Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on The Codes of Love blog tour. It means an awful lot to me that you’re checking out this post – considering the state of the world at the moment I’m sure you have far more important things to…
Tag: book review
Oh boy, it’s already been over a month since I last posted. I wish I could say that things were going to start getting more frequent on here, but I can’t guarantee it!
Throughout the last month I’ve continued binge reading NetGalley books from many moons back, as well as picking up a few more recent titles too, so I have another set of rapid reviews for you.
I’ve got a few more post ideas bubbling away in the back of my mind at the moment, so ideally I’ll be writing those and getting those up soon, but if you’ve been missing my normal posts I’d suggest checking out my Goodreads page because I’m finding it much easier to update that more regularly.
Anyway, let me stop babbling and get on with reviewing these titles…
A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz – 1 star
I finished A History of Glitter and Blood yesterday and I’m still so exasperated that I wasted my time on it. I read an excerpt of this book about four years ago and I thought the writing style seemed so fun – it’s third person present tense, with regular interruptions as though the author is correcting themselves as they write – but after reading more than a couple of chapters it gets old very quickly. Gnomes eating chunks of fairy prostitutes, mysterious creatures called tightropers vomiting up ropes and trying to emancipate the fairies… Yeah, none of it makes sense, and it’s definitely not well written. The only good thing is that the pacing improves drastically in the second half of the book (I managed to read 50% in one day, after struggling through the first 50% over the course of a week or so).
The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay – 3 stars
The Assassin Game was nothing like I’d expected, in particular because it’s set on an island in Wales and is written as though it’s taking part in a generic American boarding school. A gang of kids play a game called Killer, but one of them decides that they don’t want it to be a game anymore and suddenly the players lives are at risk. I enjoyed the concept, but the Killer was very predictable – a couple of the red herrings would have been far more interesting choices, but instead the most obvious suspect ends up being the culprit, which took the wind out of my sails a little bit.
Me, Myself and Them by Dan Mooney – 5 stars
It was my partner’s choice for us to read Me, Myself and Them, which is a book I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own as I read far more YA than adult fiction. This was a case of right place, right time: it was EXACTLY the kind of book I needed to read, and it ticked absolutely every box. Denis lives with four roommates – a cat woman, a zombie professor, a controlling clown and a silent hairball – and he causes himself no end of trouble when he offers his spare room to his ex-girlfriend. This story tackles mental health in an interesting and unique way, and I’ve certainly read nothing else like it.
Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan – 4 stars
I’d heard so many amazing things about Needlework that I couldn’t resist picking up Perfectly Preventable Deaths when I spotted it on the new releases section of my library app. It’s not for the fainthearted – a scene at the end of the story is still haunting me despite the fact that I finished the book almost a month ago – and it certainly brings a gruesome element to witches and magic. The setting of Ballyfran is very atmospheric; you have to make sure you set aside a huge chunk of time when you pick this one up because it sucks you in and makes it impossible to put down.
This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow – 5 stars
I took my time reading This is What it Feels Like because I read Rebecca Barrow’s first novel, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, in one sitting. Dia, Hanna and Jules were band mates and best friends, until Hanna’s alcoholism spiralled out of control and Dia found herself becoming a single mother following the death of her boyfriend. Sprinkled with flashbacks to their previous time in a band, in the present day the three girls are learning how to forgive each other to enter a competition to possibly support their favourite band of all time. I didn’t love This is What it Feels Like as much as Barrow’s debut, but I still loved it more than basically everything else I’ve ever read so it had to be a five star read to me. Friendship, grief, parenthood, addiction, sexuality and music… It’s hard to think of a better set of elements to blend together.
That’s it for this set of Rapid Reviews! Have you read any of these books yet, or are they still sitting on your TBRs?
Hopefully see you again sooner rather than later,
I was extremely excited to see Monsters by Sharon Dogar on NetGalley, because I’ve been obsessed with Mary Shelley’s life since studying Frankenstein at university in 2017. Expecting a novelisation of her earlier years to bring to life all of the people I’ve studied so…
“I’m not just happy, Eff, I’m Happy Girl Lucky. People have always said that’s what I am, but I’ve never really understood the expression before… because why can’t boys be it too? But now it truly capsules me perfectly.”
Happy Girl Lucky introduces us to the Valentine siblings – Hope, Faith, Max and Mercy – children of Judith Valentine and Michael Rivers, one of the hottest celebrity couples around. But when news breaks that they’re getting divorced, Judith checks herself into a rehab facility and the kids are left to fend for themselves.
Hope, youngest of the gang, has been on the search for her leading man for as long as she can remember. Constantly playing out scenes in her mind – editing the lighting and angles and tweaking the script as she goes – she’s overjoyed when she meets Jamie, someone who’s finally worthy of acting opposite her in the film of her life.
Everything is perfect… Until Jamie has to fly home to California at the end of his holiday. Bummer. But if two people are really destined to be together, there’s no way that distance will keep them apart – and no one’s more determined than Hope Valentine to get their happy ending.
Happy Girl Lucky is the first Holly Smale book I’ve read so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t this. To go from writing a series called Geek Girl (about a super smart girl who’s also a model) to writing a book focused on an air-headed girl who thinks it’s ‘a doggy-dog world’? It’s a complete 180. I didn’t think Smale would decide to write such a vastly different character and it threw me to start with, because the narration feels more middle-grade than young adult.
I struggled through the first half of the book, because Hope is a very difficult character to read. She’s extremely naive and innocent (so naive that she’s verging on stupid) and I spent almost a quarter of every chapter rolling my eyes.
Hope completely misunderstands tons of popular idioms despite being corrected by multiple family members throughout the novel, because she just doesn’t seem to be interested in learning anything – she’s far more interested in fantasising rather than applying herself to anything other than her mental movies. I felt sorry for her teacher: he deserved a sainthood for putting up with her daydreaming for as long as he did!
Then Jamie comes along, and their whirlwind instalove romance makes the novel completely unpalatable. I considered abandoning ship, and I’m anti-DNFing so that shows how bad things got. However, you could tell something was going to go wrong and make the story more interesting, and when it eventually got there it became very satisfying.
Although it takes a while to get there, Happy Girl Lucky redeems itself towards the end of the novel. Bits had me giggling instead of groaning, because as you get used to Hope it’s easier to take everything she says with a pinch of salt. To some extent, her air-headed attitude is a persona that she’s putting on to fit in with other people’s expectations of her (a cross between a security blanket and a shield). It’s Hope’s way of protecting herself from the badness in every day life by pretending her life is a classic romance film and the happy ending is 100% guaranteed.
This might be a story about a relationship, but the moral is how important it is to have a good relationship with yourself above everyone else. As Hope learns to stop living in her dreamworld and to embrace every emotion – not just happiness – she develops into a far more interesting character.
I don’t want to give too much away, because this book has only been out for a few weeks, but I will say that one of the best parts of the book is Hope’s reaction to Roz. She thinks Roz is her father’s assistant, but when she realises who she actually is she reacts maturely: that was the moment when I knew I liked Hope a lot more than I thought I did, and I couldn’t resist bumping the book up to four stars.
If I’m right, Happy Girl Lucky is the first book in a trilogy – the other two novels focusing on Hope’s sisters, Mercy and Faith – and I’m looking forward to picking up the other two books when they’re released. The three sisters are polar opposites, and it’ll be interesting to see Holly Smale’s writing style change throughout the Valentines series.
Perfect for fans of Holly Bourne’s It Only Happens in the Movies, I’d recommend picking up Happy Girl Lucky if you want to read a fun contemporary but you’re tired with the end goal always being a relationship.
Effie Kostas is new at school and she’s struggling to fit in. She’s intelligent and confident, but she feels basically invisible until she gets into an argument with Aaron Davis – Student Council President – when he abuses his lunch pass privilege to buy the…
Twenty years ago, Sammy Went was taken from her home in Manson, Kentucky. She’s now a photography teacher called Kim Leamy, living in Australia, completely unaware of her forgotten past until her long-lost brother Stuart tracks her down. Flying back to America, Kim and Stuart…
After Shane Ferrick dies in suspicious circumstances, rumours point the finger of blame in a few different directions. At the party where Shane was last seen alive, Juniper, Gavin and Brett all did terrible things to him, and everyone knows Parker hated Shane after he stole his girlfriend, Ruby.
When the five involved in his death are invited to a murder mystery dinner to compete for a scholarship, darker forces are at play. Trapped in a house with Doll Face, knowing one of them is the mysterious Ringmaster behind it all, only one thing is certain: they aren’t all going to survive this night. Revenge is deadly.
I’m going to come straight out and say it: This Lie Will Kill You is one of the worst books I’ve ever read.
I’m not kidding.
Marketed as a cross between Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, this story has a lot more in common with Cluedo (except it’s nowhere near as fun).
The reasons I disliked this book are endless.
The creepy house stuffed with secrets is reminiscent of the more melodramatic moments of Pretty Little Liars, but at least the people in that show feel like realistic teenagers. Every single character in This Lie Will Kill You is an over-dramatised and completely inauthentic portrayal, and I hated all of them equally.
There’s the instalove between Ruby and Shane, who meet in the corridor at school on his first day, slow dance to some kid’s ringtone and have a deep and meaningful chat in the middle of the night a couple of days later when Ruby sneaks in through his window.
Shane himself is the most pretentious character I’ve ever had the displeasure to read on the page, going on about sand and pyramids and gods and blegh. The way he talks to Ruby is so cringey – honestly, if anyone tried to give me the nickname ‘strawberry’ I’d probably punch them in the face – and if anyone genuinely believes that their relationship is #goals then I’m seriously concerned. I wouldn’t have been sad if all of the characters died and joined him, because none of them have any redeeming features.
There are unnecessary almost-romances sprinkled all over the place, too. Gavin and Juniper are obviously both attracted to each other, but instead of talking about it they wait until the least appropriate moment to make their move. It’s also hinted that Juniper is in love with Ruby – because, come on, who in this novel isn’t in love with Ruby – but it feels more like queerbaiting than any legitimate exploration of bisexuality. Then there’s Brett, who treats Parker like a brother for the majority of the novel… And then is suddenly revealed to be in love with him? Sure, sure.
If you’ve read any of Chelsea Pitcher’s other novels and would recommend them, please let me know. I can see that her writing has potential – it’s lyrical at the start of the book, with the first 100 pages being tightly woven and gripping, and I genuinely thought this was going to be a huge success – but it becomes far too over the top very fast.