Tag Archives: How to Build a Girl

How To Be Famous- Caitlin Moran

WordPress has a new way to embed tweets…I’m not sure. I preferred the graphic side of screen grab and paste (as in my last review), but this is easier than either that or separately embedding each tweet, and it’s possible to edit the tweets to make them more like a ‘standard’ review. What do you think?


‘How to be Famous’ is the follow-up to ‘How to Build a Girl’ it continues the story of Dolly/Johanna, a teenager and music journalist from Wolverhampton living in London. In this book she is 19, and more adult than she was in the first.


I had enjoyed the first book, but it felt very familiar after reading Caitlin Moran’s autobiographical stuff. This second book felt more unique, although I do get a very strong Caitlin Moran vibe from Dolly. That’s not a bad thing, I wish I could be Caitlin Moran’s friend

I felt like Dolly was more independent in this one, less defined by other people, although she still wanted others to like her. I found her even wise at some points. The way she got famous was sort of predictable, which at first I was a bit meh about, but as the story developed it become more than what it first appeared, and really made me respect Dolly.

This is teenage fiction, but it’s the type of teenage fiction certain parents might not love. There’s lots of sex, in sometimes quite graphic detail, there’s alcohol, and drugs and lots of cigarettes.

The sex bit is important. It’s about Dolly growing up and understanding sex and relationships, and for those reasons I wouldn’t want to stop teenagers reading it.


Buy it from £4.49 @AmazonUK https://amzn.to/3hxbHdB (yes that is the price of the paperback!) –

Affiliate link, money made from my affiliate links go back into the blog.

Originally tweeted by Lucybird (@lucybirdbooks) on 24/07/2020.

For chances to see reviews early follow me on twitter, I posted a review of ‘Seven Signs of Life’ today

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Filed under Fiction review, YA

Deals of the Moment- August 2016 (Part 1)

Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

I have 28 tabs of deals open this month so I’m breaking this post into three parts; this part (part 1) is books I’ve already read, part two (hopefully tomorrow) will be books I own/can borrow but haven’t read yet, and part 3 will be books I’m interested in. My computer is going to the macshop tomorrow (l0ts of little problems) so I will try and get part 3 out on Friday but we will see how it goes.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.

Still Alice- Lisa Genova

I really enjoyed this rather sad novel told by a narrator who has early onset dementia. It’s very touching, and language wise an easy read but also rather emotionally difficult

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)

Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

To be honest I didn’t love this classic about book burning, but there were some points which made it worth a read.

You can buy it,,,here (only £1.99)

The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

I loved this funny, quirky, sweet book about a clever man who thinks he has found a clever way to find love. It was so much more than I expected

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)

Mockingbird- Kathryn Erkstien

A beautiful book about a girl with Asperger’s whose brother is killed. The normal grief of that situation added to her autism.

Buy it…here (only £1.39)


Girl at the Lion D’or- Sebastian Faulks

This book is actually the first in the trilogy which ends with, what is probably Faulks’ most well known novel, Birdsong. It’s probably my least favourite of the trio but it’s a nice little book about a girl who starts working at a slightly seedy hotel. I read the series in the wrong order and it does stand well as a novel on its own.

Buy it…here (only £1.99) Buy the others in the series, Charlotte Grey, and Birdsong, for £4.99 each.


The Secret Scripture- Sebastian Barry

Since reading The Secret Scripture I have read a lot of other Sebastian Barry novels, and none are as good as this one, I loved this one. About a woman who has spent most of her life in a mental institution

Buy it…here (£1.09)

Clovenhoof series- Heide Good and Iain M. Grant

Funny, political-ish books about satan being expelled from Heaven and being sent to live in Birmingham. I love these books, I’ve read 1-3 (and the short) and ordered number 4 when I saw it on offer, number 5 is out too, but that’s not on offer.

Buy one, two, three, four (only £0.99 each)

The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

I love Mark Forsyth, his books about language are interesting and funny, I recommend them to everyone.

Buy it…here (only £1.19)

The Pact- Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult, I’ve read all her books. This one is about a boy and a girl who apparently had a suicide pact, or did the boy call the girl?

Buy it…here (£1.99)

Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes

Hitler wakes up in the modern day. Everything is wrong, he must find his power again. Satirical, funny, a bit on the edge.

Buy it...here (only £0.99)

Middlesex- Jeffrey Eugenides

This is one of my favourite books. A sort of coming of age novel, kind of hard to describe, but there’s a family secret involved and I can’t tell you because that will spoil the story. Just read it

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filler

An incident happened, it effected the whole of one man’s life

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl, she’s not fitting in great, but then she meets Park. A nice little love story.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

The Beach- Alex Garland

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book about a secret island, and the things that happened there.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

How to Build A Girl- Caitlin Moran

Yay Caitlin Moran. How to Build a Girl is a little too autobiographical to feel like novel, but I still loved it.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Filed under general

How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran

Synopsis (from amazon)

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit.

By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.

But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all?


Some books you want to review as soon as you’ve finished them, you don’t want to wait for all the feelings and thoughts to fall out of your head. How to Make a Girl was one of these books, so I moved it to the top of my review pile (despite the fact that I still have reviews of books I read in 2014 that I need to write). Unfortunately I couldn’t actually write the review straight away, so I hope my thoughts are still clear enough.

I was excited to read something of Caitlin Moran’s after basically having a girl crush on her after reading How to Be a Woman (don’t ask me how I haven’t managed to read Moranology yet, it’s a mystery to me). I must admit though I had my doubts about How to Build a Girl, it seemed basically to be an autobiography pretending to be fiction (a bit like Stephen Fry’s Moab is my Washpot and The Liar, which I still confuse).

There are a lot of similarities between Caitlin’s life and Johanna. They both grew up in Wolverhampton. They both had Irish fathers who were once in bands but now had some sort of problem causing them pain. They both had large families. They both had early jobs writing for music magazines. They even both won awards for writing before they entered the world of work. Oh and they both had a slightly goth look.

So you can see why I was wondering how much more was based on Caitlin’s life. At times it even distracted me from the story itself, especially early on. It didn’t help that Johanna had a very similar voice to Caitlin too.

One thing I like about Moran is that she’s so forthright. She’ll say whatever she’s thinking, not worrying about embarrassing herself or others.  I admire her for it. Johanna is the same. Although I think more with Johanna I didn’t want to know, maybe because for a good chunk of the book she was a teenager. In a sense I would say this is a YA book, I could certainly see myself connecting with Johanna at the beginning of the story, in some ways at least. However I can see it not being a hit with parents due to how frank it is. There’s little in there I don’t think the average teen would know, but I think it’s the way it’s put across too. I don’t really want to go into too much detail here, but if you have listened to Lily Allen’s album ‘Sheezus’ it’s a similar sort of frankness (listen here, beware explicit), you can probably guess just by looking at the titles in fact.

I did really like How to Build a Girl in the end though. I loved Johanna, even if she made me cringe at times at her decisions, and at her cluelessness when she seemed so ‘grown-up’. She seemed fairly realistic, if a bit of a teenagers dream. The ending was satisfying but did seem to lead to more. Apparently there are two more books to come, which I would be interested to read too.


Buy it:

Hardback (£10.49)

Kindle (£9.42)

Paperback- pre-order (£6.39)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

Lit and Life

Nylon Admiral –start of a readalong

As the Crowe Flies (And Reads) – also start of a read-a-long

Have I missed your review? Post a link in comments and I will add it here




Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, YA