Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

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So this book is officially released on Thursday 4th May but Cat tweeted to say a few copies had been released early, as she had done when ‘The Lost and the Found’ was released. I didn’t know if there’d be any in Telford but I ended up going up town and decided to take a quick look in Waterstones and was lucky enough to find one copy of it sitting on the shelf. So of course I had to buy it.

‘Girlhood’ is about a girl named Harper who asks to attend boarding school so she can escape her parents and the guilt of the death of her twin sister Jenna. But Harper can’t escape the memories of her sister and the part she played in it. Then she meets new girl Kirsty who lost a sister too. Harper’s finally found someone who understands her. But as the two become closer Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life so similar to Harpers? Soon, Harper’s close relationship with Kirsty threatens her relationships with her best friends and her own identity.

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It’s no secret that Cat is my favourite author of all time so it’s no surprise that I finished the entire book within the space of a few hours. As usual the moment I started I couldn’t put it down. Cat’s writing is so easy to get into and I love the mystery element in all her books that keeps me hooked until the very end.

In my review of ‘The Lost and the Found’ I praised Cat for her brilliant LGBT representation in her books and this book is probably even better. Early on we learn that Rowan’s a lesbian and Harper’s bi-sexual and it doesn’t massively affect the plot? Obviously it’s brought up but it’s so refreshing to read about lesbian and bi characters were the central plot isn’t about their sexuality and I honestly love it so much.

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Character-wise, this book was bloody amazing. I loved Harper’s best friends Rowan, Lily and Ama. Especially Rowan who is without a doubt my favourite character, not just within this book but in general. I’m not sure what I thought of Kirsty after everything, I was pretty certain I didn’t like her but now I don’t know what to think. I don’t like her but I don’t dislike her.

Also, exciting news… I was a character in the book! A while ago I made a bid on an auction to appear in one of Cat’s books, something I talked about in a blog earlier this year, and I won! So I got a signed copy of ‘The Lost and the Found’ (which I gave to my friend ‘cos I’d already met Cat at a signing prior to winning the auction) and I was named after one of the characters. I also made it to the acknowledgements page.
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However, I can’t help feeling a little bit salty… The character I was named after wasn’t in it very much and didn’t say a single line. And that was fine by me until I read the acknowledgements and saw another girl had donated to a charity like me and had been named after one of the main characters. Obviously I don’t know the ins and outs of the auction, how much she donated, whether she received a signed book like I did etc. etc. But I still can’t help feeling a little salty about it.

Overall, I really loved this book and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. In terms of plot I think I preferred ‘The Lost and the Found’ but in terms of characters it’s so good and so interesting. Check in your local bookstore to see if an early copy has been released and if not then definitely buy one on Thursday, you won’t regret it!

Letter to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self

Me + Raechel

I’m the girl on the left. The girl on the right was one of my best friend’s at the time. I couldn’t find a photo of just me because I wasn’t big into taking selfies at the time. I have no idea what I have scribbled on my face but no doubt it had something to with My Chemical Romance, the band I was absolutely obsessed with at the time. Honestly, I would’ve happily talked about My Chemical Romance all the time if it had been up to me. I loved them.

Dear Thirteen-Year-Old Me,

It’s been seven nearly eight years and things are extremely different. For one you’re not in school anymore. I imagine now it feels like you’ll never leave but you will and you’ll suddenly find that there are things about Secondary School that you miss an awful lot. And of course some things that you’ve never been happier to leave behind.

First of all, I know you’ve been sobbing to Mom about how badly you want black hair because until you fulfil that you won’t be a ‘true emo’ but it’s not a great idea. When you eventually get bored of it, and trust me you will, it’ll be so hard to get a new brighter colour. I know the idea of anything colourful will repel you at the moment but one day you’ll learn to love it. Stick with the brown hair and blonde highlights. It really suits you and the moment you dye it black you’ll never get it back.

Secondly, stop obsessing over the boys in your year. Honestly, none of them are that great and they’re not worth your time. I know right now it feels like you ‘need’ a boyfriend but one day you’ll realise that it’s not actually that high of a priority anymore. Enjoy the time with your friends and stop getting so stressed out. You’re not ugly or gross if you don’t have a boyfriend, stop acting like you are!

Thirdly, you will get over your My Chemical Romance obsession. You keep insisting right now that you won’t and that you’ll love them forever but you won’t. Okay, you’ll still like them but definitely not on the same level you do right now. Also, they’re gonna break up. So prepare for that.

Now this one’s an important one. You know your best friend? That girl you tell everything to, who you trust more than anything and who you couldn’t imagine being without? You’re not friends with her anymore. Here’s the thing – she’s not being honest with you. I’m sure she’s being honest about a whole bunch of things but there’s also things that she’s not telling you. And then one day you’ll suddenly find that she’s more interested in her new boyfriend than you. And you will spend the next few months feeling extremely, extremely lonely.

And that’s okay. You’ll learn a lot in those few months. You’ll learn how to be by yourself. You’ll gain some independence. It will suck, you’ll hate your life and you’ll feel like you don’t have any friends at all but it will end and you’ll have learnt so much from it.

Here’s the good news. You will find new friends and you’ll wonder how you lived without them in your life. You’ll find you can be more honest with them then you were with your current best friends. There are things you feel like you can’t tell her, aren’t there? Well you can tell these girls anything and they would never tell anyone else. They’re into the same things as you and you’ll end up going on some great trips with them and doing completely stupid and questionable things but you’re going to love every second. Trust me!

The only other advice I have is to stop obsessing what everyone else thinks and just have fun. Have as much fun as you possibly can and don’t regret anything.

Love Twenty-Year-Old You
xoxoxo

Review: Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

Silence is Goldfish

I can’t really remember what drew me to buy this book. I do remember I was shopping for a birthday present for my best friend and ended up buying myself this book… I think the title caught my eye, the blurb sounded interesting and after having a quick read of the first page I thought I’d be able to get into it quite easily. Turns out I was right.

‘Silence is Goldfish’ is told from the point of view of Tess who has just found out some pretty shocking news. She didn’t mean to become mute, it just kind of happened. But discovering your Dad isn’t your real father is a pretty big deal. Tess decides to find out the truth of her identity but she uncovers a secret that could ruin multiple lives… But how can she ask for help when she’s forgotten how to use her voice?

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My friend read the blurb of the book and said “Really, she stops talking just because she found out her Dad wasn’t her real Dad? Really?” All I will say is that it’s much more than that and I really feel awful for Tess, I can see why she didn’t want to talk. The blurb doesn’t do the book justice; you need to give it a go to understand what I mean.

I loved Tess so much. One of the reviews on the front of the book says ‘like a book and best friend all in one’ and that’s what it felt like. It felt like I really knew Tess, like she was my friend and a real person. I felt everything she felt and she’d fill my thoughts when I wasn’t reading. I’ve never had that with any other book before. I was really sad to finish it; it felt like I’d lost a friend.

The one person I can’t stand and will never be able to stand is Jack, Tess’ ‘Dad’. I feel like there was a kind of redemption ark at the end but I really can’t stand him and some of the decisions he made. I can forgive what made Tess hate him but there were so many little things he did that made me hate him so much and if I were Tess then I don’t think I’d have been able to forgive him.

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Do you know who was great though? Mr Goldfish. Because Tess can’t speak out loud she starts having conversations with a goldfish torch that she’s named Mr Goldfish who gives her general life advice and is there for her. This is really sad but I actually checked on Amazon and eBay to see if they had a torch like Mr Goldfish. They didn’t have any and I was absolutely gutted! I’m going to keep an eye out for one.

I really can’t put into words how much I loved this book and how much I recommend it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while and I can’t wait to read more of Annabel Pitcher’s work. If you find a copy of it then buy it, you honestly won’t regret it!

The ‘I Never’ Book Tag

I’ve decided to do a book tag, I know they’re probably more of a YouTube thing but I figured it couldn’t hurt to post one on my blog! I decided to do the ‘I Never Book Tag’ created by LizziefayeLovesBooks on YouTube, so I hope you guys enjoy it!

“I never read that!” Name a book that you’ve never read, that everyone else has.

Twilight

The Twilight Saga. When Twilight became really popular and the films were coming out I kind of lied and told everyone I loved it even though I found it kind of boring? I have no idea why I did that, I really wanted to enjoy it but I just couldn’t get into it. Still, I decided to give the first book a try and I don’t even think I made it through the first chapter. I don’t know whether it’s worth giving the book another try now or not? Let me know if you read it and what you thought of it and I’ll consider it!

“I never read anything so awesome!” Name your favourite book.

I’m between two and that’s ‘The List’ by Siobhan Vivian and ‘The Lost and the Found’ by Cat Clarke. I loved ‘The List’ because I loved reading about eight girls with different, well-written personalities and I found the storyline way more interesting than I thought I would. But equally, I’m a massive Cat Clarke fan and this book has such a good plot twist and is interesting from start to finish. I could never pick between them!

“I never thought I would get through that.” Name a book that you didn’t like, but powered through it anyway.

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Quicksilver by R J Anderson. It was a sequel to Ultraviolet which I absolutely loved but oh my god, the sequel was so hard to get through. It took me well over a year to finally finish the book. I remember sitting on my bed and trying to read it as fast as possible, I was getting no enjoyment out of it and I was just reading it to say I’d done it. I don’t think I understood a word of it to be honest and I really didn’t enjoy it at all. Still, I finished it!

“I will never finish that!” Name a book or series that you don’t plan on finishing.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. When I was on holiday in Bognor Regis I found this really cute bookstore and picked up a bunch of classics because they were cheap and a lot of people say how good the classic books are. I struggled through the first few chapters until I had to accept defeat. I can’t get into classics. I started reading Little Women by Louisa M.Alcott and that’s not great either. Now I’m stuck with a bunch of classics that I don’t want to read.

“I will never regret reading that.” Name a book you read solely on a recommendation that you ended up really liking.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett. My friend recommended them to me when I was a kid and I kept saying no but eventually she convinced me to borrow her copy of the first book and I took it home with me. The next day I came back and told her I’d finished it and asked to borrow the next one. I love that series so much even now and I always will.

“I would never do that!” Name a relatable book character who made choices you didn’t agree with, or did things you would never do.

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Probably Maddie from ‘Awaken’ by Katie Kacvinsky, I would’ve had no issue with her but she just suddenly became obsessed with this boy named Justin and it was all a bit unnecessary? She’s rebelling against her parents and the government and putting her life in danger yet every twenty seconds I was forced to read about her relationship with Justin and how she couldn’t stop thinking about it and it was like come on Maddie, we’ve got bigger issues here. I honestly rolled my eyes every time his name was mentioned, I nearly rolled them out of my head the amount of times he’s mentioned.

“I never wanted to admit it.” Name a book that you were embarrassed to say you read or were embarrassed to carry around with you.

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I don’t generally get embarrassed about my books but I do feel a bit embarrassed when I read the latest Jacqueline Wilson book out in public. Look, I might be twenty years old but the woman’s a bloody genius and I will never grow out of her books. I wasn’t all that embarrassed about it until I read one of her books during form at school and my form tutor said to me “That’s for primary school children babes.” (My Mom went mental about that, “How dare she encourage you not to read??”) I’ve grown up with her books and the thought of not reading them anymore is ridiculous – I just tend to do it at home. In private.

“I never read anything so heartwarming.” Name a book or a series that really touched your heart.

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The ‘Normal’ series by Holly Bourne. There’s something about how all the girls had their own issues but they overcame them and supported each other that I just love so much. I recommend this series so hard, if you haven’t read it then you’re really missing out. I’m so sad the series is over but I love Holly Bourne’s work so I’m looking forward to seeing what else she has in store!

“I never laughed so hard!” Name a book that made you laugh out loud.

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The only books that have ever managed to make me laugh out loud are the ‘Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging’ books by Louise Rennison. I watched the film when I was a teenager and I enjoyed it but I hadn’t read the books, until my brother’s now ex-girlfriend gave me some of her old books and the first book in the series happened to be one of them. I bought the rest of them and I ended up loving them all. I don’t like the film as much as I used to because I don’t think it’s a patch on the books. If you haven’t read them then give them a chance, they’re really funny!

“I never could’ve made it through childhood without it.” Name a favourite childhood book or series.

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Although I love Jacqueline Wilson, my favourite books as a kid were the ‘My Naughty Little Sister’ series by Dorothy Edwards. I loved those books so much, especially the one where she goes to stay with her next door neighbours. My Mom used to get so sick of rereading that one to me but I loved it so much. I still have those books; I’ll never get rid of them because they were my absolute favourites. I actually really want to reread them now.

So, I hope you’ve learnt a little more about me. If you decide to do this tag then leave me a link, I’d love to know what other people have put 🙂