A Work of Art by Micayla Lally – Book Review


A Work of Art by Micayla Lally (She Writes Press)

Review copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Genres: Drama, Women’s fiction, Romance

RATING: 2/5

The Story

Letting go after her abrupt break-up with Samson is harder than Julene thought it would be, especially since her ex has wasted no time in burying himself in the local dating scene. But during an extended visit to her parents overseas, Julene rediscovers her love of art, and a burgeoning career develops. Samson, on the other hand, after trying valiantly—and unsuccessfully—to forget Julene, has settled instead on his own new career. When Julene returns home to Australia, a coincidental meeting leads to an emotional reunion—but her love and patience will be tested when she finds out just how busy Samson has been in her absence. Yes, they have both made mistakes they can work through and move past—but when a spectre from Samson’s past looms, Julene wonders: Can she trust him again?

The Review

This is one of the most frustrating novels I’ve read in a long time, and the reason for that is simple. The story is great, but the telling is distinctly not. The novel is very fast paced, but there is little detail in any of the scenes. What’s more, when there is detail, it seems to occur during the most inane occasions. There are some quite dramatic moments in this novel which have the potential to be extremely emotional and involving, but they are written about with the air of an afterthought. The most important aspects of the story are glossed over, whilst mundane conversations about rice pads are dealt with in great detail.

Now that I’m at the end of the novel, I still don’t feel that I have a good grasp of who the characters really are, what their motivations are and how they feel about anything that’s happened in the book. I think part of this is down to the dialogue. The conversations don’t seem realistic, and the writing style brings the phrase ‘hoity-toity’ to mind.

Focusing on the more positive aspects of the novel, the story is a very relatable and realistic. What happens in this novel could easily happen to anyone, and yet there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Unfortunately, you don’t have to guess for very long.

For example, the beginning of the novel is involving, as the two main characters, Julene and Samson, have ended their relationship but we don’t know why. Rather than use this as a way to keep readers interested, the tension is broken a few chapters later when the author reveals the reason for their break-up. I would have loved for her to have drawn this out a little more, as the majority of the book is much less interesting. 70% of the novel could perhaps could be entitled ‘the Sexcapades of Julene and co.’, but sadly this is nowhere near as fun as it sounds. In some cases, her circumstances actually make it feel a bit ‘icky’.

If I could turn back time and read this novel again, I’m not sure I’d bother. I did read it until the end (the story was interesting enough for me to persevere through the bad writing) but maybe it would make a better movie?

A Work of Art is released on 2nd May 2017.

Lally can be contacted via twitter , Facebook and her website.

 

 

 

Always by Sarah Jio is out TODAY


A beautiful story of a lost love, found again. If you like a good romance with an air of mystery and intrigue, this is the one for you.

Read my comprehensive review here.

You can buy the book from any good book store – links are available on Jio’s website here.

Gingernut x

 

The One by John Marrs – Book Review


The One by John Marrs (Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing)

Review copy provided by Netgalley.

Genres: Romance, Drama, Thriller

RATING: 4/5

The Story

Scientists have finally discovered the key to a lasting romance – DNA. Geneticists have identified one gene, which each person shares with just one other individual, their Match. Five people decide to take the test in the hope of meeting their one true love. What they encounter will change their lives irrevocably, and will they get their happily ever after?

The Review

Imagine if you could scientifically identify the love of your life. Would you do it? The One is a fantastic exploration of the implications of this idea – what if your one true Match isn’t a good person? What if they are already in a relationship? What if you are in a relationship? It also challenges what our idea of love really is, and how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to have it.

The premise of this novel is a really unique idea, and its one which I think would appeal to a lot of people. Imagine being able to prove you were meant to be with someone. I think I’d take the test.

The One is written from the perspective of 5 people who sign up to Match Your DNA with the hope of finding their true love. Whilst using 5 individuals is a really clever way to explore the different effects taking the test could have, I found it detracted a little from the flow of the novel. There was great tension created, and each of the 5 storylines were very distinct, but I think it would have worked better if there were fewer characters or more than one chapter dedicated to each person at a time. At times I felt a bit detached from the characters.

I also wonder whether this structure meant some of the characters weren’t as well defined as they could have been. For instance, there is a character called Ellie who initially claims not to be materialistic, but then states how much she loves clothes.

Chapter 5:

“Ellie’s business was her priority, not the thread count of the Egyptian cotton covering her bed, how many David Hockney paintings hung from her picture rails or the number of Swarovski crystals used in her hallway chandelier.”

Chapter 30:

“As much as she admired a strong female role model like Madonna, Ellie was no Material Girl.”

Conversely, in Chapter 35:

“…he held her vintage Alexander McQueen coat open for her to slip her arms into…she knew she shouldn’t feel guilty for buying nice things…and she was a girl who loved her clothes.”

It is just a small niggle, but it’s these sorts of things which vex me slightly. Nevertheless, the cast of this book are distinct, and all of them are at times relatable (even one who many would describe as abhorrent, though maybe less relatable than others!)

Sometimes The One can feel a bit fanciful, such as they way some characters lock eyes and instantaneously know they are Matched, but I suppose if you buy into the concept of a scientific test for your soul-mate these cliches can be overlooked. Maybe that’s the body’s physiological response to meeting someone with the same DNA match as your own!

One of the things I liked best about this novel was the tension. There were some twists and turns that were a little too obvious for my liking, but some I definitely didn’t see coming – and I’m not ashamed to admit that one even had me shedding some tears! There was a particularly juicy twist right towards the end, but obviously I won’t share it with you. Let’s just say it definitely took me by surprise.

The book started off a little weak for my tastes, but it got better and better, and as I was nearing the end I couldn’t really put it down. A very engaging story, if you have the patience to see it through the first few chapters.

The One is released on paperback on 4th May 2017, but you can get it on the kindle NOW!

John Marrs can be contacted via twitter.

Always by Sarah Jio – Book Review


Always by Sarah Jio  (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine)

Review copy provided by Netgalley.

Genres: Romance, Drama, Mystery

RATING: 4/5

 

The Story

Kailey is in love with life, her city and her handsome fiance. Her life is perfect. At least, until an encounter with a homeless man drags her straight back into the past. The man is Cade, once the owner of a successful music empire, and the love of Kailey’s life. Devastated at what has happened to Cade, she takes it upon herself to help him. Cade barely recognises her and has no idea why his life turned out the way it did – it is up to Kailey to piece his life back together, but in doing so she risks tearing her own life apart.

You never forget your first love. The old adage certainly holds true in this beautiful, thoughtful novel by Sarah Jio.

 

The Review

From the very first page, I feel like I know who Kailey is. That is Jio’s gift. Writing believable characters is hard at the best of times, but being able to do in a subtle, nuanced way is a real art. Jio uses the words and actions of this cast to show their personalities and emotions. The novel is a rollercoaster of emotion, and we live it inside Kailey’s head. Being able to accurately portray Kailey’s thoughts and feelings during some quite traumatic situations is key to the success of this novel, and Jio nails it.

From the very beginning of this novel, I felt like I understood Kailey’s situation. She has a great fiance, an exciting job, a fantastic future awaiting her, but there’s an air of hesitation about her. In a way, it all seems a little too perfect. The opening chapter does a brilliant job of making me curious, and I love a book that makes me curious.

This intrigue is maintained for the entirety of Always, helped immensely by Jio’s clever use of time-jumps. We live through Kailey’s present and past in alternating segments, slowly piecing together her story. These flashbacks to the past are great not only for providing context to Kailey’s current situation, but also for explaining to the reader all that Cade has lost, and how difficult it is for Kailey to see him like he is.

It’s a novel which is uplifting, emotional, thoughtful and at some moments truly heart-wrenching. What it isn’t, however, is a sappy, wet tale of stereotypical love. It’s nuanced. Kailey ends up in an impossible situation; helping her first love to get his life back together, whilst also making sure her new love doesn’t think she’s abandoning him. Always is a novel that makes the reader think. What would I do in this situation? Often there is no right or wrong answer, but in the end we are left with a satisfying story which feels like everything happened the way it should.

It’s a very unique idea for a novel, but one which I think every reader could relate to in one way or another. My only criticism? Though intriguing, the novel is, on some occasions, a little predictable.

Always is released on 7th February 2017, and is available for preorder now.

Jio can be contacted via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Nightmare: Applying to Acting Agencies


Let me know if any of you experience this problem:

I have always loved acting, but I also really like psychology. When debating what to do at uni, I decided to do Psychology because in order to be a Psychologist you need a degree – in order to be an actress you don’t. Or so I thought. I’ve finished my undergrad degree and masters, and I’m now trying to pursue acting full time because it’s what I love the most.

I’ve just sent off applications to about eight acting agencies around Manchester, but many of them want me to have a Spotlight membership. Without Spotlight you basically don’t exist in this industry (in the UK). The criteria for Spotlight, however, are either that you have been involved in ‘paid, professional work’ or you have been to an accredited Drama School.

I, clearly, have NOT been to an accredited drama school, AND I have had paid acting work but it doesn’t count because Spotlight have some exclusion criteria – one of them being Short Films don’t count.

So now I have a dilemma, because I don’t think I’ll be able to get an agent without being a member of Spotlight, I’m not currently eligible to be a member of Spotlight, and I won’t get any work which will help me to become eligible for Spotlight because I can’t get an agent!

GAH!