My Not So Perfect Life

My Not So Perfect Life

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Standalone-

Wedding Night

Finding Audrey

Shopaholic Series

Shopaholic To The Stars

Synopsis:

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle–from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet–not to mention a possible new romance–the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away–until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Thoughts:

Sophie Kinsella used to be one of my favourite authors that I loved to read as soon as she released a book. Then I started to read more widely and didn’t tend to read her books as soon as they were released (as you can see from this review!) I still enjoy Sophie’s writing, it’s so easy to read and it’s usually got characters that are incredibly relatable and easy to like.

If you’re into books like The Devil Wears Prada then I think you’d enjoy My Not So Perfect Life. It’s incredibly similar. Our main character Katie is working at an agency in London. It’s very trendy. From the outside, looking at Katie’s instagram feed, you’d think that she had the perfect life. In reality, she’s struggling with meeting the demands of London living and is constantly comparing her instagram posts to her friends. Her work isn’t as glamorous as it seems either. She’s always running errands for her boss Demeter. Demeter is the one with the perfect life… or so it seems. Katie ends up being fired and returns to the English countryside to help her family with a new glamping venture. Demeter ends up visiting the glamping site for a family holiday and Katie learns more about Demeter and realises she may have judged her too harshly.

This book is a great summer beach read. You don’t need to think too much about it. The plot mills along (although I think it could’ve benefited from being shorter!) and there are some great characters explore. It is a predictable read but that didn’t bother me. I don’t go into reading a book like this expecting intrigue and mystery.  It does what it sets out to do and that’s okay with me.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A good, light beach read, especially if you’re into this genre!

 

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Dear Evan Hansen (Book Review)

Dear Evan Hansen

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:  

Dear Evan Hansen,

Today’s going to be an amazing day and here’s why…

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone draws high school senior Evan Hansen into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell, that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

Suddenly, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams. And Connor Murphy’s parents, with their beautiful home on the other side of town, have taken him in like he was their own, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend. As Evan gets pulled deeper into their swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows that what he’s doing can’t be right, but if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about Dear Evan Hansen. It seems that it’s been everywhere. I know that performances starts today in London. I have to admit that apart from Hugh Jackman singing a song from it on his world tour, I haven’t heard the music from the musical yet.

I went into reading Dear Evan Hansen without knowing much about it at all. I think this was the best way to read it for someone who may not see the show or know much about it. I can’t give you a comparison to the production because I haven’t seen it. However, as a book, I enjoyed reading it and thought it had incredibly well developed characters.

The basic premise of this book is that Evan Hansen (who has severe anxiety) seems to be invisible at school. After breaking his arm, his mother encourages him to get signatures on his cast- to get out there and to speak to his peers. Whilst going through this, Evan is attending therapy. He’s told to write letters to himself to become more positive. Evan’s letter is picked up by Connor Murphy so misinterprets it. Connor signs his name in big across Evan’s cast, truly making his mark. However, Evan never anticipated just how much of a mark Connor would make on his life.

Connor commits suicide and when Connor’s parents find the letter ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ they believe that Connor and Evan were good friends. Evan soon ends up tangled in lies as he tries to help the Murphy family with their grief.

There are points of this story that are so hard to read. I’m pleased this story exists though because we need to be talking about mental health. It shouldn’t be something that is hidden. I think this book would appeal to many readers- not just a YA or musical theatre audience. I think many people could and should take something away from this story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A brilliant read surrounding mental health!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1)

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Thoughts:

Well, well, well… I used to be quite the fan of Enid Blyton when I was younger. I loved her whimsical writing and I was looking forward to getting stuck into the adventures once more. It is still totally charming, but I’m a little sad that they’ve changed the name of the characters. I believe Frannie was once Fanny. I can see that children would laugh at that now but they probably would’ve done so when reading it when it was first published too. Beth reminded me that Dame Snap had been changed from Dame Slap. For goodness sake, censorship is a little ridiculous nowadays. I don’t see any harm in those names at all. I know when I read about a character named Dick in my class, the children giggle. I just have to explain that it’s short for Richard and they tend to get over it quickly. This is a story and children aren’t as delicate as we think.

Mini rant aside, I thought this book was just as whimsical and lovely as I remember. I remember absolutely loving Moon Face! 🙂 I loved their magical adventures and always wondered what land would come up next. As an adult, I think I look at it more critically which is a shame. However,  it’s strange to think how easy-going the children’s parents were. It was apparently fine to go off until midnight into a magical land! If you can put little things like that  aside, then I really think this story will bring you a lot of joy. It certainly perked me up!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (June):
What Katy Did- Susan Coolidge

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Apple Of My Eye

Synopsis:

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten? 

Thoughts:

I absolutely adored Apple Of My Eye, so I was intrigued to read Forget Me Not by Claire Allan. I thought this was another incredible read. Claire Allan is certainly becoming one of my favourite authors in the thriller genre. I highly recommend checking out her books if you haven’t done so already.

Forget Me Not opens with Elizabeth O’Loughlin walking her dog. She comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific attack. Clare’s dying, but manages to whisper some words to Elizabeth. Elizabeth soon realises that there could be more victims and she needs to do something about it.

I liked how the story was told from two different points of view. I think this works particularly well in a thriller. It gives you a break from one perspective but at the same time, if done well, it cleverly intertwines the story and this is what happened with Forget Me Not. Claire Allan is a master at building tension. Right from the start, I couldn’t stop turn the pages. It’s so fast paced that it’s hard to put it down.

This is definitely one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about it. It would completely ruin the story. It’s a book full of twists and turns. Some I did see coming, but some I admit, did surprise me. I really do need to check out Claire’s debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another excellent read from Claire Allan!

Banned Books #59- Crazy Lady

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month, Beth and I read Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conly.

Crazy Lady!

First published: 1993
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2005 (source)
Reasons: offensive language.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I don’t know why I put myself through this each month – as soon as I see the reasons for books being challenged/banned, I get cross! Haha. This book was originally published in 1993 which feels occasionally like a million light years ago but strangely enough, at the same time, it feels not long ago at all for me, it’s a year I remember quite well. Attitudes have changed quite dramatically from the nineties, especially regarding children with special needs (thank goodness!) but as for the reason this book was challenged? I just don’t get it. It states offensive language and well, there are many moments in this book where the characters “cuss,” but no mention is ever made of the particular words they use. All that is said is the word “cuss,” which isn’t offensive by itself – not to me, anyway. So I’m left feeling slightly confused as to where the offensive language was?!

CHRISSI: We never agree with the reasons for things being challenged and I really don’t see the problem with any language in this book. As I’ve said before, children and young adults hear and see much worse in their family home. Even in the 90s! I don’t think offensive language is reason enough to challenge a book. I really don’t!

How about now?

BETH: Nowadays I would hope that the mere mention of the word “cuss” or “swear,” wouldn’t send people running for the hills but sadly, that still appears to be the case. Well, when it was challenged in 2005 that is! Fair enough, not everybody appreciates bad language, I personally don’t use it in my reviews because I don’t want to offend anyone but I understand and enjoy the fact that everyone is different. However, I don’t understand why when the “bad words,” aren’t even mentioned that some people still have an issue with this book? Perhaps I’m being incredibly naive.

CHRISSI: I can’t believe that this book was challenged in 2005, especially when TV and the media have much worse language occurring. I mean, seriously?! If the language was more explicit, then I could probably get why it was challenged, but it’s really not that bad at all. I’ve read worse and I’m sure teenagers/young adults have heard worse too. I think we can censor our children/young people too much and it makes them curious to seek out what is being challenged.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Crazy Lady was a quick and easy read for me but nothing I really want to shout from the rooftops about. It was interesting to see the depiction of a special needs child written in the nineties (but set in the eighties) and how far we’ve come as a society since then in our attitudes and treatment. I thought the alcoholic character of Maxine was an interesting addition but I have to admit, she frustrated me slightly especially as it seemed like she wasn’t making any effort to really help herself or her son Ronald.

CHRISSI: It has an interesting story-line and one I’m pleased is represented in children’s literature. It wasn’t a book that I’d rave about. I found the ending to be a bit of a let down. Mainly, like Beth, it made me appreciate how our treatment with people with special needs has progressed. We still have a way to go, but we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction. I liked how it didn’t try and talk down or be condescending.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Dead Girls

Dead Girls

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Golden Boy

Synopsis:

When her best friend Billie is found murdered, eleven-year-old Thera – fearless and forthright – considers it her duty to find the killer.

Aided by a Ouija board, Billie’s ghost, and the spirits of four other dead girls, she’s determined to succeed. The trouble with Thera, though, is that she doesn’t always know when to stop – and sometimes there’s a fine line between doing the right thing and doing something very, very bad indeed.

Thoughts:

Golden Boy is a phenomenal albeit quite challenging read so when I heard about the premise of Dead Girls, I knew it would contain some heavy going content. Dead Girls definitely has some heavy content. As a warning for those that might be sensitive to some of the subject matter- there’s paedophilia, murder and sexual content within the story. It’s one that’s not particularly ‘easy’ to read, but it’s compelling.

Dead Girls centres around a young girl named Thera whose best friend Billie has been murdered. She is determined to find her friend’s killer, no matter what it takes. With the help of Billie’s ghost and four other dead girls, she goes on the search for Billie’s killer. However, Thera doesn’t always know how far is too far. Will she put herself in danger to find justice for her friend?

I loved it being set in 1999. I could totally relate to many of the things that Thera was talking about! It was so nostalgic, which I absolutely loved. Dead Girls is written from Thera’s point of view. Thera is 11 and I think Abigail Tarttelin got Thera’s voice spot on. It’s clear that Abigail is a fantastic writer because it’s no easy task to write from an 11 year old’s point of view and not make you want to tear your hair out with frustration! Reading Thera’s thoughts was tiring at times (but in a good way, it was totally realistic). I wanted to jump into the story and stop her from making silly mistakes. I wanted to protect her. I honestly cringed at some of the things she did, but I think it was believable.

The ending of this book is incredible. It’s one you don’t want to know much about because it would totally ruin the story. I certainly didn’t see it coming.

This book might not be an easy read, but I found it to be incredibly gripping, thought-provoking, emotional and intense. Just be aware of the tough subject matter before you go into reading it.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Golden Boy, it was still a highly addictive, well written read!

Little Darlings

Little Darlings

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to HQ

Synopsis:

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about Little Darlings. I do think it’s one that’s going to be everywhere soon though and deservedly so! Even though it took me longer to read than I wanted it to (super busy teacher here!) if I had the time, I could’ve devoured it easily in one sitting. It’s gripping, creepy and so, so easy to read.

It centres around Lauren Tranter who has recently had twins. She’s understandably exhausted but she’s not going mad. Everyone around her thinks that she is, because they believe she imagined a woman trying to exchange her twins for…creatures. Lauren is certain that the woman was there and won’t let it go. After a month or so, Lauren’s babies (Morgan and Riley) disappear from Lauren’s side as she falls asleep. After a while, the babies are returned to Lauren, but although they may look like Morgan and Riley… Lauren is insistent that they certainly aren’t. She is determined to get her real children back, no matter what it takes.

This book is so incredibly well written. It’s astounding to me that this is a debut. It’s so creepy. I was seriously freaked out every single time changelings were mentioned. Honestly, there are some moments in the story that sent a shiver down my spine. I would’ve loved to have filmed my reaction to reading this book as I’m pretty sure I made some very expressive faces. I imagine I looked like this at many points:

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lauren was a wonderful unreliable narrator. Did she really see what she did? Was she mentally ill? Her husband seemed super shady. I just didn’t trust anyone. It was really interesting to read the police procedural element to this story. Harper was a fantastic addition to the story and I felt like she really pushed the story on.

Being a fan of the fairy tale, I adored the dark nature of this story. Changelings are terrifying. I was so impressed with this debut.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A cracking debut novel! I’m so impressed and look forward to more from Melanie Golding!