Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The Price Guide to the Occult By Leslye Walton

Before I start, I want to thank Walker Books Australia for sending me out a review copy of this book! I am so grateful for the opportunity to read and review and work with Australian companies!

This HERE is your disclaimer, telling you that this review does, indeed, contain SPOILERS. So, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please stop reading now. Why not head to my GoodReads account and read my spoiler free review, HERE!

 

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The Price Guide To The Occult by Leslye Walton

4/5 Stars

Published September 6th 2018 by Walker Books

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This book is dark and gritty, something that I love in a novel. I love that the magical lore in this book is different to that of any other I have read too, although I would love some more back story.

I particularly like how the Blackburn family has been on the island forever, for eight generations, that their magic bestows ‘burdens’ upon each daughter, suited to their personalities. But what gets me the most is that poor Nor, she thinks she is evil, that she is darkness and all things black magic, because she is the first one since Rona, to possess more than one ‘burden’. Or so she first thought.

I love Nor’s ‘burden’ I wish I had it! The ability to hear the thoughts of animals and plants!? Amazing! I have always been drawn to flora and fauna, finding their company preferable to that of people, so that particular magic, would suit me just fine! We have also seen Nor being able to heal, which is kind of a kick in the guts for her, because she, herself has so many scars that need healing and she can’t heal herself.

This book was particularly slow to start, it took me 90 pages, to really be invested in the plot. I think because the pacing is quite slow at the beginning of the book, it makes it feel like a chore to read, but I’m glad I kept with it, it is picking up now.

I am a little scared about what is going to happen next. The animals and tourists are fleeing the island, and usually that means something bad is going to happen. Something of a massive magnitude. I am also scared because this book seems to have a lot of blood magic in it, so this bad that is coming, must have something to do with blood magic. Everything I have read about blood magic is never good.

I hope we learn more about Gage as the book continues, his family definitely knows something about Nor, more than Nor does and I want to know what it is!

I also want to know what the heck is with these light green fern tattoos!? I realise that they are to do with Nor’s mother, Fern. But why is she doing this, reaching out and influencing them, making them follow her wholeheartedly. What does she have planned?

So, it turns out that Nor is a kick ass, powerful witch! With the powers from the original Blackburn witch herself. It only took most of the townsfolk to be killed, her friends to be maimed, the wild life to flee the island and her to be involved in a love triangle, for her to see it, but hey. Amazing!

The bit that gets me is, that it was love that saved her. Her mother was going on and on and on about being the thing that darkness itself feared, but she couldn’t have been more wrong. Darkness fears light, it fears love, so when Nor came along, against her mother, she was willing to sacrifice herself for her friends, her family and the island, she realised that the darkness feared her. She realised that death and she were long lost pals and that no darkness could be deeper and darker than that living inside her own skin. So, in the end Nor one out.

That being said, it was a rather underwhelming demise to Fern. The all-powerful witch… I was expecting more? I understand that in her lust for power, the blood letting and murder she had taken part in, finally destroyed her from the inside out, the black magic being too much for her human body to handle, so by the time she came to be facing Nor, she was a shadow of her former self. But she just blew away in the wind? Her whole life and story line were surrounded in blood and darkness and she just blew away, piece by piece, in the wind? I’m sorry, but no. That is not how a powerful dark witch dies…

I also feel the need to touch on mentioning the love triangle, that I knew was coming. Apparently, all YA titles need a love triangle, and it kills me! Poor Reed is going to miss out, I have a feeling that Gage will be the winner in the fight for Nor’s heart… I do hope it is Reed though. Not that I have a ‘team’ but I just think that for once, the good guy should get some luck? Maybe Nor will stay with Reed, but have the Blackburn curse, make her spend three days with Gage to create the next Blackburn daughter. Wouldn’t that be a turn of events!

Anyway, I have 11 pages left to go, so I shall return once I’m done!

I knew it! Poor Reed gets shafted because the danger of Nor’s life is too much. Poor Reed, boys in this situation rarely get to make their mind up about whether they think the risk is too much, they just get told, heartbroken and left. Ugh, I knew she would end up with Gage… Also not complaining, but I am complaining… Gage and Nor do have an undeniable chemistry and witty banter, something that Reed and Nor didn’t have. I think Reed and Nor was bred out of their need to be wanted, to be seen. To have someone believe solely in them, to be in their corner. Reed gave Nor her own strength, he gave her courage and love; the one thing that Nor hadn’t received from a boy/man before.

What!? I am shook! Nor doesn’t end up with either of her love interests! Leslye Walton, I am impressed at your ruthlessness!

Well, the ending wasn’t at all like I was expecting, in fact it was open ended in a way that I hope there isn’t another book? I enjoyed this one, but it is perfect as a stand alone, another book isn’t needed.

In the end we see witches in general being hunted and interrogated by the police because of Fern’s fame and misfortune. Because of the terrors that Fern created, the witches, tarot readers, mystics and healers of the world are now under scrutiny and attack. This isn’t how I thought this book would end, naturally I thought something may come of it, but I thought Nor would revamp the shop and give tarot readings or be a physical lie detector, you know? Make a honest living from her talents, but that dream wasn’t to be. Instead she now has to live in fear of the thing that makes her and her family who they are…

This book is well written, although slow paced, it did manage to hook me within the first three chapters. It is slow to start, but it is worth hanging in there, to learn about this magical island and it’s witches.

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Firstly, I want to thank MacMillan Australia for sending me a review copy of this amazing book, this was a five-star read for me and I am so incredibly greatful for the chance to read it!

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Sadie by Courney Summers

5/5 Stars

This Edition Published March 26 2019 by Macmillan

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Where do I even begin with this book. I was a little skeptical before I began, usually with books that are this hyped, I don’t enjoy them, or can’t get into them. But this book was different. From the first page, learning about how the book was written, I was hooked.

This book is so incredibly sad, it is honest and raw and keeps you on your toes. It is the kind of book that you NEED to keep reading, even though you know, when you turn the page, your heart is going to shatter into a million tiny pieces.

Sadie is such an incredible character, she shows such strength and is wise beyond her years, but that comes from her upbrigning, she never had a chance to be a child, she was born and thrust into adulthood, then parenthood, caring for her younger sister, Mattie. Then her world was rocked, when Mattie was mysteriously murdered. 

Sadie as a character, in the beginning, I wasn’t a fan, I felt that, as in most YA novels, her average-ness was over-played, making her seem like the perfect, imperfect character. But the more I read, and the more I got to know Sadie, the more I realised that her imperfection was her perfection. Her stutter, although appearing to make her weak in others eyes, gave her strength, it was like a secret weapon. People would constantly underestimate her, when really they should have been worried or cautious. Her sense of humour is amazing, dry and sarcastic, just like mine. I think Sadie and I would have gotten on well.

What breaks my heart the most about Sadie is that she blames herself for Matties murder. Not just becuase she knew what  happened to her, as a child was her fault, but also because she was the one who pushed her over the edge, so to speak. She was the last straw, Mattie was looking for a sister, but Sadie was so used to wearing the role of Mother, that she couldn’t revert to being her friend, anymore than Mattie could really expect her to.

We first meet Sadie early in the book, and a quote from this meeting has sat with me, throughout the whole book, I want to share it with you now:

“I live in a place that’s only good for leaving.” Sadie – Page 11

That has sat with me because from the moment we meet Sadie, we know she is going. We know that she won’t be where we think she is. That she has left for good. 

This book is so incredibly well written, even though some of the content is incredibly difficult to read, to process and to think about, it is written in a way that breaks it down, into manageable portions. I absolutely love the way that a radio show or podcast has been written into this book. It modernises it, it makes it exciting to read and it really makes the pace pick up. This books pages turn so quickly, that it is over, and you are sobbing and can’t work out why there are no pages left to read.

I do think it is necessary for me to note that this book deals with some incredibly confronting topics. So let this be a warning for you, this book contains Physical and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, drug addiction and abuse, alcoholism, and violence. Just to name a few.

These things, although hard to read about, are what makes this book so amazing. Now, don’t take that sentence the wrong way. I don’t like reading about childhood sexual abuse, but what I do like is, how this book creates a conversation about it. It opens the doors for someone to start talking. That is why this book is so important.

If you haven’t read this amazing book, you seriously need to. It will blow your mind. If you are finding it hard to get into, stick with it. It is emotionally charged, a book that you won’t forget and something that is so important, especially in today’s society.

Read the book.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

Julie.

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Fated by Teri Terry

I was over the moon excited when I received this book from the amazing team at Hachette! I absolutely LOVED the Slated series and when I saw that there was a prequel, I knew that I had to read it. I am incredibly grateful to Hachette for sending me an Advance Reader Copy of this title and I can’t wait to get into it!

As usual, here is your disclaimer, letting you know that this review post will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read this book and you ARE planning to, I suggest popping over to GoodReads and reading my spoiler free review, the link is HERE, if you are interested.

Let’s get started!

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Fated by Teri Terry

4/5 Stars

Published March 7th 2019 by Hachette Children’s Group

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Wow, page 1, line 1. I am hooked. I nearly forgot how amazing Terry’s writing style is!

I am over halfway through this amazing book now. I haven’t had time to put it down and come and write my thoughts, it won’t let me step out of the world that Terry has created! I am loving this prequel to the Slated series. I loved Slated, it was the right mix of dystopia, character driven plot and political intrigue and Fated, is no different.

I am really enjoying seeing how the characters that we see in Slated, such as Astrid Conner, how they started out, how they weasled their way into power and then made their law, the ultimate law. It is a little bit scary actually, how it isn’t unreasonable to think that something along those lines could happen today.

Sam, is your typical protagonist, yes she is well rounded, multi-faceted and full of character, but she feels like a copy of Kyla from Slated… Maybe there is a reason for that? Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying her humour and her courage. Her strength and smarts, but I just wish she had a little bit more going on?

Ava is an interesting character, she comes from nothing and is no stranger to hard work. Her life is turned upside down, from the second that she meets Sam. But does she complain? No, not once, she changes and adapts to what ever the situation calls for. She loses her dad in a A4A raid, and does she completely lose it? No, she takes a few days to grieve and then starts up again, researching and studying and being the best friend to Sam that she can be. But what gets me the most is how Sam’s mum and house staff, completely overlook the friendship that Sam and Ava have, and orchestrate a way to get Ava out of the house. To send her to the boarding quarters at the school. I do feel for Ava, she is totally alone in the world and then she is forced to board somewhere, totally alone, for the remainder of her school life.

There was a tiny mention of perhaps Ava feels more than friendship for Sam, it was the tiniest comment, easily overlooked, about her feelings. Part of me is all for it, but this book is so full of action, emotion and deceit, that maybe an additional love interest may be too much? Sam’s initial love interest Lucas has hit the back burner, other than him being the catalyst to Sam’s political uprising… I just feel in this book, at the moment, there is no room for it. Life must come first!

I’m not what you would call a political person, I try to stay out of conversations about it and keep my views private, but this book has me thinking on a larger scale about the politics in my country, and in others around the world. This book has come out at the perfect time. The London in Fated is going through something similar to both Brexit and Trump’s wall. It is a great way to get Young Adult readers more interested in politics. To take a look at the world around them, to decide on their own, if what is happening is right or wrong.

I have just hit the climactic point in the book, Part 3, and I can’t wait to read on to see what happens at the peak of the Armstrong leadership. I think I know what is going to happen, considering that Astrid Conner is standing behind the Prime Minister, but I am interested in seeing how the whole Slated situation comes to fruition. Sam has already mentioned how they will have to build more prisons, so maybe it comes from not having enough room to house all of the new-found criminals under Armstrong’s lead? We shall see!

Wow, this book was so much more than I was ever expecting. I have just finished it, and so many things have been brought to light. It all makes sense now!

For starters, Ava is Doctor Lysander… That just screams ‘right’ to me, it feels right, that she would go through all of that loss and heartbreak, through being completely alone in the world, then work to make others lives better.. My mind is a little blank on about what happens to Sam eventually, but I know Astrid is a piece of work. I think I may need to plan a re-read!

This book, as I probably have mentioned a million times, is much more political, than I would usually like or go for, but because it is a prequel to one of my favourite series, I had to have it and I had to read it. I am so, so grateful to Hachette for sending me this copy! Even though this book was essentially based on politics, manipulation and Government policy, it was amazing. It was the back story to how the Lorders came to power, to how the Government we see in Slated, came to be.

In the hanging scene, you know the one I mean, I felt it was a little lack-lustre. I knew immediately that Sam couldn’t have been hung, there was no intensity, no emotion. They walked up to the gallows, the ropes went on and then bang, they were hung… There was no nothing really…

The poetic justice of Nicky or Nico, killing President Armstrong five years after his brother died, fighting for peace is great. Not the killing, killing is never great, but in this case it makes sense? It fits with the theme of the book and really brings it home, how much the Government truly controls peoples lives.

As always, Terry has written a masterpiece, something that is so current, yet feels fictional. Which I guess is the entire point. Perfectly paced, the pages kept turning, faster than I wanted them to. The characters were outstanding and the way thy drove the plot was amazing. I actually want another book now. I need to know more about this world! Maybe one from Astrid’s point of view!

Anyway, If you haven’t read the Slated series, you NEED to so that, so off you pop, go to the book store or the Library and get those bad boys, then when you are done, head out and get this book. It is a series that will make you think!

 

Thanks for reading!

Julie

 

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

I was sent a copy of this novel from the lovely team at Hachette in exchange for an honest review and to take part in the blog tour for it. It isn’t something that I would usually read anymore, funnily enough when I was younger (18-20) I loved books like this, but lately and for the last seven years, Young Adult Fiction has been my poison of choice. So, reading this book feels like a blast from the past.

As always, even though this review is part of a blog tour for this book, this review may contain spoilers, if you haven’t read this book, please head over to my GoodReads for a spoiler free review, you can find it HERE.

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The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

Published February 12th 2019 by Hachette Australia

3/5 Stars

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I have just finished the first chapter, and already I can sense so many complex emotions surrounding the house in Cork. I am getting a little confused as the point of view changes without any warning and I often have to go back to the page break and work out who it is, speaking. I also am getting overwhelmed with descriptions and thoughts, this book is very heavy on telling you everything that you might, maybe need to know. I’m sure that some of it will be helpful further in, but for the moment, it is slightly annoying.

I am enjoying it, especially the Australian-isms in Ellen’s chapters. I love that this book is set in Australia and Ireland, it feels like the right combination. I also feel a connection to Ellen, in that we first see her on Anzac Day, paying her respects, then heading straight in to breakfast, that for me hits home in that, that is our tradition too. Anzac Day, Dawn service, followed by breakfast with the family. I love already, how much there is in this book to relate to.

This book is 391 pages long and the book itself is massive, so it feels like this book may take longer to read than usual. Usually I can knock-out a 300 page book in a day, but as the pages of this book are probably a quarter bigger than the smaller sized paperbacks I am used to, I’d say it will take me a bit longer. Not that this will affect my review or my enjoyment of the book, just an observation. I like to be able to sit down with a book and finish it, so I’m not left thinking about what will happen all day at work. Are any of you like that? Or do you like to drag out the books that you are really enjoying? Make them last longer?

I’m getting a lot of back story as I continue my read of this book. I am about 100 pages in and nothing has really happened, other than the introduction of new characters and getting to see the house and starting to understand the characters and their connections to each other. I love Aidan’s character. He feels the most real so far. I also love how it is a man with self esteem and weight issues, not a female character. But I don’t love the way they were brought up, he thought his weight wasn’t noticeable, but people are telling him not to take second helpings, to walk the neighbour’s dog and to so the female population a favour and “lose a few stone”. So I am feeling a little bit for Aidan at the moment.

I’m also with Aidan on the renovation front. Colette wants to completely modernise the 1800’s built farm house (from the title of the book) whereas Aidan wants to renovate, but leave it with its rustic charm, keeping to the original feel of the house. I am so on Aidan’s side. There is so much of history being wiped out through modernisation. It just seems like such a shame to lose another piece of history, just to sell a house. Or as Ellen wants, to rent rooms.

This book is well written, I am slowly starting to engage with the characters and making sense of the developing plot. I am still finding it a little overly wordy, but I can see past that now that the story is developing. I think Ellen and Gerry are a couple? Waiting for Gerry’s Visa to be approved for him to move to Australia? I also can see how Colette and Aidan may end up together, again. They do say opposites attract? Colette brings to the table a whole new level of confidence to Aidan’s shy and quiet demeaner. I just hope that Aidan doesn’t lose himself if they do end up together.

I am trying to work out the pacing, it feels like it is taking a long time to read, but I think that it because not much is happening? Perhaps the pacing is a mid-pace type scenario. It is just fast enough to keep pages turning, but not fast enough to keep things free flowing? I do love me a fast paced book, so the change is a little off putting.

I am around halfway through this book now, at page 200. And things have picked up slightly. For example, Aidan has taken up swimming and has realised that he is indeed, a dog person. Colette has realised that Aidan isn’t just a chubby builder, he is friendly, honest, reliable and has a heart of gold that is the size of a planet. And that she likes him.

Colette is a complex character, she has been through some horrible traumas and has come out the other side of it, surrounded by self-built brick walls that no one gets to see through, let alone knock down. She puts on this cold and hard front, but deep inside, she just wants to be loved and appreciated. To be safe and wanted. And Aidan would give her that in spades. I can’t wait to see how their story pans out.

I am a little confused about why we are getting so much back-story about secondary characters? Is it to gap-fill while we take a break from the main plot? Is it to make the book a little longer? I find myself wanting to skip the paragraphs and sometimes pages of unnecessary back-story of characters that aren’t even main characters. It may just be my opinion, but there is so much being told, that doesn’t need to be, like why Grace decided to stay home when she found out that she was pregnant with twins. Yes she is Colette’s sister, but I didn’t need to know that she stayed to be close to her family, much to the dismay of Ben’s (her husband), family. The pacing is still quite slow, but I am enjoying the change of pace and genre.

I have just finished this title, and woah did the last 60ish chapters blow my mind. There was so much drama and action and pure emotion! I think they were the best 60 pages in the entire book. I do wish that there was more about the house that Aidan and Colette were working on. A little more history about the place, more details on the renovation and interaction around it, as the book is called The House of Second Chances…

As I have said countless times, this book is well written, mid-paced and emotionally charged. It is filled with characters that you can’t help but love and it gives you all of the information and back-story that you could possibly need. It is set between stunning Ireland and Australia and it has an incredibly home like feel about it.

I am so greatful to Hachette for sending me a copy of this book, it was the perfect sea change, so to speak!

Thanks for reading

Julie

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

This book came to me as a complete surprise from MacMillan Australia, and I am so excited! It is my first book from MacMillan and I can’t wait to jump into it! It does have a blogging review embargo on it so this review, obviously has been posted after the 26th of February, even though I wrote this a while ago.

As always, here is the disclaimer telling you that this post does contain SPOILERS! So if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, I suggest you look away now, click THIS link which takes you to my spoiler-free GoodReads review!

 

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What I Like About Me by Jenna Guilaume

Publishes in March 2019 by Pan MacMillan

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Well, firstly let me say, I am so so soooo excited that this book is by an Aussie author and that is it set in Australia and is about Australian people. I can relate to this book on so many levels. This is the book that I wanted to write when I was in high school, written from the point of view and voice of young adults, wanting to be someone that they aren’t, and too scared to be who they really are. I can see this book being a masterpiece of coming of age and accepting who you are, being proud of who you are.

I did find the voice to be quite young, but then again, she is 15/16 so it makes sense. But I am loving the writing style and the voice of Maisie, she is funny and vibrant and brutally honest (with her journal anyway). I’m not too sure about Anna, she seems to want the best for Maisie, as most best friends do, but it feels a little fake? As though she is saying what she thinks she has to say, not what she wants to?

Hello new female character! You are so much fun! I love how free-spirited Leila is! What a breath of fresh air, I think she will be great for Maisie, maybe get some of her inner monologue out, into conversation!

Ooh, so we have just found out that Maisie is a slightly bigger girl, I rarely see size when I am reading, so to be told that Maisie feels insecure about her body as it is on the bigger size is a great piece of information. It makes the book make a little more sense, as to why she is so jealous of Anna and her perfect body and #hotgirl status. I can feel this book becoming a body positivity bible and I am so ready!

Yaaas Maisie! We are 150ish pages in and finally Maisie has turned the corner. She is beautiful, funny and worth people’s time and now that she has realised that, I can’t wait to see what she can achieve!

Also woohoo Maisie and Beamer! I love their fling, It will totally turn into a relationship, it has the feels of Lara-Jean and Peter Kavinsky written all over it. It is so incredibly obvious that Beamer really likes Maisie, and has since the beginning of the book, but Maisie was too blindsided by how she thought she felt for Sebastian and by her own body image that she couldn’t see Beamer. And woah was she missing out, the moment when you can tell there is a shift in Maisie is when she starts to tell us about Beamer, up until the pool party Beamer doesn’t really get a description, he is just a super annoying boy who isn’t Sebastian, but woahh, now we know he is tall, broad and muscular. Why did you not like him Maisie! Who doesn’t like a bit of banter! I can’t wait to see what this blossoms into, I think they are well suited.

Also this whole beauty pageant thing, is giving me Dumplin’ vibes. Body positivity for the win. I understand why Maisie didn’t want to enter, not just because of her own self-image, but to live up to the expectations of her mother and that her sister won it previously, does add some pressure. But I am so proud of her for listening to Leila and entering! I think that there is also much more to her sister and their relationship than meets the eye. I think her sister is also experiencing some image issues, trying to work out who she is but is so used to everyone expecting her to be perfect that she doesn’t really know what to do anymore.

This book deals with so many aspects of family life, of growing up and of finding yourself, it is incredible. We have body image issues, divorce, relationships, gay/queer relationships, friendship dilemmas, family dilemmas, the list could go on. I just love that it is so diverse in its content! That is isn’t completely about the plus size girl, doing things that traditionally, only skinny girls would do.

Okay, so I just finished this book, but before I go into my end of book review, can I just say, yes things tied up neatly and were presented with a bow. Yes Maisie kicked serious pageant butt and eventually realised that she actually did like Beamer. But it was the final page that really stole the show. It was laugh-out-loud funny, just what this book needed to finish with.

This book was great, I am so grateful to MacMillan for sending it to me to review. I had a blast reading it. It is honest and raw and looks at so many different aspects of growing up. It is well written and fast paced, the pages keep turning faster and faster until there are no pages left and you wish there were more. I love that this is an Australian book, I find it makes the characters easier to relate to because they go to places I go to and speak like I speak and use slangs that I use. I loved that about this book, and I think that is what made me like it so much. Yes, this book has some similarities to other popular novels such as Dumplin, but this took on a world of its own. I adore how it was written in diary entries, not only did it give the reader a much clearer sense of how the protagonist was feeling and why she was doing what she was doing, but it made it easier to read. It broke up the intense moments and also intensified the moments that usually would have been overlooked.

So, as you can see, I am definitely a fan of this book. It is both light-hearted but also incredibly thought provoking, one quote in particular stuck with me:

“You don’t think Eva is brave for going to the beach in a bikini do you? Or anyone else? That’s what you wear to the beach. A bikini. The idea of wearing one is a brave act just because you aren’t a stick figure is kind of fucked up.” Bess Page 220

This book is a wakeup call to all of the teenage and twenty something girls out there that have been smacked in the face with tiny models on their tv’s and magazines all of their lives, and think that in order to be respected and to matter, that they need to be skinny and eat certain things and if they don’t fit that mould, then they can’t wear certain clothes or go to certain places. This book is made for girls who feel that way. Love who you are, you are you for a reason! Wear that Bikini, eat that cake, get the hair cut!

This book is a must read for 2019 and sums up the change that the world needs to see!

Thanks for reading.

Julie.

 

Ps. Seriously, read this book…