W.H.Smith Zoella Book Club #1

Welcome Back To A Day In The Life Of The Anonymous Me,

You may have seen that this Summer W H Smith teamed up with Zoella and had a bookclub. Zoe chose 8 books to include and spoke about them in this video. Although I had heard of all of them, there were a few that I hadn’t read and there were a few that I had read as ebooks and didn’t have physical copies of, so I bought the 8 books. I re-read the ones I didn’t have physical copies of and read the ones I had never read before. Here are my opinions on each of the books. Enjoy!

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‘Books are uniquely portable magic’ – Stephen King

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The first book in the book club is All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven which I read in May last year and it was my favourite book of last year. This book is told in dual perspective by Violet and Finch. They come from two very different friend groups, but then they meet on the top of their school bell tower as they are both thinking of jumping o commit suicide. They form an unlikely friendship and work on a Geography project together discovering the wonders of Indiana. Although they go to many places, my favourite parts were the Dr Seuss bit and the gravity part on top of the Purina Tower. This book is beautifully written and talks about mental illness in a really delicate way. Lots of my friends have read this book after hearing how much I loved it and they all really enjoyed it too. The emotions the characters expressed in the book all felt so real and Jennifer’s descriptions were exquisite. The book was heart-wrenching, devastating, poignant, honest, but also lovely. If you have read the book you’ll know what I mean about ‘lovely’ *winks*. I am also really excited for her new book Holding Up The Universe to come out and also for the All The Bright Places movie which has Elle Fanning playing Violet. This is one of those books which you find yourself thinking about it long after you have read it and for me that’s what makes an excellent book.

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The next book I hadn’t read, but I’d had my eye on it ever since I saw Holly Bourne talking about it and then read a sampler of it in the back of Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. It’s Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard. The novel is told from Caddy’s perspective and she goes to a private school for girls in Brighton. She is best friends with Rosie, who goes to public school. They have been friends for as long as they can remember, but this year their friendship is tested. In the opening chapters Caddy tells us her milestones she wants to reach before her next birthday are: to get a boyfriend; to lose her virginity; and to experience a significant life event. However, she sets these milestones before she meets Suzanne, who has just joined Rosie’s school. When Suzanne arrives, Rosie spends all her time with Suzanne and Caddy feels jealous about their friendship. It is not until Suzanne confides in Caddy that they begin to come close.

I am so glad that I read this book as it isn’t often you find a Young Adult book purely about friendship. It was beautiful, devastating, heart wrenching and insightful. I thought it was brilliant how the story was told from Caddy’s perspective because although what Suzanne went through affected her, it also affected her friends. Sara Barnard is an amazing author who doesn’t sugarcoat mental health or friendship. This book is so relatable, funny and truthful.

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The third book was We Were Liars by Emily Lockheart which I read as an audiobook last year, so I was pleased to pick up a physical copy of it. I reread it and I picked up on so much foreshadowing that I hadn’t picked up on the first time around. It is about the wealthy Sinclair family, who every year stay on a private island that they own for summer. The book is told from Cady’s perspective, who is the heir to the island. One summer something happened and nobody is talking about it and now Cady is trying to uncover the truth and discover what really went on that summer. I read this last year and read it in a day – it is so mysterious and unpredictable. I had all these theories in my head and NONE OF THEM WERE TRUE. Emily’s writing is extremely poetic and it also dealt with family relationships, money, power and race very well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am sure you will too. I wouldn’t go reading up about it online first though as there is so much that could be spoiled. I only wish that the characters had been developed a bit more, so I felt closer to them, but other than that it was brilliant.

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The next book is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell which was another one of my favourite books last year. I had reread this one in May just before the book club started, so I didn’t reread again! It is about a girl called Cath who is going to University. She is going to the same University as her identical twin Wren. For their whole lives they have done everything together, but everything is about to change. Wren has decided that she wants to go out and experience life. However, for Cath it is difficult to do this as she has anxiety. She writes fanfiction from her favourite book series – Simon Snow – ‘to disappear’ as she tells us in one of the first chapters of the novel. But then she meets Levi, one of my favourite fictional characters ever, and she has to decide whether she is going to go out into the world and explore. I really liked the portrayal of anxiety in this book as it wasn’t the key focus, but it was talked about in a subtle way which still sent a message. I have reread this book several times now and I never get bored of it. You’ve all probably read it anyway as it is so well know and popular, but if you haven’t, where have you been?!

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Next up was The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward. In the US and Canada it is called Madly. I hadn’t read this book before, so I was very excited to pick it up. The book is set in Nova and the Princess accidentally drinks a love potion that she meant for somebody else. She becomes in love with her reflection. The nation call a hunt to find the cure, which is where our protagonist Samantha comes in. Her family are alchemists and used to the most respected alchemists in the kingdom before they fell on hard times. If Samantha can find the cure then it would save their reputation. Samantha goes on the quest and is trying to find the cure before the megapharma company ZoroAster does. One part of this book that I really liked was that the quest was publicised on social media. I had never seen that in a fantasy novel before and therefore I thought the book was up to date and really modern. It was a really nice premise. I also really liked the description. It was really vivid and allowed me to visualise the scenes in my mind. The world building was also excellent. The narration was superb. The book flowed very quickly, which I enjoyed, as it matches with the nature of the adventure itself. The only part it fell short in was the characters. I felt the characters were very one dimensional, especially the villain, who didn’t really live up to the title. In addition, as Evelyn falls in love with herself it could be seen as a LGBTQ+ issue. Her family are trying desperately hard to cure her as they don’t like the new her. It makes the entire perception of normality questioned, which was one of the biggest problems I had with the book, but overall it was a fun read.

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Then we have Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, which I also read as an e-book earlier this year, so I was pleased to get a physical copy of it as I really enjoyed it. The book follows Maddie who  has a weak immune system and is extremely allergic to the world. Doctors don’t know what she is allergic of, so she has to stay in her house and can’t interact with others. The only two people she interacts with are her Mum and nurse Carla. However, this is before Ollie moves in next door. She becomes intrigued about him and they send emails back and forth. The book follows the two of them getting to know each other. I really liked how you can see the emails they write and the things Maddie draws in the book. It made it really interactive and fun to read. I thought the ending was fantastic and it was very unpredictable. I read this book in 2-3 hours. It is perfect to get you out of a reading slump and it is also the perfect summer contemporary read.

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The penultimate book is The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. You are probably all sick of me talking about it as I have raved about it numerous times on my blog ever since I read it last year.  It is about Lennie Walker, who is 17, plays the clarinet and favourite book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. The book starts four weeks after her older and more outgoing sister’s death. It follows Lennie’s life and the decisions she makes after her sister’s death. If you have ever lost someone you’ll be able to relate to this so much. I remember when I read this and Lennie talked about what grieving meant I just thought to myself ‘that is so true’.  I really liked how Jandy Nelson dealt with relationships in this book and not just the romantic ones. The book looks at the relationship Lennie has with her Grandma and Uncle and also her feelings towards her absent Mother and Sister. I very much enjoyed the visual aspect of this book as you can see all the poems Lennie scatters around her town. I don’t want to say too much, but all the poems link together at the end and it is amazing. This book also made me laugh in places, which I thought added perfectly to the portrayal of dealing with grief. This book is breathtaking, relateable, funny and profound.

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And lastly is Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher. It follows Sophie May who works in her local village tea shop with Molly. Molly is a loveable old lady who is friendly, kind and warm. In her village a film company is shooting a movie and she meets actor Billy Buskin in the tea shop. They start to get to know each other and become closer. The book follows the ups and downs of their relationship and fame. I really liked the narrative voice in the book. It was really quick and easy to read. My favourite character was Molly, but also Colin as I felt he was a really great person for Sophie and her Mum to have in their lives. The only part I disliked about this book was that the secret Sophie May was keeping didn’t seem so big that she couldn’t take her life outside of her village when she was eighteen. Overall, I liked the book and I liked the portrayal and representation of anxiety in the book. It was very realistic.

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I loved how all the covers of the books in the book club are different to their original ones. They are all beautiful and fit perfectly together, as well as being really nice collectables.

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So there you have it, those were the eight books in the Zoella Book Club.  Let me know if you have read any of these or if you now want to read some of these. Also, please let me know if you would like me to do this sort of post with Round Two of the Zoella Book Club as I really enjoyed writing this post for you.

Happy Blogging! xx

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22 thoughts on “W.H.Smith Zoella Book Club #1

  1. I loved this post! Your photos are gorgeous (as always) and I loved how you talked in depth about each book. I would love for you to do another one of these for round two of the book club. Love, Samantha

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  2. What a lovely post! I will totally be reading some of these very soon. I’m pleased you raised that point about The Potion Diaries. I thought that too when I read it, but I hadn’t heard anyone else talk about it. I really enjoyed All The Bright Places and I will definitely be looking out for Beautiful Broken Things in my local bookshop. It would be great if you could do a post like this for the second selection of books as I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Sophie xox

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that about The Potion Diaries. Overall it is a good book, but I just had a few problems with it. You’ll love Beautiful Broken Things and thank you for your feedback on wanting me to do a second post. Happy Blogging! xx

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  3. Oh wow, this post made me want to read the books of these that I haven’t! (If that makes any sense haha) I’ve immediately put them on my to read list 🙂
    Also, the pen name I use (Lennie) was inspired by the sky is everywhere because OMG I love that book so much. Glad to see you felt the same way!

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    1. I’m so pleased you want to read these books and that you love The Sky Is Everywhere as much as I do. Have you read I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson? Happy Blogging! xx

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      1. I have, actually! I remember liking it, but not as much as the other. I’ve only read it once though, I’d like to reread it. (I’ve read TSiE more times than I count)

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        1. I preferred The Sky Is Everywhere too, but I’ll Give You The Sun is also amazing. Jandy Nelson is such a talented author. I’ve read The Sky Is Everywhere 3 times I think. Happy Blogging! xx

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  4. Loved your post! I’m currently reading All The Bright Places and it’s indeed brilliant. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Also, I like The Selection book series so I think you should check that out if you already haven’t. xx

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    1. All The Bright Places is amazing. I’ve heard lots about the selection series, but never picked it up. Perhaps I ought to fix that soon! They’re by Kiera Cass aren’t they? Happy Blogging! xx

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    1. The ones I wouldn’t reccomend are Billy and Me and The Potion Diaries. All the others are great. I’d recommend All The Bright Places, Beautiful Broken Things and The Sky Is Everywhere the most. Also, if you’d like to take part in Collabmas, please feel free to. I’d love it if you’d take part. You can find all the info about it here https://adayinthelifeoftheanonymousme.wordpress.com/2016/10/07/collabmas-i-need-your-help/
      Happy Blogging! xx

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