Review: We Were Liars ★★★★

Goodreads Blurb

We are the Liars.
We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.
We are cracked and broken.
A story of love and romance.
A tale of tragedy.
Which are lies?
Which is truth?
You decide.

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This isn’t the type of book I would usually read, but I really enjoyed it. I’d been considering buying if for a while, and I finally bought it, and read the entire thing in one sitting.

We Were Liars tells the story of Cady and her cousins, ‘The Liars’. They spend every summer together. Cady has suffered migraines ever since ‘the accident’ in Summer 15, but none of her family will talk about it. What are they hiding from her?

This book was a very short read, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It kept me curious all the way through the book about what had happened. The writing style was unusual, and I wasn’t a huge fan, but overall I liked the tone and pacing of the book. This made me cry when I finished it, something that only a few books have done.

I can’t say too much about this book without being spoilery, but if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend it.

Review: As Old As Time

As Old As Time is another book in the series of Disney retellings. In this retelling Belle’s mother is the enchantress who cursed the beast. How will Belle cope with this knowledge and save the inhabitants of the castle?

Given that I really didn’t enjoy A Whole New World, I wasn’t sure whether I still wanted to read this book, but I had listed it as one of the books for my O.W.L.s magical readathon, and they’re quick reads so I went ahead. I enjoyed this much more than A Whole New World.

This book alternates chapters between the story of Belle, and the story of her mother, Rosalind, explaining how she came to curse the Beast, and what happened to magic in the kingdom.

In the early chapters of this book we learn that magic was prevalent in the kingdom, but soon became feared and hated, and all of the les charmantes disappeared. Unlike A Whole New World this book does explore more of the characters back stories and develops them in a different way than the film. I was much more interested in how this was going to be resolved.

This book did lose points for using censi instead of the correct plural of censuses, but if you’re not a statistician and a giant nerd you can probably get past it.

My rating: 2.5 stars, it was enjoyable, but still nothing special.

Review: A Whole New World

As Old As Time is the first in a series of retellings of Disney classics. In this version Aladdin never summoned the Genie, instead Jafar uses his first two wishes to become the Sultan and the world’s most powerful sorcerer. Aladdin and Jasmine must then work together with the Street Rats and people of Agrabah to defeat Jafar before he makes his final wish and becomes unstoppable.

I wanted to like this book. I love retellings in which we find out more about characters we think we now, particularly ones explore those characters motivations and back story to present them in a different light. That doesn’t happen in this book. Jafar is a one-dimensional villain Aladdin is still the hero.

The first 25% of the book is exactly the same as the Disney film, even using some of the same lines. The story doesn’t get much any better after this, following the stereotypical let’s overthrow the government/dictator storyline, but with none of the depth that makes us care about the characters.

If you want a retelling of Aladdin focussing on Jafar’s story I would recommend watching Starkid’s Twisted on youtube. This is a moving and hillarious retelling of Aladdin with a misunderstood Jafar. Otherwise just watch the Disney film.

Review: Murder Games

His victims appear to be total strangers. The only clue that links the crimes is the playing card left behind at each scene that hints at the next target.

The killer, known in the tabloids as the Dealer, is baiting cops into a deadly guessing game that has the city on edge. Elizabeth Needham, the tenacious detective in charge of the case, turns to an unlikely ally – Dylan Reinhart, a brilliant professor whose book was found along with the first playing card.

As the public frenzy over the Dealer reaches a fever pitch, Dylan and Elizabeth must connect the clues to discover what the victims have in common – before the Dealer runs through his entire deck.

I watched the first episode of the TV adaptation last year when it aired and didn’t enjoy it, but I did think that the plot was interesting and would have been better in the book. A year later I finally read the book, and I was right, it is much better.

The book gets straight into the story and I was immediately hooked. I read the entire book in one evening.

I loved the characters in this book, particularly Dylan, and I liked finding out more about him as the book went on. His relationship with Tracy was particularly adorable and made the character more likeable.

The plot in this book is really interesting. There’s a lot going on, but everything adds to the story, and keeps going to the last page of the book. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an easy to read mystery. This would be a good rainy day read, an enjoyable read but doesn’t require a lot of concentration.

My rating: 4 stars. I don’t know that I’ll try the TV show again, but I’m looking forward to book two.

Pet Sematary: Book vs Film

Film adaptations seem to be hit and miss. They’re either great; The Hunger Games and The Book Thief (perfect), or they’re awful; The Maze Runner (I still haven’t watched 2&3), The Vampire’s Assistant (I can rant for hours), or The War of the Worlds (just no). With that in mind, reading Pet Sematary and watching the film so soon after probably wasn’t the best idea, but is what I did.

I really enjoyed the book, but thought the film was lacking. I think the changes made for the film removed some of the suspense and creepiness that made the book so good.

One of the first major changes is the relationship between Jud and Louis. Instead of the wonderful relationship they have in the book, Jud is the creepy neighbour, and the lack of relationship means that some of Jud’s actions don’t quite make sense, or take on a sinister edge. While in the book the relationship between Jud and the family mean that him showing Louis the place to bury Church demonstrates how much he cares about Ellie, whereas in the film Jud has barely interacted with the family so this action doesn’t have the pure intent behind it. In the film Jud also seems to be aware that this will change Church in a bad way, which doesn’t match with what we see in the book.

The film also changes which child is killed. While I partly understand the decision to kill Ellie instead, an older child can act the part of creepy zombie, this meant that one of the creepier parts of the book didn’t happen in the same way. Ellie having nightmares about what Louis was going to do, and scaring Rachel into trying to stop him, was one of the most sinister parts of the book, and while the film tried to recreate this with Gage, it didn’t create the same feeling of suspense and terror.

In the book we get to understand Louis’s thought process, which adds to the suspense, particularly at the end of the book. We don’t get the same sense of this in the film, and the ending differs quite a bit from the book. The film is quite forgettable and the end doesn’t leave you with anything, whereas you’re left with a feeling with unease after finishing the book.

Overall the movie seems to move closer to a stereotypical horror movie relying on jump scares, rather than building up the terror through the story where we both fear and understand Louis’s actions.

I’d recommend reading the book and skipping the movie. On an unrelated note if anything ever happens to Dominick then he’s being cremated.

Have you read/watched Pet Sematary? What did you think?

Review: The Passengers

Self-drive cars are mandatory in the UK and roads are safer than ever before. Eight passengers get into their vehicles, which are then hacked and set on a collision course.
Libby has been selected to be a member of a secret jury who determine whether any road accidents are the fault of the car or human error, and it’s never been the fault of the car. The jury, along with the public must choose which passenger should survive. Each passenger has ten minutes to convince the jurors and the public to vote for them, but they all have something to hide.

This was the first book I’ve read on The Pigeonhole and it was an interesting way to read. It meant that I had to take my time with the book, as it was released in ten parts. This was frustrating at times when there was a cliffhanger and I wanted to read the next chapter straight away. I think if I’d had the entire book I’d have read it in a day.

This book is set in the future where the only cars available are ‘Level 5’, automated self-drive cars, that don’t even have pedals for the passengers to take control. Eight of these ‘unhackable’ cars are hacked, and each passenger told that they will be dead in XX. It’s a really interesting plot idea, as we move closer to a time when driverless cars will be seen on our streets, I think we’ll start to see more books addressing the fears that people have around this.

There’s a lot going on in this book, and it keeps you constantly guessing. As I was reading my opinions on the different passengers was constantly changing as more information about the passengers was revealed. It was clear that as well as the passengers holding things back, the hacker was also controlling what information he revealed to try and manipulate the public’s opinion of the passengers.

Part of what made this book so interesting is that it doesn’t seem farfetched. People engaging with this kind of situation, using social media to vote for who should die, and the mob mentality surrounding it all seem very realistic. Even some of the revelations in the book, around the cars and the government, while surprising, are not unlikely.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a good thriller. Clear your day, get a nice cup of tea and settle in for a good read.

My rating: 5 stars, and I’m going to catch up on the other John Marrs books I haven’t read yet.

Review: In Bloom

Rhiannon’s fiancé Craig is in jail for the murders she committed, and her ex-lover AJ is dead. Everything is perfect, except for the fact that Rhiannon is pregnant with AJ’s baby, and the baby doesn’t approve of her killing. Forced to move in with Craig’s parents, will Rhiannon manage to curb her killer instincts, or will she give into her urges?

I read Sweetpea a couple of years ago and enjoyed it, and In Bloom keeps a lot of the aspects that worked in the first book. I like the chapters that start with ‘kill lists’, we’ve all had those days when we hate everyone who does X.

Sadly that was one of the few things in this book that I enjoyed. I don’t often see female serial killers in media so I was looking forward to this, but I was left disappointed. It took me almost a week to read this, because I just couldn’t get into it.

This book didn’t really have a plot, and didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. I didn’t feel anything when the book ended, and I couldn’t bring myself to care anymore. I just wanted to be finished, rather than reading because I was enjoying it.

My rating: 2 stars, and I wouldn’t read anymore if the series continued.