REVIEW: I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

When the body of a young girl is discovered hanging from a tree, the only clue the police have is an airline tag around her neck. It reads “I’m travelling alone”. In response, seasoned investigator Holger Munch is charged with assembling a special homicide unit. That means tracking down his former partner – Mia Krüger – a brilliant but troubled detective who’s plans are to die. Reviewing the file, Mia finds something new – a thin line carved into the dead girl’s finger nail; the number 1. This is just the beginning. To save the other children Mia must push aside her own demons and see the bigger picture before the murderer becomes a serial killer.

I’m Travelling Alone is told from multiple perspectives meaning that the action never really lets up and while you may have more information than the detectives, that doesn’t mean you can see how everything’s connected straight away. There’s subplots that on the surface don’t look to be related to the main case but slowly the people become connected and the way everything is interwoven together is very natural.

The chapters are very short, often less than 10 pages, and they nearly all end on a mini cliff-hanger which makes this over 500 pages story a quick read. I’m Travelling Alone is often tense and it definitely has some unexpected twists and turns as the case develops and it becomes clear that there’s something seriously disturbing about the killer.

Mia and Holger are very different people but the way they work together is great. There’s the mentor-mentee relationship but Mia is so good at seeing patterns and the connections between things that she’s often smarter than Holger. That doesn’t mean Holger’s an idiot though, they each bring something to the partnership and the scenes when they bounce ideas off each other are enthralling. The whole team is great and it’s clear why they have been brought in on this case and they all bring a unique perspective to the team.

I’m Travelling Alone does end somewhat suddenly. Everything’s been building and building, and then it doesn’t really have the closure that I was expecting. Besides from that, it is an enjoyable and engrossing detective story. 4/5.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is technically “Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach” but as I don’t really read what are commonly considered “beach reads” I’ve turned it into my summer TBR.

I’m planning to take a lot of these books with me to my Dad’s in Spain as that’s where I get a lot of my summer reading done. When this post goes live I will have been at my Dad’s for four days, so I may have actually read some of these books already. But now that’s out of the way, here’s the books I’d like to read over the next few months.

Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin
This is a book I bought because of the cover and the title, I mean – how could I not? Besides from that I know very little about it.

Kartography by Kamila Shamsie
I started this book when I first got it last year some time, but I only read the first chapter. I couldn’t really get into it but as someone I know recommended it to me I do want to give it another go.

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
I got the ARC of this in a subscription box last year. It’s been ages since I’ve read some proper sci-fi and some bloggers I know, and trust really enjoyed it so I think I will probably fly through it.

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REVIEW: The Meddler (2015)

Marnie (Susan Sarandon) doesn’t know what to do with herself after her husband dies so she moves closer to her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne) and soon befriends Lori’s friends and tries to fully intergrate herself into Lori’s life.

The Meddler is about grief. It’s been over a year since her husband died but Marnie misses him terribly and suddenly has way more money than she knows what to do with thanks to his life insurance payout. She becomes overly generous because of that, paying for her daughter’s friend Jillian’s (Cecily Strong) wedding and buying expensive gifts for just about anyone she meets. She even befriends Apple store worker Freddy (Jerrod Carmichael), convincing him to take night classes and then even driving him to and from them.

The problem with Marnie is I did not like her. I understand why she is being so interfering and clingy as it’s because she’s still grieving and is focussing on everyone around her instead of thinking about her dead husband but that still didn’t stop me from wanting to throttle her. While Lori obviously still loves her mother, even though she annoys her a lot of the time, as a viewer I had no fond feelings for her at all.

The Meddler is heartfelt and sometimes funny too. The performances are all great and Sarandon is a standout but that wasn’t enough to get me to look past how much I disliked Marnie. Unfortunately my dislike of Marnie had a knock on affect and made me dislike the film itself. 2/5.

Some Recommendations for the ReadTheWorldAthon

The #ReadTheWorldAthon I’m co-hosting with A Novel Haul and Ninja Book Box starts in two weeks so I thought I’d share some recommendations that fit the various squares on the readathons bingo card. For more information on the readathon and more in-depth explanations of each square, take a look at my announcement post. Below are 22 books that fit 22 of the 25 squares, where a book can fit multiple squares, I’ve made a note of which one it. That way you’ve got more choice when planning your readathon.

Asia: Gurkha: Better to Die than Live a Coward by Colour Sergeant Kailash Limbu – Nepal. An autobiography of a Gurkha. Can be used for: non-fic.

Polynesia: Free Love by Sia Figel – Samoa. The story of a teenage girl embarking on a forbidden relationship. Can be used for: Celebrate Women of Colour.

Europe: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Alder-Oslen – Denmark. A new unsolved crimes unit’s first case is the case of a politician who has been missing, presumed dead, for five years. Can be used for: In Translation and genre fic.

Australasia: Gould’s Book of Fish: A Story in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan – Australia. A convict on Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830’s becomes a reluctant painter of fish. Can be used for: historical.

Caribbean: Papi by Rita Indiana – Dominican Republic. A story about a young girls relationship with her absent father. Can be used for: Celebrate Women of Colour.

Middle East: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Iran. Autobiographical graphic novel about Satrapi’s life growing up in Iran in the 1970’s and her time in France. Can be used for: non-fic and Celebrate Women of Colour.

Americas: Death Going Down by María Angélica Bosco – Argentina. A murder in an elevator puts the whole apartment block under suspicion. Can also be used for: In Translation and Genre.

Africa: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – Ghana. A family saga spanning multiple generations following the descendants of two sisters, one who married a rich European and the other who was sold into slavery. Can be used for: Celebrate Women in Colour and historical.

Staycation: Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackmann – England. A dystopian story set in alternate 21st-century Britain where the Crosses (Blacks) and the Noughts (Whites) are segregated with her Crosses in power. Can be used for: Celebrate Women of Colour and genre.

Short Stories: The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi – North Korea. A collection of short stories about life in North Korea. Can be used for: Asia, In Translation and Political Controversy.

Globetrotter: All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman – New Zealand. When a war widow moves to work on the tobacco fields, her act of independence triggers a ripple effect whose repercussions resonate long after her death, forever shaping her children’s lives. Can be used for: Australasia and historical.

Historical: Sirius by Jonathan Crown – Germany. The story of a dog who was a part of a Jewish family, became a movie star and met Hitler. Can be used for: In Translation and Europe.

Genre: Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Nigeria. Science-fiction about aliens arriving in Lagos. Can also be used for: Celebrate Women in Colour and Africa.

Non-fic: Street Without a Name by Kapka Kassabova – Bulgaria. Autobiographical account of Kassabova’s childhood in Bulgaria during the last few years of the Cold War, and then revisiting her home country decades after leaving it. Can also be used for: Europe

Firsts: Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky – Russia. Set in the Moscow metro system, the last survivors of a global nuclear holocaust begin to think they’re not alone in the tunnels. This is Glukhovsky’s first novel. Can be used for: Europe and genre.

Childhood Vacation: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Spain. I had my first birthday in Spain (not that I remember it but there’s photographic evidence) and it’s a country I visit every year since my dad moved there over 15 years ago. It really is my home from home. Can be used for: In Translation and Europe.

Political Controversy: The Devils’ Dance by Hamid Ismailov – Uzbekistan. Ismailov’s work has been banned in Uzbekistan and he was forced to flee the country in 1992 after the authorities believed he was trying to overthrow the government. Can be used for: Asia, historical and In Translation.

Small Population: Frangipani by Célestine Hitura Vaite – French Polynesia. The story of a woman’s relationship either her daughter. Can be used for: Celebrate Women in Colour and Polynesia.

Dream Visit: México 20 by multiple authors – Mexico. A collection of short stories and non-fiction about life in Mexico. Can be used for: short stories, Americas and In Translation.

Short Hop: Asking For It by Louise O’Neil – Ireland. A teenage girl struggles to piece together what happened to her after she wakes up on her front porch, in pain and the photos of the night are all online. I live in the UK so Ireland’s just a trip across the sea for me. Can be used for: Europe.

In Translation: The Blue Fox by Sjón – Iceland. The story of a hunter and a a rare blue fox. Can be used for: Europe.

Celebrate Women of Colour: Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster – The Gambia. On her eighteenth birthday Ayodele plans to lose her virginity but she has three men to choose from. The story follows three paths, following how her life might turn out depending on which man she chooses. Can be used for: Africa and genre.

I’m afraid I don’t have any recommendations for Diaspora, Indigenous or Traditional Style. These three are areas I’m unfamiliar with and I want to use the readathon to rectify that.

If you have any recommendations for books that fit Diaspora, Indigenous or Traditional Style, or any of the bingo squares really, I’d love to hear them.

REVIEW: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Bleak House is a saga with the legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which is about an inheritance dispute, at its centre. There are many characters and subplots in Bleak House, but the heroine of the story is Esther Summerson, a young woman who is taken under guardianship of John Jarndyce, and who’s connections become a focal point of the story.

Bleak House has two narrators, Esther Summerson and an unnamed omniscient narrator. To begin with, their stories seem to run parallel to each other and there’s not much that connects the two of them but as the story progresses the narratives merge and characters from both perspectives interact with one another.

I think listening to the audiobook is what got me through Bleak House, if I’d been reading the physical book I would’ve given up on it. The audiobook of Bleak House I listened to was narrated by Hugh Dickson and I think he did a fantastic job at making each of the many many characters sound different and, more often than not, memorable. This made the story and its many sub-plots and characters easier to follow. Also, I think the more humorous moments or dialogue were easier to understand when listening to it, compared to reading it, because the language was easier to comprehend

Bleak House is a dense story with is subplots and characters, but it also has an interesting mystery and is sometimes funny too. There’s so much going on in Bleak House it’s hard to give a summary of it or go into all the characters – I will talk a bit about Esther Summerson though. Esther grew up unloved, so she is very self-deprecating and grateful for every little thing. Even though she grew up in an unloving home, she’s someone with a big heart and a lot of love to give. Her relationship with Ada, another of John Jarndyce’s wards, is lovely as they support one another and quickly form a solid connection.

I’m happy I’ve finally read Bleak House, it’s been sitting on my shelf for nearly five years, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It’s a story with a legal battle, with romance, with family drama and it’s a detective story too. It’s so many things and it’s a commentary on the poor in London and the tough and potentially hopeless situations they are in. 3/5.

REVIEW: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

When a volcano on Isla Nublar becomes active, it threatens the lives of the only dinosaurs on Earth. Former park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and raptor behaviourist Owen (Chris Pratt) mount a campaign to rescue the dinosaurs but those funding the expedition have other plans for the creatures.

Fallen Kingdom is a film of two parts. The first is a disaster film and a race against time. The second part is a horror film. The switch between these two elements isn’t exactly smooth and the middle section does drag a bit but when these two elements take their turn being at the forefront, Fallen Kingdom is a tense and exciting film.

The sequence on the island shows off all the dinosaurs in all their glory. The special effects are overall stunning. In some of the wider shots with multiple creatures the effects aren’t quite as great but on the close ups on individual dinosaurs the level of detail is incredible.

When the story moves to the Lockwood Estate, where businessman Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) awaits the dinosaurs, the tension amps up with the introduction of a new creation from scientist Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong). This is when the film turns into a story about a creepy mansion filled with monsters.

The main problem with Fallen Kingdom is the humans. It’s hard to care about them and while I didn’t want any of the “heroes” to get eaten, it was more from the typical desire for the protagonists to succeed rather than any fond feeling I had for them as characters. Claire is a character who’s changed a lot since we saw her in Jurassic World (2015) but Owen is just the same brash guy. There’s new characters like computer tech Franklin (Justice Smith) and veterinarian Zia (Daniella Pineda) who while are pretty two-dimensional offer a new perspective of the dinosaurs. Unfortunately they both are absent for the majority of the third act leaving it to Claire and Owen to save the day again.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has some spectacular set pieces and some generally scary moments. However, the human characters and their often-stupid decisions, let the film down. 3/5.

May’s Illumicrate Box

May’s Illumicrate was just the best! But before I get into what’s inside, here’s a little about Illumicrate. Illumicrate is a quarterly YA subscription box based in the UK. It costs £29.99 per box, with free shipping to the UK. It does ship internationally but it has shipping costs that varies depending where in the world it’s travelling to. Illumicrate contains one new release (and sometimes a bonus ARC as well) and 4-6 goodies, some of which can be exclusives.

Now I had cancelled my Illumicrate subscription as I’d moved to a new house, I was now paying more monthly expenses etc etc but when I heard what some one the goodies would be related to, I knew I had to get this box. Seriously, mention Black Panther and I’m there!

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was the Black Panther item. It’s a book sleeve designed by Risa Rodil featuring T’Challa, Shuri, Nakia and Okoye and I LOVE IT!!! I love the design (I’d seen some of Risa Rodil’s work before and loved it so I’m so happy I have a book sleeve by them) and how big the sleeve is.

Next there was a box with Fangirl-inspired artwork by Alice Oseman. I really liked this item as it’s something I’ve not seen in subscription boxes before and it’s the perfect thing for keepsakes or your lunch. There was a Camp Half-Blood enamel pin with a pegasus on it from Fable and Black, tarot-style art cards inspired by the Infernal Devices featuring Will, Jem, and Tessa from taratjah, and a set of elements page markers from AnotherStudio_ inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. All of these items were Illumicrate exclusives which is pretty awesome.

Also included were promotional items like pin badges, bookmarks, samplers and postcards for Grey Sister, How Do You Like Me Now?, From Twinkle With Love, I Was Born For This and A Reaper at the Gates. And there was an exclusive edition advanced readers copy of Light Years by Kass Morgan which sounds like a great, mysterious yet romantic sci-fi adventure.

Now for the book. It was A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews and this copy was an exclusive copy with red sprayed edges. It came with a signed book plate, a letter from the author and a bookmark. This is a book I’d seen murmurings about on Twitter, and after reading the blurb I can see why. It’s a contemporary story about friendship and music and overcoming parental abuse. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

I loved everything included in this quarters Illumicrate box and I think it could be the best yet. I like how it has a real eclectic mix of items from different fandoms and I’m looking forward to reading both books, especially as they are books I might not have bought myself. I think this Illumicrate box might be their best yet, it’s truly great.