Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery - Keren David

I saw this book when I was looking for a third book for a 3 for 2 offer in Waterstones. It's amazing how hard it always is to find that third book in an offer, whether you get it free or pay for it. It's actually incredibly irritating.
Anyway, it looked fun but I wasn't sure about paying £6.99 when I didn't know what it would turn out like and I've never heard of Karen David before, although apparently she has other notable books for YA...whoops.
This is also a relatively new book, only being released this month, so glad I got the chance to read it.

Synopsis: Lia is really just a normal teenager. Her mother is a nag, her sister a pain, her father's bakery business is failing AND she is getting no-where in her quest for the potentially paranormal but gorgeous Raf. Oh, and she just won £8 million in the lottery. Suddenly everything is changing for good, and for bad.


Review: Let's face it, all teenage girls now who are about 15/16 have dreamt of that perfect life living somewhere without parents, and had the obsession with Twilight and vampires in general that sparkle like a Christmas tree*.  But we know it won't happen for a while...or ever in some cases. So I think most girls can relate to Lia, well, partly.
Lia wins the £8 million after her best friend, Jack, buys her a lottery ticket as a late birthday present. The book starts with you finding out with Lia that she has won, while she is having a big argument with her mother.
This is a YA chick lit book really, which was great for me as I haven't read one in quite a while. I did enjoy this book but not as much as I would have liked I think. The book is crafted so you are given a piece of advice from her 'guide' and then her experiences of how she learnt this, which made it interesting and so that you could kind of guess what would happen, but all you were prepared for the hilarious antics of 16 year-old Lia.

This book in parts could be hilarious but I rarely 'LOL-ed' (Laughed out Loud). However, it got funnier as it went along and it was more like a sitcom kind of book, you only find it funny because of the situation she was in. Lia is what I call the exaggerated girl teenager. She is fashionable, only thinks of herself (oh and boys) and gets eventually everything she wants. Nothing like most teenagers get really. I was cringing fiercely for her at the beginning, especially with how naively she would agreed to silly things, how stupid she would buy things just so she can rush onto the next thing to spend on. Then, when things started to go wrong, she became much more mature and I started to like her more as a character.
I like Jack and Shazia, her friends but for me, they just stopped talking to her so abruptly before anything big happened and then, suddenly pop back in again nearer the end. It was the typical situation where you lose your friends, though, but I could kind of tell what was going to happen at the end of them.

One thing I liked about this book is that Keren David doesn't give everything away about everyone straight away. There were things that we only find out about until right at the end. She keeps you constantly guessing and guessing until she delivers the punch, most things I would not have guessed otherwise.
  This book is from a UK author and I think other nationalities reading it would find out a lot about being a teenager in England. Normally chick lit books are set in America, eg. Sarah Dessen books so it was nice to compare and have some familiarity for me. Lia is in Year 11, the year I have just left, which is like 10th Grade in America. She is about to do her GCSE's and then there is no more compulsory education, she can either go to college (which is like the last two years of high school) or start working. Being the girl that she is, she wants to do neither.

Raf was a great character and he made the story seem more normal and realistic even when Lia was being so stupid with her money. He is very mysterious and David makes you think certain things about him before revealing the truth right at the end. This is great, right. But. Instead of revealing things in bits, it's just told all at the end by his brother like 'Oh yeah, this is what happens but you should know this, right?' sort of way, which is nice to show he isn't a weird paranormal vampire but then, it was a slight disappointment of how innocent the excuse was.

There are constant surprises throughout with every single character, but the surprise for me was Karen David's writing. Most of the book consists of normal, informal, readable language with you would expect any teenager to write, which I like - makes it a bit more realistic. But suddenly, in one of the last chapters, this passage of beautiful, lyrical descriptions of nature appeared and I had to read it over and over again, it sounded amazing. It was unexpected. I don't know if it was done on purpose or what, but it was such a good piece of writing. So, turn to page 305 and near the bottom of the page describes the house Lia visits. It's lovely.

Overall, I'm not sure if I enjoyed this book. I did like it and I didn't feel upset or annoyed by the end but I can't say I absolutely loved it, mostly because of the poor beginning. I've read that this is a change of genre from normal for Keren David, and I think this is a good debut for this genre. She should keep it up, but just tweak some things. Lovely writing with a lovely protagonist. I think, if I ever won the lottery, I think I would know what to do now...
Verdict: This is a definite read for chick lit fans, just don't expect it to be perfect.

*NOTE: Although, the whole world and my friends were going nuts for Edward Cullen. I, however, was not. I've never read the books and only seen the Twilight and Breaking Dawn movie, and only because I was dragged there. So I half experienced this.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.wheniwasjoe.blogspot.com/
Pages: 339
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Challenges: BBC

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