Work is going crazy and I'm finding less and less time to write reviews, so I'll be going on hiatus for a little while. With any luck I'll get my mojo back in the new year some time, but for now ... byeeee!
Uh, this was only okay. It was the story of a girl who fell out with her best friend a few years back and then all of a sudden her friend asks her to go on holiday with her.
This in itself is pretty unbelievable. If someone I hadn't spoken to for five years suddenly asked me on holiday to Greece with them and their family, there would be red flags all over the place. But our MC just agrees to it.
And okay, I could have probably overlooked this but there were quite a lot of other not-quite-believable aspects to t he book too. The instalove (my pet peeve), the scary mean girl, the way everyone knows what the Big Secret is, except for our MC, the flakiness and apparent two-facedness of the ex-best-friend.
The romance was a bit of a turn-off. The MC starts off the book with a total bell-end of a boyfriend and doesn't get rid of him soon enough and then the next guy she falls for was a bit one-dimensional and he did really annoying things like ordering the MC's dinner for her (because the current year is apparently 1852).
This was an okay book for a quick read, but I wouldn't really recommend it.
Oh. My. God. This was possibly the cutest, most beautiful book I've read this year so far. I don't tend to cry at books that much, but this one had me totally welling up.
So, twelve year old Ivy Aberdeen likes to sneak up to her attic and draw pictures of girls (no, not that sort of picture, pervert. This is a middle grade book) The girls are always in a treehouse, holding hands. She's never shown anyone these pictures before because she's trying to figure out what it means for herself. (Spoiler Alert: Ivy is gay).
One night when she's up in her attic, a tornado hits her house and destroys her home. And her drawing book goes missing.
That's about as much as I can tell without giving the story away, but suffice to say the plot is the most beautiful, winding story of how her family puts their lives back together after the disaster and how Ivy tries to figure herself out.
The characters are so beautifully rendered and they leap off the page. The ending had me in bits, but I could see why the author decided to go down that path.
(I realise I keep using the word beautiful, but it really was).
I don't read MG, like at all, but this is definitely a contender for Book Of The Year.
This ... I don't ... What?
This was the story of Meredith Kercher and Amanda Knox, wasn't it?
It was virtually identical, right down to the picturesque Italian mountainside town, the toxic friendship, the creepy boyfriend.
Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty good story, moved a bit too slowly at times, but still a decent read. But ... this story has already been told. By, like, millions of tabloids over the last decade. I'm not entirely sure it needed to be novelized.
I started off this book wondering about the title - are these Asians crazy-rich or crazy and rich?
Turns out, both.
This was a pretty good story about a Chinese-American girl, Rachel Chu, living in New York whose live-in boyfriend has somehow managed to conceal the fact that he is a multi-billionaire for two whole years. (This is in total juxtaposition to literally every other billionaire-boyfriend book out there, where the BB is weird and controlling and very flaunty of his wealth, so Nicholas was actually quite a sympathetic character in this respect).
Then Nicholas invites Rachel back to Singapore for a friend's wedding. They fly first class and he *still* doesn't tell her he's a gazillionaire (he explains away the first class tickets by saying he got them with air miles. I know next to nothing about air miles, but I do know that New York to Singapore first class would take a number of air miles so high that a high enough number hasn't been invented yet).
Then they arrive in Singapore, and he still doesn't tell her.
Then they go to see his grandma in her 64 acre estate and only then does this PhD-educated college professor start to realise that her boyfriend might be a bit rich.
So far, so ridiculous.
in fact, the rest of the book is pretty ridiculous too.
But it's ridiculous in a fun, silly way. This book doesn't take itself seriously at all and if you like reading stories about how intensely rich people spend their money, how much designer shit costs, and how rich people have problems too (hey, having to cram all your thousands of designer dresses into a three-bedroom flat is PRACTICALLY THE SAME as being homeless) then this is the book for you.
Spoiler Alert: you will learn literally nothing about Chinese (that is normal Chinese) culture in this book, but you will learn an awful lot about a bunch of clothing designers.
I had great fun reading this book and although it could probably have been shortened by about a hundred pages and not really lost any plot I really enjoyed it. The only real issue I had with this book really was that I read it on a Kindle and the author has loads and loads of footnotes positioned at the end of a chapter, so it made it really difficult to flick back and forward to see what the meanings of some of the language and cultural references meant. Not really the book's fault, but something to be aware of.
I read roughly one book like this a year and it satisfies my Kardashian Kwotient for the next twelve months. I'm pretty glad that my Rich Trash book for 2018 was this one.
Regan's brother Liam can't stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female name, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister's clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change: Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam's family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives?
This was quite a short book but it told a really interesting story about a girl's relationship with her transgender sister.
Regan's older sister, Luna, can only come out at night. Because by day, she's trapped in the body of Liam, a boy constantly under pressurre from the people in his small town to be more of a man, do sports and other gender-conforming crap.
This book really focusses on Regan's story and how Luna's transition affects her, as well as the stuff she's going through at school. Her family live in quite a small, gender-conforming town, so obviously that doesn't help them in the slightest.
As a character, Luna was quite underdeveloped, which was a shame considering the point of the book is her decision to transition and how this affects her relationship with Regan. And the only thing we really learn about Luna, is that she is totally and utterly self-obsessed, and yes, I know that makes me sound like a complete arsehole because transgender folk have to deal with a whole level of life-crap that I can't even begin to comprehend, but she was really annoying. She was like, 'It's all about me! ME! ME! ME!' I don't recall her showing a single shred of kindness towards Regan, other than when Regan was doing something for her.
So there. I'm a terrible human being.
NB - if you want a book about a transgender girl where the MC is totally relatable and just makes you want to weep, try If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.
Because Luna is quite underdeveloped and the story is told from Regan's POV, I would hesitate to call this a trans book. We don't see anything of Luna's thoughts or hopes or fears - only how her transition affects Regan and forces her to deal with small-town smallmindedness.
There was also a really interesting relationship with Regan and Liam/Luna's parents - their mum has recently set up her own (successful) business and their dad is doing less well career-wise, so they are both challenging gender norms too.
Despite Luna's intense annoyingness, this was still a decent read. The plot rattles along quickly and the sparse narrative flows really well, so I ended up finishing it in an afternoon.
I really quite liked this book.
Morgan Matson's books can be a bit hit and miss - The Unexpected Everything and Amy and Roger were pretty bland, but I really liked Since You've Been Gone and Second Chance Summer. This one, I really liked.
It was a really interesting look at family dynamics and what happens once the kids in a family grow up and move on to have their own lives, and what happens to the youngest kid (the MC, Charlie) when all of their siblings have moved on. It's also about the assumption some parents have that they kind of 'own' their children's lives. The Grant family is huge and close and Mrs Grant has found fame drawing a comic strip based on her children's lives, which is all good until they start wanting their privacy and for their lives to not be splashed across national newspapers.
So the lack of privacy brings tension, but not as much tension as the bonkers wedding that's due to take place. Charlie's sister is marrying her childhood sweetheart, which is lovely and everything, except that imagine everything that could possibly go wrong with the organisation of a wedding and then triple it and you're nearly there with how badly wrong one weekend can go.
Basically, Morgan Matson wrote a screenplay. I could totally see this book becoming a screwball comedy, Father Of The Bride style. It was very visual, but also fairly emotional. Charlie annoyed me a tiny bit because she just seemed to live inside this weird little bubble where she wanted to keep her family exactly as everything was when she was a little kid, but in all other respects there were some real feels in the story.
And just as an aside, what is Morgan Matson's obsession with giving her leading guy character an old-man name. Roger, Bill, Clark, Henry, Frank. Is this an American thing? These are old man names, right? I mean, Roger? That's my friend's dad's name and he's nearly seventy!
And the crossovers were a little bit odd. Characters from the author's other books make little cameos, but I never really liked any of her other characters enough to be constantly wondering what they did after the book ended. Their cameos felt shoehorned in and I think were there more to please the author than her readers.
Other than that, this was well worth a read. You kind of always know what you're getting with a Morgan Matson book - she knows what she's doing and she doesn't dick around with her formula. It was a decent read and I imagine I'll read her next book too.
Eh. This was okay.
There were aspects of this that I liked. I liked the way it shined a spotlight on the plight of families who've been split up by immigration laws. I can't even begin to imagine the horror of that happening, but the author does a pretty good job of showing its effects. And it deals with racism and poverty, which, let's face it, are always relevant topics.
I liked Carly and how loyal she was to her family, even though her family was pretty toxic to her. Her brother wasn't too bad, although he was quite controlling, but her parents putting all the emotional blackmail pressure on her to be earning money to smuggle them back across the border while she was still in high school was not great.
Arden was a bit of a dick. Okay, maybe not a dick, but I wasn't a huge fan. He was the rich kid who doesn't get enough attention from his parents and who acts out as a result. He pulls pranks and fine, if he wants to waste his own time doing what I thought were some pretty uninspired practical jokes that's his business but the bit where he got totally obsessed with drawing Carly into his stupid schemes was a bit creepy.
And the bit where he came over like the knight in shining armor was a bit tedious too. It's not really a spoiler, but he gets Carly a job that's a lot better than the one she had, like she was incapable of getting a job for herself. PLUS the only reason he got her another job was so that she would have more time to come out and prank people with him. Actually, scrub what I said before - he was kind of a dick.
Despite this, the writing was pretty good. I was a bit unsure about the POV switch between the first person (Carly) and third person (Arden) - it would have been better if Arden's POV had been first person, but other than that the writing was pretty solid.
All in all, though, this just seemed to be a whole bunch of dickish people crapping all over a nice, albeit, slightly doormat-ish girl. I wasn't sure whether I wanted them all to back the hell off of her, or for Carly to grow a pair and tell them all to get lost.
This was a pretty satisfying end (I think, although it totally wouldn't surprise me if Erin Watt eked out another few episodes from this group of characters) to the Royals series.
The Royals series has been a completely surprising hit with me. The characters completely lack diversity, the male characters are all alpha males and the plots read like pages taken from a soap opera writer's reject bin. Despite this, the stories are beyond engaging and the characters are just brilliant. I can only imagine that this is the last Royals book and it was a satisfying ending. We pick up where book four left off, where there's been a car accident (I won't spoiler it and say who) and Hartley is now suffering from amnesia.
That's right. Amnesia.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any more like Days Of Our Lives, they trot out amnesia as a plot device.
And yet, I still found myself reading. I just can't put these books down - they're like literary crack.
So Easton now has to woo her back and remind her how much she really likes him. Obviously he manages to almost-but-not-quite screw things up, but I don't think I'm spoilering things too much by saying that things work out okay in the end.
The intervening plot is totally like a soap opera, thought.
I really, really hope Erin Watt writing team continues writing. I find their stories engaging to a fault (the fault being that I basically ignore the rest of my life while I'm reading them) and they are genuinely entertaining.
This wasn't Erin Watt's best work, but it's still a highly entertaining read.
Beth's sister died three years ago, but her room is still kept exactly as it was and her space in the cloakroom is still kept aside for her. Beth's parents circle her, controlling her day to day life and making decisions for her so that she has little or no autonomy.
Chase is fresh out of juvie and determined to make a fresh start. When he and Beth meet, they have an instant connection, but when Chase's troubled past is revealed Beth has to decide whether she is going to carry on obeying her parents or follow her heart.
If you can't guess where this book is going just from the synopsis, then you must be pretty dim. Luckily, Erin Watt doesn't leave it long into the book before revealing the horrific connection between Beth and Chase, and concentrates mostly on how they try to work their friendship/relationship out, despite their snarled past.
I did like how the romance was paced and the connection between Beth and Chase. They weren't my favourite couple ever, but they did seem to have some chemistry. The thing Erin Watts is best at is provoking a reaction in their readers, and they certainly did that here.
Beth's parents were a bit overboard int heir rules and restrictions and while Erin Watts' writing style provoked the right responses in me (outrage, irritation), there was a bit of my brain that kept going, 'Waaaait a second. Really? Would they really be THAT unreasonable? Why doesn't she take some morre control over her life?' Like their choice of university for Beth. Her parents want her to attend an online university so that she can just stay livinng at home with them. Which infuriated me at the injustice, but also made me annoyed; like why didn't she just decide where she wanted to go to university and pay her own damn tuition money?
I don't think I will ever not like an Erin Watts book. This one didn't really hit the mark that their other workds have done, but it was still a decent summer read.
Eddie Reeves is haunted by grief after the suicide of her father. Completely unexpected, everyone thought that he was the ultimate small-town family man, although he had been an incredibly famous artist many years before. Eddie's mother isn't coping and is no help to her, so Eddie is left to find the answers to her father's death by herself.
This is a book about grief and its forms, but also it's a mystery book. Her father's death was so unexpected that Eddie feels she can't move on with her life unless she gets some answers. With the help of her father's student/apprentice person, she goes on a road trip trying to put together the clues her father has left behind.
***Spoiler Alert*** Ultimately, Eddie doesn't get any real answers. This has happened in other books by Courtney Summers that I've read and although it is an accurate reflection of real life, it makes for an unsatisfactory ending. If I wanted real life, I'd read a newspaper.
Again, Courtney Summers has written a book with a generally unlikable MC. Although I had huge sympathy in the way her life had been turned upside down, I couldn't really relate to Eddie. Her narration was too vague and dreamy, she was involved in a love triangle (!) and she got involved with a guy who might as well have had VILLAIN stencilled on his forehead (although I didn't predict the extent of his villainousness).
i really want to love Courtney Summers' books like other people do because I really feel like I'm missing out. But there's just something there - or not there - that doesn't sit right.
I think it's that her books have a complete lack of humour. I think that's it. I'm not saying that things like sexual assault or grief should be a laugh a minute, but I've seen other authors write about similar subjects with humour and compassion, neither of which I've ever seen in this author's books. I read Nina Is Not Okay eaarlier this year - a book that deals with sexual assault and addiction - and it had me rolling on the floor laughing and weeping in rapid succession. It's possible to write about serious subjects with humour. Courtney Summers always seems to have the writing style of an East German housing block. If her books were a colour, they'd be gunmetal grey.
I have another of this author's books waiting to be read, but i think i'm going to give it away and admit defeat. There are other authors I like better out there.
Parker Fadley used to head cheerleader, perfect grades, perfect boyfriend. Now, she's on academic probation, is developing a nice little drinking problem, is being an arsehole to everyone she knows and just wants to be left the hell alone.
This was an okay-ish book about a girl who has had something really bad happen and is struggling to move past it emotionally.
Courtney Summers is a perennially popular author - I've read reviews of people going nuts for her books and rating them like they have literally changed their lives. That's great, but I just don't get the same feels. Even All The Rage, which had me jumping out of my skin with anger at the treatment of the MC, didn't grip me and leave me thinking what an awesome book I'd just read.
I really rate Courtney Summers for the issues that she tackles in her books - she seems to be able to home in on exactly what a nightmare it is to be a teenaged girl sometimes. However, I'm not really sure about her writing style. Her plots seem to meander a bit and her characterization is patchy. I don't have to agree with the protagonist of a book, but I do have to be able to root for them (even when they're evil). I just don't seem to care about Courtney Summers' characters that much. I know she's famed for writing unlikeable girls, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't care what happens to them.
A real problem I had here was that I could see exactly what the 'big issue' was that had screwed Parker up so badly, but the book took an incredibly long time in actually getting there.
This was an okay book, but it didn't rock my world. I'm not sitting here still thinking and wondering about the characters. In fact, I had to double check Parker's name before I started writing this review, and that's never a good sign.
I started reading this book hoping for a fun summer read with a cute f/f romance.
What I got was a whole blotchy mess of queerbaiting and some of the most unlikeable characters I've ever read about.
So, part of the premise of the story is that Brooklyn, our MC, is going to a theatre camp over the summer as she's trying to find herself. She's always felt like she's standing in the shadows while the rest of her super theatre-driven family are firmly in the spotlight. She has never really clicked with their theatre lifestyle, and that's fine, but if that's the case then why did she choose a theatre camp to 'find herself'? Wouldn't she have been better off in literally any other summer camp?
Because quite apart from Brooklyn not really being into theatre, the theatre people in this book seem to be the biggest pile of ultra-pretentious arseholes I've ever read about. I can't even bring myself to look at the book again to get some examples - they made me cringe so much I just want to completely forget about them. Ick.
The other strand of the book is that Brooklyn is trying to find herself, you know, *mouths* sexually.
Brooklyn has always assumed herself straight, but literally as soon as she tips up at at Allerdale she tumbles into a big old crush with her roommate Zoe.
The book plays to a couple of bi tropes that I'm really not a fan of:
1) That bisexual people (and especially bisexual girls) have a voracious sexual appitite.
2) That bisexuality is basically just experimenting and eventually you'll pick a side.
The voracious sexual raptor, Zoe, the roommate / love interest, is in an 'open relationship' with her boyfriend. Except it's not really an open relationship, because he's only cool with her shagging other girls, not guys. So this is just another way of hammering home that a f/f relationship is somehow lesser, not as valid, not a real relationship. She also tries to pressure Brooklyn into having sex, which is so not cool.
But more disturbing to me, somehow, is the sexual experimentation thing. Look, I'm all for people experimenting, finding out who they are, or just deciding not to decide, or not putting a label on themselves, or whatever.
What I *don't* like is when a book is specifically marketed by the publisher as being a book about bi girls when one of them ends up straight. She's not bisexual! She's straight! The message this book gives is: Girls. You may *think* you're bi, but eventually you'll need to make a choice and let's face it, in the end you're going to choose cock.
Bleeugh. This book was well written I guess and there were a couple of semi-hot make-out scenes, but ultimately it just really annoyed me.
Oh, and Spoiler Alert: Brooklyn does find herself in the end. And the person she finds is a big dull dud.
“A sex tape. A pregnancy scare. Two cheating scandals. And that’s just this week’s update. If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher’s gossip app, you’d wonder how anyone found time to go to class.”
One Of Us Is Lying is a murder mystery about five highschoolers who go into detention, but only four come our alive. The dead guy, Simon, runs a notorious school gossip app and it transpires that he was just about to publish life-wrecking dirt on all four of his co-detentionees. All four are under suspicion, but is the real killer still at large?
Okay, I've seen this book advertised everywhere and usually over-marketing would put me right off a book, but I won a copy of this in a raffle at school, so I decided to give it a go.
Murder mystery isn't something I read a lot of generally, but I have read nearly every one of Agatha Christie's books, so I have a certain appreciation for a well-crafted plot that keeps you guessing as to the identity of the killer. And this book certainly did that. I kept changing my views on who had killed Simon until the final reveal.
I think the multiple viewpoints let the book down a bit. I found it hard to distinguish between the different characters - their voices weren't individual enough - and it made me think that none of the four narrators could possibly be the killer because of certain things they revealed (obviously I won't reveal who the killer is - I guessed it near the end, but I was kept guessing for a long while).
Also, I'm kinda over books riffing on the Breakfast Club. The 'Ragtag Band of Misfits who Come Together to Defeat a Common Threat' trope wasn't even original when John Hughes made the film and I'm starting to roll my eyes every time I read straplines that start 'The Breakfast Club meets ..... '.
There was some romance in the book (because hey, if you're writing a YA novel you gotta shoehorn some romance in!). I don't think it really added to the plot and I think it would have worked better if the two characters had just been friends.
All in all this was a fairly good book, but it's been a few weeks since I finished it and I had to get my copy out to flick through before I wrote this review, so it obviously hasn't made a huge impression on me!
I've been on hiatus for the last few weeks as a result of work going bugfuck crazy. On top of that, I made the mistake of reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which is about as long as The Stand, doesn't really go anywhere and takes a bloody long time doing it. So I've not exactly been reading at peak speed. It's the summer holidays now, so i'm hoping to get back into the swing of things with some new reviews.
Astrid Jones is carrying a lot of secrets and doesn't feel able to confide in anyone. Instead, she lies on the picnic bench in her garden and talks to the passengers of the aircraft flying overhead. She asks them about her abrasive family and the secrets her two best friends are asking her to keep and she asks them what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.
But obviously - OBVIOUSLY - secrets that remain safely stashed away don't make for interesting plotlines, so Astrid's secrets all come tumbling out.
I really liked Astrid. I liked how angry she was about being shoved into one of society's little boxes, like why should she have to put a label on who she was? Some people want to wear labels about who they are, and that's great and all, but not everyone is comfortable with labels and no one seemed to get that.
I liked (and by liked, I mean despised) the portrayal of small town life and the toxicity of Astrid's family life. Because she has no one to talk to about the things she is bottling up and because she doesn't feel comfortable telling the world that she's in love with a girl, she sends 'love' up to the passengers in the airplanes flying over her house. The 'love' hits the passengers and makes them reflect on the paths their own lives are taking. It was a tiny bit magic realism, but actually quite sweet.
If I had one criticism of this book it was it wasn't hugely original. Sending her love into the sky aside, this is a story about a girl coming to terms with her sexual identity and the backlash she gets from her small-minded community. It's a story that's been done a bunch of times before, but it's an important message so I guess I can let it slide.
I really enjoyed this book and I'm definitely going to look out for others by this author.
Toxic is the story of a group of friends - all lads plus one girl - who go on holiday to Crete for a booze-fuelled holiday, only to have the events of the holiday cause their friendship circle to turn toxic and implode over the following weeks like a slow-motion car crash.
This book was really readable and I had no problem finishing it. It dealt with some really relevant issues, including, but not limited to: male mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, sexuality, toxic masculinity and sexual assault. All this was wrapped up in a plot that moved really quickly.
Disclaimer: I've never went on the type of holiday depicted in this book. However, I have seen TV programs like Ibiza Uncovered and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and the depiction of the holiday in this book was very realistic. It seemed completely horrible and literally the last place on earth I'd choose to go for a holiday, but yeah. Realistic.
The book is written in several parts, each narrated by a different character and while I often enjoy this structure I didn't feel that it worked very well here. The plot felt really disjointed and I put that down to the narration.
There were some interesting characters, but slightly flat. There was no one I really rooted for, but at the same time there was no one I really hated. I didn't really feel like I got to know them enough and again that was something to do with the narration. All three narrators told their story like a simple series of events and there was very little back-story or explanation as to why certain events might have been significant.
The book delved into some really meaty topics, but I wanted more closure from the events of the holiday. The plot moved along really well but the story arc wobbled and then fell flat once the group had returned to the UK. The awful things that happened on the holiday were barely referenced when they should have been the basis for the remainder of the story arc.
All in all this was an okay read but it didn't blow me away.
If I'd known this book was all magic realism bollocks before I started it, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. As it was, the magic realism didn't irk me *too* much and this ended up being a fairly good romance with a bit of family curse / magical high jinx thrown in.
The best bit of this by far is the romance. All her life, June / Jack / Junior o'Donnell has been warned not to go near the Angert family who live on the other side of the forest. So when she literally bumps into the beautiful Saul Angert (in a House of Mirrors at the carnival - where else? This is a magic realism book, after all) and she feels an attraction to him, she knows it's not going to end well.
I really liked the romance in this book. It was paced exactly right and the two characters were exactly the right amount of sarcastic with each other. Like they weren't all swoony and shit. Obviously theirs is The Love That Will End In Disaster, because this is magic realism, and if love doesn't have the power to literally break the world in half, then what good is it??
The actual bit about the curse and the history of why the two families hated each other rambled on a bot and I lost interest after a while. I didn't really care about the cherry tree or some old dudes hating each other and the events of the feud unfolded a bit too slowly for me.
Also, magic realism. Have I said how much I dislike magic realism? It all just feels so ... artificial. It's like a big plastic cherry on your banana split. Bleugh. There was a tree that had its own silly name and wasn't always in the same place (of course) and ghosts and tiny floating memories that settle on your skin and show you a slice of the past. It's all so twee and annoying.
Despite this, I found the book to be pretty good and the romance has lifted the score right up to a decent three stars.
So, I'm going to be quite snarky here, because over the last ten years I've read so much dystopian / post apocalyptic fiction that I'm at the stage where, when I'm reading them, all I can think of is the author sitting at their desk putting a plot together and spinning a big Wheel of Fortune randomiser:
'And the apocalypse is going to be brought about by ........ bees!' (Could just as easily have been plague, aliens, zombies, war, eco disaster, declining birth rates or cybernetic revolt)
Because the point in these books is never really *how* the apocalypse came about, but how society reacts. And how much society needs a seventeen year old girl to come along and put everything right.
The seventeen year old world saviour in Stung is Fiona Tarsis. She wakes up in her (partially demolished) house unable to recall the events of the previous few years. It soon becomes apparent that a major world catastrophy has occurred and she's being hunted by a whole host of unsavoury characters.
Honestly? The plot of this book ran pretty much the same as every other dystopian I've read. However, I really quite enjoyed this one. The narration was fresh and interesting, the characters were well rounded and there was a lot of tension, which kept everything rocking along quite nicely. Everything was wrapped up a little too well at the end, and plenty of seeds were sewn for a sequel, but other than that this was really good.
WHHOOP! WHHOOP! INSTALOVE ALERT!
I picked this book up because I'd loved the idea of the first book in the duology, Juliet Immortal, and even though I had some reservations about the actual execution of the book I wanted to see what the author did with the sequel.
Like Juliet Immortal, this was an okay book. And like Juliet Immortal, this one left me feeling like some vital facts were being withheld from me. I'm now starting to think that this is just the author's style of writing, so I don't think I'll be reading anything else of hers (although there's nothing inherently wrong or offensive about it, so I'm sure other readers may really warm to her style).
My main bugbear with this one was the massive, crashing instalove-attraction between Romeo and Ariel. It made me die inside a little bit, I've gotta say. One of the tropes I love most is two friends who've known each other forever falling in love (especially if there's Some Kind Of Misunderstanding, or possibly An Important Reason They Can't Be Together) and instalove is the literal opposite of this.
Romeo was pretty annoying in this book: he fancies himself in love with Ariel, but really all he wants to do is bone her. That's not love, dude. It's exactly how he acts in Romeo and Juliet and I thought he was a towering twat in that as well.
It's not that I'd say give this duology a swerve - I'm sure lots of readers will like it - it's more that I'd say, go into it with your eyes open. Manage your expectations. My expectations were, I think, a bit too high and the reality didn't quite measure up.
Yeah. This was a fairly good read, but I think I liked the idea of it more than the execution. I'm struggling to put my finger on exactly why this didn't score higher with me.
So, what I loved was the broad concept of the book. The idea that Romeo and Juliet weren't victims of fate or their parent's controlling ways, but of higher powers locked in an eternal war: the Ambassadors and the Mercenaries. Romeo is convinced by the Mercenaries to murder Juliet as a kind of gang initiation, and Juliet becomes one of the representitives for the Ambassadors. And for the last seven hundred years, they've been battling it out, trying to get people to either fall in love with their soul mate (Juliet) or to kill them (Romeo).
So far so good. And honestly, I'm trying hard to work out what really went wrong with this book. I think most of it lay in the style of writing. The prose just wasn't very clear. I never really felt like I got to grips with exactly why Juliet was supposed to be getting these soul mates together, or why Romeo was supposed to be driving them apart. I didn't understand the background of the Ambassadors vs Mercenaries war.
There were swathes of text where the narration when very waffley and it left me feeling like I was standing on the wrong side of a misty window, trying to work out what was going in inside. I'm not saying I need to have everything spelled out for me - ambiguity can lead to a lot of fun in books - but for me this book raised a hell of a lot more questions than it resolved.
The book deals with soul mates, which is a concept I find a bit weird. The whole thing where there's literally only one person in the world who is a perfect match for you? That love drives us to do stupid, violent things? It all just screams domestic abuse to me.
I didn't really root for Ben, the love interest. He was okay, I guess, but just a bit vanilla. I kind of wanted Romeo to have a big epiphany and to become the leading man but sadly it never happened. I might check out the sequel and see if it happens there.
2.5 stars (maybe 3, if I'm feeling generous)
This was one of my favourite books of the year so far. It's the story of a writer in post-war London who has had some success with a book she published during the war but is now struggling to find a subject for her second book. She receives a note in the post from someone in Guernsey, of all places, who has just bought a second-hand book that used to belong to her and the two of them strike up a correspondence. The book unfolds as a series of letters, between Juliet and the Society members and her London acquaintances.
I liked this book a lot. The plot is varied enough to keep things interesting but it's very leisurely and there's no real peril or high drama. It's more character-driven than anything. Luckily, I adored the characters - it was a real mixed bag of folks and there was a nice contrast between the smart, slightly hard, London crowd and the group of oddballs from Guernsey.
Fact: I never realised that the Channel Islanders had such a rough deal during the Second World War. I knew that they were occupied by German forces, but I had no idea that many of them were on the brink of starvation, or that they had literally no news from Britain for nearly five years. Five years! Let's just take a moment to think about that.
I'm not usually a huge fan of epistolary novels, as I find it too hard to imagine what is going on behind the letters and I find it an oddly impersonal way of writing considering that letters are such an intimate item, but in this case the format absolutely worked and in fact I couldn't imagine what the novel would have been like if it had been written in normal prose.
I would completely recommend this book to anyone. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and even now when I think of it, it gives me a little warm glow.
Yes. This was awesome. I keep wondering if Sarah J Maas will ever scale the dizzying heights of wordsmithery that she achieved in ACOMAF and I seriously don't think she will because that book broke me in half, but that doesn't mean to say that the other books in her series are bad. They're brilliant and still five star books. It just so happens that ACOMAF was six stars.
I an *loving* getting to know Nesta a bit more and really like that she has totally gone off on one and is drinking and shagging her way around Velaris. I guess the series is going in the direction of a Cassian-Nesta plotline and I don't mind that at all. I mean, I'd rather it went in a Rhys-permanently-naked direction, but I guess you can't have everything.
Things I want to see happen in the next installments of the series:
- Mor to get herself a girlfriend
- Azriel to actually say some stuff once in a while
- Elain to kick Lucien to the kerb once and for all (seriously, he reminds me of this guy I went to school with who was a complete letch and is now a vacuum cleaner salesman)
- More shagging from Feyre and Rhys (although I think the series is going to move away from focusing on them, which is a shame)
Fair warning: I was reading the Kindle edition and I got to 80% before Feyre and Rhys managed to get together for sexy time. 80%!
I was really disappointed by this book. I'd heard really great things about it and I read it - stupidly - because I'd heard it was similar to John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Well, sign me up right now, I thought.
Unfortunately, it read like a book trying really, really, really hard to sound like John Green. I would have had a lot more respect (and enjoyment) if the author had just used her own voice.
But more than the John-Green-wannabe-ness of the writing style, this book suffers with the inclusion of the MC, Henry.
Henry is literally the creepiest MC I've ever read about. He's creepier even than the many and varied sociopaths, stalkers and murderers I've read about in fiction over the years because I actually think that the author meant for him to be this romantic hero when he's actually that stalker who follows you around, not even realising what a stalker he's being.
Henry is maudlin and fancies himself as this amazing writer and although he believes the editorship of the school paper is his by rights he does precisely 'fuck' and 'all' in terms of work when the position is awarded to him. The cast of characters are an eye-wateringly pretentious collection of people, but even in this group, Henry is King of Pretentious. He fixates creepily on Grace as soon as she walks through the door of his classroom.
Grace is a disturbed loner with some undisclosed personal issues. Henry decides to brush her insular nature and desire to be left alone aside and he befriends Grace even though she clearly wants to be left alone and eventually they get drunk at a party together and kiss. Then Henry discovers that Grace's problems stem from the fact her boyfriend died a few months ago. Like literally just a very few months ago.
Instead of backing off and offering to be the friend she so clearly, desperately needs, Henry keeps creepily pushing the romance and even after they have sex and Grace lays sobbing in his arms having basically used him as a flesh dildo so that she could pretend to be shagging her dead boyfriend, EVEN THEN he doesn't gently disengage himself from her romantically and guide her towards the nearest bereavement counselor.
And even when Grace makes it clear that she wants nothing more to do with him (she discovers him snooping around her bedroom - don't ask), he still mopes around wondering to himself where he stands with her.
The whole thing came across as so far beyond creepy, it was really unpleasant to read.
There were plenty of other characters that annoyed me - the most Australian Australian guy in the world, the kooky-yet-highly-intelligent sister - but these felt like sad caricatures. Henry was the real star of the show. Because of the creepiness.
I deeply regret reading this book. I don't recommend it to anyone.
What I Lost was an interesting book about a girl with an eating disorder who finds herself in a treatment centre.
Purely in terms of this being a novel about the mental and physiological effects of disordered eating, and the good or bad influence family and friends can have on recovery, it was a pretty good read. I liked the characters and the dynamic between them and the was the anorexics looked down on other residents of the treatment centre for their perceived 'lack of control'. Details like this made the book feel very realistic.
The reason this book didn't get a higher rating was the author's insistence on shoehorning a romance into the plot. There's this whole thing with a secret admirer who sends our MC gifts while she's in a treatment centre (I mean, seriously? If you've got a crush on the girl just hold fire and effin' well leave her alone until she's feeling better instead of bothering her while she's trying to get herself well.
At the risk of sounding flippant, the romance made the book felt a bit like 'Eating Disorders Lite' in some respects. I've never had an eating disorder, so I have no first hand experience, but I have read a number of books about EDs, and compared to others this book just seemed a bit too fluffy. Like, I think we can all agree that eating disorders are a horrific, life-changing thing, right? Well, because the author spent time and effort on including a romance it meant she had less space to talk about Elizabeth's recovery so it made her recovery seem a bit easy.
Elizabeth's family was a welcome inclusion, especially the way they were well-meaning but also deeply flawed. So often, parents are just portrayed as either totally awesome and supportive or else the root of all evil, so this was very realistic.
I'd recommend this book as a decent treatise on recovery after and eating disorder, but I wish I'd been able to give the romance aspect the swerve.