Posted in Ramblings

Almost Love by @oneilllo

Synopsis: When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.
So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.
Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.
But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.
And love is supposed to hurt.
Isn’t it?



Sarah isn’t a likeable character, in the sense that she represents those parts of myself I don’t like. She is incredibly, heart breakingly relatable, and anyone who disagrees has never been told by a friend that they are being selfish.
It’s an incredibly raw insight that Sarah has. It’s grounded, fueled by pain and unapologetic. Even when Sarah convinces herself of things that will come to pass with her relationship with Matthew, there’s part of her that knows that she is kidding herself.
While I didn’t like Sarah I’m aware that what I don’t like is part of the situation she’s in, so I loved her as I would a friend. I’d be there for her and help her through her pain… If she’d let me.

Matthew on the other hand is almost a shadow character; we don’t get to know much about him. This gives this character a two-fold purpose; it represents the shallowness of his intentions with Sarah, but more importantly, Matthew is a symbol for anyone who has been treated in this way and the wonderful thing about this novel; I no longer feel alone in it.


The narrative is this wonderful non-linear exploration of Sarah’s life with, and after Matthew. It gives a real sense of PTSD from the almost sociopathic relationship Sarah found herself in.
The resolution won’t a satisfying end for some people, but believe me, it’s so very real that it will haunt you for days after you finish the book. It’s not the ending anyone would want, especially Sarah. But as a reader, we have to remember, it’s not the end. It’s just the conclusion of this part of Sarah’s journey.

The Writing

Louise O’Neill doesn’t give us the books we want, she never has. O’Neill gives us the stories we need, and she does it so well that you will almost forget that the subjects in which she writes about would feel like a chore under anyone else’s penmanship.

With Almost Love, O’Neill gives us a strong voice that struggles to keep to social expectations and provides us with a look into a world some of us would never venture into without detracting from the narrative.

Its a wonderful third novel from the talented writer and while I will always wait impatiently for her next offering; I can’t deny that they are always worth that painful wait.

Posted in Ramblings

Mom and Dad (18) #MomAndDad



A teenage girl and her little brother try to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own children.

The Good

Selma Blair is incredible as the titled ‘Mom’. Her character evolves in so many ways, and it is through artful subtleties that her character is able to catch you off guard and provide an anchor for Nicolas Cages’ ‘Dad’.

The entire cast is game in this wacky and near the knuckle blood fest. From the opening scene to the final blood splattered words, you will be on the edge of your seat in awe-inspiring disbelief.

The music in the film is also stunning. It is reminiscent of the 70s and 80s movie that Stranger Things has brought into the homes of every hipster. Only with Mom and Dad, it’s not ‘cool’ and ‘hip’, it’s chilling and atmospheric.

The Mad

Nicolas Cage. Damn, no one else could have fitted the role of ‘Dad’ better. This is the Nic Cage we have all been waiting for, even if we didn’t know we needed it. If there’s a line between caged animal and insanity, Nic flirts with it, buys it dinner and mounts it like he’s on heat. It’s a glorious sight; Nic Cage in full feral mode screaming ‘mother fucker’ as if he’s invented the word.

The plot that develops around his character is charmingly deep and rooted in adult fears. It’s easy to carve Nic’s performance out as a wacky comedic nut job trying to end the lives of his beloved children, but behind all the anger that exists before the epidemic starts is the heartbreaking truth behind the human condition; what happens when our dreams don’t come true?! Then of course he sings the Hokey Cokey…

The Ugly

This movie does not pull any punches with its gore. Think of all the things that Walking Dead and and Game of Thrones have backed down on (yep! Judith, I’m looking at you kid) and this film goes there.

In a role reversal almost- homage of the magnificent 1976 Spanish horror movie ‘Who Can Kill a Child?’, Mom and Dad retains all of the gore, all of the shock and all of the diabolical deaths.

Posted in Ramblings

Bring me Back by @BAParisAuthor

From GoodReads:

A young British couple are driving through France on vacation when they stop at a service station. He runs in to use the restroom, she stays in the car. When he returns, her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.
Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work one day and finds his new fiancée sitting on their sofa turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about, because his wife-to-be is the sister of his missing first love.
As more and more questions are raised, their relationship becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Finn! I don’t get what it is about Finn. I love him and hate him in equal measure which makes for the perfect protagonist. His quest to discover the truth brings in characters from his past; his ex-Ruby and his friend Harry. Both of whom are well rounded, if not a little stupid for giving Finn the time of day.
Ellen is the strangest character of all, and I spent the whole book trying to figure her out. She’s bordering on a Stepford-wife. I find myself itching to get inside her head to find out why she is with her sister’s boyfriend.
The plot grips you from the very first page and the reader it sent through a rollercoaster of past and present mystery that does not hold back. You can feel Finn’s conflict of emotions as he receives an item that makes him believe his girlfriend who went missing years earlier was back.
I want to tell you just quite amazing how the second half of the book is, but I can’t without giving away some aspects that came as a shock to me. The second half leads to such an amazing reveal that I want my memory wiped so I can read it again.

The narration is atmospheric and all consuming. I was at London Bridge reading one evening. Before I knew it, I was over halfway through the book, missed a ton of notifications on my phone and missed my friend arrive. Not many books have that power over me, and it’s all to do with B A Paris’ writing. It feels like you’re being let in on a confession and that if you break away, even for a second, the person talking to you will falter. A dare anyone picking up this book not to read it in one sitting; I predict it is impossible.

Posted in Movie reviews, Ramblings

The Shape of Water

The Good

What a wonderful gothic fairytale. It’s really hard to not feel for these characters. At a time when people were separated because of the colour of their skin, it’s not hard to see how their love would be forbidden.

Weaving in the space race and an unknown creature that the villain would rather subdue than understand and you have a perfect cinematic treat.

The colours, tone and acting all scream sincerity and pull the audience into a world of awe and wonder.

David Hewitt, Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael Sheen are welcome additions to this beautiful homage to the Creature of the Black Lagoon.

It is, however, Doug Jones as the Asset who steals the show, and the lovely Sally Hawkins’ heart. The frequent Del Torro collaborator has such a distinctive form and elegance that he can emote so much without saying a word.

The Bad

There’s a gruesome edge to the film that I just couldn’t quite get on board with. It left me queasy and pulled me out of the softness the romance was conveying.

The Ugly

I found some parts unnecessarily crude. Perhaps I’m a prude, but it just took away a little bit of its charm.

Posted in Ramblings

Robin Hood’s Dawn- Review


What’s not to love about Robin Hood? There’s something charming and engaging about the legend from England. In this book he is presented with a wonderful, boyish charm and a brilliant relationship with his friends. He’s provided with political enemies and motivation to fight for what is right. While I would argue he is not the protagonist of the book (It is certainly an ensamble), he is the focus.

Marion in this book is my favourite portrayal outside of the Disney animation. I’ve always struggled with how other books and film represent her, where as in Robin Hood’s Dawn, the characteristic of head strong woman does not conflict with her feminity,


The plot does exactly what it perhaps suggests in the title; it is an origins of sorts. There is detail in the history, ensuring readers understand where in which the story is based. It is rich in historical context and ensure you are there on the front lines. It doesn’t boil the ideas of Robin Hood down to the parable-like meanings some other retellings do and it’s a refreshing change to see the story show how much of an impact the Crusades are believed to have had upon the citizens of England.


The story moves between many characters to give the historical setting its richness. It does make the initial chapters a little broken and choppy, but the payoff is very much worth it. It becomes a fast and easy read that will have you begging for the sequel.

Posted in 2018, Barrington Stoke, Book reviews, Bookshelf, Non Pratt, Ramblings, Reads of ...

Book Review: Second Best Friend by @NonPratt

Description: Stunning novella by a hot talent in YA, in a gorgeous collectable edition. Jade and Becky have always been best friends; inseparable and often indistinguishable. But when a spiteful comment from an awful ex pushes Jade to the edge, she begins to see that she has always been second best in everything. When the school election offers her the chance to finally be number one, Jade learns just how far she is willing to go to be better than her closest friend. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+

Buy it here


There are so many characters to empathise with. The protagonist, Jade is wonderfully messed up in that way that we all are and there are some fears that she has that I face even now. Becky’s past comes back to haunt her in a way everyone will relate to.

Then there’s Nick. I’m in love with Nick and I wish I had him in my life. He’s perhaps my favourite of them all. He is true to himself and someone I’d respect completely.


The plot is fast paced and emotionally charged. However, a lot is packed into 137 pages. From the first page, dominos are put in place ready for the topple as the book reaches its close.


Non’s writing has always been clean, character driven and emotive. Second Best Friend is no exception. Not going to lie, I do prefer her longer novels but I hang onto every word and even then, it’s not enough. So yes, I’m greedy, I have questions and I’m not quite ready to leave these characters.

However, Non must be commended for what she is trying to achieve here. Both this and her previous Novella are accessible to many, including those who perhaps have lost their love of reading.