Review: Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Every Exquisite ThingThe Blurb

From Matthew Quick, bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook, comes a heartfelt, unconventional and moving novel for readers who love John Green and Annabel Pitcher.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

The Review

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick has kind of left me speechless – and using the passive voice, apparently.

I guess I should give writing about it a try.

It is a wonderfully quirky story of a young girl, Nanette O’Hare whose life is changed when she reads a cult classic. She goes from socially accepted school girl on the football team to social pariah within days. She starts to make decisions about her life that are beyond the cookie-cutter print of expectation.

In breaking the mould Nanette has to pick up the pieces but will it be at a cost to who she is meant to be?

I thought Every Exquisite Thing was brilliant. It perfectly summed up the confusion of teenage life. It reminds us, as adult readers, how scary and how much pressure being a teenager can be. We too often look back at it through rose tinted glasses – the lack of bills and responsibilities – but remember that this is a time when we are expected to know what we want for the future, be planning for it and be so sure of ourselves whilst being a walking, talking hormone. I’m thirty-two and I still don’t know the answer to all of these things but like hell could you pay me to go back to being a teenager.

I think that is what this book does. It allows the older reader be reminded that teenage life isn’t that easy and the young adult reader to feel comforted in knowing that self same thing: life isn’t easy.

Every Exquisite Thing is a must read for fans of Matthew Quick. I would go so far as to say that this is his best work to date.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick is available from 31st May 2016.

Follow Matthew Quick (@MatthewQuick21) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Review: I Loved You in Paris – A Memoir in Poetry by Juliette Sobanet

I Loved You in Paris PoetryTitle: I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry

Author: Juliette Sobanet

Pages: 97 Pages

Publisher: Saint Germain Press

The Blurb

In this companion poetry book to her sizzling memoir, MEET ME IN PARIS, Juliette Sobanet gives readers a heartbreaking look into the raw emotions of a romance novelist as she loses her own happily ever after. From the impossible pull of forbidden love to the devastating loss of her marriage, and finally, to rebuilding life anew, Sobanet’s courageous poems expose the truth behind infidelity and divorce and take readers on a passionate journey of love, loss, and ultimately, hope.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

I feel rather under-qualified to review I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry. What I will say is that it is a lovely little collection.

It is not a form of self expression that I have read enough of to be able to feel that I have a valid point of view. However, having read the memoir that the poetry accompanies and having read nearly all of Juliette Sobanet’s fiction releases I can honestly say that she is a writer that doesn’t hold back.

I believe that I described I Loved You in Paris as a memoir that Sobanet had bled her thoughts and emotions on to the page. It is a stark and brutally honest account of a dark period in her life. So it is with this in mind that I can honestly say that I trust Sobanet has done the same with I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry. I just wish that I was much more au fait with poetry to be able to appreciate this collection more.

I Loved You in Paris: A Memoir in Poetry by Juliette Sobanet is available now.

Follow Juliette Sobanet (@JulietteSobanet) on Twitter and visit her official website http://juliettesobanet.com

35 Stars

Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

The GirlsThe Blurb

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life….

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

The Review

The Girls by Emma Cline is an interesting story about a young girl growing up in California in the 1960s. The story follows Evie Boyd. She is your typical teenager: dutiful and charming but hides behind the desire to do the things that she likes – she is typical in that she thinks she knows what is best. However, it is her poor decisions that lead to a life of romanticised notions of decadence that lead her in to a seedy world of drama. Essentially, The Girls is about how being young and easily influenced can lead you down the wrong path in life.

Whilst none can argue that Cline paints a stunning picture of California in the 1960s, personally I found myself drifting during the descriptions of the vistas. This happened far too frequently. The Girls had too much talk and not enough action. It was really slow paced and I found myself having to work to finish the book.

The characterisation was good. You could sense Evie’s desperation to be a part of something bigger, to be noticed and to be appreciated. Equally, the lack of information about Suzanne helped create an air of mystery and intrigued you to read more.

However, if I’m being completely honest I was expecting more from The Girls.

The Girls by Emma Cline is available from 2nd June 2016

3 Stars

Review: Go Your Crohn Way by Kathleen Nicholls

Go Your Crohn WayThe Blurb

For Kathleen Nicholls, life with Crohn’s disease has been a constant battle against her bowels. But life has also been about David Bowie, dancing, and laughter. Go Your Crohn Way follows the highs and lows of Kathleen’s experiences, and is full of useful advice for maintaining self-confidence and positivity while navigating the world of work, relationships, and those conversations.

Warm and inspiring, this book demonstrates how Crohn’s can be life-changing, but not just for the worse. Kathleen gives advice and tips on adapting and thriving through Crohn’s, including a specially created phrasebook, which proves that so long as you know how to ask for the nearest bathroom, globe-trotting is still firmly on the agenda.

Full of fun and humour, Kathleen’s journey through life with Crohn’s disease will leave you – like her – in stitches.

The Review

Tomorrow (19th May 2016) is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness day.

I know this because in 2012 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Before that day, I had never even heard of Ulcerative Colitis. Once I was diagnosed I was still a bit confused and it took my boyfriend (then friend) to say to me “Ulcerative Colitis…isn’t that a chronic illness? You’re going to have this for life” and it wasn’t until that point that the enormity of the diagnosis hit me.

Everyone with IBD has their own story. You can read mine here – One Year Later: A Look Back at My IBD Story

Go Your Crohn Way is Kathleen Nicholls story. As I was reading this hilarious book (and believe me snorted with laughter many a time…attractive) I found myself shocked with the similarities of someone else living with this illness to my own experiences such as my go to phrase “I’m fine” which drives the people who love me crazy because they know I am not, how I have invented a new normal e.g. what is normal for me is not normal for everyone else and, of course, competitive suffering.

However, Go Your Crohn Way is so much more than a memoir. It is a non-technical, non-scary guide.  It is perfect for the newly diagnosed and a fresh look from those who are ‘frequent flyers’ at the hospital. Having read other books to try and come to terms or get to grips with my own personal diagnosis, I have often been terrified and confused by the medical jargon that I don’t understand. I finish the books with more questions than answers. Go Your Crohn Way is different. Kathleen Nicholls has created the go-to book for the IBD sufferer and rather refreshingly for the family and friends of those who suffer.

Go Your Crohn Way needs to be on the TBR pile of everyone who has an association with IBD – the patient and the families. Go and buy a copy right now!

Go Your Crohn Way by Kathleen Nicholls is available now.

4 Stars

Review: Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang

Double Cup LoveThe Blurb

In the follow-up to his bestselling coming-of-age memoir Fresh Off the Boat, now a hit show on ABC, celebrity chef Eddie Huang tells a powerful story about love and family and what really makes us who we are.

After growing up in a wild first-generation immigrant family in the comically hostile world of suburban America, Huang begins to wonder just how authentic his Chinese identity really is. So he enlists his brothers Emery and Evan and returns to the country his ancestors abandoned. His immediate goal is to sample China’s best food and see if his cooking measures up to local tastes—but his deeper goals are to reconnect with his homeland, repair his frayed family relationships, decide whether to marry his all-American (well, all-Italian-American) girlfriend, and figure out just where to find meaning in his life.

The Review

OK, I did it again. I read a book based on the cover. I am shallow and love pretty covers. I hang my head in shame.

I chose Double Cup Love because, by the title alone, I got the impression that it would be a quirky love story. I wasn’t wrong. Double Cup Love is a quirky love story in the sense that it is a love story about a country and that it is in fact not a love story but a memoir.

For the first chapter I was confused. This quirky romance I was reading read like an autobiography but being that I never give up on a book I stuck with it. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I ‘googled’ Eddie Huang. Yep, I’m not going to lie to you folks, I had never heard of him. I did not know he was a famous chef. I didn’t have a jar of glue.

Double Cup Love, when read in the correct context, is actually pretty interesting. It gives a real insight into Chinese culture and the desire to find your place within any culture. Overall, it was an interesting read and a perfect companion to those who enjoy Eddie Huang’s cookery shows.

Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang is available from 31st May 2016.

3 Stars

Review: The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich

The Book Blogger Platform

Title: The Book Blogger Platform

Author: Barb Drozdowich

Pages: 120 Pages

The Blurb

Book Blogging – One of the Best Hobbies in the World! Join thousands of book bloggers in expressing your joy of reading! Are you a book blogger or do you want to be one? Are you having trouble handling the technical details of blogging? The Book Blogger Platform can be a “user manual” for your blog! A book written by a book blogger for book bloggers and that answers all your questions!

The Book Blogger Platform covers topics such as: 1. What a book blogger blog needs to contain 2. A description of all the common features hosted by book bloggers 3. A description of the social media aspect to a book blogger platform 4. Over 25 videos that walk you through various technical tasks 5. Being Social – the social aspect of book blogging

If you are tired of always asking other bloggers questions Let The Book Blogger Platform guide you painlessly. Over 25 videos lead you step by step through some of the more difficult technical issues that bloggers face. Pick up a copy today and approach blogging with confidence!

The Review

I was really hoping that The Book Blogger Platform would be a really easy read that would make using WordPress a little bit more easy for me. I won’t lie, I am not the most technologically advanced of people out there. I wanted a jargon free (or at least a book that explained what the jargon meant) book that give me step by step guides on how to spruce up my minimalistic little blog.

I didn’t get that.

Instead, I had another book that bogged me down with words that I don’t understand and to be honest reading about something as technical as how to use a blogging platform is a little dry.

Somewhat ironically, the book comes into its own with the video explanations. Now those I found extremely helpful.

The Book Blogger Platform is not a book for the novice blogger. The technical side of things will inevitably scare you away and lead you into a panic. However, if you are a novice then skip to the YouTube links at the back. They are way more helpful.

The Book Blogger Platform by Barb Drozdowich is available now.

35 Stars

Review: Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

Summer at Rose IslandThe Blurb

Fall in love with the gorgeous seaside town of White Cliff Bay this summer and enjoy long sunny days, beautiful beaches and… a little romance. 

Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals.

When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing…

Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day.

Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides.

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for?

Pull up a deck chair, sink back with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and pick up the summer read you won’t be able to put down. 

Discover the other books in the White Cliff Bay series, available now: 
1. Christmas at Lilac Cottage
 
2. Snowflakes on Silver Cove
 

The Review

Oh wow. Let me tell you, the White Cliff Bay series has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and yes I’ve whooped with joy. Mostly though, I have fallen in love with a small town and I want to go and live there.

The third book in the White Cliff series – Summer at Rose Island – will be released this week and it has pulled all the right heartstrings. Rose Island is a tranquil place with gorgeous vistas, a beautiful seaside and a rustic lighthouse. It is the kind of village that people dream of living in and that is exactly what happened to Darcy. Darcy spent her summers with her aunty Ginny in Rose Island. As an adult – after a series of disastrous jobs – Darcy relocates to Rose Island and starts to make a big impression; none more so than on Riley Eddison who lives in the lighthouse. Their initial meetings aren’t plain sailing and it takes a few introductions before they stop insulting each other.

You cannot help but be enamoured by Darcy and Riley. They work. They balance each other and they change each other in the best possible way. What is also fabulous about Summer at Rose Island (and I said it about Snowflakes on Silver Cove) is that you are reunited with characters from the previous books and it is like being given a warm hug from the author Holly Martin. I like m books to hug me…this sounded much more normal in my head.

This book series is near on perfect. The characters and stories make your heart swell and sing and I promise you that if you haven’t read them before then once you have you will have a new favourite author in Holly Martin.

Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin is available from 13th May 2016

Follow Holly Martin (@hollymartin00) on Twitter.

5 Stars

Review: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The Art of AskingThe Blurb

Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.

Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of THE ART OF ASKING.

Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet. THE ART OF ASKING will inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love.

The Review

I’m currently in a battle with my sister. She is 36 and had her first child last year. She is a superhero. She works full time, raises my beautiful one year old niece with her fiancé and she run a household. My sister can do it all.

But…

She finds it really difficult to ask for help. She doesn’t necessarily need it but there are times when she is run down because of all the work she does and my niece needs full time attention (as a one year old is want to do) and I wish that sometimes she would let me help more.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Well, I have just finished Amanda Palmer’s wonderful book The Art of Asking and I feel really light. The Art of Asking was recommended by friends and various booktubers and I decided that it was time to give it a read (it had been sitting on my NetGalley bookshelf for a while, oops) but when I picked it up I was just amazed and humbled by Palmer’s stories. I will admit that I knew very little about Amanda Palmer. In fact, my knowledge boiled down to two pieces of information: 1) She is a musician and she is in the Dresden Dolls and 2) She is marries to Neil Gaiman. Now, I kinda wish that Amanda Palmer was my best friend, mentor and guru. She just knows stuff.

The Art of Asking came off the back of Palmers TED talk when she talked about her days as a street artist an how that ethos has transferred to her crowd sourcing the funding for her subsequent albums and how that evolved into serious media backlash and how she dealt with it. Amanda Palmer learned that through her connections with her fans that the negative thoughts of certain pockets of people don’t matter, it is the connection that matters. People want to help. People will offer you a couch to sleep on, money to fund a project, a hug when you need one, a donut. People want to do that. Palmer believes that people are inherently good. I left this book feeling warmed by this dogmatic understanding of basic human nature. Amanda Palmer, she just gets it.

You may ask why I started this review talking about my sister, my best friend. It is because the next time I see her I am going to adamantly tell her to take the f*cking donut!

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer is available now.

Follow Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) via Twitter.

5 Stars

Review: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman

Girls on FireThe Blurb

This is not a cautionary tale about too much – or the wrong kind – of fucking. This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think. 

I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth. 

Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond and bored at home. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah finds herself befriending new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki.

Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex, a Doc Marten and Kurt Cobain fan, who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . .

Starting – and ending – with tragedy, Girls on Fire stands alongside The Virgin Suicides in its brilliant portrayal of female adolescence, but with a power and assurance all its own.

The Review

Well, what can I say about Girls on Fire? Firstly, I liked it. I didn’t love it but Girls on Fire certainly got me thinking about the fragile nature of friendship.

You see, I have always said that teenage girls are horrible. Now before you all jump on the hate bandwagon let me explain. I work in a high school and I see only a daily basis how girls act compared to how boys act. Boys will have an issue with each other, have fisticuffs and then will be playing football with each other half an hour later. Girls, on the other hand, will carry a fight on and they will attack each other in much worse ways. Every day is like Mean Girls. I can also say this because I am a girl. We are horrible.

For me, this is the main theme of Girls on Fire. Robin Wasserman gets to heart of female friendships amid a hormone driven time. Her main characters Lacey and Dex are wonderfully weird and Wasseerman’s clever writing often leads you to switch your alliances between them both, you feel for Dex and hate Lacey but then Dex seems whiney and Lacey’s deviant behaviour is justified. I think it takes a real talent to be able to make the reader be conflicted between characters.

I did feel that the pacing of Girls on Fire was a bit slapdash. Essentially, it is a thriller and at times the pacing didn’t reflect that. I believe that the dual narrative didn’t help this, however, the dual narrative allowed for cliff hangers that made me want to read further so it can be forgiven. The last part of Girls on Fire was fantastic for pacing and tension. I couldn’t put the book down and therefore think that some of the first half of it was a tad redundant.

Overall, Girls on Fire is about the toxic nature of friendship and it is one of the most ambitious YA fiction novels that I have read this year.

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman is available now.

For more information about Robin Wasserman then visit her website http://www.robinwasserman.com and follow her on Twitter (@robinwasserman).

For more Little Brown Book Group book titles please visit their website http://www.littlebrown.co.uk and follow on Twitter (@LittleBrownUK)

35 Stars

Review: Rad Women Worldwide – Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries who Shaped History by Kate Schatz

Rad Women WorldwideThe Blurb

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling book Rad American Women A-Z, comes a bold new collection of 40 biographical profiles, each accompanied by a striking illustrated portrait, showcasing extraordinary women from around the world.

In Rad Women Worldwide, writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history.

The Review

I consider myself to be an educated woman. That probably sounds pretty ballsy and egotistical but I stand by this statement. I’m lucky enough to have been able to go to college and university and also to work in a job that allows me to learn new things every day. I feel privileged to be in this position. Then I started reading Rad Women Worldwide (or to give it its full title – Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz) and I realised just how unaware of things I actually am.

Rad Women Worldwide chronicles (briefly) the lives of 40 women who have helped change the world. Out of that list of 40 women I knew 2.

2 – let that sink in.

Rad Women Worldwide showcases just how ignored so many of our innovative and powerful women in history. From computer scientists to nurses to revolutionaries – heck there is even a pirate in the mix. It was enlightening. What made Rad Women Worldwide all the more special is that it gives you a little snippet into the lives of these wondrous women and allows you to pursue them further. You get to make up your own mind about them.

I truly loved Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz and thoroughly believe that no book collection or library is complete without a copy.

Buy this book for your sons and teach them about powerful women; buy it for your daughters and teach them to change the world.

Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History by Kate Schatz

5 Stars