!

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Book Review: Coraline

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Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Hardback, first edition, 171 pages – Published August 5th 2002 by Bloomsbury

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the film based on this book, so I won’t go into too much detail right now. But as is often the case, I definitely enjoyed the book more than the movie!

So Coraline has moved into a new flat with her parents, who are both rather disinterested with her. She likes to explore, and she ends up in the grasp of “the other mother” in some strange parallel world. Upon trying to escape the other mother, Coraline’s parents are taken instead. So Coraline must find and save her parents in order to escape – as well as the souls of other children the creature has taken.

This has a rather nonsensical feel to it, not unlike the works of Lewis Carroll. But it also has an edge to it, that gives the illusion of a Tim Burton creation. I think I would have enjoyed it just that bit more had I read it when I was just a few years younger, but even so, this book came very close to being one of my favourites!

I never would have even thought about reading it if it hadn’t been chosen as a “book of the month” on Goodreads, but I am really happy that I did. It’s a very short read, but it’s so mysterious and creepy and just wonderful! I definitely want to take a look at some of Neil Gaiman’s other books now. 4.5 stars for Coraline.

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Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Millenium #1) – Paperback, 542 pages – Published June 2015 by Quercus

I’ve finally finished it! Whoop whoop!

This is a very different book to what I usually read. It contains a lot of strong language, sexual references, assault and Swedish finance. It also has a lot of investigating, which was my favourite part.

A financial journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, has been accused of libel after submitting a report about a rival company, owned by Hans-Erik Wennerström. The Wennerström Affair is huge – and has earned Blomkvist a three month stay in prison. This was all a bit hard for me to follow, as I don’t know much about this subject. But I still managed to get the general gist of it.

A freelance worker at Milton Security is hired to research Mikael Blomkvist. Her name is Lisbeth Salander, and she’s only in her twenties. Even so, she’s probably the best worker Dragan Armansky has hired.

The client wanting a report on Blomkvist, Herr Frode, works for Henrik Vanger of the massive Vanger Corporation. Pleased with what they hear, they hire the journalist for a private matter – to solve the mystery of a missing girl from the 1960’s.

While Blomkvist is researching the suspected crime, Lisbeth Salander is molested and raped by her legal guardian. She should turn him into the police, but that isn’t her style. Instead, she gets her revenge.

Blomkvist finds out about the report written on him, and seeks out Salander. Together they begin to crack the case of Harriet Vanger. They are both put at risk when they discover the reason for Harriet’s disappearance, and nobody’s prepared for what they uncover.

Although the case is solved, the company Blomkvist works for – Millenium – needs revenge against Wennerström. To his surprise, Salander has just what he needs to really make a bang.

Like I said, this is quite an explicit novel – fathers raping their children, guardians attacking vulnerable young women, men sleeping with multiple women. The relationships seem to be ever-changing in this novel, but I suppose that’s just realistic. But this is definitely not suitable for the faint-hearted, and there are some really horrific, visual descriptions that really will haunt you.

But if you like investigative or crime novels, I would definitely suggest giving it a go. It’s not a quick read by any means, but it’s cunning, it’s realistic, and it’s gripping. What more could you want from a novel of this genre? I really wasn’t sure at first, as I just couldn’t get into the multiple characters’ stories or the whole situation with Mikael Blomkvist, but I did manage to get into the rhythm of it in the end, and really did enjoy it. For these reasons, I’m going to give Larsson’s novel 4 stars. I’m seriously hoping I come across the next books in the series now!

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Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

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All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – Paperback, 360 pages – Published August 1st 2013 by Bloomsbury Childrens

Okay, the plot of this book is kind of complicated and my summary probably won’t do it justice, but here goes:

Em and Finn have been held prisoners in their cells for months. The doctor puts them through horrific interrogations on a regular basis, trying to determine the location of some documents he believes to be in the possession of Finn and Em.

Em is obsessed with the drain in the centre of her cell, positive that it has some kind of important meaning. Eventually, she manages to unscrew it, and discovers something incredibly unexpected; a note from herself.

With the the help of Mike Connor, a guard that other versions of themselves had convinced to help them in the past, Em and Finn escape their cells and make their way to Cassandra. Before the doctor can stop them, they switch on the machine and are transported four years into the past.

This is written from two different perspectives; Em’s, and Marina’s. Through each girl’s story, we discover the truth about the doctor, Cassandra, and the death of Nate, the brother of Marina’s childhood love’s brother.

I know this all sounds really complicated, and sometimes it does get that way, but it is written so well. Em looks at Marina like she’s a different person, which I suppose she is, really. The relationships between each version of Marina/Em and the two different boys is so unique to this book. I suppose it’s a regular love triangle, but at the same time, it’s not.

I really liked this book. It’s not quite made it’s way to my favourites list due to the fact that there were times where I got a little bit lost. But it definitely deserves 4.5 stars, because it is such an gripping, unique book. I’m so glad I read this.

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Book Review: Every Other Day

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Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Paperback, 329 pages – ublished February 2nd 2012 by Quercus

Contains a few spoilers.

Wow. This book was actually amazing. I saw it on Goodreads and decided to order it into my library. I’m so glad I did!

Kali is like any other girl, every other day. She has no friends, no mother, and not much of a dad, but she’s human.

But every other day, she’s not.

She hunts. Not deer, or wolves, or foxes. She hunts hellhounds and basilisks and zombies – preternatural creatures. So when she sees popular-girl Bethany with an ouroboros (the death mark of a chupacabra) she knows it’s up to her to save her.

That day also happens to be the day Kali meets Skylar. Her instincts tell her to keep Skylar away – the less people she puts in danger, the better. But Skylar has other ideas, and soon she gets caught up in Kali’s world, along with Bethany and Elliott, Skylar’s brother and Bethany’s boyfriend.

The chupacabra has unexpected effects on Kali thanks to her difference to other people, and she finds herself connected with another of her kind; Zev. She is immediately determined to rescue him from where he is imprisoned, Chimera Biomedical. While trying to achieve his rescue, Kali begins to discover things about Bethany’s parents, who work at Chimera, as well as the mystical woman in heels…

Along the way, Kali also discovers the truth about who – or what – she really is. Her father brings light to some of the questions she’s had for years, and she finally discovers her mother – or mothers.

When the kids reach their final destination – the secret Chimera facility where Zev is being held – they are truly tested. Kali doesn’t want to drag her friends into it, but they want to help her. Skylar claims to know that her decision to come is the right one, thanks to her psychic gift. Things get incredibly interesting at this point…

I was not expecting what happened to Kali to happen. Even afterwards, I was waiting for something to come along and fix it, but that never happened. The letter toward the end is such a great touch, I really liked it. And it ends on an amazing cliffhanger!

Kali’s a great character. She doesn’t know her mother (yet) and up until now, thought her dad couldn’t stand to look at her. But she begins to understand his actions, as well as the true meaning of friendship. (Cheesy, I know. Sorry.)

As for Skylar… I loved her so much! She had such an awesome personality. And Bethany was a well-developed character too, who Kali gets to know slowly throughout the novel.

Every Other Day brought on so many emotions. It was thrilling, exciting, and surprisingly sad. I wasn’t sure about Kali as a character at first, but she really did grow on me. This didn’t have the typical romance story in it that many YA books do, which I appreciate. I actually think this managed to work its way up to 5 stars, and into my favourites.

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