#AWW2020 “There’s one relationship I’ve neglected my whole life: my relationship with myself.” // Review of “It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake” by Claire Christian

Title: It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake
Author: Claire Christian
Genre: Contemporary
Intended audience: Adult
Date Read: 11/10/2020– 12/10/2020
Rating: 
★★★★★

Review: 

noniblakecoverI have followed Claire Christian on Instagram ever since reading her debut YA novel Beautiful Mess so I had been seeing a lot about this new release. I decided to grab it when I saw it at the library, but I had no idea how much it would affect me.

I’m writing this review two weeks later, and I’ve been thinking about the book all this time. The idea of a woman taking control of her life and making choices on the fly and not worrying about what people might think… I’m trying to embrace that these days and seeing a character who also struggles with it but learns to really lean into her own desires and wants… that was very inspiring!

Noni is such a relatable character and I saw a lot of myself in her, especially the way she struggled with insecurities. Even towards the end, she was still trying to convince herself that her Pleasure Quest had just been for a little while, and that all good things must come to an end and she has to go back to how things were. The idea that living her life for her could only be a temporary thing was so ingrained. We are so conditioned to put other people before ourselves.

It’s worth noting that Noni’s Pleasure Quest is not just about sexual pleasure, though that plays a significant role. It’s pleasure in the little things – dancing at a club and not caring who sees, feeling incredible as you stride down the street in a new outfit you would have never dared wear before, or being comfortable enough in your body to take part in a nude photo shoot.

If I had not started this book in the evening and needed to go to bed, I would have read it in the one day. It was engrossing and delightful and I couldn’t put it down.


This review is part of my 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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#aww2018 #LoveOzYA “Own your art. Own your existence.” // Review of “Beautiful Mess” by Claire Christian

Title: Beautiful Mess
Author: Claire Christian
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I used to begin reviews like this with something like “I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA but…” as though I needed a disclaimer for any contemporary I enjoyed. I am getting rid of that disclaimer now because I’ve found in the past year that contemporaries have been among my favourites, while YA SFF has often been further down. My attitude used to be “why would I want to read about teenagers and their dramas?” but now I’m realised that these stories have so much to say that transcends one particular age group. This is one such book.

Ava is struggling with depression after the death of her best friend six months ago. Gideon has struggled with anxiety and self-esteem issues all his life. When they meet after both beginning work at the same kebab shop,  they form a bond that could just be the one thing that keeps them both going.

There was nothing especially revolutionary about the plot of this novel. What was fantastic to see, though, was the way Christian subverted so many of the tropes commonly found in YA books that deal with this subject matter. Neither Ava nor Gideon’s parents were absent or uninvolved in their kids’ lives; both kids had good relationships with therapists (in Gideon’s case, the idea of trying out different therapists until you find one that clicks with you is acknowledged) and the characters are not saved throught The Power of  LoveTM.

Both Ava and Gideon are beautifully formed characters. The chapters alternate between their first-person POVs, which I often find irritating, as I often find that in first person, both characters end up sounding much the same. This was not an issue here. Gideon writes poetry and competes in poetry slams and I loved the inclusion of his poems throughout the text.

For a fair chunk of the book, I was hoping that it wouldn’t become a romance, and would instead focus on the strength of friendship. Inevitably, though, the main characters did get involved romantically. For what it was, this was mostly done well, but I did find Gideon behaving in a disappointing fashion towards the end of the book. I felt that the ending left a little bit to be desired, but at the same time, I’m not sure these two characters’ story could have worked out any other way.

Still, as you can tell, I highly recommend this book with its great mental health rep, strong characters and some beautfully-written poetry.


This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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#WWW Wednesday – December 27, 2017

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This blog hop is hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for this week, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

I totally thought I posted last week, then I found last week’s post sitting in my drafts a few days later, which explained why no one had interacted with it. So there is the last two weeks of my reading.

What have you recently finished reading?

I accidentally powered through my Christmas books and forgot to save them for reading over Christmas! I finished both What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham and Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and I enjoyed them both quite a lot.  My reviews are here and here respectively.

Warcross by Marie Lu was next. This was fun, though it did feel a bit like a series opener. I predicted one of the twists but not the other one, and even though I called it, it didn’t actually affect my enjoyment. I’ll definitely continue with the series as it comes out.

After that, I read Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian. This was a great YA contemporary about two teens dealing with mental illness and helping each other through it. The ending was maybe not the greatest, but it was really good mental health representation (along with supportive parents and a healthy attitude towards medication, amongst other things).

On audio, I finished Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I honestly have no idea how I felt about it. I mean, it was kind of an addictive read but I didn’t agree with anything the characters did so I was constantly cranky at them… the thirteen-year-old showed more sense than any of the adults…

My reviews of The End by Lemony Snicket and Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy also went up since my last post. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

I just started False Awakening by Cassandra Page. This is the sequel to  Lucid Dreaming which I read last year. I have only read the first chapter at the time of writing this, but I do enjoy Cassandra Page’s writing style, so I think I will enjoy it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure yet. I have a couple of ARCs that release fairly early in the new year so I should probably get onto  those. Not sure what I’m  in the mood for at the moment, though.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily