Blog Tour + Review: Far From Perfect (#2) by Holly Smale


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Faith Valentine has it all – fame, money and extraordinary beauty. But what she wants more than anything is a quiet life away from the cameras. Except nobody ever asks Faith what she wants, and her family’s expectations are crushing her.
The world thinks she’s perfect, but is there is more to perfection than meets the eye?

Thank you to Harper Collins and Kaleidoscopic Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than expected, it was such a pleasant surprise. Having not read any of Smale’s books, not even the first book in this series, I had no idea how I would feel about this one. However, as this book follows Faith, the sister of the protagonist in the first book, I understood the story perfectly and didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

As soon as I picked this up I knew it would be a quick and easy one to get through. I thought I’d just read 50 pages at most, but ended up reading 100 in one go and finishing it in just over 24 hours! I couldn’t tell you the last time I read a 400+ page book in that short amount of time, but this was pretty addictive.

I found the story really interesting as it’s something I wouldn’t usually pick up. Faith’s life is controlled by the media, social media and her fame, which seemed like an important topic to portray to what will likely be a younger audience. The plot was highly entertaining (which is why I couldn’t put the book down!) but also felt unrealistic to me, which I couldn’t help but feel irritated by.

I liked the cast of characters for the most part, especially Faith’s dysfunctional family. However, there were points in which I felt topics could have been handled better (for example, her mother had a problem in which help was never seen as an option, whereas she seemingly needed professional help). Scarlett was a fun character but I just found something off about her that I couldn’t click with.

This book is definitely aimed at a younger audience than me, and I can see a younger me really enjoying it. It was incredibly entertaining and fun, with a fast paced plot which kept me on my toes. Although I found it frustrating at times, a younger me would have likely looked past the few problems I saw and enjoyed it even more!

3.5 out of 5 stars


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Blog Tour + Review: Lot by Bryan Washington

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In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.
This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston’s myriad neighborhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman’s affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.

Thank you to Darkroom Tours and the publisher, Atlantic Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

What a poignant and raw, emotional collection of voices. Lot is a short story assembly championing Black and Latinx working class voices, discussing racism, poverty, family, friendship and relationships. The stories felt strong, powerful and honest, really packing a punch.

All of the narrators were men, which I found really interesting but I actually really enjoyed. I thought this was a great way to highlight toxic masculinity and the spotlight men can be put under in certain situations, and how harmful this can be. I felt really grateful for how this was portrayed in the narration.

Your eyes will show you what they want to

This book felt alive, the narrators were brutal and had me gasping at times, and I felt like I was breathing alongside the men I was reading about, living their stories alongside them. It really captured me. I liked the short story aspect, and the narrators changing occasionally kept me on my toes, however I did enjoy coming back to the same narrator. I thought it was really inventive to read about the same stories of people in the same neighbourhood.

My biggest problem with this book was the lack of connection to the narrators. I’m unsure whether this was due to the short stories meaning we spent a fairly short amount of time with them, or something to do with not knowing their names or a lot about their lives, only seeing rough snippets and not much more. But the lack of connection ended up meaning a lot to me and changed my viewpoint of the book a lot.

or whatever they think you should see.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book despite feeling distant from the characters themselves. It felt hard hitting and important, and it was unfortunate I felt like I was almost listening to these stories underwater – I just wish I could have felt more connected to them.

3 out of 5 stars


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Blog Tour + Review: Supper Club by Lara Williams

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Twenty-nine year old Roberta has spent her whole life hungry – until the day she invents Supper Club.
Supper Club is a secret society for hungry women. Women who are sick of bad men and bad sex, of hinted expectations to talk less, take less, be less. So they gather after dark and feast until they are sick. They drink and dance and roar. And, month by month, their bodies expand.
At the centre of the Supper Club stands Roberta – cynical yet anxious, precocious and lost. She is seeking the answer to a simple question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?
This is a story about the hunger that never goes away. And it is a story about the people who make us what we are – who lead us astray and ultimately save us. You look hungry. Join the club.

Thank you to Penguin for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was not what I was expecting at all. It was raw, honest and in-your-face. It is full of rage and passion and hunger. It is disturbing and kind of brilliant, all at once. It reflects a starvation I think all women feel at some point or another in their lives – the need to fill a space we are made to feel we are not allowed to fill.

But in the way that hunger is presented, it transcends into darkness I was not prepared for. It is written full of anger, bluntly discussing rape, self harm and abuse in a way that made me feel almost repulsed. In the middle of a conversation it will bring in the most point blank feelings and thoughts that will jar you out of any sense of connection with the book.

The line between pleasure and revulsion can seem so very thin,

Supper Club follows Roberta through her life at university and 10 years later in an unsatisfying office job with an intern, Stevie. Stevie and Roberta end up living together and start supper club, an answer to their feelings as women of being made to feel small and non-threatening to the world around them. Supper club begins as a gathering of women, and evolves into something bigger and more criminal, with dumpster diving and breaking into venues. These are all an assertion of anger, a way to stand up and say women can take over whatever space they believe they can.

The book is peppered with descriptions of food. Even though these threw me a little when they spoke about meat in a certain way (as a vegan, this became jarring in itself), they were all around beautiful and they reflected the story quite well in the sense of growth, of ever changing and becoming something beautiful.

The plot was interesting and I thought it was paced well, the flashbacks between university and current day were long enough to not confuse the reader, and explained what had made Roberta so angry, the relationships and interactions that left imprints on her for the rest of her life.

Despite this, I still didn’t quite click with Roberta as a main character. Sometimes I related to her, and other times she came across as a selfish brat. I felt like the men in her later life were often dismissed and not sympathised with because of the men she had dealt with in her university years. It almost felt like a pure hate-letter to men in general at points, which just plainly goes against any moral feelings I have. What I felt was missing in Supper Club was the realisation that in fact Roberta and these women were fighting problems they had with society, and not with men.

if it even exists at all.

The problems I had with the book stemmed mainly from being shocked by the content, so if you are deciding to pick it up, I would recommend it with a harsh warning of the jarring scenes. The execution was actually, I found, quite excellent, the writing passionate and beautiful. Just be prepared to be disturbed, forced to be introspective and constantly question your role as a woman in the modern age.

3 out of 5 stars


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Blog Tour & Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Thank you to Penguin Viking for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a Wall Street millionaire; a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward recounts the stories of the passengers aboard that flight as it hurtles toward its fateful end, and depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he tries to make sense of the loss of his family, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and the meaning of his survival. As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront one of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given?

I’m not one to pick up books like this, but when I found out about it at a Penguin event I was drawn in instantly. It sounded thrilling, fascinating and intriguing. I wasn’t disappointed.

I found this book so quick and easy to get through. The chapters are short and change POV between Eddie after the plane crash and the time on the plane before it actually crashed. The plane chapters cover more than just Eddie and his family, and instead focuses on a select number of people around the plane.

There was no reason for what happened to you, Eddie. You could have died; you just didn’t. It was dumb luck.

I feel like this way of storytelling intertwined with Edward’s emotional story and him trying to find himself after losing his entire family and living with his aunt and uncle was beautiful, and made us feel closer to the other characters on the plane when the time came for us to sympathise with them.

I feel like the only big let down for me was I expected more to be uncovered. The book actually never really discusses why Edward was the only one on the plane to survive, despite him questioning it. I guess I would have enjoyed it more as a thriller with a deeper level of intrigue.

Nobody chose you for anything. Which means, truly, that you can do anything.

This book is very character driven, but I enjoyed that. Even the small conversations Eddie has with other people in the story meant a lot to me, and seeing him come of age and grow with his difficult circumstances appealed to me. A part of the story I particularly loved was Edward deciding to go vegan for his brother, who made the decision to be vegan just before the plane crash. Another aspect of the book I really related to was both of the boys being home schooled, as I was home schooled for all of my high school years. I could really see how it enabled Edward to make decisions differently to other children his age.

Dear Edward wasn’t perfect or without it’s problems, but overall I enjoyed it greatly. It was a touching, emotional coming-of-age story that left me with goosebumps as I finished the final sentence.

4 out of 5 stars

About the Author

Ann Napolitano’s new novel, Dear Edward, was published by Dial Press in January 2020. She is the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach. She is also the Associate Editor of One Story literary magazine. She received an MFA from New York University; she has taught fiction writing for Brooklyn College’s MFA program, New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and for Gotham Writers’ Workshop.
Dear Edward was published by Dial Press in the United States, and by Viking Penguin in the United Kingdom. The novel currently has fifteen international publishers.
Ann lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.


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