Book Review: Fearless by Fiona Higgins

Book: Fearless by Fiona Higgins – paperback edition, 392 pages.

Synopsis: Six strangers from across the world converge on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears – which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death…

Friendships and even romance blossoms as the participants are put through a series of challenges which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly tranforms into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens – a tragic disaster that puts the group in deadly danger that will test the individual courage of every member…

My thoughts: I made a rookie mistake, because the thing that drew me into this book was the cover. Of course, we all know by now that we should never judge a book by its cover but this one is absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t resist it. Unfortunately (of course), the book did not live up to the cover, and to be honest I didn’t like it at all. I bought this ages ago, and had intended to pick it up quite a few times but then my partner surprised me with tickets to Bali for Valentine’s day and I didn’t think reading a book about a “horrific event” happening there was such a good idea until after we had returned safely. The author has a very different vision of the Bali that I am used to, so although I was absolutely in the mood to be transported back to that setting it felt quite disjointed the reality of the place for me.

The first half of this book was spent introducing a group of characters that I couldn’t possibly have cared less about. I found them all incredibly grating and poorly developed. I think the story would have played out better and had more depth to it if it had revolved around one central character instead of scattered between the group. There was also an extremely weak love story tangled up in the plot that made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion. Also, the author making a character who admits to thoughts of paedophelia something of a martyr in the book did not sit well with me at all.

There wasn’t a lot of build up to the “event” which meant that it didn’t really feel particularly shocking to me when it happened. I feel like the reason for the attack, and the aftermath should have been fleshed out a lot more to make the story feel more balanced. All in all I found this book incredibly disappointing, and I don’t recommend picking it up.

Rating: 2/10

Book Review: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Book: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole – kindle edition, 384 pages.

(Advanced Readers Copy)

Synopsis: A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Helen Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My thoughts: Now, you’ll have to bear with me because it’s been a little while since I finished this book, and my memories of it are not as clear as I’d usually want them to be when writing a review. My reviews have fallen behind a little bit, but I’m now trying to catch up.

I remember really liking a few things about this book, but in particular the main character Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes. I felt like he was a really strong protagonist, and a character I could see a series being built around. Having said that, I found some of the detective’s actions clumsy, which was frustrating for me because I feel like crime thrillers often rely heavily on the backbone of the central characters and the reader’s belief in their ability to do their job. I also felt like some of the supporting characters needed more development, but there were a couple of others that stuck out and felt fully formed to me.

The pacing of the book was well done, and I think the idea of the killer setting a countdown to the next victim was a great way to keep the reader turning the page. The killer was not as interesting as I’d hoped, with the build up being what it was. But it was still an enjoyable enough read. All in all I found this to be a decent crime thriller, and would be good to pick up if you’re in the mood for something of this genre set in London.

Rating: 6/10

TBR Book Challenge 2017 (Update #1)

I mentioned earlier in the year that I wanted to make an effort to tackle my seemingly endless TBR book pile. I always feel like a setting challenge or making something into a project makes things a bit more fun when you’re restricting yourself in some way, so I decided to set myself some goals (and rewards). Here’s how I’ve done so far this year…

Total TBR books completed so far: 4

Books read: Masked Innocence by Alessandra Torre (kindle), Shift by Em Bailey, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, and Fearless by Fiona Higgins

Nostalgic books purchased: Sweet Valley University #21 – ‘For The Love Of Ryan’, and Sweet Valley High #106 – ‘Beware The Wolfman’

I’m currently reading It by Stephen King, which may take me forever to finish. But it’ll be another one off the TBR list, so that’s something to look forward to…

April TBR

It by Stephen KingTo the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing… The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Fearless by Fiona HigginsSix strangers from across the world meet on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears – which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death. Friendships and even romance blossom as the participants are put through a series of challenges which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly turns into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens – a tragic disaster that puts the group in deadly danger, testing the individual courage of every member.

I Let You Go by Clare MackintoshA tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she? In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating.

The Girl Before by J.P. DelaneyEnter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price? Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka – Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case. Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManusOn Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

February/March Reading Wrap Up

Books read: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, and Antisocial by Jillian Blake.
Total Books Read: 3
February/March TBR Books Read: 3
2017 TBR Challenge Books Read: 1
Total Pages Read: 1125
Total Hours Listened: 0

I fell quite heavily into a reading slump in February, but thankfully having a week off work and some time travelling helped get me back into the swing of things in March. February felt like a bit of a slump-y month in general, and I think that was due to be not being able to find a proper work/life balance. Hopefully I have that under control now, and April will be far more successful for me in a few different areas of life.