Editing Emma by Chloe Seager: Book Review

I’ve seen this said a million times already, but it cannot be said enough: I firmly believe that Chloe Seager is the new Louise Rennison. Editing Emma follows the story of one teenage girl’s painfully awkward descent into adulthood, elicited by being ‘ghosted’ by her boyfriend. The plot sees Emma desperately trying to replace Leon, the ghost-er, if you will, and navigate the increasingly tricky world of online dating.

The sharp, sarcastic British humour we all know and love is woven into every aspect of the story, and reading this book is like discovering a blogger that you can’t help but follow online. Parts of Emma’s journey are so horrifically, toe-curlingly awkward that you can’t help but cringe for her, yet Seager’s writing keeps the reading experience as light and humorous as possible. The book is fast-paced, and the unique structure of the story being divided into blog posts really kept me engaged and wanting to find out what happened next. I reckon the fact that it’s broken up into smaller sections would make it an ideal choice for those of us who, like me, sometimes struggle with memory and concentration.

In addition, the story effectively highlights some of the issues associated with growing up in the social media era, making me question my own social media usage and just how much we ‘edit’ ourselves online, often without really realising what we’re doing.

I did have one concern with the story, and it was a pretty big one: Emma’s mum mentioning in passing that she thinks she has ‘a mild case of ME’, and Emma dismissing this as hypochondria. As a moderate ME sufferer myself, it took me a while to puzzle this little segment out; was this intended to comically portray Emma’s mum as an exaggerator who couldn’t possibly have an illness as severe as ME, or was this a dig at ME sufferers, linking the condition to hypochondria? I discussed this with some of my poorly pals on Twitter, and the consensus was the latter: at first read, it seemed to them that it reflected badly on those with the condition.

HOWEVER, I later found out that this was not the intention at all. After finishing the book, I had the opportunity to chat to Chloe Seager, who was beyond lovely and keen to clear up any confusion. Here’s what she had to say:

‘The point for me was to make it clear that ME is a very real problem for sufferers, and to make it clear to the reader that Emma’s Mum doesn’t have it. Her suspicion that she has a ‘mild case of ME’ wasn’t meant to dismiss ME as hypochondria – it was meant to show how incorrect it is that her Mum suspects she might have it.

Though it is because of her slight hypochondria, she has wrongly interpreted her normal amount of tiredness as a ‘mild case of ME’ and I wanted to highlight this misconception of the condition’.

Chloe also mentioned that she personally knew people with ME, and saw how much both the stigma around the condition and the illness itself affected them. She apologised that it hadn’t necessarily come across this way in the book, thanked me for coming to her directly to discuss it, and was keen to resolve the situation. Essentially, she couldn’t have been more lovely and helpful about it, which was a bloody relief for little old me who’s still pretty new to the book blogging scene. Personally, I still would have preferred the book if this little section had been omitted (as it didn’t really contribute to the story), just in case any future readers do misinterpret the intention behind it and think less of ME as a result. However, now that I know the real reasoning behind it, I still have an overall positive opinion on the book.

Editing Emma is exactly the kind of story I can imagine young adults reading, relating to (whether they admit it or not…) and passing on to their friends. I’d definitely recommend having a read of this one if you enjoy YA fiction brimming with comedy, characters that make you feel better about your own awkward life moments, and the occasional swipe right on Tinder.

Editing Emma will be released on 10th August 2017; click here to pre-order the book on Amazon. Many thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a copy to review, and to Chloe Seager for being such a babe!

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Books You Need In Your Life: April – June 2017

Welcome to the second edition of  Books You Need In Your Life: I’ve been reading some absolute beauties lately and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. I’ve actually read fewer books than usual these past few months, and I’m placing blame for this on Gone With The Wind: it’s a cracker of a book, but it’s probably the longest novel I’ve ever read, taking me a good month or so to get through it. You should see my biceps after holding that thing up whilst reading in bed. #doyouevenliftbro?

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

“I wonder if anyone but me realizes what goes on in that head back of your deceptively sweet face.”

Talk of the devil, we may as well begin with Gone With The Wind. My mum, who absolutely adores the character of Scarlet, got me this book for Christmas, and I actually put off reading it for quite a while. I felt like I needed to approach it with a clear head, so I waited until my Easter holidays when I had a break from university work so I could really commit myself, although I now realise this wasn’t really necessary: Mitchell’s writing is so detailed and insightful, that it takes only a sentence to transport you from wherever you were, to rural Atlanta during the Civil War. Initially, I had mixed feelings. There were parts of the book which for me seemed to drag, some where I even contemplated giving up on the book altogether. BUT, at the same time, there were huge sections of the story where I physically couldn’t stop reading. Despite not enjoying some sections, the book as a whole was really enjoyable and oddly soothing: something you wouldn’t expect given the heavy subject matter. I can only aspire to be more like Scarlet O’Hara (controversial, I know…) and above all else, ‘tomorrow is another day’ is going to be something that stays with me for a very long time.

Release by Patrick Ness

“Blame is a human concept, one of its blackest and most selfish and self-binding.”

I almost stopped existing when the Walker YA team emailed to say they have proofs of this book. Patrick Ness is such a unique writer, and I read this book pretty much in one sitting. I think it was the fact that it was set over one day that did this to me: if all of these life-altering things can happen to Adam over one day, the least I can do is sit and read about it over the same length of time, right? I started counting how many social issues this book addressed, that I’d never seen addressed in any book before, and I quickly lost count. Ness takes these issues and just thrusts them out there, and it can’t just be me who had an overwhelming sense of empathy and the urge to do something after reading it. There will be people like Adam, facing the same challenges that he does, out in the real world, and that’s a very sobering thought. This book is hands-down one of the best I’ve read all year, and I think it will subtly transform anybody who reads it into a more empathetic person, whether they’re aware of it or not.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

“I used to have nightmares about The Red Shoes […]. I imagined myself dancing to exhaustion but unable to stop […]. If those magical shoes existed, would I slip them on? I used to think I would, if the alternative meant never dancing again. A year ago, I would have laughed at anyone who said I might not pursue a career in dance. Now I know that anything can happen, that life can change so quickly, the plans you thought were set in stone can crumble into nothing.”

My lovely friend Katie sent this book to me, saying that she thought of me when she read it. I knew just from reading the blurb that it’d be right up my street and I devoured the whole thing in just over two days. The plot was so engaging and I was rooting for Theo (and Donovan) right from the beginning. Despite the title, not a huge amount of the book was based on ballet. I think this worked in its favour; the parts that did focus on this were pretty representative of life as a ballerina, but it didn’t shove the facts down your throat. I liked how it presented ballet as a coping mechanism for Theo, but also didn’t conceal just how destructive it can be for young girls: something that’s still seriously under-acknowledged in the world today. I really recommend this book if you like a fast-paced plot and characters who take up residence in your mind even after you’ve turned the last page.

The book fairy (aka @katiehodgie) paid me a visit! Katie’s been my chief book recommender-er for years now and this Pointe one looks right up my street! In other news, I’ve barely slept in four days. This isn’t new (long-term insomnia) but my eyelids are currently purple. So… there’s that. You have to laugh 🙄😂💀

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Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

“‘Judge people on what they have control over. Judge them on the way they treat their friends, or whether they persevere when they can’t do something. […] Be careful not to confuse a beautiful face with a beautiful heart’. She’d kissed my head as she stood up. ‘Not everybody is blessed with both.'”

I think Truth or Dare will be one of my stand-out books this year. I LOVED how unique the structure was: upon reaching the halfway point, and a critical moment in the storyline, the reader is instructed to flip the book over and start reading from the other side, from the perspective of the second main character. Whilst the suspense of waiting to find out what happened at that pivotal moment nearly killed me, I loved the idea of seeing the story from two completely different sides. I’m not gonna lie, some parts of the book felt a little jumpy to me and I found it difficult to keep track of all the characters that were introduced in quick succession at the start of the book. However, the story was so engaging and a really good representation of the huge role that social media plays in the lives of young people today; I don’t think I’ve ever read a book featuring the YouTube vlogging phenomenon before. And as you guys know, I love me some good realistic disability representation and Non Pratt nailed it: the ‘everything happens for a reason’ attitude towards Kam’s acquired condition was completely shunned and put to bed, and I was very much a fan of that. I think this book will appeal to a wide range of audiences, and it’s definitely one of the most memorable YA books I’ve read so far this summer.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.”

Re-reading Looking For Alaska for the first time in over five years was a weirdly comforting experience for such an uncomfortably harrowing book. When I first read this novel as a young teenager, I remember idolising Alaska Young: I even used to call myself ‘Alaska’ on Twitter during the Emo Phase Of 2010. Ahh, 2010 Twitter. Upon reflection, she obviously wasn’t the healthiest role model to have, but I felt nostalgia right from picking this book up again to turning the very last page, which once again left me with tears in my eyes and my heart feeling like it was about to burst. I will always love John Green’s writing style: his wit combined with his honesty and unique insight into a ridiculously huge number of issues that teenagers face is undoubtably a winning combination. Re-reading looking For Alaska has actually instigated a need to re-read his other works too, and my well-worn copy of The Fault In Our Stars is calling to me next.

It was genuinely emotional to turn the last page and finish this gorgeous book! 😭📚 #PhantomLimbs pic.twitter.com/eY8WEQKZHB

— Pippa (@lifeofpippa_) June 13, 2017

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

“We were battered and dinged, both well past the weight limit in personal baggage. And, like the rest of humanity, it would be our destiny to be tossed and torn by events unseen and unplanned. But that didn’t stop me from hoping we could somehow navigate it together.”

What I loved particularly about Phantom Limbs is that one of the main themes of the book was grief, and one of the main characters had a disability, and yet *gasps dramatically* the main source of grief was not the disability. It was so refreshing to be introduced to a secondary character with a substantial physical impairment and have that condition be portrayed for the debilitating condition it is, and yet not have it be their whole story. Garner wrote the character of Dara in such depth that I could easily have read a whole book about her… sequel, anybody? This book was a gorgeous read; you couldn’t not get behind the story of Otis and Meg, and I loved that you were kept guessing right up until the final page. I’d seriously recommend Phantom Limbs if you’re looking for an engaging story that you just can’t help but become emotionally invested in.

So there we have it: my favourite reads from the last three months. You can see everything I’ve read lately (including the not so great books) on my Goodreads page, and if you’ve read something that should be on my summer TBR pile, do let me know!

Disclaimer: Each of the above reads are linked by the title. I earn a small commission from any purchase made from following these affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. This is also the case for any Wordery orders placed by following this cheeky link. I’m so subtle, I know… I’m also very grateful to receive books from various publishers and authors, some of which are included in my posts. Others are re-reads of old favourites, and most are purchased of my own accord. I’d like to make clear that I’m under no obligation to review any of the complementary books I receive, so do be assured that all of the reads included in this post are genuine favourites of mine!

Read my January-March 2017 Books You Need In Your Life Series here!

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Books You Need In Your Life: January – March 2017

If you know me, you’ll know that books are a huge part of my life. After hitting a bit of a reading slump during my first year of university and then becoming poorly and briefly losing the ability to read recreationally at all, I realised just how much books matter to me. Since then, they’ve become instrumental in helping me hold onto my sanity whilst living with my condition: the best stories give me a break from my reality whilst gently reminding me that my reality is okay.

I could easily witter on about every book I read (and tend to do so in real life, not even sorry), but I decided to talk about just a handful of my favourites over the last few months in an attempt to keep my ramblings at a socially acceptable level. You’ll notice just by looking at the titles that what I read hugely varies: I do have genres that I prefer over others but lets be honest, I’ll read anything that’s going.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

The first book of Nicola Yoon’s that I read was Everything, Everything and I absolutely adored it for how unique it was: the narration, the layout of the book, the inclusion of a chronically ill, housebound character (yay, allergies!), everything. I love Yoon’s writing style, so The Sun Is Also A Star had been on my to-read list ever since: it was a long time I managed to get my paws on it, but it was well worth the wait. The story follows Natasha and Daniel, who take turns in narrating, over the course of a day in New York. I was really happy to see not only diverse characters again, but that some of each of their traits that could be considered gender stereotypical were associated with the opposite gender: Natasha is the rational one, Daniel is the romantic.

The fact that the majority of the book takes place over just one day presented a huge problem for me: once I started reading, I couldn’t resume my daily life until I got to the end of it. And then when I got to the end… ah, I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m pretty sure my heart was in my mouth for the last few chapters at least. I’m not sure I would describe it as a plot twist exactly, but I really liked how my expectations of how things were going to go switched back and forth all the way through the story, and kept me on my toes. I really recommend this book for a relationship that had me rooting for a particular ending more than anything ever has before. And that’s including Grey’s Anatomy, for crying out loud.

Only a couple of chapters in and already considering sticking a ‘do not disturb’ sign on my face until I’ve finished this absolute beauty of a book 😍📚

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A Boy Made Of Blocks by Keith Stuart

“Sometimes, there’s no escape,” I say. “Sometimes you have to bear the pressure and hope for a miracle.”

A Boy Made of Blocks follows the story of a father, Alex, and his son with autism. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that most of the books I read are written by females and dominated by female characters, so reading a male author from an male parent’s point of view felt like a refreshing change. The story follows Alex’s struggle to connect with his son Sam, and how their unexpectedly finding mutual respect in a video game helps Sam to find his feet in the world.

There were so many things I loved about this book, particularly the insight into autism and the way other people’s perceptions of the condition vary from the reality. I think the fact that Sam’s autism wasn’t clinically severe but severe enough to cause ongoing disruption in the entire family’s life will resonate with a lot of parents who read this book. By the end, I had such empathy for Sam that I actually shed a tear, and he’s stayed in my mind ever since. I might be wrong but I think this was Keith Stuart’s first novel: I don’t expect this to happen, but I would be the first one to buy a sequel following the same characters. Just saying. I really recommend this book if you’re looking for an insightful and heartwarming story that will completely take you out of your own shoes and plant you firmly in somebody else’s.

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

I have a confession to make here. 2017 was the first time I read Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and as of now, I still haven’t seen the film. I don’t know how this happened either. It completely swept by me as a child and teenager, but I decided that 2017 was the year for rectifying this terrible gaping hole in my bookish life. I asked my best friend for a copy of the book for Christmas and after she had stopped speaking to me for approximately two hours because she was not angry, but disappointed, she provided.

I imagine that choosing a favourite quote from the book for this blog post was possibly more difficult than naming my first child will be. The entire book (I mean both Alice’s Adventures and Through The Looking Glass but I’m grouping them together, okay?) was beautiful. It was one of those books where I looked forward to going to bed all day just so I could carry on reading and visit Wonderland again. Carroll’s imagination and creativity is just… EVERYTHING, and reading this book was such an uplifting enjoyable experience. I plan on watching the film to see how much translates from the book, but one thing I thought whilst reading it was how well it would translate into a really classical play. If that’s ever a thing, please somebody let me know, yes?!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

If you too have spent the last few months seeing the entire YA population of the USA freak out over this book, I’m here to confirm that the hype is real. It was around the time of release that I was added to Walker YA’s book database squad (still possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to me), and when I got the email asking if I’d like a copy, I think I briefly stopped existing. The story follows 16 year old Starr through her experience of witnessing her (unarmed) best friend being shot by a white police officer, and the effects that her decision to stand as witness has on her family, friends and community.

Here’s the thing. I consider myself quite a socially aware person: I know what’s going on in the world. I’ve seen and experienced disrimintaion from a disability/ chronic illness perspective and so I I like to think I recognise, not necessarily understand, but recognise the fight that other marginalised groups have to face every single day. However, nothing really consolidates things like a book with an endearing character and a plot that breaks your heart into tiny little pieces right from the very beginning. AND somehow still manages to be humorous. It’s difficult to explain, but reading the book really made me think about the little things I take for granted, like…oh I don’t know, leaving my house and not worrying about being shot in front of my friends and family? I finished the last page and my first thought was that everybody needs to read this book. So when it comes out in the UK on the 6th April, I hope you’re ready to have your perception of the world challenged too.

Matilda By Roald Dahl

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.”

So obviously, I read Matilda when I was younger, If I hadn’t, I think I would be pursuing some form of legal action against my parents for failing to bring me up properly. I saw Matilda the Musical in 2016 for my 21st birthday and it’s stayed consistently near the top of my all-time favourite shows ever since, and it was after listening to the soundtrack for approximately the 23729820488th time that, I quite fancied reading the book again. I’m so glad I did: I’m fully confident that Roald Dahl books definitely aren’t just for children.

The way Dahl captures children’s way of thought is just flawless. Reading it as a (somewhat) grown-up was a strange experience: in spite of the complete madness of the plot where the characters never get a chance to breathe, I found it SO calming to read and, get this, parts of it genuinely made me LOL. Like, out loud. In person. Not in my head. In fact, I quite fancy reading it again after writing this.

You can find me on Goodreads here if you’d like to see all the books I’ve read lately. I’m always looking for new additions to my to-be-read pile so if you have a favourite of your own at the moment, I’d love to hear about it!

Disclaimer: Each of the above reads are linked by the title. I earn a small commission from any purchase made from following these affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. This is also the case for any Wordery orders placed by following this cheeky link. I’m so subtle, I know… I’m also very grateful to receive books from various publishers and authors, some of which are included in my posts. Others are re-reads of old favourites, and most are purchased of my own accord. I’d like to make clear that I’m under no obligation to review any of the complementary books I receive, so do be assured that all of the reads included in this post are genuine favourites of mine!

 

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Book(ish) Box Review: Musical Theatre Edition!

For a while now, I’ve been searching for the ultimate subscription box. I’m not so much into beauty or fashion, and I knew exactly what I wanted: books. ALL the books. There are various bookish subscription boxes available at the moment, and all of them are gorgeous, but what’s actually in them never seems to quite justify the price of the subscription for me.

I’d briefly given up on my quest when, in November, I accidentally discovered The Book(ish) Box through Facebook.  I’m not gonna lie, as soon as I saw ‘Book to Musical theme’, I was sold. Somebody had combined the two loves of my life and I was more than ready to give up an essential organ or two to get my hands on one, let alone just $18.99 (roughly £15). Since I was a first-timer, I opted for a one-off gift of the most basic box: just the bookish goodies. For an upgrade in price, you can also get boxes including novels, and boxes including a shirt in a variety of styles. I don’t think I’d wear a shirt enough to justify getting that one, but I’m tempted by the novel one for next time…

ANYWAY, all through January I’ve been waiting in anticipation for my box to arrive, and it couldn’t have come on a better day. I’m currently running on zero hours sleep, which instead of making me tired leaves me completely buzzed and hyperactive due to over-exhaustion, and I was happily mouthing along and doing all kinds of sassy finger snapping to the Legally Blonde soundtrack when the doorbell rang.

Let me tell you right now, this box is gorgeous. My terrible photography skills don’t do it justice; I could write an essay about the cute packaging alone, but I’ll spare you. I was expecting the content of the box to be themed around just one musical (and praying it wouldn’t be Wicked, because I am ultimate Wicked trash already), so it was a nice surprise to see items influenced by a few different shows, not just one.

My box contained:

  • Bookish Notes 2017 collection: my favourite item. A colourful little book to keep record of your favourite books and excerpts per month, combined with beautifully printed quotes from some of my favourite novels.
  • Les Mis Bookmark: perfect colours, perfect quote, I’ve popped it in my current read already.
  • Hamilton Earrings: I won’t wear these due to lack of pierced ears, but my best friend will love them.
  • ‘Currently Reading’ stickers: shamefully, my first thought was ‘these will look great on Instagram’. But they seriously will, they’re adorable.
  • Wicked Bath Bomb: which I’m praying I’m not allergic to, because I can already envision a perfect Wicked bath, Wicked soundtrack, Wicked book, all-time Wicked trash bath time situation going on.

Overall, I’m impressed. The box was pretty good value for money and was fabulous quality. Most importantly, it gave me something to look forward to and be excited about: when you’re limited due to health problems, having something special come in the post can make SUCH a difference. I won’t be subscribing monthly because I’m a chronically-ill student and money doesn’t grow on trees (she says, compulsively buying theatre tickets like there’s no tomorrow), but I’m hoping to treat myself to more one-off boxes like this in the future, whenever the monthly theme next takes my fancy. Which, lets not lie, will probably be next month.

If you sign up via this link, I may or may not get a free box… alternatively, find out more about The Book(ish) Box via their website.

See you when I’ve hopefully retrained myself in the art of sleeping,

Pippa x

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