I’m Taking a Break!

Hi guys,

Just a quick post to say that this week I break up for summer; I am a teaching assistant in a high school so I enjoy the benefits of having the summer off. Consequently, I am giving myself a mini two week break from blogging about books. It’s not you, it’s me! I need to relax and get some much needed rest. Never fear I will be back on the 4th of August with a lot more reviews.

Hope you are all well,

I will see you soon bookish buddies!

Love L x

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Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

The Blurb

From the New York Times best-selling author of Every Day, another thoughtful and original perspective on the things we do for love.

The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. Theyr’e hoping to set the world record for the longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be.

Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different. Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper is alone. He’s not sure how he feels.

As the marathon progresses, these boys, their friends and families evaluate the changing nature of feelings, behaviour and this crazy thing called love.

The Review

As far as LGBT YA fiction is going, it is undeniable that David Levithan is leading the charge. This is extremely evident in the novel Two Boys Kissing. The story shows the different aspects of daily life as someone who is gay. The good side of things such as burgeoning relationships, family acceptance and friendship; it is the bad aspects of life that are truly heartbreaking such as the bullying, the taunts, and the suicidal thoughts and the general ignorance that makes it difficult for people to live normal lives.

Although the separate stories in the novel are very telling it is the voice of omniscient narrator and the stories of the past that are truly heartbreaking. It is almost an oxymoron the way that the uplifting feeling you get from the progress of the LGBT community makes you angry that they needed to have progress. Why couldn’t things just be?

Two Boys Kissing is an important story. A story that shouldn’t have to be told but thankfully it is. Here is to an ignorance free future.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan is available now.

Review: Because You’ll Never Meet You by Leah Thomas

The Blurb

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet, because if they ever did, one of them would certainly die. As recluses from society, they develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline.

Through an exchange of letters, the two boys develop a strong friendship which becomes a lifeline during dark times – until Moritz reveals that he holds the key to their shared, sinister past, and has been keeping it from Ollie all along.

This is a story of impossible friendship and hope from a brilliant new speculative fiction writer.

The Review

For someone who reads a lot of Young Adult fiction, I often find that the books follow a trend. They become samey. Once it was vampires and then fairies but most recently it has been stories of illness and suicide. I hate to lump Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas in a category such as ‘Young Adult: Illness’ because this genre of novel has almost become a cliché yet that is best way to pigeonhole this novel. The flipside of this is that Because You’ll Never Meet Me is unlike any book I have ever read. And it is bloody brilliant.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is the story of an unlikely friendship between two boys – Ollie and Moritz – who bond through letters. Both boys lack a social life; they are reclusive, kept away from others due to their medical conditions. However, through their conversations we see both characters grow within their constraints and learn to live with what life had to offer them rather than slowly rotting away.

Normally, I find stories told in letter format quite jarring but it is a testament to Leah Thomas’s writing that I didn’t find Because You’ll Never Meet Me cloying and detestable. She is very accomplished at making you empathise with her characters but what I found myself thinking is just how lucky I am to not have to live with such a debilitating medical condition. Because You’ll Never Meet Me makes you realise just how good you have thing in life. This book should be on the shelves of every junior library because the message within it is so darn strong.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is one of the most impressive books I have read this year.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas is available now.

Follow Leah Thomas (@blunderkinder) on Twitter.

Because Youll Never Meet Me

Review: If You Don’t Know Me By Now by AL Michael

The Blurb

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.

Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London’s rudest customers goes viral – and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself…

The Review

Imogen is living the dream…sort of. Well she is living my dream. She has moved to London and is trying to make it as a writer. She is living in a crappy flat, with no money, no job and no writing prospects. Things are looking grim but when she finally gets employment (albeit in the service industry – not media) she actually embarks on a whirlwind adventure that gets her everything that she wants. Make me want to pack my bag and move to London right now.

Ok, so Imogen seems to have the fairytale experience of ‘all’s well that ends well’ but AL Michael has created a really realistic story and lifelike characters in If You Don’t Know Me By Now. Imogen has her trials and tribulations and she battles her way through them. You never feel like she is grumbling about her lot in life. She just gets on with things. I think that is what actually makes her very likeable. You watch her blossom from an insecure little girl into a fighter. She works hard for everything she gets and it is nice to see a protagonist who isn’t relying on everyone else to make her happy.

One thing is for sure and that is that AL Michael has a finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary romance.

If You Don’t Know Me By Now by AL Michael is available now.

Follow AL Michael (@ALMichael_) on Twitter.

If You Dont Know Me By Now

Review: We Sink or Swim Together by Gill Paul

Title: We Sink or Swim Together

Author: Gill Paul

Pages: 48 pages

The Blurb

It was a matter of life and death …

7 May 1915
Gerda Nielsen is on her way from Brooklyn to Liverpool aboard the ill-fated Lusitania.

Jack Walsh is returning to England to take up a post helping the war effort.

As he and Gerda spend more and more time onboard together they realise that each has found someone very special.

It’s the afternoon before they dock in Liverpool, and tragedy strikes. As the torpedoed ship lists to one side Jack and Gerda must make frightening decisions that become a matter of life or death …

A beautiful, romantic and moving tale based on a tragic true story.

The Review

What is it about sunken ships that seem so romantic? I mean they are essentially stories of death, heartbreak, panic , loss, destruction and traumatic experiences yet it is easy for people to find the love story within. James Cameron did it with Titanic and now Gill Paul (an author with a reputation of writing historical shipboard romances) has found the love story among the Lusitania.

The story focuses on the real life romance of Jack Welsh and Gerda Neilson who fell in love aboard the Lusitania only to face the tragedy of the ship being hit by a wartime torpedo that nearly tore the couple apart. In this short story, Gill Paul manages to convey the desperation and terror that passengers must have felt as they tried to get away from the Lusitania as it rapidly sank to the depths of the Irish Sea. She makes you believe that the power of love saved this tragic couple who had met and fell in love only days before. She pulls at the old heartstrings.

We Sink or Swim Together is a harrowing little short that will have you gasping for breath until the last page.

We Sink or Swim Together by Gill Paul is available now.

Follow Gill Paul (@GillPaulAUTHOR) on Twitter.

Review: Hamilton High – Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

The Blurb

Revisit Hamilton High in this MUST READ for all fans of The DUFF – co-starring Bianca and Wesley.

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend’s house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with – secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder’s the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can’t stand – a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually ‘like’ him. Only there’s one small catch: he thinks he’s been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she’s the girl he’s really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

The DUFF is a New York Times Bestseller and a major motion picture starring Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Mae Whitman and Alison Janney.

The Review

Having already read The DUFF and being surprisingly impressed by Kody Keplinger’s writing style and moxie. I was really excited to sink my teeth into the companion novel LOL.I think what impressed me most about Keplinger’s style is just the amount of sass she puts into her stories and her characters. At the minute in YA fiction there is a macabre trend of stories about incurable illnesses or suicide so it is refreshing to have a story that is about solvable problems that are still real and relevant. This is exactly what you get with Keplinger’s writing and it is no different from her latest offering – LOL.

In Lying Out Loud, our protagonist Sonny has a problem. She is a bit of a liar. She has learnt that she is a quick thinker and can make up excuses on the spot. However, sometimes her lies can’t get her out of real life desperate situations she manages to get herself in.

In a Cyrano de Bergerac-esque novel Sonny responds to the amorous emails from new student Ryder. As the conversation flows, Sonny realises that she likes him. One problem, she is replying on her best friend Amy’s email account. Ryder likes Amy, not Sonny. Sonny begins to weave a crafty web of lies to make Ryder fall for her instead but eventually her perpetual mendacious behaviour catches up with her.

LOL is a really great read that is hard to put down. It deals with themes of unrequited love, friendship along with deeper issues such as abandonment and poverty. It definitely should be a part of all young adults’ libraries.

Hamilton High: Lying Out Loud: A Companion Novel to The Duff by Kody Keplinger is available now.

Follow Kody Keplinger (@Kody_Keplinger) on Twitter.

LOL

Review: Pippa’s Cornish Dream by Debbie Johnson

The Blurb

Every summer has a story…

Since Pippa Harte was forced to take over her parents’ farm, she’s barely had time to shave her legs let alone make time for a date. Now she’s more likely to be getting down and dirty mucking out the pigs – and avoiding those of the human male variety.

When Ben Retallick walks out of her childhood and back into her present it seems that perhaps Pippa has more time than she thought. All Poldark smoulders and easy-going charm, Ben’s definitely worth whipping her wellies off for!

But Ben is a man with his own past and his own issues – and as much as she’s enjoying having him around, she’s got to get a grip. After all life isn’t always a beach … Then again, this is Cornwall.

Set on the gorgeous Cornish coast at the height of summer, this is the perfect romance to take on your hols!

Debbie is the author of Cold Feet at Christmas, the #1 Christmas bestseller!

The Review

Whenever my friends come to me feeling a bit down or bummed out by life, my advice to them is always the same; read a book. This year I have made many recommendations but I have to admit one of the books that kept cropping up over and over again was Debbie Johnson’s Cold Feet at Christmas because it was just so damn good. Therefore, I was more than excited when I heard that Johnson was releasing a new book in the rom-com oeuvre. Her new offering, Pippa’s Cornish Dream, is just wonderful. The story goes like this:

Pippa has had to deal with a lot in life, she has become a parent to four children through circumstance not choice, runs a farm as well as long or short stay accommodation. She spends her days mucking out cows and cleaning up pig poo. This isn’t exactly the life that the Oxford-bound Pippa was expected to lead.

Things change for Pippa when a handsome, yet familiar, man comes to stay on the farm. It is then that Pippa really starts to live.

Now I know what you are thinking, woman falls for handsome man. What is so special about that? For me, it is Johnson’s characters. They are so three dimensional. Everything and everyone has a reason for happening or acting in the ways that they do. Plus Johnson never goes for the conventional male hero. There is always a layer that you have to break through first. I think it is this that makes her stories so interesting and fun to read.

Pippa’s Cornish Dream is only a small book but Debbie Johnson packs an awful lot of good story in there. If you are looking for a good, light-hearted summer read then I would totally recommend the latest Debbie Johnson.

Pippa’s Cornish Dream by Debbie Johnson is available now.

Follow Debbie Johnson (@DebbieMJohnson) on Twitter.

Pippas Cornish Dream

Review: Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

The Blurb

Portia Kane is having a meltdown. After escaping her cheating husband and their posh Florida life, she finds herself transported back home and back to square one. In need of saving herself, she sets out to find and resurrect a beloved high-school English teacher who has retired after a violent incident in the classroom. But she quickly learns that it’s not a one-woman job. Luckily she meets a few people on her journey. Can Chuck, the handsome brother of Portia’s old school friend, together with a sassy nun and a metal-head little boy, help Portia’s chances in her bid for renewed hope in the human race? It’s going to be quite a ride. Moving and funny, Love May Fail is about the heartache and daring choices it takes to become the person you know deep down you are meant to be.

The Review

I would like to start this review with the following exclamation. OH. MY. WOW!

I’m sorry for the dramatic outburst but Love May Fail by Matthew Quick has floored me. I am currently having what the cool kids call a “book hangover”. It was just so damn good. I’m finding hard to actually express my feelings about Love May Fail in a coherent and concise way because it was just so damn beautiful.

The multi-narrative tale is told from four perspectives – Portia, Mr Vernon, Mr Vernon’s mother Maeve and Chuck Bass (not to be confused with the Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl) and their lives are all intrinsically linked. Each of these characters has a cross to bear and they are all struggling to find meaning or a connection. Yet they all help each other – sometimes on purpose and other times accidentally. It is through the theme of loss that they can all relate to each other.

This sounds very simplistic but I genuinely do not want to give too much away. Ideally, I would like those of you reading this review to run to your nearest bookshop and buy Love May Fail.

Having read all but one of Matthew Quick’s previous novels, I can say with conviction that Love May Fail is his finest work to date.

Love May Fail by Matthew Quick is available now.

Follow Matthew Quick (@MatthewQuick21) on Twitter.

Love May Fail

Review: Red at Night by Katie McGarry

Title: Red at Night

Author: Katie McGarry

Pages: 84 pages

The Blurb

Stella and Jonah are total opposites.

She’s the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella’s favourite refuge…the local cemetery.
Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah’s friends. Once he’s sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won’t have time for her anymore. Too bad she’s already fallen for him….

 

The Review

I love books with unusual storylines. You can read a book and instantly think ‘woah this reminds of…’ and it turns out it is just a copy or a copy of a copy. It can become tedious. However, with some clever writing and alterations a story can become absolutely wonderful and uplifting. This is what Katie McGarry has achieved with Red at Night.

The story centres around two high school students who are completely different. One rich, one poor. One who enjoys the popularity an easy life and money can give and another who is ridiculed for the things that they don’t have. Think Andie and Blaine from Pretty in Pink.

Stella is a latchkey kid, passed from pillar to post, wears second hand clothes and more than anything is a survivor. Jonah has everything handed to him on a plate, so much so that he doesn’t enjoy the spoils of his entitled life. When the two of them find each other sitting in the local cemetery they form an unlikely, yet unbreakable, alliance.

See, whilst Katie McGarry has written a classic story about opposites attract she has also approached the story from a very different angle. It is her approach along with her inspiration for Red at Night that makes it so very special. It is the kind of story that sneakily attacks you with emotion and I am not afraid to admit that I shed a sneaky tear or two.

Red at Night is a lovely short story that hits you right where it hurts. You should read it. In fact, I command you to.

Red at Night by Katie McGarry is available now.

Follow Katie McGarry (@KatieMcGarry) on Twitter.

Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Blurb

With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write.  Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.

The Review

I was advised to read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg ahead of attending a writing course in July 2015. As a writer in training I always love reading how people approach the task of novel writing; usually it is the same advice – just write – but sometimes you get a small nugget of new advice or even just the creative juices start to flow.

I did not feel this with the majority of chapters in Writing Down the Bones. Yes, it is a little dated (it is nearly thirty years old) and sure, in 1986 things were different to how they are now but I just found the book to be a little bit hippy-dippy for my liking. It was too exploratory for the kind of writing I want to do.

No time during or after reading did I feel like I wanted to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to get a story written. In the end I was passively reading the chapters just to get to the end of the book.

I’m sure other writers may find this book useful. However, I did not.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is available now.