Happy Death Day: Review by Holly Bareham

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Happy Halloween guys! However you’re choosing to celebrate I hope you have a great day. I personally am stuck at work and by the time I thought about having the day off I realised there wouldn’t be enough cover in the office so… I’ll probably watch a horror film later tonight though just to say I’ve done something.

So for those of you who never saw this trailer you’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it because for a while it was all over Facebook and people were freaking out about it. To be honest I thought it looked interesting but I also thought it looked like one of those films that would just annoy the Hell out of me. I assumed right from the start it would be dreadful but I was still intrigued so I decided to give it a go.

‘Happy Death Day’ is about a college student who is murdered on her birthday but wakes up the next morning on her birthday. She is forced to relive the same day over and over again until she can figure out who her killer is and stop her own death.

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I actually really enjoyed it. I was intrigued the entire time and I found the whole thing really entertaining. It didn’t take itself too seriously which is just as well because it simply wouldn’t have worked if it had. Although at first most of the characters were unlikeable this was deliberate for the overall message of the film which was essentially ‘don’t be an asshole’. I ended up really liking Tree, the main character, by the end and I liked Carter right from the start.

Maybe I’m an idiot but I didn’t guess who the killer was at all. My friend told me she’d guessed before we even went in and was really bemused that I hadn’t figured it out. Listen, it’s good to be an idiot when watching films – I’m always shocked when the plot twist is revealed. I really liked this one. It was kind of ridiculous but in a good way.

As long as you don’t take it too seriously it’s a really good film. It’s entertaining and I’d really like to see it again before it leaves cinemas but I’m not sure I’ll have the time. I definitely wanna get it on DVD when it’s released though. I just really liked it and I’m quite surprised to say how many positive reviews it has on iMDB. Maybe we all low-key expected it to be trash but because it wasn’t that bad we can’t help by like it.

Compared to other horror films this year it just feels really refreshing. This is what ‘The Bye Bye Man’ should’ve been like because that was dreadful and took itself way too seriously. ‘Happy Death Day’ mocked itself and it worked really well!

Time for my piece of horror film trivia. There was quite a bit on iMDB and it was all pretty interesting but I’ve chosen this one: The scene where Tree walks across campus completely naked had to be done quickly as it was being filmed on an active campus thus presenting the risk of students witnessing the scene being filmed and taking photos. In the end they managed to do it in just 2-3 takes.

I recommend this if you haven’t already seen it and are looking for something interesting to watch this Halloween. I was genuinely really pleasantly surprised by this film so go into it with an open mind and just view it for it is: a bit of fun.

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Review: Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell

Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell

I found out about this book through a Booktuber I’ve been watching for a while. She praised the book highly and it sounded interesting so I bought myself a cheap copy from Amazon.

The story is about Charlie Bloom who’s an ordinary girl who never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of sight, unnoticed. But then she’s asked to take backstage photographs for popular band ‘Fire & Lights’ and she can’t pass up the chance. Soon Charlie finds herself caught up in drama between the group’s front man Gabriel West and his band mate Olly Samson. And soon Charlie discovers a hidden meaning behind their lyrics that could change her life…

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It starts off well. Charlie’s an okay character to read about and the story’s relatively interesting. I’ll admit it had me hooked. Slight spoiler alert but Charlie discovers that the lyrics in their songs are lyrics her Mother wrote down in a notebook years ago and she tries to find out how this can be when everyone knows that Gabriel writes his own songs. I wanted to find out too and it was enough to keep me hooked throughout the book.

Although it didn’t annoy me too much while I was reading it, upon reflection the love triangle was really annoying. Olly went to Charlie’s school so he knew her and invited her to take photos because he knew how good of a photographer she was. Upon meeting the band Gabriel decides he has a crush on her and so does Olly, and so the love triangle begins.

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As I said, I wasn’t particularly annoyed whilst reading it but upon reflection it’s just a bit stupid. Gabriel had known the girl for all of five minutes before having a crush on her. And it seems stupid that Olly waited until after school when he was in a famous band to go back and decide he had a crush on a random girl from the year below him who he’d only spoken to once. He might’ve liked her photographs but that’s not enough of a reason to have a crush on someone. Tim Burton makes some good films but I don’t have a crush on him. Also I understand there was some unresolved beef between Gabriel and Olly before Charlie showed up but really? They had to argue and fight every twenty seconds over some girl neither of them barely knew?

I’m just about learning to tolerate romance in books but the one thing I can’t stand is a stupid, pointless love triangle.

To be honest, I still think I really could’ve enjoyed this if it had been a standalone novel; I was a bit annoyed to get to the end and find it had been deliberately left unresolved to set up a sequel. We find out the truth about the song’s lyrics, the only reason we need a sequel is to keep reading about some stupid love triangle which was not what I had signed up for. Sure it was interesting but I don’t want to read a whole other book about Olly and Gabriel’s tantrums. No thank you.

Overall I don’t know what to think about this book, I enjoyed it while I was reading it but it’s not a book I’m likely to return to or recommend to a friend. And I won’t be buying the sequel.

Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

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So I kind of fell in love with Siobhan Vivian’s books when I finished reading ‘The List’ and decided to buy more of her work. I asked for ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ for Christmas but for some reason when my Mom went to buy it they told her it wasn’t available until May for some reason? So she didn’t get it so I went to Waterstones myself to buy it.

‘Not That Kind of Girl’ is about Natalie Stirling who prides herself on always making the right choices. She avoids the jock types, always top honour roll and plans to become the first female student council president in years. If only the other girls could be like her. But being strong isn’t easy. Not when Natalie nearly gets expelled anyway, when her advice hurts more than it helps, not when she can’t stop thinking about a boy she knows she should ignore… What will Natalie do?

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I don’t really know what to think of this book. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it because I definitely did but I wasn’t over the moon about it or anything. Like I said in my review of ‘The Last Boy and Girl in the World’ I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read ‘The List’ first. I feel like that set my expectations really high and this book was a bit of a letdown. It was good; don’t get me wrong, but not as great as I hoped.

Natalie was okay but I didn’t really grow too attached to her or anything. However, I really loved Spencer who was a girl that Natalie had previously babysat for when she was younger but had just started at High School. I loved how honest and open she was. Sure, she made some questionable decisions but she’s confident and a lot wiser than I was at her age. Mike, however, can literally suck a cock.

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I thought Natalie’s relationship with Connor was a bit cringe, not gonna lie. The chapters of Natalie sneaking out in the middle of the night to meet up with him were really boring and I just couldn’t get into it. I was glad when they eventually got together but the build up to it really made me cringe and I’m not sure why. I know I’m not a fan of romance but this was something else.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to my friends but if they asked if they should read it I’d say yes. If you’re a fan of Siobhan Vivian’s other books then I’d definitely recommend getting a copy.

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!

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.

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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 🙂

Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

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Most people will have heard of this book. It’s been out a while now and it’s already got two sequels so I’m probably the last person on the planet to finally read it. However, for those of you who haven’t heard of it before this is the debut novel of Zoella, a popular YouTuber, and it’s about a young girl named Penny who runs a blog called Girl Online. She keeps it anonymous and just blogs about things going on in her life; friendship, boys and the panic attacks she’s started having recently. When things get worse she goes on a family vacation to New York and ends up meeting a boy named Noah. Penny finds herself falling in love and records every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret, one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover forever.

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I’d seen this book around for a while but never considered reading it. Then a couple of weeks ago I went in to buy ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ by Siobhan Vivian and it was in the buy one get one half price offer. So was Girl Online. I figured it would be a good book to review on this blog and went for it! I didn’t particularly think I’d enjoy it but I was actually surprised.

‘Girl Online’ is pretty much a typical teenage novel. It’s not really anything new or amazing. The plot is relatively predictable but I still found myself getting completely invested. At twenty years old I don’t think I was the intended target audience, it’s aimed more at younger teenagers, but I still found myself really enjoying it.

I think ‘Girl Online’ is one of those books that I know isn’t particularly good and should by all means probably annoy the Hell out of me, but it doesn’t. After finishing this one I actually really want to read the sequels, I want to find out what happens to Penny and whether she decides to keep her blog or not. I have a feeling this series is going to be a bit of a guilty pleasure.

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As for the romance, it was a little bit annoying to read about because it was a bit unrealistic. I can understand Penny feeling attracted to him but the fact that they both fell in love with each other so quickly was a bit ridiculous. Also her friend Elliot started getting so petty that it was stupid. I understood why he was upset with everything going on but it seemed like soon he wasn’t giving Penny a break at all.

Ultimately, I did really enjoy the book and I’ll be buying the sequels but as I said, this book is definitely a guilty pleasure. A kind of, I know it’s not that great but I loved it anyway.

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

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When I found out there was another book in the spinster club series I was absolutely over the moon as it’s probably my favourite series out there. I’d wanted to read it for a while so put it on my Christmas list – but no one bought it for me! I’ve been pretty broke recently but after hearing so many brilliant reviews of it I spent the last of my money on it. I’m glad I did. It only took me a day to finish it.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Spinster Club series, it follows the friendship of Evie, Amber and Lottie who form their own group ‘the Spinster Club’ where they meet up to discuss feminism. Each girl has their own book told from their point of view until this one, which is told a chapter at a time but each of the girls. It’s New Years Eve and Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a party to remember. For the first time since they all left college the three girls are back together and it’s time to have fun – not tears or arguments.

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When the book arrived it was smaller than I expected it to be. I thought it was another novel but it’s actually a novella to tie up any loose ends and so we have one more opportunity to check in with the Spinsters and see how they’re doing. Why can’t all series have one last book like this? It was nice to see what the girls were up to now they’d all left college even if it wasn’t necessarily what you’d hoped would happen.

I love how things aren’t perfect for any of them, how they all went their separate ways and things aren’t exactly the same when they got back. Or how none of them are particularly having an easy time but they’re too afraid to tell each other that not things aren’t as perfect as they’d hoped they’d be.

My favourite thing though was that they all seemed to end up doing the thing that was right for them even if it meant they wouldn’t be able to meet up as often as they’d like to. It was a brilliant conclusion to the series and I’m so glad Bourne decided to write one more book.

If you’ve already read the Spinster series then I one hundred percent recommend this because it’s amazing and you’ll honestly love it. And if you haven’t read the Spinster series then you really need to start because it’s one of the best series out there and you won’t regret it!