Wednesday, 15 August 2018

THE PUPPET SHOW - by M.W. Craven

THE PUPPET SHOW (Washington Poe #1) - M.W. Craven
Published: June 2018 - Constable.
Genres: Adult / thrillers / mystery / contemporary
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / graphic, gruesome descriptions / strong language / child abuse / mentions of rape
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District's prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of. Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it. As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he's ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive...

How chilling is that cover?! Every time I look at it, my stomach curls. Those burnt letters make me think of flesh (which is probably the point) but ew ;) 

The writing is stellar. I like Craven's style, and the dialogue, specifically, is excellent - witty and to the point, it's just terrific.
I also love that the chapters are short. The plot is fast anyway, but short chapters just make everything so much more enjoyable and easy to read. The story is richly entertaining, with a dash of action here and there, and it's compelling and tight with a surprising and infrequent inclusion of dry humour.
In addition, the mystery took me by surprise. It is so, so clever, although definitely dark. And speaking of, a number of descriptions in this book are rather hard to stomach ;) They're graphic.

What a cast of characters! Poe is the "do whatever it takes to get things done" detective who thinks as impulsively with his fists as he does with his brain. Stephanie Flynn is his boss, and although I like her, her personality definitely isn't as strong as the other characters; I would've liked to have seen her fleshed out more.
Tilly is another great character. She's a genius, a whizz with IT, but at the same time socially inept and extremely naive. Her bluntness is endearing, as are her comic book T-shirts, and she's a unique if not unusual addition to the lead characters.

I also love her relationship with Poe. There's no romance between them - she's like his little sister - but he always has her back, looks out for her, and she clearly respects and trusts him. They're sweet together.

The Puppet Show is a dark, gruesome tale that allows its stand-out cast to pull the strings (#sorrynotsorry). Brilliant writing, strong action, and a smart plot make this a wickedly good thriller. 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Weekly What's Up - reading, watching, school

Another week's gone by and I can't believe we're heading deeper into August. It's crazy. Before you know it it'll be Christmas and New Year, and that's just insane. 

In other news, I started watching Riverdale! Only two episodes in, but I'm enjoying it. I've also finished season 7 of TVD - just one left to go! - but I'm gonna be watching Riverdale season 1 before I start season 8 of TVD

My Mum and I have been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, too. AND GUYS WHY DIDN'T I START IT SOONER?! It's seriously one of the best shows out there - the humour, the characters, the dialogue... the writing is so freaking perfect. I'm obsessed. 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed two thrillers: The Quaker and The Death Knock.

I reviewed the amazing Grace and Fury.

Currently Reading

Not loving any of these yet......

For Review

Yay! Thrillers galore :)

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

GRACE AND FURY (Grace and Fury #1) - by Tracy Banghart

GRACE & FURY (Grace & Fury #1) - Tracy Banghart
Published: July 2018 - Hodder Children's Books.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy
Pages: 320.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos / violence
Format: ARC paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive. Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace - selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman. But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything. Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?

The reviews for Banghart's debut have been mixed. But as soon as I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I knew what my review would be. I was falling into a book slump, and this books saved me. It took me on a wonderful, thrilling ride of feels and emotions and empowerment, and all I want to do is gush about it. SO GO FORTH AND READ.

The writing is lovely. Tracy Banghart's style is extremely similar to Sara Holland's (Everless), and so needless to say I enjoyed it. The imagery is also gorgeous, and the dialogue is good. Overall, it's an easy-to-read tale that doesn't sacrifice quality prose.

The story's action starts right away. The hook grabs you, the central story conflict is immediately introduced, and the characters are clear. It doesn't leave you floating. There's lots of action throughout the story, the plot's always entertaining, and it's exciting. The pace is fast - you'll simply fly through the pages, losing yourself in the fluff and thrills of the conflict and characters. You'll have fun and you'll be invested.

Oh and the twists! I admit I didn't expect to be so flabbergasted, but I'm so glad I was. This book is not predictable, and it'll probably steal your breath away in more than a few scenes. Yay for awesome twists and turns!

“It isn’t a choice when you don’t have the freedom to say no. A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed!”

“For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway.”
- from the author's dedication

The characters are predominantly a diverse group of women. I love that they all have different strengths and support each other - albeit eventually. There's a lot of emphasis on women uniting and having each other's backs and how crucial it is they do so if they want to fight sexism, etc. It's an empowering message, and it's not preached. The characters individually, too, are vivid, although the secondary cast have rather simplistic stereotypical personalities. Still, they're lovable and inoffensive. 

I also love all the strong female friendships. Even the romances are lovely and swoony and entirely shippable. But no relationship is more amazing than the sisterly bond between Nomi and Serina, our two heroines.
Serina is the obedient, beautiful daughter. She's been groomed her whole life to be a Grace. Nomi is the rebellious one, the underdog, the one who admits she wants more than this life. I love how the story forces the girls out of their comfort zones and develops and grows their characters as a result; Serina has to basically "unlearn" everything she's been taught, and Nomi has to find answers while squashed into a role she's spent her life hating. They're terrific heroines, and their bond is strong. I'm also a sucker for sisterly relationships, so Nomi and Serina's relationship made me happy ;)

Think The Belles meets Everless, with a stab of The Hunger Games and a sparkle of The SelectionThis little fantasy has it all: action, romance, intrigue, twists, and at its heart a cast of women with diverse strengths who have each other's backs. Do not miss this book!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

2 Mini Book Reviews: THE QUAKER and THE DEATH KNOCK

THE QUAKER - Liam McIlvanney
Published: June 2018 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 400.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Adult themes / strong language / violence / sexual content / gruesome descriptions
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: The Quaker. He’s taken his next victim — the third woman from the same nightclub — and dumped her in the street like rubbish. The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. After six months, DI Duncan McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation — with a view to shutting it down for good.
His arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider, for McCormack is an outcast in more ways than one. When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city — and his life — forever . . .

This book is superbly written with impeccable sentence rhythm. The author is a master. The dialogue crackles and races, the atmosphere is rich and haunting, and the setting is a character in itself - the smoky, grimy streets throb with macabre undertones, and the pubs and casinoes crawl with a dark energy.
I also love that this isn't a contemporary; I think the era is perfectly suited to the story, and it works with the crime so well.

The story is dark. Very dark. There are many gruesome descriptions, fleshing out horrific crimes and painting a terrifying image of a nefarious psychopath. The crimes are brutal, and the story's twisted. It's uncomfortable. It's also very clever
The plot is slow. I think that's my one major problem with the book overall. It isn't boring, but ideally with a thriller you want to feel the urgency, the tension as it builds, and you want to stay in the book's clutches for the one sitting you can't help but take to finish. But with this story, it isn't like that; yes, it's exceptionally well written, but it's not gripping until the very end. That disappointed me.

The characters leave something to be desired. I expected more relationship dynamics and tensions, considering that the premise says McCormack faces hostility in his new work environment, but I don't think the author taps deeply enough into that potential. The relationships aren't as strong as they could be, and neither are the characters. They're kinda half-done.

Despite some aspects letting me down, I'd highly recommend this smart, haunting thriller.

THE DEATH KNOCK - Elodie Harper.
Published: June 2018 - Mulholland Books.
Genres:  Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 336.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild sexual innuendo / mild violence / strong language / adult themes
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Three women have been found dead in East Anglia. The police deny a connection. TV news reporter Frankie smells a story... Ava knows that the threat is real. She's been kidnapped by someone claiming to be the killer: a stranger who seems to know everything about her. As Frankie follows the case, she enters a terrifying online world where men's rage against women may be turning murderous - and where her persistence might just make her a target.
And Ava must struggle not only to stay alive... but to stay sane.

This feels like a missed opportunity, and I hate to say it because the premise is so fascinating. Unfortunately, it disappointed me.

The writing is unexceptional. The leading ladies don't have much personality, and Ava, especially, simply tells her emotions, instead of showing us how she's feeling. The secondary characters are also easily forgettable, and I didn't feel connected to anyone.

But on the positive side, the book is incredibly unique. I love how the author's chosen to tell the story from the perspective of a journalist, instead of a detective, and it does make for some interesting insights. However, I think Frankie's role could've been been bigger and better executed. There're a lot of missed opportunities for great scenes and conflicts, yet the author plays it safe and rather mediocre.

It's not a bad story, but the execution is poor.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Weekly What's Up - Netflix, school, writing

Lots of school stress this week and I had a few really bad anxiety days :( But, I did get to read a fair bit, I actually did some book writing (GO ME), and I'm watching TVD and re-re-re-re-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S on Netflix. When I finish season 7 of TVD, I'm gonna start Riverdale. Then season 8 of TVD, then Gilmore Girls. Woohoo! I'm excited ;)

Posts of the Week

I reviewed the incredible thriller Something in the Water.

I talk about Heathcliff and Cathy's abusive relationship.

I wrapped up July!

I reviewed Ignite Me and Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi.

I reviewed The Fates Divide.

Currently Reading

I'm enjoying all of these so far. I'm buddy reading an eARC of Damsel with Di :)

For Review

I got an eARC of this book from Netgalley, but I won't be starting it till late August.

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching?