Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Review: I Followed the Rules by Joanna Bolouri

Published by: Quercus
Release date: 2nd July 2015
Series:  n/a

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary:

Rule 1: Never ask him on a first date. Rule 2: Laugh admiringly at all his jokes. Rule 3: Always leave him wanting more.

. . . wtf?!

Have you heard of The Rules of Engagement? It's a book that promises to teach you to find the man of your dreams in ten easy steps. Unsurprisingly, I don't own a copy. What is it, 1892?

But I'm a journalist, and I've promised to follow it to the letter and write about the results. Nevermind that my friends think I'm insane, I'm stalking men all over town and can't keep my mouth shut at the best of times.

My name is Cat Buchanan. I'm thirty-six years old and live with my daughter in Glasgow. I've been single for six years, but that's about to change. After all, I'm on a deadline.

I Followed the Rules and this is what happened.

My review:
I totally fell in love with Bolouri's debut The List, so I had high expectations for this one. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Bolouri's distinctive voice shines through loud and clear in this brilliant, sweary rom-com, making it an absolute joy to read. Somehow she's managed to come up with a story that's practically the opposite of The List. Where The List was all about having sex (well not all about that, but there was a lot of it), I Followed the Rules spends a good deal of its time not allowing sex. Despite that though, it still manages to be sexy. Bolouri is a literary wizard.

Cat Buchanan is a wonderful, complex character. I have to say, I don't often pick up books where the MC is a mum, because even though I'm of a similar age to our heroine, I have no children, am the least maternal person in the world, and do not enjoy reading about other peoples' children. Cat is that rare thing though - a single mum who still manages to act like a normal adult. We hear enough about young Grace to make it clear that she is a major fixture of Cat's life, but not enough to bore. She's an important character, but she doesn't get a huge amount of page-time, which works out perfectly for me. Cat is, apart from a successful single mum, a writer, and a brilliant woman who I want to be my best friend. In fact, she reminds me very much of my best friend, which must be why I loved her so much.

There something about Bolouri's books that has me constantly smiling while reading. Her voice is so full of humour and realism, that it's like a boozy night in with your best mate. I love the fact that she puts in lots of shouty capital letters. I love the fact that Cat has a voice in her head shouting inappropriate things at awkward times, the same way I do. I love the fact that it's frank and real and downright hilarious. I know I keep saying how funny it is, but I can't help emphasizing that point. I don't think any other author has had me in such a great mood while reading their books as Bolouri. I could read her writing all day, every day. But enough fan-girling. Just go and read it, I promise you won't regret it.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Review: Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Published by: Hatchette Children's Books (UK)
Release date: 2nd July 2015 (UK)
Series:  Hamilton High #2

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary:

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with— secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand—a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

My review:
There's something so delicious about reading a new book by an author you love, and if you've been waiting for it for a while it feels especially indulgent. I find myself having to force myself to slow down, to not tear through it. A new book by an author I love deserves to be savoured, like a scrummy chocolate dessert. Lying Out Loud is most definitely one of those books. I adored The Duff, and this return to Hamilton High is a most welcome one.

Sonny is one of those rare but brilliant characters - she's not too good to be true. She's average in some ways, incredible in others, and a bit of a bitch in yet others. She's so real, so relateable, I desperately want her for my friend.

And of course, because Keplinger is such a talented author, Sonny isn't the only brilliant character. Each and every character is well-developed and full of those little touches that turn them into real people. Amy perhaps most of all, because she's up there with Sonny sharing the limelight in this book. Yes, Lying Out Loud is a book about friendship, along with a few other things. Now I'm not normally a huge fan of friendship stories. But LOL has enough other stuff going on (including a rather charming romance full of witty banter), that the main story arc is perfectly acceptable, nay, it's better than acceptable. It's wonderful. The whole book feels wonderfully familiar, like putting on your favourite worn clothes and snuggling up on the sofa. It's a comforting sort of feeling I get while reading this, and I really didn't want it to end. It's going straight on my shelf of books I read when I need a lift. Thank you, Ms Keplinger.