Book Review: This Really Happened by Annmarie McQueen -No Spoilers-

Thank you Katelyn for the lovely review!

From Cover to Cover

34438098This Really Happened by Annmarie McQueen

Published: February 25th, 2017

Source: Kindle Edition, 250 pages

Summary:

I felt like I was seeing it all in slow motion; the car, sleek and black, careening around the corner, the sound of wheels skidding. Headlights illuminating her dazed expression like a spotlight as it made contact. Then I heard screaming, distant and muffled, as if I was underwater. It took me a long time to realise that I was the one screaming.

Six University flatmates.
A girl learning what freedom feels like.
A boy with a past that won’t stay buried.
One night, one mistake, that changes everything.
Let’s play a guessing game. Two truths and a lie.
Which is which?

Rating: I gave this 4/5 stars on Goodreads!

Thoughts:

**I received a digital copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are…

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5 Biggest Cliches in YA Romance

Recently, I’ve spent some time working my way through the bestseller list of YA romance fiction – everything from John Green to hit debuts such as ‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon, which was recently made into a movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book. But for now I’m done with YA fiction and going back to my usual genre of world lit, classics and general gritty depressing stories that leave me in existential doubt for days afterwards. As charming as it sometimes is to indulge in the idealistic world of manic pixie dream girls (MPDGs), deep conversations under the stars and passionate, obsessive love affairs, it’s all starting to feel a bit fake. Here are the 5 biggest cliches that I think have been way overdone in YA these days:

  1. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s beautiful. She’s deep. She’s probably a metaphor. She’s ‘broken’ but ‘strong’ and wants to make cryptic remarks about the meaning of life on a rooftop at 3am. She’s ‘not like the other girls’ because she’s a special snowflake and apparently has the ability to understand life better than everyone else, despite being a teenager with no actual life experience. Most likely she has a mental illness that’s probably being romanticised by the male love interest. Examples: basically anything written by John Green, pretty much ever.
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  2. The MPDGs favourite activity? Astronomy of course. Because relating everything in your life to the workings of the universe automatically makes you deep apparently. Sorry, no. It doesn’t make you deep. It makes you sound kind of egotistical and occasionally like a bad science textbook. Example: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
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  3. The dead parent/sibling/relative trope. Quite often it just seems like a lazy attempt to remove the adults from the story so the author doesn’t have to write them. In reality, family relationships are a pretty damn huge part of teenager’s lives. It’d be nice to see some more YA novels accurately reflect that.
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  4. Romanticising mental illness. This one worries me. While I have read some books which have given the topic the gravity it deserves (Laurie Halse Anderson does this excellently) I’ve also read many more that treat it as ‘teenage angst’ or an interesting quirk to make the character seem broody, mysterious and ultimately more attractive. Yeah, no. Just don’t. Being depressed isn’t sexy, it’s just extremely unpleasant and soul-destroying really.
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  5. Instalove! Because why spend valuable pages on having the characters actually get to know each other when they could be discussing the stars and their undying love instead.

What tropes and cliches do you hate in YA fiction? 

On a side note, if you want to make me super happy please go download my new novel ‘This Really Happened’ here

Top 5 Halloween Reads

Happy Halloween! To celebrate my favourite time of year, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite creepy, hair-raising, spooktacular reads that will give you chills and get you into the holiday spirit.

  1. We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
    castle
    Merricat lives with her sister in the house where her entire family was poisoned. When their uncle visits, their fragile peace is shattered and revelations that will change everything come to the surface. Isolation, superstition and witchcraft are major themes of this horror classic. While not heavy on action, this creepy novel is all about atmosphere, creating tension and leaving just enough hints to let your imagination do the rest.

 

 

2. The Wasp Factory by Ian Banks 

TheWaspFactoryA first-person narrative told from the point of view of a boy who murdered three people, including his own brother, and then stopped. Psychologically shocking and terrifying, with a great twist at the end. Definitely worth a read.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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From the author of ‘Gone girl’ comes an even more gruesome psychological thriller and murder mystery, as Abbie Day confronts her past and tries to solve the murder of her family to prove her brother innocent. Like Flynn’s other novels, this had a well-structured plot, well-developed characters and a surprising twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Angel blood by John Singleton

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A massively under-appreciated YA dystopian novel with some really interesting ideas about how disability and outcasts are treated in society. It follows four children, who are failed biological experiments and suffering strange physical disabilities because of it, and their lives in a type of Asylum called ‘The bin’. Creepy but also incredibly sad, this one is definitely one of the most well-written and unique dystopians I’ve read.

 

 

 

 

5. Birdy by Jess Vallance

1e370c96-2f43-41d2-b24e-9d75fcbfc51b-bestSizeAvailableThis one’s not that well known, but I thought it was a great YA example of the unreliable narrator. I really liked how most of it seemed like pretty normal high school stuff, but with sinister undertones that gradually became more obvious towards the end. They always say that the key ingredient of horror is turning the mundane into something scary, which this book does very effectively.

 

 

 

 

What’s your favourite spooky read? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: ‘Aggravated Momentum’ by Didi Oviatt

I received a free review copy of ‘Aggravated Momentum’ by Didi Oviatt in return for an honest review. Okay, first things first, I loved this book. It took me on a real rollercoaster of emotions and the two twists caught me by complete surprise. The pacing of the story and the way certain key plot points are revealed to you make for an exhilarating and fast read.

‘Aggravated Momentum’ is an adult thriller, a ‘murder mystery’ type story that reminded me of ‘Dark Places’ by Gillian Flynn. It’s written from the POVs of multiple characters, including the killer. Markie, the protagonist, is still grieving the death of her best friend Beth, who was murdered a year ago. However when the killer strikes again, it becomes clear that they won’t stop until they’ve destroyed everyone close to Markie. To protect her family and those she loves, Markie must work together with the police to draw the killer out and figure out what they want before it’s too late. But why is she being targeted? And what other dark secrets does the killer have that will change Markie’s life forever?

Adult thriller isn’t my usual genre. I went into this book not knowing what to expect, and was very pleasantly surprised. Markie, the MC, is sharp, witty and independent. Though still obviously a bit traumatised by what happened to her friend Beth, she’s clearly a very capable and intelligent woman who knows how to stay calm during stressful situations. Though sometimes I found her a little cold and unfairly judgemental of the people around her, I liked that she wasn’t a perfect lovable MC. I think the point of this book is that none of the characters are good people, yet they’re intriguing enough that you want to learn more about them.

Markie’s younger sister Kam also plays a significant part in the story. Unlike Markie, she’s a bit more frivolous and doesn’t think before she speaks, which makes her seem insensitive a lot of the time. The dynamic between the two sisters is very realistic – though they both clearly have some big flaws, they still care about each other deeply, one of their redeeming qualities.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I think in many ways this book breaks down some of the tropes associated with the thriller/crime genre. I really liked the fact that the killer was revealed so soon and we got to read parts of the story from their POV – even though the big reveal happened early on there were still other surprises in store and I liked the dramatic irony. I found it unsettling to hear the killer’s thought processes; it gave me shivers and reminded me a lot of Clockwork Orange. Though I usually find books with multiple POVs confusing and overly complex, the pacing and the narrative structure here worked well since it all fit into one clear plot arc with a satisfyingly shocking conclusion.

If crime and thriller is your thing, I would highly recommend ‘Aggravated Momentum’ as an exciting, sexy and refreshingly original alternative to the usual staples of the genre. #SupportIndie and pick up a copy here