Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Review of 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

Review of 'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

I've been thinking about this for a while and I'm just struggling to put into words how absolutely incredible this book is, and how much you all need to read it. It's the most important book that I've read in 2017 and everyone absolutely needs to get their hands on it. It really gets to the nitty gritty about race issues in the States, and exposes them in a way that I've not really come across anywhere else.

Starr Carter, the book's protagonist, is a 16-year-old African American schoolgirl who witnessed the shooting of her best friend when she was 8. When she gets a lift home from her childhood best friend Khalil, she doesn't think that this is the second day she's going to see someone get shot. Khalil and Starr get pulled over by a cop and when Khalil moves towards the passenger side of the car to see if Starr is okay, the cop shoots him repeatedly. 

In the following days and weeks, Starr is totally bowled over by the fact that this cop isn't straight up arrested for murdering her friend in front of her. Soon she starts to question everything. She goes to a private school where the majority of students are white, and doesn't want to speak up there. At school Starr is a different person, one who doesn't talk in the same way as she does with her family and friends from her neighborhood. She starts to wonder whether she's betraying her own identity by dating a white boy from the school. 

As riots break out over the town for Khalil's murder, Starr is forced to question her own identity and the justice system of the country she lives in.

It's an absolutely astounding book, and I'll honestly be buying any future novels Angie Thomas brings out because this was beyond insightful and powerful and heartbreaking.



Saturday, 25 November 2017

Re-reading 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' by J. K. Rowling

Re-reading 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' by J. K. Rowling

I couldn't not pick this quote out really, could I? Every time I read it I have a little chuckle because book Dumbledore and film Dumbledore definitely do not say this in the same way. I can't believe I've re-read the first four Harry Potter books now, and I'm almost ready to start the fifth. I have to admit, I've been putting off number 5 for a little bit because the Goblet of Fire is just one of the best, and the Order of the Phoenix has always been my least favourite. And it's so goddamn long. BUT. I've found that reading these as an adult I'm loving different things, so I'm hoping that I'll find the Order of the Phoenix a lot better than I did as a kid.

Anywho, this is the last book of the whole series that I've read quite a few times now. It's the first time that I've cried at Cedric's death because that was just not fair and I'm still raging about it. I loved the fact that all four contestants really came together to help each other out (in a roundabout way), and the kindness that Cedric and Harry showed each other was just heart breaking in the end. The other bit that my feelings totally couldn't handle was when everyone that Voldemort had killed emerged from his wand to help Harry. I. Just. Can't *weeps*. 

The one thing that's really been bothering me whilst I've been rereading the whole series, and especially this one, is that J.K. pairs Ron and Hermione up in the end. And I'm sorry but he's an absolute prick to her. He constantly mocks her for anything that she feels passionate about, he doesn't think she's attractive enough to find a date and he only finally starts to respect her at the end because Krum has a massive crush on her. I mean??? Hermione could do SO much better, and end up with someone that treats her with an iota of respect and cares about what she cares about? Ron's a pretty nice character aside from this but I just can't get over it. 

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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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