Inspired by those true crime podcasts we all know and love/question… Enjoy!
What kind of person writes a generic thriller with an awful twist? Well today it’s going to be me with a generic thriller novel plan! Enjoy!
November 2021. Out in the dismal northerly
wastes *ahem* windswept landscapes of the United Kingdom, The Adams family (not to be mistaken for the Addams family) are going on a staycation.
In an incredibly overpriced holiday home (a house that has a History-with-a-capital-H) we have 7 close family members: Mr Adam Adams, his wife Mrs Adam Adams, his mother-in-law Ms Stepford, his two
creepy twins darling children, his (unimportant and therefore unnamed) sister and his brother-in-law Rhett Herring. Naturally, because this is an old house with a History, they are all going to start dying, one by one… obviously starting with the unnamed sister!
But before we get to the bloody bit, we must have an obligatory row between Mr and Mrs Adams. They are discussing something that happened in the past (unspecified) and how they will overcome it (they won’t). Mrs Adams is drinking excessively
for the sake of the plot because of this terrible thing that happened in their marriage. And Mr Adams is just trying to get away from the humdrum of his necessarily dull life (and a dreadful scandal unfolding at work that he is deeply embroiled in). His sister and Rhett Herring are being SUPER ROMANTIC- which is why it’s surprising when she (really I don’t have a name for her) winds up with her wrists slashed in the hot tub.
Granny Stepford is found over the body with a knife, but of course no one has any idea who did it, so they phone the police for an expert opinion. Unfortunately, all the phone lines are dead (thanks to the twins slashing all the phone lines). Everyone immediately overlooks the little rascals and starts questioning Rhett and his motives. After all, he is new to the family and how well do they really know this working-class wheeler dealer anyway?
As it gets dark and they devise a plan to drive to the nearest village, they discover that the cars have both broken down. Bummer. They shall just have to make it through the night in the old house with a history of dead bodies (and a graveyard in the back garden next to the hot tub). All Mrs Adams can do is try and figure out the mystery for herself through her alcohol-induced haze.
Naturally, she’s absolutely certain it was Rhett, because how could it be anyone else? Not her loving (but admittedly adulterous husband). And not her obviously devoted mother (who just happened to bring her professional kitchen knives for a weekend away). And not her darling children (who have more of an interest in taxidermy than should ever be healthy for ten year olds).
She goes to confront him and finds him skewered in the billiards room! Where he was just playing snooker with Mr Adams. The same Mr Adams who borrowed loads of money from him and then used it to cover embezzling a load of funds at work (so that he could live it up with a mistress who left him for a billionaire that could better fund her lifestyle). But Mrs Adams does not think of any of this, because she is an alcoholic with mental health problems and possibly a drug addiction (she’s also very, very stupid). Distraught, she seeks comfort in a bottle and wanders round the haunted house in the dark, scared of every creak and crank she hears.
Morning comes, as its wont to do, and she finally comes to her senses. She must confront Mr Adams… ABOUT THE AFFAIR!! She’s been brushing it under the carpet for too long! Never mind the dead people that are piling up and that her children are currently playing with some petrified rat’s bodies. She goes down into the cellar where her mother and husband are currently having a nice drink annnnd HER HUSBAND HAS BEEN FOUND POISONED! DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!!
She screams loud enough to wake the dead- though not really loud enough to wake the dead. Just loud enough to get the attention of some neighbours who in turn call the local police. PC plod finally turns up to bulk up the plot… and ends up fed to the lawnmower those little rapscallion twins were using. What a terrible accident.
Now Mrs Adams is more alone than ever. She can’t phone the police again (especially since they heavily implied she had the most to gain if all those people died, since she would then be the beneficiary in any will). She begins to doubt her own sanity and wonder if she actually did do all these terrible crimes. She just can’t remember dammit.
As she’s considering walking the 15 miles over to the police station and handing herself in, her mother appears with a knife and it dawns on her… It was granny all along!! (just go with it) Granny lifts up the knife to plunge it into her- and she conveniently remembers Mrs Adams self-defence lessons and backhands her into a concrete wall. Goodbye granny.
BUT WAIT! There’s more! With her dying breaths, she rasps out that she was not actually granny all this time. You see, the house they were in was MAGIC and allows the dead to come back for one night of the year… So Granny was just possessed all along. By a dead dude. Her abusive ex-husband to be precise. So really this was a message-book all along (please give me some kind of prize!)
Mrs Adams is so relieved that this awful ordeal is over. She puts her arms protectively around her lovely children and promises to always look after them. The twins smile back.
Annnd fade to black!
Yes, that’s right, I’ve just spent a week exploring the beautiful country of Croatia! And because I’ve taken way too many photos and because travel stories are fun, I’m going to talk about it (but you can skip to the next post for more bookish content 😉)
I started in the city of Dubrovnik– which was famously used for filming King’s Landing in Game of Thrones and thus has become a bit of a tourist hotspot. And ye gods, I’m glad I went, because it’s so much better in real life. The show does not do it justice. There’s a warmth and friendliness to the city that’ll instantly get you into holiday mode. The sites and views and historical landmarks are simply breath-taking. Obviously one of the highlights for me was the city walls, but I also saw some stunning sunsets. One day, I found myself on one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever been to, tucked myself up on a rock reading a book and watched the sun go down over the water (the less glamorous part of the story was forgetting my headphones and scrabbling back down the rocks in the dark to retrieve them).
I then took a bus to the city of Split (which was super easy, inexpensive and comfortable for anyone who needs travel tips!). And ahhh what a city this was! It has such a cool vibe and is made really special by the way that the old town is embedded into Diocletian’s palace. I loved exploring the winding walkways and ancient cellars. I mean, you can see for yourself how awesome it is. I only wish I’d had more time in Split (you could always do with more time in Split!)
While I was staying in Split, I planned to do some day trips- the first of which was to the Plitvice Lakes. I was told they were gorgeous and that they were must-see- but nothing could’ve prepared me for how lovely it was. As you can see they were heaven on earth! Going to see these national parks was one of my main reason for doing this trip in the first place (years ago I was inspired by Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane’s awesome post)- and I was far from disappointed. The autumnal colours with the vivid blue of the lakes was simply to die for. I was particularly happy I booked a tour for this one as well- it was very well organised and took all the stress out of it!
Of course, I *had to* go to the Krka Waterfalls as well, which was (thankfully) less of a trek than the day before. Because of that, we not only got to see the ethereal and pretty river, but also had time to visit the picturesque Sibenik. Amazingly, the atmosphere was so different from one place to the next- I was so glad of the variety! It was another day in paradise!
As a final hurrah (and ending the trip on a high) I had an amazing adventure in a speedboat to five islands- including Hvar and the Blue Cave! It was so much fun and a truly memorable day 😊
If you do get the chance, I highly recommend taking a trip to Croatia! It’s an incredible country, with lovely people, wonderful culture and natural beauty. And the food was fantastic! There’s a great mix of cuisines- I didn’t have a bad meal and there were doughnuts galore! 😉
There are some pros and cons to going in October- it was less crowded and not as hot, but swimming was COLD! Admittedly I did get pretty lucky with the weather as well (missing most of the thunderstorms 😅).
But if you’re looking for an awesome holiday, go anytime, because Croatia is a country with something for everyone!
Have you ever been to Croatia? Do you feel inspired to go?! I mean, look at this place!!
(I amar prestar aen.)
The world is changed.
(Han matho ne nen.)
I feel it in the water.
(Han mathon ned cae.)
I feel it in the earth.
(A han noston ned gwilith.)
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.
A shadow rises in the west; a show we dare not speak of comes to the small screen. Darkness creeps into the living rooms of all. And it will take an unlikely band of fans (and possibly some normal people who cannot be swayed by flashy CGI) to resist it.
Look, I know I may sound hyperbolic, but I find this whole situation genuinely depressing. Many a franchise has fallen in recent years to corporate greed, woke ideology and nepotistic producers- yet I did not foresee the same thing happening to my beloved Tolkien.
… Boy how wrong I was. Rumours circulated long before the first trailer about how they wanted to butcher the world building and background of Middle Earth. And, inevitably, as trailer after trailer has shown, the showrunners seem to have delivered on that in a spectacular fashion: for this story bears little-to-no resemblance to the original. Even its title sounds like something a soulless corporation would come up with for their fanfic. Nay- I would not even credit it as fanfic- that does a disservice to fanfiction. For no actual fan would write Galadriel as a warrior; no actual fan would disregard all previous world building. And for goodness sakes- why write out even basic world building like the dwarf women having beards! I’m no Tolkien scholar, but my love for his books goes too deep to entertain this abomination of a show. The way they have treated Tolkien’s work with such disdain makes me think they didn’t even like it to begin with. And if they didn’t, in fact, like Lord of the Rings, why couldn’t they have left it well enough alone? Why not write their own damn story?
We as book bloggers know there’s no shortage of stories. If they were too lazy to create their own world building and original concept, surely, SURELY they could have chosen another series to adapt. There are SO MANY options! Especially if you were looking to include more diverse casting. Crazy idea- but why couldn’t they choose a different story to give the big budget treatment to? One perhaps that was more in line with the show they wanted to create…
But no- they had to graverob a franchise that they had no interest in faithfully adapting. And thus we have a Frankenstein’s approximation of Tolkien’s world.
Now all of this may seem like the ramblings of an extremely dissatisfied fan- and that is true. However, I can also see that this show is clearly courting controversy. It never seems to be in the news for anything good- even with all the money Amazon seems intent on throwing at its PR. As much as they wish for the show to do well, they have adopted the (ill-advised) tactic of courting negative publicity and going to battle with fans. I guess they believe that it is better to be criticised than not talked about at all. Personally, I’m not of the opinion this works. For when writers do this, I tend to cut my losses- I do not think it is in my interest to watch something simply for controversy’s sake.
Perhaps I could overlook all of this if the story sounded interesting enough. Yet, what I have seen and heard has not piqued my interest in the slightest. Keeping the plot under wraps hasn’t done them any favours- for on the one hand it doesn’t leave us much to get excited about and on the other people figure it out anyway (and are disappointed with it regardless). What I have heard/seen from the leaks leaves me very unimpressed. It sounds like they are trying- yet again- to create a show to rival Game of Thrones (which, once again, proves they do not have the remotest interest in the franchise they were actually adapting).
I also do not remotely care how slick the CGI ends up looking- as many of us have learned from the Lion King debacle, throwing money and high tech at a movie does not make it good. I’m still of the opinion that a film can be styled like the Princess Bride and be a masterpiece.
Plain and simple, there is nothing about this show that appeals to me. I didn’t like the concept of a fan-made story to begin with… and this doesn’t even seem to be made by fans. So, yes, I’m going to be all precious about it and avoid the show like it was forged in the depths of Mount Doom. Because, clearly, it was.
So- what do you think of this new show? Will you be watching it? I’d love to hear from Tolkien fans and non-fans alike!! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Because we all need a little burst of happiness sometimes!
Get a Life, Chloe Brown– this is the book that inspired me to make this post! It’s the kind of fun, funny and sweet story I will always gravitate towards (just like how I like my love interests 😉).
Tweet Cute– I don’t talk about this book enough!! This hate-to-love YA is full of friends, family, romance… And most importantly: it comes with EXTRA CHEESE!
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry– okay yes, that title doesn’t sound joyous, but it’s filled with positive messages about hope and love and being truthful. I loved the way the characters come together as a family and find their place in this messy world of ours.
Anxious People– this may seem like an antsy novel about a bank robbery- and it’s a story that speaks to the intrinsic value of humankind. Believing in the basic humanity and goodness of us all, this inherent optimism is what makes this book memorable.
House in the Cerulean Sea– quirky and fun and uplifting, this is more than just a fantastical romance. It’s about finding and creating an oasis of love in the world- and picking up this book transports you there!
The Salt Path– a memoir about homelessness is perhaps not the kind of book you think of when you want something joyful… and yet a story about finding the drive to persevere, even in the toughest circumstances, is truly awe-inspiring. This, coupled with the descriptions of nature, fill me with a quiet kind of wonder and delight. A book like this gives me such a hunger for life.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse– speaking of hunger, I’m putting this on the list just for the cake 😉 Plus, reading this book was like getting a great big hug from the universe!
And that’s all I have for today! What do you think of these books? And what books fill you with joy? Let me know in the comments!
Hello all! Well looks like we’re full into
2020 part 2 2022 now… and yikes. I tried to emerge from hibernation earlier in the month…
And I went to the most incredible Van Gogh portrait exhibition, showing the many faces of the artist…
But then the world imploded and I got the flu, so I think I might just return to bed for the rest of the year 😉 Anyway, all of that is to say why I’ve been awol and explain why I didn’t read/watch nearly as much this month. But I still have plenty to say about the media I did consume, so buckle up!
Inventing Anna– a patchy, disjointed job, this tries to tell the story of a real-life con artist who pretended to be a German heiress. Yet, with poor framing for the flashbacks and too much sympathy for the devil of the tale, this didn’t quite create the allure I hoped. While there are some tense scenes and good performances, this misses the juicy opportunity to tell a salacious and near-unbelievable tale. Centring this on the journalistic investigation didn’t work for me personally. Given it was such a high-profile case and we had the information about what kind of person Anna Sorokin was at the start of the show, it wasn’t much of a mystery, so why frame it as such? You absolutely need to go into this knowing as little about the case as humanly possible… which isn’t possible for the huge number of people who already know the story. This removed so much of the tension from the story. It also didn’t help that the journalist character was fundamentally unlikeable. No shade to the real journalist, but this fictionalised version is an obsessive workaholic who’s oddly resentful about her impending motherhood and unethically befriends her subject. Fundamentally naïve, much of the plot hinges on the contrivance that she for no apparent reason believes Anna could be telling the truth. She was also used to push a bizarre #girlboss narrative, where women have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously and can’t make any mistakes (which is a frankly absurd theme to put in a show about a woman defrauding her friends). Which leads me onto my biggest question of all: why was this show so sympathetic to Anna? Anna was not a girl trying to make it in a man’s world- she was a fraudulent sociopath. And this show just loves propping her up at the expense of the actual victims (it’s no wonder so few came forward- the victim blaming and shaming is real). I find it really odd that this show seems to cheer her on to the bitter end. There was a lot of potential here- sadly it did not live up to it.
One of Us is Lying– This is basically PLL done right! Not gonna lie, this is one helluva adaptation! While the book- a teen cross between Breakfast Club and Agatha Christie- didn’t entirely win me over, this show definitely did. Addictive and a little tense, this was a sharp Netflix flick. They took the original and improved upon it- and *spoiler warning* I liked how it implied it was going in a Murder on the Orient Express direction, when really it’s And Then There Were None. And where I wasn’t head over heels for the characters in the original, the actors certainly brought them to life and the writing gave them more depth. Bronwyn especially came across as more likeable. There were a couple of whiny side characters I could’ve done without, but overall, I was sold.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown– I knew this was going to be a good time right from the off! With its humorous tone and distinctive characters, I could see this romance was written with such joy. I really liked the emotional beats to the story as well, dealing with some deeper issues like emotional abuse and chronic pain. What’s interesting is both of those problems share the commonality of not being believed or understood. Having this couple work through their problems together really worked, especially since they were able to find common ground and empathy. These are characters with real emotional scars, helping each other to heal. I loved that. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the sex scenes- but other than that it was a pleasure to read and I definitely want to check out more from this series!
Rating: 4/5 bananas
Heartstream– this was a little too tRiPpy for me! Sold as a black mirror style story for teens, this dystopia is far less streamlined than I would have liked. Based around a girl who has become internet famous through an app that lets you share your emotions, this explores the concept of obsessive fandom. Intersecting with flashbacks to two teen superfans of a boy band, it’s pretty clear what this book is getting at (don’t get too into your fandoms kids!) Except that it’s a little odd how extreme this book becomes and why it’s so intent on demonising teen girls for fangirling. Going on tumblr doesn’t necessarily lead to kidnap, stalking and arson… at least I’ve never seen anything like that! And those are just a few of the bonkers things that happened in the book. Because I haven’t even addressed all the heartstream stuff. Forgive me if this review is confused- unfortunately the plot was all over the place! And while the themes tangentially link the stories (and *spoiler alert* an “I am your father moment), the stories don’t actually intersect that well. It would have been more interesting to connect the stories through the invention of the app perhaps- but the app ends up becoming a plot device to prove how honest the main character is being… which kind of goes against the story’s critique of marketing authenticity?! To me, the creepy af app was the interesting part of the book- yet it felt like the author didn’t know what to do with it. Oh and guessing the plot twists was the work of a moment. Overall, while this was fast-paced and entertaining in the way only an overdramatic teen drama can be, I also thought it was a load of nonsense. Points for effort, if not execution.
Rating: 2½/5 bananas
Aurora’s End– ach this didn’t set my heart afire as much as Aurora Burning. Mostly because I don’t love time travel stories and this was all about time. Unfortunately, with most of the characters stuck in a loop, it took a lot of the urgency out of the story… even with a ticking time bomb. I did like some elements- like seeing how paths were made to intersect both in the past and the future. There was a decent amount of setup for this premise and it paid off in some ways. And let’s be real, even if this wasn’t the perfect end to the series, I still adore all of the characters and will root for them to the ends of the earth- and beyond! I’m pleased I waited (wayyy too patiently) for the UK release of the audiobook, because the full cast and effects brought the story to life!
Rating: 4/5 bananas
The Wild Silence– Raynor Winn has a power with words unlike anyone else and her memoir the Salt Path took me on a journey like no other- which is why I absolutely had to pick up the follow up! This follows Raynor and her husband after they embarked on their coastal walk when they were homeless. Living in Cornwall and with her husband getting a degree, this follows their subsequent adventures. From farming to more walks to writing her book, this non-linear biography builds on the first book. I particularly liked how captured the process of her writing the Salt Path, showing us that she did it to capture the memories for her husband as he struggles with progressive memory loss. Written out of love for him, my own memory of the story has become all the more beautiful. It shows how she will go to the ends of the earth for her husband- and that is how they end up on another hike, this time in the timeless landscapes of Iceland. Full of descriptions and history and love for the land, this frozen setting offers us something new. It not only helps you get in touch with nature, but also with the way it carries ancient echoes of the past. Because of course, like its predecessor, this is a book with more to say. This is a memoir focusing on memory and loss. Flitting between timelines, it is a recording of life. Listening to this book on audio, I came to feel as if I was walking in her shoes. Coming to the very edge of the world and confronting the hardest parts of life. And I feel like with every step, I am rooting for them more.
Rating: 5/5 bananas
That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month! ❤
Taking some time out due to bereavement- I’ll return in the New Year ❤
Maybe I should start by saying that I loved this book. It’s a chatty, self-help memoir, told by a therapist as she navigates therapy. I listened to it on audiobook, which really with the intimately conversational format. I felt like I was perched on the couch next to Gottlieb, listening to her clients and listening to her, going through the deeply personal journey of therapy with them.
Indeed, one of Gottlieb’s strengths as a writer is building up a clear picture and making you feel closer to the stories she shares. In an amazing feat of empathy, she transposes the feelings of others onto the reader. And through that, I felt like I was in the chair, working through the issues myself and learning to expunge my own thoughts.
While deeply personal at times, the book is fundamentally universal. Like all the best therapists, Gottlieb holds up a mirror to her patients (ie readers) and makes us really see ourselves. Not in an affirmative, vacuous *you go girl* way, but by giving us the uncomfortable truths we need to push through tough times. The book doesn’t act like a timid Yes Man- it’s hard-hitting and sometimes difficult to get through. Yet, it opened my eyes, gave me real insights into myself and genuinely helped me come to important realisations- and you can’t ask for more than that.
Like a therapy session, the book flits through a timeline. You have to force yourself through the messiest bits first, before you can reach any sense of clarity. You have to work to come unstuck from the complicated quagmire of human existence- and only then can you be rewarded. Because, even if we lose sight of it in the middle, the process is structured around an ending. And that ending is finding the way to breathe easier and move through life with just a little bit more grace.
Rating: 5/5 bananas
So, have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!
Hello all! Hope you’re all having a lovely summer! I’m trying to soak up what sunshine and freedom we have at the moment- so not blogging as much. Oh and I’m loving all the sports lately! Right now (possibly for this week only) I’m happy as Larry because FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME!!!
Project Hail Mary– what a rollercoaster! Andy Weir certainly knows how to toy with my emotions- cranking up the tension, before sending me rocketing to unexpected highs and lows. And Ryland was not what I expected either- his character arc really leaves you feeling a whole range of emotions. I loved his character arc and relationship with Rocky. The only major problem I have with this book is how difficult it is to talk about without going into spoilers!
Rating: 4.5/5 bananas
A Deadly Education– I love the concept of a deadly school filled with magically gifted students- and the execution wasn’t half bad! Admittedly, the world building could be a bit info-dumpy to start, but it still managed to be intriguing enough to keep me going. Plus, it didn’t hurt that the main character’s voice cut through the narrative and made me chuckle from time to time. I appreciated how dangerous she could be and liked getting a sense of her character. Ultimately, there was quite a lot of complexity here and am curious to see where Novik takes the rest of this series.
Pumpkinheads– gosh this book gave me a massive jolt of endorphins. It’s just pure, cinnamon-sweet joy, wrapped up in a gorgeously illustrated bow. I know I love Rainbow Rowell books, but I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this quite that much. It was simply a treat from start to finish. And I adored the tricksy direction it took (somehow, with Rainbow Rowell, I never see the twists coming). I really want to get my hands on my own copy to reread this in autumn 😊
Rating: 5/5 bananas
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse– let’s be honest, this is just going to be a recommendation rather than a review. Because it’s not like I can summarise this book without just saying READ IT! With the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen, lovely quotable lines and just enough cake to keep it from being too saccharine, this is well worth a read.
Rating: 5/5 bananas
The Ratline– masterfully telling the history of SS officer, Wächter, Sander gives a vivid depiction of the life of a Nazi. And as someone that believes we have much to learn from monsters, I found this to be a significant read. I found the background of this particular Nazi and his wife as one of marked frivolity. Indeed it is notable that later in the book, it is stated that Charlotte von Wachter only ever regrets taking a house that wasn’t hers- feeling no guilt for the far more significant crimes committed. I was struck by her description of how the starving Jews of the Krakow ghetto would appreciate the wall for its “Jewish” (and “oriental”) design (something a survivor called “absurd”). For me, this was less about the mystery of happened to Wachter after the war, becoming far more about the journey and the reactions to it. Much of this book focuses on the impact and what it is like to be the child of a mass murderer. Ratline does not offer simple or easy or comfortable truths- and for that I can see its honesty.
Rating: 4.5/5 bananas
House of Glass– this was a curious memoir. Bizarrely launching into rants about modern politics intermittently, I found the structure somewhat fragile. Many of her perspectives, while transparently left-wing, were obscurely odd. I think it’s pretty safe to state (for the record) that it’s ridiculous to compare a milquetoast Theresa May speech to Mein Kampf. While there were times I agreed and (clearly) many times I disagreed with the author’s assessments, I mostly just found it out of place that she used this topic as a launchpad for her own political musings. The history would have been better served without these interjections. Indeed, the space could have been better served with actually challenging myths around passivity- which she brings up and abandons (she could have discussed the inherent victim blaming involved or perhaps the many counter-examples). In the end, the Glass story was worth telling, though it could have been looked at from a different angle.
Rating: 3/5 bananas
Salt Path– I listened to this on audio after it was recommended by the brilliant Bookworm Jen as a great book about renewal… and she was right! It fits perfectly with that theme. Raynor Winn’s memoir tells of her and her husband Moth becoming homeless, quickly followed by a terminal diagnosis, and then deciding to walk the South West Coast Path. On the one hand, it’s a harrowing indictment of the legal system and suffering. On the other, it’s an inspiring demonstration of human endurance and appreciating nature in all her glory. The evocative language was brought to life for me by the author’s own voice, which enhanced the narration for me. The story is as rich as strawberries and cream, evoking emotions from childlike joy to that bone-deep feeling of experience.
Rating: 5/5 bananas
That’s all for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments! And I hope you all had a good month! ❤