Saturday, 25 February 2017

Book Review- The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman

Title: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman
Author: Mindy Mejia
Published: 9th March 2017
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 3.5/5

Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she's found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.
Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie's dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del's, Hattie's high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .
Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Quercus Books in return for an honest review.

This novel is a murder mystery set in a small Minnesota town. 17 year old Hattie was an inspiring actress who had plans to move to New York as soon as she could. However, when she is found murdered, its up to family friend and Sheriff Del Goodman to solve the murder.
This novel is told through three points of views. We follow Del as he solves the murder in the present day, and we also read Hattie and her English teacher's perspectives from the months leading up to her death. This split perspectives works well in this novel, the split timeline also leaves the puzzle unsolved for a long time, it takes a large part of the novel before all the pieces fit together.
This novel definitely has elements of the psychological thriller about it. The split perspectives, which create a tension and mystery in the novel, and the mystery around Hattie and her 'true' persona created this feel to the novel, and I have seen this novel compared to Gone Girl, and there are similarities, not in plot but in the thriller aspects.
Hattie is a fascinating main character, because she isn't honest to anyone you never know whether you are actually seeing the 'real' Hattie in her perspectives or not. This unreliable narrator adds another layer to the narrative as you have to take everything you are told with a pinch of salt! Mejia also deserves praise for her excellent writing of a 17 year old girl. Some authors struggle to accurately replicate the voice of a 17 year old, but I think Mejia has got it exactly right in this instance.
If you are looking for an exciting 'who-dunnit' this isn't the novel for you. There are very few suspects from the beginning of the novel, it is more about piecing the events together, and less about the big reveal of the murderer.
This novel also wasn't the quickest read, the first 70% or so was quite slow, the pace of the novel only picked up in the last 30%, and I was a little disappointed that I wasn't drawn further into the story than I was.
Overall I enjoyed this novel, it was an interesting story about a murder in a small town where everyone knows everyone, with some interesting twists and turns within. However it just didn't draw me in, it felt slow paced and laboured at parts.

Happy reading!

Twitter | Goodreads

Friday, 3 February 2017

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56

On Fridays I will share excerpts from whatever I am reading that day. First, Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  then The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

First share the opening lines of your novel, then turn to page 56 (or 56%) and share a few lines!

This week's book is The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia.

Beginning: "Running away sucked. Here I was, standing in the exact place I'd daydreamed about in math class so many times, right in front of the departures board at the Minneapolis airport, and every detail was just like I'd pictured."

56%: " 'I was lying on the bottom of the quarry for what felt like forever. There was no shade and the sun made me nauseated. I knew my dad was coming and that I had to lie to him, and I was convinced that God would strike me dead.' "

Thoughts: I'm really enjoying this novel so far, and how gorgeous is the cover!!!

Happy reading and have a lovely weekend!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, 2 February 2017

January Wrap Up!

This is a wrap up of what happened on the blog in January!

Books I read:

Time's Arrow- Martin Amis
This book is on my English module's reading list, and is an interesting example of postmodernist fiction. I thought it was an intriguing and different idea for a novel, but overall it wasn't that enjoyable.

A Scandal in Bohemia- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I hope to re-read all of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works this year, so I read a couple of them in January.

A Case of Identity- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Red-Headed League- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Boscombe Valley Mystery- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Five Orange Pips- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Dry- Jane Harper
This is a mystery novel set in Australia that was published in January. You can check out my review here!

Posts on the blog:
My review!

My review!

2017 Bookish Resolutions
Top 10 Books of 2016
Jan '17 Anticipated Releases

Bout of Books 18

Happy reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Book Review- The Dry

Title: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Published: Jan 2017 (UK)
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction, Mystery,

Rating: 4/5

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well...
When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.
And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret... A secret Falk thought long-buried... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface... -Goodreads

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is a mystery novel set in Australia about a Federal Agent called Falk who returns to his hometown to attend his best friend's funeral.
This is a great novel, it is well written and constructed. Harper cleverly and skilfully creates an atmospheric, brooding and tense tone to the novel, which she manages to keep up the whole way through the novel, in fact the novel gets more close and claustrophobic as the story progresses.
There are numerous strands running through this novel; a life changing event that occurred in Falk's childhood, and the "suicide" of his best friend in the present day. Falk tries to figure out the answer to both these puzzles through the novel, we as the reader puzzle over it with him.
The novel features a selection of great characters. Falk is our main character, and the character whose internal thoughts we follow through the novel, however there are a whole host of supporting characters that are very well crafted.
I enjoyed reading a novel set in Australia, it's a setting I don't read about enough, but I was extremely impressed with how well written the small town that the novel is set in was. The closely knit town is one where everyone knows everyone and there are no secrets. This oppressive and intrusive atmosphere was so tangible through the novel, it was a really intense feeling, which I thought Harper created brilliantly.
This novel uses flashbacks to show us the life changing event from Falk's childhood, and it becomes another puzzle that we have to figure out. The flashbacks really create the sense of mystery though, we are drip fed the answer to the mystery, and I thought Harper did a great job of creating the suspense, and juggling the two narratives in two different times.
I have seen some reviews of this novel which have been a little disappointed with the lack of romance in this novel, but I thought it was refreshing to not have very much romance. I think a romantic subplot would have distracted massively from the mystery and the intensity of the novel and actually there aren't any characters in my mind that would make a good romantic partnership anyway!
My only slight criticism of the novel was that the plot was a little slow moving. For a mystery novel I would have preferred a little more pace but the plot was interesting even if it wasn't the fastest moving!
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it had an interesting setting, a very suspensive and intense tone, and some great twists towards the end!!

Happy reading!

Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Shelf Control 24/01/17

This is a weekly feature that I will be posting on a Tuesday, where I will be spotlighting a book that I have on my shelves that I haven't read. This is a great idea for a weekly post, as I have loads of unread books, and i find it really interesting to read why others have purchased and want to read certain books!! This is hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.


This Week's Book: 
Title: Leviathan
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Published: 2009
Pages: 440

Synopsis: Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

How/When I Got It: 
I bought this book in a set with the second book Behemoth a good few years ago now, probably 2012!!

Why I Want To Read It:
I have to confess I have never actually read anything by Westerfeld, but I've seen many people rave about him, so I want to pick some of his work up. Also the synopsis sounds really good!

Happy reading!

Twitter | Goodreads 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Book Review- What Remains of Me

Title: What Remains of Me
Author: Alison Gaylin
Published: Feb 23rd 2016
Pages: 384
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4/5

Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got a drawer somewhere with something hidden in it.
On June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. . . . And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.
Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.
Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?
Written with masterful precision and control, What Remains of Me brilliantly moves forward and back in time, playing out the murders side by side—interweaving subtle connections and peeling away layers of events to reveal the shocking truth. -Goodreads

I received this novel from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

This is a thriller set in Hollywood about a teenager called Kelly who is sent to prison for killing director John McFadden. The novel begins when Kelly has been out of prison for 5 years when her father-in-law (movie legend Sterling Marshall) is killed in the same was as McFadden, and Kelly is a prime suspect.
Gaylin cleverly uses dual timelines in this novel. We follow Kelly's POV when she is out of prison, and we also follow her when she is 17, leading up to the first murder. Reading this we have to piece together what happened as we go, flipping between the present and the past to try to figure what exactly happened and how the pieces all fit together. 
I must admit that I found this read quite slow to begin with, and it was heading towards a 3 star rating, but the second half saved the rating! I struggled to get interested in any of the characters, it was all a bit boring. I actually put the book down and only picked it up again because I had received it to review. 
However I'm really glad I picked the novel back up, the novel really picks up in the second half. The mystery aspect of the novel is very well done, I was never sure whether Kelly killed either of the men, and this ambiguity really added to my enjoyment. It meant I couldn't really trust any of the characters, and the author made you doubt Kelly's voice too, so you were never sure exactly what the facts were!
The author makes good use of news articles and TMZ reports placed sporadically throughout the novel. This pause in the narrative allowed a pause in the story, and allowed the author to show us what the public's view of the murders and Kelly was. This added to the mystery and confusion surrounding what happened, and just gave me more questions about the characters and what the truth was.
Kelly is an unusual and fascinating main character. As a teen, her journey from quiet shy awkward teenage girl to confident drug taking rebel was very interesting to read about. Her life outside of prison, with her husband is just as interesting, although completely different. The insight into the way the Press and the public view her, and her vilification by them because she didn't act a certain way when arrested, was well written by Gatlin. This was a character that I really enjoyed getting to know and reading about. That's not to say that she was likeable, she was a hard and intense character to read about, but that didn't stop me enjoying her, and feeling some sympathy towards her. 
The supporting characters are well done too. Kelly's childhood/adolescent friends are drug taking party goers, children of famous names in Hollywood. Kelly is a lamb among wolves, she is the innocent one that soon finds herself fully involved in the madness of the celebrity children's lives. There is also some fairly problematic parents, all tied to Hollywood somehow, all with problems and vices and pretty poor parenting skills. 
With the addition of a detective with a bias towards Kelly, a group of people living in a commune and Kelly's neighbour who likes to sculpt with chainsaws, Gaylin has created a wide ranging and fascinating collection of characters that all keep the story moving, and are interesting to read about.
I personally would have liked to have read something about Kelly's time in prison, she sat on a lot of information for a long time. She kept many secrets in prison, it would've been interesting to see how she dealt with them. However this is a minor gripe!
Overall I enjoyed this novel. It's a thriller filled with twists and red-herrings, and some very intriguing characters, and if you like mystery thrillers I would give this novel a try!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

My 2017 Bookish Resolutions

I've set myself 10 bookish targets I hope to reach by the end of 2017. Whether I manage to do it or not is another questions, but I'm beginning the year with positivity!!

1. I have set my Goodreads challenge at 50 books for this year, I managed to read 46 in 2016, so hopefully I can push it to 50!

2. I also want to read 12 review books, either from Net Galley, from authors or other review sources.

3. I also want to feature more Scottish authors on this blog, so I'm aiming to read 12 novels by Scottish authors this year.

4. I currently have around 130 unread books in my TBR pile, and my aim in 2017 is to reduce this to under 100, either through reading them, gifting them to others, or donating to charity.

5. I also want to limit the amount of books I purchase this year, so I'm going to try (!!) to limit myself to 1 new book for every 5 I read! Whether this is a resolution I can actually stick to remains to be seen!

6. I want to finish 5 series this year, I only managed to finish 1 in 2016, so I really want to up this for 2017!

7. I also want to read more classics, I'm aiming to read 10 in 2017, quite a few of these will come from my Uni reading list, but I'm still going to include them!

8. I also want to reduce my "Put down for now" shelf on Goodreads. These are where I place all the books I've started and then lost interest in.

9. I also want to re-read 5 novels this year, I don't re-read many books, so I want to increase this!

10. My last resolutions isn't really a resolution as it happens every year, but I want to re-read The Sherlock Holmes novels/short stories, and the Harry Potter series in summer!

Thanks for reading!!

Twitter | Goodreads

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Top 10 Books of 2016

Hi guys, apologies for the lateness of this post! I took part in Bout of Books last week, so I wanted to wait until it was finished before I posted this! These are my 10 favourite books that I read in 2016, as usual they aren't in order of preference.
I had a pretty good year of books this year, I read 5 5 star books, which is a lot for me, and only 5 1 or 2 star books. Hopefully 2017 can be even better!!

1. All The Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr
Review here

2. Salt To The Sea- Ruta Sepetys
Review here

3. Himself- Jess Kidd
Review here

4. Code Name Verity- Elizabeth Wein

5. Raven Black- Ann Cleeves

6. Exodus- Julie Bertagna

7. Dunsinane- David Greig

8. Outlander- Diana Gabaldon

9. The Martian- Andy Weir
Review here

10. Rivers of London- Ben Aaronovitch
Review here

Thanks for reading guys!

Twitter | Goodreads