sixth form

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?.
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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