Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #14 – Stephen King Shelf 1

Published January 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  7 8 9 10 11 12 and 13.

Anyway – on with the tag, it’s time for the third shelf of my second bookshelf and we’re looking at the middle part of the image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Oh dear. If you’re looking at the image and can’t guess why it’s organised the way it is, I’m not helping you here!! Only joking, there are rare few authors on my shelves that get an entire two shelves worth of space to themselves but Stephen King is one of those giants. He was the first author I fell in love with and although I don’t give every single one of his books five stars, I always know I’m going to get a corking story when I open a book of his.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

Ooh, I could tell you so many! I’m going to go with the very first King I read and that was IT when I was about fourteen years old. I’m not ashamed to admit it scared the crap out of me! I have a fond memory of being back at my parents in Germany from boarding school in Scotland and I used to accompany my mum to work so I wouldn’t be alone in the house. I was perfectly happy just sitting in their tea room and reading my book until my mum had a break or she’d finish and we’d head home together. Well, I was sat in the tea room listening to every bump and peculiar noise because I was TERRIFIED. And this was during the day too! From then on, I was a die hard fan and when my copy of IT got damaged, I simply had to buy a replacement copy with the exact same cover as the one I had when I was fourteen years old. A new version just would not do!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

This question really isn’t fair. Stephen King is my God so why would I do that to myself? Oh, alright, if I have to choose? The one at the far right which he wrote with Peter Straub – The Talisman. It’s not my favourite of his collaborations but is better than the second book in the duology, Black House which disappeared from my shelves a little while ago because I had to be honest how much I disliked it. 😦

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

ALL OF THEM. Okay seriously, apart from IT it would be Lisey’s Story because I have a signed hardback copy of that on the second SK shelf that I won’t read because it’s that precious to me!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Hmmm. It would either be Salem’s Lot or Needful Things, both of which are my original copies and are looking very battered and sorry for themselves. The latter book is such an under-rated SK book in my opinion, if you haven’t read it and like King, please do, it’s fabulous.

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Newest addition would be The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams which is one of King’s latest short story collections. I haven’t read it yet (I know, shock horror!) but waited ever so patiently for it to come out in paperback. Even though I think I prefer a hardback, I’m really trying not to buy them at the moment as I have a severe space issue on my shelves and they’re just so damn heavy and annoying when you move house!

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I’m definitely most excited to re-read Rose Madder. I’ve only read it once and that was about fifteen years ago but I remember being absolutely gripped throughout.

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I think I mentioned in my last Shelfie by Shelfie that this bookshelf probably has the most “objects” on it so I’ll tell you about a couple of my favourites. The first are two of my candles. The Yankee Candle, Crackling Wood Fire was a present for Christmas last year and the Mint Mandarin Bitters was a present to myself from TK Maxx as I wanted an Autumnal/Winter Candle and thought this one looked and smelled perfect. It’s probably going to be the next candle I burn after I finish my current Gingerbread one from Flamingo Candles as I don’t think I can wait until next year. I’m a bit strange in that I like to burn particular candles in particular seasons so in my next Shelfie by Shelfie you’ll see my Spring range!! 😀

The second object(s) are two very precious items to me. The first is a glass elephant from Malta where I went to with my fellow blogger and beloved sister Chrissi Reads on a reading holiday. We’ve been there twice now and both times we’ve had the most amazing, relaxing holiday. I think this elephant is from our first visit and we both bought each other one so we’d always have a reminder of our time there. The second object is a bracelet from my Gran. I don’t really wear much jewellery but this is absolutely gorgeous and very “me!”

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Perhaps that I love Stephen King? Yep….I think that’s all!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D and 1E

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE  #2 HERE. and #3 HERE

Jennifer @ Tar Heel Reader Shelfie #1, 2, 3, 4  5, 6, and 7

Paula @ Book Jotter Shelfie #1 and 2.

Gretchen @ Thoughts Become Words Shelfie HERE.

Kathy @ Pages Below The Vaulted Sky Shelfie by Shelfie #1 HERE.

Jenn, Eden and Caitlynn @ Thrice Read Share A Shelfie HERE.

Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog Shelfie by Shelfie 1 and 2.

CJ @ Random Melon Reads Shelfie by Shelfie HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie, Stuart, Jennifer, Paula, Gretchen, Kathy, Jenn, Eden, Caitlynn, Nicki and CJ for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag or you’re one of the people above and I’ve missed out one of your shelfies please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #15 Stephen King Shelf 2.

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Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Published January 21, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Grace Vincent for drawing my attention to this book and inviting me to read a complimentary copy from Corsair Publishers in exchange for an honest review. Where The Crawdads Sing is one of those books where you read the synopsis and instantly know that you have to be a part of whatever this novel is offering. However, I still wasn’t prepared for such a lyrically gorgeous and beautifully descriptive love song to nature, to harsh and difficult living environments and to outsiders living on the cusps of communities which is what this novel provided in abundance. I’ve mentioned in reviews relatively recently that I love being transported to new places in fiction/nonfiction and the author has done exactly that with Crawdads. Throughout the narrative, I felt an expert blend of the wild and unkempt (both in nature and within our characters) and careful, considered plot development that made me constantly want to keep turning the pages.

Delia Owens, author of debut novel, Where The Crawdads Sing.

When I read that this was the author’s debut novel, I couldn’t help but be blown away. Her background as a wildlife scientist stands her in extremely good stead for the creatures she describes and they certainly flew off the pages for me as a reader due to her vivid and colourful way with words. As a bit of an animal nut myself, I very much appreciated the nods to nature in all its glory but the author clearly proves that she can write her human characters just as well, if not better. We hear the heart-breaking story of Kya, a vulnerable young woman who is left to fend for herself on the marsh land with very primitive accommodation after her family start to disappear one by one. Locally, she is known as Marsh Girl and very much mocked and looked down upon, to the point where she only attends one day of school in her life after being teased mercilessly.

However, Kya is far from stupid and as the story continues and she learns to interact, connect and trust certain individuals we discover a new side to her character – an intelligent, knowledgeable and caring woman whose daily experiences surviving on the marsh mean that there isn’t much she doesn’t comprehend about the creatures she shares her life with. Sadly, her eagerness and child-like naivety to find a replacement family and perhaps someone to love again becomes her cross to bear and having always been on the periphery of the town, Kya becomes a figure of fun and potential target for other, unscrupulous individuals.

The Roanoke Marshes of North Carolina, similar to where our female protagonist Kya may have spent all her time searching for food and observing the wildlife.

Image from: http://www.ncwetlands.org/scene-marsh-channel-roanoke-marshes-game-land-ncwetlands-kg-3-2/

This is such a stunning piece of work that perfectly encompasses the raw beauty of nature and the innocence of childhood and really made me stop to think and appreciate my own surroundings compared to material things that I might own. The author is obviously fond of nature and this really comes across throughout the narrative where the environment was described in such minute detail that I could picture myself there completely. Delia Owens doesn’t shy away from tough subject matters, especially regarding Kya’s family and at times, my heart broke for what she had to suffer and then soared when she became such an independent, strong young woman despite her hardships, bitter disappointments and unconventional start to life.

Kya is one of those fantastic characters that go on a real “journey” through the novel. We see her as a scared young girl, a determined, gullible young adolescent and then when she learns to read and unleashes her talent for painting, the world *almost* becomes her oyster. I really felt for Kya throughout this story – mainly because if she had been born in a different place to perhaps a different family, her life could have been a lot different. She is treated horrendously by members of her family and occasional other individuals she comes across as she grows up and at times, it all began to feel a bit hopeless for her ever getting a happy ending, purely because of prejudices she faced due to her impoverished upbringing. I found myself really rooting for her throughout Crawdads, desperately hoping she’d come out the other side but one of the things I most adored about this novel? NOTHING is ever guaranteed, expected or black or white. Delia Owens is fantastic at providing both the realistic and the surprise elements for the reader and I was really excited to find out at the end of this novel that I still had questions.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Changeling (Six Stories #3) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing the free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ve become a huge fan of Matt Wesolowski’s work after thoroughly enjoying both novels in the Six Stories series – Six Stories and the prequel, Hydra and was so delighted to get my spot on this blog tour that I might have given a very loud “whoop!” Now, I’ve sat down three times and tried to compose my thoughts about this novel for you all and each time I’ve failed miserably. Does anyone else really struggle with talking about stand-out books like I do? I feel like there’s only so many adjectives I can use that adequately describe how fantastic this series is and with Changeling, I’m seriously running out of words. How does it stand out for me? The answer is, in every way possible. The structure, the writing style, the individuality, the imaginative (yet realistic) story-telling, the horror, the tension and the intense emotions that accompany this story that left me utterly enraptured.

Matt Wesolowski, author of Changeling, the third book in the Six Stories series.

One of the beautiful parts of this series, which follows the format of a true crime podcast hosted by Scott King, is that each novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I always love to start from the beginning of a series but if you pick up Changeling on a whim, you’re not going to be spoiled for anything which occurs in the previous two books. This particular episode of the podcast Six Stories focuses on the unsolved disappearance of a child, Alfie Marsden in the 1980’s and some peculiar goings-on in the forest where he was last seen. Once again, the author manages to combine elements of true crime, mystery, fantasy and horror so effortlessly and fluidly that it will have you questioning everyone and everything concerned and as Scott King interviews six different individuals connected with the Marsden case, slowly but surely, parts of the puzzle start to slot into place with unexpected and scandalous consequences.

Changeling is set near the English-Welsh border shown in purple on this particular map.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England%E2%80%93Wales_border

Matt Wesolowski is such a gifted story-teller and wordsmith that it’s always a genuine pleasure to sit down with one of his novels and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want this Six Stories series to ever end. I may have mentioned in a previous review that I was initially wary when I heard this series was structured as if you were reading a podcast transcript and I really wasn’t sure if it would work but believe me, it works like a dream. The author manages to capture the drama and the authenticity of real people living normal lives with an other-worldly, more fantastical element. It sits so neatly and comfortably that if you were a previous paranormal sceptic, you’d start looking over your shoulder and listening a bit more to those bumps in the night. There were occasions in Changeling where some of the scenes or even suggestive moments made me quite glad I was reading this book a) in the daytime b) around other people. I’ll certainly never listen to tapping again the same way….that’s for sure!

With this latest offering in the Six Stories series, I feel Matt has “tapped” (sorry, couldn’t resist!) into a far more deeper, emotional component of his style which I fully welcomed and embraced. I appreciated the more vulnerable, heart-breaking aspects of the narrative and although it made for incredibly difficult reading at times, it’s all completely worth it by the end, I assure you. I genuinely believe that the brilliance of this series just cannot be rivalled and even potential copy-cats would have a tough job emulating all the aspects that the author manages to bring together to make this such a unique, thought-provoking and unforgettable reading experience. Will there be more? I really do hope so but even if there isn’t, Matt Wesolowski still has an immovable fan in me for whatever he decides to do next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror
story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a
winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

or on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Changeling will be published on 24th January 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Changeling on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40885780-changeling

Link to Changeling on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Changeling-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1912374579/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547922413&sr=8-2&keywords=changeling

In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom – Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers

Published January 19, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be “completely free,” she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for years, prompting the author to go public with her story in the hope of finding her sister.

What did I think?:

One of the things I love best about reading nonfiction is taking the opportunity to find out more about different countries, cultures and belief systems and North Korea is one of those places that has fascinated me for a long time now. We hear so much in the media about the totalitarian regime i.e. the country being sealed off from nearby potential allies, the punishments doled out to those who try and escape, the secretive nature of how they conduct their business and the absence of freedom of thought/speech. There have been a few books published in recent years from individuals willing to speak out against the regime and I’ve been meaning to check one out so I was delighted to find In Order To Live on Audible which I managed to download and listen to in its entirety in a very short space of time.

Now I have to be honest, I really didn’t get on very well with the audio narration of this book and sadly, this did factor into my general enjoyment but I’ll go into that a bit later. I do firmly believe that if I had read this book rather than listened to it, I would have appreciated it a lot more so whilst I may not necessarily recommend the audiobook format, for Yeonmi’s harrowing story alone, I would definitely classify it as a “must read,” particularly if you’re interested in finding out more about North Korea or the refugee experience.

Yeonmi Park, author of the memoir In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom.

When I first became an avid reader, I almost always stayed in one lane genre wise and tended to only read very narrowly within a specific field – mostly thrillers and crime fiction. Nonfiction wasn’t really for me, I did give it a go at times but in hindsight, I was picking completely the wrong things and nothing seemed to grab my attention or keep me interested until the end and I often gave up, professing that I was primarily a fiction reader. I’m so happy I carried on pushing myself nonfiction wise until I realised the kind of books that I would enjoy and In Order To Live falls perfectly into a few of my specifications. I like to be educated, informed, surprised, moved and challenged with nonfiction and this book did all these things for me, to the extent where I still think about Yeonmi and parts of her life even though it’s been a good couple of months since I finished listening to her story.

I wanted to learn more about North Korea and I knew it was going to be an emotional read but I still wasn’t prepared for how some of their rules and regulations would shock and indeed, anger me. Of course, growing up in a repressive state where you’re taught how to think and feel from the moment you are born is normal and natural for Yeonmi in the beginning as it’s all she’s ever known. However, it’s only when she manages to escape and see how the rest of the world lives that she realises how dangerous and destructive such a way of thinking can be for an entire population. Imagine being at school and being taught mathematics in the terms of war. I’m paraphrasing here but children were basically told: “if you have ten Yankee bastards and six of them are shot, how many Yankee bastards are left?” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, it had a huge impact on me. I mean, if something like that becomes the norm for teaching such young children, what hope is there for their future and how they view other people, really?

A parade of North Korean soldiers.

I hope regular readers will appreciate that I’m always completely honest in my reviews and this is something I feel I have to be honest about but I feel awful for doing it. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t get on with the audio narration of this book and it was such a shame. I’d just like to mention that I love that they got a Korean girl to narrate the story, it made Yeonmi’s life much more authentic and my issue was nothing to do with her accent at all. How do I explain? I just felt that it came across like she was reading a script and at times it felt a bit mechanical and emotionless. Of course, this could be because English was her second language and I absolutely salute her for her obvious mastery of English BUT I felt that Yeonmi’s story was packed full of emotion, hardship and brutality and at times, I felt like I needed a narration where I could really feel the sentiments of the more horrific parts of the story. I really don’t mean to offend anyone, it’s just my personal opinion and it just makes a larger impact on me as a reader when I can really feel all the feelings, you know?

Aside from this minor niggle, I found myself thoroughly intrigued and touched by Yeonmi’s life. Not only did she have to grow up in such a difficult way but her childhood, innocence, dreams and hopes were ripped away from her in a way that could have been entirely preventable if she had lived in a different place. Moreover, I have to give her so much respect for speaking out against the regime and putting her own life at risk in order to try and prevent other young girls going through what she went through at such a young age. She’s a brave, inspirational young woman who has been through such trauma and suffering and emerged out the other side stronger, independent and much more resilient as a result.

I’d love to know your thoughts on In Order To Live if you’ve read it, especially if you listened to the audiobook. Did you have the same feelings as me? Please let me know in the comments below!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Talking About The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn with Chrissi Reads

Published January 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What was your initial impression of Anna? Did it change as the book went on?

BETH: I’m not sure what I thought of her to be honest. It’s perfectly obvious she was an unreliable narrator as I’ll get to in the next question but as a reader, I’m always prepared to give a character a chance and get to know more about them before I make a judgement. I felt terribly sorry for her because it was obvious she had severe mental health problems with her agoraphobia and because I knew this was a psychological thriller I knew that nothing she would witness from her window was going to be good!

BETH: Why did you think Anna was so obsessed with observing her neighbours? How did it make her feel more connected to the outside world?

CHRISSI: I truly think Anna was bored with her life. Observing her neighbours felt like she had something to do, what with being stuck in the house all day and night. I think observing her neighbours made her feel connected to the world because she almost ‘lived’ through them. She got to experience their every day routine and that became her routine too. Observing her neighbours gave her a sense of normality.

CHRISSI: There have a been a number of thrillers/suspense stories with an unreliable narrator suffering from a drinking problem. Why do you think the authors make that choice? How does drinking impact the story they’re telling?

BETH: Initially, this book very much reminded me of Girl On The Train i.e. mature female protagonist with a drinking problem witnesses something horrific. In this way, I think that it’s a narrative I’ve read about before so the author has to do something special to make it a bit different. Obviously, drinking can impair your judgement especially if you’re drinking to the extent that our female lead is AND mixing it with strong medication so things you see can be mis-interpreted. In this novel, we’re not even sure if what Anna sees actually happened as the drugs she is taking do have the potential to cause hallucinations….did it happen or didn’t it?

BETH: If this book were to become a film how do you think it would translate? Would you watch it?

CHRISSI: Hmm…I think it could potentially be a good film especially if an extremely talented actress was cast as Anna. I think the agoraphobia gives it an edge that many thrillers don’t have and it would be interesting to see them tackle mental health. I’m not sure if I’d watch it though. For me, it was a little repetitive in points, but they could take some of the repetitiveness out. I haven’t watched The Girl On The Train which is a similar book. I think for me to watch an adaptation, I have to totally believe in the cast.

CHRISSI: Do you think this book has enough about it to stand out in its genre?

BETH: Personally, I think it does. As I mentioned, this trope has been done before so you have to do something different and I think with the addition of the agoraphobia, it made things slightly twistier as you knew whatever Anna did see would be more difficult for her to deal with as she wasn’t able to leave the house and raise the alarm. It was a fascinating read and I think the author did a good job in describing how debilitating and frightening this condition can be for its sufferers.

BETH: What did you think of the ending? Were you satisfied or did you want more?

CHRISSI: I was interested in the story throughout but I found it to be a little bit predictable in points. Personally, I think it was a very cinematic ending. I wasn’t overly sold by the ending, but it certainly was full of drama. It is here that I could see the book being turned into a movie. They could do a lot with it.

CHRISSI: Did the story grip you throughout or did you feel your interest go at any point?

BETH: Generally, I did find it a compelling read and one that I would recommend however, I did kind of guess what was going on towards the end which was slightly disappointing. There was a moment where I was surprised (but I won’t ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet!) but as for what Anna saw out of her window – I saw it coming. I’ve done this a lot recently with thrillers I’ve read so perhaps I’m just getting better at predicting things or I’ve read too many thrillers recently?! Who can say? It didn’t affect my enjoyment though, I still thought it was a great read.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would definitely read more from this author. I thought it was a very accomplished debut and I liked the fact that the author tackled mental health.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (buddy read with Stuart from Always Trust In Books)

Published January 16, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

And now for something a bit different…

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special review on my blog. A little while ago, I participated in my first ever buddy read with Stuart who blogs over at Always Trust in Books (and is an awesome blogger so you should all go follow him if you don’t already!). So far we’ve read the first two books in the brilliant Arc Of A Scythe series by Neal ShustermanScythe and Thunderhead and we’ve read a little non-fiction too – Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt and our latest read in December was The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.

Stuart and I ummed and aaahed for a little bit about how we wanted to review our books – individually or more of a collaboration and he had the brilliant idea of capturing our Twitter chat and then including it as part of our review. So please find here before our thoughts and feelings about Dry at the moment of reading it. If you’re worried about spoilers, never fear! Stuart and I deliberately kept the juicier parts of the narrative very vague so if you haven’t read this yet, no big secrets are given away.

What did WE think?:

Stuart: All set for tomorrow if you are 😃

Beth: Sure am! How would you like to divide it up? 😁🤗

Stuart: Bit random but if we go 102, 193, 309 and finish that should work out.

Beth: Great! See you soon! 🤗

———————-

Stuart: It’s so intense already 😂 I’m only on page 22!

Beth: Haha I know I’m on the edge of my seat! p50 here. 😆

Stuart: There are going to awkward and cruel situations in this book isn’t there… 😟

Stuart: I’m ready 😁 What a place to stop!

Beth: On a late shift today but should be at the checkpoint later on this evening? That scene in the supermarket?! 😱

Stuart: Just the beginnings ☹

Beth: Wow you’re right that was such an intense place to stop, especially that last line!! Want to talk about it tomorrow as it’s quite late now?

Stuart: We are off to a good start already I think. Some solid characters, Alyssa is smart and confident, Kelton is a bit weird but hopefully he will transform over the story. I really like the little snapshot pieces, classic Shusterman Snr. How are you finding thw story?

Beth: I’m enjoying it so far! Finding it slightly more difficult to get to grips with all the different characters in the snapshots but do really love how this is done – I think it just brings an extra edge to proceedings when we pan out and focus on other people that aren’t our immediate protagonists. I’m enjoying Alyssa more as a character but Kelton is certainly intriguing, especially how him and his family have prepared!! 🤔

Stuart: Yeah I think Kelton could go either way right now. That imagery at that very last

moment was amazing, it was a serious turn of events. Yeah the snapshots definitely build up the tension and paint a more vivid picture of the situation. How are you feeling about the plausibility of the whole situation?

Beth: I think the scariest part of it is that it could potentially happen, especially with the threat of climate change the way it is at the moment! I thought the dedication at the beginning was interesting- “to all those struggling to undo the disastrous effects of climate change.” 😐

Stuart: I keep going over it in my my head wondering if it coukd actually get that bad but it really could. People, myself included, are complacent about such matters, thinking there is an endless supply of water out there. I am interested to see what the ‘impossible decisions’ are that the characters are going to have to make. Please don’t let the dog die 😔

Beth: I know! The Shusterman’s will have a lot to answer to if they let that happen! 😓🐶 I think with what we’ve seen so far it’s only going to get darker and more desperate as people go to extraordinary lengths to get something to drink, right?

Stuart: Have you read Nod by Adrian Barnes yet?

Beth: Not yet but should I? I’ve just read the synopsis on Goodreads and I think I need to read it ASAP!

Stuart: Definitely. If this turns out to be similar to that then we are in for a rough time. I will never forget Nod, I highly recommend it to everyone. I am intrigued by how much each Shusterman contributed to the overall writing. What do you think?

Beth: It’s really hard to tell isn’t it? I’d love to know their writing process. It can’t be that Shusterman Jnr provided the YA aspect as we know Neal can already do that as he’s proved with Scythe and Thunderhead! 🤔

Stuart: Well I’m sure we will be able differentiate between the two in the later acts. I like the gravity of this book. It is meaningful and relevant which makes it all the more worth reading. Any thoughts on the parents?

Beth: I feel like we’ll have a lot more to come from them? Particularly Kelton’s – I think there might be hidden depths there that we may find out. I could be reading far too much into it though! 😆

Stuart: That means they aren’t predictable at least. Classic Shusterman. Shall we continue?

Beth: What a good idea. See you at p193! 😁

——————————-

Stuart: The beach and the phones, that caught me off guard. Amazing!

Stuart: Well that got very dark very quickly 😬

Stuart: I’m ready when you are!

Beth: I’m ready! Thanks for the info, that was a great article. I’d love to know more about their writing process. 🤔 I can’t believe how much things have developed since we last spoke. 😱 Everything is completely falling apart isn’t it? What do you think of the addition of Jacqui?

Stuart: Jacqui was an interesting development and she is definitely going to be a spanner in the works. Always putting herself first. What about the situation with the front door! That was just cruel! Turning their defence into complete tragedy.

Beth: I know! That was a twist I certainly didn’t see coming. I do love how they mention “water zombies,” did you? 😆 Do you think it’s a realistic depiction of the way people act when they get desperate?

Stuart: I didn’t initially like the reference but your right it does describe those people very well! I could imagine those not so civilised meetings like the one Alyssa dropped the water off at. The imagery at the beach stopped me in my tracks. The ringing of the phones, that poor boy, any predictions on the parents yet?

Beth: I know that was so sad…and the way the phone was buried 😣 The question of the parents is interesting. For some reason I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them but for where they are now? Difficult to say. I feel that there’s something maybe a bit more malevolent at work here as they’re not the kind of characters to just disappear. How are you finding the character development so far?

Stuart: Kelton is by far the most developed. He has changed non-stop throughout the story so far and I am intrigued where the Shustermans might be going with that. I don’t think Alyssa and Garrett have developed as much as I would expect but with the wildcard of Jacqui in the mix, challenging everyone, anything could happen. I can’t decide if she is as badass as she thinks she is or if it is all show?

Beth: I’m hoping we get to learn a lot more about her as the story continues, from what we’ve heard already she’s had quite an interesting past and I think the badass part is a total front to hide the more vulnerable side of herself and just to survive?

Stuart: She has been surviving long before the tap-out. She has intelligence, lets just hope she has a heart too. The gang are off to a new setting, should we continue on?

Beth: For sure. See you soon 😁

————————————–

Stuart: Ready again. Had plenty of time to read today!

Beth: I’m ready too! Well – one thing I should always expect from Shusterman (at least, the older Shusterman) is the unexpected. He always manages to surprise me. Now we have ANOTHER loose cannon in the mix! What do you make of the very intriguing Henry? 🤔

Stuart: I like him. He is even more mysterious than Jacqui. Shusterman is great at keeping fluid narrative whilst attaching completely new characters which is something I loved about Scythe. Henry stirring the pot like that at the end, he is trouble! I was glad to see Herb again in that Snapshot 😅. Can we trust this new group?

Beth: I know!! I knew he was going to do that as soon as he got that information 😳 he is DEFINITELY looking out for himself and using the info he picks up to his advantage but I do think he has hidden depths and a big heart too. But Jacqui is becoming a lot more interesting isn’t she? How about the things that were left at Daphne’s bedside?

Stuart: I know, she has a bit of a Robin Hood ethos I think. That scene at the evac centre. I like how Henry sees it as a threat and Kelton acts like it is completely normal. Chilling in reality. I feel like a fight is brewing within the group, do you?

Beth: For sure, there are a lot of tensions and there’s three characters that are kind of trying to take the reins of leadership for themselves. So many things simmering below the surface, I have a feeling things are going to kick off royally!!

Stuart: Any issues with the book so far?

Beth: Not so far…I’m enjoying it but preferred the Scythe series. That however is my only complaint. How about you?

Stuart: I’m the same 😂 I’m glad you said that. My issue is expectation. I have gotten used to soaring epicness that is the Arc Of The Scythe series that Dry just doesn’t meet that momentum. It is a great read but the moments here don’t have that same punch. In my opinion… 😂

Beth: Tell me about it dude 😅😴 there are moments of brilliance but it hasn’t had the same impact like you said when compared to the Scythe series. Shall we see how it finishes? I’m struggling to see how everything can be wrapped up in 100 pages!! 😆

Stuart: Let’s do it!

——————————————-

Stuart: I’m ready when you are! That heated up very quickly! Excuse the pun…

Beth: Haha it sure did! 😅 wow that ending was action on top of action wasn’t it?!

Stuart: That was an ingenious moment right at the last second I have to say. Really summed up the novel really well. Poor Jacqui though. Well Dry was a pretty decent read for me, how about you?

Beth: Yes and even though it was kind of wrapped up with a little bow at the end I was quite pleased about the ending – it certainly could have ended a lot differently! Don’t you think the reappearance and explanation of the parents was just a bit too sudden though? If I had to sum it up I’d say Dry was a really engaging, thrilling read with some fantastic characterisation and a thought provoking message about climate change. What would you say?

Stuart: I tried not to dwell on the explanation of the parents too much as it brought up to many questions like why a municipal building like a police station had running water yet didn’t seem to utilise it, that brings up too many ifs and buts. Dry for me was an interesting localised disaster novel with some intriguing characters and eye-opening themes. To think that this could be one of the many issues we face in the near future, it definitely packed a punch.

Stuart: It was easy to believe that other states would just look on in indifference to others needs until it was too late and the damage was done. We have become rather complacent in these sorts of matters, I just hope we are actually more prepared than they were in the novel!

Beth: I know it was quite frightening wasn’t it? I’m a bit pessimistic in that way, look at how the country reacts to a little bit of snow, we’re not prepared at all! 😆 Henry became quite an interesting character in the end didn’t he?

Stuart: That moment was hilarious, typical wannabe hero 😂. You’re probably right about our preparation… Each character went through an evolution of sorts which was good. I thought Garrett’s arc was the most surprising, unsettling and moving too. Who surprised you?

Beth: I think they all went on a kind of journey especially as you say Garrett but I think for me Kelton had the most surprising moments as Jacqui and Henry were always kind of loose cannons. I would have liked to learn more about Jacqui though – her character really intrigued me!

Stuart: I’m glad she had a little mention at the end. What did you think of the writing overall? Well balanced?

Beth: I did! It doesn’t seem like it was written by two different people, it reads smoothly and isn’t disjointed in any way. What did you think?

Stuart: Yeah I agree. Solid writing, I liked how everything connected well. It was satisfying to see the snapshots get intergrated into the narrative such as the water angel. Snr and Jnr make a good team. Stand out moment?

Beth: Yes I really enjoyed the snapshots too. Hmm. Stand out moment for me would be when they reached the bug out. That’s when I really started to believe the hopelessness of the situation – how about you?

Stuart: The beach scene really stuck with me. Also the point after everything after the brothers in the forest was really intense and I was really on edge! Will you be recommending the novel to everyone?

Stuart: My phone is being weird. That was meant to say ‘the point after everything with the brothers in the forest’.

Beth: I will! Maybe we should tweet Trump? 😆 I’d certainly like to see them team up on something else. It was such a smooth, seamless piece of writing.

Stuart: They are currently working together on making Dry into a movie. Maybe thats why The Toll is taking so long… 😒

Beth: Ugh. But we need it NOW. 😬

Here endeth the Twitter chat.

Final thoughts

Buddy reading the first two books in the Arc Of A Scythe series with Stuart gave us a real hunger to read something else as we (not so patiently!) wait for the last book to be released and when we heard that Neal Shusterman was teaming up with his son to write something with a dystopian/apocalyptic edge, we were quite determined to check it out. I think the most frightening thing about this novel is that it isn’t really far-fetched or fantastical in the slightest. Unlike the Scythe series, which would be an extreme kind of future, Dry suggests an event i.e. the rationing/disappearance of water due to severe drought that could actually happen, particularly with all the worries that our world now faces regarding climate change.

Neal and Jarrod Shusterman, father and son duo and authors of Dry.

This is why I love reading so much. Sometimes it’s pure escapism into an environment authors create that is so other-worldly you can lose yourself easily, enjoy the make-believe and forget your own issues for a little while. Then there’s the stories that are developed that are so realistic that you almost feel the cold, hard smack of reality. Dry was one of those latter novels that made me uncomfortable in the fact that I could completely believe everything that happened. It’s also thought-provoking in the way that it makes you consider how you might behave if given the same dire circumstances. We all like to think we’d be noble and kind and help our fellow neighbour but luckily, many of us have not been in that situation where we’ve been so desperate that we would do anything just to survive.

As I’ve already referred to in the transcript of our chat and if I had to compare Dry to the Scythe series, I have to be honest and shout from the rooftops about Scythe. There is just something so innately special and fascinating about that world and its characters that has really got under my skin and excited me in a way that I haven’t felt about a young adult series in quite some time. If I hadn’t read Scythe though, I’d still be recommending this book as a great read. I loved the variety of characters it encompasses, the interludes between chapters where we get to see the state of the rest of the world and how action-packed it becomes, particularly at that nail-biting, tense finale.

Personally, I would have loved to see some of the characters developed a bit further. For example, I thought there were many more hidden depths to both Alyssa and Garrett that could have been explored further, yet perhaps that’s the sacrifice you make when you have a stand-alone novel, an agreed page limit and such a large cast of characters? I did think Kelton, Jacqui and Henry were fantastic additions to the narrative and their tendencies to be “loose cannons,” really kept the plot intriguing and compelling. It’s obvious that both Neal and Jarrod work terrifically as a writing duo and I’d be fascinated to see if they team up again and write something else – I’d certainly be interested to read it.

Thank you to Stuart from Always Trust In Books for another amazing buddy read – check out his review on his blog at some point today!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

The Three (The Three #1) – Sarah Lotz

Published January 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…

What did I think?:

I’m finally starting to get on top of my backlog of reviews after I took a much needed break from blogging over the month of December whilst in the middle of an enormous blogging slump. I’m feeling that old motivation to shout about books again and what better book to shout about than one I had the pleasure to read with blogging bestie, Janel from Keeper Of Pages? The Three was our November buddy read and one we both ended up feeling puzzled about because of its relatively low Goodreads ratings. I first came across Sarah Lotz in her stupendous novel The White Road but had The Three on my shelves gathering dust for quite some time. Thank goodness for my buddy Janel who also had the same problem and we resolved to read it together and decide for ourselves how we both felt.

Janel and I have quite similar tastes in books which of course, makes our reading experiences all the more special and every conversation I have with her is always exciting, thought-provoking (and as with all good friends) really makes me cackle with laughter. However, we ended up finishing The Three kind of dumb-founded and at times, lost for words as to why this novel hasn’t received higher ratings from readers. This was such an immersive read that both fascinated and frightened me from the very first page and whilst perhaps reading it whilst on a plane to Budapest wasn’t the best idea (!!) it certainly made for a more visceral and nail-biting adventure that will be hard to forget.

Sarah Lotz, author of The Three.

Janel and I have recently finished The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel and I’m not sure if we chose this latest read sub-consciously but on our first conversation for The Three, I could hardly wait to blurt out how similar I found the structure of the novel. Of course, the writing style of Lotz and Neuvel are very different, she tends to edge more towards horror/dystopian and he is much more science fiction but I’m referring to the way both novels are set out. They both feature short, snappy chapters that are told in the form of interviews, newspaper/book excerpts, diary entries etc and not only do I adore this way of telling the story but I find it brings a whole new and unique flavour to the narrative overall. We initially hear from a woman writing a book about the strange events regarding the multiple, mysterious plane crashes but, more specifically, this turns into a story about the strange sole survivors of the mentioned crashes. They all happen to be children and chillingly, all three appear to be a bit “odd” after the event. Is it the trauma of the crash? Or is something a lot more sinister going on here?

Do I recommend reading The Three whilst on a flight? Depends how vivid your imagination is!

I have to admit, it took me a little while to get to grips with the vast array of characters we are presented with in The Three and for a while, I wondered if it was for this reason that some readers had an issue with it. After a period of settling in however, I realised this is absolutely part of the beauty of this novel – you never know whom you’re going to hear from next, what they’re going to say and how this will impact on the narrative. Lotz is a whizz at creating a silent build-up of tension and those quieter moments of the story are clear evidence of her brilliance. I got genuine chills down my spine from reading the initial few pages and at points, had to close the book and take a couple of deep breaths before I could continue reading.

As I’ve already mentioned, there’s such a grand variety and diversity of characters to enjoy in this novel and they’re all individual and beautifully readable in their own ways. No, they may not all be likeable but is this really necessary in a story? For me, I don’t have to like a character to be invested in their story and to be honest, I find the thought processes of characters I don’t particularly gel with MORE interesting than the cookie-cutter, run of the mill “nice” person. In The Three, we’re got some wonderful personalities including a religious fanatic Len, that makes his own prophesies about the plane crashes, the child survivors and what that means for the future of the world. Then we’ve got Paul Craddock, the uncle of one of the survivors whose journey from the beginning just prior to the plane crash versus where he ends up I found to be particularly intriguing.

Best of all, The Three is set in a range of different places from the USA and the UK to Japan and South Africa and as we move across these different continents, you get a real sense of how each individual country is coping with how the world has changed in the aftermath of these disasters. I’m not hundred percent certain but the political state of the world at the moment in addition with some of the topics covered in this novel may have affected how certain readers felt about it. Perhaps things are a little too sensitive and close to the bone if they might actually be happening (or threaten to be happening) right now? Happily, I feel I can divorce myself from that sort of thing and just enjoy the novel for what it is – a damn good, intensely gripping yarn that I found more insightful and more horrifying purely because the events that take place could really happen in the world at this moment in time. What’s more scary than that?

Thank you so much to Janel @ Keeper Of Pages for another excellent buddy read. We’re very much looking forward to completing this duology with Day Four by Sarah Lotz as our January read. Check out Janel’s fantastic review of The Three HERE.

Also look out for our December buddy read review of Only Human (The Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel coming soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Previous buddy reads with Janel @ Keeper Of Pages 

The Fireman by Joe Hill – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Girls by Emma Cline – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.