Title: The Exact Opposite of Okay

Author: Laura Steven

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing UK

The Blurb

A hilarious, groundbreaking young adult novel for anyone who’s ever called themselves a feminist . . . and anyone who hasn’t. For fans of Louise O’Neill, Holly Bourne and Amy Schumer. 

Izzy O’Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by . . .

Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.

Bitingly funny and shockingly relevant, The Exact Opposite of Okay is a bold, brave and necessary read. For readers of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Doing It by Hannah Witton and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

The Review

Oh my wow. What a debut. Laura Steven has knocked it out of the park with her debut novel The Exact Opposite of Okay. It is the teen feminist novel that I didn’t have. I never thought I would hear myself say this but it made me want to be a teenager again so that I could have a copy of The Exact Opposite of Okay as my weapon of choice against the douchebaggery that is high school. I’m not even sure that sentence made sense. That is how good this novel is.

The story centres around protagonist Izzy O’Neill who makes some decisions about her life that don’t fair too well for her. Okay. I’m 34 and I will admit that I did judge Izzy for some of the things she did. I frequently said out loud to the empty room “Oh Izzy, you will regret this.” But then I realised this is exactly what this book is about. Judging people by the standards we set for ourselves and the belief that those standards are universally good and right and moral. Laura Steven teaches us in The Exact Opposite of Okay that if you are happy with how you are living your life then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. She does this all the while looking at the disparity in slut shaming and how the privilege of having xy chromosome gives you license to not be judged for doing the exact same thing as the xx card holders.

The Exact Opposite of Okay will go down as one of my favourite books of the year. It is sharp, sassy and makes me excited to see what else Laura Steven has up her sleeve.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Steven (@LaurMSteven) please visit www.laura_steven.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Egmont Publishing UK (@EgmontUK) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.

The Queen of the NightTitle: The Queen of the Night

Author: Alexander Chee

Pages: 561

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

From a writer praised by Junot Díaz as ‘the fire, in my opinion, and the light’, a mesmerizing novel that follows one woman’s rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned star Paris, 1882.

Lilliet Berne is a sensation, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her still, one wants only to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. As Lilliet mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris.

In order to survive, she transformed herself from circus rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to stage ingénue,all the while weaving a web of passion and intrigue. Will the truth secure Lillet’s fate – or destroy her with the secrets it reveals?

The Review

I was really looking forward to reading The Queen of the Night. I love epic historical fiction. However, for me, The Queen of the Night was just too epic.

I know that sounds completely contrary but I found the minutia of Lilliet, our protagonist’s, life altogether tedious. I feel like you were guided every which way and were unable to form your own opinions as you were led to where the writer wanted you.

For me, The Queen of the Night was the literary equivalent of a work meeting that could have been an email. Far too long.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is available now.

For more information regarding Alexander Chee (@alexanderchee.net) please visit www.alexanderchee.net.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

1 star

I Feel Bad About My NeckTitle: I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Author: Nora Ephron

Pages: 162 Pages

Publisher: Transworld Digital

The Blurb

Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Nora Ephron (When Harry Met SallyHeartburnSleepless in SeattleYou’ve Got Mail) turns her sharp wit on to her own life.
* Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from
*If the shoe doesn’t fit in the shoe store, it’s never going to fit
*When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you
*Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for by the age of forty-five
*The empty nest is underrated
*If only one third of your clothes are mistakes, you’re ahead of the game

The Review

I love it when people just write about stuff. I know that sounds really random but it is the main reason I love British born writer Caitlin Moran and it is also the reason I love Nora Ephron – whom I believe was Caitlin Moran’s writing mirror image.

Nora Ephron wrote about stuff. Her style was witty and sassy but charming and engaging. I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman is a brilliant collection of essays on what it is like to grow up and indeed grow old. She was so easy to read that I am both, at once, devastated that she is no longer around to write anything new and equally happy that I still have a backlog of her writing to get through.

I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron is available now.

4 Stars

Votes for WomenTitle: Votes for Women! The Pioneers and Heroines of Female Suffrage (from the pages of A History of Britain in 21 Women)

Author: Jenni Murray

Pages: 84 Pages

Publisher: One World Publications

The Blurb

Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Constance Markievicz, Nancy Astor

They terrorised the establishment.

They fought for the vote.

They pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world.

For the hundredth anniversary of the historic moment the franchise was finally extended to women, here is a selection of suffragette and suffragist activists and pioneering MPs from the pages of Jenni Murray’s bestselling A History of Britain in 21 Women. Set against the backdrop of a world where equality is still to be achieved, it is a vital reminder of the great women who fought for change.

The Review

Once again, I am getting my feminist on.

I love reading books about strong women. Women who have helped change the course of history. In some of the books that I have read about this topic I have felt myself bogged down by a lot of information, almost like the author is trying to give everything to convince you.

Jenni Murray doesn’t do that. She knows the validity of the women she has chosen to write about and she knows the part they have played and the impact on the change of the world. She gives you enough interesting information to keep intrigued and maybe make you want to find out more. She never gives you so much that you feel bored.

The women that she has chosen to write about, some better known than others have all had a massive impact on the way we live our lives today. It was a pleasure to read about them.

Votes for Women! The Pioneers and Heroines of Female Suffrage (from the pages of A History of Britain in 21 Women) by Jenni Murray is available now.

For more information regarding Jenni Murray (@whjm) please visit www.bbc.co.uk/womanshour.

4 Stars

Hey y’all

You are probably bored of hearing me say “I’m sick!” but guess what? I am still sick. The flare up of my Ulcerative Colitis continues – boo hiss – but I have had two blasts of my new medication so hopefully we will see some improvement soon.  Although last time I got my infusion I was called by the IBD nurse the day later to say that my haemoglobin levels have dropped dramatically (from 124 to 84) and I need an iron infusion. Three weeks later and I am still waiting on this. Sad and tiresome times.

Anywho, I have read quite a few books this month and here they are:

  • My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (Hardback)
  • Your Turn To Die by Sue Wallman (Paperback)
  • After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • The Paris Effect by K. S. R. Burns (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Paperback)
  • How Do You Like Me Now by Holly Bourne (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • Cover Up by Patricia Hall (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • Searching for Grace Kelly by Michael Callahan (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Hardback)
  • I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mere (Hardback)
  • Men and Women Talking by Gloria Steinem (eBook)
  • Gloria Steinem: The Kindle Singles by Salamishah Tillet (eBook)
  • The Art of French Kissing by Brianna Shrum (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • The Suffragettes by Penguin Classics (eBook)
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (eBook)
  • While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins (Paperback Review Copy)
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes McCoy (NetGalley Review Copy)
  • Puddle Jumping by Amber L Johnson (eBook)
  • Hell on Wheels by Karen Mueller (eBook)

I managed to go up another percentage on NetGalley. Now I am at 40% – woohoo!

The two books that stood out for me this month were Holly Bourne’s How Do You Like Me Now? which was bloody brilliant. The other book was Dani Atkin’s When I Was Sleeping which blew me away. I am still not over it.

I went to a bookish event this month. My sister and I took my niece to Waterstones in Liverpool to see a reading of The Tiger Who Came for Tea. It was fun and super cute. I am glad I got to be there for my niece’s first visit to Waterstones.

Also this month I have embarked on a physical book buying ban. I lasted three weeks. I am actually rather proud of that.

Anywho, I hope you all have a great July filled with Bookish fun!

Lisa x