The Son-in-Law

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Joseph Scott has just left prison after serving three years for manslaughter. He killed his wife Zoe in front of their three children. During the time that Joseph was imprisoned his children have grieved for their mother, and managed to move on with their lives. They are now being brought up by Hannah and Freddie, Zoe’s parents. Now he is out all he wants is to rebuild a relationship with Scarlett, Theo and Ben and become a proper father to them, but his mother in law Hannah is determined not to allow this.

The story is told from the points of view of Scarlett, Hannah and Joseph and each one felt very real to me; Scarlett’s fear, Hannah’s anger and Joseph’s desperation. Through their eyes we see the effect that seeing their mother’s death has had on the children. It has also had a major effect on Zoe’s parents and how they feel about their grandchildren. This book speaks very frankly about mental illness and it is done well. The themes of love, loss and redemption are also all present in this book.

I have said before about Charity Norman’s books that she brings the characters and their world to life, and it is very true of this book. York, where a large amount of the book is set, is really brought to life and it is very easy to imagine exactly where things are happening. This was a fantastic read!

5
5/5 stars

The Mall

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I will start off by saying that I do not usually read horror, however I was intrigued by Sarah Lotz’s book The Three last year and when I read it I loved every last page. Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg collaborate on books under the name S.L. Grey, and together they wrote The Mall.Once again Lotz has set an interesting premise which caught my attention.

Dan works in the bookshop in the mall, he hates the dull job and doesn’t particularly like most of the people he works with. Rhoda is babysitting for her cousin. She leaves the boy in the bookstore while she goes to score some cocaine, however when she gets back the boy is gone and no one seems to even remember seeing him with her. Furious at Dan for lying about seeing them she accosts him by his car when he leaves and bullies him into letting her back into the mall after hours to find the boy. After taking a wrong turn in one of the corridors behind the shops with Dan last saw the boy, the two find themselves lost. As they go deeper and deeper beneath the mall strange text message start appearing on their phones and they realise they are begin watched.

When they do make it back to the mall it is to find a whole new world which S.L. Grey has put a huge amount of thought into. Upon first arriving there it seems to be just the same as their own world, but the further in they go the more disturbing this world is revealed to be. As horrific as this place was, I found myself glued to the book, eager to know more. The world building in this book is beautifully done and Rhoda and Dan’s reactions to everything are spot on.

I found this book to very creepy more than anything, to the point where I was uneasy about turning off the light when I went to bed after reading it one night. It was a very interesting read, one which will play on your mind for a while after finishing it.

4
4/5 stars

Switching Hour

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I have a real weakness for books about witches and Switching Hour by Robyn Peterman sounded fantastic. Zelda has just been released from the ‘magic pokey’ after serving nine months for running over her familiar with her car, accidentally of course. Upon leaving she is informed that she only has limited powers for the time being and unless she completes the task set for her she will become mortal. So Zelda sets off in her new lime-green Kia with her resurrected cat Fabio and starts the eleven hour journey to her estranged aunt Hildy’s house which she inherited while in jail. However if Zelda was hoping for some time to relax she was very mistaken, within hours of her arrival injured animals begin appearing on her doorstep claiming that she has replaced her aunt as the ‘shifter whisperer’.

As she begins to meet and heal the animals, who turn out to be shifters, she meets Mac, wolf and also insanely hot guy who claims that Zelda is his mate. The chemistry between Zelda and Mac is incredible, but their relationship is also very sweet. Fabio is simply hilarious with his dodgy credit cards and bizarre cooking abilities and the other shifters are fantastic characters who you really start to root for. And then of course there is Zelda, she has a smart mouth and freely admits to being slightly crazy, although with very good fashion sense.

This book quite literally made me laugh out loud, although fairly short it was a very enjoyable read and I hope the rest of the series is just as good.

4
4/5 stars

Angel’s Kiss

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Angel’s Kiss by Melanie Tomlin really hits the ground running. Angels, demons and all kinds of other monsters are real, hidden for years from the mortals they live alongside, and Helena has just been thrown right into the middle of them.

Starving and freezing Helena takes refuge in an abandoned house and waits for the angel of death to take her, what she actually meets however, is a vampire. Danizriel, otherwise known as Danny, is an angel on Earth who’s job is surveillance. When he arrives on scene he is shocked to find the vampire dead, and Helena still alive. Unsure how she survived or what she might be, Danny begins to explain the workings of the angels and demons and vows to keep her safe from them all.

I liked the twists Tomlin put on vampires, werewolves and the other creatures and Danny’s reasoning that mortals put a lot of conditions on monsters to help us sleep better at night. Most of what mortals believe about these monsters has no bearing on the real things. I did find Danny’s ‘blink and it’s there’ ability a little convenient, whenever Helena questions it he gives the explanation of “angel, remember?” This ability is useful nonetheless, especially for things like doing the washing and creating the odd garden for Helena to explore.

A lot of the book involves Helena exploring exactly what she is capable of, and she certainly is capable of a lot. She really grew as a character and a person throughout which book which was enjoyable to read. This is the first book in the series and it definitely leaves you wanting more!

4
4/5 stars

Our Chemical Hearts

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Henry Page has never had a crush on someone until Grace Town walks into his classroom in the second week of his senior year. With her oddly cut hair, mens’ clothing and cane, he doesn’t think too much about her until they are both offered the positions of editor for the school newspaper, a position which he has been working towards for years and which she turns down. After they leave the office Henry follows her down the road and demands to know why she would turn down the opportunity. The next morning she arrives in the newspapers editing office with no explanation as to her change of heart, and from here Henry become curious to know more about her and the life she leads.

Murray and Lola are Henry’s best friends and in my opinion, they were what made the book. I loved Henry and Grace, but Murray and Lola were just fantastic. Murray is an Australian who moved to America with his family several years ago, although he has picked up an American accent he still uses his, exaggerated, Australian one to impress women and generally drive Henry and Lola up the wall. Murray is not just used for comedic value though, he is everything a best friend should be in that he supports and encourages Henry with his feelings for Grace. Lola does the design aspects of the school newspaper and becomes friends with Grace during the time the three of them spend creating the paper. She is not afraid to tell Henry like it is, she puts him in his place and often has to bring him back to reality.

Henry is an honest and funny narrator, he can quote Harry Potter and only knows how to cook mini pizzas. Grace is a wonderful  and intriguing character, we know from the outset that things have happened to her in the past which have had a major effect on her, however she does not want to be defined by these things. Krystal Sutherland’s writing is wonderful, I admire anyone who can put “I looked something like a male Summer Glau crossed with Severus Snape” in a book! I would have picked this book up for the sentence alone.

As Henry and Grace’s relationship progresses we learn more about her, but we also see Henry learning more about himself. The characters in this book are flawed, even the ones who seem the most perfect, but that is what makes them real and what makes this book such a wonderful read.

4
4/5 stars

The Sun Is Also A Star

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The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is the story of two teenagers, Natasha and Daniel, who meet on a day that could change both of their lives. Natasha’s family are undocumented and are being deported back to Jamaica that night, but she is going to do everything in her power to keep her family in America. Daniel is on his way to an interview for medical school at Yale, but becoming a doctor is something his parent want not him, once he walks into the interview he feels that his life’s path will be set in stone.

At the beginning of the book Natasha mentions that her mother always says that “Things happen for a reason” and this is a theme which is carried throughout the book. We see the impact of things which happen to others; the train driver who found God , the insurance actuary  who lost his daughter, the lawyer who is having an affair with his paralegal. These things, although apparently inconsequential to Natasha and Daniel, have a profound effect on their lives.

The connection between Natasha and Daniel is wonderful and comes across as very natural. They are two very different people, different backgrounds, different cultures and also very different in how they see the world. But all of this works, they compliment each other beautifully even though they may not always agree on things. Even though the book is set over only one day everything between them is believable.

I think this is a book that needed to be written, it has many subtle messages that needed to be put out into the world. Nicola Yoon has done a wonderful job of addressing issues such as race and immigration, she did not shy away from it at all. It all comes across as believable and well informed. What more can I say? I loved it!

5
5/5 stars

After The Fall

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“In the early hours of this morning, the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter was scrambled to airlift a five-year old boy from a coastal address north of Napier”

Some books grip you from the very first sentence, After The Fall by Charity Norman is one of those books. The newspaper article describing the incident raises many more questions than it answers. How and why did Finn fall? Did he survive? If so, how serious are his injuries? As we read the first chapter another question arises; what does his mother Martha know that she does not want to admit to?

Told from Martha’s point of view we are taken back to over a year before when she and her husband Kit decide to emigrate to New Zealand. It is a decision that shocks everyone but it is one that Martha and Kit feel is best for their family. Her sister Lou is devastated, her father tell her to do what she thinks is best, her daughter Sacha thinks that her mum is ruining her life. Somehow they push through all of this and make the move. On arriving in New Zealand they fall in love with a picturesque house in the middle of nowhere and begin to rebuild their lives with school, work, neighbours and a new community.

As the story progresses through the year between the move and Finn’s fall we are given glimpses of the aftermath, but still no hints as to what really happened. Throughout this I found myself wondering how and where did it all go so wrong? Both Martha and Kit’s careers are picking up, the twins are loving their new home and Sacha has made new friends and is doing well at school.

The characters, including the more minor characters, all feel so real and the beautiful town the McNamara’s live in really comes alive so before you know it you are at the last quarter of the book. The first three quarters had me hooked, but I read the last quarter almost compulsively as we finally learn the truth about the events that led to Finn’s fall.

I would say more but trust me, this is not a book you want spoiled for you, it hit me right in the heart and I am still reeling from it.

5
5/5 stars

Am I Normal Yet?

So, let’s kick this off with a pretty amazing book that I read last year.Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.

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I read this book in under 24 hours, I got it for free as part of World Book Night 2016 and wasn’t sure what to expect. However I was hooked from the first few pages.

Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series, which follows friends Evie, Amber and Lottie. The story is told from the point of view of Evie, a sixteen year old girl in recovery from OCD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. All Evie wants is to be “normal”, just like everyone else she goes to college with. We watch her attempting to navigate family, friends, feminism, lessons and, of course, boys, alongside her recovery. Funny, sad, brutally honest and filled with hope this book accurately portrays what it is like to try to recover from a mental illness while also trying to live a “normal” life. It also shows Evie’s acceptance of her mental health issues as part of who she is, and not something she needs to hide.
This may have been my first time reading one of Holly Bourne’s books, but it will certainly not be my last!

5
5/5 Stars