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!

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Review: The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

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I think at this point it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Cat Clarke. There isn’t a book she’s published yet that I haven’t enjoyed and ‘The Pants Project’ is no exception. Told from the point of view of Liv (not Olivia) it’s a story about a transgender boy who thinks it’s unfair that he has to wear a skirt to school just because he was born as a girl. He starts a campaign to change the rule but can he face the bullying that comes from mean girl Jade and her friends?

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One of my favourite things about Cat’s books is the diversity of characters. In her previous book the main character’s Dad was bi-sexual and in this book Liv has two Moms. It’s just so interesting to read about something different that’s not white heterosexual people all the time. Also, Cat is absolutely brilliant at writing realistic romance – something there wasn’t any of in this book! It was perfect! Thank you Cat! (For those who don’t regularly read my reviews, I can’t stand romance in books nine times out of ten)

It was a really easy book to get into. It’s aimed at a younger audience but it didn’t stop me enjoying it. It’s a relatively simple plot but there’s still a little twist that I wasn’t expecting – I guessed something completely different and it was a nice surprise. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it for any of you though!

All the characters are loveable, Liv is so awesome. My favourite character has to be Enzo though; I’d love a brother like that. I didn’t like Maisie, I have no sympathy whatsoever and I’m glad Liv didn’t either. I couldn’t stand Jade but that was clearly what Cat intended.

I really can’t recommend this book highly enough, as usual my review hasn’t done it justice but it’s truly brilliant! Please trust me and go and purchase a copy, it’s an amazing book and definitely worth a read.

Review: The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

The Lost and The Found by Cat Clarke

I have been waiting for this book for a really long time because as those of you who read my first ever review on this blog know; Cat Clarke is my favourite author. As a relatively new author, she’s only published four novels and one dyslexia friendly story. This is her fifth novel and I have been looking forward to it for an extremely long time. Technically, this book isn’t supposed to be released until Thursday 2nd June but Cat Clarke tweeted that the book had been released into stores early so yesterday I went straight to Waterstones before work and found just one copy sitting on the shelf. That copy then became mine and I finished it today.

The Lost and the Found is told from the point of view of Faith who’s older sister Laurel Logan disappeared thirteen years ago. For those thirteen years Faith has had to deal with her parents who never escaped the tragedy of what happened, the press hounding them for more information and people at school or even in the streets stopping to ask about her sister. Faith finds it difficult to trust anyone because she knows they’re only interested in hearing about Laurel. But then one day they receive a phone call – Laurel is back.

When Cat released ‘A Kiss in the Dark’ I remembered worrying that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as her first three (I was proved wrong because ‘A Kiss in the Dark’ is absolutely amazing) and I had the same worry when I bought ‘The Lost and the Found’. Not because the ideas for either of these books didn’t sound amazing because they did. I can’t explain it – I just didn’t want to end up being disappointed. And as usual, I wasn’t.

Faith is such a strong and interesting character to read about and Cat’s portrayal of her emotions and thoughts is so realistic that you find yourself forgetting that Faith isn’t actually a real person. It wasn’t just her opinion on Laurel coming back – her thoughts on her boyfriend, her family, the people around her were like a breath of fresh air. I particularly loved her thoughts on her boyfriend (here I go again with the whole romance-hatred thing) but as usual, Cat writes about relationships in realistic terms instead of having two people who barley know each other fall completely in love with each other. The way Cat Clarke writes about relationships is my favourite thing ever because it makes me not hate romance.

I’ve never read a book quite like this one. It has a more ‘grown-up’ vibe than her first four novels but unlike any adult novel I’ve ever attempted to read, this actually held my interest and was a lot easier to follow. The idea is just so original and honestly, completely heart-breaking. I was hooked right from the start and ended up staying up longer than I wanted to yesterday so I could carry on reading. There’s an element of mystery in this book and I think I read somewhere that it was a ‘psychological thriller’, and it honestly worked extremely well.

Also, I tweeted about this and now I need to mention it in this review because it’s so important to me – thank you so much to Cat Clarke for her representation in young adult novels like honestly. Slight spoiler alert I suppose, depends on what you consider a spoiler, but Faith’s Dad is a bisexual. Now, it’s not implied that he’s a bisexual or hinted at, Faith actually says ‘my Dad is a bisexual’ and I honestly think that’s the first time I’ve ever read that a character is genuinely bisexual instead of having little hints or clues towards it, you know? Young Adult novels are getting better at including gay characters but so often other members of the LGBT community are neglected and I am grateful that this was included and wasn’t even a massive part of the story. Her Dad could’ve been gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever, it wouldn’t have mattered to the overall story. I’m honestly very happy about that.

I would honestly recommend this book to literally everyone because I cannot tell you how much of an amazing writer Cat Clarke is and how this book particularly broke my heart. I didn’t think she could make me cry as much as she did after Undone was released but it turns out I was wrong. Either go into your local book store and see if The Lost and the Found is there or wait until June 2nd and order a copy off Amazon! You will not regret it. I promise!

Review: Undone by Cat Clarke

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Hey, since this is my first review ever I thought I should start by introducing myself – my name’s Holly Bareham, I’m 17 and I read books all the time. So I figured why not post my opinions about them on the internet? I figured a positive review would probably be the best way to start this blog off so I decided to review Undone by Cat Clarke.

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I’d like to start off by saying that I’m sick of going into the YA section of any book store and staring at book after book of romance novels. Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much but so many books have amazing plots and then they throw in a completely unnecessary romance that makes me feel sick to my stomach, with boys and girls saying cringey gooey things to each other until I feel like throwing the book across the room. I have physically groaned out loud at certain romances before. However, Cat Clarke is an exception to my hatred of romance. Her portrayal of teenage romance is exceptionally realistic and actually interesting to read. For once, I am routing for the characters relationships to work out instead of hoping that they’ll crash and burn which happens with most other YA novels.

‘Undone’ follows the story of Jem Halliday and how her life has been turned completely upside down after her best friend Kai has committed suicide. After discovering that Kai is gay, someone outs him online which leads to him deciding to kill himself. Jem realises that there’s nothing she can do to bring him back so she decides to find out who was responsible and take them down herself.

I think the first thing that makes any Cat Clarke novel realistic and, dare I say it, relatable is the amount of swearing. So many YA novels are published with little to no swearing and let’s be realistic; teenagers don’t exactly hold back with their curse words. I personally don’t know many teenagers who don’t swear every other sentence so why that should change in fiction is beyond me.

From the first page I was gripped. It starts with a small prologue of how Jem and Kai met then the first chapter hits us hard with Jem grieving Kai’s death. It took me less than twenty-four hours to get through the novel because I was desperate to find out how Jem was planning on getting her revenge and who had outed Kai in the first place. Normally when reading, I don’t react emotionally. Sure, I care about the characters deep down but I don’t feel any physical emotion when bad things happen to them. This is definitely not the case with ‘Undone’. I remember my stomach twisting with knots and saying to myself “No, Jem, come on…” I remember laughing, tears prickling my eyes and feeling every emotion that Jem felt throughout the entirety of the novel. To deliver that through words is pretty stunning.

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I would recommend this to anyone I meet. A friend, my Mom, my Gran, a stranger I met in the streets… I can promise that you won’t be disappointed reading any novel by Cat Clarke, especially not ‘Undone’.