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Category Archives: Young Adult

The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon..

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secrets

Blurb:

The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

Review:

First of all thank you to Transworld publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. A brilliantly written debut novel from Sarah Jasmon that depicts a truly heart breaking coming of age story.

The story revolves around the friendship between Helen and Victoria. Helen is a quiet, introverted young girl who is spending her summer holidays alone with her books and father. As lonely as her world seems Helen is getting by, just barely. Everything changes when a family moves into the neighbourhood and brings Helen into their livelihood. The Dovers, Victoria especially, bring a light to Helen’s otherwise dim world. As the summer passes by the friendship between the two girls grows until they are inseparable. When everything seems to be going well for Helen, something happens that destroys her newfound happiness and changes the lives of the Dover family irrevocably.

Reading this novel, I never once felt that it was a debut novel. From the 3 dimensional characters to the vivid descriptions of places and events in the story, the novel was solid and I especially loved Sarah’s style of writing; her interweaving of certain twists added substance to the plot and made her voice stand out in the story.

The characters take this story from ordinary to extraordinary. Helen and Victoria were my favourite and what I appreciated most was the fact that neither of the characters were flawless. They both had certain issues to deal with as youngsters but from the past they learn to adapt and develop into adults that are mature, understanding and accepting of everything that has occurred in their life. I felt great deal of sympathy for a lot of the characters but Helen was the one I felt my heart breaking for. As an individual you see her develop into this wonderful woman who has made unfortunate mistakes.

The novel itself is written through flashbacks of the past corresponding with the events of the present. I enjoyed reading the past narrative in third person and the present narrative in first person. The ending of the novel completely sold the book for me. So cleverly written and presented to readers that you can’t help but feel the pain of the characters.

A story of friendship, family and unfortunate dire mistakes, The Summer of Secrets takes readers on an unforgettable journey of redemption. Characters that will resonate with you long after you’ve turned the final page, Sarah Jasmon has created a gem of a novel that allows you to turn back the time and remember your own childhood. A perfect summer read and an exceptionally satisfying read, pick up a copy as soon as possible!

 Overall Rating: 9/10

More information about Sarah and her debut novel can be found in the following places:

Official WebsiteGoodreads – Twitter

Blog Tour: Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour by Petula Parker..

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Kate's Escape

Petula Parker’s debut novel Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour has stopped by my blog today, as part of it’s blog tour. Today I have an exclusive Q+A with the author herself where you’ll get to learn a bit more about her and Kate’s Escape. But before that let’s learn a little bit more about the book itself. Enjoy!


Blurb:

Kate Billings, a burnt-out, second-year attorney working in the dysfunctional world of Big Law, regains consciousness after a late night, career-ending meltdown at the office. Can she scramble to undo the damage? Or does she even want to?

Kate is a Red Bull-dependent, yoga-hating attorney at Krapp & Lipschitz, L.L.P., Arizona’s largest and worst-dressed law firm. At first blush, Kate leads an enviable life. At only 26, she earns a six-figure salary, owns a quaint downtown bungalow, and has managed to shed the 80 pounds that have plagued her for most of her adulthood.

A devastating performance review by firm partners Krapp, Butts, and Waddleberger, however, calls Kate’s chosen career into question. Her confusion is compounded by a stranger’s innocent inquiry: “Are you happy?” Finally, when Kate receives her annual bonus — consisting of a smoked ham and skin concealer — she cracks. Upon realizing that she has been passively allowing her life to unfold under the belief that at some point things would just click into being perfect, Kate ransacks the partners’ offices, quits her job, and buys a one-way ticket to Barcelona, planning to stalk (“it’s not ‘stalking,’ it’s ‘reconnaissance'”) the Spanish exchange student she has been secretly in love with since high school.


Q+A Time!

1) Introduce yourself.

I’m Petula Parker, and “Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour” is my first novel. It’s based on my many years spent practicing law in mammoth law firms, and, of course, time spent in Spain. I’ve probably spent over five years collectively in Spain, so all of the Spain references, from the television shows to the Spanish-language idioms to the food, are pretty authentic.

2) Why Chick-Lit?

I wanted to write in a genre where comedy is not only tolerated, but expected. A genre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, where the protagonist is permitted to be a bit self-obsessed and crazy, but still likeable and relatable. And where there is not as much judgment. With that said, I think so many popular stories from other art forms would fall into the broad “chick-lit” arena, such as the television show “Thirty Rock,” the movie “Bridesmaids,” and (a personal favorite from a long time ago) the iconic movie “Nine to Five.”

3) What or who was your inspiration for Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour?

I was basically inspired by my years at behemoth corporate law firms, and the numerous characters I encountered there. You can bounce from law firm to law firm, and you always find the same people in the halls. I know some people might read “Kate’s Escape” and question the authenticity of some of the more egregious law firm characters — Marcus Butts, for example — but let me tell you, I have known at least three Marcus Buttses during my legal career, and the Butts character portrayed in “Kate’s Escape” could actually be considered a watered-down, more humorous version of the real, flesh-and-bone Buttses working in Big Law. But there are also many people at large law firms like Kate’s mentor Jillian, who are supportive and nurturing. I wanted to show readers the fun but also overwhelming and absurd environment that a large law firm can be for a newly-minted attorney. I was also inspired by the little-known fact that so many attorneys in the world of Big Law have escape plans. Get a few beers into a Big-Law attorney, and they’ll eventually tell you that they are only doing the job until they pay off their law school loans, or are forty years old, or what have you, at which time they will do what they really want to do. Sad thing is, that day never comes. I wanted to play with the idea that a younger attorney might catch a glimpse of what lies ahead and proactively decide to take fate into her own hands, societal expectations and judgment be damned.

4) What are the 3 things you liked best about Kate?

I like that she remains naïve and idealistic throughout the narrative. I like the ugly-swan aspect of Kate, that she was and will forever remain a socially-awkward “geek” in love with Chewbacca, no matter how polished she may appear on the outside. And I like that at times she is bat-sh*t crazy.

5) What did you find the most difficult to do, whilst writing this book?

By far the most difficult thing was balancing real-life schedules and responsibilities with writing. I’d often write in the hours between 4:00 am to 6:am, before the house and city wake up. I also found it emotionally difficult to edit out plot lines and characters interwoven throughout the book during the final editing process. You get attached to the characters you create! It almost feels like amputating a limb. But in the end, upon a fresh read of the book, those were the right decisions.

6) What books have influenced you the most?

Gosh, I love to read! But, at least with respect to this book, I can’t say I was influenced by any book in particular. I was, instead, influenced by the desire to make a woman a strong, but fragile, comedic heroine who drives the narrative along. If anything, you could say I was inspired a bit by the television show “I Love Lucy,” where Lucy and Ethel always manage to get themselves into outrageous situations, that are fun to watch but also cringe-inducing.

7) Who is your favourite author and why?

Wow, I cannot narrow this down. I LOVE Margaret Atwood, Alain de Botton, Rushdie, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, Kurt Vonnegut, and I could go on. But in terms of sitting down with a book and laughing my *ss off, you can’t beat Laurie Notaro or Jenny Lawson. And Elizabeth Gilbert — as a writer and a person — will always inspire me.

8) What book are you reading right now?

Two books right now: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, and “I Was Blind But Now I See” by James Altucher. I’ve just started “the Goldfinch” and the first chapters — with Theo Decker’s futile waiting for his mother to come home — had me in tears, so much so that I’ve had to put the book down for a week; I tear up just thinking about picking it up again, but I know I need to in order to get through that sad place right now. The Altucher book is golden. I just discovered Altucher this year, on Linked In of all places. His blog and his books provide shockingly realistic, funny, in-your-face recipes for how to wake up and live an authentic life, whatever that may look like.

9) If writing books didn’t work out, what would you do for a living?

I’m a sucker for fixing up old houses and am addicted to HGTV, especially any show where a couple buys an old house in a foreign locale and fixes it up. So I would love to rescue and rehabilitate crumbling castles. That’s probably why I love the book and movie “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

10) Can we expect a sequel for Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour?

Readers have already asked for a sequel, but I would only write a sequel if I were sure the story line fit Kate’s character trajectory, and I’m struggling with that right now. A prequel, I could definitely see.

11) Any other new and exciting projects expected in the future?

Right now I have a number of plot lines going on in my head, and I carry a notebook around so I can capture any new characters or language that come to me spontaneously during the day. So yes, I do have several books taking shape right now. It’s a very fun process!


Quick Fire-Round:

1) Favourite colour?

Anything but beige

2) Favourite book?

“Possession” by A. S. Byatt and “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton

3) Favourite fictional character?

Buck McNutter in “A Man in Full” by Tom Wolfe. I have known so many Buck McNutters!

4) Favourite word?

Dude!

5) Favourite movie?

“Room with a View,” “Love, Actually,” and “Blades of Glory.” (And anything “Indiana Jones”! But, Harrison Ford, enough with that earring, already!)

6) Favourite T.V. Show?

“House Hunters International” and “Silicon Valley”

7) Describe yourself in 3 words.

Spontaneous, over-caffeinated, and optimistic

 There you go folks! Thanks for stopping by Petula! I had a great time and hope you did too! If you would like to buy Kate’s Escape, you can do so here.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes..

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mebeforeyou_jojomoyes

Blurb:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Review:

I hope my review does this book some justice because I honestly believe that this is one book that has touched me like no other.

This was my first Jojo Moyes book and since then I’ve literally followed her books like an obsessive fan. The plot of this book revolves around the lives of the two protagonists Lou and Will.

Lou is a wonderful character that I immediately liked and was able to relate to on so many different levels. Moyes makes her very realistic and I felt that her simplicity and unselfishness is what made her so lovable. She’s very bright but does not have any stable direction in life, which is why after losing her job she applies to be a carer for a young man who has been left in a quadriplegic state. Fate works in mysterious ways and this job sets her on the path of Will Traynor, our second protagonist.

Will has been left in a quadriplegic state following a road accident, which occurred two years earlier. Unlike Lou, Will used to have a high-end active lifestyle and a successful career. However, after his accident he is left feeling demoralised, as he believes he has now lost everything. I couldn’t blame Will for being bitter and angry after what had happened to him but this is where Lou comes in. With a riot of colour she sets out to change Will’s perception and make him realise that there still are some things worth living for.

This is probably the first book I’ve read that centres so deeply around a physical impairment. What I loved though was that Jojo doesn’t just focus on the disability, rather gives us an insight into Will’s emotional journey as a whole. Will’s emotional journey and Lou’s loyalty towards making Will realise how beautiful his life really is, is what makes this story so special.

This book is very moving and made me realise just how important life really is and how easily we take so many things for granted. It made me appreciate the things I do have in life and has left a deep impact on my heart.

Me Before You is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and fall in love all over again. Jojo Moyes has done an exceptional job with this story that needs to be heard by all. I cannot recommend this book enough; if you haven’t read it you are doing yourself a great injustice. It is a gem of a book and if like me you’re an emotional person, have that tissue box ready. A thought provoking and a memorable book that will stay with you for a very long time.

Overall Rating: 10/10

Vision in White by Nora Roberts..

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vision in white - nora roberts

Blurb:

The first book in the Bride Quartet—following the lives and loves of four friends who run Vows, a wedding-planning company. Wedding photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac’s type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends—and business partners—to see her way to her own happy ending.

Review:

I’m an old romantic at heart so when I first came across this book, I was ecstatic. From the blurb I knew that there would be lots of romance, girly talks, friendship and family aspects that I think is an absolute must in romance books.

I’m already a huge fan of Nora Roberts and I have previously loved her Chesapeake Series which were a delight to read. When Vision in White came out I was on cloud nine, literally. This is the first book in a series of four, and it tells the story of a group of childhood best friends (Mackensie, Parker, Laurel and Emmaline) who now run their own wedding-planning company. Vision in White focuses on the story of Mackensie, and how she overcomes her fears of ‘a happily ever after’ and falls slowly but surely in love with Carter Maguire.

I liked Mac’s character because she was independent, fierce (when required to be) and incredibly loyal to her friends. She’s a photographer for the company and loves to make someone else’s wedding day special. I understood Mac’s fears of not believing in marriages herself because of her personal experience with bad parenting. Her mum is unstable and egoistical and her father has been absent since she was a little girl. This would therefore make anyone wary of marriage and long-term relationships.

However, this is where Carter comes into the picture. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a hero as much as I loved Carter. He’s nerdy, clumsy, intelligent, cute and incredibly charming. Oh did I mention he’s also an English teacher? For me, Carter is the complete opposite of what most heroes are portrayed as; he’s not got a six pack, not an alpha male, not a ‘bad boy’, he wears glasses and loves literature. Probably one of the most realistic interpretations of a hero, in a novel, till date. Kudos to Nora for that! It’s also for that reason why I think he’s so lovable, I could easily relate to him and he was definitely the star of this book.

I loved the family/friendship dynamics of the four friends and how they stick together through thick and thin. By the end of the book, I found myself wishing that this wedding-planning quartet were real and not just fictional characters. The story does at times drag on a bit and I found myself skipping some parts in order to get to Carter’s scenes more quickly. However, it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the writing and it is a typical Nora Roberts novel where you can be assured that whatever happens throughout the story, there will always be a happy ending.

I recommend this book to all romance fans and chick-lit fans because it’s an absolute joy to read. Also if you love this book, do read the others in the series: Bed of Roses (Emmaline’s story), Savour the Moment (Laurel’s story) and Happy Ever After (Parker’s story).

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Please Forgive Me by Melissa Hill..

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melissa hill

Blurb:

Have you ever dreamed of running away? Of just leaving the past behind you?

Leonie has done just that. She’s moved to another country and got a new job, a new home, a brand new life. . .But when she discovers a box of unread love letters in the bottom of her wardrobe, all ending with the words ‘please forgive me’, she finds herself drawn to the mystery behind them.

Can the unravelling of another person’s story help Leonie deal with her own past and her own secrets? All she knows is that she has to try. Because if the couple behind the love letters had a happy ending, then perhaps she just might too.

Review:

I wouldn’t have actually read this book if it wasn’t for my sister, so first and foremost big thank you to her for introducing me to the fantastic Melissa Hill.

Melissa Hill writes an extraordinary tale of three parallel stories that interweave with one another, with the past and present clashing in such ways that I was compelled to read on and on into the night. It has to be said, this book didn’t allow me to sleep much but that’s predominately why I loved it so much.

The plot has so many twists and turns that I was kept fully engaged throughout the book. Hill gives us vibrant 3-dimensional characters, whom we can easily relate to. The main story revolves around the heroine of this novel, Leonie. A girl who’s fled from her native Dublin after a broken heart to a new city and a new life. Leonie finding a box of old unopened letters is when the story really starts to unfold and the reader is given a glimpse into the lives of two extraordinary lovers.

Initially, I did get confused at times because the story is told through past and present events, so I did find myself going back to the beginning sometimes to get a good handle on things. However, that doesn’t take away from the easy flow of the writing or from Melissa’s incredible imagination, which makes this book what it is.

What I loved most about this book was that Melissa talks in great detail about forgiveness. This story made me question if I were ever in a situation, like the characters in the book, would I forgive easily or not? What does it mean to fully forgive someone and how should one ask for forgiveness? I was so intrigued by Melissa’s interpretation of this concept and loved that she gives you two sides to a story.

Melissa Hill gives a realistic insight into three different – yet at times similar – love stories, all of which are set in different times and places. If you’re a romance fan, then this book is definitely for you, I can’t recommend this book enough. It will take you on an emotional journey that will have you rooting for each and every one of the characters within this book. It was absolutely impossible to put this book down and Melissa Hill has now become one of my all-time favourites.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

My bookish blog..

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Hi there!

someecard talking about characters

I love reading and I love discovering new books. I’ve decided to do something productive with my passion for reading by now reviewing books myself. My reviews will be honest and hopefully enjoyable! Fair warning though, my favourite genres are romance and crime/thriller fiction, so most likely my reviews will be based upon books of those genres. I already have a previous blog which is basically about me rambling on about random things but if you’re interested, here’s the link: simgillblog.wordpress.com 

I hope you enjoy my reviews and I look forward to hearing from you too! Watch this space for my first few reviews!

Thank you for visiting my blog!