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Successor’s Promise by Trudi Canavan

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Published in the UK by Orbit 2017


Synopsis

Five years have passed since the Rebels confronted the Raen. Five years, in which the boy Rielle rescued, Qall, has grown up among the Travellers, with no memory of the life that was stolen from him. Five years of chaos, barely contained by Baluka and the Restorers. Worlds are at war, some overrun by deadly machines, some drained of magic by power-hungry sorcerers. As Qall comes of age, and Rielle and Tyen’s hard-won peace is threatened, their loyalties are tested – and Qall’s very existence is at stake. Because Dahli is still determined to restore Valhan to power, and he will stop at nothing to succeed.


Review

Successor’s Promise falls as the third book in the Millennium’s Rule series. It takes place five years after Angel of Storms and in that time both of our protagonist’s have cemented themselves in some kind of resemblance to normal life. Rielle is working as an artist, designing tiles and working with a group of decorators in an Emperor’s palace. Tyen is working in a small factory and occasionally meets with Baluka and Dahli while he tries to find a way to restore Vella, once again being a friend to both ‘sides’.

It’s very hard to talk about this book without spoilers for the first two!

So beware SPOILERS FOR BOOKS ONE AND TWO MAY BE BELOW!

 

What I loved most about Successor’s Promise was the complete shake up of who the enemy was. The first two books focussed on The Raen as the enemy and he was so multidimensional it completely blew my mind. Seeing him from the different points of view was fantastic. Rielle, who saw him as a friend; Baluka who saw him as a monster and Tyen who was caught in the middle was very well written in my opinion. It really helped to get some interaction with Dahli as well who obviously adores The Raen. Instead of a typical enemy who is mysterious and has overwhelming power, The Raen has power and a conscience. You get to read about his history and why he makes the decisions he does. While he’s not all good, he’s not made out to be all bad either which is emphasized by the use of his actual name – Valhan.

In Successor’s Promise, this continues in the form of Dahli – he’s the new threat, but only because he wants his love back. Throughout the books you get the sense that Dahli is almost hypnotised with Valhan and his power, committing terrible acts purely because he is so blindsided by affection. Book Two saw Valhan try to get his memories into another body, one that is also powerful and could be his Successor but which would mean an innocent would be sacrificed to do it.

So book three continues Rielle’s story because she needs to protect that innocent –  Qall; who Dahli believes can still be a host for Valhan. This ties in quite nicely with Tyen’s need to find a way to restore Vella to a body doesn’t it?

But obviously, things never go to plan and lots of adventure ensues and to be honest – it works. Trudi Canavan is in no rush to tell her story (each book is over 500 pages), she encompasses World and Character Building, mostly in equal measure which could make these books slow for some readers however for me, it was a nice steady pace and I felt that every option could be hashed out and come to a comfortable conclusion. I loved the interaction between Tyen and Rielle in this book, it seems to have been a long time coming but it was worth the wait. They really complement each other and although they work well together they actually do things wrong too which was really engaging to read.

Goodreads Rating 4 / 5

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Angel of Storms by Trudi Canavan

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Published by Orbit 2015

Synopsis

Tyen is teaching mechanical magic at a school respected throughout the worlds. News arrives that the formidable ruler of all worlds, long believed to be dead, is back and enforcing his old laws – including the one forbidding schools of magic. As teachers and students flee, Tyen is left with no home and no purpose… except the promise he made to Vella, the sorcerer imprisoned in a book. Tyen must decide what he is willing to do to free her.

After five years among the tapestry weavers of Schpeta, Rielle’s peaceful new life has been shattered by a local war. As defeat looms, the powerful Angel of Storms appears and invites Rielle to join the artisans of his celestial realm. But what will he require in return for this extraordinary offer?

Review

The second novel in the Millennium’s Rule series sees the main protagonists Tyen & Rielle in totally different scenarios to the first book. Over the course of this novel they move closer and closer together but they also grow so much as characters and I started to really enjoy them both for the talents they were bringing to the table.

Rielle is quickly swept away from her home world and becomes involved with a totally different culture in the travellers (my favourite people in this series). The travellers are a group of gypsy like people who travel between worlds constantly to trade their wares between the different cultures. Baluka, the son of the family she stays with, becomes her protector and tries to teach her how to use her magic.

Tyen on the other hand has settled down to teach mechanical magic in a school, but when rumours of a powerful sorcerer come to light he finds himself entangled between the Raen as his spy and the rebels as a leader. I still feel close to Tyen as a person. He makes decisions for the right reasons but constantly manages to find himself in the worst situations.

Throughout Angel of Storms I really grew to admire Rielle. Now that she is outside of her world she is learning to question everything she has been brought up to believe in, including Angels. She is making connections with other people and really pushing outside of the boundaries I as the reader saw her in. Rielle is smart. Her behaviour has been shaped by the experiences she went through in Thief’s Magic, while she is still naive in some ways, she is also now more confident in herself and her abilities and her journey is really nice to read through.

Overall, Angel of Storms is a nice follow on from Thief’s Magic and offers an excellent pace to drive the story. The worlds are complex and the relationships the characters are tackling are complicated but Canavan writes confidently and clearly so there is little confusion with the decisions made in the narrative, they are believable as people and it’s easy to empathise with them. This was a re-read for me and I enjoyed it a lot (perhaps more than  the first read).

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5

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Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan

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Published by Orbit (May 2014)

I adore Trudi Canavan’s writing. Ever since I opened The Magician’s Guild (a long time ago) I’ve devoured every novel that she has deigned to gift to the world. I love how she creates these amazing worlds, magic systems and characters who come to life within the narrative and make you feel at home. It’s always a comfort coming to a Trudi Canavan novel so to read Millennium’s Rule series in lockdown was just what I needed.

I read Thief’s Magic back in 2014 when it was first released and I followed up with Angel of Storms in 2015 when that was released too. Successor’s Promise wasn’t released until 2017 – I bought it before going on holiday so I could read it in style but when I found out that it wasn’t a trilogy but a quadrilogy … I decided to wait until I had an idea of when the fourth book would be released before I would read it. Bring on 2020 and the release date of May 20th gave me a push but I needed to re-read the first two books (oh no! ha!).

The Millennium’s Rule series is ambitious to say the least! The series is set in a multiverse, there are thousands and thousands of worlds and each world has its own rules, systems, fashions, language etc etc etc yeah I know – mind blown. Thief’s Magic is the first novel of the series and is told from the perspectives of two protagonists – Tyen and Rielle who hail from two very different worlds and who don’t know each other … both can use magic although only one is trained and they are both, obviously destined to have an amazing story to tell.

Tyen finds himself in a difficult situation when he discovers a book that used to be a woman – details are in the book (lol) but you can use your imagination. Vella holds thousands of years of history in her ‘memory’ and Tyen is duty bound to hand over his discovery to the School of Magic that he attends. So when he doesn’t do that, he is branded a thief and leaves in search of a way to give Vella her body back.

Rielle lives in a world where magic is forbidden so when she discovers at a young age that she can sense it (and therefore use it) she hides her ability from everyone. Her world believes using magic is stealing from the Angels and as magic leaves a void where it was used, hiding it from the priests who serve the Angels is difficult and comes at a cost.

The development of the characters and the worldbuilding in Thief’s Magic is phenomenal. While the novel builds a lot of aspects up and acts as an introduction to the series it also tells a powerful tale on it’s own. Every detail has been thought of and just when I think I know what to expect, another curveball comes my way. Out of the two characters I much prefer Tyen, probably because he reminds me of myself. He is a sensitive character who finds himself in difficult situations, struggling to choose a side. His relationship with Vella is complicated, ranging from student, teacher, friend and protector which is interesting to pick apart. 

Through the narrative you really get a strong feeling of who the characters are and how they will respond in certain situations. Both Tyen and Rielle find themselves facing challenges which push them out of their comfort zones and force them to adapt and grow throughout. I loved seeing them both evolve and by the final chapter I couldn’t wait to see how their story would continue.

To any fantasy fans who haven’t given Trudi Canavan a go I would recommend you start!

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5

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The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

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Published by Bluebird Books for Life

“When you lift up women, you lift up humanity”

On the cover of this book are the words ‘empowering women changes the world’. I went into this book blind; of course, I knew that women still have a way to go to get equality, and I know that I live in a very privileged society, that in some countries women were still being treated as second class citizens. But I hadn’t taken the time to read and learn about what that means and why it is so important in the modern world we live in.

I specifically requested to be part of the Tandem Collective readalong for this book because I feel very ignorant of the world beyond my current perspective and I have made a promise to myself that this year I am going to fix that.

Melinda uses such emotion in her writing. She immediately addresses that she is privileged and lucky and not in any way capable of ‘fixing the world’, she even touches upon how bad it would be for rich first world citizens to interfere in third world issues by throwing money at it. Instead she focuses on wanting to teach the world and help communities lift each other up to gain equality around the world.

Melinda works hard to lift others up so that they can make the changes needed in their societies to be happier, healthier and equal. The people she works with go out into communities and teach everyone – men, women and children. They perform workshops to tackle empathy and set up safe spaces for those who need it. Throughout the book Melinda will tell you about a modern issue (not just in poorer countries either), what she thought needed to be done, what she learned and how they decided to work towards improving the situation. She has success stories and areas of failure and she pinpoints the reasons why so that they can try again in a different way.

This book really is an emotional rollercoaster, chapter by chapter I found myself angry, hurt, sad, overwhelmed, triumphant and loved. It took me a longer time than normal to read through because I found myself so absorbed and needing to take everything in. Melinda takes us through her story of finding herself as well as the stories of women around the world who have impacted her journey and some of the writing is very hard-hitting. To fully appreciate what I was reading I had to take breaks, I even found myself vocally passing on the information I was reading to my boyfriend in order to get my head back in the right space – As I said – emotional.

When I first told my boyfriend what I was going to be reading he immediately told me that religion is at the bottom of all the inequality in the world and I was surprised when I found that Melinda is an active Christian – she even tackles this in the book and she faced a lot of backlash because of her beliefs and the work she was carrying out. It was quite humbling to see how she balances her viewpoints, how she has educated herself and still manages to keep hold of her beliefs, I felt very awed to learn this about her.

The book itself isn’t all about the stories she has learned from those living these unequal lives, Melinda also gives a lot of facts which are completely mind blowing – did you know that seventeen countries have laws limiting how and why and when women can leave their homes? I didn’t. In one hundred and thirteen countries there are no laws for equal pay for men and women and in the United States of America there are no laws ensuring paid maternity leave (although a lot of companies give it) – this is terrifying! The lack of support for women around the world is atrocious, women everywhere need a lift and I’m hoping I can help a little in getting it to them because once you realise how much of an effect this gender bias has on economies and health, all you want to do is help make it better.

I’m going to be urging everyone to read this poignant and empowering manifesto about gender equality around the world as I know it is going to stick in my mind for a long time to come. I would like to truly thank Tandem Collective and Bluebird Books for Life for letting me take part in the readalong and for the journey it took me on, I cannot express how important the lessons are in this book so instead I will just ask you to read it.

Cat x

 

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A Place of Reckoning by J F Burgess – Blog Tour

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Something a little different for you today 🙂 

I have been lucky enough to snag a spot of the Blog Tour for A Place of Reckoning by J F Burgess which is organised by Love Books Tours and I am coming at you with a short excerpt of the book!

Blurb

Three women. Two bodies. One deadly secret.
Pottery tycoon Charles Lancaster knows who kidnapped his wife.
He’s sure it was the brutally dangerous ex bare-knuckle fighter, Patrick Dunne. Patrick promised to avenge his son who died in a tragic accident in one of Charles’ factories. It’s an open and shut case…
 …until a headless body turns up in a remote Peak District pool, its back tattooed with a cryptic Tarot card. As Detective Inspector Tom Blake and FBI profiler Lucy Stryker dig into the mystery, they unearth long-buried secrets about an historic conspiracy and a clandestine cult. But with a sadistic killer on the loose, and everyone hiding things, it’s not just the victim’s life that hangs in the balance. Will anyone get out alive?
Because when the powerful are pointing the finger, you’d better watch your back…

Excerpt

The light was fading and rain lashed down in front of the Astra’s headlights as Detective Inspector Tom Blake and Detective Sergeant John Murphy came to a standstill at the top of a long, litter-strewn alleyway that ran behind a row of boarded-up terraced houses on Wells Street, Middleport. The once-thriving industrial area was pencilled in for regeneration by the council, but money from central government hadn’t materialised. Like most of old Stoke-on-Trent from the turn of the nineteenth century, factories and workers’ houses nearby were in a poor state of repair. Years of neglect had seen to that. The two detectives felt sorry for those elderly residents who’d clung to the glories of a past of full employment and thriving community. Now they lived amid empty terraced houses and an influx of East Europeans looking for unskilled work.

‘You reckon Denzel Glennie is back at it, then?’ DI Blake asked his DS, John Murphy.

‘Sex cases like him don’t change, despite what the shrinks say. They can’t be healed. He’s got a taste for knocking prostitutes around. He gets off on it. His stash of Viagra was in double figures last time we arrested him,’ Murphy said.

‘The office manager uses it.’

Murphy grinned, ‘Nick Pemberton’s on the blue diamonds?’

‘Says he needs them to keep pace with all these MILFs he’s dating. Says they’re hornier than any under-twenty-fives he’s been with,’ Blake said.

‘Jesus! Evermore likely his missus won’t take him back. ’

‘Anyway, this is Glennie’s stomping ground. There’ve been several reports of dealing and soliciting in this area over the last two weeks. The old lady in number sixty-eight there is petrified. She’s told PC Haynes she doesn’t go out after dark. Seeing Glennie with his pants down was the last straw for her.’

‘I don’t blame her, look at the state of this place.’ DS Murphy flicked on the wipers to wash away another deluge from the windscreen.

‘Hopefully, this bloody lot will ease up. Don’t fancy getting soaked. Which property is the dealing going on at?’

‘See that brown wheelie bin?’ Murphy pointed to the stranded bin leaning against a wall. ‘The working girls are using a row of three terraced in the middle there. They’re most likely knocked through. Like those cannabis farms the Drug Squad raided in Longton last month.’


A Place of Reckoning is the second novel in the Detective Tom Blake series and is available now at an amazing price for Kindle!

You can find the first novel here.

And A Place of Reckoning here.

I can’t wait to hear what you guys think 😉 

Thank you Love Books Tours for letting me be a part of the tour!

 

Cat x

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Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin

Published by Black & White Publishing (March 2020)


Synopsis

BERLIN 2019.

A young writer is brutally attacked in her home and left for dead. For her sister Nina Bergmann, it’s the beginning of a nightmare that will threaten to destroy her marriage, her job and – ultimately – her life. As she sets out to unravel the truth about what really happened to her sister, Nina comes face-to-face with inner demons she believed long since banished and discovers that her sister’s past and that of the once-divided city are intertwined in unimaginable ways. The Wall may be gone, but its legacy still haunts Berlin . . .

Review

I was gifted this book by LoveBooksTours in exchange for an honest review.

Today is my stop on the Book Tour for Sisters of Berlin by Juliet Conlin.

This book was a really easy read for me, the characters were relatable and the narrative flowed smoothly from one chapter to the next. I devoured this novel and it gave me satisfaction from beginning to end. It was set in Berlin too which is one of my favourite places to visit, it is such a beautiful city to explore and it is so full of history.

I thought I was going in to a murder mystery in this book but what I got was a deep evaluation of a woman who had lost her sister brutally and how she needed to find comfort and move through her grief. The narrative was reflective on her situation, I never once thought anything contained in the book was forced and to be honest, apart from one tiny thing, I didn’t think any of the novel was predictable which is a real win!

I really connected with Nina, she is a strong and capable female character in a horrible situation. The relationships she has as a mother, wife and daughter are all shown in equal measure within the novel and how she balances these after her sister is murdered is explored and frankly, admirable in its conclusion.

Considering its context, I did find this an easy and enjoyable read and would recommend. Although it draws from history in some of its plot points, it isn’t heavily referenced so for me it didn’t detract from the story.

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The Twin by Natasha Preston

IMG_20200302_150349_668.jpgPublished March 2020 by Delacorte Press


Synopsis

After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were split up–Ivy lived with Dad, Iris with Mom. Now, after a tragic accident takes their mom’s life, the twins are reunited and Iris moves in with Ivy and their dad. Devastated over Mom’s death, Iris spends the first few weeks in almost total silence–the only person she will speak to is Ivy. Iris feels her life is over and she doesn’t know what to do. Ivy promises her twin that she can share her life now. After all, they’re sisters. Twins.
It’s a promise that Iris takes seriously. And before long, Ivy’s friends, her life at school, and her boyfriend, Tyler, fall under Iris’s spell. Slowly, Ivy realizes she’s being pushed out of her own life. But she’s just being paranoid, right? And Mom’s accident was . . . just an accident. Right? It’s not like she–or Dad–or Tyler–are in any danger. . . .

Review

I was sent this book by the publisher and it was my first foray into Natasha Preston’s writing.

I really didn’t enjoy this book. I’ve given it a two star rating purely because I finished it and that was only because it wasn’t a difficult read and I wanted to know how it all finished (and how it could be finished). I personally didn’t think the ending was worth it, I didn’t feel it resolved anything (was that the point? – I genuinely don’t know).

It is a shame because I usually lap up the good twin/ bad twin trope but alas, this just didn’t work for me and I knew it from the first few chapters. The main character twin, Ivy (the one you are supposed to care about), is so self-centred and annoying, the narrative is from her point of view but she constantly jumps to weird accusations about her twin, Iris. Every chapter pretty much ends with her asking herself ‘why does my twin want my life?’ and half the time Iris hadn’t even done anything … the actions just didn’t match the accusation a lot of the time causing me to find the narrative disjointed and unenjoyable.

I think if the story had been a little more imaginative and unique I would have felt differently. I was really excited to read this one but unfortunately I just don’t think it worked!

Goodreads Rating: 2 / 5

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If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

Published 2020 by Harper Collins (UK – Right Cover)

Synopsis

Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance

(They set the rules via email)

Everyone can see they’re head over heels

(They staged the photos)

This must be true love

(They’re faking it)

When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she’s blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together.

So when she gets stuck in the lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet…

Review

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review and I loved it. The perfect recipe for Lockdown Distraction, it mixed nicely the fake relationship trope with relatable characters, a pinch of drama and an amazing setting (Manchester FYI). I really enjoyed imagining the characters walking down Deansgate and St Peter’s Square. They even ventured over to Lincoln which is really close to where I grew up.

This is the first book I’ve read by Mhairi McFarlane and I’m so glad I did, I’m going to be visiting all of her previous novels now! If I Never Met You was an easy and enjoyable read without being too simple. Not that it was complex either – it was just right! It had just the right amount of drama to keep me intrigued and emotionally involved and the characters’ situations were well designed and pretty true-to-life in my opinion.

As a 30 something year old living in Manchester myself it was so easy to follow the narrative and feel that connection with Laurie. While her situation made my jaw drop to begin with she had an excellent and dry sense of humour as well as relatable relationships with her friends, colleagues and family. Jamie was adorable, as a bit of a rogue, you know where the story is going but everything unravelled and the ‘relationship’ developed at a natural speed and not at all rushed.

If I Never Met You is a wonderful story and one I think I may revisit again in the future and is currently only 99p on Amazon!  for Kindle 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4 / 5

 

 

 

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Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

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Published April 2020 by MacMillan Childrens

Synopsis

Don’t be easy. Don’t give it up. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be cold. Don’t put him in the friendzone. Don’t act desperate. Don’t let things go too far. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t blame him for trying. Don’t walk alone at night. But calm down! Don’t worry so much. Smile!

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her.

No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

Review

I was sent this novel to review from Netgalley.

As an adult, this book didn’t make the best impression on me I’m afraid. Written by two authors (although I have no knowledge of Katie Cotugno) and two female authors at that, I expected the subject matter to be handled with a little more tact than it was. I know that I am not this book’s target audience but from a Contemporary Young Adult novel I was really disappointed.

Marin as a main character is perfect, she is what you expect – kind, smart and independent as a reader I was firmly on her side of the battle from the start. The teacher involved, Bex (don’t even get me started) is awful and cringey from the get go and Marin’s best friend is pretty horrible and so is her boyfriend. I’m not quite sure what Marin did to warrant having such nasty people in her life! The parents of a few kids are introduced too however and they came across pretty well, being supportive and diverse.

Despite this, I found the narrative to be too simple. The book sits at around 300 pages and took me between 2.5 – 3 hours to read. For such a heavy subject matter, I would have wanted a bit more delving in to the relationships of the novel to get me more involved and emotionally connected. I feel like it skims the surface just to pass on its main message but doesn’t really hit the mark. On every page I was struggling not to roll my eyes at some of the obvious plot points that are supposed to be hints but instead end up being glaringly obvious but as I said initially, I read this book as an adult, not the young adult it was intended for. I would like to think, in a younger mind that girls don’t need this message spoon-feeding to them but I could be wrong.

All the way through this novel I thought my rating would be a 2 but I raised it to 3 partly because I’m not the target audience and partly because, despite its flaws, it was a quick read for me and it tied itself up quite nicely in the end.

Goodreads Rating – 3 / 5

 

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No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter

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Published August 2019 by Macmillan

Synopsis

‘It’s not my body that’s holding me back. I think it’s more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.’

Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

Review

I was sent an e-arc of this book via Netgalley and the Publisher.

I loved this book. It was such a sweet and easy read for me and I definitely connected on a deep level with the main character, Emily who is struggling with how she thinks she is perceived by others because of her weight. Emily is a gem, she is confident and outspoken but inside she is dealing with the overbearing nature of her mother who is struggling with her own weight and the constant worry of teenagers – comparing herself to others, measuring success on her friends relationship milestones and focusing on the only thing she can see as being the difference between herself and them – her body size.

I wish I had read this as a teenager. By the novels conclusion, Emily has realised that she can’t compare herself to others and that she doesn’t need to accept anything less than the best, because no matter what she looks like it doesn’t change who she is as a person. It’s a cheesy and well-worn message but to have it put so plainly in this Young Adult novel really made me feel good and root for Emily as a character.

This novel also attempts to tackle the social issue of fad dieting in the form of Emily’s mum who is constantly trying to lose weight but struggling to do so. She seems to be impeded by her daughter’s self-confidence which from a mother is so completely the opposite of what I grew up with I did struggle to ‘believe’ her attitude although I totally understood the mental health side of things behind these actions. I think this was the only detraction for me and it didn’t impede my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Goodreads rating: 4/5 Stars