The Corset

Books, Pink in Ink

Laura Purcell

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?          Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.          When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.          The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.          Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

I struggled a little with this.

I loved the writing style, of how it used the written language of the early 1900’s. We follow two main characters, Ruth, a young seamstress incarcerated for murder, and Dorothea, a woman fascinated with the idea that our brain determines our level of misdemeanour and potential for committing serious crimes. This solidified the era of which it is set by using what is (now) unusual and barbaric methods of research.

The Corset is written as multiple perspectives and timelines but in Ruth’s perspective, she is recollecting memory. During her recollections, we learn of how her past led her to her ultimate fate.

I was entirely captured by Ruth and her unravelling of the truth and how science and the paranormal are mixed together, leading to so many questions, even after the final page.

However, I found Dorothea to be quite unlikeable. I couldn’t get past her naivety and blindness to the horrors humankind can inflict. As the book progressed, she starts to see the world in a much more realistic state but still has a mind for the trivial. Eventually, I began to skip over her chapters which made it a far more enjoyable read.

The plot twist during the novel were well crafted and left me wanting to keep reading, to find out the truth… but the book ended on another plot twist and more questions! It is a sign of a good book if there are still questions to be answered, making you think about those questions long after the last page.


Hardcover

392 pages

Published – 20th September 2018

Publishing Company – Raven Books

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Every Heart a Doorway

Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Seanan McGuire

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations.    No Visitors.   No Quests.            Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.          But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.          Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.          But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.          No matter the cost

Though it was a short tale, it left me wanting more.

The main plot to this story was one reminiscent of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. A very well done ‘who-done-it’ with fantastical elements. It did leave you wondering who committed these acts right up to the reveal. However this didn’t feel like the main cause for this book.

Each character felt individual and, though it was a novella, I could really picture each character. It focused more on Nancy, our main character, what fantastical land she travelled to and why she came back. We also get to know a handful of other characters, Kade, Sumi, Jack, Jill and Christopher. Though they didn’t get as much focus, I still learnt enough about them to feel like I connected with them.

There was representation of asexuality, gender identity and gender fluidity, but it doesn’t just talk about gender identity, however. I felt that this spoke of a far more important topic that often gets forgotten until our later years: individuality, identity and self-acceptance. It really felt like an important read for teens to help understand their turbulent emotions

The brief times that parents are mentioned in this novella, they are unaccepting of change and just want their little baby back, which, as we can all agree, is a very true fact of life. It shows the split between teens and their parents, one wanting to start spreading their wings and learn who they are. And the other just wants to keep them just as they were. But by doing so, causes more damage to their relationships.

I also felt that it had a little nod to mental illness. That the doorways to these worlds is a symbolism for how many feel about a mental illness. Once you’ve gone through the door to the darker side of the mind, you can never forget it.

This story spoke to me in a way that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It made me feel like individuality and difference was more common-place than society would care to mention and that there is always at least one person who has been through a similar door to a similar world. I can’t find any faults. It is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of this year. It is one, that I think, should be read by any new teen or anyone who is struggling to find themselves.

“… the only one who gets to tell you how your story ends is you.”


Hardcover

173 pages

Published – 5th April 2016

Publishing Company – Tor Books

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The Hunting Party

Audiobooks, Books, Favourites, Pink in Ink

Lucy Foley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.                                                                During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.                          They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.                          Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.                  The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.                    Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.                         Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

I was gushing over this book the moment I finished it. A perfect who-done-it!

I wasn’t sure how I would find not only the alternating timeline but also the alternate perspectives. But it worked.

The events that unfold are told from the perspective of the employees of the lodge and the group of old friends guesting during the new year celebrations.        Each character was so individual that I never felt confused about what voice was speaking. As you progress through the book, you get to see that things are not all they seem. There were many points in this book where your opinion on these characters are completely upturned, begging the question of who can be trusted. Some of the events that unfold in this book have a huge shock-factor effect leaving you dumb-founded and unsure of what to expect next. There were also moments that left me infuriated with the character and showing how humanity can have a very dark side. It felt like everything that could go wrong, did! I only wished that some of the characters stories were given more time to be expanded on.

 There are so many twists and turns that keeps you guessing. Once you think you’ve cracked the mystery, by the end of the next chapter your theory has been replaced with another one. Even after the main reveal, there was still more to discover. Her descriptive writing of being snowed-in at hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere made you feel isolated and as the book progressed, the tension and feeling of claustrophobia was impenetrable. Despite the horrors that unfold, I couldn’t help but desperately want a trip to the highlands myself in a lodge, with a book, sat by a grand, luxurious fireplace.

I was hooked from the very beginning to the bitter end. Lucy Foley has become one of my favourite authors. If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell and Riley Sager, you’ll find this a great read!


Hardcover

400 pages

Published – 24th January 2019

Publishing Company – Harper Collins

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An Unwanted Guest

Audiobooks, Books

Shari Lapena

Rating: 2 out of 5.

“As the guests arrive at beautiful, remote Mitchell’s Inn, they’re all looking forward to a relaxing weekend deep in the forest, miles from anywhere. They watch their fellow guests with interest, from a polite distance.            Usually we can avoid the people who make us nervous, make us afraid.              With a violent storm raging, the group finds itself completely cut off from the outside world. Nobody can get in – or out. And then the first body is found . . . and the horrifying truth comes to light. There’s a killer among them – and nowhere to run.             Until we find ourselves in a situation we can’t escape. Trapped.”

 I desperately wanted to like this book. After making it to the halfway point, I just completely lost interest and decided to put this in my DNF category.

The plot and setting showed real promise of a good thriller reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel but it just fell flat.

I found the writing style to be too simplistic with too much information. I have read countless books where there is little information given about characters but is enough to give an impression of that character, allowing it to come to life in the readers mind and form a personality, mannerisms, a voice, and depth. All of the characters felt very two-dimensional and mono-tonal with very little to them.

The style of writing reminded me of short stories we write in middle school where it has an understanding of what we want to achieve but not enough time or energy to make it anything substantial, so rush through it.

I came up with three different ways this story could have played out that would have been far more interesting to read while I was reading.

As I’ve said, my compliments of this book is the setting of the tale and the blurb. I am hoping, once I get the chance, that other novels by this author are much better.          


Paperback

368 pages

Published – 16th May 2019

Publishing Company – Corgi

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