Tag Archives: Zoe Sugg

December Book Reviews

One of my personal goals for the year was to challenge myself to read 100 books. I KNOCKED IT OUT this last month, and reached my goal! It was harder than I thought to reach this goal, but felt pretty great accomplishing it. Without further ado, here is a review of each of the books I’ve read this past month!

“Girl Online: Going Solo” by Zoe Sugg was a clever and heartwarming wrap up to her Girl Online trilogy. It is a story of friendship, love, overcoming fears and obstacles and being true to yourself. I for one hope she comes out with more novels, even if they aren’t in this Girl Online universe. Her writing is light and airy yet deep. It’s hard to explain, but easy to read and enjoy.

“Bloom: Navigating Life and Style” by Estee Lalonde was a lovely novel. It follows Lalonde’s life, but also focuses on giving the reader the confidence to live the life perfect for them. The novel feels a lot like one of her YouTube videos, crafted and designed well, and full of funny moments, sad moments and honesty. Loved it!

“The Magnolia Story” by Chip Gaines was so incredibly interesting. I imagine it would be more interesting for fans of their show ‘Fixer Upper’ on HGTV (which I am) but I think it would also appeal to someone who has no clue who they are. (If such a person exists). There are so many tidbits of their history and how they got to where they are now. Two thumbs up!

“Life Without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People” by Camille DeAngelis was self-indulgent and honestly pretty boring at times. It is meant to help creative people manage their egos, but I found that it regurgitated many common thoughts and the organization was jumpy and disjointed. Not worth a read- just stick to the other countless creativity based books in the same vein, they are generally better reads and not so yawn-inducing.

“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway is a classic. I’ve heard that one either loves or hates it. Not having read it before I was most curious to see which side of the spectrum I would land on. I loved it. So poetic and sad, but so so beautiful at the same time.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte is more than just a love story. It is the forming of a strong and independent female protagonist. One from the nineteenth century! She is forced to make her own way in life without the luxury of a rich male relative. She is a rebel. She sets out to have her own career in a male-dominated world, and refuses to let anyone rule her life. A must read.

“Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea” was slow in the making, but that made the ending that much sweeter. I guess what they say about the journey being the adventure is true. Give this one a chance, it’s worth it. All the happy tears.

“My Story” by Elizabeth Smart was so emotional and raw. Again, a book I would not have easily gotten through if it were not for the joys of Audio books. Read by the author, and the woman who experienced this nightmare herself it is an incredible book to listen to. If you remember her story in the news like I did, give this book a listen, you’ll not regret it.

“The Giver” by Lois Lowry was another classic I’ve not ever read. It was pretty fantastic, although not exactly what I was expecting, having watched the 2014 movie of the same name. I have my own thoughts on what the ending means, what are yours?

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay” by J.K. Rowling was freaking incredible. I watched the movie before reading the screenplay, and let me just say- Rowling is a genius and this is the most amazing thing. It is exactly what the movie is. I can’t get over it. Can’t wait for the rest in the series of FIVE!!!

“The Peach Keeper” by Sarah Addison Allen was interesting, but definitely my least favorite by Sarah. I love her novels, they are so magical and come together in unexpected and lovely ways- except for this one. I found it fairly predictable and slightly rambling.

“Please Make This Look Nice: The Graphic Design Process” by Peter Ahlberg was an interesting read on multiple graphic artist’s thoughts on creativity, their profession and their work process, (if they have one). As an artist with a lower case ‘a’ myself, I found their interviews very interesting and in numerous locations similar to my experiences.

“On Living” by Kerry Egan was one of the best novels I’ve read all year. I actually listened to it on Audio book- read by the author it was inspiring, tear jerking, and hopeful. Egan is a hospice chaplain, and this novel is her compilation of stories from those who were dying or caring for the dying. I cannot recommend this book enough.

“Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days” by Jeanette Winterson was a big disappointment for all the fuss it has been creating. It is basically twelve ‘Christmas’ stories followed by a little personal story and recipe. Only a few of the stories I liked, and in general it was not very ‘Chrissmasy’ at all.

“Victoria” by Daisy Goodwin was a fantastic book, and I’m happy it was the one that got me to 100 this year! It is essentially a novel following Queen Victoria from a little before her coronation to just after she asks her husband to marry her. It is fiction, so of course Goodwin took liberties with the particulars, but the essentials seem (to me at least) match up with history. A page turner, this one!

That’s books 86 through 100!

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Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

 

‘Girl Online’ by Zoe Sugg [ REVIEW ]

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One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!

‘Girl Online’ is the debut novel by Youtuber and blogger Zoe Sugg. As I enjoy watching her videos I expected to be entertained by the book, but wasn’t holding out for a great literary work because of Sugg’s inexperience. This is actually the second time I’ve read ‘Girl Online’ and I was just as impressed the second time around. Yes, the writing could be improved, but that will come in time- (because I hope she will write more!) What Sugg has presented is a classic teenage love story- with the added benefit of very real pertinent issues in our time.

Penny Porter is just a regular teenager living in Brighton, England. She – like many teenagers has pimples, feels pressure to ‘be cool,’ and has a crush on that popular guy. She’s dealing with anxiety brought on by a car accident she was in with her family. In order to get all of her feelings out she starts a blog under the name of ‘Girl Online’ and chronicles events from her life anonymously. There she is able to talk about her anxiety, clumsiness, embarrassments, as well as her feelings as she grows apart from her best (girl) friend. Her best (guy) friend Elliot, (who happens to be gay) helps her with her anxiety and is her rock until it becomes to much to hide. He is her ally at school where it seems anything embarrassing that could happen does- plus some!

Penny’s parents run a wedding shop in town and they are hired to organize a wedding in New York over Christmas. In New York, Penny meets Noah, the grandson of Sadie Lee who is the caterer for the wedding. Penny and Noah instantly click. By the end of the next day they are falling for each other. It’s fast yes- but this is a YA novel. All is normal. Penny’s parents are hired for another event closer to New Year’s so they are all to stay on. Penny is ecstatic as she will be able to spend more time (and Christmas!) with Noah, but Elliot has to go back home. Issues surrounding this plus Penny’s blog post about Noah before she could talk to Elliot put a strain on their relationship. Penny spends a wonderful extra week with Noah – by this time she knows he accepts her for who she is. He doesn’t judge her or laugh at her like some of the kids at school. He shares his fears and can cry in front of her. They are forming a connection, and although it is SO fast, Sugg makes it believable. When Penny and her parents have to head back home they ‘like each other so much it might even be love.’

Penny and Elliot make up when she gets home, and things are looking up until her old crush (the popular guy) comes by and says he finally likes her too. As she’s getting rid of him he recognizes a picture of Noah that Penny has taken and then it all comes out that Noah is actually a new, fairly well-known singer and supposedly has a superstar girlfriend. Penny is inevitably crushed. How could Noah have lied to her? What happens next is my favorite part of the book. *Somehow* it comes out that Penny has been seeing Noah and her blog and identity are exposed. Sugg details how the internet blows up and how the hate that Penny receives effects her. An embarrassing video of Penny surfaces, gossip mags want to pay her money for her 15 seconds of fame, and worst of all she has disappointed the fans of her blog. It’s a very real look at the dirty underbelly of the internet shown by someone who has seen it all. Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, currently has over seven million subscribers on her YouTube channel alone.

I won’t ruin the ending for you, but it wraps up in what I consider to be a pretty perfect way. We have closure, Penny has a new found confidence and she hears Noah’s side of the story. Although the writing is amateurish, it does not distract from the book at all. I actually think it adds to the story. Penny’s growth over the course of the book is very inspiring to read- I imagine especially for young girls. She goes from being wracked with anxiety and fear to being comfortable in her own skin, and happy with her looks because it is what makes her special. This book manages to tackle so many issues like anxiety, loss of friendship, bullying,  homosexuality, teenage love, and the bad side of the internet with grace and understanding. In the end I’m entertained, inspired, and I want to know what happens next. I for one hope Sugg writes a sequel because we all need to hear the rest of Penny and Noah’s story. She should be proud of her first novel, it is a brilliant debut.

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Click here to see my goals for 2015

You can also see my goals for 2014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!