Saturday, 5 January 2019

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
I read Bird Box over the space of two days. Everyone was talking about the Netflix film which I was dying to see, but I absolutely had to read the book first. 

People across the world have started committing suicide in the most horrendous ways. Some presence or creature or beast or who knows what is making them do this... happy people with everything to live for, taking their own lives. 

The only way to survive is to not look, to keep your eyes closed, the blinds down and the keep your wits about you, a task that is proving difficult for Malorie because she also has boy and girl to protect. 

Malorie is taking a risk. She is taking the children on a dangerous journey to a place she hopes will provide safety. Will the three of them make it or will the urge to look become too great? 

It had been a while since I read anything that put me on edge. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy being creeped out... so long as I'm not home alone!!! It's the fear of the unknown. There were times when a character would know that something was right behind them but they couldn't see what it was and it gave me goosebumps to imagine myself in that same situation... I know I'd freak out and rip my blindfold off.. and then slit my own throat!!

The chapters alternate between the past and present, Malorie living in a house with a group of strangers, trying to stay safe and figure out how to beat this thing and Malorie and the children on their journey to what they hope will be safety. It is interesting to see how the characters in the house interact with each other under the tense circumstances. They know they need to work together if they want to survive yet they mistrust one another and sometimes with good reason.

I loved seeing Malorie's method of training the children to survive by learning to use hearing as their main sense instead of sight. They could tell so much more from a single sound than we ever could. At times her methods could be perceived as harsh or even cruel but is an alive frightened child not better than a disobedient dead child?

To begin with Malorie wasn't ready to be a mother and didn't believe she could ever be a good one. To then see her being able to stay level headed and focused, putting her own fears to one side so she could stay strong for those children, Malorie proved that she was the best mother those children could have ever had. She was one super strong woman.

This book had me glued to the page but also with one ear listening out for noises and the duvet pulled right up to my nose because I'm a great big scardy cat!! 

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me this book.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin
I've been lucky enough to be able to read a proof copy of The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin which is released in February 2019.

When Jenny moved to Australia eight years ago to focus on her swimming career she lost all that was dear to her, her best friend Kath and her boyfriend Tom.

After all this time Jenny has decided to take a break from swimming and visit her best friend, who is now married to Tom and they have a child together. 

It's not long before Jenny realises she still has feelings for Tom but she is also noticing some very odd and malicious behaviour from Kath, making her question whether she ever really knew her friend at all.

I knew from the beginning that it would be difficult for Jenny to see Tom again, especially since she still loved him when they parted ways. I was morally torn because I so wanted to see Jenny and Tom together but how could it ever be right to steal a married man from your best friend? Or was it the other way round? Had Kath stolen Tom from her? Dilemmas, dilemmas!!!

It soon becomes apparent that Kaths behaviour is not normal and that her and Toms relationship was strained, even before Jennys arrival. Kath is unpredictable, sharp tongued and hard to work out. She is worried that Jenny and Tom still have feelings for each other but I got the sense that she does not really want Tom anymore, she just doesn't want Jenny to have him. 

The book touches upon the subject of mental health. At one point Tom mentions that he thinks Kate has stopped taking her medication for depression and they agree to not confront her about her malicious behaviour until she is back on the meds and more stable. This got me thinking, should we ever excuse bad behaviour if it stems from a mental health issue or should a person be confronted regardless? How difficult must it be to support someone though their darkest times when they are hurting you in return?

This was a great psychological drama that I loved from start to finish. I wouldn't say it's particularly fast paced but there was definitely enough going on to keep me interested. It's story that simmers nicely until bubbling over right at the end! 

I'd definitely recommend checking it out when it is released in February.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The Territory by Sarah Govett

The Territory by Sarah Govett
The Territory is first in a series of three books by Sarah Govett.

It is 2059 in the UK, most of the country is underwater so space is limited. Only the smartest get to stay dry. The rest are sent off to live in the wetlands where disease and crime are rife and survival is slim

Noa Blake is preparing to take her exams. She is smart but that's because she studies extra hard and has the advantage of parents who can afford to send her to a good school. She is however still at a disadvantage. She is a norm. She doesn't have a node, a port in her neck that allows her to upload information straight to her brain. Noa has to study the old fashioned way. Will her hard work and determination be enough to keep her on dry land?

The story is told from Noa's perspective. I felt that the author captured the language of a 15 year old brilliantly. Teens do love their slang terms and there were plenty of those! I loved that Noa, like most 15 year olds, felt she was grown up, felt she was ready to take control of her own life and make her own decisions. As an outsider looking in we see Noa is still developing her sense of self, she is experiencing her first taste of love and trying to live as normally as she can in this harsh world, but most importantly, she still has so much to learn. Which is what makes this book so frightening... a 15 year old is not old enough to be sent away to live in such dangerous conditions, alone!!

I would have liked to get to know some of Noas friends a little better. Daisy is Noas best friend but I didn't feel a connection to her. Jack, Noas other best friend had a habit of punching walls or lashing out when things didn't go as planned which no one seemed to address until it was too late. But then again, why in a world where 15 years olds are coldy sent to die would someone be the slightest bit concerned about something as minor as anger issues and the reasons behind it? And then there's Raf, the mysterious new boy. He was my favourite of Noas friends. He was edgy and pushed the boundries but had a kind heart.

The story takes a few dark turns here and there, particularly on the subject of medical experimentation and basic human rights.
The Territory, signed copy
Prioritisation means that medication is no longer available to the wetlands. How are new medicines tested? Certainly not on the intelligent Territory folk, that's for sure. While in the book the situation is more more severe than in real life it made me think of medicines in todays world. A persons postcode can determine how quickly they are treated. A persons bank balance can determine whether they get the best treatment available.. or not. And then there's the touchy subject of how the medicines are tested. If they are not tested on humans and animals, how will we ever know if they work but what about the humans and animals that are made to suffer so that we don't have to??

This book was one of my favourite YA reads of 2018. It was exciting, heartbreaking and thought provoking.

I can't wait to pick up books 2 and 3 to see what becomes of Noa and her friends.

Thank you to Sarah Govett for sending me this copy for review.


Friday, 30 November 2018

Foam on the crest of waves by Silke Stein

Foam on the crest of waves is a book about a young girl, Abbie, who loses her mother to the sea and has never gotten over it. She develops an obsession with The Little Mermaid and vows to become a mermaid herself on her 15th birthday. Alongside Abbie are her family, who are also full of grief and struggling with memories and secrets from the past that they just can't bear to talk about for fear of snapping the already frayed thread that holds the family together.

The cover of the book is stunning and the writing inside does not disappoint. This book had my heart right from chapter one. We are thrown straight into the heartbreaking scene of Abbies mother being taken by the sea. While it is devastating to read and a shock to the system to start a story on such a sad, sad note, Silke somehow manages to turn it into something hauntingly beautiful and poetic

The chapters alternate between different characters which I love. I love seeing the same events told from different perspectives. Each perspective offers a new spin on the story or an extra nugget of infomation with the power to add that seed of doubt or confirm what I was already thinking...

Foam on the crest of waves tackles the subject of grief, the ways in which different people deal with grief and the lasting effect it has on not only the person grieving but also their friends and family. For example Abbies behaviour at times comes across as odd or delusional and causes her family a great deal of worry however when seen from Abbies point of view it is all perfectly reasonable

Silke Stein has the most amazing descriptive skills. Not only can she turn a devastating scene into something beautiful, she was also able to make me laugh with her accurate observations. One of the characters has a black pug who is described as a wingless bat with weight issues. I have a black pug and this totally a true representation of my pug and I'd say pugs in general and really made me chuckle. Also in the land of Silke Stein, phones buzz on tables like angry wasps! I just love her use of language.

I'd definitely recommend this book. I loved the references to the little Mermaid and during Abbies chapters it almost felt like a Little Mermaid retelling in reverse. It's a beautiful book, beautifully written and it's just beautful through and through! 

Many thanks to Silke Stein for sending me this book to review.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Men Without Women - Review

Men Without Women

The vast amounts of high praise for Murakami’s unique writing style compelled me to pick up his book and see what the fuss was all about and my gosh, it blew my mind. As a newcomer to his work I didn’t know what to expect which is just as well, because the seven short stories included in this book are like no other story I have ever read.

The first story is Drive my Car. There is no plot. The story is mostly a conversation between Kafka, an actor still mourning the death of his wife, and his female driver Misaki. We listen to him open up about his relationship with his wife, how she had multiple affairs during their many years together and how he had to watch her die from the terrible illness that is cancer. Despite knowing his wife was seeing other men, he never once discussed this with her. He never let on that he knew and he never asked her why. Now he must forever live with the grief, the pain and the unanswered questions. 

I felt quite relieved once the story was over. Not because I didn’t enjoy it. Because reading the story made me feel like I was actually there, with Kafka, in the car. I felt like I was eavesdropping on deeply personal conversation. I wanted to quietly exit the car at the next set of lights and leave him to grieve in peace. 

I closed the book and just sat for a while, thinking. Going over what Kafka had said. Why didn’t he ever confront his wife? Was he frightened of what she would say? Was it easier for him to pretend it wasn’t happening and still have his wife rather than confront her and risk losing her? Had he confronted her and lost her, he would have at least had closure. Now he had lost her anyway and would forever be haunted by the what ifs and whys.

These questions and more swam around my head. Drive my car had given me no satisfactory conclusion and I needed to clear my head of all the thoughts and feelings the story had filled me with before I could even think about moving on to the next.

After reading the next couple of stories I noticed a pattern. None of the stories have a plot. Nothing much ever happens yet I couldn’t tear myself away for fear of missing the big reveal, which never ever came. Each and every time I would finish a story, switch off the light and just lay there, sleep eluding me because I had a heart full of mixed up feelings and a head full of questions I would never know the answers to.

Half way through we get to An Independent Organ. The story is about fifty-two-year-old Dr Tokai told from the perspective of his gym partner. He is a cosmetic surgeon who has never been married, never had children and is quite happy to live alone, believing that he isn’t suited for married life. Dr Tokai chooses to have relations with women who were either married or already in a relationship. He feels more at ease knowing these women are unlikely to be seeking long term relationships or anything too meaningful from him.

“But one day, quite unexpectedly, he fell deeply in love. Like a clever fox suddenly finds itself caught in a trap”

The story follows his struggle with the feelings of love, his devastation when just as he feared he loses the only woman he ever loved and how his theory that all women have an independent organ which allows them to lie without any change in their voice or expression because it is not them, it’s their independent organ.

Now hang on a minute Dr Tokai…. Yes, I accept that women lie. I have lied in my lifetime and I’ll probably lie again. But surely you don’t mean to say that only women lie? Do men not have an independent organ too? Do men never lie

Once again, I’m laid in bed, light off, thoughts whizzing round in my head. I was still smarting after the independent organ theory. And anyway, Dr Tokai is a man who deliberately sought out dishonest women to have relations with. Would it really have been such a surprise that the woman eventually left him for a third? Why was he so frightened to go out and find real love, with a woman who was free to love him back without any complications? Oh man… I could go on for days. 

This is what Murakamis stories do to me. They give me more questions than they do answers. The stories have layers upon layers and I’m never quite sure how I’m supposed to interpret them. There are multiple ways his stories can be interpreted, and I feel like this was Murakamis intention.

He draws you in, waits until you’re invested then flips everything upside down and inside out and leaves you to make of it what you will. 

Men without women is not for everyone. Some might say the stories are dull. I might even agree. It’s the layers. I wanted peel away each one and get to the true meaning of the story. I don’t feel I came anywhere close, which is why I’ll probably read them all again. This book is like an itch, the more I scratch, the more it itches. Yet I keep on scratching

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Killer Affair - Book Review

Killer affair

Whether we like it or not, reality TV is big business

Reality TV in my eyes is a load of trash. That doesn’t change the fact that if I happen to be unlucky and catch an episode of Big Brother by accident, the next two months of my life are over. I get sucked in. There’s no point in fighting it, it’s just a fact of life. And don’t even talk to me about I’m a Celebrity….

So, if like me, you can’t stop watching reality TV shows even though you probably hate every celebrity on them, Killer Affair is the book for you. 

The story follows sexy Lexy, a footballers wife and reality TV Queen. There is nothing this woman wouldn’t do to stay in the public eye. She is forever courting the press and pulling off publicity stunts

Dowdy blogger Carline has been drafted in to ghost write Lexys autobiography. She is being paid peanuts shadow Lexy, get to know her and learn the tricks of the trade so that she can mimic her tone for the book. Caroline dreams of writing a book of her own one day. She longs to earn enough money be able to escape the dilapidated terraced house she shares with 4 other people. Could ghost writing for Lexy could be the big break she’s been waiting for?

Caroline soon learns that the most important person in Lexys life is Lexy. She has the perfect life, the perfect husband, the perfect house and Caroline thinks she needs to be brought down a peg or two.

It quickly becomes clear that Caroline’s plans go way beyond bringing Lexy down a peg or two. Caroline wants what Lexy has, the house and the fame and most of all Lexys husband Frank and she plans on using Lexys own tricks against her to get exactly that. Poor Frank is stuck in the middle and with both women being as cunning as they come, it’s not surprising that he hasn’t got a clue what’s really going on.

This book is full of revenge, bitchiness, fake friendships and steamy sex scenes. There may even be a few celebrities in this book that you recognise – names have been changed obviously!
I am fully aware that this book is a work of fiction but I have a sneaky suspicion that one or two reality tv stars could well read this and tell us that the truth isn’t that far off. 

Rebecca Chance’s writing had the same effect on me as a reality TV show. It had me well and truly hooked. Almost every character was vile and the worse they became the more I wanted to see of them. My opinion of each character changed from chapter to chapter, just like it does from episode to episode on a reality TV show. And when the story ended I was relieved to return to my ordinary life, with my ordinary friends and ordinary job, only this time I didn’t have to look at their faces on the cover of gossip magazines for weeks on end!!

This book was a giveaway win from the Trip Fiction Facebook page.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman I read Bird Box over the space of two days. Everyone was talking about the Netflix film which I was dying to ...