Review… The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

51VHe12RxJL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_“The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs. Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.”

As a book lover it seemed odd that I wasn’t part of a reading group or book club. Through a recommendation from a work colleague, I recently joined an online book club and have been monitoring their reads for the past few months. Whilst I was previously too engrossed in knocking a couple titles off my TBR (and stuck in the brilliant The Girl in the Ice series), when The Handmaid’s Tale came up as this month’s book I couldn’t resist a trip to the local bookshop to pick up a copy.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a remarkable book, set in the fictional Republic of Gilead, which explores a world where the government abuse the female body for reproduction. Women are bound by a great deal of rules and schooled into a belief that they should be treated as no more than either a wife, a servant or exploited for their fertility as a body for reproduction.

I don’t want to go into depth about the book itself for fear of spoiling it but initially I would say I felt let down by the ending. I felt the book built up a great deal which I initially felt didn’t go where I expected. But then I slept on it. And I realised that was the point – you are left on a cliff hanger, imagining for yourself what happens next, which if anything made the book that bit more brilliant.

And apparently it’s been made into a series! As always I’m glad I’ve read the novel before watching an adaptation!

Five stars for a brilliant piece of literature…

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The Midnight Reader xo

Review… The Erika Foster Series – Robert Bryndza

 

As much as I love reading, I’m not a massive lover of a series (normally I get bored). MY GOD has Robert Bryndza changed that with his Erika Foster series. The series currently comprises 4 brilliant books. The first, The Girl in the Ice, I read almost a year ago and loved. I instantly bought books 2 and 3 but for unknown reasons they slipped down my TBR. It was only when I saw that my pre-order for book 4 had slipped through the kindle cracks and into my library that I realised I needed to do a mass read!

The Girl In the Ice

“Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?”

This is one of those books that you can’t help but start and finish in the same day. This book is so full of suspense that you’ll be hooked straight away. The books are focused around the working (and personal) life of Erika Foster and the murder investigations she works on.  For me something I’ve enjoyed about the entire series is that it isn’t particularly graphic or gory, but goes into the necessary detail for the story.

A fantastic read – and I can’t believe that Robert is usually a chic-lit writer?!?! Maybe I’ll have to delve into those while I wait for his next instalment of the series…

star!star!star!star!star!

The Night Stalker

“If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.”

I had this novel on pre-order and it actually was on my TBR for July last year (woops – and don’t I feel silly for leaving it so long now) – Click Here.  This turned out to be an exceptionally well written and thought out book. I loved how later into the novel, chapters are written from the perspective of the killer and how this allows you to enter their thoughts and move with them as they plan their next steps. Definitely had me checking under my bed and in the cupboards at night!

5 stars for sure!

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Dark Water

“Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.“

I’ve honestly sat and thought about this for a while now, but I think this must be my favourite. Finding the remains of a young child is such a heartbreaking foundation to begin a novel, but this book had it all! Such a dark and suspense filled read with so many secrets.

If only you could give more than 5/5!

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Last Breath

“He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.”

You’d expect by book four in a series things would start to get boring, but NO! With the Erika Foster series, the underlying story of Erika and her life in the police force runs through the books, but with the focus being on a different murder investigation, which keeps things fresh and interesting.

For me this book was felt so current and really brought home the issues with modern day dating and the internet – meeting online and not knowing who you’re truly talking to. Again, loved that chapters are written from the murder’s perspective, bringing both sides of the story.

Couldn’t be less than 5 stars!

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Not much left to say, and I’m definitely out of stars for a while, but fingers crossed a fifth is currently being written Robert!

The Midnight Reader xo

Review… Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

 

“Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.51HvFa-Ih-L

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of ALS – or motor neurone disease – Mitch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.”

In all honesty I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve read The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day (review here) and The Timekeeper (review here) and gave them all 5 star reviews, however each one of those books refers to the No 1 International Bestseller that is Tuesdays with Morrie, which made me think this would be the best of the bunch.

As you may have seen in my previous post from the Paperback Sale (link here) I was really excited to stumble across a second hand copy of Tuesdays with Morrie at a book sale and began reading immediately.

Tuesday’s with Morrie is a beautiful, true story about a student (the author) reuniting with his old professor during his last days on earth. This isn’t a long book, but I feel its one that will resonate with me for a long time. Inviting us to forgive and let go of anger whilst we have the chance and to live a fulfilling life, so that when our time comes, we too are ready to pass on. Admittedly, I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, whilst the book is raw and current so it definitely does have an emotional impact!

Maybe I went in with too high hopes, maybe it just wasn’t as good as it was made out to be, but still four stars from me for a touching story…

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Have you read it, and if so did you feel it lived up to all the hype?!

The Midnight Reader xo

Review… I Found You – Lisa Jewell

“A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.26889268

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Having previous read The Girls (review here…) when I Found You appeared on my kindle recommended books I couldn’t resist.

A missing husband and a man with no memory. You think you have it all sussed out yet still Lisa Jewell manages to catch you out. For me, I loved how the book cleverly wove in two stories from the present along with a story from the past into one.

I have to admit it is slow moving, but it’s got some very dark storylines intertwined so the slow pace felt necessary and in my opinion only added to the charm. Furthermore, it’s nice to have a suspense novel set in England for a change (as usually it’s America which is featured).

Lisa for me is slowly becoming a go to author and I’m looking forward to coming across many more of her books.

I gave this book 5 stars for a fantastic and well intertwined plot…

star!star!star!star!star!

The Midnight Reader xo

The Paperback Sale…

OK, I’ll admit I have a problem… I am completely and utterly obsessed with books!

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Being a paperback lover I couldn’t resist the thought of a paperback sale… in fact, who could?! Quite often I’ve found book sales are inundated with the same titles (unfortunately either ones I’ve loved and slightly want to cry that no one else has yet picked up the copy, or ones that I simply don’t fancy).

UNTIL THIS WEEKEND. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book sale more. My mum had to sit me down and encourage me to put some back, and by some I mean 10 (mainly as we’ve long run out of space at home).

Tuesday’s with Morrie has been on my TBR list practically since the beginning of time. I always come across every other book Mitch Albom has written at book sales, all of which refer on their covers to the No 1 International Bestseller which is Tuesday’s with Morrie so I couldn’t be happier to pick it up finally!

Shantaram has been recommended by more friends than I’ve had roast dinners (sorry Mum). A Man Called Ove, I Let You Go, The Charming Man and Sharp Objects also all feature on my TBR so I definitely did very well there.

The rest for me were slight risks as it was far too manic at the sale to check reviews online! Gone Astray and Second Life look like my type of psychological thriller, and I also read and loved SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, so am very excited to see how this compares. The rest of my picks were all from existing authors that I know I enjoy.

This stash should definitely keep me going for a while. I’m also aiming for 52 books in 52 weeks this year as my Goodreads Challenge, so whilst Shantaram may take over a week to get through (work dependant), I’m hoping these books will help me reach my target! If you’ve read any of the above please let me know your thoughts 🙂

The Midnight Reader xo

Review… The Breakdown – B. A. Paris

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?31450633

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

OH MY GOD. I’ve just finished reading and my heart is literally still racing. For any one that loves a thrilling read… this is one for you.

As anyone who often reads a psychological thriller does, you suspect everyone, you change your mind constantly over who you fear the most and more often that not (well usually for me anyway)… you’re wrong!

I felt this book was perfectly written. I never felt bored or that the story was drawn out and quite honestly don’t think I’ve read faster than the last 25% when it all starts to unravel.

I read B.A. Paris’s Behind Closed Doors last summer and thought it was brilliant also (not sure how that slipped through the review system), which is why when The Breakdown appeared as a suggested buy for Kindle I couldn’t resist. I’m only disappointed in myself I let it sit on my TBR shelf for so long!

I think I might take a little hiatus from thrillers though… my fragile heart can’t take it!

FIVE STARS (I wish I could give more)… a definite recommendation (along with Behind Closed Doors if you haven’t already!)

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The Midnight Reader xo

Review… The Truth About Julia – Anna Schaffner

28935453.jpgIn June 2014, Julia White – a beautiful and intelligent young woman – blows up a coffee shop in central London, killing twenty-four people before turning herself in to the police. Apart from publishing a potentially ironic manifesto, she refuses to explain the reasons for her actions…Clare Hardenberg, an investigative journalist, has been commissioned to write a biography of Julia but at the start of the novel she is on her way to prison herself. What has brought her to this point?

I quite spontaneously decided this year to up my Goodreads Challenge and I’m (trying) to complete 52 books in 52 weeks! According to Goodreads, I’m on track so fingers crossed I can keep this up.

In a battle to reach my 52 books, I’ve been looking out for some gripping psychological thrillers as I always find these to be the easiest (and quickest) of reads.

I believe The Truth About Julia was a kindle daily deal that I couldn’t resist. I felt with all the terrible acts going on in the World, this felt like a timely read.

Being entirely honest, I found the book didn’t flow well and that I struggled to understand who had the narrative (as this jumps back and forth with no written indication of who is speaking). I felt the book dragged for 95% and then suddenly was wrapped up in a bit of a UM WHAT ending!

I wouldn’t class this as a psychological thriller, in fact I wouldn’t say the novel was thrilling in the slightest. It covers some very interesting and sensitive topics, and this I felt it did well, I just didn’t feel it was anything special.

3 stars for an average read…

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The Midnight Reader xo