Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? by Holly Bourne

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4stars

“Looking after yourself is the greatest act of kindness you can give the world. Loving yourself first is the best way to spread love.”

Title: Vigilance
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Number of pages: 208 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: Raw and violent and so very likely to happen.
Bad things about this book: I would’ve loved another short chapter to explain a bit the ending, because it left me like whaaat.
Do I recommend it? I do!
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

“Sometimes you need to put you first and get fit and strong so you can go out and save the world when you’re in the best shape to.”

Another win for Holly Bourne. I kept nodding, she kept raising relatable issues, and I understood. I almost never put my oxygen mask first, then help others. I usually jump into helping others even if it drowns me, even if it brakes me, because I need the people I love happy, and if I can give them my happiness or give them something that’ll make them happy, then I’ll do it, no matter what.

I was afraid there was going to be some forced romance that we didn’t need. The story that needed to be told was not about a girl finding love in the weirdest of places, but about a girl getting the help she needed to get better, to live the life she deserves. And we got that. I felt all the feelings Olive was feeling. I felt the rush when she was hyperactive, I felt the darkness when all seemed lost.

I was angry at her for not wanting to get treated, for thinking she knew best, that she could “cure” herself her own way. If it was that easy, we would all be the happiest all the time. So many factors come to play that can determine wether we develop mental illness, but sometimes it’s just how we are born. There is no logic, no reason behind it, we just are wired differently. Some can cope, some need help. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

The brain is a powerful thing. We need to keep it in shape. For us. If our brain is in shape, we can shape our lives better and we can share our happiness with the people around us, the people that we love.

I always recommend Holly Bourne’s books, and this is no exception. Read it.

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[ARC] How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne

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4stars

‘You can be difficult, and yet someone will find it so easy to love you.’

Title: How Do You Like Me Now?
Author: Holly Bourne
Expected publication: June 14th 2018
Number of pages: 368 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: It’s a great representation of being a woman in her 30s.
Bad things about this book: The kindle version of this ARC had some issues but they won’t be present on the final product so that’s okay.
Do I recommend it? Yes, worth a read.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

ARC given to me by NetGalley

I requested this ARC because I love Holly Bourne and how she writes. She usually strikes a nerve with every single book I read and this wasn’t the exception. I am 32 years old like Tori and I don’t know exactly what it is that I want to do with my life. And I’m afraid, just like her, that it may be too late and that I have to settle with whatever or whoever stumbles upon my way because then I’ll be an old lady and nobody will want me anymore.

I, too, worry about new little wrinkles on my forehead and under my eyes. I, too, worry that my body is getting old to have children and the pressure I feel seeing people younger than me or my age already with big families and so very much in love, is barely tolerable. I, too, am a strong woman with principles like I defend with whatever I can but I have weaknesses and insecurities that more often than not make me question my whole existence.

Tori is a very relatable character. She lies to herself and to the world to maintain an image she wants to portrait and that it’s not the person she is. It takes millions of selfies for her to get the right one to share in which she looks naturally beautiful but that it needed the right light, angle, filter and natural make up to achieve. She has written a self-help book about what a mess it is being in your 20s and now that she is in her 30s, the mess is still there, only mutated. But Tori can’t afford to disappoint her fans telling them that she isn’t happy in her long term relationship, that she starves herself to look the right kind of thin, that she doesn’t have any idea about her next book, that she sees her friends getting married and having children and that she secretly wants it for herself even if, at first, she wasn’t so sure.

It’s not fair to set people tests and then get annoyed when they fail them.

I may not agree with Tori’s decisions or how she acts but I can see why she did what she did. But being 32 is not decrepit old, like Tori seems to think. We are not falling apart, we are not nearly expired. There’s no schedule. No deadline. No pressure. Even if the world seems to expect so much from us and it’s overwhelming. Don’t get me started on panic attacks. Freaking out is part of the process, I suppose. Tori could be selfish, very insecure and egocentric. Always pursuing the idea of happiness she had in her mind. Tori made lots of mistakes and I often wanted to slap her (with love) to wake her up from the fantasy she was living. She could be pretty annoying but we all are, right? That’s not her flaw; it’s one of our many endearing qualities. Right?

I am a fan of YA book even if I’m very much not a young adult anymore. I do feel still pretty young, though. But I’m also always happy to read books about characters my age, someone I can really relate to. Life is hard and after 30 it doesn’t magically fix itself and let you live the life you’ve always dreamt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that and it takes you by surprise with twists and tons of obstacles be them money, love, anxiety, or the sweet sweet fear of not being able to achieve what we were hoping to achieve before we were too old. One day you’ll wake up and think, yes, I’m old, and no, I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing. And your brain will short-circuit for a bit. Again, this is part of the process of surpassing your 30s.

Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops and everyone just fucking marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.

Long story short, this is a great book for everyone, not only for women in their 30s like myself. I think it can help giving you an insight of the future if you are younger, or giving you memories, bad or good, about your past if you are older. It’s for you either if you are living the dream or if you are struggling. It may help you understand more about what you do every day unconsciously and it may help you see things through a different light. I know it helped me. It gave me hope. I’m not late for anything; I’m just getting wherever I’m getting at my own pace and I don’t have to feel ashamed for not doing what everyone else thinks you’re supposed to be doing at my age. I will let myself be me. With love. With strength. With a big smile on my face.

I hope you’ll give it a chance and read it as soon as it comes out in June because it’s worth the little time it actually takes to read it once you start it and realize you can’t put it down. Trust me.

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It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

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3stars

Is that how hearts work? Is love just a parasite that jumps bodies?

Title: It Only Happens in the Movies
Author: Holly Bourne
Number of pages: 384 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: The paragraphs with all the romantic movies clichés at the beginning of the chapters!
Bad things about this book: I found the main character not very likeable but that’s my opinion. Nothing bad about the book per se.
Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s very enjoyable.
Rate: 3/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I finished it yesterday but gave myself the whole night to think about it and this morning I’m confirming what I thought yesterday.
While I enjoyed it, minus some parts, I found myself laughing just a little and shaking my head a lot.
I kind of want to write a spoilery review because there’s one thing that bothered me so much I’m still mad about it. There were a few minor things that, in my opinion, were left just there while they needed to be explained. Give me all the facts and I will formulate my opinion, okay?

I read this fast because I wanted to see how it was going to end yet knowing how things were going to unfold but in the end it just didn’t get to me. I related to Audrey in some aspects but I didn’t connect with her. I don’t know how to explain it. I didn’t find myself cheering for her happy ending like I usually do in this kind of books. Why???

I didn’t like Audrey very much; I found her a little bit too whiny and I’m not talking about the obvious reasons she has to be whiny about but the boys’ reasons. It became more annoying the more I read. She had an embarrassing and traumatic experience with a stupid ex-boyfriend and now she does everything in her power to feel guilty on the inside and isolating herself on the outside. It’s not going well, she is stuck because she let her self-isolation going for too long and now she doesn’t know what to do to get her friends back and to stop being ashamed to be in the same room as her ex. Now she can’t stand romantic movies with all their perfection and happily ever afters.

I don’t think her problems are trivial and I cannot judge the way people might react to certain situations. We can’t act and react all the same way but her voice doesn’t resonate with my feelings. I don’t feel sad for her, I don’t root for her, I don’t care if she gets the boy or if she gets to make her dreams of acting come true. I found myself thinking she was often selfish and incoherent. You can’t be mad at people not doing what you think they are supposed to do. If something is not fair, say something! You can’t expect people to act how you want them to act, to behave the way you want them to behave. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, you have to tell someone if what they’re doing hurts you or annoys you, but you don’t get to reshape them completely to please you.

If you want a personalized boyfriend then maybe you were born in the wrong century. It’ll be easy to build yourself a perfect machine who does everything the right way. What’s the fun in that, though? I felt that Audrey was projecting all the things she wanted in a relationship in Harry and he, with his many flaws, was destined to fail in the boyfriend exam sooner or later. She’s been warned about him, she knew he liked to do many things she didn’t like; love is powerful but two very opposite people can only have a tiny fraction of happiness before everything goes kaboom. People reshape themselves a little when they’re in a relationship, each maintaining their peculiarities and personalities, but starting up with so many red flags sure isn’t the best way to built something that’s going to last or make you happy.

I guess I just didn’t like the way she faced the world. It’s a pity: I wanted to like her and to like this book with such a cute cover. There were positive aspects I liked about this book, for example I agreed with all the ridiculous clichés she wrote about romantic movies. Those bits were fun to read; I instantly thought of so many movies with those exact same scenes.

I have been avoiding the spoilery part of the review because I’m still conflicted: do I say it or not? That bit bothered me and it’s still bothering me to no end. It’s about Harry. I think the parts that really bothered me were about him and how those things weren’t explained or treated the way they deserved. I think I’ll carry this with me and it’s going to the unresolved stuff drawer in my brain. Oh well!

I will still read Holly Bourne’s books because I have always enjoyed them. Always! I trust her to come out with a new book that will give me smiles and happiness!

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What’s a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne

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4stars

I’m just highly experienced in sexual harassment, like pretty much every other girl on this earth who dares to walk places.

Title: What’s a Girl Gotta Do?
Author: Holly Bourne
Good things about this book: Girl power and important themes.
Bad things about this book: The frustation about adults and narrow minded people.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

For every girl who does what is right, rather than what is easy.

UNACCEPTABLE! This book deals with unacceptable situations almost all women have to endure during their lives. I would love to know how many women haven’t been in some way victims of sexual harassment because I don’t think there are that many. I know I have been a victim of it in the past. I have been afraid of going anywhere by myself because every time I knew there was going to be at least one man thinking it was nice and cool to compliment me and follow me around.

Do you ever think how it must feel to have horrible things you’ve seen or experienced judged and questioned by someone? Like it’s our responsibility to convince you we’re not lying, rather than yours just to believe us?

It is not okay and it’s awful that this is consider normal and if I say that this thing happened to me I’ll be laughed at and maybe they will say I’m overreacting and that I was being ridiculous.
How is it that we live in a world in which being a woman is by default considered as always in danger? How is it that when I go out I have to feel that every man I encounter is a possible aggressor? I hate that it has to be like that.

I hear so many sexist things at work since I’m mostly surrounded by male co-workers but I also hear cringe worthy things from my few female colleagues who grew up having this wrong ideas put into their minds and still don’t think they are, indeed, not right. No, co-worker n.1, your son won’t become gay because of ballet lessons. No, co-worker n.2, I don’t feel cold because I’m a woman and all women, in your opinion, feel cold but I’m cold because the heater doesn’t work well. No, co-worker n.3, I don’t have a partner and no, I didn’t lose weight because, as you said, “there’s someone in my life and you wanted to look cute”. Hell, I’m the cutest creature in that office, excuse you. Yes, co-worker n.4, I’m perfectly able of doing “manly” things because I have taught myself how to do them; did you think a hammer was too heavy for my female arms? If I don’t do something is solely because I’m too lazy to do it, certainly not because I’m not able to do it.

I realized it takes a great deal more courage to fight for yourself than to fight for others.

It may be only in my very small world, but I do everything in my power to point out every sexist thing I can. I choose my battles, though, because sometimes the listener is so beyond salvation that I prefer saving my voice for something worthier of my time. I want the world to change but I don’t want to lose my mind in the process.

I don’t just want to complain about the world, I want to change it.

Lottie, the main character of this book, has come to a point in which she can’t take it anymore. She has been a victim of harassment, feeling powerless, afraid and guilty. Guilty because she thinks something she is wearing might have been the reason of this terrible event. She feels so angry because she feels she is strong enough to fight what she thinks is wrong but in that moment she froze and couldn’t react to the situation. In what world red lipstick is secret code for girls who want to be molested by horny men? Lipstick doesn’t equal asking for it. What the hell? Lipstick! Paint on my lips. Paint! Sigh.

The project Lottie starts along with her best friends (and our old spinster friends) Amber and Evie, and a very cute (of course) but too logical cameraman called Will, is called VAGILANTE and I think that’s the greatest name they could have thought of. Why put a boy/love interest in the equation? Didn’t like that. It wasn’t necessary and it could be avoided. Let’s Lottie have time for herself, her friends and her project. She can have love interests in the future. Again, unnecessary.

If a woman had written this, it would be called chick lit and win nothing.

The trolls the project unleashes are the worst. The worst of them all are the other girls because they don’t really understand the gravity of the situation and how important it is to have equality. This book made me so mad because I know and understand how hard it is to fight every single thing Lottie is trying to fight and how frustrating it must be having so many people deeming the project as pointless and useless. Lottie’s parents!!! The adults are always the worst. They grew up with different values so they think it’s useless to try and change how things are. Do you hear how dumb that sound?? Ok, right, let’s leave everything as it is. The future will be really interesting. Read: dystopian apocalypse.

There’s this part of the book that bothered me a little bit, but then again, I’m easily bother just as much as how I’m easily entertained. Lottie is starting the project and the first thing Will says to her is why she is wearing make up since she is supposed to be a feminist. What the hell of a question is that? I can do whatever I want to feel pretty and you don’t have the right to question that. I, for example, don’t wear make up because I think it makes me look weird and I personally don’t like feeling weird all day long. I choose how to face the world for myself, not to impress an audience.

I wrote about everything and nothing in this review but this theme is close to my heart. Fight the wrongness of the world. Please, do it. This is worth fighting for and if you want to start talking about period with your male friends to make them feel uncomfortable about normal things, then do that. I do it at work all the time and the ones that don’t give me a disgusting look gain points in my “how to be a worthy human being” book. If I look in pain and you ask me what’s wrong I’m not going to lie. My period is tearing me apart from inside out and everyone should know it. This fight can be fun, too, right?

Maybe all you needed in life was the belief you could change things. Somehow. Some way.

LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!

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How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

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“Winnie the Pooh is the answer of all happiness.”

Title: How Hard Can Love Be?
Author: Holly Bourne
Why you should read this book: Because this is a really cute book about love and finding the person who understands you and accepts you for who you are.

Summary from Goodreads:

Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?
All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there’s prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.

“Why would anyone get drunk? Why does anyone need anything like that to escape the world, when the world is its own antidote?”

Lovely book about family, friendship and love. Love for your family, for your friends who support you and for that particular person who makes you feel special.

Amber is really a strong character, very lively and straightforward. She is strong, that is true, she is also really funny, but she has a fragility and pain hidden inside her. That’s not good, hiding pain is bad, then one day something will trigger a memory and you’ll just explode and it’s not going to be nice.

“You know how protective I get about my snacks.”

So Amber goes all the way from England to the US to visit her mother, an alcoholic in rehab, who runs a camp for, apparently, rich kids in California. She runs it with her new husband who has a magnificent bum on his chin. That’s very important knowledge. Thanks, Amber!

“Why do Americans hate their children so much that they ship them off into the mountains all summer?”

When you say camp, what comes to mind? Loud children? Of course, but no. Beautiful boys who work there for the summer? Exactly! I’ve been to camp, a religious one though, only once and I had fun. There was a guy I fancied, nothing happened, I am really bad at flirting, even more than Amber. I didn’t score, we talked, and that’s it. Real life is so much worse than fiction. I wonder if in real life people can say what happened to Amber happened to them, too. If it happened, good for you, you earned my jealousy!

Her mum was seriously annoying, so was Kevin, but her mum is her mum for a reason. They haven’t seen each other for 2 years and she isn’t spending real bonding time with her own daughter. She got on my nerves a lot because she played the victim, always trying to blame others and finding excuses for being the way she was. Those are the worst kind of people; I don’t like them at all.

“I’m a terminal pessimist with an edge of angry realism.”

Luckily Amber, being funny and everything, easily made friends with the staff at camp. We have Winnie, a Winnie the Pooh expert, Russ, the lost twin of Jacob from Twilight, and Kyle, the typical American boy right out from a fashion magazine. Perfect guy, perfect tan, perfect hair, and perfect smile. I have to admit that even if he looked extremely American I liked him even before knowing him better. I have a little weakness for tall tanned guys with cute smiles. You can say I have a weakness for hotties, I won’t deny it. I’m all about the handsomeness. Shallow as it may sound, it is the truth. The eye wants what the eye wants.

“Basically, the more you know, the unhappier you are. That’s why Winnie the Pooh is always happy – he doesn’t get into politics.”

The whole story was fun and easy to read. I love how Holly Bourne writes; the story becomes part of you and you read read read and the book just ends when you are not paying attention. The chapters are well built, they show you important parts of Amber and what makes her the way she is. How she starts off being angry and drinking to forget, to when she starts realizing there’s more to life than just being mad and disappointed at people when you yourself don’t do anything to change the present. How can you pretend to understand why a person is acting a certain way if you don’t ask but just assume what you want? It will never be the truth, you need to act and free yourself from doubts, only then you can move on and start living your life fully.

“Failure is never getting hurt. Because that means you’ve done anything you cared about.”

Amber doesn’t know that, she will learn it the hard way. Nothing is lost forever, things change, and they take different shapes but stay with you forever. You just have to give them the proper weight. If something isn’t worth suffering, then it’s not worth a space in your heart. Archive it, it’ll still be there but will be a memory, and not a recurring thought that will weight you down.

I enjoyed this book, this Normal series is a nice surprise. Can’t wait to read Lottie’s story, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s funny and sweet, a really enjoyable book.
Rate: 4/5

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Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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“Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal, Evelyn.”

Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Why you should read this book: It gives you a very real point of view of what this particular mental illness feels like for the people fighting it.

Evie only wants a normal teenager life after years fighting an illness that kept her from facing the world. The only things that is keeping her from being like her friends is a boyfriend. She thinks that a boy is going to keep her normal. She doesn’t know that teenage boys are difficult to deal with and, even with the friends telling her to be careful, she puts all of herself into new relationships. If she is not ready to tell her new friends about who she really is, how can she be ready for her first love?

“Do you ever wondered, he asked, how we decide what’s mad and what isn’t? There’s so much crazy stuff in the world – everything’s a mess most of the time – but then people who can’t handle it are called mental and have films made about them… But what if they’re just reacting to the weirdness of the universe? Isn’t it more weird to just think everything’s okay, when it clearly isn’t?”

Let’s begin by saying that I have problems with the “normal” situation. What is normal? If I am normal, then the people making different decisions or taking different paths from me are not normal? I like to think that I make my normality, I decide what’s best for me, what keeps me breathing and roll with it. I decided long ago that I wouldn’t compare my life and my decisions to others, life doesn’t work that way.

The main character of this book is Evie, she is young, she is sick and recovering (also thanks to movies!) but she is naive, immature, she thinks being normal means you can do what you want, you have to have a boyfriend etc etc. I really don’t know what an OCD person must feel like, the struggle inside, trying to be like everyone else. Of course I had my “logic thoughts” throughout the book but that’s exactly the problem. She doesn’t do logic, she had her own logic, one that she built inside her head so that she can feel better (touching lamp posts 6 times, touching the mirror…). I understood some of what she was feeling, the different logic she used, I didn’t think she was “crazy” like she wanted to believe.

“Solidarity. That’s what girls need more of. Solidarity.”

Her friends! Jane, the “I morph for my boyfriend” Jane. She knew yet she didn’t see the changes, she wasn’t a friend at all, she could’ve helped. Amber and Lottie were fantastic. With Evie they were three girls so different but perfectly matched. Unfortunately Evie was too much into the “I want a boy to love me, that’s the key to solve my problems” situation and she didn’t understand how valuable that friendship really was.

“He’s been so changeable with her I’m surprised he’s not been accepted to Hogwarts for his transfiguration skills.”

Evie’s boys! Yes, boys. How is it “normal”, as she claimed, to fall in love with whoever gives you even a minimum attention? People with whom we can fall in love are all around us but we don’t start building fake lives with every single one of them. Evie felt good when a boy talked to her, she gave them all of her and those fake feelings crushed her. Platonic love. She tried everything she could to feel better but the illness didn’t show the whole picture, how boys can make you feel if they don’t text back, if they ignore you or if they don’t invite you out on a date.

Her family. It’s hard not to use your own logic when you see other people doing something that for you is wrong. Evie made that mistake, her parents made that mistake and also her little sister made that mistake. There aren’t rules (there are generic rules, I know that) on how to deal with someone who has a mental illness because people are different, we all have our heads, our rational or irrational thoughts and often we can’t see what’s on the other side. The best you can do is look for help if you sense something is not quiet right, as much as it feels like a personal failure, looking for help is the only way.

Love may not have the shape you want it to have but if you look hard enough you’ll see that there’s plenty around you and that your happiness is as important as theirs, if not more!

This book gives you a point of view that may give you frustration, it will make you mad and it will make you feel powerless. Well, that’s the point!

Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s a fun and well written story.
Rate: 4/5

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