Book Review: Spin the Love by Lisa Terry

Spin the Love by Lisa Terry

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Publishing Info: Self-published September 30th 2015

Pages: 192

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

It was supposed to be a game to heat up their summer—not ruin their lives.

Sixteen-year-old Whispy Callahan lands in trouble thicker than Florida’s humidity when she plays a twisted game of Dare. Everything would have been fine if she hadn’t fallen for one of the player’s “targets” along with dredging up buried murderous tendencies. Forget the game—now Whispy needs to find her boyfriend’s murderer, but that might prove difficult since everyone thinks she’s insane. They could be right.

 

In Spin the Love a game of dare takes main character Whispy on a bit of a roller coaster ride. A game of dare is quite an obvious tool for creating plot and tension, but what made it work really well in this book was the dynamics between the three characters involved in the game. The complications of their relations to each other made it much more interesting to see what would happen and how the plot would progress.

Whispy’s characterisation was great. Her voice and personality came through the first person narrative. Her mental health problems were dealt with with reasonable sensitivity to the subject, although the use of this aspect of her character for mystery in the plot is a bit of a trope. The other characters were also well described and fleshed out, with personal history that impacts on their present characters.

It doesn’t spoil anything to say that Whispy’s boyfriend is killed in the book, as that’s in the blurb, which is good because that’s something that didn’t quite add up to me and would like to discuss in this review. Her boyfriend is quite obviously murdered, and there is a funeral, but there doesn’t appear to be any investigation. I found this very odd and it doesn’t make sense. If someone is murdered there is an investigation, and people who know the victim are questioned. So why wasn’t Whispy questioned by police? It doesn’t make sense and I felt that was quite a hole in the plot.

The ending was phenomenal. There was a big twist that I didn’t see coming at all. I tried to piece it together as I read but I didn’t expect what happened. It kept me engaged and had a satisfying ending.

The book was well written and much more accomplished that the last book I read by the author, which while good wasn’t quite polished. Despite a couple of problems I had with the book, I really enjoyed reading it and it kept me hooked until the end.

Film Review: Love and Friendship

Film Review: Love and Friendship

Release date: 27th May 2016

Director: Whit Stillman

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevingy, Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennett, Morfydd Clark, Emma Greenwell

Runtime: 94 minutes

Genre: Period Drama, Romance

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Love and Friendship is based on Jane Austen’s epistolary novel Lady Susan which wasn’t published until after her death. There is also an epistolary book called Love and Friendship, but the film takes the plot of Lady Susan with the title of Love and Friendship. I know, confusing. Why not just call it Lady Susan? Why take the title of another Jane Austen work and confuse everyone?

Lady Susan is a tactical widow who sets her eyes on finding a suitable husband for her daughter, with the help of an American friend, also aiming to bag herself a man in the process. I enjoyed the plot and it was certainly humorous at times, most of the laughs coming from Lady Susan’s scandalous and outrageous lines. Kate Beckinsale definitely stood above the rest as Lady Susan, delivering her lines so well. The obliviously stupid Sir James is also a great character who provides a lot of humour. In many ways it is different to other stories by Jane Austen with a somewhat unlikeable, scheming protagonist who is somehow at the same time captivating.

If is somewhat odd that it is a U-rated film, but which is most definitely about scandal and affairs. It’s odd but somehow works.

The acting was good at times but in places it was stilted and like they were reading off a script. There was nothing striking about the scenery and imagery, and the music wasn’t anything special and felt oddly out of place for some reason. Actually, what was most odd was the costumes. I’m no expert on period fashions but the dresses didn’t look at all right for the time period.

It was thoroughly entertaining, charming, and passed some time, but there were some elements that were just…off. The production let down a story with potential to make a great film. I don’t have much to say about this one. An average but enjoyable film.

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia/Utopia

Publishing Info: Kindle Edition, May 17th 2016 by HarperCollins (first published 2011)

Pages: 401

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing.

They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

 

I cannot deny that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. A lot of YA dystopia has left me disappointed, so I’m reluctant to have too high hopes when reading this genre which I love so much. I’d heard of Delirium, but never got round to reading it until now. One of the things that cheeses me off most about YA dystopia is romance. Romance often seems to take up so much plot of some YA dystopia novels, leaving the important stuff or action in the background. Romance can be great in any novel, but when it takes over and blots out everything else, that’s what annoys me. Or the genre is plagued by love-triangles, insta-love, unlikeable/unbelievable love interests and unbelievable romance. So I was definitely a little wary when I started Delirium.

The whole point of the world Lauren Oliver has created about love so, considering the above, it would seem this is perhaps not the book for me. But that wasn’t the case. I think why the romance wasn’t annoying in this book is because it was actually totally relevant to the plot. It wasn’t thrown in. It is an important element of the world building and essential tool to explore the nature of the presented society. Love is seen as a disease which can be cured. This is actually quite an interesting concept and quite believable, in the way love is presented as something which causes you pain, and that you’ll be happier without it. I found myself completely intrigued by this dystopian/false utopian world.

The things that usually annoy me about romance in YA weren’t present in the book. There wasn’t an annoying love triangle and there was no insta-love – the characters fell in love gradually, far more realistic. The ‘love interest’, Alex, was actually likeable as well, though perhaps could have benefited from being as fleshed out as Lena and Hana. Onto Lena herself, the protagonist – I didn’t find her annoying. So often YA comes with really annoying protagonists, but I genuinely liked Lena’s character. Her development and her past were really interesting. I wanted to know what was going to happen to her, where she was going to go, and who she was going to become.

The first half was a little slow at times but my interest in the world kept me interested enough. There were some clichés/tropes of YA dystopia, such as the America is the only place left and there are borders and barriers everywhere. At first it reminded me of Pretties by Scott Westerfield with love instead of beauty, but as it went on it became its own story and the parallel was less obvious.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this and wasn’t expecting to be giving it 4 stars. Perhaps my score would have been different if I hadn’t had low expectations going into reading it. I really enjoyed the writing style, it flowed very easily and there were some nice descriptions. I’ll be reading the next two in the trilogy, and crossing my fingers that the series continues to be good and doesn’t derail like many I’ve read.