Book Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Friday, 27 November 2015

Far From You
Tess Sharpe
Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Published: March 27th 2014
Pages: 343
Rating: 2.5 stars

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That's how long recovering addict Sophie's been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she'd already beaten, Sophie's finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

Far From You wastes no time with the before. It jumps straight into the after, combining present day and past to tell Sophie and Mina's story.

To start with, things were a bit confusing to me. I was intrigued, don't get me wrong, but the chapter headings - 'Now (June)' and '3 months ago (17 years old)' - held no significance for me and left me scratching my head. The change of font between then and now did help, but I couldn't help but find both places in time read very similarly. A clear distinction between the two, such as splitting the book into two halves, rather than alternating, would have been better, in my opinion.

I liked that Sophie wasn't the typically beautiful and perfect main character that tries to call themselves ugly or weird. She came across as normal - troubled and scarred, but very real. I didn't really connect that much with her or any of the other characters, but it was nice to see a more relateable main character in a young adult contemporary piece.

However, I could not empathise or even bring myself to care about Mina. She was a manic pixie dream girl, a la Alaska in Looking for Alaska, manipulating everyone and not feeling sorry for being a bitch (seriously, Sophie says as much yet still put her on this pedestal). That's just something I cannot get behind, and her personality and the way everyone was 'oh poor Mina boo hoo' did not sit well with me. Ugh.

The biggest downfall of this, which promised to be be so good, was that it was slow. And boring. Slow books, while exceptionally annoying, I can deal with. Boring books, not so much. The combination of the two just let me down. I was drawn in by the cover and the synopsis, but when I started to read I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Throughout, I was waiting for things to pick up, but they never really did. I got through the book pretty quickly, but the plot dragged and it took ages for the thriller aspect to actually start. There was a lot of reminiscing that didn't help further things, and I honestly could have done without it.

I'd also managed to guess the plot twist of Mina and Sophie being in a relationship very early. The fact that Sophie said 'I loved Mina' to her therapist at rehab, and how she described Trev's features as being similar to a familiar face that she'd already studied - or something to that effect, at least. It was quite obvious at several points, and wasn't the massive surprise it was no doubt meant to be.

Overall, this wasn't terrible. Not quite what I expected, but I didn't hate it at the end.

Recommendations: Horror

Friday, 20 November 2015

Under my Skin by James Dawson
James Dawson was a fantastic discovery. Both of his horror novels are fantastic (Say Her Name would have made it onto this list if the cover had matched the others, but it didn't) and definitely worth picking up. Especially if you enjoy young adult horrors that don't have happy endings.

Horns by Joe Hill
Coming from none other than Stephen King's son, you expect this to be a good book. And it is. Dark and creepy yet still realistic, making it all the more chilling, Horns is a must read if you're a fan of anti-heroes. Probably give it a miss if you're afraid of snakes, though.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Out of the three the most unique, in that it's told entirely through the form of diary extracts, interviews, and police files. A gripping read that leans more towards psychological thriller, with elements of mental health thrown in, that is still sufficiently creepy.

TBR Feature #1

Friday, 13 November 2015

TBR Feature is an idea I've had for a while. Basically, every now and then, I'll pick one of my unread books and discuss it: why I picked it up, when I'll get round to reading it, if I'm still interested in it at all etc.

Feed by Mira Grant

Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Friday, 6 November 2015

City of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Published: May 28th 2014
Pages: 733
Rating: 1 star

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last instalment of the internationally bestselling The Mortal Instruments series.

Erchomai, Sebastian had said. I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary's own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat him - must they journey to another world to find the chance?

I am so glad that I am done with this series. So glad. The last three books were painful to read, and I’m definitely not alone when I say things should have stopped at City of Glass. Not that I enjoyed City of Ashes and City of Glass that much, but that’s beside the point. Things just went from bad to much, much worse with the second half of The Mortal Instruments.

If it wasn’t bad enough that I can’t stand either Jace or Clary, City of Heavenly Fire was filled with a whole cast of characters that I either a) couldn’t stand, b) didn’t like, or c) didn’t even know who they were or what relevance they played. I felt that a lot of this book was setting up for the next Shadowhunter series (excellent! I cannot wait! Keep milking that cow!) and that the majority of the Blackthorn and Carstairs parts could have been cut. They should have been included in the first installment of The Dark Artifices, not in the final The Mortal Instruments book.

My biggest problem is how everything – and I mean everything – is about Jace or Clary, or Jace and Clary. If they were likable characters I could be more lenient, but no. Jace is arrogant, selfish, reckless, moody, and manipulative to the point where it almost costs the girl he considers his sister her life. He and Clary cannot make good decisions to save their lives – literally! – and all they ever care about is each other. Great. Clary continues to lead Simon (who is totally still in love with her, fight me on it) on and doesn’t respect her mother, it’s all Jace and his golden hair. Excuse me while I gouge my eyes out so that I never have to read about them again.

Many of the POVs included bored me to tears, and a lot felt like they were just for filling extra pages. I didn’t need Jia Penhallow’s thoughts. I didn’t care about Maia and the werewolf pack. I didn’t feel bad about Emma Carstairs. I didn’t even care about some of the returning characters – Alec, Magnus, and Simon, to be exact. Clare spends far too long describing what people are wearing, how sunlight turns things to gold, and far too much detail went into every last god forsaken kiss Clary and Jace shared. It’s a wonder I didn’t throw up all over the page.

On top of all the usual offences committed in a TMI book, I found a lot of inaccuracies as well. In the prologue, there was reference to a ‘poisonous snake’. In the prologue, for christ’s sake. How am I meant to take a book seriously when there’s an error like that and I’m not even 30 pages in? Granted, if I hadn’t known the difference between poisonous and venomous, and didn’t have such an interest in animals, this may have slipped past me. But it didn’t, and I’m not letting Clare and her editors get away with it.

And on the topic of editors, were any even hired for City of Heavenly Fire? Or any of the TMI books? Explain to me why 40+ page chapters are necessary. Explain to me why we hear from up to 5 different characters a chapter, with the harshest transitions known to readers between. Explain how the excessive detail was ever considered to be okay and interesting by anyone other than the author. The entire series needs an extremely fine toothed comb taken to it, because I cannot even fully express how it makes me feel. 733 pages – on top of 5 other 300+ page books – is not necessary. At all. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: condensing is your best friend.

Overall, I didn’t like this. I wouldn’t recommend it, so don’t waste your time.
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