I subscribe to Illumicrate, a bookish subscription box based in the UK, created by the amazing Daphne from Winged Reviews. As it’s a quarterly subscription, November = Illumicrate #5! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not yet received their box, so click ‘continue reading’ to see what’s inside (and see my previous unboxing posts here).
I visited Kew Gardens for the first time in 2013, just as summer was leaving. I was blown away by its beautiful grounds and I have wanted to go back ever since, especially when it was more autumnal. So, once it hit mid-October, I bought a ticket to one of my favourite places in London.
Autumn is also my favourite season. It’s normally a time of happiness and excitement at the prospect of all the fun things to do (and eat and drink…). Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great one for me this time, but I’m glad I got to go back and experience this beautiful retreat once again. 2016 has not been a forgiving year. With one thing after another – both globally and personally – it’s been tough. But wandering slowly through the botanical garden’s glorious fiery trees, colourful flowers and secret pathways gave me a chance to focus on myself and forget about everything else, even if just for a few hours.
Here are three books I read in September to help me with my ongoing reading slump – I always turn to YA contemporary and these are particularly fun ones!
Super Awkward by Beth Garrod
Super Awkward was the perfect book to kick off Project Destroy Stacey’s Reading Slump. 15-year-old Bella Fisher is a not-so-academic rendition of one of my favourite funny protagonists in YA, Harriet Manners: geeky, witty and awkward, but failing maths and science spectacularly. She’s been cruelly taken by her family to Wales instead of to her best friend’s house party. (*admits that as an adult she’d much rather go to Wales*). Bella’s even more of a grumpy pants when her ex-boyfriend sends a photo of him kissing a mystery girl. Until she meets (i.e. knocks over) a gorgeous boy called Zac. And tells everyone at school that he’s her older boyfriend and is taking her to prom. Awks.
Super Awkward is a really fun, quirky story, full of teenage romance, devastatingly embarrassing moments and learning to lean on your best friends. I’m all about stories of female friendship – one of the most important things in my own life – and so it was encouraging to see that Rachel and Tegan were always mostly around to support Bella. If you loved Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, you’ll love Bella and her crazy teen voice!
How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
After reading Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet?, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, especially as all my friends assured me that I’d love it – and they were right! Even though Evie’s my favourite Spinster Club member, this time it was Amber’s turn.
Amber has left fellow teen feminists Evie and Lottie at home to jet off to sunny California and stay with her absent mum and her detestable husband, working in their trendy summer camp. I adored everything about How Hard Can Love Be? (although I did worry people would think I was reading a self-help book on the train!). Adorable feminist American boy? Check. Complicated family relationships? Supportive female friendships? Check. Fulfilling my dream to visit the USA? CHECK.
I’ve not read many books where mother-daughter relationships are central to the story, but it’s huge part of who Amber is. Holly confronts this fragile relationship in such an honest and relatable way – Amber’s full of resentment for her mum, but wants nothing more than for her to love her. And then we have Amber and Kyle, who I loved as a potential couple straight away; it was a joy to watch them getting to know each other. Plus not forgetting Amber’s Camp Best Friend Winnie and the rest of the gang, who are all suitably outraged when Slytherin is replaced with Dumbledore’s Army – there are so many characters in How Hard Can Love Be? to love!
How Hard Can Love Be? is a superb second book in the Spinster Club trilogy. I want to take it to Yosemite National Park with me.
Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon
As the Great British Bake Off was about to begin, it was the perfect time to pick up Love, Lies and Lemon Pies. Lottie has been struggling with everything since her dad died and the only way she can prove to her school that she is coping is to join the school’s new Bake Club.
Love, Lies and Lemon pies is a super quick, entertaining read that I flew through blissfully. As soon as Lottie and Mac meet, they work together wonderfully (even if not without arguments!). Mac has some disdain for baking at first, but I enjoyed watching Lottie help him through his troubles, right up until their end-of-year competition. It was also great to see Lottie develop a lot of self-confidence and start to believe that she can win the competition, with support from the rest of Bake Club – Jasper, Jasmine, Grace and Ella. Even though she’s not the most likeable character, I’m looking forward to getting to know Grace more in Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines!
Love, Lies and Lemon pies is a delicious young adult contemporary novel to devour – there’s even recipes at the beginning of each chapter to help you on your way!