Book Review: The Hoarder/ Mr Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd

This book is one that I think will be appreciated by a select audience. It has a lot of potential and the descriptions of certain characters must be applauded (Mr Flood in particular really stands out as a creepy, yet vulnerable man). However, admittedly, I cannot say that I enjoyed the novel for a simple reason; I could not get along with the style of writing and the overload of information. The following is a spoiler-free review.

The hoarder mr flood's last resort book cover for book review by jess kidd

Book Blurb: Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her. With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?

Mr Flood is a most interesting character and the house he lives in is filled with curiosities which will capture your attention. That is a strong point of the book. However, the process of Maud trying to solve a supposed crime felt very dragged out, to the point where when the answers were given it did not feel like it even mattered. The writing of this book was just not to my taste and it is hard to keep your attention on what is going on in the book. The saints in particular had absurdly comic personalities which don’t seem to really match the subject. It is a mismatch of comedy and thriller, and you may find yourself wondering what the purpose of the saints is as most of the action only takes place in the last few chapters. If you are a fan of quaint thrillers then you are likely to enjoy this book. However, for those not used to this kind of writing the novel is not as enjoyable as it could have been. It is really a case of picking this novel if the writing style suits what you enjoy!

R/T: Thorn (Please see About section for more information)

Rating: 2/5

Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Emotive and powerful, Letters to the Lost is a novel that will keep you hooked till the very last page. It is a stunning book in which two characters find each other through their shared pain to build an extraordinary friendship, share words of wisdom, and eventually romance. The following is a spoiler-free review.

letters to the lost by brigid kemmerer book cover for review

Book Blurb: Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Juliet and Declan are very different but fairly likeable characters. They both have their flaws. Juliet is judgemental of Declan’s outward demeanour and past, whereas Declan can be quite passive aggressive. They both, however, manage to add something very meaningful to each other’s lives. The anonymity in their communication is very interesting as they both know each other at school but do not realise this! This enables them to communicate to each other freely and with less judgement. There are many moments in the novel when you think they will reveal or find out who they are.

The book focuses more on their friendship, but romance comes in at the very end of the novel. It is story of friendship turning to romance, which is beautiful in its own way. Overall, this is a heavy read which was well-written and gives a message of hope.

R/T: Rose and Thorn (Please see About section for more information)

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Despite the popularity of the movie version of Howl’s Moving Castle, the book does not seem to get enough credit. Although the book and movie both share similar storylines, the book is an amazing piece of fiction on its own. The creation of the fantasy world of Ingary is imaginatively done, and the characters just keep you hooked for more! My only criticism is that the book was a tad slow-paced at times, especially in the last half of the book. However, this is a vibrant novel that is full of magic and adventure, and has all the makings of a classic. The following is a spoiler-free review.

Howls' moving castle book cover for review showing a castle and old woman

Book Blurb: In the land of Ingary, where seven league boots and cloaks of invisibility do exist, Sophie Hatter catches the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste and is put under a spell. Deciding she has nothing more to lose, she makes her way to the moving castle that hovers on the hills above Market Chipping. But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the souls of young girls… There she meets Michael, Howl’s apprentice, and Calcifer the Fire Demon, with whom she agrees a pact. But Sophie isn’t the only one under a curse – her entanglements with Calcifer, Howl, and Michael, and her quest to break her curse is both gripping – and howlingly funny!

The main character Sophie has all the makings of a true feminist heroine; she is a no-nonsense character with determination and grit. How believable is her character? Well, I don’t know many girls who wouldn’t freak out if they had just been turned into an old woman! But that doesn’t matter, because it is all set in a quaint fantasy world where Howl himself resides, whose reputation as a lady’s man is known far and wide. I found Howl to be obnoxious and shallow at first, but rather than make me dislike the book, it actually added value to it as it all just made sense in the end. You’ll understand if you read the book; Howl definitely has his redeeming features so don’t hate on him too soon.

I very much liked how the story was introduced, and the various oddities of the world. The moving scarecrow is particularly memorable as well as the castle itself (which isn’t pretty but is very functional). I would have liked it better if the novel got more to the point towards the end half of the book as it did tend to drag towards the end, but the ending was very good.

R/T: Rose (Please see About section for more information)

Rating: 3.5/5

Book Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls is as empowering as it is emotive. Amy Reed’s novel explores society’s vulgar reactions towards females who call out those of the opposite sex for rape. The book follows the story of a group of misfit girls who create a society (The Nowhere Girls) to try and raise awareness about sexism and sexual abuse, including that of a girl called Lucy who was gang-raped by fellow pupils at her school. Whatever you do, be prepared to feel incensed in behalf of the characters! This book carries an important message of female unity and strength and is thoroughly interesting to read. The following is a spoiler-free review.

the nowhere girls by amy reed book cover for review

Book Blurb: Grace wants nothing more than to be invisible at her new school, but when she learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town after accusing the popular guys at school of gang rape, she convinces Rosina and Erin to join her mission to get justice for Lucy. They form an anonymous group of girls to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students. As the Nowhere Girls grow in numbers, their movement becomes about more than sex and transforms the lives of its members, their school, and the entire community.

When Grace Salter moves into her new home, the last thing she expects to find are haunting messages scratched into the furnishings of her room. I found these messages to be effective at portraying the emotional turmoil of the girl who was gang-raped and whom the community did not believe. I found Rosina (a queer rocker) and Erin (the odd brainiac) to be really interesting characters; in fact it probably goes to show that no matter how different girls are as individuals, together they can be a force to be reckoned with! I also found the headteacher to be particularly well-characterised; a frustrating woman who acknowledges that there are problems yet does whatever she can to protect the reputation of her school.

The only criticisms I have is that I wasn’t sure how realistic the community’s reactions are to a feminist group in modern day America. There is an uproar and attempts at shutting them down, and although there are incidences when girls are not belived if they have been raped, I think it is unlikely that in this day and age a feminst society would be banned in a non-conservative town. Also I feel like some points in the book had such anti-men vibes that I began to feel that it was unnecessary to take it so far but that it my personal opinion. I felt that it may have been better to include some male involvement in the feminist society rather than just paint all men with the same brush.

R/T: Thorn (please see About section for information) 

Rating: 4/5

Warning: contains content on rape and harassment. Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information.

Have you read this novel and what did you think? Does this sound like your kind of book? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Steamy and unconventional, The Kiss Quotient makes for an interesting read. The gender role reversal makes this novel the version of Pretty Woman we’ve all been waiting for. The portrayal of the love life of a woman with Asperger’s is particularly compelling, allowing us to delve deeper into the mind of a person who does not fit in with the rest of society. One criticism I have is that the writing was a bit dry at times, perhaps due to the want for more romance and conversation rather than just the physical, on which the novel places so much emphasis. The following is a spoiler-free review.

The kiss quotient book cover by helen hoang for review

Book Blurb: Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position. Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.

I found Stella Lane to be a fascinating character. She is determined, clever, and brave enough to face her fear of men and relationships. I think what this novel did so well is show how differently autistic women behave and think, compared to autistic men (who are usually the ones being portrayed in media). Stella is eager to please and it pulls at our heartstrings to see her so out of her comfort zone and yet trying her best. I also liked Michael’s character, who is portrayed as loving, patient, and sexy. And those love scenes…wow, all I’m saying is there is plenty of that for those who like their racy scenes!

As to the story itself, I thought it was lovely how Stella and Michael’s relationship blossomed throughout the book. It would have been even better if they did a bit more talking in a non-sexual encounter, just to show that it is not all about the physical side of things. It did feel a bit unrealistic that Stella had been having all these issues with men before, and suddenly this guy comes along and everything he does is complete and utter perfection. But then again, it is a romance fiction book where things can be overexaggerated. I also thought the book was lacking in the emotional department in some respects. There was a lot of jealousy and a lot of passion…but not so much on the deeper aspects.

Overall, The Kiss Quotient is a good read for those who are interested in the romantic perspective of a woman with Asperger’s and who enjoy racy scenes. The storyline and conversations may not be the best, but the characterisation was quite interesting.

Warning: Contains brief mentions of dubious consent in sexual encounters. Please do not hesitate to ask for more information if you have any questions.

R/T: Rose and Thorn (please see About section for information) 

Rating: 3.5/5

Have you read this novel and what did you think? Does this sound like your kind of book? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: After The Fire by Will Hill

A dark and enthralling story, After the Fire tells the dramatic story of seventeen-year-old Moonbeam’s terrifying life in a cult, her climactic escape, and her rehabilitation into the outside world. This novel is different and really makes its impression; it is like a dystopian fiction set within a normal world and every page is interesting from start to end. I would describe this book as suspenseful, riveting, and inspiring.
The following is a spoiler-free review.

after the fire by will hill book review showing a teenage girl book cover

Book Blurb: Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming. Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out. What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?

I absolutely loved the strong character of Moonbeam. She struggled through many hardships during her time within The Fence, but she has a ferocious nature and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. She is a true feminist icon and her desire to help the other children is amazing. Also, how cool is her name? Furthermore, I also liked Agent Carlyle, his dark humour, and fatherly protectiveness towards Moonbeam. It was lovely to see their relationship play out.

In contrast, the cult leader Father John is a despicable, initimidating and power-hungry character who strikes fear into those around him. Locking children in metal crates in the Texan heat, manipulating people into labouring for him, and only allowing two pieces of bread per day as nourishment? Yep, Father John is a repellent character. The author did a fantastic job at creating characters of such opposite force.

If you are looking for a dystopian-like fiction novel with a strong lead character and lots of twists and turns on the way, then I would definitely recommend this book. It is exciting and original.

R/T: Thorn (please see About section for information) 

Rating: 4.5/5