Friday, 29 January 2016

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

January: 27-28  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

Out of most of the books I had shelved to read this year, This is Where It Ends probably topped the list and was definitely in the top five of my anticipated reads of 2016. This book tells the story of a school shooting from a number of different points of views. And that's all you need to know.

It may sound remorse but as soon as I found out this book covered the events of a school shooting I knew I wanted to read it and I wanted to read it that very instant and I was devastated I had to wait for it. As a journalist, I have been in the newsroom while myself and my colleagues have been the people behind the computers trying to find people posting social posts, images and videos from such events and other events such as the Paris Attacks and Charlie Hebdo. It's my job to become involved in such an event and to want to report it. I've seen the graphic imagery that can come out of these tragedies but nothing will ever come close to being as chilling as the eye-witness accounts regularly reported by media, and accounts such as the fictional ones laid out in This Is Where It Ends.

There's a cold ruthlessness that creeps into every corner of this book that is Tyler Browne, the shooter. The way he 'takes no prisoner' and shoots down people with a methodical ease in the way it seems most shooters do. It's frankly terrifying and I think the detached cruelty held by Browne could be quite reminiscent to how we've seen real-life shooters being described. The only problem I had with the book, and is why I knocked off a half point, is that I don't think all school students are and white as Browne. We did have different view points of his character, his sister who loved him, her girlfriend who hated him, and his ex-girlfriend who had loved him once. We do see the good sides of him in Autumn and Claire's POV but I think they're always overshadowed by the implications Slyvia lays down about him. The common case of shooters seems to be the isolated white male, often with a gun fascination, who seems to think the world owes him something and he's angry he hasn't got whatever he's looking for yet. And while Tyler certainly was that, the book gave him another edge that was pure evil and I'm not sure it was 100% realistic.

I definitely felt emotion while reading it and unlike other reviews I found myself attaching myself to some characters but not all the main characters. Asha, Matt, Tomás and Farseed were a few that really locked themselves into my heart. I found myself silently begging that none of them would get hurt and I could feel my stress levels rising as I flipped each page waiting to see the outcome.

Even though they were some of the main characters, I actually didn't care about Autumn and Sylvia. I found their love story too dramatic and I think it tried to take too much away from the overall plot. I understand that their relationship was one of the things that brought Tyler to breaking point but there were other factors in there as well and well, I just didn't like Autumn and Sylvia, they irritated me and I don't even have a really good reason for that. I much preferred reading from Tomás POV. I really loved him and the whole hero thing he had going on. 

As a journalist, I found the subtle nods of how some media reacts to these events (incessantly tweeting people that could be in a dangerous situation for information) really interesting. It's something a newsroom needs common sense in and a certain approach to and with the internet today, it's something that can really get people in trouble.

Overall, I found this a great fast-paced read and once the 'action' gets going it 's very hard to put down. I literally had to throw the book away from me to force me to get some sleep for work the next morning!

Book Review: Letters to Zell by Camille Griep

Read: January 26-28    Verdict: 3.75 Stars

Rapunzel has upped and left Grimmland with her husband and kids to help run a unicorn sanctuary in Oz. And now Cinderella (Cici), Sleeping Beauty (Rory) and Snow White (Bianca) are left to figure out what to do without her. Suddenly Zell's leaving sparks the idea of doing more in the other Princesses' heads. CiCi wants to be a chef, which means taking lessons outside in the real world. Snow White suddenly realises her wedding may not be the be all and end all of her life and she could be free to love whoever she wants. And Aurora, well she discovers coffee and that maybe her husband isn't her happily ever after after all and she doesn't have to settle for him. Letters to Zell explores the bumps that come after the happily ever after is sealed and how sometimes it's okay if it doesn't work out.

If you liked Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, I think you might like this book. While Chapters to Zell is not quite as satirical as Beauty Queens, it definitely that over-the-topness I associate with Libba Bray's book. The girls are loud and dramatic and they, and the world they live in, have ideals about how they should live and what they should look like and it's a stretch to try and change these. But the more the girls travel through the portal, the more their eyes open to other things and their real dreams. They begin to fight for what they want - CiCi for her cooking classes, Bianca for her freedom and Rory for anything to bring back a bit of spark to her life.

I thought it was interesting that we never really got to meet Zell. Just heard about what she was like by the letters the other characters wrote to her. She was definitely some ideal fairy princess until the end when CiCi had a go at her and we discover that Zell isn't actually as perfect as we think. I liked that there was some diversity to the books as well, and there was never any hoo-haa about Bianca's choice of partner Outside. I loved that relationship, though it seemed very rushed. I really enjoyed Cici's relationship dynamic with Edmund who at first I thought a bit snobbish and then turned out to be thoughtful and understanding. They  really learned to trust each other and listen to each other. I also loved the princesses' reactions to their Disneyland counter-parts. Definite LOL moments.

This book will throw any ideas you have about your fairy princesses out of the water. So stop thinking about the singing Disney versions, and think more along the lines of the kick-butt princesses we see in Once Upon A Time, cause that's what these girls are mixed in with a little bit of LA-grit.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Book Review: After You by JoJo Moyes

Read: January 23-25   Verdict: 4 Stars

Me Before You is one of my all-time favourite books and I'm sure many people feel the same as me when they think about how the book could possibly have a sequel that could measure up to the heartwarming yet heartbreaking first book. While After You definitely didn't pack the same punch as it's prequel, I still really enjoyed it.

Lou is one of those characters you really what to know more about. And I'm so happy JoJo Moyes wrote more of her story. I really wanted to know how Lou was doing after the events of Me Before You and all I could for was that she was living well. I was a bit disappointed, Lou was a bit of a mess. And not in the way she was at the start of Me Before You. Now she'd lost her spunk and her sparkle. Her crazy clothes were all packed away, she was working a frankly terrible job and oh yeah, she'd fallen off a roof and almost died. I found myself internally yelling at Lou. How could she have stuck herself in this rut again, how could this be what Will wanted. And of course, it wasn't what he wanted at all.

I loved Lou's slow struggle to pull herself back together. Get over the guilt of what had happened and how to move on and learn to live, and love, again. I was glad she went to the support group, full of people feeling the same kind of pain and I felt her pain was very much realistic. She wasn't going to bounce back into happy Lou again. These things take time, some longer than others.

I wasn't very pleased with the arrival of Lily. In fact, I was pretty pissed. I don't know what it is with that kind of storyline but I hate it. Every time they do it in TV shows or an author does it in a book I want to rip my hair out but that's just a personal peeve of mine. I'm sure there's a lot of people who loved it. Lily was definitely the kind of teenager everyone hates though. The 'I'm so rich but so misunderstood' and then greedy, spoiled and messy and took everything for granted including Lou's free hospitality. I wanted to smack her. I did like the relationship she did have with Lou but I do think Lou felt way too much responsibility for Lily.

And I didn't think there could be a love interest in this book that could measure up to Will. How could I replace anyone with Will in mine and Lou's heart. There was no way anyone could be good enough but then along came Sam the Ambulance Man. Hero and sweetheart. I totally fell in love with his gentle giant cuteness and the way he always handled Lou with such understanding and care. If there's ever another book about Lou, all I can hope is her proper happy ever after with Sam in the house he built with the hands that put her back together after her fall and after Will with their chickens.

Oh and after two books I still detest Lou's sister Treena. So self-righteous and moany and bitchy and just downright UGH. I wouldn't miss her at all if she just disappeared from the books.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Book Review: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Read: January 21-23   Verdict: 5 Stars

This is definitely a book for people who have left home and felt homesickness away from family and friends. A tale of finding yourself a new place but making it somewhere you can call home.

Brooklyn is about a young Irish woman called Eilish (I-LISCH or A-LISCH) who travels to American to make a better life for herself when 1950s country life in Ireland isn't offering her any opportunity for a better future. Eilish soon finds herself settling into the strange life she's found herself and Brooklyn and even experiences falling in love. But tragedy strikes and when Eilish returns home she's faced with the choice of two different lives - returning to Brooklyn and leaving behind her family and her true home. Or staying in Ireland, a place that her heart and soul loves but can't offer her what she needs.

While this was a bit slow-going at first, I soon found the writing style in this book really lovely. There was a soft lilting tone to the way Colm Toibin was able to tell Eilish's story and it was very lulling and gentle and I really enjoyed reading it. I really felt for Eilish, who without really wanting to found herself uprooted and completely alone, thousands of miles from her. Overall, I did find her a rather stoic and serious character. And I thought it funny at the times where she found her voice and became very stubborn how she was able to do that in a strange country yet when she was at home in Ireland she became rather voiceless in front of her mother and Rose.

I also enjoyed how Eilish was Irish but not overruled by her typical Irish Catholic faith. She went out with Tony and enjoyed a bit of kissing and caressing. I did find it funny how Catholic she suddenly became after the bold thing and forced Tony to go to confession, and went herself. But she was definitely in charge of herself when it came to relationships and sex and seemed to know what she wanted. She wasn't too innocent like we sometimes see with young girls and their first time in books. I also found the sex scene, particularly because it was her first time, to be very realistic. It was definitely refreshing.

I'm not sure if the love triangle in this book really qualifies as a love triangle. It's more of a love triangle between Eilish and two different worlds. She had such a terrible decision that she had to make, even though she had more or less forced her hand before she even returned home. While I really liked Tony and thought he was a really lovely guy, I couldn't help but root for Jim a bit as I found him, in the end, to be very charming.

I think I would have liked a bit more of a conclusion. I think it's open a bit to interpretation. Did Eilish agree with the choice she made or did she feel forced by obligation? Would she always look back and think of the life she could have had with the person she left behind? I would have really loved an epilogue or something of an older Eilish looking back.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Read: January 19-21  Verdict: 5 Stars

First read in the summer of 2010.
Read for the second time in January 2016.

What, no, I'm not publicly crying at a train station....I lie. I am. I'm publicly crying while standing in a train station because of this book. So many emotions, and feelings and words that just jump out and grab you and tear you up and toss the fragmented bits of your soul into the air. I'm so so so grateful that I'm the kind of person that was blessed to be able to read this book, appreciate it and find the beauty in its words. 

I thought this was amazing the first time I read. Now I've read it again, I honestly felt like I was reading all the words for the time again as they just seemed so much more real and I felt like I was getting so many more emotions and feelings. This book is pretty unqiue with the fact that it's told by Death but here's the thing, Death is a total spoiler whore. He more or less tells the reader who's going to die at the start of the book so then you read the rest, you fall in love with these ordinary people trying to live their ordinary lives under the terrifying shadow of Hitler's Reign and you're torn apart with the knowledge that they're going to die.

More often than not, Death is betrayed as a wicked thing. But I loved remorseful the whole tone of this book is. Death tells the tale, specifically when he's describing the souls he's collected and the terrible acts of war he's seen, sounding like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. We never know who Death gets his orders from, though it does seem to be God, but Death is just the unfortunate character charged with the endless collection of these souls. He appreciates life, and its beauty. He can smell, and see all the beautiful and awfulness in the world. He's so real in this book and there's such a sense of this lonely character almost in chains, forced to take people away that his last words are truly haunting and hard-hitting.

"I am haunted by humans"

I love that quote. It's so beautiful.

I love the description and the prose in this book. I had to keep rereading passages just because I loved how Zusak was able to string words together into a colourful rainbow.

"Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.”

And the one that always gets me. Sobbed like a baby.

"His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come." Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.”

I also love reading World War stories set in Germany because so many other books are focused on characters in the UK or France or America and the Germans are, obviously, always the big bad wolf. While many Germans are still bad characters in The Book Thief and All The Light We Cannot See, there's also a point that there are very ordinary people too. People who had no choice but to salute to Hitler or they and their families had to suffer. In The Book Thief, it's both the Nazis and the allies that you end up despising know, Nazism and then the bombing that kills so many of our beloved characters. It's always super interesting being able to look from both sides of the fence.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Book Review: Hero Born by Andy Livingstone

Read: January 17 - 19   Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Hero Born tells the story of Brann, an ordinary boy who is captured by slave traders and ends up being a rower on a pirate-turned-slaving ship. Under the care of stern but kind Captain, Brann soon ends up discovering that he has skills that better suit the battle field than his father's mill. Brann ends up in lands farther than he could have ever imagined and caught up in battles he could only ever dream of fighting. 

This was a really good start to a fantasy series. From the start I was really intrigued and couldn't wait to see what happened.. Brann's time on the ship is very detailed and it's obvious a lot of investigation went in to getting it exactly right. I really enjoyed both the storyline on the ship and on land but I think I preferred how Brann's storyline progressed when they travelled to Lord Raggnar and Lord Sigur, There was nice world-building but not all at once. Brann was pretty good at describing what he was seeing in all its splendor due to his curiosity but I also liked that the reader got an idea of how the kingdom worked through the Captain explaining it to Brann. 

Brann was an extremely likable character and it's easy to see how he ended up making so many friends. His friendship with Gerens, Konall and Konall's page (whose name is escaping me right now) was lovely and seemed to help replace the friendship Brann had with his brother. The Captain was very intriguing, he wasn't quite a hero being the captain of a slave ship (even if he was 'forced' into it by his circumstances) but he wasn't an anti-hero either. He certainly had a very interesting background and I'm looking forward to seeing him take Brann under his wing properly in the second book and maybe teach him a bit of fighting. Konall was also an exciting character to read about. He definitely became one of my favourites which is funny as I didn't like him at all when Brann first met him. His character development was great and his affection towards Brann was pretty heart-warming. And then Gerens and Grakk, both slaves but both become fierce friends and defenders of Brann. Both characters were great additions to Brann's friend group (and the original additions).

I did find the overall pace of the book slightly slow at times, in particular when Brann and Konall teamed up for their rescue mission. The build-up to them getting to the village was very long, as was their coming back and it began to bore me and I just wanted a bit more action in those parts. I was also disappointed at the lack of female characters in the book. It would have been great to have actually seen a woman fighting when there had been talk of them being able to do so.

Overall, a great fantasy book and I can't wait for the next one!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Book Review: The Vintage Cinema Club by Jane Linfoot

Read: January 15-17    Verdict: 2 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

God, I'm glad this one is over.

The Vintage Cinema Club follows three women, Izzy, Luce and Dida who all run a vintage shop at the site of an old cinema. The building is owned by Dida's husband, a man who enjoys cheating on his wife more than staying at home with his kids, and he puts the building up for sale without telling any of the women. Now the women have to find out how to save the shop while dealing with some problems on their own.

The summary of this book is very misleading. I thought I was going into a story that would be split more or less evenly between all the women but it was about 80% just Izzy and Xander. Now, that would be okay if it wasn't that for the most part Izzy was utterly intolerable. At only 17% through, I wanted to DNF this book simply because of the amount of times Izzy had already spoken about her broken home life. While I didn't mind finding out about Izzy's life growing up, it was mentioned SO MANY TIMES I wanted to scream every time she did. It was extremely irritating. Izzy was also extremely judgemental, especially when it came to Xander. This guy literally was doing everything to make life easier for her and then she blew up at him because his dad was rich...even though she was well aware he made his own money with his own career in property and film.

And then there was Luce and Dida...but their storylines seemed to have been completely forgotten about because of Izzy's. Izzy's story took up about 80% of the book and then it seemed like the author forgot she also had to write about the other two and scrambled up something really quickly. While Luce's story was extremely bland and predictable, Dida's left me with a bad taste in my mouth. She was completely okay with her husband sleeping around with god knows who (and coming back to her bed) but then when the shop sale went through, she decided to go on a date with someone to get her own back? I felt like the relationship should have been given much more time than what it was given.

Overall, I can't recommend this book as I just really didn't enjoy anything about it.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Book Review: Somewhere Only We Know by Erin Lawless

Read: January 14   Verdict: 5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Alex works a pretty boring desk job in the immigration office, pretty much going through the same motions every day until he comes across a visa application for a Russian girl called Nadia. Something about Nadia and her friend's character references sticks out and Alex remembers her. Like a twist of fate, Alex bumps into Nadia a week later and the two become unlikely friends - taking trips around London to brighten up Alex's life while also making sure Nadia sees everything she needs to see before her inevitable deportation.

I really loved this book. From the get go it was super cute and all the characters were very relatable and likeable. Alex had a cute shyness that reminded me of Lincoln from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, as well as the slight likeness in getting to know Nadia through correspondence read in work. Nadia was very bubbly and hard not to like. She was kind and hard-working and didn't mope about feeling sorry for herself. I don't know much about immigration rules and about the visa process but I thought the novel was good in showing how frustrating it was to be waiting around for something that could change the rest of your life. The journey to her appeal was a pretty bleak one and Nadia had a wonderful support system - friends that were more or less her family. It's hard to imagine what something like that must be like for someone going it alone.

While this book was definitely full of the not-so-surprising twists and turns you'd expect in a rom-com book, it was just such a pleasure to read. I completely fell in love with all the characters, and the friend group had such a lovely dynamic that even included Alex and Rory (thankfully not Lili). I definitely recommend anyone to pick this up for a light-hearted yet touching read, plus it really gives you those London feels and made me want to back to the beautiful city straight away!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Book Review: The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Read: January 10-12   Verdict: 3 Stars

Twylla is only 17 years old and she can't touch anyone or else they drop down dead. Believed to be the Goddesses' Daughter Embodied, Twylla is able to drink poison and not die but this makes her touch deadly and she is used as an assassin for traitors. Twylla loves a lonely life but suddenly things start to change. Her betrothed, the Prince, arrives back from his travels and into her life again and her new guard Lief suddenly has her questi
oning everything she's ever been told.

This book was good and I did enjoy it but to be honest, I think I was more excited over the beautiful cover of the book rather than the content itself. I enjoyed the world building and the history we received about the stories about the gods and their daughters but for the most part, Twylla basically did nothing. She sat around and moaned about her life, and then she talked to Lief for a bit and then moaned for a bit longer. It got a bit boring after a while. I also found that Twylla mentioned her sister wayyy too often. I mean she has brothers and doesn't seem to care about them a jot. She mentioned them twice, and not in a particularly emotional way but as a reader, I felt like i was totally getting the little sister cliche pushed into my face (The Hunger Games has been there, done that) and i got tired of it. I did really enjoy hearing about The Sin-Eater. I thought it was such a unique custom and anytime she talked about it, I was riveted. 

I didn't particularly enjoy the relationship between Twylla and Lief. It was very forced and obvious but I wonder if i would have enjoyed it more if Lief didn't remind me, personality-wise, so much of Po from Graceling which this novel itself resembled (the only difference being that Katsa can fight and be fairly independent - I didn't feel like that with Twylla). It just went too quick for me, and i would have enjoyed them getting more time to actually get to know each other. I also found the lack of female friendships in this book a bit sad and annoying. I understood that Twylla can't really be near anyone and no-one can be near her but I would have liked if she had sparked a friendship with the maid or someone or even have had some kind of trope matronly figure to watch over her. I also found it strange how she was being groomed to be Queen yet they never taught her to read.

Overall, I found this book just a bit too dull for my liking. I don't think I'll be buying the next book, but I'll get it from the library if I see it. It seems to be following two different characters as well so I'm hoping the story will be a bit more exciting and action-packed than this one.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Book Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Read: January 5-7  Verdict:5 Stars

Holy effing shit, this was good.

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Hidden Bodies publication date: February 23
You followed Joe as he fell in love with Beck and became rather...obsessed with her. Caroline Kepnes' first book with Joe was chilling and creepy and downright fascinating. Hidden Bodies continues Joe's story and we go different places with him, in both location and sanity.

It's literally hard for me right now to write down my thoughts on this book as my head is spinning from it. It took me so many places and I was really on the edge of my seat for most of the latter half of the book. Joe seems to take on new life in this book and he wasn't so one-minded in this one as he was in You. I felt like he became a little bit more dimensional for me, and he stopped being someone just obsessed about someone loving him back but someone with other dreams and aspirations. It seemed we experienced with Joe, the moment he stopped and realised he could really be someone in life, and I really felt the excitement and nervousness along with him. Like in You, I really wanted things to go right for Joe and felt really happy when they did, and angry and sad when they didn't. Joe is not a good person and he does terrible things yet, for some weird reason, this book makes me forget about common sense and I just really love Joe.

I found the other characters in this book fascinating, in particular Love and her family. I really liked Love and couldn't figure out if she was an open book or much more complex than she was making out. I found Beck very unlikeable in You and I often wondered why Joe liked her so much and she was a bit of a mess. Love was a little bit more put together and while she definitely was a bit off-the-wall, I dunno, she just fit Joe so much more. I found Forty pretty fun to read as well plus everything to do with The Pantry and all the celebrity name-dropping. I really hope Reese Witherspoon and Amy Adams read this book and are like, "wait, what?"

One of the problems with You was how convenient everything wrapped up for Joe. I always felt he got off a little too easily so it was great to see him worrying now and again about certain things that happened in the first book. There were definitely times in this book that I felt Joe get too messy and I didn't think he was covering his tracks and I was so worried. It was almost like he had done it so many times, it just became a solution to all his problems rather than facing it like a normal person.

BUT HOW CAN IT END LIKE THAT? I feel like I'm dangling on a precipice and I just need Caroline Kepnes to hold out the promise of another book for a safety net. I need more, more, more! I definitely don't want this to be the last of Joe Goldberg.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Book Review: A Dog's Purpose by W.Bruce Cameron

Read: January 3-4 Verdict: 5 Stars

This book is phenomenal and an absolute must-read for anyone who has a dog and has ever wondered what they're thinking (ie: anyone who has a dog).

Bailey was first born as Toby, a stray puppy, but after a short and tragic life he became Bailey who found his boy Ethan. Bailey knows deep in his heart that this is the life he was suppose to have, living as a beloved family dog and cuddling up to Ethan every night to protect him. But when Bailey is born again, he's confused. What exactly is his purpose and will he ever fulfill it?

This book is full of both heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. Bailey's love for each of his owners - as Toby, Bailey, Ellie and Buddy - is so beautiful and as I was reading the book, I could see the love described by Bailey being reflected back at me through the melting chocolate eyes of my own dogs and it definitely made me a little bit emotional. The trials that Bailey had to go through in all of his lives are the type of things that would make any animal lover angry and is why animal activism needs to continue - the unreasonable forced surrender of Senora's dogs, Toby being unfairly euthanised, being locked in a HOT car, being Bear and having an owner that didn't understand dogs or their needs - unfairly punishing him for things out of his control - and being abandoned simply because the owner was too selfish and mean-spirited to care for a dog and find them a loving home. These things really made my blood boil because they happen all over the world every single day and I think the way Cameron used these real issues to make the story and bring them to light was really well done.

This book is definitely a roller coaster of emotion. I laughed (Bailey's view on cats and horses is hilarious), I smiled, I was angry and sad. This is literally dog perfection in a book! Pawfect!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Book Review: Love You To Death by Meg Cabot

Read: December 29 - January 2  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

I first read this series when I was between 14-16 years old I believe and I really loved it so when I found out a new novel was coming in February 2016 with a grow-up Suze, I knew I had to reread the series.

I really loved going into this with a fresh pair of eyes and the knowledge I had the whole series to my disposal on my Kindle and wouldn't have to wait for the next one to show up on the library shelf (this was before the days of reserving books online, it was a 'you see it, you take it' kind of thing cause you didn't know when you'd see it again). I had forgotten a lot of the series except for the basics - 16-year-old moves to California, she can see ghosts, hot ghost in bedroom, whole load of trouble.

Suze is a great character, She's independent, spunky and confident but also has a degree of warmth and caring. She doesn't let bullies or snobs get away with anything and likes to share her opinions. One of the best things I loved about the book was Suze's family dynamic. I forgot how great it was. Despite the fact she hardly knew her stepbrothers, I always felt they settled down with one another really well and with a lovely level of caring, from David/Doc's fawning over Suze to Jake/Sleepy's role of big brother caring for little sister. There was very little angst between them other than some normal sibling squabbles and her relationship with her stepdad Andy was also lovely. The family life was healthy and great to read.

I'm knocking off a half a star to the book basically because at times I felt uncomfortable with the attitude towards suicide. Suze's first ghost in the book, besides Jesse, killed herself after her boyfriend broke up with her and she became a malevolent spirit, intent on harm.I literally winced at how unfeeling Suze was at times and I'm not sure if the casual way she says "blow your head off" would go down as well in a book written today when society in general has a much better attitude towards mental health and suicide. There was basically nothing done to discover other reasons why Heather felt the need to shoot herself other than her relationship status and it definitely left the impression that she was just a stupid, shallow girl. There was also the use of the words "fag" and "fag hag" at one point which, again, I didn't enjoy at all. Though in fairness, Dopey did get a slap and grounded for saying it.

Overall, I loved revisiting this book and I can't wait to read the rest. I've already fallen in love with Jesse. I hate the new covers though. I much prefer the old ones.