Lorali — Laura Dockrill

Hello there,

Well. I didn’t really enjoy myself while reading this book. The only way I can summarise this story is that it is about mermaids. If you’re into that kind of jazz then maybe this book will be right up your alley. I thought I was interested enough in mermaids so I thought, “Why not give it a shot?”.

After I finished the book, I still didn’t really know what the whole point of the story was. I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters. The concept of the underwater world felt incredibly murky ( ūüėČ ) due to a lack of descriptions and explanations. There was also nothing that made me want to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. Pity because I feel like the story had so much potential. ūüė¶

One interesting point about the book though, is that it is written with 3 perspectives, like The Serpent King. In it, we follow Rory, Lorali and The Sea. Yes, The Sea. It’s actually pretty interesting the way she used it. In the beginning I thought it was pretty pretentious, but after I finished the book, I saw that there was¬†a good reason why.

If you’re interested in reading this book, please don’t let me dissuade you, there are plenty of people who have really liked it, I’m just not one of them. Oh well, time for my spoilery rant.

Here are some links to the author’s website if you’d like to find out more about her or her work:¬†http://www.lauradockrill.co.uk/

Happy reading

‚̧


SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

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Rory to Lorali after knowing her for 5 hours. (Heyyyy what an appropriate gif, what with her being sopping wet and all)

Sooooo, hello again. You might not know this, but I have recently been hyper-aware of the insta-love thing going on in all these books I’m reading. I kid you not, it’s kind of driving me nuts.

This was the biggest most glaring thing that stuck out to me in Lorali. The story takes place over the course of, I think, 1-2 days? And by the first night Rory and Lorali are already enamoured with each other. For instance, they are constantly staring at each other, “while the other isn’t looking”. That typical lovey-dovey new couple stuff… you know what I mean. Slowly though, these gazes turn into internal monologue declarations of undying devotion to each other. I mean really? They’ve only just met and they’ve decided that they’re NUMERO UNO in each others’ hearts. “My Rory!” “My Lorali!” Ok I might be making this up at this point, but you get my drift. It’s just a little hard to believe, that you could fall so hard so fast. In a few hours. Seriously. Now I’m just ranting but I feel like there were so many other things that deserved more attention. Everytime it got exciting, I would be rudely reminded that “they would die for each other” and “whoever hurts the other will pay sorely.”

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Ahem, but that may be just me being an overly sensitive piece of unicorn poopoo. Moving beyond that, I previously mentioned the 3 POVs in the story. Although the use of the sea’s perspective was interesting, sometimes the switching was jarring. For instance when we find out ermm… [the friend who isn’t Elvis’s grandpa] knows about Lorali, we have a minor “wut” moment. O.o Immediately after that the chapter ends and we switch over to the sea’s perspective. So, we only find out what happens after the perspective cycles back to that of the humans. I just find it a little weird pacing-wise.

The plot wasn’t introduced very well. (Disclaimer: Not an expert, just my thoughts) As I’ve said before, even after I finished reading the book I still wasn’t sure what the whole point of it was. Maybe it was because I was skimming it a little. But at the beginning, when I wasn’t as frustruated with it, I couldn’t find any reason why I should continue reading. There was no visible tension or “push” for the plot. Lorali is washed up on the beach as a human. So what? We see the mer people underwater in flashbacks. So what? What’s the problem with her becoming human? (Answer: Her mum is worried and is threatening to wreck the place to find her. Meh.) Is this a normal thing? (Answer: No it isn’t. Ok on hindsight that was me being dense.) But the question that was constantly on my mind was: “Why should I care? They are in no immediate danger.” Okay, I suppose Rory’s mum could have caught him with a naked girl and he’d be grounded. Fine but who cares. I don’t. And maybe that is the crux of the problem. Maybe I couldn’t connect with the characters, maybe the introduction wasn’t done too well.

Carrying on with the theme of questions: What is a tapestry? (Answer: Their tail.) This was revealed later but it sure made me super confused for a while because it seemed like a curtain sometimes and a tail at other times. I’m being a little petty here, but this lack of description was frustrating.

[Sorry it ends so abruptly here because I actually left this post in the drafts for too long and now I’ve forgotten most of the book. I’m still going to post this because the first part is complete and I’d love to look back on this in future. Thanks so much for reading!]

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The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

Hello there,

Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been away, this might be the first book I’ve read this year that I think warrants a book review and discussion. I’m glad to be back so let’s get started. ūüôā

This book follows three characters, Dill, Lydia, and Travis. The story starts with them entering their last year in high school. Over the course of the story, they have to deal with their own problems at home while trying to figure out their own futures. As someone who is also about their age, I can see how the events they are experiencing may seem frightening. The worries and emotions of the characters are accurate reflections of people my age.

As I read the author bio first, I knew that this was his debut novel. As such, I might have been over critical. I thought the writing seemed a bit heavy on the adjectives and descriptions, especially in the beginning. It seemed like an expository composition I might have written when I was younger. But after the first few chapters, I stopped noticing the writing and started focusing on the story. It ended up being an easy read which I blew through in 2 or 3 days.

Though the book doesn’t really have a typical plot where the main characters are out to find something or are on a journey from point A to B, I was still hooked on the story. I admit this might not appeal to those who are hoping for a more structured story. So, this is ultimately a matter of preference. As far as I understand, the people who didn’t like this book were those who thought it was predictable or¬†pointless. Though I think this might be more of a problem with the subject matter. Regardless, this book made me tear up and laugh out loud, so it gets a good rating from me. ūüôā Now,¬†I shall be moving on to a spoiler-filled discussion of the book, so move away now if you would still like to read the book. Shoo!¬†

Happy reading

‚̧

 


SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

 

Confession: I have a terrible habit. Before or after I read a book, I will go onto Goodreads, and seek out the 1 and 2 star reviews. The only exceptions are for books I didn’t like, in which case I search for the opposing view. But glowing reviews¬†aren’t nearly as fun as watching people vent their frustrations. As such, this section will comprise my views on certain problems that people had with the book. Here we go!

  1. Lydia and Dill are too immature to be 17 year olds — ¬†To me, their worries about the future, such as moving away from friends and family were relatable. I will concede that at the very beginning, their constant bickering was annoying and rather childish. However, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of the average 17 year old. Not everyone is of the same level of maturity and people who are mature may sometimes still act otherwise. I also wouldn’t expect them to act like grown-ups and settle arguments without any emotion because they’re aren’t grown ups. Though I admit, my opinion here might only be so,¬†due to where I have grown up. For example, a book reviewer¬†mentions that when she was 17 or 18 years old, she was already moving out of her home. Where I come from, people usually only move out of their parents’ home¬†after they’ve gotten married.
  2. Lydia and Dill “insta-crush” — I’m quite confused by this because several reviewers mention that the crush was only revealed in the 170 + page? But I am sure that at the beginning, there were small tidbits like when Lydia reveals that she thinks Dill looks good when they were at an indie clothing shop. Similarly, Dill also very explicitly revels in Lydia’s scent (mind my phrasing) at the beginning of the book. They have also been friends for a very long time so they do care about each other. From a non-physical perspective, Dill was sad that Lydia would be leaving and this was mentioned very early on. So from my point of view, the crush wasn’t instantaneous and without any build-up.
  3. Predictable — Hmmm… maybe. I can’t really agree/disagree on this one. I sure didn’t expect Travis to die. So I thought the story¬†was pretty decent? Conclusion:¬†Depends on how many books you have read
  4. Travis only existed to die — Hmm… I suppose it could seem that way. But don’t characters all serve a purpose? I thought his character was pretty fleshed out.¬†Perhaps because he was not the main character, he might have seemed more neglected as a result. It is a valid point that I had not previously noticed.
  5. Story had no plotline — Surprisingly, I didn’t notice this but it’s true. Regardless, I was hooked to the story. So this point is a matter of personal preference ūüėÄ

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below ūüôā

The Intern — Gabrielle Tozer

 

Hello there,

Short synopsis: 17 almost 18-year old Josie is smart but socially awkward. She aspires to become a journalist but instead, rather hesitantly, joins an internship programme at the fashion magazine, Sash. Follow her on a journey as she navigates a trying time with family, friends, school and romance.

I wanted to add my own synopsis here because I felt that the blurb on the back of the book misleads readers into thinking the book will be a behind the scenes look at the fashion magazine world.

While this book definitely has some elements of the fashion world in it, it is not central to the story. As Josie is more of a writer, we tend to see more of the editorial side of things. On a whole though, the book is mainly focused on Josie herself. We see her struggle to juggle family, friends, staying on top of school and trying to be an outstanding intern. It does makes the book much more relatable as her struggle is universal, and can resonate with teens especially.

The book is a fast one as I sped through it in a day and a half. It offers a predictable story that is neatly tied at the end which¬†may be a source of joy for some. It’s the kind of light read where you¬†get to¬†escape from your world for a while. You get to root for the underdog and watch her triumph. In the end, you emerge refreshed and ready to take on your own real-life challenges.

This is not to say that that is the book’s only purpose. There are several issues that were brought up in this book that¬†are very real and very important. That said, the book tries to do too many things with itself and spreads itself too thin. I’m afraid I can’t go into detail about what I mean as there are spoilers involved. If you have read the book, or don’t mind spoilers, feel free to check out my thoughts in the discussion below.

With respect to the characters, as I have mentioned before, Josie is the main star of the show. As such, we get to see much more of her character than anyone else. This is great but it is regretful that one character in particular stood out to me as rather flat and too perfect. But this shall be forgiven as most of the other characters are decently fleshed out.

Overall, the story did a good job of entertaining me for the duration of the journey. The only let downs were that the fashion world aspect was not explored more and the important issues could have been included to greater effect.

Happy reading

‚̧


 

SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

In my review above, I mentioned “rather flat characters”. It may come as no surprise that that character is Josie’s love interest James. Her cousin’s cute roommate that is incredibly sweet, funny and [creepily] understanding of Josie. This bothers me because their romance¬†follows every single romance trope in the book. Embarrassing first encounter, followed by falling head over heels in love, finding out he has someone else, unable to get him out of her mind, he breaks up with his girlfriend, misunderstandings between the destined lovebirds, they end up together and BAM sparks fly, happily-ever-after. It’s a little sad that the romance wasn’t more developed but again with the book trying to cover so many things, I decided to just let it slide.

Speaking of trying to do too many things, can we please talk about that essay Josie¬†wrote at the end of the book? The one about female body image and eating disorders. I can see how it might have been building up with Ava’s situation and also hinted at when Josie was being a little fashion conscious when she first goes to Sash. However, I don’t think that was really enough to warrant the “YES I am going to write this moving personal essay about body image and eating disorders”. It became even more ridiculous when the essay went National and other characters said it was so deeply personal and moving.

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?WAAaaAAaAT?

I had no idea where it came from so it was a little anti-climatic when it happened. I felt that Josie was pretty grounded in herself. She knew she was smart, and she didn’t seem all that bothered by her self-image. Thinking back, I guess the comments peppered throughout the book, such as the line “thin models nibbling on carrots”, were not just passing remarks. Had her struggle been more personal and central to the story, the essay she goes on to write¬†would have¬†had so much more meaning. It was a great idea but a flawed¬†execution.

It would have been nice as well if the author included some websites or books relating to eating disorders after the story ends. I’m surprised she did not as it¬†would have made the book more complete and maybe help spread an important message. I suppose as the body image issue wasn’t really central to the story, the extra information was then not necessary. But if that is the case then it really shouldn’t have been included as a plot point in the first place. Okay, I’ve ranted enough. Feel free to share your thoughts, agree or disagree in the comments below!