Book Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

The Isobel Journal

Title: The Isobel Journal
Author: Isobel Harrop
Genre: Art Journal, Realistic, Young Adult, Non-fiction, British
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 208
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author’s sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: ‘Love’, ‘Friends, Art and Otters’ and ‘Me’.

Resonant of Laura Dockrill’s MISTAKES IN THE BACKGROUND and with the powerful naïve illustrative style of cult Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, this is a collector’s gift for teenagers and all who have the teenage experience still in their hearts. Readers will emphasise with this witty and honest journal of a girl getting to grips with impending adulthood. A must-have for all hipster teenagers and anyone who appreciates the raw creativity of youth. Enchanting and poignant.

My Review:

The Isobel Journal may not be a novel but it definitely tells a story. The story of a teenage girl from Northern England – who thinks nothing really happens there. Part scrapbook, part art journal, this book is a delightful glimpse into Isobel Harrop’s life.

After reading this book I felt like I knew Isobel. I may never have met her but after reading her thoughts and seeing her beautiful drawings I felt like I knew the important things – like how she feels about decade old TV shows or her love of Beyonce and Destiny’s Child. The illustrations are lovely – I especially liked the badgers – and tickets and other random things ‘stuck’ in emphasize that this is a non-fiction story about where Isobel was at that particular point in her life.

There are some particular pages which had me laughing with just how accurate some of Isobel’s thoughts were with regards to my own experiences (who knew my dad wasn’t the only one typing “The You Tube” into Google). Heartbreak, friendship, family and otters are all covered with witty pieces of wisdom and adorable drawings illustrating the ideas and thoughts of a typical teenager. I thought this book was insightful and relatable.  


Thanks to Hot Key Books for the review copy.

Preview the first chapter here (PDF)

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Girl Guide: 200+ Tips for High School Survival by Courtney S. King

Title: Girl Guide: 200+ Tips for High School Survival
Author: Courtney S. King
Genre: Non-Fiction, self-help
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: September 2012 
Pages: 122 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Girl Guide: 200+ Tips for High School offers advice for teen girls entering or continuing high school. From primping for prom to decoding dudes, the first book in the Girl Guide series offers an array of advice for the sometimes difficult, but exciting four years of high school.

My Review:

I dreaded starting high school. My mother had just decided to go back to work full-time after taking 20 years off to raise use children and I had to change from the school all my friends were going to and go to a different one… one where I knew no one and was a little scared of. I was going to have start taking public transport (instead of being driven every day) and I hated the uniforms and… well… I was a pretty miserable 12-year-old.

I think I could have used this practical guide back then. With thirteen different parts each covering a different facet of school and growing up, there are hints and ideas of how to deal with classes, friends, boys and other things.

This little book is put together in such a clever way. There’s a quote and a supply list prefacing each part with not only physical items necessary but qualities a person might need to possess to achieve whatever task they are attempting – courage is definitely something that is necessary in most endeavours and high school is no different. There were a few times when I felt like the book was a little rigid in its instructions and needed a bit more flexibility in the language used – but as suggestions there is a lot of good and practical advice in the book. The chapter on boys may have relied a little too heavily on stereotypes and didn’t really mention the hazards of labelling people but that’s incredibly minor and I feel a little petty for even bringing it up.

I loved the websites mentioned to check out – weheartit is adorable! – and thought that including them in the book was a brilliant idea.

This is a cute little guide that I think would be a great tool for anyone starting high school to check out. The information included it generalized enough to be useful no matter your nationality (although I did have to google D.B.Q.’s) and I really enjoyed Courtney’s style of writing – I had a bit of a giggle when I read she mentioned that high school is nothing like it’s portrayed on Degrassi.

Thanks Courtney for providing me with a digital copy to review.

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