Wednesday 24 February 2021

Book Review | The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse | prettylittlewriter

 For any of you that regularly read my blog or follow me on socials, you'll know how much I love a thriller/crime novel. 

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse has been a well received and exciting new release in the UK as of last week, and has also been the book club pick for February by Reese Witherspoon's book club.
I pre-ordered the book a couple of days before it's release date last week, and started reading straight away!

'Elin Warner, a detective currently on leave due to personal circumstances, has been invited to newly-converted hotel Le Sommet, up in the Swiss Alps, to attend her estranged brother's engagement party. When she arrives, a huge snow storm is approaching, and Elin feels extremely uncomfortable. You see, Le Sommet is no normal hotel. Previously a sanatorium for TB patients, the setting is incredibly eerie and spooky. And when people start to go missing, Elin realises that not everything is as it seems...'

I was hooked on this novel from the very first couple of chapters. 
We are introduced to a masked killer almost straight away, which when coupled with the middle-of-nowhere snow scene of the hotel, it creates a creepy and atmospheric feeling that continues throughout the book. 
It genuinely filled me with terror reading those chapters with the killer; not knowing who they were and what they wanted from the victims.
I could also clearly picture the mask they were wearing, and it reminded me of the many TV shows and horror movies I've seen where the killer has a similar get-up.
Elin is a brilliantly complex character, and as the book progresses, you learn things at the same time as her. We also gradually learn about her past, why she is currently on leave from her job, and why she has such a strained relationship with her brother, Isaac.
The plot is incredibly clever, nothing is as it seems, and everyone in the hotel seem to have secrets. There are also so many twists and turns, you are kept on the edge of your seat at all times.

There was also the addition of an Epilogue at the end of the book, which I haven't seen in any other novels I've read recently, and my goodness was it juicy. You know there is going to be a second book, because how can it possibly be left there?! 

The chapters were all quite short too, which really helped keep you wanting to read more, especially since every chapter seemed to end on some sort of cliff-hanger! I ended up staying up till midnight to read some nights, as I just couldn't put it down!

This is the first book I've read in a long time that I feel confident in giving a 5 star rating!

If you love crime thrillers, PLEASE READ THIS.

5/5 stars.

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Book Review | The Fear by C. L. Taylor | prettylittlewriter

This is the first novel I have read by C.L. Taylor, and I have to say, it was brilliant.
I am now desperate to read the rest of her books!

As you can see from the photos, I finished this novel around Halloween last year (hence the pumpkins!), so I apologise that it's taken me so long to post my review!
'Lou Wandsworth had a relationship with her teacher, Mike, and ran away to France to be with him. Soon after, she realised that Mike wasn't the man she thought he was, as he left her life in tatters. 

Skip ahead, Lou is now 32 years old, and she spies Mike up to his old tricks with a young teenager called Chloe. She sees herself in Chloe, and decides to put a stop to it before he ruins her life too.

As Lou tries to bring Mike to justice, she realises just how predatory and manipulative he is, and that she might just be in too deep'.

Initially, it took me a little while to get into this book, I was reading maybe a couple of chapters a day, simple due to not having enough time to dedicate towards it. However, once I'd gotten about halfway through, I was absolutely hooked.

I felt incredible pain for the character of Lou, the way C.L. Taylor created her character, really made me feel like Lou was a friend, and I had so much sympathy for her situation.

Student-teacher relationships can be completely life-ruining for both parties, but the teenager, as they are growing and have so many complex emotions at that age, it can completely change them. 

This was exactly what happened to Lou. The way Mike had treated her when they arrived in France was also a complete U-turn to how he had been with her before, and it then created a very dangerous and scary situation for Lou.

Back in her old home, in her hometown, after realising Mike has a new target, she cannot stand around and allow him to ruin yet another life, so she takes matters into her own hands.

Without spoiling it for those of you that want to read the book, there are so many nail-biting and hair-pulling moments, which make you want to jump into the book and remove both Lou and Chloe from the situation. 

It is an intensely stressful, completely thrilling and clever read.
C.L. Taylor is an incredible writer, and really allows you to feel involved in the story.

If you want a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I would highly recommend.

3.5/5 Stars

Friday 5 February 2021

Taylor Swift Evermore Review | prettylittlewriter

 This blog post is a little late going up (I mean, it's 2021 already), but the buzz surrounding this release is certainly still high.

Taylor Swift released her second (yes, second!) album of the year on December 11th 2020, her 31st birthday. As any Swiftie knows, the number 13 is Taylor's favourite number, and she wanted to release her album on the day her birthday was her favourite number backwards. 

As with anything Taylor does, I was so incredibly excited and couldn't believe she'd released another album in the same year.

Evermore is the sister album to Folklore, very similar in many aspects with some small links with the characters she has created.

So as I did with Folklore, I wanted to review the songs!


This song is so ethereal and beautifully written, which is probably why Taylor released a few different mixes including 'The Lonely Witch' version.
The music video was also incredibly endearing, starting off from where we left in the video for
Cardigan. It's about a girl looking for her lover, wanting to follow him wherever he goes and that she will be his home. 
Definitely one of my favourites on the album, and it is also the name of one of my cats, so that's an added bonus!
Favourite line; 'Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind, but I come back stronger than a 90's trend'

Champagne Problems

This song is sad in so many ways. You feel so sorry for the man that has proposed to his girlfriend and been rejected in front of all his family, but then you feel this deep sadness and raw emotion for the girl, who must feel incredibly guilty and has those around her being cruel saying things about her. I'm also guessing with the fact that the song is based around alcohol, there is the insinuation that she has an alcohol problem. The fact that Taylor swears so ferociously in it is also just incredible to me.
Favourite line; 'She would've made such a lovely bride, what a shame she's fucked in the head'

Gold Rush
Probably my least favourite on the album, not because it's a bad song at all, it's just one that I don't automatically want to listen to when I reach for the album. That being said, it has some incredibly clever lyrics and a great melody. It gives us a version of Taylor's voice that we've not heard before.
Favourite line; 'With my eagles t-shirt hanging from the door, at dinner parties, I call you out on your contrarian shit'

'Tis the Damn Season
A lost love rekindled for brief moment, this song remind me of the festive season, along with The Lucky One from her Red album. It's about a girl who comes back to her hometown (from having a successful career in LA) and reconnects with an old flame for the season. 
It's a beautiful song, and links with
Dorothea, which comes later on the album.
Favourite line; 'Sleep in half the day just for old times' sake, I won't ask you to wait if you don't ask me to stay'

Tolerate it
This song is heart-breaking. It's about a woman who is in love with a man, but no matter what she does, no matter what she gives to him, he barely gives her anything in return. She feels that he doesn't feel the same way about her, and is just tolerating her. 
I genuinely feel pain listening to this track. You can hear the heartbreak of this character in Taylor's voice, and the bravery she starts to gain when she sings about breaking free from him. 
My second favourite on the album.
Favourite line; 'I made you my temple, my mural, my sky, now I'm begging for footnotes in the story of your life'

No Body, No Crime
This is the ultimate girl power song on the album, especially involving the band HAIM. Based on Taylor's love for true crime, she has written a song about Este, who gets cheated on by her husband, and when she confronts him about it, she goes missing. Taylor's narrative (as Este' friend) knows he has killed her, and sets up a plan to kill him and frame his mistress.
This is my absolute favourite on the album, and I can picture a brilliant movie based on this song. Very much like The Last Great American Dynasty, this song showcases just how brilliant Taylor's storytelling is.
Favourite line; 'They think she did it but they just can't prove it, she thinks I did it but she just can't prove it'

Another truly heart-breaking track. Taylor sings about the happiness she will have in the future after a hard break up, but also acknowledging that she had happiness with that person, and that one does not cancel out the other.
I resonate with this song quite well regarding past relationships, but also currently, as we recently lost one of our cats (never known that much heartbreak in my life before), especially the lines, 'there will be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you.'
It's a very haunting track, with similar vibes to Hoax from Folklore.
Favourite line; 'Tell me when did your winning smile begin to look like a smirk'

The guys perspective linked with 'tis the damn season. You get more details as to who Dorothea is in this song, from a 'tiny screen's the only place I see you now' so you know she's famous as she's on TV. Taylor sings about how the guy is missing Dorothea, and reminiscing about the old days with her, but that he also knows she is happy and he is happy for her. 
The melody to this is lovely, is one of those more upbeat and positive tracks. 
Favourite line; 'And if you're ever tired of being known for who you know, you know, you'll always know me'

Coney Island
Another sad heart-break song (both folklore and evermore have been full of sad songs), but this one is about someone who goes along with a relationship for so long but doesn't treat his girl well, and he realises this too late. Again, Taylor's storytelling here is beautifully done, with lyrics such as 'sorry for not making you my centerfold' and 'did I paint your bluest skies the darkest grey?'
There are also numerous easter eggs in this song, referring to some of her previous songs (for example; 'Were you standing in the hallway, with a big cake, happy birthday' - The Moment I Knew from Red. 'Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest grey?' - Dear John from Speak Now.) These lyrics are all linked to a couple of Taylor's exes too, so we know she has revisited the past when writing this one.
Combined with the deep, husky vocals from Rock Band The National, this is a gorgeous song.
Favourite line; 'And do you miss the rogue, who coaxed you into paradise and left you there?'
We very nearly named our new kitten Ivy (if I'd had my way!). 
Another beautifully melodic track, with ethereal vibes. A song about a secret love affair, that doesn't really have any hope because the narrator is married. I love Taylor's use of 'God Damn' in this song, it fits so perfectly and really gives it passion. Another one of my firm favourites.
Favourite line; 'So yeah, it's a fire, it's a goddamn blaze in the dark and you started it, you started it'

Cowboy Like Me
I love a cowboy and anything country. So I was thrilled to have a track that was taking Taylor back to her country roots again.
A romance between two people that are very similar, and that no matter what life throws at them, they will be together. I absolutely love the guitar riffs that truly make it that little bit country. 
It sounds like it should be a sad song, but it's really about strength and true love. 
Favourite line; 'And the ladies lunching have their stories about, when you passed through town, but that was all before I locked it down'

Long Story Short
A song about how much shit Taylor has been through in her life, and how she put her faith in the wrong people, but now she has found the one (her beau Joe Alwyn). I think a lot of people can see themselves in this song, I can see this being a karaoke track that many of us go to (or hairbrush in the mirror moments). One of the more upbeat songs on the album, it's another favourite of mine.
Favourite line; 'Past me, I wanna tell you not to get lost in these petty things. Your nemeses, will defeat themselves before you get a chance to swing'
Personally, I think this is the best song Taylor has ever written. It is beautiful, inspiring, and the best tribute to her grandmother, Marjorie. Ever single time I listen to it, I gets me in an absolute mess. I couldn't pick just one favourite line from this song as there as so many brilliant ones, so below are just a few of them.
'Never be so kind, you forget to be clever, never be so clever, you forget to be kind.' 'What died didn't stay dead, what died didn't stay dead, you're alive, you're alive in my head'. 'Never be so polite, you forget your power, never wield such power, you forget to be polite.' 'I should've asked you questions, I should've asked you how to be, asked you to write it down for me, should've kept every grocery store receipt 'cause every scrap of you would be taken from me.' 'If I didn't know better, I'd think you were still around. I know better, but I still feel you all around'

 A response to a 'letter' Taylor received from someone (there are so many theories as to who it could be). Basically, Taylor is telling them she is absolutely fine how she is, with what she has, and that she does not need 'closure' by making amends with them.
Definitely another favourite of mine, especially as it's basically a fuck you to anyone that has wronged you and tried to make things right.
Upbeat and a very catchy rhythm.
Favourite line; I'm fine with my spite, and my tears and my beers and my candles'

Another absolutely brilliant song with Bon Iver. A song about feeling lost and empty, not knowing if that feeling would ever go away. I love how this switches into almost a completely different song halfway through, the tempo increases as Bon Iver comes in, and again there are some absolutely incredible lyrics.
Favourite line; 'And when I was shipwrecked, I thought of you, in the cracks of light, I dreamed of you, it was real enough, to get me through, but I swear, you were there'
Right Where You Left Me
Now we're on to the two bonus tracks. 
This song is about is a girl that remains in the place where her heart was shattered. She cannot move beyond the point that she was abandoned. A very country-style song again, with the use of a banjo, this song would have fit quite well on Red
My favourite of the two bonus tracks, a unique take on a break-up that leaves someone feeling devastated and like time will never heal her.
Favourite line; 'Help, I'm still at the restaurant, still sitting in a corner I haunt, crossed-legged in the dim light, they say what a sad sight'

It's Time To Go
A song about how no matter what situation you're in, your subconscious will know when to leave. This one seems like a very personal song from Taylor, much like how The Lakes was on Folklore, especially with the following lyrics that refer to her old record label and how Scott Borchetta sold the rights to her previous records (everything bar Lover, Folklore & Evermore).
'15 years, 15 million tears, begging 'til my knees bled. I gave it my all, he gave me nothing at all, then wondered why I left. Now he sits on his throne in his palace of bones, praying to his greed, he's got my past frozen behind glass, but I've got me'. 
Favourite line; 'Sometimes giving up is the strong thing, sometimes to run is the brave thing'
Overall, I absolutely love the album, but I do think I have more favourites on Folklore than Evermore, but regardless, everything Taylor releases is fucking brilliant. 

If you're reading this and you're a fan, I would love to know your thoughts, so please leave them in the comments below!

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Book Review | Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza | prettylittlewriter

 It's only in the last couple of years that I've really gotten into reading crime novels, but I've always been a huge fan of crime movies, documentaries and TV shows since I was a teenager.

So when I had this book recommended to me purely because it mentions numerous locations that are close to where I live, I thought I'd give it a shot.
This has been one of the most enjoyable and suspenseful crime novel I've read yet. 

It was gruesome and had some pure hand-to-mouth in shock moments, and was incredibly gripping. I felt very sympathetic for Kate, our protagonist, throughout, and I just couldn't put it down.

Robert Bryndza has a writing style that keeps you hooked. I love how he gave you a different characters perspective throughout; not only did we have Kate's perspective, but also the serial killer and a police officer, to name a few.

Living in Devon, having the different locations mentioned nearby, really added to the effect the book had for me. I could really visualise certain areas and I found it enthralling.

Kate is a great heroin, and her assistant Tristan is bright and loveable, and even the 'baddies' of the novel have so much depth and intricate detail to them that you feel you know them well.
Overall, I have digested this book in an avid hunger for more. It was absolutely thrilling and I'm now desperate to get my hands on the next novel! 
Would definitely recommend to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

4/5 stars