#BookReview: SweetPea by C.J. Skuse #SweetPea @HQStories @CeeJaytheAuthor

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About the Book

The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.
Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.
From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

My Thoughts

I received SweetPea in the post as a total surprise and I was immediately drawn to the stunning cover design and wanted to know more about the book. I was then intrigued by the synopsis and the idea of a serial killer being described as a girl-next-door type.

Rhiannon is such a brilliant character; she’s so funny and sarcastic and her observations of the people around her are just so darkly amusing. There were so many times in the book that I was properly laughing at something she had said. I love the way she writes a kill list at the start of her diary entries about the people that have annoyed her on that particular day, it’s brilliant. It becomes so easy to understand her annoyances, and some of the things that annoy her are the exact things that annoy me, and that was unnerving when you then remember that this is a woman who deals with her issues with people by killing them. I actually stuck lots of sticky notes to highlight my favourite Rhiannon quotes but when I looked through the book to quote some here they’re mostly too crude or sweary to share! I did really identify with her hatred of all things to do with hen parties – that bit made me giggle. Also, I don’t want to quote it here in case it causes offence to anyone but personally as someone who suffers from a neurological condition I have to admit that I properly burst out laughing at her ‘movers and shakers’ idea for the newspaper she worked for.

A quote I will share is this one because it made me laugh so much and when I tried to read it out to my husband I couldn’t get my words out for laughing:

I didn’t cut off the penis this time. It’s not a trophy thing with me. That would be stupid, like the burglars who always leave the taps on in Home Alone. Besides, where would I put them all? We’ve only got a two-bed flat. It was hard enough deciding where to put the dehumidifier.

This is what makes the book so brilliant – Rhiannon has such an hilarious and sarcastic way of saying things that really appealed to me.

The way Rhiannon tortures her school bully is horrible to read, and the way she goes after men to kill them isn’t exactly pleasant either but because as the reader you’re in Rhiannon’s head and therefore are seeing her reasoning it’s almost as if you forget that she’s actually a psychopath. You get totally wrapped up in what Rhiannon is saying and then you pause and realise that she, aside from being a serial killer, actually comes across as a really normal woman, and someone that you could see yourself being friends with it is so deeply unsettling.

Rhiannon as a character does have depth to her too, it’s not all witty retorts and evil thoughts and deeds. She survived an horrific and brutal attack when she was a young child and whilst that is never given as a reason for her turning out the way she has, you can see a child-like side to her at times. She’s obsessed with her Sylvanian Family and spends a lot of time making her doll’s house perfect and no one is allowed to touch it. It seems odd for a grown woman to be so fixated but it felt to me like it was a lingering effect of the damage that had been done to her.

I read the final two thirds of this novel in one go because I just wanted to know what was going to happen and how it would all turn out for Rhiannon. Her behaviour escalates throughout the novel, and at the same time there is are snapshot of a slightly more normal side of her emerging too so it becomes impossible to put the book down as you just want to know which side of her will win out. It’s a weird thing when you don’t want someone to get caught and yet you know she’s unhinged and has murdered people – I couldn’t see how the book was going to end. I won’t give any spoilers but I thought the ending was perfect for the story.

This is a darkly funny novel that really gets under your skin; Rhiannon is like Bridget Jones mixed with Psycho – she’s such a unique character and someone I won’t forget for a very long time to come. SweetPea is a laugh-out-loud funny novel about a very sarcastic and witty psychopath… and if that doesn’t make you want to read it I don’t know what will! This is the first book that I’ve read by C.J. Skuse but it absolutely definitely won’t be the last.

Sweet Pea is due to by published on 20th April in the UK and I highly recommend you pre-order your copy now!

I received a copy of Sweet Pea from the publisher HQ in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author

C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. C.J. is currently working on adult novel SWEETPEA for HQ/HarperCollins (out April 2017).

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

You can find C.J. Skuse on Facebook or on Twitter CeejaytheAuthor



35 thoughts on “#BookReview: SweetPea by C.J. Skuse #SweetPea @HQStories @CeeJaytheAuthor

  1. I also have a copy of this which arrived unexpectedly. I can’t decide whether I’ll love it for the humour or hate it for the violence!

    • I felt a bit like that when my copy turned up unexpectedly but it made me curious so I picked it up. It’s not overly violent compared to other crime thrillers but there were a few moments that made me squeamish. The humour outweighs the horrible bits though. I hope you love it if you decide to read it.

    • It’s a stunning cover, isn’t it? It’s only Rhiannon’s boss that calls her sweetpea and the name isn’t used all that much through the book. It must feel a bit odd that sweetpea is used for the title of a book about a serial killer when it’s a term of affection for your son though. Thank you xx

  2. I love that most of the quotes were unsuitable for the review, haha! Also, kudos to the writer for such an interesting character that manages to make the reader see things through the mc’s pov, leading to diminishing a bit the horrid sides of her killings. I mean, you almost forgot she was a psychopath! 😀 It’s very rare! Fab review!

    • I know – I was reading some out to my husband and laughing but I just couldn’t put such rude/potentially offensive things on my blog! Haha! It’s such a brilliant novel though – it’s weird how you’re so much in her head that you almost forget that she’s a psychopath. It’s a book I’ll remember for a long time to come. Thank you so much xx

  3. You’ve definitely convinced me to try this one. I like the writing style, just from the bit that you’ve shared. And it certainly sounds like a good mix of dark and witty. What an unusual and interesting story! Glad you enjoyed it so well.

  4. OMG you’ve made ME want to read this and I never read books in this genre cos they scare the bejeezus out of me! I’m definitely buying it for the Hubs and I may consider giving it a go myself!

    • That’s so great to hear, you’ve made my day! 🙂 Sweetpea isn’t really a scary read – it’s a bit gruesome in places, and some things made me a bit squeamish but for the most part it’s about Rhiannon and how she strives to appear normal. If you enjoy sarcastic, witty characters then you’d likely enjoy this. x

  5. Enjoyed your review… I definitely found the book unique and one of the most ‘out there’ reads in a long while, and I don’t mind reading about psyhcos, but her… ‘intimate tendencies’ went a bit too far from me. I was grossed out 😀

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  7. Finally got to your review! It certainly sounds like an interesting read, although I don’t know if I could handle reading the murder parts. Kind of sensitive. Don’t know if I feel like joking on topics like that or seeing murder as a thing I can understand either. But other than that, it seems very interesting. You know what it reminds me of? There was this one movie… Here it is, Miss Meadows: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3128900/
    I think you might like that movie too if you haven’t seen it yet 🙂

    • Thanks for reading my review. The book’s more about Rhiannon and the rest of her life, how she makes attempts to appear normal. The gruesome parts are quite short. I can absolutely see why it would be a difficult read though. To be honest if I hadn’t been sent this for review unexpectedly I might not have picked it up. I’ve not heard of that movie but I’ve made a note of it and will see if I can find it anywhere. Thanks for recommending it. 🙂

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