Review: Zodiac – Sam Wilson

How do I describe this book?

When I selected this book as my first audio book to listen to it, I knew that it was going to be a thriller, about death and murder. I first thought, with the title Zodiac, that this book was going to be about the infamous Zodiac murders, which was kind of my hope, but boy was I wrong. This book was about murder and the Zodiac star signs in another way.

The Zodiac system plays a key and an important role with the society within the structure and story of this book. People are divided up and slotted into the sign that they were born into, and that sign plays an important role in defining who they are and how society sees them. It plays such an important role, that people are planning the conception of their children to ensure the birth of their child falls into their desired zodiac sign, or if they happen to mess up, they are even willing to go into and have a premature baby to ensure that child’s place in society and to ensure their future is set. 

Throughout listening to this book, the whole time I felt like the author was using the Zodiac system as a massive metaphor for how society is today. How people in this book are divided up into their signs and are believed to be this way because that’s how that sign is meant to be and act, therefore judging and discriminating everyone else because of that. Now change zodiac signs to people discriminating other people because of their race, their ethnicity, their sexuality, beliefs and so on. You can divided the world up, or even just a small town up, and you will never have an identical group of people who believe or are the same, as everyone will have some differences. Maybe this wasn’t even the intention of the author, but this was a massive message that I definitely took away from this book and really hit me when I was listening to this audio book. Maybe more so with the immigration problems that are occurring, it just made me connect the two. 

Right from the beginning of the story, this book had me gripped, to the extent that I would listen to the audio book at any given time possible. I even swapped listening to music when doing certain tasks as I wanted to know what happened next, which is something I thought wouldn’t happen with an audio book. The story started off so perfectly, with a scene that can only be described as brutal, with the imagery that just makes every word so clear. My only problem, which may be because I was listen to it and not reading it, is that even though I could picture all of the scenes and the kills so vividly, I had a problem when it came to the characters. 

I couldn’t remember who certain characters were, especially if they were secondary characters. I think I only remembered who a few of the characters names were at the time, that’s if I was lucky, and kept having to pause it to think back, or carry on listening to hopefully get a clue from what was said. I don’t know if this was from the writing, or if it was because I wasn’t reading it, I therfore wasn’t able to get a better connection to the characters. I also wasnt able to get a better picture of the characters in my head, so chose my own when listening to the story, for some at least. But this is my first for both this author and an audio book, so I will have to actually read another book by this author and listen to another audio book to see which is which. 

I liked how the story worked out and how the structure all worked together, which was really unexpected at first. The more I was listening, the more I started to suspect and thought, “Oo, I wonder”, but it was a really good idea. From what I gathered from listening to this book, this book contains small chapters, which when reading a book, I must admit is something I definitely prefer.

I would highly recommend this book and I will gladly admit that I really enjoyed the audio book version of this book, including the voice narrative. I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars!

Here is the Goodreads description:

“In a corrupt and volatile society where people are divided and defined by zodiac signs, status is cast at birth and binding forever. The line between a life of luxury and an existence of poverty can be determined by the stroke of midnight.
When a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims of totally different signs, is it a misguided revolution or the work of a serial killer?
All eyes are on Detective Jerome Burton and Profiler Lindi Childs. They may disagree over whether the answers are written in the stars, but they are united by their belief that a grand plan is being executed…”

Review: All These Perfect Strangers – Aoife Clifford

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****
I received this free ARC from the author and publisher as a win from a Goodreads Giveaway, which will not be release until August this year, so a big massive thank you for selecting me as one of the winners to receive this book.

Penelope Sheppard has a past, which she is desperate to get away from. To get to a place where nobody knows her and she can start a fresh. Nobody staring at her everyday and knowing and judging her. So starting university, in a new place, where nobody knows her or her past, sounds incredible and is a blessing. But within six months of Pen starting university, three of her new friends are dead and only Pen knows the reason why.

This book is told completely from Penelope Sheppards perspective, or Pen as she prefers. There is so much mystery surrounding this character, with her past, the people she surrounds herself with and even the town and university that she is then situated in. Her character was unreliable as the main narrative of the story, as it was explained that she has an habit of creating and adjusting the story and her past for her own benefit, to tell people, such as Frank. This needed to be told from one persons point of view in order to create the mystery that this book just oozes out. And maybe by using the unreliability of Penelopes character, plus then with the history that she has, it adds to the mystery and it just creates so much more tension, which is so great and builds so much more.

The book doesn’t have a straight continued time line and in does jump back and forth between three specific times in Pens life. There’s now, the present time after everything has happened. After the very first event with Tracey, after the events that occurred at university, where we see Penelope trying to work through everything that has happened. Talking to her therapist Frank, her lawyer Bob and struggling to deal with her mum and her mum new boyfriend Terry has she’s had to move back home. It’s through her sessions with Frank that we discover more about what happens, as he suggests that she that she writes things down to help her to deal with things. But here is where things get tricky for us as readers. Penelope Sheppard has an habit of adjusting the truth of her past, so we don’t really know if what she is saying, and if what we are reading is actually reliable. We then get to see the events that occurred at university and the events that occurred before then, all of which are intertwined, so we have to wait and read until the end to discover what happens. To discover the mystery and truth behind it all.

There is so much mystery in this book, as I would say, it is a murder mystery. You have people at the university who are getting murdered by somebody known solely as the ‘Screwdriver Killer’ and there are so many choices of characters that that could be. I found myself trying to guess throughout it all, constantly changing my mind as new information was provided. Even though the time line kept jumping back and fore to the present time, the mystery was still there, which shows how great the writing was to still be able to do that! It was great as I didn’t genuinely didn’t know who I could trust, if anyone, and that even including the main character herself because again, her whole narrative could have been a lie, plus I hadn’t discovered the truth about the first event, at the time. I questioned ever character! I believed every character could be the killer at one point, even the nicest of people, that’s how paranoid I had become while reading it. It was brilliant.

I didn’t know how to feel about the ending because I didn’t know how I finally felt towards Penelope. There were questions left unanswered and inconclusive, some of which I believe we’re left unanswered because I genuinely believe that she refused to let herself answer them for herself. This then adds to her Pens unreliability as a narrator, which is then also a clever character development which the author has stuck to throughout, but it just sucks when reading. I loved that there was something mentioned at the end about another character, Michael, who wrote everything down, which may be an hint of this book being told or written from Michaels perspective, which would be very interesting to read. But it could be nothing and was just the part that was needed for the conclusion towards the end for this book.

I did enjoy this book and I loved the mystery that I experience throughout it all, and it’s for that, that I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars! I defiantly recommend this book, especially if you like a good murder mystery. Add it to your wishlist because it doesn’t come out until August 2016. Brilliant.

Review: Dear Amy – Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy - Helen Callaghan
****

I received this eARC thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of this book.

I have to include the books actual description, instead of creating my own version as this is the reason for me requesting to read this book from Netgalley. When you read it, you will see it. So here is the description taken directly from Goodreads:

“Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received:

Dear Amy,
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .”

What would you do if you received a letter like that? I just had to request to read it and was soooo happy when I had an email saying that my request was successful. YAY!! I just needed to read this book and discover everything. So where to start without giving away any spoilers…

You get told this book from several different characters perspectives, which I always really enjoy and love reading in a book. It’s the best way to really get to know each of the individual characters the best way possible, in my opinion that is. You get to hear the story told from their own point of view, discovering multiple stories for the same exact scene and different views. You get to see the truth. Especially if the main character wasn’t present at the crucial time, you have another view into the story. Of course you have Margot Lewis, who is the main narrative and whose perspective you see used the most throughout of this story, as it is she who starts receiving these letters and believes them to be more than just a hoax. We also get to see part of the story told from Katie’s point of view, but only small glimpses. I will admit that throughout the whole of the book, it was these few and short chapters in Katie’s perspective, that were my favourite chapters to read. They were suspenseful and psychologically thrilling, which is what the book had promised and it honestly had me worried about her. Even though I wanted sooo much more of these and so much more from Katie because of this, I think that if I did, I wouldn’t have liked it has that may have been too much and maybe this is the perfect example of what you don’t see or read.

This book is promised and advertised to be a big psychological suspense, but I personally didn’t find it that thrilling or unnerving. In the beginning of the book however, I did start off doubting all of the characters, feeling like I couldn’t trust any of them and that they weren’t who they said they were and therefore couldn’t be trusted, as though I was Margot herself. So in that sense, there was some kind of unknowing and unreliability in this book. This theme did carry on throughout the book as I did have very strong doubts about a good chunk of the characters, not knowing who could be trusted and if anyone had other motives.

There were parts in this book that just took me by surprise and knocked me off guard completely. I genuinely, still not knowing if I could trust certain characters at this time, didn’t even know if I could suddenly trust this new and shocking information that was being provided to me! That is something that was great about this book, that even when I was provided with everything, I was still questioning it.

The whole idea behind this book is something different and exciting, both of the concepts. The first one is the whole idea of writing to an agony aunt for help and trying to find a missing girl who has been missing for so many years, is amazing. And using that old case to hopefully find a new girl who has recently gone missing.  It was that aspect that drew me into this book. Again, what would you do if you received a letter like that? The second aspect, I’m not going to share as you will have to read the book to discover it. I’m pretty you’ll know what concept I mean if you read this book. If you have read this book, no spoilers please, but did you expect that twist or see it coming, because I defiantly did not?

Overall, I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it. Be warned for it to not live up to the psychological suspense thriller hype, but that could just be me. But you are warned and please don’t let that stop you. For that reason I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.