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

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

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

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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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

 

Review: The Widow (By Fiona Barton)

Review: The Widow (By Fiona Barton)

The Widow is a thriller novel written by Fiona Barton, and is considered a great read for Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train fans (although I would disagree…).

Jean Taylor’s husband hid a secret, and once he died, the media were all over her and asking questions. Could their suspicions be true? Did Jean know what her husband did? There’s no reason to stay quiet anymore. People want to hear her story. She can now tell them the secrets that haunted her, and others.

For a thriller book, can I really say it’s thrilling? Well, let’s find out.

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Plot

The story is centred around Jean Taylor, a recent widow, and goes back and forth between the present and before her husband died. Their relationship is the classic type we see in lots of books, whereby there were fireworks and love at the start and then it just fizzled out in the end. As a reader, I wanted to know why her husband was so important to her as they never really talked, and why he had an impact on the story despite his absence. This is something that soon became clear, but it wasn’t something that shocked me. Instead, I said ‘Oh. Okay’, which wasn’t how I wanted to react. A thriller should make you gasp in disbelief and make you feel excited, but because it was something quite predictable from early on, it was quite a let down.

As I had reached the climax of the story, I honestly wasn’t surprised. At all. Therefore I can only use one word to describe the whole plot: disappointing.

Plot Rating: 1 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Jean is the main character in this novel, but she is completely dull. She lacked any real character, and the only thing that made me interested in her was her secret scrapbook she kept. She didn’t offer much to the story as it was based on her husband’s actions, and she had to deal with the consequences. But even when she dealt with the media and all that was bad, she didn’t do anything. She was idle, and didn’t bother being at least argumentative or defensive, which made me frustrated. All she did was tell the story. That was it.

There are other characters, such as the husband and journalist, but they were just as bland too. The husband, when he was alive, just hid away in his room and didn’t do anything else. He was only mysterious because he was the one that did something very bad, but even then it was easy to tell what he was doing. As for the journalist, she wasn’t very different from your average nosy journalist, and all she did was help Jean reveal all.

Character Rating: 1 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I will admit that I kept reading the story because I wanted to see how the secret would unfold and whether there was anything that was shocking, but I was letdown.

Rather than being gripping, it felt necessary to read on just to see how everything turned out and what Jean would do once she confessed everything.

Grip Rating: 1 out of 2 Stars

In all, it was a very boring and unsatisfying read that I will not be returning to in the future. I do not believe it can compare to The Girl on the Train, and doing so is a mistake. You can pretty much guess the story line, but there is no element of surprise or even suspense, which would have been very welcome.

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

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For more The Widow reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25734248-the-widow

Review: Ketchup Clouds (By Annabel Pitcher)

Review: Ketchup Clouds (By Annabel Pitcher)

Ketchup Clouds is a book written by Annabel Pitcher, who also wrote the famous novel ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’. I had first heard about this book at school, where my Year 11 English Teacher saw a fellow classmate reading it and had told the class how good it was, recommending us to read it. I ended up getting it at a bookstore, and thought that if my English Teacher was recommending it then it must be good.

The story revolves around a girl who has committed a dreadful act. Murder. But then one day she hears of a criminal called Stuart Harris, who is locked up on death row in Texas. Here she finds solace through writing to him, and telling him her story.

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Plot

The plot of this book is written in the form of letters, and I instantly thought this was a nice touch. Rather than our main character just going through the story, it felt like she was TELLING us, as though we were the person on death-row she was writing to. Her re-telling of events was gradual and Zoe went through each interaction and relationship in detail, right up to the murder, which made it flow nicely. Additionally, I found that I had begun to feel emotional for characters and the scenes that played out, making me feel angry for some and sad for others. These feelings made me admire the storytelling more, and because there wasn’t a fairy tale ending, it made it all the more emotional and I actually felt that the end provided unusual closure that was fitting for this plot.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Zoe is the main character in this book, therefore we only saw her side of the story (99.9% of it anyway), however this was a positive feature because we got to see the journey she took from being romantically involved with people, creating great memories, and then eventually murdering someone.

This rocky road made me feel for Zoe, and I really thought that the writing style allowed total immersion, therefore I was committed to reading more and more to really understand what made Zoe finally burst.

There are other characters present in this story, but there was only one other person who took centre stage. At the end of Zoe’s story, there was another page with a ‘letter’ that was written from Aaron, and was addressed to an ‘Alice’. Aaron was a contributing character to Zoe’s murderous act, but his character was one that I didn’t feel any hate for. In fact, I had felt sympathy for both him and Zoe (or was it really ‘Alice’? Zoe was the fake name our main character used, so it may be safe to assume her real name was Alice), and I really liked his letter because it provided closure for the story and showed me that not all tales are either sad or happy, but can be a mix of both.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

The very first page was something that I found humorous, I knew that this was going to be a book I would end up enjoying! Despite not having thriller themes or anything that murder usually takes place in, Ketchup Clouds offers something different to get hooked on, mixing ordinary circumstances regarding teens alongside ones that are not typically found in such YA novels.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, I am glad that this was recommended to me as a 16-year-old, as it offered me a story that I could easily use as transition material to better understand and read novels with crime and murder in them. It is not a love story, nor is it crime, but it is unique and I was thoroughly entertained.

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

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If you’re interested in more Ketchup Clouds reviews and information, click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11088150-ketchup-clouds

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts (By M.R. Carey)

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts (By M.R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts is a novel written by M.R.Carey, and is the first in his series that centres around an apocalyptic future.

As well as writing this well received novel, M.R.Carey is also responsible for writing Lucifer (DC Comics) and is currently the ongoing writer of the X-Men Legacy comic book series.

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Plot

The story centres around Melanie, a child who is kept in a facility amongst others like her who are special. These children are kept in chairs, tied and unable to properly move, and we are told it is for others safety. Now, I know what might be going through your mind, but trust me, it isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m not going to spoil what the main theme is here, but I will tell you that when I read the first few chapters, they really fascinated me. I didn’t fully understand what was going on, therefore I wanted to keep reading because I was excited to further learn what in the world was going on!

I realised further into the story that the basis was apocalyptic, and I’m not usually a fan of these kind of stories, but I was really enjoying this one. Each chapter had me hooked, and a few scenes left me on edge a couple of times! There were also a few nail-biting instances but they kept me excited!

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Melanie is the star of this novel, and I found her to be a such a lovely character that I had so much admiration for. Stuck in the middle of it all, Melanie is confused as to what is going on, and why the military are so scared of her. Her and the other children are in their care, but once events start to take a turn for the worst, Melanie realises what’s going on.

Additionally, we’re all familiar with apocalyptic stories, so it comes as no surprise that our main character is accompanied. Sergeant Eddie Parks and Helen Justineau are the two adults that travel with Melanie through out this story, and it is made clear that they’re very different people. Despite this, they come together for the sake of Melanie. Both of the adults worked at the facility where Melanie and the other children were kept, but Helen had a special bond with Melanie, acting as a mother figure during this whole story. As for Sergeant Eddie, I felt that his military teachings controlled him, but now and again he considered other options and by the middle of the story, I found that he had changed a little bit, and definitely for the better.

Character Rating: 3½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

From the very first page to the very last, The Girl with All the Gifts was ABSOLUTELY GRIPPING! The story fuelled my curiosity to find out more, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, I am so glad I picked up this book! It was such an epic read with a brilliant plot line that made me keep flipping through the pages until I had to sleep because sunlight was peeking from behind my bedroom curtains!

(As I found this book utterly incredible, I plan to read the follow up novel in the not-so-distant future, so watch out!)

Overall Rating: 4 + 3½ + 2 = 9½ out of 10 Stars

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If you’re interested in more The Girl with All the Gifts reviews and information, click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

In addition to this, if you want to learn more about the second book in this series, titled ‘The Boy on the Bridge’, click the following link: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-boy-on-the-bridge/m-r-carey/9780356503530