Book Review: Wildflower – Drew Barrymore

25065522

“Be authentic. Be yourself. And most important of all..make it personal”

You’ve probably heard of Drew Barrymore, child star, actress, writer and business woman. I picked up the audiobook of Barrymore’s latest book ‘Wildflower’. I didn’t know when starting that Barrymore had already released a book as a teenager ‘Little Girl Lost’ (which is incredibly hard to get hold of). This is a different story, while it touches upon that part of her life, this is a positive story where Drew is nothing if not grown up.

Barrymore was legally independent at the age of 14, something which she was for at the time. There are points where I just wanted to give her a hug. As a 14-year-old she was living in an apartment, working shifts at a coffee shop, unable to cook or clean and completely alone. This is part of the story that she tells. On the other hand, Drew writes about the love and wonder the being a mother brings, letters to both of her daughters as well as her anxiety at parenting when she didn’t have her parents around.

Each chapter shows a different part of Barrymore’s life in a kaleidoscope. From what it’s like to be on a boot camp with her fellow Charlie’s Angels to crazy antics from her twenties. There’s a lot to laugh about while creates a balance. Barrymore is a breath of fresh air and has an obvious flair for writing and being able to inject humour too, something which not many can.

This book has definitely kick started a fascination with Drew Barrymore. She had so many challenges in what seemed a life of privilege, she came out of the other side and now she’s a kick ass business woman, writer, actress and more. I’d fully recommend this book, it’s not a chronological book, while it does jump around a lot I thoroughly enjoyed it. For this book, there was definitely an added benefit hearing her act it out.

I gave Wildflower four stars ****. This is an excellent read with an important message. She doesn’t make excuses and admits when she made mistakes. Humorous, thought-provoking and brilliant. Get reading.

Book Review: The Vagenda – Holly Baxter & Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

23346886

Two women take on the media, welcome to The Vagenda.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I love a good non-fiction book, I was not disappointed by The Vagenda. Holly and Rhiannon had spent years surrounded by media that told them they were supposed to look, dress and act a certain way when they decided enough is enough. This is one of the books I wish I had growing up because by the end Holly and Rhiannon felt like two cool older sisters.

Now, I can understand people having a little apprehension about this but I can promise you it’s not a damning ‘we should hate everything and everyone’. Far from it, after finishing this book I felt more educated and stronger as a woman. Rhiannon and Holly don’t tell you how to live your life, they merely give their observations and how they’ve felt. Personally, I used to read a lot of magazines and it made me realise the impact it was having on me.

From being a teenager reading those magazines, moving on the celebrity gossip occasionally and then on to the big leagues of Cosmo, Glamour, Elle and Vogue, I was absorbing this. It was until I thought about my sister (who’s seven years younger) and started university I realised I didn’t have to like or agree with this stuff. Why is there less focus on female empowerment and intelligence rather than bikini waxes and blowjobs?

Nothing is off limits in this book from body politics to working women, from the idea of sex that magazines put in our heads and idealised beauty. Holly and Rhiannon have clearly done their research on the rise of magazine and beauty culture while incorporating the feelings and facts about how these impact real women.

The best thing though? This book will make you laugh. I absolutely howled at parts because of the ridiculousness of some of the marketing campaigns used, some of the wording choices. At the same time it made me really think about what I was taking in and the impact it had on my own thoughts and feelings. I rarely buy women’s glossy’s anymore because it doesn’t interest me. I read blogs about things I want to read about and embrace my shape and size.

This got a 5-star rating and I recommend it to absolutely everyone. It’s a body positive, female positive look at an industry that tried to magnify our imperfections. Holly and Rhiannon, I salute you.

Book Review: The One – John Marrs

cover102178-medium

If you could meet your perfect DNA match, why wouldn’t you do it?

A new relationship revolution is happening. After a gene is discovered to match you to ‘the one’ thousands find unimaginable happiness with the person they’re meant to be with, but the path of true love never runs smooth.

Now, personally, I just found the idea of this super creepy, which instantly makes it a novel I want to read. The idea that there is one person who shares a DNA match, in my head it made you sound like you were related. Nevertheless, it is a great idea for a novel. This is what made me originally request a copy for review. I’m always hopeful for a good thriller.

I really wanted to enjoy this novel, and I did to a point. There are a lot of twists and turns, quite a few I didn’t see coming and that made the novel move faster. It also did a great job of making you want to read on, for the last quarter I needed to finish it and find out what happened. I did care more about what happened to some characters more than others.

The main gripe I had with this is that there were just too many characters and it wasn’t until I was more than halfway through that I could remember who was with who and what their backstory was. There was so much going on it almost felt like a collection of short stories, which maybe it should have been. It seemed like because there were so many characters, by the end, the endings became a little disappointing and some big holes appeared.

Marrs clearly has a talent for suspense and writing violence, that was one of the most well crafted parts of the novel I believe. Each character had been given their own flair, however, it was slightly disappointing that I did see some stereotypes playing out which was quite frustrating because it didn’t really fit with the rest of the novel.

I gave The One 3 stars. Overall this was a good read but ultimately the ending just really let it down for me. That said I would still recommend it but make sure you have time to concentrate because it does get confusing and can be hard to remember exactly that is going on. I would still like to read some of Marr’s other work as he clearly has a talent for writing.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to give an honest review.

Book Review: The Princess saves herself in this one – Amanda Lovelace

30075802

‘warning I: 

this is not a 

fairy tale.’

I had heard so much about Amanda Lovelace’s collection of poetry. It was hailed a feminist book young women had to read, that spoke the truth and recreated poetry for our generation. I completely agree with this statement. It took me a little while to get my hands on it but I haven’t regretted it.

I wouldn’t call this a happy read as such, but it is one of struggle and perseverance. It is one of not being saved but saving yourself. It chronicles an important stage in a woman’s life, one that I’m personally going through still, where you try and work out who you are and let go of certain people.

This chronicles Lovelace’s life and is split into four parts; The Princess, The Damsel, The Queen and You. Each part looks at a different aspect of Lovelace growing up, how she felt at the time, whilst at the same time keeping the fairytale theme.  I thoroughly enjoyed the transitions into each because it didn’t feel fractured or like it ‘had to fit’.

I hope this is a new beginning in poetry made for and by young people to enjoy. Whilst I can appreciate some of the classics, after all my favourite poet is Sylvia Plath, we need new and exciting poets such as Lovelace to introduce more young people to a new form of poetry.

I gave this a 5 star review. This was a breath of fresh air in poetry and incredibly well written. I look forward to reading more of Lovelace’s work and to see what she does next.

Sunday Seven: Exciting Advance Reader Copies on my to be read pile!

I’m lucky enough to be a member of Netgalley, which means I am able to request some brilliant books before they are released in return for a review. I wanted to share with you seven of my upcoming reviews!

 

cover86022-medium

The Girl From Aleppo – Nujeen 

I want to know more about the Syrian refugees, we need to know about their lives, what they’ve experienced.

 

cover102178-medium

The One – John Marrs 

A thriller with a scientific element, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews and can’t wait to read what John Marrs has to offer.

cover90228-medium

The Girl Who Beat ISIS – Farida Khalaf 

Again, this is a story that needs to be heard and remembered. We cannot forget the horrors that have been taking place in our time or look the other way. I look forward to reading Farida’s account.

 

cover105809-medium

Before The Fall – Noah Hawley 

I haven’t read a good suspense novel in such a long time. Taking on survival, mystery and intrigue I’m hoping I’m glued to this one. I’m also hoping for a good twist!

cover106249-medium

One of us is lying – Karen M.McManus

I got a Breakfast Club vibe from the blurb of this novel but with the added twist of a Hunger Games kind of thing going on, I could be totally wrong, but I’m really hoping I’m not.

 

cover97312-medium (1)

Dreadnought – April Daniels 

I heard about this from one of my favourite booktubers over at Problemsofabooknerd. It features superheroes and the LGBTQ community. Sign me up.

 

cover99787-medium

A Stitch of Time

I’m all about books about recovery, this talks about Lauren’s recovery after a brain aneurysm, chronicling the highs and lows of trying to get her life back.

Book Review: Zenn Diagram – Wendy Brant

cover100368-medium

If one touch could tell you everything about a person, the good and the bad, what would you do?

As a high school math genius, Eva is used to not being the most popular, but this suits her just fine. While the rest of the school thinks she’s simply a germophobe, Eva is protecting herself from their deepest secrets, their joys and fears, all from a single touch. It isn’t until Eva meets Zac that her gift haunts her more than ever.

It’s been a long time since I picked up a YA novel that I knew was going to involve a love plot. I requested this via Netgalley and was approved by the publishers to give a fair and honest review. I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. If you’re looking for a novel with love and a twist then you’re in the right place.

I connected with the character of Eva almost immediately, while I initially was thrown by her gift and what it meant for the novel. I’ll admit that it did take a while for me to get used to it, but the choice of gift itself was well put together. The fact that Eva has her own life and struggles made her more relatable. While I was initially sceptical about the introduction of Zenn and what this would mean for Eva’s smart and focused character, it actually added a great deal to her and the plot itself.

I think one of the best parts about the novel, however, is that it also have strong comedic value. Eva is not only funny, she is also fiercely intelligent, something that we definitely need more of. As the novel went on I liked both her, and the character of Zen more. I didn’t roll my eyes, nor did I get frustrated because she felt real to me. This was a character that I could see myself in, someone who struggles with what it means to be a ‘good girl’ but also know sadness.

I gave this novel 4 stars. It’s definitely an uplifting book and while it does tackle some issues, there is enough appropriate humour and intelligence to make it an uplifting read. Brant has a true talent for writing fantastic novels with relatable and intelligent protagonists. I would highly recommend this novel to all who need something a little different in the YA market.

Book Review: One – Sarah Crossan

25366338

This is my story.

It is a single story,
not two tales tangled up in each other
like lover’s limbs,
as you might expect.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins sharing every single experience with one another. While they may not be ‘normal’ teenage girls that doesn’t stop them wanting to have the same experiences as everyone else. Written through the eyes of  Grace, Crossan presents the story of two heads, two hearts, two souls, one body.

I was intrigued by the idea of this novel, I’ve never read about conjoined twins before in a fictional setting before, must less from the perspective of one of the sisters. That said, this novel is about both Grace and Tippi and who they are as individuals, as more than just ‘the twins’.  The novel considers their family life, job loss and what it means to be a ‘normal’ teenager when you are the subjects of stares and whispers of all around you.

This novel was endearing and quite clever, what I didn’t know upon buying it is that the novel is written in verse. While this is different and shows that Crossan is incredibly talented, I found it incredibly difficult to read in this format and while I was trying to work it out it took away from the story for me. I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I think I would have should it have been prose.

I did enjoy, however, that Crossen didn’t show the girls as a freak show or as one person. Both Grace and Tippy have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes. While some would see Graces ‘bucket list’ as depressing, in fact it makes the book more realistic. There is a chance that these girls will die as their bodies try to cope with being conjoined.

Crossan isn’t afraid of realism within the novel. The focus on the feelings of exclusion they feel and judgement are not shied away from. Nor are the financial problems that Grace and Tippi’s family face from their condition. The struggle and worry of being able to afford treatment that keeps them both alive highlights the unfairness and strain on a family for something they simply can’t help.

Overall, I gave the novel 3 stars. While it did enjoy it and thought it was an interesting story I felt that while the prose was a brave choice, it wasn’t for me. Trying to work my way through the prose as well as following the story, I found myself constantly distracted. I would recommend this novel if you want something a little different and want to expand your reading experience.