The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – Book Review

I received this book from Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a classic British Murder Mystery (complete with a butler, a tremendous moustache, and a veritable drawing room of hidden skeletons just waiting to be uncovered) – with the slightest fantasy twist that allows us to see this fateful day from eight different perspectives. This is one of those books that you simply cannot explain in any amount of detail without many hand gestures, diagrams and spoilers – I’ve tried. It requires a decent amount of concentration and there are a lot of moving parts but the end product is nothing short of genius. If you figure it out more than a second before the tell-all, you’re a greater detective than I could ever hope to be. Absolutely nothing and nobody in this house is what they appear to be and there is a surprise around every corner. I did disagree / take issue with the forgiveness arc, simply because I feel there are crimes deserving of eternal punishment in retribution and this was one of them, for me at least. Otherwise, a very satisfying ending though I still have questions that may never be answered. Overall, this is the first mystery novel that’s ever really engaged me and may have made me open to more books in the genre.
Click on cover for the book’s description.

I received this book from Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a classic British Murder Mystery (complete with a butler, a tremendous moustache, and a veritable drawing room of hidden skeletons just waiting to be uncovered) – with the slightest fantasy twist that allows us to see this fateful day from eight different perspectives.

This is one of those books that you simply cannot explain in any amount of detail without many hand gestures, diagrams and spoilers – I’ve tried. It requires a decent amount of concentration and there are a lot of moving parts but the end product is nothing short of genius.

If you figure it out more than a second before the tell-all, you’re a greater detective than I could ever hope to be. Absolutely nothing and nobody in this house is what they appear to be and there is a surprise around every corner.

I did disagree / take issue with the forgiveness arc, simply because I feel there are crimes deserving of eternal punishment in retribution and this was one of them, for me at least. Otherwise, a very satisfying ending though I still have questions that may never be answered.

Overall, this is the first mystery novel that’s ever really engaged me and may have made me open to more books in the genre.

My review of the first mystery novel that’s ever really engaged me, a classic British Murder Mystery with a fantasy twist The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.My review of the first mystery novel that’s ever really engaged me, a classic British Murder Mystery with a fantasy twist The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.My review of the first mystery novel that’s ever really engaged me, a classic British Murder Mystery with a fantasy twist The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.


Classic book Review

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – Classic Book Review

Dickens, C - A Tale of Two Cities (2)🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s quite remarkable that a book can both enthral you and keep you hooked on the plot but at the same time be written in a style that has you nodding off a little on the train, but this one managed it.
This is the first Dickens novel I’ve read and I wasn’t expecting it to be easy but I did struggle. I adjusted to the language eventually but the description of the village of St Antoine, that all I really took from was that it was poor, starving and oppressed was a struggle. I mean why use three words when you can use three pages?

That being said, I really loved the story and just the book. I think this is further amplified by my reason for starting with this particular Dickens novel before the others, which is that it is referenced a lot in The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare (which I now need to re-read having read this).

Syndey has most definitely joined the list of my all-time favourite characters and Madame Defarge has joined the list of most hated (I thought she was a brilliant villain, especially since I didn’t even realise she was one until much later) and I definitely plan on reading this again.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Book Review

Hoang, H - The Kiss QuotientI received a copy of this book from Corvus and Atlantic Books Ltd. Via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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OH MY WORD.

I just cannot get over how much I love this book. I started it yesterday morning on the train and I just couldn’t. Stop. Reading. It. I just couldn’t. And to be clear, not an appropriate book for the workplace. I got absolutely nothing done. But I just couldn’t stop reading and by last night I’d finished it. It was so good.

I think my love was mainly down to Stella (our leading lady), she’s autistic/Asperger’s (both are mentioned in the book but it’s not clearly explained which she is because though they are part of the same spectrum there is something of a difference between the two) and I just couldn’t believe how entirely I related to her[1]. Hers and Michael’s relationship was downright adorable from the start which I feel is a huge accomplishment given it starts through solicitation, for crying out loud.

I liked the alternating perspectives as they were well executed and, it was just too funny at parts, Stella’s mum’s obsession with recommending Tinder was priceless, both mothers, in fact, were fantastic. And Stella’s thought process made me laugh as much as it made absolute sense to me, my two favourite quotes of hers are:

“I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe.”

(Actually the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard and I’m not even that beguiled by Maths.)

“If a woman purchased underclothes for a man, it meant she loved him.”

This is actually true^. 100% fact.

I’m struggling to find fault frankly. It was a fun, light and extremely funny book that has joined the ranks of my all-time favourites and I will most certainly read again. Thank you, Helen Hoang, truly.


[1] This is a quote in particular that stands out in my mind:

“For several stomach-twisting moments, she ran through her list of presocialization reminders: think before you talk (anything and everything can be an insult to someone; when in doubt, say nothing), be nice, sitting on your hands prevents fidgeting and feels good, make eye contact, smile (no teeth, that’s scary), don’t start thinking about work, don’t let yourself talk about work (no one wants to hear about it), please and thank you, apologise with feeling.”

I have a list of stuff I tell myself in my head (before social stuff I’m made to go to even though I hate it) so similar to this, it hurts a little to read.

In the back of the book, Hoang writes how writing Stella helped her discover herself and recommends a bunch of books about autism in women that I am absolutely going to read. It’s been a possibility that has niggled in the back of my mind since my earliest teen years that though it’s highly unlikely I have Asperger’s syndrome I am almost certainly on the autistic spectrum, but before now I never wanted to actually ask the question, I just decided I was me and I was weird but that’s okay because I was always told everyone is a bit weird. But oddly, no matter the outcome of that likely strange conversation with my GP, I feel good about this and I really can’t explain why.

Classic book Review

Emma by Jane Austen – Classic Book Review

Why the differentiation between book reviews and classic book reviews? I’m so glad you asked. Mainly because all classics are classics for a reason and a full-length review on a book most people know a fair bit about is going to be dull for all involved, these, like biscuits, will be short and sweet.


Austen, J - Emma🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is only the second (and a half) Austen novel I have read, the first being Pride and Prejudice (an all time favourite), the half being an attempt at Mansfield Park that was abandoned because Fanny Price is insufferable. Though I don’t think it was as good as P&P it definitely secured me as a fan of Austen’s work and redeemed the evils of Mansfield Park.

Emma finally learns her lesson which I was very happy about because though there are many faults in her, she’s really not so bad. Mr. Knightly (sigh) may (I admit nothing) have overtaken Mr. Darcy as my favourite of Austen’s characters (so far … maybe) and Mr. Woodhouse is so ridiculous he didn’t even annoy me he just made me laugh. I couldn’t help but compare him to Mr. Bennet and wonder how Emma possibly coped with him, I also for some reason thought that he was a good idea of what Gilderoy Lockhart would be like in retirement.

All in all, I really enjoyed it and even though all the characters annoyed me in some way or other (even Mr. Knightley, in love with her, when she was 13? He would have been 29, I get it was different back then but the reassurance that the love was platonic or familial at that point would have been nice) I was generally really happy with the outcome for everyone.

It could only have been improved if Mrs Elton and her cara sposo , Mr. would ride their barouche-landau over the edge of a cliff.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand – Book Review

Legrand, C - FurybornI received this book from its publisher Sourcebooks Fire via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟🌟🌟.5

I absolutely loved this book! I had heard very mixed views previously but I absolutely adored it, the world building, the narrative, all of it. This is kind of like Throne of Glass meets The Fallen meets Song of Blood and Stone. You know what it means when you have to use three different series to try and cover everything in a book? It means it’s a new and original idea and you’re grasping at straws trying to adequately explain it.

The story is told from the varying perspectives of two awesome, powerful and strong heroines, each fully rounded with fears, flaws and wit and both were great. The varying perspectives also take place in different time periods that would ordinarily confuse me because YA Fantasy novels never seem to strike the balance right but this was more in the way of how Scott Lynch writes his Gentleman Bastard Sequence, each is relevant to the other but makes intriguing and exciting narratives alone too. At the end of every chapter I was itching to continue with that narrative and see what happened but just a few lines into the other and that had me hooked too, it was most conflicting – but in a good way.

I don’t think the two stories separately would have been as interesting but together they were spectacular.

As you probably know I try to be balanced in my reviews so in the spirit if being fair my only issues were Ludivine’s dialogue and the propensity of the majority of the lead characters to try and fix all their problems with sex. Like everything, trauma, adversity, war, depression, guilt – when confronted with anything it felt like Rielle and Eliana’s first port of call to fix it was to get their leg over with whoever they were with. Luckily the men and women in their lives knew them well enough to make them actually face their problems but this response doesn’t alter even at the end and I think it would have been good character development for it to have stopped at the 75% mark.

What was my problem with Ludivine’s dialogue? She’s a question-talker. What’s a question-talker? Well, it’s someone who makes every point by first posing a question to themselves and them answering themselves, often in trains of three. Do I have a problem with this? Yes, because it’s freaking annoying!

It’s something writers usually use to make you find a character annoying, but we were supposed to like Ludivine but every time she spoke I was just like please, shut up.

That aside, this was such a great read and I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – Book Review

Meyer, M - RenegadesThis book was the March choice for the Book Dragon Lair Book Club.

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Okay, I’ll admit I adored this book. It’s not perfect for sure, but nothing is – and there were parts even I had to cringe a smidge at the cheesy superhero/villain dialogue but I feel like if you’re going to go into the superhero genre, you’ve got to go all in.

My advice for picking up this book:

If you already enjoy comic books/superheroes and know you don’t mind the tropes/dialogue then you will enjoy this for the fun read it is. P.S. Nova is totally a Batman (but less gritty).

If you’re not overly familiar or a big reader of comics/heroes etc, but enjoy YA then you will enjoy it if you go into it prepared for the odd cheesy superhero lines. But honestly, you need to go into it with an open mind and just with the intention of having a bit of a fun ride, but don’t expect a dark gritty twisted tale because this isn’t it, the darkest parts are at the start and they still have a metaphorical nightlight if you catch my meaning.

I did pretty much predict most of the main plot points but I don’t mind it if they’re good ones. I’m a firm believer that clichés are clichés for a reason and they just work with this concept. More than anything I just want them to adapt it into a beautiful graphic novel. That’s all I want. More than I want a sequel.

Minor spoliers ahead.

The love arc, whilst also totally foreordained didn’t actually feel forced and I think will lead to interesting places in future installments. I’m kind of hoping ‘Archenemies’ (the recently announced title) means it’s leading to where I want it too.

Admittedly, I wasn’t all for the big reveal because I was really rooting for Nova to get Ace’s helmet for herself and being all …

But oh well, maybe later on in the series.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – Book Review

Christo, A - To Kill A Kingdom🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I had to take a few hours to collect myself after I finished this book, lest any thoughts I express be illegible. This is exactly the kind of book I needed right now, in the midst of an extended reading-slump (they tend to be an annual occurrence, around the transformation of Winter to Spring). Had I not been at work, I don’t think I’d have put it down once – sleep be damned – but alas, I love my job and would like to keep it.

Christo caught my attention immediately from the very first page, she definitely came in all guns blazing with action, world-building and intrigue. I liked the main characters, in particular, Lira, from the get-go and the descriptions of mermaids and sirens and all other aspects of their turmoiled kingdom were eerily beautiful and – for a mythology nerd like myself – thought-provoking.

There were aspects of the story I could predict purely due to the genre – the romance arc for example – but it in no way took away from my enjoyment of the book but as far as the development of the story was concerned there was a surprise around every corner and it was brilliantly well-paced and I truly loved the book.

The only faults I’d even be able to entertain would be the most inconsequential nitpicks like the romance arc but even then I thought it was well managed and transcended the cliche – and to be honest, I shipped them the whole time anyway. I was slightly dissatisfied with the ending but only because I wanted more detail and the book was so well paced the whole way through, that the ending felt a smidge rushed – but that may just be the book hangover talking. The characters stayed true to themselves in the ending though, which is great since it would have been so easy for them to fall into that huge, branch-covered-and-not-at-all-inconspicuous trap and conform to the romance arc cliche I previously mentioned, which would have made no sense. *sighs in relief*

I do wish there had been more crew members of the Saad mentioned than just the core group – as great as they are (and they really are), there were times I forgot there were 100 people on that ship but I understand that too many characters can cause a slew of writing issues so it’s more a preference than a criticism.

Despite these highly negligible issues, To Kill A Kingdom has joined my list of favourite novels and I’ve already ordered my physical copy. I can’t wait for more from this author – though not a sequel to this book, it would be The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea all over again. I have unanswered questions but not enough to warrant a whole book – it stands stronger as a standalone novel.

Overall, a stunning novel. Thank you for curing my slump, Ms. Christo.