Book Review… ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton

Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Author: Stuart Turton

Length: 505 pages

Publisher: Raven Books Bloomsbury Publishing

⭐️⭐️/5 Stars

This was another one of those popular books of 2018, that people couldn’t stop talking about. I have to admit I was intrigued, but did this book live up to the hype?

At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed- again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath…

Now, like I said I found this book very intriguing and was looking forward to reading it. To be honest I was disappointed. This book is very hectic, there’s a lot going on, so many different characters, so many different storylines. I found this book tricky to get into.

Some books are complicated in a good way, they keep you guessing, they make you read faster because you can’t wait to find out what happened. ‘Seven Deaths’ did not do that for me. While it kept me interested enough to finish the book, I was in no hurry to do so. Although the storylines certainly came together more towards the end.

It took me a long time to finish this book. Not one of the characters are particularly likeable, I found myself not caring why Aiden Bishop is at Blackheath, or not caring if he got out. I was not emotionally involved, but maybe that’s not to expected with this particular genre. But like I said, I did want to know how it would be resolved. So, I have to give this book credit for that.

When I finally did reach the end, I was expecting some big twist, a shocking revelation, because that’s the point of mystery/thriller books. I didn’t get that. I wouldn’t say I saw the end coming, I think it just left me with a lot of questions. It felt like the end was dealt with in a rushed way, not explaining enough. I like my books to be wrapped up neatly at the end, unless the have a sequel of course. And let’s hope this book doesn’t.

I have to say, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book. But I know a lot of people loved it. Did you? Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

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January Wrap Up

Well, I can’t believe it’s the end of January already. The month has just flown by. I’ve managed to read five books this month. Some good, some not so good. I know five isn’t many compared to some of you, but it’s good for me I’m a slow reader

First up was ‘Two Boys, At Swim’ by Jamie O’Neill. This book was what you call a slow burner. It’s started slow, and to be honest was hard to read as it’s written in Irish dialect. Once you get into it, it’s wonderful. Queer Fiction at its finest.

Second up was ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and it’s still on top of the bestseller list in the United Kingdom. This book had a few good moments but overall I didn’t like this one. It was too light and fluffy considering it was set in such horrific circumstances. This book just missed the mark for me.

Thirdly, was ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ by John Green. Wow, I did not like this book. I just thought it was horrible. The story was set around a disappearance that’s barely mentioned throughout the plot. While it’s excellent to get stories about Mental Illness out in the world, that’s all the character was reduced to. Could’ve done so much more. If John Green hadn’t already had big hits with his books, would this be as successful?

Fourth was ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama. I know Memoirs aren’t everyone’s first choice but this one is terrific. It’s a fantastic look behind the scenes in one of the greatest political moments of our time. It’s so compelling.

The fifth and final book of the month was ‘The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton. Another popular book of last year, and once again I don’t really agree. Hard to get into, too many characters. I stayed till the end, it wasn’t worth it.

Until the next review

JTH

Book Review… The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Title: The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Author: Heather Morris

Length: 293 pages

Publisher: Zaffre

⭐️⭐️/5

I think it’s fair to say there had been a lot of hype around this book. It was one of the best selling books of 2018 and I’ve been looking forward to reading it for a long time. But does it live up to expectations?

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure the woman, Gita, did, too.

‘ “What do you mean? She’s not a hero.”Gita said with some annoyance. “She just wants to live.” “And that makes her a hero. You too, my darling. That the two of you have chosen to survive is a type of resistance to the Nazi bastards. Choosing to live is an act of defiance. A form of heroism.” ‘

The first half of this book is disappointing to say the least. This book is set in a harrowing time, and it’s like this book forgets to mention it. I mean, obviously it doesn’t, but it mentions the ordeals the prisoners have to go through infrequently and flippantly. The second half of the book doesn’t get any better. It still glosses over one of the worst times in history. I just can’t believe you end up reading a love story.

I know the book is based on a true story, but it’s like the whole thing has been romanticised. Maybe it’s me? Maybe I didn’t expect to be reading a love story. In my opinion it’s not even a very good one. And I feel bad saying that because it’s a true story.

I certainly don’t like the way the book is written. Such a powerful subject is dealt with so carelessly. It almost become trivial. The book needed more depth, more grit. If need more details, this book felt hurried. That’s largely to do with how it’s written. Also, for the main character to have such a different imprisonment to the other prisoners didn’t help. It made this book miss the mark even more.

Well, for me this book certainly didn’t live up to my expectations. It felt like a wasted opportunity, however a lot of people have loved this book so maybe still pick this one up and give it a read. Comment and let me know.

Until the next review

JTH

50 Followers on my Blog

Just a quick blog post today to say I’ve reached 50 followers on my blog! I can’t believe it. Now I know it’s not much (compared to some of you) and I hope it keeps growing. But I’m really happy with the progress so far.

I’m surprised how much I’ve liked writing my blog posts. I love reviewing books. I know I don’t do that many because I’m a slow reader but I’m really trying this year. I try to keep my reviews honest. If I don’t like a book, I’m gonna let you guys know.

I’ve even set up a Goodreads challenge of 40 books to read. My name is jthbooks if you’d like to be my friend on there.

Thanks for reading

Until the next review

JTH

Book Review ‘At Swim, Two Boys’ by Jamie O’Neill

Title: At Swim, Two Boys

Author: Jamie O’Neill

Length: 643 pages

Publisher: Scribner

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This book was hard to get into at first, but it’s so worth it in the end. Whilst the storytelling and the writing is magical, it could’ve been shorter.

Out as the Forty Foot, that great jut of Dublin rock where gentleman bathe in the scandalous nude, two boys meet day after day. They make a pact: that Doyler will teach Jim to swim and, in a year, they will swim the bay to the distant beacon of the Muglins rock, to raise the green and claim it for themselves. As a turbulent year drive la inexorably towards the Easter Rising of 1916 and Ireland sets forth on a path to uncertain glory, a tender, secret love story unfolds.

‘All love does ever rightly show humanity our tenderness.’

There is something special about this novel. I’ve often read that people describe this book as lyrical and I completely see why. It flows as your reading it. Chapter 8, is truly one of the best chapters I’ve read in any book. It’s magical. It’s a great introduction to ‘MacMurrough’ who has since become one of my favourite characters I’ve ever read. He’s smart, witty and his character goes on a real journey. I think that’s the best thing about this novel, it’s the storylines that the characters embark on.

The love story between Jim and Doley, the main characters, is sweet and tender. It needed to be sweet because the rest of the novel is about the unrest in Ireland before the war hits the country. The romance is totally believable, and you find yourself rooting for them. I thought their love story was going to be the main focus of the book, but it wasn’t. It was at times the main driving point but often got pushed into the background. But it truly shined when these characters were at the forefront. The novel had a few subtle surprises in there, which kept it fresh. The ending was climactic which I didn’t expect.

Now there were a few things wrong with this book in my opinion. It was very long, and I don’t think it needed to be. The book needed less character perspectives because it just became overwhelming. To give them there own perspective didn’t anything to the book. I know the oncoming war was a big part of the story line, but Jim and Doyler should’ve been the main focus as it was there story that made this book special. It’s also written with Irish dialect which made it very hard to begin with but make sure you persevere, it’s worth it.

I would definitely recommend this book. Especially for people who like historical fiction, Irish history, LGBT romance and beautifully written books. Comment and let me know

Until the next review

JTH

Goodreads Challenge

Just a short blog post today to say I’ve set up my first GoodReads book challenge which I’m very excited about, but also nervous as I want to complete it.

I’ve only gone for 40 books as I’m a slow reader and I don’t want to set the bar too high and not complete it. So expect more reviews from me this year as I aim to review everyone. The good and the bad. If you’d like to add me on Goodreads as I’ll also be writing short reviews on there, my name is jthbooks.

I’ve just finished my first book of the year which was ‘At Swim, Two Boys’ a full review will be coming soon.

So until the next review

JTH

Book Review: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Length: 3 Books

Publisher: Orion

These are the first books I’ve read by Leigh Bardugo, I had high hopes for them and unfortunately they just didn’t live up to my expectations. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed them if there wasn’t such hype around them, who knows? I was looking forward to reading Six of Crows bur this series has made me question whether I want too.

Alina Starkov is a solider. When her regiment is attacked whilst crossing the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters- Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed. Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha – her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift. But as Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.

‘The Darkling slumped back in his chair. “Fine” he said with a weary shrug. Make me your villian.’

The series stared off well with the first book. It was interesting with a good plot that I enjoyed. The universe is such a complex world and you get drawn into it immediately. The descriptions are fantastic. There was also a twist that I didn’t see coming and made me excited to read the rest. It started to lose momentum towards the end, but I was still intrigued enough to read the second novel. The Grisha plot in the first half of the first book is so interesting, learning about it all, but by the end of book one it already becomes tedious and then you’ve got two more books to suffer through it.

It’s when you start book two, that’s when things really start to go downhill. The plot becomes too long and drawn out. It gets even more drawn out in the third book, to the point where it comes boring. It’s obvious where the plot is heading through the third book, towards a big battle at the end which is also underwhelming. When the plot did finally did something unpredictable it ended up predictable again. There is a twist in third book that did surprise me, but made absolutely no sense. It was like the author just plucked it out of thin air and never even decided to explain it. It felt like it was just there for shock value, not to compliment the story.

Whilst the main character Alina was our portal to the Grisha Universe, she was completely unlikeable, I just wasn’t invested in her journey and I didn’t care what happens to her. She only gets more irritating as the story progresses. It felt like the writer tried to make her complex but still keep her heading towards a happy ending, when really it just made her whiny. There was a romance throughout the three novels that was lacklustre. It just dragged the plot along. Adding nothing to the story. There was no passion, no heart to it. It just seemed obvious to pair them together, so that was why it happened. There was an attempt at a love triangle, which just made the is series unnecessarily longer. My favourite characters were the Darkling and Nickolia. They were complex and actually interesting. I could of read books about both of those characters. The relationship between the Darkling and Baghra (another good character) was the best part of the last book.

Most of the time when I read a book, I get this feeling in my stomach and that’s my indication if its good or not. Whether it’s if two characters finally falling in love, if there’s a shocking twist or there’s an ending that is unforgettable. I didn’t get that once with these books. The Shadow and Bone Series almost put me in a reading slump to be honest.

The Young Adult world is so wonderful with complex, diverse, suspenseful, interesting stories and this series just isn’t one of them. Like I said, I hope Six of Crows is better! Comment and let me know what you think.

This is my review of the month for the review collection on lovelyaudiobooks.com

Until the next review

JTH