Posted in book reviews

How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne

‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’ 

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage, but everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.

Thanks Netgalley for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I’ve liked every single one of Holly Bournes novels that I have read. Am I Normal Yet?What’s a Girl Gotta Do? and most recently, It Only Happens in the Movies. All of these novels have held something special for me: whether it’s important and good discussions on mental health, feminism, consent, I have loved them all. Bourne has a distinct narrative voice: she is able to take serious issues and be brutally honest about them. There is no sugar coating, and it’s exactly the same within this one.

Bourne doesn’t sugarcoat sex. It’s not all magical. It’s not the romanticised portrayals you see on screen or often read about books. It’s honest. What I think is great about this is whether you’ve had no sex, a little sex, tons of sex, its having a conversation with you. It’s not lying to you and telling you if your not doing this your not doing it right / you have to do this. No. It’s opening that discussion up with it’s audience – whether YA, or adult – and I think that’s hella good. I find too often in YA and some of the adult books I have read (it’s not my fave genre) that everything is perfect and magical and problematic issues are pushed under the rug because *romance* and what Bourne does is stamp a big fat “NO” over that. This isn’t her saying that it can’t be like that, this is her saying that it DOESN’T have to be. Isn’t that great?

As I’ve said, I love how Bourne takes on her female characters. While throughout all of this I didn’t particularly love Tori, I appreciated what Bourne was doing with her character. The whole discussion on success and how to most people that means nothing, rather you have to be a mother, was heart wrenching. It sucks, because it’s true. Too often I see career women being degraded because they haven’t had kids yet / never want to, and somehow because of this they are “missing out”. That isn’t freaking fair. And also, that isn’t freaking feminism. Whole point of feminism is giving women A CHOICE. Just saying. And I like how Holly displays that in this – that is up to you when you want to make that choice, and your the one to take control of it.

Ah, the feminism in this.

Women OWN THEIR FREAKING SEXUALITY IN THIS. I love it. And when there is some slut-shaming it is REFUTED. But I love this. Women being allowed to own their freaking sexuality.

I also love this:

I’m sure he has good intentions and all, but I just cannot handle men who get applauded for not being an arsehole. It should not be rewarded, it should just be a given.

This reminds me of a discussion I was having the other day about how it’s sad we get excited about saying “wow! this book is so feminist/diverse!” like that’s something we are still excited about. All books should simply just be feministic without it having to be pointed out you know?? It should just be a given that going in to a book you’re going to have this.

But while I really enjoyed it, I can’t say I loved it.

– I feel like this book didn’t really have much of a plot. It definitely wasn’t a juicy enough plot to go on for as long as it did. For a while it really did just feel like I was reading someones diary about them whining about their day.
– While this book is very female power, I feel like it is let down by all it’s male characters who do act like pieces of crap. I mean Nigel was alright, there wasn’t much of him, he was just so bland. And Tom??? Arse wipe. I often find that with Holly Bourne books. There’s so much female power (which I love) but yeah.
– Something happens with Tori / Tom (I think that’s his name, I’ll just call him Rock man) that was NOT OKAY. And it’s not really elaborated on. Tori just feels bad and cries and then tells herself it’s all okay and tries to forget about it. No. . . I wish their was more discussion that just because your in a relationship doesn’t mean that’s okay. Same with her and something she does even though Rock Man is like “no”. It’s like !!! just don’t be a dick and be a bit more respectful, you know???
– Like I know the plot of this book was Tori / Rock Man and what shit was going on between them etc BUT I JUST WISHED THEY’D BREAK UP AFTER A PAGE.

I also think – and to no fault of Bournes – that this book wasn’t for me. I’m only 19, and considering this book was about feeling like you’ve wasted your twenties/regretting, I couldn’t really relate. I mean, I do feel like my teenage years have gone nowhere and that I probably have wasted most of them (no – I find staying at home and netflixing and reading is a perfect way to spend any of your decades) this wasn’t exactly what the book was about. So most of the time I did find it hard to connect, but I tip my hat off to Bourne for still keeping me reading despite the fact this novel wasn’t particularly for me.

So all in all, I did think this was a good debut to Bourne’s dip in the adult novel genre! While I do prefer her YA, I can say I did like this and will pick up anymore adult novels she writes.

Posted in book reviews

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I would like to warn you all, before you begin reading this review, that I do go off into some deep thought and ramble a lot. There’s just too much to say about this book. I liked it, but it didn’t wow me. And I wasn’t really surprised by anything that happened unfortunately. 3 stars (maybe 2 and a half?). That’s my short review, and the longer one will contain spoilers so read at your own risk.

I’m torn on how I feel on this book. I’m at an impasse, not quite sure on what decision to make about this. That, in itself, tells me all I need to know. I’m not raging about this book recommending it to anyone and everyone who will listen, I’m just okay about it. It was good, and now it’s back on my shelf, and it’s another one to add to my reading challenge for this year (I’m sooooo behind).

That doesn’t mean that I hate it. In fact, it was quite good. I really liked the layout/formatting of the book, with the illustrations of calendars, lists, etc. This really cut the book down, making it shorted than it already is. (Especially when some pages had minimal lines on them). So I flew through this book, reading it all in one sitting of a couple hours, maybe less. This book was easy to fall in to as you find yourself wondering about her sickness, and everything going on next door with Olly. But I find that maybe I was reading it too quick, not really taking it in, because I’ve left the book like ?? that was it?? I, from reading tons of other good, raving reviews, expected a lot more. Something deeper, and impactful (apparently that’s not a word, but I’m using it anyway). Sure, there was some pure moments of “wow, okay,” and emotion, but the rest was just disengaged and I was questioning more of the decisions with irritation than curiosity.

I wasn’t really shocked by the plot twist of her not being really ill. While I don’t know much about the sickness, from the stuff that Maddy told us and my own basic knowledge, some things didn’t add up. For example, she talks about how she can’t eat certain foods (her mum makes the lentil soup was it?? very basically for her, which was basically lentils in chicken stock), and yet the minute she runs away she’s eating anything and everything. No allergic reactions at all. No throat closing up. No hives. Or when she runs out the house to go to Olly, and nothing. happens. I was like ?? she’s not sick. She can’t be, and if she really is, then this is just stupid.

Nope. She’s not sick. Her mums just really depressed. I guessed that too, because of losing her husband and son, she wouldn’t want to lose her daughter either. How anyone else in this actual world didn’t put these things together is above me. And how she got away with keeping her daughter in a bubble, despite medical records saying how she doesn’t actually have this sickness, is also above me. And the nurse, if you truly thought something was up, isn’t it your duty to you know, report that??? Help her out? Let’s not talk about how, even though she suspected she wasn’t sick (but didn’t know for sure), just let her run away where she could potentially die. Where is the logic? I get that it’s meant to be all romantic and whatever, and “go live your life” and all the other life inspiring stuff you can find as wall stickers, but NO! Your a caretaker and you’re doing this? While I felt sad that she was fired, since she was Maddy’s only real friend, it made sense.

I’m confused by why everything Maddy owns is white. *Augustus voice* Maybe it’s a metaphor. The white is for when she’s sick. White has many connotations, but in Maddy’s case she see’s it as one for her being sick, and for everything around her being plain and boring, having no life. When she finally get’s her life and starts to live, everything becomes colourful. Her t-shirts, her shoes, her bedroom walls. Colour is everywhere. In Maddy’s situation I’m sure it doesn’t really feel like she’s living, being trapped inside all day everyday, and I’m sure for other people with different sicknesses it can feel the same. But I don’t know, this book shouldn’t feel like it’s saying that just because your sick doesn’t mean you have a life.

Maybe I’m thinking too much into this. I probably am. Shall we just stick to thinking about how Maddy and Olly seemingly got a happy ever after and ran away through New York together? Yeah, let’s think about that.

Posted in book reviews

We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach (A Review)

Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:
The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever.

But then we all looked up and everything changed.

They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end.

Two months to really live.

We All Looked Up is one of my favourite books ever. I love this book so much, it just really spoke to me. I sat for days after I read this, just thinking about it (I still do), my mind reeling from this book.

I honestly don’t know how to sum up this book in words: awesome, incredible, beautiful, amazing.  Trying to deny my love for this book would be like putting an ice cube in a cup of fresh hot chocolate and telling it not to melt.

The ending of this book…usually it would annoy me, but it just made perfect sense. Ending it any other way or bringing out a sequel would just ruin the beauty of this book (even though I wish I could have more time with these characters). Thing is, none of us know whether today is our last. And that’s what this book is about, living in the now, taking life as it is, and just living.

I must say that Eliza was one of my favourite characters. This book made me laugh and cry, both out of happiness and sadness. There’s just a realness to this book that it’s hard to ignore. Whether an asteroid is threatening to kill us all or not, we can definitely relate to what is going on.

This is Tommy Wallach’s first novel. What a stunning debut! If Wallach keeps this up, he will have a bunch of loyal readers for life. Can’t wait to see what else he comes out with, but whatever it is, I’m definitely going to be reading it.

You can view this review on Goodreads!

Posted in book reviews

This Raging Light – Estelle Laure (A Review)

Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Group for sending me this book!

How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend’s unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together – just.

A stunning debut to devour in one sitting, Laure captures completely the agony and ecstasy of first love.

This description really doesn’t do this book justice and is rather misleading. This book is more than the “ecstasy of first love” and Lucille falling for her best friends brother. One thing it has got right, is that she does have bigger problems than falling for him. This book really has more to it than her falling for her bff’s brother (well, when we meet her she already loves him so it’s not really the story of her falling in love with him).

Sometimes the metaphors would get a bit too much. One minute the writing is all nice, simple and flowing and then BAM a whole page of a strung-out metaphor that had me skim-reading. I have nothing against metaphors, but I don’t see what it is with YA & contemporary authors telling their stories through a narration of long-winded metaphors, that have the time don’t even make sense? It makes it seem forced, and like the author was trying to hard when she really didn’t need to.

I really, really wasn’t feeling the romance. Which for a book that was promising an epic tale of first love, makes it seem like a failure. It was just Digby. I didn’t get him. I’m not sure if I love him or hate him. I’m confused, just as confused as Lucille. One thing is for sure though is that he made me mad. It annoyed me how one moment he was all over her and then texting his girlfriend, like dude, wtf?! Especially since all Lucille was going through, it was a dick-ish move. I never really felt a connection between them (all it really was was Lucille swooning over him, or yearning over him). So the romance was a whole no-no for me and I couldn’t really care less if they ended up together or not. I just wanted them to both get their heads out of their butts and think about what was actually going on. The dialogue between them was just…weird? I don’t know how else to put it – for one, she says her bellybutton is grateful (?) & he says that she has a ‘dangerous ear'(I’m not even gonna go there). It was just so awkward and cringey at times that I just had to skim read.

Lucille and Wren’s relationship is what made this book for me. The way they held themselves together, too scared to let themselves go in fear of hurting one another. How Wren would make food, and Lucille would do whatever she could to try and make things normal and good for Wren. Not once was Luce a brat about having to take care of Wren. She just got up and did it (kind of reminded me of Katniss and how she would do whatever it took to take care of Prim). It was a great dynamic.

Let’s not even get started on her mother. Or her dad (although can we give him bonus points for actually trying to make amends?)

Lucille’s work friends were great too & I liked how they helped her out by covering shifts and taking care of Wren.

This book was good, and I’m going to give it a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Well done to Estelle Laure on a good debut novel.

(P.S: The cover is also quite pretty)

You can also view this review on Goodreads!