Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Problem With Forever - Jennifer Armentrout; Review


Book Details:
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: MIRA Ink (16th Jun 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1848454570
ISBN-13: 978-1848454576

Summary:

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Links To Buy:





Rating:
Review:

I picked this book up right around the time I finished It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (review here) and was really looking forward to this kinda story after reading the other book which I LOVED. So much. But sadly, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t like this book much and and instead felt really deflated given how many people love it and, not that it’s the most important factor, but also how gorgeous the cover is. 

The reviews for this book were really gushy, and to me, after having finished it, I felt really mehhhh. It washed itself into the background of all other YA contemporary novels and there’s nothing in the writing, in the plot, or the characters, to make it memorable and stand out. The promise *pun intended* was there with the plot and the story it could have told - but as fine as the writing was to read, the story just didn’t do anything for me. It was bland, uneventful and lacking pull. The characters were flat and the connection between them though understandable, there was no fire, no chemistry, nada. 

I found that it didn’t sit well with me that though Mallory and Rider share a real, deep seeded connection, when Mallory comes back into the picture, Rider blows off his girlfriend Paige so easily, so quickly, and she’s then made out to be the villain when in truth she had every right to be annoyed. Rider had his share of crap after the childhood he went through, and though Mallory’s outcome was different, Rider leaned on Paige for support. She had obviously been there for him for a lot, and to just forget that, drop that, when Mallory comes back, was not cool. 

As for Rider and Mallory themselves, I feel like Rider is the kind of character that I really really would have liked. He has it going for him, with his name *which I am weirdly partial to* and the fact he protected Mallory when they were younger, he looked out for her and obviously still cares about her and wants to continue protecting her. But.. he sounds better as an idea than on the page. I didn’t like him that much, there was nothing wrong with him, I mean he ticked all the boxes in potential swoon-worthy-ness but in reality just reading him in the story, I felt nothing for his character. 

Mallory was pretty much the same for me - I just really didn't connect with any of the characters at all - maybe except Mallory’s parents - who I did actually like. I understood them, everything they did and said was all for her, to benefit Mallory. I’m glad that Mallory started speaking, speaking up for herself and what she wanted - but for some reason she still seemed unsure of her choices and what she wanted - there was no conviction to her. I totally get her desire to want to pursue a career in social work and to help others - but I wanted that moment when she spoke up about following that path to be more empathetic, maybe even more emotional to really hammer home her past and the possibility of her future. 

The scene where a certain someone gets *cough* my attempt at not being spoilery, but that scene out on the street just felt so random and weird and reminded me of Save The Last Dance. You’ll know which scene I’m on about if you’ve read the book and also seen that movie. I know it was used to move the story along, but it was just really random. 

I really did want to like this book, and maybe it is a great book to others, but I just couldn’t find any ways to connect with the story and everything in it. It has a gorgeous cover, I will say that, but sadly nothing else going for it aside from that. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Conclave - Robert Harris; Review

  

Book Details:
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Arrow (22nd September 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1784751839
ISBN-13: 978-1784751838

Summary:

The Pope is dead. 

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election. 

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals. 

Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

Links To Buy:




Rating:
Review:

Warning - spoilers up ahead. 

My obsession with all things Vatican/Catholicism/The Pope - goes way, WAAAY back - to the first time I read (and fell in love) with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Since then, I’ve watched videos, documentaries, movies, read books, countless articles and features, on everything above. The history, the culture, the sheer power of belief behind it all (and not gna lie, the conspiracy whispers and the mystery) all adds to the allure of it. When late last year I came across an advert in the newspaper for some book called Conclave - I was immediately drawn to it because 1. it was there in my face, so you know.. but 2. Conclave is the ceremony whereby they select a new Pope. OBVIOUSLY my mind was like omg what’s this where is this I HAVE TO HAVE IT - but it wasn’t going to be out for another few weeks. Like most things.. it drifted to the far reaches of my mind.. until *sinister music* LOL jk, until I came across it at work for being nominated for an award. My memory awoke, and out I went to grab myself a copy. I devoured this book every moment I got, at lunch, on the train home, in between working out *dedication, I know*. 

Even if you’re not obsessed the way I am with this topic, you will find this book hard to put down. There’s a lot of depth and information in this story about the Pope election, it’s methods, the ideas behind it - which I found fascinating given my interests, but for a general reader, it wasn’t an overload and didn’t make the book top heavy with too much history. It was just the right amount, interweaved with the actual plot of the story, which follows our narrator, cardinal Lomeli as he tries to organise the next conclave. I really liked Lomeli’s character as he felt sincere, genuine, and very much human. His strengths as a narrator lie in the way the author allowed him to have doubts, about his faith, about the people surrounding him and what this could mean for the future of the religion he seems to feel detached from. How does someone, who has found themselves out of touch with their faith, organise one of the worlds biggest gatherings to elect one of the most iconic spiritual figures? 

In a way, it was post-finishing this book, that I felt the narrator was somewhat unreliable and I kinda liked that - because all along we see that he doesn’t reallllly want to be the next Pope, not in the slightest. It is usually those who don’t seek to covet power, who are most suited for it, are they not? But it dawned one me after, that others have observed and mentioned to him, as each contender seems to, by his hand, unwilling or not, be removed from the path - leaving it more and more open it conveniently seems, for him to become Pope. Was this really shrewdness from our narrator, hidden to us, or really did he not want it and it just happened (to at least look like) it will fall to him? We will never really know, and I quite like that. Since this is a spoileryy review, I realised I can admit that in the end, though it does look like he is about to snatch the seat - in fact, he doesn’t. Who does I hear you ask? That, you will have to find out for yourself after reading it, because some plot twists really are too good to reveal. 

Though, the person it does end up being, well that was a SHOCKER AND A HALF, I’LL SAY. And again, you’ll see why when you reach that part. But the implications of it - phew, can you imagine? I seriously was blindsided by this twist, honestly did not see that coming. NOPE. But I can see where readers will be on the fence about it - it’s quite a large pill to swallow, but from my end at least, I will admit I liked the twist and what it could mean. All this time, I had a feeling there was a sure buildup to something more sinister for some reason, something quite huge - but instead the plot twist we got punched me in the gut - and I liked it. It was however, quite rushed and there should have been more, at least a chapter in itself, to look at this new development. But then again, some of the beauty lies in the way the author has literally left it to us readers to continue the story in our head. This person has become the Pope - what happens next? Well it’s all up to you. 

The characters, though it took some getting used to to remember which cardinal was which (for which I did think the author should have included an index, which would have worked greatly) but all in all, I liked the very human flaws we see from each candidate who is eventually removed. Again, slight spoilers ahead! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. TURN BACK NOW. Or not, you know. 

Back to my point - cardinal Adeyemi was out of the running for his desires and lust. The Canadian Tremblay (who I just couldn’t stop picturing as the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau ironically LOL) who was all about power and ego. These men, really are men - much like the rest of us, with very human desires and pitfalls - no matter how hard they try to conceal them. Much of it is human nature hidden amongst the desire for a level of divinity, to become one of the greatest spiritual figures of the world. As the narrator very rightfully says in his speech, faith is about doubt and sins - and repentance, not about perfection. These men, are not perfection. 

“Our faith is a living thing precisely because it walks hand in hand with doubt. If there was only certainty, and if there was no doubt, there would be no mystery, and therefore no need for faith.”


Their faith suffers human errs, as does any religion - but it’s your path back to faith and your repentance and belief in forgiveness, forging forward with intentions of being better than the sum of your sins. As a Muslim, a lot of my religion beautifully coincides with Christianity, I see the similarities about character, about doubt, about strength in acceptance and much much more - the religions draw many parallels and for that reason I loved reading about the different religious figures from the Bible in the book and what they teach to those following the religion. All of this, wrapped and written in a book that was well paced, with a great number of twists and revelations to balance out the rituals and traditions of the conclave election itself. The book was hugely engaging and very honest and raw in how it described that some parts of the conclave are in fact, boring. There was politics in play, which is unsurprising as isn’t it everywhere really? All in all, a great read that packed a punch and I hugely enjoyed. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sweetpea - C J Skuse; Review


Book Details:
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: HQ (20th April 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0008216673
ISBN-13: 978-0008216672

Summary:

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.
Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.
From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder… 

Links To Buy:




Rating:

Review:

Warning: spoilers up ahead.

Where do I even start with this book? Wild. PURELY WILD. This was such an unapologetic, crazy, hilarious and, weirdly, fun read - which probably says something about my mental state given this story is about a psychotic killer? But my one line of defence is the fact I lent this to a friend and she loved it, and loved me for giving her such a great story, which in itself is saying something since she’s read so many crime/thriller novels but claimed this as being one of the best. *smug look* 

The absolute best thing about this book, is the main character, Rhiannon - who by day is a editorial assistant but by night, takes on a far sinister hue - as a serial killer. You will either come to love her or hate her, depending on your mental balance I guess, but I loved her. Written in the form of diary entries from her, each one starting with a kill list of people who have annoyed her - which to be honest these people on the list, I would agree with - but lets not forget the biggest difference being, that in this case, she could actually kill them. After being the lone survivor of a horrific crime as a child which elevated her to minor celebrity level for a while, the far less favourable consequences were that due to the event, a part of her brain was damaged - leaving her with a lot less empathy and compassion and pretty much the makings of a serial killer. But hey, she only goes after the bad guys - a vigilante, yep. Whether it be the guy who tried to assault her near the canal (man oh man, this scene had me yelping out loud and laughing under my hand - it’s so blunt and hilarious the way it happens), or the girl who tormented her childhood and she pretty much returned the favour. 

Though a lot of her acts and crimes are quite violent, her narration, her diary entries and comments on each of them really colour the situation and give it the funny and sarcastic hue which somehow works so well for this book - but anywhere else, written in any other way, would have been a disaster I feel. There are one too many metaphors I feel in the story overall, which really could have been done without - but to be honest, this whole book is made from diary entries from Rhiannon and therefore it’s all a part of her thought process and the way she sees and talks about things - and oddly the excessive use of these metaphors fit with who she is painted as being. 

Though I’m trying not to find this alarming, there’s a lot about her character that I connected with - her human and honest annoyances, to the people she hangs out with, to her commentary on peoples daily acts and obvious tendencies, her day to day grievances - a lot of it really was just real and honest things about people’s nature that everyone is thinking, but no one says. Rhiannon does though *need to stop thinking of her as my friend and ally…*

On the other hand, I did find it a little hard to coincide her character during the day, with the one she becomes when her bloodlust acts up. When she gets in the mood for murder (wow is this a weird thing to type) but she’s confident, meticulous, brash, unafraid - yet when she’s at work, or with her friends, she plays the downtrodden mouse, who just becomes the doormat and lets it all go. I wanted to see at least some scenes, towards the end maybe, where the facade slowly slips and she becomes that alter-ego at work, with her friends, and lets it out. But given the way the book ends *whistles slowly* maybe my wishes will be answered? Maybe someone has already seen the killer lurking behind her eyes? WHO KNOWS. I WANT TO KNOW THOUGH. 

There was a vast array of characters playing background music in this book, one that I particularly hated was Rhiannon’s sister - she would deffo be on my kill list.. uhh like hypothetically, not that I have one, noOoPe *starts getting flustered*. I’ve read previous books by this author, CJ Skuse, and they were mostly YA and this is such a stark contrast to everything she’s written before - but it’s a hell of a book and will be making waves this year as being different and distinct. People will just KNOW what book you’re talking about when you mention this. Yep, I called it, you can quote me and thank me later. 

Now. The ending. PHEW THE ENDING. Once you get there, you’ll know what I mean. There will be a second book, and it’ll be VERY obvious as to why once you reach the end - but man, when I read that last scene, I actually couldn’t stop laughing and thinking OH MAN OH MAN. All this time, as we read about her crimes, a small part of the reader will think they deserved it, justice has been served, which staves off the notion of how crazy this actually all is - but when you reach the end of this book, you realise how truly crazy she is and the hot mess she has landed herself in *pun intended - you’ll see*.

This book - it’s quite crude, graphic and violent - but somehow you’re cheering along for Rhiannon.  Utterly unpredictable and such a wild read. Two of my friends loved it, but it will be a marmite book, some will honestly hate it for being brash and bold but otherwise will love it for that very reason. Keep your eyes peeled for it, it’s out April 20th, 2017 from HQ, HarperCollins. And as if that wasn't fantastic enough news.. there's more. MORE MORE MORE. 


TV rights have just been sold for Sweetpea to the producers behind the Oscar nominee Lion! 
LIKE CAN WE GET A HURRAH! How epic is this going to be? MIGHTY EPIC I SAY.