Poppy Lawson is sceptical when it comes to love, but upon meeting Noah, her viewpoint changes and she becomes infatuated by him. However, their love threatens to cause destruction on a global scale. Can their relationship survive, or will it crumble under the pressure?
The premise had me intrigued. What would happen to Poppy when she met her soulmate? The build up to the reveal was brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Poppy and Noah’s story arc. Some characters and scenes were a unnecessary, but it was good overall.
Writing Element Thoughts
It was so interesting to have read one of Holly Bourne’s later novels first and then read her debut novel. By comparison, you can see how much she’s improved since this debut novel. For example, she includes scenes that felt unnecessary and slowed the pace at times, whereas in her later novel, she only incorporated the most important scenes.
The overall story arc was consistent and good, and the steady build to the climax did keep me gripped and wanting to read on. The characterisation was interesting in that some of the characters were very well developed, but others felt like they didn’t really serve a purpose. Although Ruth had one redeeming moment, she was only there to undermine Poppy, and Amanda was just there. Lizzie, on the other hand, was a good friend, and the growth between Poppy and Noah was excellent.
But hey, not every first novel can be perfect. It takes those first novels to realise what it is about your writing that needs improving, and what worked really well.
What I Like
Poppy and Noah’s character growth – going from distain towards Noah to liking him to dating him was such a wonderful experience. I loved watching the pair getting intimate with one another and allowing their guards to drop.
How they used science to explain why this whole experience was happening – despite my basic knowledge of science, I still understood they put a twist on basic human biology and explained it in a way that actually made sense (even if it’s implausible).
What I Don’t Like
The melodrama could be too much at times, even for a YA novel – I understand that teenagers are angsty and dramatic, but sometimes it ruined the scene and pulled you out of the story.
A few too many scenes – some of the scenes felt irrelevant and unnecessary, which slowed the pace of the story.
I enjoyed the overall premise and watching Poppy and Noah’s relationship grow. I wasn’t as hooked as It Only Happens In The Movies, but I did still enjoy picking it up and reading it.
Alice has been dreaming of Max since she was a child, experiencing wild and wondrous dreams together. However, when Alice moves to Boston, she makes a startling discovery: her dream boy is real. Navigating a new city, a new school and new friendships, along with her conflicting feelings towards the boy she thought she knew, Alice’s life gets complicated. Can Alice and Max’s relationship exist in reality, or will she only ever have her dream boy in her dreams?
The idea of two people sharing a dream was such an intriguing concept to me that I immediately wanted to pick up the book and read it. Alice was quite a compelling character, just for her dreamscapes alone, and I enjoyed seeing her go from needing the dreams to survive, to letting them go and living in reality with her literal dream boy.
Writing Element Thoughts
The characterisation was interesting. I thought Alice and Max’s relationship went back and forth a few too many times, making it all the more frustrating, but I’m glad they did end up together in the end. The secondary characters were well rounded, but they were all conveniently in a relationship by the end of the story, which irks me a bit. I enjoyed how they handled Oliver and Celeste, considering how they could’ve made them into assholes after what Alice and Max did, but instead, they chose a mature decision to move on, which I appreciated.
The pacing was well maintained throughout, following the story structure almost perfectly, and the overall story arc was consistent and kept making Alice change and grow as a person. Nothing too drastic happened either, which I appreciated.
What I Like
I loved reading the dreamscapes, since I often have weird dreams myself, and I loved that Max was helping to control the dreams. However, I also appreciated how emotions controlled the dreams too, with their fears turning the dreams into something uncontrollable.
I liked that there was a psychological reason these dreams were happening instead of a supernatural reason. They actually tried to use science to explain it, even if I don’t actually believe this is possible, which I appreciate.
What I Don’t Like
I didn’t like how convenient the ending is with everyone coupling up. It irks me because it doesn’t feel that realistic to have everyone in the story be in a relationship. Perhaps Oliver and Sophie is justifiable, but Alice’s father and Margaret Yang? And Celeste just so happening to date an older man after dating Max for years? Nope, sorry.
I didn’t like how Max kept going back and forth with how he felt for Alice, especially compared to the dream version of himself. I know they’re teenagers and they have no idea how to feel the majority of the time, but the constant back and forth was frustrating and used as a plot device.
It was a good story overall. I enjoyed reading it and finding out why Alice and Max were having a joint dream, but I think it was lacking something for me to make me want to reread it.
Audrey Winters is in the midst of a crisis, leading to her total disdain towards romance movies. With her father moving on, her mother in a catatonic state, and her ex-boyfriend dumping her for another woman, it’s little wonder Audrey feels that way. However, when she starts her job at Flicker (their local cinema), she meets Harry, and her feelings begin to change towards love.
I was addicted to this book from the first moment I picked it up. I was curious about the beginning scene since it happens much later in the book and I wanted to know what led to that moment and what the resolution would be. I’ll admit, I’m much more likely to stick with a book if it gives me a reason to, like showing a much later scene first. Or even just hinting towards something ominous in the future.
Writing Element Thoughts
The characterisation is very realistic. Audrey changes through the course of the story, from letting her guard down and being vulnerable again with a guy, to letting her friends back into her life who she’d been neglecting, to finally expressing her true feelings towards her dad and her brother. It was refreshing to see her try to juggle multiple problems in her life while trying to keep a hold on everything, such as A levels and friendships and a home life. At some point, most people will experience this difficult juggling act, which could end in a very bad way (like a mental breakdown or physical injury).
The story arc is very well written. It has a clear key narrative structure with a good beginning, middle and end. The chapters are interspersed with her criticism of romance films that correlate with the stage of her relationship with Harry, which is a nice touch. I personally like the writing style too. It’s friendly and conversational without trying too hard to relate to a younger audience. There’s ways of speaking that young people use nowadays, but it’s not included in a cringey way.
What I Like
I like that Audrey didn’t just take Harry back after the Big Gesture because he hurt her and she couldn’t trust him anymore. I would’ve liked if they’d gotten back together, but it shows a realism to the story by forcing Harry to deal with the consequences of his actions, rather than just sweeping it aside and moving on.
I like when Audrey finally talked to her brother about her feelings and shouted at her father for what he did. It showed a maturity and a willingness to handle her problems instead of letting them spiral out of control.
I like how Audrey takes back control of her life after realising she’s been living in a zombie state, in part thanks to her shitty ex-boyfriend. She actively fixes her friendships and applies to study media at university.
What I Didn’t Like
I didn’t like how, when Audrey did repair her friendship with her best friends, we didn’t have a scene with the girls just hanging (although, since they weren’t the main focus, it does make sense).
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story from start to finish. I honestly couldn’t put it down because it was just so well written. The characterisation and overall story arc was brilliant and the themes were handled wonderfully.
Every year, me and mum discuss where we want to go for our two week summer holiday months in advance. After our trip to the States last year, mum wasn’t too keen about splurging on another expensive holiday, but since it was a big birthday for her, we agreed on one last expensive holiday for a long while. We had a few suggestions about where we wanted to go. I’ve always wanted to visit Canada, especially considering how much people rave about the country.
My mum had studied in Vancouver 32 years ago for 5 years, so she knew the place quite well. Plus, she had some fond memories about Vancouver and felt a desire to return, just like when we went for our road trip around Ireland and revisited her hometown. So, with tons of planning ahead and booking an Air BnB, our holiday was set in stone.
When I started Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I thought I’d get at least 25k written. I was realistic and knew 50k wouldn’t happen without the usual level of support NaNoWriMo has. However, life had other plans, as it so often does. I changed my word goal to 10k because I honestly thought I might reach it. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that goal either. But hey, 6k words is still better than 0 words, so I’ll take it.
My Glee binging session didn’t happen, but re-finding the joy of reading has overtaken my priorities a bit, as has work. A friend suggested I try (YA) romance stories. I’ve always enjoyed romance stories, so I picked one I’d been drawn to and bought it. Honestly, I’m low-key addicted, craving to know what’ll happen next. This is such a good thing for me because I’ve been struggling to read in recent years, either losing the motivation to keep going or realising I don’t enjoy it for whatever reason and stopping.
You win some, you lose some. But at least I got some words written.
I always feel like life somehow knows I wanna do (Camp) NaNoWriMo and decides to throw me several curveballs, just to keep me on my toes. Unfortunately, what that ends up doing is hitting me mentally and forcing me to stop writing for a few days. Additionally, I always have plans, so trying to write around those plans can be a struggle.
However, this month in particular has been tough. I’m still trying to be in a healthy mindset but I’m not there yet. Maybe in a week or two, depending entirely how work goes.
I still wanna write this story, but I don’t know how much I’ll get written in this allotted time. My life is a mess right now and fixing it is a struggle when some of it is difficult to fix and others of it is a mindset issue.
Hopefully, I can at least reach 10k by the end of the month. If I could reach that, I might feel slightly better. But I have rediscovered Glee and I fear a binge session might be on the horizon. Hopefully, I can push that aside and do some actual writing.
I have spent so many years debating what story to tell and proceeding to try to tell the story only to start again. And again. And again. Usually, it’s a fantasy story. I just can’t seem to find the right character to carry the narrative in its entirety. For a while, I did take a little break from writing fantasy and focus on this band story I started years ago and never went back to. However, as I was plotting, I struggled to make the plot captivating enough and have a strong story arc.
Which is why I have now combined the two ideas.
In the past, I’d incorporated the band into my fantasy stories as secondary characters. However, I always found they wanted to tell the story and become primary characters. Or at least, one particular character did. So, I finally let him lead the story and drag along the other three. He has a very distinctive personality and it’s great for helping carry a narrative.
This particular story is bringing four band members into a fantasy setting. I’m using ideas I’ve used in other stories in this story, including an idea from a literal dream I had. Hopefully, with this particular combination, I’ll be able to write to the end of a first draft.
Here’s to Camp NaNoWriMo and whatever else it brings!