Review: The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

The Lost and The Found by Cat Clarke

I have been waiting for this book for a really long time because as those of you who read my first ever review on this blog know; Cat Clarke is my favourite author. As a relatively new author, she’s only published four novels and one dyslexia friendly story. This is her fifth novel and I have been looking forward to it for an extremely long time. Technically, this book isn’t supposed to be released until Thursday 2nd June but Cat Clarke tweeted that the book had been released into stores early so yesterday I went straight to Waterstones before work and found just one copy sitting on the shelf. That copy then became mine and I finished it today.

The Lost and the Found is told from the point of view of Faith who’s older sister Laurel Logan disappeared thirteen years ago. For those thirteen years Faith has had to deal with her parents who never escaped the tragedy of what happened, the press hounding them for more information and people at school or even in the streets stopping to ask about her sister. Faith finds it difficult to trust anyone because she knows they’re only interested in hearing about Laurel. But then one day they receive a phone call – Laurel is back.

When Cat released ‘A Kiss in the Dark’ I remembered worrying that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as her first three (I was proved wrong because ‘A Kiss in the Dark’ is absolutely amazing) and I had the same worry when I bought ‘The Lost and the Found’. Not because the ideas for either of these books didn’t sound amazing because they did. I can’t explain it – I just didn’t want to end up being disappointed. And as usual, I wasn’t.

Faith is such a strong and interesting character to read about and Cat’s portrayal of her emotions and thoughts is so realistic that you find yourself forgetting that Faith isn’t actually a real person. It wasn’t just her opinion on Laurel coming back – her thoughts on her boyfriend, her family, the people around her were like a breath of fresh air. I particularly loved her thoughts on her boyfriend (here I go again with the whole romance-hatred thing) but as usual, Cat writes about relationships in realistic terms instead of having two people who barley know each other fall completely in love with each other. The way Cat Clarke writes about relationships is my favourite thing ever because it makes me not hate romance.

I’ve never read a book quite like this one. It has a more ‘grown-up’ vibe than her first four novels but unlike any adult novel I’ve ever attempted to read, this actually held my interest and was a lot easier to follow. The idea is just so original and honestly, completely heart-breaking. I was hooked right from the start and ended up staying up longer than I wanted to yesterday so I could carry on reading. There’s an element of mystery in this book and I think I read somewhere that it was a ‘psychological thriller’, and it honestly worked extremely well.

Also, I tweeted about this and now I need to mention it in this review because it’s so important to me – thank you so much to Cat Clarke for her representation in young adult novels like honestly. Slight spoiler alert I suppose, depends on what you consider a spoiler, but Faith’s Dad is a bisexual. Now, it’s not implied that he’s a bisexual or hinted at, Faith actually says ‘my Dad is a bisexual’ and I honestly think that’s the first time I’ve ever read that a character is genuinely bisexual instead of having little hints or clues towards it, you know? Young Adult novels are getting better at including gay characters but so often other members of the LGBT community are neglected and I am grateful that this was included and wasn’t even a massive part of the story. Her Dad could’ve been gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever, it wouldn’t have mattered to the overall story. I’m honestly very happy about that.

I would honestly recommend this book to literally everyone because I cannot tell you how much of an amazing writer Cat Clarke is and how this book particularly broke my heart. I didn’t think she could make me cry as much as she did after Undone was released but it turns out I was wrong. Either go into your local book store and see if The Lost and the Found is there or wait until June 2nd and order a copy off Amazon! You will not regret it. I promise!

Advertisements

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

So I bought this book off Amazon about a week ago ‘cos although I’m halfway through a couple of books I should probably finish, they’re relatively boring and I wanted to read something new. I flicked through Amazon for ages and this one caught my eye so I decided to buy it.

As far as I could tell from the blurb it was about two sisters, Carey and her younger sister Jenessa who live in a trailer in the middle of the woods with their mother who routinely disappears for weeks on end leaving the two girls to look after themselves until one day strangers arrive and everything changes… From that, I thought we’d get a few chapters of the two of them in the woods and the rest would be what happened when the strangers arrive. But the strangers are automatically thrown into the first chapter, before we’ve had a chance to really get to know Carey and Jenessa.

We did hear about Carey and Jenessa’s life in the woods obviously, either from Carey talking about it or from small flashbacks but to be honest I would’ve preferred to have read more about that because it was more interesting than the strangers and the changes going on in Carey and Jenessa’s lives.

Let’s just get this out of the way and I’m gonna ruin this for you and say there is an element of romance between Carey and a boy named Ryan. Overall I guess it wasn’t that irritating. I must admit that when Carey first met him and she was like ‘ohmygodaboyhessocuteithinkilovehim’ I rolled my eyes so many times. Like okay, I get it, she hasn’t really spoken to many boys before but considering her past experiences (read the book to find out) you’d think that maybe she’d be a bit more wary? To be fair, Emily Murdoch doesn’t instantly throw them together and does address Carey’s past and how it effects her relationship with Ryan but it still seems a little too perfect, particularly when Ryan’s talking about his childhood (again, read it to know what I mean). To be fair though, Carey was struggling with other issues and her thoughts weren’t always about Ryan (unlike Maddie in ‘Awaken’ but that’s a whole different story…) and she actually got on with things.

Dean Okay gif

The story itself was okay – a bit upsetting knowing what happened to Jenessa and Carey but didn’t leave me particularly feeling anything afterwards. Carey keeps talking about something that happened in the woods but doesn’t go into detail towards the end which creates an element of mystery and I must admit that I was eager to find out what she was talking about, though I did have some idea of what it would be.

This book is okay, it kept my interest and Carey is an interesting character. I feel like I had higher expectations for this book and I was slightly let down though. If I’d gone into this book not knowing a single thing about it then I think I would’ve enjoyed it more but because I’d built up expectations and hopes for this book it was just slightly disappointing. I guess I’d recommend within this review because it’s a good story, but it’s not a book I’d beg my friends to read.

Insidious Chapter 3: Review by Holly Bareham

Insidious Chapter 3 Poster

Right, so Insidious Chapter 3 is kind of like a prequel to the first two Insidious films except it doesn’t follow the story of the Lambert’s. It does give a bit of background to the character Elise but the main story is about a girl named Quinn who visits Elise in the hopes that she can contact her mother who passed away. It doesn’t work and Elise sends her away but soon Quinn realises she’s being targeted by a deadly supernatural entity.

Dean Screaming gif

I enjoyed the first Insidious film, considering I had to watch it on a laptop screen with my two friends. When I saw the second one at the cinema I was really impressed – until I bought my Mom the film for Mothers Day and watched it with her. Whether it was because the film was less impressive when it was on a small screen or because my Mom has a special talent of not following a storyline that isn’t completely linear, I’m not sure. Either way, the trailer for the third film looked good but I didn’t get my hopes up.

The film overall was pretty scary and for most of the final sequence I was hiding behind my hoodie. I don’t think I can blame that on ‘being afraid more of what was going to happen that what did happen’ because I don’t think I could go back to the cinema and watch it by myself. And for the first time in a long time, this film continued to scare me when I’d left the cinema. You know when you first start watching horror films and when the lights go out at night the scenes are replaying in your head? But when you’ve watched quite a few of them it doesn’t happen unless the film is particularly scary. Well that happened for about three nights after I’d watched it.

So yes, I think this film is scary. I think the only reason that I’m not setting out to say ‘wow its amazing’ is because I’m not sure that the story’s quite on point? It kind of feels like they weren’t really sure what point they were trying to get across. We already knew most of the information they were giving us – we know about ‘the further’, we know about the bride in black and why the spirits from ‘the further’ are so angry. If the purpose of this film was to give Elise’s character more background then I think they failed that aspect.

Also, I don’t understand the purpose of Quinn’s friends. That sounds strange but it was almost like they were there either for scares or to prove that Quinn wasn’t a complete loner. After the accident that breaks Quinn’s legs none of her friends bother to visit, though we do get one Skype call from Maggie – and after that call abruptly crashes and ends during a conversation about something that would probably ring alarm bells, Maggie doesn’t appear to bother getting in touch again. And the kid that was advertised in the trailer as being ‘madly in love’ with her mostly stays off the scene as well. Then Elise meets Tucker and Specs, the two men she works with in the original films and you think it’ll be interesting to see how they end up working together. It’s not that interesting. It’s kind of unrealistic and rushed but oh well, that’s how movies work I guess.

I guess the film did hold my interest and it wasn’t like I hated Quinn or Elise, I did want them to succeed. There some extremely effective scary scenes but I think I have a lot of questions that a prequel should really answer for me – maybe the film would’ve been better if they’d stuck with the original director but unfortunately James Wan couldn’t due to a scheduling confliction with ‘Furious Seven’ so Leigh Whannell (Specs) took the job.

Overall, if you’re looking for a horror film that will scare you but that you don’t have to think too deeply about, I would recommend this film. And for people considering watching this film that haven’t seen the original ones, there isn’t a lot you need to know to follow and understand this film. Just ask a friend for a brief summary – that’s all you’ll need.

Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

I bought this book because my friend had been a fan of the ‘Hush, Hush’ series written by Becca Fitzpatrick and when she found out Becca was doing a book signing and talk in Birmingham to promote ‘Black Ice’ she asked me to go along with her. So we both bought a copy of her new book and started reading.

20150608_205706

Her writing is so beautiful. Anyway, we only had two weeks to read the book before the signing. I know some people reading this would’ve been able to manage that but unfortunately we didn’t but luckily we didn’t get many spoilers at the talk because most questions were about ‘Hush, Hush’. Also, Becca Fitzpatrick was so lovely and her talk was really interesting and funny – I had never read the ‘Hush, Hush’ series but it was still extremely interesting.

So as I said, before the talk I was trying to read this book as quickly as I could and I was really interested… Then after the talk I suddenly lost interest and put it on my book shelf for a few months (I think the talk was in November) and I picked it up again yesterday because I was looking after my brother all night and I wanted something to read. I’m so glad that I took it because suddenly I was sucked straight back into it and read it until I was completely finished.

The basic story follows Britt who’s going on a trekking trip with her best friend Korbie but a freak storm breaks out and the girls are left stranded. Eventually the two girls find a cabin and two men who will keep them safe during the safe. Or so they think. Britt soon realises they need to get away from them and off the mountain. She’s forced to guide the boys down the mountain while desperately trying to find a way to save her own life and escape them.

Bring It On gif

I was a bit put off by the tagline ‘falling in love should never be this dangerous’ because yes as I keep stating, I don’t like romance… And I must admit Britt annoyed me a bit when it came to her relationship with most of the male characters in this book but whatever, there are way worse romances to read about. Britt’s first boyfriend Calvin (who’s also Korbie’s brother) was also one of the most annoying people to read about on the entire planet. On top of that, Korbie was also relatively irritating which I’m pretty sure Britt herself mentioned. So at least me and Britt were on the same wavelength.

The actual story itself is really good and has a lot of mysterious elements that you don’t particularly think about at first but by the end of the book they’re so obvious that you wonder why you never thought of them before. It’s also pretty scary – it can often be difficult for a book to make you feel scared but I think Becca wrote it so brilliantly. You could truly emphasise with what Britt was going through even if you obviously haven’t experienced anything like that before.

Overall, even though Britt’s relationship with the guys annoys me a little bit I would still highly recommend this book to pretty much everyone. I haven’t read ‘Hush, Hush’ so obviously I can’t compare the two but from the description I think they are two completely different styles but regardless, I think if you enjoyed ‘Hush, Hush’ then you will love ‘Black Ice’ as well. I’m looking forward to future books from Becca Fitzpatrick and hopefully she’ll return to the UK soon!

Poltergeist: Review by Holly Bareham

Poltergeist

Funny story about this film – I went to see it again yesterday to write a more accurate review and halfway through the film the lights in the cinema started flickering, then the video switched off while the audio kept playing and then it cut out altogether and me and the two other people watching the film were left alone in the pitch black. The guy just sighed and went “This is not what you want when watching Poltergeist, is it?” I thought it was pretty funny.

Anyway, so this is a remake of the original 1982 film of the same title. I did watch the original a little while back with my friends and didn’t like it. My Mum always argues that the original film is good for the time that it was made and I suppose that’s true but I couldn’t find it scary at all. Hoping it was just the special effects that put me off the original film, I went to see the remake with an open mind because I must admit that the trailer did look good.

It wasn’t the special effects that were the problem; I think it’s the idea itself. It has so much potential – the basic story for those who didn’t watch the original is that a family moves into a new house and strange occurrences happen leading up to the disappearance of their youngest daughter Carol Anne (Maddie in the remake) so the family decides to get a paranormal investigation team involved. That sounds pretty much like a standard horror film but Poltergeist isn’t standard, quite frankly it’s just plain weird.

First of all, they have three children Kendra, Griffin and Maddie and when deciding on who gets which room in the new house, they put Griffin into the attic room. This doesn’t sound too bad but they literally say so many times that he’s scared of pretty much everything and how he’s a nervous child. So who thought it’d be a good idea to put Griffin in the attic beneath a rooftop window with the creepiest tree in the world above it? I wouldn’t wanna sleep in there, let alone this little kid who’s terrified of everything.

The acting itself was pretty good – not anything over the top brilliant or Oscar-worthy but it was passable. I could believe the characters and maybe they were a little less irritating than the ones from the original film. The special effects did make the film seem a little more realistic and believable but I still can’t get behind the story itself – I don’t know, I just didn’t like it.

I think it’s cool that they decided to remake this film and release it in 3D – I can’t really write a review about whether this worked better or not because I didn’t go and see it in 3D (I can only see 2D films for free…) but I think fans of the original film will enjoy seeing the remake in a way that wasn’t possible when the film was first released. It’s so cool how much technology has improved since then.

If you enjoyed the original Poltergeist film then I think you’ll enjoy the remake as well because it is well-made and they managed to stick close to the original story while adding a couple of their own elements which worked well. So overall, this isn’t a bad film – I just can’t get behind the original story it was based upon.

Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

I picked this book up when I bought ‘Unspeakable’ (see my last book review) and was trying to decide between the two. I put ‘Only Ever Yours’ down because I thought the way the names were written might get on my nerves. If I recall correctly, the girl’s names didn’t have a capital letter but the boys did? I know the girls definitely didn’t but I can’t check about the boys because I’ve lent my copy of the book to my friend. Anyway, a couple of weeks later I was looking for a new book and looked at this one again. So I decided to give it another chance.

The story is told from the point of view of freida who lives in a dystopian society where girls are created and kept in ‘schools’, their only purpose being to please the men who live in the real world. freida and her best friend isobel are preparing for their final year at the school where the boys will come to their sealed female environment to choose a companion each. With thirty girls and ten boys, freida and isobel want to be chosen as companions – the life of a concubine is too horrible to contemplate. But as the final year approaches, isobel starts to self-destruct, destroying her beauty, the only thing the boys particularly care about. Can freida betray her only friend to secure her future?

Sam Dun Dun Dun gif

Like I said, the idea itself sounds really good and the only thing I was put off by was the way the names were written because I was worried it’d annoy me but once I got into the story I barely noticed. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked into this story – I’ll admit maybe the first couple of chapters were a bit slow but then suddenly I couldn’t put it down. The only thing that was slightly confusing was that there were quite a few characters and I lost track of who was who a couple of times. You can keep track of the most important characters though which are freida, isobel and megan then the chastity’s. The chastity’s are like the girls mentors, the ones who weren’t chosen as companions or concubines.

O’Neill makes it clear from the start that girls are brought up to believe that they have to be perfect all the time – they have to wear make-up, they have to stay on a target weight level, they have to choose the right outfits that make them look good. Every day is a chore of self-control and pretending to be friends with each other, every day being almost identical. Everyone is eager to be the most beautiful so people are shocked when isobel, the original #1, starts putting on weight and neglecting her appearance. How can freida feel anything but disgust? I’d like to say freida’s torn between trying to find out what’s wrong with her friend and working on her own self-image but for freida there’s no competition – she has to work on her own image.

Even though I loved this book, I have to tell you that it’s not a light read. It can be intense, especially the last few chapters. The worst thing about the book is probably reading through the propaganda of how these girls need to lose weight and put their make-up on perfectly and you find yourself agreeing with it before you catch yourself and realise just how disgusting it is – O’Neill does a good job of reflecting real life in the most horrifying way.

As usual, my review truly hasn’t done this book the justice it deserves. I got through this book so quickly because I couldn’t want to find out what happens next. It’s a real page turner and for everyone wondering why I haven’t brought up any romance yet, all I’ll say is that this book didn’t get on my nerves on the romance front. You’ll have to read it to found out why though!