Book Review: The Disconnect – Keren David

Could you last six whole weeks without your phone? Six weeks without sharing photos, without group messages, without being kept in the social‑media loop?

An eccentric entrepreneur has challenged Esther’s year group to do just that, and the winners will walk away with £1,000.

For Esther, whose dad and sister live thousands of miles away in New York, the prize might be her only chance to afford flights for a visit…

But can she really stay disconnected long enough to win?
 

Out of the three books I picked up at YALC this year, one of them was kindly gifted to me by Barrington Stoke and you’ll be hearing more about them in another post!

I picked this up because I found the concept fascinating – living without your phone, particularly as a teenager in 2019. I mean, I was a teenager between 2007 & 2013 and even then we were pretty obsessed with our phones (rest in peace my faithful iPhone 3GS) but now it’s a totally different world.

I really liked Esther, she felt incredibly real and so did her family. Often in Young Adult books the families of protagonists aren’t that well written but in this case they were integral to the plot. The fact that she misses her sister and Dad really resonated while reading as a motivator.

The plot tackled a lot of themes in a pretty short book (it was only 224 pages in a larger font, specially created for Dyslexic readers) – missing your family, money, a mention of police corruption, technology, bullying and more but at the same time this didn’t feel forced. They naturally fell into the plot because this is what a teenagers life is like – all these things can be going on at the same time and it was refreshing to read.

Additionally, the task and research behind it made me think a lot about my own relationship with my phone. I spend a lot of time on it, partly because it’s my job but I am trying to do better when it comes to leaving my phone across the room and getting off it in the evening. Could I have gone 6 weeks without my phone as a teenager? Probably not, I probably would have cracked.

I gave this book 3.5 stars, I thought this was a positive book and while I’m not the target audience I did appreciate the novel for what it was. Due to the nature of the book and publishers this is meant to me a shorter read with straightforward themes as they are aimed at teens with Dyslexia.

I’m intrigued to know – do you think that you could have lived without your phone as a teenager? Let me know below. 👇

Book Review: The Other Mother – Jen Brister

When Jen falls in love with Chloe they have a great life and eventually decide that having a small person was something they wanted to do. As her wife goes through the process of IVF and pregnancy Jen finds herself as ‘The Other Mother’. There’s also the small matter that Chloe became pregnant with twins, it’s a lot for anyone to handle.

I have to say, I’m not a parent to an actual human child, I currently only have fur babies in my life so I can’t be the judge on how realistic this is but I found it to be a book that shares a lot. Jen is completely honest about her experiences, about how tough she found it at times and how boring looking after kids can be.

I found myself laughing so much while reading this book and now I’m desperate to see Jen perform as a comedian. It just feels incredibly real but also she’s not afraid to laugh at herself, her thoughts and her actions. This isn’t a book telling you how to raise a child or being the perfect parent.

Jen is also respectful of the privacy of her children. Her sons are referred to throughout the book as Twin 1 and Twin 2 and while she shares stories about her life with Chloe raising them, we don’t know their names. It’s clear that Jen wants to protect the identity of her boys and who can blame her? This book is about her experience of being ‘The Other Mother’ it’s not a biography of her children. I respect that.

Also, I can highly recommend the audiobook which is how I absorbed it and I really couldn’t stop listening. Although a note to anyone who does get the audiobook, be ready to laugh out loud at various points and look a bit nuts.

I gave this book 5 stars and have been recommending it to a lot of people recently. It’s funny but also gives a real look at what it’s like to be a non-biological parent in 2019.

Book Review: The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy works in a publishing job she loves but it doesn’t pay much, combine that with needing to move out of her ex-boyfriends flat she’ll tak anything, including a slightly unusual agreement. Leon is a hospice nurse who’s in need to money to support his brother and a flat share sounds like a perfect plan.

I need to start by saying that this is one of the cutest books. I’ve been more interested in contemporary romances recently, books I know will have love and humor and The Flatshare ticked both of those boxes. I had seen this all over the internet with great reviews so I picked up the audiobook narrated by one of my favourite theatre actresses and youtubers, Carrie Hope Fletcher. I also now love the voice of Kwaku Fortune!

While a lot of people think this is a fluffy friends to lovers story, there are some excellent and complex themes within the novel and I was so impressed. O’Leary considers toxic relationships, emotional abuse and wrongful imprisonment. She has a talent for weaving in these topics into a novel which ultimately made you feel both happy and more knowledgeable once finishing.

These characters felt very real, I cared about them and what was going on in their lives. There were points where I shouted out loud while reading because I was so invested in what was happening and where the different threads were going to go. For me, the audiobook was absolutely perfect it really added to the experience so I’d really recommend it.

I was wracking my brain while writing this for anything I would change and truly I don’t think I would change it. It’s a perfect mix of humour, romance and topics that make you think. Also I adored some of the side characters too, they really added to the novel and let us get to know Tiffy and Leon a lot better than just their impressions of each other.

It’s really no surprise that I gave this 5 stars. I highly recommend this novel and I can’t wait to see what Beth O’Leary writes next. She’s got a real talent and it can only get better!

The Hidden Power of Fucking Up - The Try Guys

Book Review – The Hidden Power of F*cking Up – The Try Guys

The past year has been incredible for The Try Guys a US tour, a new business that blew up and a best selling book. From a group of guys from Buzzfeed to YouTube legends I’m proud to have been a fan for a long time now so of course I pre ordered this book as soon as it was announced.

Zach, Keith, Ned and Eugene are used to sharing their shenanigans with us on their YouTube channel but they decided to go to the next level. This book isn’t just a fluffy YouTube book – each of the guys took on a challenge to write about something that would be tough for each of them – and it worked.

With new Dad Ned tackling his fashion fears, Keith attempting to go vegan and give up his beloved fried chicken , Zach ‘the single one’ being in a loving relationship and mysterious Eugene opening up about his family relationships.

It was great to read a book that isn’t just focused on success, the guys are very honest about when things didn’t go right for them, about their insecurities. I love their ‘failosophy’ and the fact they poke fun at the idea that the only way to be a successful CEO is to get up at stupid o’clock. It was everything I love about the channel in reading form. Perfect.

I would say that if you watch the channel and have done for years like me there will be repeated parts and information you already know, but I think that’s true of any book released by a public figure because they are public. Kinda goes with the territory.

This was a really highly anticipated book for me, I’ve watched the guys grow as people and as a channel. I gave this book 4.5 stars it was a solid read where the guys really lay themselves bare. If you’re a Try Guys fan I’d definitely pick this up.

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Is this one of my favourite books of the year? Yes. Is it in some of my top books of all time? Also yes. While I read Daisy Jones & The Six first I fell in love with Evelyn and her story to a point of obsession. I needed to know the answers to my questions. Why Monique? Who was Evelyn’s true love? Why does she want to writer her biography now?! I needed to know.

This is set in the golden age of Hollywood and once again Jenkins Reid has created a cast of characters that feel so real you forget that it’s fiction. I wanted to watch Evelyn’s movies, read the book they’re working on. In my mind she’s a mix of Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor – and isn’t that incredible?

Personally, I listened to the audiobook and it was an incredible experience. Of course, I’m going to be picking up a physical copy because I need it represented on my shelves but the audiobook really made it come alive. Listening to ‘Evelyn’ and ‘Monique’ was a real treat and I was plugged in at every opportunity – so much so I made my fiance listen to it while I put it on through my speaker on the evening so I could relax.

While you might not expect it this novel has great LGBTQ rep and what it meant to hide who you truly were in this era when all of your success depends on your outward persona. There is also violence, lies and deceit but it really works within the world it is set in.

Evelyn isn’t always a likeable character but that definitely adds to the novel because despite the fact she does some questionable things I still loved and cared deeply for her as a character. This is also added to when you see Evelyn through Moniques eyes.

There’s no doubt that Taylor Jenkins Reid is incredible at researching and writing about past time periods in a way that transports you into that setting so much so you feel like you are there.

Obviously I gave this 5 stars. I adore this book and after finishing it I went and got other TJR books to get through. I’m a big fan of her style and completely understand the hype behind Evelyn Hugo.

Books I Read In August 2019!

And we are back on a roll people! August saw me read 10 books – that is totally down to all the wonderful books I picked up at YALC being on my now pretty full shelves. I got through 10 (!!) books this month and I’m super pleased. Here they are in their full glory.

First up I finished the audiobook of Eat, Drink, Run – How I Got Fit Without Going Too Mad by Bryony Gordon. I’ve really enjoyed Bryony’s other books looking at her life with mental illness. You can read all my thoughts in my review here. This is a 5 star read for me.

Next up was another YALC read – The Disconnect by Keren David is a short book that centers around a group of teenagers asked to give up their phones for 6 weeks in the name of research and a cash prize. This was a gifted book and more to come! I gave with 4 stars.

Next up was Birthday by Meredith Russo, I’ve been looking forward to this, I loved Meredith’s previous book If I Was Your Girl so this was highly anticipated. This was an incredible read, so incredibly well written and such an emotional read. I would definitely recommend, a 5 star read from me.

The Truth About Alice is by Jennifer Mathieu who also wrote the amazing Moxie, which was my reason for picking this novel up. This tackles the impact of rumours and slut shaming and it’s another strong book by Mathieu. I gave this 4 stars, a strong read.

I received an ARC from the publisher of American Royals by Katherine McGee and wow, wow, wow! American royalty, a bit of scandal? I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars – you can read my full review here.

Next up way another YALC purchase, I know I hit it hard in August. This novel was set in post WW2 Germany and looks at the secrets left behind after an international war. I learnt a lot from this novel and highly recommend it – you can read my full review here.

I picked up Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality by comedian Mae Martin and it was an interesting and informative read probably aimed at teenage readers but I gave it 4 stars and would recommend.

I was sent an ARC of Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer, a poetry collection that had some promise but overall wasn’t for me. That said I would you like to read more to get a better opinion.

My last 2 books were both audiobooks and thank goodness because I was a so busy with work I barely had the option to pick up a physical book! First up was The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – I wanted to read this a while back and finally got to it, this was worth the wait. Listening to these stories of what it means to be a BAME person in UK today was something I think everyone should read/listen to. A 4.5 star read for me.

My final read of the month was another audiobook, this time narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher who’s voice I love! The Flat Share blew me away, it’s not something I would normally pick up but I was intrigued by the premise. Tiffy and Leon share a bed but they have never met. I couldn’t stop listening and absolutely adored it. I won’t spoil the plot but I was trying not to cry happy tears at the end.

A super strong month in terms of reading, more so at the beginning but I’ll take it. I read some excellent books and while September might not have as many reads I hope that I get to some good ones!

Book Review: The Stolen Ones - Vanessa Curtis

Book Review: The Stolen Ones – Vanessa Curtis

My name is Inge. I am sixteen. I live in Munich. Food is rationed, though the war ended years ago. My boyfriend is Jewish. My parents would not approve, so I hide this from them. I think they are hiding something from me, too. Letters arrive on my birthday, but they are not addressed to me. They are for a girl named Kasia. This is her story.

After picking this up at YALC I thought I knew what this book would be about and I was pleasantly proved wrong while reading The Stolen One. This has a lot of twists and turns throughout which I didn’t expect – it’s kind of part historical fiction, part mystery. Different, but I like it.

What stood out for me about this book is that it focused on the wider Nazi horrors and what they did to a large number of communities as well as the Jewish population. A lot of WW2 and post war fiction focuses on the Holocaust – and rightfully so! But, it means that I haven’t read much about others who were impacted by the Nazi regime.

I really liked Inge, I found her to be intelligent and headstrong but also realistic for a 16 year old who’s surrounded by secrets. It shows both the good and bad in people and that just because a war ends, doesn’t mean that things go back to normal. There is a lot of confusion, hurt and pain after such an event.

The relationships Inge have are vital to the plot and it was clear there was both planning and care that went into writing them. At times I felt the her conflict and confusion. The novel did a great job of capturing that age where you realise the adults around you are humans with their own flaws, thoughts and feelings that might not match yours.

I do wish that the book had been longer, I felt that there could have been even more to the novel and get into some more depth – I can’t pinpoint where I would have liked it because it would be a massive spoiler!

Last but not least, I learned a great deal from this book about parts of the war I knew nothing about and after reading I definitely want to do some of my own research. This was so well told – I really want to have a read of other novels by Vanessa Curtis at some point.

I gave this 4 stars, I thought this book was interesting and there were quite a few twists that I didn’t see coming which was really appreciated. If you enjoy fiction about WW2 this will be a good read for you even though it is set after the end of the war. I’d really love to know more about what happens to the characters after the end of the novel as well which is a sign they were well written.