Saturday, 11 November 2017

Review of 'Too Damn Nice'* by Kathryn Freeman

Review of 'Too Damn Nice' by Kathryn Freeman

I always find that as Winter draws near I'm wanting to read more and more chick lit books. There's just something so cosy and joyful about them, you know? This is my favourite that I've read in a few months. I like my chick lit to take on some darker themes, and challenge some serious issues in society. I feel as though it's important to tackle taboo areas, and make sure that chick lit is a little educational, as well as comforting. 

Too Damn Nice really seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of the context of the time I read it. It's all about a woman in the entertainment industry who's molested by a man she trusts, and she's outed by the media as being a slut. At the moment, with the 'MeToo' campaign, and the discovery that Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator, more and more women in the industry are coming forward to talk about the harassment they've faced on their way up the ladder.

In the book, Lizzy Donavue makes news across America as her (ex)partner releases a video of her having a threesome with him and another man. As she's about to become the face of a perfume called 'Innocence', she's terrified that her career is in tatters. What makes it worse? She doesn't even remember the incident taking place. Lizzy's ex threatened her with the video, but she never believed that he would release it if she didn't pay him ... sadly she was wrong.

After locking herself away in her apartment, her brother's best friend Nick Templeton is the only person who steps in to help her. The worst thing about this? He's a painful reminder of the fact that she's lost her parents, and her brother is in a coma; something she still blames herself for. Bookish and shy, Nick's the opposite of model Lizzie, but he's always had a soft spot for her. 

Whisking her away from a toxic environment and back to England, Nick's intent on saving Lizzie. But there are some painful memories for both of them back in the UK. Can they make something work between them in the face of their history?

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Review of 'The Secret' by Katerina Diamond

Review of 'The Secret' by Katerina Diamond

I'm a wimp when it comes to scary things, but thrillers I can *just* about cope with. The Secret totally pushed me out of my thriller comfort zone, but in a good way. It was shocking and gory and kinda reminded me of the thrill of watching CSI as a kid.

The Secret is set in Devon - somewhere that I'd always thought of as safe, but now will be looking at through a slightly different lens. DS Imogen Grey is determined to put her traumatic past behind her, but a new case threatens to make it resurface. Her old work partner Sam Brown is back to help out on a case. The one problem with this? Two years ago he spilled the beans about her pregnancy to some guys who attacked her, cutting her stomach up so that she loses the baby. 

With this incident fresh in her mind, Imogen finds herself becoming more suspicious of Sam. His girlfriend is an undercover cop who's gone missing, and as Imogen searched for the truth, she uncovers more secrets that Sam's left behind.

This was an absolute page turner that had me almost peeking out from behind my fingers as things got more and more gruesome throughout the book. There were some real twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and as soon as I finished the book I went out to buy Katerina's earlier book 'The Teacher'. It's SO rare that I like a book enough to do this, but I was totally wowed by 'The Secret'.

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Re-reading 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'

Re-reading 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'

This has always been one of my favourites of the Harry Potter series, so when it came to rereading I was terrified that I'd hyped it up so much in my mind that it could only be a disappointment. It wasn't. I completely devoured this book and I don't think there's any other way to really read it. I mean, it's Harry Potter after all.

It did break my heart a little I won't lie. The last 100 pages or so had me going through a hurricane of emotions and I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't okay to cry on a public bus over Harry Potter, even if the feels were getting to me. 

This book is where the whole series really takes off. You meet Sirius and get to finally learn the real story behind what happened on *that* night when Harry got his scar. and you get to feel ALL THE RAGE against Wormtail aka Scabbers aka a total scumbag. I'd forgotten almost all of Lupin's backstory and that crops up too. And then there's the utter RAGE when Snape cocks everything up at the end. Also, did I mention Buckbeak?

If you're going to (re)read just one of the HP books, make it this one. It's the last in the series before the books get real long, and it's the most intense of the first three. I love it so much and honestly would read it over and over and over again.

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Review of 'Silent Child' by Sarah A. Denzil

Review of 'Silent Child' by Sarah A. Denzil

Is it me or are crime thrillers getting hella dark at the moment? Maybe I just haven't read enough in the past, but each one I come across feels a little traumatic at the moment. This book has had me feeling pretty fucked up for weeks now. The content was so twisted and thrilling and I had a couple of 'oh no NO NO NO' gut wrenching moments when I had to put the book down because it was just too tense.

I won't lie, it took me a little while to get into this one. I found it so hard to relate to the main character, but once I was in I was hooked. There were so many WTF moments and the plot was so good that overlooking her character was something I'm glad I did.

Silent Child is all about a child who comes back from the dead. When Sarah's village floods, her son Aiden is swept away in the water: the only thing he leaves behind is his little red coat. Fast forward ten years and Sarah and Rob, Aiden's father, are no longer together. She's created a new life with her new husband Jake, and has a new child on the way.

Everything's going pretty well, until Aiden reappears. Staggering out of the local woods, Aiden is traumatised and cannot speak. Emma is forced to face the fact that her child is back, but she doesn't know who he is anymore.

Trying to find out what has happened over the last ten years leads Emma to some very disturbing findings. What did happen to Aiden? Who took him? And who exactly can she trust? 

This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It's so graphic and dark that it really is not suitable for younger readers either. But, if you're a fan of dark thrillers, then this is something that you should give a go!

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Saturday, 7 October 2017

Review of 'Little Men' by Louisa May Alcott

Review of 'Little Men' by Louisa May Alcott

Confession time: I've never read Little Women. I owned a truly ugly version of it up until about a year ago and it totally put me off the book. BUT, I have a hella cute vintage copy of Little Men that I just couldn't resist.

Louisa May Alcott's writing has a traditional storytelling vibe (shocking, I know), that reminds me of Robinson Crusoe, Little House on the Prairie or any of Enid Blyton's fiction. It was cute and childish and comforting. There were a whole load of skewed 'this is what girls do vs this is what boys do' outdated sexist chat, but for its time, it wasn't an overly restrictive view at all.

Little Men is all about a couple who run a boarding school for 12 boys. They open up their home to both orphaned children and those whose parents want them to get a good education. Each boy (and a coupe of girls too) are treated as a member of the family. Through a variety of lessons, both practical and theoretical, the mother and father help the children to improve in all aspects of their lives.

Each chapter contains a story about one of the children's mischievous adventures, and offers a resolve to what happens that makes the child a better parent. I loved reading what the boys got up to, and I think this book would make a fab read for a child before bedtime.  

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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I've always rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as one of my least favourite books in the series. But, re-reading it recently has made me realise that I've been totally wrong all this time. HOW CAN I NOT LOVE THIS?! This summer (well Autumn now, let's face it), I decided to reread the whole HP series - you can see my comments on The Philosopher's Stone here. So, in this second installment, let's talk about how/why I'm convinced I totally underrated this.

Dobby. This is the first book in which you get to meet Dobby. AND he gets freed at the end. It's the beginning of a great love affair between you and Dobby. He adds a lot of humour to the book, and genuinely made me laugh out loud at one point. Plus, his presence proves even more than normal how shitty the Malfoys are.

Tom Marvolo Riddle. This totally blows your mind the first time you read it. I love that we get to see the human side of Voldemort (soz but if you haven't read the series, then there's going to be tonnes of spoilers. Also, if you haven't read it, you need to sort that out). It all ties in with the last book and it's making me so happy to see how Rowling was creating little strands of the horcrux plot early on in the series.

Harry's 'dark' side. You get to see that Harry isn't a perfect Gryffindor. He can speak parseltongue. But, he uses it for good, showing that not all Slytherins, or descendants of that house founder, are rotten to the core. It puts him on an even keel with Voldemort in terms of skill too. For the first time, we see that Harry Potter is special for reasons other than his famous past.

Hagrid's back story. This totally makes my heart bleed. Loveable, clumsy Hagrid being blamed for something that he'd never do. They totally should have let him back as a mature student and reinstated his wand after this. My bby. 

Mr Weasley. I love this man. He's so pure and his interest in Muggles is so endearing. I'm not prepared for the darkness that comes into his life in the next few books. His character also gives me a reason to hate the Malfoy's even more.

There were so many perfect little stories in The Chamber of Secrets, and I can't believe I used to rate it as one of my least favourites. From Aragog to the puzzles surrounding the injured students, to the Whomping Willow and more, this book is a work of art.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Review of 'Alice and the Fly' by James Rice

Review of 'Alice and the Fly' by James Rice

I haven't read a good thriller in a long time, so when Aimee from Aimee Raindrop Writes offered to lend me this I jumped at the chance. Alice and the Fly is told from the perspective of an individual with an intense case of schizophrenia, or at least that's what psychiatrists have deemed it. I've never read a novel with such a good insight into what it's like to live with a debilitating mental illness. Not having struggled with schizophrenia myself, I feel as though I now understand more about it, and just how life-consuming it can be.

Greg is a bit of an oddball at school. Everyone calls him 'Psycho' because of what happened in the past, and he doesn't have any friends. His English teacher, Miss Hayes, attempts to tap into Greg, to see what is troubling him so that she can help him. She asks him to start a journal, and jot his thoughts down into it. This is what we get to read. Interspersed with diary entries are transcripts from police reports about an incident Greg is involved in. 

It soon becomes clear that Greg is struggling. He has so many thoughts inside him that he wants to express, but can't seem to get the words out. Instead he remains silent, and is mistaken for being cold and distant. 

The one thing which really drives Greg out of this stupor of quietude is his fear of spiders. It is a full on phobia. Greg has every possible gap in his room taped down so that no spiders can get in. His room is his safe space; there's no chance of Them getting in. But everywhere else is a mine field.

Alice and the Fly was a real page turner for me. I needed to find out why this troubled boy's family and associates were being investigated by the police. I wanted to see how Greg's psychiatric issues came about, how they were handled, and how they progressed as he became more and more obsessed by the idea of Them coming near him.

If you're into thrillers, then this is one that is so easy to whip through, and it definitely had some moments in which I was on the edge of my seat!