Review: Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

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Genre: YA, contemporary

Publication Date: February 25th 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Format: eARC from Pan Macmillan via Netgalley

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

(From goodreads.com)


I really enjoyed this book, I’m saying it now. I’ve since read Sara Barnard’s second book and loved that probably even more. It focuses on friendship and trauma and family and it really was a great read. Not that it doesn’t have problems, but it was really difficult to put down.

The principle problem I had with this book was Caddy. Honestly, this would probably have been a five star book without her. I understand unlikeable characters, such as Suzanne’s aunt (others may disagree with me here but her seeing Suzanne as a burden was just cruel after all she’d been through), but Caddy was ridiculous in some parts. She’s jealous of her best friend Rosie and her sister Tarin because her Rosie lost her baby sister when she was younger and Tarin is bipolar. I just cannot fathom how someone can be jealous of either of these things – she wants to be interesting, fine, but does she honestly want either of these things to happen to her? Really?!

Caddy is just selfish and shallow, she provokes Suzanne despite having researched what triggers mean and knowing that she will hurt her. I know there are people in the world who would act that way but I’d bet that they’re in general not nice people, but Caddy is portrayed throughout as a decent human being. It’s kind of confusing. Basically she’s jealous of Suzanne, jealous that Rosie has a new friend, jealous that Suzanne has had something happen to her in her life, regardless of the pain and upheaval it has resulted in. In short, she’s just jealous.

On the other hand, I loved the characters of Rosie and Suzanne, the latter in particular. Suzanne’s story was heartbreaking and painful and about recovery and it was so much more interesting that the main storyline. (Caddy’s life goal was to get a boyfriend. No, she’s not twelve). Rosie was a great character too, a little simple at times, but I felt that it was just the way she is; seeing the good in everything and wanting to do the best for everyone.

So much was happening in this book, with everything linking in places, but I found that I didn’t get confused. Barnard is such a wonderful writer and it was such a compelling read – I just wanted to read on and on and on, regardless of whatever stupid thing Caddy said or thought. It was genuinely such an enjoyable book and I was dragged in by the plot and its fast pace. I’d highly recommend this to any lover of contemporary YA, and Barnard has definitely become an auto-buy author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.

Review: Silence is Goldfish – Annabel Pitcher

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Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publication Date: October 1st 2015 by Orion Children’s Books

Format: eARC Hachette Children’s Group from via Netgalley

My name is Tess Turner – at least, that’s what I’ve always been told.

I have a voice but it isn’t mine. It used to say things so I’d fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn’t. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren’t the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

Tessie-T has never really felt she fitted in and after what she read that night on her father’s blog she knows for certain that she never will. How she deals with her discovery makes an entirely riveting, heart-breaking story told through Tess’s eyes as she tries to find her place in the world.

(from goodreads.com)


Annabel Pitcher is one of those authors that I cannot make my mind up about. I adored her first novel, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece (it was one of the first books I reviewed on my blog!) but disliked her second book Ketchup Clouds. I hoped that this would swing me in one direction or the other, but it fell squarely in the middle.

Tess is a teenager, and acts in the normal way that you would expect a teenager to act. She’s just discovered something devastating and obviously she reacts badly to it – anyone would. However it was the writing of this book I struggled with. Tess is a teenager, as I’ve said, but it read as though she were younger, and as a result I struggled with this. Her conversations with ‘Mr. Goldfish’ were juvenile – I know her conversing with a torch is supposed to highlight her isolation, but it was the actual ‘discussions’ that they had which were problematic for me.

The character of Tess was one that I didn’t find myself particularly attached to, either. In fact, I found the side characters (particularly Isabel) to be more interesting. I felt as though Pitcher had tried to include more facts about Tess, but they weren’t really clear and it was difficult to picture her (I recall some mention of her weight, but it wasn’t really developed so I’m not too sure). She was shallow and rash, making impulsive and stupid decisions, again understandable following terrible news, but some of her actions were just unnecessary and I found myself being irritated rather than intrigued.

Then there is the whole sub-plot regarding Mr. Richardson which I felt was just included to make a bit more happen in the book and to up the word count. Whilst it does work in the story, I felt that nothing would truly have been lost if it wasn’t there. Maybe that’s just me though.

However, it was still a cute read and I will be picking up more books by Annabel Pitcher in the hope something will wow me as much as her first book did. It was quick, different and fun, though a little too juvenile for a teenage narrator and I think Pitcher’s style definitely suits a younger character. I would recommend this book, as it portrays the feeling of isolation extremely well and the effect that not knowing who you truly are can have on a person. I did enjoy this book at the end of the day, despite the fact that I’ve focused on the problems that I had with it. The plot was interesting and I did like the majority of the characters – which can make or break a book for me – and it honestly was a pleasant read. Not my favourite of hers, but if you were thinking of reading it, I’d encourage you to pick it up.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars.

Ten Writing Prompts

As part of my creative writing course, we had to create our own writing prompts. I felt pretty proud of mine, so I thought I’d share them with you!

  1. In a public place, create a story from the first thing you hear someone say.
  2. Avoid using punctuation (except that which changes the word, like an apostrophe).
  3. Write a conversation without direct speech.
  4. Look on your local ‘buy and sell’ page, write something about an item listed.
  5. Write about what frustrates you.
  6. Create a menu without naming any foods.
  7. Pick an emotion and describe it. Once done, write it again, but opposite (i.e. if your chosen emotion was negative, then the rewrite will be positive).
  8. Write about something human that you can’t see, e.g. electricity, wi-fi.
  9. Find an old Facebook post. Write as you did then.
  10. Make the most boring thing you can think of interesting.

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Finally have a picture that I took at uni as a prompt!

Review: Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

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Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015 by Quercus Books

Format: eARC from Quercus Books via Netgalley

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes… 

(From goodreads.com)


This is an important book, no question about it. It holds an important message and focuses on a crucial issue in today’s society. Too many stories have been in the news where a criminal – rapist – gets away with his crime simply because he is “promising” in a certain field.

I’m not going to lie, I did at one point want to stop reading, and if I hadn’t been reading it as part of a book club then it’s likely that I would have done. I’m glad I finished it, as it is such an important book and I do feel as though it should be read, but the main character (Emma) is just so unlikeable. I know this is probably deliberate so that it puts the focus entirely on how she is treated (I mean if she were likeable I know I would have felt sorry for her just because she was nice and people were a bit mean), especially considering the vile way people react to everything that happens. I don’t know, all of the characters being truly vile just made it a difficult read, and not because of the subject matter.

This was a gritty portrayal of rape and the effect it can have, there was nothing ‘nice’ or ‘fluffy’ about it, which was fantastic to see. We see the long and short term effects and how Emma and her family deal with the events and this is why I believe this book to be so important. I have read a couple of books that focus on rape, but none were as hard-hitting, and honest, as this one. It lives up to so many true stories of rape, and obviously these don’t cover everyone and their experience, the true stories I’ve heard are all I (fortunately) have to compare it to. I don’t know how a victim would feel about the portrayal in this book, but a lot of people have praised O’Neill’s depiction, and I hope that counts for something.

I enjoyed the writing in this book too, it was fast paced and interesting. The plot was brilliant, there were so many finely thought-out details which were really well incorporated into the story and worked very well overall. The way the media was brought in – as well as doctors and therapists – really shone a light on all sides of the story and thus highlighted every aspect of Emma’s ordeal and suffering. This made it a difficult read at times, due to some of the things that the characters would say or do, but that’s life and what makes this book so great – you have to face up to these views.

Overall the main issue that I had with this book was definitely the characters as a whole. I couldn’t stand any of them, and I’ve said previously on my blog that if I don’t like the characters I do struggle to like the whole book. However, the way that O’Neill addresses the issue (and crime) of rape, highlights all of the injustice in society, and the struggle that the victim has long after the event truly makes this book a must-read for everyone.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.

Review: You and Me, Always – Jill Mansell

NOTE: Before you read this review, please be aware that my mum is reviewing this book. I have not read it myself. However, if anyone has any questions I will get her to reply to them etc. I just wanted to make it clear that this is not my review as this type of book is not something I would typically pick up and enjoy (I’d find it way too annoying), so I felt it would be more honest to have someone who genuinely enjoys her writing give the book a review. I have edited it slightly, though my edits in no way change what is being said. This also accounts for the lack of a star rating, as it wouldn’t fit in with my own anyway.

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Genre: Romance, Chick Lit

Publication Date: January 28th 2016 by Headline Review

Format: Hardcover sent to me for review by Headline Review via Bookbridgr

On the morning of Lily’s twenty-fifth birthday, it’s time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum’s life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie’s attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily’s friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again…

(From Goodreads.com)


I read the latest Jill Mansell novel eagerly and with ease. Having read all of Jill’s previous novels I knew exactly what to expect and wasn’t disappointed.

The main characters are introduced in the first few pages and follow the pattern of those in previous novels : sweet, pretty girl meets handsome, young guy who is made out to be reckless and overconfident but who you know will turn out to be her perfect Mr. Right. (Please don’t tell me this is a spoiler when it’s the basic plot of every single chick lit / romance novel ever written). Other characters are introduced along the way; the usual mix of the ‘too good to be true’ and the ‘blindingly obviously bad’.  The location is idyllic; a quaint little countryside village that is the typical romantic setting. The humour, though not funny enough to make you laugh out loud, is gentle and amusing and will make you smile.  All intertwine to create an enjoyable journey for the reader.

On the minus side, there is nothing to set this apart from any of Jill Mansell’s previous novels. It follows the same pattern and has the same predictable outcome. On the plus side though, the story flows well and the characters develop in a way that can’t help but make you like them, even if you do end up wanting to shout, “why don’t you just talk to one another!”. There’s nothing dark or sinister to give you nightmares and the characters are generally likeable. The twists and turns, although expected, are entertaining. The plot is simple, yet enjoyable.

To sum it up, “You And Me, Always” is sweet, fluffy and utterly predictable but enjoyable nonetheless. A perfect summer read.

Review: Finding Hope – Colleen Nelson

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Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publication Date: 19th March 2016 by Dundurn

Format: ebook sent to me for review by Dundurn via Netgalley

Hope lives in a small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go. With a drug addict for a brother, she focuses on the only thing that keeps her sane, writing poetry. To escape, she jumps at the chance to attend Ravenhurst Academy as a boarding student. She’ll even put up with the clique-ish Ravens if it means making a fresh start.

At first, Ravenhurst is better than Hope could have dreamed. She has a boyfriend and a cool roommate, and she might finally have found a place she can fit in. But can she trust her online boyfriend? And what can she do after her brother shows up at the school gates, desperate for help, and the Ravens turn on her? Trapped and unsure, Hope realizes that if she wants to save her brother, she has to save herself first.

(From Goodreads.com)


Whether or not this is a truly accurate depiction of drug addiction and the problems that come with it is not something I can comment on. I understand as well that this is one representation of the effects, and that different people will have different problems in their lives as a result of addiction. However, I did enjoy this book and hope for its sake that it is well portrayed, as it felt that way.

I loved how this story focused in particular on the family, and the effects that addiction can have on the other members. It was an interesting take, as many presentations of drug problems focus (understandably) on the addicts themselves, whereas it was good to read something different. I haven’t read a huge number of books that focus on drug problems (I do think I have plenty on my shelves, I just haven’t picked them up), especially in YA, so it was good to see this problem, which is fairly common among young people, the main focus of the book.

Hope was a little annoying throughout, and makes some pretty bad decisions, but overall I liked her for the way she tries to help her brother. As I mentioned, there is a really strong focus on family which is always great to read about. It was mostly her behaviour / actions at school that irked me as they were reckless and downright stupid at times, and they also felt rather unnecessary.

Eric’s parts were heartbreaking and as I was reading them I just felt terrible for him. It really highlights how some people struggle behind closed doors – how terrible things can happen to them – and never say anything. Eric is clearly not a bad character, in spite of the way his parents treat him, and it is awful to think that there are people in Eric’s position without anyone to turn to, who don’t have a Hope in their life.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It wasn’t my favourite, but that doesn’t change the fact that I read it very quickly and it dragged me into the plot. There were so many things happening in the characters’ lives it made for a fairly fast read, with a sprinkling of romance to make it a contemporary (of course). It plays on your emotions and was the first take on addiction I’ve read for a while, and I think it does do a great job at highlighting problems that are perhaps not always put into the spotlight, especially regarding Eric, but Hope as well.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars.

June TBR 2017

So… I’m back, this time with a backlog of reviews and post ideas. I’m hopefully going to branch out into a few more (kind of book related) topics, but we’ll see. I want to cover a little more on here too, and perhaps include some writing. Who knows!

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I don’t have a long TBR this month, as I have a fair number of review books that I’d like to get to on kindle, but I can’t decide exactly which ones. I move home from my first year of uni and I have a long weekend in London planned but other than that, not a lot is happening in June; I’m taking each day as it comes!

The Winner’s Crime – Marie Rutkoski

I really want to continue through the series as I’m really enjoying it. I started it not too long ago and I’m looking forward to carrying on.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

I’m a little apprehensive about starting this, due to all of the hype it has, but I want to read it nonetheless.

Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn

This looks so original and interesting, I picked it up not too long ago and can’t wait to read this!

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli 

I only bought this today, but I’ve been wanting to read this for a while.