Fooled by a book

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brilliant Disguise.” So today’s prompt in the Daily Post got me thinking about whether I’ve ever been fooled by an author. Have they ever managed in a book to pull the wool so completely over my eyes that I don’t see what’s really going on until the […]

Book Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what to make of this book. I did enjoy it but I’m not sure I should have if that makes any sense.

It’s described as Gone Girl meets Thirteen Reasons Why but if you are anything like me and haven’t read either of those that doesn’t really help.

Basically it’s a young adult mystery/thriller about a girl called June who on returning to school finds out that the girl who used to be her best friend (Delia) has died. The circumstances around her death are kept very quiet but it soon leaks out that it was suicide. Feeling shocked and more than a little guilty at not being there when her friend needed her June tries to reconnect with Delia’s life to understand why she did what she did.

After meeting Delia’s current group of friends and ex boyfriend, Jeremiah, June becomes convinced that this was more than a suicide and starts to investigate.

I won’t say anymore about the plot as I suspect I’d give something away but it’s safe to say there are quite a few twists throughout the story including a major shift in direction that I didn’t see coming around the halfway mark. It definitely kept me guessing and turning pages to find out what would happen.

There are a few parts that border on the unbelievable and I found myself wondering about the adults and the police in this town who seem at best absent and at worst incompetent. It seems completely ridiculous to me that a teenage girl could die and there would be no investigation. It also seems a little odd that the school would just announce it and provide no support to the students who knew her. However if you can ignore these points it is quite gripping.

The narrative mostly follows June’s investigation but includes some flashbacks over the period of their friendship to give you an idea of their relationship. These were definitely an integral part of the story but I found it a little disconcerting the way that it seemed to jump from first to third person narration particularly as there was no obvious reason for it.

Almost all of the characters are troubled in some way and could be considered either the outcasts or the cool rebels who like to smoke, drink and do drugs while their parents don’t really care. June comes across as quite isolated and very lonely right from the start while Delia is unpredictable and out of control. Their relationship is fascinating and I thought it was good to see some more complex and darker characters that despite their issues you could empathise with. There were some secondary characters that I would have liked to know more about and I think there could be room for a sequel (or prequel) to give more of their story.

There are some quite mature themes, sex, drugs, abuse, suicide etc that make me question how suitable this book would be for younger readers but they are probably no worse than some of the young adult fantasy books out there. It was definitely a different read for me and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a mystery.

Big thanks to NetGalley and the publishers Egmont Publishing/Electric Monkey for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Fifty Shades of the Giver – A mini book film fest

So I took a break from reading over the weekend and decided to watch a few films based on books (basically a mini book film fest). I am a big movie fan but as a rule I find that films are never as good as the book they are based on. I almost always try to read the book before watching the film so that the film doesn’t influence my reading experience. I will quite often use the trailers at the cinema as a source of new books to add to my to be read shelf.

Anyway first up, mostly because it was early on a Friday evening, was The Giver. I have to admit I haven’t actually read the book this film is based on. I do have it on my to be read pile but I’ve somehow never really got to it. Having watched the film I’m not sure I’ll bother. It’s an interesting enough plot. Dystopian future where everyone is assigned a role in life, information, behaviour and language is controlled and everything seems fairly dull. The main character is assigned the privileged role of receiver of memories but what he learns shakes up his views of society. Overall I found the whole thing a little dull and ended up only half watching and half playing games on my tablet which is never a good sign. Overall I’d probably give it 2 out of 5.

Once it hit 9pm I figured it was safe to watch Fifty Shades of Grey. OK I know the books are really bad but I kind of love them and have read them more than once. I was therefore both excited about and dreading the film but I figured Jamie Dornan is somewhat attractive so if the worst happened at least I could ogle him. I have to say I’m not sure about the film. It did hold my attention which at the moment is quite unusual for me (see previous paragraph on the Giver) but most of my time was spent comparing to the books. I think I can kind of understand why there were so many disagreements between the author and director. The relationship comes across quite differently in the film and I’m not sure I like it. I also found some of the scenes a little cringeworthy and felt embarrassed for the actors. It’s not a film I’ll be rushing to watch again but if they ever manage to make the sequel Fifty Shades Darker I’d definitely be interested in seeing where the story goes. 3.5 out of 5.

So, into Saturday and I was in the mood for something a little lighter. I spent the afternoon watching Chalet Girl which is not based on a book (as far as I know) but is fab so thought I’d give it a shout out. What’s not to love about a girl overcoming loss and fighting to make it in a new extreme sport while smart mouthing a load of posh folks. It would definitely be a 5 out of 5. I also came across Gone with the Wind which is another film I love. Unfortunately I didn’t have a spare four hours to watch it so only saw a little bit but it would also rate a 5. [As an aside I’m a big fan of Clarke Gable but I heard a rumour years ago that he had really bad breath so now whenever I watch him, particularly in kissing scenes, I can’t help wondering if it is torture for his poor co star and that’s why they look so overcome.]

Saturday evening and I decided it was time for some more young adult fantasy so watched the Mortal Instruments and Divergent. The Mortal Instruments gets a lot of bad reviews but I kind of like it. It’s missing some of the humour from the books and I’m not sure I like the casting of the secondary characters but Lily Collins is great as Clary and the effects are pretty good. It’s a bit disappointing that they aren’t making the rest of the books into films but at least there’s a TV series to look forward to. 4 out of 5. Divergent should be a really good film and I remember being excited when I saw the trailer for it years ago but for me it doesn’t quite work. I just don’t think the casting is right and it seems like they’ve gone for the safer option to get a lower rating and missed out a lot of the violence. The training just isn’t as extreme and there isn’t the same level of threat as in the books which makes it a little dull. 3 out of 5.

The final film of the weekend was Jurassic World. Jurassic Park was one of the first films I can remember going to see in the cinema with my family so I’m very attached to the whole series. Jurassic Park is also one of those rare films that I think is better than the book. The special effects just make it so much more real and alive than my imagination can manage. Jurassic World is set years after the first film, with the park having been up and running for a while. There are a few nods and references to the original but dinosaurs are at risk of becoming extinct again as visitors want new and more exciting attractions. This leads to a genetically modified dinosaur (like that would ever be a good idea) which then escapes and runs wild through the park killing whatever is in its path. I love a good disaster/monster movie and therefore loved this film for the most part. There were a couple of parts where it felt like the makers, in a similar way to the owners of the park, were trying a little too hard. Can we make the monster bigger and scarier than what’s come before? What would happen in a fight between this dinosaur and that one? Who would win? I still enjoyed it but sometimes less is more. 4.5 out of 5.

So other than starting to watch Under the Dome yesterday that was the end of my book related viewing. Has anyone else seen any of these, what did you think? Any recommendations for future book related film fests?