Review: Shift (Em Bailey)

file_004-4Title: Shift

Author: Em Bailey

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Release: 2012

Genre: Thriller, contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? To me, this book strongly resembles a saltwater crocodile. Many animal-lovers will tell you crocodiles are very unpredictable and there’s genuinely no telling what they’re going to do. In the same way, this book had so many twists and turns it’s unreal…Saltwater crocodiles are also notoriously aggressive and dangerous (obviously there are exceptions in domestic cases etc etc) but this book made me feel on edge and concerned for the characters in the same way the threat of a giant potentially murderous reptile would make you feel.

The blurb says: There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school. The first was that she had no parents – they were dead. The second was that they were dead because Miranda had killed them. Olive used to be the school queen-bee. But that was before her breakdown. Now she’s the class loner, and can only watch as new girl Miranda latches onto Olive’s ex-best friend Katie. Soon Miranda is talking like Katie, dressing like Katie – even going out with Katie’s boyfriend. And then Katie dies. Everyone seems to believe it was a tragic accident, but Olive isn’t so sure. What if the wild rumours are true? What if Miranda really is a killer…?

Firstly, I think I’m still in shock a little bit over the twists in this story… I can normally predict twists or see roughly what’s going to happen but with this book, I was genuinely shocked. I think I actually gasped. Out loud! And I couldn’t put it down (I read this in around two days.?) because the whole story is just tense and there’s not one part of it anyone could describe as dull. It’s so gripping and I just wanted to know what would happen next.

I love that, through Olive, the reader can experience the world through that ‘queen-bee’ persona as well as the ‘loner’. It really added to the story since she explained why Katie was behaving the way she was. I also really liked that, due to her breakdown, Olive was seeing things differently and could experience school life through a new attitude, and seemed to care less about more materialistic things. The way mental health was represented was great and I really appreciated that the story didn’t encourage any of the stigmas/bad representation mental illness receives.

I honestly really loved everything about it. I loved the pace since it moved quickly and it kept me interested; I loved the characters because I could either relate to them or I found them interesting and I loved the actual plot because it was so clever and worked 20160804_163103really well. I love that all the loose ends were tied up well in explanations throughout the story.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a dark thriller that’s impossible to put down. This gets 10 out 10 paw prints from me!

Geeky Clean February Crate (Wonderland)

file_001-5I’ve never had a Geeky Clean crate before and the only things I’d bought from there were two Grisha lipbalms for my Mum at Christmas (which she loves and still uses) so I was pretty much completely new to the company. I’d seen a few people praise them and describe them as though they’re the best thing in the fandom/bath products world so I decided to give them a go. The January box was based on gaming and I didn’t want to buy the crate and not understand any of the references, so I decided to wait and see what the next one was and then they announced Wonderland. I also saw a post where it was said that the theme was chosen because the creator of the boxes had read Heartless (Marissa Meyer) and that is one of my favourite books in the whole wide world so I knew this was the box basically intended for me, so I ordered it. It arrived on 1.3.17 and I can honestly say there were no mistakes made in that decision…

file_003-4The first item is the White Rabbit Shower Tablet which is a kind of palm-sized bath bomb for the shower. You throw it into the shower, but at the opposite end to the plug and it fizzes away, releasing its lovely smell/vapors into the bathroom. This particular one is white with small flecks of blue and pink, and smells of basil and peppermint. Personally, I like it because it’s very strong and smells very grown-up and mature, if that makes any sense.

The next product is the Mad Tea Party Bath Tea Bag which is a teabag for your bath, as the name suggests. You hold it under the tap and let the water push out all the sfile_005-4mell, then drop it in to fully infuse with the bath water (or that’s what I do anyway, you may just be supposed to drop it into the bath and leave it). This one smells of sweet rose, tea and woody notes and I love it because it smells very fresh and outdoorsy. I love bath tea bags like this since they usually don’t add bubbles to a bath but make everything smell really nice. Sometimes there’s colour too (although I don’t think there is with this one since it looks very natural).

Next is the Jest Soap Sample which just excited me because Jest is my favourite character in Heartless and I really hoped there’d be something associated with him. And there’s this soap, so I’d be happy file_004-5no matter what it smelt like, however it does smell of mint, basil, white tea, musk and woody amber (which is a lovely combination by the way). To me, this smells pretty masculine, strong and mysterious (all qualities Jest possesses, surprisingly), so I really liked the link to Heartless here and thought it fit well. file_002-6

Next we have the Hearts vs Chess Soap Pop which is a big old pink heart on a stick which immediately excited me because it’s novelty soap and I am easily pleased…You’re supposed to remove the stick before using but I intend to leave the stick in for as long as possible, and if that means not using it for a while then so be it! This soap smells of violet, grapefruit and kumquat which is such a pretty, girly fragrance that I kind of want to never use up the soap but also kind of want to use it everyday.

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The final, and easily my favourite item in the whole box, is the Queen of Hearts Soy Wax Candle which is actually incredibly stunning. To be honest, when I saw the tin, I thought it’d be a plain red candle, or maybe have a heart pattern across it. Nope; it’s a white candle with a red heart essentially stuck onto the top, letting the red bleed beautifully into the white of the main candle. It’s gorgeous, and I didn’t think I’d be able to use it because of that, but then I sniffed it and realised I have to use it. It smells of watermelon, jasmine and violet which is completely lovely and end up smelling very sweet and (to me) like the haribo heart sweets from the starmix packets.

The next box’s theme is ‘Be My Guest’, probably because of the new Beauty and The Beast film which is out this month, and I would love to order one but alas my bank balance disagrees with my need for this box. I will be buying another crate in the future, just not yet. I’ll definitely use up all these products but I’ll be sad to see them go. 10/10 would buy again!

 

Review: The State of Grace (Rachael Lucas)

file_000Title: The State of Grace

Author: Rachael Lucas

Publisher: Macmillan (mykindabook)

Release: 6th April 2017

Genre: Contemporary, mental health (Asperger’s)

Which animal is similar to this book? Okay this one’s a little bit of a stretch but just go with it please…For me, I would personally say this is a greyhound because for anyone who knows greyhounds, they are one of the breeds people are likely to say they can ‘relate to’ because they’re full of those traits which people often joke about or see in themselves. Greyhounds like to sleep a lot, enjoy food and like attention so there are quite a few greyhound owners who will say they’re like their dog. In the same way, anyone with Asperger’s or autism will really feel like this book ‘gets’ them, just as a greyhound ‘gets’ me, and since I do have Asperger’s, I feel like that about it. I can relate a lot to Grace and to the emotions she experiences, so this book is my greyhound. Greyhounds are also a very fast animal and so compare to this book in that the story is quite fast-paced. Also, greyhounds make exceptional therapy dogs and I feel like this book is kind of a ‘comfort’ book in the same way a greyhound would comfort someone who was having a bad day. I will be reading this on bad days or days I want to feel connected to someone similar to me, so I will be treating this book as kind of a go-to, comfort-read and I would advise anyone similar to me to do the same.

The blurb says: Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost. Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more. Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own. Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.

I want all my friends to read this. I want to give this to anyone who looks at me like I’m stupid/rude, to anyone who thinks I’m a freak, to anyone and everyone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to live with Asperger’s. I feel like this is definitely one of the most important books of 2017 and I want everyone to know. The way it’s written just makes me realise how not-alone I am and I want to know Grace in reality so badly because I know we are one and the same (except for the part where she loves horses and I have quite a substantial fear of horses because they’re big and could probably kill me with their eyes).

Grace is the best character; she speaks so honestly and bluntly (in her head of course) so that even if you don’t have Asperger’s, the story will still have a good impact on you. I love the way all the characters are so distinctive and separate and I also love that each has their own sub-plot which all make sense at the end. I also love that since we’re seeing everything through Grace’s eyes, everything seems negative and all her worries affect the way the reader will see the story; I think that’s so clever and I wish I could write like that.
The story is fast-paced and at the start, everything is happening quite quickly but by the end, you will be tense, anxious and concerned for Grace as everything speeds along to a nice, relaxing, all-wrapped-up ending. I love that the end of the book actually did wrap up every mini-plot and everything was answered, because I would’ve been heartbroken if anything had been missed out. I also love the two Taylor Swift references, because I am a Swiftie at heart and I love to see references to the old, country, curly-haired Taylor Swift. I also really appreciated the German Shepherd having a good representation; that line about the perception she’s aggressive made me so happy because breed stigmas/representation is where my little animal-student heart lies…

I love that it describes that feeling of being so emotionally drained and physically tired after socialising with people because I feel like that’s an important aspect that people don’t really seem to understand unless they experience it themselves. I also love that it featured an autistic main character who has *shock* a romantic relationship. That’s often not seen as possible since autistic people supposedly have no emotions, don’t want to touch anyone or just aren’t interested in relationships. In this book, Grace is completely ‘normal’ and is a ‘normal’ teenager, just with a mental problem which affects her social skills and thinking, not her desire to date or have friendships. I also love that she’s that ‘normal’ in that she’s not a train enthusiast, can’t do complicated maths in her head and isn’t obsessed with space like a lot of autistic characters seem to be. She’s just an animal-lover who likes Doctor Who and there are quite a few of those who aren’t autistic.

This was honestly such a good book, I can’t say enough good things about it. I will be buying a finished copy, I will be lending it to anyone I can convince to read it and I will be praising it for months to come. This is truly an important read for anyone who has Asperger’s, knows someone who has Asperger’s or simply wants to see what it’s like. I genuinely feel books like this (as well as Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise 20160804_163103Gornall and Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne) should be taught in schools or at least strongly promoted so that they can explain these mental health issues to people who possibly don’t understand it, or who don’t want to feel like a ‘weirdo’ or like they’re alone in the world.

I kind of want a few lines of this tattooed to be honest, and I would recommend this to anyone at all; it’s such a good book and I really hope people read it and feel as connected to it as I do. So, obviously, this gets 10 out of 10 paw prints from me!