Bon Bons to Yoga Pants by Katie Cross

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Helllllo readers, today’s review is really special because it comes from an author who sits very close to my heart. A lovely lady I have known since I first started blogging and when she asked if I would read this book, not a fantasy tale I jumped at the chance. It’s always really lovely to be asked to continue reviewing books for an author especially with such a jump in terms of genre. A lovely little review and a book you should go and get hold of a copy now. (yes, now)

Lexie Greene has always had such a pretty face.

Unfortunately, that’s where it seemed to stop. She’s grown up hearing her Mother constantly remind her that she needs to lose weight. And twenty-two-year-old Lexie knows she’s overweight.

With her younger sister’s wedding on the horizon and a crush to stalk on Facebook, Lexie’s had enough. She gives up her constant daydreams about food and joins a dieting group. As the pounds melt away at the gym, she finds that life on the other side of junk food isn’t what she thought.

Bon Bons to Yoga Pants is an inspirational hit about a girl coming to terms with herself, and her past, all while navigating a world of food and fitness.

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As the blurb suggests the book follows the utterly darling Lexie and her struggle with mother and sister over her weight. She knows they’re right she just doesn’t want to combat it, just yet. With a wedding coming up and the potential dating game about to step up a mark Lexie wants to shift those pounds. Joining a diet group and trying to stop herself dreaming of doughnuts we read along as Lexie struggles to come to terms with her eating, her family, her feelings of loss from the death of her father and her want to please Bradley it’s going to be a hard pill to swallow.

Gah, so many things in this book resonated with me. I’ve always been a little on the chubby side, dieting a little and then falling off the dieting wagon and I also have struggled with my family and their ‘fatist’ way. My Grandmother, whilst on the day of my graduation, stated ‘I don’t think you’ve put on a little bit of weight, I think you’ve put rather a lot of weight on,’ whilst passing me a mack-off chocolate cake. Soul destroying but I get it. I found Lexie utterly wonderful, she knows she a bit on the big side and it’s eating away at her confidence and her family aren’t helping in the slightest.

In terms of characters each are really well developed; Lexie is determined and strong willed but she’s also emotional, struggling with her identity and her grief. Rachelle is a confident best-friend and I thought her and Lexie contrasted wonderfully although I would have liked to have seen more of her. Supporting characters Mira, Pat and Bitsy are all really well developed to give the story more weight and Bradley sounds like the perfect mix between American lad and English gentleman. Gah dreamboat.

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The writing is strong and well-written as with everything I’ve read from Katie. There is enough description, dialogue and also character build up throughout out. I liked the interweaving of the stories although it would have been nice to see more into the lives of Rachelle and Lexie’s sister McKenzie. I know that this is a novella but I really wanted to see more into their stories. I thought the book as a whole was very good at helping quash the demons that sometimes tell us we’re not good enough. It feel very heart-warming but also self-loving which I thought was a lovely touch and ‘effing swan addition/movement and links were a brilliant thing to include.

My only wobble was I thought there could have been more struggles between Lexie and Bradley and their relationship and her striving to lose the weight. It did feel as though the stories was partly disconnected and could have been linked. At the start it really was linked to the worries Lexie hadabout meeting him but as the story continues for me it was a little too sweet?

Overall a lovely little tale to while away the afternoon; I thought the romance was a little sugary sweet but that’s just me and I often have these wobbles with more romance books but the characters are strong, Lexie was just brilliant and I want to read more from Miss Cross in this genre. Yes please very much.

Linnnnnks

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What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

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Helllo readers, it’s an exciting review today because I won this lovely novel in a blog competiton; thank you to Tasha from The Bookie Monsters. If you are yet to take a wander around her blog it is definitely worth a click or three. It’s a brilliant, brilliant blog that I am always nominating for bookish blogger nominations. This book has been doing the rounds on the blogosphere lately which is always exciting to watch play out and I’ve only seen positive reviews so far, however I wanted to write my own thoughts on this book, and try once again to put another book on your TBR lists.

Fall in love with Milo Moon

Milo Moon has retinitis pigmentoso; his eyes are slowly failing and he will eventually go blind/But for now he sees the world through a pinhole and notices the things other people don’t. When Milo’s beloved Gran succumbs to dementia and moves into a nursing home, Milo soon realises there’s something very wrong at the home. Some with just Hamlet, his pet pig, to help, Milo sets out a mission to expose the nursing home and the sinister Nurse Thornhill.

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I’m not going to lie when I read the comments on this book I thought ‘hmmm, really? Fall in love with Milo.’ But wait maybe two pages and you will already have fallen undoubtedly in love with the beloved Milo Moon. As the blurb suggests the book follows Milo as he cares for his darling Gran who is becoming a ghost of herself. Unable to dress herself at times or use the cooker she is becoming a liability to herself, Milo and his mum Sandy. After one particularly dangerous episode Sandy decides it is is time to put Gran in a home, for everyone’s safety. Milo isn’t having any of it, but they find a home for Nan at ‘Forget me not.’ But Milo, taught by his Gran to use his other senses to detect the little things that others don’t, soon realises not everything is as it seems. Can Milo save his Gran from the danger of Forget Me Not?

Fingers crossed!

From the very beginning I thought this book was a wonderful tale. I couldn’t stop myself from reading on and on. Not only is the plot a really strong plot line but the characters are wonderfully honest and built up. Milo is sweet and warm; he has the assured confidence that nine year olds hold and he wanders around making his own secret investigations into the goings-on in Forgot Me Not the nursing home. He befriends the cook at the home Trippi and the two learn about one and another, their cultural differences and their different family situations. Trippi is searching for his sister who didn’t make it across to England from Syria and Milos warmth towards him is something I wish was shown by more peple in this country. Sandy is a difficult character but you can see she is desperate to be a good mother. She wants to do right but the breakdown of her marriage is breaking her. Lou is probably my favourite of them all; the old lady is a sweet treat who keeps throwing surprises into the mix. The tale told about her dementia is heartbreaking and I was truly upset by her demise.

The writing is strong and weaves numerous plots around the many characters; from the main storyline to the tale of Trippi’s sister being missing and Sandy’s struggle with the breakdown of her marriage the author manages this well. Nothing feels under-loved or forgotten and each is given time to develop. The writing is strong and lyrical. It weaves and bobs pulling the reader in as the story develops. For me the ending was a little coy but it worked well and almost brought a tear (I say almost *coughs*)

Overall this is a really well-told story. Some books it feels the author has started with a plan and just run with it. Here it feels like the author knew exactly where they were going, what they wanted to reader to feel and how it was all going to develop which I liked. I felt safe that I would be given a beautiful book and I undoubtably was. Overall a really beautiful tale and one I would definitely recommend.

Linnnnnks

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A Guest Post for MLBB: Thoughts about Reading Books while Writing Books

Consider the obvious when an author names one of their hobbies being reading. That would make a lot of sense; in a call-and-response kind of matter. An author wouldn’t be in the profession they’re in now if they didn’t read in their spare time and any author that doesn’t read is one that ought to not be trusted.

As an author myself, I too am just as adamant about reading as I am about writing, and an activity like that doesn’t stop when I’m creating reading material myself. I still read, amidst the story that’s swirling in my own head… and it’s the balance regarding switching between two different, fictional worlds at a time that remains to be a challenge.

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I’ve been a published author for a little over a year now. I released my debut novel, “A Moment’s Worth,” last year, and I’m currently in the editing stage for my second novel. I wrote the draft for the second novel in a little over six months, and during that time, I read a total of 10 books. Some of the books include: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, and “The Sun Gods” by Jay Rubin. These along with a graphic novel, a poetry collection, and a short story collection make up some of the books I’ve read during the drafting period for the second novel.

Anyone familiar with these titles knows that they’re not at all similar to one another. Sure, some of them may share similar strands, but they’re all just as different as they can get. One of them could easily be an incredibly long proverb with a plot, one of them easily falls under the historical fiction genre, one of them is a memoir, and one of them is yet another addition to the heightened dystopian genre. All the while, over on my end of the fiction sphere, without giving away my yet-to-be disclosed synopsis, I’ve been working on a novel that is more or less science/utopian fiction, with a twist of civil rights infused.

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For that matter, with the material in my head and whatever material I’ve been reading have, for the most part, differed greatly, and one can imagine how mind boggling it can get when jumping between works like that. One minute I may be writing a really heavy scene for my book, the next minute I’m reading up about how two gods from Filipino folklore came together and fell in love. It’s exhausting!
Words in books, when crafted in as clever of a way possible, can be powerful, and sometimes influential; so much as to where it can deter between passing through your mind without a second thought, or manifesting itself in your mind into a whole new thought experiment. In other words, you have a choice between being influenced by the work you’re reading, or not at all.

Out of the books that I’ve read during the drafting period, there were a few that I chose for thematic purposes; in attempt to further develop ideas of my own. I did something similar while writing my first novel; where I read a heap of David Mitchell’s novels, and I let them manifest in my head and aid me in the direction I wanted to take. I always say that it’s okay to have influences and inspirations, so long as you’re not stabbing them in the back and completely ripping them off.

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As for the books where I just want to read and enjoy and not mesh with the story in my head, I treat those in a different way. I treat books like those similar to how I would visit a different country; where I would respect the laws and customs there. I’m only there for a limited period of time before I’m on my way. For that matter, that’s why I’ve managed to switch between writing my novel, and then go off to read something completely different, like a fantasy tale or something. I don’t know if it’s from my nature as a bookworm that I’m able to do this, or my skills as a writer where I can simply get lost in my own world.

Either way, this is how I’m able to continue reading the books that I want to read while writing the books I want to write. It’s all about deciding which books you want to be influenced by, and which ones you simply want to “visit.” Just be sure that something is gained from the chosen path.

“Reading about journeys while on a journey is an intensely stimulating experience” –Umberto Eco

Written by Lauren Lola

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught life 101

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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

#FictionalWorldTravel: The first challenge for Bout of Books!

Hellllllo, you may have seen earlier in the month that I’m taking part in the Bout of Books readathon which I entered with little thought to what I was letting myself into. On finally researching into said readathon I found that there are a number of challenges that you can partake in. Today’s is from Between Library Shelves and it’s to list 3-6 books that take place in different countries than you reside on. I am currently living in Stoke-on-Trent, in the UK so that was out of bounds but I managed to find a couple that would fit.
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#FictionalWorldTravel
  1. Phoning home, essays by Jacob M. Appel (Set in NY City)
  2. Chocolat by Joanne Harris (Set in a village in France)
  3. The Penguin history of Modern Russia (Set in… Russian)
  4. Winter Birds by Jim Grimsley (Set in Northa Carolina)

There are my five books for the #FictionalWorldTravel challenge, and also my first book for the Bout of Book readathon will be ‘Little Women by Louisa M Alcott. Exciting stuff; if you’re taking part in #boutofbooks let me know below in the comments!

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Dreamscape by Kirstin Pulioff

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Helllllo readers, today’s review is quite special to me because it was recommended by an author that she contact me. Being recommended by an author that you’re worth the wait for a review is an *over-the-moon* feeling. You want your blog to get to the point where people ask for reviews not only because you review alllll books but because they are good/solid reviews. It just makes it feel all the more special. Before I get too mushy, onto my review of Dreamscape.

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she’s loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before. Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?

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The more fantasy books I read the more I admire the genre as a whole; I don’t fully enjoy the genre yet, and I wouldn’t pick up a fantasy book as a choice in a book store but more books like this one could help me to really start reading this genre but extensively. As the blurb suggests the book follows Alex who is in a bit of a mess. Her family are planning the move from her childhood home and it’s the worse time possible. As she prepares to move her and her best friend decide to play their favourite childhood game, but after dark when she attempts the game again, she is pulled into the world of Dreamscape. Here she must battle the game again but without the cheats; will she succeed? Will she join the rebellion? Can she ever escape the game? In this fantasy story all will finally be revealed.

This isn’t your typical fantasy tale, here we explore a fantastical world but in the sense of the game ‘Dreamscape.’ I thought the descriptions of the games were evocative and rich helping to place us into the narrative background. Alex at the beginning is exasperatingly angry about having to move which I found infuriating but as the book progresses her character truly evolves into a warmer more intriguing character. I must admit I didn’t really fall for her in the way that I do, as in I desperately wanted her to succeed but it’s nice to watch her story and her journey develop. I thought in terms of this when she has to decide whether to face her role as the hero full on or use her ‘cheats’ and ‘shortcuts’ to leave the rebellion was an intriguing way to connect the game, and the difficulties that Alex is dealing with in her real life.

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In terms of the additional characters that we meet along the way I thought they were delightful. Arrow is writing with power as being the leader of the rebellion but he has a warmer kinder side to him whilst I thought that Melody was a deadly power female and wished we had learnt and heard more from her throughout. The writing as I mentioned briefly is strong; Alex seems everything in the game much more vividly and I thought the little changes between the game and reality helped to both connect both realities but also keep them separate. Also if you’re looking for castle, guards, missions, secret-missions, that’s all here too; all the standard game items as well.

In terms of problems the book doesn’t start with a bang, it starts quite slowly and with a lack of pace. It does pick up and for me I would keep reading for enough chapters to really get into the book but it was a little hard going. Although the characters are given interesting character profiles Alex to start with is whiny and irritating. As I’ve mentioned in the main review it’s okay because she changes so much as the novel progresses but at the beginning it does grate. Additionally the ending was, how can I put this? Disappointing? It made me angry as a reader because it just ends. The book works on a romantic storyline which is just dropped.

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Overall a book of two halves for me; writing is strong, starts slow but moves with pace. Characters are well worked but then the ending falls a little flat. I think overall this is a good fantasy reader for YA readers who like the genre. I thought the concept was really clever but a little more explanation with the ending and making Alex a more likeable character would have help me to utterly love this book.

Liiiiiinkkks

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