These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donnelly

Josephine Montfort is a young woman from one of New York’s most elite families. At the beginning of the book, she discovers that her father has died. Was it an accident? Suicide? Murder? Jo decides to find out.

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This book has had loads of really positive reviews on Goodreads, so I had fairly high expectations going into it. I had been informed it was an utter page turner, with a really immersive setting; a true thriller.

Overall though, I though this book was just a bit meh. I would say it was pretty similar to Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke, but not as good. I certainly didn’t feel particularly thrilled. The setting was good, a classic turn-of-the-century New York, with contrasts between the grand upper class houses, and the crime-ridden slums, but for some reason, I just didn’t feel excited about it.

In the first 100 pages I just found myself feeling quite apathetic towards the characters and the plot – they seemed quite wooden and predictable. The whole trope of intelligent woman who has to give up all her ambitions because of her class is an important one, but I just felt like I’d heard it all before.

On top of this, the characters were just SO STUPID. It took them ages to figure out really obvious clues. For example, when they rule out that the death wasn’t an accident or a suicide, they genuinely are stumped as to what else it could be. A lot of the “dramatic twists” in the story were so drawn out that they lost all excitement and impact.

One character I did really like was Fey. I was surprised that she warmed to Jo as much as she did, but she ended up being a real hero, going out of her way to help out with her badass thievery skills. She actually seemed a lot more intelligent than Jo, despite her lack of education, and wise from having had to fend for herself.

Having said that, I did find that the story picked up again towards the end. In the last 100 pages or so, I became more gripped, and actually began to find it a bit more exciting. I certainly didn’t anticipate all the twists that happened. The ending was satisfying – not too clichéd (but probably headed that way).

A slight pet peeve of mine that popped up a couple of times in this is when characters in books scoff at something, saying that only happens in books. For some reason I find it incredibly cringey.

I think perhaps this book was just aimed at younger readers than me. Having read some adult thrillers, such as Gillian Flynn, I simply failed to muster up much excitement for this fairly predictable plot. Perhaps I have become cynical and withered in my old age.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5

XxxooXOo

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May Book Haul – 2016

Hello, I’m here today to tell you about the books I have obtained in May!

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It’s been a fairly hectic month because of exams, but obviously as soon as I finished, I went out on a celebratory book buying expedition. I’ve split the haul into categories based on the place I got the books from.

(Click on the images to take you to the Goodreads pages!)

  1. Library

I literally walked straight out of my last exam and straight to the city library to borrow some books. It’s actually the first time I’ve borrowed physical books from this library – in the past I’ve used their eBook services, and borrowed physical books from my College library, but there’s a lot more choice here. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan17208924._UY200_.jpg

I’ve been meaning to read this for a while – it’s the last John Green book I hadn’t read. I’ve actually already read this one, and you can read my review here.

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donelly 29908288.jpg

This is a new historical thriller set in 1890s New York. I’ve seen it around a bit on bookish social media, and it caught my eye from the shelf.

 

  1. Penguin

Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman28693621.jpg

This is another new release, and it’s a Sci-Fi retelling of Othello, set in space.
I was actually sent this book as an ARC by Penguin. Not for professional book-bloggery reasons – I’m a member of a website called Bookmarks, and I earned a free book by filling in so many surveys! I was mildly sceptical at first, but I’m currently about 100 pages in, and really enjoying it.

  1. Waterstones

The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton32946.jpg

Described as “the original teenage rebel story”, and complete with some moody-looking boys on the front. I feel this is something of a modern classic.

 

  1. Oxfam Books

I love buying books from Oxfam – they’re so cheap, and since the money goes to charity, I seem to be able to justify buying way too many. Every time you go in there’s a different selection of books, and you never know what you’re going to find!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe37781.jpg

This one is on so many “must read” lists. It’s about the colonisation of Nigeria, written by a Nigerian author. I think this is quite an important book. Particularly relevant at the moment, with all the “de-colonisation” movements in student politics.

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver5220.jpg

Carrying on in the colonial vein, this one’s about a family of missionaries who travel to the Belgian Congo in 1959. I’m not sure where exactly I’ve heard of this before, but it sounds familiar somehow. Very interesting blurb anyway.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More – Roald Dahl2016767.jpg

Ah, Roald Dahl, one of my favourite childhood authors. I’ve long been meaning to pick up some of his adult fiction, which I’ve heard is utterly bizarre.

Howard’s End – E.M. Forster3102.jpg

This one was recommended to me by one of my best friends, who read it last summer. It’s about life on a Hertfordshire estate at the turn of the century. I’ve read three other books by E.M. Forster, which I have enjoyed by varying amounts. So we’ll see about this one!

The Viceroy of Ouidah – Bruce Chatwin79913.jpg

This is a title I recognised from my Massive Book List. The Massive Book List is a huge list of “good books” given to us in Year 9 at school, which was basically translated in my head as Massive Reading Challenge. I’ve been working my way through them gradually since then. Maybe I’ll do a future post on the Massive Book List.

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So that’s all folks! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought, or if there are any you plan on reading!

XXoOXOOO