Book Review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

Book: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas – paperback edition, 485 pages.

Synopsis: At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting beliefs – that family can arouse.

My thoughts: I felt like reading some contemporary Australian fiction this month, and pulled this off my shelf because it seemed to suit my mood. I’d heard positive things about this book from quite a few people in my life, and I figured that plus the fact it had been turned into a television series (and subsequently adapted for American audiences) meant it was guaranteed be a good read.

I ended up in two minds about this book. On the one hand, I loved the setting. I don’t read nearly enough books that are set in Australia, and they’re always such a joy to read when I do. Also, at one point in the story two of the characters travel to Bali which was a pleasant surprise for me because that’s where I happened to be when I read the majority of the book. I found the story interesting, and the characters well developed (if for the most part completely unlikeable). The book switches between character viewpoints in each chapter, and I felt like this detracted from the book a little bit because it interruped the flow of the story for me.

Now for the negative. I don’t consider myself particularly prudish but I found the language used to be really shocking and confronting, and I was even considering putting the book down because of it. The racist and homophobic terms used made me feel really uncomfortable, and I really had to make an effort to push past the language to be able to continue reading the book. If this is something you are particularly sensitive about, I would not recommend this book for you.

Rating: 6/10

March TBR

The Girl Before by JP DelaneyEverything that is yours, was once hers… Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price? Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

The Slap by Christos TsiolkasAt a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the slap. What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting beliefs – that family can arouse.

Summer Skin by Kirsty EagarJess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even. The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls. The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold… and smart enough to keep up with Jess. A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable? It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

Antisocial by Jillian BlakeWhat if your greatest secrets became public? For the students at Alexandria Prep, a series of hacks leads to a scandalous firestorm–and the students are left wondering whose private photos and messages will be exposed next. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets WikiLeaks. Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend–with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic. But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny–people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public. Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives: Sometimes we share too much.

Book Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Book: Shift by Em Bailey – paperback edition, 304 pages.

Synopsis: Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.

She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past.

But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie – and pushes the others right out – only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on. Something almost… parasitic. Either Olive is losing her grip on reality, or Miranda Vaile is stealing Katie’s life.

But who would ever believe crazy Olive, the girl who has a habit of letting her imagination run away with her? And what if Olive is the next target?

My thoughts: Honestly, there is nothing worse for me than starting a book only to find out it has paranormal themes in it. Not my scene at all. In this case, it is entirely my fault because I did little to no research before picking this up. I liked Em Bailey’s book ‘The Special Ones’, so I thought I’d give this a go. I persevered with this despite the fact it included paranormal themes, mostly just because it’s rare for me to stop reading a book once I’ve started. It has to be truly terrible for that to happen.

There really wasn’t much I liked about this book. I did like that it was set in Australia, although it took me a while to figure that out (not until the protagonist started using “mum” instead of “mom”). I didn’t like any of the characters in the book, and at one point the main character pissed me off so much I nearly gave up on reading. Who leaves their baby brother home alone (granted, asleep) and goes out to party? I really wish there had been repercussions following that to serve as some sort of lesson, but nope – things carried on as usual. There was also an insta-love thing playing out throughout the book, which I’ve never been a big fan of.

All things considered I actually didn’t mind the paranormal element of this book, it was probably the most interesting aspect of the story. I’m not sure I’d recommend this, but if you’re after a quick read that involves a unique kind of paranormal element, you might want to pick this up.

Rating: 4/10

February TBR

Fearless by Fiona HigginsSix strangers from across the world meet on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears – which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death. Friendships and even romance blossom as the participants are put through a series of challenges which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly turns into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens – a tragic disaster that puts the group in deadly danger, testing the individual courage of every member.

The Girl Before by JP DelaneyEverything that is yours, was once hers… Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price? Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Ragdoll by Daniel ColeA body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Helen Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts“True love can’t be strategized.” After book blogger Vivian Galdi s longtime crush pretends their secret summer kissing sessions never happened, Vivian creates a list of “safe” crushes, determined to protect her heart. But nerd-hot Dallas, the sweet new guy in town, sends the mission and Vivian s zing meter into chaos. While designing software for the bookstore where Vivian works, Dallas wages a counter-mission. Operation Replacement Crush is in full effect. And Dallas is determined to take her heart off the shelf.

January Reading Wrap Up

Books read this month: Masked Innocence by Alessandra Torre, Final Girls by Riley Sager, Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, and Shift by Em Bailey
Total Books Read: 4
January TBR Books Read: 3
2017 TBR Challenge Books Read: 2
Total Pages Read: 992
Total Hours Listened: 12hours 49minutes

Honestly, the reason I didn’t get around to read all of the books on my January TBR this month is because I saw that Final Girls by Riley Sager was up for review on Netgalley. I’d heard so many good things about it, so when I was offered the change to read and review the book it jumped to the top of my TBR pile. I’m happy with my reading this month, and I’m glad I found a way to include audiobooks in my daily routine. Having said that, February is going to be pretty hectic for me at work so I probably won’t have as much time to listen. Here’s to February reading!