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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Under Rose-Tainted Skies has to be my favourite debut of the year so far – and it will definitely feature on my Top Books of 2016!

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the US ARC from Louise herself – so many thanks to Louise both for writing this book and for sending me a copy!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an #OwnVoices novel about agoraphobia and OCD. Norah suffers from extreme anxiety which means she can’t leave the house, and this is her story as she deals with what life throws at her – namely her mum gets involved in an accident, and when a boy moves in next door who takes an interest in her.

What I loved so much about this book (and it was something I was genuinely worried about) was that Norah’s mental illness doesn’t magically go away when confronted by a hot boy. Her behaviour is still frustrating and self-destructive, she doesn’t magically improve because she has a crush on the boy next door, and this was so refreshing and felt realistic. The entire book felt real to me as it is an OwnVoices book, and this really is something special that should be on your TBR list.

Norah’s agoraphobia is all-consuming, and this really shows throughout the book. There isn’t a single scene where Norah’s mental illness doesn’t play a role, and this really is an unflinching and realistic depiction of living with agoraphobia and OCD. I particularly enjoyed how Norah’s mental health affects all of her relationships – especially with her mum. I honestly believe YA needs more parental figures who have actual wants and hopes and dreams and personality, and Norah’s mum is definitely one of those characters. There were a lot of interesting family dynamics in this book, which I enjoyed a lot.

On to the love interest – Luke is a really interesting (and attractive) character, who really seeks to care for and understand Norah, and, best of all, he’s human. He gets frustrated with Norah and her behaviour, which is understandable and realistic, and that’s what made him a great love interest – he really was human.

If I haven’t persuaded enough to drop everything and buy this book now, Louise’s writing is drop dead gorgeous. Like seriously, this book is so beautifully written, it gave me The Wrath and the Dawn vibes (and that book is seriously good too!).

Also, the cover is gorgeous. The UK edition comes in three shades of pink which are all seriously gorgeous. Go buy them!

Under Rose-Tainted Skies is a beautifully raw #OwnVoices depiction of agoraphobia and OCD, and my favourite debut of the year so far. Not one to miss!

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Also Louise will be at YALC this year!

annalsie

Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet?
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I start, I just want to point out that this is my first 5-star review, and for that reason, you should definitely go out and buy this book, RIGHT NOW. I’m serious.

I admit that I probably wouldn’t have bought this book if it hadn’t been free on iBooks. Am I Normal Yet? was a book I heard a lot of praise for at YALC back in July, but I didn’t look too much into what the book was about, and I didn’t think it was for me. I was wrong.

Am I Normal Yet? is the story of Evie, a 16-year-old who is starting sixth form after three years of battling severe OCD and anxiety. After being the weird girl at her old school, she’s looking forward to making new friends, and she’s slowly but surely coming off her meds – trying to become ‘normal’ again. Despite her therapist’s advice, she’s also interested in boys – and one boy in particular.

The characters are well-developed and interesting, and they all feel like people you know – the girl obsessed with her first boyfriend, the sex-obsessed teenage boy… this book is a genuinely great UKYA novel. I’ve not read too many books concerning sixth form/FE colleges which is a shame, because they’re an ideal setting – lots of new characters and character development, but still in the mindset of a teenager (and a solidly YA environment).

I especially loved that the characters are flawed – there is no ‘dream hottie’ but there is sexual tension and obsession. This book is a great reflection of teenage life, rather than some soppy sixteen-year-old who drops everything for an eternity with their 117-year-old vampire lover.

The layout of the novel is also good – there are therapist pages dotted throughout the novel, and Evie’s ‘bad thoughts’ are highlighted. The layout really adds to the feel of the novel.

In the Q&A at the back of the book, Holly Bourne writes that she was inspired by the Georgia Nicholson novels – which are the books that I was reminded of throughout this book. It’s funny, yet tackling some serious issues. As well as being an insight into living with OCD, the book has a great feminist theme (in fact, the characters form a feminist club) and is informative, as well as fun to read. It’s refreshing to read a novel which discusses what it’s really like to be a teenage girl – menstruation, dickhead boyfriends, the whole bundle.

I read this thinking it would be a stand-alone novel, but, thankfully, it is actually the first of a series. The series will be called ‘The Spinster Club’, and the second novel, How Hard Can Love Be? will focus on Amber, with the third book focussing on Lottie. The next book is out February 2016 (and I will be pre-ordering!).

To summarise, this book is fantastic. It’s original, funny and realistic. It’s also incredibly cheap (it’s 59p on Kindle) so please please please go and read it.

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How did you find the novel? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x