Book Review: Wytches Volume 1 (Scott Snyder)

Publisher: Image Comics

Pages: 144

Release Date: June 24th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they’re hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient…and hungry.

Review:

I’ve been in two minds about this book. It’s one my partner gave me to read when he finished with it, and he really enjoyed it.

I think the bit I loved most was the beginning. It was very creepy and it did suck me into the story – it leaves you asking all sorts of questions about what’s going on, and some of the art work was very disturbing.

Unfortunately it peaked there for me, and I struggled through the rest of it. There were still good moments, and for other people I imagine it is a good read, but it just didn’t do it for me. I found some of the time jumps confusing: they just happened too quickly and sometimes I couldn’t keep up.

It was the same with the plot: while the beginning drew me in as it was confusing and intriguing, that feeling stayed with me for most of the book. I just didn’t get it. It was too fast, too vague and I really just wanted someone to sit in front of me and explain patiently exactly what was going on. Again, I’m sure others will understand better, but for me it just wasn’t clear enough.

This clarity also extended to the illustrations: some were dark and creepy and I just wanted to stare at them for ages. But others were too dark or blurry for me to know what was going on, which, again didn’t help me with understanding what was going on. I think the style just wasn’t for me: apparently I like things spelled out for me!

Overall I do think this is a good read, it’s just not to my taste. But for others looking for something creepy to read this Halloween, give it a shot: it might be more to your taste.

3

Book Review: The Mist (Stephen King)

Publisher: Signet

Pages: 230

Release Date: First published in 1980

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light?

Review:

This is actually the first Stephen King book I’ve read, which surprises me as he does seem right up my street. I know a lot of his stories, from film adaptations or research I did at university, but this is the first one I’ve actually sat down and read cover to cover.

I wanted to read this book because I love the film adaptation so much. It’s easily one of my favourite horror films, and if you haven’t seen it then I can’t urge you to watch it enough. It’s creepy and gruesome and the ending is one of the most brutal things I’ve ever watched.

I knew to expect differences between the book and the film, and for the most part I was okay with these. I think the one thing that really stood out was the ending which is fairly different and I have to say I preferred the one in the film (though I admit it is rare for a film to do something better than a book, in my opinion). Even Stephen King loved the new ending:

Frank wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead. – from FirstShowing.net

I have to agree with him on that last point and I would never, ever reveal the ending. Safe to say, it is brilliant and horrible and one of the few scenes that has made me want to cry at a film.

I thought the book did a bit too much foreshadowing, which ruined the suspense for me rather than building it. It was a little heavy handed, and I think a subtler approach would have gone down better. It does let you know that something is coming though, and there is a heavy sense of dread throughout the book.

What I love most about this book is that the horror doesn’t simply come from the terrifying creatures that come from the mist. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of that, and it’s brilliant, but the bit I find most horrifying is the way the people turn on each other when trapped inside the supermarket. Mrs Carmody is just as horrifying as the monsters and I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a character more. It reminds me a bit of Lord of the Flies as you see how quickly things can spiral out of control when normal laws don’t apply.

I think this was a good pick for my first Stephen King book. My partner has a fair amount of his work and I think it’s time for me to start moving through them.

4

Book Review: The Dead House (Dawn Kurtagich)

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

Pages: 440

Release Date: August 6th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.

Review:

I won this book in a competition over at Luna’s Little Library, so massive thanks to her for the copy!

On reading the first few pages of The Dead House, there’s a real sense of promise and intrigue: it just felt like the beginning of something and I was genuinely excited to get stuck into it.

Carly and Kaitlyn are like sisters, aside from the fact that they share the same body: Carly is there in the day, and Kaitlyn gets the night. They have spent some time in a mental health unit, where their doctor tries to convince them they have Dissociative Identity Disorder and that Kaitlyn is just a symptom of this.

The story is pieced together rather than being told through straight narrative: we learn of the events leading up to the ‘Johnson incident’ through Kaitlyn’s diary extracts, post-it notes between her and Carly, transcripts of footage filmed by their friend Naida, and police interviews with other school children and their doctor. All of this makes the story seem bigger than itself: you’re not just reading a story about a particular event, but hearing about it from all different sides, through ‘non-fictional’ methods (yes, I know these are fictional reports etc but it feels real!) just makes it all seem so real.

The book has a real sense of foreboding that make sit the perfect read in the run up to Halloween. The chapters include a kind of count down – “134 days until the incident” – which makes you want to speed through and find out what everything is leading up to.

One of my favourite things about this book was the unreliability of the narration. While some bits may be more concrete than others – the police reports and interviews for example – the majority of the story is told through Kaitlyn’s eyes. We know she has been diagnosed with a mental health issue: even if she doesn’t believe that’s true, it plants the seed of the doubt in your mind. The impossibility of their situation is another one that makes you pause and think: are they really two souls trapped in one body, or is it all part of the disease? Kaitlyn’s narration can often become erratic or abstract, giving you even further reason to doubt her state of mind.

I love that no concrete answer is given to everything. This might not be to everyone’s taste but I liked being able to make up my own mind (or not, which is more the case at the moment). If I’d been told in plain print that it was all down to mental illness, or possession, or just one of those freaky things that inexplicably happens, I think I would have enjoyed it less.

I adored this book all the way through. It was creepy, intriguing and full of twists that I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, and it sat with me for days after, niggling at the back of my mind and demanding to be thought about some more. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Dawn Kurtagich in the future.

Copy of an art exhibit

If you enjoyed this, you might like The Wonderful World of Dissocia by Anthony Neilson

20 Weeks and Counting

So, we are now at 20 weeks, which is half way through the pregnancy and is all kinds of scary! It does feel like things are speeding up now, which is both exciting and terrifying all at once.

We had our 20 week scan, which was a really incredible experience. As we moved house recently, we were at a different hospital and we noticed a lot of differences between the two places.

Our first scan was at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry and it wasn’t the same kind of magical experience as the recent one. For a start, there was different advice on how much water to drink before the scan – Coventry suggested twice as much as Milton Keynes – and as a result I was really uncomfortable in the waiting room. I’d drank a litre and a half of water, and they were running behind schedule by about half an hour and I honestly thought my bladder was going to explode!

With the first scan, the ultrasound technician was very brisk and it all felt a little rushed. I understand they’re just doing their job and, as I mentioned they were running quite behind, but it felt like that special moment of seeing our child for the first time was just rushed through. There was one screen which she used to check on the baby, and turned it round to us briefly to see one time. It really wasn’t like the magical moment in the movies!

This being our first child, I don’t know if the second scan is always this different, but for us it really was. The ultrasound technician was very friendly and chatty, which put us at ease straight away. She had her own screen where she did her checks and measurements, and there was another opposite us so we could see the whole thing. She pointed out the heart beating and other organs, and prodded around my stomach a bit to get the baby moving and show us all the tiny hands and feet and things. It was really incredible to see.

The other difference was the price of the photos. I know we really wanted to have a photo of the first scan and we also had requests from family members. At Walsgrave hospital, it was £10 per photo, for a flimsy little print out. At Milton Keynes, the same style photo cost £3 and a better quality digital photo cost £5. The ultrasound technician said we were ripped off in Coventry!

All that aside, everything is going well. All the checks and measurements came back fine and baby is growing nicely. It also has very long legs apparently, so it looks like it’s taking after me! And to end things, here’s our scan picture. We’re very much looking forward to meeting this little one when it finally arrives.

FullSizeRender

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here (Patrick Ness)

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 352

Release Date: August 27th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Review:

I mentioned this book in my Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet post, and like Asking For It by Louise O’Neill I was particularly desperate to read this one. This is one of the two books from that post that my wonderful partner bought for me, so massive thanks to Nathan for my copy.

If you’ve glanced around my blog before, you may have seen Patrick Ness’ name thrown around a lot: basically, I’m a fan. I loved his Chaos Walking trilogy when I was a teen, and this year I began to read  the rest of his works (which, again, Nathan bought for me for my birthday, so I now own all of Ness’ books).

When this book was announced I was super excited to read it. The premise sounded amazing, especially for a fan of YA. I love the genre, fantasy YA in particular, but it does have its tropes, and this book playfully pokes fun of them in a way I just adored.

Each chapter begins with a summary of what is happening in the world of the ‘indie kids’. You know the ones: they have stupid names, nerdy but somehow cool haircuts and they’re all the Chosen One or about to fall in love with a vampire. We only get a glimpse of the things that they’re up to, and I’ll admit a tiny part of me wanted their story in full, but that’s not what this is about.

This is a story about friendship and coming of age and insecurities, and sure, the end of the world stuff is going on in the background, but that’s just how it is. It makes me wonder about the other fantasy books I’ve read, and what it’s like for the ordinary people in those: the ones who aren’t Chosen and are just hoping to graduate and go to college without the indie kids blowing up the school.

I suppose this book could be considered a bit boring and ordinary, especially when you compare it to Ness’ other works: it’s not his usual style of weird and wonderful fantasy, more a contemporary story of friendship with just a tiny hint of weirdness that’s not really focussed on. I can see it’s not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. He writes wonderful characters and for me, that’s what makes his books so great.

They might not be the Chosen Ones, but the characters in this book have their own stuff to deal with which is just as important. Mikey, our narrator, and his sister Mel both have their own mental health issues to deal with: Mikey’s anxiety and OCD tendencies, and Mel’s recovering anorexia. This isn’t helped by their father’s alcoholism and their mother being in the public eye as a politician (who frequently runs against, and beats their best friend’s dad). Their friends have their own problems too, and it just shows that not everything has to be about saving the world: the little things are just as important, and can feel just as big.

One thing I love about Ness is his ability to write well rounded characters. This comes across most in Mikey, the narrator, who isn’t perfect by any means. I like him, but he’s not always likeable. His jealousy and attitudes towards new comer Nathan kept irritating me, but that’s what made him feel real. You don’t like anyone 100% of the time, and I don’t like characters that are perfect and I can’t dislike just a little bit.

For me, this book is another hit from Ness. It’s completely different to the rest of his work, but that’s not a bad thing. It might poke fun a little at my favourite YA genre, but it’s all in good humour and from someone who’s such a master story teller, I think it’s allowed.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like More Than This, also by Patrick Ness

Book Review: Bad Bones (Graham Marks)

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 336

Release Date: May 4th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Some things are best left buried. Gabe is feeling the pressure. His family has money troubles, he’s hardly talking to his dad, plus lowlife Benny is on his case. Needing some space to think, he heads off into the hills surrounding LA. And he suddenly stumbles across a secret that will change everything. A shallow grave. Gabe doesn’t think twice about taking the gold bracelet he finds buried there. Even from the clutches of skeletal hands. But he has no idea what he’s awakening…A chilling new story in the Red Eye series.

Review:

If you’ve been around my blog at all you’ll have seen reviews for all the books in the Red Eye series and I have been loving them – YA + horror, what’s not to love?

I have to say Bad Bones was probably my least favourite in the series so far. For me, it was less of a horror and more a mystery book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s less my cup of tea than horror, and this particular mystery just didn’t float my boat.

I liked Gabe as a protagonist and understood the dilemma in his position: when you’re that hard done by, and you see what looks like a quick way out, it’s so easy to just take it. Unfortunately in this kind of book, nothing’s ever that simple… It was easy to see how quickly things spiraled out of control, and I did so want things to work out for him.

I loved the friendships in this book more than anything. Anton is such a good friend to Gabe, even when he makes it hard, and you could really feel the bromance there! The blossoming relationship with Stella was also lovely to watch, and her character surprised me too: I had some theories about where she was going but I was completely wrong. There was also a lovely moment when Gabe’s sister was in danger – that was a real heart-in-the-mouth moment and probably one of the highlights of the book for me.

Unfortunately I just didn’t get into the plot. I found it a little slow and predictable, and it just wasn’t to my taste. I think I like a little more of the creepy/gory side of Red Eye than the slow building mystery – but that’s just me!

3

If you enjoyed this, you might like Frozen Charlotte, also in the Red Eye series.

5 Questions You Get Asked When You’re Pregnant

There’s a few questions that always seem to pop up when people find out you’re pregnant, so I thought I’d list them here and provide some answers while I’m at it 🙂

1. Do you know what you’re having/do you want a boy or a girl?

I’m surprised how many people have asked this so early on, especially ones who’ve had kids of their own. You don’t usually find out the sex of the baby (if you want to) until the 20 week scan, which for us is next week. But people were always asking me, even much further back.

As for the second part, I find it kind of awkward. I don’t think I could declare myself for one side or the other, because I’d hate anyone to think I was disappointed if it turned out to be the opposite. There’s also the cliche answer of “doesn’t matter, as long as it’s healthy” which I’m always tempted to give (see my favourite pregnancy song below).

My honest answer is that I don’t mind. I can imagine both, and I would of course be happy with either. I do say that I have more experience with girls: we have a very female heavy family – I have 3 sisters, and my mom is one of 6. But, as I say, either would go down well with me.

2. Have you had any cravings?

Everyone wants to hear that I’ve been craving candle wax or custard on toast, but sadly I have nothing that exciting to tell. I hesitate to call things cravings, as I’m not sure I always know the difference between that and just something I fancy to eat.

I have had two that have stood out though. The first was for olives – more specifically, the olives we ate in Paris last December. Normal olives in a jar or from a supermarket just wouldn’t do apparently. Which is a pretty impossible craving to satisfy! But Nathan, bless him, did his best, and got me some very fancy olives from the place he was working from at the time. Sadly I only ate a couple, but I appreciated the effort!

Secondly, was cheese. Which might seem like a fairly normal one, but I’ve never been much of a cheese fan, and am quite picky on how I eat it. I’m fine with it melted on things (pizza, jacket potato, etc) and occasionally grated. It also has to be very mild, and either cheddar or Edam. But, when grating cheese one day for dinner, I cut off a huge chunk of cheddar and ate it all, and then had another. It actually reminded me of being a kid: when my mom used to buy cheese in the supermarket she’d ask them to cut off a slice for me and my sister to eat while we finished the shopping.

The origin of cravings isn’t always known, but they do say it can be because your body is lacking some important nutrient. I definitely think this is true with me and cheese: I don’t normally eat it, I don’t drink milk, I don’t like yoghurt or cream, so I do tend to run low on calcium. It’s something I’m very conscious of now it’s not just me I’m feeding.

3. Have you had any morning sickness?

Morning sickness seems to be thing everyone knows about pregnancy symptoms, and I’m always being asked if I had much or how bad it was. Luckily for me, the answer is no, I didn’t have any sickness, in the morning or otherwise (because it’s rather misnamed and can happen at any time of the day). I was very lucky in this sense, as I think it would have been a lot harder to hide it from my parents/work if I was throwing up every day.

4. Do you have any names picked?

The honest answer is that we do have a few that we like, but we’re not going to tell anyone yet (see video above, it’s another ‘annoying pregnant woman’ thing). It just feels like a bit of a private thing when there’s a selection of names your child may or may not be called. Plus (thinking way in the future here) we might want to use names that don’t make the cut this time, so I want to keep them to myself!

5. Are you excited?

Yes, obviously, is the answer to that! I don’t think it comes across when I talk about it, but I think that’s just down to my general awkwardness. But trust me, both Nathan and I are super excited and can’t wait to meet our little one.

Anyone else have any ‘obvious’ pregnancy questions they get asked?

Book Review: Asking For It (Louise O’Neill)

Publisher: Quercus

Pages: 384

Release Date: September 3rd 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

Review:

Anyone who’s been round my blog a bit will know I’m a fan of Louise O’Neill. I fell in love with her first book, Only Ever Yours when I read it earlier this year, so much so that’s I’ve started buying it as a gift for everyone I know. I also did a post recently about books I was desperate to read, and this was easily top of the pile.

After reading the post, in which I gave away one of the books I really wanted to read instead of buying it for myself, my lovely partner decided to buy me two of the books from the post, Asking For It being one of them. I read it immediately, half on the way to work and half on the way home. And then I sat in the train station and felt like I wanted to cry.

Asking For It won’t be for everyone. Given the events of the book, it’s not surprising. For some, it could be very triggering, so if the subject is one you’re sensitive to then my general advice would be to stay away (then again, it’s up to you). Some may find it too uncomfortable. I did, to a certain extent. There’s too many real life cases it mirrors – the Steubenville and Maryville cases in the USA and so-called ‘Slane girl’ in Ireland to name a couple cited by O’Neill herself. That was something that really hit home whilst reading the book: sometimes it’s easy to dismiss things as fiction, and the extent of the events and reactions in the book makes you want to, but it should make you angry that this kind of thing happens in real life.

The book starts fairly slowly – you could easily mistake it for your typical teenage ‘summer that everything changed’ story, which I guess it is, in a way. I think this is important to set up the characters, especially Emma. It’s brave to write this story from the victim’s point of view, and it’s even braver to write such an unlikeable one. I didn’t sympathise with Emma very much in the beginning, aside from the part in the back of my mind which knew what was going to happen to her.

I think this was a really important point to make, and is one of key things about the book for me. In some rape cases, sympathy for the victim comes easily; in others, we blame then. In both cases, it’s not the victims fault, whatever they were doing/drinking/wearing. It’s easy to feel sorry for the straight A, loved-by-all girl walking home in her school uniform. Why is it harder to feel the same for the girl drunk off her face and in a short skirt? It shouldn’t be, is the answer, but that’s what seems to happen in society.

The reactions of Emma’s friends and family were one of the most painful things to read, and they’re what stuck with me most when I finished reading. In particular was the ending, which I can’t say too much about without spoiling it. To me it was the worst of let downs to feel your parents weren’t really on your side. I’ve been in a similar situation myself there and it still upsets me to this day that sometimes parents would rather believe you’re lying because it makes things easier for them.

While reading, I couldn’t help thinking of my younger sisters, who are a little younger than Emma (13 and 15) but will get to her age sooner than I’d like, and I do worry for their safety. More, curiously, than I ever did for my own at that age. I think there’s that sense of confidence and ‘it’ll never happen to me’ that comes with youth. In reality, the only difference between me and Emma is luck, and perhaps keeping some better company. But I’ve been so drunk I don’t know what’s going on, I’ve gone out in tiny dresses and acted promiscuously. And I wonder, if something had happened, if people would have said I was asking for it too?

Reading the note from Louise O’Neill at the end struck another chord with me. There’s a lot of talk about what rape is and isn’t, and she is very clear about it: there’s sex where both people consent, and there’s rape. There’s no in between, despite the differences people try to make (rape rape etc) and I felt one of the worst comments in the book was when a character says, “I didn’t say yes,” and the reply is, “But you didn’t say no.”

O’Neill said that, when talking about the book and the idea of consent with friends and family, a lot then came forward and said they’d had similar things happen to them, that they hadn’t really thought of as wrong until now. Not as extreme as Emma’s case, I’m imagining, but still times where it wasn’t sex between two consenting adults.

This made me think of a situation of my own that I hadn’t thought about as too wrong before, but it bothers me a lot more after reading the book. In my first year of university, I started going out with a guy I met. It was still early days (my subtle way of saying we hadn’t slept together), and we went out for drinks with friends. I got very drunk on £2 vodka and cokes, we went back to my flat and had sex. I didn’t remember it at all the next day. A while later, the story had gotten around with friends and I remember one of them laughing with me because apparently I passed out during it. I laughed it off, but it didn’t sound right to me. It also bothered me more as I knew he was stone cold sober that night.

It’s not a situation I would normally talk about, and it’s not something I would ‘cry rape’ over, but it also doesn’t sit right with me anymore. I don’t really know how I feel about sharing it, but it’s been on my mind since reading the book.

As with my Only Ever Yours post, this has been more of a thought splurge than a review, but I like that O’Neill brings that out of me. O’Neill’s writing hits you like a punch in the stomach and you’ll still be reeling from it weeks later. This is an important book for everyone to read, young and old, male and female, and I will be recommending it to everyone. Don’t expect to like it, but do expect to be thinking about it long after you’ve finished.

Copy of an art exhibit

If you enjoyed this, you might like You Against Me by Jenny Downham

 

Book Review: All of the Above (James Dawson)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 319

Release Date: September 3rd 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

This is a funny and moving love story about friends, first loves and self-discovery by Queen of Teen 2014. When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles…

Review:

This review might as well be titled ‘James Dawson, get out of my 16 year old head’. Seriously, reading this book could have been reading my own thoughts 8 years ago. It’s incredible to me how a grown man can so embody the thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl. It’s some incredible character writing there and Dawson deserves applause just for that alone.

The thing I like about All of the Above seems to be the thing others criticise it for. I’ll admit, it does cover an awful lot of topics: there’s sexuality, self-harm, eating disorders, family struggles and about a dozen other things. Some seem to feel that it should have focussed on one of these things, and gone into it in more detail, rather than skimming over a wide range. But to me, that’s what makes the book feel more true to life. When I was in school, my whole life wasn’t just about discovering my sexuality or struggling with an eating disorder: there was a multitude of things going on, because that’s what real life is like.

As mentioned before, the narrator, Toria, is a likeable and realistic narrator and I could relate to her completely, even though it’s been a while since I was her age. She’s a bit cynical and kind of calculating/paranoid when it comes to social reactions – she even has ‘making friends’ down to 3 easy steps – which is very like me. She probably makes friends a bit easier than I ever did though…

I loved the friendships that were formed in the book, as well as the relationships. The intensity of it all is very teenager-like: it’s all or nothing, getting sucked into these friendships until you feel you need a break from each other, and obsessing over a new boy and eventually finding out that was more fun than actually being with him…

I loved that this book didn’t really try and make me think in a certain way about it’s issues: it just highlighted them, without being too preachy or judge-y. I think it’s a great book for teenagers to read, and I know I would have loved this when I was younger. Dawson really is the Queen of Teen fiction and I can’t wait to read more of his books.

4

If you enjoyed this, you might like Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

 

Pregnancy Announcements – Fun or Awkward?

Before becoming pregnant, I’d seen my fair share of fun pregnancy announcements and maybe dreamt a little of doing my own some day. But that’s not really how it worked out for me.

I’ve actually found the whole experience of announcing my pregnancy pretty awkward. I think there’s a few reasons for that, the main one probably being that I’m a pretty awkward person as it is – the attention and questions pregnancy brings probably doesn’t help!

I think the fact that our pregnancy wasn’t planned made me feel awkward too – I didn’t want anyone to think we were unhappy about this, as we’re not – both of us are so happy, even if it was a little surprising!

Then there was the family reaction. Just a week before I found out I was pregnant, my older sister announced she was expecting. Obviously brilliant news and I was very happy for her, but there was a little voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I might also be pregnant, and wondering what the reactions to that would be.

I mostly worried that my sister would be angry and that I would be taking away from her happiness. Obviously that didn’t happen, she was one of the first people I told and she was really happy for us and has been just great. But I did worry.

And that worry was multiplied by about a billion when I thought about telling my mom. It actually put a dampener on the first few weeks because I was so afraid about what she would say. Deep down I knew that she couldn’t really do anything awful – the worst that could happen would be her being angry/disappointed, and that would be her problem, not mine. But still, I did so want her to be happy.

I knew the problem in her eyes would be that we weren’t ready. I know most parents probably feel like that about their children, and she had some valid points – my job at the time wasn’t great, Nathan was just started a new job and we’d only just moved out of her house. I felt it was easier for my mom to be happy for her, which was upsetting.

I’m a little sad I didn’t get to announce my pregnancy in some fun, cute way and have everyone overjoyed for me. Maybe that’ll happen next time, who knows? But I do know that it doesn’t really matter what everyone else’s reactions are, because it’s me and Nathan and the baby that really matter 🙂