Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Extraordinary Means is a Young Adult novel that tells the story of Lane, who suffers from a strain of tuberculosis which has no cure. He is sent to a facility that is part school and part hospital whereby he bumps into a familiar face, and finds himself making new friends and falling in love, but Lane doesn’t realise that his world will slowly start to fall apart sooner rather than later….

extraordinary-means-9781471115486_hr

Plot

The whole story takes place around Lane and his friends at the half school-half hospital facility, and I found that it flowed really nicely. I never felt confused about what was going on and always found myself entertained, whereby I was either wiping a tear away, smiling or/and laughing.

The actions and emotions of characters within the story were understandable, and I felt that I could connect with each character in each situation, even though I can’t relate to them in regards to health. The connection made it easier to feel emotional for characters and I loved it. There was so much humour that balanced well with sadness, and I welcomed this happily.

Overall, the plot was consistent and I liked that TB was never out of the picture, but rather it in lurked in the background and pounced when you least expected it, sometimes mildly and sometimes severe. TB was the reason these teens were in the facility, and that’s one thing that Robyn Schneider doesn’t let sink into the black abyss.

Aside from the TB, the story is packed full of intrigue, youthfulness and hope, and I really enjoyed every page and chapter, savouring each sentence and really thinking about the actions of characters and the events that unfold.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

If not made obvious already, Lane is the main character in Extraordinary Means. My feelings towards Lane were not negative at all, because he was actually my favourite character. At the beginning, I had no immediate thoughts about Lane, but progression into the story made me realise that Lane is your average guy (with an incurable strain of TB) who just wants to left in peace, and I can definitely relate. That is the case, until he sees a girl in the cafeteria who looks awfully familiar. Her name is Sadie and she has definite negative feelings towards Lane, until she actually gets to know him and becomes his friend. I found that the addition of friends to Lane’s character really brought him out of his shell, and I quite liked seeing him open up and become more comfortable with his environment and make the most out of what time he has left.

Now, this next thing was something I saw coming from a mile away, and that was the love that blossomed between Lane and Sadie. The beautiful thing about it was that Sadie made Lane realise that their TB wasn’t going to go away, and that this offered an opportunity that live life as you wanted within the time that was left. She was all about second chances, although I did find her version of enjoyment distasteful. She was set on the thought that alcohol was the way to go, and I thought that other ventures could have been used as a better way of enjoying themselves. Despite this, I thought Lane’s friends were a welcome addition to the story, and the love and sadness that they brought really changed them and the story to a degree that made everything quite sweet.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I think the fact that I read this book in 5 days says a lot about how hooking this was! Humorous, heartbreaking and utterly inspiring, Extraordinary Means takes hold of your heart by the first page and doesn’t let you go till you’re finished. The main message that is embedded throughout this story is about second chances and the realisation of how much time we really have to do the things we love, and I found this beautifully motivational.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, this novel is an extraordinary read and I would definitely recommend it. The youthful lust for excitement plus incurable TB really brings something to this story, and I think I know what it is – second chances.

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

tenor

 

For more Extraordinary Means reviews and information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23149128-extraordinary-means

Have you read Extraordinary Means? Let me know about your thoughts in the comment section below!

Review: Twisted (By Laurie Halse Anderson)

Review: Twisted (By Laurie Halse Anderson)

Twisted is a young adult novel written by Laurie Anderson and revolves around a high school senior called Tyler. Once an average student who faded into the background, he now stands out and attracts the attention of everyone, and this sets off a string of events that no one would see coming.

twisted

Plot

Considering it’s a YA novel, there’s no surprise that it centres around a high school student and his struggles with his home life and his social life. Even though this is the case, I found that Laurie made the most out of this common setting by adding the character’s change from being an average student to becoming a mature and strong teen. This transformation made the plot a lot more interesting because the main character introduced so much accidental drama which made his life a little worse but a bit more juicy. It’s just packed full of drama, romance, and heartbreak, enough to induce emotions for the main character and really allow you to feel immersed into the story.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Tyler Miller is in the spotlight within this story, and I have to say that he was a character I very much enjoyed reading. Tyler gains everyone’s attention because of his physique and his past actions that led him to become a ‘criminal’, but once he’s back at school and trying to be a better person, things are thrown at him that cause him to consider his place with his family, friends and the world. Every emotion that he felt, I felt too. The shock, the sadness and the anger all felt real, but Tyler wasn’t a character that most readers can relate too, so the fact that I felt emotional for Tyler made me feel strongly for the novel.

As for other character’s within this novel, all I felt was a dislike towards them. Tyler’s crush and bully only caused problems for Tyler, but I also felt that they offered Tyler the chance to develop even further as a person.

The bully always managed to put Tyler is a situation where it seemed he was the culprit, but I was happy to see further along in the story that karma made its’ way to the bully. As for Tyler’s crush, I couldn’t have cared less about her. She is a big character in how Tyler develops, but I knew from the start that her behaviour and actions would lead to Tyler learning to not fall for queen bees ever again. The fact that I disliked her also made me feel positive about the book because there were great villains within the story, and you really rooted for the main character.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I found that the plot didn’t really get exciting until you were introduced to Tyler’s crush and bully because all the real drama starts from there. As you read on, the drama unfolds further and it kept me reading on and on, whereby even more drama was going to occur. From this, I learned that every few pages would have Tyler reflecting on what just happened, dealing with it, then being introduced to a new bout of juicy stuff! All of the stuff that was going on kept me hooked, and I loved every single moment of it (from like…page 40 on-wards).

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, Twisted is a brilliant Young Adult novel but can be enjoyed by anyone of any age. It has a great plot line, a main character that you can really feel for, and is very much different from any other teenage book I’ve ever read.

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

thf

 

For more Twisted information and reviews, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/123106.Twisted

Review: The Girls (By Emma Cline)

Review: The Girls (By Emma Cline)

The Girls is a novel written by Emma Cline, and is based around the Manson Family. The Manson Family were a 1960’s cult where members lived together (Quasi-Commune) and ended up committed murders that eventually led to their downfall.

I’ll be honest here and say that I didn’t know that this book was based on a real life cult until I read the reviews. I started this book without the above knowledge, and this revelation changed my feelings a little bit for the story, so let’s see what I thought!

9780812988024

Plot

The Girls revolves around Evie, a bored 14-year-old Californian girl who becomes intrigued by the sight of a group of girls who dress in dirty clothes and have messy hair but do as they please. Evie later comes to know these girls better, but only because she bumps into one of them who Evie has a fascination for. Suzanne is her name, and for some reason Evie is just mesmerised by her.

I found that the introduction to Evie and her living day-to-day was quite ordinary (with some weird little tidbits) but there was missing something. There was no excitement in her life so it was easy to see why she was interested in this group of girls who seemed out-of-place, and why she was in awe of Suzanne. With dark hair and a messy appearance, Suzie was like an anomaly in Evie’s life, and Evie wanted to know more.

Additionally, Evie was a young teen therefore it was understandable to see why she wanted a change in her life with an older girl who was a part of something different to what Evie was used to. As she became a part of the cult, I began to enjoy the book a little bit more because I could see the eventual downfall that is common with all cults. There is always something dark, and this is seen throughout her experiences that are too mature for such a young teen. This and much more are what made the story compelling but also a little disturbing. Imagining a young teen and an older man made me vomit a little in my mouth (not literally) and I thought that despite the nastiness, they were a nice touch because of the cult theme.

Plot Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Evie is our main character, if not already made obvious, and I have to be honest here…she annoyed me a little bit. She was like a puppy dog with Suzanne, and acted quite needy when around her. The attention seeking was not blatant, but it was clearly there. I tried to imagine what goes on in the mind of a bored and lonely American teen girl, and I found that curiosity would probably get the best of her. I can’t relate to Evie myself, but I can say that Evie yearned for company, and the allure of a mature and unique girl made Evie feel something (possibly even down in her loins) and I looked forward to see what Evie would step into.

In the present (1990’s in the book), we get to see the effects of the cult lifestyle on Evie, despite the subtlety. She easily spots behaviour she once displayed in a young girl, and uses her knowledge to assume what kind of life they’re living and why. I admired an older Evie more than her younger self, but I still felt sympathy for a young Evie because of the situations she got caught up in where she didn’t have a real choice.

As for the mysterious Suzanne, I didn’t like her from the start. She was a cold, confident and unsympathetic girl, but I understood why Evie found her fascinating. She wasn’t like anyone else, and I felt that there was a hidden malice underneath all the dirty clothes. Despite this, she didn’t offer anything else to the story. I knew her character and what kind of actions she would commit, and I was a little disappointed because nothing about her was surprising. In actuality, nothing about Evie or Suzanne was surprising at all. Both characters were easy to understand, and it was no tough guess as to what their next moves would be.

Upon reflection, I now believe no character was complicated and each had their own personality but they were all pretty simple. No pops, no buzzes or electricity. Just simplicity.

Character Rating: 2½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

I found that The Girls was an exciting read and I enjoyed every page, but I wasn’t shocked by anything. The cult theme was what kept me reading, as I wanted to see what made the present Evie the way she was. Also, I was let down when I found out that the book is based on real events, as it meant that there wasn’t much effort into making more exciting and shocking scenes. The book is basically written for you if you base it on events, so the absence of anything riveting or utterly flabbergasting was just sad.

Grip Rating: 1 out of 2 Stars

In all, I found that this book was a good read and as I continued to read on and try to and understand everything, I realised I shouldn’t question it and just merely enjoy what was happening. The Girls isn’t surprising in any way, but it’s a nice read and worth a go at least once.

Overall Rating: 3 + 2½ + 1 = 6½ out of 10 Stars

not bad

 

For more The Girls reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26893819-the-girls

Monthly Book Buys – JULY

Monthly Book Buys – JULY

It’s July! The sun’s out, bees are pollinating and introverts like me are sitting inside and reading books! So let’s see what I got for the lovely month of July.

For this month (July ’17), I purchased the following books:

20170709_181920-1_mh1499621054275[1]

If you’re interested in learning about these books, then click the relevant links below:

Conclave (By Robert Harris) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29397486-conclave?ac=1&from_search=true

The Handmaid’s Tale (By Margaret Atwood) – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38447.The_Handmaid_s_Tale?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Reviews will be released within the year, so watch out!

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Cookie is a children’s novel written by Jacqueline Wilson, and is centred around a girl named Cookie who lives a very nice life on the surface, however it is not all that it seems.

I was actually gifted this book at 11 years old, but didn’t read it till I was 16. Since then, I have read it three times!

Cookiebookcover

Plot

The story starts off by introducing us to Cookie and her family, giving us descriptions to their looks and lifestyle. I found Cookie to be quite a lovely character, even though I was only a few pages into the book. She is a girl who loves animals, wants to be happy and wants to be in a loving family, but she also has the insecurities that come with almost every teenage girl. These realistic (and relatable) traits and behaviours made Cookie more real to me, and allowed me to develop sympathy and empathy for her (which is good!).

Reading further on, I found the story more enjoyable as it turned into an adventure that kept me hooked and wondering what was going to happen next. I got to see Cookie handling different situations and develop as a person, as well as to discover what it means to not look back.

Each chapter had me wanting more, and by the end I was really happy for Cookie and the happy ending.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cookie is our main character, and I must say that I really enjoyed seeing her become a strong girl after leaving home with her mum to start fresh. Cookie is shy with a soft heart, and that’s what I loved the most. Characters of Cookie’s age in other books tend to be confident, brash and a little rebellious, but Cookie is different. She opened up as the story went on, and by the end she was a strong character that I was happy for.

I would also like to mention Cookie’s mum, who I consider a main character as well considering she is the one who starts afresh with Cookie after leaving Cookie’s father. She is very much like Cookie, but her strength has always been present and she uses this to leave her husband in order to escape her unhappy life at home. Ultimately, I feel the same way about Cookie’s mum as I do about Cookie. Both are very likeable characters that really make something of themselves as they start a new life together.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Having read this book three times, I think it’s safe to assume it’s absolutely gripping!

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, I believe Cookie is an amazing book with a lovely story and a happy ending that leaves a satisfied smile on your face. Despite the target audience being 11 – 16, I believe everyone can enjoy this book. It’s an easy read and easily enjoyable, so pick this up when you see it!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

yas

 

For more Cookie reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3293749-cookie

 

Review: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (By Angela Carter)

Review: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (By Angela Carter)

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short fictional stories written by Angela Carter, and are all based on classic fairy tales and folk tales with a gory and sexual twist.

Angela has stated that her intention wasn’t to do different versions or make them ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from traditional stories and make them more known, which is why this book is studied within English Literature in the UK.

Despite this book being used as educational material, is it worth a read during your spare time? Let’s find out!

20493679

Plots

Each story is based on a fairy tale or folk tale of some sort, but they’re more sexual and scary than we’re used to. As explained earlier, Angela’s goal was only to make the latent content the core, and she did a good job at doing this because each story had me wanting more. The mature content was something I was drawn to because the stories were familiar but twisted, and this made them so riveting.

My favourite story was the first one called ‘The Bloody Chamber’. The characters and the setting were laid out amazingly so that it enabled easy visualisation, but also so you could easily read between the lines. This is another feature of the stories that I adored because it opened up my imagination and allowed for greater interpretations, and with detail like this, your imagination can be detailed too.

As for the other stories, they were uniquely written and I found some scenes made me squirm with disgust, but this is a positive note because it actually made me feel something! Stories are meant to reach deep into your emotions and bring up something, and this book and it’s stories excel at that.

Plot Rating: 3½ out of 4 Stars

Characters

Within each tale, we have a heroine/victim and a villain. The villain is always a male who may become good in the end or end up getting tricked/killed by the heroine, and I found this great because I always looked forward to what their fate was and whether their power would stay put or if it would be put down. Somehow they were also grotesque due to their hidden agendas and secret fascination with under age girls, but this is what made them so good as they made me really root for the heroine to do something to them and make them pay for their actions.

As for the Heroine/Victim, I always found that they tended to have a hidden strength that made them aware of their own power and how they don’t have to bend down to the villain, which I found awesome. These heroines are very different, and this is what made me admire them and their way of turning the tables.

Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I’ll be honest and say that I did skip two stories because their plot’s sounded rubbish, and I probably shouldn’t have but I did. Once I read ‘The Bloody Chamber’, my expectations were high. I wanted the other stories to be just as good, but I felt a few were just a bit boring, and hearing that two of the stories were a bit rubbish didn’t make my expectations any better. However, it was only two stories that I totally skipped, and I did enjoy the other stories, but just not as much as ‘The Bloody Chamber’.

Grip Rating: 1 out of 2 Stars

Overall, I found The Bloody Chamber to be a brilliant book full of familiar tales that challenged the rosy picture we’re used to with more dark content. The latent content that had been brought to the surface was such a refreshing read that changed how I viewed classic tales and made me realise that reading between the lines can really make your imagination run wild.

Overall Rating: 3½ + 3 + 1 = 7 out of 10 Stars

gfwegf

 

For more The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49011.The_Bloody_Chamber_and_Other_Stories