Girl Online by Zoe Sugg -Suitable for Thirty-Year Olds? | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

Firstly, apologies for being a bit M.I.A this past week but it has been a bit mental and when things get mental, ClaireySweetie.com suffers so forgive me.

So! A couple of months ago, I nipped out to the local Sainsbury’s near my work and within the small line of shops next to it as a charity shop. To be honest I do not go in that often but on this particular day, a large framed picture of some trees was leant against the window outside and cutting a short story even shorter, I decided for £3, it was coming home with me. However, I did not have any cash on me and the shop demanded that I pay £5 to use my card so I had to find some things to make up the difference.

I do not know if I have mentioned this before to you guys, but I rarely ever buy non-fiction books from new/full price, I 99.9% always purchase them second hand. On this particular day, amongst a couple of other books, I picked up Zoe Sugg’s aka. Zoella debut novel, Girl Online, for 25p. Two things here, 1. I never find books for sale in charity shops for 25p, 2. I categorically know that Girl Online has not been written for women nearing thirty years old. However, for 25p I am going to give it a go just to see how Zoe scores as an author, and to see if this book is actually any good.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Without giving the whole story of Girl Online away (which is actually really hard because I really want to go into detail about everything!), the story fundamentally focusses on 15-year old Penny Porter. Penny writes anonymously on her blog, ‘Girl Online’ as well as being a very keen photographer. She lives with her parents and her older brother, Tom, in Brighton, and her best friend, Elliott lives next door. All very dreamy so far. However, Penny suffers from anxiety and panic attacks and there is a particular moment in the book where this explodes. Again, without going into detail she fortunately gets the opportunity to escape her life temporarily in Brighton and goes to New York City with her parents and Elliott. Here, she meets Mr too-good-to-be-true, Noah aka. Brooklyn Boy.

Any Good?

Is Girl Online a bit cheesy? Yes. Is it a bit naïve? Yes. Would I let my hypothetical teenage daughter read it? Yes and I absolutely would have ADORED this book if I was a teenager myself. Girl Online is what Footloose by Kate Caan, as well as all the Animal Ark series (Google them) were to me as a teenager. Girl Online does at times get a bit unrealistic, I mean, 10,000 followers to Penny’s blog, which is essentially a collection of naïve teenage musings? Nevertheless, that aside Girl Online is still a perfectly pleasant read and anyone who has been to secondary school and experienced the whole friendship mix will relate.

While it is hard to not think of Zoe when reading about Penny (because at the end of the day, you write about what you know), there is obviously going to be some people, mannerisms and material things that are quite similar. I have not read anything online about Girl Online, but I definitely won’t be the only person who thinks of YouTuber, Tyler Oakley when reading about Elliott, surely I can’t be? Regardless, I really liked Elliott as a character and the scene towards the end of the book in Choccywoccydoodah was brilliant.

Obviously fairly soon after Girl Online got published, while it was raved about, a huge internet backlash rose up and punched poor Zoe straight in the face, over allegations that she possibly wasn’t the real author after all. You know what? Who cares? Even as an almost thirty-year old, I got absorbed and I am already on the look out for a non-full price copy of Girl Online: On Tour (the book’s sequel) because I want to continue the journey of Penny and Noah.

Have any of you guys read Girl Online? What did you think?

Until next time x

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Five Beauty & Lifestyle Books you need for your Coffee Table | Blogmas Day 7

Hey Sweeties,

Lifestyle books have in recent years, firmly postioned themselves on many a coffee table and within hundreds of flatlays that fill some of the best Instagram feeds and blogs around. Here are five of my favourite beauty and lifestyle books –

Lifestyle books

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Eat Smart by Niomi Smart Book Review | Healthy Eating

Hey Sweeties,

The success some high profile Bloggers and YouTubers over the last couple of years has been phenomenal, like, just huge and rightly so. Done properly with good photography and writing, a blog is a good as any glossy magazine; and the same can be said for well edited videos. While I am sure I have said before that it’s not my dream to become a full-time blogger, it is my dream to write for a living so seeing the success of so many people my age and younger now working for themselves, is incredibly inspiring.

That all being said, I am hugely sceptical of many of the products and books some bloggers and YouTubers are releasing because it’s often obvious that they’re just putting their name to something, and when it comes to books, particularly of the cookery and baking kind, I have to ask where all these recipes magically appeared from. I don’t dispute that a heck of amount of work has still gone into the project, but all this “here’s my recipe for xxx” and I’m like, really?!

Niomi Smart Eat Smart

Here’s where I’m at with Niomi Smart; when she came onto the scene a few years ago, it’s fair to say being at the time the other half of another popular YouTuber, gave her a good launch into the sphere and her swift rise to a million followers was just that, swift! For that I have to admit I resented her slightly, but then we could argue that Joe Sugg equally got a helping hand from his famous sister before establishing a following in his own right. Same for Niomi. As a reader and follower of many blogs and channels, it’s easy to see that people see through fake and once a feeling of honesty is lost, we stop following. Simples. While I sub to Niomi’s channel, I don’t actually watch that many of her videos but I keep an eye on the content she produces and choose to watch the stuff that engages me best, rather than everything.

When I heard Niomi Smart was releasing a healthy eating book of the Deliciously Ella kind, I had the same attitude to it as I do Tanya Bakes and I don’t think I need to explain based on the above, what this attitude was. However, I was in my local Asda and as I wondered down the aisle that has a small collection of the latest book releases, I spied Eat Smart on the shelf and I was compelled to pick it up for a quick flick through.  Well, from the quick flick through and a look at some of the recipes, I thought for a mere tenner, it was worth a shot and Sweeties, I’ve got to be honest, I am pleasantly surprised.

Niomi Smart Eat Smart

Niomi Smart Eat Smart

In the same way I read other recent cook book purchases, I sit on the sofa and read them over a couple of days, sticking in markers on the recipes I would like to try in time. When I finished reading Eat Smart, before I had even tried anything first hand myself, I knew I had a good book in my hands. Niomi is not a nutritionist or does she have any qualification of the food kind, and she makes no hiding of this. As you flick through the pages, she simply outlines that they are healthier adaptations of her childhood favourites. Whether she has come up with them herself is irrelevant to be honest. You guys know I am a huge fan of Ella Mills (nee Woodward)/Deliciously Ella and I love her two books, and I hate myself for saying this, but I think if you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle, you might just find Eat Smart the better book to ease yourself in with. Might.

The recipes aside, it’s also a beautifully put together book; the writing is simple but easy flowing and the photography is stunning, which is what makes it such a lovely book to own. So am I a convert? to this particular YouTuber pursuit, yes.

Niomi Smart Eat Smart

Niomi Smart Eat Smart

Niomi’s squash pizza is delicious! -I made a meat version for my husband and in-laws, & a veggie one for me!

Have you guys read and/or tried any of recipes featured in Eat Smart? What do you think about YouTubers and Bloggers releasing products and merchandise?

Until next time x

Check out my latest giveaway here.

 

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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

As I have mentioned before in previous book reviews and/or book related content on here, I purchase 99% of books second hand, mostly in charity shops. The Slap I had seen everywhere to the point where I started to get curious, and I’m sure I heard the end part of a review on the radio about it which brought my attention to The Slap in the first place. So one day, I decided to give in to my curiosity.

As usual, we begin with the blurb:

At a suburban barbecue one afternoon, a man slaps an unruly boy. It’s a single act of violence. But this event reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkos

In chapter one you are introduced to Hector and his family who are preparing to host the BBQ where ‘the slap’ takes place. What I will say about this chapter is so many characters got introduced as they turned up to Hector’s house, that it was quite hard to follow who was who and their connection to Hector/his family. But you soon realise that each chapter corresponds to each character of any importance who each move the story along which I thought was quite clever.

However, while the concept of the story is clever and as a reader you feel involved because of course you too have an opinion on both the issue of children being disciplined physically, as well as who of the character’s position themselves similarly. Overall I really disliked how a lot of the book was written, mostly with the language used to describe people and situations. I am sure it isn’t the case but at some points I wondered if the way a few of the characters spoke about other cultures and types of people, it was the author’s true voice hiding behind them? Again some of the language just made me a bit uncomfortable and I won’t be the only one to feel this. The word ‘wog’ particularly was used throughout which upon a quick Google, does reference it as a slang Australian English term used as ‘an ethnic or racial slur and considered derogatory and offensive’ although the word’s connotations have relaxed somewhat in recent years. Everything was written in context to the characters and various discussions but I do just wonder if it was really necessary.

I also hate to say what I am about to say, but I am going to have to say it… you can tell the book is written by a man. It is notoriously difficult to write accurately from the perspective of the opposite sex and I applaud anyone that achieves this, but there is often a distinct difference between how a woman writes about a man/men, to a man writing about a woman/women. When I was away for the weekend at the Formula One British Grand Prix recently (post here), this book became a bit of a running joke because I complained at the amount of sex and sexual references were dotted throughout, at one point it seemed every other page. As a teenager, this is exactly the type of book I would have wanted to read but as a woman nearing (frighteningly) to thirty, unless sex is written with a maturity to it, it’s all just so seedy and cringing and this is very much the case in The Slap. For example (please feel free to jump this paragraph):

Hector was now a jackhammer, slamming into her, she was full of him, as much in her belly as in her c****, she buried her face into the coverlet, her outstretched hands were clutching at the sheets, the fabric coiled around her fingers; she wanted him to fill her completely. He was smashing into her, tearing her apart, destroying her and putting her back together. She was crying from the pain and from the relief” (Tsiolkas, p376-377).

For some context, this scene was between a married couple of 19 years, both in their forties, who had been away from each other for a week. All I am saying is that in other novels, the author just notions that the couple are about to make love, or will write about the situation tastefully, letting the reader imagine any additional detail should they so wish. So you can see what I mean here about it all being a bit cringe, and quite honestly, a bit ridiculous!

Overall I think I would recommend the book because I think the concept alone makes for an interesting story that will intrigue a lot of people, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I think it’s going to be one of those books you have good expectations for in the beginning, but will deteriorate quite quickly, but that’s okay, that’s just how it is and it’s boring to only read things you’re going to love every time. This book in parts is so bad, that it’s actually funny.

Have any of you guys read The Slap? Thoughts?

Until next time x

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Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

Apologies, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted a book review but I can promise I have still been reading. Straight after reading The Bees which was the last book I reviewed (here), I read Josie’s Journey by Shaun Russell. I wanted to review it for you but to be honest I don’t think I really can. Some of you might remember the case of the Russell Murders back in 1996, which saw Josie, her mother Lin and younger sister Megan, brutally beaten in a hammer attack. Miraculously, Josie survived and the book records the years following, in recovery. If you ever get a chance to read it, do as for me I do remember the murders and followed some of Josie’s story after.

Josie's Journey

Anyway.

Ever since I first read it back in 2002-3, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee has kept the number one spot in my list of favourite books (read my post here), and I am not alone in this; To Kill a Mockingbird is a favourite for many, having mostly first encountered it at school. I also collect second hand copies of the book.

When I heard Harper Lee had released a sequel, Go Set a Watchman I knew I had to read it despite mixed reviews, and having now read it myself I can totally understand why some people didn’t enjoy it as much as the original. I didn’t hate the book, but I am not really sure what it set out to achieve?

Go Set a Watchman

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