Did You See Melody? | Sophie Hannah | Review

Friday, 18 August 2017


Late at night, exhausted and desperate, Cara Burrows lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied by a man and a teenage girl: Melody Chapa, the most famous murder victim in the country.

Cara Burrows has left a note for her husband and two children with the date that she'll be back home. She hasn't told them that she is flying to America. She hasn't told them about the five star spa resort she has secretly booked herself into. She hasn't told them why she's gone. She just needs some time alone, to think. When she finally arrives at the resort, tired and phone-less in the middle of the night, the last thing she expects to find are two people already in her hotel room.

A simple mistake made by the resort's receptionist sees Cara soon embroiled in a situation she can hardly begin to understand, at the centre of which is America's most famous murder victim, who Cara is sure is the same girl she saw in her hotel room on that first night. Could Melody Chapa still be alive? And if she is, then how did her parents end up serving life sentences for her murder? The chances of an English tourist happening to see the supposed dead girl entirely by accident may seem pretty slim but Cara isn't the only guest who thinks she's seen Melody at Swallowtail Resort.

With a possible murder and a definitely dangerous secret at the heart of it, Did You See Melody? walks an interesting line in terms of tone. Hannah balances the suspense filled plot with unexpected humour, which at times had me snorting in front of my eReader. It's an enjoyable novel, certainly, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you hooked from almost the very beginning. We don't begin with the mystery straight away but first take a little while to set up Cara's reasons for leaving her family to travel alone to America (something that maybe feels a bit of an overreaction as things become clearer), but once Cara begins her investigation into the famous murder of Melody Chapa the novel really gets its legs.

Cara, not being a local, doesn't know anything about the Melody Chapa case so the reader gets to discover the specifics slowly, as Cara does, through articles and TV transcripts. Some readers may find these intrusive to the story but I felt they came in at the right moments, telling Melody's story - at least, the version everyone knows of it - alongside Cara's. The only problem is that at times I began to feel as though Cara was little more than a device intended to react to Melody's story and nothing more. Until about midway through the novel anyway.

Then we begin the twists and turns that I suppose make this a psychological thriller. Personally, I didn't find much of it particularly thrilling. In my opinion the strength of this novel lies not necessarily with Cara's story, or even with Melody's, but with those of the surrounding characters: the outspoken hotel guest who involves herself in the mystery, determined to find the truth, and the famous criminal commentator who single-handedly twisted the whole of America to her way of thinking with her TV show during Melody's original murder trail. Did You See Melody? is an enjoyable read and as a funny and over-the-top take down of 'trial by media' it works. I'm just not entirely sold on the thriller part.

Maresi | Maria Turtschaninoff | Review

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Maresi, the first book in the Red Abbey Chronicles, has been waiting on my bookshelf for far too long. Following my resolution to read some of the more neglected works in my life, I decided to get started on it. I devoured this evocative work in a day and am eagerly awaiting the chance to read the rest in the series.



This book follows Maresi, a novice at the Red Abbey. On a secluded island, young women like herself learn far more than they ever could at home. Under the tutelage of the Sisters, they learn about medicine, history, languages, architecture and any number of other things. It is a sacred place, where men are banned. And then Jai arrives, pursued by men who will stop at nothing to get her back. The abbey is suddenly under threat.


Maresi is a novel of sisterhood and female friendship, with plenty of feminism woven in it. It is a harrowing tale of survival. Throughout it, is magic and wonder, which hooks you and draws you into the tale. The fantasy elements were definitely my favourite part of the book, little gems found within the vast descriptions of everyday life at the Abbey. Between the island’s strange defences and the hidden histories of the Red Abbey, I’m far too curious about discovering the secrets in the rest of this series.

Ultimately, this was enchanting fantasy that left you thinking for a long time after you read the final page. It is one that I would wholeheartedly recommend, whether you are a fan of feminist or fantasy literature.

Get Involved | Around The World With Blogger's Bookshelf!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue | Mackenzi Lee | Review

Friday, 11 August 2017


Image from Goodreads

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. 
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and travelling companion, Percy. 
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores. - Goodreads

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee was seriously one of my favourite books of the year so far (and probably still will be come the end of 2017). It was such a fun read and I found myself wanting to re-read it as soon as I put it down.

Monty, Percy and Felicity are headed off around Europe for what we might call their big O.E. (overseas experience), or their gap year, and while it seems like a jolly idea, things don't go they way Monty planned.

“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with laquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.” 

Monty longs for their year-long trip to be one of bonding and exciting adventures around the Continent before Percy is shipped off to college in another country, and Monty has to start being in charge of the family estate. Felicity is meant to be stopping her trip when they get to Paris so she can begin life as a proper young lady, but all she wants to do is go to university and become a woman of medicine.

When Monty does something rash (which actually happens on most pages of the book), the trio find themselves on a wild goose chase around Europe with a stolen artefact, meeting strange people, searching for miraculous cures, being attacked by highwaymen and joining a crew of pirates.

'That can't possibly happen all in one book' you say. Well, my friends. It can. We follow book-nerd Felicity as she overcomes womanly stereotypes, Percy as he deals with issues and bouts of discrimination over his race, and Monty has he falls more and more hopelessly in love with his best friend.

Beautifully written, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a tale of friendship, of loyalty, of love, of family, of adventures to be had, and fights to be fought. It's 18th century Europe, it's pirates and highwaymen, it's upper class pomp and prestige, it's hilarious and witty, alarming and exciting, and beautiful and sweet all rolled into one.

As you can tell, I really loved this book, and I recommended picking it up if you're into your YA novels (period, or otherwise).

Bookish Links #32

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


1. Summer Reads - we recently shared some of our top summer reads but of course you can never have enough good books to read. We loved this post from Alice & Lois with some great recommendations!

2. ...& Even More Summer Reads! - Estee also shared an amazing list of recommendations for the summer months with even more titles to add to your TBR!

3. Your Very Own Book Club - we loved Beth's post sharing her top book club picks inspired by WHSmith's Zoella book club. Which books would you choose for your own book club?

4. One For The Potterheads - if you feel like treating yourself or your favourite Harry Potter fan to something special check out Anjali's roundup of Potter-themed subscription boxes - so many great options!

5. Library Wanderlust - this post is full of ten incredibly beautiful libraries dotted across the globe. Which one would you most like to visit?

6. Best Of Booktube - over at Book Riot Christina shared a list of amazing booktubers we should all be subscribed to. If you have any favourites to add to the list please share them with us in the comments section below!

7. Fancy A Little DIY? - how pretty is this ombre bookshelf DIY from Brit + Co? We think this could be the perfect weekend project!

8. Illustrated Books - for our final link this month we wanted to share Ella's series of beautiful illustrations based on the books shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Which one is your favourite?

If you've read or written an interesting bookish article you think our readers would enjoy please let us know - it may be featured in a future post!