Finding the Time

I’ve been struggling the last month, or probably six weeks, with finding the time in my life to do the things I want to do. Mostly that is reading and blogging, but also seeing my boyfriend and family.

 

It seems like over over the last few weeks I spend all my time sweating and showering, and feeling sorry for myself about that, then aimlessly browsing the Internet, and I don’t get anything real or productive done.

 

I’m also finding it hard to concentrate in work. There’s lots to be done, and not a whole lot of time to do it in, but there are so many things I need to prioritise that I seem to end up panicking and not doing any of them.

So the combination of the heat, the busyness, how much work I have to do (and don’t get me wrong, I love it, and I’m privileged to have the job I do), and how little motivation or time I seem to have lately is having an impact on my blogging. Partially this is because I’m not actually reading that much, but also because I don’t have the time to write blogposts.

And, honestly, I can’t really see that changing in the immediate future. So this post is me giving myself a bit of breathing space, admitting I am busy, and advising that posting frequency is probably going to go down in the immediate future. I have enough guilt weighing me down about the things I’m not getting done, I don’t need guilt from the blog (which is supposedly to be fun!) on top of that.

 

I don’t know how to get out of this life slump, and I’m hoping it will pass soon, but if anyone has any tips, I’d be very glad to hear them!

Equally, if you have any really gripping books that you’d recommend, hit me with them too. Hopefully YALC next week will get me hyped for books again!

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Still Me – Jojo Moyes

I was at home in Ireland last week, and one of my sisters had this book sitting on her bedroom floor. So naturally I stole it, brought it back to England, and read it before she could. That’s how our relationship works, you know.
Third in the Me Before You series, this finally finishes the story of Lou Clark, which began in Me Before You, all those years ago (like… three years ago. Maybe)

Still Me (Me Before You #3) – Jojo Moyes

36598421Coming soon – the third Lou Clark novel by Jojo Moyes, following the Number One international bestsellers Me Before You and After You

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

I read Me Before You in 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the film adaptation, with Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, and thought it was fine, although it lost a lot of the nuance of the book. I read the sequel, After You, in 2016, and thought it was alright, although not as good as the first book, and dragged things out a bit. This third book? Was it really necessary?

Jojo Moyes is a great writer, don’t get me wrong. An alumna of Royal Holloway, my current employer, I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed many of her books, including The Horse Dancer, The One Plus One, and Silver Bay, and I have many more queued up on my Kindle and Audible accounts, waiting for me to get around to them.

But this, third instalment in the life of Lou Clark, well, it fell a bit flat. I felt like I was sick of her, and her boring life, and really wished she’d just move on.

The idea of a story which looks at how you move on in your life from a great love which ended too soon was really lovely, and I was pretty excited for how After You would deal with Lou and this new chapter in her story. But I really feel like the most interesting part of Lou was meeting Will and how that changed her. The ramifications of his life on hers and the longer-lasting effects of that were definitely something that I find interesting, but not interesting enough to justify two six-hundred page books. S

So while I was reading Still Me, I was getting a bit fed up. Sure, I like Lou as a character, and I enjoyed her tale of finding herself in New York. But did this have to be a book on its own? Would it not have been snappier and more interesting if After You and Still Me had been edited down to be one, really impactful book, rather than the second half of a story split into two more parts? Really, with the best bits of Lou in Me Before You, Still Me and After You are only a quarter of the tale each, but taking up a third of the story.

Still Me was missing all the lovely things that I really enjoyed in the first two books. Lou’s relationship with her family, her sister, her nephew, Ambulance Sam, with Lily, with her home town and the notion of spreading her wings and being free of it… everything was just too sparse. There wasn’t enough content going on to keep me interested.

Too much time was spent on new characters who I just didn’t care about. I already had to deal with a total shift from Me Before You to After You. Why do I then have to deal with a third cast in the third book? I hate change! Major developments for characters that I actually cared about were minor background elements of the plot, with large swatches dedicated to people I fundamentally disliked and wished only bad things for.

Poor pacing, poor choice of character focus, and just too much guff draws away from the really interesting story of Lou finding who she is and what she wants, and detracts from the really enjoyable elements of this story. I’m not sorry to be leaving Lou behind, because at this stage, I’ve really had enough of her.

The story written here was good, it was interesting, it was emotive, but it wasn’t a story I wanted to be centred around Lou Clark. Separate her story from all the characters in New York, and I would have two stories I really loved, but for me this was a mediocre ending to a trilogy which had a really lovely start.

Three Stars
***

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Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood

I know I’ve only blogged once this week, but I’ve been so flipping busy at work I haven’t had time. Plus, not having broadband at home yet means I can’t schedule posts in my downtime without much effort, so it just hasn’t happened.

In any case, today’s post is about a collaborative novel that I’ve been looking forward to since YALC last year – Floored is a One Day-style novel written from six (and a bit) different perspectives, and follows six teenagers over six years after a seventh person brought them together, in a lift, one fateful day.

34372905.jpgThe Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood.

When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn’t that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he’s the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn’t match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn’t as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who’s losing her sight but won’t admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn’t be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.

I really wanted to love this book. The sampler which I read at YALC last year was very enjoyable, with six different characters, each with their own distinct issues, and voices. The fact that they were all written by different authors might bother some readers, as they try to figure out who wrote whom, but I didn’t even bother try, and just settled in for the ride.

There was a whole lot going on in this book. Six characters in six years go through a lot, and as the reader only sees them on this one day each year, it’s all kind of crammed in. As with any book which relies on a gimmick like a repeated anniversary, to a certain extent belief has to be suspended to allow the book to progress, but I was fine with that.

My main issue, however, was that there was too much breadth and not enough depth to Floored. Six characters was too many, which meant I didn’t really feel for any of them properly. By the time I was getting back into the head of one character, we were tripping along to the next, and when I thought I had gotten hold of at least three people, it was suddenly the next year and all was changing. There was also a distinct lack of conclusion to one character’s story, which was disappointing.

I really did want to love this. I’m a fan of several of the authors who collaborated on this, and was terribly excited when I saw it in Eason in Liffey Valley four days before release day (which is today, incidentally, July 12th). But even though there were seven stellar authors working together, what resulted was, in my opinion, less than stellar.

What I really thought was lovely was that each chapter was headed by a graphic of the character’s feet. It helped to keep track of who was who, and it also showed the development of characters, as their shoes changed and they gained little nods to their growth. Disappointingly, some characters didn’t change at all over the six years, and a couple of the artworks were wrong. Sasha in year five didn’t match the joint artwork, and I don’t think Joe ever changed.

Plus there were some formatting issues – the aforementioned chapter heading artworks, and Melinda Salisbury’s name was spelt wrong in her acknowledgements (or her author bio? I can’t recall). I guess these things slip into every book, but the artwork one I found very surprising, because I would have thought it was quite a big thing.

Seven great authors collaborated here to produce something which is quite enjoyable, but won’t be jumping onto my favourites shelf.

Three Stars
***

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Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

I bought this book for my sister for Christmas, probably two years ago. I never actually got around to reading it, but she liked it, so I picked up the next two books by Sara Barnard, and really enjoyed them. So although it took me a while, I was looking forward to this story, of teenage friendship and downward spirals. And I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

25437747I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

I really, really liked this book. It’s gorgeously packaged, with a beautiful foiled cover and crisp pages, and the writing is great also. But for me, the most important element of any book is the story, the plot. And I’m not sorry to say that the plot in this was brilliant.

Suzanne is damaged, and Caddy and Rosie’s relationship with her is really well written. The depiction of mental health, recovery, spiralling, and how what you think is helping might actually be hurting is really well drawn. Suze has a complex and distressing background, and Caddy only wants to help, but she can’t see that what she’s doing isn’t actually really helping. Nonetheless, she tries to do what she thinks is for the best. Caddy’s journey to understanding and Suze’s to recovery is really well-drawn and was really emotionally effective to read.

I loved this book. I really like Sara Barnard as well, and look forward to anything she might come out with in future. Including Floored, a collaborative novel which comes out next week!

Five Stars
*****

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Is Street Art Subject to Copyright? — womenareboring

Is there a copyright in street art? And if so, how can artists use that right to protect and control their artworks?

via Is Street Art Subject to Copyright? — womenareboring

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July 5, 2018 · 12:56 pm

June Roundup

We’re halfway through 2018. I can’t believe it. Where has the time gone? I’ve got no idea how this is possible. I’ve been busy these first few months, and just moved house, so there’s plenty going on, but I’m still reading as much as I can! June was hot and sticky, and I read as many books with LGBTQ+ characters as I could. It wasn’t a month with the most reading in it, but I’m pretty happy about it.

Books

  1. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
  2. The Woman at 72 Derry Lane – Carmel Harrington
  3. Beyond Grace’s Rainbow – Carmel Harrington
  4. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
  5. Letters to my Daughters – Emma Hannigan
  6. The Belles (The Belles #1) – Dhonielle Clayton
  7. Autoboyography – Christina Lauren
  8. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
  9. Save the Date – Morgan Matson
  10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrow
  11. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  12. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
  13. The Call of the Wild – Jack London
  14. Little Bones – Sam Blake
  15. Tash Hearts Tolstoy – Kathryn Ormsbee
  16. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
  17. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Aline Sáenz
  18. Time Bomb – Joelle Charbonneau
  19. Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard
  20. The You I’ve Never Known – Ellen Hopkins
  21. Clean – Juno Dawson

 Short Stories

  1. Must-have Husband – Ginny Baird

Cover Art

Favourite Book This Month

Tough one, as I was torn between Sara Barnard and the Guernsey book, but in the end the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society swung it for me. I love epistolary novels, and this one was really gorgeous.

40606102

 

 

Least Favourite Book This Month

18109129

This was also tough, because I didn’t read anything really terrible this month. Almost everything I read was good or great, and the few I didn’t really enjoy were probably because I wasn’t really in the mood. In the end, I’ve gone for The Call of the Wild as my least favourite, because I didn’t really connect with it. But I’m sure some people would absolutely love it!

 

 

Favourite cover art

After narrowly missing out on favourite book of the month, Beautiful Broken Things wins it for favourite cover art. The gold stripes are foiled in the paperback, and they shine so brilliantly when they catch the light it’s really something to behold. It’s a truly gorgeous cover.

25437747

 

 

Other…

Moving has made me realise just how many books I own, as I had to pack them all into boxes and transport them from my old house to my new flat. But it also gives me the chance to arrange them in a new way, so that’s fun. I’m thinking I might split them into read and TBR, or I might organise them by colour, or by size, or anything like that. I have so many options, I’m paralysed by indecision!

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

40606102.jpg*I think this wins as my new longest blog post title.

This book has gotten a lot of praise in the Rick O’Shea Book Club, which is a facebook group I’m part of, and also is a summer film, so I was intrigued enough to spend an Audible credit on it. i’m really glad I did, because it was really, really enjoyable.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

I didn’t really know what I was expecting from this book, having read very little about it before deciding I wanted it. So I went in with entirely fresh eyes. Juliet, an author, is living in post-Blitz London, looking for inspiration for her next book. When a letter arrives out of the blue asking for her assistance in locating books by Charles Lamb, she strikes up an unexpected correspondence with the seller, Dawsey Adams, and then his entire book club, which goes by the name of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

In the course of her letter writing, Juliet gets intrigued by their story, and comes to Guernsey to find out more about their experiences during the war.

I had no idea that the Channel Islands were occupied during WWII, so this entire book was an eye-opening read for me. I was filled with emotion at the many horrendous stories which were told with such practicality by the residents and natives of Guernsey, and the warmth and strength they showed during the occupation, as well as their resilience in the years afterwards.

This book was, frankly, pretty much perfect. I loved all of the characters, loved their development. I felt like Juliet was me, wanting to learn more about the residents of Guernsey and how their lives were changed by the war. I loved that there was a cast of different narrators for the audiobook, giving each character their own distinct voice in the letters they wrote. I can’t even begin to pick a favourite, with Isola, Juliet, and Dawsey all vying for a place in my heart.

I loved this book. It was beautifully written, wonderfully delivered, and taught me so much, with a human, entrancing undercurrent. The relationships were developed so naturally that I was rooting for every character to find happiness in the end, and spent a lot of time sitting in my car after I had gotten to where I was going, waiting for a letter to end because I just didn’t want to stop.

If you haven’t read this yet, I thoroughly recommend you do, because it’s a really great book.

Five Stars
*****

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Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Don’t Plan to Finish

Yes, it’s Wednesday, and I should have posted this yesterday, but I got distracted doing… something. I can’t even remember what I was doing. but the point is I was busy, so here’s Tuesday’s Top Ten, one day late, on a Wednesday. Thanks to That Artsy Reader for the prompt!

Series I Don’t Plan to Finish

1. Millenium’s Rule by Trudi Canavan17302559

I read the first in this series, which followed two completely separate characters who never met. No more for me, thank you. This is no fun.

2. The White Aura by Felicia Tatum

Great cover art. Boring story. No thanks!

3. Time Quintet by Madeleine l’Engle

The first was not so interesting. Apparently there are five of these. One was enough for me, thank you very much.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – the Trilogy of Five – Douglas Adams (plus one by Eoin Colfer)The_original_cover_of_the_first_book_in_the_series,_Pretty_Little_Liars.png

I read an extremely battered and falling apart copy of Hitchhiker’s which belonged to my dad, and had to cope with pages falling out while I read. I wasn’t entranced by the story at all, and only finished it because I was supervising an exam and had nothing else to do that day. I’m not interested to read the rest of the series.

5. Pretty Little Liars – Sara Shepard

I read 10 of these books, and they were all filled with scandal, lies, secrets, melodrama, and more secret siblings than you could shake a stick at. Ten was enough, I’m not interested in the third story arc. If I was any kind of sensible, four would have been enough.

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6. Earthsea Cycle – Ursula le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea was far from my favourite when I was young. After re-reading it last year, I’m definitely convinced that the rest of this series is not in my future. There are too many other books out there that I actually want to read!

 

61hPgTUorTL7. The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

There was nothing wrong with this book, per se, but it really did not do it for me. I’m just not interested in the followups, even if the cover art is absolutely gorgeous.

8. Stealing Snow – Danielle Page

Gorgeous cover art. Wonderful idea. Execution that just didn’t work for me. No interest in the sequels, thank you very much.

9. Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

I really thought this would work for me. It’s got vampires. It’s got female friendships. But I was not entranced by it, and two years later, have no interest at all in going back to read the rest of the series.

10. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

18660669I read Ender’s Game and thought it was alright. Ender’s Shadow was fascinating. Speaker for the Dead was so totally out of character that I didn’t know how to cope with it. Xenocide was only read because it started with X and fitted my challenge criteria for last year. Children of the Mind is unlikely to ever make it into my hands. No thanks. And that’s without even considering Scott Card’s personal views which clash so strongly with my own.

 

What series did you start, or think you’d love, and then never finish? Should I give any of these series another chance?

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Finding my Pride

Since June is Pride month, I’ve set myself a mini challenge to read as many books as I can which feature queer characters. I started with some which were already on my TBR, but I’m looking for one or two more in the ten days before the month is out.

I started off with the one which has been sitting on my TBR for a little while, after I bought the Kindle version for 99p to coincide with the film release. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a sweet, email romance story with some edgier undercurrents that I thoroughly enjoyed.

38236054.jpgThe beloved, award-winning novel will soon be a major motion picture starring 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford and Everything, Everything’s Nick Robinson.

‘Worthy of Fault in Our Stars-level obsession.’ Entertainment Weekly

‘I love you, SIMON. I LOVE YOU! And I love this fresh, funny, live-out-loud book.” Jennifer Niven, bestselling author of All the Bright Places

Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better.
Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. 

But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated.

Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . .
It’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal.

Simon has a fair amount going on in his life – the school musical is taking over his life, he’s completely caught up in an email romance with the mysterious Blue, and, oh, he’s being blackmailed by his classmate. I quite enjoyed this story which presented Simon’s sexual awakening as perfectly normal – which it is! – and also deals with some of the thornier aspects of the queer experience, like being forcibly outed, and privileged assumptions even in queer spaces. But it only briefly touched on those things, and I was a little disappointed it didn’t go deeper.

Three Stars
***

So the second book I read was a winner for me. Autoboyography, written by Christina Lauren, a duo of best friends, was the story of a boy who was already out to his family, navigating the incredibly complex world of being queer in Mormon-dominated Utah.

28919058.jpgThree years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

I loved that in this book, Tanner’s parents already knew that he was queer and totally supported him. It was really refreshing to read a book where the issues were with his friends and peers, not with coming out to his parents. I also loved that Autoboyography delved deeply into the intersections of love, religion, acceptance, and the impact of other aspects of your life and sexuality on each other. I also really, really loved that cover art. How gorgeous??

Four Stars
****

10924618Honorable mention to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which doesn’t have a queer main character, but does have a queer supporting character for whom his queerness is not a tragedy or life-ruining. But I just really really loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, so I’m going to save this for a longer review.

29414576

I’m currently reading Tash Hearts Tolstoy, which stars a romantic asexual girl, and I’m enjoying it, except for maybe there being too much Tolstoy? Should I have anticipated this from the title? Possibly.

 

I also have Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe lined up to read before the end of the month, which I know features queer and biracial boys, so I’m looking forward to that, too.

But my main issue now is that my list of books is very low on queer girls and queer women. Does anyone have any suggestions of queer girl stories that I could read before the month is out??

 

*Also books about lions. They’re prides too. I’ll accept books about lions.

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Save the Date – Morgan Matson

I thought, when I first read the synopsis of this book, that I wasn’t all that interested in it. But then when I went back again, and realised that it covered sibling relationships and weddings, two of my favourite things, I thought maybe there was something here for me.

RivetedLit have an extended excerpt of Save the Date available for free on their website for another four days. I read it about a week and a half ago, and decided I was hooked – I needed to find out what happened next for Charlie, Linny, JJ, Mike, and Danny.

Unfortunately, Save the Date hadn’t yet been published in the UK, so I had to wait until publication day to find out how the rest of the story would go. My impatience was palpable, and I downloaded the full book onto my Kindle at about five past midnight on publication day, having preordered it in preparation.

Save the Date – Morgan Matson

From35389087.jpg the author of Since You’ve Been Gone and The Unexpected Everything comes a dreamy story of summer romance and finding yourself, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen

Charlie Grant tries to keep her life as normal as possible. Hanging out with her best friend, pining for Jesse Foster – who she’s loved since she was twelve – and generally flying under the radar as much as she can.

But sometimes normal is just another word for stuck, and this weekend that’s all going to change. Not only will everyone be back home for her sister’s wedding, but she’s also juggling:

– a rented dog that just won’t stop howling
– an unexpectedly hot wedding-coordinator’s nephew
– her favourite brother bringing home his HORRIBLE new girlfriend
– fear that her parents’ marriage is falling apart
– and the return to town of the boy she’s loved practically all her life…

Over the course of four days Charlie will learn there’s so much more to each member of her family than she imagined, even herself, and that maybe letting go of the things she’s been holding on tightest to can help her find what really keeps them together.

This book is great. I really loved it. There was so much going on, and a lot of it was slapstick. The wedding for which nothing went right (although there was a pretty good explanation for all the madcap ridiculousness), the cast of family and friends that everyone has experienced at a wedding (aunt and uncle who can’t stand the sight of each other, relative who’s cheap and mooching off anyone who can find, oddly mellow family friend whose room always smells … sweet), with added tensions created by Good Morning America rolling in, and a rented dog who’s both adorable and impossible (and called WAFFLES. OMG).

In classic Morgan Matson style, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, but it’s really fun to read about. Although the whole book is generally light-hearted, Matson does a great job of helping us (and Charlie) to understand that as much as we may love and hero-worship our family, at the end of the day they’re still people, and have the same foibles and faults as anyone. Charlie’s hero-worship of her perfect family is gently dismantled over this wedding weekend, but she comes out of it with a much greater understanding of her parents and siblings as actual people, rather than caricatures.

For Charlie especially, it’s difficult for her to see that, because her mother, a graphic artist, has been depicting a fictionalised version of their family in national newspapers since before Charlie can remember. Looking back, she finds it hard to distinguish between what actually happened, and what was exaggerated or changed for the comic strip.

I love weddings, I love stories about sibling relationships, and I really like Morgan Matson, too. There were a few cameos from characters from The Unexpected Everything, which I read last year, as well, which were very enjoyable.

Overall, although this book won’t change my view of the world, it did do exactly what it set out to do, which was to give me a madcap, heartwarming, thoroughly enjoyable story of a wedding weekend, and a little growing up for Charlie, as she begins to understand that her parents and siblings are people in their own right, as well as being her family.

Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended.

Five Stars
*****

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