Lying out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Lying out loud made me want to laugh out loud for two reasons a) I read it as soon as I bought it- which is definitely a first for me since normally books I buy just go straight to the bottom of my TBR list. And b) I bought it despite the fact that I wasn’t overly keen on the other book I had read by the same author.

Lying out loud can either be seen as a standalone novel or a sister novel to ‘the Duff’, you can read it without reading the Duff or after reading the Duff it doesn’t matter. Lying out Loud stars Sonny, Ryder and Amy Rush. For those of you who have read The Duff you may recall that Amy is Wesley’s younger sister (Wesley is the male protagonist of The Duff). And he and Bianca (the protagonist in The Duff) make an appearance later on in the novel. (Which is a nice Easter egg for those of you have already read The Duff.)

Just like the title implies the main character Sonny lies a lot, however unlike what the title implies she doesn’t just lie out loud but online as well. Despite what the title says the mess she gets into in the novel is due to her lying online.

For the majority of the novel I was asking myself the question, why can’t Sonny be honest with everyone? Why is it so hard to tell the truth? Throughout the novel I got really frustrated with Sonny, why couldn’t she just tell the truth?

Also Sonny and Amy’s friendship? Yeah that really annoyed me, it isn’t a really a friendship where one friend allows the other to walk all over them, Amy was a doormat, and most of the time it felt like Sonny didn’t care about her feelings, and worst of all she didn’t really let Amy in and continued to lie to her, despite Amy doing all that she could to help Sonny. Although I did like the character development, and I liked seeing how their characters evolved at the end.

Also side note if your friend is uncomfortable with doing something, don’t make them do it, that’s just a really horrible thing to do. One thing that really irked me during the novel was despite Amy saying that she was uncomfortable with doing what Sonny was asking her to do, Sonny doesn’t listen and instead says ‘it’s only for a little bit longer’ throughout the novel.

Weirdly enough despite not being overly keen on The Duff when I originally read it, I really enjoyed Bianca and Wesley’s cameo, it definitely gave the book a more light heartened feel with Wesley and Bianca there to lighten the atmosphere.

Also the ending, there was just no closure, while I liked the fact that Sonny was being honest and Amy was being fierce, there wasn’t any closure on what Sonny was going to do after graduation.

Overall I would give this novel 2/5 stars it was a quick light heartened YA contemporary, with a beautiful novel, however I didn’t particularly enjoy the plot and I didn’t really connect with the main characters.

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A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’ by Sara Barnard was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2017, in 2016 I read ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ and it was one of my favourite reads of the year. So when reading ‘A Quiet Kind of Thunder’ I had pretty high expectations, which it met, making it one of my favourite reads of 2017 so far.

One of the things that attracted me this book was the beautiful cover which was simply mesmerzing (I’m also very guilty of buying books because they have a pretty cover). But this book is so much more than a beautiful cover, it’s a beautiful love story as well.

The novel opens up with a paragraph on the difference between social anxiety, shyness and introvert, and I think that it’s important that people are aware of the difference between these things; they are not all the same thing! I’m an introvert and quite shy but I don’t have social anxiety. Just because you are an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy and vice versa.

The main character is Steffi, who suffers from selective mutism, and the other main character is Rhys who is deaf. Steffi’s anxiety is portrayed well, and I liked how her recovery wasn’t down to the male protagonist; there are other factors that lead to her getting better.

I loved both Steffi and Rhys (even if Steffi does want to go to Bangor university) and I felt like Steffi’s selective mutism and Rhys’ deafness was portrayed really well and really positively. Yes, Steffi and Rhys have trouble communicating at first due to Steffi only knowing a bit of BSL, but they make use of notes and social media to communicate.

Unlike ‘Beautiful Broken Things’ this novel is a love story, and the love story itself is so adorable and awkward. The awkwardness is one of the things I love about how UKYA; how awkward and realistic love stories can be.

However despite this novel being a love story that’s not the be all and end all, there a lot of other sub-plots in the novel; Steffi really wants to go to University but her parents are worried that she won’t cope. And of course similarly to Beautiful Broken Things there is a great friendship between Steffi and her best friend.

Overall I’d give this novel 5/5 stars, it is by far one of my favourite reads of 2017, and I’d highly recommend it to someone who’s looking for a YA romance with a deeper plot than just two characters meeting and falling in love.

We are all made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

‘We are all made of Molecules’ was one of the books that I wanted to read for a long time but when it came to seeing it in bookstores there was always some other book that I wanted to buy more (*cough* generally books by Holly Bourne or Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison).  I’d heard a lot about it so when I saw it in the library I simply had to borrow it.

And let me tell you, when I started it I couldn’t put it down.

If you’ve ever wanted to read a book where the main characters resemble a teenage Penny and Leonard from the Big Bang Theory then this is the book for you. (Although unlike Penny and Leonard, the main characters are step-siblings so there’s no romance).

The book is written in two perspectives, on one hand you have the Stewart, he’s academically brilliant but socially clueless and on the other hand you have Ashley, the ‘it’ girl. Their worlds collide when Ashley’s mum and Stewart’s dad start living together.

One thing I will say about this book is that it had a lot going on (perhaps too much going on?) Stewart is still dealing with his mother’s death, Ashley is still coming to terms with her dad being gay, Stewart is going to a regular high school after going to a gifted school; and he gets bullied and Ashley gets into a tricky situation with the most popular boy  in a school. Needless to say a lot happens, and while a lot of it is covered well I think there a bit too much going on.

I really liked the idea of having two characters, who are complete opposites. I didn’t particularly care for Ashley’s character (for me she was far too much of a stereotypical it girl). I really liked Stewart’s character, and I liked the fact that despite how small he was, he wasn’t afraid to stand up for Ashley.

After all sometimes it’s far easier to stand up for others than it is for yourself.

I also liked the fact that you had two opposite ends of the spectrum, on the one hand you have Stewart is happy for his dad, but then you have Ashley who is still very bitter about her parents divorce. I also liked the fact that during the novel Ashley was able to move on and accept Stewart and his dad as family.

Overall I’d give this novel 4/5 stars, it was a highly enjoyable read but I found that there was a bit too much going on in some areas.

Bridesmaid Lotto by Rachel Astor

Do you ever have those days when you just want to read a lighthearted romance? Well I definitely got more than what I bargained for when I was reading ‘Bridesmaid Lotto’, it definitely is a lighthearted read, however whilst I wanted a lighthearted romance I would’ve liked some depth in the actual story. (Although considering it’s labelled as a romance there’s surprisingly little romance in it).

The plot is simple but interesting and intriguing; some celebrity couple is hosting a competition that will give four girls the opportunity of a life time; to be a bridesmaid for this a-list celebrity couple. And the brother of the bride just happens to be a super famous celebrity.

Obviously (because this book is very cliche) our main character doesn’t want to enter the competition but her name is put down anyway by her pushy mother, and she ends up becoming a bridesmaid and falling in love with the super famous celebrity and they live happily every after. The end.

First of all whilst I liked the plot it reminded me a bit too much of ‘The Selection’ series by Keira Cass. However my biggest issue is that I couldn’t really connect to any other the characters, none of them stood out to me.

First off you have the main character Josie; you’re stereotypical main character, who complains about her mother and didn’t want to be in this competition (although she seems to enjoy it for the most part). The stereotypically gay best friend (I kind of pictured Matty as Kurt from Glee), and for the other bridesmaids you had the snobby model who looks down on everyone and the country girl who doesn’t stop talking. (Although I was surprised because I thought Jennifer- one of the other bridesmaids was going to be secretly evil but she wasn’t which was actually kind of disappointing.).

Also, although there were some hurdles in the plot, each hurdle seemed to get resolved way too easily, and it seems like although things look bad for the main character, this only seems to last for a few pages and then gets resolved and later forgotten about. I would’ve liked to read about how the main character Josie felt when the paparazzi invaded her life. I think that would’ve helped me understood her character better.

Don’t even get me started at what happened at the end (which I won’t actually say for fear of spoiling anything). I just think we could’ve had some explanation as why it happened (although I guess that’s how they get people to the next book). Since, honestly it seemed like the author was creating unnecessary tension and it seemed out of character, I would’ve liked some explanation as to why the character did what they did.

Overall I would give this book 2/5 out of five, I enjoyed the plot, but I would’ve liked to have seen more romance which when it was included seemed rushed. Whilst it was a quick, easy and lighthearted read I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

The 12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What’s the best thing to reassuring July? Well obviously a book set during a Christmas! So without further ado here is my review of ‘The 12 Days of Dash and Lily” by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.

If you have been following this book for a while you’ll know that I often have mixed feelings on books with two authors. On one hand there are some books such as “Lobsters” by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison that I love, whilst other books with two authors I will struggle to get into because I connect better with one character.

I found that both narratives sounded quite similar (there were a couple of times where I had to check the title to see who was narrating the chapter). However I struggled to connect with both the characters (but I think this could have something to do with it being the second book in the series). Pro tip: always start on the first book in the series!

While I understood and sympathised with what Lily was going through, I wish it had been handled differently and I wished that she had realised that running away is not the answer. Sometimes we need other people to help us and we need to let people in. 

Even though I wasn’t overly found of Lily mainly because her whining annoyed me (even though I did feel sorry for her), I liked Dash. And I found it sweet when the two of them made plans for each other (even when they didn’t go too plan)! I think I would’ve preferred it if this book had more of a lighthearted, Christmassy feel to it.

I also thought that there was a lot of uneccessary drama added in to give the book a more lighthearted and Christmassy feel but I felt like this took away from the actual storyline of what Lily was going through. (I also felt like it wasn’t nearly long enough!) 

Overall I’d rate this book 3/5 stars, while I liked the idea of story being set in the 12 days leading up to Christmas, I would’ve the plot to be slightly more Christmassy, since Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! 

(I also failed to realise this was the second book in the series when getting this book from the library, so I’m going to keep an eye out for the first book).

Damage by Eve Ainsworth

Damage by Eve Ainsworth is the second book of hers that I’ve read (the first being Seven Days) so judging by the title and her other novel, I started this book with a small inkling of what to expect. This book is about a girl named Gabi who after dealing with the death of her grandfather turns to self-harm as a way of coping. Like Ainsworth’s other novel, she doesn’t sugar-coat teenage-hood, things don’t instantly get better, but that’s life, and sometimes it takes a while for things to get better.

To date this is the second book that I’ve read on self-harm (the first being ‘The Manifesto on how to be Interesting’ by Holly Bourne), and personally I feel that it’s good that more books are covering the topic of self-harm. So, kudos to Ainsworth for covering such a sensitive topic.

Before I get any further into this review I would strongly caution people against reading this book if they self-harm or if they are in recovery as this book could be slightly triggering.

The book itself, whilst I enjoyed it and appreciate that it’s a difficult topic to write about, was too short and by the end of it I had a lot of unanswered questions, and I would’ve liked to have a deeper insight as to why Gabi self-harmed, and what she and her parents were planning to do to help her at the end of the book. Personally I would’ve preferred if this book had more of a conclusion rather than being open-ended.

Also, another bit of this book that really annoyed me was Gabi’s treatment of her mum, she’s really disrespectful of her mum which really bothered me (and before you all yell at me, I know teenagers can be disrespectful to their parents, but Gabi’s treatment of her mother was horrible), what parent lets her kid get away with yelling and throwing boxes at them? One thing that I would’ve liked to see in the ending was Gabi apologising to her mother, especially when said mother was trying her hardest.

Whilst I thought that Gabi posting on an online forum was a good way to help her cope and talk to people, I felt like it would’ve been worthwhile to include some of the responses in the book. Whilst the responses are mentioned in passing, it would’ve been good to see if the messages helped Gabi. I felt like the idea of including forums but then not showing what impact they had meant that they were under used in the book.

I also wish that this book had been longer, the ending was very open ended and although I think this made sense for the book, I would’ve also liked some closure on some of the things that were only mentioned in passing. I would’ve liked to hear more about Freddie’s family life and Fliss’ backstory however they were only mentioned in passing and by the end of the novel there was no real reason to include it at all.

Final thoughts, overall I would rate this book 3/5 stars, whilst I thought that the subject matter was covered well, I think that due to the length of the book Ainsworth missed the opportunity to include counselling, which in turn would’ve given the readers more closure.

I also thought it was good how they were some links to useful organizations at the back of the book which I will include here:

Young Minds: www.youngminds.org..uk

Harmless: www.harmless.org.uk

The Wish Centre: www.thewishcentre.org.uk

Rethink: www.rethink.org

Mind: www.mind.org.uk

… And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

‘…And a Happy New Year?’ by Holly Bourne

This book made me cry and laugh all at the same time in just over 200 pages. This is the final instalment in the Spinster Club series, and although the series originally finished on a high with ‘What’s a Girl Gotta do?’ This novel was the perfect way to end a brilliant series.

Originally I wasn’t going to buy this book due to it being around £10 for a book that I’d finish in a day, but after it was reduced to half price I couldn’t resist buying it! Even though I did finish reading it the day later!

The novel takes place after Lottie, Amber and Evie have come back home from their first semester of university: as expected everything has changed and so has their friendship. The novel transitions between three different perspectives in the lead up to New Year’s Eve. I thought that this worked really well for this novel, since Lottie, Evie and Amber all have individual worries that they haven’t been able to tell the other’s for whatever reasons. I enjoyed reading both the reasons for keeping secrets and the reactions.

The book is split into sections, each character has a chapter for every hour leading up to midnight. And even though it’s New Year’s Eve nothing (as well all know by now) is perfect. However with the help of each other the girl’s manage to get through the heartbreak and the tears together just as they’ve always done. After all they are the Spinster Club!

This novel dealt with the bitter reality of life; we change, we grow up, we find ourselves drifting apart from the people we once called our best friends. At the beginning of the novel each character is acknowledging the fact that they’ve drifted apart over the past few months. However I liked the fact that they gradually began to open up to each about what had happened over the past few months.

Overall I would rate this book 5/5 stars, a perfect ending for a perfect series, (even though part of me hopes that Holly Bourne will write another novel about them in the future!) So if you’re looking for a YA realistic contemporary then get your cheesy snacks and start reading this novel! In just a few hundred pages you’ll laugh, cry and smile when reading the final instalment of the Spinster Club series.

Also, side note: I’d highly recommend getting the hardback copy of the book since the cover is simply amazing!