Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?

Posted March 23, 2017 by Inge in Features, Reviews / 12 Comments

Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?By Your Side by Kasie West
on January 31st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 352

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

One StarOne Star

Normally I’m in love with Kasie West novels, but this was a really big miss for me.

1. They’re trapped in a library and NO ONE EVEN CARES ABOUT THE BOOKS. There is a disappointing amount of reading here.

2. One guy’s in a coma and THERE’S STILL A LOVE TRIANGLE.

3. The anxiety representation felt really off. It seemed like her anxiety came and went at really convenient times. She found out she was trapped in a library for a weekend and it didn’t even faze her.

4. This just felt really bland and uninspired. It could have been a great book, but meh? It was shallow and wholly forgettable. Seriously, THIS COULD HAVE BEEN SO GOOD. Two people are stuck in a library, what more do you need? Alas.

So… I’m basically just going to try to forget this book exists, and keep looking out for Lucky in Love.


Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
on November 16th 2016
Pages: 288

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That's down to one thing: hygge.
'Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight...'
You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.
Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Little Book of Hygge is a small collection of everything that is right in the world. Hygge is a term that doesn’t have a literal translation in many languages, but it is a concept that everyone is familiar with: that sense of warmth, comfort, cosiness, belonging, safety. Something which the Danish have turned into a proper art form. In this little book, you will discover everything about hygge. How to hygge in summer, in winter, on a budget, in Copenhagen. Hygge is a reading nook by the fireplace with a good book and a comfortable blanket. Hygge is a cup of hot chocolate. Hygge is an intimate dinner party with board games. We should all learn how to incorporate hygge into our lives – there is a reason why the Danish are among the happiest people in the world.

As someone with anxiety and depression, I made it my personal mission to learn more about happiness and positivity. Because these things don’t come naturally to me anymore, but I can train myself. I keep a gratitude journal (apparently this is very hygge). I read books about happiness. I spend a lot of time on self-care, even the unpleasant aspects of it (e.g. doctor’s appointments). So when I found out about hygge, I was more than excited to learn more about it. I ordered a Buddy Box, which is a self-care subscription box. The Little Book of Hygge came with it, which was so perfect.

I read this book in my reading nook, with cups of tea, cookies, and several blankets. I learned about candles, discovered recipes, and smiled at beautiful pictures. This book was certainly very hyggelig.


Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot
on February 28th 2017
Pages: 320

The story of a teen girl's struggle with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery.
Sixteen-year-old Pea looks normal, but she has a secret: she has Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). It is like having a monster inside of her, one that not only dictates what she can eat, but also causes anxiety, depression, and thoughts that she doesn’t want to have. When she falls crazy-mad in love with Ben, she hides her disorder from him, pretending that she’s fine. At first, everything really does feel like it’s getting better with him around, so she stops taking her anxiety and depression medication. And that's when the monster really takes over her life. Just as everything seems lost and hopeless, Pea finds in her family, and in Ben, the support and strength she needs to learn that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

One StarOne Star

There are readers, particularly those who have dealt with eating disorders (specifically anorexia and bulimia), who find this book triggering. So please be warned and take care of yourself.

I really, really wanted to like Sad Perfect, but unfortunately, it just… didn’t work for me. I had high hopes, and now that I see that this book pretty much only has 5-star reviews, I think I’m going to be a black sheep.

I am glad I read the book, because I honestly didn’t even know ARFID existed, and now I know a little bit more. The author’s daughter has ARFID so Elliot obviously knows her stuff, and I think this part of the novel was written well and (as far as I know) accurately.

The writing felt quite simplistic to me, probably more along the lines of Middle Grade than Young Adult. The book was jarring from the very beginning because it’s written in second person. This was a very bold and risky move and might work really well for other people, but I never really got used to it.

The romance was far too perfect. They meet, they fall in love, they kiss a lot, everything is perfect. There was literally not a single hair on Ben’s body that was flawed – the main character only described him as beautiful and sweet and romantic and funny and charming and perfect, perfect, perfect. In short: boring, unrealistic, one-dimensional. He also kept saying how she was “different from other girls”, which really grated me. What’s wrong with other girls? (Apart from the fact that they have lots of Instagram followers, which really seemed to bother Pea for some reason.)

I also didn’t like the way her mental illness was treated. The main character thinks she is being cured by LOVE so naturally she stops taking her meds, then goes off the rail. She is eventually committed into a psych ward, which is constantly referred to as “the Crazy House”, and she also refers to her parents as “these crazies”. Someone like her surely should know better than to throw around these phrases lightly.

All in all, I would’ve liked to see more of Pea’s therapy. I was more interested in the eating disorder than I was in all the smooching.

Thank you Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing me with a copy


Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?How Hard Can Love Be? (The Spinster Club, #2) by Holly Bourne
Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd on February 1st 2016
Pages: 480

Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?
All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber's hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there's prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie's advice, there's no escaping the fact: love is hard.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

It was always going to be very hard to top Am I Normal Yet?, because I loved that book so much. It had such a great main character, and pretty damn accurate portrayal of anxiety and OCD, that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

Thankfully, though, its sequel didn’t disappoint. Amber was just as likeable as Evie, old characters shine as brightly as they did before, and the setting was a month-long summer camp, which I always kind of love. On top of that, the Spinster Club comes back in all its feminist glory, which made for some really fun chapters.

Plus, there were so many Harry Potter references, I couldn’t not love it:

“And I was just about to judge her, when she said: “I’m so mad they got rid of Slytherin, I mean, Snape was, like, the best one,” as she walked over, and I learned a lesson about not judging people until you’ve found out whether or not they’ve read Harry Potter.”

Important lessons to be learned here, ladies and gentlemen.

If this series keeps up its momentum, it could very well become one of my favourites, and I’ve already bought the next book. (EDIT: I have since read What’s A Girl Gotta Do? and can confirm that it is awesome.)

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12 responses to “Mini Reviews: By Your Side, The Little Book of Hygge, Sad Perfect, How Hard Can Love Be?

  1. ahitsdina

    Ooh, Pea’s story sounds so triggering and upsetting. It’s weird, because there are so many positive reviews for that book, but oh, it’s so problematic. I used to think of the psych ward as a place for “crazy people.” But, like, when you go there (which I did), you realize how problematic that definition is. I just wish the author challenged these misconceptions in the narrative, especially since she went to this place and met people there.

    Oh no. Why is the boy perfect? Nobody is perfect. Maybe she would initially think this way, but later notice that, oh, look, he is not flawless. and I like him better this way type deal. Why do authors avoid for things to get messy? Life’s messy.

    *rambles on and on*

    • You can ramble all you like, my dear. But yeah, there were definitely a few issues with Sad Perfect. The author is so nice, though! She’s read my review and she’s been really kind about it. It’s good when that happens. (Unlike that author who threatened his reviewer with black magic?? like what?)

  2. Sorry to hear you didn’t love By Your Side! I was super excited for this before because being trapped in a library sounds quite awesome but the fact that there was nothing about books really puts me off. Thanks for sharing anyway!

  3. I just got the Hygge book from the library, and I’m so excited about it. I’ve already read a bit of it, and it just speaks to me. I need to incorporate all the hygge in my life.

    Also, I’m so disappointed in By Your Side. I’ve seen some negative reviews already, and now yours. How can you write a book with people stuck in a library when they don’t even care about books??

    • TELL ME ABOUT THE HYGGE. I need to go look up your review right now, because I can’t remember if I’ve read it or not. And ugh, By Your Side was so disappointing. They read for like 5 minutes?

  4. Ah, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about The Little Book of Hygge – it sounds right up my ally (even though I, er, live on top of the equator, but let us ignore that bit for the moment, yes?) & I cannot wait to check it out from the library. Also, I feel like adding more hygge to one’s life is just a lovely way to deal with inevitable shit mental health days, you know? We all need that bit of warmth & cosiness, but especially those of us with limited spoons.

    Yikes, Sad Perfect sounds rather nightmarish. I am so done on so many levels with the whole “love conquers all, including debilitating mental illnesses” trope – there are so many better things to write about. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, love, but thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. xx

    • Pffft, so what if you accidentally blow up a volcano when you light a few candles? Hygge is definitely a necessary part of life, and I love that the Danish have made this such an important part of their lifestyle. Like, “no, I’m sorry, I need to do some hygge by myself” is a perfectly acceptable excuse not to attend social events — although small events with a handful of people are considered very hyggelig as well. ♥

  5. I’ve heard By Your Side is pretty disappointing, and man the love triangle what? I’ve heard so m uch about Hygge book, Hachette definitely did well with the marketing! I heard that Sad Perfect was triggering, so it definitely sounds like it wasn’t done well at all. I hate books that cure mental illness with love. Great reviews Inge!

    • Thank you, Jeann! I hope you enjoy By Your Side better than I do if you decide to read it. I am already forgetting about it and just looking forward to Lucky In Love 😀

  6. You know, I’ve seen the word hygge here and there but had no idea what it actually was. Now that you’ve explained it a bit more in your “The Little Book of Hygge” mini review, I have to say I’m quite curious and want to learn more! It looks like there’s actually a copy at my local library so I might have to check it out. (So weird for me to say that, I never used to use the library but I’m getting more comfortable with the idea now that I’m getting closer to moving countries and can’t take all my books with me.)

    • Oh, I do hope you love it when you check it out! And come talk to me about it. It’s such a cosy little book, and the concept of hygge seems beneficial to anyone. ♥

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