Hi! Nice to see you back again. This is the 2nd instalment of 2019’s Quarterly Book Reviews, this quarter I will be reviewing books from April – June.
The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry:
“I wished I were as optimistic as I pretended. I used to be. Not anymore.”
Personally, there is nothing more scary than an ‘evil’ child. Children are supposed bring fun, happiness and laughter in to our lives – not despair, fear and hopelessness. There was times in this book that I felt physically sick and horrified by the events in this title, it’s not for the faint hearted.
This story follows Hannah and Christopher, a married couple who have a picture perfect life – a great marriage, a lovely house and jobs they both love at the local hospital. However one thing is missing.. a family. When an abandoned and seemingly abused 6 year old, Janie, turns up at the hospital, the couple are quick to foster her. However their picture perfect family is soon turned upside down when Janie’s behaviour becomes increasingly challenging and disturbing. Hannah becomes the brunt of Janie’s hatred while Christopher is besotted by her and refuses to see Janie for who she truly is.
The only reason I am dropping a star is because the story ended at the worst cliffhanger, it was too abrupt. I never learnt what happened to Janie, Hannah or Christopher, unless there is going to be a sequel to explain this, I won’t be giving this book 5 stars.
Don’t let the sudden cliffhanger put you off reading this book though, it draws you in from the first page and is morbidly fascinating. Hannah is a very real character, I was drawn to her instantly and her downward spiral caused by Janie was heartbreaking. Christopher was a bit of a let down, he was totally brainwashed by Janie and this made a lot of his choices very questionable, it’s like his brain fell out of his head half way through the story. Janie on the other hand.. bloody hell, what a nightmare child. She’s manipulative, too intelligent and horribly charming, if she doesn’t turn out to be a sociopath in the future then I will be very surprised.
This book is all kinds of horrible, fascinating and disturbing but I was still unable to put it down. Fans of the film Orphan would eat this title up.
Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall
“It’s so easy to lie to yourself, because you’re never going to get called out on it. No one’s ever going to say: hang on, that’s not right. There might be a small voice in the corner of your mind that speaks in the dark of the night, when all the other noise has died down, but it’s easy to ignore, especially when the sun comes up and the world starts again.”
After reading Friend Request by Laura Marshall and very much enjoying it, I know I had to check out her other novel.. and I was not disappointed.
Alternating between 2006 and 2017, the story opens with introverted Ellen and her best friend Karina watching a new and exciting family move in next door, a bohemian Mum, a good looking dad, two sons and the anomaly that is Sasha North. Ellen is soon put under Sasha’s spell and starts spending more and more time round the new family’s house, until a horrific crime is committed that changes the neighbours relationship forever. Ten years later, Ellen and Sasha are still close and are sharing a flat in London.. until Sasha goes missing. Ellen has to unravel the mystery of that frightful night and find Sasha before someone else does.
This took me a few chapters to get a feel of the story but I was soon swept up in the mystery. The story was narrated by mostly Ellen but a few other characters narrated a few chapters too which gave the story some depth. Laura Marshall writes past and present books so well, I was never lost on what was happening and the story flowed so well, even between different years and different narrators. The twist at the end had me floored, I may just be a terrible detective, but I didn’t expect what happened near the end of the story. This book also deals with many complex issues well: domestic abuse, rape, jealousy, rivalry and alcoholism.
Some of the characters fell a bit flat for me, I wanted to know more about why they did what they did and how that affected them. Also some events at the end of the book were left as a cliffhanger, which works well but I wanted to see some justice take place.
All in all, a great thriller for fans of Laura Marshall’s previous work!
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
“Besides, even good girls have secrets.”
Yep, I’m jumping right back on the Ellen Hopkins train. I read quite a few of her titles last year and was memorised by her writing style and the complex stories she writes.
Crank is loosely based on the life of Hopkins’ own daughter and her decent in to crystal meth addiction. The story kicks off with Kristina going to New Mexico to visit her absent and wayward father. Once there, Kristina falls for a boy who lives in her father’s apartment block, she is determined to shed her good girl image so she creates an alter ego, Bree. Kristina/Bree is soon swept up into the party scene, dabbling with alcohol, weed, MDMA and finally, Crystal Meth. She returns home as an entirely new person, skipping school, ditching her friends, ignoring her family and hooking up with bad crowd to supply her with meth.
I generally don’t have anything bad to say about this title, it had me hooked from the first paragraph. Although Hopkins’ writing isn’t for everyone, I love it, she has a way with words and in some way, writing in this poetic style sucks you in to the story more. I only gave this title 4 stars as the series isn’t over yet as there is two other titles.
Crank isn’t a story of redemption or hope, it is depressing and sad. It showcases how easy it is for young people to fall in to addiction and the devastating effect it has on their lives. This is why I love reading Ellen Hopkins’ titles, they a bleak but realistic, not everyone gets a fairy tale ending.
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
“I don’t need more pain in my life. Why did I invite it in? Do I have to feel pain to believe I feel anything at all?”
Following the events of Crank, Glass follows Kristina a few months after giving birth to her son Hunter. Thinking she could control the ‘monster’, a.k.a Crystal Meth, Kristina throws herself into her schooling and finding a job. However she can’t give up addiction that easily, soon she has rebounded with the monster, doing anything she can get her hands on a decent supply.. even if that means giving up the only thing that could set her free, her baby.
I honestly think Glass was ten times better than Crank (which was already bloody good), Kristina’s story isn’t unique but the way Hopkins writes it really sucks you in. Again, the way the author writes in poetic verses really helps the story, as it seems the more Kristina gets sucked into the drug world, the more erratic the poetic verses become.. more spaces, less linear writing, more use of italics etc. I don’t want to give away much more of the story, but whatever you do, read this book.
Emotionally jarring, disturbing and all too realistic, Glass showcases the downwards spiral of addiction and how it easily ensnares anyone into it’s grasp.
Fall Out by Ellen Hopkins
“Why doesn’t love come with an owner’s manual?”
The final book in the Crank trilogy and told in the perspective of Kristina’s three eldest children nearly twenty years after the events of Glass. Fall Out follows Hunter, Autumn and Summer who are scattered around America in the care of different guardians as they come to terms with the trauma caused by their shared mother Kristina and her addiction.
Fall Out was a great conclusion to the trilogy, it’s sad to see how one person’s decisions in life can vastly affect a whole range of people. This book didn’t leave me hopeful and happy, it left me concerned and worried for Kristina and her family.. but this is why this series is so good, it’s real.
This title ended with a slight cliffhanger, you find out briefly what became of Kristina and her children but some of the events of the book where left open. I guess Hopkins wanted the ending to be vague as the story is based on real people, but I’m just too nosy.
The best thing about this title is the epilogue which includes a couple of pages written by the real ‘Kristina’. It is honestly heartbreaking, she tells a snippet of the real story of how she got into drugs and how her downfall affected her friends and family. She has a writer’s soul just like her mother, I hope she writes about her story some time in the future.
The List by Siobhan Vivian
“Sometimes, when you get something new, you trick yourself into believing it has the power to change absolutely everything about you.”
Every year a list is posted with one girl in each grade being announced as the prettiest and the ugliest in the year. No-one knows who makes the list every year and every year it turns the school on it’s head. The List follows 8 girls during the week between the list being posted and the Homecoming dance, the one week that changes everything for Abby, Candace, Lauren, Sarah, Danielle, Bridget, Margo and Jennifer.
The list was gripping and easy to read, I read it in under a week, could have read it in one session if I didn’t have to work. It easily showcases how appearances determine who you are going to be in High School, are you the cheerleader? The Brainiac? The Athlete? Or the Loser? It also touched on some very serious issues that are gripping our society, eating disorders, bullying, family troubles, toxic friendships and toxic relationships.
However, the book has so much potential but didn’t deliver. There was too many main characters with very interwoven lives, it became slightly confusing. Also the story ended with a terrible cliffhanger, none of the plot points of the title were wrapped up, it was all left open ended.
Even with some problems, this title was still a good read about how tough it is to be a teenager in the 21st century.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
“They say it’s good to let your grudges go, but I don’t know, I’m quite fond of my grudge. I tend it like a little pet.”
The main three characters were introduced as typical stereotypes, Madeline, the busybody suburban mum, Celeste the beautiful and very wealthy suburban mum, and then Jane, the plain-jane, young and single mum. As the story evolves the characters open up and show that they are all very multi-dimensional characters with troubled lives just like the rest of us.
I often get confused when books involve loads of side characters, especially when they all have partners and children, but Moriarty keeps you as a reader well informed. There was only a handful of times near the beginning of the book where I couldn’t place certain characters. These minor characters also chimed in the end of each chapter with little plot points foreshadowing future events in the title, this was such a special plot device and really had be hooked with finding out what happened in these foreshadowed events.
I actually don’t have anything bad to say about this title, I didn’t enjoy the TV show but I’m so glad I didn’t let that stop me reading the book!
The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
“I love new clothes. If everyone could just wear new clothes everyday, I reckon depression wouldn’t exist anymore.”
Also known as Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic follows Becky Bloomwood, a London socialite who seems to have it all.. an apartment in the trendy Fulham, a job as a journalist and a wardrobe to die for. Becky may have everything a girl could wish for, but she can’t actually afford it, and now the bank is sending her final notice letters with big sums enclosed, she needs to cut down on her lifestyle but how?
I love me a Sophie Kinsella novel ever since reading My Not So Perfect Life last year. The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic is hilarious, Becky get’s herself in to some awkward situations that make for great reading, she’s ditsy, materialistic and doesn’t have a clue how her actions will affect others, but she’s a great character and you can’t hate her.
I watched the film before reading the book years ago, although Isla Fisher made a great Becky you can’t beat the book, it exceeded my expectations. It’s not the most amazing book ever but it’s an easy read and all the characters have many funny quirks about them.
One to read while on your lunch breaks to make the working day go by with some laughter.
Other books read but not reviewed:
- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
- The Language of Kindness by Christie Watson
- Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
- The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
- Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge read so far: 27
Thank you so much for stopping by, catch’ya next month!