Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

Published July 2nd 201 by Quercus.

20685157Goodreads Synopsis: LOST.
When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.
FOUND.
Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again.

My Review: I have no idea why I put off reading this for so long. Undone and A Kiss in the Dark, Cat Clarke’s other recent books, are the two books I’ll recommend to anyone and everyone. I love them. I bought The Lost and the Found at YALC, back in July… and didn’t pick it up until December. Why? I don’t know. But I’m glad I finally did. It was fantastic!

Cat Clarke has a fantastic ability to craft realistic, relatable and loveable characters. I fell in love with Faith straight away, and found it so fascinating to read from her point of view as she adjusts to life with Laurel back, after thirteen years. I found the dynamic between the two characters so thought-provoking.

The plot is absolutely genius. What happened to Laurel is dark and incredibly unsettling, and I really liked how the book focuses on how the media portrays her story – it was quite unnerving to realise how stories are documented in the news like this all the time.

I might sometimes say this as an exaggeration, but I actually did tear up at the ending. I was not expecting an ending like that – I’ve never come across such a clever plot twist. It broke my heart! As unexpected as it was, I think Cat Clarke wrote *those* end scenes absolutely perfectly. The writing is poignant and memorable.

Overall, I really, really highly recommend The Lost and the Found – although it may not be for everyone due to some really sensitive themes. The plot is unpredictable and moving – and the characters will stay with you long after you read the last page.

My Rating:

five

I purchased a copy of The Lost and the Found at YALC 2015.

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Book Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

Published 3rd September 2015 by Walker books.

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Sidenote: HOW PRETTY IS THIS COVER OH MY GOODNESS

Goodreads Synopsis: How many times can you lose the person you love?
A powerful and epic début novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.
Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different…

My Review: When I first heard about this book I wasn’t too sure I’d read it – the idea of two lovers being reborn over & over throughout history reminded me a lot of an old favourite, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. But then I read into it more, and saw that beautiful cover, and was offered the chance to review it for LoveReading4Kids – I jumped at the opportunity to.

I was hooked from the opening pages. The story is split between multiple time periods and the reincarnations of Katherine and Matthew in each one; from 2039 to 1745. With each life, they fall in love, affect historical events – and are separated again, to be born again. The stories are all told, uniquely, through not just usual writing but notes between the characters, maps, articles and letters. I loved the format. It made for such a unique reading experience. I thought I’d struggle to keep up with the multiple plots, but it was quite easy to read and Lauren James’s writing is so engrossing.

Technically, we see four reincarnations of the same characters in the same book! James has written them fantastically; no matter what time period, their personalities shine through (Katherine being pretty funny in many places. I had to suppress laughing out loud on a packed train) – though they’re also quite different in each year. I’m always pretty cynical when it comes to romance books but Lauren James has written these characters and their chemistry so so well.

As I did mention, I’ve seen a story done like this before, but this book still felt highly original and compelling – from the perfectly crafted, pulse-raising plot to the instantly loveable and beautifully written characters. There’s an almost sinister, underlying feeling to the plot, as there are mysterious computer-input-type messages throughout such as “objective achieved” / “intervention recommended.” It had me thinking all the way through as to what they could mean! It made quite an intriguing mystery on the side of the main events – it’s linked, but I’ll stop talking about it now…

Overall, I have to say this is the most stunning début of 2015 so far… Or maybe even a while longer. Lauren James is definitely an author to watch out for; her writing is astounding and the plot she has crafted is a rich blend of Sci-Fi, history and romance that is an absolute joy to read. It’s a gripping, emotional roller-coaster that I highly recommend looking out for.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Next Together from the publisher, via LoveReading4Kids, for review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 

Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

Published 16th July by Pan Macmillan.

The Bones of YouGoodreads Synopsis: When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She’d come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her – perhaps better even than Rosie’s own mother.
A family torn apart: Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?
A keeper of secrets: Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She’s certain that someone in the village knows more than they’re letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate’s obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.

My Review: This book looked and sounded amazing, so I was very excited to start it! I had to read the first half in short snatches between the last-week-of-school-rush-to-finish-coursework, but on the last day of school I sat and devoured the last half of the book in one reading. I wish I could’ve read the whole book like that. It’s fast paced and definitely one of my most gripping reads this year!

Rosie, teenage daughter of the famous TV presenter Neal Anderson, has disappeared. Kate, the local gardener who had a connection to Rosie, is shocked and saddened by the truths that are slowly coming to light. She decides to investigate on her own as to what happened – delving into the murky and mysterious background of Rosie’s famed family. The outcome of the story is absolutely terrifying.

The story felt so real at points it was scary – I especially really liked the psychological aspects and the heavy focus on media representation. It was very chilling to read about how the national papers exaggerated Rosie’s disappearance story – and made me think of how so many papers do this in real life.

The Bones of You is a very dark tale and certainly not for the faint-hearted – there are lots of grim scenes. However I raced through the story, utterly engrossed, desperate to unravel all of the answers. The Bones of You is an absolutely stunning début novel. The plot was so intricate and complex and I came up with countless theories, but none of them were anything like the outcome. I had to read over the revealing lines to make sure I wasn’t seeing things!

I became really attached to the characters, especially Kate. She felt very realistic and her actions were so believeable. Her daughter has just left for university, and on top of adjusting to that change, she becomes tangled up in the mystery of what happened to Rosie, a local friend’s daughter. I don’t read from adult perspectives very much as I mainly read YA but, unexpectedly, I came to love Kate as much as I would love a YA protagonist.

Overall, I was really impressed with this début novel – I went in with not very many expectations and was met with a truly unique, dark thriller. I would jump at the chance to read more from Howells in the future! She has a great talent for writing very realistic thriller stories. The plot was so well crafted, as were the unforgettable characters. I definitely recommend this to people who love crime books.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Bones of You from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Published 3rd July by Hesperus Nova.

25246282Goodreads Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent helps her erratic and beautiful mother run the Hotel Eden, a boarding house now besieged by reporters, keen for juicy gossip and eye-catching headlines. They are there because the Cornish seaside town has recently witnessed a string of murders, young girls stabbed to death. Among the newspaper jackals, Mr. Gallagher stands out. Quiet, serious Mr. Gallagher—Betty is fascinated by his mysterious nature and desperate to be noticed by him and not be treated as a child. As he and Betty get to know each other, through snatched conversation and illicit meetings, their feelings for each other grow. But she soon starts to realize how little she knows about the older, enigmatic journalist. With a dangerous cloud looming over the town, Betty starts to take risks to see him and hide secrets from her mother, her friends, and even herself—secrets that will echo through the years and affect the lives of many. Beautifully written with skilllfully drawn characters, evocative language, and set partially in 1956 with perfect period depiction, this is an astonishing tour de force from debut author Laura Powell.

My Review: I actually received this proof from the publisher via my dad and I hadn’t previously heard of them – or the book itself – but after finishing it, rather in awe, I’d love to see what this imprint also publishes… and what Powell will write in the future!

The Unforgotten is set in two times; 1965, and the present day. In 1965, Betty lives in the hotel with her mother, whilst it’s overrun with journalists clamouring to get scoops on the murder spree happening in the village. As tensions are rising, so is Betty’s fixation with Mr Ghallager, one of the local reporters.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the story and it was a lot darker than its pretty book jacket lets on. It didn’t feel like a clichéd ‘whodunnit?’ novel. It was simply stunning. I couldn’t predict who the killer was at all. I was swept up in the story – reading it in a day. The pages were practically turning themselves, as horrifying murders took place while a perilous connection between Betty and Mr Ghallager developed.

I was surprised at how invested I became in the lives of the central characters as they all unravelled mysteries. Betty was a little quirky and a really likeable character to read about – in the past and present.

Reading about the characters in 1959 then as elderly people, in the present day, made the story even more brilliant. I don’t think I’ve read many ‘split’ stories like it but it gave the mystery a new depth, as I tried to piece together evidence from the present day and the sixties. It was also a really interesting way to see how the characters changed and grew.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend The Unforgotten. I think it will appeal to teens and adults alike – especially to fans of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. The characters are really well formed and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head – especially after the bewildering ending!

My Rating:

five

I received a copy of The Unforgotten from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: BOO by Neil Smith

Published 21st May 2015 by Windmill Books.

24702495Goodreads Synopsis: When Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple wakes up in heaven, the eighth-grade science geek thinks he died of a heart defect at his school. But soon after arriving in this hereafter reserved for dead thirteen-year-olds, Boo discovers he’s a ‘gommer’, a kid who was murdered. What’s more, his killer may also be in heaven. With help from the volatile Johnny, a classmate killed at the same school, Boo sets out to track down the mysterious Gunboy who cut short both their lives.
In a heartrending story written to his beloved parents, the odd but endearing Boo relates his astonishing heavenly adventures as he tests the limits of friendship, learns about forgiveness and, finally, makes peace with the boy he once was and the boy he can now be.

My Review: As soon as I’d read the synopsis for Boo I knew it would be my kind of book – it reminded me of an old favourite anime series, Angel Beatswhich is about a high school that deceased teenagers find themselves at. The ‘heaven’ in this book is quite different, though shares similar themes, so I was really interested in reading Boo.

Boo is the nickname of the protagonist, Oliver – who wakes up in an afterlife consisting only of American 13 year-olds like himself. He thinks he’s died of a heart problem in school – but when he finds his sort-of friend there with him, Boo has to track down who killed them.

The story is very dark and unnerving at points – but is also unexpectedly a heart-warming story about the bonds people make. I couldn’t predict a single thing about the plot – it turns in ways impossible to imagine. The ‘reveal’ was abrupt and shocking. There’s no way I could’ve guessed it, but as soon as I finished the book I was wondering how I’d missed it! It definitely sent a chills through me, though.

Neil Smith’s imaginative ability is admirable. His version of heaven in Boo felt completely individual and was the perfect backdrop for the mystery plot. As fantastical as it was, it seemed so real: Each uniquely crafted character of the strangely bound community seemed to jump from the page, brimming with personality.

The main protagonists were incredibly memorable. Oliver is a slightly awkward thirteen year-old, who is more engrossed in his science fascination than anything else. I saw a little of my thirteen year-old (and current…) self in him and his voice grabbed me from page one. I’m sure I say that the voice stood out about a lot of books I read, but Boo was just different. The narrative was flawless to me and I felt Boo’s vulnerability and curiosity shine through.

Overall, I’d without a doubt recommend Boo. It’s certainly not for everyone, given its disturbing subject – but it’s hard to fault Neil Smith’s writing. His characterisation and narrative were brilliant – as was the plot, which unravelled cleverly. Boo didn’t turn out the simple ghost murder mystery I thought it would be: It was addictive, ingenious and the kind of book that breaks your heart then sticks it back together again. Multiple times. I can see Boo getting a lot of attention!

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Boo from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review-Graphic: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I borrowed Belzhar based on Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary‘s review from a little while ago. I devoured the book in one evening and was blown away. It was just stunning! Revision has been a little time consuming lately so I’ve done a little graphic instead of a full review…

belzhar review graphic1

I borrowed a copy of Belzhar from my local library.

Book Review: If You Were Me by Sam Hepburn

Published 2nd April 2015 by Chicken House.

22892748Goodreads Synopsis: From the author of CHASING THE DARK comes a thrilling young teen crime mystery, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the very end.

Not long after Aliya’s family escapes Afghanistan for Britain, her brother is accused of a bomb attack. Aliya is sure of his innocence, but when plumber’s son Dan finds a gun in their bathroom, what’s she to think?
Dan has his own reasons for staying silent: he’s worried the gun might have something to do with his dad. Thrown together by chance, they set out to uncover a tangled and twisted truth.

My Review: Recently, I’ve read quite a few books based around religion, intolerance and terrorism – so I was very excited about getting to Sam Hepburn’s latest title, which is along the same lines. I really enjoyed it!

Aliya is an instantly loveable character; from the moments we see her forced to leave her home, to the closing pages. Her chemistry with Dan was great. I was a bit nervous watching them develop as I was certain it would end up in a love story, but I’m really glad it didn’t. The story is focused on finding the truth about Aliya’s brother – and told through Aliya and Dan’s switching perspectives, which were really insightful.

I am so glad that so many books are being written on similar themes lately (see also: You’re Not Proper and One Of Us) as terrorism and victimisation are things happening every single day. If You Were Me tackles stereotypes and the way the media portrays events expertly and brutally honestly – within a tense and gripping plot.

The plot was incredibly well paced and engrossing. Solving the mystery was such a thrill ride – I guessed some elements, but there were a lot of surprises. I think the only problem I had was that I lost track of characters at points: There’s an intricate web of antagonists and allies in If You Were Me and I got a little mixed up sometimes (partially blaming that on reading distractions though…:P).

Overall, If You Were Me was a lot more than I’d expected. It’s a totally gripping read with some unbelievable twists and turns that kept me hooked. With prominent themes of media portrayal, and terrorist attacks, I hope this gets a lot of attention as it’s a very relevant book. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a nail-biting thriller, or something that’s very relatable.

My Rating:

four

 

I received a copy of If You Were Me from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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