how hard can love be

Spoiler-Free Review: …And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

...And a Happy New Year?
…And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll hopefully write up about YA Shot in another post, but something really cool happened yesterday which was (kinda) unrelated…

I got my hands on a copy of …And A Happy New Year?, the Spinster Club novella by Holly Bourne. And I’m quoted in the back! And I got it signed!

Any of you loyal readers/twitter followers will probably know I’m a huge fan of these books. The Spinster Club Trilogy follows three girls (Evie, Amber and Lottie) on their separate journeys and experiences with feminism, mental health, and friendship. These books are hugely powerful with their introduction to these issues, and they’re so funny and relatable. These girls feel so real – they’re far from perfect, they struggle with their feminism and how they think they should feel or act, and it’s been so great to get to know these girls and their stories.

…And A Happy New Year? is the first time we have all three girls speaking in one book. Holly cleverly weaves a story where the girls react to each other in a realistic way, and their friendship in this book is far from perfect. This book is a little sad at times, because the reality is, their lives, and their friendship, is far from how they imagined.

I loved this as a story of the (often difficult) transition from sixth form to university, and how easy it is to drift away from old friends. I particularly enjoyed Lottie’s arc, and I think it’s important to show that things often turn out the way you don’t expect. Not to spoil anything, but Lottie is having a tough time with her new housemates, and I’ve personally experienced this – I think the risk is often higher in your first year of university when you’re living with complete strangers, but living with friends at university in my later years there was surprisingly tough. I also loved how the girls were all doing their own thing, and not all going to a top university.

This is the perfect book for Christmas, and the cover is incredibly beautiful – it’s a gorgeous hardback with a gold spine (and the book inside is blue!).

If you haven’t read the Spinster Club Series, get on it! I can’t wait for Holly Bourne’s next book (out 2017!) My reviews for the first two books are here – Am I Normal Yet? and How Hard Can Love Be?.
View all my reviews

annalsie

#ThisIsWhoIAm Time Capsule

To celebrate the release of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (review here), I’m going to be making a virtual time capsule, just like Thomas and Gottie do in the book (except theirs isn’t virtual).

First though, let’s appreciate the cover a little more…

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My Time Capsule

Favourite Photographs

So, it hasn’t happened yet, but in less than 3 months, I’ll be graduating! With some picturesque background, I’ll be all dolled up in my academic dress, this time with a big poofy gown (like a black cape rather than a ballgown) and a mortarboard – that will probably make for an interesting photo, so I’ll put it in here.

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I’d also put in a photo of my bookshelf, mostly because the book:shelf ratio is massively off, and I am struggling to fit all the books in my university room. (Pic above a little out of date – many books acquired since then). I’d also throw in a photograph of my collage wall (each room in uni comes with a huge noticeboard, and mine is covered in fashion advertisements and movie posters, as well as cinema tickets and Game of Thrones art prints). The photo below is my collage at the beginning of the year – it’s expanded a bit more now.

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Favourite Songs

This is a difficult one, so I’d probably put a copy of the ‘My Songs’ playlist from my Spotify account – it’s full of loads of random choices from pretty much every decade, and probably sums up my music taste quite well. (Think a lot of cheesy 90s stuff with power ballads, 00s R&B, and a bit of dance music thrown in).

If I had to pick three songs of the moment which I really like, it would be:

  1. Cheap Thrills by Sia; Sean Paul
  2. Me, Myself and I by G-Eazy, Bebe Rexha
  3. PILLOWTALK by ZAYN

Favourite Books

I mean, how am I meant to choose? My favourite books of 2016 so far have been:

  1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  3. How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne – review here
  4. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill – review here
  5. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman – review here

However, the book that reminds me the most of SUMMER 2016 so far has to be The Square Root of Summer!

Favourite Films

My favourite film of all time is Confessions of a Shopaholic, weirdly enough.

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This year I’ve seen Deadpool (great), Captain America: Civil War (amazing) and Allegiant (a bit meh). I’ve posted about my most anticipated movies this summer here and here. I am looking forward to seeing Me Before You (but I need to read the book first!), Suicide Squad and Bridget Jones’ Baby.


If my time capsule has piqued your interest in The Square Root of Summer, the book will be available from all good bookshops, and online from Thursday 5th May – although I’ve seen some branches of Waterstones have them in early (and they have the most gorgeous sprayed pink pages!)


I’m so looking forward to meeting Harriet at YALC this year, although I may have to reread The Square Root of Summer first…

What would you put in your time capsule? Have you read The Square Root of Summer? What did you think? Tweet me at @annalisebooks or comment below 🙂

Annalise x

YALC Reading List: Part 2!

If you missed Part 1 – find it here.

I’ve actually bought my tickets for YALC – I’ll (hopefully) be there for all FOUR days. On Friday, there was a HUGE announcement of authors, and I am so excited – again, the only problem is bring all the books!

Some updates this week: I’ll be posting each section of the YALC reading list every Sunday evening, and I’ve added a #YALC section to my blog – it contains these posts as well as my reviews of YALC books.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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10. Ben Aaronivitch

Book to read: Rivers of London series

I’ve only read the first book in this series, Rivers of London (review here) but I really enjoyed it – I love London-set books, especially when they’re mixed with magic. This series is really original and interesting, with the main character a black policeman assigned to the supernatural division of the Metropolitan Police. I had my copy of Rivers of London signed last year at YALC, but if I pick up Moon Over Soho before July, I’ll be sure to bring it with me.

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11. Holly Bourne

Book to read: Am I Normal Yet?

If you haven’t picked up this book yet, what are you doing? The first in the Spinster Club Trilogy, Am I Normal Yet? (review here) has been shortlisted for the YA book prize, given out as part of World Book Night, and has to be one of the most acclaimed books on Twitter. Each of the books focus on a different Spinster Club member, with How Hard Can Love Be? out February 2016, and What’s A Girl Gotta Do? out August 1st, 2016. I had my copy of How Hard Can Love Be? (review here) signed at Oxford Literary Festival, but I may indulge in a copy of Holly’s debut, Soulmates, before YALC. (I’m also hoping that there will be copies of What’s A Girl Gotta Do? at YALC!)

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12. Sarah Crossan

Book to read: One

One is a really interesting book: it’s written entirely in free verse, and it’s about two girls who are conjoined, and what happens when their medical debt forces them to go to a regular high school. Also nominated for the YA Book Prize 2016, and shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, definitely check this one out – it’s deceptively short, but powerful. My copy was signed by Sarah at the Oxford Literary festival, so I won’t be hauling this one around at YALC, but I’m sure plenty of fans will. Read my review here.

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13. Jenny Downham

Book to read: Unbecoming

I’m pretty sure I’ve read Jenny’s debut, Before I Die, which became the film Now Is Good, starring Jeremy Irvine and Dakota Fanning. Unbecoming is her latest novel, nominated for the YA Book Prize 2016. I’m not sure if i’ll have time for this one before YALC, but it looks to be a tale of family life which is ‘funny, sad, honest and wise’.

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14. Michael Grant

Book to read: Front Lines

I’ve heard of Michael Grant before, as the author of the bestselling Gone series. Researching this blog post, I can’t believe I haven’t picked up Front Lines yet – I love World War II alternate history stories (I’m currently reading Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin) but for some reason, I though this was a WWI story, and wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. This is the story of if girls had been called up to fight with the boys in WWII, and it has amazing reviews – I think I’m going to have to pick this one up! I’m sure there will be plenty of fans of the Gone series at YALC.

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15. Rosalind Jana

Book to read: Notes On Being Teenage

Rosalind Jana is a blogger, writer and feminist, and Notes On Being Teenage is her first book, covering all things teenage, with advice and guidance on navigating those teenage years. Filled with real interviews with teenagers, as well as Louise O’Neill, Juno Dawson and Rosianne Halse-Rojas, this looks really interesting – I haven’t read it yet but imagine it to be similar to Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson (review here) and think this could be a quick read to pick up before July. Out June 9th, 2016.

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16. Dr Christian Jessen

Book to read: Dr Christian’s Guide To You

I think most people know Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies, and this guide is a practical, medical guide to being a teenager, including puberty, physical and mental heath, and body confidence. I’m a huge supporter of more transparent discussion of a lot of these issues, especially from a medical perspective (what is expected, what you should go to the doctors for, etc.) but I’ll probably give this one a miss, seeing as I’m a bit older than the target audience.

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17. Sophie Kinsella

Book to read: Finding Audrey/Confessions of a Shopaholic

Finding Audrey is Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel, a sweet romance about Audrey, a 14-year-old with anxiety. I’ll be bringing the first book in her most popular adult series, Confessions of a Shopaholic, which I really do love – I’ve read the first six, as well as a few of Sophie’s standalone novels, which are really fun, too.

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18. Tanya Landman

Book to read: Buffalo Soldier

I haven’t read any Tanya Landman before, to be honest – but Buffalo Soldier, the story of a girl who pretends to be a man and runs off to join the army, won the Carnegie Medal 2015. Her most recent novel, Hell and High Water, came out last September. Both of these novels are historical, and so fans of historical children’s fiction surely can’t go wrong with Tanya’s novels.

Which authors are you dying to see? Which authors do you wish will be announced for YALC?

Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks

Til’ next Sunday (for part 3),

Annalise x

Review: How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

How Hard Can Love Be?
How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How Hard Can Love Be? is the second book in the Normal trilogy/ Spinster Club Series) by Holly Bourne.

HHCLB follows the story of Amber, a 17-year-old sixth-form student who heads off to California for a summer working at a summer camp for children. There is a twist however – the camp is run by her recovering alcoholic mother and stepfather, who abandoned her with her father and stepfamily, and who she hasn’t seen for two years. As Amber faces the prospect that she may never truly get along with her mother, she also starts to fall for your typical all-American Prom King god-in-boy-form, Kyle – despite her head telling her not to.

HHCLB is quite different in theme to Am I Normal Yet? (review here), the first book in the series. AINY followed Evie, Amber’s best friend, and her battle with OCD and anxiety. I really enjoyed the family setup here – parents are often weirdly absent in YA, and here their explanation for being absent is dealt with in a way that has obviously impacted on the character and her behaviour. Her mother and stepfather are well rounded and important parts of the story, a feature which rarely appears in YA (when your parents are often a huge part of your life!).

Many of the supporting characters are fleshed out with back stories and interesting traits, and the characters and the situations they get into feel realistic and logical. Not everything in YA romance has to be sparkles and rainbows, and Amber has to face some tough decisions and situations herself, but they never feel unrealistic.

It should be noted that this book has content that is ‘not suitable for younger readers’ – there’s at least discussion of drinking and sex, which is unusual and refreshing in young adult literature. Many characters in YA don’t even think about drinking or having sex, at least until the last book of the series (quite the polar opposite of real life!).

I love the format of the series – I’ve read way way too many YA books which were obviously written as a standalone and then unnaturally forced into a series. Here, each book could be read as a standalone, but they fit together beautifully – there’s no need to read the first book (although you definitely should, because it’s great!) to understand what’s going on. Holly traverses the line between standalone and series here so well – three books that are (almost certainly) wonderful that can be read alone or as a set.

As with AINY, there are ‘Situations Destined to Fail’ pages at the beginning with each chapter, which are a fun break and eases the read. Bourne’s writing is wonderful, and even though the book is nearly 500 pages long, I read this in a few days.

I love love love love love this series, and if there’s one YA novel you have to read this February, it should be How Hard Can Love Be? I can’t wait for the third book to come out.

View all my reviews

Have you read this book? What did you think? Comment below or tweet me at @AnnaliseBooks 🙂

Annalise x