Review: Grey by EL James

The Blurb

In Christian’s own words, and through his thoughts, reflections, and dreams, E L James offers a fresh perspective on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the world.

CHRISTIAN GREY exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty – until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him – past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.

Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?

The Review

Grey, the latest instalment in the Fifty Shades series, is told from male protagonist Christian Grey’s perspective. This information is probably redundant because the excitement that came with the build up to this book’s release was massive. To be fair, EL James gave her readers what they wanted; a glimpse into the life and psyche of Christian Grey. Again, to be fair, James does this extremely well.

I know Fifty Shades got a bit of a bad reputation due to its poor writing and repetitiveness so let’s get that out of the way first. Ana bit her lip 32 times in Grey. This works out, on average – at once every 18 pages. “Laters, baby” was only said 4 times. This was not as bad as I was expecting. Fortunately, EL James’s Grey is actually written a lot better than her previous books. Kudos to the editor.

For fans, the bad bits of the series of books could be forgiven because ultimately the storyline was damn compelling; the character of Christian was so ridiculously devoted and obsessed with Ana that you couldn’t help but want to read on. I know plot and good writing should go hand in hand but even though the first three Fifty Shades books didn’t give you both, Grey most definitely has.

It also manages to not feel like ‘mummy porn’ and almost justifies the money that EL James has earned from the release of these books.

However, I do not like that EL James felt the need to justify Christian’s proclivities. Why can’t he just like kinky sex? There doesn’t have to be a seedy reason why, or a history of abuse, to make his sexual preferences understandable. EL James goes a good way into showing Christian’s thoughts on his past, something the reader had yet to be privy to.

As a business woman, EL James has already set herself up the chance to write two more books. It makes you wish you had the idea first.

Grey by EL James is available now.

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Review: The Black Sheep by Julie Cohen

Title: The Black Sheep

Author: Julie Cohen

Pages: 19 Pages

The Review

The Black Sheep by Julie Cohen is a prequel to her 2011 release Getting Away With It. Both are stories that focus on Liza and Lee; identical twin girls who are the absolute opposite of each other. Lee is a good wholesome girl who has a natural inclination to want to please people. She is pleasant and respectful. Liza is none of these things. She is petulant, moans when things do not go her way and very mischievous. Think a female version of Macauly Culkin’s character Kevin McCallister in Home Alone.

When Liza is cast in the lowly role as sheep in the local village’s production of the Nativity, she tries to figure out a way to get herself noticed. She does so with shocking consequences.

I think this tale shows the innocence of school children. They react in ways that they know is not acceptable but don’t necessarily feel that there will be consequences. They have a ‘that’s not fair’ attitude when they think that they have been done wrong. Liza exemplifies this perfectly. She feels inferior to her sister and sets out to gain some of the attention that is doused on Lee. Unfortunately she goes about it the wrong way.

The Black Sheep by Julie Cohen is a quick and simple read that unfortunately is no longer available on Amazon. So really, unless you already have this short story, this review is completely redundant.

It was a good quick read though.

Follow Julie Cohen (@julie_cohen) on Twitter.

Review: Never Be Younger: A YA Anthology by Rachel Bateman

The Blurb

Classic story meets the modern world…and out of this world.

From the halls of a high school to hip night clubs to the depths of space, Never Be Younger gives Shakespeare’s classic plays and sonnets a fresh spin for a new audience. Nine authors pay tribute to the Bard by taking his timeless tales to new heights, entrancing readers all over again. A Shakespeare story by any other name still reads as sweet.

All proceeds from the sales of Never Be Younger go to United Through Reading, a charity dedicated to uniting military families through reading.

Authors include Rachel Bateman, Jessica L. Pierce, S.M. Johnston, Adrianne James, E.L. Wicker, Olivia Hinebaugh, Cortney Pearson, Christina June, and Nicole Zoltack

The Review

Ahh, the Bard! One of best (if not the greatest) English literary exports of all time has been re-envisioned by various authors in this anthology of stories. I won’t lie to you. I did not enjoy it.

I know that my dislike of these stories is because I am a purist (which I understand is totally on me and therefore I do implore you to read other reviews on Never Be Younger) but I just didn’t enjoy reading this book.

To be fair, the stories were written really well and kudos to the authors for being able to re-imagine such classical stories but at times I did find it difficult to find the link from the Shakespeare play to the authors understanding of it.

This book of shorts did not keep me hooked and I found it very tedious reading.

However, I have to give praise to the writers who are selling this anthology as all the proceeds go to help military families.

Never Be Younger: a YA Anthology by Rachel Bateman is available now.

Never Be Younger

Review: The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand by Dave Zobel

The Blurb

Reveals the hard facts behind the laughter on TV’s most popular sitcom

The highest-rated scripted show on TV, The Big Bang Theory often features Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, and Raj wisecracking about scientific principles as if Penny and the rest of us should know exactly what they’re talking about.

The Science of TV’s The Big Bang Theory lets all of us in on the punchline by breaking down the show’s scientific conversations. From an explanation of why Sheldon would think 73 is the best number, to an experiment involving the physical stature of Wolowitz women, to an argument refuting Sheldon’s assertion that engineers are the Oompa-Loompas of science, author Dave Zobel maintains a humorous and informative approach and gives readers enough knowledge to make them welcome on Sheldon’s couch.

The Review

I consider myself to be an educated person; I have qualifications coming out of my pooper – I realise this last sentence doesn’t exactly lend a lot of faith to that claim but it is true. However, my one downfall has always been science. I just never understood it. I can honestly say that after reading The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand by Dave Zobel I am still in that exact same position.

The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand makes a big claim in its title. Penny who is considered to not be very smart but should be able to understand after reading this book is a fallacy. I spent the majority of the time reading it scratching my head in confusion. It got to the point whereby I was reading the words but not taking anything in because the theories were -nay, are – just too damn complex.

The parts of The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand that focussed on the actual television show was entertaining and props to Dave Zobel, his writing is witty and fun to read but I feel like you would need a Phd in science to understand the science element.

This book is not like Ronseal – it does not do what it says on the tin…although science lovers (and those who are really, really smart) will enjoy reading it.

The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand by Dave Zobel is available now.

Big Bang Book

Review: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Title: Never Never

Author: Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Pages: 159 Pages

The Blurb

Never Never, a novella series. Book one of three. Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen. Complete strangers since this morning. He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.

The Review

I read a lot of YA books. I work in a high school so I tend to read the YA fiction to vet them to see if they are appropriate for lower school but lately I have noticed a weird trend.  YA books seem to be focusing on the macabre; books about death and suicide or terminal illness. Don’t get me wrong, some of these stories are fantastic and extremely well written but it is all getting a bit…samey.

Therefore it is wonderfully refreshing to read a story like Never Never. You could have knocked me over with a feather once I realised what the storyline was. Basically, two teenagers – Charlie and Silas – have woken up with no memories. They don’t know who their friends are, they have no idea who their family are, nothing. All they know is that they will have to stick together to figure out who they are.

Pretty interesting, right?

If I am honest, I was worried. I get really frustrated with the Groundhog Day element that you sometimes get in stories about building memories or trying to figure stuff out. I was really impressed that neither Hoover or Fisher added this element to the first part of Never Never. I am still worried about parts two and three. However, I am also chomping at the bit to start reading them.

Seriously, Never Never is one of the best YA novella’s that I have read in a very long time.

Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher is available now.

Follow Colleen Hoover (@colleenhoover) and Tarryn Fisher (@Tarryn_Fisher) on Twitter.

Never Never

Extract: Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

Get your summer off to a steamy start with Mandy Baggot and her sizzling new read, Truly Madly Greekly.

We’ve got an all inclusive tour chock-a-block with reviews, guest posts and a giveaway, as the book scorches a trail across a variety of blogs! 

What they say: 

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger – a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated.
Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Fans of Lucy Diamond, Miranda Dickinson and Lindsey Kelk will want to escape to Corfu with Mandy Baggot this summer.

EXTRACT

‘Lady.’ The resonating deep, male voice had her turning around.

Ellen swallowed. The man was right behind her, all six foot of him, dressed in jeans despite the heat of the night and a grey t-shirt that clung to his everything. His visible skin was tanned. Strong-looking brown forearms rested on his hips, a deep V of skin at his neckline caught her eye. He put his hand to one of the cases.

‘No thank you.’ The words hurried out from her lips as she tried to pull the case away from him. She’d read about this. It was the distraction technique. If she took her eyes off him for a second he’d be helping himself to her handbag.

‘Please, I wait for you,’ Yan reattempted. He engaged his hand on the bag again.

This woman was crazy. He’d never had to fight for luggage before. Holidaymakers were usually only too happy to hand over their bags after the flight and the long coach journey. This person was folding her fingers around the handle of the case so his grip on the other end was loosened.

‘I’m fine, thank you. I’m with my sister. She’s just inside,’ she spoke. Having taken ownership of the case, she had now wound her arm around the strap of her handbag. She looked flustered, her long, brown wavy hair falling over her face, her cheeks pink.

‘It is OK. I help with bags,’ Yan repeated. He picked up one of the other pieces of luggage.

‘I’m fine. We’re fine. Me and my sister.’

He paused for a moment, looking at her as he picked up the tension in her tone. She thought he was a thief. That he was about the make off with her belongings and disappear into the night.  He shook his head without realising he was doing it. In one minute she had formed an opinion of him, just like others had done back home.

He kept his voice even, despite the anger building up in his chest.

‘I am Yan from animation team. I show you to your room.’

He picked up the second case and mounted the steps.

‘Ooo a man! See, Ellie, I told you there’d still be a party going on. Corfu never sleeps.’

He looked up, seeing another woman appear from the main entrance of the hotel. She was younger, with bright hair and high shoes. She did not look like the woman grabbing at the cases. She was wearing pink on her lips and pouting at him.

He moved then, striding off left towards the terrace bar. The sooner he got these guests to their suite the sooner he could go to bed. 

Author Bio:

Mandy Baggot is a romantic fiction author. In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Her self-published title, Strings Attached was also short-listed for the Best Author Published Read award.

Also in 2012 she signed with American publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, who produced her novels, Taking Charge and romantic suspense, Security.

In June 2013 she signed a two book deal with Harper Collins’ digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse.

She is a regular contributor to writing blogs and on-line magazine, Loveahappyending Lifestyle

In May 2014 Mandy signed with Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

She is an advocate for women in business and belongs to the networking group Women on Wednesdays

WIN a £50 Amazon voucher with Truly Madly Greekly and let Mandy Baggot see where you’ve escaped to this summer.

To take part just upload your photo of the cover of Truly Madly Greekly (paperback or e-reader) on Twitter or Facebook adding #TrulyMadlyGreekly. Whether you’ve escaped to a tropical haven with the kids or even your own backyard, Mandy would love to see where you’re reading about Ellen and Yan this summer!

Follow the Tour!

Giveaway terms and conditions:

Competition runs from 22 May 2015 until 31 August 2015, UK based entries only. One winner will be chosen at random from all the entries. Mandy Baggot and CandleLit Author Services reserve the right to amend and/or cancel the giveaway at any time, without prior notification.

Truly Madly Greekly

Review: Love Notes for Freddie by Eva Rice

The Blurb

Marnie FitzPatrick longs for nothing more than a high mark in her latest maths exam. Unsure of herself, and even more uncertain of her place within her charming but dysfunctional family, Marnie doesn’t count on being expelled from school, or on falling in love with a boy called Freddie Friday who works in the Shredded Wheat factory but dances like Gene Kelly.

Marnie’s maths teacher, Miss Crewe, has vowed that she will never love or dance again after breaking her heart and both her ankles in New York twenty years before. Yet she is drawn to Freddie, and a desire to help him takes her deep into a past that she has hidden so carefully for so long.

The Review

Love Notes for Freddie is a rich, heart warming tale about love and loss. Marnie FitzPatrick is schoolgirl from a well to do family. In a moment of madness Marnie acts out of character and gets herself in trouble. Her life is changed forever and her actions lead to devastating consequences.

Marnie’s maths teacher, Miss Crewe, is upset that her most promising student has let her down. She is disappointed in Marnie and tries to encourage her to keep working towards her goals and ambitions. Miss Crewe knows all too well that never achieving your true potential or reaching your goal can leave you with a life of heartbreak and regret.

Freddie Friday, a factory worker, brings the two women together with a common goal. It is up to all characters to work hard and see if they can ever be truly successful.

I love Eva Rice’s books. The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp has been a firm favourite of mine since it was released. It was for this reason alone that I was eager and excited to read Rice’s latest offering – Love Notes for Freddie. Once again, Eva Rice did not disappoint.

I loved the parallels between Marnie and Miss Crewe. They both loved Freddie in very different ways and for very different reasons but you felt that the love was powerful in them both. They both saw the logic side of things and had a mathematical way of understanding and dealing with life until Freddie came into their respective worlds.

My favourite thing about Eva Rice as an author is how she blends reality, real world people and events, within her narrative. She never sounds clichéd when she describes the era she is writing about which I think is definitely a massive skill that Rice possesses.

Much like her previous novels, Love Notes for Freddie is a triumph.

Love Notes to Freddie by Eva Rice is available now.

Follow Eva Rice (@EvaRiceAuthor) on Twitter.

Love Notes for Freddie

Review: The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey

The Review

The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey is about teenager Sarah Shaw and how she manages to ruin her life in one week. That seems a fairly simple explanation but to be honest I couldn’t even begin to describe the intricacies of this story. It is too complex and not in a good way.

The book felt very contrived. It has been written with the intent to be as controversial as possible. It includes knife fights, family communes, teenage prostitution, juvenile delinquency, masturbation, drugs and attempted murder. Ok, a lot of books have these issues in them. My problem is that it all comes out of nowhere. There is no plausible reason why Sarah Shaw suddenly starts acting in the way she does. There is no build up to it. It just seems to happen rather instantly.

As a reader, I don’t need all the answers however The Torn Skirt has ambiguous an implausible roots that I just couldn’t understand or like it. This is one that I wish I had left at the very bottom of my TBR pile.

The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey is available now.

 

Review: Hobb’s Cottage by Ruth Saberton

Title: Hobb’s Cottage

Author: Ruth Saberton

Pages: 36 Pages

The Blurb

When Phoebe Summers moves to an idyllic Cornish cottage, dark deeds from the past quickly begin to cast sinister shadows across the present…

“Spooky, evocative and so poignant. The perfect autumnal bedtime read.” Chrissie Manby.

“Gave me real shivers!” My Book Shelf.

The Review

Hobb’s Cottage is a story that is based on historical events; events that could have happened in any town or village. The story is about a woman named Tilly who was accused of witchcraft because she was pregnant and lived alone. A few hundred years later a heartbroken Phoebe rents the cottage where Tilly lived. In a strange coincidence their lives are paralleled and Phoebe is haunted by Tilly’s memory and knows she has to right the wrongs of the past.

For such a short story Ruth Saberton packed a whole lot of themes into Hobb’s Cottage; themes of magic and witchcraft, loss and also a theme of prejudice to name just a few. The most enduring theme for me had to be one of loss; loss of love, loss of a child and also the loss of innocence. You cannot help but feel heartbroken for both Phoebe and Tilly that were both left by the man they loved and both lost a child.

It is strange because they were both the villain of the piece. They were both mistresses, breaking up marriages because of their lust but they are also the characters that we feel the most empathy for. It was rather clever of Saberton to choose to write a book like this. It was also very brave. Chances are we could have adopted the attitude that both Phoebe and Tilly got what they deserved. Yet we never think that. Kudos for the writing skills there Ruth Saberton.

Hobb’s Cottage by Ruth Saberton is available now.

Follow Ruth Saberton (@ruthsaberton) on Twitter.

Hobbs Cottage

Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

The Blurb

Adam Higgs is a loser, and he’s not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers’ weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam’s popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School‘s honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam’s rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.

The Review

How to Win at High School is a story of a young man called Adam Higgs; a self-confessed loser. After moving to a new high school he makes it his mission to change this fact. He plans to get the pretty and popular kids to like him…and he succeeds. With entrepreneurial skills that could rival Sir Alan Sugar (or if you are reading this stateside – Donald Trump) he wangles his way into becoming a god, a legend at his high school. Known by the moniker “Pizza Man” his capitalist connections make him a fortune, land him a hot girlfriend and put him as an integral member of the school’s highest social group. But can Adam “Pizza Man” Higgs maintain this status?

So from reading the premise, the story sounds promising. It is a classic underdog story. And How to Win at High School is an easy read. Despite being 490 pages long, I read it in a day. Granted some of the chapters were only one line long but still it is a testament to how well written the book is.

My problem with How to Win at High School is that Owen Matthews has not made a very likeable protagonist. At first you sympathise with him. High School isn’t easy and you are made by those who walk into popularity like it is their God given right to do so. Ah the social hierarchy of high school – the scourge of many. However, as Adam descends into the dark dirty world of his underhand business he becomes arrogant, cocky and I am gonna say it – a bit of an ass! He destroys he relationships with his greed, he can’t seem to put a stop to his business and he begins to act like he is invincible. It is hard to feel empathy with him because – like I said earlier – he is an ass.

How to Win at High School reminded me a little of Youth in Revolt. Adam Higgs is similar to Nick Twisp with his scheming and his wheeling and dealing. Or even a modern day more creative Ferris Beuller but he just wasn’t likeable and I personally like to like my protagonists.

How to Win at High School is an easy book to read and it is interesting so I would recommend it. I would actually suggest giving it to a reluctant reader but make sure you watch them after they have finished just in case.

How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews is available now.

How to win at high school