The One by John Marrs is out TODAY


Well, it was already out on Kindle but you can now get the real thing, and that’s way better ūüôā

A great choice for fans of romance and drama, and anyone who loves a good twist.

Here’s my original review.

Here’s where you can buy the paperback.

Gingernut x

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 РDNA. 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôt 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.

The List by Patricia Forde – Book Review


The List by Patricia Forde (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)

Review copy provided by Netgalley.

Genres: Dystopian, Sci-fi, Drama, Futuristic

RATING: 3/5

 

The Story

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.

The Review

The idea behind The List is an extremely compelling concept. Language is severely restricted in order to be functional without allowing for freedom of thought or belief. Devised by John Noa, it is an attempt to remove the ability for movements to form, for ideas to be created, and for beliefs to be born. Noa believes that The Melting, a planet-wide disaster, could have been prevented if not for language. Politicians who denied global warming used words to persuade and distract citizens from dealing with the problem.

It is a very relatable idea- just look at the 2016 presidential elections.¬†This Wordwatchers blog tracked the use of language in the last presidential debate and explains how words can be used to sway and manipulate an audience. Trump did it so effectively that he is soon to become the most powerful man in the world.Against the backdrop of our own global climate, both politically and environmentally,¬†The List is¬†very fitting for our times. It’s exploration of both the importance and the danger of language is exceptional.

Aside from the obvious links between the concept in the novel and the real world, the use of List made me aware of my more personal beliefs about language. In the novel, when characters speak in List, I noticed that I would assume those characters had lower intelligence. This happened regardless of the concepts they were discussing or the ideas they were trying to communicate.

Of course, there are arguments that language does impact intelligence. Abstract concepts cannot easily be conceived of without a language to describe them. Nevertheless, we are still capable of having, understanding and applying knowledge without using words.

The List has many specific and more general opportunities for¬†self-reflection on the part of the reader.There are many moments where the protagonist, Letta, is playing double-agent. Each time Letta must make a decision within these moments, I feel as a reader that I can’t help but think about how I would behave. Novels which encourage introspection are, in my opinion, quite important. You can learn a lot about yourself when reading a book.

Unfortunately, despite the unique concept of the novel, I feel Fordge¬†promises something she¬†doesn’t quite deliver on. The plot itself is not, perhaps, as intricate as it could have been. For instance, there are brief mentions of the ‘Wordless’, people who have lost the ability to speak entirely. These people are discussed with fear and confusion, and I was hoping for a moment when they would prove themselves worthy of more. Unfortunately, this moment never came.

Futuristic dystopian novels are becoming very popular. I believe for an author to be truly successful, they need to step away from the obvious story – a restrictive society which is disrupted due to a desire for more freedom. There was a pleasing reveal about two-thirds of the way through the novel regarding Letta’s family, but aside from that there were very few surprises.

As well as the somewhat unimaginative storyline, I struggled a little with Letta as our main character. For starters, I found I wasn’t able to easily decide on her age. We are told she is under eighteen, but to me that didn’t help much in really understanding her. There is a big difference between 13 and 17 years of age. This difficulty in placing her age made it tricky to completely relate to her.

Throughout the novel there are hints of her affections for another character, but these are not fully explored. Are these feelings the earliest flutterings of attraction within a young teenage girl, or more fully-fledged emotions emanating from a young woman? Rarely mentioned, and not at all acted upon, I think this plot device was thrown in for the sake of it. There is little to no chemistry between the two characters, and they don’t even speak to each other particularly frequently.

On top of this non-romance, I was also disappointed in the relative rarity of moments which encouraged me to feel for the characters. I believe Forde did attempt to show the strength of connections between her cast, but for whatever reason I found it difficult to empathise with them when characters were in danger. As a result, I was interested in what happened to the characters, but I didn’t really¬†care what happened.

I¬†would recommend¬†The List for fans of the dystopian novel who want something new, but don’t expect to be wowed. An intriguing concept which could have been more fully explored.

The List (alternative title: The Wordsmith) is released on 8th August 2017.

You can find out more about Patricia Forde via her website, Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

Always by Sarah Jio – Book Review


Always by Sarah Jio  (Random House Publishing Group РBallantine)

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.