How To Be Perfect by Holly Wainwright – A Book Review

Some time last week I was staring at the book on the top of my to read pile, saying something like this…

“What exactly is perfect? Who decides what defines perfect, and being perfect is kind of impossible anyway isn’t it?”

Then I snatched up How To Be Perfect by Holly Wainwright and started reading, and from there I barely stopped.

And yes, that entire conversation was with myself… I don’t get out much.

So now, here I am trying to figure out how to put into words how I felt about this book.

Amused, inspired, inlove, coffee… no wait, that last one just snuck in there.

Okay, so maybe I need to start with a basic synopsis.

How to be perfect carries on from Mummy Bloggers about twelve to eighteen months later. Elle is knee deep in her latest scam already, and without her boys this time. Adrian, Teddy and Freddie are living on the farm with Abi, Grace and the whole family. Leisel doesn’t make much of an appearance in this one, but instead we meet Frances. She’s a first time mum, forced back to work as a nurse when her little boy Denny is only six months old.

As usual everyone is brought together by the force of Elle, but this time things are different. Circumstances have changed, and Elle may have gotten in a little over her head with her latest scam.

I don’t want to give much else away so I’ll leave it at that.

How to be Perfect is not just a light entertaining read, it’s also a relatable one. This is why I loved it so much, and it’s why I loved Mummy Bloggers too. I mean I can’t say I’ve experienced every situation in this book, but I can identify or empathise with all of them.

At times I thought Frances was put in this book purely to make me feel better, to make me feel less of a screw up and a bit more normal.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting all emo on my review and I know I’m not really a screw up, it’s just that her struggles with Denny, being a new mum, feeling judged, feeling like you’re not enough… I’ve felt all of those things on numerous occasions.

And if you’re a parent reading this, I’m sure if you’re being honest with yourself you have as well.

But you know what, as entertaining and relatable as the characters in this book are, it’s the feeling that came over me when I finished the last page that’s staying with me days after finishing it. The closing page in itself nailed how to be perfect on the head, and how perfect it is to admit that you’re not perfect.

How is it that this novel has left me feeling so light? How did it manage to make me feel a part of something without even leaving my house? I see other parents in public and am able to relate with them in some way shape or form, and they’re total strangers, how?

I think perhaps that’s credit to reading about all of these woman who are co-existing and not so quietly hating each other, yet are still understanding of each other at the same time. When something bigger is at play than they’re dislike for one another they still banded together. It’s inspirational.

It makes me feel unified.

I feel like I’m suddenly part of a community even though this is a fictional novel.

How does that even work?

I’ll tell you why….

It’s because Holly Wainwright is an amazing woman, writer, mother, and blogger.

She just gets it.

She’s inspirational in herself.

5 stars out of 5 for this one.

Thanks Holly for sharing this with the world!

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Note to self…

Never is a day perfect but that’s okay, life isn’t meant to be perfect. If it was and everything was easy, how would you learn and grow?

Know the difference between a good day and a bad day, but don’t dwell on it because things can change in a second. What you need to focus on is the way you carry yourself through the imperfect moments. Will you laugh? Will you break down and cry? Will you scream at whoever will listen?

More importantly, will you learn from it?

Sometimes you need a moment to take a breath, to reflect. Remember that it’s not as bad as you think, hindsight will always teach you this.

It will also teach you that there’s a reason behind everything. Sometimes you need to understand it, sometimes you don’t. But you always need to remember that there is a reason.

Always.

Life isn’t meant to be smooth sailing, sometimes things just happen…

But guess what, these “things” only make you feel what you allow them to. Don’t allow them to make you feel frustrated, sad or angry.

Don’t let yourself believe that you’re a failure, you’re just a learning human being. We all are. The only way that you can fail is to not accept when you’re struggling, because if you can’t accept it, you can’t improve it.

Choose to smile, give hugs and share love, those are the things that matter.

Wrath and the Dawn – A Book Review

I was skeptical that I could like this self confessed murderer, King Khalid. I mean if I did like this guy, wouldn’t that make me pretty messed up? Since when does the reasoning behind such a brutal act really make a difference… the deed had still be done. Hundreds of times over. Hundreds of innocent lives lost… and yet, it does make a huge difference.

This time.

The Wrath and the Dawn challenged me like that. It was full of intrigue and themes of stereotypes, the struggle of independence for women… and love.

“I prefer the colour blue to any other.

The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment.

I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night –

For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.

Khalid.”

See, he doesn’t sound like a monster murderer? Are you as keen as I was to find out more.

Well I’m not going to give you anything… just this.

The Wrath and the Dawn is a story about a king who takes a new wife every night and kills them every dawn. One of those girls happens to be Shazis best friend, and so hell bent on revenge Shazi voluntarily marries the murderous king planning to kill him herself. It becomes apparent that Shazis plan for revenge is harder than she thought…

Admittedly I struggled with the first few chapters due to the introduction of several characters in quick succession, but once the story got going it was much easier to remember who was who.

The characters in this novel are what got me hooked. Everyone who took a big part in the novel had their own agenda, or provided something that the story really needed.

I was taken with the main character Shazi immediately. She had clear objective and a strong will. It was a breath of fresh air to read a female lead who was so punchy. In saying that, she wasn’t perfect and she missed a stack of opportunities to get her revenge on the murderous king, before she’d changed her mind on the matter. It really bothered me. and it seemed at odds with her character to not have a solid plan with backups in place. She gave up way too easily on her original objective if you ask me (no matter how much better things turned out).

Ultimately these actions contributed to her character growth though, and it was entertaining to see her sass being dished out on those who deserved it. However it wasn’t all just about her…

A third of the way in, Khalid the so called murderous king was growing on me. What I was lead to see of him is what kept me reading until 3am, and the idea that I might actually like him was a secret shame. It became apparent that Shazi had become his weakness. It was in the subtle change of his expression whenever Shazi was around, or better yet, when she was challenging someone.

He admired her in his own way, behind his walls… but I could see it, and I loved it.

I enjoyed Jalal’s cheekiness, and Despina’s dry wit even though I felt you can trust her about as far as you could throw her.

And Tariq… poor Tariq. Love triangles suck.

It was written quite poetically at times, and was heavy on descriptions. It did good to help set some beautiful and intricate scenes, but I myself tend to skim over that stuff most of the time. If it slows down the plot and doesn’t hold its weight, I’m a strong believer in cutting description completely or at least drip feeding it.

There was a fair bit of description surrounding people’s eyes, and in turn a few noticeable repeat phrases that jarred the reading such as “cutting his/her eyes”.

However, rarely is anything perfect and it obviously didn’t stop me from finishing this book in a little under 48 hours.

So after my binge reading session, I can safely say that Wrath and the Dawn was a satisfying read. Even now when I think about this novel, I fall into a moment of reflection on love and the perfect imperfection of it all.

Love manifests in different ways, and is expressed in just as many. Love has the ability to change the way you see the things around you, just as easily as it can change the way people see you.

That’s something that we should all remember.

Love is stronger than hate.

Thank you, Reneé Ahdieh.

I’m just going to throw this out there…

Writing a novel is damn hard!!

Before I started on my first manuscript I didn’t fully appreciate what a mammoth task I was about to undertake.

I’ve hit so many walls and writing slumps that I’ve lost count. I’ve prioritised and re-prioritised my life several times over, and I’m still trucking along with my first draft.

I keep finding myself sitting down and writing every spare second I’ve got for about a week at a time, then realise I’m living in a pigsty and have to tone it back to do some housework.

This being said, I’m going to address the elephant in the room here…

My blog.

My poor, neglected little blog.

6 months ago Books, Ramblings and Life was averaging one new post a week.

One. New. Post. A. Week!!

I can’t even bring myself to look at the date on my last post!!

So I’d like to publicly apologise for my neglectful behaviour to my blog, and to any of my sincere followers who have been missing me.

The truth is, in my hectic life and my obsession with getting words down on my work in progress I simply haven’t had any other spare time.

Clearly this is something I’ve got to work on.

I know that presence on line as an author is just as important as actually writing your books, and there’s a ton of short courses on creating your author profile etc. So I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually. Speaking of which, if anyone has a tidbit of advice to share on that feel free to leave me a comment.

Anyway, for now that’s all I have to say on the matter of my poor writing habits.

For anyone interested I have approximately 30,000 words to go, and I can’t speak highly enough of the AWC and what I learnt from completing their 6 month write your novel course.

I know I haven’t finished yet, but I have 50,000 words that actually contribute to my plot.

I couldn’t have that achievement to brag about without their feedback, and their amazing online tutors.

Bye for now, but not for long.

My Writing Tip For The Week

Schedule Time To Write

Obviously I haven’t been! We’ve had such a busy couple of weeks that I’ve barely had time to turn on my laptop. Writing, working and parenting is proving difficult to juggle.

So I’ve realised that scheduling an actual time slot to write is the most productive way for me. Most of the time my story is bubbling away at the back of my mind, so by the time I sit down to write I already know what has to happen.

It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, every week (although some people can make that work) I think being honest with yourself, and being disciplined with your writing time is really what counts.

Take it from me, because I’m learning the hard way, haha.

Did someone say free coffee???

So anyone who knows me well, knows that the way to my heart is by providing me with coffee. In fact, when any of my work colleagues present me with a mocha I have been known to say “Did you just sprout angel wings or is the smell of that coffee making me delusional?” or something else corny and completely weird like that.

So as you can imagine, my heart was filled with all sorts of joy when my local barista informed me that my coffee was on the house!

What!? On the house!?

Yep. One free large mocha for me!! No I didn’t have a freebie on my loyalty card, and I was certainly not mistaken! Yet I found myself standing there with a free coffee in hand! Are you wondering how?

What had happened was a lovely gesture by a total stranger. A woman had visited earlier and handing the barista a $50 note told him that she insisted that she pay for the next $50 worth of coffees.

Some wonderful woman out there spent $50 worth of coffee on complete strangers! She doesn’t just have angel wings, she’s got a halo too.

When the shock of free coffee settled, I smiled and felt all fuzzy inside (perhaps the warm liquid chocolate helped with that) but mostly, I was just amazed. Amazed that there are still such thoughtful people in our society. She absolutely made my day, and it’s a comforting thought to know that there are people out there as kind and as thoughtful as this stranger I’ll never meet.

Maybe we can all learn from her actions?

If you don’t have $50 to spare, perhaps there’s another way that we can all help each other and make our days brighter. Have a think about it, I will be.

Positivity makes the world go round after all.

My Writing Tip for the Week

I have to remind myself of this every time that I open my laptop.

I become such a perfectionist while I’m writing, and as I sit obsessing over the perfect word, all I end up with is imperfect sentences. It makes me lose pace, forget where my characters are going and what’s driving them. Most importantly, it stops me from moving forward.

Tell me what you’d rather; 20,000 perfectly polished over edited words, or 40,000 words consisting of basic sentences and blunt plot points?

I’d take the 40,000 any day.

So write badly, and keep writing badly until everything is on the page. You can fix it all later.