Book Review: Bad Behaviour, Rebecca Starford

bad-behaviourGoodreads Blurb:

It should have been a time of acquiring confidence, building self respect and independence, of fostering a connection with the natural world through long hikes…

A gripping, compulsively readable memoir of bullying at an elite country boarding school.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

Reading Bad Behaviour off the back of The Golden Child was either an interesting coincidence or just not a very well thought out decision on my part. I do not regret reading this memoir, more than that, I am so glad I did, but I feel there is a certain waiting time that I should have taken before reading a book of such a similar strain. The more I think about it now however, the more I come to realise that whenever I read it, I would still be just as shaken.

In writing Bad Behaviour, Rebecca Starford has written something which is incredibly, but beautifully raw. She paints a brutal picture of the pack mentality which can develop within large groups of school girls and how that can affect the victims of the resulting bullying. Her year spent in a Victorian boarding school not only brought out a side of herself which she never thought she had, but also left her scarred.

For me, this memoir left a much deeper impression than I could ever have expected. The scenes and actions of the girls a reminder of the first couple of years at my own all girls’ high school. Though for me and my year of girls the bullying never got as bad, it was all still was painfully familiar, and not just the group dynamic but the people as well. Despite this, it was written in such a way that even though the events recorded were true enough, to me they felt almost surreal. So that in finishing this book I was left with the feeling of waking up from a bad dream.

Reading the breakdown of the relationship between Rebecca and her mother however was what most struck a chord with me. It is something which I found to be the most heartbreaking to read. Lastly Rebecca Starford’s memoir is poignant, deep, and a real insight into the turmoil which teens experience and work through at this age. Beautifully written, this memoir something which I am sure will stay with me for quite a while.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Golden Child, Wendy James

Goodreads Blurb:

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness …
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

My Thoughts:

There is something rather haunting but oddly familiar about both the characters and the story of The Golden Child which left me speechless and almost in tears. However, beyond my own personal reaction to finishing this novel (though brought on by personal experience, having done my first three years of high school at an all girls school, it was something quite possibly close to an overreaction), I am lost as to where to begin.

Wendy James has created a pretty much accurate reflection of the mentality of girls in high school school, and how the ‘top gang’ carries more than just power over the rest of the cohort, but also sets the standard for which others have to meet to even be respected. However there are some details which didn’t quite fit with the ‘modern queen bee’ person. Things like the pop culture references which were more aligned with those girls who in my experience never made it in the ‘cool’ group, and so felt quite out of place within the darker tones of the novel.

Throughout the events which unfold in the body of the novel are blog posts by the mother in the family which the story follows, and the unidentified ‘Golden Child’. These posts provide both contrast and context for the horrible occurrences surrounding the youngest daughter’s ‘gang’. Cleverly written, The Golden Child has a rather sinister undertone which is reflected in both the actions of every family involved, as well as in the blogs and their comments.

Though I picked the shocking, and almost heartbreaking twist quite early, it didn’t stop me from questioning not only the main group characters motives within the novel but the side characters too. James brings into question how well you know both yourself and those around you, even those you are closest to, especially when it comes to one’s online persona.

The Golden Child is a gripping yet haunting read which will keep you guessing and bring into question not only the characters in the novel but the people you know in your own life as well. Cleverly written and plotted, this is definitely worth reading and persevering with for any fans of a domestic thriller. Though I found the ending to be well rounded it left me shaking, so I can’t quiet guarantee that it will leave you with a feeling of warmth that you probably want when finishing a novel.

Book Review: Me Before You, Jo Jo Moyes

Me Before You

Goodreads Blurb:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

My Thoughts:

This was an utterly beautiful read! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I started it but I rather quickly fell in love with the characters And got completely sucked into the story. It got to a point in the process of my read where I just couldn’t seem to be able to stop reading. Thus I ended up finishing it at nearly 3:00am.

Me Before You sets out a story which both asks and answers the difficult questions of the preciousness of life and what ‘living’ really means. In this way, finishing this novel left me somewhat stunned. It didn’t end in the tear fest I had expected, yet it left me with a mixture of emotions I didn’t really know how to explain. All I could do was lie in bed and ponder what I’d just read until I fell asleep a good while later. I found the small bouts of humour cleverly and well placed, especially in regards to Will’s sarcasm. Something I seemed to connect with right from the start.

Moyes wrote in such a way which really drew me in and hooked me into the romance of it all. Despite the almost obvious outcome and ending I was taken on a long on a ride which  contrary to my expectations, I rather enjoyed. There was a certain tenderness to the characters, even the ones I didn’t like as much, which got me caught up in wishing for everything to turn out okay. Yet, as expected, reality happened and there was little I could do keep myself from feeling my heart break along with Louisa. However, though the ending was heartbreaking, I didn’t get as emotional as I expected. Maybe because my emotion wasn’t driven by sympathy for Louisa but more of an understanding of what Will wanted for himself. No matter how much I speculate over this, its something which I will probably always be trying to get to the bottom of. One thing I am sure of though is that because of how I feel about the ending, there is no question of whether or not I will read the sequel. In my eyes, it isn’t really needed, and I have no desire to go near it. For me, in this case the end is the end, full-stop.

Overall I found this to be a wonderful and engaging read. It took me on a journey which kept on going beyond me having closed the book, which is something I find really special in a novel.

Book Review: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Goodreads Blurb:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

 

My Thoughts:

This is a novel I had been meaning to read for a while. Both family and friends have been telling me for years that I would love it, and quite stupidly, I think it was just that which put me off reading it. Whether it was the possibility that I wouldn’t like it even though they said I would, or the fact that they had told me I would definitely get very emotional (to say the least), I’m not sure. Quite possibly it was both?

However, I picked up a second hand copy of the book at the university Thursday markets, and at that point there was no turning back. I have never regretted ‘not reading a book sooner’ more than I did in the moment I finished reading Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

The Book Thief is one a part of a very small group of books where I have not been able to physically move for quite a while after finishing because I have been so overwhelmed by either emotion, the writing, just the plot in general, or some deeper meaning. With The Book Thief it was option ‘E’, all of the above. This was one of those novels which has left me a sobbing mess on the couch with a box of tissues, a near empty packet of Maltesers, and the feeling that I had just experienced a whole years worth of varied emotions in one sitting.

I would be lying if I said I was completely hooked from page 1. It took a while to get used to the narration style as it seemed rather jarring to me, and in some ways difficult to connect with. However after reading further I got used to it and began to connect with the novel in so many different ways. Soon enough I had fallen in love with the story and it’s characters, leaving me with the certainty of heartbreak when I finished reading. For me, it was ultimately the characters and all their individual quirks and faults which drew me in and kept me reading. Each with their own personal motivations, which were each extremely human, which within the darkness of the overarching plot, gave me something to hang onto.

The writing itself is rather unique, but it is definitely worth persevering with if you are initially put off by the novel’s unusual style. Overall this is a rich and beautifully told story. It left me in a whirlwind of emotions, some of which I didn’t know I could feel. I am so glad that I have read this, it really was a beautiful read!

Book Review: The Word Exchange, Alena Greadon

IMG_0778Goodreads Blurb:

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .

My Thoughts:

My sister gave me this book for Christmas, I admit though, that I found it in a local book shop pre-Christmas and Ev was at a loss of what to give me so here we are! The blurb instantly grabbed my interest. No that I’ve finished the book wasn’t really what I expected however Alena Graedon’s The Book exchange did not disappoint at all.

The book follows the story of Anana, she works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English language, in a world where books, libraries and newspapers are a thing of the past. They are working on the last edition to ever be printed, that is until one night when Doug disappears all together leaving a one word clue: ALICE. A code he devised with his Anana in case he ever got into harms way. This sends Anana with her friend and colleague Bart on a journey to find him. They find more than they bargain for though and get tied up in a series of events which could mean the destruction of society as they knew it.

The Word Exchange is set in the point of view of Anana, it reads almost like a recount of events rather than ‘in the present time’ story, throughout there are a number of chapters which read like diary entries of the character Bart. This way of story telling, to me, was very effective. The style of writing made it seem all the more real and helped me to connect with the two main characters.

The premiss for the story being a future on earth where books and reading have become nearly unheard was something that, as a book lover, really hit home with me, and in all honesty, scared me a little to. Especially as I read on to discover the Meme, a device used in it’s most basic function as a phone, but then it is so much more than that. With the ability to do mostly everything, including calling a taxi if the owner so wants. The devices left humanity in an almost impersonal interactions, with only a few main characters not using them, including Bart and Doug. What seemed to shock me the most though was the fact of how real this situation could become in our world, and how perfectly Graedon has twisted something that is so normal in our lives and made them bad.

I have seriously loved every moment I’ve spent reading The Book Exchange, there is the perfect combination of suspense with cliff hangers broken up by the differing points of view, with a balance of plot twists where I found my self having to close the book on my hand, hoping the characters would change their minds. When I finished I literally just sat for a bit, and I was grinning from ear to ear! Quite literally!

I definitely recommend this as it is a very, very good read, it was gripping until the end and I got completely and utterly immersed in that world. Though it’s not the most relaxing read, it was all very exciting with a very intricate story line from two points of view. Which for me was perfect, I’d much prefer to be on the edge of my seat than everything be perfect and relaxed, so if you’re anything like me in that sense then you should definitely give The Word Exchange a read!

Thanks for reading!
Anna x

Book Review: The Death Cure, James Dashner

death-cureGoodreads Blurb:

It’s the end of the line.

WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.

Will anyone survive?

What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.

The truth will be terrifying.

Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all.

The time for lies is over.

My thoughts:

I’d like to say this one was my favourite of the trilogy, but I’m torn between the three! I absolutely loved it, again I was on the edge of my seat, and getting answers which weren’t always the best to hear.

As I learnt more about the reasons for WICKED’s actions I wanted to believe they’d done the right thing, but my loyalty to the characters held and I sided with the Glader’s anger. Something which brings out a side to the boys which you wouldn’t really expect, and decisions which shouldn’t need to be made by anyone, let alone boys of that age.

Though the boys get a relatively happy ending, the path they had to take to get there was rough. For me it was a rather emotional ending – I got really attached to the characters, and not all made it through.

I think The Death Cure was the perfect way to finish, and I absolutely loved James Dashner’s trilogy. It is definitely one of my favourites, and I can’t wait to see the other film adaptions as well!

I tried a new review technique, I’ll see how it goes for next time too.
Thanks for reading,
Anna x

Book Review: The Scorch Trials, James Dashner

scorch-trialsGoodreads Blurb:

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.
Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.
There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.
The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.
There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.

My Thoughts:

Thomas and his friends thought it was all over and that they could get their lives back, that was what their saviours had told them anyway but they’d been lied to. As part of the second trial, they now have to cross the desert to get to safety and the possibility of a cure.

Personally, I think I liked this book even better than the first in the series. The Scorch Trials, like The Maze Runner is edge of your seat exciting, and actually rather scary at the same time. The new threats are, if possible, more horrible than the Grievers, and pose a different set of problems for the group of friends.

Through The Scorch Trials, you get to see the character development of the boys who did make it through the maze, and the different sides of their personalities as they face new challenges. Some of which they’d never have dream they’d have to deal with.

There are still unanswered questions, but the point that “WICKED is good” even though it is still being repeated, has become even less believable than before. For me, I became a lot more attached to the characters, so reading this was also an emotional whirlwind. The story is quick paced, and comes to a nail biting conclusion which just makes you want to read more and more.

I absolutely loved it, and to be honest I wish it was a lot longer than it actually is! I could keep reading about Thomas, Newt and Minho for a very long time! Not that I try to play favourites, but Newt is mine! He was from book one to be honest, but I love Minho and Thomas too – especially Minho’s constant sarcasm!

As I’ve finished the full series and am reading The Kill Order at the moment, I’ll be posting the reviews over the next couple of Sundays! So look forward to my review of The Death Cure next week!

Thank you for reading,
Anna x