Books, Crime, Fiction, Lynda Stacey, Reading, Reviewing, Romance, Suspense, Three Star Rating

Review: ‘The Fake Date’ by Lynda Stacey

 

the fake date

 

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

‘Nine hours and Eleven minutes….That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead. She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly.

Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill? 

Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive…’

My Thoughts:

This book was another buddy read and, for the most part, I think it was an enjoyable read. However, there were things which, in my opinion,  kept it as only an ‘ok’ book.

But first, the positives. I think that the story was set up very well and I enjoyed the suspense created. The main character, for the most part, is realistic and likeable.

The book was at first, set up to be an interesting crime story and the pace was very good.

What spoiled this story, a little, was the introduction of a thread of romance running through it. Whilst I liked both characters involved, I felt like their interactions, particularly at the beginning, were ‘over the top’ and unrealistic. I couldn’t imagine these characters being in the situations they found themselves in or, them behaving in the ways they did. I imagine that these scenes were put in for some comic relief, however, I didn’t find them amusing, just a little juvenile.

I guessed the culprit of the crime, but I was quite far into the book, before I did. So for this reason, I think it would be a good beach book, because it keeps your attention throughout the story. It isn’t as hard hitting as the ‘blurb’ would suggest though, it could have been a much more powerful novel in my opinion.

‘The Fake Date’ isn’t the best crime novel I have ever read, but I would definitely recommend this, if you like reading some fun, light crime.

My Rating: ***

Books, Children's Fiction, Fiction, Five Star Rating, Reading, Reviewing, Shaun Tan

‘The Lost Thing’ by Shaun Tan

the lost thing

 

What the ‘Blurb’ says: 

‘The Lost Thing is a humorous story about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature whilst out collecting bottle-tops at the beach. Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice it’s presence. Each is unhelpful in their own way; strangers, friends, parents all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life.

In spite of his better judgement, the boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs.

Shaun Tan creates intricate collages filled with whimsical images, bright colors, and meaningful prose. He invites his readers to look at the world in a different way.’

My Thoughts:

I was given this as a Christmas present, because my friend knows that I like quirky books.

‘The Lost Thing’ is a book aimed at predominately 6-11 year olds, but, after reading this, I felt like this book would be suitable for anyone, as the message of book is a very important one.

The writing style of this book was humorous and intelligent. It didn’t talk down to its readers and I loved the way this book played with words. I loved the flow of the story too, I wanted to know what was going to happen.

One of the most striking things about this book, were the illustrations. I loved the industrial look of the illustrations and the little hidden details within each picture, which keep you looking at them for a long time.

The message of this story was very poignant, particularly in society today. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what the overall message of the story was, to be honest, but then I could apply many things to this story, individuality, selfishness and the fear of the ‘other’. So I think that this story is diverse in its message.

Not only was ‘The Lost Thing’ a fun book to read, but it was also very thought provoking.

I’d recommend this, to both children and adults.

My Rating: *****

Books, Crime, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Shari Lapena, Thriller, Two Star Rating

Review; ‘The Couple Next Door’- Shari Lapena

 

shari lapena.jpg

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

‘You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?”

My Thoughts:

I read another of Shari Lapena’s novels, ‘An Unwanted Guest’ last year and had very mixed feelings about it. However, I’m all for giving authors at least two novels, before I make a final decision on their writing. So I gave ‘The Couple Next Door’ a try.

Unfortunately, I found the exact same problems with this book, as I had with ‘An Unwanted Guest’.

The premise of this novel sounded good and at first, it intrigued me. It built up a lot of suspense and I wanted to know what was going to happen.

However I felt that, because Shari Lapena wrote the story in almost all narrative and did not have much speech, I felt detached from the story, rather than drawn into it. I also found that the writing was rather clumsy and uninspiring.

I also had a problem with the plot too. The story started off in a strong way and I wanted to know what was going to happen, but everything slowly unraveled and the story became almost implausible. Then, the end, for me, was sloppy and ridiculous.

One of the problems with this novel, in my opinion, is that I felt that this hadn’t been thought through properly. If the book had had a tighter plot worked out, then this could have been a stronger, more successful read. However, ‘The Couple Next Door’ wasn’t a book for me unfortunately.

My Rating: **

 

 

 

 

Books, Fiction, Four and a Half Star Rating, Literary Fiction, Reading, Romance, Sally Rooney

Review: ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney

normal people.jpg

 

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

‘People know that Marianne lives in the white mansion with the driveway and that Connell’s mother is a cleaner, but no one knows of the special relationship between these facts. 

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner who has learnt from painful experience to stay away from her classmates. When the two strike up a conversation in Marianne’s kitchen- awkward but electrifying- something life-changing begins.’

My Thoughts:

‘Normal People’ came out in 2018 and had loads of praise on blogs and YouTube, plus, was longlisted for ‘The Man Booker’ prize. For this reason, I shied away from reading ‘Normal People’, because in my experience, whenever I have read an award winning book, I’ve mainly felt disappointed.

However, quite recently I saw ‘Normal People’ in my local charity shop and thought that it might be time to read this.

There are so many feelings I have about this book, that, even after finishing it a couple of days ago, I’m still trying to process it. So apologizes if this review doesn’t make much sense.

Firstly, the writing in this book is challenging, but is extremely good. Its dialogue is written without using any speech marks and the only other book I have read, which uses this technique, was ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. So at first this book  was difficult to get into.  But, for me, what this style of writing did for ‘Normal People’ , was really strip back the story and focused my attention on the two main characters.

The characters, Connell and Marianne, were very believable and what I liked about them most, was the complexity of their personalities. You could tell that Sally Rooney had delved right into her characters, because they were not shown as two dimensional. Whilst reading this, I was hit by a roller coaster of emotions, for both characters. One minute I felt bad for them, the next, very frustrated by their actions. There were some really heartbreaking scenes within this book, all completely plausible and I thought that this made ‘Normal People’ a very powerful book.

If you like a story with a good plot, ‘Normal People’ may not be for you, because this novel is more character driven. A couple of times, during the first half of the novel, I felt my attention waning, because sometimes, the way in which the character’s actions were described, was a bit like a shopping list. However, I think that these descriptions of mundane day-to-day activities gave the other, more intense and disturbing things that happened in the book, more impact.

This is mainly about the relationship between two teenagers, but it’s definitely not your typical, slushy teenager romance story. The plot is complex and thought provoking. This book has some graphic sex scenes, so if you’re are easily offended you may not like this book, but in the book’s defense, I think that these scenes were necessary, to describe the mental state of certain characters.

This book highlights many issues in society, the need to fit in and the loss of your identity, mental health and relationships and I think this book tackles them, in a powerful way.

When I first read the ending of ‘Normal People’, I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting the book to end a certain way, and it didn’t. However, after some thought, I think that it had the perfect ending, because of the nature of the two main characters. The ending just made the story, all the more ‘real’.

This was the first book I read in 2020 and, even though it was a challenging read, I think this is a contender for my favourite book of 2020. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to re-reading this and other books by Sally Rooney, in the future.

My rating**** 1/2

 

Book Series, Books, Crime, Disability, Disability Read-a-thon, Read-a-thon, Reading, Reading Wrap Up 2019, Reviewing

2019 Reading Wrap Up

Firstly, sorry for not having posted in about a month. From the end of November until, now, life has been hectic. I went to Disneyland Paris at the end of November to look at the Christmas decorations (more of that in another post) and then we had visitors and went away for Christmas for a few days too.  So, I’ve only just had the opportunity to sit down and write this post.

Usually, during these end of year wrap ups, people talk about how many books they did, or didn’t get to read. Well, for me, the amount of books read during in the year,is not important. So I thought I would talk about some of the books which stood out for me during the last year.

 

shadow of the wind

‘The Shadow of the Wind’,  without doubt, has to be my favourite book of this year. It’s beautifully written, has believable characters and the mood of this novel, takes you to the dark, mysterious streets of Barcelona. You can read my full review here .

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of this series, in 2020.

 

bone collectr

 

During October, I took part in ‘The Disability Read-a-thon’, a month long readathon which encourages people to read books, blog posts and listen to podcasts, which focus of Disability. During the read-a-thon, I discovered this gem of a crime series. I loved ‘The Bone Collector’, the first in the ‘Lincoln Rhyme’ crime series because, not only did this feature characters who have different disabilities, but the plot was exciting and gave a fascinating insight, into forensic investigation. You can read my review here, but one thing is for certain, The ‘Lincoln Rhyme’ series, is another set of books that I want to delve into next year.

 

the wasp factory.jpg

The final book that I would like to mention, I haven’t posted a review of, this on the blog. ‘The Wasp Factory’ was the first book I read in 2019 and boy, did it start the year off with a bang! This tells the story of a boy called Frank, who lives on an island with his dad and and who has a brother is on the run. At first glance, Frank seems like the most reasonable member of his very unconventional  family. However, as the book goes on, you realize that there are many hidden depths to Frank, most of them highly disturbing.

‘The Wasp Factory’ may not be to everyone’s taste. It is, at times, very disturbing and very weird, but I loved this book. It really delves into the psyche of Frank’s mind and was a very unusual book to read.

So, those are reads that I have enjoyed during 2019. It has been a good reading year, all in all, and I’m looking forward to the books I’ll read, in 2020.

What were your stand out reads in 2019? What are you looking forward to reading in 2020?

All that’s left for me to say is a Happy New Year to you and here’s to some great reads, in 2020!

Books, Disability, Disability Read-a-thon, Fantasy, Fiction, Poetry, Read-a-thon, Reading, Reviewing, Science Fiction, Short Story, Young Adult Fiction

Review- ‘Accessing the Future’ Edited by Djibril Al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan

access

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

‘The fifteen authors and nine artists in this volume bring us beautiful, speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. Teeming with space pirates, battle robots, interstellar travel and genetically engineered creatures, every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right, as thrilling and fascinating as it is worthy and important. These are stories about people with disabilities in all of their complexity and diversity, that scream with passion and intensity. These are stories that refuse to go gently.’

My Thoughts:

‘Accessing the Future’ was recommended to me for ‘The Disability Read-a-thon’ , which took place in October this year.

Whilst I don’t read a lot of short stories, I was excited to read this anthology, because the premise of it seemed really good. On reflection, this book was a bit hit and miss for me.

This collection had some very well written stories in it. Stories like ‘In Open Air’, ‘Better to Have Loved’ and ‘A Sense all its Own’ stick out as stories worth mentioning. They all had sensitivity, action and a great sense of character.

Then there are the stories I didn’t care for. I was particularly interested in reading ‘Pirate Songs’, the first story in this collection, because the main character, like myself, has Spina Bifida. However, I didn’t like the tone of this story at all. A lot of the characters were extremely negative towards the main character Margo, and I actually felt a little offended by the language being used throughout this story, particularly when the secondary characters were talking about Margo. I also think that the explanation Margo gave for what Spina Bifida is, wasn’t entirely accurate. I know this condition is different for everyone who has it, but the main definition of the condition, in my view, was not entirely correct.

Then there were the stories I didn’t not understand or, didn’t really grab me. I’m not a fan of poetry, so stories like ‘Lessons of the Moon’ went completely over my head, I’m afraid. That’s not to say that this was badly written, it was just not to my taste.

Overall, I think this anthology was a great idea, but the inconsistency of writing and lack of some strong story plots, made this collection a little weak for me.

I’d recommend this book, only for the few really good stories, hidden within a lot of mediocre ones.

My Rating: ***

Blogging, Disney, Life

Blog Break

In case anyone was wondering why there wasn’t the usual book review yesterday, I forgot to post that there will not be a new post until Monday 9th December. That’s because I’m currently on holiday, well, I fly off today to Disneyland Paris!

I’m sure I will share a few of the many photos I plan to take, so look out for those.

Until then, I hope you all have a great bookish week!