Book Reviews

The Guest List, Lucy Foley

Oh this second lockdown has got me into such a funk. I won’t complain but I’m just not me at the moment. I haven’t been watching as many movies as I’d like to, but I’ve at least been enjoying reading before bed each night. I’ll have to step outside my book-related comfort zone again soon, but the last book I read was The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Last year I read and reviewed another book of hers, The Hunting Party, so it was interesting to compare the two.

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Set on a tiny island off the Irish coast, The Guest List is centered around an extravagant wedding.  Jules is the bride, hugely successful but slightly on edge as she’s received a strange warning note about her husband to be – Will. He’s a charming man, famous for his TV show which sounds not too different from Bear Grylls. His past is coming back to haunt him in the form of his best man Johnno. Add into the mix a couple who don’t fit in at all, but whom one of them has a long history with Jules, and an extremely troubled bridesmaid, and it’s a wedding bound for disaster.

The disaster strikes very soon into the book – a body is found. But we don’t know who, we don’t know how, and we don’t know why. The rest then is a slow burn story that enlightens us to the main characters and how they might be linked to this death.

I’ve read some slow burns that have irritated me no end because nothing seems to happen until the twist but this isn’t the case here, there’s always something new to learn and it made the book difficult to put down. There were twists that I never saw coming and although by the time we learn who the body is it isn’t so much of a shock anymore, there are still surprises to come.

My biggest, and maybe only problem with The Guest List is the exact same problem I had with the other Lucy Foley book I read – the characters are so unlikeable! I’m starting to realise maybe this is intentional or just Foley’s signature way of writing her characters. I’m just not used to it? I don’t know. Anyway – it didn’t stop my enjoyment of the book and I definitely recommend it to other fans of the genre.

Book Reviews

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

I don’t even want to scroll back through my posts to find out when I last read and reviewed a book. This is definitely the first book I’ve read all year. I haven’t slept well for a really long time now and I hoped that unwinding before bed with a chapter or two of a book would help. It hasn’t, but I’ve at least re-kindled some of my love for reading! This one in particular is a book I’ve been excited about for a while. It’s written by Richard Osman – a name anyone outside the UK will have probably never heard of. He’s most well known for being the creator and co-presenter of one of the UK’s most popular quiz shows, Pointless.

It’s a game which I guess is the complete opposite of Family Fortunes, in which the public has been asked to give answers to a question, but the contestants have to think of the least popular correct answer. It’s particularly fun to watch as a movie fan when one of the questions might involve say, naming cast members of Iron Man 3. (Stan Lee was a pointless answer, for the record). Anyway – Richard Osman has a great sense of humour so when I found out he’d written a novel I was intrigued.

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The Thursday Murder Club is formed of four friends who all live together in a retirement home. None of them are younger than 70 and on Thursday nights, they get together over a slice of homemade cake and attempt to solve closed murder cases. It’s always been hypothetical, until one day when one of the owners of their home, Coopers Chase, is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Together, with the assistance of 2 local detectives who very much wish the Club didn’t have such a strong hold over them, they try to crack the case.

This is very much a character driven story and thankfully the characters are really well written. These pensioners have lived a lot of life and have so much to bring to the table, and I was fascinated by their pasts. It’s just a very wholesome experience this book is, it’s like hearing a grand story straight from an elderly relative, and by the sounds of it this book is just the first in a series. I for one can’t wait to revisit Coopers Chase.

If I could pick one fault with it, and I’m really nit picking now, I got quite lost with the side characters by the end of the book. The main group I knew well, but some of the other residents mentioned I just couldn’t recall who they actually were – which could well be just my own memory letting me down, it’s not to say everyone else would struggle too! All in all, if you’re looking for a detective novel that’s warm and fun rather than cold and gritty, The Thursday Murder Club is definitely the book for you!

Book Reviews

The Passengers by John Marrs

Just when I went to give myself a pat on the back for being completely up to date with my movie reviews, I went and realised I’m 2 books behind on book reviews. Argh! It’s a good thing, I guess, it means I’ve been able to find time to actually read recently, although with the book I’m about to talk about and the one I will be soon, it’s more the case that I sacrificed sleep in order to try and read quicker.

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The Passengers is set in Birmingham, UK (my hometown!) in the not-so-distant future where cars are fully automated. On this particular day, eight seemingly random cars are hijacked by a hacker, and live feeds of their cars and a gathering of officials are broadcast to the country. The hacker announces that in just a few hours, all 8 cars are programmed to collide at high speed, but the public can decide just 1 person to survive.

It’s a crazy premise and caught my attention straight away, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book quicker. The build-up is slow enough to explain just how cars are operating in this future setting but it doesn’t feel long before we’re thrown into the action. To begin with, it was quite confusing suddenly being introduced to all the characters trapped in the cars, and I was frantically trying to remember their names, but the story moves in a way in which you don’t need a perfect memory.

The best thing about The Passengers is the twists and turns that the book makes. Once the characters were introduced I’d already started making my mind up on who I would pick to survive if I had to, but then it’s revealed one by one that all 8 have dark secrets that completely change the way you feel about them. With every new chapter, I couldn’t be certain what direction the story was going to go in next, which is mainly why I ended up reading it so quickly.

Its only letdown was the ending, which I felt turned a little too silly. It was twist after twist and although I’m quite happy to forgo the fairytale ending, I wasn’t satisfied with the conclusion to this story. Still – it’s a solid read and I definitely recommend it!

Another of John Marrs’ books, The One, is going to be a Netflix Series soon so I’m quite keen to check that one out!

Book Reviews

That Guy by Belle Brooks

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Before you judge my taste in books on that cover image, let me explain! As you might already know, all the books I’ve been reading are ones I picked from Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal. Basically, every day there are 3 books on sale for 99p, and I’ve accumulated a bit of a backlog. I only pick books that sound interesting and have decent reviews! Well, when I looked at the reviews, loads of people said how hilarious the book was, and that’s why I picked it – for a light-hearted break from all the thriller novels.

I actually finished reading this weeks ago, but, embarrassingly, I’ve been sucked into this reality show in the UK called Love Island. It’s absolute trash, but it’s horribly addicted, and it reminded me a lot of this book – hence my review today!

So, in a nutshell, Melinda is a single gal working as a receptionist for an escort agency. She used to be a nurse, but a mistake of hers cost a life and she left the profession. She keeps bumping into this hot guy called Arlie in the most embarrassing ways – think Fifty Shades of Grey – and basically, they wind up on a reality show where they’ve been matched as soulmates and put on an island together to fall in love, or whatever.

My biggest problem with the book is that I didn’t find it anywhere near as funny as others seemed too. Melinda has a gay best friend called Chris who provides most of the jokes but he’s such a stereotype that he came across as cringey to me. If it were a movie, the jokes might translate a bit better. It’s not a dull read by any means, but it didn’t make me laugh out loud or anything like that.

Just like this show I’m watching, this is a really trashy read but it’s impossible to put down. It’s the perfect book to pick up at the airport departure lounge to read on holiday whilst catching the sun. Sadly, I read it in bed at home every night listening to the rain…

Book Reviews

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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If you’ve watched the Netflix series ‘You’ starring Penn Badgley and you’re desperate for more, this book is what you need! It’s the next book in the series and I assume what Season 2 of You will be all about. I almost didn’t read it so I could watch the next season without knowing anything, but I haven’t binged a show so quickly for a few years and I really did want to know what Joe did next.

If you have a quick look at reviews on Goodreads or Amazon it’s quite interesting to see a big mix of 1* and 5* reviews – it’s certainly a book that has divided the fans. I can’t comment on differences between Hidden Bodies and the first book because I haven’t read it, so I only had the show to use as a comparison.

It’s probably because of seeing the show, to be honest, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of how perfect a casting choice Penn Badgley was. I don’t think he’s well known outside of Gossip Girl and I hope this show lands him a few bigger roles. He plays a disturbed character almost scarily well!

Hidden Bodies introduces Joe’s new girlfriend, Amy, who on paper seems like a perfect match for him. She shares his love of books and hatred of social media. She doesn’t even use a normal smartphone – favouring burner phones that she regularly dumps. I guess it was a surprise to no one but Joe when Amy ran away with his most expensive books. Of course, Joe’s got some fantastic detective skills so he’s quickly able to work out that she’s running to Los Angeles, and so he starts his hunt.

I’m firmly in the group of 5* reviewers. I loved every single page of this book and only stopped reading each night when I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. It’ll be interesting to see how the show will differ, in particular with the ending. For me, the end of Hidden Bodies was a definite end to Joe’s story – but if the show has gathered a lot of attention I wonder if it’ll be left open for another season? I certainly wouldn’t put it past Netflix to do that – just look at 13 Reasons Why!