Book Review: The Loch of the Dead

The Loch of the Dead, Oscar de Muriel

**I just wanted to add a little note here. This is one of the many posts I have had in my draft section since before my hiatus but with the fifth Frey and McGray book, The Darker Arts, being released today, I figured now is the perfect time to get this baby out. Enjoy.

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If you are a long time follower, then you will have already seen my reviews of the previous three books in the series of cases for Frey & McGray, by Oscar de Muriel. If you haven’t read them or even heard of these book, I’d encourage you to head on over here, and give the reviews a read to get the gist of these characters and the genre these books fall into. Now onto the book itself…The Loch of Dead starts with a death threat against an unknowing heir, which leads the inspectors to the remote Loch Maree. Isle Maree, one of the islands perched in the middle of the loch, is known for its ancient burial ground although that is not the only thing the Inspectors should be aware of. The highland area is cut off from the rest of the world, and the few souls who do reside there are strange – causing many questions that need answering. On arrival, and with little time to find a stable footing, the heir’s guardian is brutally murdered which makes everyone a suspect; especially that of the Koloman’s, a mysterious family whom the young heir and detectives must stay with.

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I have to admit it was incredibly difficult to type the above section without giving away major spoilers and divulging some of the many plot twists. I must also say that, out of the collection of Frey & McGray books, this one included -this has without a doubt been my favourite. The previous elements of the grim Victorian era of the 1800s mixed with the surreal crimes and the hint of humour this duo creates, alongside the folklore element of this book makes for a terrific read. The plot lines are so cleverly interwoven with one another that even though they are there, with so many clues as to who the culprits are, you can never truly pin it on anyone.

As previously mentioned, there are three books in the series preceding this. I think this book could standalone however, I don’t think the reader would experience every part of the book at it’s best. Especially that of Frey & McGray’s relationship, which has evolved leaps and bounds, or that of McGray’s never-ending guest to cure his sister so I would recommend reading the three previous books before this one.

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All-in-all this was an amazing read and I throughly enjoyed every second of it. I would highly recommend it to anyone and if me rambling about it doesn’t make you pick it up, maybe the 100% and five-star reviews on Amazon will.

Have you read this new addition to the series yet?

Cheerio for now!

Book Vs. Film: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton 
This idea, of comparing book and film adaptations, came about when I was watching The Miniaturist over Christmas on the BBC. Having read, and loved The Miniaturist (you can read my review of the book here),  I found myself, as I watched,  mentally preparing a list of similarities and differences between the book and film adaptations. I say film, it was actually spread across a two-part series, with each part being an hour and a half long. 
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Now there were many things I liked about this adaptation but there were also things I really could not tolerate. For instance: 
  • The Miniaturists interactions: in the book the lady sending Nella the miniature items is a passing ship. She’s someone who reappears every so often and then disappears without a trace however, in the programme she has far more of a prominent role within Nella’s life. When Nella finally manages to get a response at The miniaturists shop, in the book, it is an elderly fellow who turns out to be the lady’s father. Between Nella and him they piece together the mystery and Nella gets to hear a bit about this mysterious lady sending her these spine-tingling figures. In the programme, Nella actually explores and finds her way into the living area above the miniaturist’s shop and once she realises the miniaturist lady is there, they have a conversation. I wish I could say that I liked this part of the programme, but to be honest I much prefer the end note to the book -that the miniaturist who has plagued Nella is simply a mystery: and just like throughout the book, she disappears. 
  • Marins Love Life: as with many things about books, I feel as though the book revealed a little more, or maybe even implied more, when it came to Marins love life and even just her personality. Although she definitely opens up more to Nella in the programme, once her secret is revealed, I do think that the book revealed more about her character: which I personally preferred. This is also the case for the character of Otto but you can obviously reveal far more with hundreds of thousands of words in a book than two hour and a half programmes. 

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Having said this, there were also things that I really liked about the adaptation and even a few things I preferred about the programme compared to the book.

  • I loved the setting. It was just dark and cold enough to embody the eerie-ness of the story without coming across too gothic. I also really loved how well they portrayed Amsterdam as a religious setting with the characters devoted to religious ways. I think they covered this element of the story really well which only helped to contrast Johannes lifestyle and the surrealness of the miniaturist and her figures. In a setting like this the miniaturist would no doubt be deemed as practising witchcraft. 
  • The character of Nella came across much stronger in the programme versus the actual book. I can’t put my finger on why or how but even before she finds out about Johannes lifestyle and Marins secret, she appears a strong young woman; even in the strange home environment she’s landed in. 
  • The casting was perfect. I think every cast member involved really relished in their characters role and I think that really brought the characters to life from the book. I also loved the bond the characters had with one another. The friendship between Nella and Cornelia, the respect between Nella and Marin, the thoughtful teamwork between Johannes and Nella: everything just seemed seamless when it came to the casting. 

I could ramble on comparing the book and programme all day long but I think I’ll draw a line there. Like with any adaptation, there is a lot of ground that producers and writers’ neglect to cover simply because they deem it irrelevant or don’t have the time to cover it. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the programme and the way they brought the book to life. 

If you didn’t catch The Miniaturist over the festive season then you can watch it here, on BBC iplayer. It’s not available for much longer so catch it while you can! 

 
Did you watch The Miniaturist? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 

Magazines 2.0

In my last post on Magazines, here, I mentioned that there were three other magazines I really wanted to write about however, I didn’t want to make that post too long so- here we are. Now there are three magazines, however, one of them has recently announced they will not be printing issues anymore but rather remain an online publication; maintaining the themes they covered in their printed issues but rather just publishing through an online outlet. So, what are my chosen magazines?

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The Messy Heads
I mean, this should come as no surprise. My post, Inspire Me Lately, was very Messy Heads inspired. I have briefly mentioned this before but The Messy Heads are so raw and authentic in terms of their content. Not just their written pieces but their photography, layout, and contributors too. Everything is so carefully curated but also so incredibly personal and inspiring to behold. When you flip through the magazine you get a sense that this isn’t a publication that is following trends or trying to live up to a standard set by society but rather a collection of individuals forging their own paths and creating lives to their own tune. It’s a magazine that always grounds me and set me back to my own beat. It reminds me of who I am and what truly matters to me, and any magazine that can have that effect on me is welcome with open arms.

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The Local Wolves
This nifty mag is based in Long Beach, California, however, it is available both in print and online so you can always get your hands on it. It’s centred around creative minds within the world of arts, culture, and entertainment; and introduced me to such a range of innovative individuals I otherwise would never have heard of. It used to have my ultimate girl crush, Orion Carloto, as its’ resident columnist which used to keep my heart swooning but the magazine is still soaring without her beautiful words. I tend to read this mag online, although I do have a few issues in my possession: in particular, girl crushes whom I love. I, of course, have Orion Carloto’s cover issue, then Estee Lalonde, and The Fashion Citizen. If you are a creative or even have an interest in the creative arts or culture in general then I would definitely recommend giving this a read. The Local Wolves website has a link to follow to read online.

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Betty
Now sadly, this is the amazing magazine which is no longer being published. However, fear not -they are still going to produce the same amazing content on their website. I only got my hands on two of their annual issues and I absolutely love each of them, however, it is really sad that I won’t be adding any other issues to my shelf. I know it’s wasteful to collect magazines but when they are as beautifully curated as this –I simply can’t stop myself! Betty magazine covers a range of topics but most of all only write about things that its editors like. They relish in embracing and celebrating who they are, as well as encouraging their readers to do the same. The mag, like the website, is full of how-to guides, beauty, lookbooks, food recipes, and, my personal favourite, their travel content: which doesn’t just cover foreign places and cities but also areas in England which you wouldn’t usually be drawn to but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like it there. Betty is definitely the type of mag for the creative individual, looking for something unique to read.

Have you ever read any of these magazines? What do you think of them? 
Cheerio for now!

Book Review: A Mask of Shadows

A Mask of Shadows, Oscar De Muriel  
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First of all, I’d like to say that if you are not familiar with any of the previous Frey & McGray cases then you can read my reviews for them here; where I have reviewed both The Strings of Murder and A Fever of the Blood
 
A Mask of Shadows starts in London 1889, before moving onto the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. A bout of terror haunts the acclaimed production of Macbeth, as well as their beloved celebrities, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, along with other actors, seamstresses, and stage hands. In the opening chapter, set in London, the first chilling event happens. As the actors’ soak in their final applause, hell ensues with the screeching cry of a Banshee and a gruesome message, smeared across the stage sets, prophesizing someone’s death. The tale takes place a short time after A Fever of the Blood and so, our narrator brings up his superstitions once more as he and McGray are assigned this case, shortly after the Macbeth cast and production arrive in the City. What follows are numerous plot twists, along with a long list of suspects within the play, behind the scenes and even onlookers and relatives who could all have a motive to kill or even reasons to be killed themselves.

As I stated in my review of A Fever of the Blood, you never know what to expect when you have already read and loved the original book. For me, I loved both the previous books, the first being my favourite, so before reading this book I wondered if maybe the author had peaked (like some do) or whether the characters were starting the die out. Having read it, I can say neither of those points is true. The storyline and characters were very well thought out, although I did think that there were a little too many names and characters involved at times which got a little overwhelming for me reading it. I also think that the end was left a little open which usually I wouldn’t mind but in this case, there were so many questions that were unanswered which left it all rather loose and deflating for me. 

My favourite thing about this edition to the casebooks were the characters we already know from the previous editions i.e. Frey & McGray, Elgie, the family of Freys, Madam Katrina, etc. I always love seeing the progression of Frey & McGrays’ relationship and so, reading this book I loved watching them become more and more so friends rather than colleagues who just put up with one another. I must say, I also adore the Victorian era these books are set in. It gives the books a grimmer vibe to them which I really enjoy. 
 
The next edition of the Frey & McGray cases is The Loch of the Dead, which will be released next year on the 5th April. You can pre-order it here.

Have you read A Mask of Shadows or any of the accompanying books? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 
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My Thoughts of the Hunger Games

I finally read the Hunger Games series…
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…and so, I feel it’s only right that I let you lovely lot know what I thought of it just as I would any other books. 
 
First, let me start by explaining why it has taken me this long to read the books and become engulfed within Panem and its’ Districts. Honestly, it never appealed to me all that much. I know many would gasp in shock at me saying that (including my boyfriends mum) but it never did. I was in my early/mid teens when the Twilight saga was being adapted to movies and so, that was the jam for me, my friends and really my generation as a whole. Up until the movie adaption of The Hunger Games was released, I had never heard of the books and because the books had never worked their way onto my recommended reads on Amazon, I didn’t think it was the right read for me. 
 
Right about now you’re probably wondering what or why I suddenly wanted to read it. Over time many people and fellow students have recommended me reading it having heard that the majority of books I read are fictional series’, generally around the genres of sci-fi or fantasy. I don’t know why that is, maybe I just love committing to a series and truly experiencing a fictional world over the course of a few books. But regardless of it being recommended many a time, I never seriously thought about it until my boyfriend told me that it’s his mother’s favourite series. He lent me his copies of the first two books, The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, and then a few weekends later we came across a copy of Mockingjay at a boot fair which we picked up for £1. I quickly had the trilogy and was free to read away. 
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What did I think of the books? 
The Hunger Games: was, in my opinion, very good. I feel like there were plenty of plot twists for me to keep reading and I constantly wanted to know more, however, I did get a little confused and, because of that, distracted by all the names of the tributes involved. That was the only negative thing I found with the book. 
 
Catching Fire: was my favourite out the three books. I felt like I had got to grips with the world of Panem, the Capitol, and the Districts, but I had also come to picture certain characters in my mind and felt more familiar with them by this book. 
 
Mockingjay: this was my least favourite out of the trilogy. I felt like there were too many plot twists with this book and far too many characters to keep track of. However, *Spoiler -I did like how it ended with Alma Coin being shot instead of President Snow. I also really loved how Katniss and Haymitch became more like companions than fellow victors by this third book. 
 
If you haven’t heard, let alone read, The Hunger Games books then I can only assume that you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5-10 years; and so, I’ll leave the Amazon link right here for you to read up on the book descriptions and what goes down. Just so you know, there are three books in the series. 
 
Have you read the trilogy? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 

 

Book Review: A Fever of the Blood

A Fever of the Blood, Oscar de Muriel 
 In this second case of Frey and McGrays, what starts as a simple inquest into a patient escape and a nurses death at an asylum ensues into a manhunt far beyond their jurisdiction of Edinburgh and down to Pendle Hill, home of the Lancashire Witches. The pair becomes intwined in the dangerous world of black magic which makes for an avalanche of plot twists and adrenaline-packed scenes which keep you turning the pages.

A Fever of the Blood was an amazing read. I was apprehensive before reading this because I loved The Strings of Murder so much however, it pulled through and made for a great read. I will always love the contrast between Frey and McGray, and in my opinion, their relationship is really what gives the story that extra ‘something-something‘ for me.

The next book in this series is A Mask of Shadows, which I already have on my window ledge waiting to crack open. If you haven’t already read my review of the first book, The Strings of Murder, then you can do so here. Stay tuned for what I think of the next book. 

Have you ever read any of these books, what did you think? 
Cheerio for now! 
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Book Review: The Strings of Murder

The Strings of Murder, by Oscar De Muriel 
After becoming hooked on the darker books, like Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and The Hound of Baskervilles, I was finding it difficult to become interested in any other reads. Nothing seemed to grip my attention enough. Then this book came along. 
 
The book is centered around the murder of the violinist Guilleum Fontaine in Edinburgh 1888, who was murdered in a room locked from the inside with no way in or out. The case is perplexing, gruesome and, in the fearful age of the Ripper, to be handled with the utmost secrecy. Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to Edinburgh to work on the case under a fake department specialising in the supernatural. The department is the perfect illusion to work on a case of such importance in secrecy, especially considering Frey’s new boss Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray holds such an infamous reputation in the area. 
 
I’m not one for gruesome elements to stories, however, I enjoyed the darker elements to this book. I think because it was based in the era of the ripper and because of the nature of the storyline, it was written in a very subtle way, instead of being too graphic with details. I also really enjoyed seeing the development of the relationship between Frey and McGray, especially considering they are complete opposites to one another. 
 
This story had so many plot twists and was filled with many interesting details to the storyline which keeps you hooked to the story constantly. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves murder mysteries, puzzles or even just books that keep you on the edge of your seat. I’d particularly recommend to anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes novels. The bond between Frey and McGray isn’t as respectful or open-minded as that of Sherlock and Watson, however, their bickering, digs, and swearing towards one another add a humorous element to the story. 
 
This is the first book in a series of books with Frey and McGray, the second is A Fever of the Blood and the third is A Mask of Shadows. Both of which I have posts coming up on.  
 
What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? 
Cheerio for now! 
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My Summer Reading List

As my uni year is from October to May, I find that the warmer Summer months are usually the time I catch up on my reading list; and what better time to get lost in new books/worlds than when I’m at my beach hut. I try to tick off some older classics, along with some newer releases; but for the most part, I go with my gut and see what I’m drawn to.

This Summer is a little different. There are a couple of series’ I want to complete, in particular, the Frey & McGray Casebooks and the Hunger Games Trilogy. Both of which I have started, but desperately need to complete. I am studying Literature next year, which of course has a lot of *reading included, most of which I have never read so I do want to try and read a couple of those books too. Who knows what I will have read by the end of this summer but so far, this is my list:

I also have a ton of magazine issues to catch up on, but I have more on that in an upcoming blog post so stay tuned! 
 
What books do you have your eye on for this summer? 
Cheerio for now! 

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton 
Book | The Miniaturist
Book | The Miniaturist

 

This book was one that had caught my eye many a time from its place of pride, on the bestseller bookshelf at my favourite bookstore. I had read the blurb a half a dozen times but for some reason never purchased it. The description was so intriguing and it made its’ way onto my reading list but there were always other books that distracted me until it was gifted to me at Christmas (is there a reoccurring pattern here? -I think so). It wasn’t until our summer ‘uproot’ that I finally cracked the spine and got sucked into the world of what happens behind the doors of a 17th-century merchant trader family home in Amsterdam. 
 
The story revolves around Nella Oortman who becomes Nella Brandt, the young wife of Johannes Brandt. With her husband off at sea and trading in distant lands, he gives her a miniature cabinet house to fill her time and distract herself with. After sourcing a miniaturist the cabinet quickly comes to a life in a way that unnerves Nella and so the story twists and turns in the most unexpected of ways. 
 
Both the story and the way Burton has produced this story was both beautiful and intensely gripping. I wish I could mention more about this novel but I do not want to give away any spoilers, especially as there are so many plot twists within. As soon as you think you have figured out why and what is happening, you are blindsided by another piece of the puzzle. Overall, I loved this book. It made for a great read, no doubt one I will return to and reread over and over. 
 
Have you ever read The Miniaturist? What did you think? 
Cheerio for now!

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Book Review: Hounds & Valleys

The Hound of Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 

 

Confession time. I have never read a Sherlock Holmes novel -well until this book I hadn’t. That probably sounds shocking to some seen as I read so much but it wasn’t until now that I had come across any that I truly wanted to read. This book edition includes The Hound of Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. I immensely enjoyed The Hound of Baskervilles and the first part of The Valley of Fear but the second part I found quite difficult to get into and so, I weren’t that fussed about it. Both novels involve both Holmes and Watson trying to solve perplexing crimes that they’ve been told of. 


The novel, The Hound of Baskervilles, revolves around the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville, the legendary curse of the hound that haunts the Baskervilles and Holmes trying to prevent the new master, Sir Henry Baskerville, coming to the same fate as his predecessor. As Holmes and Watson unravel the mystery, events, and characters within this tale, so to do the readers. This made for a quick read for me, mostly because of how exciting and gripping the tale was. 

The first part of The Valley of Fear was also a fast read for the same reason. The story drew me in and I felt enveloped within the story, wanting to know more and more until I reached the final verdict. As I mentioned, I wasn’t all that fussed with the second part. In comparison to the first, I found it a little slow to start and I didn’t feel as drawn in as I previously had. Though I would still recommend the first part and The Hound of Baskervilles to any who enjoy intriguing puzzles or ‘murder mystery’ type things. I can already see The Hound of Baskervilles becoming one of those books I return to continuously. 

Have you ever read these books? What did you think? Comment Below
Cheerio for now!