Book Review: This Careless Life (Rachel McIntyre)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 272

Release Date: June 1st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Four best friends with perfect lives. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Who can resist the call of fame and fortune?

Liv, Hetty, Jez and Duffy are auditioning for a new reality TV show. Producer Cassandra has warned them the process might be tough, but they are excited and keen to get on with things, confident that they can handle anything.

But when Cass produces a photo of a body, everyone realises that they may have something to hide after all…

Review:

I’ve really enjoyed Rachel McIntyre’s last two books so going into a new one I had high expectations. And I wasn’t disappointed!

I didn’t know the inspirations for this book when I started reading it but, being a fan of the play, I saw the An Inspector Calls themes early on. I love the idea of doing a modern version of this for teens and I think it really worked.

Liv has got her friends Hetty, Jez and Duffy to audition for a new reality TV show. They all come from privileged backgrounds and they all have secrets they’re hiding. Producer Cassandra warns them that the audition process is tough and anything they’re hiding might come to light…

The book is really fast paced and I just wanted to keep reading. There was always a new little revelation that kept me turning the pages. The book’s loosely split into sections for each character as they face Cassandra and the camera for their audition.

The characters were all clearly flawed: they all came from money, were all a bit selfish and insecure in their own ways and they all had a secret they were hiding. As the story progressed they were forced to think about what they had done, not just in terms of how it could affect them if it got out, but how it had affected the people they hurt.

I wasn’t sure the last chapter was really needed: it explained a little bit more about where Cassandra came from but I preferred the mystery of her just coming and going.

It’s hard to say too much without spoiling key plot details so I think I’ll leave it at that. If you know An Inspector Calls then this is an interesting new take: if you don’t then this modern YA version could introduce you to the classic play. Either way, give it a read – it’s sure to intrigue you and I really recommend it.

4

YAShot Guest Post: Rachel McIntyre – Where I Work

Today on the blog, as part of the #YAShot2016 blog tour, I have Rachel McIntyre talking about where she writes.

Welcome Rachel!

Finding a place to write used to be as tricky a task as finding time to write. When I started ‘Me and Mr J’, I was writing purely for fun; grabbing spare minutes between childcare and work. The same went for a space. I’d set my laptop up on the dining room table in among the piles of ironing-in-waiting and random stacks of toys and try to work.

Fast forward a couple of years, I’ve moved house and finally got a dedicated study just for me and I love it! It’s filled with things I’ve collected over the years, like my vintage glass birds and the snow globes I buy from every new country I visit. And the books…I arranged them all in colour groups because a) I think it looks good and b) it helps me to find them quickly. I’m terrible at remembering titles, but I’m great at visualising the covers. The only downside is the gaps when I lend them out to people and yes, I have chosen books based on the spine colour. But that’s not as bad as it sounds as it’s encouraged me to pick up new reads I might not normally choose. I have overspill bookcases other rooms, but even so, the books do creep onto the floor in here.

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Moving on to my desk…I was a bit unsure about the chair from Dwell, but it’s actually really comfy. I used to get a really bad back from hours hunched over the keyboard and it does seem to have sorted that. I don’t like much clutter on my desk as I find it distracting, but I do have the lovely Minecraft mug my son painted to keep my pens tidy and a disco light, well, just because. I tend to write on my PC more than my laptop as it’s not wifi enabled which has completely halted my online- shopping-not-working tendencies.

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The two coffee tables are trunks that double up as storage where I keep all my notebooks- I still write a lot by hand- and I have a big portable whiteboard stashed away under the sofa but I like to keep all my notes either on paper or on my PC. I’ve tried Post-its on the wall and index cards, but it doesn’t really work for me right now. Maybe I’ll try again in the future.

And that’s where I work! Thank you for coming to visit, Maia.

And thank you for having me Rachel. I have such bookshelf envy now!

Check out my reviews of Rachel’s two fabulous books, Me & Mr Jand The Number One Rule for Girls.

Book Review: The Number One Rule for Girls (Rachel McIntyre)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Egmont UK

Pages: 309

Release Date: February 25th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Daisy knows a thing or two about love and romance. She’s surrounded by it – in fact, there’s no escape! Not only are her parents childhood sweethearts turned soulmates, they also run the very successful wedding agency ‘Something Borrowed’, helping couples to tie the knot in whatever frilly, quirky, tasteful, outrageous way they choose. So it’s no surprise that Daisy has a pretty clear vision of how her life with boyfriend Matt is going to pan out.

There’s one major flaw in this plan – Matt and Daisy have split up! Determined not to brood, Daisy sets out to re-invent her life and her dreams. And that’s when Toby enters the scene, who appears to be perfect, but is turning all the Rules upside down..

Review:

I fell in love with Rachel McIntyre’s Me & Mr J last year (seriously, it’s amazing, go read it if you haven’t yet) so I was really excited to read her new book. I read this in preparation for a guest post from Rachel for the YAShot 2016 blog tour, which I’m really excited for you all to read.

I didn’t really know what this was about when I went into it so I was surprised at the turn the book took. After breaking up with serious boyfriend Matt, Daisy starts a new college and is determined to reinvent herself. Until Toby shows up, with his gorgeous face and interest in her. But is he all he seems to be?

I think this review is kind of spoilery if you don’t know what the book is about. So fair warning y’all!

The development of Daisy and Toby’s relationship was really interesting to me. At first, Daisy loves his little quirks: he turns up at a wedding she’s working at and helps, he asks her to take selfies for him when she’s out and he always takes her down because he says she looks better that way. But then his insecurities begin to get in the way: he’s paranoid when she talks to other guys and doesn’t trust her with them, he gets angry suddenly but makes it up by being sweet later on. While Daisy talks about herself a lot to him he never opens up to her.

This is a controlling relationship that develops so subtly you’re not sure what’s happening until you step back and take stop and realise that all these little things aren’t sweet and caring: they’re paranoid and jealous and isolating you from your friends. I’ve read other books about similar relationships but this one captured it best for me: it’s not obvious what’s going on at first, it’s not one big clue but lots of little ones that all add up to something being very wrong. And that’s what it’s like in real life, and why it’s so easy to get sucked in and keep on forgiving and forgiving.

I really love McIntyre’s ability to write teenage characters. Just like Lara in Me & Mr J, Daisy’s voice is so realistic it feels like I’m hearing my 16 year old sister’s thoughts. There’s a ton of modern references and colloquialisms that my sisters use which make the voice authentic. And then there’s Daisy’s wit and sarcasm. She’s very dry, the snarkiest of snarks and she made me laugh out loud a lot. I loved her confidence and colourful outfits and it broke me when she started to lose that.

Daisy now goes to a different school to her friends and their relationships keep getting between them, but they all have each other’s backs when it comes to the crunch. Their ‘Rules for Girls’ were great and something we could all do with having in our lives! I also loved the variety of different weddings we see as Daisy works too: I’m not a big wedding person but ‘Something Borrowed’ sounded like the company I’d want doing mine if I was! It was a great way to see different relationships and have Daisy reflect on them: what works and what doesn’t and what she wants for herself.

This is a funny book on a serious subject, with a good dose of girl power friendships thrown in the mix too. It explores the mental side of abusive relationships, with subtle comments and actions that work towards breaking someone down and isolating them so they become dependent on the abuser. I’m glad Daisy’s friends were able to help her see what was really going on, and I hope anyone out there in a similar situation can see the way out too. This book will make you laugh but it’ll give you a lot to think about too.

4

 Check back in a couple of days for my guest post with Rachel McIntyre for #YAShot2016

The Bookblogger TMI Tag

The lovely Priya tagged me to do this a while back (check out her post here) and so here it is. The Bookblogger TMI Tag is an adapted version of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s (who I saw in December and is AMAZING) TMI tag on YouTube. So here is mine.

1)Which clothes style from a book character do you like?

I can’t think of a clothes style but I always wanted to have super long blue hair like Rialle from Song Quest.

2)Your book boyfriend/ fictional crush?

I actually don’t think I have one. Romances are often my least favourite part of books (probably because I’m old and jaded)

3)Ever loved a character but than started hating him/her?

Kaede in The Harsh Cry of the Heron. I love her in the first three books and then in this one she doesn’t act as strong and intelligent as she usually does, and her actions cause a whole world of pain for everyone else.

4)Biggest/Longest book on your shelf?

The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George at 1139 pages (it took me a while to get through that one – it’s tiny writing as well!)

5)Heaviest book on your shelf?

Either the one above or my copy of The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll. It’s hardback and pretty big.

6)Do you have any book posters?

I don’t have any posters but I do have a few postcards and little bits like that.

7)Do you have any book themed jewellery?
I didn’t until recently. I got a lovely necklace from Melinda Salisbury with my copy of The Sin Eater’s Daughter which I’ve been wearing all week 🙂

8)Book OTP?

I’ll admit I had to look up what that meant…I’m going to leave this one unanswered…

9)Favourite book series?

It’s a hard one but right now I’d go with the Chaos Walking Trilogy or the Animorphs series.

10)Favourite Book-to-movie soundtrack?

Have to agree with Priya here and say Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. My friends used to put the music from the end of The Fellowship on the jukebox in the pub and annoy everyone by speaking all the lines. Yeah, we were cool.

11)A book story you miss/ wish would continue?

I think I’d say Animorphs again here. Those books meant a lot to me, plus, while I did enjoy the ending, I would also love to find out what happened next.

12)Favourite stand-alone?

The Night Circus. I love it but also I can’t see many books without sequels on my shelves!

13)Since when did you read books?

Since forever. My parents were great with bedtime stories every night and when I could read for myself, I did at every opportunity. I used to sit in the bath at night to read (I couldn’t be told off for being up too late if they thought I was in the toilet!)

14)Which Hogwarts house are you in?

I found out recently I was in Slytherin. Mwahahahaha.

15)Quality you look for in a book?

Just engaging. Which is like the X-factor for books I guess: you can’t saw what it is, but you know when a book had got it.

16)Favourite book quote?

Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?” 
― Patrick NessA Monster Calls
And any number of other Patrick Ness quotes

17)Favourite author?

Ah that is pretty hard to choose. I’d say Michael de Larrabeiti because he wrote one of my favourite books (The Borrible Trilogy)

18)Favourite book cover?

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. The colours are just beautiful.

19)Action or Romance?

I’d probably lean more towards action. Romance isn’t as important to me as other kinds of relationships.

20) Where do you go when a sad moment happens?

I go to bed in my onesie (and hopefully a bf there for cuddles/massages).

21) How long do you take to finish a book?

Silly question, it depends on the length. But not too long, as a rule. I travel for work 3 hours a day and that packs in some good reading time.

22)How long is your mourning period?

Usually pretty short. It has to be a pretty fierce book hangover to have me mourn more than a day.

23)Least favourite book?

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. I haven’t read it for a long time but I think it’s one of the few books I’ve not finished.

24)Turn on in a character?

Honesty

25)Turn off in a character?

Whining.

26)Reason I started my book blog?

I just had a massive urge to do it last year. I’m not really sure of my reasons, but now I have I love it. It’s so great to be connected to lots of people who also love books.

27)Name a scary book?

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl which I read recently and loved. I’ve been really into scary books lately.

28)Last book that made you cry?

I don’t really cry at book but the last one to make me feel like crying was probably The Harsh Cry of the Heron The ending is just brutal.

29)Last book that you gave 5 stars?

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill. Go read it!

30)Any favourite book titles?

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making
What’s not to love about that? I bought it for the title alone.

31)Last book you read?

Me & Mr J by Rachel McIntyre. Really interesting read, would definitely recommend it.

32)Book you’re currently reading?

You Against Me by Jenny Downham I got it in Waterstones yesterday for £1 😮 Really enjoying it (and also The Complete Grimm Tales, which I got for Valentine’s Day and am slowly crawling my way through).

33)Last book adaptation you watched?

Hmmm… I don’t know. Probably an episode of Pretty Little Liars (which is amazing and I can’t wait for next season!)

34)A book character you always wanted to talk to?

Lyra from His Dark Materials. But she probably wouldn’t like me…

35)An author you always wanted to talk to?

Again, Michael de Larrabeiti, but sadly he is now dead 🙁

36)Favourite book snack?

I don’t have a usual one but right now it’s Mini Eggs.

37)Book world you want to live in?

I’d love to live in Rivendell. But after all the crazy stuff with the Ring has gone down.

38)Least world you want to live in?

Hell, in Damned. It’s a pretty nasty place.

39)Last time you smelled a book?

Yesterday. I was opening birthday presents and smelt them wrapped and then unwrapped. You have to smell new books.

40)Weird insults used in books?

Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.


Shakespeare is the king of weird insults.

41)Favourite romance book?

Mmm again not much of a romance fan… Fault in Our Stars maybe? 

42)Do you write?

Yes, I write a lot. I’ve always wanted to be an author, and I’m being more disciplined about it now! I’d like to get published soon, once my manuscript is finished (that’s the dream anyway)

43)Favourite magical item?

The one Ring to rule them all, of course.

44)Your quidditch position?

I don’t know… probably Keeper.

45)Name a song you connect to a book

Eyes Open by Taylor Swift makes me think of The Hunger Games. Mostly because it’s in the soundtrack, but it just feels so perfect for it.

46)Favourite book related chat up line?

Are you a library book? Because I can’t stop checking you out.

47)Have you ever used it?

No, I just googled it…Maybe I’ll try it on the boyfriend later.

48)Favourite book fandom?

Probably the Harry Potter one. I’m not that into fandoms but that’s a very welcoming, tolerant and diverse one.

49)How many books do you own?

Probably around 300-400 but they’re scattered in so many places I can’t count. I want to move out and buy a load of bookcases to display them properly.

50)Who do you tag?

I’ll just tag anyone who fancies doing it 🙂

Book Review: Me & Mr J (Rachel McIntyre)

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 320

Release Date: January 29th 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

Fifteen-year-old Lara finds her soulmate. There’s just one problem – he’s her teacher.

Lara’s life has changed radically since her father lost his job. As the eldest, Lara tries to keep upbeat, and the one outlet for all her problems is her diary where she can be open about how dire everything is at home, and worse, the fact that she’s being horrifically bullied at school.

And then a shining light comes out of the darkness – the new young and MALE teacher, Mr Jagger. The one person who takes Lara seriously and notices her potential. The one person who is kind to her. The one person who she falls madly and hopelessly in love with. The one person who cannot reciprocate her feelings … can he?

Review:

Argh where to start with this book?!

It’s not the sort of thing I’d usually pick up and when I read what it was about I wasn’t really convinced. But when Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa said she was giving away a proof copy I decided I’d be open minded and give it a try.

OMG I am so glad I did. The first thing that drew me in was the narrative voice: it was so realistic I was surprised the author wasn’t a teenager herself. It’s not often you find a voice that authentic. Even some of the best ones I’ve read before, there’s always been a little giveaway that tells me it’s not really a teenager talking, but this one had it down to a T (tee?) The slang was perfect, there was a good amount of swearing (maybe off putting to some put I know I swore a lot when I was that age so it feels natural). I spent most of the first few pages just enjoying the voice.

Into the plot then… it is an awkward one. You know that, whatever the situation, it’s wrong. I went in with that mindset and I came out with it, but the in-between was not so black and white. It felt natural for Lara to turn to him, the one person who didn’t constantly bully and belittle her. I even kind of wanted them to get together, because Lara deserved a break. Everything she went through was horrible, from the awkward home situation to the horrific bullying. It really was vicious stuff and I felt for her at every bad turn.

I think that was how the book made you normalise their relationship. After taking every beating with Lara, you craved Mr. J’s niceness just as much as she did. And when the lies began to unravel and I knew they were about to get caught I was praying to have them stay together, even though I knew it was wrong.

I felt the ending was appropriate as the only way things could really end. Even with the wonderful story behind it and a touching relationship, Mr J was always going to be in the wrong in his position and, whatever Lara wanted, however much she needed it, nothing should ever happen between a teacher and a student.

In short, this book will break your heart a little, but you should read it anyway because it’s beautiful and real and I loved it.

My Verdict:

4
If you enjoyed this, you might like Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton.