Bunny by Mona Awad

‘We call them Bunnies because that is what they call each other. Seriously. Bunny.’

I’m a bit all over the place with this book. I’d call it a ‘yo-yo read’. It’s sickly sweet, ugly pretty, cutely foul and oddly addictive. I was up and down throughout, with awkward ‘do I even like this’ moments. On numerous occasions I was indeed loving it in all its twisted hilarity.

Samantha Heather Mackey is an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at Warren University. In fact, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort – a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other ‘Bunny’.

But then the Bunnies issue her with an invitation and Samantha finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door, across the threshold, and down their rabbit hole.

Bunny was an unusual choice for me as it’s got Young Adult/Fantasy genre written all over it – not my usual choice. But this book feels like it not only blends genres, but bends them too. Into very uncomfortable positions.

⤴️You can treat yourself to this Bunny Zone sign for your wall/garden/bedroom/dustbin area by clicking on the sign!

It’s as funny as hell in places and has a fair few horrific scenes. On Goodreads someone described it as ‘one of the most demented books I’ve ever read’. I dig a bit of weirdness in my books, so my FOMO got the better of me!

I’m a member of The Ladies of Horror Fiction Group on Goodreads and there was a choice of books for September to vote for. Bunny won, so I thought, oh why not, let’s do it! I’m glad I did, but I’m still not sure I even liked it much!

I’m in the UK and the story is American, so I found certain things that I didn’t connect with. The education system in the USA is something I know nothing about. Also certain pop culture went over my head, so perhaps things were a bit lost on me.

The quirky characters were cracking, the humour was dark and dry, it was shockingly funny on countless occasions. It was written in such a way that is felt ‘chatty’ and flowed from page to brain* very easily.

*whilst mashing it up repeatedly.

The Sunday Independent quotes it as ‘Mean Girls with added menace’ and I completely agree.

At three quarters through I felt it was just playing with me. My feelings went from ‘this is weird’ to this is ‘REALLY effing weird’. Then ‘it’s so hilarious but still weird.’ Then ‘uh-oh, I’m getting a bit bored of the repetitive bits in the middle here.’ And the final part was just ‘whaaat??? – I’m not sure I even ‘get it!’

Talk about rollercoaster! It’s like nothing I’ve read before ever. But I think I liked it.

Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? I would, yes. But it’s definitely not for everyone. Maybe it would sit better with an American reader, and certainly would be more appreciated by someone twenty years younger than myself.

Apparently the rights are sold to AMC for a possible TV-film adaptation. I think it would be better on screen, I’d watch it, but only because I’ve read it.

It comes across as a weird, fantastical teen/YA story, with elements of horror that is cleverly put together. I enjoyed the characters and their strange behaviours, the writing was extremely good but overall I’d say it is an above average ‘Bunny Tail’ deserving of 3/5 bunnies.

I’ll leave you with a couple of lines which made me pull a right dodgy face;

‘A pause so pregnant it delivers, consumes its own spawn, then grows big with child again.’

‘She looks at us all in her probing, intensely gynaecological way.’

Urgh! That’s just ‘orrible!!

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

‘Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk’.

First of all, I’d like to start off by saying a massive thank you to Penny who blogs over at www.whatdoireadnow.co.uk for hosting an arc book giveaway on Twitter. I entered and was so surprised that I won!!

Right, so, how on earth can I write a review for Nothing Important Happened Today that’s going to make any sense at all because it BLEW MY MIND! I guess I’ll just start typing and see how it goes…

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides. One cult. No leader.

Click on the noose for Goodreads Synopsis

Carver by name. Carver by nature.

Crikey Will, your book has carved up my brain, your sharp words and stabby no nonsense writing style had my undivided attention instantly. INSTANTLY I TELL YOU.

Nothing Important Happened Today has the most aggressive narrative I’ve ever read. Each page was telling me something I needed to hear, in straight up, no nonsense language. Words were being thrown at me, paragraphs hitting me square between the eyes. Whole pages making me forget to bloody well blink for gods sake!! Carver ensures that you are one hundred percent listening to what he has to say.

There was an odd familiarity to each character, a strange, relatable feeling that often made me STOP and just THINK. I’d find myself staring out the window, trying to understand why I connected to a diverse bunch of characters that surely I had nothing in common with…

ALSO!!! Is it just me, or are there HIDDEN MESSAGES in this book?? Am I going crazy? Is Mr Carver trying to tell me something? Advise me? I just don’t know.

Anyway, back to the story. I love crime fiction. I also thoroughly enjoy True Crime, but I’ve never read anything that incorporates the two together. One of the BEST things about NIHT (apart from the GENIUS STORYLINE) was the real life serial killer references, a fascinating and brilliant insight into the real crimes that gave this story real guts.

This is the deepest of darkest stuff people.

Take social media. Take these Millenials’.

To best describe this book, (the style of the writing more than the plot itself) I’d say it was the English equivalent of Irvine Welshs’ Trainspotting. (Minus the jacking up and Scottish lingo that even my Scottish husband can’t understand!)

I don’t want to start ooh-ing and aah-ing about how much I want you to go buy this book, or borrow it from the library or download it to your Kindle. (Other e-readers are available of course!)

I certainly won’t go on about how sensitive the subject matter is. This book is full of triggers.

I often experience difficulties when reading books with more than, say, 4 or 5 characters. I didn’t have any trouble here though. Carvers’ short chapters with simple titles helped to keep me in the loop. This book was as EASY TO READ as it was HARD.

HANG ON A MINUTE! It’s just clicked. I related so much to Carvers’ characters because just like them, I’m a NOBODY!

I see it now. Crystal clear.

I don’t think I can write anymore about this book because it’ll be just mindless waffle. What I will say though is that I’m starting Good Samaritans by Carver in a minute because I simply need to read everything this authors written.

I’ll go and pop my review onto Goodreads, and give it the FIVE STARS IT DESERVES.

Thanks Will for writing this life-like freak show of a story. I loved everything about it.

Dark Matter [A Ghost Story] by Michelle Paver

‘In one of my periodicals, there’s a paper by someone who’s worked out that what we know of the universe is only a tiny percentage of what actually exists. He says what’s left can’t be seen or detected, but it’s there; he calls it dark matter‘.

Synopsis

London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.

And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

Review

Loaded with tension and atmosphere, Dark Matter is my idea of the perfect ghost story. I could of easily read it in one sitting, I was gripped from the very start.

The writing was at a gentle pace, methodical, magical, terrifying. I was transfixed. In the first hundred pages not a lot had actually happened, but that didn’t matter to me in the slightest. The feelings of isolation and suspense traveled up through my fingers with the turn of each page, cold yet clammy because I was there, with Jack.

The relationships between the characters were bold and often amusing, their personalities deep, emotional, with subtle hints of their own darkness and fears.

Jacks relationship with Isaak, one of the eight Huskies who accompanied them on the expedition, developed into something really very heartwarming.

This is the first book I’ve read by Paver, but it definitely won’t be my last. Horror and the Paranormal is one of my go-to genres, so I’ve read a LOT of spooky reads. But this, by far, was of a higher quality, superior to most I’ve read before.

A five star rating is deserved.

www.michellepaver.comhttp://www.michellepaver.com

The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens

‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’

Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.

This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.

Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.

She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.

I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!

As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!

I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!

The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!

I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summer’s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.

A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements

I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!

I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance. 

It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!) 

Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been 
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.

That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book! 

I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse! 

I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions. 

I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:

Shantaram, I will never forget you.

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