Book review – The Grownup by Gillian Flynn 

I hadn’t realised when I got incredibly excited at the prospect of a new Gillian Flynn book, that I had already read it as part of the anthology ‘Rogues’ edited by George RR Martin. Nevertheless I enjoyed it so much the first time I decided to read it again anyway! 
The Grownup focuses on the character of a young woman who is working as a physic even though she doesn’t really believe it. There is an immediate introduction of dark humour when she talks about her mother and about the reasons she’s been moved out to the front of the shop. Susan Burke is her client who asks for help when she admits she thinks her stepson is possessed and going to kill her and her son. Seeing an opportunity to make money the psychic agrees and goes each day to the house and pretends to exorcise it. What she finds there starts to creep her out just as much though. 

  The ambiguous ending serves well to keep you with unanswered questions ensuring that as with all of Flynn’s books you are thinking about it days and even weeks after you finish reading. 

The elements of supernatural along with Flynn’s well known psychological edge work well together and I found the ending quite surprising. 

Thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, I can’t wait for her next book.  

 

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Book review – Aspeans the Invasion by Roy Dias 

This book mostly appealed to me because I have a brother with Asperger’s syndrome. I have read The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nightime and House Rules by Jodi Picoult. Both these books affected me deeply and educated me on my brother’s condition. I was keen to see if this book did the same. 
When I requested this book for review I didn’t realise it was the second in a series although it was very easy to grasp the storyline immediately and I don’t think I necessarily needed to have read the first. 
The storyline is summed up pretty much in the first chapter. A human called George is trying to kidnap the two sons of the love of his life who married his ex-friend. We (the readers) are immediately filled in on the situation which is going on with the aliens who want to use the DNA of the two Asperger’s brothers to gain entry to earth and destroy it. It’s very fast past and action filled from the beginning with perhaps a slight leaning toward an immature writing style. For me there also seems to be a little too much emphasis put on the condition for example the way that everytime one of the brothers speaks ‘avoiding eye contact’ is tagged onto the end. 

 There seems to be a lot of immediate introduction without much explanation for a lot of things such as the ‘unique powers’. Maybe that’s due to me not reading the first book. There’s a lot of time that gets zipped away as well, they drive for four hours with nothing happening, they switch on the radio and after a couple of hours decide to get back on the road. I feel those parts could be filled with something more engaging for the reader. at times it felt almost like a paint by numbers of understanding Asperger’s syndrome ‘he knew how difficult it was for her to emotionally connect with someone and bring them into her comfort zone’. This just didn’t feel right for me. Although it’s correct information it again feels a little immature as if it’s forcing the reader to feel and see what the narrator wants rather than showing us in a different way. 
So overall what did I think to the book? 
In some ways I found it disappointing, it didn’t do for me what the other two did. It was quite monotonous and one dimensional with the characters doing this, then doing this, then doing that and then doing this. I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried connect with the characters or the story. Maybe I should have read the first book beforehand but according to most reviewers who loved the book this wasn’t necessary. Maybe it was written this way intentionally as a lot of People with Asperger’s do enjoy monotony and routine so that could explain the structure and it might just be me not connecting with it. 
I did like the general idea of people with Asperger’s having superpowers and being portrayed as heroes rather than just people with a ‘condition’. However I don’t think this book was for me. As far as I can see from other reviews it’s a bit of a marmite book you either love it or hate it and unfortunately for me it was the latter. 

  

Writing challenge day 27 – what you wore today 

It’s been a mixed bag… 

This morning when I got up I was supposed to be quitting smoking but found that today was not the day so I shoved a t-shirt and coat over my snowflake patterned pyjamas and off I went to the shop. 

Later this morning I had an interview so I changed into grey cigarette trousers from primark and a purple long sleeved t shirt from marks and Spencer’s. Black pumps finished it off with my usual navy and red check coat from next and my Scotty dog print scarf. 

Once home I changed back into snowflake pyjamas and my thick purple dressing gown and I’ve remained like that ever since! 

Book review – A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

Go on then… I’ll admit it… I’m a sucker for a romantic chic lit novel. It’s no fun being a serious reader all the time and studying books from the long eighteenth century for uni means I get enough of the serious stuff day to day. 

I’ll also admit I’d never read anything by Trisha Ashley before but I certainly will be reading books by her in future. 

A Christmas Cracker is centralised around the character Tabby a nice enough girl who has a bit of a bad time when she’s framed for fraud, her fiancé leaves her and sends her cat to a rescue centre. Things take a turn for the better though when she is rescued by a kindly Quaker woman who gives her a job revitalising the old cracker making factory left to her by her husband. The cute little cracker jokes at the beginning of each chapter are a great touch as well which give the Christmas feel more authenticity. 

What I love about books like this one are the wonderful happy endings. The idea that no matter what goes wrong things will turn out right in the end. I love their sense of romanticism and the wonderful ideas they give you about life in general. I love the warm fuzzy feeling I got inside when I’d finished this book and also the outside interest it gave me in further researching the Quakers; A religion I previously knew nothing about. 

I really liked the character of Tabby. With her sharp wit and sarcastic humour she was a very relatable character. I also loved the eccentric mill workers, grumpy Silas and ‘trouble at t’Mill’ Randall. Even the pets were great characters in their own right. There were sections to make you laugh out loud and parts that pulled at the heartstrings as well. 

The story didn’t just centre around the main romantic aspects either. Family history, village life, marketing, building a business, religion and true friendship were all part of it while sensitive subjects were brought in and dealt with in a respectful manner. 

The Christmas cheer it spread was perfect reading for this time of year as well. It’s left me with the feeling that I want to go and put my decorations up tomorrow and sip some mulled wine round a hot fire. A truly wonderful piece of Christmassy romantic fiction writing that gives you faith in humanity. 

  

Leave being bitter to lemons… 

There’s a lot of things in life that are important. There’s things that are important to the whole world such as the crisis in Syria and the attacks on Paris on Friday night. There are things that are important to us as individuals from exam results to job interviews to more trivial things like finding a nail polish to match your new dress. 

What isn’t important for me and shouldn’t be for anyone else is holding on to negativity. Why? Because it serves no purpose at all. We can help to change the world by fighting in a war against terrorism. It might be donating to a charity, going somewhere to volunteer or simply showing your unanimous support by changing your profile picture on Facebook. It could be the satisfaction you get for finally finding that shade of blue nail polish or the happiness and pride you feel when you pass the exam or get the job. Being bitter and jealous does not breed a good result. It does not serve to make you or anybody else happy. Instead it breeds and eats away at you like a worm. It makes you rot from the inside out and leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. In the end it will only make you sad and lonely. 

Many moons ago when I was 15 and still at school I had a friendship group. There were 5 of us and of those 5 me and one other girl decided to stay on at sixth form. Due to this we ended up being the closest of our group and the ones that stayed in touch. We went to school together and studied the same subjects, we hung out together after school, we went on holiday together for our 18th birthdays and she pretty much lived at my house. Over time and mainly because I got a job working weekend nights we drifted apart. She wanted to go out partying and I was working, I was sad to lose my friend but I understood that as adults you sometimes choose different paths and move on. We were still friends, still there when the other needed us but as time went on we barely saw or heard from each other. Long phone calls drifted away to a Facebook post saying we should catch up sometime. 

  
As more years passed us by and we were both 21 our lives had evolved down completely different paths and we barely spoke. Something involving mutual friends came up that I’ll not go into but it resulted in an argument between the two of us via text. She called me a variety of hurtful names that hurt my feelings and I defended myself verbally and called her fat. It was low and wrong of me but there’s only so much you can take when faced with abuse and I was only 21 at the time and hasn’t matured enough. Hindsights great eh?! 

  (Www.gurl.com picture credits) 

We never spoke again. I saw her out and about and tried to say hi on a number of occasions but she always blanked me or was rude. So I stopped. I was an adult about it and to be honest I never really give the whole thing a single thought. 

This weekend I was out with my friends one of whom was part of the original friendship group. We saw the lemon girl (to make it clear without naming her) and the friend I was with went over to say hi. 5 minutes later she joined me and our other friend to say that lemon had done nothing but be rude and obnoxious towards her. Then today lemon messaged her on Facebook saying how nice it had been to see her and she was sorry for being rude but she didn’t want to talk to her while she was with me! 

I was I must admit completely flabbergasted. This petty, silly argument happened in 2011. This is the girl I met when I was 12 years old. Who held my bag when I got in a fight at school, shared lunch with me, holidays with me, slept at my house and shared secrets with me till the early hours. I was with her when she lost her virginity. She came to stay when her mum kicked her out and we cried on each other’s shoulders when we broke up with guys. 

The fact that she could hate me so much after all this time. The fact she could still feel so angry and bitter about it was astounding to me. We are women now no longer girls. There are many people I have fallen out with over the years and while some like me can maintain that level of maturity to be civil or to just plain pretend we don’t exist to each other I find it fascinating that someone else can behave so much like a teenage girl. 

So I say, for anyone out there who’s doing the same. Pull yourself together, put on your big girl pants and a bright smile and leave being bitter to lemons… 

  

Writing challenge day 26 – things you’d say to an ex 

So I’m back up to date now with this post! Yay 🙂 

This is a toughie. I guess realistically if I saw my ex I’d just say hi and be polite. However I’m guessing due to this being a writing challenge it’s supposed to be a little more in depth. So I decided to write it as if it was a letter. I have a few ex’s so it was hard to think who I would imaginary write it too. So instead I’ve combined it as if it was written to all 3. 

Dear Ex(s), 

It’s cliche I suppose but I’d like to say thank you. Without you guys I wouldn’t be where I am today or be the person I am today. Each one of you helped me on the grand journey I have taken to get this far. 

If you hadn’t beat me I wouldn’t know how to stick up for myself. I wouldn’t realise my own self worth and I wouldn’t know the warning signs that have allowed me to get out of similar situations after we broke up. If you hadn’t cheated on me I wouldn’t have realised the tell tale signs when someone’s up to no good and I wouldn’t have realised that you were never worth my time. If you hadn’t mentally abused me and damaged my confidence I would never have learnt what it is to redevelop that confidence and become 100 times more feisty and attractive before. If I hadn’t lived with in that shitty flat and let you hurt and abuse me and cheat on me and watch you drink yourself silly and piss the bed and sell our possessions for drug money and cause us to get burgled and get threatened with bats and crowbars I would probably still be with you and had never had that final straw to see the light and get away. 

Dear ex(s), 

I find it fairly amusing now that you tried to lie to me about your age and that at 35 you still think you’re some sort of player. Being with you was like studying or conducting an experiment. I could almost hear David Attenborough narrating your life ‘here comes the ageing, balding player thinking he’s still in the game’. I don’t blame you for taking your fun while you still could but you opened my eyes to the systems and games that people like you play. So I can thank you as well for your cheating and lying and game playing as it allowed me to recognise it in other people and know that they were the type I should avoid. 

Dear ex(s) 

The best advice I can give you is not to put people on a pedestal. The complete opposite to the others you made me feel like a goddess and it was too much. To live up to your expectations, to allow myself to believe it was real, that your obsession and fascination were anything more than just that. The thing is on that pedestal I had a long way to fall and having your number 1 fan leave you to be with someone else is the biggest fall of all. But once I was up and I’d dusted myself off I realised that a relationship should be an equal partnership. I realised being worshipped is nothing if you don’t share common goals or interests. So I guess I can thank you to. 

All the best 
L x

Writing challenge – day 25 – four weird traits you have 

So this belongs to yesterday! I really need to get back on top of this challenge! 

I guess it’s hard to decipher what your own weird traits are. Like if someone asked me to name four weird traits my best friend or my mum or my boyfriend had I could answer pretty quickly but me? What constitutes as weird to myself? It’s a hard one but I’ll give it a go! 

1. Obsessively following things through to the end – I don’t know if this is applicable as ‘weird’ but I can’t give up on things once I get started. Two examples: when me and my boyfriend first moved in together we bought a coffee table which was flat pack. We didn’t have the right size screw driver and a lot of the fittings were screwed directly into the wood (as opposed to a pre made hole) we were at it for about an hour and a half not getting anywhere and slowly losing both our tempers. Eventually my boyfriend decided to give up and go to bed and advised me to do the same. Instead I sat there for four hours without moving and persevered until I’d finally built it on my own. Secondly on Friday I got a new wireless printer which turned out to be a nightmare to set up. My boyfriend told me to leave it until he got home as he works in IT so has a better idea of these things than me. But again although it was making my life a living hell I just couldn’t leave it alone and had to keep going! 

2. (This ones a contribution from my boyfriend) throwing things away when I’ve done using them. – what he means by this is that when we moved into our flat I wanted to throw all his old scraggy towels away because we’d bought some lovely new Egyptian cotton ones. Then when we bought new pillows I threw the old ones away. Personally I think I’m the normal one and he’s weird for wanting to keep things! He also keeps boxes that things he’s bought (like his bike helmet) come in, for an obsessively long period of time whereas I will just happily throw things like that away. 

3. On a similar theme to number two once a month I have a clear out – I go through all the drawers in the house and get rid of any unwanted or uneccesary paperwork, clothes that don’t fit or I don’t wear and shoes and accessories. I then sort out some bits to sell on eBay and the rest goes to charity or in the bin. 

4. Over organising myself – I set myself a humongous list of tasks to do in one day and then get angry when I fail to accomplish them all! 

Everyday issues, political and social issues, everyday feminism.