The Existence of Amy – Lana Grace Riva – Review

Posted in Reviews, Three Star
on January 31, 2021
existence of Amy Lana grace riva

Thank you to Lana Grace Riva for gifting me a copy of The Existence of Amy in exchange for an honest review.

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading The Existence of Amy. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. I read it very quickly over a couple of days, which tells me something. It’s not a perfect read, but it’s good enough that I kept reading.

This is clearly a very personal book, which gives insight into what it’s like to try and live ‘a normal life’ with OCD. Amy, on the surface of it, manages to live her life very normally. She has a job, she gets on with it and she has friends and colleagues who like her. However, it is very soon apparent that something isn’t quite right. 

Amy is an interesting character. We’re told the story through her eyes. This gives us real insight into how she has to do things in order to live normally. She is at times incredibly frustrating. Her mental illness defines so much of her, that as a reader you want to hug her or shake her and say ‘It’s okay’. She has put limits around her life and simultaneously relies on, and tried to push away, those nearest to her.  

Amy is extraordinarily lucky with some of the people she surrounds herself with. They really do save her and this was lovely to see. They are endlessly patient and endlessly try to rally her round – even to something as simple as after work drinks. I think this was valuable in showing the reader what is required to be friends with someone with such a debilitating mental health illness. 

It isn’t a plot-heavy book. The focus is very much on Amy’s introspection rather than any huge plot development. This will tick some people’s boxes and not others. I found myself wishing a little more happened, or we got to see a bit more of Amy’s active recovery, but that’s a very minor comment. 

Some of the characters could be a bit more fleshed out. They – including Amy – were a little dulled out. I wondered if this was intentional to reflect the state of mind of the protagonist, but it does make the novel feel a little superficial in parts. There are also some clunky phrases and rather a reliance on telling rather than showing. There were a few things skipped over entirely (again, this may have been to detail the way Amy’s mind works). The ending felt a little rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. 

It does feel like a relatively truthful and informative account of going through like with OCD, and I think this is where sometimes it falls down a bit as a fiction book. Overall, I enjoyed The Existence of Amy – but I’m not sure it is one I would re-read.

3/5 stars.

Download your free book report templates

Posted in Downloads, Printables
on January 24, 2021
book report downloads

It’s a new year, a new lockdown and well… there’s not much else to say is there?A lot of people have been busy homeschooling and so, I’ve put together a few book report templates for you to use.

I originally made a couple of templates for my niece in the summer. After I posted one of the unicorn ones on twitter it got some good reactions. (I mean, it’s unicorns, what’s not to like?). She’s been enjoying using them since and so, after a bit of tweaking I’ve got them ready to share with you!

I’ve created two that are free to download. Get yours by clicking on the pictures below! If you use them, I’d love to see the results – Please share with me either here or via Twitter. And, if you have any requests for other themes, just use the contact me form and I’ll see what I can do.

Free book report downloads

Book report
Book worm

They’re based on the sort of thing my niece was reading at the time, so they’ve got space for the title, author and illustrator as well as a few notes about why you liked the book – which hopefully you did.

I know as a child I used to love writing book reviews and they’ve certainly kept her busy, so I hope you like them!

I’ve also created a number of variations which I’ve added to my shop. I’ve linked them below so you can see if there are any which take your fancy.

Alien Themed
hero theme book report
Hero themed
monster book report
Monster themed
unicorn book report
Unicorn themed

Adventure Themed
dino-book-report-image
Dino themed
space book report
Space themed

All of these designs can be customised with your child’s name (or your name if it’s you that is using them, we all need a few more fun things in our lives right now). Just contact me and I’ll get back to you about it.

I hope everyone is staying safe, and busy. Fingers crossed this is only the new normal for a little bit longer.

Lockdown Running Challenge Printable

Posted in Downloads, Personal, Printables
on November 5, 2020

I can’t tell you why, I can only assume I wasn’t of sound mind, but when my friend asked me if I fancied joining in lockdown running challenge over the next month-ish, I said ‘OK!’.

I think I got a little bit overexcited. And hysterical about lockdown.

My running is dreadful. I’d only just managed to get back to the gym when they shut again. But, for some reason, I am going to attempt to run 100km over lockdown.

My other half is going to try it too. You’ll be able to spot us a mile off, we’ll be the two hobbling around with lots of blisters. (Well, I will be. He’ll probably be the one that looks all sporty and athletic dragging me behind him).

The only thing that could make this bearable, I thought, was if I had some sort of printable to fill in. So, I’ve made one. It’s not perfect but it’ll do – and if I get through this, I’ll make a blooming beautiful certificate for myself to celebrate!

On the off-chance that any of you are attempting the same challenge, I thought I’d share it here. This is what it looks like.

Download here!

If you’re doing this lockdown running challenge, or similar PLEASE get in contact and let me know how it’s going. I’d love to hear from others.

Also, if anyone has any tips on how to beat running boredom, I am all ears.

Normal service will be resumed soon. I am not at all in my comfort zone here, and I wish I’d signed up to a book challenge instead. Books. They’re so nice, and indoorsy, and comforting and not at all horrible and cold and blister inducing. Thank goodness for my audible subscription, which is about the only thing going to get me through this all.

Library Ready Reads Review

Posted in Reviews, Round Ups
on October 21, 2020

As we stare into the abyss of another sort-of-kinda-pretty-much-a-lockdown, I’m reminded of a blog post I meant to write about my local library’s solution to the last one.  I thought the time had passed for this blog, but as our esteemed government has given me a second chance, I thought I’d get it up quicker this time around.

To encourage people to still use the library, but also reduce the risk of contamination with people picking up books, like many others, my library started offering ‘Ready Reads’. You pick the genres you’re interested in, how many books you want and add any notes that you like, and they’ll select the books for you. They were waiting for me by the entrance of the library and had already been checked out, so I didn’t have to use the checking out machine or anything like that. (Or at least I wouldn’t have had to, had I not been a greedy goblin where books are required and checked out another 4 or 5 at the same time. I have a problem, I know this. But right now I’m not prepared to do anything about it!).

I asked for three books (I didn’t want them to know how much of a book hoarder I am). I told them that I was after funny romance books or crime – and that I was particularly fond of cosy crime a la Agatha Christie.

When I went to pick up my books, I was told that they’d had fun choosing them for me – I think there are quite a few romance fans among the staff!

I received A Country Escape – Katie Fforde, Almost a Bride – Jo Watson and The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds – Alexander McCall Smith.

I read them all while on holiday, because that’s the sort of social being I am. My long suffering fiancé knows better than to try and jam any itinerary too full because I’ll stubbornly sit on any available chair with my book until he gets the hint. 

A Country Escape – Katie Fforde

You know where you are with Katie Fforde and this was exactly the sort of book you want to read on holiday. I’ve read pretty much all of her books over the years, some are better than others, some are very silly (but not silly enough to stop me reading them because hey, a girl wants a nice romance story sometimes). 

This one follows Fran who has always dreamed of being a farmer. When an elderly, distant relative aunt conveniently appears and offers her the chance to inherit the family farm – she jumps at it.

It’s country-ish and comforting. There’s a couple of bumps along the way but ultimately you know how it shouldend – you’ve just got to see how it unravels to that point. I read it in a day, I enjoyed it. I learnt quite a lot about the cheese making process. I’d probably only read it again if I was having a lazy day and wanted a quick read.

Almost A Bride – Jo Watson

I struggled with this one, I really did. At first, I thought one of the librarians might have heard of my plight (never coincide your wedding plans with a global pandemic, folks), and included this as a bit of a joke. But then, how would they know?

Oh goodness me. This was awful. It wasn’t even funny to make up for the ridiculous plot.

Annie believes her boyfriend is about to propose. Alas, that same day she finds him in bed with another woman (and nipple clamps no less..). She also manages to get fired and arrested in a particularly bizarre turn of events.

Anyway, thanks to some rich friends, she finds herself in Mauritius having a lovely time until the ex-boyfriend arrives. She finds another chap who agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend.

I found it incredibly irritating. Daft beyond belief. And there was none of the comedy I was promised. I’m all for a bit of escapism, but some of the characters have to be at least likable. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this one with a barge pole.  

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds – Alexander McCall Smith

I’ve never read anything by Alexander McCall Smith before, much to my chagrin. I’ve always intended to, and I’ve had his novels recommended lots of times before, so I don’t really have an excuse. Mind, I was about 25 before I read my first Agatha Christie novel, so I am often a little bit behind.

I really enjoyed The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds. It wasn’t what I was expecting – actually as the book went on, it kept being not quite what I expected, but in a good way.

Part of the Isabel Dalhousie series, Isabel is asked to investigate the theft of a valuable painting from a wealthy Scottish collector. 

The crime mystery is set against a background of Isabel’s musings on ethics and the human condition, parenting and a few other smaller stories. This was the bit which surprised me, and I found I did really enjoy.

I’ve seen from some other reviews that a lot of people haven’t enjoyed this Dalhousie novel as much as some of the others. If I ever get to the bottom of my TBR list I’ll enjoy giving some others a try. 

In conclusion…

So those were my Ready Reads – enjoying two out of three isn’t bad going, especially given how snobby I can be about books. (I know you wouldn’t necessarily think it from reading my blog. I generally just don’t write blogs about books I don’t like, unless I feel really compelled).

Given the brief of funny romance or cosy crime, are there any books you’d recommend for me to read?