“How many times have you told me you’re a monster?
So be a monster. Be the thing they all fear when they close their eyes at night.”
The ending of Six of Crows guaranteed that Crooked Kingdom would be about one simple but necessary thing: revenge. And hey, the revenge in this book was sweet.
Unfortunately for me, Crooked Kingdom was released during my biggest reading slump this year which meant it took me about twenty years to complete. I’m going to start off by saying I did not enjoy the plot itself as much as Six of Crows, however, the character development in this sequel was off the charts – both the characters as individuals and their friendships/romances. I thoroughly enjoyed the heist in Six of Crows as the whole book worked up to that one heist, whereas in Crooked Kingdom, it was about the gang dismantling various players in Ketterdam. There were a lot of twists and turns and a lot of things going on which is difficult to do as readers, such as myself, can enjoy some aspects more than others.
This book is important to me, I want to clutch it to my heart and thank it. It is honest and raw. It is eye-opening and it is addictive. I think every person, especially every woman should read this book. Rupi Kaur doesn’t shy away from all the parts that make a woman. The miracles our bodies can perform, the pain that we can withstand. All the horribly beautiful things that make us. I’m happy a book of poetry like this exists, written by a woman who has known pain but has also known healing.
we are all born so beautiful
the greatest tragedy is being convinced we are not.
‘I make my mind go blank. I am not that girl anymore. I am an It. I am a collection of doll parts, of pink flesh, of legs spread open for all to see.’
For obvious reasons I know that going into this book, I was going to spend majority of the time being angry. I wasn’t wrong. The story starts with Emma being a very confident young girl. She’s beautiful and she knows it. She has many friends, she’s popular and she’s sexually aware. I really love that Louise O’Neill wrote Emma like this. Yes, she was sexually active, confident and beautiful but does that mean she was asking to get raped? Absolutely not. The only complaint I have with the beginning of this book is that there are a lot of characters, who are all named. This made it difficult during the party scene because there were so many names floating about. I got quite confused but this was such a minor annoyance that I couldn’t mark the book down.
The second half of this book was heartbreaking, especially when the story continues a year after the event. Emma is a completely different person – she has been ostracised by all her friends and the entire community, she has stopped going to school, her family is falling apart and Emma herself is just an empty shell. She keeps having invasive thoughts, she still blames herself. This is not an easy book, it hasn’t got a happy ending, it hasn’t even got a ‘satisfactory’ ending but it’s realistic. This is happening all over the world and whether it’s in the media or not, it is too common. It makes me angry to read these books but I feel a need to so I can spread the word.
‘My body is not my own any more. They have stamped their names all over it.’
I’m not saying that because I disliked it (as you can probably tell from the five stars that I gave it) but because it was just so painfully true to life that I really felt for Emma, the main character, and it hit me hard how the plot of this book could easily be the reality of so many girls around the world right now.
Asking For It tells the story of Emma, a young, confident Irish girl, and what happens to her one night when she goes to a party. When she wakes up the next day with no memory of what happened or how she got home, photos from the night before begin to circulate the internet and accusations and rumours start to spread. Emma is the victim of the situation, but in the eyes of her community, she becomes the perpetrator.
(How many boys?)(What were you wearing?)(How much did you have to drink?)
Asking For It is a must read. It delves into rape culture, slut shaming, and the dangers of social media in a way that I’ve rarely seen done in a novel before. I cannot emphasise the importance of this book.
I thought it was intriguing how the author almost tries to turn the reader against Emma in the beginning of the book, emphasising her self confidence and her need to be the most beautiful girl in town, as well as bringing up her sex life. It brings up the question of, despite the way Emma acted or dressed, was she still asking to be raped? Of course she wasn’t.
I had liked it before. I had encouraged them.(Maybe I had been asking for it.)
I almost knocked a star off my rating for this book, purely because I was dissatisfied with the ending, but then I realised – that’s not what this book is about. Despite using a fictional situation with fictional characters, this book tells a true story of possibly millions of girls, so many of whom would have been dissatisfied with the ending to the story of their trauma.
As Louise O’Neill states in the afterword:
(We were kindly asked to give an honest review by the author, Tiffany McDaniel. Thank you to both her and Netgalley for providing us with a copy.)
Wow. The Summer That Melted Everything is absolutely unlike anything I’ve read before – this book blew me away. You may see the title and immediately think that this is a warm, light-hearted YA contemporary. If you did think that, you probably couldn’t be more wrong. The Summer That Melted Everything is deep, dark and gritty; it’s filled with suspense and delves into some important issues (specifically religious extremism, racism and homophobia amongst others) which are still so relevant today despite the book mostly being set in the 1980’s.
The plot centres around Fielding Bliss’s reminiscences of the summer of 1984 – the year when his Father invited the devil to their town of Breathed, Ohio. At the beginning of the summer, Sal turns up, claiming to have answered this invitation, and brings the blistering heat with him. He almost instantly becomes the fifth member of the Bliss family, but not all citizens of Breathed are as welcoming towards him. The heat begins to take it’s toll, and although the town may not have expected the devil to look like a thirteen year old boy, they begin to believe that appearances can be deceptive.
So many mysteries surrounded this book whilst I was reading, and many still do – who was Sal, really? Could the events of summer 1984 in Breathed, Ohio have been avoided if he hadn’t turned up on the Bliss’s porch, or if Autopsy Bliss hadn’t invited the devil to the town in the first place? Last but not least, why was Sal so obsessed with ice cream?
I wouldn’t even know what genre to fit this book into. Adult fiction? Magic realism? Historical Fiction? All I know is that from the first page, I was hooked. It has some heavy themes such as racism, homophobia, religious extremism and mob mentality but it still entwines itself with some happy moments between family and also what it means to be family. The Bliss family accept the devil (A.K.A, Sal) as their own and this leaves us with the age old question, why do we assume the devil is the bad guy? What if he’s just a young boy with a love for ice cream. Fielding tells his story as an old man, scared of letting people close to him, he tells the story of his brother Sal, the devil in dirty overalls. Grand, his brother struggling with his sexuality. His mother who is afraid of the rain and his father, Autopsy who invites the devil in the first place. The familial relationships in this book were perfect. Fielding who is as much in love with his big brother as it is possible for a young boy to be. Stella and Autopsy who protect and love Sal despite everything. Sal who helps Stella leave her house and to not be scared of the rain. It is so important to read a novel in which a love between a family is this strong.
What amazed me most whilst reading this is the writing itself. Tiffany McDaniel writes as though she was born with poetry in her veins. Everything flows, everything is a metaphor, she makes the horrible beautiful. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost.Everything ties together through her beautiful writing. I would read anything written by her hand. Simple lines that cut you deep and make you wonder why you’ve never constructed a sentence like that yourself: ‘Granny was my first loss, my first emptying.’
Fire burned throughout the entire novel, from start to finish. This is not a happy book and it certainly doesn’t end happily. This is the story of a summer in which the heat took everything. Nobody left unscathed. It shows us that we are all capable of monstrous acts, sometimes monstrous acts which are necessary. My heart ached for some characters and my blood boiled because of others. I felt every emotion reading this book and I would recommend it to anybody. I’ve never read a book like this and I’m so glad that I was given the opportunity to.
Overall, Tiffany McDaniel managed to write a book with such heavy themes that it could have failed but instead she wrote a book with a whimsical, yet dark feel and at the centre, this beautiful family who love each other, faults and all. The devil really is in the details of this book. I want to read it again. I want its words tattooed on my skin. Congratulations to Tiffany on this spectacular debut that will live with me for a very long time.
|Dangerous Girls is such a compelling read. I loved this book so much that I finished it in just a few hours – it drags you in and keeps you captivated throughout its entirety. I couldn’t put it down as I had to know who had killed Elise – I really couldn’t concentrate on anything else until I’d found out! Then, when I did find out, I was so shocked but at the same time, so happy. This book had such a perfect ending.
Everything about this book was so complex, from Anna and Elise’s relationship and what their possessiveness over each other entailed, to Anna’s character in itself. I loved the way that the story unfolded, starting with Elise’s death, and how the reader was allowed to see more and more of ‘behind the scenes’ and flashback moments as the book went on, as well as floor plans of the holiday home and other pieces of evidence used in the trial. It allowed you to form your opinion on each character and on who committed the murder, change those opinions constantly as the book went on, and then have your mind completely blown when you reach the end and find out that everything you thought you’d worked out in this book was a lie.
I can’t recommend Dangerous Girls enough – I’m not always a fan of contemporaries, but this beautiful little contemporary mystery-thriller just blew me away. I can’t wait to read Dangerous Boys!
we were both sent this book by the publisher, Titan Books, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are our own.
This Savage Song is released on the 7th June in the UK and the 5th July in the US.
I feel like it wouldn’t be right to mark this as anything but five stars. It is a book that doesn’t make you focus on punctuation or grammar etc, but more the story itself.
This novel is based on a true story and we follow Kate Weston who after attending a party, wakes up with no memory of its events. However, four people from Kate’s school are arrested over charges of sexual assault and child pornography. What is heartbreaking is that the victim, Stacey, is not believed and pretty much the whole town rallies around to support the assaulters.
“Will be boys’ is what people say to excuse guys when they do something awful.”
So many times during reading this book, I wanted to scream and cry and tear my hair out. It deals with sexism, rape culture, slut-shaming, feminism and the vicious web of social media. Stacey became an outcast all because she was brave enough to speak out and because Kate dared to believe the victim, she too was cast aside by everyone she knew. This is happening every day in our world and as the author states at the start of the book, ‘And for every “Stacey” whose story was never told.’
It is an important read, an eye-opening read. It will make you angry and heartbroken but it will also make you realise how important this topic is.
“Not being able to say no isn’t the same as saying yes.”
What We Saw follows the story of Kate, who recently attended a party, left early, and over the next few days discovers that an old friend of hers who was also at the party has filed allegations of rape and assault against four boys from their school. Stacey, the victim, immediately has her claims dismissed by the entirety of the small town that the girls live in. Only Kate bothers to give her the benefit of the doubt and question what truly happened at the party.
Lindsey sits up and looks at me, her eyes are bright, but clear—quickened by the rage that fills her voice. “You heard Rachel’s ‘rules.’ If you learn what we learn here—that Dooney and all those guys are entitled to tell you if you’re pretty or not, that it’s up to you to make sure you don’t give boys a reason to hurt you? Then you don’t think it was a crime. You think what happened to Stacey was fair game. It was boys being boys. Just a trashy girl learning the hard way what can happen when she drinks too much and wears a short skirt.”
What’s truly heartbreaking about this book is that it’s based on a true story, and not only that, but reflects the stories of so many rape victims throughout history. Stacey is called all sorts of names intended to be derogatory, and no one will even bother to listen to her side of the story. It is such a relevant book in todays culture – besides dealing with issues of rape, assault and consent, it also looks at negative views of feminism and slut shaming. Stacey is called a whore and a slut after going to the police with her allegations, and when a feminist group threaten to post information on the case online, they’re immediately bombarded with derogatory comments relating to their views.
“Why does everybody say ‘feminist’ that way?”
“The way Dooney kept saying ‘herpes’ after health class last year. Like it’s this terrible, unspeakable thing.”
I just literally don’t know how to express how much this book has impacted me already. It definitely wasn’t the most brilliant book I’ve read in terms of writing style etc (although some of the literary techniques that the author used were brilliant – I especially loved the use of some modern lyrics that sounded rather disturbing when mixed with the subject matter being fitted in between pieces of dialogue) or even in the plot (as I found a lot of it to be quite predictable), but the content and issues it deals with are just so important that it still definitely deserves the 5 stars I’ve given it. What We Saw is definitely a must read.
Becky’s thoughts –
It isn’t often that I read crime fiction, but the idea of a Scandinavian crime novel based on a true story definitely appealed to me. I’m currently in Iceland, and chose to read Burial Rites leading up to and during my trip here to see the full perspective of the book, and I’m so glad I did! Burial Rites gives a lot of interesting cultural facts about Iceland, and being immersed in that culture definitely made me read this book in a different light. I was immediately drawn in to Agnes’s story and the mysteries surrounding it that were unfolded as the book went on. The narrative didn’t move too fast which perfectly built up the tension as you got closer towards the end, and the letters and records (all from real archives from the events) at the beginning of each chapter really helped to keep the facts straight, as well as inform you what was happening outside of Kornsà, where Agnes was staying. I loved how Agnes’s story was told through her telling it to the priest sent to absolve her before her execution, rather than the book beginning at the crime scene – it really helped to develop Agnes as a character, as well as developing her relationships with the priest and the family she was staying with. The ending was sudden, perfect, and heartbreaking all at once. I also really enjoyed the section at the end of the book in which Hannah Kent explains how she discovered Agnes and her story. The conversations she describes having with Icelandic locals who believed Agnes to be a witch or an evil woman really showed how awful the unfair prejudices against her were during her sentencing. I really did enjoy this book and would thoroughly recommend it – just be prepared to have your heart broken.
Upon starting it, realising that it was based on a true story (and a story I wasn’t aware of), I automatically became 10x more fascinated. I haven’t read a lot of books based in Iceland so diving into a new country and learning new traditions was truly an amazing experience (especially with the help sheet at the start.) I like that the author included actual documents taken from the event and included them throughout the book. Not only does it add authenticity, but it also allows you to have knowledge of old Icelandic beliefs.
I like how the end was recorded (as a fact rather than fiction) because it made it all the more real. It’s one of those novels that although you know what is going to happen, you still wish it didn’t. Following Agnes as she went from being feared and hated to eventually respected and understood was so important and needed to happen in order for you to feel empathy at the end of the book.