Book Review: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Book: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey – published by Orbit, hardcover edition, 403 pages.

Synopsis: Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My thoughts: I went into this book knowing very little about it, besides having read the synopsis and knowing that a few of my friends had recommended it to me. I knew that it was essentially going to be a thriller, but besides that I had no idea what I was going into. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise, because I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked within the first 50 pages, and could not put it down because I simply needed to know what was going to happen next.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, because there are some elements that could be revealed that would be considered spoilers, and I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone because it was such an adventure to read. I will say that I think the character development was truly wonderful, which is one of my ‘must have’ elements of a book, and brings this close to a top-tier rating from me. I also think this book will translate wonderfully to film (which, by the way, was released in September this year), and I can’t wait to see the story played out on screen.

I’d highly recommend this book for people who love fast-paced and action-packed stories set in (believable) dystopian times, and who aren’t afraid of a little bit of gore. I would also recommend going in blind and enjoying the ride.

Rating: 8/10

November TBR

I was pleased with how many books I managed to complete last month, and I think the Spookathon definitely helped get my number of books read up a bit higher than usual. This month I’m planning to participate in #AroundTheWorldAThon, so I’ve included a couple of Oceanic books in this month’s mix to read during that week. I’ll be sure to keep you posted with how I go with the readathon, which by the way is hosted by two of my favourite Aussie Booktubers – Kirstie and April.

Here’s what I’m planning to read this month –

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Sweet Valley University #1College Girls

October Reading Wrap Up

Books Read: 7
Audiobooks Read: 1
Pages Read: 1745
Hours Listened: 4hrs 57minutes
TBR Books Read: 6
Favourite Book: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

I’m pretty happy with how things went with my reading this month, and I think the Spookathon certainly helped move things along and helped motivate me to read a bit more than I usually would have. I’m looking forward to taking a step back from spooky books and thrillers and moving towards more fun and lighthearted stories as we head into Summer.

Spookathon 2016 Wrap Up

The 2016 ‘Spookathon’ came to an end on Sunday the 23rd, and I’m happy to say that although I didn’t read all of the books on my TBR I still somehow managed to complete all of the challenges. I’m starting to think perhaps I am just too busy to participate in readathons, because I really struggled to find any extra free time to read throughout the week. Having said that, I found it really fun checking in with people on twitter and Instagram, and seeing how everyone was going. Here’s how I went this year –

Total Pages Read: 669
Total Hours listened: 2hrs 35 minutes
Total Books Completed: 3

A book with a spooky word in the title – Goosebumps: Horror At Camp JellyJam
A book with red on the cover – Sweet Valley University: The Roommate
A 2016 release – Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
A book containing a creature – Goosebumps: Horror At Camp Jellyjam
A thriller – Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown

Book Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Book: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – published by Penguin Random House, audible edition, 4 hours 57 minutes.

Synopsis: In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions”, Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate-this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady”, she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes”, Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

My thoughts: I l-o-v-e Mindy Kaling, and I l-o-v-e-d this book. I read Mindy’s first book a few years ago, about a year or so into watching her show The Mindy Project. It fell a little flat for me, and I think it was because I didn’t recognise her voice as much as I do now. I decided to pick this book up in audio format, for something light and fun to listen to on my drive home from work in the evenings (I’ve listened to way too much true-crime lately and it’s become a bit of a downer for me). This book was a mood lifter and laugh-out-loud funny for sure, but at times was surprisingly touching and I felt myself moved to tears on more than one occasion. I feel like that’s the true mark of a wonderful comedy writer.

Mindy mentions how often people confuse her with her Mindy Lahiri character, and at times I admit I’ve been guilty of that. Granted, there are some blurred lines between the two, but Mindy is more grounded than her on-screen persona and that comes across quite clearly in this book. I looked forward to listening to this every evening on my drive home, and was really disappointed when it ended. I think this would make a great beach read, and I highly recommend picking it up of you’re after something light-hearted and easy to read this summer.

Rating: 8/10

Spookathon TBR

The Spookathon has begun! If you’re wondering what the heck a Spookathon is, it’s a week-long readathon where you focus on reading spooky books, that runs from October 17-23. My earlier attempt at a readathon was a spectacular failure, but I am determined to make this one work and complete all of the challenges. Here are the challenges set, and what I’m planning to read for each one –

1. A book with a spooky word in the title – Goosebumps Book #33 The Horror at Camp Jellyjam
2. A book with red on the cover – Sweet Valley University Thriller Edition – The Roommate
3. A 2016 release – Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
4. A book containing a creature – The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
5. A Thriller – All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Book Review: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Book: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter – published by Century, paperback edition, 544 pages.

Synopsis: With a missing girl in the news, Claire Scott can’t help but be reminded of her sister, who disappeared twenty years ago in a mystery that was never solved.

But when Claire begins to learn the truth about her sister, nothing will ever be the same.

My thoughts: [TW: rape, graphic sexual violence]

I love that the synopsis of this book is so concise, and I feel like that’s how all good thrillers should be described; so with that in mind I’ll try and keep this review short and sweet. If you’re not averse to reading about graphic sexual violence and rape (in the context of a well crafted story), I highly recommend picking this up.

This book was an absolutely page-turner, I couldn’t put it down, and I think at one point I read about 50% of it in one sitting. It’s captivating, there are twists and turns throughout, and the character development is extremely well done. I likened this to what I imagine it would be like if Liane Moriarty wrote crime thrillers, because of the rich back story and character development.

My mum had been telling me to read Karin Slaughter for a while, so I caved when I saw she had a new release out that was getting a lot of positive reviews. I really like that this was a standalone, as it was a wonderful introduction to the writing of Karin Slaughter for me. I’m glad that I took mum’s advice and finally picked this up, and I’m so happy to finally have a new author to be excited about.

Rating: 10/10

Current Library Loans

I’m doing well at sticking to my plan of visiting my local library every second week or so, and I’m making good progress with the library books I’ve taken out so far. There are a couple of books that seem to make their way to the bottom of the pile, and if I’m not interested enough to pick them up by the time the renew period is over, I return them. Obviously I’m just not that into them, and that’s ok. Here’s what I have out on loan at the moment –

Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Secret Brother by Virginia Andrews
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by Virginia Andrews
We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

October TBR

October is approaching! Which means it’s Halloween (in some parts of the world at least), and time to bring out all the spooky books on my TBR shelf. One of my favourite booktubers Lala is co-hosting something called the Spookathon, which is essentially a readathon where you focus on reading “spooky” books. You can watch her video about it here. Keeping this in mind as I’d like to participate, here are the books on my TBR list for the month –

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Goosebumps Book #30 It Came From Beneath The Sink
Goosebumps Book #33 The Horror at Camp Jellyjam
Sweet Valley University (Thriller Edition) The Roommate

I’ll be sure to let you know how I go, once the month is over!

Book Review: Celeste by V.C. Andrews

Book: Celeste by V.C. Andrews – published by Pocket Star, paperback edition, 432 pages.

Synopsis: He was her mirror image. Now the mirror has cracked.

Celeste and her twin brother, Noble, are as close as can be — until a tragic accident takes Noble’s life. It’s a loss that pushes their mother, a woman obsessed with New Age superstitions, over the edge….

Desperate to keep her son “alive,” Celeste’s mother forces her to cut her hair, wear boys’ clothes, and take on Noble’s identity. Celeste has virtually disappeared — until a handsome boy moves in next door, and Celeste will risk her mother’s wrath to let herself come back to life.

My thoughts: [TW: rape, physical and emotional abuse] [Spoilers]

I’ve read quite a few V.C. Andrews books in my time, and I’m confident in saying this is the worst so far. It has all the markings of true V.C. Andrews trash: hints at incest, fatal car accidents, a pivotal scene where the protagonist gets her period for the first time, rape, child abuse, a psychopathic matriarch… the list goes on. Although it seems strange to say a book containing ANY of those themes could have even an ounce of charm, but there is a kind of nostalgia linked to some of V.C. Andrews’ books, and this one lacks any sort of charm whatsoever.

The story revolves around Celeste and her twin brother Noble (wtf is that name), who dies suddenly in a freak accident near their house. Now, the twin’s mother vaguely comes across as a bit of a weirdo from the start of the book, but after Noble’s death she forces Celeste to take on his persona – fully cementing her froot-loop status. She cuts Celeste’s hair off, throws out all of her belongings, forces her to do hard manual labour to toughen herself up, and goes so far as to tape down Celeste’s breasts when she starts to develop into a young woman.

The whole book is completely bizarre, and although the synopsis hints at a “handsome neighbourhood boy” moving in and shaking up Celeste’s life with romance; what actually happens is he repeatedly rapes her once he discovers she is in fact not a boy but a vulnerable young woman. Oh, and he robs her too. Celeste falls pregnant and mother proceeds to steal her baby, dye its hair, and raise it as her own. The ending leads into the next book in the series, which I 100% will not be reading. I was tempted to ‘DNF’ this, but I gave it a go and it was a huge waste of time.

Rating: 2/10