A Beginner's Guide To Salad by Jennifer Joyce

I was happy and that was all that mattered in the end.

Title - A Beginner's Guide To Salad
Author - Jennifer Joyce 
Publication Date - 14th January 2014
Publisher - Smashwords
Format - eBook (Twitter give-away/author)

The blurb

Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn't do diets and she certainly doesn't do exercise. But all that changes when she's invited to her school reunion. 

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth's first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She'll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O'Connell. 

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right? 

Becca's thoughts

I'd like to begin my review of A Beginner's Guide To Salad by Jennifer Joyce by saying a massive thank you to the author for providing me with an eBook copy which I was lucky enough to win through a Twitter give-away! Wahoo! I was over the moon when I was announced as the winner, especially after seeing some of the fabulous reviews, so I couldn't wait to begin reading. 

In A Beginner's Guide to Salad, we're introduced to Jennifer's heroine, Ruth. The book, in a nutshell, focuses on a school reunion that Ruth is attending, where she'll be surrounded by the people who once bullied and taunted her, right the way through school. Ruth's plan is to rock up to that reunion, looking thin, glamorous, and to prove all of her classmates wrong, that she lost her weight, and transformed from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan. So, Ruth formulates a plan. With six months to go until the big day, she's going to lose weight. She's going to look absolutely fabulous when she turns up. She's going to turn heads, widen eyes, and cause the people that once name-called to choke on their fancy drinks. 

The first thing that immediately caught my attention when I began reading A Beginner's Guide to Salad was how brilliant Jennifer's writing style was. Humorous, light-hearted, and effortlessly smooth. It just seemed to flow really well, and this added heaps of enjoyment to my reading of it. The language, particularly Ruth's, was very similar to my own, in that Ruth would occasionally drop a swearword or two into the mix. It seemed very genuine, down-to-earth, and completely believable, which is something that I LOVE. Right the way through, this light-heartedness added a gorgeous tone to the writing, despite the issue of Ruth being bullied as a young girl, which was actually quite serious. Jennifer dealt with these issues in a brilliant way and it was handled perfectly. She didn't make bullying seem like a joke, nor did she make it so serious that the tone of the book was dismal or depressing. Jennifer managed to get it just right, and it was absolutely fantastic. 

Ruth's character was spot on and I loved her. Ruth had a lot of hate for herself, which stemmed from her days in school, and I really hated that it was still a big presence in her life, even now that she'd grown up. I think what I felt most for Ruth's character was respect. After everything that she'd been through, she was willing to lose the weight and show up at the reunion to wow everyone. This said to me that she really wanted to prove them all wrong, and I was cheering her on! A lot of Ruth's dialogue had me chuckling away to myself. She was the type of girl to kick back on the sofa with a big bar of chocolate or a takeaway and chill out. Some of her private thoughts really tickled me, it seemed that Ruth was fluent in sarcasm, especially when it came to her arse of a boss, Kelvin, who seemed to think that Ruth was some kind of slave rather than an employee. Despite the demons of her past still very much haunting Ruth, it was clear that she was ready to make a big change in her life (well, since knowing about the reunion) and I was more than ready to go on that journey with her! Ruth was a very engaging character, and it didn't take long for me to feel completely utterly involved within her story. Ruth also lived with her two flatmates, Billy and Theo, Billy being her brother Stephen's best-mate and someone who had had Ruth's back since their school days. Billy and Theo were very different in a number of way. First off, with girls. Theo was a completely ladies man, a bit cocky and arrogant, and went through girls as quickly as the weather changed! Billy, on the other hand, was a lot more subdued when it came to females. He didn't go through girls in the same way that Theo did, preferring a more prolonged, fulfilling relationship with just one woman. Out of the two of the men, I definitely took a preference to Billy. He was so sweet, he cooked for Ruth, and their relationship just seemed unbreakable. Their bond had begun as children, and they'd been there for each other right the way through their lives as they'd grown up. Billy, to me, was like an extra big brother to Ruth. They'd also shared a love for a popular TV programme within the book, called 'A Beginner's Guide to You', which rolled along with the title of Ruth's story perfectly! Billy was a positive presence in Ruth's life, and seemed to add an upbeat kind of feel to the tone whenever he was around. I don't feel that Theo played as much of a major role as Billy, hence why I didn't feel like I really connected to him that well, but I still feel like he added to the atmosphere in the flat whenever he was around, and a bit of hilarity now and again too. They're not the only characters that you can look forward to meeting within the book though, there are a ton more! There's Erin, Ruth's best-friend, who to me was like the female version of Theo. She was a definite flirt, wore short dresses, high heels, and seemed to be irresistible to the opposite sex. There was also Kelvin, Ruth's arse of a boss, who, despite his bossy and lazy nature, I actually found hilarious especially at one point in the book where Ruth finds him sat in his office with just his pants on! Hahah! There's also the utterly gorgeous Jared, who Ruth cannot take her eyes off, and who also becomes Ruth's gym partner! And so many, many more! If this is making you think, "Oh my God, that's way too many characters, how will I ever keep up?" then don't panic. I usually cannot get along with character-rammed books, quickly losing track of who's who... but with Ruth's story, it didn't seem difficult at all. In fact, Jennifer did such a fantastic job of describing them all to me, it was easy to keep them separate in my mind as they all had their own unique personalities that set them apart. 

Another thing that I adored was how Jennifer switched the narrative between her characters. Despite the story following Ruth as she prepares for the reunion, Jennifer switches between Ruth, Jared and Billy! It was absolutely brilliant and such a gorgeous way for this story to be told. What I also loved (I know, but I just LOVED SO MUCH) was that when reading from Ruth's perspective, it was in first person,whereas with the Billy and Jared, it was third. And OMG, it just opened up the story so much to me! I feel like I was able to look at everything that happened from every possible perspective, and wow. Just wow. 

Throughout Ruth's journey, we see her attempt a number of different diets; from the cabbage soup diet that stinks out the flat, to a salad diet, which gets boring very quickly. Ruth always attempts lifting weights, yoga, pilates, Zumba, and a million other things to help her get to the reunion looking as a fit as a fiddle. It had me laughing until my sides ached, grinning like a loon, and pulling a face at the pong of the cabbage soup. The characters were fantastic, all different and engaging in their own special ways, and it was just such an exciting read! 

Becca's Books is rating A Beginner's Guide to Salad by Jennifer Joyce with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES!!! If you haven't read one yet, then I suggest doing so! I can't believe I've left it so long until reading one, and I now cannot wait to read Jennifer's next book! Jennifer, thank you so much for the opportunity to win a copy of this brilliant book, and you are brilliant! 

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