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Ashleigh Allsopp "Ashleigh" (UK)

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The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow but steady eye-opening & thought-provoking read about OCD., 28 Jun. 2015
I’ve never read a book that centres so closely around OCD before, and that made this a fascinating, eye-opening and thought-provoking read that is completely heart-breaking at times. If you suffer from OCD I would highly, highly recommend reading it.

However, I do think that more needed to be made of storyline to help hook readers in. Books are often compared with rollercoaster rides, with unexpected twists and turns that’ll keep you wanting more, but if this was a rollercoaster it would go be flat right up until the end.

Fortunately, it was slow but steady. There’s something strange about this book that meant I still enjoyed it, despite reading it painstakingly slowly. Towards the middle I managed to read a little quicker, but there’s a lot to wrap your head around. OCD is very complicated, to say the least, and there are many different characters with different OCD tendencies to get to grips with.

That said, the ending surprised me and I really liked it, hence the sudden incline one the rollercoaster. Plus, the characters in this book are intriguing to say the least. I found Adam’s mum utterly fascinating and she was one of my favourite parts of this novel, as well as his young brother Sweetie and their incredible bond.

Adam is funny and believable, and the writing style Teresa Toten has adopted is fresh and honest, and I imagine that fans of John Green will enjoy it.

I’m sad that I can’t say I absolutely loved this book because I’d like to see more books about OCD making their way into the YA world (and I know that Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here is one, so that’s great!). But I know that many people do love it, and that this book could help raise awareness of the disorder and get more people talking about it, which is always a good thing.


Roomies
Roomies
by Sara Zarr
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing novel about the scary summer before setting off to uni., 28 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Roomies (Paperback)
I’ve got a thing for split narratives at the moment, it seems, and Roomies is a fantastic example of how brilliantly they can work if done well. The structure lends itself perfectly to the clever and unique storyline, which centres around the exchanges between Lauren and Elizabeth in the lead up to becoming roommates at university. They’re apart for 99% of this novel and each have their own stories to tell, so we get to follow both of them individually whilst witnessing their relationship develop from the very first email, and I loved it.

Both Lauren and Elizabeth are such wonderful characters. They’re well developed and relatable, flaws and all. I never once got confused between them, which is a real risk with split narratives, and I’m assuming that’s thanks to the contribution of two authors (this is one of the reasons why Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen worked so well, too).

I really enjoyed the contrast between their lives. Elizabeth, or EB as she’s more fondly known, is an only child. Her parents are divorced and she feels quite lonely with such a distant family. Meanwhile, Lauren has a really close-knit family and a super-busy family life. Her family adores her, but she feels like it’s a bit too oppressive with lots of younger siblings that she feels quite responsible for. Despite being so different, Lauren and EB’s stories compliment each other perfectly, and it’s one of those times when you realise that the grass often really is always greener on the other side.

I found myself relating to this book a lot more than I expected to. It’s not too long ago that I was spending the summer panicking about starting university and living with a bunch of girls I’ve never met.

Not only that, but Roomies brings up a topic that I’ve not read about much in YA fiction and that’s interracial relationships, something very close to my heart because I’m in one! Very briefly, it annoyed me, because the way Lauren and Elizabeth talk about Keyon, who is black, is quite ridiculous.

For example, early on in the book, Lauren says: “I even write a little bit about Keyon being black and how this city is pretty diverse but he was my first nonwhite kiss… Then I read it all over and think I sound like an overdramatic idiot, and possibly racist. What if she’s not white and something I say offends her and she opens some kind of discrimination case against me and I become the most hated student at Berkley?”

Then later, when she visits Keyon’s house, Lauren says: “Keyon and Joe Junior were adorable kids. I’ve always thought black babies are the cutest, and I almost say that to Sue before realising there’s no way to say it without being totally offensive of making Sue think I’m an idiot. Race. It’s so tricky, even though we’re all supposedly enlightened and colour-blind. I don’t want it to be a Thing. But it kind of is a Thing, isn’t it?”

And at another point, Lauren says: “I hope it’s not as obvious to him as it is to me the lengths to which my parents are going to show how totally fine and not at all complicated it is that he’s black.”

When I actually thought about it, though, I realised that that really is how lots of people still react. If you’ve never been around people of another race, it’s difficult to truly understand that you don’t need to tiptoe around the subject. It’s highly unlikely that you’re about to offend anyone unless you’re outright being intentionally racist, but we all worry about it anyway (even I used to, but after 9 years of having a black second family, I realise how silly it was). So while it seemed ridiculous at first, I quickly realised that it was simply realistic, and actually quite refreshing. It’s honest, authentic, and I really hope to read more about interracial relationships in YA soon.

What made it even better was Kenyon’s jokes about his own race, and the jokes that he and Lauren were eventually able to share about it. Talking about race is the first step to understanding that it doesn’t matter, and that inside we are all the same. So even though I think some people who don’t fully understand that might find Roomies a bit unsettling, it’s not an untrue account of the subject and it’s absolutely relatable to me, one of the reasons I enjoyed this novel so much.

It’s quite a short read, and the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger that I don’t think we’ll ever get to read more about, leaving me feeling very much like I did at the end of Trouble by Non Pratt, but despite that I’d highly recommend it, particularly if you’re about to go to university yourself.


The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
by Paige McKenzie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Scary ghost story with a twist from YouTube star Paige McKenzie, 28 Jun. 2015
First things first, I’ll fill you in on a bit of background about Paige McKenzie just in case you don’t know (I didn’t!). She’s a YouTuber who is the star of a web series called The Haunting of Sunshine Girl back in 2010, and since then has amassed hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Her videos are CREEPY as hell, and that’s what makes them so awesome.

The channel’s success has led to a publishing deal which has led to this very book, written by Paige with the help of ghost writers (hah!).

I haven’t read a horror or thriller in quite a while, but when I was younger I was obsessed with Point Horror novels and this brought back some memories of reading those. It’s really quite frightening at times, and it honestly gave me nightmares one evening! I’m a big wimp.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. It was a quick read that had me hooked from the start, but I do think it had the potential to be even better. It starts out well, but I felt like Sunshine took no time at all to become used to the idea that ghosts are living in her house. At the beginning, I was scared because Sunshine was scared, but she quickly became brave and therefore so did I, taking away from the experience readers are looking for when they dive into a horror or thriller.

The other thing that lets it down is the distinct lack of characters in this novel. There’s just Sunshine, Nolan, Sunshine’s mum, her teacher Victoria and a friend who’s hardly in the book at all called Ashley. I’d have liked a few extra characters to add more depth to the book, as it made it quite obvious who was going to play which part in the story, leaving little room for mystery.

There is going to be a second novel in the series and I’ll be interested to see which direction it takes, as the latter portion of the book takes a bit of a turn from the traditional ghost story which was quite unexpected. I have a feeling it’ll be a very different book but I’m looking forward to reading it.


Busy B 2015 Couples Calendar with Dual Schedules & Storage Pockets, Birds Design
Busy B 2015 Couples Calendar with Dual Schedules & Storage Pockets, Birds Design

5.0 out of 5 stars Best calendar I've owned, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the best calendar I have ever owned! Perfect for me and my boyfriend in our new home. There's cute stickers to help you colour code, mark birthdays, appointments and more, and the you, me, us sections are ideal for noting down what we're doing when. The design is simple but beautiful, with colours that match perfectly with our kitchen which is handy. Wouldn't hesitate to buy from Busy B again. I've already got their Wedding To Do's planner and it's equally fab.


Ravensburger Fairytale Fantasia (1000 Pieces)
Ravensburger Fairytale Fantasia (1000 Pieces)
Price: £10.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a book lover, I adored this puzzle. It's challenging but the colours and images are so beautiful that it's utterly rewarding to complete. Perfect gift for a puzzle-loving book addict.


Friends - Season 1-10 Complete Collection (15th Anniversary) [DVD] [2004]
Friends - Season 1-10 Complete Collection (15th Anniversary) [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Aniston
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE!, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Got this for my mum for Christmas and she raced through them in about a month. It went down even better than expected! She loved reminiscing as she had watched all of the episodes as they aired, and unlike me she doesn't binge watch Friends on a Sunday on Comedy Central. She loved the extra features on the DVDs, too, such as outtakes and interviews etc. You don't get that on Comedy Central!


PSN CARD 20 GBP WALLET TOP UP [PS4, PS3, PS Vita PSN Code - UK account]
PSN CARD 20 GBP WALLET TOP UP [PS4, PS3, PS Vita PSN Code - UK account]
Price: £20.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected!, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a good last minute gift for a friend when we ran out of time for Christmas, but just be careful because if you ask for the digital code you get exactly that. You'll pay £20 and yet an email through with a code in it. No image, nothing printable to give as a gift. I had to create a little voucher myself with the code on otherwise it would have looked terrible!

Also, keep in mind that the PlayStation store is actually really expensive unless there are sales on. You're better off getting a Game gift card or even just an Amazon gift card unless the recipient has asked specifically for a Wallet Top-Up because they'll get more games for their money!


Cat Bowl Polka Dot Red
Cat Bowl Polka Dot Red
Offered by Bargain Warehouse
Price: £5.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sturdy little bowl that looks great and after more than a year of use looks exactly as it did the day we purchased it. Fab. I've got the black one too for water. Plus, because it's made from a heavy ceramic, it doesn't move around when Trixie eats like the plastic bowls do so it's much less messy!


Cat Bowl Polka Dot Black
Cat Bowl Polka Dot Black
Offered by Bargain Warehouse
Price: £5.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 31 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cat Bowl Polka Dot Black (Misc.)
Sturdy little bowl that looks great and after more than a year of use looks exactly as it did the day we purchased it. Fab. Plus, because it's made from a heavy ceramic, it doesn't move around when Trixie eats like the plastic bowls do so it's much less messy!


Lobsters
Lobsters
by Lucy Ivison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny & honest UKYA novel makes a perfect summer contemporary that you won’t be able to put down., 31 May 2015
This review is from: Lobsters (Paperback)
This is without doubt one of my favourite books of the year so far and will definitely find its way into the mid-year Top Ten Tuesday coming up soon. It’s honest, funny and bold, and is the perfect book to take to a festival or on a camping trip this summer. What’s more, it’s a UKYA book, making it extra relatable for those of us living in good old England.

Lobsters alternates between the points of view of Hannah and Sam, both believable and realistic teenage characters. They have wonderfully distinct voices and I didn’t for one moment get confused. That’s because Tom Ellen wrote Sam’s parts and Lucy Ivison wrote Hannah’s, and it works like a charm.

This was a rare case in which the instalove really worked for me. When Hannah and Sam first meet in a bathroom they bond over hot Ribena of all things, but their rare connection is rudely interrupted a mere matter of minutes later, tearing them apart before they’d even learned each other’s names.

The weeks that follow see Hannah and Sam constantly thinking about each other, but the obstacles and hiccups they face along the way make the build-up and anticipation of them finally reconciling utterly addictive. I couldn’t put this book down.

I think I’ve got a love for this kind of novel – alternating narratives, especially if they’re male/female, seem to be getting better. I also love the British summertime feel to Lobsters, something I discovered made a welcome return to my bookshelf when I picked up Remix by Non Pratt a week ago (review coming soon). They both feature festivals, too, which is not exactly my scene but I’ve discovered I love reading YA about them.

I do think it’s important to note that Lobsters has a lot of swearing in it, though. It makes the book all the more realistic to me, but I know that some younger readers might find it inappropriate. There’s even the C word at one point – I think it’s the first time I’ve ever witnessed that in YA.

It was Lobsters that made me decide to introduce half stars to Ashleigh Online reviews. It’s such a great book, but there are definitely a few other books I’ve read in my lifetime that I enjoyed more. So 4.5 stars seems perfect. I’m going to be a little stricter with my ratings from now on, and I think the half stars will help with that.


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