Thursday 26 January 2017

Review on Rattle

Already in posession of an impressive museum of bones, The Bone Collector is ready to add to his collection. He discovers Jakey Frith, a six year old boy with a rare bone disease, which causes extra bone th grow. After Jakey goes missing, along with a five year old girl with cleft hands, Detective Etta Fitzroy soon discovers she may be dealing with the same killer who evaded her a year ago.

 As someone who rarely reads thrillers, I was unsure if I was going to enjoy this book or not. However, I am the type of person who reads Wikipedia articles about serial killers for entertainment, so the idea of a killer collecting the bones of his victims seemed both interesting and creepy. This is quite a lengthy book, and I didn't feel immediately drawn into the story. I felt as if it had a slow start, and I wasn't really interested in the characters various relationship problems. However, once the Bone Collector started taking children, I became more interested in the investigation, and wanted to find out if the children would be rescued before it was too late.

For me, the creepiest villains are those who believe that what they are doing is right, and this definitely came across in this book. I loved learning the Bone Collectors back story, and the fact that he had grown up with his father doing the same thing as him gave him a believable motivation. He was an extremely creepy villain, and I loved how the chapters that focused on him were switched to present tense, as I felt as if it helped to create suspense. I always feel as if it's important to let the reader get inside the head of a villain to understand their motives, so I loved reading these chapters, even if they did make it difficult for me to fall asleep after putting the book down!

Although this book is quite long, the chapters are quite short, which helped the length of the book to seem a little less daunting. The book is written in third person, but switches between different point of views. I especially loved the chapters focusing on Clara and Jakey, as seeing what they were having to endure was the scariest and most heartbreaking part of the book for me. The worst villains are those who abuse children, so seeing how terrified Jakey and Clara were made me want the Bone Collector to come to a horrible end.

One thing that I didn't really care about was the adult characters personal problems outside of the missing children. Fitzroy was given a tragic backstory of giving birth to a stillborn baby, and although this is obviously an upsetting experience, I feel as if it is one that is often overused. I feel as if too many tragic backstories for female characters revolve around children, or the inability to reproduce. All of the female characters in this book are very family oriented, and even though Fitzroy is career driven, it seems to only be because she doesn't have a child. One thing that I rarely see is female characters who have no desire to reproduce, and it is often the case that people assume women who don't have children are leading unfulfilled lives. I was also a little disappointed that non of the families were functional. The male characters treated the families appallingly, with one cheating on his wife, while the other left his family for several days without any contact, leaving both his wife and son in extreme distress. I feel as if showing healthy relationships in fiction is important, so I was a little disappointed that all of the relationships were problematic.

I always find killers who leave behind clues to their identity to be extremely foolish, as it seems as if they are asking to be caught. The clues that the Bone Collector leaves behind are the main reason for his identity being discovered, and although leaving behind the rabbit skeleton was creepy, I felt as if for someone who ha been doing this for so long, he would have had a little more sense. I felt as if he made several silly mistakes, which made the situation feel a little less believable. I felt as if he should have been trying to hide evidence,not willingly giving it out.

Although I did have a few issues with this book, it did manage to creep me out. I was extremely shocked by the ending, and I felt as if it was setting it up to be a series. Although I am unsure if this is the authors intention, or if she just wanted to leave it open for interpretation, I think the ending makes the reader continue to think about this book long after turning the final page. Overall, I think this is a brilliant debut novel, and I would love to read anything that Fiona Cummings writes in the future!

Rattle is now available to purchase!

   | Amazon Book Depository 

Monday 23 January 2017

Book Club Picks #7 Christmas at Lilac Cottage

 When Penny Meadows decides to rent out her annex, she is pleasantly surprised when Henry Travis moves in with his daughter, Daisy. Penny is immediately attracted to Henry, and soon discovers that the feeling is mutual. However, Penny's ex boyfriend left her heartbroken, and she is reluctant to attempt any sort of romantic relationship again. After learning about Henry's past, will Penny be able to trust Henry to not break her heart?

Before I start writing this review, I feel the need to apologise for what is to come. As anyone who has read my review policy will know, I do not enjoy reading adult romance books. However, this months book club read showed up at my door in the form of a festive, glittery and aesthetically pleasing, you've guessed it, adult romance novel. Although I immediately fell in love with the cover, I knew I would not be falling in love with the book, but as someone who loves to try new things, I decided to give it a go anyway.

The book follows Penny Meadows, a woman who is fast approaching her 30's. Penny lives alone in a small cottage by the sea, but as she longs for company, she rents out her annex. Enter Mr. tall, dark and handsome in the form of Henry Travis. Penny is immediately attracted to Henry, but as she believes he is married, she doesn't act on her feelings. Although Penny was a sweet and likeable character, she seemed a little slow at times. It was actually quite laughable that she believed Henry's sixteen year old daughter, Daisy, was his wife, and although I did feel a little sorry for her, I felt as if this was a silly thing to assume.

Henry Travis literally had me rolling my eyes. He was your typical tall, dark and handsome guy with a tragic backstory, who clearly should be praised for raising his daughter. I feel as if there is a bit of a double standard when it comes to teenage parents. Teenage mothers are often seen as stupid, and are ruining their futures by having a child before going to university, while teenage fathers are often commended for it. Although Henry is clearly a good father, I felt more as if he did what needed to be done, and although he did the right thing, I saw him more as a decent parent rather than the hero all the female characters seemed to see him as. Although Henry was likeable overall, he had anger problems, and although it was clear that he would never physically abuse Penny and Daisy, he does verbally abuse them. As the book would have been extremely boring without conflict, I felt as if conflict was being added for the sake of conflict,and it seemed as if the author hadn't put too much thought into the reason why they were arguing. I also felt as if it was resolved too quickly, as I know that if I was in Penny's position, I would not have forgiven Henry so easily.

One topic that came up that I thought was handled quite well was Henry being sexually harassed by his female boss. We often see males abusing their positions of power to influence females, but it is rare that we witness the opposite. The truth is that anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, and all genders are capable of sexually harassing someone. It is often the case that men do not come forward about sexual harassment, as they feel as if they will not be taken seriously, so I loved how well it was dealt with in this book, and that Henry was able to come forward about it instead of allowing himself to be manipulated.

I found the sexual encounters to be quite cringy, and not sexy at all. However, my favourite was the car scene, as I loved that it was intentionally awkward and not sexy, as it showed that having sex in a car is not the hot, steamy exchange that we are used to watching in movies. However, the one thing that probably made me cringe the most was that Henry opened a condom with his teeth. One of the most basic things we are taught in sex education classes is not to open a condom with our teeth so that we don't accidentally tear it, so I was pretty shocked that despite having had several sexual partners, Henry did not seem to know this. Rather than thinking that Henry was a hot hunk of a man, I just wanted to sit him down and give him a lesson in how to correctly open a condom.

Henry's sixteen year old daughter, Daisy, was a sweet and likeable character. However, I did feel as if she was a little immature for her age at times, such as when she freaked out and told her dad to come back home because of a power cut. I also felt as if she was trying to control her dads life too much, such as telling him that he wasn't allowed to date Penny.

Something that annoyed me was the idea that a woman can't possibly be happy if she is single and has no children. Although Penny initially argues against this, she eventually succumbs to the norm by the end of the book. As a single 25 year old who has no intention of having children any time soon, I always feel as if this is a damaging mindset. As is mentioned in the book, you tend to get judged by others if you don't have a family by your mid twenty's. Although I am not the intended audience for YA novels anymore, one of the reasons why I tend to stick to YA instead of reading adult novels is that I am in no way interested in reading about marriage and babies, and I doubt that I ever will be. Until I find an adult book about an independent single woman who isn't interested in reproducing, then I think I will stick to YA.

Probably the thing that I most hated about this book was the instalove. As I've said countless times, I honestly can't stand instalove. As my favourite types of relationships are slow burners, I was disappointed that there was immediate mutual attraction between Penny and Henry, and they started dating within a few days. I hated that they were hiding their relationship from Daisy, and I felt sorry for her, as they broke her trust. I also felt Henry to be extremely hypocritical over Daisy having found a boyfriend in a week, and telling her she was moving too quickly, when he was doing exactly the same thing with Penny. I felt as if too many problems were being created that could easily have been avoided, and as it happened so quickly, I didn't care about Penny and Henry's relationship at all.

Although this book wasn't for me, it was a very light and fluffy read, and if you enjoy lighthearted adult romance, then it is the perfect book to curl up in front of the fire with. However, if like me you don't tend to enjoy romance novels, and you hate instalove, I would suggest you avoid this one!

Christmas at Lilac Cottage is now available to purchase!

Monday 9 January 2017

Review on The Christmasaurus

William Trundle is a young boy who is obsessed with dinosaurs! When he writes a letter to Santa asking for a dinosaur, the last thing he expects to wake up to is a real life dinosaur in his house! However, William soon discovers that the dinosaur has in fact got lost. William must help the Christmasaurus get home to the North Pole, but with the infamous Hunter trying to shoot the dinosaur to claim as a hunting trophy, it may be more difficult than William had hoped.

So I have to admit that the main reason why I bought this book was because I adore Tom Fletcher. I've been a huge McFly fan for over ten years, and I was excited when Tom announced that he was going to be writing a children's novel! After the success of his dinosaur that pooped series, a collection of picture books co-written with fellow band mate Dougie Poynter, Tom has decided to take his obsession with dinosaurs and Christmas a step further in the form of a novel.

One of the first things I noticed about this book was how much Tom put his personality into it. As a pop star and YouTuber, Tom is very much in the spotlight, and as well all know, famous names sell books. There has been some controversy in celebrities having their books ghost written, so I was glad to see that was definitely not the case with this book. The Christmasaurus practically oozes with Tom's personality, and I loved picking up on little things, such as Tom naming William's dad after his own father, and loosely basing the character around himself.Tom has a great sense of humour, which comes across brilliantly in this book, and had me laughing out loud several times! This book will definitely have children and non boring adults laughing. Along with the humor, I also loved the poetry. As a song writer, Tom is extremely talented at writing both lyrics and poetry, and I adored how the elves tried to make all their sentences rhyme.

One of the main things that I loved was that this book has a disabled protagonist. I feel as if disabled characters are usually defined by their disability. It is often the first thing about them that is described before things such as looks, likes and dislikes, so I loved the fact that the book didn't mention that William was in a wheelchair until the seventh chapter, by which time we had learnt other, more important things about him. William's wheelchair is a part of who he is. There are no miracles where the endgame is William being able to walk again, and William has come to terms with his disability, and doesn't feel sorry for himself. I loved that William was so confident, as I feel as if characters like William could give disabled children the confidence boost that they need. We are not made to feel sympathy for William due to his disability, as although he does have problems, they don't revolve around him being disabled. I loved that William was able to go on an amazing adventure without his disability holding him back, and I loved how it gave a positive message that just because a child has a disability, it shouldn't stop them from going on adventures and achieving their dreams.

I loved how this book was full of fun, Christmassy magic, from miracles, Santa, flying reindeer and showing toy making in a whole new perspective! Although this is not a picture book, it was still full of gorgeous illustrations that helped to break up the walls of text. I felt as if this was great for children who had the skills to read this book for themselves, as young children often have a short attention span, so I felt as if the illustrations would keep children interested in the story for longer.

The only negative thing I have to say about this book involves the ending. One thing I hate is the idea that a family isn't a real family unless it involves a mum and a dad. There are so many children who live with either a single parent or same sex parents, so I always feel as if showing that a “normal” family has to include a mum and a dad can be harmful. I initially loved the idea of Bob Trundle being a single parent, and doing a brilliant job of raising his son. However, I was disappointed when William's biggest wish was for his dad to find a new girlfriend. I was hoping that Mr Trundle would explain he didn't need a romantic relationship to be happy, so I was disappointed when he suddenly became interested in William's enemy-turned-friend's mum in the last few pages, who had previously snubbed him. I was disappointed that the only adult female in the book turned out to be nothing but a love interest for one of the male main characters. As the only other female in the book was an ableist bully for half of it, I felt as if this book really needed more positive female characters.

Apart from the disappointing ending, this book is full of magic, plot twists and character development, and is the perfect festive read for any dinosaur lover!