The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (Review)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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About the author

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Henry James, born 15th April 1843, was an American-British author. He is best known for his novels dealing with social and marital interplay, in his later years his novels became more experimental. He passed away in February 1916.

Blurb

A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate…An estate haunted by a beckoning evil.

Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls…

But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.

For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

Review

This was the last book I completed on holiday and to be honest it was a massive disappointment. I just could not get on with James’ writing style and found the whole story to be extremely boring.

The story centres around a young woman who is hired to be the governess of two young orphans. The uncle of these children does not want to know anything of their upbringing or of any problems, he wants to live his life to the full unhindered by these children. The governess goes off to a large country estate to look after these children and she immediately starts to hear and see strange things.

Now my first reaction was that this governess is very young for such responsibility and inexperienced. Her imagination could easily be running wild, and turning the sounds of an old house into something more. The housekeeper does not help instead of giving the girl a good shake she just blindly accepts what the governess is saying.

Then the two ghosts start to appear that only the governess has seen but she is convinced the children have seen them too but the children are not afraid of the ghosts.

At times I did wonder and still do whether all of this was in the governess’ head because it just was not a very convincing gothic horror story. It just felt forced and sloppily written, and there were certain things that got on my nerves, for instance why did she just ignore that the boy was expelled from boarding school, why did she not found out why he was expelled or find him another school? The only good point was the description and setting the scene of the gothic style manor house.

The final straw was the ending which just annoyed me no end and just confirmed to me that the book had been a massive waste of my time, I was just thankful it was rather short. I gave this book 1 out 5 Dragons.

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Details of book I read

Page count: 124

Format: Kindle

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The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell (ARC Review)

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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About the author

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Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

Blurb

You thought they were just staying for the weekend. They looked harmless enough – with only two suitcases and a cat in a wicker box.

But soon things turn very, very dark. It happens slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly.

Now you and your sister must find a way to survive…

Review

Firstly, a massive thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for letting me read this book for an honest review.

From the very first few pages of this book I was gripped, it was truly amazing and kept me guessing right till the end. I could not put this book down and if it wasn’t for sleep and work I probably wouldn’t have.

This book switches from the past to the present and slowly the reader works out the connections and how it all fits together, but there are always certain elements left out so it is not all completely clear till the very end.

Libby is the character in the present who on her twenty-fifth birthday inherits a massive house in Chelsea that will change her life forever. However, Libby is adopted and knows nothing of her childhood – can this house tell her more about her past and where she came from?

The other main characters are the people from the past Henry and Lucy Lamb who were children in the Chelsea house all those years ago. The story is told between Libby, Lucy and Henry.

This story is incredibly well written and an amazing thriller, Jewell has a real gift for keeping you on your toes. At the beginning of the story I was not entirely sure what was going on and I did find it a little confusing but I stuck with it and it all made sense and I soon adjusted and got used to how the story flitted from one character to another. However, I imagine it is a book that once you have read it and know the outcome you do not need to read it again because knowing the ending spoils the reading experience.

I found this story really creepy and because I could not work out the ending my imagination ran wild with other possibilities which seemed to make it even creepier! I thoroughly enjoyed all the elements of this book and plan on reading more by Lisa Jewell. I was so happy that by chance I saw this book on NetGalley and my request was granted.

I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good thriller.

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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Review)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

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About the Author

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Sara Collins studied Law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years. In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize for Recreative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of Gothic Fiction. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Blurb

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

Review

I must admit I was really excited to get this book and read it after seeing it on Facebook with rave reviews. I was also really pleased to get a signed copy from Waterstones. So it was moved to the top of my TBR pile. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

I found this book really annoying, when I first started it I was happily reading away, however it then began to get on my nerves and I was reluctant to keep going. I even stopped reading it for about a week but did return because I wanted to know what happened at the end.

I’m not entirely sure what it was that got on my nerves so much but I think it was the writing style. It just made me reluctant to pick the book up and read it. I also did not like the fact that the blurb pointed that there would be more of a trial being featured and sadly there was hardly any of the trial in the story, it just felt like an afterthought added at the end.

This book includes many themes, slavery, drug abuse, abuse, depression and much more and I think overall there are too many themes covered and it makes the story murky. I also found that certain elements of the story were highly predictable and that made it rather dull to read at times.

Overall, I felt no sympathy for the characters especially Frannie and some of them really got on my nerves, mainly Madame. I felt no real love for the story and will not be reading it again. Most people I am sure will enjoy this book but sadly it was just not my cup of tea. I have given this book 2 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase links

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The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

A child’s bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to date them. Are these the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years ago?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for this missing child. Ever since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows Ruth’s instincts and experience can help him finally put this case to rest.

Then a second child goes missing, and Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she’s getting ever closer to the truth…

Review

A couple of months ago I read the latest Dr Ruth Galloway book The Stone Circle and absolutely loved it. Since then I was determined to read all of the series and have been buying the books when visiting Waterstones stores. So a few days ago I began the first novel in the series which actually links in with The Stone Circle.

I just love the character of Ruth, she is an academic who doesn’t seem to care about what people’s opinions of her are. It is clear her weight is an issue though as she thinks about it a lot in this book but doesn’t really do anything about it. She is a woman who just seems to have reached a certain age and has decided she is happy in her own skin and circumstances. She lives in a tiny remote cottage in the middle of nowhere but she loves it and she definitely loves her own company.

Harry is a tough DCI who takes no nonsense and has seen a lot in his job. He has developed a hard shell that takes a lot to break but certain cases like child abductions do get through and cause him a lot of pain. He comes across as an arrogant and grumpy cop but he has a heart and a caring side, which comes across as the story goes on.

I loved how this story has the archaeology in it as well, I found it so fascinating how Ruth excavated the bones and recorded everything down. I loved the references in the mysterious letters and how Ruth methodically works out where they all come from. Ruth is methodical in everything she does and gets excellent results. Harry does not come across as methodical, more run from one clue to another and try and figure it out as he goes along. Even though he says to Ruth he likes lists, he doesn’t come across as a list person to me, but maybe that is just how I am interpreting him.

The ending of the book was a massive surprise to me as I did not see the end result at all and that made me love the book even more. I do have a habit of predicting the end of crime novels but with this book I thought I knew the ending but was very wrong. The other element I loved was that I started to meet Harry’s team and hope in the following books I learn more of the team members as I find them very intriguing.

The other character I absolutely loved was Cathbad, he seems surreal to me and rather amusing with his druid ways. The main thing that comes across though is that he is happy, unbelievably happy and completely at one with himself and nature. The druid way of life obviously has some benefits.

Overall I loved this book and would happily recommend it to anybody who will listen to me. I will be lending my copy to my dad as he loves a good crime novel. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and I can not wait to start reading the next one in the series. I am officially hooked to the Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery series.

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The Time for Murder is Meow by T. C. LoTempio (ARC Review)

The Time for Murder is Meow (Purr N’ Bark Pet Shop Mystery #1) by T. C. LoTempio

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This book was gratefully received by me through NetGalley and Midnight Ink in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

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LoTempio is the national bestselling author of Meow If It’s Murder, the first book in the Nick and Nora Mystery series.

She has been a staff reporter at a young adult magazine for over a decade.

Her love of mysteries started when she was first introduced to the Nancy Drew mysteries at the age of 10. She also owns four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and Rocco. LoTempio and her four feline companions currently live in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes away from the Big Apple.

Blurb

Shell and her two furry sidekicks must cat-ch a killer to save their pet shop

Crishell “Shell” McMillan sees the cancellation of her TV series as a blessing in disguise. The former actress can now take over her late aunt’s pet shop, the Purr N’ Bark, and do something she loves.

While getting the shop ready for re-opening, Shell is asked to loan her aunt’s Cary Grant posters to the local museum for an exhibit. She finds the prospect exciting–until a museum board member, who had a long-standing feud with Shell’s aunt, votes against it. When she discovers the board member dead in the museum, Shell becomes suspect number one. Can she, her Siamese cat Kahlua, and her new sidekick–her aunt’s Persian Purrday–find the real culprit, or will her latest career go up in kitty litter?

Review

This is my second book that I have received from NetGalley and I was so happy to receive it. I must admit I was hooked from the beginning and very pleased to see two wonderful cats involved in the story and a big friendly dog called Rocco make an appearance as well.

I loved the idea of Shell giving up her life in Hollywood to come and take over an old pet shop and let her love of animals take her life somewhere different. I immediately sensed that Shell was no pushover but a strong independent woman who was happy to make bold decisions in her life.

I also really liked her co-star and friend Gary, who came over to stay with her and help in any way he can. He was the perfect friend to Shell, he noticed things about her, knew how she played with the string of her tea bag, when she was making an effort with her appearance and so forth. In my opinion he was the perfect gentleman and the unsung hero of this story.

The main issue I had with this story was the fact that Shell got so worked up and upset about some movie posters not being displayed by the local museum. I can understand that yes the collection was her aunt’s and a great collection, but surely if Shell was so desperate to loan them out to be viewed by the public she could have gone to another museum? She didn’t have to go completely mental and start arguing to the museum board members about it. This whole part of the story for me a was bit unbelievable and stopped me giving the story 5 out of 5 Dragons and instead only 4.

The story was well written and flowed brilliantly, in fact I struggled to put it down. I could tell that LoTempio is a true animal and cat lover by her cat characters Purrday and Kahula. I loved Purrday the cat and found him a true hero of the day kind of cat, a true gentleman and friend to all who know him. Kahula had too much of a chip on her shoulder for my liking and needed to be taken down a peg or two.

I loved this book and hope there will be many more in the series to come of the same excellent quality. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to people who love cats and crime thrillers.

This book will be released on the 8th August 2019.

To preorder from Waterstones

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The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery) (Review)

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths (A Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery)

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

The past is reaching out for Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

DCI Harry Nelson is receiving anonymous letters, and their resemblance to those that first drew him to the Saltmarsh, and his first case with Dr Ruth Galloway, has left him uneasy. After all, the author of those letters is dead.

Or are they?

Then he gets a call from Ruth. She is digging on the Saltmarsh, on the site of a henge – a stone circle. And she has found the bones of a young girl.

When the body is identified as that of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old who went missing thirty years ago, the North Norfolk police reopen the cold case. Are the letters a coincidence, or did someone really know all along where Margaret could be found?

Then another body is discovered. Is this death linked to Margaret’s? It seems that feelings run high and someone is guarding their secrets. What else might they know, if only Ruth and Nelson can find them?

Review

I have never read a book by Elly Griffiths before but I saw this one in Waterstones and loved the blurb so thought I would give it a go. I am so pleased I did as I absolutely loved it and I could not put it down. When I should have been sleeping I was reading but being tired in the morning was worth it. I am fast becoming addicted to crime mystery books, I only really started reading them last year and now I am hooked and discovering more and more favourite authors.

Having not read any of the previous books I was a little worried that I would not follow the storylines between the characters but I soon found the book was possible to read as a stand alone. I also loved that there were mini character biographies at the back of the book, this helped me a lot to understand a bit more about what type of people the main characters were. The first thing that became clear was that most of the police force have complicated relationship histories, which is probably made clearer in the previous books.

This book had me hooked just with the first page, the mysterious letter, I immediately wanted to know more. I loved the idea of an archaeological dig uncovering more than expected and the mystery involved behind it.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book, most crime novels centre around the chief detective but this centres around a Doctor and not any Doctor, a forensic archaeologist. Seeing the crime from Dr Ruth’s point of view is very interesting and eye opening. I found Ruth an interesting character, she loves her daughter deeply and is still madly in love with the father of her child even though they are not together. She also lives for her work and should be thinking of progressing up the career ladder but can not seem to bare leaving Norfolk, for many complicated reasons.

My first impression of Harry Nelson is that he does not know what he wants in life and is a bit like a lost little boy but he is an excellent police officer who can work out any crime and does not let his problems in his personal life get in the way of his work.

I really enjoyed meeting Harry Nelson’s team and would love to know more about them and so I definitely plan on reading more of the books, I have in fact bought the first one in the series to read next. The other element that I absolutely loved was that I had no idea who the culprit was, I had the completely wrong person in my mind. Quite often with crime mysteries I guess the culprit quite early on, but not this book.

I can not recommend this book enough, I could not put it down. If you love crime mysteries and archaeology then this book is for you, but I must warn you, you might end up with a few sleepless nights because you can not put it down. I gave this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase from Waterstones

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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About the author

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He studied law at Edinburgh University. Stevenson was against the Presbyterianism of both Edinburgh’s professional classes and his devout parents, but the influence of Calvinism started his fascination with evil. After much travelling Stevenson eventually settled in Samoa with his wife, he passed away at the age of 44.

Blurb

Published as ‘shilling shocker’ in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil.

This edition also includes Stevenson’s sinister story ‘The Bottle Imp’.

Review

This is another book I am ashamed to say I have never read and just recently I bought a lovely little edition from Waterstones and it has been sat on my TBR pile ever since. I decided it would be a good book to discover Robert Louis Stevenson’s work as I have never read any of his work before.

The first and main story is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and I went into it with high hopes, however it quickly started to disappoint. Mr Utterson the lawyer and good friend of Dr Jekyll is a perfect gentleman and shows the reader that you would be blessed to consider him your friend. Mr Utterson in fact was my favourite character and he was probably the only reason I kept reading. Mr Hyde was also a good character, he was bad to the bone and showed a man with no morals to guide him or conscience, he was happy with his actions, showed no remorse and was dangerous to all around him.

Dr Jekyll is the character which I disliked greatly! He was weak and pathetic he had bad desires within him and a perverted mind that lay hidden because of his status in society and his title. We have no idea what horrors he performed in his past but they are hinted at, now due to getting older the desires are still there but he can not act upon them without losing everything or facing the gallows. Then Mr Hyde comes along, Mr Hyde is Jekyll’s answer to everything, Hyde does all the horrors and faces the gallows and Jekyll remains the good Dr. In my opinion Jekyll is evil, he just does not show it.

Jekyll tries to reform himself but this soon fails and Hyde starts to take over. Hyde was always going to take over because Jekyll is weak but also enjoys what Hyde does, if he was truly horrified and repulsed by Hyde’s actions he would have beaten Hyde and got his life back. Jekyll did not deserve the life he had or the dedicated friends like Mr Utterson in my opinion because he was as guilty as Mr Hyde.

This story annoyed me greatly because Dr Jekyll is shown in a light where the reader should feel sorry for him but I disagree with that. Dr Jekyll was weak and evil and in my opinion worse than Mr Hyde because he had the power to stop Hyde but did not. This story on its own would have only got 2 Dragons from me.

The second story in this book is The Bottle Imp and that was my favourite out of the two. This story is about a magical imp that lives in a bottle and can grant you any wishes, however it comes with conditions that could leave the owner going to hell.

The story contains many topics greed, love, hopelessness, despair, faith, courage and much more. I really enjoyed how Stevenson came up with the story and the morals behind it. Keawe is not a greedy man he does not ask for millions off the imp he asks for enough for his dream house that he can live in for the rest of his life and enjoy it. Kokua is the woman that Keawe falls in love with and risks everything for and she in turn risks everything for him. Their love is so strong they will do anything for each other. Others in this story do not show such selflessness and greed is the dominant trait in their characters. These two people are not greedy they just want to live happily together for the rest of their lives, but can they?

A real love story that was beautiful to read and not too long. I gave this one 4 out of 5 Dragons, so overall balancing the results I gave the book 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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