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Top Ten Tuesday: Best books I’ve read in 2018 (so far!)

Top Ten Tuesday: Best books I’ve read in 2018 (so far!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.  2018 has been a bit of an odd reading year for me. When my daughter was born I didn’t read anything for a couple of weeks, then […]

Panic! at the Disco book tag

Panic! at the Disco book tag

Gasp! Two book tags in one week? This is unheard of! When I stole the summer book tag from Amy on Sunday, I said that I didn’t do book tags very often. I wasn’t expecting the brilliant Jessikah from Read By Jess to suddenly release a Panic! […]

Review: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Prom is rapidly approaching and everybody at Carceras High is going crazy for it – everybody, that is, except Ashley. But when their maths teacher steals the money meant for the prom, Ashley steps in to help her best friend Natalia save the special day for all of the other students (and she even starts to care about it herself, too).

Compared to Speak and WintergirlsProm is a book devoid of a USP. It’s painfully average. Despite Ashley’s seemingly self-sacrificial decision to help Natalia with the prom, she’s one of the most self-absorbed characters I’ve had the displeasure to encounter. Her boyfriend, TJ, finds an apartment for them to rent and gets it all ready for her to move in as soon as she graduates from high school, but she’s so focused on the fact that the bathroom is behind a curtain in the corner that she doesn’t even remember to thank him. Her friends all hate him for no reason, too: he dropped out of high school because he was victimised by the vice principal, but apparently that’s a great reason to dump his ass. #justiceforTJ

Laurie Halse Anderson claims that she wrote Prom so that ‘normal’ people could see themselves represented in fiction, but Ashley is judgemental, shallow and rude – a combination which makes her a terrible protagonist. I found myself snorting derisively a few times while reading Prom, but when you’re mocking the speaker instead of empathising with them something has gone terribly wrong.

I gave Prom three stars because there’s nothing I hate about it enough to rate it lower, but things were pretty poorly executed. If you take it at face value as a cute, lighthearted contemporary about a girl who grows to love prom, it’s a pretty fun story. There are some silly scenes in which her heavily pregnant mother pretends to go into labour as a distraction, and crazy Russian Grandma Shulmensky brightens up every page that she graces.

However, Halse Anderson’s attempt to portray the working class is terrible. Somehow Ashley’s father can afford to spend all day every day renovating their home, despite having four young kids and a fifth on the way. Ashley works at a diner for minimum wage, but she’s still snooty enough to imagine her first apartment being something from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The honest lower class experience is missing, briefly eluded to by Ashley as she mentions the number of ‘crack whores’ and young mums in her school year. For an author who hasn’t shied away from tough topics in the past, it’s surprising that Halse Anderson wouldn’t tackle this more head on.

But, of course, Prom is supposed to be about normal people. Tough topics can be saved for another day.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Prom, check it out on Goodreads

 

Alyce

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Review: The Bird Room by Chris Killen

Review: The Bird Room by Chris Killen

I wasn’t sure whether to review The Bird Room or not, because it’s an… Interesting story. My copy is in pretty bad condition so I was only reading it before donating it to a charity shop, which means I’m not too disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it, […]

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with red, white and blue covers

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with red, white and blue covers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.  Tomorrow is Independence Day, and although it seems like the majority of Americans aren’t feeling all that patriotic at the moment, that’s still something worth celebrating. Because […]

June wrap-up

It’s only while writing my June wrap-up that I realise my April and May wrap-ups are still floating in draft purgatory. Oops. Those will be up… Eventually!

Personal:

Things are still pretty hectic in the Hunt/Lamb household. Our little girl has gone through yet another growth spurt, and the blistering heatwave that England is currently experiencing hasn’t helped the ceaseless feeding one bit. That being said, she’s doing really well: she’s such a happy baby, and her big beaming smile fills me with such joy. She’s not rolling over just yet, but she’s having her third lot of vaccines next week so that next milestone should be ticked off soon enough.

Work has been pretty nonstop. I’m enjoying it, but when you sign up for a Sunday job and end up working seven days in a row (which should have been 12, but you got sent home sick)? That’s not the best. Trying to express enough milk to last through each shift has been a nightmare! Hopefully the amount of shifts I’m getting will calm down sooner rather than later.

In other news, my grandad had his hip replacement last week. I mentioned the fact that he was waiting for one back in February, but he actually had it done last Thursday and it all went remarkably smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that he went home on Saturday and has already conquered the stairs up to his bedroom! I’m so proud of him, and I can’t wait to see how much easier things get now that he’s been given back a huge amount of mobility.

Blog:

In case you haven’t realised, I’ve actually been a bit more active this month than I have the last few. Instead of prioritising sleep, I thought it was time that I started prioritising the blog again. I’d been missing it so much. I’ll admit, juggling a blog and a job and a three-month-old is not the easiest, and I should probably be less tough on myself when I miss posts… But I’m just such a perfectionist, goddammit.

I’m not going to post stats this month because I still haven’t finished sorting out and uploading the posts that I missed at the beginning of the month, but stats will be back next month.

Music:

I haven’t actually written any live reviews for a while, but I did go to two shows in June: Taylor Swift’s first headline show at Wembley Stadium, and Foo Fighters second night at London Stadium. I genuinely think Taylor Swift might be the best live performer I’ve ever seen, but Dave Grohl and gang are always at the top of their game, so they were two remarkably fun nights. Reviews of both will be coming soon.

Books:

I’m still in the middle of a reading slump, but in June I managed to read 5 books. I finished off the Make More Noise! anthology, read Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein with my boyfriend, caught up with the Murder Most Unladylike series by reading A Spoonful of Murder, and finally read Rebecca Barrow’s debut, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You. I also read Chris Killen’s debut, The Bird Room, but I haven’t decided whether to review that one or not because it was pretty… Interesting.

We’re only a day into July and I’ve already nearly read a whole book (Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson) so I’m hoping that the reading slump might finally be over. I guess we’ll see at the end of the month.

 

That’s it for this wrap-up. How was your June?

Alyce

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Summer book tag

I didn’t have time to blog yesterday or on Friday, so you’re actually getting a Sunday post from me for the first time in a while! Thankfully the brilliant Amy at Golden Books Girl posted her summer book tag yesterday, and it’s such a fun post […]

10 surprising line-up changes in 2018 (so far)

It seems every week at the moment another band announces the departure of one of their members. I’ve compiled a list of the ten most shocking line-up changes from the last six months, just in case you missed any of these first time around. January:  […]

Review: You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

Review: You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

‘”I never hear these things.”

Strange. How many girls did she knows who had gone through the exact same thing as her – how many times had she sat next to someone in the library, thinking they were doing homework when really they were working out how much it would cost in gas money to get to the clinic and back?’

You Don’t Know Me But I Know You tells the story of Audrey, a girl who finds out that she’s pregnant despite using multiple forms of contraception, and the decision that her and her boyfriend Julian make regarding their situation. Are they ready to become parents, should they put the child up for adoption like Audrey’s biological mother chose to, or would a termination be the best course of action?

I can’t find the words to express how much I loved this book. Not many books make me shed physical tears, but I was 100 pages in when Rebecca Barrow first made me cry (and that wasn’t even during a sad bit!).

Audrey is such a realistic character that she practically walked off of the page. I could hear her voice in my head and feel all of the emotions that she was experiencing, and a big part of the reason behind that is because I was in this situation last summer.

That’s probably why You Don’t Know Me But I Know You meant so much to me: because less than twelve months ago I was feeling the same conflicting emotions as Audrey. September was rapidly approaching and I was supposed to be starting university, and I suddenly discovered that there was a baby on the way. Neither me nor my partner were completely sure if we were ready to be someone’s parents, but we also weren’t sure if we’d be able to give it up for adoption, and I’m pro-choice for other people but personally could never see myself having an abortion.

After months of umming and ahhing we made our decision and chose to have our little one, and this book made me realise that we made the right choice. I’m not saying it’s the same choice that Audrey makes, but she knows her choice is 100% right for her, and as I read her reasoning I knew in my heart that my choice was right for me, too.

I was a particular fan of the fact that Julian was a supportive boyfriend, not dumping Audrey at the first opportunity, and her mum and Adam were very supportive, too. This book doesn’t feature any of the teen pregnancy cliches, which makes it stand out all the more.

So I’m a little biased, but there’s more to this book than just the sensible, balanced discussion of a sensitive subject which I haven’t seen tackled in YA before. Rebecca Barrow’s writing style is also very beautiful, and although I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump over the past few weeks I flew through this novel. All of the characters are realistic, and the arguments between Audrey and Julian and Audrey and her best friend Rose were fights that I’ve had with my partner and close friends over the years. At points it felt as though Barrow basically turned my brain inside out and printed it.

I sincerely hope that she decides to write a follow up to this novel, because there’s a lot of potential development in the background characters. They’ve all got unique personalities and I’d be interested in reading more from any of them, and that’s not something I say very often. Barrow’s second novel, This Is What It Feels Like, is published in November: I’m going to be at the front of the queue to get a copy, because I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Alyce

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Top Ten Tuesday: Series I won’t finish

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I won’t finish

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.  I am the queen of not DNFing, so even if I hate a series I’ll normally persevere and finish it anyway. For that reason, my choices this […]