Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Changeover UK Giveaway: Win a Young Adult DVD Bundle

The Changover is out on DVD from August 27th, and to celebrate I have a giveaway for all you UK folks at the end of the post.

The Movie:

The Book:

The Changeover
by Margaret Mahy 

Summary: 'A clammy hand pressed Laura down to her knees beside Jacko's bed. It was the hand of terror, nothing less.'

It was a warning. Laura felt it when she looked in the mirror that morning. There had been others: the day her father left home, the day she met Sorensen - the boy with the strange silver eyes.

But nothing had prepared Laura for the horror of today. And now her little brother, Jacko, was fighting for his life after being sucked dry of his youth by the sinister Carmody Braque.

Laura knows there is only one way to save Jacko; she must join Sorensen and use his supernatural powers to change over if there is to be any hope for her little brother.
I haven't read the book yet (ordered it after watching the trailer and it hasn't arrived yet) but I've seen nothing but good things about it.

When I've read it (ordered it as soon as I saw the movie trailer), I'll do a book to movie comparison/review post.

The giveaway:

I have three bundles of the DVD's to giveaway. Again, this is a UK only competition as I'm not the one mailing the prizes out. To enter just fill out the form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Ryan's Bed by Tijan

Ryan's Bed
by Tijan

Summary: I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident. 
I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should've left... 
I didn’t.I didn’t jump out.I didn’t get embarrassed.I relaxed. 
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.
I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept. 
The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could've stayed forever, I would have.He became my sanctuary. 
Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.

So I've been reading Tijans books for years and years, since way back when they were posted on fictionpress. She's always had a knack for writing stories that I can devour in one sitting and writing complex characters and relationships that thoroughly get under my skin.

This one was no exception. I really loved the story (and I've loved sticking with an authors work long enough that you really see them evolve as a writer).

I loved the relationship between Robbie and Mackenzie -- I can't think of many books off the top of my head that really make sibling relationships a central part of the story but this one did and I loved that. 

As for the romance, I loved Ryan and Mackenzie together. I don't know why, but I went into this book expecting the romance to be all angsty af but it wasn't. It was actually much sweeter and a much more healthy relationship than I was expecting it to be.

The darker, more angst ridden parts of the story came from Mackenzie's grief. I really liked the way grief was handled in the story. Sometimes it feels like books just use grief in a shallow sort of way -- purely for it to be an angsty plot device or because the author thinks it will make the character seem more interesting or something, without actually putting in the work to make it seem authentic. Without really grasping how much it hurts and how it throws your whole world off its axis and changes you in ways people who haven't gone through it can't understand.

But it felt like this book got it, and got that grief is a lifelong thing, not just a plot device that can be thrown in and fixed with a love story. It was one of my favourite parts of the book -- the way the fall out of her sisters death was handled (especially the way she died, it felt like that was written with more care than some authors take when writing the same subject matter).

The book did have some tropes in it that are typical of the genre (not necessarily a bad thing). Some people love them, some hate them. The only one that irritated me in this was the catty girl trope. I've never been much of a fan of that one but I did like that it wasn't all like that in the book and some of the characters did redeem themselves, so it wasn't the usual all the girls are pitted against each other except for the main characters one designated female friend thing that a lot of books with the trope go for.

The book also thoroughly shocked me at the end. It's rare for a book to have a twist that totally blindsides me in a way that I didn't see coming at all, but this one pulled it off right at the end and I was pretty impressed by that.

Overall, I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5. Maybe 4.5 (it was really good, it just isn't my favourite of her books -- but then I'll probably always have a sentimental attachment to the first stories of hers that I read). 


Friday, 10 August 2018

Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

TW: I'll be discussing (or rather, ranting about) the sexual assault that happens throughout this book.

by Penelope Douglas

Summary: Erika -- I was told that dreams were our heart’s desires. My nightmares, however, became my obsession. His name is Michael Crist.  
My boyfriend’s older brother is like that scary movie that you peek through your hand to watch. He is handsome, strong, and completely terrifying. The star of his college’s basketball team and now gone pro, he’s more concerned with the dirt on his shoe than me. But I noticed him. I saw him. I heard him. The things that he did, and the deeds that he hid…For years, I bit my nails, unable to look away. 
Now, I’ve graduated high school and moved on to college, but I haven’t stopped watching Michael. He’s bad, and the dirt I’ve seen isn’t content to stay in my head anymore. Because he’s finally noticed me.  
Michael -- Her name is Erika Fane, but everyone calls her Rika. My brother’s girlfriend grew up hanging around my house and is always at our dinner table. She looks down when I enter a room and stills when I am close. I can always feel the fear rolling off of her, and while I haven’t had her body, I know that I have her mind. That’s all I really want anyway.  
Until my brother leaves for the military, and I find Rika alone at college. In my city. Unprotected. The opportunity is too good to be true as well as the timing.  
Because you see, three years ago she put a few of my high school friends in prison, and now they’re out. We’ve waited. We’ve been patient. And now every last one of her nightmares will come true.


So. This book was completely infuriating. It was also entertaining -- I'll give it that, but my god did it make me mad.

Michael was an abusive douchebag through like 95% of the book. He treated Rika like crap. He allowed other people to treat her like crap. He literally stood there and did absolutely nothing while his friends assaulted and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. Great love interest, right? No.

I'm all for dark and twisty romances, but all of that stuff I mentioned isn't attractive. It's toxic. And there was barely any redemption (which is part of the appeal of dark and twisty romances -- the idea that people can change for the better, that redemption is possible). Even after he screwed up massively (like really, really, really massively) he didn't even muster up a decent apology.

I also understand the appeal of bad boy love interests (I've liked my fair share of them outside of fiction too), but there is a world between being a bad boy and a guy who is just a bad person and most of the time, Michael fell into the latter category.  

Because of that, it made Rika really infuriating too. It made her seem like a complete doormat. Dude literally tries to ruin her whole life, does unforgivable things, allows his friends to hurt her and then asks her to promise she'll never say no to him (wtf?!)...and then worse, she just goes along with that. It just made her seem totally spineless.

So many scenes made me absolutely ragey. Like when they find out she'd been roofied and his reaction is to practically be mad at her for that and demand to know why she didn't tell anyone (not to mention the scene that follows where they basically peer pressure her into confronting her would-be rapist and it leads to her being almost raped again because they took so long coming to help her). I guess the scene was supposed to be empowering or something but it was just sickening.

And there's a scene where one of his best friends is literally sexually assaulting her (while she's 16, and he's nearly 20) and he sees it happening and doesn't stop it. His justification for this was "I'm not your saviour, you handled it yourself" and just... No. That is not okay. Again, I think it was aiming to be empowering and to have a "you don't need a man to rescue you, you can do it yourself vibe" but that doesn't change how awful it made his character by having him stand back and allow it.

Would he have stepped in if she wasn't strong enough to overpower the guy? Maybe. I don't know. But even if he would have, that doesn't make it okay. He also remains friends with the guy, had zero issue with him for doing that...again, not okay (the guy makes really awful rape jokes too and his friends just brush it off like "welp, he probably hasn't acted on it, he's probably all talk, so we're good" -- like they're actually content being friends with someone who they think could be capable of that).

The way sexual assault and rape and consent is treated so flippantly in the book made me so beyond angry. Someone forcing you to kiss them, touching you, groping you against your will -- it's not okay. It is literally a crime and can be traumatising af, but this book treated it in a "well, it's not like it was rape" kind of way (when it was even acknowledged at all).

There's also a lot of "we're not going to hurt her" in the book...and then they proceed to hurt her over and over again and it doesn't even acknowledge that sexual coercion is rape and that is a form of hurt too. If you deliberately pressure and blackmail someone into having sex with you, and make it seem like they have no choice or you'll do something bad to ruin their life or hurt someone they care about -- that is not consent. That is coercion and sex without consent is rape. Pretty much 99% of the guys in this book are sexual predators.

Beyond that, the book also introduced me to a new pet peeve: writing what song the characters are listening to. I hated that so much and it stuck out like a sore thumb the whole time (it really dates the story and makes it seem more "hey, the author likes this song and listened to this playlist while writing" than "this is a song the characters would believably be into and the mention fits organically into this scene"). It happened a lot in this book, and it wasn't done in a natural way except for one scene where it made sense (because the characters were discussing music).

Basically, this book and these characters were absolutely infuriating. I don't think I've thoroughly hated a bunch of characters so much in a long time. 

In saying that, the book did hook me and it was entertaining even if I did want to punch all of the characters at least once (abuse is not sexy, allowing your friends to sexually assault and abuse a girl is not sexy, being controlling and condescending is not far as love interests go, Michael is toxic -- dude makes Christian Grey look like Prince Charming).

It wasn't all bad, there were some parts I did like, they were just thoroughly eclipsed by the stuff I didn't like.

This has been way more rant than review. At the end of the day, the book just wasn't for me. It hasn't made me write off Penelope Douglas as an author though, because it does take some talent to keep me turning the pages in spite of all the issues I had with the book, and I have enjoyed her previous books much more in the past and I'll probably enjoy more of her books in the future...this particular one just was not my cup of tea at all.

I don't know if I'll read the sequel or not. The sequel is about the character than angered me the least (and the one that redeemed himself the most -- though that's not saying much, the bar was pretty low) so it might work out a bit better for me. We'll see. I'd rate the book 1.5 stars out of 5.



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