Book Review

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green Review

‘It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.’

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred thousand dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Turtles All The Way Down was easily one of my most highly anticipated reads, it even featured on my Christmas Book Wishlist here. I couldn’t wait to pick up a copy after loving its predecessors The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, must reads if you haven’t already. Previously, John Green has bowled me over with his writing style, it is unique and unafraid, it is clever and thought provoking, it will break your heart throughout but leave you feeling whole in the end. That being said, I had really high hopes for Turtles All The Way Down, I wanted it to pull me in and make me fall in love with a new set of characters, and in true Green style, it did not disappoint.

Turtles All The Way Down focuses on Aza, a sixteen year old who suffers with anxiety and severe obsessive compulsive disorder. Aza and her best friend Daisy decide to investigate the disappearance of local wanted billionaire Russell Pickett, in the hopes of receiving the hundred thousand dollar reward. Aza previously attended camp with Pickett’s son Davis, which Daisy see’s as their ‘in’ for finding clues and getting the money. While being presented as a mystery tale, Green encapsulates so much more into it – such as the themes of loss, friendship, love, mental illness and hope.

While the mystery aspect remains throughout, the focal point of Turtles All The Way Down are Aza’s anxiety and OCD illnesses. From the very first page we are immediately immersed in Aza’s thoughts, compulsions and feelings. Aza is consumed with thoughts of not being in control of her own body, of it becoming infected and taken over somewhat. Green depicts mental illness in a way readers can understand and relate to, a scene that really stood out for me is when Aza is describing how her mental illness makes her feel. Aza and Daisy attend an underground art show where they are required to wear hard hats with lights attached. Aza tells Daisy to turn the light off on her hat and as they do, she begins to explain how it feels to be in the dark, senseless, floating, not in control, a metaphor for how she feels when she is scared. I thought this was a very simplistic, yet captivating way to describe how Aza sees herself and her mind, and a moment that really solidified the relationship between the two girls for me.

As well as her friendship with Daisy, I love the way Green portrays the relationship between Aza and Davis. Both characters have been connected by loss since their first meeting at camp and this is also the case when they meet again. I really liked the character of Davis and how we were given insights into his point of view through his blog posts. Much like TFIOS, I loved reading the text conversations between these two characters, short and sweet, but depicts their connection perfectly. Both Davis and Daisy are interesting characters in their own right, who have their own complexities and issues and whose lives I’d love to read more about.

In terms of Green’s characters, both in this book and previous, there is the opinion often in reviews that nobody actually talks how they do. I think Green writes teenagers extremely well, they are layered and highly intellectual, plus I personally think it is nice when we get some of the author’s voice through the characters. I think that the opinion that Green’s characters can often sound a lot more mature than they are highlights why his books are set apart from the rest, much like his characters, they are unique.

My favourite aspect of this book was the portrayal of mental health; it is honest and more importantly, un-romanticized. Turtles All The Way Down does not shy away, and shows how Aza deals with her anxiety and OCD in ways that can be very difficult to read. In addition, there is no attempt of a quick fix to make everything happier, Aza lives with her illness day in, day out, in love or not and will continue to for the rest of her life. Despite this there is always a level of hope maintained throughout the book, and you will root for Aza throughout.

Overall I loved Turtles All The Way Down, so much so, I read it over a couple of days and I just couldn’t put it down! It is honest and real, and great if you want to gain insight into what it is like living with a mental illness. Turtles All The Way Down, much like Green’s other works, will leave you with a new perspective, greater knowledge, questions and really, what more can you ask from a book? This was a superb read and one which I will no doubt be picking up again soon!

Have you read Turtles All The Way Down? What did you think?

Book Review

Blogmas Day 22: Six Geese A-Laying (Short Story) By Sophie Kinsella Review

In Six Geese a-Laying, Christmas is approaching, and Ginny is looking forward to the birth of her first baby. It’s a pity her partner Dan is so useless, and she has to keep reminding him where he’s going wrong. Luckily she’s enrolled into the most exclusive antenatal class going – all the highest achieving, smartest mothers-to-be aspire to be taught by the legendary Petal Harmon. Like the other five women in the class, Ginny already knows exactly what she wants, and how she’s going to handle motherhood.

But when they turn up for the final class it isn’t quite what they expect. As Ginny discovers what parenthood is really going to be like, she begins to realize the things that really matter…

Finally three days before Christmas, I am starting to feel a bit more organised, I am slowly getting there with wrapping presents, and lists are written for what we need to take home. Over the last week I have really been craving an hour curled up with a good book, unfortunately I just haven’t had the time, until I stumbled across a mini Christmas story by one of my favourite authors, Sophie Kinsella. At 33 pages long, this was exactly what I needed to get my reading fix just before Christmas, but what did I think of it?

Six Geese A-laying is focused on a group of six pregnant women, all due around Christmas time, and all have been exclusively invited to attend antenatal classes with the one and only, Petal Harmon. You see, being interviewed and accepted by Petal Harmon is the dream of many expectant mothers in this tale, she is the best of the best. All of the mothers in this tale, including the main character Ginny, already have a very specific idea of how their births will be, how they will bring their child up and will not be swayed.

Six Geese A-laying is a charming little tale, full of Kinsella’s usual wit and easy writing style that draws you in, so much so, you feel like you are actually sat in antenatal with the group of women! I did find the character of Ginny to be a little annoying at first, particularly with her appearing smug at having been chosen to attend Petal’s classes. However, throughout the short I grew to like her, and watched her and the other ladies in the group change.

My favourite aspect of this story was the Christmas Carol element, the revealing of what could happen to instigate change. I thought it added an unusual element to the story, but was crafted so well and is the most important lesson for the whole group. Kinsella also highlights the unrealistic expectations we can have of something e.g. having a baby, wanting everything to be perfect, to have the best of both worlds, when really something, or we, can suffer at the hands of this. This is executed in a brilliant way, but I am not spoiling it!

This is a perfect little Christmassy read, whether you’re grabbing a hot chocolate on your lunch break, or snuggling up for a quick read on Christmas Eve. The only downside of this story for me was that I wish it had been longer, but then it would not be a short! You will see what I mean when you meet the characters and become invested in their lives. For a short story Kinsella manages to develop the characters, and neatly wrap up the story, which is impressive in 33 pages! So if you’re looking for a manageable Christmas read in between wrapping, Christmas shopping and all of the other bits we need to fit into three days, this books got you covered!

This book is only available in Kindle Edition, as it is completely free!

Book Review

Blogmas Day 13: It Started With A Kiss By Miranda Dickinson Review


Okay so how cold has it gone in the past couple of days?! The days are chilly but the evenings are sub zero, which is why I’m currently spending the majority of them snuggled up with a good book and a cup of tea (it is a crazy life I lead, I know). Although when it’s this cold do you really want to be doing anything else?

 I’ve just finished reading ‘It Started With A Kiss’ by Miranda Dickinson, which has a lovely Christmas theme throughout, so I thought it would be perfect to review just before the big day!


As the singer in a wedding band, Romily Parker has seen her fair share of happy endings, even though her own love life isn’t quite as simple.

On the last Saturday before Christmas, (shortly after disastrously declaring her love for best friend Charlie), Romily has a brief encounter with a handsome stranger whose heart-stopping kiss changes everything.

Determined to find him again, Romily embarks on a yearlong quest, helped (and sometimes hindered) by enthusiastic Uncle Dudley, cake-making Auntie Mags and flamboyant Wren. Will she find the man of her dreams? Or could true love be closer than she thinks?

‘It Started With A Kiss’ revolves around the character Romily Parker, a wedding singer in a band named ‘The Pinstripes’ formed of her friends. Romily has been harbouring feelings for her best friend Charlie for years, and decides that just before Christmas is the perfect time to tell him, however she soon realises this was a massive mistake. With Charlie less than thrilled, Romily makes a dash to hide her embarrassment and tumbles straight into a market stall of stuffed toys. An action which changes Romily’s life as she knows it, after being offered help from an attractive stranger, who leaves her with a kiss after being called back into the crowd. From that day Romily vows to find the handsome stranger who kissed her within a year, but gets more than she bargained for along the way.

This was the first book I had read by Miranda Dickinson and I have to say I was really impressed, so much so that I have read it again! It has a really unique story line, which does focus on Romily’s quest to find the handsome stranger, but my favourite aspect was how you see the character of Romily evolve and become so happy and confident within herself. This made it more than just a tale of romance for me, there is a real element of girl power within this book which will have you rooting, cringing, and laughing with Romily and her friends throughout.

Another thing that made me want to read this book again was the characters. Romily is a great main character, but her friends/bandmates (Tom, Charlie, Jack, Sophie and Wren) add a great deal to the story too. If you think ‘It Started With A Kiss’ is purely based around love, you’d be right, it focuses on all types of love –friendship, family, true love, and above all else, self-love. Miranda writes about friendship in such a lovely way, and the characters are well thought out.  I wanted to join The Pinstripes myself after reading this! A really fun element to this story is reading about the wedding gigs the band play, everything from having to wear bunny ears to mustard coloured tights are just some of the things The Pinstripes have to endure!

It is not just Romily’s friends who decide to help her with her quest, but her loveable Uncle Dudley and Auntie Magsie, I dare you not to fall in love with these two characters! I really loved how Romily’s aunt was constantly baking, and knew exactly what cake was needed for what mood, it was a simple addition to the character, but one that made her one of my favourites! If you’re a bit of a foodie like me, Miranda has included what cakes suit what mood, on Auntie Maggie’s behalf of course. All of the characters are heart-warming and likeable, if I had to pick characters I didn’t warm to, it would have to be Romily’s mum and dad!

When I first read ‘It Started With A Kiss’ I was convinced I had predicted the ending, but Miranda pulls a fantastic twist which will leave you smiling!  There are many twists and turns in Romily’s quest and you feel like you’re right there with her throughout, especially when she is encouraged to start a blog to help with her search. If you’re looking for a read to snuggle up with on these baltic evenings, It Started With A Kiss is sure to make you feel warm and festive! I’m patiently waiting for sequels revolving around the other characters now (Uncle Dudley and Auntie Maggie).

Have you read ‘It Started With A Kiss’? What did you think? Let me know below!


Book Review

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena Review


      Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

      Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

   Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

     You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

The Couple Next Door focuses on a young couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who are new parents to a baby girl. Anne and Marco are invited to a dinner party next door, there’s just one catch, they have been told not to bring their baby. Under the reassurance of her a husband, a reluctant Anne goes along with this on the condition they will check on their daughter every half an hour. However, what starts off as a fun evening turns into every parent’s worst nightmare, as once home, they discover their front door ajar and their daughter missing from her crib.

Cue the arrival of the police, and Anne and Marco find themselves at the centre of a Child Abduction Investigation. Detective Rasbach is determined to look at every detail of the case – Did the parents cause her harm whilst intoxicated? Did they assist the kidnapper? Did the kidnapper know the child was home alone? Are the parents hiding something? Detective Rasbach thinks so.

Lapena sets the scene superbly at the beginning, making both Anne and Marco unreliable narrators, due to the fact that they were intoxicated the night of their daughter’s abduction. The Couple Next Door will make you doubt everyone’s version of events and question their motives and reactions. Lapena executes this well through the deterioration of Anne and Marco’s relationship throughout their prolonged wait for news of their daughter. Of course blame is the main theme in this story – If they hadn’t gone to the party, their daughter would still be here, wouldn’t she?

The characters within this tale have skeletons pouring out of their closets, ones they are desperate for no one to find. Anne is trying to keep the past in the past; the couple next door are not all what they appear and Marco is tangled in a web of lies, and Anne’s parents, too wealthy for their own good, but prove that money cannot buy happiness. Moreover, Detective Rasbach is more than happy to bring their skeletons out into the spotlight.

It was difficult to warm to any character in this novel, as anyone and everyone is a suspect. However, I did like the reminiscent scenes of Anne and Marco before their daughter, and how despite their recklessness, it is clear that both love their daughter.

Laced with heartbreak, lies and deceit The Couple Next Door makes for an intriguing psychological thriller, with Lapena throwing in twists that will keep you wanting more. I did find the plot to be a little rushed at times and the ending quite random, but that did not stop me reading and enjoying the book overall. The plot is well thought out and will show you how you can never really know someone, or what they are capable of.

Have you read The Couple Next Door? What did you think?

Book Review

He Said She Said by Erin Kelly Review


In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

He Said She Said begins in London March 2015, where we meet a young married couple, Laura and Kit Mcall. Kit is what is known as an Eclipse Chaser, meaning he travels the world in search of where one is going to take place, analyses the weather conditions in the hope of seeing totality – the moment where the moon completely blocks the sun from view. Since meeting, he has introduced Laura to the eclipse chasing world. However, Laura is now six months pregnant after IVF and suffering heavily from anxiety, triggered by past events. Kit is leaving her for another Eclipse Festival, which only feeds Laura’s paranoia of the past catching up with them. Laura and Kit have worked so hard to keep themselves untraceable, no social media accounts, no photographs, and even changing their names, but will it be enough to stop their demons reappearing?

Cornwall 1999, Laura stumbles upon a purse at an Eclipse Festival; however her endeavour to find the owner is just the beginning of the sinister events which follow. Laura locks eyes with a woman who is being sexually assaulted by a man, she is sure of it –  the expression on the man’s (Jamie’s) face, his snarl and his narrowed eyes, the woman, motionless and unable to speak. Laura ignores Jamie’s pleas of the act being consensual and calls the police, triggering a series of sinister events that no one could have ever imagined.

The chapters in He Said She Said alternate between London 2015 and Cornwall 1999, and also between the characters of Kit and Laura. This can get a little confusing at times but I found that this was integral to the layering of the story, to make you feel torn and confused with the versions of events, and more importantly, who is telling the truth? One thing I really loved about He Said She Said was the focus on eclipses, everything from the chapter headings, to the book being split into parts titled by the stages of an eclipse – which illustrate the progression of the story and the build up towards something big.

The subject at the heart of this story means it’s not always a comfortable read, particularly the courtroom scenes. The issue of consent is centre forward in this tale, with Jamie’s defence implying that if Beth herself did not explicitly say she had been raped, then it was concocted up by Laura’s imagination. Kelly’s attention to detail allows us to see how the assaults affect goes way beyond Beth and Jamie, but also what impact it has on everyone else and how events can be spun and words can be twisted.

In addition to attention to detail, Kelly writes beautifully about the relationship between Kit and Laura. A particular favourite quote of mine is from Beth to Laura “He’d told me the night before what eclipses meant to him, and how it was still and effort for him to take his eyes off you to look at the sky”. I found their relationship to be undoubtedly love and the acceptance that things do not always remain the same after years together. I really liked both of these characters, the love they had for one another, the way Laura shared in Kit’s eclipse chasing passion, there is something extraordinary about them.

This is a dark tale which will make you uncomfortable but unable to keep yourself from turning the page. Kelly has cleverly intertwined a sensitive and gut wrenching topic throughout a gripping thriller plot, which I imagine was no easy feat, but it reads  as if done with such ease in He Said She Said. The paranoia lurking within the pages will creep into you as you become suspicious of everyone, and as the truth is purely based on perception it becomes subjective. The only problem is most of the characters do not want to tell the truth at all. Truth means judgement and destruction for some, as do lies to another.

I cannot recommend this book enough; it is definitely going in my top favourite books! It stayed with me for days afterwards, and I had that lost feeling where you’ve finished something brilliant only to not know what to do with yourself. By the end I had to know what was real and what wasn’t, and the outcome left me shocked. Not for one second throughout He Said She Said did I anticipate what was to come. The plot is extremely clever, and the characters are well rounded and thought out. My view changed so much throughout, especially on Beth, my heart ached for her most of the time, and at other times I disliked her. Kelly really knows her craft and shows that perception and someone else’s words could be much further from the truth than we realise.

Book Review

The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume 1 by Craig Hallam Review


For Alan Shaw, escaping the workhouse was only the beginning of the adventure.

For an orphan growing up alone on the streets of Victorian London, staying alive is a daily battle, filled with choices a child should never have to make. This is Alan’s lot in life, until he is offered more money than he can imagine; enough to take him to the new world to begin a new life. He only has to complete one task; something that could bring the British Empire to its knees.

In a series of adventures that take him from sea to sky, from Brighton to Bombay, Alan grows up in a steam-driven era where Automatons walk the streets of London and dirigibles master the air. Pitted against mad alchemists, tentacled submersibles, bomb-wielding saboteurs and the apocalyptic army of the Ordo Fenris, Alan has his work cut out for him.

With a past as dark as his, who knows what Alan might grow up to be?

Set in the mid nineteenth century, The Adventures of Alan Shaw follows a young orphan as he is dragged up on the streets of Victorian London.  Alan, like any other street urchin, fights for survival and earns his pennies doing odd jobs for the locals and working in a pub for a violent landlord. Dreaming of a life in America, Alan is willing to do anything to escape his lack of life in London.  When the opportunity offers itself in exchange for one simple delivery, Alan cannot believe his luck, but it comes at the cost of much destruction.

From the first tale ‘Alan Shaw and the Fate of the Automatons’ we are spring-boarded into Alan’s adventures which fulfil his dream of leaving London.  The novel is told in a third person narrative over the course of five stories, each separated by a few years as we see Alan grow from a child to a young adult. At the end of each story is a newspaper article which celebrates Alan’s bravery or reports a crime that has occurred, setting the reader up with a cliff-hanger and leading into the next tale. In addition the illustrations which appear before each story, that depict Alan and the characters who will support him during each adventure. I liked that Hallam included images before each tale, as it helped you put a name to the face of the characters.

In terms of the characters, I found all of the main characters to be likeable, but my favourite would have to be Alan, if not only for his sense of humour. Alan has not had an easy time of it to say the least; his experiences are raw and significant to the growth of his character throughout the novel. Despite all life has thrown at him, Alan never loses his charm and fearlessness, and you become invested in his character and him seeing his adventures through to the very end. Initially, I could not warm to Alan’s character, but as he matures I found him to be more endearing.

Another character I took a liking to was Sarah, wife of Callas who owns Harkers, the pub Alan works at as a child. Sarah acts as a mother figure for Alan during the early chapters, chatting to him in the kitchen, tickling him, and helping him to evade Callas when he’s angry. I really liked the relationship between these two, it showed a more sensitive side to Alan’s character when often he can appear quite hardened by his experiences.

The Adventures of Alan Shaw stays true to its sci-fi/steam punk genre with its recurring theme of machinery. The machines described in the novel are very creative and I really liked how even then society relied heavily on machinery to do everyday tasks, such as the Automatons sweeping the streets, thus taking jobs away from the young street dwellers. Throughout the novel the use of machinery becomes of greater use to the villains in the tales – including a giant tentacled ship intent on destruction and brass monkeys out for whatever they can get their hands on! Hallam describes the machines in such detail it is not difficult to conjure up images of what they would look like. It is clear Hallam has done his research when it comes to locations Alan ventures of too. The descriptions do a wonderful job of helping you put the scene together.

Initially I was unsure whether this novel would be for me, but I am pleased to say I was wrong. The Adventures of Alan Shaw is fun and fast-paced, filled with warm characters, humour and extremely interesting escapades. The cliff-hangers make it pretty impossible to leave for long, and I often found myself staying up to finish a story just so it could be put down for the night. This was a different read for me, but one I came to thoroughly enjoy. One thing I know for sure is that I will be joining Alan on his next bout of adventures!

Last but certainly not least, thank you to Craig Hallam who sent me a copy of The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume One to review, it is much appreciated. However, this has in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions on the book, as always my reviews are honest, filled with my own thoughts and contain no spoilers!

Let me know what you think if you have read or do read The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume One!


Book Review

The Sisters by Claire Douglas Review

IMG_0497 (1)One lied. One died.

When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive. Haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets twins Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle.

When one sister lies, she must protect her secret at all costs. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention? When the truth outs, will either sister survive?


The Sisters revolves around the character of Abi, who lost her twin sister Lucy in a tragic accident which she feels she could have prevented. Abi feels completely lost, until she meets Beatrice, a free spirited artist, with the added bonus of resembling Lucy. Grieving Abi is enchanted by Beatrice and her twin brother Ben, and once asked to move in; she sees the twins and the house as the perfect fresh start. Abi has craved company since the loss of her sister, and the regular parties, meals, and borrowing of Bea’s clothes provides the inclusivity she needs. However as Abi is drawn further into Beatrice and Ben’s world, cracks begin to emerge in the relationships, dark secrets are bubbling just under the surface, and sanity is slipping away.

The novel jumps between the narratives of protagonists Abi and Beatrice, both of which are unreliable narrators. I really liked this aspect of The Sisters as it left me questioning almost everything, particularly the sanity of the characters. I found myself trusting one character and then flitting to the other, but as always with one of Douglas’ novels, I was suspicious of everyone. This narrative works perfectly for the genre of this novel, Douglas builds up suspense and tension perfectly, and making you question everything you believe about these characters and what menacing events are to come.

I have to say I was fascinated by all of the characters, particularly the relationship between Beatrice and Ben. The twins are inseparable, possessive of each other and share a bond like no other, which makes for some uncomfortable reading. However, all of the characters in The Sisters are heavily flawed in their own way, but much like Abi with Beatrice, I was captivated by them all and their personalities, despite not all of them being particularly likeable.

My favourite character was Abi, who I felt was the only person I could trust and who I sympathised with throughout. The constant battle between her and Bea made for a gripping read, as both were out to make the other appear insane, yet at times appeared as though they needed each other. As with Local Girl Missing, Douglas’ evocative writing style left me yearning for the truth, not only about whom is behind all the strange happenings in the house, but about the characters themselves.

The plot works superbly for a psychological thriller as it is filled with clever twists, the eerie setting of the townhouse, and suspicious characters whose lives are dominated by lies and deceit. I could not predict what was going to happen from chapter to chapter, and was surprised by every twist thrown my way, which was a massive plus.

Overall, I would highly recommend The Sisters, if not for its fascinating characters alone, it certainly fits the bill. I finished the novel a couple of days ago and find still myself thinking about it now. The ending was rather abrupt; it left me wanting more and if I’m being completely honest, frantically googling for other theories on it. I hope it was written this way to set up a sequel in the future, if not it lets the reader conjure up their own idea of what happened next. I strongly suggest freeing up some days for this book as it won’t be leaving your hands. Douglas you have done it again, another fantastic read.