Tag Archives: Romance

Normal People – Sally Rooney

As with a lot of people in the UK, I started to watch Normal People on the BBC and loved the series. So, as all good book nerds do, I got the ebook (maybe not such a good book nerd!) version and read it. I usually think the book is better than the TV/Movie adaptation (Harry Potter, Divergent etc) but I was surprised this time… (cliffhanger!)

Screenshot_20200520-151337Plot

We come to 2010s Ireland (as if that is a thing!) and meet our protagonists, Connell and Marianne. As an aside, it never occured to me that Connell was a first name but of course it is… O’Connell literally means Son of Connell so makes sense Connell is a first name! Marianne is the weird, smart loner at school and Connell the handsome jock. As it seems with teenage high school, they start to sleep together and Connell doesn’t want his friends to know so tells Marianne to keep quiet about it all, to which she agrees. However, love gets in the way of this and she is very hurt when Connell decides to take another girl to the Debs instead of Marianne. Connell’s Mum is excellent here when she finds out. She is rightly aghast that her son has been sleeping with Marianne and then just so casually takes someone else to the Debs.

We skip to the college years and discover that Connell and Marianne are at the same one, Trinity in Dublin, and that they haven’t spoke since that decision of Connell’s. As with all good teen stories, the person Connell talks to at class and whose party he is invited to is also the now boyfriend of Marianne.

We go through the next three years of the college life, through the ups and downs and their on and off again relationship.

Opinion

I really did like the BBC version and Rooney was one of the writers for the tv series and it shows with how close to the story line it sticks too. However, there are subtle tweaks to the TV adaptation, almost like Rooney has a second chance at it and I think these little tweaks make the story better. Not often the writer of the book is also the script adaptor (there are a few notable exceptions) and I think this is the key difference.

Connell’s mental health issues of anxiety and depression I think are done well and I wish Marianne could also be helped in a similar way. While BDSM relationships when done safely and with trust and communication are obviously fine and power to those that follow it, Marianne is obviously in these types of relationships because of her own poor self-worth and family background. I feel that she should also be seeking counselling and once she is appreciative of herself after and still wants that type of relationship then that is all fine but to use it confirm her worthlessness about her is just abusive.

One of my main bugbears was the lack of quotation marks! It is obviously a Sally Rooney style as one of her Connell and Marianne short stories in a magazine are the same but with internal monologue and external speech happening for both Marianne and Connell it would have helped with the reading of it.

Overall a good read and a great TV adaptation. I’d give the book 7/10 and the TV series 8.5/10. 

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Normal People, Sally Rooney

Reclaiming the Sand – A. Meredith Walters

It’s been a while since I last posted. Many posts have been started and then life seemed to get in the way.  I currently have a second blog that if you are interested in being in publishing might be of some interest to you but it has taken my time away from this one. I found this book through bookbub and was a little apprehensive. It includes a boy who has Aspergers. I find these, if done badly, can be offensive. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was excellently done and I feel many people just jumped on the Autism bandwagon. However, if done well then you bring the readers into this world and it can be beautiful.

Plot

Reclaiming the Sand starts off based on Ellie’s point of view. We see that she is in a dead end job, with dead end friends and on the road to living a life probably in prison, already having spent a stint in jail for arson. Ellie is on the brink of joining the local community college to study English Literature but is in fear of not being good enough, something her life in foster care has taught her.

Having committed to a study course, she runs into Flynn. He is the reason she was in jail, he is the reason she thinks she isn’t good enough, he is the reason she thinks she is a bad person. We learn about their teenage relationship through Flynn’s eyes and it shows how adult Ellie is still as confused as teenage Ellie. She wants to be friends with Flynn but doesn’t know how he could fit into her life of abuse, lies and status.

Flynn likes Ellie. He always has. In his head he can’t understand why she is sometimes nice to him and sometimes mean but he likes nice Ellie so much that he can forgive mean Ellie. Even when she pushed it too far, Flynn has already forgiven her for everything she did. The only question is can she forgive herself?

Opinion

This book is just breath taking in its elegance and structure. It was a stroke of genius to tell the story originally from Ellie’s point of view and to see her struggle to better herself and break free of her ‘friends’. It means that when you see how she acted in high school, you don’t hate her. You feel sorry for her, disappointed in her weaknesses but you admire her even more for the changes in her life that she managed to accomplish.

Flynn is exquisitely written. I have a slight understanding of Autism through a mother working within social services and Flynn is how someone with Autism acts. It never feels forced or contrite and you never cringe at the storyline and what he says. Walters either knows someone with Autism or did extensive research but Flynn is perfect. His attitude towards life is refreshing and his ability to forgive is one we should all hope to aspire to. He knows all the bad things about Ellie and while he might not be able to understand it or vocalise his feelings about it, he does forgive her because he loves her. It is that simple for him.

All in all an excellent read full of emotion. My verdict: 9/10. Don’t be put off by the seemingly heavy subject matter, give it a go! It wont disappoint!

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Filed under A. Meredith Walters, Book Review, Chick Lit, kindle, Romance

The Forever Trilogy – Sandi Lynn

As usual with recent books that I have read, this trilogy was recommended by kindle for me. I have read 50 Shades of Grey and The Crossfire Series so I quite like romance novels that have some sort of story line. However, I couldn’t even get past the 1st book. This is highly unusual for me. Even the worst book on this blog I could finish. Time to review!

Plot
Blah blah, rip off of 50 Shades… Blah blah, badly written sex scene… blah blah, rip off of Crossfire Series, blah…

Opinion
As you might have guessed I really didn’t like this book! For the first time ever this review is about a book I did not finish. As I have reviewed over 50 books on here and also read many more on top of that, this is definitely unusual behaviour!

The writing was appalling. Every few lines I was pulled out of the ‘story’ in utter disbelief at how bad it was. How anyone read it and felt the need to continue for another 2 books is beyond me. I genuinely threw my kindle away from me in disgust at how bad it was.

The storyline is a complete and utter rip off. I know many stories can be linked together (Women’s Murder Club similar to Rizzoli and Isles, Inheritance Cycle is similar to The Lord of the Rings) but this just takes the biscuit! Combine the previously mentioned romance novels together, throw in some bad dialogue and you have yourself a Forever Trilogy.

I always want people to read the books and see if they agree with me but I doubt I could let my own worst enemy read this and not feel guilty so people please, take this review on board and DO NOT READ!!! For the first time ever my verdict is… 0/10Nothing in this book made it salvageable.

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The Loop – Nicholas Evans

So. Down to the business of actually reviewing a book. As my previous post suggests, the Rizzoli and Isles series will feature heavily in this blog. However, this book is not a Rizzoli and Isles one. This is a Nicholas Evans masterpiece. Anyone who has ever seen or read “The Horse Whisperer” will know how emphatic and brilliant a writer Evans is. “The Loop” is his second novel and it didn’t disappoint. In fact it’s probably my favourite book. I read it at least once a year and basically know it off by heart. So seems quite a good choice for my 1st book review!

The Plot

It starts in Hope, Montana and we see a young male alpha wolf go into wolf hater territory. (Already I’m screaming at the wolf to turn back!) We see him become inquisitive about a strange noisy creature in a bassinet. A dog comes out to protect his family and is killed by the wolf who then scarpers. Unfortunately for the wolf, he just killed a Calder dog and this means he ticked off the biggest and richest rancher in Hope. It results in Helen, a wolf biologist, who is tormented by bad relationships, currently in one with a man named Joel whose in Africa, to come to Hope to track and tag the wolves. So we already have a young, broken late 20-year-old living alone among wolves in the Montana outback trying to save a very hated creature.

Enter the next main character. Luke Calder. The youngest and now only son of the biggest, richest rancher Calder mentioned before. He has a stutter, blames himself for his grandfathers and brothers deaths and is a lover of all animals, especially wolves! Oh and he’s 18.

Helen finds she is not well liked in Hope and to make matters worse, her traps are getting sprung. So, she stalks her sabotager and finds it’s, surprise surprise, LUKE! They end up laughing about it and he learns she is just trying to save the wolves, not making it easier to kill them, and ends up helping her. Safe to say, he falls in love with her, the only girl to not care about his stutter bar his mother.

Helen receives a letter from Joel in Africa and he breaks up via letter (sleezeball) telling her he has found his true love and is to marry. Helen goes into a complete meltdown. Luke finds Helen and looks after her. She discovers she has feelings for him and realises for the 1st time what real love is. But wait! He’s 18. She’s 29! What should she do? Of course she teaches the virginal Luke about love and sex and they live happily ever after.

Well, not quite. There is the problem of the wolves still. One is claimed to have killed cattle and the ranchers take it upon themselves to rid their land of the wolves. A group of them kill a wolf and display it at a Wildlife and Fish agency gathering, stirring the blood of rancher and government official alike. The ranchers go to kill the rest of the wolves and newborn cubs with shotguns. Of course Helen and Luke go to save the cubs and this leads to a heart thumping, palm sweating, last gasp finale….

I won’t tell you the ending. That would ruin the book.

Opinion

As I said before. This is probably my favourite book and as such I am bias. But so is everyone. So. My verdict is this is an 8/10 book. Not 10/10 because I am a really harsh critic and there are areas of the book that I do find wanting. The writing in the perspective of the wolves is a little forced and long-winded for myself (the ‘Wolf Brother’ series written by Michelle Paver is far better in this aspect) and I find the old tracker sections rather boring. BUT. Helen and Luke’s romance drives this book forward. The main characters are fabulously well written and their back stories are believable with no forced empathy needed. Even the ‘bad’ guy is likeable and, more importantly, understandable in his actions. The character interactions are well crafted and in my mind’s eye I can see the town and surrounding ranches with perfect detail thanks to Evans’ carefully scripted description.

All in all a well written novel that animal lovers, soft romantics and general fiction fans will like, if not love!

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Filed under Book Review, Nicholas Evans, Romance