I wanted to love this book. A book about a sweet shop sounded like heaven, especially as I have first hand knowledge of a sweet shop, but the more I rI wanted to love this book. A book about a sweet shop sounded like heaven, especially as I have first hand knowledge of a sweet shop, but the more I read, the more infuriated I got. You ever get that feeling a book just wasn't for you? That's how I felt about this one. I thought it would be, I thought it would be fantastic, and I'd be able to nod along with all the anecdotes (to be fair, I could agree with a few of them mind) but Marnie was so incredibly frustrating as a character. If she didn't want to be in Shipley, why didn't she bloody well leave? Instead that's all I heard; how frustrated she was, how she didn't want to be there, how everyone in her life had decided to die or break their leg so she just HAD to stay. It was obviously all an act, though she got furious when it was pointed out. THEN! Just when she had decided to go travelling she became furious at people making plans for the sweet shop. I felt like I had whiplash. I just wanted to shake some sense into her and tell her to stop acting so childish.
Another thing that baffles me, is that Marnie broke up her relationship - her boyfriend left for New York without her, because she couldn't go because of the reasons I said above (death/broken legs etc) yet she still pines for him. I forget his name. Alex? Andrew? I feel like it's Alex, but I could be wrong, because he was a bit forgettable. You broke up with him! You have no right to feel aggrieved if he moves on! What, you don't want him but no one else can have him? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? *Rages* I understand there will still be emotions there, and she obviously only broke up with him so she could set him free, blah blah blah, but that still gives you no right to be furious that he's moved on, WHEN YOU TOLD HIM TO GO.
You're probably wondering why I gave this book three stars, since I haven't yet had a good word to say: BETH AND JOSH. Beth was a fantastic best friend, with a good quip ready whenever it was needed and it made me sad she was shoved into a corner, so Josh could shine. Not because I didn't like Josh - I LOVED Josh. He was fantastic. But I felt like poor Beth got pushed to one side and could have been utilised so much more. She was incredible. Like I said, so was Josh. Josh was by far the best thing about this book (although Marnie's grandmother Celia comes a close second and Chester the dog a close third). He lit the book up, he brought a spark and I cannot for the life of me understand why (view spoiler)[Marnie went back to Alex. I mean, all that build up for Josh/Marnie and JOSH JUST LEAVES? And Marnie just lets him! And runs right back to Alex *eye roll* y'see what I mean when I say I had whiplash? Jesus, lass, pick a bloke and stick with him. (hide spoiler)]
I genuinely wanted to love this book, I really did, but it just frustrated me to an unreal level. Marnie was so wishy-washy, unable to make a decision, unable to deal with this awful blogger woman who was intent on ruining her business (because bored yummy mummies do that???? They picket businesses because sweet shops are just hell on Earth basically?? Forgetting that eh Tesco and Asda and any other supermarket in the world PLUS the newsagents that was down the road, also sells sugar-filled sweets???) and I just wanted her to have a bit of gumption, a bit of spark, if you're not happy in your life, change it. It's simple. You don't want to run a sweet shop - sell it. She seemingly had enough money to travel for the rest of her life, so go for it if that's what you want. But MAKE. A. DECISION. I am not a fan of characters who hide behind other reasons for not doing stuff.
I've become far too critical of the genre I once devoured. If I had read this five years ago I would have loved it, without picking up on any flaws (except the Josh thing, that will have always have bugged me). It would have been a fantastic read, but it's the kind of book I've read time and time again. I've said it before on social media, I hate reading about people who hate their home towns, as if they're the worst places in the world, as if the grass really is greener on the other side - it isn't - no matter where you go in life, it's all the same: work, home, work, home, work home. That's life in Shipley or New York - you can't survive on fresh air.
I appear to have run out of steam. TL;DR? There were bits I liked, genuinely, but it is the bits I didn't like dominating my review, so *shrugs* what can ya do? I felt how I felt. ...more
A Boy Made of Blocks is one of those books that just tugs at your heartstrings the whole time you’re reading. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my kindA Boy Made of Blocks is one of those books that just tugs at your heartstrings the whole time you’re reading. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my kind of book, and it took me a long, long time to warm to Alex, because he’s a bit selfish, a bit self-centered, unable to see that other people need him to think about them once in a while, and the whole Minecraft aspect baffled me because I’ve only ever seen my little cousins play the game and it makes no sense! A game centered around building things? Where’s the fun in that, when you can be stealing cars and shooting bad people. But A Boy Made of Blocks really opened my eyes into how people see Minecraft, how it can be about more than building blocks. Or, rather, building blocks in more ways than one.
As I said, it took me a while to warm up to Alex. He acts like his son Sam is a chore, something to be dealt with quickly and painlessly or to avoid if possible. So I can entirely understand why Jody asked him to leave – he was no help to her at all, so why shouldn’t she just do it herself? It takes Alex so, so long to realise that just because Sam is different doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. But it’s a worthy journey, because Alex does see the errors of his ways. He does realise that he needs to change, he needs to live in the present not the past, and the way to a happier life for him and his family can be attained, if he’s willing to change. What I loved most about the book was the relationship between Alex and Sam. It’s hard at first, but once they begin to play Minecraft together, it really helps both of them come out of their shells. It filled me with such an incredible joy to see Sam more talkative, more willing to answer questions, less prone to losing his temper.
There’s a lot of sadness and anger in A Boy Made of Blocks, but there’s also hope. So don’t let the bleak plot put you off, because this is actually an incredible book, which makes a proper emotional impact as you read. Getting to know the characters was a pure joy, and Keith Stuart’s writing is incredible. It’s like he’s poured his heart and soul into this book and it shows. You can really feel every scene as you’re reading and it’s an incredibly hard to put down book. I read it in a couple of sittings, after realising that I was so tired I had to put it down and go to sleep. I can see why it’s been picked for Richard & Judy’s book club because it was an incredible read....more
Hold Back The Stars is going to be one of those books you have got to read in 2017, I’m not even kidding. It’s fantastic. It’s up there, for me, withHold Back The Stars is going to be one of those books you have got to read in 2017, I’m not even kidding. It’s fantastic. It’s up there, for me, with Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, in terms of warmth, emotion, and the ability to just rip out your heart again, and again, and again. And then stomp on it for good measure. And then throw it into a blender. Did I know what I was getting into, starting a book that tells me, up front, that there’s only 90 minutes of oxygen left, for these two characters I barely know, on New Year’s Eve? YES. BECAUSE I READ THE BLURB. But did that make the read any easier? Hell no. Was I prepared to cry and rage and wonder if I could go back and have never started the book at all? NO. NO. NO. But was it not easily one of the best goddamn books I read in 2016, or even ever? It really was. So it was actually the perfect book to finish 2016 on, something I’ll be thinking about a long, long time later.
Hold Back The Stars is set in what could be a very real future, in that America is at war (is Katie foretelling the future, considering the president elect? WHO KNOWS) and has mostly gone and Europe is now Europia and residents must Rotate to different Voivode’s (kinda like the districts in The Hunger Games) and love is forbidden until you’re old enough (in your thirties), but when Max & Carys meet, they know waiting that long is just not good enough. Now see, we don’t know this, because the book opens with that damn bad news that Max & Carys apparently only have 90 minutes of air left in their spacesuits, because for some reason THEY’RE IN SPACE. And it’s all gone horribly, awfully, catastrophically wrong. Hence the 90 minutes of oxygen left. It really throws you into the book – you’ve got no idea why they’re 90 minutes away from death, what’s happened to the Earth, why love is banned, nothing. All you know is this book is going to kill you, because even after one page, you care about Max and Carys. You want some kind of miracle to happen, for Carys to figure something out that she hasn’t thought of, and it is literally painful to read and read and read and see their oxygen running out – I don’t even know what to compare it to, it’s that painful. You want to close your eyes and pretend it’s all a dream, or some elaborate plot to prove a lesson to Max or Carys, that it’s just NOT REALLY HAPPENING.
Hold Back The Stars is one of the greatest love stories ever, mostly because it’s the most uncomplicated love story ever. Yes, Max and Carys have some bumps in their road, but it’s not over dramatic, it’s just two people who have grown up to know you can’t fall in love in your twenties and trying to resist it, it’s about overcoming something you’ve known your whole life – like absolutely hating a food, until you try it again and realise it’s not so bad. When you’re programmed to believe love is bad and then meet your soulmate, you’re bound to question if it’s real. What they go through is so real, it comes across the page so well, you really want those two to make it happen, you know that if any two crazy kids can overcome the rules, it’s Max and Carys. You BELIEVE in them, 100%, all the way. I have never in my life felt so invested in characters than I have whilst reading Hold Back The Stars. Never have I wanted so much for it all to go right, to believe that Katie Khan was tricking me, and come the end of this book there would be some amazing miraculous escape (you’ll have to read to find out – sorry!).
I can’t say as much as I want because of spoilers, it’s really hard to not spill my feelings over everything that happens because it would ruin the book. I will say that, for me, it ended with me in happy tears. That’s all your getting. Also: you will cry multiple times while reading, Katie Khan proper tugs at your heartstrings. This book seriously needs to come with its own pack of Kleenex. Hold Back The Stars needs to be a movie. I need to see this on the big screen, I can already imagine it in my mind, it’s that clear to me, and considering I lack an imagination that’s a massive thing for Katie Khan to achieve. Katie is an absolute beast of a storyteller. She’s got all the right ingredients for an absolute whopper of a bestseller, and if you don’t read this book you’re being stupid. It will ruin you and you will love it! I’m getting myself a finished copy the day it comes out firstly because of the stunning cover – LOOK AT IT. I was totally buying the finished copy for the cover anyway because #covergoals but also because of the absolutely amazing story inside. I will be thinking about Max and Carys all the time now, because this is a truly unforgettable story....more
I wanted to love this, and in some ways I did. The mental health aspect with Sydney's mom was probably my favourite part, and it seemed very well writI wanted to love this, and in some ways I did. The mental health aspect with Sydney's mom was probably my favourite part, and it seemed very well written, but everything else? UGH. It's not that this was a bad book, I just couldn't get on with the fact that Leela was a pretty awful friend to Sydney. If you make your best friend come with you on a European adventure, because your boyfriend dumped you, perhaps DON'T go running as soon as he comes calling? Because he's on the same trip? It was all Leela, Leela, Leela, and Sydney didn't get a look in and it irritated me big time. With friends like Leela who needs enemies, eh? Not to mention the bizarro spat between Leela and Kat (instigated by Leela) because Sydney made a friend at college. HOW BLOODY WELL DARE SHE, EH? Selfish mare. She should have just sat & pined for Leela, who goes to college in Montreal.
Otherwise, the book was okay. I liked all the different destinations (although, next time please be aware that the word snog in England means french kissing, not just regular kissing) and not everyone in England eats fish & chips. And the French don't all smoke. It was kinda cliche, how every country literally had every cliche spouted whilst they were in it.
I wanted a girl's backpacking trip through Europe, not a bloody drama with boys unworthy of either girl. Well, Matt didn't deserve Leela, but I loved Jackson. You can write a book without romance, though! Sydney did not have to kiss a boy in every city, for God's sake. This would have been so much fun if it was just Sydney, Leela & Kat discovering Europe's hidden gems. But it was ruined by boys, as per usual.
And the ending. It appears there will be a sequel (actually it seems like it'll be a companion, set at camp?) but I mean TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED. Did Sydney's mom cope while her daughter was away? Were there any after-effects? What about Sydney's own anxiety that came and went at will and was just left.... with no answers? The ending was just so open, I just came up on this page that said "the end" and I'm like "The hell?"
I actually didn't like this book as much as I thought I did. WHO KNEW....more
The Gift is one of those books that keeps you hooked, from first page to last. I was genuinely gripped throughout and it got to the point where I liteThe Gift is one of those books that keeps you hooked, from first page to last. I was genuinely gripped throughout and it got to the point where I literally had no idea what had happened to Callie, or if Callie was even real, or is perhaps Jenna was just slowly losing her mind. Which is actually a terrible thing to wonder, but it’s hard to trust someone who can barely remember if she locked her front door or not, that’s shocking. Not to mention the fact Jenna doubted herself so how in the world were we supposed to believe her? She was just as baffled as we were and that’s what made this such a compelling, intriguing, hard to put down book. It’s why I kept reading, reading, reading despite the fact my eyes are literally beginning to be put to sleep. It was intoxicating.
It’s incredibly hard to explain the part of the book, and depending on where you fall on the scale of someone having someone else’s organ in their body, and that organ effecting their life will make your decision on how you see this book. On the one hand, there’s a part of me that things an organ is just an organ. It doesn’t have feelings, it can’t make you feel another person, but then there’s the romantic side of me that kind of likes the idea that you can feel someone else inside you. That there is such a thing as cell memory theory, because it lets me believe that even though someone you love may have passed away, they can live on in someone else and that’s amazing. And that’s basically the premise for The Gift. Jenna has a new heart (although I’m not sure it’s ever explained why her old one wasn’t good enough – it’s hinted at a major emotional moment, but never fully explained, imo) and she’s absolutely sure that the girl whose heart she has, Callie, didn’t just die on a random road, with no seatbelt, for no reason. She’s sure there’s something more at play, and she’s determined to find out the truth, no matter what.
Like I said, it’s tough to really believe Jenna, when she feels she’s being stalked, or that she really is feeling Callie’s memories because there’s no proof. Jenna has no luck when it comes to actual, tangible, physical proof and so a lot of it is based on gut instincts, and pretty lucky plot devices. Would Nathan, Callie’s ex, really be so forward with a girl he doesn’t even know? He helps her up after she faints, and all of a sudden he’s calling her the next day? That’s debateable, but it moves the story along, and I was okay with it. The plot really motors on, as Jenna finds herself putting clues together, and figuring stuff out, and I cannot deny at all that her narrative was so compelling. From her mind maps, to her seeing a random man in a hoody, to things at work being tampered with (her orders, a pet dying) it all adds up, and it gets to the point where you’re on the edge of your seat like, “WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?!?!?!?!?!” Why are they doing this? Jenna was not, by any means, a terrible person. She just wanted the truth – whether it was her truth to find or not, at least she was being pro-active about it.
I really, really enjoyed The Gift. Louise Jensen really has a knack for telling a gripping story and there’s no doubt at all that she left me on the edge of my seat throughout. I really liked Jenna, she was a compelling heroine, and I appreciated the fact that she wanted to know what had happened to Callie, I’m not saying that no one else cared – they thought it was indeed just a tragic accident, but I liked that Jenna had the force in her to go hell for leather, no matter if it made her scared for her life, all in a bit to find the truth, for someone she didn’t even really know. That’s impressive. This is such a good thriller, one you definitely won’t regret reading, although be warned: It will keep you up late into the night!...more
I was so excited to read this book. I love boyband lit. I love getting a peek (not peak) into the boyband life, but this just seemed a bit immature toI was so excited to read this book. I love boyband lit. I love getting a peek (not peak) into the boyband life, but this just seemed a bit immature to me? The way Amelie was a snob over The Keep, the way they dismissed the music as if it's nothing - there is nothing wrong with pop music. It's why it's called pop music. It's popular.
Some of the writing was just a bit clunky for me - wrong words were used (peak instead of peek), silly little grammatical errors, weird sentences that no one would phrase is such a way. "Did he say," in regards to something charlie said instead of "did he tell you that".
The plot was ok, but I found no spark at all between Amelie and Max, IMO. Maybe it's just me? But I felt nothing.
I honestly was so excited to read the book and there were bits I liked but mostly it just didn't grab me the way other books have. Which was a shame. ...more
The Christmas Guest is one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read – it’s short and sweet and funny and charming, and ADORABLE. And why are there noThe Christmas Guest is one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read – it’s short and sweet and funny and charming, and ADORABLE. And why are there not more books written with the voice of a puppy? WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY? Because they would be amazing and that’s legit all I would read for the rest of my life, because puppies are just the greatest thing in the world. We have dogs, but we’ve never had a puppy, which makes me sad because they’re just fluffy and small and cute and mischievous. (Mind you, our full growns dogs are all of that, too!)
I loved how Teddy just bundled into the Woods’ lives and caused absolute chaos – unintentional chaos, but chaos nonetheless and he did it in his adorable way that I would never have been able to stay angry with him, seriously. But, in all seriousness, I loved the way he pulled the family together, proving once and for all that dogs really can heal all ills, and mend families and pull families together, and I just loved every page.
This is genuinely one of the sweetest books I’ve ever read. My heart felt like it was fit to burst and every time Teddy did something wrong, accidentally most of the time, my heart was in my mouth, hoping they wouldn’t send him away. I loved how Teddy helped the family, how much he meant to little Emily, who I wanted to hug, and proves once again that a puppy isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life. *Happy sigh*...more