Book reviews · Personal

Asking for it by Louise O’Neill | Book review


Content warning: rape

I just finished Asking for it by Louise O’Neill and I’m broken. I’m shattered in a million pieces and I don’t know if this is the right time to try to write something relevant, but I’ll try.

Asking for it is the story of Emma O’Donovan, a teenager who finds herself on her porch, in a big mess, after a huge party. She can’t remember a significant part of the night before, but she finds graphic, explicit photos plastered all over Facebook, showing the world everything that’s happened at the party. This is the main premise and if you think it’s not plausible, then take a look at the Steubenville case.

This is such a compelling story and the quote on the cover describes it best. It’s written with a scalpel. It cuts deep and it physically hurts to read. It’s so honest and blunt and shattering that it made me despise it. I hate this still happens today and the scale of it.

It’s the story of our rape culture, victim blaming and the horrific way women are treated in when it comes to sexual abuse and assault.

I don’t want to talk about the story itself, I’m too emotional for that. What I do want to say is that the criticism the book’s received (in small amounts) is that the main character is not likeable. And I found that to be even more powerful. It doesn’t matter how awful a person is, how awful a woman is. No one deserves to have their choice over their own body taken away from them. Another is around the ending, but that’s a spoiler, so I’ll just say that it made sense to me. It made me even angrier, but that’s what happens when you stay true to yourself and when you’re a realistic writer. Things don’t always end in a pretty red bow.

Now this book talks about a girl and what happens to her after she’s raped by 4 boys who then proudly publish what they’ve done on social media. Everyone’s reaction to what happens is sickening and despicable. It makes me want to crawl into a ball under my covers and never come out again.

I empathised to much with what Emma was feeling. Shame, whore, slut. I’ve been there myself, it’s not what women think only in extreme situations when they’re under the scrutiny of an entire town. On a night out, dancing and drinking and forgetting about responsibilities. In the back of my mind, every single time when I find myself in that situation, I feel judged and I have a voice in the back of my mind that says: be careful, watch out, look around and see if there are any possible threats. If I get carried away and have too much fun and do something that can be judged as immoral whore, slut, shame shame, then the next day I’m a mess. The shame covers everything else. Why did you do that? Did you want attention? Did you want them staring at you, why did you drink so much, why did you wear that short skirt, why did you have a cleavage?

Shame. Again and again. I swear to myself never to drink again, never to be vulnerable again…because think of what could have happened.

How can we live in a society that teaches women to be ashamed, to always be on guard because we can’t know when any man around us might go apeshit and rape us? How can we live in a world where our friends, our boyfriends, our husbands are not to be trusted and we always have to see them as a possible animal?

I don’t want to live in a rape culture. I don’t want to be ashamed and afraid all the time. I don’t want girls like Emma to have all the responsibility of not getting raped.

When it does happen, we are placid. We are so used to the system that doesn’t work and won’t work for us if we don’t struggle. I don’t know how politically correct I’m going to be now, but I can’t help but be afraid. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. I don’t think we’re at a point where the victim is protected by the justice system enough, so they don’t go through trauma after trauma if they do report their assault. When a woman is raped in any other way than a stranger on an alley way, then she’s going to be questioned, stripped off her dignity, scrutinised and put under a microscope. I don’t know if I would advise a friend to go to the police straight away, even though my instinct is to say: fight! You need to fight, this is wrong and it shouldn’t have happened to you, it’s not your fault and they need to pay for what they’ve done. However, because the system is not right yet and doesn’t work for the victim, who am I to say: get broken in a million more pieces, remember this for every person who’s going to ask you about it, relive it a million times again and go through pain again and again until you’re no longer a human being? I can’t.

There are people who help and there are those who want to change things. But in the meantime, what do we do? We raise our girls to be scared and our boys to be feared?

We need to talk about this. To have a serious conversation about all the implications of our rape culture and what it’s doing to our girls and boys, women and men. How it’s harming our relationships, our values as humans and our mental health.

Rating: ★★★★★ – I hated it, I hate that we need so many more books like this

I picked up this book because of the #bangingbookclub – created by YouTubers Hannah Witton, Leena Norms and Lucy Moon, where they pick books on sex and review them spoiler free on video and fully on a podcast. They’re awesome, check out their review below.

Book reviews · Short stories

Seconds of pleasure by Neil LaBute | Book review


In Bristol there’s a really gorgeous place which everyone should visit if you find yourself in the city. It’s really easy to find, you just go up from the famous harbourside, follow the main road to a hilly, always busy street, to the infamous Clifton.

This road is called Park Street and it’s a great example of the God awful hills of this city. It will leave you breathless and swearing every single time, but it’s worth it. A couple of weeks ago I found myself wandering around, as many of my favourite shops are around here. There’s nothing in particular that I find really attractive around here, but it’s more of a combo of charity shops, the closest PaperChase, arts supply shops I like to dip in and a couple of random bits.

I went in the super cheap book shop and was browsing around aimlessly. I do this to find new books (which I then go and usually buy online) or just to get a bit of inspiration.

I’ll admit it, I opened this particular book because of its name: Seconds of Pleasure. I imagined carefully crafted paragraphs on the joys of mindfulness, the little moments in life that leave us in awe at the world around us.

I was wrong. And I’m really happy I was so wrong because that wouldn’t have been a book I would have bought and read so quickly.

Painting by Ashton Wallis

No, Mr. The first story my eyes settled on and couldn’t stop reading was about a man in an airport who seduces a young woman. And like so many of the stories in this collection, it was intense, riveting, full of step by step action and determination, told in a unique voice that drew me in, just as in a smooth seduction game.

I read and read, captivated by the style and then it got better and better, building up to a big finale. A twist in the road that I hadn’t expected, didn’t see coming at all. And it left me feeling giggly, sweaty, exhausted and a bit dirty. This book will have that effect on you, taking you to the dark side, to the parts of the world where people exploit each other, where mistakes happen, where intrigue and mystery come from deep inside us.

It quite got in my brain and every time I picked it up, I was transposed to a different reality. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it you want some sparks, give it a shot.

Rating: ★★★★– I loved it!


Book reviews · Uncategorized

Girl 4 by Will Carver | Book review

Let’s talk about crime, baby!

It’s been a while since I read a thriller/mystery/crime book and I forgot a little bit how much I enjoy them. When you start reading a bit more, it seems popular fiction gets forgotten or readers are either really into literature or only reading pop fiction. It’s a shame, as I think both can be awesome to enjoy and teach you valuable lessons.

I picked up Girl 4 by Will Carver on a whim, in a massive sale (50p/book whoop whoop!). It seemed to have a whif of a psychological thriller rather than a whodunit. I wasn’t deceived.

This is the first book in the series by Will Carver and our main guy is detective January David. As he gets to see Girl 4 in a series of brutal, ritualistic murders, suspended in a theatre ten feet above the ground, he realises he knows the latest victim in the investigation.



January Davis is quite the typical detective. He’s determined, smart, observant and all the great qualities a detective should have. He puts his job first, before his family and his fiance, but tries to keep the illusion that he can take himself out of his job when he comes home. He’s also a very flawed hero: he drinks too much, sleeps too little and is afraid of his discoveries.

Now this might be considered a bit of a SPOILER so if you want to go in 100% blind, please skip this paragraph (although it won’t ruin the story if you read it). The only thing about this book I found annoying is that is has a certain supernatural aspect, which isn’t exactly done properly. It has some relation to the bigger picture once we start going forward in the series, but for this particular chapter, it’s neither here nor there. It doesn’t fit the narrative surround it and doesn’t make much difference to the overall story, but rather complicates things unneccesarily.

Possible spoiler over.


The story is told from the perspective of different characters, including the killer. This is really refreshing and is done in an impressive way. The voices aren’t all that different and the style sometimes remains the same across chapters, even though one is from Jan’s POV and the next is the killer’s story. It does offer some complexity to some parts of the narrative, as we can experience the same scene from different POV.

This also gives voices to the victims, which is rarely done in crime novels, especially those about ritualistic serial killers. We get to know Girl 1, 2 and 3 and see bits of their lives.


This is a great crime novel that’s going to get you hooked. I couldn’t stop reading it because I really wanted to know what was going to happen. It has lots of twists and turns and there’s a big reveal just at the end that not many people would ever think of.

Our detective Jan may be a bit of a stereotype (and you’ll probably not going to like him), but the writing style gives the story a unique slant which brings it out of the ordinary crime genre.

Rating: ★★★ – I really enjoyed it!

  Read any good thrillers lately? Which ones are your favourite? Let me know, I’m looking for more now that I’ve got into it again.

Book reviews

The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan | Book review

6872 The comfort of strangers by Ian McEwan is labelled as a thriller, with mystery sprinkled in and described as the story of a couple who “meet a man with a disturbing story to tell” as they end up in his “fantasy of violence and obsession”.

Now, I have no objections to books which are gorry and explore the darker side of human behaviour. I thoroughly enjoy them and I think they give offer us an insight into the complexities of the human mind. I love reading a book which takes my imagination to the extremes and disturb my pretty little life.

When I read a phrase such as “fantasy of violence and obsession”, I expect one of those books. However, that’s not the case with this one.

I’d summarise it instead as: bored couple goes on vacation, get drawn in by someone who is obviously more interesting than they are, make some stupid decisions and nothing really exciting does happen.

That’s the plot in a nutshell, but it’s not even the worst thing about this book. I’ve read thousands of pages of books that I could summarise in a sentence and I still loved them to bits (see 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami).

In order for a story to be successful without that much of a plot, it needs to have strong characters and great narrative style. This one read to me like the first draft of a novel that achieves that.

The only character who has personality is the “mysterious” Robert, the stranger the couple meets when out on holiday. He has a bit of a back story that could be developed and really drawn out, but I guess McEwan wants us just to guess and assume how he ended up as violent and obsessive as he has, as he gives us an incident from Robert’s past which involves humiliation. Is the reader supposed to just accept that story has defined this man’s whole personality?

We find out nothing really relevant about the other three main characters, except the couple is kind of bored and kind of passionate and have their own fantasies (OH MY GOD, people have an erotic side to them that comes out when they’re in creepy, interesting situations with new people? I could have never thought of that.)

Robert’s wife is a shadow of an interesting character and has the backbone to be one, if only there’d be more story for her to shine. Also, there’s a stereotype regarding the crazy dark and beautiful extremely rich people who play out their fantasies (American Psycho style) that takes away from these people’s authenticity.

I’ve moaned enough, so let’s get to the positives and why this book isn’t a waste of time.

Ian McEwan can write beautifully. Disregarding the subject matter, this is a literary book and the turn of phrase flows and sets the scene perfectly. I felt throughout that I was in a psychological thriller and I was waiting for the big reveal that would blow my mind…which never came.

She sleepwalked from moment to moment, and whole months slipped by without memory, without bearing the faintest imprint of her conscious will.

This style alone will be enough to leave readers satisfied with this book, despite its lack of plot of any character development. Or maybe some will take away from this beautiful writing more substance than I did. Every room and every setting is described perfectly, to the last detail and, if you choose to, you might analyse them and find some truth and guidance there. However, as this book is supposed to be about violence and passion, there isn’t any nearly enough true description of those two anywhere to be found.

In addition, this book was written in 1981 and it hasn’t aged one day. It’s admirable to see a story which is as relevant today as it was 34 years ago and that’s part of why it deserves the title of literary fiction.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book until I realised it had finished. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I thought it was a great start for something much better and could have been explored in many different ways, giving meaning to the main themes rather than just addressing them and leaving them to hang there in the air like big blobs of nothing.

Rating: 🌟🌟 | Big fat MEH

🌟 Happy reading! 🌟

Book reviews

Us, by David Nicholls | Book review


‘I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.’

‘Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?’”

This quote convinced me to pick up Us by David Nicholls. Maybe I’m a bit cookey, maybe it’s not going to persuade anyone else, but I think you can see from this quote how this book won’t be as anything else you’ve read.

Telling the story of the docile, mild-mannered scientist Douglas and his beautiful, creative, artistic wife Connie, Us is a journey through Europe, though the lives of two people who are as different as they can be from each other.

What started out as a completely different perspective (a middle-aged man) for me, ended up as a touching and heart warming story that I empathised with.

This is the story of a marriage in shambles, but it’s also a great tale of the modern man, who can’t seem to find his feet in his own family, becoming detached from it in spite of his best efforts to connect.

Douglas’s relationship with his son Albie seemed to represent lots of father-son/daughter relationships I’ve known. Douglas has the best intentions and he wants everything for his son. He wants Albie to be happy, for him to make the right choices in life, for Albie to have everything Douglas didn’t.

However, he’s disconnected from reality and from the person his son has become. It was gut wrenching to hear about the physical separation between the two, from wrestling to hand holding to no affection at all. When there isn’t a natural comfortable feeling between fathers and children, how can a relationship be healthy?

In my mind, this particular aspect of the book sparked lots of feminist points. What are we teaching our boys that they become so detached from reality and unable to form a healthy relationship with their children? Masculinity is much too commonly defined as being the provider, the teacher, the enforcer. All these roles men take over when they become fathers make them alienate themselves from their families. Expressing your love for your child is seen as unnatural, emasculating and something that should always be implied, but not actually said.

Communication is so skewed by preconceptions and fear of expressing anything that’s not in line with stereotypes.

In my opinion, you can see all of this in Douglas, especially because you get an understanding of his background, his own family and how he was raised. You can a complete picture of him as a character and that’s such a lovely realisation to come to at the end. I was at peace with the story (and I would have been no matter the ending) because I felt I saw Douglas grow and change throughout his journey.

I also felt I was on a trip alongside the main characters, getting to know them more and more through their action in the present and the stories told from the past.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 | I loved it!

🌟 Happy reading! 🌟

Book reviews

Landline, by Rainbow Rowell | Book review


Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.

I picked up Landline, by Rainbow Rowell because it sounded like a great pick me up book and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a funny contemporary read, easy to go through and a great read on bus rides. If you’re expecting a big life lesson from it, then you haven’t read enough contemporary romance fiction (not that there aren’t any books out there that do a great job at giving great life advice). Enough rambling.

So this book’s about Georgie and Neal, a middle aged couple who split up for the Christmas holiday. Georgie has to stay in LA to finish a script (she’s a comedy writer) and Neal takes their two kids to Omaha to visit his parents for the holidays. The craziness starts when Georgie discovers a way to talk to Neal in the past and tries to fix her marriage on the phone.


Simini Blocker Fanart
Simini Blocker Fanart

I think I liked this book because I saw a lot of myself in Georgie. She knows what she wants and she’s determined to get it. That’s her in a nut shell and what the narrator wants us to see her like. She’s always known she wants to be a comedy screen writer and even though she hasn’t been working on her dream ideas and getting paid for it for a long time, she still keeps her ideals alive by doing the work she’s passionate about in her spare time.

She stroke me as the kind of person who doesn’t compromise and works hard to achieve her ideals. She has a strange relationship with her best friend and close co-worker, Seth. They are very similar, as in extremely funny and goal-orientated.

What I didn’t like about Georgie is her portrayal as the woman who’s independent, but can’t actually do anything on her own, i.e. cook, shower, put on some decent clothes, without her loving husband’s help.

When Neal leaves for Omaha with the girls, Georgie doesn’t fall apart, but she goes back to her mum’s house and gets her food and clothes from there. She’s come to rely so much on her husband that she can’t imagine doing normal, every day life tasks without him.

That brings us to Neal – dear old Neal who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life and so he chooses to follow the girl of his dreams along her life.

Here I have to say: if you think this book has a great lesson at the end, you’re mistaken! Neal’s character rightly shows how sad people are when they choose to follow someone else and forget about themselves. When you get sucked into someone’s aura (and Georgie has plenty of vibes to give out), you can become their sidekick and nothing else. Taking care of a family is not an easy business, but when there’s not a partnership and equal responsibility there, things get tricky.

I found the love story between these two very problematic. Georgie seems to be in love with the fact she’s been able to get the “man who doesn’t like anything” to love her. At the same time, Neal, of course, is in love with Georgie’s love of life and how she has everything figured out in her life: her dreams, ambitions and determination to make it work no matter what. I hoped by the end of the book I could say you have to read it to see how things turn out for them, but now I’m just a little bit disappointed that it doesn’t have a real explanation of the complexity of their relationship.

Yasmin Withane Fanart
Yasmin Withane Fanart


The twists and turns of the story and the two narratives, full of flashbacks, make this book worth reading. The style is quite nice, flows perfectly and just carries you through the story, giving background to everything that’s going on. I’d have liked to see a little bit more of the what happens after this crazy journey. The pace is great, you’re not left hanging for too long and you really get to discover the characters: how they were, how they evolved and where they are now. Also, the sidekicks are great and add some spice: Georgie’s sister, Heather, has some nice hilarious moments and her mum is pretty awesome too.

Overall message

What I chose to take away from this book was this: if your relationship isn’t working properly, you need to work at it. Love isn’t enough when it comes to building a life together and you can’t expect things to work out without you putting any effort into it. Love deserves as much time and attention as work in our lives.

Rating: ★★★ – Enjoyed it!

I wanted more from this story, but I really had a nice time reading it

What did you think of Landline? How did you find Georgie and Neal’s relationship? Is it healthy, am I the only one thinking it’s just flawed from the beginning? Let me know in the comments.

★ Happy reading ★

Book reviews

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami | Book review

More than a month later, but I cracked it!!! I’ve just finished the monster that is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. And what a journey it’s been!
First of all, I went into this with no prior experience of either Murakami or magical realism in general. I’d seen lots of reviews which clearly said: don’t start with this book if you’ve never read Murakami before. I’m a rebel, what can I say? I saw it as a challenge and dove head first.


Book 1
The beginning of this adventure was the best thing I’ve experienced in a while. The first book will definitely be in my top 5 favourite books of the year, really close to the top. It made me reconsider my reading experience as a whole. I wasn’t just liking what I was reading, but I was engulfed in the world.

Book 2
This was when it got a bit harder to follow and my pace slowed down. Before finishing the first book, I never felt the need to pick up any other book, but about half way through book 2, I took a breather from the story. The magical part of the plot comes together, but it’s not really explained in a straight forward way.

Book 3
This part was a journey for me – a journey of two souls coming together, yearning for each other. 1Q84 is, in part, a love story and the third book really brought out the best of the romantic aspects of the plot. It’s done in a beautiful way and I enjoyed it much more and read it much quicker than the second book. The premise of the magical part of the world is already accepted and because I didn’t find it the most fascinating part of the plot, I chose not to examine it in detail.

Ending -no spoilers
Don’t expect a clean ending of this book. I didn’t and I avoided lots of disappointment. Lots of questions are left unanswered and you just have to deal with it and move on. However, I got the ending that I actually wanted and predicted and it was done beautifully. I left the book with a strange feeling of fulfillment and acceptance.

Things I love about Murakami’s style:

-> you get to know the characters inside out – you discover what they do, what they think, their past, present and every reason behind their decisions

-> the writing is beautiful – clean phrases, running so smoothly, following a nice steady pace. It’s like poetry to me

-> Murakami always focuses on certain elements of the story and tells you over and over again what happened. This one is quite controversial and might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really found it charming. Being reminded again and again of the same thoughts and actions felt like real life. I often think back to particular moments of my past and replay them in my head. It also helped me stay focused on the narrative of one character after a particular interesting chapter of another.

-> symbols, symbols everywhere: this man is obsessed with (in no particular order): the moon(s), breasts, sexual desire, tea, showers/baths, physical oddities

– aloneness is a central theme throughout Murakami’s books. Most of the characters are for long periods of time living in isolation and following a set routine. The only interaction they have is through the books they read. There’s a resilience and determination in the way they go through life basing decisions on feelings. Laws of attraction guide their actions, critical to the outcome of the plot.

These books will stay with me for a while. I still think about them almost every day and I can’t remember the last time a book did that for me. I’ll definitely pick up another Murakami book as soon as I find myself wanting more.

Overall rating: 5/5 stars!