Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – Book Review

Title: Red Clocks

Author: Leni Zumas

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Women’s Literature, Political Fiction, Dystopain Fiction


If you’re a fan of dystopian futures and corrupt political scandals, you’ll love Red Clocks. Over the last few months, this book kept reappearing on my Instagram feed (I’m there under a_commuters_bookshelf if you fancy a new book blog to follow) and I could see people comparing it to The Handmaids Tale and The Power. At this moment of time, I haven’t read The Power, but I had just finished the Margaret Atwood classic, so I was eager to read something that had so much praise.

So I loaded up my Kindle, and found it on Amazon.

And instantly I was hooked. zumas_redclocks

Set in a small Oregon town, Red Clocks follows the individual stories of four women. These women live in a world where abortion had recently become a criminal offense (with the idea that at the point of conception, a fetus is a human being, therefore abortion is now murder) and that girls would become jailed if they abort a pregnancy. A ‘Pink Wall’ divides America from abortion-friendly Canada, and crossing the border is, once again, a jailable offense. Also, IVF has recently been banned and that to adopt a child, you’d have to be heterosexual and married.

The reader navigates this new political landscape with four women. We get to see how they struggle and cope with individual issues that are raised with these draconian new law.

We get to see how teenage pregnancy would be navigated, or divorce, or people struggling to conceive naturally.

One of my favourite narrative strands to read was the one of Gin. Call her what you want; whether it be a white witch, a medicine woman or a hermit. But Gin uses natural remedies to fix maladies. She has been known to sort out STI’s, miscarriages, viruses and bruising. But she is also the person that people turn to for secret abortions. And thanks to her medical treatments, she gets subjected to a modern-day witch trial.

Zumas’ writing style really gripped me. It took me a while to get into it, as it was so energetic to read. But what she did with building this not-to-distant America was very subtle. She used each character to highlight certain aspects of how these laws would affect people, and soon a very detailed picture was built up how these laws came to be.

I also found the breakup of different voices good. The characters are given titles; ‘The Wife’, ‘The Biographer’, ‘The Daughter’ and ‘The Mender’ and inbetween these sections, we also get to read snippets of what The Biographer is working on – the account of an Icelandic woman called Eivor, who became one of the key experts on polar ice, but was largely forgotten. These biography chunks distract the reader from the brutalities of dystopian America, but remind us of how women have been oppressed over the years.

I think Red Clocks spoke to me because it was political without being too dry. The topics are very current, and it shows how simple law changes could really screw up what power women have over their own bodies.

I think this is a very important book to read. And so far, I’d consider it the best book I’ve read in 2018.

 

 

The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Book Review

Title: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Author: Melanie Benjamin

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Celebrity, Memoir, Historical Fiction, Women’s Literature, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Fiction


“Babe Paley simply never made an empty gesture, and here she was, assembling a parade of them. But her feet, her hands, her mind, her heart, were all restless. Truman.”

Throughout all my years of being an English student, one author has cropped up time and time again during my studies. His words have always struck a deep emotional chord with me and I would eagerly devour his stories whenever I could. To me, Truman Capote was, and still is, such an enigma in his writing, as he not only invented the idea of the ‘nonfiction novel’, but brought to life the cult favourite of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And it 9780345528698wasn’t just his literary talent that he was praised for, but his flamboyant and very decorated personal life as a social butterfly and celebrity favourite.
So when I was sent The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin to review, I was thrilled.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue focuses on 1950s/60s New York City and author Truman Capote’s life and his relationship with the higher tiers of society. At the peak of the society, women of immense power, money, familial ties and intrigue stand apart from the rest. These are Truman’s ‘swans’, and they represent a world of riches and beauty that Truman desperately wishes to be part of. And at the head of this group, socialite and style icon, Babe Paley is the undisputed queen. Glamourous, elegant and always dressed exquisitely, Babe Paley oozed glamour and sophistication. But beneath the perfect wife and woman façade, Babe Paley is a highly sensitive and passionate individual who craves love and affection that she is not receiving through her perfectly suited, yet loveless marriage. And when Truman Capote sweeps into her life with a larger-than-life personality, he sets Babe’s dull world into glorious Technicolour. And through winning the affection of Babe, Truman is granted unrivaled access into the snake-pit that is New York high society. But is Truman trustworthy? And what do you do when secrets get revealed, and the picture-perfect charade comes crashing down about you?

Now, this story is indeed very glamourous and scandalous. With a fairly fast pace and well-timed flashbacks and forwards, it keeps the reader interested, and allows you to become immersed into a world that seems entirely foreign from the everyday. From wearing Chanel suits to light lunches at the Plaza and into shopping sprees in Tiffany’s, this world seems so entirely rich and vibrant that is feels almost dreamlike. Now, despite the novel having a darker and more real undertone – with the Truman Capote scandal, the hidden lives of the glamourous women (drink, drugs, sex scandals, domestic abuse etc) – this novel isn’t particularly hard-hitting in those senses. To me, these were issues that really could have been explored and in better detail. In my opinion, this novel just wanted to have a halcyon glaze of glamour and beauty.

The ‘Swans’ were really an interesting group of women. They were all beautiful, charming, malicious, and as two-faced as they could come, and they thrived on attention and the scandal that surrounded their lives. With loveless marriages, money issues, drug and drink addiction and cosmetic surgery pressures, these women were constantly scrutinised by their closest friends as well as society, and I found them all to be highly interesting and unique characters. I particularly found Slim Keith and Gloria Vanderbilt to be interesting figures as they stood apart from the rest of the swans, and gave the taste of individuality and strength.

The relationship between Babe and Truman was always one of interest. To me, Benjamin has really written it as a relationship that seems so co-dependent and unhealthy, it borders on obsession. Both with unresolved mother issues, these two lonely hearts were drawn to each other for different reasons. And whilstbabe-paley-wearing-a-creation-of-traina-norell-photographed-by-horst-p-horst-from-american-vogue-in-1946 Truman ultimately sacrifices his relationship for the sake of a quick buck – his infamous short story ‘La Côte Basque 1965’ fictionalises and reveals all of Babe’s secrets, resulting in his Swans cutting him out of New York society – there is a sense that Truman really did care for Babe. And with the latter chapters showing both Babe and Truman’s downward spiral, due to illness and drink and drug dependencies, it is then when the book really does come into its own. After watching interviews and reading books on Capote, I thought that Benjamin really captured his spirit well.

Throughout the novel, I thought Benjamin captured the intimacy and secrecy of this world well. Sometimes it felt very intrusive whilst reading it, as though you, the reader was being allowed into the gilded cage and offered up the secrets.
All in all, I found this novel enjoyable. Yes, it some parts it was too sweet, and skimmed over the darker parts of the novel. But it was a light, and comfortable read. Perfectly suited for travel or a holiday. But don’t expect to be reading hard-hitting literature here. Full of scandal, intrigue and beautiful clothes, this novel transports you away to the cool interiors of Bergdorf’s, St Regis and Tiffany’s.

To buy this book – Amazon/Waterstones

Author’s website – Click Here

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review.

Title: Shopaholic to the Rescue

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Chick-Lit, Humour, Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy


OK,’ says Luke calmly. ‘Don’t panic’

Don’t panic? Luke is saying ‘Don’t panic’? No. Nooooo. This is all wrong. My husband never says ‘Don’t panic’. If he’s saying ‘Dont panic,’ then what he really means is: ‘There’s every good reason to panic.’ 

God, now I’m panicking.

For about for about six years now, I’ve been buying, reading and rereading Sophie Kinsella’s book saga ‘The Shopaholic Series’. As a teenage girl, these novels were the perfect read for those stressful times between school, exams and then college. And now, as a twenty-one year old, this series still holds a great deal of sway over my life, as I begin to emphasise with struggles in love, work and shopping. And in the last few weeks, Kinsella published the ninth book in the series ‘Shopaholic to the Rescue’, and the minute I opened the first page, and saw those opening emails, and immortal words which make up every beginning of these books ‘Ok. Don’t panic’, I fell back into the world of Becky Bloomwood nee Brandon, and her lovable and crazy life.

Overall, the series follows Becky as she deals with falling in love, marriages, families, children, friendship, housing issues , and all of this alongside a pretty serious, yet hilarious shopping addiction. And before I get into the review, I would thoroughly recommend that you read the entire series before this one – as it does follow a pretty straight forward plot throughout, and with the changes in Becky’s life, such as family dramas and the introduction of new characters, you would need to know how they wound up in this particular scenario. And in the ninth book, we find Becky taking on her biggest and most elaborate challenge yet.

After Kinsella, in Shopaholic to the Stars, left her in LA, with her relationship with her best friend, husband and career up in turmult, we pick up when Becky decides that a rescue mission is in order. And who is she rescuing?
Her father Graham, and her best friend’s husband Tarquin, who both vanish after Graham arrives from England to track down some old friend’s, and tags Tarquin along for the ride. However, despite assuring them all that they are all fine, Becky decides that the only possible solution is to hire a RV, drive the family from LA to Las Vegas and hunt down the missing men. But when she arrives in Las Vegas, Becky and her family get more than they bargained for, and are thrown for a loop when secrets from the past get dug up, and in typical Bloomwood fashion, not everything is as it appears.

So, for the ninth (and possible last) book in the series, Kinsella brings all the big guns out. Getting all the loved, and loathed characters together for one big American adventure was a sweet touch, as we got to see how they would all interact together, and some old faces even came back from the first books to play crucial parts. Kinsella’s writing of Becky hasn’t changed much in the years she’s been writing, which doesn’t limit the Shopaholic world in the slighest, but improve it. Becky, through all the ups and downs of the last few books, is still the young girl we all fell in love with. She still worries about spending, about her family, about Suze and about Alicia Bitch-Longlegs, and she still comes up with all the harebrained schemes that made her so lovable in the first place. The interactions between all the characters are familiar and comforting, and Becky once again triumphs in the end. However, what I did like was that nothing is entirely perfect in Becky’s life. She has some issues that seem entirely truthful, and frank to be able to touch some readers in a personal way, and she doesn’t skirt over them.

As story goes, it was a light-hearted romp full of very familiar (good familiar) scenarios, and nothing seemed too manic or impossible. The scheme that Becky pulls off is very typical ‘her’ style, but doesn’t seem that repetitive, or impossible. However, I should say that perhaps Kinsella should hang up the Shopaholic series for now. To be honest, after this book (which is a continuation of the story that she wrote in Shopaholic to the Stars) there doesn’t seem much to write about anymore. This books seems to be the perfect ending for Becky’s saga, and despite not wanting her to go and to continue to have more madcap ideas, if Kinsella continues on, it could just lose its sparkle and just be one of those series that you want to end.

The writing isn’t complex or challenging at all, but very personal and almost diary-esque. I’ve always thought Kinsella excelled at this particular type, and she uses it frequently in other stories. However, I must say that I’ve fallen out of love with Kinsella’s other books in the last few years, and it’s only been Becky that I’ve solidly stuck with. But that could just be my tastes changing.

So for a ending for the Shopaholic series, I’d say this is a fitting, well-done and proper conclusion. The story, the characters, and the essence of the plot is the same you fell in love with eight books previous, and the read is totally chick-lit, totally girly, and totally feel-good.

But please, let me know if you’ve enjoyed the series!

Links:

To buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

To visit Kinsella’s website – Click Here 

Girl Online by Zoella – Book Review

Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg/Zoella

Rating: 3/5

Rating: Young Adult Literature, Children Literature, YouTuber Fiction


“Every time you post something online you have a choice. You can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world—or you can make it something that takes away.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or perhaps just don’t know about the modern phenomena of the YouTuber, you would know who Zoella, or Zoe Sugg is. But for those who are unaware, I’ll give you a brief update.

Zoella is a beauty/lifestyle vlogger and online presence that is one of the most famous English YouTubers to date. With nearly 9 million subscribers, over 500 million video views, and nearly 4 million Twitter Followers, she has been crowned the ‘Queen of YouTube’, by a number of articles.

To get a fuller picture, I’ll link some articles below for your casual reading.

Zoella (The Independent October 2014)

Zoella (The DailyMail November 2014)

Zoella (DigitalSpy November 2014)

And, last year, this bubbly twenty-five year old released her debut novel, ‘Girl Online’. And in October, Girl Online: On Tour is to be released. So I thought I’d do my own review of the debut book, just to prepare readers for the sequel.

So meet Penny. Under the alias, Girl online, Penny blogs about her hidden feelings and personal experiences with friendship, boys, school drama, family issues and her recent panic attacks that are slowly beginning to take over her life. And when things go from bad to worse, her family decide to take her away to New York for a break away from normality. Whilst there she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. And suddenly, Penny is falling in love. And, of course, writing everything about it on her blog.

But she’s not the only one that has a secret. Noah has his own secret, and this one could be one to threaten to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever

So, as you can see, Girl Online fits in with the generalised, chick-lit-YA style of novel, as well as being an obvious tie in to Zoella’s own experiences – as starting off as a blogger, and moving onto a bigger audience on YouTube. This novel is a pretty heart-warming tale of young love, that does grip the reader at the end of each chapter, as well as having an ending that is both satisfactory as a stand-alone book, but could open up for possible sequels.

However, this novel features something that’s unique to the modern young adult market, as it deals with issues and pressures that teens nowadays would relate too – such as cyber-bullying, an online presence conflicting with the real self, issues with sexuality and then ‘coming-out’, the loss of friendships, mental illnesses and the first dizzy dabbles of love – and it does this with the sensitivity and knowledge that one would expect Zoella, as a significant idol for many young girls, would deal with. Now, it was revealed after publication that this novel was ghost-written, which did throw up some criticism from Suggs’ fans, but it is clear that despite not writing it, the ideas and plot idea is personal to Zoe.

I found the story arc of panic attacks and anxiety disorders to be something that I could seriously relate too. It wasn’t hidden under a guise of anything, but out there in the bleak daylight. The physical and mental effects of going through a panic attack was well-documented, and Penny does go through the same worry about having them as millions of people around the globe have, whilst dealing with them. And also, in a little side-note, Noah gives Penny a coping strategy to dealing with panic attacks that I would be interested to know if it works, as this could be a really important piece of knowledge that Zoe has shared out to her audience.

For the actual writing, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, as I said before, this is a ghost-written piece of text, but the writer has clearly written in a way that imitates the way that Zoe talks, writes her blogs and has just an overall Zoe-esque vibe. This is no great piece of literature, so don’t put it up there. It fits more into the realm of YA literature, as it’s easy to understand, and the writing doesn’t offer any surprises or plot spoilers. Like most YA novels, there are clichés and corny bits that did make me roll my eyes, and the whole episode where there was farting did make me a bit exasperated, but it was definitely a ‘safe’ story, so all ages could read it. Even a ten-year old could read it.

And for characterisation, I was equally as surprised to how developed they were. I did find myself wanting a boy like Noah in my life, and definitely wanting a friend like Elliot’s – who is Penny’s best friend and overall rock of support. I thought that Zoe did also bring the romance to life. She made the feelings very real, and made you, as the writer be immersed into the emotions that Penny was feel. You felt excited when Penny did, or sad or worried whenever she felt that. And that’s a good test of a good story.

Through my reading of the text, Zoe puts her whole heart-and-soul in this narrative, and she poignantly includes blog posts that do sound a lot like her own. But it was one line that made me think ‘ah, this is Zoe talking to us, not Penny’, and it was the line:

Everytime you post something online you have a choice.

For me, this is crucial tip that Zoe is sharing out to her readers and fans. Because there is that choice – that choice that you as the reader, or internet-browser, or blogger or whatever, need to keep in the back of your mind. You have a choice about what you think is right to share online, and you need to have limits. If you think that sharing personal information is what you want to do, just remember how it could affect you in the future.

You have that choice.

And nobody should ever pressure you into making up your mind about what you think is right and wrong.

This novel did surprise me in how much I would love it, and how much it made me want read on well into the night and not want to put it down. I’ve been a fan of Zoe for a few years now, and I do own some pieces from her cosmetics line which also did surprise me over the quality of the products. So, I’d happily recommend and pass this novel onto other readers. I’ll continue to support Zoella through whatever she does, and I am excited for the next installment to come out. But be aware. This isn’t a great piece of literature, but it never puts on a front saying it will.

So, if you want a novel that is heart-warming, addictive, romantic,

Image courtesy of Penguin.com

clichéd and a bit corny in the right places – then go to your local bookshop and pick up ‘Girl Online’.

Links:

Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

Zoella – Youtube/Twitter/Blog

Thank you!

-Alice

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher – Book Review

Title: Billy and Me

Author: Giovanna Fletcher

Rating: 3/5

Genres: Women’s Literature, Chick-Flick, Romance, Summer Reads, Girl-Meets-Boy


“I wish I could bottle the feelings of love inside me and save them for a rainy day – to remind myself of their magnitude in those moments of doubt.”

Summer’s always call for a nice, easy romantic novel to read by the beach or on a train. And after rereading Billy and Me, and keeping it in my bag for such trips, I fell back in love with this first novel by author, Giovanna Fletcher. Now, Fletcher has written other books in her short time of being an author, and each on follows a relatively easy, and similar style of the ups and downs of love, but Billy and Me has held a special place in my heart.

So, meet Sophie May, a down-to-earth and kind-hearted young woman who lives and works in the picturesque village of Rosefont, and has been working for years at the charmingly named cafe called ‘Tea-on-the-Hill’. However, for years Sophie has been hiding something. A secret that stopped her from going to university, travelling and gave her a reason to stay in this tiny village with her mother. But, when Sophie meets Billy, a gorgeously talented, up-and-coming movie star, she falls in love, finds a new way of life, and she gets swept up in the life of a Hollywood plus-one. But does Sophie really want to change her set in stone way of life, and go into the world of the celebrity which could force her secret to be revealed?
—-

This book is easy to read.

That’s the first thing I must say.

And this is not entirely a positive thing, but neither is a negative. Fletcher writes in a very simplistic, exclamation-mark heavy way, which did put me off slightly, and for people who are used to reading descriptive, Pulitzer-prize winning writing, this may be just too simple for them. But for a romantic, silly summer read, it is perfect.

The characters are a mixed bunch. I found Sophie to be one of those women who you either adore, or just be annoyed by. But what Fletcher did do well is giving Sophie a deep-seated and true set of morals, as she doesn’t just go whisking off to live the ‘easy’ life with Billy, but she has family and commitments that she cannot just abandon. Billy was written well, as his character was flawed, and it takes the reader the entire novel to really notice these flaws, and with Molly, and Sophie’s mum, these were the perfect side characters to dealing with the drama of Billy and Sophie’s relationship. However, other than that, the smaller characters don’t have much depth, and could have been developed more, and been more integral to the part.

In world-building, Fletcher’s Rosefont village is a good example of the dynamic of a small village, where everyone does know everything, and to keep a secret can be a struggle, and she writes it in a way that is true and personal to Sophie’s issues/

Overall, Fletcher’s writing is almost too simple, and sometimes fluffy, but it gets the plot through in a fast-paced and interesting way. There are some points that you do have to battle through the sheer amount of exclamation marks, and frustrating use of ‘Bloomin!’, but it is a lighthearted and sweet read to take with you, when you don’t want to tax your brain too much. And, in my opinion, Fletcher’s original debut into the literature world was one that shows a flair of talent that she hasn’t properly developed yet, and that she had a promising start to go on from that.

Also, what I find interesting, and what I took from the novel, is how Fletcher may have been influenced by her own life to write Billy and Me. If you, as the reader am unaware, Fletcher is married to long-time love Tom Fletcher, from the pop group, McFly. And the idea of a young girl who was pushed into the limelight could be very similar to how Giovanna felt in the early stages of Tom’s career. So, perhaps that is what makes this novel so touching. That the personal life of the author has seeped into this novel, and makes it slightly more believable.

So yes, for all those star-crossed love readers out there, and all those who just love the whole love-triumphing-or-does-it stories, I would recommend Billy and Me, without a second thought.

If you, as a reader, loved:

1: Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult.
2: Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
3: The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

I’m sure you’ll love this book!

Links

Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

Author’s Website – Click Here

Author’s Twitter – Click Here

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – Book Review.

Title: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Matthew Quick

Rating: 4/5

Genres: Adult Fiction, YA Fiction, Mental Health, Awareness Fiction, Teenage Fiction, Romance, Chick-Flick


“Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”

To this particular reviewer, mental health, and issues surrounding mental health have not been the easiest category to find novels written about. Novels such as Go Ask Alice, The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are all well-know examples of this genre, yet if you compare them up to books that have been written about cancer, or abuse, the scales are heavily weighed towards these ones. And I am definitely not criticising these novels, as any survivor who is brave and feels confident enough to write about their experiences should all be praised. But to me, the world of mental health, and issues that surround mental health have not be entirely explored. As, as readers are probably aware, there is still a massive taboo that has been attached to mental health, and if there was plenty of literature about it, it may be understood more.

Matthew Quick’s The Silver Linings Playbook is one of those novels that deals with mental health in a practical, straightforward and in-your-face sort of fashion. It deals with the everyday life of taking prescriptions, dealing with relapses and sessions with therapists and counsellors, as well as dealing with how the family and friends surrounding a person dealing with mental health get affected.

After suffering a breakdown, and spending time in a psychiatric unit, Pat Peoples becomes determined to get his life back on track. Moving between building relationship with estranged friends and family, getting fit, and most importantly, looking out for that silver lining to have positivity in his life, Pat’s ultimate goal is to get the reconciliation with his now-estranged wife, Nikki. However, through obstacles, such as his overly protective parents, mood swings that rage civil war with his own good intentions, and one particular smooth jazz song, Pat finds that he seems to be running into circles. But, when he meets the mysterious and beautiful Tiffany, who quickly befriends him and helps him understand that labyrinth that is his own thoughts, he seems to be running closer and closer towards his goal. But when Tiffany reveals secrets that Pat’s been kept in the dark about, and issues that haven’t been revealed to him, is all this running for nothing? Or could his find a new silver lining to reach for?
—-

Now, it’s very hard to write a book summary without mentioning the 2012 film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Because that is such a good film, and despite not following the book completely, it definitely holds its own and the trailer for the film will be linked below. However, after a reread of the book, there is something about the book-Pat that Cooper couldn’t quite get. Pat is such a brilliant individual. Because despite having his own issues, and struggles, he really tries to reach for that silver lining in every scenario. He is such a glass-half-full kind of guy, and he seems loyal towards his dreams. And his dream is his wife Nikki.

However, it is revealed that their love, and the idolised version that he paints in his head is completely different from the reality. And for the reader to experience that is a blow, because you discover it as the same time as Pat does.

Pat’s mind, and the way it works is also an example of excellent writing. A thought pattern can be very difficult to write down, as it’s never linear and like a train track. It twists and turns, but usually always comes back to one idea or solution. Pat’s mind is written that way, but his constant, underlying thought is ‘Nikki, Nikki, Nikki’. And not only does that reveal how well Quick can write a person, but also how his mental illness borders on obsession.

Now, as I said, the film in comparison to the book has differences. The relationship Pat has with his parents is one of those story arcs that the film doesn’t go properly into, especially in relation to his father. Pat’s father – aptly named Pat Sr is one of those characters who you wish had his own point-of-view chapters, just to see what he thinks of his family However, to me, the real star of the show is Tiffany. And despite Pat being an excellent protagonist, and really showing how mental illness can affect people’s lives, he is in a different league to the complexities of Tiffany.

Like Pat, Tiffany suffers from her own issues, which is only really explored in the later chapters, yet she is also one of those characters that you sometimes wish you were. She is incredibly confident about her own abilities in deciding what she wants, and makes herself very clear when she voices her opinions. However, she unfortunately has a tendency to, when she wants something, she will the hardest to make it difficult to gain it.

Her and Pat’s relationship are also one of those which seem to have been thrown together by destiny. They both argue, are both incredibly stubborn, and yet together, they have some of the most interesting conversations with each, and seem to be completely at ease with each when they’re alone.

One more thing I love about the book is the chapter names. They are named after lines from each chapter that are completely out of context, but make for some enjoyable reading. My personal favourite is ‘Sister Sailor-Mouth’.

I’m going to be completely honest here. This isn’t the best written book, and nor is going to be the best book I’ve ever read. But the story does seep out from the page, and makes you want to read it over and over again. However, the film version is definitely one of the best adaptations I’ve seen. And despite it not following the story completely, the acting ability of Cooper and Lawrence, as well as the documentation of the family relationships and fitting soundtrack, does add to the whole quality of it. So yes, read the book and then watch the film.

And I’m going to end this review with a quote from Lawrence in her Oscar-winners speech, which I think sums up the feeling of the book, and what she wanted to portray through Tiffany, – ‘I don’t think we’re going to stop until we get rid of this stigma for mental illness. I know David won’t. And I hope that this helps. It’s just so bizarre how in this world, if you have asthma you take asthma medicine, and diabetes you take diabetes medicine, but as soon as you take medication for your mind, it’s such a stigma behind it’.

If you, as a reader, loved:
1: ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky
2: ‘Girl, Interrupted’ by Susanna Kaysen
3: ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath

You’ll love this.

Links:

Buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones 

Author’s Website – Click Here

Trailer for the film

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – Book Review.

Title: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Rating: 3/5

Genres: Teenage Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Chick-Flick


“The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There’s no getting over that.”

Like many readers, I will always be entranced and want to buy a book if it is put in positive comparison to my favourite authors. And with Cohn and Levithan’s novel, the tagline came as followed:

‘Fans of Stephen Chbosky and John Green will fall in love with Dash and Lily’.

So, immediately I knew that this was going to be the sort of genre that I enjoy reading, and, more importantly, it had big boots to fill.

The novel follows the adventure of happy-go-lucky Lily, who, despite not being one for spontaneous acts of mischief and adventure, she decides to leave a red notebook full of dares in a bustling New York bookshop, in the hope of having a Christmas romance with the lucky recipient. However, when hipster teen Dash comes along, he becomes the target for this seasonal romance. And in a series of challenges that take them all over the city over the festive period, they find themselves being drawn together, and falling for each other over paper. But, as in all good, tragic fairytale romances that include teenagers, can the real versions of themselves live up to their paper twins when they finally meet up? Or, is this one dare that has gone too far?

Now, this novel is a fluffy novel. That cannot be denied. It is a properly romantic-Love-Actually-sort of novel. And that can put people off it. This novel would be perfect for an easy read over Christmas break. And due to this, I particularly loved the first half of the novel, The inevitable love through letters were done well, and you could see how the letters change and develop as Dash and Lily start developing feelings from each other, and this provides enjoyable, light reading.

However, towards the end the novel started to feel rushed, and clichéd in a way. Unlike Chbosky and Green, the novel didn’t enthrall me from start to finish, and I didn’t become emotionally invested in the characters in the way that the novel set them up to be. The potential for a light-hearted, sort of Cecilia Ahern book was there, but it fell into the realm of trying too hard to be like them, and therefore failed in itself.

The characters of Dash and Lily were a mixed bunch. Dash was easily my favourite, as he was the most involved and complex character in the book, yet he did have an almost nauseating level of hipster-ness and snark that I did find off-putting. However, the depths of some of his arguments were well-founded, and therefore he was better to read. But Lily was too much of a do-gooder. She had all the characteristics of a complete chick-flick protagonist, but had no depth or personality to her. And that is easily one of the things that readers love exploring. They want their characters to be realistic, and not just words on the page. And unfortunately, they didn’t entirely turn out this way.

Now, I know that Cohn and Levithan have both co-written books before – including the acclaimed Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist-  and Levithan is well known for his partnership with John Green in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’, yet I felt that this novel was trying to build too much up, and trying too hard to be like these other books. However, this could be just the fact that I’m a twenty-one year old woman, and this is definitely aimed towards a younger audience.

Nevertheless, it is a sweet and adorable book for the Christmas season, and well worth a read if you want an uncomplicated, lighthearted read that may not stick with you afterwards, but may make you think of it fondly. However, to me, this novel doesn’t hold the same rank of Chbosky and Green, so under that pretension that it should, I was sorely disappointed.

If  you, as a reader, loved:

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Then you’ll enjoy this read!

Links:

Buy the book: Waterstones/Amazon

Author’s Website – Levithan/Cohn

Interview with the author’s – Part One