Review: The Good Girl (By Fiona Neill)

Review: The Good Girl (By Fiona Neill)

A dark and captivating read, The Good Girl is a novel all about the secrets we keep, those that get out and the ones that end up tearing us apart.

Written by Fiona Neill, this book promises to give us a dark story with lots of drama and destruction, but is it all that?

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Plot

This story focuses on a high schooler called Romy, who happens to be the ‘good girl’ of her family, but this isn’t the case for much longer. The secrets that her family keeps soon start to come to light, and this causes Romy to change and become that little bit rebellious. Now, I could see this kind of situation happening from a mile away and wasn’t at all surprised, but it was still really compelling and I just had to read on because it all happens at a great pace that manages to trap you beautifully.

Shortly after the first chapter, we are given the introduction of new characters. They provided the perfect fuel for Romy’s family’s quiet fire, and soon this fire is spouting out drama and threatens to destroy the perfect appearance that her family were trying to convey. Secrets were coming out/resurfacing and I loved it! Romy’s damaged family managed to put Romy in a good light, but soon even Romy herself is going to be involved in something so shocking and unbelievable that it threatens to put her in a bad light. The scenes that played out were amazing but all so predictable, and sometimes I thought it was a little exaggerated. Despite this, the drama was something that reflected actual events that happen in real life, so I was happy that Fiona Neill brought these to light.

Plot Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Romy is the main character for this story, and it’s told from her POV (Point of  view). From the moment I first looked upon the sentences that were written, I knew she was completely set on her feelings for everyone around her. That is a fact until she meets her new neighbours. I have to say though, I didn’t like her at first because she seemed so confident of her thoughts and of everyone else, and this made her come across as a judgemental girl. Throughout the story however, she slowly becomes less judgemental and because of the secrets that come out, she changes her views of certain people. Even so, I still didn’t like her. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but she’s just a bit of an over-confident teenager who puts herself first before anyone else.

As for the Romy’s family and the neighbouring family/other characters, I found them to be interesting as each had their own secret, but those secrets were pretty easy to guess, therefore it slightly dulled the excitement that was yet to come.

As for the neighbouring family, they have a young son called Jay, who also happens to be Romy’s age and attends her school. Jay is your average teenager who is desperate to explore the female body and well…I won’t spoil but I wasn’t surprised when I found out his secret. He soon becomes a part of her life, but that is exactly when the fuel is added to her family’s fire. The more interaction that occurs between herself and Jay, the more the fire builds up and soon will cause chaos to both families.

Character Rating: 2½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

This whole story is full of revelations, but unsurprisingly they were easy to guess. Both families have their fair share of secrets and dark sides, but they were so predictable and a little too fictional that it wasn’t exciting. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read and definitely gripping, but not to the point that I was in love.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, it was a good read which undoubtedly started off great but soon became too wild and unrealistic and sadly I found the ending of the book disappointing, and frankly felt underwhelmed with the build up of events leaving you feeling whether you actually liked it or not.

Overall Rating: 3 + 2½ + 2 = 7½ out of 10 Stars

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For more The Good Girl reviews and any information, visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24728721-the-good-girl

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Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four (By George Orwell)

Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four (By George Orwell)

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a politically themed dystopian book written by George Orwell, and is centred on a controlled Socialist society in the UK that answers to the Inner Party and their leader, Big Brother.

I had heard a lot about this book and how good it was, thus I decided to read it and see for myself. What did I think though? Read on to find out!

NOTE: This is a simple review. I will only be looking at how good the plot was, how good the characters were and whether it was hooking or not. I wasn’t going to read between the lines and try to get right under the words because I felt it was more effort for a book I was reading for enjoyment.

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Plot

The story starts off pretty simple. We’re introduced to our main character waking up from bed, going through their morning routine and then see the rest of their day play out, as well as what goes through their head. This kind of introduction was mediocre to me because of how ordinary it was, but I still wanted to read on to see what else happened.

Unsurprisingly, once I was out of the introductory part, I was greeted with more information about the society/party. Newspeak words and ministries were being explained, and as much as it was intriguing, I began to forget the words shortly afterwards. Whenever they popped up I couldn’t be bothered to learn what they meant again. It sounds lazy, but when you’re trying to find enjoyment out of a story, you don’t want to have to keep going back to an index to remind you what ‘Ingsoc‘ means.

Aside from the words and sentences that required effort and deep reading to understand, I thought that the rest story was definitely entertaining, with some parts a little scary, especially if you imagined it to be a reality. Citizens were expected to show no emotion and to have little interaction with anyone, and if the Inner Party saw any suspicious behaviour, then they would go after you. The amount of party power and the constant observation of the Outer Party citizens was just unnerving, but at some points I wanted something exciting to happen because it was the same old thing that was the looming over the characters. The fear was annoying, and I welcomed any other emotion or feeling that wasn’t fear. I understand that it was trying to portray realistic behaviours and actions from such a society and its’ people, but with my kind of taste, I wanted some sparks and was a little disappointed.

Plot Rating: 1½ out of 4 Stars

Characters

Winston Smith is the main character in this story, alongside Julia (who is introduced later in the book). There were no immediate thoughts or feelings about Winston, but as I read on a little bit, I thought that he was an average Joe who just wanted to get through the day like most people. This made him a relatable character in my eyes because everyone would do what he did and secretly hold a hatred for the Inner Party whilst retaining a submissive exterior. Additionally, it was later made clear that he was a little bit old (perhaps 40’s/50’s) and had little muscle mass, therefore I pictured him as a skinny ageing male. This image of the character actually made me like Winston a bit more because it wasn’t the typical description the comes with most main character’s and I liked that. He was someone who just wanted to feel emotions freely and think freely without worrying about consequences, but in the end the cost of freedom would ruin him.

As for Julia, I thought she was a strong character who was important in the character development of Winston because of the ‘don’t care’ she emitted when around him. She was a woman who wasn’t scared and maintained a confidence that helped Winston with his weariness about going against the Inner Party’s rules. Although at times I thought she was cold towards Winston, I understood her reason for not feeling an attachment. In such a controlled and scary society, little things could have big repercussions.

Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Honestly, I wasn’t hooked. The story was slow when it came to new developments in the character’s life, and because the politics was so powerful, you couldn’t really enjoy it. The book is interesting, but it doesn’t have any surprises or anything spectacular hiding within the pages.

Grip Rating: ½ out of 2 Stars

Overall, I thought that Nineteen Eighty-Four was an interesting book but could only be fully enjoyed by those with a strong passion for politics. It is the centre and over powering theme that makes this book so famous, and the scary thing about the story is that it is so easy to visualise that it seems such a society could occur overnight.

Overall Rating: 1½ + 3 + ½ = 5 out of 10 Stars

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For more Nineteen Eighty-Four reviews and any information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5470.1984

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

The Essex Serpent is a novel of historical fiction written by Sarah Perry, who happens to be an Essex native herself. Her inspiration for this story comes from the legend of the serpent, whereby it is said to have lurked in Essex waters in the past, but who really knows, for a legend is forever a mystery…

So, what about this novel? Well, it’s set in the late 1800’s and is centred around Ms Cora Seabourne. Who is she? Well, keep on reading to find out!

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Plot

The first thing I noticed whilst starting to read this book was the style of writing. It was the type that you’d find in books written in the 1800’s, and I found this to be a great fit. It made me feel like I was reading a classic book, and I loved it. And it’s not just the style of writing that made me like this book, but the layout too. The use of letters and journal entries gave an even deeper insight to the characters thoughts, adding a greater understanding and a plot with depth. With everything that was happening, I could never guess what was going to happen next, and sometimes I was and wasn’t surprised.

Additionally, the plot is rich in detail, with descriptions of scenes and the environment written in a way I could picture them perfectly. The personalities of characters made it easier to imagine what they would have worn and what kind of decor they would have in their house or in their hotel room. With such clear and vibrant descriptions, I was able to have a vibrant imagination.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cora Seabourne is a widow and our leading lady, and I have to be honest here…I love her! She’s unlike any Victorian lady I’ve read in classic books. She’s boystrous, outlandish and does not care about what she looks like, and I found her so refreshing. The only sad thing I noticed about her was that she acted the way she did because her marriage to her deceased husband was an unhappy one. It is hinted that she was on the receiving end of domestic abuse, therefore I concluded she found happiness in being free and not really caring about her character around other people. Even so, she came across as a strong character who only desired love, and I felt for her.

As well as Cora, there were others who occasionally took to the main stage, such as Reverend William Ransome and Dr Luke Garrett. Luke was a character I liked and disliked, but I enjoyed reading his little story because he had such strong affection towards Cora that edged on obsessive and it made me feel excited for what lay ahead. As for William, I found him to be a simple character who slowly began to question his faith once Cora came into the picture, but still he stayed true to who he was despite his urges and I liked this element. He questioned Evolution, but still considered it alongside his beliefs, and I found this kind of progression to be realistic to what would have happened to those in the late 1800’s who questioned faith over fact. Will’s character, and others, were just as important as Cora was because they allowed character progression and change, which was an exciting prospect.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Upon beginning this book, I found that I was already a little gripped just by learning about Cora and what was happening. It wasn’t excitement that enticed me to read on, but rather curiosity. Things were already in motion once I started to read, and I wanted to know more. Once I was in the depths of this book, I realise that this story is not one that you read because of the main title, but because of the exploration that the characters go through, between themselves and their surroundings. The Essex Serpent is only a small portion of this story, with the characters and their lives being perhaps more interesting than the myth.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, The Essex Serpent is a satisfying read that I highly recommend to those with a taste for the old tales of mystery and unique love. It is packed with such detail that you dare not rush the book in fear of forgetting what happened in the previous sentence/page/chapter. The serpent itself is a mystery, and during this story I kept asking myself ‘What’s going to happen next’ and ‘Is there really a serpent in the Essex Blackwater River?’ Well, now I know. Now you MUST find out for yourself!

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

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For more The Essex Serpent reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075861-the-essex-serpent

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

Review: Curtain Call (By Anthony Quinn)

Review: Curtain Call (By Anthony Quinn)

Curtain Call is a novel written by Anthony Quinn and is set in the streets of 1930’s London where murders are being committed by the ‘Tie-Pin Killer’. Within this book we are also introduced to various characters who soon become entwined by the events that occur, and may slowly but unknowingly become in danger themselves.

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Plot

I’d never encountered a story that was set in the 1930’s, so I was really excited to see what it had it store for me. The first feature I noticed was the amount of detail, which I found was perfect, especially when describing the environment. It offered just enough to be able to visualise it and imagine it as if I a part of the environment too, and I really enjoyed this.

Additionally, the use of bars made the plot rich in detail as almost all of the characters frequented bars and had a life aside from wondering who the Tie-Pin Killer was and when they were going to strike next. If anything, the murders made up 50% of the story and the characters lives made up the other half. However, the murders were the most least interesting thing, until it affected one of the characters first hand later in the book. At that point, it got really exciting, but then it went a bit boring and sadly, I finished the book at little disgruntled.

Plot Rating: 2½ out of 4 Stars

Characters

There a 4 main characters within this book, each with their own story that slowly becomes one big story. Usually, when there a numerous characters, I tend to forget who is who and what their story is, but the writing and plot is successful in having unique characters that are easily memorable, and for that I applaud Anthony Quinn.

I’ll be honest and say that I preferred some characters and their stories over others, such as Madeline’s. Despite this however, I found each character unique and captivating in their own way, with Erksine’s quirkiness and Nina’s confidence offering a nice change of scene at each chapter.

Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Grip

With a rich plot and diverse characters, you’d think this book was hooking, but it isn’t. Sadly, the pace doesn’t quite go well with the plot, and you have to wait for a few chapters till something good happens, and I found this a little laborious. Furthermore, the good parts happen in the middle of the story, which was a little disappointing to realise at the end because I expected drama and thriller to occur throughout, not in a cluster.

Grip: ½ out of 2 Stars 

Overall, Curtain Call is nice read, but only if you’re out of other books to read. It’s quite an effort to read and I almost felt like not finishing it, that is until I reached the middle of the story and found the scenes exciting, only to be left dissatisfied once I’d finished the whole story.

Overall Rating: 2½ + 3 + ½ = 6 out of 10 Stars

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For more Curtain Call reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24909848-curtain-call

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….

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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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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