Book Review: A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.
 
For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.
 
But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

True Fact: I am a giant Anglophile. My best friend is British, my cousin and her husband live there, and my college roommate and friend is British as well.  I grew up in a household that lauded The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Monty Python, and Doctor Who.  My point is that any novel that is set in Britain, imported to the American market from Britain, or has a character vacationing or visiting from Britain is going to capture my attention immediately.

So suffice it to say that when I realized that this was a quintessential British teen novel I was pretty excited.

Side note: Apparently the original title was “Lobsters,” a reference to Ross and Rachel on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I kind of wish this title had stuck!  Although, it is possible that maybe publicists didn’t think some of the newer teen generation might not understand the reference, but I have faith they would have.

While I do find the whole archaic idea of “needing to find the one,” or “losing your virginity,” before you graduate from high school/secondary school a bit ridiculous.  However, in this case, I feel that the narrative is somewhat aware of this farcical ideal and takes it to a hilarious level.

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Gratuitous shout out to my main Brit, Eve. (She’s the brunette. She looks pretty damn British, right?)

After being close friends with one and best friends with another British woman, I know how different the culture of sex and alcohol is in Britain compared to here in America, specifically in the South, where I grew up.  Sex is much more accepted in teenagers in Britain and it is much less of a taboo subject, so I find the frankness about virginity, hormonal and horny teens to be a breath of fresh air and something that should be more widely accepted in the young adult genre.  Sure, it can be a little polarizing for some readers who are not used to that type of open discussion, but I think it is well done and done in a hilarious way.  But, for parents who are worried about that, then maybe this book should be better suited for your older teens.

The drinking age in England is 18, but it is widely accepted that adults can buy their 16 and 17 year olds a drink.  It isn’t a big deal there like it is in America.  So I found this a completely normal aspect of the British teen novel.

My only real issue with this novel is all of the point of view shifts, because sometimes it really just didn’t create distinguishable voices at points. But overall the book is funny, endearing, blunt, risky, and just plain entertaining.

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One of my favorite parts is probably little noticed by other readers: “I only became aware of how ridiculous I looked when I turned onto the main street.  No one else was walking by themselves, let alone in their pajamas.” –pg 149.  I literally laughed out loud at this part, because the last time I was in England it was winter and my best friend absolutely refused to let me go outside and down the block in my pajamas to just get a bottle of water. It is just NOT DONE, she told me, and INAPPROPRIATE. So this just reminded me of the ridiculous fight we had about whether or not I could go out in my sweats. See?  You’ll learn all kinds of things about British culture.

4.5 Bards.

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Book Review: Riot by Sarah Mussi

It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking.

The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment.

The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair – the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won’t.

It’s time for the young to take to the streets. It’s time for them to RIOT:

OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE, OUR BODIES, OUR FUTURE.

Riot is one of those action pact adventure novels that keeps you hooked from the start.  It is focused on a hacker (Tia) and the trouble she gets involved in via her hacking ways.  The plot was interesting.  I liked that it was believable and quasi-realistic.  And can we talk about the forced sterilization?  Yikes.

I really liked Cobain, I thought his character was well developed and likable.  I thought Tia was ok,  she was a teenage girl fighting for the rights of the youth.  She was a bit wimpy in places but lets be honest, we all would be if faced with the same troubles.  I thought the pace of the book moved along well.  It was very action packed, almost a little too much.  I wanted them to catch a break occasionally maybe have a day or two of peace.  What I didn’t like in particular was the end.  It felt too complete, like everything was wrapped up in a nice neat bow.  I feel like with that kind of mass unrest there would have been more fall out involved.  Other than that I thought the book was great.

I am a little confused as to how to classify the genre of this book, it’s not really dystopian as it happens in the near future, and the world didn’t end.  It’s like pre-dystopian, what caused the world to change.  I will give a disclaimer to all the American’s who read this book, it is British, so some of the slang is different, but it doesn’t trip you up too much.  I happen to enjoy all things British, so I enjoyed reading it with my terrible English accent in my head.  It’s a good faced-paced action book, with a little romance to spice things up!  Don’t let the description discourage you from reading the book.  It was about the social unrest of the teens, however it followed 2 main characters and had some romance involved.  I felt like the description was misleading.  It didn’t even mention the characters or the hacking aspect of the book.

 

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I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
            
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I couldn’t wait to read this book based on the synopsis and I really was not disappointed at all.

Historical fiction is a serious obsession of mine, and anytime a young adult book comes out that is set in an interesting historical time period and one that deals with the social aspects of life during that time is going to capture my eye and most likely find a fan in me.

As much as I adored this book for the concept of a woman trying to find a place in the world of art, which was clearly a men’s world, the most important story line in this was really not highlighted in the synopsis.  As an American, we always study the suffragete movement as it happened here, and we really never get into the details of the movement as it happened in England.

In fact, the only notion I have of the suffragette movement in England is from Mary Poppins.

 

Anyway, I loved that Waller really focused the novel on the importance of female empowerment and how terrible it was for our predecessors to become independent and learn to rely on themselves instead of their fathers, brothers, or husbands.  Plus, it just made it even more perfect that the love story (which was by no means a main focal point in the story) fit into this trope perfectly.  Speaking of the love story, I really enjoyed how great it was, but I loved that it wasn’t the main focus of the story.  A lot of times with period novels, there will be a significant focus on finding “the one” and their perfect husband to create their perfect life, and it is somewhat annoying.

All in all, I adored this book and I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a great historical read and an amazing look into the suffragete movement in England.

5 Bards.

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