Book number 52 in 2014 was the final book in my Mount TBR Challenge! I am very pleased to have successfully completed the challenge and to have read 12 books which have been hanging around for a while…!

I really enjoy Coben’s books. I didn’t used to enjoy thrillers – I scare easily! – but over the past couple of years my reading tastes have broadened and I now really enjoy a thriller, as long as it isn’t too graphic. Harlan Coben is a new favourite for me. I always find myself drawn into his books and am gripped until the end. And of course, I never work them out! I was a bit concerned when I started reading Caught because in the opening few pages a Paedophile is caught and brought into court. I found myself worrying that it would be graphic and horrible reading, but it isn’t at all. What the guy did was barely mentioned – which was a massive relief for me. I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t want to put it down. This was a great read, and I am glad I chose it for my Mount TBR Challenge.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Thriller
Published: 2010
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Book number 41 (I’m still excited that I have passed my goal!) was Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm. This is book number 2 in the Cormoran Strike series. I had reserved this book from the library, as soon as I had finished The Cuckoo’s Calling but I couldn’t wait to read this book so ended up borrowing my Mum’s Kindle to read it!

This story is a lot darker than the first in the series, and I’m sure there were parts I didn’t quite understand but overall – great book! I couldn’t put it down. I was gripped. I didn’t guess the ending and I just really enjoyed this book. I hope we get more books in this series.

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Book number 37 is Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym, the author of this novel also goes by J. K. Rowling! And what a novel it is…!

I have read all the Harry Potter novels, and loved them – I even queued at midnight for the release of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – so when I discovered that Robert Galbraith was actually Rowling, I was eager to read this book. Recently, I have found my reading tastes have changed a little. In the past, I wouldn’t have read a detective novel, for fear of it scaring me I think, yet over the past year or so I have started to really enjoy them. This book is no different. I started it as an audiobook, but about halfway in, I was so eager to find out what happens in the end, I downloaded the book and read it much quicker than it would have been read to me. I really enjoyed this book, I couldn’t put it down. I recommended it to my Mum (no surprises there!) and she also enjoyed it. This is such a good read – and not at all like Harry Potter!

Addition: E-book and audiobook
Genre: Mystery, crime, detective
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Gothic fiction
Published: 1935
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Her mother’s dying request takes Mary Yellan on a sad journey across the bleak moorland of Cornwall to reach Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. With the coachman’s warning echoing in her memory, Mary arrives at a dismal place to find Patience a changed woman, cowering from her overbearing husband, Joss Merlyn.

Affected by the Inn’s brooding power, Mary is thwarted in her attention to reform her aunt, and unwillingly drawn into the dark deeds of Joss and his accomplices. And, as she struggles with events beyond her control, Mary is further thrown by her feelings for a man she dare not trust….

This is the second Daphne du Maurier book I have read, back in 2008 I read and enjoyed Rebecca. I was inspired to read Jamaica Inn because a few months ago the BBC made it into a mini-series, and I thought I would read the book before I watched the show.

The story is based around Mary. She is sent to live with her Aunt Patience and her husband Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn, after the death of her mother. The inn is not at all what she expected – and neither are Patience and Joss. There are dark and mysterious goings-on at Jamaica Inn, and everyone in the surrounding area gives it a wide berth. Joss seems to be the ring leader in some awful gang, and Patience has just turned away and become fearful and weak. Mary is not like that, and her curiosity draws her into what Joss is caught up in, with potentially deadly consequences.

This book almost immediately reminded me of Wuthering Heights. Set out on the Cornish moors, there is fear and darkness. Joss is like Heathcliff, unpredictable and not particularly nice. Although written in the 1930s, this book has all the feelings of a gothic novel – death, fear, the supernatural, love and the unknown. I was drawn in immediately, and all I can say is this is a very good book!

I liked Mary. She was courageous and strong. She had a good sense of right and wrong, and I liked her adventurous spirit. She seemed fearless and I loved how much she wanted to save her Aunt. Her Aunt however did annoy me! She was so weak and pathetic. I really wanted to tell her to pull herself together. I thought Joss was very well-written. I didn’t like him, but he was a great character.

What pleased me most about this book is guessed the baddie! That never happens! I kept saying to my Mum, “I don’t trust…” She wouldn’t comment, but it was satisfying to be right! This was a great read – full of danger and suspense. I was hooked from the beginning. My only complaint was that the book didn’t read fast enough for my liking! This novel has it all – death, suspicion, fear, danger and love. The prose are wonderful, and the descriptions of the moors are beautiful.

This is a great book and if you love classics like Wuthering Heights, you will love this book. It has made me want to re-read Rebecca, and read more of du Maurier’s novels (good thing my Mum owns them!) This was a brilliant read, and I rate it 4 out of 5.

In case you are interested, the inn, Jamaica Inn, does exist! du Maurier based the novel on the place, but her story is entirely fictional. You can find out more about Jamaica Inn here.

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Book number 32 was John Hart’s Down River. This book is from my Mount TBR challenge – it has been sitting on my shelf for a few years…

I think I had been putting off reading this novel in case I found it scary (yep, I’m a wuss…!) however, I wish I hadn’t put this book off, I really enjoyed it! It was fast-paced and well written. I didn’t guess the murderer and was gripped until the end. I thought this was a really good book and have now given it to my Mum to read.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Crime
Published: 2007
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Book number 13 in 2014 was Mark Mills’ The Savage Garden. This book was on my 2014 Mount TBR Challenge list so I am pleased to say I have completed it and can strike it off my list.

I was a little apprehensive about this book as it is described on the back as an “atmospheric murder” and I’m a wimp – I don’t like scary books. However, it wasn’t that bad and I could have read it before bed. It wasn’t gruesome and there wasn’t too much suspense. It was a good story but I found some sections dragged a little bit as there was a lot of Greek mythology in the book and I know very little about that. I also found the sex scenes left little to the imagination, which puts me off the book too. I have rated this book 3 out of 5 because it was a good story.

Addition: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, thriller, historical thriller
Published: 2006
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Divergent
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 5 out of 5
Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

The first book in The Divergent Series – aptly named Divergent – is easily my favourite of the three. What a great introduction to the series and to the characters.

I loved this book. I have read it twice now, and definitely enjoyed it more the second time. This book has it all for me. There are great characters – I liked Tris. She is bold and follows her instincts. I liked Four – he was strong and mysterious. I liked Will and Christina. And I enjoyed disliking characters such as Eric and Peter. Roth writes with a skill that draws you into the story. You feel like you are there and you know the characters personally. I would have trusted Tris and Four. I wouldn’t have gone near Peter. I loved the feeling that I was there too (although in reality I am pleased I don’t live in that world!)

Divergent is a great story. There is everything you could want – action, risk taking, murder, war, friendship and love. I don’t think Roth could have crammed anything else into this novel. I could not put this book down. I had to keep going, I was sucked into the story and needed to know what was going to happen. When this book finished, I was desperate to read Insurgent. This novel left me wanting more and it was easy to rate it 5 out of 5.

Insurgent
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I didn’t enjoy Insurgent as much as I hoped I would. Don’t get me wrong – this is a good book – it just wasn’t up to the standard of Divergent. I found the beginning slow to get going. A lot of the action was at the end of the book – but what a great cliff hanger!

This book is similar to the first in that it contains action and war, plus love. It has the added element of having to make really tough decisions – such as forgiving your friend for shooting your boyfriend and choosing which bad parent to follow – the manipulative one who left or the abusive one.

We see the characters develop and we see Tris work through feelings of guilt and grief. War is taking its toll on her and Four is struggling to help her. Insurgent introduces more characters – again, some I liked, such as Cara who showed great strength when she forgave her brother’s killer, and more to dislike. People like Jeanine, who were so scared of losing power they were prepared to kill almost anyone and everyone.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 because I found the beginning slow. However, once the action started this book transformed and I was hooked all over again and eager for the final installment.

Allegiant
Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Divergent fans had to wait a long time for the final installment, Allegiant, to be published. To be honest, at first it felt a little bit like a let down. Tris and Tobias, plus a small army of friends, have left Chicago to discover what lies beyond the wall. Roth seemed to use half the book to explain their existence. There was a lot of background and a lot of science. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of that half of the book I took in. It wasn’t the explosive beginning I was hoping for and I found that not a lot happened in those pages. That said, again war broke out and the book became exciting! I think Roth writes action better than she writes background.

I wasn’t sure about the dual perspective either. It came as a bit of shock to be reading one chapter from Tris’ point of view, and then the next from Tobias’. I like one of the things I liked about Divergent was his mysterious character. I didn’t like that he was suddenly stripped bare and I got to see how he felt. He seemed weaker than I had envisioned him and that spoilt the book somewhat for me.

I must mention the ending. I don’t want to give anything away but I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t like it! It fitted with the characters and the story but it was not the ending I was expecting. It worked, but it saddened me.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 as well because I thought once the story moved away from the background information and we got going, the book was great and I had to keep reading.

The Divergent Series
I have written a lot already so I will keep this brief. This is a great series. I would highly recommend it to everyone. It is worth pursuing with the second and third books because the story does pick up. This is one of the best series I have read. This is a young adult series but don’t let that put you off. It is well written, it is engaging and the story has everything without the feeling that the author has tried too hard and failed. I can’t wait for the film to be released and I think everyone should read this series. Overall, I would rate it 4 out of 5.

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The third book finished this year is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. This novel was published last year and I remember there being a lot of hype around it – it seemed every website I visited had an ad for this book so I bought it, and finally got round to reading it the other day. I enjoyed this novel, but to be honest it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be considering the amount of promoting I saw. It was a good book, I type with a casual shrug of the shoulders. It didn’t read as fast as I thought it would but it was an interesting storyline. I wasn’t surprised by the secret, but I was surprised by the wife’s reaction and I think what kept me hooked was wanting to know what she was going to do. This was a good read, but not the best I have ever read.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Fiction, crime, chick-lit
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5

A review will be published soon.

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Addition: Paperback, library book

Genre: Chick-lit, historical fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Lovers are torn apart in World War Two and a mother and daughter separated by guilt and shame in a stunning new novel from the author of DANCE WITH WINGS

When the Second World War breaks out, Carrie Chapman rebels against her controlling husband to work at a local hospital. Amidst the chaos of the Bristol blitz, Carrie finds herself falling in love with a young doctor, Dev. Carrie’s willing to defy convention and leave her stifling marriage for Dev, but one summer evening, horrific events change Carrie’s life for ever. Since that night, for forty years, Carrie’s beloved daughter, Gillian, has refused to see or speak to her. Now, someone is digging into the past. Will Carrie break her long silence and, if she does, will Gillian finally be able to forgive?

I picked up this book because Amazon kept putting it into my recommendations – and I was pleased I did pick it! Amazon got it right!

This is the story of Carrie, a girl who before WW1 falls pregnant out of wedlock and has to marry the father Frank. At first it is fine, she thinks she is in love, but when she loses the baby she realises she wasn’t. Frank is demanding and seemingly uncaring and they are not happy together. Carrie doesn’t know what love is until she meets Dev, a doctor at the hospital she works at during WW1. She tells Frank she is leaving him but later that day he has an accident and loses his leg. She is guilt-ridden, convinced it is her fault, so she stays with him. They have Gillian but Frank’s moods get worse over the years, as does his violence towards Carrie. Then one night Frank ends up dead and Carrie goes to prison for it. Gillian goes to live with her aunt Lizzy, Frank’s sister – who turns her against Carrie. Gillian never sees Carrie again, or her sister Andrea. For many years Andrea has been writing to Gillian, trying to persuade her to see Carrie again. Gillian puts the letters away, but they are found by Kathryn, Gillian’s daughter. With troubles of her own, Kathryn decides to go see Carrie. Can she find out what happened to make Gillian hate Carrie so much?

I was immediately drawn into this book. The book I read before, Wicked, was long and drawn out but this book wasn’t like that at all. The story was interesting from page one and I read this quickly because it held my interest. It is a great story, with lots of twists and turns. But the last 50 pages I had worked out what happened but I did have to go through all the other options to get there! This is a big book – over 500 pages, but it read so fast! This book had it all in my opinion. There is love, history, murder and mystery. I really enjoyed this story.

I really liked the characters. I love a book where I am interested in the characters and want to know the outcomes of their lives. I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of Carrie – a woman who went to prison for manslaughter – but I loved her! As an older woman she was kind and caring. She had given up her life to protect someone and was still holding on to that secret. As a young woman she tries to be honest and a good wife to a man who doesn’t love her. I thought Andrea was great. I thought it was brilliant that 40 years on she was still flustered by the man who she had a crush on when she was teenager! I was so disappointed in Frank. He started like a kind gentleman – coming to Carrie’s aid when she had a puncture on her bike down a country lane, and then pursuing her but the longer they were married the more jealous and controlling her became – even before Dev came into the picture. Maybe his attitude was what pushed her towards Dev? It was such a shame that Frank turned into a monster – an angry man who hurt his family.

This book wasn’t written how I was expecting it to be. Most books that jump around in time start each chapters with the date at the top of each chapter but in this book, we are in this year but floating into the past through Carrie’s memories. It is a seamless transition into the past, which doesn’t leave you confused but draws you in.

I’ve rated this 4 out of 5 because I thought this was a fabulous story that was full of life, excitement and mystery. I was guessing most of the way through this book but loved reading how the past unfolded. This is so easy to read and it kept me engaged all the way through. This is a great book!

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Addition:
Paperback, borrowed from friend

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them. And soon they enter a terrifying heart of darkness from which they may never return.

My friend lent this book to me, telling me it was her favourite book. This book therefore had a lot to live up too! My Mum has also read this book and although enjoyed it felt it was too long and by page 500 was ready for it to finish. I went into this book with mixed feelings – my main thoughts being “I hope I enjoy this as Emily loves it” and “man, this is a big book with small print!” I have to say, I did really enjoy this book!

The story follows Richard, a young man from California who is wanting to escape his family. He arrives at Hampton College – on the opposite Coast to his parents and is quickly seduced into a life with the Greek students – Henry, Francis, Charles, Camilla and Bunny. However, all is not as it seems. They are secretive and sometimes weird, hiding a dark secret. Henry, the leader of this group, finally opens up and tells Richard what has happened: whilst trying out an ancient experiment – to completely lose oneself – they accidently kill a farmer on his land. They keep this secret hidden, except from Bunny, another in the group, who is starting to really grate on their nerves. He jokes about it, makes reference to the murder, and eventually tells Richard, thinking he doesn’t know. This is the final straw for Henry, who plots Bunny’s death. All of them are there when Henry pushes Bunny over the edge of the cliff. The story follows the remaining 5, showing how this completely messes up their lives.

I found this book slow to begin with. The first 100 or so pages follow Richard in California and then the Greek lessons at Hampton College. I found this a struggle to read – I have never studied the Greek classics and often found what I was reading going completely over my head. I honestly couldn’t tell you what it had to do with the story as I didn’t get it at all! This book is one that I would call “an intelligent read”. You have to pay attention and it doesn’t read quickly. It is also long – the addition I read was 629 pages! Once I got past page 100 or so, I was hooked but I did find the beginning a challenge.

I thought this was a fascinating read. It gives a glimpse into a crazy college world – filled with drink and drugs. It shows how people can be influenced by teachers and what they are taught – and how friends can manipulate you too. Henry leads everything – from the experience in the woods which leads to the first murder, to keeping Bunny quiet, to how to hide what they had done to Bunny. I was undecided most of the way through the book about Henry – he cold and silent, and then nursed Richard back to health when he had pneumonia. He was messed up by what he spent his time reading and also fairly grumpy! By the end I didn’t like him much.

This is an interesting read. I didn’t really like the characters and I found the beginning tough, but I was intrigued by the prologue – commenting on Bunny’s death, and I desperately wanted to know what happened. I was mildly surprised by the ending. They were never found out, although we did see how murder completely destroyed their lives. Henry ends up committing suicide, Camilla and Charles stop speaking and Charles becomes an alcoholic, Francis is consumed by fear and anxiety and Richard takes too many pills, drinks a lot and hides away. I was surprised that they weren’t caught but this was a fascinating ending.

This is an exceptionally well written book and very enjoyable. I would highly reecommend this book – even if I did find the beginning hard!

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