Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death by Chris Riddell

Series: Goth Girl, Book Two

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Format: Hardback

Published: 25th September 2014

Number of Pages: 224

Book: Bought

Genre:  Historical, Steampunk, Fantasy, Mystery, Gothic, Action-Adventure, MG

Recommended Age: 9+

Contains: Violence

Author's Site: Riddell

Preparations are under way for the Full-Moon Fete and the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off.

Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event, and as usual Maltravers is acting suspiciously.  On top of all this, Ada’s elusive lady’s maid Marlebone has a surprising secret, and everyone seems to have forgotten Ada’s birthday!


“Ada was exited too, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something strange was going on; she was worried about Marylebone, and it was her birthday in two days, which everyone had most likely forgotten again.  It had put her in rather a funny mood.”

Ghastly-Gorm Hall is extremely busy, preparing for the Full-Moon Fete.  Ada Goth's friends are soon wrapped up in the preparations, setting up for the Great Ghastly-Gorm Bake Off and welcoming famous chefs and artists.

But Ada is once again growing suspicious of Maltravers and has just met her lady's maid for the first time, discovering her long-kept secret.  Ada wants to find out what on earth Maltravers is up to and how to help her lady's maid – but how is she meant to do that without the Attic Club's help? 

Perhaps the charming and mysterious new guest, Lord Sydney Whimsy, can help her get to the bottom of the curious going-ons at Ghastly-Gorm Hall...

I adored the first Goth Girl book (see my review: here!), so knew I wanted to read Fete Worse Than Death as soon as humanely possible.  But even I wasn't expecting how fast 'as soon as humanely possible' turned out to be.  I read Fete Worse Than Death in a single sitting, gobbling it up as Team GB kicked arse in the Paralympics on the TV.  I just love this series so much!  I love the silly literary and culture references, I love the bonkers characters and zany plot and most of all I love those gorgeous gorgeous illustrations.  I wish I had little people around to read to, because this is just the most perfect reading aloud book ever and I am just totally in love. 

Once again, may I comment on the brilliantly odd characters in this series?  I can?  Marvellous.  First up: Ada.  She is a brilliant lead character – kind and quirky and unusual and brave.  I also love Lucy Borgia, because she is just such a badass – a duelling umbrella wielding badass of a governess.  Lord Stanley was an interesting character – mysterious, charming and amusing, he was a fun character to have in the book, even if I wasn't entirely sure what he was up to half the time...  Oh and Marylebone was so very sweet – and her book at the back was just adorable!  Many of us will see certain... parallels to a certain book about a rather well known bear, but the literary puns and parallels just make me adore this series (and Marylebone) even more.

The list of characters was even more bonkers in FWtD than it was in GoaM, ranging from chefs Mary Huckleberry and her manservant Hollyhead to Mr Tumnus a cabinet-making faun.  I do think maybe more effort went into the (admittedly hilarious) references than into characterisation – but this is a book for children, so I forgive that.  Plus the references were so very funny that I really didn’t mind much.

Chris Riddell's writing was brilliant – easy to understand but still wonderfully descriptive (helped, of course, by those gorgeous illustrations – more on that later).  It really is the perfect reading out loud book – the kids will love the fun storyline and quirky characters and the parents will love all the puns and references.  It's just so much fun to read – and so easy too.  As proven by the speed with which I read it...

Now we're onto my favourite part – those beautiful, beautiful illustrations!  They are just so stunning and atmospheric and perfect and gorgeous and I love them to pieces.  Chris Riddell is a master with both brush and words and I adore him and Goth Girl both!

While I didn't enjoy Fete Worse Than Death quite as much as Ghost of a Mouse, I still utterly adored it and totally recommend it – both for parents to read to their children and for everyone else to read too.  These books are just so much fun and are so very beautiful – I'm so in love with this series!  Gimme Wuthering Fright right now!  I need it so very much!

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

Wells & Wong by Robin Stevens

Happy Reading


Monday, 5 September 2016

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

Series: Goth Girl, Book One

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

Format: Hardback

Published: 12th September 2013

Number of Pages: 224

Book: Bought

Genre:  Historical, Steampunk, Fantasy, Mystery, Gothic, Action-Adventure, MG

Recommended Age: 9+

Contains: Violence

Author's Site: Ridell

Meet Ada Goth.  She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least a half a dozen of ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with.

Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael.  Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for...


Ada Goth, only daughter of Lord Goth, lives at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, a beautiful and... unique home.  She shares it with her father (absent, hobby-horse racer and cycling poet) and numerous servants – but what Ada really wants is a friend.

And then she meets William and Emily Cabbage, whose father is creating a machine for Lord Goth – before long they are sucked into the mysteries of Ghastly-Gorm Hall.  These mysteries include discovering why Ishmael, the ghost of a mouse, is haunting Ada and what Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is up to.  With the help of the Attic Club, Ada is determined to get to the bottom of the mysteries!  

But she might get more than she bargained for...

I adore Chris Riddell.  His illustrations are amazing and so distinctive and always bring a story to life.  Until Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse, however, I've never read a book written by him and just him.  It will certainly not be the last because Goth Girl was absolutely phenomenally good!  Hilarious, witty, bonkers, tremendous fun and absolutely unputdownable – it was just so brilliant that I had to make up a word!  And so so beautiful!  I mean, the gorgeous silver foil up the spine, the brilliant purple around the pages, the tiny book by Ishmael at the back and there those beautiful beautiful illustrations!

The characters in this book were all...let's go with unique.  They were also awesome and brilliant and hilarious.  From brave, caring and clever Ada to the badass and brilliant Lucy Borgia, the characters were just so so inventive and unique,  I loved Ada of course, and Emily and William (Emily the artist and William with his chameleon abilities).  Ishmael the ghostly mouse wasn't in it as much as I'd expected, what with him being the title character (well, one of 'em) but he was so cute and his little book was brilliant – full review to come in a minute.  I really loved the governess and can't wait for her to come back – and the names of all the previous nannies, which included Moral Macabee, Hebe Poppins and Jane Ear!  That killed me!  

Chris Riddell is, of course, a phenomenal and distinctive illustrator – but he's also one hell of a writer!  Funny and witty, his writing was fairly simple and yet perfection when paired with the drawings.  And all the little jokes for parents reading to the kids, the silly names that were so, so close to those of real people, animals and places!  Brilliant!  Just brilliant!  Literary puns are literally the best things ever!  And the foot notes – written by "the severed foot of a famous writer who lost the aforementioned foot at the battle of Baden-Baden-Württemberg-Baden”: amazing.  The plot was great too – I do so love mysteries!  Especially ones including crafty servants and mythical creatures!

Seriously though – the drawings!  I loved 'em to death.  They were just gorgeous – atmospheric, perfect, beautiful, brilliant.   They were just so absolutely perfect!  Oh, if only Chris Riddell could illustrate everything ever written in the whole world ever!  Although then he might not have time to write more Goth Girl books – and I need more books...  Ok, so maybe not.  Still, the drawings were brilliant!

Goth Girl was so much fun to read!  I loved it to bits and read it quite happily all in one go!  It's perfect for young readers reading to themselves and also for parents reading a bedtime story. Or for older readers like myself to read and love because, quite frankly, everyone should read it!  It's awesome – stupendous!  I can't wait to read Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death!  Now onto my review of Memoirs of a Mouse...

"This is the tale of an ordinary mouse

Born and then raised in the wall of a house."

Bless little Ishmael and his great adventures!  He's so sweet and well-travelled!  His stories were a mix of tales from different books, one of which being Gulliver's Travels.  It was so fun to read and the illustrations were too cute!  Plus it was all rhyming – the first ever epic poem I've read that was penned by a "literary mouse"!  

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5


Read this book if you liked:

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan

Wells & Wong by Robin Stevens

Happy Reading


Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Call Blog Tour: Peadar O'Guilin on Nessa

I am so completely honoured and thrilled to be taking part in The Call's UK blog tour. Why? Because The Call is a book I utterly adore, a book I've been waiting over a decade for. A book full of magic and horror and excitement and amazingness. I am just so completely in love with The Call (if you want proof, check out my very very long and fangirly review), every little piece of it.

But Nessa... Nessa is special. She's one of the most badass heroines I've ever read about, strong and feisty and determined and awesome. In the face of diversity and death, she fights back and never gives up.

But you didn't come here to listen to me ramble on. Here is the amazing Peadar O'Guilin himself to tell you all about the awesome Nessa...


Thank you for that, Peadar! I am in agreement - Nessa is incredible and if I hadn't already read The Call twice, I'd be rushing off to buy it right now! Which all of you should do this very instant! Here's some more information to tempt you with...

Blurb From Goodreads:
What if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down...
Three minutes.
Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they've been Called.
Two minutes.
Like all teenagers they know that they'll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive.
One minute.
And Nessa can't run, her polio twisted legs mean she'll never survive her Call will she?
Time's up.
Unfortunately, this is the end of my stop on The Call Blog Tour - I hope you've enjoyed it and go and pick up a copy of Peadar's brilliant book ASAP. Honestly, it is a book that should not be missed and one I wholeheartedly and totally recommend. Grab it on Amazon, mark it as To Read on Goodreads, follow the brilliant Peadar on  Twitter - just do not miss out on The Call!

Oh and check out the brilliant previous stop on the tour over at The Chouett and don't miss the last stop tomorrow over at Sarah's Chapter! Enjoy!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Series: The Call, Book One
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: ARC**
Published: 1st September 2016
Number of Pages: 336
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Mythical, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Smoking, Drug References
No Alcohol References

“Your people drove them out of their homes.  Thousands of years later they turn up again – and they’re gonna wipe you out.”
Three minutes...
On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever.
Two minutes...
That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives: THE CALL.
One minute...
That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, aloe and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.
And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

I’m going to warn you all now: this review will be excited and fangirly and maybe a little long.  But I’ve been waiting for a book like The Call for over a decade now and I want everyone, the whole world, to know how bloody brilliant it is.  Plus I'm taking part in the blog tour tomorrow and my fangirling has reached fever pitch so I doubt I could stop myself even if I wanted to...
“Some time during her adolescence, the Sídhe will come for her, as they come these days for everyone.  They will hunt her down, and if she fails to outrun them, Nessa will die...
A very long time ago, the Irish made a treaty with the Sídhe, banishing them under the mounds, stealing their land and trapping them in a world without colour.
Now, the Sídhe are taking revenge.  By going after Ireland's children.  All teenagers get Called, vanishing from our world for three minutes and four seconds, whisked off the land of the Sídhe, where they are hunted down.  Few return in one piece, let alone alive.  And those that live are rarely the same.
Nessa was ten when she found out about the Call.  Her parents cried when they told her, neither believing she even had a chance.  Because, you see, Nessa had polio as a child and it has left her legs twisted, weak.  But in that moment, Nessa makes a declaration: "I'm going to live." 
Since then, she has trained alongside others her age.  No one believes she will survive, or that there's even any point to her training – after all, how is she meant to survive when she can't even keep up with her own classmates, let alone outrun a vengeful Sídhe? 
No one believes but Nessa.  She will survive the Grey Land.
But things are changing.  Whole schools are being slaughtered by killers who shrink into nothingness.  A rock appears from nowhere, a shrinking woman trapped inside.  Ireland is changing and they will need all the strength they can gather, if the Nation is to survive...
People who have met me will know I'm in a wheelchair.  I've been in the wheelchair since the age of twelve, or thereabouts, but I've had the neurological disorder since I was three.  I've always been different and, especially with the chair, people often treat you differently – think you're less able.  I like to think of myself just as capable as the next person, the difference being I find my own way to achieve the task.
For years, I’ve been campaigning for more diversity in books, especially regarding disabilities.  And my dream is to have disabled characters mixed in amongst the cast, have it as naturally occurring as hair colour or accents.  And so, when offered the chance to review an advanced copy of The Call, I jumped on the opportunity with glee.  I've wanted a disabled character as the protagonist for so long – and God, The Call was worth the wait.  From the very first chapter, I was utterly enraptured.  I fell in love with this awful world and the brilliant characters – especially Nessa, who was so different from your usual YA heroine and so much more amazing because of these differences.  
But let's move on from the awesomeness that is the diverse disability factor because even without that, The Call would have been phenomenal.  The world building was amazing, the feelings of suspense and dread and fear grew with every page, the characters were diverse and painfully real, the writing was beautiful, the plot gripping and the perfect pace, full of Calls and fights and mysteries...  It was like A Court of Thorns and Roses meets The Hunger Games, only no one is safe from being Called and there's no guarantee that one victor will survive the Sídhe's games.
Crom, I honestly can't even tell you all how much I adored this book.  I just...  I am just so utterly in love with it, even though it scared me half to death and broke my heart and left me desperate for more more more.
Nessa is the character I've been waiting for.  Tough, brave, stubborn as hell and probably the strongest character I've ever read about.  Everyone treated her differently, pitied her, just assumed she was doomed, but Nessa never gave up.  She wasn't always the most compassionate or even, I guess, likeable character – but she was brave and good and by far the most amazing 'disabled' character I've ever met.  I'll even forgive her stereotypical lead YA gal perfect beauty, which isn't something I do lightly!
I had two other favourites amongst the diverse cast.  Megan was brilliant – snarky, sharp and so protective and complex.  All the characters were amazing, but I truly loved the relationship between her and Nessa.  And then there’s Anto, who was just lovely – a breath of sweetness and goodness in a sea of grey and prickly characters.  
But Connor was a total and utter prick.  I can't even begin to describe his dickdom – his ruthlessness, his illusions of grandeur, his confused lust...  Yeah.  Dick.
Nessa was the main narrator, but I feel the POV jumped every so often – giving us little snippets into other characters' heads.  I found it a little confusing, disorientating even, at first – but I quickly grew to love it.  I loved the twisted glimpses of the Grey Land, the fights, the little clues of what would come...  
Seriously though – this world...  The very idea behind it all is breathtaking.  I literally adored it – it was unique and brilliant and shocking.  I might not know much about traditional Sídhe lore in Ireland – though I'll be researching the hell out of it now because it's fascinating! – but I fell in love during The Call.  The 'horses' and 'dogs' and 'clothes' made of human victims... the fact the Sídhe are punishing the children for their banishment, because they just want to escape... They are a terrifying enemy, but things aren't always black and white or rainbows.  Sometimes it's just... grey.
Even without The Call being just the kind of book I've wanted since before I started blogging, it's still amazing.  It's addictive and exciting and unique and beautiful and breathtaking and by the Cauldron I want more more more.  I just cannot tell you how much I adored The Call and how utterly desperate I am to get my greedy little hands on the next book.  Because, my God, it was so good.  This book was so damned amazing and I won't forget it and it is just a book I've waited so long for, anticipated, and yet somehow did not let me down one single bit - Peadar, I love you so much for this.  Crom, this review has got so long it's practically a novel itself – so I'll just stop now with one plea: Read The Call.  YA needs more diversity and The Call is a stunning example of how characters with 'disabilities' can be just as – maybe even, dare I say, a hell of a lot more – amazing than those without.  So read it, be amazed, be left speechless, and then spread the word once you've got your breath back, because The Call is too good to miss.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin         

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review
** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige: Blog Tour and Review

Series: Dorothy Must Die, Book Three
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Hardback
Published7th April 2016
Number of Pages: 288
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Action-Adventure, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Paranormal, YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Site: Danielle Paige
Author's Twitter: @daniellempaige

Once upon a time, there was a girl from Kansas named Dorothy.
You might know her as the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone.  She ended up in Oz, where she became friends with the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion.  But the temptation of magic was too much for her.  She let it change her.  Her friends became twisted versions of their former selves.
The magical land on Oz is now a dark and menacing place.
My name is Amy Gumm.  Tornadoes must have a thing about girls from Kansas, because I got swept away on one too.  I also landed in Oz, where Good is Wicked, Wicked is good, and the Wicked Witches clued me in to my true calling.
The only way to stop Dorothy from destroying Oz – and Kansas – is to kill her.  And I’m the only one who can do it.
But I failed.  Others died for my mistakes.  Because of me, the portal between the worlds has been opened and Kansas and Oz are both in danger.  And if I don’t find a way to close it?
Dorothy will make sure I never get to go home again.

I've loved this series for so long that when I was offered a chance to read Yellow Brick War and take part in the blog tour, I jumped with joy!  I’m so excited to be taking part – and hope I can convince everyone to read this awesome series ASAP! 
'There was no rest for the Wicked, I thought ruefully.'
Amy Gumm had one mission after she got whisked from her trailer-park home in Kansas to Oz.  To kill Dorothy Gale, who has stolen Oz's magic and is turning the place dead and dark. 
Amy failed.
And now she and the four Witches of Oz are stuck.  In Kansas.  
You see, things are brewing – bad bad things.  Oz and Kansas are linked together with magic – and Dorothy wants to blow both of them off the map.
Can Amy help the Wicked Witches (including the boy she loves, Nox, who has lied to her and can never be hers) to stop Dorothy from destroying both places?  Preferably without letting Oz's magic turn her as twisted as Dorothy – without letting herself become the monster she's so afraid to be…? 
I have loved this series so so much – I was so upset this is the end!  I even put off reading Yellow Brick War for a few days because I so badly didn't want it all to be over!  But then I found out at least one more book is coming my way (I'm still not ready to let go of Oz!), cheered, and snatched Yellow Brick War right on up and got stuck in.  Before I even blinked, I was like one hundred pages in – and I did not want to stop!  I even took the book to the bathroom with me!  If only it was waterproof – but reading in the shower doesn't work quite as weak as reading in a bath, does it?
I feel I've gone off topic…
Moving on to Amy.  Amy, Amy, Amy...  She was kind of back and forth in this book; at the beginning there were times when she wasn't the badass, snarky, pink-haired awesome gal she was in Dorothy Must Die.  Oz really had changed her.  But by the end...oh, Amy!  I'd never loved her more – I can't wait to see where she goes next.
Nox!  Oh, how I adore you!  I already loved Nox but after Yellow Brick War...  My oh my, I have a new beloved book boyfriend.  The way he was here – torn between duty and love, trying so hard to keep Amy safe, being so sweet and Nox-y (he was moody at times, but that's just Nox)...  Loved him!
I really do love the other characters in this book – I loved seeing some familiar old faces from Kansas, loved the Wicked Witches and Lulu the monkey queen…
And then there are our Big Bads.  Dorothy is just the most fascinating character and I loved that we go to understand her more in this book.  Every scene she’s in is brilliant – she’s such a perfect villain; sickly sweet on the surface and rotten to the core, but with the kind of background that makes you almost empathise with her.  As for our other Big Bad, well…  He is terrifying.  I can’t wait to see what our villains do in the next book…
The plot was, a lot like The Wicked Will Rise, a little uneven.  There was a fair bit of build up at the start (which I like at the beginning of a series, not halfway through it) set in Kansas – and there were bits of this that I really loved.  But I just wanted back in with Dorothy, my favourite villain I love to hate!  Things did really kick off after yet another Big Bad showed up – and the plot was brilliant from there, although far too short for my liking!
Paige's writing was amazing - I just love all the brilliant fighting scenes, the sweet romantic moments, the humour and the suspense.  But, most of all, I love how she writes Oz.
This Oz is nothing like the original book's, but damn if I don't want to go anyway!  Even with Dorothy's maniacal rule, I'd love to go to Oz just to see the spots of beauty.  Paige's descriptive language is just spot on amazing and I want to see this world so much!  Maybe not stay, because I'd rather not become Dorothy – but I'd love to visit.  Preferably in a pre or post Dorothy Oz – I'd rather enjoy it sans tyrannical dictators, ta very much.
Ok, I've talked your ears off enough!  This is meant to be a review and not an essay!  My point is Yellow Brick War was awesome and exciting and as addictive as ever and I cannot wait to go back to Oz and oh-my-God how am I going to make it until Book Four comes out?  It doesn't even have a name yet, people!  
I might not make it, my friends.  I may go as crazy as an Other-Worlder in Oz.  Which is pretty damn crazy.
Seriously, though - if you haven't read this series, I just can't recommend it enough.  It is the ultimate escape with the most fantastic world building and one of the coolest classical twists ever written.  Which, for a fairy-tale-twist lover like myself, is sayin' something.  Yellow Brick War kept me hooked from the word go and has left me absolutely desperate for more.
I'm going to go dream of the nice Ozma-ruled, pre-Dorothy Oz.  Wake me up when Book Four is out and not a moment before.
Happy reading, everyone!  And stop by The Book Corner tomorrow for an extract from the awesome Yellow Brick Road!

Star Rating:
4¼ Out of 5 

Read this book if you liked:
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Happy Reading
* This book was received from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Publisher: Doubleday Children’s
Format: ARC**
Published: 4th June 2015
Number of Pages: 288
Book: For Review*
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mental-Health Issues, Comedy, YA
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: Swearing, Alcohol References
Author's Blog: Sophie Kinsella

Audrey can’t leave the house.  She can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house – a house that her totally chaotic but well-meaning family fill to the brim with their (pig) personalities and (loud) voices.
Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life.  With his friendly orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start.  And with Linus at her side, Audrey suddenly feels she can do things she’d thought were too scary.
Even when it’s two steps forward and one step back, suddenly finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.
Be prepared to laugh, dram and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you think you have lost yourself, love can still find you…

Ever since the... thing happened, Audrey Turner has worn her dark glasses, stayed inside and only had contact with her family and her psychiatrist, Dr Sarah.  You see, Audrey has Social Anxiety Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and Depressive Episodes.  So, yeah.  Things most people wouldn't blink an eye at have Audrey running to hide.
And then her older brother, Frank's friend, Linus, comes into her house.  To start with, Audrey freaks - after all, the house seems small enough with her loud, boisterous family; add in a stranger and it becomes almost overwhelming.
But Linus... Linus is nice.  When he smiles, it looks like an orange slice and he calls her Rhubarb and talks to her in a soft, friendly voice.  He makes her feel brave, makes her able to do things that terrify her.
But when the world itself terrifies you so much you feel allergic it, can you even find your way again?
I'm really not good when it comes to reading contemp books.  But when my mother handed me the first Shopaholic book years ago, I fell in love.  So when I found out that Sophie Kinsella was branching out into YA, I cheered.  I was so excited for Finding Audrey and did a little happy dance when it landed on my doormat.  From that first, bonkers chapter, I fell in love – with Audrey, with Sophie all over again, and mostly with Audrey's nutty family!  Just a few sentences in and I was already in stitches!  I kept reading snippets out to my mum, who cracked up with me – she'll probably be borrowing this one from me when I'm done, something I shall fully recommend.  Y'know.  After rereading it a couple of times...  But the brilliant thing about Finding Audrey is that it's not just hilarious; it's so real too, so sad and poignant and deep.
Audrey was such an amazing character – she was so strong, even though she thought she was weak.  She was dealing with this awful, all-consuming illness and yet she still kept her wit and sense of humour.  She made me laugh, even when my heart ached for her.  I also totally related to her – I've not got any mental health issues, but I've been stuck at home, I've felt friendless, I've felt bad because I thought I was making my family miserable.  Audrey – I just totally got her and I absolutely loved her.
And Linus was the sweetest and the funniest.  That scene in Starbucks... God, I died laughing!   "Could I be like your shadow?"  OMG, hilarious!  But I loved how understanding and sweet he was!
I have a pretty bizarre and bonkers family who often make me laugh.  But even we aren't as brilliantly hilariously hectic as Audrey's family.  I mean, they were just... brilliant.  The Mum was addicted to the Daily Mail and always on the oldest son about his computer addiction.  The Dad was powerless against the Mum's Daily Mail-inspired schemes and routine changes.  The oldest son, Frank, was always on his computer – snarky, moody and occasionally crude (and always funny).  He actually reminds me of one of my younger brothers – annoying at times and hilarious at the other times, but always there if you need him.  And the littlest of the family, Felix, was adorable!  Seriously though, this is a family I'd love to know! 
The writing was brilliant – it felt totally authentic as a teenager's voice and described the troubles of living with depression perfectly.  It was also, of course, totally hilarious a lot of the time – I adore the Turner family – they're so mad and brilliant!  And I totally loved the film transcripts – how we saw what Audrey saw through these scripts.  It was brilliant and so original!
The plot was awesome – sweet and touching and funny and, at the end, a little worrying.  I was hooked as I watched Audrey's struggles, hooked as I saw her fall in love with Linus "Orange Slice".  The love story was just too adorable, by the way, as was the natural way the family evolved.  I just loved all of it!
I found Kinsella's balance between hilarity (via the brilliance of Audrey's family) and severity (because of Audrey's illness and struggle to cope, because of the bullying and depression – both serious problems amongst teens today) absolutely perfect and spot on.  Sophie never made light of what Audrey was going through, never, not once.  She handled everything – Audrey's 'episodes' and doctor appointments and difficulties – with care, so much care, that it was impossible not to empathise totally with Audrey, not to totally understand how utterly serious her condition was.  And yet there were also the most hilarious moments in the book too, bits that had me crying with laughter followed by bits about bullying and depression that were so serious I felt like crying for a whole other reason.  I just think so many teenagers will empathise with what Audrey was going through, and will appreciate the brilliant moments of comic relief.  Kinsella proves once and for all that you can tackle an issue as serious as mental health amongst teenagers with the care and respect it deserves, but without making the book as serious and grim as so many other books of a similar genre.  Because yes, this is a serious book about a serious topic, but it's also a funny book about a funny family.  It's a blend that could have gone wrong under any other author's care, but a blend that feels so right and perfect when put together by Sophie Kinsella.
I don't have mental health issues.  But I was teased when I was younger.  And I have a condition that people often don't understand.  I know what it's like to be judged because people can't see what's wrong; I know what it's like to be told to just get over it.  I think everyone will be able to empathise and relate with Audrey.  I mean, who hasn't been picked on?  Who doesn't know someone with mental health issues – or have them themselves?  This is a serious book dealing with real issues that still lets you have fun.  And I love that.
Oh, jeez, I've just talked your ear off about this!  Sorry.  I just can't get over the perfection of this blend and over the awesomeness that is Finding Audrey.  I adore Sophie Kinsella – she's amazing! – and her first YA book just further cements how awesome she is in my mind.  I can't wait for her next YA book!

Star Rating:
4 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella
One by Sarah Crossan

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review

** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book