Review of ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn

This is the second Gillian Flynn novel that I’ve read, and again, I absolutely loved it. Gillian Flynn is definitely the queen of plot twists! I love her style of writing, the ways in which she uses a non-linear timeline really make you want to read more, she can really draw her readers in. It’s a book that I’ve always wanted to read, I studied a part of the text in one of my modules at University which made me really intrigued to hear the whole story.

‘Gone Girl’ is a story about a missing woman, Amy Dunne and her husband’s, Nick, attempts to figure out what has happened to her. Throughout the book we hear both from Nick and Amy, the voice of Amy is presented through diary entries in comparison to Nick who is placed in the present, during the disappearance of his wife. By giving opinions of husband and wife, the author really psychoanalyses the marriage of the protagonists, which, in turn, means that the reader is able to do the same. This is what makes the book really interesting, did Nick have anything to do with Amy’s disappearance?

I’d actually seen the film before reading the book which I think spoiled my experience a little bit as I knew how it was going to end. However, I remember first watching the film and being shocked by the ending, which is a testament to the plot of the novel itself. I always think texts like this don’t translate well into films, similarly to The Girl On The Train, so I’d definitely recommend reading this even if you’ve seen the film! Gillian Flynn has written a number of books and they’re definitely on my list for future reads.

If you love a mystery novel with a twist then I’d definitely recommend the work of Gillian Flynn. This thriller novel, with its use of psychoanalysis, will probably always be popular amongst readers as it’s a type of book that always has been popular, and is definitely my favourite genre!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Recipe for Bakewell tarts

Ingredients

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter + 120g butter for filling
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 90g cherry jam
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 12 glacé cherries

Method

  • Dice 100g of butter and add to a bowl with 200g of plain flour.
  • Rub together with the tips of your fingers until the mixture forms a breadcrumb like texture.
  • Add a table spoon of water at a time to the flour and butter mixture until a firm dough is formed (around 3tbsp).
  • Knead the dough and wrap in clingfilm, chill in the fridge until needed.
  • preheat the oven to 180degrees
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter and roll out your pastry into a thin sheet, cut out enough circles of pastry to fill the tin, making sure they slightly come up over the top.
  • Push the pastry down into the tin and chill in the fridge for 15/20 minutes
  • Cut out circles of baking paper and scrunch them up, before unscrunching and placing on top of each pastry case. Fill with baking beads (or rice) and blind bake for 10 minutes.
  • After the 10 minutes, remove the baking paper and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • Beat together 120g of butter with the sugar until creamed together, the mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and 1tbsp of flour to the butter and sugar mixture and whisk until fully combined.
  • Fold in the ground almonds.
  • Add a layer of cherry jam to the bottom of each pastry case and add the almond mixture on top.
  • Bake the tarts in the oven for 20 minutes until the mixture has set and is golden brown.
  • Leave the tarts to cool completely
  • Mix the icing sugar with a small amount of water until a thick icing is formed.
  • Once the tarts have cooled, spoon the icing on top and add a glacé cherry to each one.

Review of ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman

This was actually a Christmas present that my Dad had bought for my Mum, I read this straight after my Mum as she’d said how good it was! A murder mystery set in a retirement village, this novel is as witty and comical as it is mysterious and page turning! If you know of the author, Richard Osman from Pointless, you may be able to see his personality in his writing, that’s something that I picked up on and that I enjoyed.

The novel follows a group of four pensioners, who are all a part of an extra curricular club, The Thursday Murder Club. They meet every Thursday to discuss, and solve, cold cases that they have access to due to a previous member being a part of the Police. The club are overwhelmingly excited when they fall upon the chance to solve a murder that has just happened, that is linked to the retirement village that they live in. Each member has a unique personality and are each loveable as characters.

The fact that this novel portrays pensioners solving crimes is funny in itself and the characters have their own whims and ways of acting that make each of them comical, likeable but also taken seriously. The leader of the group, Elizabeth, in particular, is a character that has been really well formed and is by no means a push over. The partnership of the Police and the Thursday Murder Club is one that allows each party to bounce off the other and added, for me, a sense of admiration of the capabilities of the main characters. You can really imagine them as older people, in their mannerisms and sometimes lack of technical abilities, the main character certainly reminds me of my own Nan.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a crime novel and enjoys a bit of comedy. It’s an easy and light hearted read that I really enjoyed and would read again!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Raspberry and gin panna cotta

Ingredients

  • 600ml of double cream
  • 50ml of gin (I used lemon but you could use any flavour you like)
  • 1tbsp of caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 5 gelatine leaves (soaked in cold water)
  • 400g of fresh raspberries
  • Fresh fruit and brownies to serve (optional)

Method

  • Blitz the raspberries until completely smooth and pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds (you should be left with a thick and glossy sauce, you can keep this in the fridge until later)
  • Pour the cream, vanilla essence and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Take the mixture off the heat.
  • Squeeze out the water from the gelatine and add to the cream mixture, whisking until the gelatine has completely dissolved.
  • Pour the panna cotta mixture into your chosen ramekins and chill for an hour.
  • After the hour, take the panna cottas out of the fridge (they won’t be completely set yet).
  • At this point you can get creative with the raspberry sauce, or just pop a layer on top! To make the hearts in the photo I used a tea spoon to drop two circles of sauce in the middle of the panna cotta, I then used the handle of the spoon to drag the sauce from each blob down until they met in the middle!
  • Chill for a further 3 hours.
  • When set, serve either on its own or with your favourite fruit and brownies for a yummy treat!

Review of ‘The Dead Daughter’ by Thomas Fincham

The following review will be live on my Reedsy Discovery account on the 18th of February! This is a sneak peek…feel free to check it out again when it goes live to support the author!

This book takes the reader through the investigation of the murder of Kyla Gardener, a murder that the victims father has been arrested for. The author explores the investigation from different points of view, including the work of the police, repercussions involving family and the work of private investigator Lee Callaway. The author follows, in depth, the different responses of characters to the murder and the subsequent investigations that lead to secrets being discovered. An overall excellent book that is action packed from beginning to end!

The book began with the main plot line, the murder of Kyla Gardener and then continued with the investigation of what had happened, and if, in fact, her father had committed the act as the initial police evidence suggests. I really liked the way that the author set out the investigation, the way that the book was written reminded me of the plot outlines of detective shows (I mean this in the most positive way possible). By not focusing on one main character or point of view, the author has really allowed readers to gather a full understanding of what is happening and the repercussions of the initial plot line.

I really enjoyed reading this. The short chapters made me want to continue reading for hours just to find out what was going to happen next! The development of the character of Lee Callaway was also really fascinating. A private investigator who has made some questionable life choices that mean a reader probably should dislike him, however the author presents him in a way that means he has to be empathised with and liked. The actions of Lee Callaway are admirable throughout the text and it’s his investigation that really opens up the way in which the plot develops and offers some really interesting and shocking finds that are crucial to the text. 

I really enjoyed reading this and would recommend this book to any crime fanatics or anyone who enjoys a good detective series!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Review of ‘Windfall: A Henry Lysyk mystery’ by Byron TD Smith

This review is a request from a Canadian debut author, Byron TD Smith. His book ‘Windfall: A Henry Lysyk mystery’ is available via Amazon both as an e-book and paperback. I’m always thoroughly grateful to receive review requests and am pleased to review any type of book from new and upcoming authors, please feel free to contact me via email (found on the ‘contact’ page) for any requests you may have!

I read this text as an e-book and really enjoyed it from start to finish! The book is based around Henry Lysyk, a recently divorced man who has also lost his job as an accountant as a result of scandal. Henry finds himself in the middle of a fifty year old mystery as his niece, Frieda, drags him into unusual circumstances as a result of her devious personality.

The book opens full of suspense and mystery, I really like texts that draw you in from the beginning rather than slow burning books! The sense of mystery continues throughout and leaves the reader having to investigate alongside the main characters. The way in which the author writes, switching between past and present tense and the use of different perspectives really offers a well rounded version of the events that take place.

Alongside the ‘mystery’ side of the text, I found myself invested in the story of the main character. The characterisation of Henry is fascinating and the incorporation of a kind of love story really adds another dimension to the text. I think this would make a great series, based on the character of Henry alone and really can’t wait to read any future books!

Give this book a go and support a new author!

Happy reading!

Meg x

Review on ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K Rowling

I don’t actually know a single person who doesn’t love the Harry Potter series, if you’ve read some of my other posts you’ll know how much I’m an advocate of books over films and although the Harry Potter films are amazing in their own right the books are (you guessed it!) even more fantastic.

J.K Rowling offers vivid descriptions of the events that happen and the world that she creates through her use of setting and characters. ‘The Philosophers Stone’ is the first book of the series and is shorter than some of the later books, perhaps this is because the first books of the series were written as children’s books (you can clearly see the development of the books as you read further into the series, they grow and adapt as the readers do). Therefore, at whatever age, the first books make a great introduction to the series, especially if you’re not an avid reader.

The story introduces the protagonist who gives the title to the series; Harry Potter. It explores his backstory and follows his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main plot line to this book involves Harry and his friends unveiling the antagonists, Voldemort’s, attempt to return to power. The book is full of action and adventure and excellently sets up the plot by which the series will follow, including the continuing battles between Harry and Voldemort.

I definitely recommend reading the series if you’re a fan of the films, or even a fan of the fantasy genre in general! The imagination that has been used to create the plot and the magical world in which Harry Potter exists is admirable for any reader.

Happy reading!

Meg x

Trips to Padstow (Cornwall)

Ever since I was tiny, me and my family (and friends) have been on holidays to the town of Padstow, located in North Cornwall. It’s a gorgeous little fishing port and you may know it through it’s association with the chef Rick Stein. It’s one of my absolute favourite places to go, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite memories and photos!

Padstow harbour at night

There are so many lovely pubs and restaurants in and around the town itself, including some owned by Rick Stein and Paul Ainsworth. I’ve had so many lovely meals from different places, but you definitely can’t go without having fish and chips from Rick Steins!

As well as the delicious food, there are tonnes of lovely beaches. Every time we go on holiday to Padstow, we always visit Trevone beach (no matter the weather!). It’s a lovely little beach and is surrounded by hills and paths that you could walk for miles and miles!

It’s probably one of my favourite places to visit and although I’ve probably been to most places and done most things in and around the town itself, I’d always go back! I think all of the memories I’ve created with the people I love will always make Padstow a special place for me, that and the amazing views that can be found in the town itself and in those around it! There’s just so much to do and see!

Comment below your favourite place to visit! I’d love to have some travel ideas for when the world opens back up!

Meg x

‘Happy’ by Fearne Cotton

As it’s blue Monday, I thought I’d talk about a different kind of book today. This isn’t a review, just a few thoughts I’ve had whilst reading this book. It’s not a work of fiction, it’s more of a self- help book, the first of this type that I’ve read. It can be read chapter by chapter, or dipped in and out of as needed. I’ve been reading this over the past few days and it’s really made me take a new perspective on things.

The book explores different ways of allowing yourself to be happy, whether this be living in the present, being kind to yourself or finding different techniques to deal with the stresses of every day life. It’s a really interesting book and Fearne Cotton explores her own emotions in a way that feels as though you are having a conversation with a friend. She bravely explores her own struggles with anxiety and depression and really opens up a conversation that I think is important for everyone to have.

The little activities that are dotted throughout, as well as the different interviews, really allow the reader to engage with the subjects that the text is talking about. It’s almost like a kind of journal. One of my close friends is also reading this book and she has decided to highlight the parts that have most helped her, that way she can go back and find those parts when she’s feeling low. I think that’s a really good way of reading this and I plan on going back through and doing the same!

I’d recommend this book to anyone, regardless of mental health issues. Life can get stressful for everyone, especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now, and this book offers a fresh perspective that allows you to delve deeper into different ways of helping and being kind to yourself.

Happy reading

Meg x

Review on ‘The Escape’ by C.L Taylor

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews then you’ll know how much I love a mystery/crime novel and this book is no exception! I finished it in two days and just couldn’t put it down! I’m a sucker for a plot twist, and I definitely didn’t guess how the events were going to unfold in this!

This book is based around Jo Blackmore, a mother who suffers from numerous mental health issues, and her battle to keep her daughter safe from the threats that Jo believes are all around her. The exploration of mental health throughout, coupled with the use of different perspectives being used, allowed for a full view to be gained regarding how both Jo and those around her view the world. As well as being a thriller novel, it really, for me, allowed an in depth view to how mental health can affect a persons day to day life.

The plot itself is exciting and there was action from the very first chapter. During the first half of the book, I was undecided as to whether the protagonist was possibly overreacting, but soon was firmly on her side once more of her views were shared. The ways in which the author explores how Jo reacts to the events really made me want to carry on reading. It was as if I was experience what she was and sensing everything that she sensed.

Throughout the text, the author explores the journey that Jo takes in dealing with her mental health issues. The ways in which she is forced to protect herself and her daughter ultimately force Jo into situations that she previously would have been uncomfortable in, enough so to induce panic attacks. As the reader is taken on the journey with Jo, you are really able to appreciate the somewhat trivial tasks that she is able to complete as a result of sheer maternal instinct.

I’d really recommend giving this book a read if you’re a thriller/crime lover like myself! It reminds me of the work of Gillian Flynn and I’ll definitely be having a look at some of C.L Taylor’s other works in the future. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while, I don’t want to discuss it too much incase I give anything away but it’s definitely worth a read!

Happy reading!

Meg x