‘With The Fire On High’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today, I’m reviewing With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo, which I loved! I’ve started to enjoy contemporaries recently and this is one I would definitely recommend 😀

with the fire on high


synopsis

Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.

Emoni wants to be a chef more than anything, but she knows it’s pointless to pursue the impossible. There are rules she has to play by. And yet, once she starts cooking, and gets that fire on high, she sees that her drive to feed will feed her soul and dreams too. And anything is possible.


my thoughts

This was my first experience of Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing but let me tell you, I will certainly be seeking out more! This book was so lyrical and poetic; I can only imagine how beautiful the author’s books in verse are if this is how she writes a novel!

One of the things I loved most about this book was the amount of sensory detail. I’ve talked previously about how this is something I love in stories so the foodie descriptions were a complete delight. This book should come with a warning: it will make you seriously hungry! Particularly towards the end of the book when the book features a different location, I was living for the gorgeous foodie details.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the characters. Acevedo has created a fantastic protagonist in Emoni and I was rooting for her all the way. The author addresses the still-taboo subject of teen pregnancy with sensitivity and it was a real breath of fresh air.

The dynamics between the characters were also extremely well done. There are a number of different relationships in this book, from family to friendships to romantic partnerships, and each one was portrayed perfectly.

I had the opportunity to experience this book in audio format and it was a joy. The book is narrated by the author herself which I always think makes a book even more special. The narration was perfect and I was totally captured by this wonderful story of hope.

My one tiny quibble is that this book used that dreaded phrase “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding”. Once would have been bad enough but that sentence was used no less than THREE times in With The Fire On High. I’m sorry but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Thankfully though, I was able to overlook it and still enjoy the story!

I would definitely recommend this one to fans of contemporary YA!

with the fire on high


I know I’m slightly late to the game with this one so tell me – have you read it? Do you like books with sensory details? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Not So Pure and Simple’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today, I’m wishing a happy book birthday to Lamar Giles and Not So Pure and Simple! I was kindly sent an ARC of this one by Harper 360 YA and I loved every second of it 😀 Read on to find out why…

not so pure and simple

 


synopsis

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?


my thoughts

I genuinely loved everything about this book! When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it which I always think is a sign of a great read. There were aspects of it that reminded me of the movie Easy A so if you enjoyed that, this is definitely a book for you 😉

The characters are one of this novel’s biggest strengths. If I’m being honest, protagonist Del comes across as a bit of a jerk at first but as the author says in his opening note, you will genuinely come to like him. The more you read, the more you see Del’s true nature and it really is quite lovely. You can’t help but root for him. The novel also features some wonderful side characters, particularly Jameer who is an absolute cinnamon roll and one of my new favourites.

Another huge strength of this one is its humour. I was giggling before the end of the first page and continued to enjoy the author’s fun style for the duration of the novel. I laughed out loud so many times and then the ending had me grinning like an absolute goofball 😀 It’s a great feel-good story!

Though there were moments in the story that were slightly predictable, I didn’t mind at all because the book was so genuinely fantastic. This is a book that will be helpful to so many young people growing up and I only wish it had been around when I was going through puberty myself!

I really do recommend this one highly and I’ll be looking out for more of this author’s work!

not so pure and simple


Does this sound like the kind of book you’d enjoy? Let me know in the comments if you like the sound of it! xsignature (2)

 

‘Heartstopper’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies! I’m really struggling to stay on top of blogging this week so I’m sorry for not replying to your comments straightaway – I promise I’ll try to catch up at the weekend! For now, here’s a short and sweet review 🙂

heartstopper


synopsis

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…


my thoughtsOk, so the hype is real with this one. I have been wanting to start reading graphic novels for a while and this was totally the perfect place to start. Everything about it is adorable.

I defy anyone to read this and not have their heart stolen by these precious characters. Charlie is the cutest bean and Nick is an actual angel. I loved them both. And I was pleasantly surprised that Alice Oseman could elicit so many feelings from me with so few words. Seriously, these boys must be protected at all costs.

The plot was so awkward and adorable. This is the quality content I want from books, please and thank you. I definitely want to pick up volume two!

The only small issue I had is that I would have loved for the illustrations to have been in colour. I just think they could have been so gorgeous. But even in black and white, it was wonderful and I would definitely recommend it for lovers of contemporary and those of you who might be a bit nervous about trying graphic novels!

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Are you a fan of graphic novels? Let me know if you’ve read this one! x
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‘You Asked For Perfect’ spoiler-free review!

Ok everyone. Brace yourselves, because this one is going to get personal.

you asked for perfect


synopsis

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.


my thoughtsWow. It has taken me a while to get this review together because I connected with this book on such a deep level. As soon as I started reading it, I related to that panicked feeling of needing more time, of trying to squeeze as much into each day as possible just to stay on top of things. Before I talk more about that, I want to mention the things I loved about this book.

I really enjoyed the insight into Jewish culture that this book provided. There were some particularly amazing foodie bits, which I’ve mentioned previously is something I love in books! And I, like Ariel, am a fan of sour candy 😉

It was lovely to see a great family setup for once and not the usual absentee parents we are used to. Ariel’s family are incredibly supportive when they realise what their son is going through. They also have great banter, which is another element that will make me love a book, particularly a contemporary.

I also have to mention the romance. The whole tutor/stuent situation gave me serious Autoboyography vibes and I adored it. These two boys were too cute. The Harry Potter references did get a bit much at times but I can understand why they were used, as it is something the target readership of this book will massively relate to. I also related even further to Ariel thanks to his excellent taste in music 😉

Aside from everything I enjoyed about this book, I did find it a difficult read. Watching Ariel’s struggles gave me all of the emotions. The spiralling thoughts, the crippling anxiety that makes you feel physically sick, I related so hard it was painful. I was the girl at sixth form studying for 5 A levels instead of the standard 3, as well as trying to fit in band practise for the school musical, extra-curricular music theory exams and volunteering. The pressure on young people these days to have their whole lives figured out before they leave school is too much.

Honestly, I had to stop reading this book at one point because I found myself in tears, feeling Ariel’s emotions radiating off the page. I knew I would relate to this book but didn’t expect to find it so triggering (and that’s not an issue I often have with books). That horrible feeling of time running away from you and the worry of sacrificing time with friends and family to get things done is something I feel like I’ve been living with for the longest time.

I’m really glad that this book exists to show young readers that the grades you get in school are not the be-all and end-all, and that there is more to life than studying. As much as I found it hard to read, I see it as a hugely important and valuable contribution to the YA literary market. I just wish it was around a few years ago when my study-related panic attacks started.

you asked for perfect

Have you read You Asked For Perfect? I’d love to hear from you! x

Interview with C. G. Drews!

Hey everyone! I am so excited to be bringing you an interview with the fabulous C. G. Drews! In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, Cait is basically an internet queen, running a fantastic blog and bookstagram and frequently going viral on Twitter. On top of this, she’s also a successful author. Her debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes, released last year and was one of my favourite reads of 2018, and now we are less than two weeks away from the release of her second book, The Boy Who Steals Houses!

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Cait recently and I’m delighted to be sharing that interview with you now 🙂


Hi Cait! Thanks so much for agreeing to an interview; I can’t wait to sing your praises on my blog! Your blog was the first one I ever discovered. Can you remember what your first ever post was?!

Honestly, my blogging beginning was rather tragic in that I had no idea how to blog and alternated between posting Lewis Carroll poems and holiday photos haha. I do believe my first ever post was the Jabberwocky poem?!

 

I love the Jabberwocky! So that was your first post… but what would you say is your favourite blog post you’ve written?

I am  really fond of a post I wrote back in 2016 called 10 Dreadful Things That Will Happen If You Read Too Much and it’s a total parody that made me laugh a lot while I wrote it!

 

Ah I remember that one! It definitely gave me a giggle. How do you maintain a balance between writing and blogging? Would you consider yourself quite organised?

I’m noooot organised! Sometimes I’m scraping to put up a blog post at the last second or writing ’til midnight because I spent hours formatting a post. (So basically if anyone has the secret spell to get more hours in their day?! I would love to know. Muchly so.) My best way to keep balance is just that I don’t blog AND write on the same days. That way I don’t have to shift focus too much.

 

I need that secret spell too! Do share it if you ever find it hehe. What were the pros and cons of being famous in the blogging community before releasing your first book?

Aw, I’m blushing that you said famous! I’m not sure I am that well known haha, but it did give me a solid base of readers who were already lovely and loyal and keen to read my writing! My blogging community’s support has been priceless.

I think the sole con is that many people assumed my blog is the reason I got a book deal. It’s not true oops. I was writing and working towards publishing before my blog even took off. And I hope that encourages fledgling writers too: your work gets you published first and foremost!

paperfury

 

You describe The Boy Who Steals Houses as a genderbent Goldilocks retelling – what inspired that genius idea?!

I often go on long walks, so passing empty houses led my imagination to ponder the idea of a teenage burglar who maybe was there to steal the house instead of the things inside it. I’m a huge lover of retellings, so this fit with the premise of Goldilocks… and my story unfurled from there.

 

What would you say is the unique selling point for your books, the one thing that makes them stand out from the crowd?

I’d like to say it’s my writing voice! I love mixing whimsical metaphors with punchy banter, and I write in a very close 3rd person. I hope my words fold around readers and make them feel like they’re inside the story. (And I always think YA needs more books that feature big families. So I can’t wait for everyone to meet my De Laineys and their seven loudly messy kids.)

 

I can’t wait either! Your writing voice was one of my favourite things about your debut. What have been some of your favourite reactions to A Thousand Perfect Notes? Did you get responses from famous authors?!

It’s made my day to have people storm into my mentions in all caps saying: WHY DID YOU HURT ME LIKE THIS. So nice! So kind! I do my best! And having readers make fanart, or enamel pins, or design bookmarks to go with ATPN!? I can’t even express how much that means to me!

Also, Laini Taylor replied to my publication day tweet with a congratulations and I HAVE ASCENDED.

 

We’re all here for the heartbreak 😉 And Laini Taylor is a QUEEN, I would have died. Now, to help us survive the wait for The Boy Who Steals Houses and the inevitable hangover afterwards, can you recommend any books that you feel are similar to your own work?

Ooh yes! Try to pick up A List of Cages by Robin Roe, Boomerang by Helene Dunbar or The Wicker King by K. Ancrum while you wait! Can’t recommend these three enough and they’d fit nicely next to The Boy Who Steals Houses.

I second Cait’s recommendation of The Wicker King, it’s fantastic!

 

You have spoken on social media about being an #ownvoices autistic author (thank you so much for this!) How do you find that this affects you in your role as an author, and life in general?

One thing I loved being able to include in TBWSH was Sam’s autistic older brother: Avery. While his experiences and reactions aren’t mine, I did pull a lot of autism feels from my own life and I hope readers fall in love with this messy, explosive but sweethearted kid. As for autism affecting my work as an author: it definitely does. I have a lot of communication fails when writing how I see the world vs how neurotypical people interpret things. But that’s also part of learning to write: you grow and you do your best! And an amazing part of being an autistic writer? I’m able to hyper focus. So when people ask how I can write a draft in 3 days?! This is how!

 

Thank you for sharing your experiences! While I don’t have experience of autism, I do relate strongly to your battles with anxiety. Can you share any tips with readers on how you manage this?

I rely on two things: (1) having friends and family I can lean on to vent or just listen while I whine like a miserable gnat for a while, and (2) distraction! I am master of writing a million books so I don’t have to think about the anxiety-inducing parts of publishing. (Also, I’m not saying cake cures anxiety, but it’s pretty freaking delicious. So have at it.)

a thousand perfect notes

 

Sound advice 😉 Speaking of, what’s your favourite type of cake?

Chocolate brownie cheesecake!

 

And just for fun, what is your Hogwarts house?

I’m a Slytherin.

 

And your OTP?

Both Blusey and Pynch from The Raven Cycle ahhh!

 

Thank you so much Cait for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope everyone is as excited for The Boy Who Steals Houses as I am!


C.G. Drews lives in Australia with an overworked laptop and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novels to make you laugh or cry (or both). She never sleeps and believes in cake for breakfast.

c g drews

You can find Cait at these social media links!

And if you’re interested in reading my review of Cait’s debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes, you can find it here!

 

‘The Hate U Give’ spoiler-free review!

 

thug review

Yes, I know. I’m ridiculously late to the party with this one. But with Angie Thomas’ new book, On The Come Up, coming out in February, I figured it was finally time to read her debut! And it deserves every bit of hype.

Let’s check it out!


synopsis

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.


my thoughts.png

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read and I totally understand why it has become such a huge phenomenon in the book community.

Obviously, the subject matter here makes this an incredibly heavy read. In fact, I could only read it in short bursts and had to intersperse it with other books for a bit of light relief.

I was worried initially that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the story (and please do not read anything racist into that before I explain!) The book is very dialogue-heavy which is not something that usually works for me. Add to that the fact that I had distanced myself from this book for so long due to the hype and hopefully you can understand why I was nervous.

Thankfully, Thomas writes dialogue REALLY well and I found that it really drew me in, adding to the intensity of the book. Further to this, the family and peer argument scenes in this book were so bloody realistic. I actually felt my heart beating faster and my breathing quicken as if I was right there in the thick of everything.

After thinking about the ending, I’m quite pleased with how things wrapped up. It would have been very easy for Thomas to take things in a different direction and I don’t think I would have been satisfied with it if she did. As it stands, I found the ending powerful and emotive – especially with the author’s note that follows. It’s easy to see why this book has had such an impact. The Hate U Give is clearly a very important piece of literature in the Black Lives Matter movement and I, like Angie Thomas, hope that one day we can look back and say that the issue has been eradicated.

thug

Of course, my final rating can be nothing less than 5 musical notes!  5 notes


So most of you have probably read this one by now, right? What did you think of it? Are you planning on reading On The Come Up? And do you like my new rating system?! Leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading xsignature (2)

‘Tell the Wolves I’m Home’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! Last night, I finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt so today I’ve got a review for you 🙂


What the book is about…

tell the wolves im home

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life–someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.


What I thought of it…

I knew right away that this was going to be a special book. I instantly connected with the writing style and I knew it was going to have a powerful emotional impact on me.

Brunt’s characterisations were so well done. I really sympathised with June and felt a little bereft when the book ended and I was no longer in her head. Her sister, Greta, who starts out seemingly vile, has some of the best character development and I really came to understand her and why she behaved the way she did. The author did such a great job of making her characters feel real.

Another thing Brunt did amazingly well was capture how ignorant people were about AIDS in the 1980s; it was genuinely hard to read. I know that’s the way things were but gosh, it was tough to see it in black and white on the page in front of me.

I did have a slight issue with the fact that the book kept talking about AIDS being ‘given’ to a person. Technically, it’s HIV that is passed between people and AIDS just results from that; you don’t infect someone with AIDS. I’m seriously nit-picking but it did grate on me a little each time it came up because it’s not wholly accurate. However, even with that, this is a 5-star book for me.

This was such a quiet and gentle book. There is a vein of poignancy running throughout and you would have to have a heart of stone to not be affected by it. Brunt has written a story of such raw beauty and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Have you read this one? Or any other books about the AIDS epidemic? I’d love to read more books about this topic if you have any recommendations! x

‘The Other Side of Lost’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby, which was so kindly sent to me by Harper360YA. Thankfully, I liked this one much more than Damsel 😉 

What the book is about…

“Every day is a chance to be better than you were the day before”

Jessi Kirby, The Other Side of Lost

Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

 

 

What I thought of it…

This was really quite lovely. I felt a real connection with the main character, Mari, who was trying to find her way in the world and stay true to herself while at the same time attempting to make genuine connections with people and distance herself from online negativity. The idea of presenting a certain persona to the world is one that I can relate to, thanks to my anxiety (though I like to think I still have my integrity in what I choose to show people, both on and offline). The whole thing just really spoke to me; I can’t quite find the words to explain how or why.

 I thought the author gave a very sensitive and believable portrayal of teenage grief; it wasn’t over-the-top with angst, it felt REAL. The anger and disappointment of expecting things to be a certain way and it not working out like that – I found this so so relatable. There were some truly poignant moments. 

Now, I do have to say that I found the concept of the book ever so slightly unbelievable. I could never imagine just going off on a whim and hiking 211 miles over the mountains, with no prior training or knowledge. Even for a non-anxious person, that would be super stressful and DANGEROUS. So in that respect, I did struggle to suspend my disbelief a tiny bit.

There was also a hint of insta-love here, which usually would irritate the heck out of me. Weirdly, it didn’t actually bother me too much in this case because it kind of made sense under the circumstances? The characters were in such a high intensity situation, it would have surprised me if a romance didn’t happen, to be honest. Thankfully, I found the story’s main focus to be much more of the found family aspect, which I completely loved. 

Overall, this book contained some beautiful imagery and I really enjoyed. I would certainly recommend it for fans of contemporary YA.

 

You might also enjoy…

Have you read this one? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments! Also, is anyone else struggling with the new WordPress editor?! x

‘Autoboyography’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my lovelies 🙂 Today, I’m reviewing Autoboyography by writing duo Christina Lauren. I’d always heard great things about this book – and my own opinion is not going to be any different! This is a new favourite of mine.

 

What the book is about…

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

 

What I thought of it…

Oh my heart, this book. This was the most adorable thing I have ever read; I had so many feelings upon finishing this story.

Right from the outset, I knew I was going to love Autoboyography. It opens with some amazing banter that felt very realistic, and introduces one of the best friendships in any book I’ve ever read. Tanner and Autumn have the most special relationship and it was truly heart-warming to read about.

Tanner is a fantastic protagonist; he is completely adorable and so freaking awkward, I love him. I ship him and Sebastian more than I’ve ever shipped anyone in my life. Their blossoming romance is so sweet and heartfelt. And I have to say, this book has one of the hottest first kiss scenes EVER.

It’s not all cute fluff though. This book handles the very serious matter of religion and sexuality in a tactful and respectful way. Sebastian’s struggle felt so real. It broke my heart to think of all the kids and young people out there who feel they have to hide who they are because they don’t have a strong support system around them; I genuinely want to hand this book out to every scared teenager and have them treat it as a life manual because its message is truly wonderful.

In saying that, I’m so glad that the authors gave Tanner an awesome supportive family. It made my heart so full to read. But, at the same time, that only increased the pain of seeing Sebastian UNsupported. I was emoting everywhere. There was a lot of sadness but also so much joy and hope. I was laughing with tears in my eyes.

I really do urge everyone to read this book. As well as being a beautifully-written story, it has such a positive and uplifting message. I truly believe this book could help so many people. I will forever adore it.

 

autboyography book review

Have you read this one? Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts! x

‘The Forgotten Guide to Happiness’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins which was a surprise gift from Avon Books! Sadly, I was disappointed by this one.

 

What the book is about…

Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.

Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.

When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?

An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.

 

What I thought of it…

I finished this book about a week ago and the more I’ve thought about it, the more annoyed I’ve felt. There are so many things about this book that really frustrated me.

The story did tick along quite nicely at the start, although I can’t say I really warmed to the protagonist. I found her quite selfish and unlikeable. I questioned her every decision and really couldn’t understand her motivations for certain things. The side characters also felt like paper-thin stereotypes and honestly added nothing to the story.

However, things got really annoying around 100 pages from the end when a particular event occurred (that I obviously won’t mention because spoilers). All I will say is that it had me absolutely infuriated! I couldn’t believe what I was reading; I wanted to give Lana a shake. Really, I don’t know what the author was thinking at this point; what kind of message was she trying to promote? The whole thing felt like one pointless cliché after another and, if this hadn’t been a gift from a publisher, I might well have DNF’d this book. I had to force myself to get to the end.

I did like Nancy’s character, the older writer in declining mental health. However, part of me feels like she wasn’t utilised as much as she could have been? She was a little lost at times in all of Lana’s crap and I feel like she deserved more! It was also constantly rammed down the reader’s throat that Nancy was this big feminist icon but then we were never actually shown any evidence of this.

The ‘how to be a hero’ theme was a nice idea –  I feel like maybe that should have been the title of the book instead? I don’t really know why it was called The Forgotten Guide to Happiness. Maybe I missed the point but this title felt totally incongruous to the actual story. Particularly with the annoying events I’ve alluded to!

I feel like this one won’t stay with me – and if it does, it will be with feelings of frustration rather than positivity! I feel terrible giving a book a negative review, particularly when it was a gift, but this one just wasn’t for me.

 

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Have you ever read a book where the protagonist completely irritated you?!