Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: two star review

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 […]

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

I was so close to giving A Map of the Dark one star, because it was the most predictable crime novel I’ve ever read. I expected a lot more. Karen Ellis is the pseudonym of established crime/thriller author Katia Lief, and I’ve heard a lot of good […]

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

‘Let me tell you a story. 

She was my best friend. She was my everything. And I lost her.’

Before I Let Go follows Corey back to her hometown of Lost Creek in Alaska. She moved away seven months ago when her mother decided to relocate the family, but Corey returns after receiving news of the apparent suicide of her best friend, Kyra. Corey needs to get to the bottom of what happened. When she left, Kyra was still seeing her therapist and taking her medication, and she seemed hopeful. What changed?

I loved Marieke Nijkamp’s debut novel, This Is Where It Ends, and I was hoping that I’d love her second effort, too. Sadly, it left me feeling lukewarm. The main problem is that nothing happens. It’s trying to be too many things at once – YA flirting with literary fiction, psychological thriller and ghost story – but none of the aspects are developed. There are various nods towards paranormal and mystical events, but none of them are explained later in the novel.

Then there are bizarre sections where the scenes are suddenly written as screenplays. This might have worked if we’d been following Kyra, who was obsessed with telling stories, but it doesn’t gel with Corey’s character. As soon as I was getting fully absorbed by the story, one of these pieces would come along and completely break my concentration once more. Whereas I couldn’t put This Is Where It Ends down, it was difficult to motivate myself to pick up Before I Let Go.

However, it wasn’t all bad.

The Alaskan setting is gorgeously written. It’s a character by itself, adding to the isolated, chilling atmosphere. If it had been a ghost story, this would have been an even more effective choice. Towards the start of the novel – when the paranormal aspects still seemed relevant rather than shoehorned in – it sent shivers down my spine at multiple moments.

I also appreciated the way Nijkamp dealt with the sexuality of her characters (Kyra is pansexual and Corey is asexual, but neither of them are defined by those labels) and Kyra’s bipolar disorder. Although the inhabitants of Lost alienate her because of her mental health, Kyra is a strong character who isn’t afraid to speak out against their bigoted views. That will be inspirational for anyone who has ever felt exiled because of a diagnosis. I can’t speak as to how realistic Nijkamp’s portrayal of bipolar is, as it’s not something I have personal experience of, but I’ll be interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Before I Let Go kind of reminded me of Tess Sharpe’s Far From You, which is one of my favourite books of all time. If you’re not convinced to try this book, I’d highly recommend giving that one a go. It has all of the best elements of Before I Let Go (non-linear storytelling, a mystery and a best friend who refuses to let go) but is far more effective.

If you’re interested in learning more about Before I Let Go, 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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EDIT: Oops, I almost forgot! There’s a Rafflecopter giveaway for a gift basket from Alaska Wild Berry Products which you can enter here. The giveaway ends on the 31st of January, so you still have plenty of time to get an entry in.