Thursday, 21 February 2019

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson has always lived a predictable life. Intelligent and from an upper middle class family, she has done well at school, been accepted into a good college and now she is on a whirlwind tour of Europe with her best friend Melanie, a gift from her parents. Then by chance, Allyson encounters a group of actors and finds herself smitten with Willem, a charismatic young actor who has been drifting through Europe for the past two years. He convinces her to spend a day with him in Paris, a day which ends in heartbreak for Allyson. Over the next year, her experience causes her life to unravel and come back together in the most surprising of ways, until she decides to return to Europe and track down the man who broke her heart.

Funny, sad and ultimately hopeful, this is a near perfect coming of age story about a young woman who has been too afraid to live life on her own terms until she is more or less forced to. Allyson is a sympathetic character, a young woman who wants to please her parents and live up to their expectations, but who is also beginning to realise that the life they want for her may not be the one that she wants for herself. And the story with Willem is quite intriguing, as is that ending. 

Initially, I wasn't sure how I felt about this story, as I assumed that it was going to be quite painful, but the author cleverly weaves in seeds of hope along the way. There is a sequel, focusing on Willem and his experiences after he and Allyson parted company in Paris, which I hope to read soon.

Highly recommended.  

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Review: Shattered Memories by VC Andrews

After being abducted by a creep and discovering that the whole thing was a set up by her jealous and utterly insane twin sister, Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald is at home and trying to make sense of what just happened to her in Shattered Memories, the third novel in the Mirror Sisters Series, written by VCA ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman. With both her mother and twin sister in a mental health facility, Kaylee must adapt to life in the outside world. And the whole thing is utterly dull. Readers are sent down the usual path of a VCA novel, in which Kaylee starts at a new school where no one knows her, she doesn't make many friends but she does get to hook up with a new bloke and learns to stand up for herself. And, of course, a few odd things happen every now and again, you know just to remind readers that these books are supposed to be shocking. Though, quite frankly, I'd be a whole lot more shocked at this point if someone, anyone, actually did something truly interesting. (And no, what happens in that tacked on epilogue does not count.) There are also numerous dated references to pop culture and fashion.

This one is standard VCA fare. Kaylee more or less recovers, the nutty relatives make a brief return for the sake of doing nutty things and the whole thing goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. It's probably a little bit less disturbing than the other two titles in the series, but by no means is this a well crafted or well plotted book.

Not recommended.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Something strange is happening in Santa Lora, a small college town in Southern California. It starts when one girl experiences flu like symptoms, falls asleep and cannot be woken. Soon other residents of the college begin to fall asleep, as do other residents of the town. As the virus sweeps through the town, so does fear, panic and the need to survive at all costs.

Beautifully written, this novel was an utterly captivating story about an icky subject. Through her many characters from isolated student Mei, to pregnant victim Rebecca, to young parents Annie and Ben, to Libby and Sara the children of a conspiracy theorist, through to the ageing Nathaniel whose story takes a very different twist, we experience the many sides to this strange phenomena, which in many ways echoes the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. And the whole thing is fascinating. Much like Nevil Schute's novel about the end of the world, On the Beach, many characters find a newfound sense of purpose and hope through the disaster and it's quite interesting to see who grows, and how.

And just wait until you discover the reason for the title.

Overall, I found this one to be quite captivating. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy of The Dreamers.

Karen Thompson Walker is also the author of The Age of Miracles, a coming of age novel set against a very surprising backdrop. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

Couldn't resist a little dark humour instead of the lovey dovey stuff. Sorrynotsorry!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Friday, 8 February 2019

Friday Funnies