Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Boy On A Wire – Jon Doust

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Fremantle Press in exchange for some publicity and an honest review. I am so grateful to the publisher for sending me out this gem. This edition is published on April 1st 2019, but originally this title was published in 2009, so if you like the sound of it, you are able to get your hands on it!

As always, here is your disclaimer about my Review & Ramblings posts, this review includes spoilers, if you haven’t read this book and are planning to, please pop over to my spoiler-free review on GoodReads, HERE.

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Boy on a Wire – Jon Doust

Published April 1st 2019 by Fremantle Press

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Wow, this book is so incredibly Australian. But I love that about it. Written by an Australian, about Australian people and published by an Australian Publishing Agency. I love it! It is one of my goals for 2019 to read more books by Australian Authors and this is my second one for February!

I read the first page and instantly knew that this book was going to leave me in a puddle of tears by the end of it. But I was wrong, I should have said second chapter. What an incredibly hard life our protagonist has, he knows he is different, he knows he is softer than his brother and father, yet he does things that he doesn’t want to, to please them. He is extremely religious, he uses it to cope with the world that he is living in, it gives him structure and hope, until it doesn’t, and God listens to his inner thoughts and it gives him what he wants… almost. All within the first two chapters. I am already so invested in this boys’ life (I haven’t been told his name yet), I want good things for him.

I am about halfway through this book now, and I am starting to see just now naïve, Jack is. But that isn’t entirely his own fault. His family have molly-coddled him and sheltered him and taught him to only learn what God has to teach him. They didn’t teach him anything about his body, or about socialising or what behaviours are acceptable and what aren’t. They are putting it down to ‘Pinks Disease’… Which they describe as mercury poisoning from when he was a child, and the scary thing about that is that they are saying that it was common for mercury to be found in milk formula, in baby toys, on teething rings, all the things that babies would put in their mouths and in their bodies. In essence, it has caused him to have a learning delay, difficulty understanding societal norms and expectations and not being able to grasp education at the rate that he is expected to. Yes, his disease is at fault for a large part of his deficit, but his parents are equally at fault.

I can’t help but feel like this book isn’t really going anywhere, yes Jack is progressing, we see that in every turn of the page, but day in, day out, it is the same content, Jack waking up, going to school, suffering some type of humiliation or physical reprimand, eating tea and returning to his dorm. I just wish something else would happen already. Also, the pacing is incredibly slow, it makes it feel like I have been reading for much longer than I have, which takes some of the enjoyment out of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the extreme Australian-ness of it, the slang and the overall feel, but I do wish it would speed up and that something would happen!

So I finally finished this book, and unfortunately, it didn’t pick up. And I struggled to re-engage with the book after taking a short break from it. (I went back to work).

I wanted to love this book. I wanted it to show the other side of Australia, the side that books often overlook. In that respect I got what I wanted, this book is raw and gritty and on many levels, emotionally charged. But for me, I truly felt as though it was too long, that there were so many chapters that just felt like they were re-worded repeats of previous chapters. I couldn’t connect with the protagonist past the first 30 pages. I felt a real connection to him early in the book, I wanted him to do well, to escape the world of his mother and father and make something of himself, and when he got to boarding school, I thought that was his chance, but he didn’t and it wasn’t. But I guess that is the point of the book. To show how life repeats, to show how socio-economic status and culture works. I struggled also with the writing style, it is incredibly slow paced, but the chapters are so short, it sort of makes up for the pacing. I like the short chapters, you can read one in under three minutes.

I do feel a little guilty for not liking this book. I requested it from the lovely people at Fremantle Press in exchange for some publicity and a honest review, but I wish it could have been more positive.

On closing, I loved the Australian-ness of this novel, I just wish there was more content and less repetition.

Thanks for reading.

Julie

 

 

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

I won this title in a giveaway from Penguin Teen Australia, thank you so much Penguin Teen, I am still shocked that I actually won something!

As always with my review and ramblings posts, here is your disclaimer that this post does contain spoilers. If you haven’t read this book and you don’t want to have it spoiled, my spoiler free review is up on GoodReads and can be found HERE!

Okay, lets get to it!

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Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

Published January 3rd 2019 by Penguin Random House Children’s UK

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Firstly, the language used in this book is throwing me off a little bit. It is very… I’m trying to write this without offending anyone, how movies tend to show hillbillies? I don’t know how else to describe it.

I love how we are just thrown into the story, no lead up, just bam, straight into Ele and her Others. I’d love to know how old Ele is, she seems quite young, maybe 10? And what in the world are these Others? With their pointy fingers that are great for picking locks!?

Ele continually makes sure the reader knows that she isn’t an ‘Other’, that she came from the outside, which makes me think that she was kidnapped? Along with Zeb? Was Zeb her brother? All I know about Zeb so far, is that he died and I am assuming it was from a gun shot because we have just learned that his brain exploded all over a wall. Wow, graphic!

I’m back to a point about the language, it is making it hard to read as quickly as the pace is encouraging me to do, I am often finding myself having to go back and re-read pages to fully understand what has happened. I am slowly getting used to the style, but it is a little off-putting. I love how fast the pace is, it really keeps the pages turning, throwing you deeper into this creepy tale!

Well, she finally made it outside. The others must have killed Him for her to be able to escape, but I still am dying to know who the Others are? Did ‘He’ kidnap them too? I have so many questions that need answers to make this book make more sense. I am still struggling with the language style, but I am keen to read on and see how Ele goes now that she is outside. I am a little worried because we are only 60ish pages into a 270 page book, so this can’t be the peak. What else is going to happen to this poor messed up girl.

I have also learned that maybe Zeb isn’t dead. I previously thought that he was shot in the head, but now I’ve learned that he was carried out of the room? Maybe he meant more to ‘Him’ than the others. Maybe Zeb and Ele are his own children!? Who knows!

So, Ele escaped… But what gets me is that the family she runs into, takes her in, and asks no questions. Willow has an incredibly interesting relationship with his father. He is upset because Ezra (his father) is growing a relationship with Ele, a relationship that he wishes he has with his father. I am wondering how much longer Ele will stay with Ezra and Willow, will they let her stay? Will they talk to the police and try to work out where she came from? Will the Others and the ‘him’ be saved or prosecuted? I want to know! But I am at page 190 and I don’t know how this is going to wrap up?

I am still confused about this book. Yes it is emotional and moving to see a young girl have no idea about the world because she has been held captive for as long as she can remember. It is confronting and shocking, but nothing else has happened, we saw the ‘inside’ now Ele is outside with a family, and they have taught her so much about what life is like. But what now? There is barely 80 pages left, so I am a little worried that this nothing-ness will continue through the rest of the book…

Sooo somehow Ezra (the dad) knew exactly where Ele came from, and that alone is shining some horrors on this book. It turns out Ele is the daughter of someone called Colt. Colt is the ‘him’ that Ele is scared of. The ‘him’ that took off his clothes and layed on top of her and made her hurt. The ‘him’ that has her locked up with the ‘others’. It actually is making me scared to think that perhaps the ‘others’ are his children as well? If he is willing to sexually abuse one daughter, why not others. But why does he have them all locked up? Another thought I had, was maybe these ‘others’ aren’t live people at all, Ele describes them as having pot bellies and no lips, that they sleep in a pile, what if they are pigs or some other animal like that? I am almost too scared to read on to find out.

This book is finally going somewhere, I have 25 pages to go and I am trying to prepare myself to find out the truth about Ele. The writing style is unique and free-flowing and making the chapters shorter makes this book much easier to read, as I am struggling with the language a little (I now know that it is set in Scotland). It is so different to anything I have read recently, it is refreshing, but also terrifying. It gives me hope to see kind people like Willow and Ezra, kind people whojust want to help. Even if they did seem a little naïve to trust blindly and take her in, but it is wonderful to see that people still want to help those who are less fortunate.

The spam breakfast scene though! Poor Ele, she just wants to apologise and to make things up to them for getting angry and running away!

Oh wow, poor Ele, there were no others, there was only her and her brother. Her father, Brian Colt murdered their mother and then locked the twins up in the stables. What a horrific tale. But how brave and strong was Ele, to keep on, to manifest the ‘others’ in a way to keep her sane.

 

I found this book to be something so completely different from what I have read before. I struggled with the language style, the cadence of it also, but the writing style was fantastic, keeping me on track and keeping the pages turning. I also loved the shorter chapters. They were just long enough to give you what you wanted, but short enough to not overwhelm you.

Being overwhelmed happens easily within this book. You can tell from the first few pages that something isn’t quite right and your mind just keeps spinning to work out what it is.

I also found that this book didn’t really take off until the last fourty pages. Once Ele escaped from the Inside, nothing really happened until the final few chapters. It felt empty and hollow. But Maybe that was the point, to show us how differently Ele would see the world.

This book is well written and engaging, it does take a little while for anything of interest to start, and is incredibly strange, until you get used to the theme and the language use. I did enjoy it and I am so grateful for the chance to have won it!

This book was hard for me to give a star rating to, all the way through I was feeling a solid 3 stars and at the end, I wanted to give it more. But for me, the whole thing felt a little underwhelming, as I mentioned above, I did enjoy it and I will recommend it, but it isn’t a style of novel that I would usually go for, and I had to really work on reading it, when the language style got a but much for me.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

I decided to start reading this book because I saw it had a Netflix adaptation. Also because Penn Badgely was tweeting about how people are romanticising his character and they were fools to do so. So naturally I needed to read it.

As always, friends, here is your disclaimer stating, if you haven’t read this book or watched the Netflix adaptation, look away now, or head to my spoiler free review on GoodReads HERE

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YOU – Caroline Kepnes

Published September 30th 2014 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

4/5 Stars.

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Woah, this book is the ultimate creepfest, but I am loving it. I love how it is written from the point of view of the stalker, how he knows exactly how he may look to people on the street, to the girl he is stalking and to us, the readers, he is constantly aware of every move he makes, calculating their impact and risk.  I also love how we see all the different channels and paths that Joe takes to find Beck, to discover everything about her life and slowly just implants himself into her world. He makes it seem so easy, a little too easy for comfort. Especially in todays technological society where everything is online for people to see!

I am about halfway in, and I think the dynamic is finally changing. Before, every chapter started with YOU, now they are starting to start with I’M or ME or something singular, relating to Joe. I also can see Joe starting to resent Beck. Starting to see her inconsistency as an attack, personally on him. How she keeps choosing Peach over him, how she lied about her father being dead, about how she wants to be a writer, but spends all of her time drinking and watching movies with Peach. The feel of the book is taking a deadly turn. Which is ironic because Joe has already killed someone, and it wasn’t climactic or brutal. He just got rid of him, to make his life easier.

I have a feeling that Joe may kill Beck in the end. I can see his obsession with her growing from love, to something a whole lot more sinister. I am intrigued though, will he kill her before he gets to sleep with her? He seems to covet sleeping with her at the moment, more than he does, wanting to be with her. It is fascinating to see his motives change as a direct reaction of what she is doing or saying.

I am so fascinated by this book. I haven’t read anything like it before, I have read plenty of crime fiction, thrillers, psychological thrillers, but they have all been from the ‘victim’s’ point of view. Never from the stalkers, and honestly, it is so refreshing. I think that is what makes this book so much better than the others. It is raw, gritty and creepy as all heck.

Joe is super intelligent, he thinks out his actions before he performs them, he never worries about getting caught because he as played all of the scenarios in his head and knows he is safe. But everyone looks down on him, because he didn’t go to college, he works in a book store, he is a recluse of sorts, not the norm in society. Yet he fits in, in high-class parties, can hold conversations with intellectuals and has read more books that Beck’s professors. He is an intellectual himself, and that paired with his obsession is what makes him truly dangerous.

Beck is an interesting character all of her own. I tend to push her into the back of my mind, her story doesn’t feel as important as Joe’s. But she is sloppy and unmotivated, cares too much what the world thinks of her, yet leaves her windows and curtains open whilst masturbating or having sex, in order to exhibit her private life. She craves attention, she needs to tell the world what she is doing in order to feel validated. I think her relationship with Peach is another of her needs, a life long friend who has money, influence and power is always helpful for an attention seeking, aspiring writer (no offence to aspiring authors out there). I find her character to be rather boring, a base-model if you will. She has all the makings of a deep and interesting character, but at the moment, we are only seeing what Joe wants us to see, as he is the narrator. I wonder if my impression of Beck would be different if there were alternate chapters for each of the characters…

So the last 100 or so pages have been rather dull. Just glimpses of Joe being Joe, doing life, seeing a psychologist, Becks psychologist, seeing someone new. It is boring, get me to the juicy bits now please!

Joe, she knows! You finally got the girl and you were sloppy! You left her old phone in your clothes at her house and she found it and knows you have been stalking her, reading her e-mails and drafts… Of course I don’t actually know this, but I know it!! Why else would there be no e-mails for a week, why else would she be starting to push him away and freeze him out!? She knows! That can mean only bad news for poor Beck!

I feel myself feeling for Joe? Like I want him to be happy? What the heck Julie, he is a psychotic murderer! Good on you Caroline Kepnes for writing such a likeable villain! But at the same time, I can see his crazy coming out. His constant need to know what Beck is doing, where she is, who she is with, what she is wearing or thinking. He can’t function without knowing what she is doing, or knowing that she is still interested in him.

I have just under 90 pages left, and as I mentioned above, I am pretty sure that she has just found him out, so I’m guessing it is only a matter of time before he kills her. He killed his last girlfriend, that he stalked, when she tried to leave him. He drowned her in the ocean… So I hate to see what happens to Beck when she does the same thing!

Wow, I didn’t see that one coming! I just thought she found Joe out and was pulling away from him so she could leave his stalkerish arse! But no! It turns out she was having an affair with the psychologist Nicky! The one person that Joe didn’t kill! Oh the irony!

Okay, so she did find him out, she found ‘The book of Beck’, where he printed out all of her e-mails, her used tampons, her underwear, sunglasses and year book. And honestly, she had every right to freak out, what the heck Joe! Keeping a used tampon!? Gross! And yep, okay, he is definitely going to kill her, he just put her in the cage.

You know, for a minute there, I thought everything would be okay, she seemed to be confessing all of her sins (so to speak) and telling the truth and they seemed to be working their problems out, maybe a little Stockholm Syndrome-ish but I thought Joe was going to let her live. But then she double crossed him, damn it Beck, you literally signed your death warrant.

10 pages to go and I am eagre to see what Joe does now he has killed Beck, I know we learnt about his previous love interest and he killed her also, but I wonder how killing another person he ‘loves’ is going to affect him in the end.

Okay, totally not how I imagined it ending, but somehow it is also the perfect ending? The ending is so incredibly Joe, he is mourning the loss of Beck, but then a new girl enters his world, Amy is the perfect distraction she may not be ‘you’ but she is here now. And I quote ‘you are gone forever, and she is here now’.

I really enjoyed this book, it has a completely unique way of telling the story, which I love. It is raw and gritty and crazy. It makes you see the world from how a serial killer/stalker sees the world. It lets us in, lets us see how Joe justifies his actions, his stalking, his collecting. And that in it’s own way is so psychologically thrilling, let alone the addition of the plot.

Well written and engaging from the first page, this book has been a thrill to read.

Thanks again for reading!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

As always, here is the disclaimer  telling you that there are spoilers within this post. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d advise clicking elsewhere now. If you are clicking elsewhere, why not click on my spoiler-free review over HERE on GoodReads?

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What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

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Not only am I excited to knock this one off of my January TBR, but I got to Buddy Read it with the lovely Rose (SeventyEight.Sundays). It was a pleasure having her along side me (via Instagram) to read this book! Hopefully we can do it again sometime!

This was my first Buddy Read on Instagram, and I loved being able to talk to someone about what was happening, as well as my reactions and thoughts. Usually I just write them down here, for my review and ramblings posts, so it was lovely to be able to bounce them off of a person and have that person be as lovely as you are Roz! Thank you!

So let’s begin!

Well here I am at 100 pages in, and I feel like nothing has really happened yet? There has been a lot of back-story, but none of it has really given me any insight into what is happening in the book.

I feel like there is so much more to learn about Hayden. That she has some powers or a knowledge of the supernatural, or something like that? Mainly from the obvious, animals killing themselves around her, her ability to make people enter a trance like state when she stares into their eyes. Her ability (maybe not the right word), to completely black out and commit acts of such violence that it shocks everyone. That last one makes her sound rather sociopathic or psychopathic, rather than supernatural but you get my drift. There is a dark energy about her. One that I want to know more about.

Also her friend Dell, I think there is more to her than we are being told also, who else would go to a trip to a creepy old house, to a place where potentially multiple murders have taken place?

I am finding this book easy to read, the writing style is free-flowing, perfectly paced and engaging. I love the inclusion of the therapist’s notes, of Hayden’s journal notes and letters so far, it really breaks up the reading and adds another layer to the novel itself.

I am a little dubious about how trusting Hayden was when the solicitor told her about her mums last wishes for her. Leaving her the house and three requests along with it. Hayden was so trusting, she said okay and then packed her bags and headed up to ‘The Manor’. She didn’t stop to think about the potential threat it may impose. Or even why her mother would send her back there, and what the requests may mean.

Wow, so her mum isn’t even dead, just like Hayden thought! But to make it worse, her dad’s assistant was treating her the whole time! The assistant called the dad in to work on the mums case! This book is finally starting to go somewhere. I like the level of psychological thriller incorporated into this YA fiction novel. I like books that make me think.

Soo Del sleep walks? Or was she sleep walking but also possessed by Hayden’s mothers strange radio-active power, in order to kick Hayden into gear about completing the three requests she made in her will? How creepy that Del was digging exactly where the box of blood vials were!

Side note. I am loving how there is no real love interest. It is so unlike a YA novel, for there to not be a love interest within the first 100 pages. Yes we have mention of the boy-next-door, and I want to know more about him, purely because when Hayden talks about him, she talks about how his mum and her mum had some shady secret that they shared. That His mum didn’t want Hayden anywhere near her son. Why!?

Okay, so Hayden is a Nibelung? What the heck is going on. I knew that Hayden had some magical properties, but she is the thing that her father gave up his official career for? I get that her mum was also a Nibelung, and the whole gosh darn town of Promise has Nibelung blood, but it is sort of under-whelming.

Actually, I am finding this whole book underwhelming. The relationships feel forced or fake. The chemistry between Shannon and Hayden is non-existent. For the first 200 pages, we are told that Shannon is this classic boy next door who was Hayden’s best friend and then she is forced to leave and she never speaks to him again. But when we see him, he is cold, militarised and not the person that Hayden remembered. But them boom, he changes 300 pages in and suddenly decided he cares about Hayden, but it turns out he is following orders from Hayden’s dad. But then he goes against those orders. There are just so many cliché moments in this book, I would have rather Shannon stayed indifferent towards Hayden, it kept things interesting, now it just feels like every other book.

The last 60 pages were action packed, but it felt like too little, too late. I think the first 300 pages were filled with too much back story, too much nothing happening and too much magical inuendo. In the end we didn’t learn anything about Hayden’s dad, about the institute his assistant was working for. We didn’t learn anything new about the Nibelungs, other than 2 remain on the earth after the portal is closed. We learnt a tiny bit about Hayden’s abilities (mind control and intention control) and apparently Shannon can do it too. But nothing was really wrapped up at all. Yes that leaves room for a sequel, but I think I will be giving it a miss…

This book feels like it is trying too hard, it is well written and engaging, but the content, for me, is a little lack-lustre. It feels like the writing is trying to be creepy and scary, that it wants to be interpreted as magical and mystical and mythical, but all it is achieving is a weird tale set in the woods with some magnetic feeling supernatural force.

I feel like I have been a total bitch about this book, in this post, but I did enjoy it. It just didn’t live up to the hype that surrounds it on social media. I love the writing style and the ease that De Becerra has to dump us into this world and have it flow so easily. I enjoyed the folklore elements to this book, and the way that it was incorporated into scientific research. It just didn’t hit any high-notes for me. There was no build up to the climax, there was no issues to resolve. It just felt like here have all of this information, now you are finished the book. Thanks. I don’t feel like I was taken on a journey.

The pacing is also a little weird throughout the book, it is set at a pretty consistent medium pace that makes the book easy to read, but when the action starts to pick up, the pacing doesn’t. So it feels a little off-kilter.

All in all, this was a good book, I enjoyed it, I just feel like it didn’t really go anywhere. It is such an original plot idea, I am a little let down that it didn’t go anywhere, that there weren’t any real magical exchanges or settings until the last few pages. I felt more of a connection with the Manor and the woods, than to the characters. The characters had hardly no progression or real personality, they were hard to feel for, when they themselves felt emotionless.

This book was easy to read and as I mentioned before, I did quite enjoy the writing style. But in the end, this book, just wasn’t for me.

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

Before we begin, this is usually where the spoiler disclaimer would be, but there isn’t one for this post. I think this is a book that needs to be shared, you need to hear snippets and see just how amazingly helpful and uplifting this book is. So without further adeu, here is my review and ramblings for Calm The F**k Down by Sarah Knight

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Calm The F**k Down – Sarah Knight

Published December 31st 2018 by Quercus

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I was so kindly sent a finished copy of this book, by Hachette Australia. I requested it from them because, not only does it combine dealing with anxiety and stress, something that we all can relate to, but it also sounds hilarious, which, in my opinion, is also what you need when reading a book about anxiety and how to deal with it.

Firstly, I was a little wary about reading and reviewing a self-help book. But honesty time here, I have suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, last year alone, I had eight weeks off of work because of it. So I think I am one of those people who, this book fell into their lap for a reason. So off I go…

This book starts off by asking you three questions, three questions that you have to be honest about before you can continue, and like me, I am sure so many people answered Yes to all of them. It is hard hitting this book, it makes you realise that you aren’t alone. That just because you are going though your own patch of anxious misery, there are people who are going through a similar thing, with some of the same thoughts as you. It is both confronting and comforting.

Everything Is A Tarantula – this chapter speaks to me on a deep, deeeeep level. Not only because I am particularly adverse to spiders. But Knight has so perfectly summed up the feeling of how anxiety builds. When you first see the spider you go into good ole, flight or fright, then the heart rate speeds up, sweat sets in and finally the inner monologue begins. I love this comparison, and when, in my life, my tarantulas pop up, I’ll know how to deal with them better.

I am loving this book, I didn’t expect to, but I am, it is giving me so many more coping mechanisms than I expected and it is keeping it light-hearted. The last thing I want, as a stress headed anxiety sufferer, is a heavy, scientific word loaded, text book. So this book is perfect. I can’t say it enough, It is such a good read.

I also love that this book has an index, got a particular problem? Look it up and read about it. Address your problem and deal with it. This book covers everything, from going over embarrassing conversations in your head until you have blown them up, out of proportion to acting out what you are going to say to people, while you are in the shower… knowing full well, you would never be as brave as you are in your personal pantomime.

I also love the Choose Your Own Adventure section in the back of the book. It gives you scenarios and you choose which emotion you feel and it tells you which chapters to read, to overcome that anxiety, sadness, stress, anger or whatever other feeling you may be experiencing. I think this is a great way to access just what emotion you are feeling, as sometimes, this is the hardest part, identifying how exactly you are feeling and why.

This book is a fantastic read, read it in its entirety, or read chapters as you need them, it is perfectly designed for both choices. It is easy to read, easy to understand and it is fun. It doesn’t make you feel like an idiot for reading a self-help book, it makes you feel light-hearted and gives you so many ideas and things to try, when you are having a hard day. I think that this is a book that everyone should have on their bookshelf, even if you only pick it up a handful of times throughout your year, that is enough. I guarantee it will help you each time you pick it up and flip through is sweary and helpful pages.

So yes, this is my shorter than usual, review and ramblings wrap up for this fantastic book. It is a must read, even if you think you don’t suffer from anxiety, this book will have something in here that will help you out.

Thanks for reading!

Julie