Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: two star review

Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

Review: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

‘When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared. At the time I thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.’ It’s hard to share my thoughts on The Taking of Annie Thorne without getting […]

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

When Saffron discovers a briefcase in the attic of her family home, she discovers that her father has lied to her. Ten years ago, he told her that her mother was dead, but she’s alive and out there somewhere and Saffron is determined to find […]

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery.

Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know, but her twin brother, Chance, has other ideas. He gets his hair dyed pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, and soon enough the entire school are planning to get their hair dyed in solidarity.

Well, the entire school except Josephine, who would never want to be the centre of attention.

My main issue with Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas is that the ages of the characters don’t ring true. Josephine reads as though she’s either seven or eight, while Chance seems more like an older brother than a twin. It feels as though they were aged up to allow for the hair dying aspect of the plot (although most hair dyes don’t recommend use on under 16s, so take precautions if you’re inspired by the characters in this novel!).

The other issue I had was that Josephine’s mum’s breast cancer was treated as a subplot. I think Andrea Pyros was intending to show that teenagers have lots of different things going on in their lives, so if a family member gets cancer it’s just one of many difficulties for them to face, but Josephine came across as shallow. She’s more interested in Autumn’s party and maintaining her social status than her mum – she even admits to herself that she completely forgets about her mum at times!

As someone who lost a close family member to cancer at the same age as Josephine, I was expecting to be heartbroken yet inspired by Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. Instead, I was rather infuriated: Josephine is self-entitled – outraged when her best friend is upset that she didn’t share her mum’s diagnosis – and self-obsessed, genuinely believing that Chance getting his hair dyed will put her at the centre of attention. In reality, Chance gets applauded and people forget Josephine’s even his sister, and she’s not happy with that either! It’s so contradictory and hypocritical, and if I’d rolled my eyes any harder I think they would have stayed in my skull.

This book wasn’t a terrible idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any teenagers who find themselves in Josephine’s position, because I don’t think it’ll come across as comforting or anything that they can relate to.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Blogtober Day 14: Review: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

I don’t know why I keep picking up Megan Abbott’s novels, because they never impress me as much as I hope they will. I’ve already read The End of Everything and The Fever, and although I enjoyed Abbott’s writing style throughout both novels, I’ve constantly struggled with her […]

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

When Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets an ill-advised joke about the skin colour of the latest winner, she finds herself the most hated person on the Internet… For a little while. But while the rest of the world are infuriated for a couple of […]

Review: Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? by Emily Clarkson

Review: Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? by Emily Clarkson

I wasn’t planning on reviewing Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? when I borrowed it from the library, but I have some thoughts about it that I’ve decided I’d like to get down on paper. It’s left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and I don’t often find that with non-fiction books – normally if they annoy me I just shrug and move on to the next title, pushing the irritating one to the back of my mind, but I’m struggling to do that in this case.

My major problem with this book is that I didn’t realise it was written by Jeremy Clarkson’s daughter until I was already a good few letters in. I probably should have linked the surnames but it’s not exactly uncommon, so I hadn’t even considered it until she mentioned her famous father while writing a letter to the person who catfished her.

Advertised as the book by the founder of Pretty Normal Me, would this have been published if it had been written by your run-of-the-mill lifestyle blogger? I don’t think so.

It feels very disingenuous. Clarkson’s portrayed as a regular, everyday girl, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is further hammered home during letters in which she’s writing about how she wishes we could use the term ‘equalists’ instead of the term ‘feminists’ (with seemingly no understanding of the importance of intersectionality in feminism) and grumbles at how expensive managing her gluten intolerance is (something that someone in a less privileged position may be unable to afford to manage and therefore be forced to suffer with).

That’s not my only issue with this collection of essays, however. A huge amount of them are written about vapid non-issues, and although they’re supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous they miss the mark. I found myself rolling my eyes and scoffing rather than giggling (and with the majority of these letters appearing towards the start of the collection, it spoilt my appetite for the entire book).

There are some important things tackled in this book – specifically in regards to eating disorders and other mental health issues – but as a whole it’s disjointed and lacks direction. Clarkson links some of the subjects together, but seems to oppose her own views at points (particularly when leaping from berating online trolls and catcallers to praising the existence of Page 3 in The Sun).

I’m not sure I’d recommend this one, but I can appreciate the fact that Clarkson is trying her best to bring about change. Her suggestions regarding alterations in schooling and fashion sizing are intelligent, but overall her attempt to be a normal girl next door doesn’t translate.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Can I Speak To Someone In Charge?, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Review: The Bird Room by Chris Killen

Review: The Bird Room by Chris Killen

I wasn’t sure whether to review The Bird Room or not, because it’s an… Interesting story. My copy is in pretty bad condition so I was only reading it before donating it to a charity shop, which means I’m not too disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it, […]

Review: Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein

Review: Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein

‘The truth was that it was about Whit and Kyle, and about lying to friends and wishing I could travel back in time to the start of the summer, when everything felt normal. It was about Bryan going to college five hours away. It was […]

Review: Intricate Deceptions by Jennifer Rayes

Review: Intricate Deceptions by Jennifer Rayes

When Jennifer Rayes contacted me asking if I’d like to read and review a copy of Intricate Deceptions, I jumped at the chance. Focused on the victim of a human trafficking operation, it sounded unlike any book I’d ever read before. With the amount of five star ratings that it has on Goodreads, I thought it was bound to be brilliant.

Sadly, it ended up being one of the most terribly executed novels I’ve encountered. It’s rushed. It’s monotone. It’s flat. Gaia is kidnapped, taken to the human trafficking location and rescued within the space of a few pages. After that the story evolves into a corny romance between Gaia and Raoul, the Prince of Kayamato, who “would’ve liked to say in bed with Gaia, just to hold her” after having just one conversation with her. Barf.

Then there’s the appearance of pirate captain Dominique, who kisses Gaia without her permission but who she’s oh-so attracted to. Can you hear me heaving? Of course, it wouldn’t be a cheesy romance without a love triangle, but when both of the love interests are blander than plain flour it’s hard to see the appeal of either of them.

This book is completely two-dimensional. The events that go on feel reported: this happens, then this happens, and there’s no life in the story. It’s impossible to get emotionally involved, even with the harrowing events that are occurring.

Luckily, Intricate Deceptions is a short novel, so it’s a very quick read. I read it in a few hours, and because there’s not really much world-building (despite being set in Ica and Kayamato, we don’t really know anything about the places or their cultures) and all of the events are rapidly delivered one after the other, the pace is ridiculously fast.

It ends on an unexpected cliffhanger, which – irritatingly enough – kind of makes me want to continue on with the series… But considering the fact that it took four years for the sequel to be written and released seems that it was only done because the author didn’t know how to finish it. If I’d read it any earlier I would have been frustrated. If the ending had been more satisfactory I would have given Intricate Deceptions three stars, because I was ambivalent towards the story as a whole, but the cliffhanger left me with no choice but to drop my rating down.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Intricate Deceptions, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Review: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

Review: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

There are a few words I could use to summarise The Sacrifice Box.  Gratuitous. Excessive. Unnecessary. I’m struggling to comprehend how a book like this managed to get published, let alone published as a young adult novel. Honestly, it’s my own fault. I should have known […]