Book Reviews

The Kissing Booth 2: Going the Distance by Beth Reekles

So, if you had a Netflix account back in the summer of 2018, you may have heard of a little film called ‘The Kissing Booth’. However, this film quickly gained a reputation as the film based on that Wattpad book. (For those of you who don’t know Wattpad is a storyteller platform where you can write and read stories for free.) ‘The Kissing Booth’ was originally written back in 2011 when the author was 16), and it accumulated 19 million reads and as a result the author was offered a publishing deal. So, even before the Netflix film the book was kind of a big deal. 

Anyway, the sequel to the film dropped on Netflix the other day, and against my better judgement decided to watch that film. (Just an FYI don’t watch YouTubers react to films until after you’ve watched the film.) I honestly didn’t like the film, but I was curious to see how it compared with the book.

Before I continue I’d just like to point out that this wasn’t written when the author was sixteen and I don’t think it was published exclusively on Wattpad. So, I’m pretty sure it’s not classified as a ‘Wattpad book’. 

This book is very different from the film, and I actually liked it much to my surprise. Similarly to the movie the book picks up the summer after the first film, Noah is off to college, and Lee and Elle are finishing their senior year. Elle also spends a good deal of both the book and movie worrying that Noah is cheating on her, and they both introduce another potential love interest for Elle in the form of Levi/ Marco (because who doesn’t love a teen love triangle?) Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view that’s where the similarities end.

The book feels a lot more grounded than the film which focuses heavily on Elle wanting to go to Harvard and entering a Dance Dance Revolution competition to win money to go to college.

So, I think the biggest problem that people have with both the book and the movie is that Elle and Lee act really immature. Elle is convinced Noah is cheating her, and even though he assures her he isn’t she doesn’t believe him. First of all Noah should’ve been honest with her, but also Elle is still a teenager, this is her first relationship and Noah was a player in the first book. Does this give her a free pass for being jealous? No, but it does make her a realistic teenager. I still don’t get why Noah didn’t tell her the truth, even if it is embarrassing you don’t just keep secrets like that.  

Characters.

  • I really liked the introduction of Levi, I really loved the fact that he was given a backstory and more depth, it made him feel like a real character as opposed to a one-dimensional character introduced with the sole purpose of adding drama. I really liked his sister as well, the scenes where he and Elle were babysitting her were adorable. 
  • I also liked Chloe, she was insufferably optimistic. However, considering she was British she didn’t talk about tea nearly enough. I hope she is given more of a backstory in the next book. 
  • One problem I have is that I think Elle as a character was pretty bland, I finished the book yesterday but I can’t think of anything that makes her stand out from other YA protagonists. At some point Elle says she’s on the track team, but this barely gets mentioned. However, I and I imagine a lot of other readers can relate to Elle’s struggle over what colleges to apply for and what to major/ minor in. 

One of my biggest pet peeves of this book is how the book basically skips from Thanksgiving to graduation which seems like an odd choice. Was there really no drama for the rest of the school year?! 

Overall, I give this novel three stars, I enjoyed it and I don’t regret my impulse decision to buy it, however I found Elle to be quite a bland protagonist and the story to be quite forgettable, it was an enjoyable summer read though! And it was great to see how much the author has evolved as a writer.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Book Reviews

Read with Pride by Lucy Powrie

If I ever got the chance to put a YA book on a school reading list it would have to be ‘Read with Pride’. ‘Read with Pride’ is the second book in the Paper and Hearts Society. It is an incredibly important book focusing on the discrimination faced by people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and the balancing act of school and social during GCSEs.

However, if you haven’t already heard of ‘The Paper and Hearts Society’, you can find out more about the first book by clicking here . If you haven’t read the first book, you can still read this book, although I highly recommend reading that first to get the full experience. 

Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented. Synopsis taken from Goodreads, click here to find out more. 

First of all, Olivia is by far my favourite character in the first book, so I couldn’t wait to read a whole book narrated by her! Her entire personality is the complete opposite of around 95% of YA female protagonists, she’s extroverted, loves school and enjoys parties. Personally, I found that her character was a breath of fresh air, and I enjoyed this vastly different perspective.

Secondally, the main character is demisexual (which is a subdivision of asexuality), I’ve always felt like the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ is vastly underrepresented in the media. One thing this book does really well is the inclusivity within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

I loved the plot, I loved how Olivia wasn’t afraid to make a difference, and was brave enough to stand up for her beliefs. This book introduces a number of new characters all of which I adored, and I really appreciated how much representation was packed into this relatively small YA book. My only gripe was that I felt like there were too many characters for my liking (or maybe it was just the combination of the characters from the first book and the new characters). And as a result I found myself forgetting some names in my haste to devour this book. Out of the new characters Rocky, Nell and Saffy were my standout favourites. I do wish we could have seen more of the original Paper and Hearts Society gang though! 

One part of the book that really resonated with me was the overwhelming pressure of GCSEs and the anxiety that comes with that. GCSEs are an incredibly stressful period of any teenager’s life, and while it’s probably not the most interesting plot point, it’s an important one. Anxiety and stress is something we’ve all faced at some point or another. 

Overall, I would give this book 5/5 stars, I really enjoyed it, my biggest problem is that it made me feel really old when reading it! This book is probably catered more towards a younger audience (personally, I’d say young teens), but it’s definitely worth reading, especially if you (like me) want to see more inclusivity in books!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Book Reviews

Every Little Piece of my Heart by Non Pratt

‘Every Little Piece of my Heart’ is the first novel that I’ve read by Non Pratt (well aside from Floored which was co-written by seven different authors). And, after reading this I will be keeping an eye out for more of her books in the future. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-arc copy of this book! 

When Sophie receives a parcel from her best friend, Freya, she expects it to contain the reason why Freya left town so suddenly, without goodbyes and without explanation. Instead, she finds a letter addressed to Win, a girl Freya barely knew – or did she? As more letters arrive for more people on the periphery of Freya’s life, Sophie and Win begin to piece together who Freya was and why she left. Sometimes it’s not about who’s gone, but about who they leave behind (from Goodreads).

First of all this gave me serious ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ vibes, I found the characterization of Freya to be very similar to Suzanne from that book. However, despite the fact that the plot is engineered by her, the main focus is on the four people she left behind. All four characters are incredibly complex and each provides valuable insight into Freya’s life. Through these characters we as the readers are able to build up a picture of Freya without actually meeting her.  

So, without further ado let’s get onto the characters: 

  • Sophie. Out of all the characters I definitely have a soft spot for Sophie. Sophie has lupus (a long-term condition causing inflammation to the joints, skins and other organs). Considering I hadn’t heard of it before this book, it was described perfectly throughout the book, providing the readers with enough detail that they don’t have to look it up. Throughout the book you can feel Sophie’s pain, not just because of her lupus but because she was abandoned by her best friend. 
  • Win. Win was definitely my favourite character, I absolutely adored her relationship with her younger sister, and all the Marvel references! 
  • Lucas. Lucas, like all the characters, is incredibly complex, and probably for me at least the most relatable. His story arc revolves around him pretending to be two different people to try and fit in, which I think is something we’ve all done at one point or another. 
  • Sunny. I loved Sunny, she may be my all-time favourite little sister in YA fiction! If you were to read this book for Sunny alone I wouldn’t blame you. 
  • Ryan. Ryan was the one character I had a hard time relating to, whether that was because I was too invested in the other main characters to really care or because he was introduced so late in the book I don’t know. However, I did enjoy his character arc. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book, I loved the representation of chronic illnesses, and the LGBT representation. The diversity doesn’t feel shoehorned in and it just feels effortless. I also appreciated how you can see from the foreword how much thought and care has gone into creating these characters. 

The characters were also so complex, and it was really interesting to read from the perspective of four very different people. The book takes four cookie cutter characters: the popular girl, the jock, the nerd and the outcast and throughout the story they are given more depth, highlighting the fact that people aren’t always as clear-cut as they initially appear. Overall, I’d give this novel 4 stars, and I can’t wait to read more of Non Pratt’s work in the future.This is definitely a book to keep an eye out for when it is published in August!

Also, does anyone know which part Non Pratt wrote in ‘Floored’? I have a sneaking suspicion I know what part she wrote but I’m not 100% sure. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Book Tags

The Stay at Home Book Tag

Hey, everyone, hope everyone is having a good morning/ afternoon/ evening wherever you are in the world. 

So, last week (or two weeks ago- I have officially lost all track of time) I did the cake flavoured book tag, and that was really fun! Unfortunately, I’ve not been tagged in anything else but then I got a lovely comment reminding me that I had been unofficially tagged in the stay at home book tag. And, since I’ve fallen off the radar with posts recently it seemed like the perfect time to do it (well that and the fact that we’re all stuck at home). 

Laying in Bed – A Book I Read in a Day.

There aren’t too many books I’ve read in a day, although there’s lots of books that I’ll start reading and then end up reading half of it in one sitting! (I’m looking at you Birthday by Meredith Russo and Eliza and Her Monsters). But one book I did read in one sitting was the English translation of Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez. You can read my (overwhelmingly positive) review of this book here. 

Snacking – A Book That is My Guilty Pleasure.

Definitely Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. I must’ve read this years ago, and even though I’ve read a lot of her books and most of her books feel quite samey, this book is definitely my guilty pleasure. I love the story and the characters, and while it does cover some difficult topics, it’s still quite a lighthearted read.

Netflix – A Series I Want to Start.

Bookwise I would really like to read the Throne of Glass series or the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. I have the first book of both series so I don’t really have an excuse!

What series would you recommend reading first?

TV series wise I really need to watch either His Dark Materials (which I finally finished reading the first book in the trilogy) or the Alex Rider series. As a long time fan of the Alex Rider series, I’m really excited to see what the new series is like! Especially as it’s based on the second book in the series which was always my favourite. 

Deep Clean – A Book That Has Been on My TBR List For Ages.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I bought this book a couple of years ago just before I went on holiday, and I still haven’t got around to reading it.

Animal Crossing – A Book I Bought Because of the Hype.

Daisy Jones and the Six, I picked this up a couple of months ago because of the hype surrounding but I’ve yet to read it. But since lockdown has provided me with the perfect excuse to read more maybe I’ll get around to it soon!

Productivity- A Book That I Have Learnt From/ Impacted Me.

Oooh that’s hard. Again I’m probably going to have to go with Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez. (Am I allowed to use the same book twice?) 

The main character has high functioning autism, and as someone who lives with someone with high functioning autism, I thought this was a really helpful and insightful glimpse into what’s going into their brain.

FaceTime – A Book I Was Gifted.

TL:DR; I read a lot (as you might have guessed) and so people don’t tend to buy me books unless I:

  1. Won’t shut up about how good the author is.
  2. Specifically ask for it. 

But one book that doesn’t fall into either of those categories is Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. A couple of months ago before receiving this book I had been debating about whether or not to pick up this book before ultimately deciding not to. To say I was thrilled when I got this book would be an understatement, and this book definitely lived up to my expectations.

Self Care – One Thing I’ve Done to Look After Myself.

Read more! I definitely feel like I’ve been reading more during lockdown, but also I’ve really enjoyed colouring, I personally find it really relaxing.

So, there you have it! Feel free to consider yourself unofficially tagged! I’d love to read everyone’s answers. 

Book Tags

The Cake Flavoured Book Tag

So, after four years (I think?), I’ve been tagged in my first book tag! I don’t know about you but even though book tags look fun, I always feel way too awkward just writing a post without being tagged! So thanks Jess from the Eternal Library for the tag.

Chocolate- A dark book that you loved.

TL:DR; I don’t tend to read horrors or any books with “darker” themes, but I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I fell in love with the world, and I loved the stylistic choice of having the images woven in the story.

Vanilla- Favourite light read. 

This is probably the hardest category for me, since I read so many contemporaries! But I think my recent favourite would have to be What if it’s us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. I quickly become very attached to both Arthur and Ben, and this book resulted in me falling down the rabbit hole of Becky Albertalli’s books!

What if it's us book cover
Red Velvet- A book that gave you mixed emotions.

TL:DR; Part of the reason why I ended up picking up “What if it’s us” is because the title is a reference to one of my favourite songs from the musical “Dear Evan Hansen”, so it should come as no shock to you that I ended up reading Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt. I wanted to love this book so badly. However, even though I loved the glimpse of what happens behind the curtain, I had a hard time connecting with the characters.

theatrical book cover
Cheesecake- A book that you’d recommend to everyone.

Everyone needs to read Are we all Lemmings & Snowflakes by Holly Bourne, and that’s the tea. Bonus points if you read it while eating cheesecake!

In all seriousness though, I loved this book and like all Holly Bourne books I fell in love with the characters, and I loved the representation of mental illnesses in this book.

are we all lemmings and snowflakes book cover
Coffee- A book that you started but never finished.

Forget about the book you never finished, who would leave a coffee cake unfinished?! Like a lot of people I try my hardest not to leave books (& cakes) left unfinished! But like all best intentions there are always some exceptions and for me this is Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus.

I really enjoyed One of Us is Lying, and more recently One of Us is Next. However, for some reason I couldn’t get into Two Can Keep a Secret. Although, I’ve just read a glowing review, so maybe it’s time to give it another go.

two can keep a secret book cover
Carrot- A book with great writing.

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I fell in love with the writing of this book, and I loved reading both about Eliza and her webcomic “Monstorous Sea”. This novel also tackles themes such as stress & anxiety really well.

eliza and her monsters book cover

And that concludes my picks for the “Cake Flavoured Book Tag”, I tag Rebecca at Big Books and Hot Chocolates , Val at Behind that Story and Chiara at Heavenly Bookish . And, even if I haven’t tagged you, feel free just to join in!

Book Reviews

Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez

“The challenges she faces remain the same, but her perception of them has changed: Not only has she learned to know and love herself, but she has also developed critical opinions on the ways difference is pathologized.”

Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez was my first venture into the world of graphic novels, and I can honestly say that it’s a genre I definitely want to read more of in the future. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. 

Invisible Differences is the English translation of La Différence invisible and it follows the day to day life of Marguerite, who over the course of the novel learns that she has Asperger’s. This graphic novel documents her journey to both learning to love herself and better understanding herself. 

Side note: In this review I will be using the terms high-functioning autism and Asperger’s interchangeably (both are the same thing except that high-functioning autism is not a formally recognised condition but you can read more about that here). 

So, when I saw this on Netgalley, I knew I had to get it. Both my partner and some of my good friends have high-functioning autism. Over the years I have picked up on some characteristics that they share, asked a lot of questions and browsed the web for more information. However, the one thing that I’ve always felt was sorely lacking was the representation of autism in the media, so of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to request this book.

I loved the plot, it’s quite a simplistic plot with the focus being on the main character and her journey. The main character felt very real and relatable. Her traits are highlighted and her struggles are clearly outlined. Throughout the book I just wanted to climb into the book and hug Marguerite.

This also addresses the problem where people don’t believe you are autistic because you don’t have a certain trait. Originally, Marguerite is told that she isn’t autistic because she can make eye contact with people. While not being able to make eye contact is quite common, this doesn’t necessarily apply to every autistic person. 

Another thing I really loved is the awareness of different experiences, everyone’s experiences are slightly different and no two experiences are the same. I know some people who were diagnosed as a kid, but others where it didn’t get noticed until adulthood. It’s nice to see those different experiences mentioned in this book if only for a page or two. 

There’s also a page dedicated to what people say about autistic people which I think was an eye opener for me. Even though I knew people say these things “I heard it was tied to vaccines” or “deep down aren’t we all a little autistic?” Reading them out loud made me realise how harsh people can be about things they don’t necessarily understand. 

I also found the “spoon theory” really interesting, if like me you haven’t heard of it until now, it describes the idea of having limited energy (or “spoons”), and ranking activities by how many “spoons” they require. Once a person has used up all their spoons, they will then need to recharge before performing any new tasks. 

Other than the plot, the first thing that drew me to this book was the art style. I loved the art style of this book, I loved how colour was used to draw attention to a particular part of the page. 

Overall, I’d give this novel five stars I really enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it whether you’re autistic or not. Definitely a book to keep an eye out for when it gets released in August! 

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Character Inspired Outfits

Hope Parker from Theatrical.

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all having a wonderful day wherever you are in the world. It’s been a while since I last created an outfit, but over the weekend I went on an outfit creating spree. So, here is a Theatrical inspired outfit which takes inspiration from Hope’s technical rehearsal costume blunder.

You can read more about ‘Theatrical’ by Maggie Harcourt by clicking here for the Goodreads synopsis.