Book Reviews

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of a bell ringing, followed by someone chanting ‘shame, shame, shame’ because I got myself stuck in a YA murder mystery fiction novel. Look, I’ve read a timeless classic (Fahrenheit 451) and a hugely loved novel (Where the Crawdads Sing) in the space of a few months, so allow me some trash to reset myself, okay?

One of Us Is Lying is described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, and it’s more than a fair comparison in my opinion. A group of teens find themselves in detention together in an unusual circumstance, and one of them dies there. The nature of their death is suspicious and foul play is suspected, but which of them did it?

It would make an excellent Netflix TV show for sure. I can’t help but compare it to 13 Reasons Why and look at the success that show had. I could actually cast the 13RW actors for this group in my head whilst reading. They’re an interesting group of characters and how they develop is easily the best thing about the book. You can’t help but root for them all which makes the fact that one of them is probably a murderer all the more unsettling. I didn’t think it was any of them!

One of Us Is Lying is the first book in a series of 3. The sequel, One of Us Is Next is already out, and the final book, One of Us Is Back is due for release in 2023. I can’t bring myself to read the 2nd book yet because it’s far too long of a wait for the final conclusion! Without spoiling anything though I will say that the first book has a satisfying enough conclusion to be perfectly acceptable as a stand-alone novel.

Book Reviews · Movie Reviews

Book vs Movie: Fahrenheit 451

You all know I’ve been reading more this year, and I’ve tried to write a little review for every book I’ve read. For the Hidden Gems challenge I watched 3 Michael B. Jordan movies including Fahrenheit 451. It was an alright movie, but I knew it was based on a hugely famous book from the 1950s and I was intrigued to find out more about this fictional version of our world and find out the differences. I know there was already a movie adaptation made in 1966 that’s supposedly better than the 2018 version, but after not loving the recent movie and not loving the book either, I can’t dedicate any more time to it!

So, if you’ve never experienced Fahrenheit 451, I’ll give you a brief summary. Firefighters don’t put out fires anymore, they burn books. Why? They’re banned, in a bid to make us all happier. It’s deep, and would I be right in thinking it was studied in schools across the pond? We had to read Of Mice and Men 451 times in the UK.

book-vs-movie-fahrenheit-451

What I really wanted to get across was just how different the book and the recent movie are! There are characters in the book that don’t even exist in the movie, meaning the plot has changed dramatically. The movie is of course more stylish, and manages to showcase just how powerful and revered these firefighters are with the use of television, the internet and social media. That’s a huge plus for the movie for sure. I also much preferred the movie version of the main character, Montag, and I promise that has nothing to do with Michael B. Jordan’s looks!

My biggest struggle with the book was the writing style. It felt like every single sentence was written as though it were a meaningful, deep poem, and so pages would go by and I wasn’t sure what, if anything, had even happened. It made for a really slow read.

If you’ll forgive me for being a bit stupid, the question I was left with after watching the movie was this – if the firefighters don’t put out fires anymore, who does?! I was hoping the book would answer that for me. What I learnt from the book was that in this version of our world, houses are now made to be fireproof. Great, okay. So what about forest fires? Car fires? Your house might be build of fire-proof materials but if you burn your dinner too badly you’re still going to set fire to everything inside it, who deals with that?

And here’s the most annoying part, a part of me still wants to watch the 60s movie. Maybe that will finally give me answers…

Book Reviews

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I don’t read a lot of books, and when I do read, I like to explore a range of genres and authors so it’s rare for me to explore an author’s work past 1 novel. However, Liane Moriarty is the brains behind Big Little Lies, the book that went on to become a hugely successful TV show. I’m yet to watch season 2 (so little time!) but I was completely sucked into the mystery of season 1 so it’s definitely on the to-do list. I’ve also read Truly Madly Guilty, another of Moriarty’s novels. Whilst I didn’t love it, I could appreciate the author’s talent for spinning and unraveling a mystery so I knew I wanted to read more.

Although it isn’t one of her more recent books, I ended up choosing The Husband’s Secret. It’s been in my Goodreads list for a while now and seems to be one of the best rated books in Moriarty’s collection. 550,000 reviewers can’t be wrong, surely? The Husband’s Secret starts with introducing a host of characters, who all seem vastly different to begin with, but whose stories merge as the book goes on.

Cecilia lives a seemingly perfect life, great husband, great kids, successful business, beautiful house. Until she comes across a letter, written by her husband, addressed to her to read in the event of his death. She doesn’t open it – but when she mentions the letter to her husband, his reaction isn’t what she was expecting.

I feel like I shouldn’t really tell you much more, because there are lots of twists along the way and I might accidentally reveal things without meaning to. Just know that I highly recommend it! My biggest issue with Truly Madly Guilty was that there was clearly a big reveal that was building up, so much so that when the cat is finally out of the bag, it feels quite anti-climatic. This isn’t the case with The Husband’s Secret. I didn’t see the twist coming, so I was shocked but not actually surprised. However – that moment is just the start, and the drama kicks up a storm after that point.

I’m being really cryptic, aren’t I? It’s so tough to discuss stories like this without giving things away! Just know that if you’re a fan of the genre, this is one you’ll want to read.

Book Reviews

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m behind on my book reviews somehow so you’ll probably see two from me this week! I’ll start with Klara and the Sun, though. This was a read that was well out of my comfort zone, but seemed to be talked about so highly that my curiosity wouldn’t allow me to ignore it! Klara is an AF, or Artificial Friend, a robot designed to be a companion for a child. All AF’s have their own micro personalities and Klara is more observant than most of her kind. She’s fascinated by the window in the store of which she resides and she worships the sun and it’s healing powers.

What I liked most about this book is that it makes you work things out for yourself. There’s no explanation of what an AF is, why they were designed or what their main purpose is, we’re left to work that out for ourselves. It made the first couple of chapters a difficult read for me, but I prefer this approach than being spoon-fed information just for the sake of it. There’s a lot here that’s open for interpretation and although I’m not a member of any, I imagine it would be a great book of choice for a book club to read and then gather to discuss it’s themes!

Of course, it isn’t too long before Klara is purchased and she gets an owner and a home. This is where the story picked up the pace as we learn about Jodie and her health issues, as well as hints about a ‘procedure’ that children in this fictional world are often put through. The story is all told through Klara’s perspective which can get confusing at times, but it was interesting to read how she sees things.

I can’t say I loved Klara and the Sun though, to be truthful. There was a lot I enjoyed and found fascinating, but the ending wasn’t the revelation I was hoping it would be. I get the feeling that the point of the story is something much deeper, quieter and thoughtful but it was a bit lost on me. I’d still recommend it, though!

Book Reviews

Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood

I’m going to make a deal right now – once April rolls around I’m going to stop complaining about lockdowns and feeling miserable – I promise! Just give me 2 more days because, well, I already wrote the posts and complained in them. So, during the long and depressing month of March I felt the need to be cheered up and also for my next book to be something light, fun and easy to read at night. Scrolling through the books I already had on my Kindle I stumbled across Big Sexy Love by Kirsty Greenwood and it ticked all of my boxes.

Olive Brewster lives a simple but happy life – she works with two lovely ladies at the local market, lives happily with her brother and his (slightly overbearing) girlfriend, and has an amazing best friend named Birdie. The problem is, Birdie is dying. Olive has known this for a long time but one day in hospital Birdie is upset. She knows she doesn’t have long left and asks Olive for the biggest favour she’s ever asked. To fly to New York, track down Birdie’s old childhood love, and deliver a letter to him. Olive of course accepts, but she’s never flown before or even left the city she lives in, and she’s terrified.

Loads of reviews I read claimed that readers laughed out loud constantly whilst reading Big Sexy Love and honestly I have to ask – have you ever laughed out loud whilst reading? I can’t say I have. It’s not to say the book isn’t funny because it is, but Ii feel like it’s an exaggeration. Anyway, I really enjoyed this, it was exactly what I hoped it would be and it would work so well as a movie – please make it happen movie gods!

I’d file Big Sexy Love into the ‘airport reads’ box which I hope doesn’t sound demeaning, it’s just that it’s fast paced enough to read quickly and the story is nice and light hearted. It’s no surprise that there’s a very emotional part towards the end but overall it would make a great holiday read, or, like me, a nice way to pull yourself out of a bad mood!