Review: One Of Us Is Lying (Karen M. McManus)

Title: One Of Us Is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Penguin

Release: May 2017

Genre: Mystery/Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is 100% an arctic fox. You know them, they’re white, fluffy carnivores. I saw it as soon as I finished it since this book is so beautifully clever. It’s cunning, witty and the plot twists are so well thought-through. It all just works as it’s meant to and in that way, it’s as clever as a fox hunting. It’s also a stunning story (these foxes are the prettiest type) and honestly I couldn’t put the book down, in the same way you can’t take your eyes off something pretty.

The blurb says: Five students walk into detention. Only four leave alone. Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond. Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them. 

Okay but this is such a good book. Sometimes I’ll start a book and have to push myself to read more because the start is slow and I’m not very patient, but this book kept me going right ’til the end. Hell, it kept me going past the end! I need to know what happened to them all?! The story was so fast-paced, so interesting and so well-written that it’s impossible to put down and forget about. You have to keep going because, what’s going to happen?? Not many books I’ve read do that this well.

The characters are amazing. I want to date Nate, I want to be friends with Cooper and Bronwyn and I want to be a sister to Addy. I love them all (except the obvious d*ck of a boyfriend) and I wish I went to Bayview High. I worried about them, I wanted them all to be innocent and safe and happy. I wanted the best for them all and when things inevitably weren’t the best for them, I wanted to solve it all for them. So good! The story is told from all four main characters’ points of view and I think that’s great as it gives that extra bond to each of them, as well as more insight into their lives.

I really wish I could re-read this and every time for it to have a different outcome. There are so many ways this could have gone and I want to relive it over and over. You should all read this because it’s just so good! Also, it made me rewatch The Breakfast Club and relive that moment so that gets it extra points already! 10 out of 10 paw prints from us and I hope to read more from Karen M. McManus!

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Myfurrybookshelf’s YALC Awards 2017

This year’s YALC was great, complete with fun panels, fab authors and busy stalls. I thought, to do something a little different, I would host an awards ceremony for everything at YALC. Enjoy…

20615418_10154870390787333_1290951325_oBest publisher stand – MyKindaBook

Author I was most excited to meet- Sara Barnard

Author I was most nervous to meet – Hannah WittonFile_000 (4)

Funniest author moment – Holly Bourne (when Benedict Cumberbatch walked through the panel)

Best author outfit – Lauren James’ space dress outfit

Best proof giveaway – Penguin stand (The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – Emily Barr)

Stand I spent the most money at – GeekyClean

Best Buffy cosplay – Non Pratt’s Ripper

Best Harry Potter cosplay – Lucy Saxon’s Scorpius Malfoy

Most informative panel – Life Advice

Special Mention – The lady on the Quirk stand who was the only person to recognise me and my mum as Glory/Ben from Buffy and then was super nice to us for the rest of the weekend, Thank you, you made my day partway through a day of having to explain I wasn’t just very overdressed.

Bonus LFCC Awards:

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Best celebrity present – Alyson Hannigan

Chattiest celebrity – Alexis Denisof

 

Best cosplay – Vampire Willow

Best stand – Galloway Fudge

Review: The Blurt Foundation – Buddy Box

In case you haven’t heard of it, The Blurt Foundation is an organisation created to support people suffering from mental illness, especially depression. The Buddy Box is a monthly subscription crate which contains things designed to promote a good state of mind and help combat depression. I subscribed and have been since May, so I thought I’d review the May and June boxes together as they’re great and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone talking about them on Twitter etc. and I think they should have more attention online.

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So May box’s theme was ‘Couldn’t Give A Monkeys’ with the idea being that you couldn’t give a monkey’s about the things you would usually stress about. The colours of the box were greens and blues with even the packing paper matching this and the lid of the box had a beautiful embossed picture of a zoo scene on it (also green).

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The first item in the box was a tea from Bluebird Tea (Website Here) which are tea blends which you put into teabags yourself (also provided in the box). The flavour was banana (named ‘Monkey Chops’) and smelt absolutely amazing. I don’t personally drink tea but I’ve never tried banana flavour so I tried it and although it did taste too strongly of tea for me, I gave it to my friend (who does enjoy tea!) who really loved it.

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The next items in the box were a soap and a magnet. The soap is from Bomb Cosmetics (Website Here) and it’s pineapple scented. It smells amazing and looks super pretty too so I kind of don’t want to use it and ruin it… The magnet has a monkey on it and has the slogan from the theme of the box; Couldn’t Give A Monkeys’ written across it.

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The next items in the box were a ‘Sentence A Day’ diary and a to-do list in the same style of ‘Couldn’t Give A Monkeys’ as the rest of the box. I’ve been using the diary religiously and love it as it’s so beautiful and has little quirks such as a map you can colour in as you visit various countries. The to-do list is great for blog posts and helps with college work and just looks so adorable. I can’t wait to have a real reason for using this but also don’t want to waste it on something unimportant or unworthy…somebody must get what I mean..?

 

File_001There were also a couple of postcards which are absolutely adorable and follow the animal theme along with some quotes which are positive/inspirational. One simply had monkeys on it and the other had a lion in a jungle with a quote about courage. I love these so much and have stuck them up in my room to remind me to care less and to be braver.

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June’s theme for the box was ‘For When It’s Not All Sunshine And Rainbows’ and it, as you can imagine, was very colourful and pretty. The colour on the lid of the box was gold though, and the illustration was a gorgeous rainbow design which also matched the paper on the inside of the box.

 

File_001 (1)The first item in the box was a pair of Happy socks which I adore since I got a pair in an Illumicrate box a few months ago. They’re so bright and colourful with the idea that they cheer you up and honestly, it does work because I always get really cheery when I wear them purely because I know that’s their purpose and because they’re so bright when I usually wear boring socks. I love these so much, you can find their website here.

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The next item in the box was a hot chocolate which I actually have yet to use simply because it’s been so hot, but I have had this type before and I love them. Basically, it’s a lump of chocolate on a stick and when you mix it with hot water, it melts, creating a delicious drink. The one I now have is dark chocolate and has marshmallows so I can’t wait to use that on a chilly evening all curled up in bed…

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The next item is a coaster with a llama on it as well as the phrase ‘I love naps’ written on it. I love it because I do love naps and appreciate a llama understanding my needs… Also llamas are super cute and the coaster itself is very cute and kind of quirky. I really like it and have it on my nightstand currently.

 

File_002 (1)The next item is an orange-scented lip balm which I think is a great idea. I don’t know whether this is true of everyone/the majority, but for me, when my mental health takes a dip, so does my immune system and I end up with a cold as well as sore eyes and sore lips. So, having a lip balm intended as mental health help really helps me as it kind of insures that I’ll remember to look after myself in that way even when I feel at my worst. It also smells amazing (orange!) and is super soft on my lips. It’s also vegan so that’s cool!

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The next item is a set of inspirational cards called ‘Believe In Yourself’ cards and they’re filled with beautiful, inspiring quotes in order to empower you and keep you feeling positive about yourself. They’re a good quality material and feel super sturdy so I’ve stuck a few up in my room to remind me to believe in myself. I love these because there are quite a few and among them all, there’s always one which helps me.

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Finally, we come to the postcards in this box. This time, they’re illustrated with a rainbow/sun design which is so gorgeous and the quote is an empowering quote about strength and believing in ourselves. They’re pretty and colourful, so I’ve stuck them up in my room too.

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Thanks to my guinea pig, Fudge, for helping me out with her real modelling debut which she seemed to enjoy. Thanks to The Blurt Foundation for coming up with this fantastic idea which I (and many others) really enjoy. I’m definitely a subscriber now and I hope it continues to be an amazing success.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – Reading Recommendations

File_001 (7)Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend a few books which I think address mental health very well. They’re not all books which are centered around mental health, and they don’t all focus on it greatly, but whether it’s an inspiring paragraph or the whole book, it’s here for a reason.

First, to represent agoraphobia and OCD, it has to be Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall). This book is beautiful, honest, moving and I felt like I related to it a lot more than some other books focusing on the same things. Norah is amazing, strong and very similar to me so that was an immediate click for me. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Also representing OCD, it’s Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne) which is a beautiful story following the life of Evie who suffers from strong OCD and shows her struggles and attempts to be ‘normal’. This so well portrays the mindset of someone who thinks they’re weird and wants to fit in, and I found it very easy to relate to. It’s honest and is one of my favourite reads because of this. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

I am fully aware that being transgender isn’t a mental disorder or illness, so please don’t shoot me, but I’m putting If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo) in here too. This is because the main character is struggling with her identity and through the bullying and misunderstandings, there are points where the narration displays some quite hurtful thoughts about herself. Because of the bullying in the story, she isn’t thinking right and could be experiencing some variation of depression or anxiety. It’s a very touching, very important story that everyone should read and I do think that it belongs here since it does portray some very negative, self-deprecating thoughts that wouldn’t be there otherwise (without the bullying/misunderstandings) as she’s been essentially taught to think this way. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Representing eating disorders/a distorted body image is Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill) and it’s the first book I ever decided to review because of how good it is. I think it’s so realistic in a ‘this would never happen’ kind of way. I can see how the patriarchal control in the story replicates the same manipulation in the real world and it’s done so well that I think everyone should have to read this even if it’s just to inspire you to tell the world to f off. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

As representation for anxiety, I’ve put in the entire Girl Online series (Zoe Sugg) because I think (at least for me), it’s very accurate and portrays that inner monologue well. I enjoy the story as well as the issues inside it, as there’s no love triangle and the romantic interest isn’t magically a cure for her mental health problems. It’s realistic, and honestly shows the stages of a panic attack, thoughts caused by anxiety and the missed opportunities it can cause. Just because it’s ghost-written for a vlogger doesn’t make it bad. You can read my full review (including the blurb) of the first book here: Review

This last book is a slight stretch since it isn’t entirely focused on mental health, however I do think that it would help someone going through the same situation. It’s No Virgin (Anne Cassidy) which is about a rape. It’s not explicitly mentioned that the main character is experiencing any mental health issues, however I think that through the narrative, it could be assumed that she’s having a lot of negative thoughts, self-blame and guilt which could so easily become depression or anxiety (among other things). PTSD is a common problem which comes after rape, and it could be argued that that is present in this book. I think it depends how you interpret it and how hard-hitting the subject is for you, but I definitely think that this book should be on this list. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Review: All About Mia (Lisa Williamson)

27016992_UnknownTitle: All About Mia

Author: Lisa Williamson

Publisher: David Fickling Books

Release: February 2017

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? For me, I would say this book is a chameleon. Chameleons can be extremely colourful and can be multiple different colours through their life, but are all the same animal of course. In the same way, this book covers multiple issues and storylines within the same 363 pages. However, a chameleon can also be plain, and it can blend in with ‘boring’ surroundings by becoming one shade of green or beige etc. I think this book is extremely colourful in the level of depth and various storylines it has, however I think that this level of depth varies person to person. For example, someone who can relate to the pregnancy aspect more would get more from that plot line, but someone who can relate more to the middle-child-loneliness aspect would take more from that.

The blurb says: One family, three sisters. GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.  AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.  And MIA, the mess in the middle.
 Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

God this book is funny. It’s so very funny and sarcastic that it had me laughing throughout. The story isn’t a particularly humorous one, and it has its problems for the characters, but the irony and the dry humor is just so good that you sort of forget that the characters’ lives are falling apart. I love when a book has you concerned for the characters but also laughing as you go.

I love how individual each character was; I adore Mia. She’s clumsy, she’s not the brightest in the decisions she makes and she’s sarcastic. But she’s real and we’re all a little bit of Mia. I make the worst decisions and I’m also quite sarcastic. I envy her hair and wardrobe but I don’t envy her family. I think anyone with siblings knows how she feels though; it always feels like they’re better than you at something. It doesn’t matter if you’re the eldest, middle or the youngest.

I think the best thing about this book was how genuine the story is. This could happen in a family similar to Mia’s and it would probably end a lot like this one does. It’s realistic to have a jealous, left-out middle child, an uptight, goody eldest child, and a shy, modest youngest child. It would make sense they would all behave just as Grace, Mia and Audrey do, and watching the story unfold was infuriating but it was real. I could see it happening in my own life or in a friend’s life, and that was the best thing about it.

I love how family-oriented it was; there was no dramatic love triangle, n20160804_163103o tragic boy drama and no high school bullying. It was almost exclusively about the family and how they live. There aren’t many books that do this, and do this well. It’s heartwarming, funny and also quite tense at times. A really good, very gripping read. 10 out of 10 paw prints from me!

Why I Haven’t Blogged For A While (Anxiety Update)

I know there are very few people (if anyone) who will read this post since I’m not a regular blogger as it is, and I’m not exactly Zoella. Even so, I felt like I needed to explain myself to anyone who will read this.

Blogging is a hobby and it started purely as a hobby and a way to openly praise books I loved and felt deserved more praise. I love doing it, I love talking to other bloggers and I love feeling like I’ve made an author happy by writing something nice about their book. At the same time though, I feel anxious every time I post a blog. It’s like I’m releasing a small bird into the wild, only to see it to be caught by an eagle as it tries to fly home. On some level, I want my blogs to be popular, but I don’t want attention because then my anxiety gets worse.

Sometimes I blog regularly and I’m happy with it and I’m proud of how I’m doing. Last year I was nominated for an award and I was so happy, but then other times I just feel like it’s not worth it. The words don’t come out right, nothing sounds good enough and I feel like it’s a waste of time and that no one will care anyway.

I’m going to blog again and I’m going to get myself out of my own slump because if I don’t, I have very little chance of getting out of it. I just wanted to explain that I’m not lazy, I didn’t forget to blog and I do still love reading. I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do it because my anxieties were fighting me.

But I want to blog and I want to beat my anxieties because they have no right to tell me what I can and can’t do. So here I am, blogging. And I’ll be blogging for a while. If you have the same problems I do (please tell me so we can bond over our problems – I have no friends), then you should do the same. Fight it. Own your anxieties. Without you fighting back, you have no chance. Do the things you want to do. Tell your head it’s wrong; people do want to talk to you. People do want to read your blog. You matter and you’re important.

Win.

Review: Shift (Em Bailey)

file_004-4Title: Shift

Author: Em Bailey

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Release: 2012

Genre: Thriller, contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? To me, this book strongly resembles a saltwater crocodile. Many animal-lovers will tell you crocodiles are very unpredictable and there’s genuinely no telling what they’re going to do. In the same way, this book had so many twists and turns it’s unreal…Saltwater crocodiles are also notoriously aggressive and dangerous (obviously there are exceptions in domestic cases etc etc) but this book made me feel on edge and concerned for the characters in the same way the threat of a giant potentially murderous reptile would make you feel.

The blurb says: There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school. The first was that she had no parents – they were dead. The second was that they were dead because Miranda had killed them. Olive used to be the school queen-bee. But that was before her breakdown. Now she’s the class loner, and can only watch as new girl Miranda latches onto Olive’s ex-best friend Katie. Soon Miranda is talking like Katie, dressing like Katie – even going out with Katie’s boyfriend. And then Katie dies. Everyone seems to believe it was a tragic accident, but Olive isn’t so sure. What if the wild rumours are true? What if Miranda really is a killer…?

Firstly, I think I’m still in shock a little bit over the twists in this story… I can normally predict twists or see roughly what’s going to happen but with this book, I was genuinely shocked. I think I actually gasped. Out loud! And I couldn’t put it down (I read this in around two days.?) because the whole story is just tense and there’s not one part of it anyone could describe as dull. It’s so gripping and I just wanted to know what would happen next.

I love that, through Olive, the reader can experience the world through that ‘queen-bee’ persona as well as the ‘loner’. It really added to the story since she explained why Katie was behaving the way she was. I also really liked that, due to her breakdown, Olive was seeing things differently and could experience school life through a new attitude, and seemed to care less about more materialistic things. The way mental health was represented was great and I really appreciated that the story didn’t encourage any of the stigmas/bad representation mental illness receives.

I honestly really loved everything about it. I loved the pace since it moved quickly and it kept me interested; I loved the characters because I could either relate to them or I found them interesting and I loved the actual plot because it was so clever and worked 20160804_163103really well. I love that all the loose ends were tied up well in explanations throughout the story.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a dark thriller that’s impossible to put down. This gets 10 out 10 paw prints from me!

Geeky Clean February Crate (Wonderland)

file_001-5I’ve never had a Geeky Clean crate before and the only things I’d bought from there were two Grisha lipbalms for my Mum at Christmas (which she loves and still uses) so I was pretty much completely new to the company. I’d seen a few people praise them and describe them as though they’re the best thing in the fandom/bath products world so I decided to give them a go. The January box was based on gaming and I didn’t want to buy the crate and not understand any of the references, so I decided to wait and see what the next one was and then they announced Wonderland. I also saw a post where it was said that the theme was chosen because the creator of the boxes had read Heartless (Marissa Meyer) and that is one of my favourite books in the whole wide world so I knew this was the box basically intended for me, so I ordered it. It arrived on 1.3.17 and I can honestly say there were no mistakes made in that decision…

file_003-4The first item is the White Rabbit Shower Tablet which is a kind of palm-sized bath bomb for the shower. You throw it into the shower, but at the opposite end to the plug and it fizzes away, releasing its lovely smell/vapors into the bathroom. This particular one is white with small flecks of blue and pink, and smells of basil and peppermint. Personally, I like it because it’s very strong and smells very grown-up and mature, if that makes any sense.

The next product is the Mad Tea Party Bath Tea Bag which is a teabag for your bath, as the name suggests. You hold it under the tap and let the water push out all the sfile_005-4mell, then drop it in to fully infuse with the bath water (or that’s what I do anyway, you may just be supposed to drop it into the bath and leave it). This one smells of sweet rose, tea and woody notes and I love it because it smells very fresh and outdoorsy. I love bath tea bags like this since they usually don’t add bubbles to a bath but make everything smell really nice. Sometimes there’s colour too (although I don’t think there is with this one since it looks very natural).

Next is the Jest Soap Sample which just excited me because Jest is my favourite character in Heartless and I really hoped there’d be something associated with him. And there’s this soap, so I’d be happy file_004-5no matter what it smelt like, however it does smell of mint, basil, white tea, musk and woody amber (which is a lovely combination by the way). To me, this smells pretty masculine, strong and mysterious (all qualities Jest possesses, surprisingly), so I really liked the link to Heartless here and thought it fit well. file_002-6

Next we have the Hearts vs Chess Soap Pop which is a big old pink heart on a stick which immediately excited me because it’s novelty soap and I am easily pleased…You’re supposed to remove the stick before using but I intend to leave the stick in for as long as possible, and if that means not using it for a while then so be it! This soap smells of violet, grapefruit and kumquat which is such a pretty, girly fragrance that I kind of want to never use up the soap but also kind of want to use it everyday.

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The final, and easily my favourite item in the whole box, is the Queen of Hearts Soy Wax Candle which is actually incredibly stunning. To be honest, when I saw the tin, I thought it’d be a plain red candle, or maybe have a heart pattern across it. Nope; it’s a white candle with a red heart essentially stuck onto the top, letting the red bleed beautifully into the white of the main candle. It’s gorgeous, and I didn’t think I’d be able to use it because of that, but then I sniffed it and realised I have to use it. It smells of watermelon, jasmine and violet which is completely lovely and end up smelling very sweet and (to me) like the haribo heart sweets from the starmix packets.

The next box’s theme is ‘Be My Guest’, probably because of the new Beauty and The Beast film which is out this month, and I would love to order one but alas my bank balance disagrees with my need for this box. I will be buying another crate in the future, just not yet. I’ll definitely use up all these products but I’ll be sad to see them go. 10/10 would buy again!

 

Review: The State of Grace (Rachael Lucas)

file_000Title: The State of Grace

Author: Rachael Lucas

Publisher: Macmillan (mykindabook)

Release: 6th April 2017

Genre: Contemporary, mental health (Asperger’s)

Which animal is similar to this book? Okay this one’s a little bit of a stretch but just go with it please…For me, I would personally say this is a greyhound because for anyone who knows greyhounds, they are one of the breeds people are likely to say they can ‘relate to’ because they’re full of those traits which people often joke about or see in themselves. Greyhounds like to sleep a lot, enjoy food and like attention so there are quite a few greyhound owners who will say they’re like their dog. In the same way, anyone with Asperger’s or autism will really feel like this book ‘gets’ them, just as a greyhound ‘gets’ me, and since I do have Asperger’s, I feel like that about it. I can relate a lot to Grace and to the emotions she experiences, so this book is my greyhound. Greyhounds are also a very fast animal and so compare to this book in that the story is quite fast-paced. Also, greyhounds make exceptional therapy dogs and I feel like this book is kind of a ‘comfort’ book in the same way a greyhound would comfort someone who was having a bad day. I will be reading this on bad days or days I want to feel connected to someone similar to me, so I will be treating this book as kind of a go-to, comfort-read and I would advise anyone similar to me to do the same.

The blurb says: Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost. Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more. Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own. Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to.

I want all my friends to read this. I want to give this to anyone who looks at me like I’m stupid/rude, to anyone who thinks I’m a freak, to anyone and everyone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to live with Asperger’s. I feel like this is definitely one of the most important books of 2017 and I want everyone to know. The way it’s written just makes me realise how not-alone I am and I want to know Grace in reality so badly because I know we are one and the same (except for the part where she loves horses and I have quite a substantial fear of horses because they’re big and could probably kill me with their eyes).

Grace is the best character; she speaks so honestly and bluntly (in her head of course) so that even if you don’t have Asperger’s, the story will still have a good impact on you. I love the way all the characters are so distinctive and separate and I also love that each has their own sub-plot which all make sense at the end. I also love that since we’re seeing everything through Grace’s eyes, everything seems negative and all her worries affect the way the reader will see the story; I think that’s so clever and I wish I could write like that.
The story is fast-paced and at the start, everything is happening quite quickly but by the end, you will be tense, anxious and concerned for Grace as everything speeds along to a nice, relaxing, all-wrapped-up ending. I love that the end of the book actually did wrap up every mini-plot and everything was answered, because I would’ve been heartbroken if anything had been missed out. I also love the two Taylor Swift references, because I am a Swiftie at heart and I love to see references to the old, country, curly-haired Taylor Swift. I also really appreciated the German Shepherd having a good representation; that line about the perception she’s aggressive made me so happy because breed stigmas/representation is where my little animal-student heart lies…

I love that it describes that feeling of being so emotionally drained and physically tired after socialising with people because I feel like that’s an important aspect that people don’t really seem to understand unless they experience it themselves. I also love that it featured an autistic main character who has *shock* a romantic relationship. That’s often not seen as possible since autistic people supposedly have no emotions, don’t want to touch anyone or just aren’t interested in relationships. In this book, Grace is completely ‘normal’ and is a ‘normal’ teenager, just with a mental problem which affects her social skills and thinking, not her desire to date or have friendships. I also love that she’s that ‘normal’ in that she’s not a train enthusiast, can’t do complicated maths in her head and isn’t obsessed with space like a lot of autistic characters seem to be. She’s just an animal-lover who likes Doctor Who and there are quite a few of those who aren’t autistic.

This was honestly such a good book, I can’t say enough good things about it. I will be buying a finished copy, I will be lending it to anyone I can convince to read it and I will be praising it for months to come. This is truly an important read for anyone who has Asperger’s, knows someone who has Asperger’s or simply wants to see what it’s like. I genuinely feel books like this (as well as Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise 20160804_163103Gornall and Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne) should be taught in schools or at least strongly promoted so that they can explain these mental health issues to people who possibly don’t understand it, or who don’t want to feel like a ‘weirdo’ or like they’re alone in the world.

I kind of want a few lines of this tattooed to be honest, and I would recommend this to anyone at all; it’s such a good book and I really hope people read it and feel as connected to it as I do. So, obviously, this gets 10 out of 10 paw prints from me!

Review: Unconventional (Maggie Harcourt)

26484720_unknownTitle: Unconventional

Author: Maggie Harcourt

Publisher: Usborne

Release: 1st February 2017

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Which animal is similar to this book? To me, this book is a cheetah, partly because of the pace at which the story moved (in case you didn’t figure that out, it moves at a fast pace). I love books which move quickly through the story (I can get bored quite quickly otherwise…) and because of the way the chapters were arranged, there was nothing unnecessary in the story, the plot was pushed forwards at a speed which kept me well and truly engaged. Also though, cheetahs are fantastic mothers (usually) and will protect their young to the death, will teach them to hunt, will teach them to run, help them climb trees when they’re too young to use their own strength to do so. All in all, they won’t leave young behind and there has been some evidence that they mourn their family too when they die. They’re emotive, caring animals who will nurture young until they’re fully ready for the world; in the same way, Unconventional is fast and it keeps you interested, but you won’t get confused or left behind, and the story is a lot more nurturing and gentle than your typical fast-paced books (fantasy, action etc). There isn’t a whole lot of action (apart from a dog-search early on!) and the story is softer and kinder and there’s a lot of emotion and you will feel things. Unconventional = gorgeous cheetah mother.

The blurb says:  Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray. In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love…

The story follows Lexi and her Dad as they host a few conventions each season – six conventions overall, I believe – (each chapter is a different convention/month spent at home planning conventions) so it really does focus on the convention aspect of the story. That’s not to say you won’t like it if you’ve never been to one (I’ve only ever been to YALC but none of it was confusing or hard to understand) and I really like how each chapter is so different to the last just because it’s set in a completely different part of Lexi’s life.

Firstly, the characters are so defined and well-built that I feel like I genuinely know Aidan and Sam especially. Nadiya is up there too of course, but Lexi is so easy to relate to that it slightly scared me… But the way that all the characters have their own distinctive voices really works, probably because there are quite a few characters, so they needed to each be strongly separate. It’s likely that if you read this book (which you definitely should!), then you will become connected at least one of the characters; for me, it has to be Sam because she’s so honest, outgoing and everything I wish I was.

I also love that this book not only follows Lexi and Aidan through their romantic ups and downs, but it also touches on friendships within the convention staff and Lexi’s family. I love her mum because she’s just such a lovely character, always saying the logical thing and helping Lexi through everything, but I also love her dad and the way he’s so good at planning things and is yet so scatter-brained.

I think one of the best parts of this story is that it focuses on a teen girl working (and doing it well!), not having to be helped/saved by a handsome male hero. I thought that in that way, it was empowering but without being obviously feminist or having that as the main plot which can sometimes put people off books.

I couldn’t even compare the plot to any other book I’ve read, but I will say that Lexi reminded me of Harriet Manners (Holly Smale’s Geek Girl series) with her organisational skills, lists, love for clipboards and sense of authority, but minus the clumsiness and inability to properly speak to people…I would recommend it to anyone who feels even vaguely interested in the story I’ve attempted to describe, because I guarantee you will love it! 10 out of 10 paw prints from me and my furry friends!