Am I Normal Yet?

Nefarious Tales Blog Tour: Do we actually need villains in books?


There’s no denying that often, villains can be the most interesting and readable character in a book. Although being sometimes frustrating by getting in the hero’s way, I think a well crafted villain can really make or break a book. Specifically in fantasy, there’s often a bad guy who doesn’t want to help our hero in their journey. But are villains critical for every book?

A boring villain doesn't emotional impact. If they come across as cold and heartless (for pretty much no specific reason), their mere existence in the book can be pointless. Like, if they just hate the ‘right cause’, there seems to be no point in them, and it gets frustrating. Personally, if I’m not able to resonate with the villain, I can’t hate them or understand them, as they’re just too dull.

However, this tends to just be in fantasy or sci-fi books. In fantasy especially, the hero has to go on a journey, and the bad guy is standing in their way. In these genres, I think we definitely do need something to hinder them on their journey. If it was easy with no one standing in their, it would make a pretty boring book!

Could a mental hurdle work too? I haven’t read any books like this, but I’m thinking that the character could have something else that gets in their way - not a specific person or group of people. The hero could have a mental illness which they need to overcome (yay diversity ideas!), which would make a very interesting fantasy novel. Maybe depression could be the villain?

This is explored a lot more in contemporary novels. Although there can be someone who is getting in the way of the protagonist, mental boundaries are explored a lot more. One of my favourite books exploring these themes is Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne. The protagonist, Evie, is recovering from OCD, and just starting college. Her mental illnesses are great boundaries for her, because she it restricts her and can’t live her life ‘normally’. This book is so important because it’s about overcoming mental struggles. In this book, there is no villain, except her OCD.

This leads on to saying: instead of a physical villain, could the protagonist be their own villain. There’s the saying “you’re your own worst enemy”, and maybe that could be the case (and in more books than we think) for some books. At some point in their life, everyone suffers from low self esteem, which can be so much worse than any villain from any book.

So overall, it seems like many fantasy books do have villains, even if they’re not necessarily needed. I think maybe we do need some sort of bad thing/person the protagonist has to overcome, but it doesn’t have to be a physical person, even though that’s what it tends to be. It would make interesting variety for the protagonist to be facing mental demons though! 

To celebrate this blog tour, Mishma is hosting an international giveaway! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Don't forget to check out all the other stops on the blog tour! Today, you can visit:
Quality Fangirls
Paging Serenity
Chasing Faerytales to check out the other posts on the tour from today!!

Don't forget to join in the twitter chat tonight (7pm EST) about villains too.

Thank you to Mishma for hosting this blog tour! So, it's your turn: do you think we actually need villains in books?

arc review

ARC Review: What I Thought Was True


What I Thought Was True
By Huntley Fitzpatrick

Series: None (stand alone)
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
Page count: 496
Published (UK): 7th April 2016 by Electric Monkey
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, 

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

**I received a free eARC through Netgalley. This does not affect my honest opinion**

I really enjoyed Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut book, My Life Next Door, so when I saw this was available for request on Netgalley, I was so excited! I’m really pleased all her books are being published in the UK, because I know many people will enjoy them. Sadly, I believe this is definitely her weakest one. Where My Life Next Door was easygoing and relaxing, What I Thought Was True was boring and confusing. This one highly disappointed me.

The thing that let the book down the most was the pacing. The start was really slow, which made me reluctant to read on to find out what would happen next, and I didn’t connect with the characters instantly either. This shouldn’t have been at all confusing, but the way the flashbacks were laced in the story meant I became confused to what was happening in the past. A whole array of characters were suddenly introduced, but we hadn’t seen them before, so I was at a complete loss as to who was who, and what was going on. 

Gwen, the main character, made the book bearable. She had a great sense of humour, and she stood up for herself when people weren’t giving her the respect she deserved. I liked how she refused to change herself for Cass (who I definitely didn’t like) and stayed true to herself.

I wouldn’t recommend this book. If you’re looking for a light, summer contemporary romance, there’s plenty of others out there, or you could try Fitzpatrick’s other books. This one was too long and slow paced, even if the ending did give full closure. I found it too hard to get into, which is not what I’m looking for in a book like this. 


Do you Read More of a Particular Diverse Theme?


Conversations is a brand new, discussion based meme hosted at Corralling Books and Fiddler Blue, which aims to provoke discussion posts on various themes. This month’s theme is Popular Issues, and today’s topic is on reading more of a certain intersection of diverse books.

Are there any particular diverse books you read more and why?

As soon as I saw today’s question, I immediately knew the answer: LGBT+ books. I find all aspects of diversity equally important and interesting, but I find having LGBT+ characters make the book feel loads more original (to me, anyway). Romance features in pretty much every (popular) YA book, so when the romance is different, it sets book apart from the crowd.

I find the dynamics of a gay couple a lot more interesting. Because of the prejudice faced for being queer (and potentially even more for the gender of the characters e.g. a lesbian relationship, or non-binary people), it’s a very different relationship to a heterosexual one. There’s literally an abundance of heterosexual romances, and you can literally find every type of m/f romance - if you’re willing to have a little dig - but that’s certainly not the case for gay romance. Every gay romance is different, so I read more of it because I know it will be completely original, as the dynamics of the relationship changes everything.

However, I find books about POC and different cultures extremely interesting too, and I’m trying to branch out to read more of these. I think I have the least experience in this field (I’m white British, from a town where the majority of people are the same), so I’m learning more about all the other cultures. It’s very interesting to me because I have no idea about all of the customs and traditions, so although I don’t read these books the most, I am trying to!

Are there any diverse books you read more of? What are some recommendations for books with POC and different cultures?

5 Stars

3 Reasons why you should read The Art of Being Normal


The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson
Series: None (Stand alone)
Source: Waterstones
Format: Paperback
Pages: 357
Published: 1st January 2015
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT+, Contemporary, 

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long...

I read The Art of Being Normal a few months ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s become one of my all-time favourite books because I loved it so much! I can’t recommend it highly enough, but if you’re still unsure on whether to read it why don't you trust me?!, here are some reasons why it should be your next read!

1. The Writing

Lisa Williamson has become one of my favourite authors, even after reading just one book by her. She's a really talented writer, and this book proves it. It's written with a dual POV, which I’m usually wary of, because sometimes it can become confusing, or sometimes I like one person’s voice much more than another. However this was certainly not the case - I loved reading about David and Leo equally, and could tell their voices apart distinctly. I liked seeing depth from both of them, and it added so much to the story. I’m really glad it was written this way, because it meant I was able to see different perspectives on the story.

2. The Characters

This is a purely character driven novel, but it’s done so well! I instantly adored all of the characters, but especially the main characters, David and Leo. David was like a fluffy puppy for me - he was instantly loveable, and I just wanted to give him a hug all the time. He was innocent yet I never found him annoying, and I cared about him so so much. At many points you could call his story pretty tragic, but the way that he was always so full of optimism and hope made the book uplifting and truly inspirational. 

Leo was our other main character. He was different to David in the sense that he was initially shown as grumpy and miserable. However, the book was written from both of their perspectives, so we got to see both sides to the story. I loved reading about Leo just as much as I loved reading from David’s voice, because he had more depth to him. His character developed so much throughout the book, and I loved seeing how it unraveled for him.

He was precious to me too, because a lot of bad things happened to him in the book as well. He handled it differently to David, with much less of David’s enthusiasm - some may think he was too predictable because of this, but I thought he was the complete opposite to that. It made him so much more interesting, because we got to see inside his walls and outer shell that he put up. He had his reasons for everything he did, which sometimes were truly devastating. I wanted to give him a huge hug too at times, because of how badly he was treated! I think Leo was my favourite character due to how much depth he had, and how much I loved finding more and more about him. 

3. The Important Messages

Another reason to read this book is how important it is. No matter what your gender identity is, I think the messages conveyed will be beneficial to everyone. This story is about transgender people, and I think the issues raised about the topic are dealt with such sensitivity and care. I’ve met the author in person (I know, I fangirled so hard!! She was so lovely!), and she was talking about to the extent she researched this book, which I think proves more of her skill, and more of how well it's written. It’s so educational, and if I could, I would make it compulsory for everyone to read this! It teaches acceptance, love, and compassion without ever being boring or patronising, so you just need to read it!

As you can tell, I absolutely adored The Art of Being Normal! As well as all the reasons listed above, it was a highly emotional read, and was the first book ever to make me cry first time around. It was also super addictive. Read it so we can gush together! ☺

Book Tags

The Get to Know Me Tag


Image credit to Freepik 
Thank you very much to Geraldine at Corralling Books for tagging me to do this! I love finding out more about book bloggers, and the person behind the screen (...okay, that sounds a little weird!), so I’m super excited to do this tag!

Vital Stats

Name: Denise
Nicknames: I don’t really have one? Sometimes Stephanie calles me Den, but apart from that, I don’t really have one! You can call me something short for Denise if you want, but it’s not really long enough to contract well, haha :D
Birthday: 27th March
Star Sign: Aries! Quick side note: How do you non-aries people manage when you’re reading any astrology things? Aries is always at the top, so it’s super easy to find. I can just read the top of the post, then carry on scrolling. Does it get really annoying, having to always hunt for your sign? *yelling* HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO IT?!
Occupation: I’m in high school! I don’t do any jobs, so maybe blogging counts as an occupation...?


Hair colour: Light brown! Some people say it’s blonde, but currently I would describe it as light brown. Sometimes when I’m camping, I do get a few blonde streaks from the sun, and I hate them!
Hair length: Super short! It probably now goes to just under my ears, but I’m hoping to get it cut super short again. I used to have really long hair (like down to my waist), but I plaited it, got it cut off, and donated it to charity, to make wigs for young girls with cancer! I like my short cut a lot more, as well as feeling good about donating my hair to a good cause ;)
Eye colour: Light brown, which maybe some gold specks in? Probably more like basic brown, haha
Best feature: Now this one is hard. Are we talking about appearance-wise? Because if so, I think my figure - I’m very tall, and quite slim with (I think!) nice curves. I feel weird saying this, though!
Braces: Nope! I never had, and I don’t think I ever will.
Piercings: I have single ear piercings in each ear, but I hardly ever wear earings. I’d love to get more though - I think when I’m older, I’d love to get more on my ear, and a nose ring! I also think eyebrow piercings look pretty cool ☺
Tattoos: NOT YET. But one day! I really want a tattoo... I don’t know what of though! I’m thinking maybe lyrics on the inside of my arm, or a beautiful floral design covering a thigh. I think tattoos are so beautiful!
Right or left handed: This is super weird, but I’m kind of both? Like, I write and brush my teeth and stuff with my right hand, but I do loads of other stuff with my left hand. I use the computer/mouse with my left hand, eat with a spoon with my left hand, and I’m left footed too!


Best friend: I can’t really remember this one, so I think I’ll just say my sister! We’re only 2 years apart in age (she’s younger than me), and we get on really well.
Award: This is a hard one! I did dance for around the first 8 years of my life, and I did loads of exams so probably that. I have a rainbow trophy to prove, too!
Sport: I think dancing or swimming!
Real holiday: When I was really young, I went to Portugal a few times - it was lovely!
Concert: I saw Ed Sheeran on his X World Tour - I had one of the best times of my life! I’m not really a big fan of Ed Sheeran any more, but at the time, I WAS THE BIGGEST FAN EVER. I have 2 t-shirts, all his albums on CD, and 2 posters as well. I was a fan way before he was famous - even before + came out!


Film: I don’t really have one! I love Turner and Hooch though... Hooch is the cutest dog, ever!
TV Show: DOCTOR WHO! I’m a proud whovian! However, I didn’t love the most recent series. I found the plot too predictable, and I’m not loving Peter Capaldi as the doctor too. I’m glad Clara’s going though! The first series was definitely the best, and the 9th Doctor is definitely my favourite.
Colour: For ages, I said I didn’t have a favourite colour, but now I think it’s black. (The absence of colour, of course)
Song: Okay, this is the hardest question ever. Am I allowed to pick 50? I think it might be Lie Awake by Creeper (my favourite band, gah, they’re so cool). I have a ‘favourites’ playlist on Spotify, so you can check that out here:
Restaurant: This is a hard one! I don’t have a favourite, but there’s loads of small cafes near me which are lovely ☺
Shop: B&M! If you’re British, you’ll know the greatness of this shop. It’s a HUGE chain shop, where they sell pretty much everything really cheaply. It’s more stuff instead of food, but they sell the cheapest sweets ever! I know I can always find a really great bargain there.
Books: Why, why, WHY are you asking me this, and why do you expect me to be able to answer it?! I have so many: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock; The Perks of Being a Wallflower; and Under My Skin are a few of them. You can check out all of my favourites on my goodreads shelf here.
Shoes: None! I hate wearing shoes, because I have really wide feet. I find most really uncomfortable, so I like to go bare foot around the house. If I have to choose, I’d probably say my slippers! (which I’m wearing as we speak)


Feeling: Content! We’ve just taken my dog on a walk in the sun, so now I’m just relaxing with some left-over Easter chocolate ;)
Single or Taken: Single!
Eating: Some Easter chocolate - a chocolate orange aka THE NICEST CHOCOLATE EVER. I feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t have it in their country - I adore this chocolate! :D
Thinking about: How much I hate pop music (the radio is on, and I’ve been hating practically every song that’s been on)
Watching: I’m not watching anything right this minute, but at the moment I’m watching Shadowhunters, which is so good! I know loads of people have been saying they’re hating it, but I’m actually really enjoying it. I’m looking forward to every Wednesday, when there’s a new episode!
Wearing: Leggings, a top, and a hoodie. Not very interesting, but comfy!


Children: Nope. Never. I would not want the responsibility of looking after someone that intensely, and I don’t think I would be able to do it. Pushing soemthing that big out of me would hurt so much too! Also, I hate kids #sorrynotsorry
Marriage: Noo! No way! I do not ever want that level of comitment, and marriage means nothing to me anyway. It doesn’t mean you’ll be together forever, and (imo) is just a waste of money.
Careers: I have no idea. Maybe something to do with music, art, or design? I’d love to do blogging as a career, but I’m not sure if that would be possible. Being a music journalist would be amazing! I’d love to work in publishing as well. Or something to do with space.
Where you want to live: A big city! If it was going to be in the UK, then definitely London because of all the book events. New York or Chicago look amazing too!

Do you believe in...?

God: No. I’ve had the experience of religion, and I don’t think it’s for me. I find it hard to believe, sorry.
Miracles: No (same reason for not believing in God)
Love at first sight: Nope! (I’m starting to sound very cynical here). I think someone can like another person based on first sight, but I don’t think you can fall in love with someone by only seeing them once.
Ghosts: No! I’m really good with stuff like this, in the sense that I can watch/read any horror stuff, and it doesn’t affect me at all afterwards.
Aliens: Hell yeah! The universe is infinite, so do you really believe that there is only one planet - Earth - that has life on? Definitely not! There must be life out there, somewhere!
Soul mates: I’m not sure... I think yeah! I think that some people are made for each other, and naturally get on a lot better. This doesn’t have to be romantically, but I do think that some people just suit each other so well.
Heaven/hell: No. I’m an atheist, so I believe that death is the end.
Kissing on the first date: If both people want to, then why not? I haven’t been on a date, so I can’t speak from experience, but I don’t see why not.
Yourself: This is a really hard one for me, and I’m honestly not sure. There are times when I believe in myself, but at the moment, I honestly don’t know if I do.

I tag...