Tag Archives: funny fiction

Book review – Build a Man by Talli Roland

Blurb (from Good Reads)

The perfect man is out there . . . he just needs a little work.

Slave to the rich, rude and deluded, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she’s a high-flying tabloid reporter. Unfortunately, every pitch she sends out disappears like her clients’ liposuctioned fat, never to be seen again. Then she meets Jeremy Ritchie — the hang-dog man determined to be Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between — giving Serenity a story no editor could resist.

With London’s biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy’s progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success, even going undercover to gain intimate access to Jeremy’s life. But when Jeremy’s surgery goes drastically wrong and Serenity is ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, she must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

My thoughts

I’ve been a follower of Talli Roland’s blog since I joined the blogosphere, and her books have been on my to-read list for quite some time. I expected Build a Man to be a light read with liberal doses of romance and humour throughout, and my expectations were pretty much on the money.

However, I wasn’t expecting to be quite so irritated by the main character, Serenity. She makes so many selfish decisions and her justifications are more transparent than glass. Honestly, I just wanted to reach inside the book, shake her and say, ‘Wake up to yourself, woman!’ Thankfully, the plot did that for me. I won’t say any more so I don’t spoil the story, but I was pleased to see Serenity being forced to wake up to herself. In saying that, I thought Serenity’s character growth was a little too easy, kind of like flipping a switch.

But, overall, I still enjoyed Build a Man.  There’s great variety in the personalities of the support cast, and some of the scenes at the cosmetic surgery clinic had me giggling and raising my (non-botoxed) eyebrows. The descriptions of London were really well crafted and made me feel like I was right there on the street or in the pub beside Serenity.˜ I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Construct a Couple, and hopefully seeing some of my favourite plot lines from Build a Man develop further.

(On the subject of reviews, Andrew Leon of Strange Pegs has written some thought-provoking posts on the importance of honest reviews – including negative ones – for self published books, called “Is It Better To Be “Nice” Or Honest?”. Have a read and let me know what you think. I agree with him, to a point…)

My rating of Build a Man

3.5-stars

3.5 stars

What’s your opinion?

Have you read Build a Man? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable).

8 Comments

Filed under Book review, Reading, YA fiction

Book review – The Reformed Vampires Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Blurb

Click to see Good Reads page

Nina Harrison became a vampire in 1973, when she was fifteen, and she hasn’t aged a day since then. But she hasn’t had any fun, either; she still lives with her mum, and the highlight of her sickly, couchbound life is probably her Tuesday-night group meeting, which she spends with a miserable bunch of fellow sufferers, being lectured at.

But then one of the group is mysteriously turned to ashes . . . and suddenly they’re all under threat. That’s when Nina decides to prove that every vampire on earth isn’t a weak, pathetic loser. Along with her friend Dave, she hunts down the culprit ─ and soon finds herself up against some gun-toting werewolf traffickers who’ll stop at nothing.

Can a bunch of feeble couch potatoes win a fight like this? Is there more to your average vampire than meets the eye?

My thoughts

This book is heaps of fun. It’s definitely not your normal vampire tale (as you can tell by the blurb) and that’s what attracted me to it. I enjoy vampire stories (yes, I’m a twi-hard) and I was keen to see how Jinks put a new spin on this age-old myth. I also chose it as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge, in which I committed to read six books by Australian women authors and review at least three of them this year. This is the third book I’ve read but the first I’ve reviewed.

Anyway, back to The Reformed Vampires Support Group! Nina and her friends are a sorry bunch. I’m glad that I (as a reader) didn’t have to sit through a normal support group meeting, because they sound deadly dull (pardon the pun). Instead, I was taken on a crazy, pot-holed journey as the group of vampires and Father Ramon, their long-suffering priest friend, tried to work out how to deal with the vampire slayer in their midst. As you can imagine, when you’re weak, lethargic and likely to hallucinate if you go without your daily Guinea Pig, a vampire slayer is really bad news. But the way Nina and her friends try to handle the situation just makes things worse and soon they’ve got some homicidal werewolf traffickers wanting to kill them too. Oops!

TRVSP is told in first person, and for the most part, I really enjoyed Nina’s voice. She’s dry, sarcastic and somehow simultaneously down-trodden and light-hearted. Her scathing opinions of the other vampires in her group (and vampires in general) often brought a smile to my face, and I found her character arc both interesting and believable.

However, I felt that the narrative could have been a lot tighter (with many redundant sentences removed), and a narrative device used twice in the book (described by the narrator herself as ‘cheating’) broke me out of Jinks’ world and smacked of ‘the easy way out’. The multitude of dialogue tags drove me slightly nuts – murmured, ‘wanted to know’, nagged, advised, inquired, exclaimed, whined, mused, growled, demanded, added, chided, remonstrated, announced, protested, pointed out, squawked – and that’s just in the first chapter. I find colourful dialogue tags quite distracting, and I’ve read a few writing books that strongly advise against them. (To be honest, I’m not sure whether creative tags used to annoy me before all of the writing books brought them to my attention, but that’s another issue!) They probably would’ve annoyed me a lot more if this had’ve been a serious book, but I’ve got to admit they did suit the tongue-in-cheek tone.

The story lagged in some parts as the vampires spent pages upon pages deciding what to do next, but on the whole I was kept entertained and enjoyed getting to know the saddest bunch of vampires that ever lived existed. I’m looking forward to catching up with the characters again in the Abused Werewolf Support Group.

I recommend TRVSG to anyone who enjoys comical paranormal teen fiction. Avid fans of spine-chilling stories with sexy, violent vampires might want to choose a different book!

My rating

3.5-stars

3.5 stars

What’s your opinion?

Have you read The Reformed Vampires Support Group? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to?

My 1-5 scale
1: Terrible. I couldn’t finish it.
2: Dissatisfying.
3: Good but not great.
3.5: A solid, enjoyable read but still some elements not working for me.
4: Really enjoyable with very few flaws OR flawed, but I loved it anyway.
4.5: Unputdownable. Close to perfect. I’ll rave about it to anyone who listens.
5: Perfection (i.e. pretty much unattainable).

3 Comments

Filed under Book review, Reading, YA fiction