Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Review - Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

Nothing Like You
By Lauren Strasnick
Simon Pulse, 224 pages
Published: October 20th 2009

"You think he's yours but he's not I thought.
"You think he's yours but really he's mine."

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything -- so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect...and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.

- Goodreads description

1.5 out of 5

After reading other reviews on Goodreads, it appears that I may just be the only person in the world who didn't like this book.

If I was to describe this book in one word, it'd probably be predictable. That's not always a bad thing, but with this book, it wasn't just one thing that you could forsee, it was a lot.

I really wanted to like Nothing Like You, but I can't really feel much for it. Maybe I've been spoiled by the other contemporary YA books I've read recently, but I just found this rather...bland.

This had a lot of potential that I don't feel it lived up to. It could have been something amazing but sadly, for me, it wasn't. It felt like the plot kept getting stuck, so the author just went for the easiest (and unfortunately) most obvious way to move the story along. Also, the end felt like it was lacking in, well, everything to be honest. It didn't feel much like a resolution. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting hearts, flowers & a chorus of birds, but it just seemed far too abrupt. I know it was to drive home the 'actions have consequences' and not everything works out riff, but it just felt like there should've been more after it.

I really can't seem to find anything redeeming to say about Holly. I'm sorry, but I really couldn't connect with her at all. She grated on me pretty much the entire book, I wanted to hit her so many times and tell her to get a grip! More than once I found myself thinking 'seriously?' when she was all 'oh woe is me' over Paul. She's possibly the only fictional female I dislike more than Bella Swan, and if you knew me, you'd know that that's something I never thought I'd see myself type. It wasn't until near the end of the book where I actually felt something for her. It wasn't until that point that she seemed to have any real depth, as opposed to just being a swoony naive little girl.
Describing Paul is quite easy to do. He's a douchebag, pure and simple. At first I thought he might actually be a little bit of a nice guy, but those illusions were quickly shattered. There's not really much else I can say without breaking into a long list of swear words and insults.
Saskia & Nils were actually better characters than Holly & Paul in my opinion. They seemed have more depth, and Nils in particular was just much more likeable.

The one thing I will commend Strasnick for in this book is her approach to the death of Holly's mum. It's never directly broached (we know she died of cancer, but her death is never actual put into any detail like it has been in other YA books) so all we see is the aftermath. Holly isn't treated with kid gloves all the time, like many other grieving characters have been in the past, and she hasn't either gone off the deep end with grief, or become a stoic zombie. She's in the void of confusion inbetween where you're never quite sure what's going to happen. I thought this was very well handled, and it was a refreshing change from the norm.

Sadly however, that wasn't enough to make up for the disappointment I felt with the rest of the book. An ok read if you want to kill time and don't want to think too much, but it won't be going on my 'to recommend' pile

Book Haul #2 a.k.a. why The Works is bad for my bank balance

All links lead to Goodreads

In My Mailbox is a weekly post hosted by The Story Siren. IMM is where a bunch of book lovers and bloggers show you what books/book related things we got over the week(s). I'll be posting mine (more or less) the first week of every month, although if I get something special, I may just have to share a lil bit more :)

This week's haul (technically the last two weeks)

Ok, so there are good things and bad things about where I work. The good things are that the centre I work in has a The Works concession. The bad thing is my sister works there & tells me what they're about to get in, so I tend to spend my lunch breaks (and shopping centre discount) on the latest stock they get in. Like this not so lil lot. The great thing? Because it's a discount book store, they're all mega cheap. As in hardbacks for less than a fiver, and paperbacks for 3 for £5.

Clockwork Angel (Hardback) - Cassandra Clare

Divergent - Veronica Roth
Room (Hardback) - Emma Donoghue
The Burying Place - Brian Freeman
The Bone Yard - Jefferson Bass
The Tide Knot - Helen Dunmore
Sepulchre (Signed Hardback) - Kate Mosse yes i really did get a signed book by my favourite author for £3.99 in The Works. *happy dance*
The Body in the Thames - Susanna Gregory
Breakfast at Darcy's - Ali McNamara
Scandal's Bride - Stephanie Laurens
Rosebush - Michele Jaffe
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny
Alice's Girls - Julia Stoneham
Sherlock: A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle
Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Haunting of James Hastings - Christoper Ransom
Working Stiff - Rachel Caine
City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, I did re-buy the Hunger Games trilogy, but come on, the new covers are so much prettier than the original ones (and at £7.99 for the boxset, you can't really go wrong can you)


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review - Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

By Tabitha Suzuma
Definitions, 418 pages
Published: May 27th 2010

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

- Goodreads description

4.5 out of 5

Let me start by saying that every copy of this book should come with a pack of tissues. I cried like a baby.

This won't be everyone's cup of tea. In fact, the subject matter will probably put the majority of people off it. Since I finished the book I've read a lot of other reviews to see what other people thought, and most of them tend to not actually be reviews, but comments on how they'll never read the book because of the relationship between the characters, or readers opinions on how 'sick' it and people who like it are. We all know there's an incest ick factor, and while it did make me squirm a bit at first, it was well handled, and written in a way that didn't glorify it. We know it's wrong and we know it can't end well (admittedly I didn't expect that kind of ending!). If these characters had been written as friends, or any other non-related acquaintantces I don't doubt that there'd be more rave reviews for it. But it also wouldn't be as poignant, or as heartbreaking.

There are no words to describe how phenomenal I think this book is. Given the subject matter, it could easily have come off as sordid and 'wrong', but it was brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed.

The characters are wonderfully written, you can't help but develop an emotional connection with them, and really care about what they are going through. Even the minor characters (while some make decisions with devastating consequences) you can't help but feel for.

The relationship between Maya & Lochan isn't normal. We know it's wrong, they know it's wrong, heck even the blurb tells us it's wrong, but despite all that you can't help being drawn in by this couple and wanting them to have the love they crave. And it is love. Not some weird obsession, but love. This is the forbidden love of all time. You can keep your Edwards & Bellas, this is so much more intense & evocative.

This tale of one of the biggest taboos out there has been written brilliantly. While we are reminded throughout that they are siblings, that's never seen as the most important thing. That title goes to the strength of their love, that eventhough it's impossible is maintained throughout. It's a testament to Suzuma's writing that as the reader you feel compelled to agree with them that they should be free to love eachother as they wish, as opposed to feeling that they should be stopped.

My only (tiny) peeve about this book is the ending. It was so heartbreaking, and I really wanted to see more about how it affected the other siblings. Yes, it is written from Maya's POV, but I didn't feel like the other brothers and sister were shown as being in the same place emotionally, like I would've expected them to be after that conclusion.

Seriously though folks, major tissue warning for the end of this book.

I think the important thing to take away from this book (or to take into consideration when wondering whether or not to read it) is the message it sends about intolerance. I don't think anyone will sit down after reading this and say 'yes, their love was 100% right, how dare people not see that'. Despite what I've put earlier in this review, that's not my opinion either. What I think however, is that anyone who reads this will agree that ultimately, intolerance was what destroyed this couple. Maybe if the other characters in the book had thought about what would and had happened before jumping straight to horror then things would have ended differently. That philosophy can be applied to pretty much any situation going. What I'm basically trying to say is tolerance is key, with a little more tolerance in the world, maybe there would be more shades of grey, and less pain and hatred. That's one of the big things I brought away from this book.