Review: Girl Out Of Water (Nat Luurtsema)

file_000-1Title: Girl Out Of Water

Author: Nat Luurtsema

Publisher: Walker Books

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary/humor

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is fast-paced, hilarious and the main character is very clumsy. Therefore, it’s obviously a bulldog puppy. Bulldog puppies are gorgeous and very popular but when they’re small, their feet are huge and they don’t really know how to control them yet so they end up falling over a lot. I knew one bulldog puppy who would do some kind of comically slow fall everytime she was scared or if something made her jump. Of course they’re lovely (as is this book) but when they’re not asleep, they’re running around at top speed and falling over a lot. This book is the same in the sense that it is fast, funny to read and a lot of the humor is at the expense of the characters.

The blurb says: Stars in her eyes, water in her ears, boys on her nerves… Lou Brown is out of her depth. A thoroughly British teen comedy starring a hilariously flawed heroine with a quip for every occasion – perfect for fans of Holly Smale, Holly Bourne, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Kinsella. Lou Brown’s life is going down the pan. Best friend Hannah sailed through the Olympic time trials and is off to her fancy-pants new swim training school, while Lou’s own failure to qualify leaves her without a hobby – or a friend. As Lou tries to navigate her post-swim world, a chance encounter with three boys with stars in their eyes takes her life in a surprising new direction. One that leads to a crazy world of underwater somersaults, talent show auditions, bitchy girls and one great big load of awkward boy chat.

I just love this book, Nat Luurtsema is a comedy genius. I saw her talk at YALC 2016 and met her as well and that was the reason I decided to read this book actually. She was just so funny and honest with everything she said that I knew I’d love her book. It’s not often I laugh out loud at a book but she achieved it multiple times. Everything is unexpected and insane and wacky but at the same time, it’s quite easy to see how everything links together and how it could actually happen in real life, put into those circumstances.

It’s a very light-hearted, warm book but there are aspects of more serious themes such as jealousy and family problems. There’s also a small aspect of body image provided by Hannah (Lou’s best friend). It follows Lou’s journey after failing to get into the swim school with Hannah as she attempts to fit in at school and find new things to do with her new, increased free time. There are emotions involved and even a couple of boys but the focus isn’t on the romance. The story is predominantly humor and I love how 20160804_163103beautifully insane the plot is.

This book truly is a work of art; the perfect balance of serious situations and sarcastic one-liners along with slightly awkward situations with the odd hilarious anecdote thrown in there. I feel like I need to read more about Lou’s tragic mishaps to be honest though. *insert broken heart emoji* I’m genuinely starting to miss her since I finished this book a day ago…Anyway, 10 out of 10 paw prints, beautifully, hysterically funny story, all should read!

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Review: No Virgin (Anne Cassidy)

file_000Title: No Virgin

Author: Anne Cassidy

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release: 3rd November 2016

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? Okay, this comparison is going to be out there and difficult to explain, so just bear with me please…For me, this book is a pitbull. It (rape) needs talking about more, victims need more defense and more protection, and victims are often left badly emotionally (and sometimes) physically damaged for life. Pitbulls are commonly used in fighting rings (which is very illegal) and you may have heard horror stories of pitbulls killing chihuahuas or mauling young children. This is never the dog’s fault and can often be traced back to a triggering incident. Take the chihuahua death; a pitbull is a dog sadly bred to fight other dogs. Unfortunately, due to this, many are abused or actually taught to fight. This leaves them with a built-in aggression towards other dogs, hence the dog attack. They are very easily emotionally damaged; after a pitull is attacked by a person wrongfully expecting them to be vicious, they then become wary and will respond with violence. A rape victim is usually very emotionally damaged and shouldn’t be blamed for any of their actions (whether they’re towards their attacker or whether they just want to hide from it all and become more nervous). Another angle is that rape isn’t talked about as a big issue enough; women are taught not to wear short skirts but men aren’t taught not to sexually harass/abuse someone. In the same way, people are happy to accept that pitbull fighting is wrong, but many don’t do anything to prevent it.

The blurb on Netgalley says: My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped. Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey’s story.

This book was so good, I read it in less than a day. The way everything was written made it so much more realistic and I felt genuinely connected to Stacey. It’s raw, honest and emotional as hell but despite the rape in the story, it’s a lovely story of friendship. Stacey’s best friend, Patrice, encourages her to write the events leading up to the attack as well as the actual attack so that she can show the sexual assault help line/the police and (quite rightly) she’s disgusted this happens at all.

The story starts with the reader knowing Stacey was raped, but they have to wait to see the story unfold to see who by and how it happens. The suspense is awful though because throughout the story, you will inevitably bond with Stacey and you’ll predict all these bad situations she’s getting into but some play out, whereas some don’t so you’re left stressed for her but also relieved as well as worried for the next situation.

Stacey’s a nice girl, if a little naive, and makes a lot of mistakes during the plot, but obviously nothing she could possibly do would justify the rape. My favourite thing about this story is the way the victim blames herself and is immediately shut down and rational (correct) responses are given. This is realistic and also good to address since most rape victims feel like they are to blame, and often the rapists will use their feelings 20160804_163746to encourage the ‘blame the victim’ idea. This book directly addresses that, and the brutality of rape in unflinching detail which is what makes it so honest and brilliant.

I’m so lucky to have read this from Netgalley, and I’d love to own the hard copy of it when it’s released, so I’d give this 9 out of 10 paw prints! I’d love to see a sequel too!

Review: Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne)

20161011_141904Title: Am I Normal Yet?

Author: Holly Bourne

Publisher: Usborne

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary, mental health

Which animal is similar to this book? This book, to me, resembles a generic pig. I realise how harsh this sounds, but hear me out! When someone says the word ‘pig’, most people will immediately think of a traditional pot-bellied pig on a farm in a muddy field. These pigs are messy, love to forage and are obviously only kept for the purpose of meat. Other people will think of the less common (but much more common among celebrities!) teacup pig. These are miniature versions of the standard ‘pig’ and are arguably adorable (yes they fit in a teacup when young, and fit in a mixing bowl when adult!). ‘Pigs’ are versatile; even the pot-bellied pig can be used for meat or pig racing! They’re different and all the different breeds have different characteristics, despite being wildly similar. Am I Normal Yet? is a story about a girl with OCD, yet it still covers topics such as feminism, friendship, family issues, boy problems and bullying. It’s very versatile as pigs are and although the main plot is about mental health, the other storylines are also very strong within that.

The blurb says: Normal at 16 = College, Friends who won’t dump you, Parties? Fun? A boyfriend? All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing left to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

Okay, this book is amazing. Having OCD myself, reading books which claim to talk about it is always tense and I’m waiting for the cliches or the misinterpretations which come from people who don’t have it themselves. However, this book is so accurate. It’s so obvious from just reading it that Holly Bourne did a lot of research to get this 100%. From the feelings, symptoms, needs even to the ways a therapist would help and the diaries/worksheets they would give someone to help them; it’s all fully accurate.

In that sense, it’s very informative for anyone with a friend who is suffering from OCD but doesn’t quite understand it, but it also gives a lot of information about feminism. There are terms used (like ‘benevolent sexism’) which aren’t commonly used in conversation but are so important and should be talked about more. I just loved it, and when Lottie explains those terms to the other two, I was learning alongside them and I feel like that’s something other girls should be able to experience too.

The characters are lovely and I wish I knew them all in real life because that would just be a dream come true! I also read the acknowledgments and I love that the first dating story in the book is based on a date the author actually went on (I also love that she didn’t change his name and isn’t sorry for it!) because when I was reading that, it seemed like a thing which could happen, but almost seemed too impossible to happen in a normal scenario, as opposed to celebrity lives.

I also love that the story is so funny and witty; despite the seriousness of OCD and the problems Evie is facing, there’s often dry or witty humor as well which makes the plot more light-hearted. Saying that, it did make me emotional and I really did feel sorry for Evie, watching her put herself in situations I know I would hate, and yet I unde20160804_163103rstood why she was doing it, and somehow that made it worse.

I know I’m late to the Spinster Club, but I won’t be leaving any time soon! I can’t wait to read the other books (I already bought them because I knew I’d love them!), but I do think Evie will be my favourite overall… We shall see! I definitely give Am I Normal Yet? a very strong 10 out of 10 paw prints! Everyone should read it!

Review: Username: Evie (Joe Sugg)

20160915_125625Title: Username: Evie

Author: Joe Sugg

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Release: Out now!

Genre: Graphic novel, sci-fi

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is a graphic novel, so obviously there are a lot of illustrations and they are beautiful. The artwork is extraordinary, so I would compare it to a saluki, which is a breed of dog known to be stunning (and they know it too!).They’re also very intelligent, as is this book since it’s so cleverly done and the dialogue is also very witty and funny. Salukis are also very well-known to be hilarious with a lot of what they do!

The blurb says: Like anyone who feels they don’t fit in, Evie dreams of a place of safety. When times are tough, all she wants is a chance to escape from reality and be herself. But unknown to Evie her beloved Father has been working tirelessly to create a virtual idyll just for her, and life as she knows it is about to be altered forever. Could this be the perfect world Evie has longed for? Or does the hardest journey still lie ahead…

I actually can’t say I ever read graphic novels, just because I don’t ever feel drawn to them, but I’m a Joe Sugg fan so, of course, I bought it, not knowing what to expect. It turns out it’s amazing and I loved it a lot more than I thought I would. Having been bullied as a kid, I can relate to that feeling of wanting somewhere to go to be alone and to feel safe, so the plot really touched me in that sense.

The story follows Evie, a young outcast girl who ends up in a safe world her dad created for her to give her somewhere to escape to. When the world has a negative influence, everything about it changes and suddenly it’s more dangerous than safe and Evie has to find a way out, as well as finding herself in the process. It’s lovely and full of action and I love that it isn’t blatantly aimed towards a certain gender as a lot of graphic novels can be (action directed at boys and magic/witches aimed at girls). Although it is packed full of action, it’s told from a girl’s point of view and for that reason, I think anyone20160804_163103 would enjoy this!

I love that it’s also quite a short read since there aren’t a huge amount of words, but the illustrations are so detailed that you could spend a while looking at them!

I would recommend this to anyone and I can’t wait for the release of Username: Regenerated which comes out this Thursday (22.9.16)! I can’t find any problems with this book, so it gets 10 out of 10 paw prints!

Review: The DUFF (Kody Keplinger)

20160915_124307Title: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Author: Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Hodder

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I would say that a dolphin is very similar to this book, because dolphins are extremely intelligent and this book is very witty. They’re also very funny in the things they do, and this book made me laugh (out loud, which is very rare!) so I would go with a dolphin.

The blurb says: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper knows she’s not the hottest girl at school, but when school jock and resident moron Wesley casually refers to her as a Duff – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – the gloves are off! If there’s a thin line between love and hate then Bianca has crossed it. She just never thought she was capable of breaking anyone’s heart…

This book is a lovely mix between a story of self-confidence, friendship and also romance. It encapsulates high school life well and the voices of the characters are so realistic and easy to relate to. At that age, it’s easy for people to feel not good enough because of the few people that are lucky enough to have perfect skin, or that have enough money to be able to go to a gym and therefore have the perfect body…especially if you feel you have none of that. The book is blunt and talks about how everyone is a DUFF for someone else in some way and that’s fine because it just means you look different and maybe don’t fit the typical beauty standards.

It’s well-written, funny and honest about life at that age. The romance isn’t the main story although it is good to read (I don’t normally enjoy romance/romantic plot lines20160802_160912) and very realistic. I like how the book plays with the ideas of hatred/love being such close feelings which can cross over, because I find that interesting.

Overall, this book deserves 8 out of 10 paw prints as I’ve read it so many times and I loved the film too! I would really recommend it!

Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall)

20160823_161617Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Author: Louise Gornall

Publisher: Chicken House

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary, mental health

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is a Scarlet Macaw Parrot in a land of African Grey Parrots. It stands out immensely against all the other books tackling mental health in a way which is meant to be seen as useful or easy to relate to, when there are a lot which will only romanticise it and make it seem appealing. This book shines in comparison to those and just radiates greatness, as do scarlet macaws since they are often perceived as snooty and seem to know they’re the prettiest parrots. However, they’re also one of the most sensitive species of parrots and will often pluck their own feathers (a sign of stress/worry) at just the slightest change in environment. This book resembles that in the way the main character, Norah, is so unstable and easily stressed.

The blurb says: I’m Norah and my life happens within the walls of my house, where I live with my mom, and this evil overlord called Agoraphobia. Everything’s under control. It’s not rosy – I’m not going to win any prizes for Most Exciting Life or anything, but at least I’m safe from the outside world, right? Wrong. This new boy, Luke, just moved in next door, and suddenly staying safe isn’t enough. If I don’t take risks, how will I ever get out – or let anyone in?

I don’t even know where to start reviewing this, I’m sure it’s all been said… This book made me see my own problems in a new way, which are small compared to Norah’s struggles since I don’t have agoraphobia, but it gave me new ideas of coping methods, as well as the promise that there are ways to handle it and eventually recover from it. It shows mental illness in a way which highlights every single negative, even the not so glamorous ones, which can often be overlooked in the media where they’ll show someone with OCD to have to fold paper perfectly in a straight line and that’s it. OCD is more than that and it’s difficult for people who don’t have it to fully understand it and they will often treat it as something that can just be ignored or that you can just ‘get over it’. I love that this book shows Norah’s ways of coping and how they often don’t work, and it shows the different ways her OCD and agoraphobia affect her in her life.

The characters are so likeable, especially Norah; I wish I could be her best friend or sister to be honest! I felt sympathy for her and also felt like if she was real, I would connect with her so well because we have so much in common and there aren’t many book characters I can connect to like that.

This is the kind of book I feel to be truly important and I would suggest that anyone with a mental illness (or anyone who knows someone with one) should read this. I genuinely feel that this book, and others like it, should be on future reading lists for GCSE’s and A Levels because it’s so informative, well-written and overall a good story. Or it should at least be suggested to all people of that age since a lot of people suffering with mental illness will develop it at this age and won’t know how to handle it. A book like this, making them feel more normal, teaching them ways to cope and giving them a better way to understand/explain what they’re feeling would be fantastically useful to them. I know that at that age, when my issues first developed, I felt like a freak but if I’d read a book like this, it probably would’ve changed the way I saw myself and the way I handle20160804_163103d it.

Obviously, I thought this book was amazing, so it gets a solid 10 out of 10 paw prints and I recommend that everyone read this, especially if you suffer from some kind of mental illness because it honestly will help, despite not being a ‘self-help book’.

Review: Girl Online (Zoe Sugg)

20160823_160005Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg

Publisher: Penguin

Release: Out Now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I believe this book resembles a panda for the reason that they’re cute and playful but also endangered. This book is very fun and amusing at times, but also has quite serious aspects, such as the topic of the main character’s anxiety and issues in social situations. Pandas seem like very low-stress animals since they’re very funny in their behaviours, but also have that serious side of being highly endangered.

The blurb says: Penny has a secret. Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

This novel is funny as well as interesting and the voice of Penny leaves the reader feeling connected to her. As someone who also suffers with anxiety, and as someone who has watched all of Zoe’s videos on anxiety, it was nice to read about someone who has it to the same level I do and who has found ways to cope with it. It was also nice for the character to be so in control of it that she could do what she wanted to most of the time, and to not let it control her life.

The social structure of the story is realistic and the way it all plays out, although un20160804_163746likely to happen to anyone in my life ever, it does read as plausible and realistic too. It’s easy to read and keeps the reader hooked, making it impossible to put down.

I loved this story, the characters and the voice the characters were given, so I would give this 9 pawprints out of 10!