Monday, 16 August 2010

Love, lust and Glaswegian thugs - Book reviews!

I have 3 book reviews for you today from 3 very different books.

Sugarcoated by Catherine Forde

The front cover of this has a love heart on it, the back has this:

Excuse me, most gorgeous guy I've ever met.
See, before you go down in history as my FIRST and ONLY date,
d'you mind ticking the following boxes to disclose whether or not you are:
a) A psycho axe-murderer
b) The Devil in a suede jacket
c) Just after me for my body. (Ooooh yes please!)

With a blurb like that I was really intrigued by this one. The book is about a girl called Claudia (Cloddy) who witnesses a violent attack outside her dad's opticians, later that day she meets The. Most. Gorgeous. Guy. Ever. Apparently. But Sexy, rich, Stefan is not all he appears to be and the police keep turning up to ask her more questions about the attack she swears she never saw.
This book really threw me when I started reading it, and not in a good way. First chapter establishes Cloddy as totally board with having to work in her dads shop on a Saturday. Second chapter, we get a graphic description of a guy being attacked with a hammer. BAM. Just like that. I suppose if gore is your thing, it's not that graphic but it was certainly enough for me to put the book down and walk away. I think I actually did the putting it in the middle of the floor and walking around it to see if it's dangerous. Only closer inspection I discovered that the title page, the thing I usually ignore, contained a warning that the book contains violence. Helpful, but perhaps more helpful if put on the cover. Of course 2 chapters later Cloddy is being chatted up by some heartthrob she met at the sweet counter. It was all a bit confusing really. The book did pick up after that, though there were a few more violent paragraphs they were more side glances than full descriptions.
The main character was a bit annoying, it became fairly obvious what was going on quite early on and yet Cloddy continued, completely oblivious to personal danger, to get herself into some very stupid situations. For a girl who is supposed to have grown up in Glasgow with it's drug and knife crime culture, she did some pretty stupid stuff. Speaking as someone who also grew up in Glasgow. I suppose you do get people as tuned-out as Cloddy but it made the book harder to get into for me. The writing is quiet good and really gets inside Cloddy's head. I did finish it but I'm not sure I would have started it if I had known about the violence before I hit chapter 2.

All we Know of Love by Nora Raleigh Baskin
A girl (Natalie) goes on a bus-trip to Florida. Okay so she's convinced her dad she's gone on a skiing holiday with her best friend and she's off to track down her mother who left without warning 4 years ago. But basically...

This is a fun one. It tells Natalie's story as she travels to find her mother; who walked out 4 years earlier in the middle of telling her something about love. It's interspersed with stories of Natalie's own love life and stories of the people she meets and their love lives. It really takes a close look at how we are shaped by the people we love. There isn't much given to us directly about Natalie's character but a lot can be taken about her from the snippets of her relationship with Adam. Which, in my opinion, is really clever writing. It's a really interesting insight into love and how it shapes our actions and our reactions to things. Yes, you could just read it an enjoy the story but for those that want to look, this goes much deeper than that,

A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

On the back of the book E. Lockhart describes the writing as 'poetic'. If you ever find a copy of this, glance inside and the meaning of that word will not be lost on you. Yes this is a story, told from 3 different girl's points of view but it's written as poems, or at least in poem format. This made it a really quick book to read while I was sunbathing yesterday, I made it through all 220 pages in a couple of hours and that was with taking breaks. The writing style of this isn't something I've seen before but it's definitely something I'd like to see again. When you sit writing block of prose every day you forget the impact a break in a sentence can have on the mood of a piece. Or I do anyway. This book follows the story of 3 girls who all date the high school dirt bag, the boy who is out to lay every chick in the school before graduation. A subject which would provide most teenagers with enough material to write a bunch of angst ridden poetry. But there is a lack of angst here, there is raw emotion and well thought out structure. I seriously recommend reading this book, then read it again actually paying attention to the line breaks and how it plays with the feeling of the words. Here is one of the shorter 'poems' from it:


Phone rings.
"It's me."

A code.
As if to say,
Who else could it be?
he claims me with
a two-word combination
to my personal lock.

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