Archive | June 2016

Mini Reads Vol. IV

Okay, time for some reviews. I had an excellent holiday: sunbathing, eating, and, of course, reading. I managed 9 books in a week, which I think is pretty good going, and I’m going to review them here in two volumes of Mini Reads!

1. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher 

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I’d wanted to read this for a while, especially with Always With Love coming out in June and then suddenly it was £1.99 on Kindle AND a Zoella Book Club choice! So I was very happy with myself and my purchase.

Billy and Me tells the story of Sophie May, bumping along quite happily in her humdrum boring life, working in a teashop and doing not much else, when the gorgeous film star Billy Buskin enters her shop and her life. As their lives become intertwined, Sophie finds her humdrum life disappearing and finds herself entering Billy’s glamorous and successful world.

But is their love enough to keep her going in a ruthless world of constant scrutiny?

I really enjoyed this book – I think Giovanna is a brilliant romance writer who perfectly captures female insecurity and anxiety, and I like to think that there were glimpses of her own life in the novel (after all, she is married to one-quarter of McFly). It was a light, easy read that showed the brutal side of stardom. Sophie was a little annoying at times, and I thought the ending was a little rushed and abrupt. But maybe I just need to read Always With Love to see what happens next?

2. Asking For It – Louise O’Neill 

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Anyone who reads this blog will know I’ve been rabbiting on about this books for aaaages. And I FINALLY got to read it. Woohoo!!

Was so worth the wait.

Asking For It is a novel which blurs the lines between consent and rape, and shines a light on the complexity of rape issues in a modern society, where if a girl is popular, drunk and generally sexually active, is it considered rape or is she just asking for it? Because Emma O’Donovan is popular, beautiful and a hit with the lads. But when it all gets out of hand one night (after consensually having sex with a boy, consensually taking drugs and drinking to the point of blacking out), all that’s left to prove what happened to Emma are the pictures of her naked and abused, which mean that even though she can’t remember that night, it is impossible to forget it.

It is a complex and harrowing read, where on the one hand you don’t really like Emma but on the other, you would never wish what happens to her on anyone. It provokes questions about consent, victim-blaming, and the struggles of teenage girls in modern society who often struggle to be heard. This is not only an extremely topical novel, but it is well thought out, well-written and brilliantly executed. There is no happy ending, because with stories like this, one just doesn’t exist.

3. All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven 

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Another Zoella book. First, let me start by saying a Tweet I posted about this got nearly thirty likes, so YAY.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. As I said in my Tweet, I am so glad that Jennifer wrote a book that was afraid of the hard stuff. Of the lives that are actually lived and the hearts that are actually broken. It was an incredibly real book, reminiscent of John Green with a darker edge, and so brilliantly written.

Violet and Finch meet on top of the school bell tower, and when they come down, their lives will never be the same; they are hopelessly intertwined. Though Finch might have saved Violet up on that bell tower (and though everyone thinks it was the other way round), she just might not be able to return the favour.

These are complex, vivid and authentic characters that have so much energy and feeling, that it’s hard to believe this story is fictional. Jennifer Niven is an absolutely brilliant author and I think it was probably one of my favourite books that I read this holiday.

4. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell 

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Eleanor & Park is probably the novel Rainbow Rowell is most famous for, but I have to say, I think I preferred Fangirl (see my review, here). In many ways, Eleanor & Park is a much deeper and more complex novel, that deals with more heartbreaking themes, which should in theory make it a far superior novel, however, it just didn’t click with me.

Y’know when you read a book that’s supposed to be AH-MA-ZING, and it just feels like it didn’t live up to your expectations? That. Especially considering how much I loved Fangirl.

Eleanor (the fat, red-headed new girl) and Park (the half-Korean, semi-popular son of a veteran) collide together when she sits next to him on the bus on her first day of school. By sharing comics, mix-tapes and conversations, Eleanor & Park slowly fall desperately and hopelessly in love, in the way only teenagers can in 1986.

But sometimes love just isn’t enough.

I will say this, Rainbow is an excellent writer. For me, Fangirl just felt a lot more natural and made a lot more sense to me. I didn’t feel Eleanor and Park the same way I felt Cath and Levi. However, it’s a very real romance, that doesn’t have any magic where Eleanor suddenly becomes beautiful and accepted by all of Park’s friends; it’s gradual and progressive.

For me, like in Fangirl, Rainbow’s really struggle is with her ending. Like in Fangirl, it just ends, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough resolution, which is disappointing as a reader who has been so invested. I would have to say that it’s a book of style over substance. But that’s just one opinion.

Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know below!

Volume V coming soon…


‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’, or – I Finished My Degree!

Cue a very big sigh of relief.

It’s been four years – which I’m finding terribly hard to wrap my head around – but I am now officially a graduand of the University of Birmingham. Note not a graduate yet, but a graduand. When I get my degree on the 6th of July, then I’ll be a graduate.

This week, I’m jetting off to sunny Corfu where I’ll get to spend some quality time with my Kindle, which I’ve really missed in the last few weeks of Spanish grammar and end of uni festivities.

I’ve got a great reading list so far, including Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North. Also think I’ll finally be getting around to reading Asking for It by Louise O’Neill, which if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I’ve been super-keen to read.

Check back here when I’ve returned from my holiday and you’ll find some reviews of the above and more!

So what can I say about my degree, and indeed finishing it?

It’s been a tough few years, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel or give up altogether. These last few weeks have been some of the hardest to get through, especially because I’ve been applying for jobs at the same time. In between revision and rejections, I was pretty down and frustrated.

But there is light, there is an end. And I will be forever grateful that I have my degree and that I pushed myself to do it to the best of my ability. I know these days that having a degree isn’t the be-all and end-all of life; it’s true that you can succeed perfectly without one. But to me, having a degree doesn’t just say that I spent four years waffling about Shakespeare and (occasionally) drinking.

It says that I know how to apply myself and how to change myself when necessary to suit what one piece of work requires whilst another might require someone totally different (that’s the beauty of a joint honours degree: writing about Spanish Cinema is a completely different discipline to writing about Chaucer). It says that I know how to read large quantities of work and articles and select the most relevant details; it says that I can discuss my achievements and work with passion and enthusiasm (after all, I am most proud of the two pieces of work I spent the longest on – my dissertations).

My degree says that I am hard-working, flexible, analytical, able to multitask, capable of balancing numerous tasks, and able to do all of this whilst having fun and doing the extracurriculars that uni students deserve.

So the day I get up on that stage for my graduation and become a graduate, not a graduand, will be the happiest day of my life. Not because my degree is over, but because my life with a degree is just beginning.

Who knows where it will take me? Let’s look back next year and find out.

Dr. Seuss knows best.