WWW Wednesday: 20th May 2020

This Book Tag is hosted by Taking On A World Of Words.

What I’ve read, What I’m reading, What’s next.

What I’ve Read

Title: Orphan Monster Spy

Author: Matt Killeen

Star rating: 5 / 5

Mini review/synopsis:

Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.

Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.

Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.

A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!

What I’m Currently Reading

Title: The Big Four

Author: Agatha Christie

First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read

The story so far:

I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.

What I’m Reading Next

Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

Author: Holly Jackson

This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson

Pages: 448

Published: 2 May 2019

⭐️ 5 / 5

I LOVED THIS BOOK. One of my favourites of 2019 and possibly my favourite YA thriller ever – so far anyway. Twists and turns galore, a very likeable protagonist, set in the UK school system(!!-instead of an American high school which as a Brit I still don’t fully understand)…this is a very clever novel and an enjoyable read. It’s also a big beefy paperback at roughly 450 pages which I really appreciated.

I’d highly recommend anyone who is enjoying YA crime/thriller/mysteries at the moment and schedule a (re)read before Pip is back in book 2 in April 2020!

Plot

A teenaged girl creating a school project to re-evaluate a local murder case? YES PLEASE. I was a bit apprehensive going in as it looked like a massive book for what is a fairly straightforward premise. I was expecting parts of the novel to drag but I was so wrong. The novel is structured around Pip’s school project which means there’s some really fun CSI-style fact presentation interspersed throughout the book. This meant I could keep up with all of the different plot threads, lines of investigation, and the many different characters. Interviews were often written in transcripts which, although I wasn’t too sure about at the beginning, I really enjoyed towards the end of the book and found it fit really well with the way the rest of the story was constructed. I felt that the novel was paced really well and that there was a great balance between investigation, school project, and tense drama. Tension and suspense was also built really well, especially towards the end. I loved that Pip was able to fit things together with her knowledge of school gossip and social hierarchies – the sort of techniques I used at school to figure out the gossip.

I was able to guess at a part of the outcome. I predicted it about halfway through (well, one half – a second half jumped out of nowhere and caught me unawares). However, just as I was revealed to be right, BAM. Sh*t hit the fan and it got SO. GOOD. I know plenty of people probably wouldn’t have seen the twists coming

Characters

Pip and Ravi are the main characters and they are both so damn likeable. Pippa is tenacious, intelligent, and utterly brilliant. Ravi is an excellent addition to the novel because he brings a whole new take to a murder mystery. He embodies the human element and reminds the reader that a murder isn’t just something to be solved for entertainment purposes. I love the relationship between Pip and Ravi because they are like two sides of the same coin: complete polar opposites, yet they work together as a dream team.

The rest of the characters, you can’t really call them ‘side characters’ because they’re all integral to the plot, are also really interesting and excellently 3-dimensional. Each of them became a possible chief suspect for me at some point of the book and Holly Jackson uses each of them very well to fulfill their full literary potential.

Final Thoughts

This was a very enjoyable read that really made me think and I can’t really say too much more without spoiling. To be honest, that’s a good thing as this is definitely a book you’re better off going in knowing next to nothing about and enjoying it with no preconceptions. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK.

Keep an eye out here on my blog as I’m planning a re-read or read-along feature in April on A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder ahead of the publication of the sequel.

Good Girl, Bad Blood will be published on 30 April 2020

Blurb:

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .

from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.

2019 Wrap-Up

This year has been an odd one. The final weeks of university caused me to have another improptu hiatus from my book blogging/bookstagram life. Summer came and went in a blur of exam re-sit stress.  I quit a job I hated. I somehow succeeded in getting a full time job and my feet firmly in the door of my dream career, despite not having a degree classification or a graduation date in the near future.

Yet, despite achieving so much on a personal level in terms of setting myself up for the future, I still feel like I didn’t DO anything. No abroad holidays like I did in 2018. In fact, I barely left London except to visit my family in the South West and a week on the Isle of Wight. I still haven’t written my book or improved my French and Italian like I wanted to. Still can’t play the piano. I feel like all I’ve done is work and study, and some of that I didn’t do very well…

This year has also seen yet another huge reading slump as uni has ruined reading for pleasure for me (don’t panic, it looks like I’m finally on my way out of it though).

So, out with the old, and in with the new. Good riddance 2019. Please let 2020 be the beginning of my roaring 20s decade of dreams and make the decade which will see me turn 30 (EWW NO I’M A 90s BABY AND I REFUSE TO GROW UP) so much better than the decade of my teenage and very early 20s.


What I’ve Been Reading in 2019

I didn’t manage to meet my Goodreads goal of 50 books for this year which I’m really disappointed about…

I re-read lots of things I enjoyed and started 2019 off with one of the biggest books I’ve ever read – Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree. Nearly 900 pages of dragons and badass women which I read in one crazy caffeine-fuelled 18 hour sitting the night before the book launch. (A book I still haven’t had time to write a review for).

However, here’s some highlights and lowlights of what I did manage to read this year:

(One of my) Favourite Reads: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Jackson has written a very strong debut. The plot had so many different threads woven through it and it was seriously impressive. Pip is absolutely my favourite protagonist in a very long time, I wish I had a friend like her. This book made me laugh and cry. I am over the moon to hear that this book is getting a sequel and I can’t wait to see what Pip gets up to next.

Most Pleasant Surprise: The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie

Book blogger, YouTuber and creative Lucy Powrie has just released her debut novel into the world. At only 18 years old she has managed to write the book I desperately needed as a 15 year old. TP&HS touches on many themes including not fitting in, divorce, and bullying but has a core of friendship and the love of books. I thought it was very well written and Lucy provides a refreshing new YA voice, standing far apart from the other books born out of YouTube fame. I am very exited to read the rest of this series when the time comes.

Most Anticipated: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Nearly 35 years after the publication of The Handmaid’s Tale, the most anticipated sequel of the decade (or the last century even) was published. I really, really enjoyed it. It was terrifying and relevant and a real philosophical and literary masterpiece. Do I think it deserved The Booker Prize? No, probably not. I think this was a reparation for The Handmaid’s Tale not winning it when it was nominated back in ’86 (a book that thoroughly does deserve that award IMHO). Either way, this was the best book launch I’ve ever attended and I feel lucky to have been alive, and front and centre, for this monumental moment in literary history.

Biggest Disappointment: Finale by Stephanie Garber

The third and final instalment of the Caraval Series was finally published at the beginning of May. I have been desperate for this release all year! I thought this was an appropriate end to the series however I did find it slightly predictable and the book fell a bit flat for me, as did the entire series. Keep an eye out for my full review coming soon.


My Pick of What I’ve Been Watching in 2019

Jane the Virgin. Murder Mystery. Designated Survivor.
NB. I do not own these images. Image rights belong to Netflix.

The final season of Jane the Virgin was everything I needed and more. The whole series has been beautiful, wholesome, and hilarious. I highly recommend it for some lighthearted dram-edy (and a glorious Telenovela education!).

The new comedy from Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, Murder Mystery, is absolutely brilliant. This married couple from New York, a hairdresser and a NYPD cop, finally go on their long-awaited European vacation/honeymoon. They end up on a yacht with Luke Evans, David Walliams, Gemma Arterton, and a host of other great acting talent, and become embroiled in a murder investigation. Hilarious fun and a nice quick 1hr 40min watch.

Designated Survivor season three finally streamed on Netflix after inexplicably being cancelled (I MEAN?!!) by ABC at the conclusion of season two. Netflix saved the day and I binged the new season in an afternoon. DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA. This series is a must-see!


Next Year…

At the moment I’m enjoying reading murder mysteries, both classic Agatha Christie and books that fall into the Young Adult Genre. I will be reading more of these in 2020. PLEASE LEAVE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE COMMENTS – I’m looking for books similar to One of Us is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret.

I also aim to finish/re-do my Jane Austen Reading Challenge this year which you can keep up to date with on my Instagram Highlights at @beauteaful.reads

As if we’re entering the year 2020?!

Happy New Year, Readers 😘