book reviews, crone book club

The Exact Opposite of Okay

35817737The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

Published: March 8th 2018 by Electronic Monkey

Rating: XXXXX

“Basically, if you’re a woman, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…
I had seen this book a few times and sadly did my usual, “oh its contemporary, I don’t know if I’m that interested” and passed it by. I need to stop doing this (that’s a whole other blog post) because I almost missed this AMAZING book. Thankfully Jenn from the #CroneBookClub picked this as our read for May and I managed to just squeeze it in after this months other reads and WOW. I’m so glad for it.
This book is something I would recommend every person on the planet read. Not just because it’s a great read but also because of the situations and messages portrayed within the story that are SO important and need to be understood by men, women, girls, boys and honestly any other gender on the spectrum because we live in a world where too many of us tear each other down, we emotionally manipulate those we supposedly care about and are emotionally manipulated by them and slut shaming is so rampant and practised by so many, not to mention the terrifying wave of revenge porn ushered in with the birth of camera phones and social media. Although stereotypically we find men behind revenge porn and spouting about the imaginary friend zone just as women tend to be some of the worst for slut shaming and I want to address first that I know this isn’t always the way. Any gender and sexuality is capable of these things but during this review I’ll be using the examples used within the book.
I managed to read The Exact Opposite of Okay in about three sittings and could not put it down. The story is written in a blog post format that I’m becoming increasingly fond of, it gives the narrative an extra twist of personality and is the perfect way of bringing Izzy’s particular brand of humour across, I especially liked the added closed captions often explaining or adding more information and comments from a later date as well. I think this easy to read format was one of the reasons it was such a quick read for me, possibly because I’m a blogger or a young(ish – haha) enough person that I’ve been around technology for a good deal of my life and therefore read a lot of information in this kind of format.
The personality of the characters in this feel done very well and I had no trouble remembering who was who and what they were like etc. I found myself very protective of Izzy and Ajita and I did have to have a brief break to rant and rave to my poor husband about how people need to mind their own business re: slut shaming etc and a long intense full on rant about how the friend zone is a stupid figment of imagination dreamed up by “butt hurt” men (again I know not always men but in this case it was relevant to the situation and my personal experience). This is a good thing, this book should make people angry at the injustices that the main character and others are subjected to because these things happen every single day to people around us and that is not okay. This book feels like it stoked a fire that had previously just been simmering embers inside me and it made me so mad for the people events like these affect.
I was extremely satisfied with the ending which is a rarity for me, I usually don’t like endings but this felt like it ended right and I was happy with it.
After Laura Steven herself joined the Crone Book Club for their monthly chat to discuss her book she revealed that there is in fact a sequel coming next year AND a spin-off about a murder podcast also set at Edgewood and I’m excited for both of these! If you haven’t checked out The Exact Opposite of Okay I highly recommend you do so! I feel like this is such an important book not to mention enjoyable, don’t let my ranting about the subject put you off because this book is genuinely so enjoyable and funny.
Thank you for checking out my review and I’ll catch you again soon.
jemma setterington
book reviews, spoiler free

The Extinction Trials Book Review

34865995The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson

Rating: XXXX

Published: January 1st 2018 by Usborne Publishing Ltd

“The match flickered out between them. It was going to be a long long night.”

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival.
Welcome to the Extinction Trials.

In Stormchaser and Lincoln’s ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters – human and reptilian – they can’t afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other…

The tag for this book is one of the most effective sales pitches of this sort I think I’ve ever seen. “The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park” who isn’t at least the slightest bit interested in this? That being said I brought this book knowing I wanted to read but I just wasn’t sure where to fit it in to my schedule at the moment. Then Jenn from A page of JennielyA page of Jenniely announced this book would be the book of the month for the Crone Book Club and I bumped it up my TBR and finally got around to it and I’m so glad I did!

I read this after finishing the Illuminae trilogy so it took me a little longer than I think it would have usually taken me to get into and I was quite skeptical to begin with.  There’s a line very early on “I thought the fact that no one had health care was their idea of population control” which felt super deep and relevant to the declining state of our healthcare in the real world today. Otherwise to start with the world building felt a little lazy and it took a little while to fully understand the actual premise of the “trials” the candidates were to participate in and why they would do so but it all made sense a little while later and once it really got going I flew through it and couldn’t get enough.

The book is split  fairly evenly, alternating between two point of views, Stormchaser and Lincoln. Storm takes a little while to get used to and at times I wanted to yell at her through the pages and asked her what on earth(asia) she thought she was doing but I feel like that’s part of her, she doesn’t do what the reader perhaps would and she makes choices you don’t agree with and things either work out or they (usually) don’t, no matter what she did though I found myself rooting for her and I felt like I understood her, even the stupid ideas. Who didn’t have stupid ideas at 15? Lincoln felt very 2D to me and I get that it goes with his personality and his goals but I really just could not warm to him because of it, I was much more attached to the other team members by far.

The relationships in this book felt very much like our two main characters in this book. Storm began quite guarded but as she bonded and the group went through things together she opened up and began to regard them as family. Whereas Lincoln gave me the impression of someone implying one thing but always having plausible deniability because he never actually confirmed what seemed to be implied. I was pleased there wasn’t really any romance in this although I think there was a lot of Lincoln looking at Storm and how she felt like “so unlike any (girl) he’d met before” GAG. It seemed strange for such a focused character to be so distracted, even by a pretty girl, maybe it’s a hormonal teenager thing I’m far too old to understand now? I think most of my hostility towards any potential relationship between him and Storm stems from the part where I hate Lincoln with a burning passion. He’s written well and he’s not a “bad character” exactly, I just can’t stand him.

Without going into full on spoiler territory I much preferred the second half of the book which became very tension filled very quickly and I loved the fast paced action as much as the horrifying slower moments as well. I would not have been happy to read this in the dark out camping that’s for sure, I jumped at every noise in my flat for two nights and I’m pretty sure we aren’t about to have dinosaurs invading the building. The story progressed  well and always had me turning a page and then another and another and I found this book harder to put down as time went on. I have a last 100 page problem with a lot of books where I slow down and procrastinate for the last 100 pages because I don’t want it to end but I don’t think I could have stopped reading this at that point if I’d wanted because I needed to know what went down so desperately.

I LOVED the ending which you’ll possibly know is a rare occurance for me. I often hate how books end because there’s too much of a cliffhanger, the ending is too twee and happy every after or just unsatisfying. The Extinction Trials has none of those problems while still making me desperate to read the second book (just over a month away now!). I was genuinely breathing heavily when I closed this book and felt like I needed to go kick some butt there was such a fantastic adrenaline rush (which is present for a good part of this book). I gave The Extinction Trials four stars. It’s a really great book and I highly reccomend giving it a go, especially if that awesome tag line gets you going but it just falls a little shy of being a full five star read for me personally.

Don’t forget to check out #Cronebookblog on Twitter where tomrorrow (Sunday 22nd April) there will be a chat with the author of The Extinciton Trials S.M Wilson herself!