Monthly Wrap Up: November 2013

Monthly Wrap Up

 

Books I reviewed in November:
(Links take you to my reviews)

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)

Favourite Book Read in November 2013: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry

Fall For You by Cecilia Grey (Rating: 3.5/5)
Unchosen by Michele Vail (Rating: 3/5)
Love and Relativity by Rachael Wade (Rating: 4/5)
The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop (Rating: 4/5)
So Into You by Cecilia Grey (Rating: 3.5/5)
Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend by Allison Rushby (Rating: 3.5/5)
The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper (Rating: 2/5)
Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson (Rating: 4/5)
Break It Up by EM Tippets (Rating: 4/5)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (Rating: 4.5/5)
Sia by Josh Grayson (Rating: 3/5)
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Rating: 4.5/5)

 

Also in November:

 

What’s Coming Up on the Blog in December?

I’m pretty excited about some of the books I’m reviewing in December. Pawn by Aimee Carter is the first in a new dystopian society. It’s got a different social class system, interesting technology and some great characters. On the 10th I’m taking part in the Amberlin Kwaymullina blog tour – The Tribe series looks interesting. I’ve been excited about Amberlin’s books since Mandee from VeganYANerds gave The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf five stars. I’m also taking part in the Captivate by Vanessa Garden blog tour (Friday the 13th is my stop) which is exciting. I love books about mermaids and the fact that Vanessa Garden is an Australian only makes me more excited! I’ll also be reviewing All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill which is an amazing thriller involving time travel.

That’s just the first two weeks and it’s looking like December is going to be a fantastic month blog wise! I’m going to Tasmania at the end of the month – which I am so excited for. I’ve never been before and can’t wait to see all the Apple Isle has to offer! I bought a copy of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and plan on taking them with me on my holiday – I’m finally going to read these classic books that I’ve heard so much about.

 

 

Book Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake

Title: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Music, Romance, 
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Pages: 375
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy

My Review:

Kiri Byrd is the daughter parents can depend on. To water plants, to practice her piano and not to get into any trouble. And Kiri is fine playing the role because she’s convinced that her perfection is the only way to keep her family together after her older sister, Sukey, died in an accident a few years ago. But a strange phone call one night when her parents are away on a cruise leads to Kiri questioning everything she believes to be true.

“It’s amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true.” 

This book is both beautiful and bizarre. Kiri is in the midst of discovering things about Sukey, her parents and herself that she never even considered. It’s an emotional story with Kiri falling apart. Her sister may not have been the role model Kiri had on a pedestal and her parents dismissal of all thing Sukey may not have been the most healthy thing to do. Kiri is locked in a world where she lives in denial. Watering the azaleas and perfecting complicated piano pieces is the way she is holding things together. But when she finds out there’s more to Sukey’s death than she ever considered, Kiri is thrown – especially considering her brother and parents knew the truth all along. Kiri tries to hold on to the perfect life she’s living whilst at the same time starts to resent it. She’s beautiful in her confusion and reading her was a pleasure. Her awkwardness regarding love and sex was endearing to read and her passion – albeit slightly fanatical – for music was a joy.

And then there’s Skunk. Have you ever heard a more attractive name for the hero of a story? Probably not. Skunk is one of those characters that I adored from the first time Kiri met him.
“He’s huge. Hagridesque. A bulldozer crossed with a  gorilla.”

Romantic, right? His relationship with Kiri is one based on friendship first and contrasts perfectly with the relationship Kiri has with bandmate Lukas. Both boys couldn’t be more different and they do a great job of representing Kiri’s perfect past and confused present.

I loved the writing in this novel. If I were to underline my favourite lines most of the book would be marked. Kiri’s spiral downwards was oddly wonderful to read – one of those things that feel like they should be entirely uncomfortable were written in a way that made me want to read more and anticipate how Kiri would react to the next bombshell in her life. Her relationships with everyone are declining and it’s awkward yet enticing.

The ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I felt it was perfectly fitting for both the plot and the characters. I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did – the recreational drug use on page 1 nearly turned me off but this is so much more than a teenage stoner story. It’s an emotional and lovely debut novel with amazingly flawed characters and some beautiful prose. I adored this book and will definitely be looking out for more books by Hilary T. Smith.

Favourite Quotes:

“His smile is a jar full of fireflies”

“The wired feeling that started when I left my house has grown into a thrumming, crackling, electrical field. I want to kiss Lukas. I want to dance down the street. There’s a reason people get drunk after funerals, and I suddenly know what it is: the flip side of sadness is a dark, devouring joy, a life that demands to be fed.”

“I want to kiss you,” I say, “but I seem to be holding this cat.”
Skunk lifts his hand and touches it to the side of my face. His fingers are warm from carrying the hot skillet to the table. He regards me very seriously, and for a moment I wonder if he’s about to tell me we should Focus on Bicycle Repair. Instead he just looks at me for a very long time.
“You’re beautiful,” says Skunk, “and completely batshit.” 

Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | Book World

Discussion: Spoilers

Spoilers

 

The other day I was in a bookstore and I was very excited about finally purchasing a book I’d been excited about for months but only just gotten around to buying. Clutching my soon-to-be-bought new addition for my personal library I approached the counter and waiting to complete my purchase. The woman at the register and I started some small talk as she rang up my book but then disaster struck.

Is this the book where [insert character name] dies and [insert other IMPORTANT PLOT TWISTS] happen?”

She saw my face fall as soon as she said it and started backtracking but the damage was done.

This isn’t the first time – nor will it be the last time – when I accidentally stumble upon bookish happenings before they occur. My sister decided to tell me every single death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before I got to them (she thought she was helping me emotionally prepare for them in advance).

So, how do I really feel about spoilers? 

Most of the time they don’t really bother me. I started The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare  years after everyone else and knew so many of the twists and turns before I even got a copy. But other times… THEY REALLY UPSET ME! 

I’ve worked out what my rule is:

  • If I’ve invested time, money and a whole lot of emotions into a series – I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before I get to it. You can only read a book for the first time once. And when key happenings are revealed before they happen to you… it’s like you’ve skimmed the book before you’ve read it.
  • Otherwise, if the book/series is one I’m interested in but just haven’t gotten around to reading yet – spoiler away. Sometimes I find spoilers for books I’m thinking about reading actually push me over the edge and make me want to read the book THAT MUCH MORE!

I try not to reveal any big spoilers in my book reviews. If it’s not in the blurb or the first 15% of the novel – I try as hard as I can not to divulge any pertinent details and if I do I point it out in the first line of my review just so that no body stumbles upon anything they would rather not.

What are your thoughts about spoilers? Have you unintentionally revealed twists to people ahead of time? Do you like knowing what is going to happen ahead of time? 

 

Book Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

SIA banner

Title: Siasia cover
Author: Josh Grayson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Social Change, Coming of Age, New Adult
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:

Sia has no idea who she is. She doesn’t know her name, her address or anything about herself. The only thing she has to her name is a fairly skimpy jogging outfit and an ipod. With nowhere to go and no idea about who she can turn to, Sia spends the next week on the streets living as a homeless person. Kindness comes from the most surprising sources when and older woman befriends Sia and teaches her how to survive. But then Sia’s parents find her. They take her off the streets and back to their mansion. But Sia still doesn’t have a clue who she is. She doesn’t recognize her parents. her friends, her boyfriend or her life. What she finds is that she doesn’t like the sound of the person she was. And maybe she doesn’t need to be the Old Sia.

I liked how this story let us find out about Sia and Sia’s World as she discovered things for herself. The contrasts from her time on the streets and her rich and flashy life worked nicely against each other. It was a little hard for me to get into the story initially – Sia’s confusion was shared by me for a while – but it didn’t take long for me to get into things.

Sia is a little simplistic at times. Instead of finding out who she was, she decides to completely embrace the life of a street kid. After finishing the novel I don’t feel like that would be something Old Sia or the New and Improved version would do. She’s not really a go with the flow kind of person. But I understand that as a plot device, Sia needed to see what life on the other side would be like. The romance was nicely done but I felt like the end wrapped things up in a way that felt unnatural, over the top and a tad unnecessary.

This was an interesting journey to read. From the gutter to the Academy Awards – there’s a lot going on and Sia managed to traverse it all.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

Josh Author Pic

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Author Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway where you could win one of five print copies of Sia (US only) or one of five ecopies (open internationally). Click the rafflecopter link before to enter.

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Book Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You

Title: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)
Author: Katie McGarry 
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 464
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich gira stl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

My Review:

NOTE: Whilst this book is part of a series it can also be enjoyed as a standalone.

Isaiah and Rachel couldn’t be more different. He’s struggling to make rent in a budget apartment and is facing getting sent back to his foster parents. She’s the perfect daughter of wealthy parents and wants to please everyone. He’s rough around the edges, covered in tattoos and isn’t unfamiliar with the darker side of life. She feels the need to please everyone even when it’s hazardous to her own health. But they both share a love of cars. When they meet by chance at an illegal street race, they feel a spark. They put aside their preconceived notions of the other get to know each other on a deeper level. But real life gets in the way and tries to tear them apart just as they’re falling in love.

I have to admit – I was annoyed at Katie McGarry. After reading Pushing the Limits, I wanted Isaiah and Beth to be together. Then I read Dare You Too and I started to think maybe the author knew better than I did what was best for her characters… Now, after reading Isaiah and Rachel’s story – I know I was wrong. I adored this novel. From the start I could see that these two brought out the best in each other.

Rachel is fragile. But she surprised me by being tough as nails on the inside. She doesn’t like conflict and does whatever she can to avoid it. She’s living her life in her sister’s shadow and whilst they may not mean to – her parents never let her forget it. But she’s more than the society princess. She’s passionate about cars – and her love of mechanics is heartfelt and believable. Isaiah on the other hand is damaged. Life hasn’t been kind to him and he doesn’t think enough of himself to get him out of the hole that he’s in. Noah, his best friend and the main character from Pushing the Limits, tries to do what he can but he’s got his hands full with college, Echo and his brothers. It’s an interesting time for Isaiah – because as well as Rachel coming into his life he gets a case worker who wants more than just to wash her hands of him.

There’s a lot of excitement in this book – illegal street racing, money hungry bookies and a romance that is absolutely beautiful. I thought McGarry did a brilliant job of melding the different worlds her characters live in whilst at the same time being believable. There are some surprises in this book with some amazing new characters being introduced and some old favourites from the series reappearing. I thought it was great that characters like Beth are still prickly and (dare I say) a little bitchy despite having her happy ending – it felt authentic that she’s the same girl despite the changes her life has been through.

I’m looking forward to the fourth book in this series. I love the characters and can’t wait to see what Katie McGarry come up with next!

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Break It Up by E.M. Tippetts

Break It Up

Title: Break It Up
Author: E. M. Tippetts
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 216
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kyra Armijo is making a few changes in her life. One of them being, she’s no longer going to give it up to every guy who looks at her twice. And she’s putting her hopes and dreams for her future first. When the aspiring photojournalist gets the opportunity of a lifetime to tag along with international boy band sensation, Triple Cross, she can’t pass up the chance.

The only problem is that she’s in love with one band member, dodging the unwanted attention of another, and desperate to keep her turbulent past under wraps. Triple Cross have “nice guy” appeal, approved of by parents the world over, but have just let go their longtime manager, who controlled their clean image and media exposure with an iron fist. When Zach Wechsler, the object of Kyra’s affection, begins to show interest, she has to be careful.

Surely one girl can’t destroy a band that’s been together for ten years… only what if she can? Kyra knows she’s one bad decision away from ruining everything she’s worked for, and taking the hottest act of her generation down with her.

My Review:

Kyra used to be the girl with the bad reputation. A reputation she may have earned but she’s trying to redeem herself for her past mistakes. When she gets to meet with the somewhat reclusive but very famous band, Triple Cross, Kyra is a little star struck – and she has met her fair share of A-List celebrities. But Zach Wechsler is different. He’s even better than in Kyra’s fantasies. Can Kyra manage to keep her past a secret and have a chance with the clean cut pop sensation or will things between Kyra and Zach be over before they even cot a chance to began?

If you’ve read Someone Else’s Fairytale or Nobody’s Damsel by Emily Mah Tippetts, Kyra would be familiar to you. Break it Up is a spinoff focusing on Jason’s niece, Kyra. She’s not the wild child she was but rather maturing into a respectable member of society. Kyra owns her own mistakes but is trying to leave it in the past and make something of her future. She’s an interesting character. I liked that she didn’t judge others for their actions because she’d been there, done that and it wasn’t her place remark on how they choose to live their lives. Her relationships with her family was great to read about. Whilst this book can be read as a standalone I thought it was interesting to see Kyra’s perception of characters that I had grown to love before from Chloe’s story.

I thought that Triple Cross were fun. Somewhere between One Direction and the Jonas Brothers, they’re three young men who are in the middle of flux. Their mom-ager (mother manager) was recently cut loose and now they’re having to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives. Zach is the ultimate dream boy… and Kyra isn’t immune from his charm. But I found him to be a little immature and he read very young. A little too young for the world wise Kyra. I would have liked him more had he taken a little more responsibility for what was happening to him and his band rather than just hoping something would magically solve all their problems. Romance wise – Kyra and Zach’s chemistry was lovely. They compliment each other so well and I was rooting for them from the start.

It was great to be back in the world EM Tippetts has created. Her characters are three-dimensional – each with their own flaws which makes them that much more relatable and enjoyable to read about. She writes fantastic New Adult novels that are interesting and clean. I enjoyed reading this book and loved that it is a complete story – with no nasty cliffhangers!  

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review, Q&A and Giveaway: Game Plan by Natalie Corbett Sampson

Title: Game Plangame-plan-cover-only
Author: Natalie Corbett Sampson
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Young Adult,
Publisher: Fierce Ink Press
Date Published: November 2013
Pages: 360
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Just because the play goes wrong, doesn’t mean you quit the game.

Ella Parker seems to have everything: great friends, an awesome family and a star position on her high school basketball team. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. That changes once she catches the eye of Sam Cleveland. With Sam by her side Ella has it all. When a drunken night results in an unwanted pregnancy, her perfect life is turned upside down and she’s faced with an impossible decision.

Katherine Frayne has always wanted to be a mother. But with the last results of her in vitro fertilization pointing to no chance of a baby, her hopes are dashed. Then her husband Danny suggests they adopt. At first Kat is resistant, but she soon warms to the idea.

Ella and Katherine must navigate their lives amidst tough decisions, the consequences of which not only affect them but those they love the most.

My Review:
Teenage pregnancies and adoption at times may be considered controversial but in Natalie Corbett Sampson handles them beautifully in her debut novel, Game Plan.

Seventeen year old Ella Parker has a plan – to get a basketball scholarship to college. And she’s on track to get there too. There are scouts coming to her games and she’s never been in better form. But then she meets Sam Cleveland. He’s gorgeous and the first boy to ever take an interest in her. Will one drunken accident change every plan Ella’s ever made for herself?

Katherine and Danny Frayne have been married for seven years and trying for a baby for most of them. Unable to conceive naturally, they start looking into the adoption process and find it can be heartbreaking and seemingly hopeless at times.

The contrast between the two stories was beautifully executed. Ella is a girl who never expected to be a pregnant teenager. She’s a good student, never caused her parents any worry and is dedicated to her sport. Her distress at her situation is palpable and understandable. Katherine on the other hand has a deep instinctual need to be a mother. She feels like there’s something missing in her life without a baby and is desperate to do whatever she can to fill that need. I liked her scepticism regarding the adoption process. She’s passionate about becoming a mother but I admired that she didn’t let it completely take over her life.

Plot wise – there aren’t a lot of surprises. But that isn’t a problem. This story’s strengths lay in the honest way the characters deal with their situations and how their real their emotions feel. Both Ella and Katherine are heartbroken but for almost opposite reasons. Ella’s interactions with Sam felt relatable for many people – both in the upswing of the relationship and the way they reacted to the unplanned pregnancy.

I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how Ella and Katherine dealt with the tough situations life handed them. It was a beautiful read and I look forward to reading more from Natalie Corbett Sampson.

Thanks to Fierce Ink Press for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Special Edition Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | McNally Robinson |Fierce Ink Press

Regular paperback: Fierce Ink Press (best spot!) | CreateSpace | Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

NCS-crop

Natalie Corbett Sampson lives in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia with her husband, four school-aged Munsters and a menagerie of pets. Her day job is a speech language pathologist where she loves helping children improve their ability to communicate with the world around them. When she’s not working, writing or sitting in a hockey rink Natalie loves reading, photography and drawing.
Author Links:

Q & A with Natalie Corbett Sampson!

I was lucky enough to get to ask Natalie some questions about Game Plan, writing in general and reading.

  • What inspired you to write Game Plan?

This story came very quickly to me, driving home one night it just sort of tumbled into my head so all I had to do was get it down. A lot of the story came from my own adoption story, even though our family’s journey was very different. A lot of Ella’s story came from my own high school time – I wasn’t a pregnant teen but the insecurities and hopes she felt are pretty common to teens, I think. I have often wondered about birth mothers, how they come to their decision and what they go through. Ella’s experiences are how I imagine it might be sometimes.

  • When you first decided to write Game Plan, did you always know you wanted to focus on both the story of the birth mother and that of the adoptive family too?

They seemed like a good pair of stories to set parallel. Too often adoptions are only seen from one side – you see a family adopt a baby or know of someone who had to place a baby, but they really can’t be separated – during that time or any time after. It’s important to know that while adoption builds one family, it is always linked to a loss.

  • Teen pregnancy can be a very controversial issue in society. Were there any particular parts in Ella and Katherine’s story that were hard to write considering what reader’s reactions might be to your novel?

I’m glad you asked because that was one of the hardest parts for me to settle myself. I wanted Ella’s decision to be sound, and without a baby there’s no adoption. I struggled to portray realistically what would drive a teenager to complete a pregnancy instead of seeking an abortion but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing so in a judgmental way. I wanted to make sure the decision to have the baby was right for Ella, not because abortion was wrong, just that it wasn’t right for her.

  • What are you most proud of in Game Plan?

You mean besides getting it finished at all? I’ve been told that it’s real and relatable and that some readers have cried at parts. I’m proud of that. I really hope I have captured an image of a birth mother in a respectful light.

  • Are you fluent in text talk? I have to admit that I had to google some of the text messages characters sent and received in this book!

NO WAY! The first draft had few texts, lots of phone calls… my editor said ‘wait, teens text!’ So I turned them into texts and typed them out long like I text and again the editor reminded me how out of touch I was with new technology and communication. So I went back and ‘translated’ all the long forms into text talk. Then it got fun and I might have gotten a little carried away with it!

  • Are there any novels you’ve read that you think more people should read too?

I read a lot… GoodReads is my favourite app. My latest favourite was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I love historical fiction and Phillipa Gregory writes good ones. And of course it should be mandatory for everyone to read the Harry Potter series. I read the Divergent trilogy recently to help with writing my next book and really enjoyed those too.

  • You’re a very busy woman! Between your children, husband, work and other commitments, do you find it difficult to find time to write?

I do, so I’ve made an effort to prioritize and schedule it. I changed my hours at my day job to work longer but fewer days so I could commit two days to writing. It’s very easy to schedule that last and do what I need for everyone else but I’m trying very hard to respect it as a priority.

  • What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

My kids are terribly over scheduled. They are in basketball and hockey, swimming lessons and music… most of my ‘free time’ is spent shuttling to one activity or the other. I take my camera most places I go and force my kids to look cute. I have to read before I can fall asleep.

  • Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? What do you do when it happens?

Yes, it’s horrible! I usually just type something on the page – anything really – and let the words keep coming until they start to make sense and then go back and delete the garbage. It’s so much easier to edit bad work than to stare at a blank page and work from nothing.

  • Have there been any books or authors that have influenced your own writing? Which ones?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I read a lot, and a lot of different stuff. I would expect everything I read will have an impact on what and how I write, but I can’t say there’s anything specifically that I can say changed or impacted the way I write. Actually I would say songs have a greater impact on what I write. I love how a good song can elicit a strong memory or emotion with just a line or two. There are times when I hear a song and wish I could recreate that emotion in a story.

  • What are you currently reading?

I’m supposed to be reading Persuasion by Jane Austen for my book club. It’s a challenge.

  • Are you working on anything now?

I’m prepping my second book for submission to publishers. It’s a story that I love, it’s very different from Game Plan. It talks about choosing identity, the power of words and the necessity of creativity.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

THANK YOU!!! I’m so thrilled to have the little story I pecked away at on my computer turn into a real live book! I appreciate readers for taking the time to read it, and really really hope it’s enjoyed. I would love to hear back from any readers to know what worked for them and what wasn’t quite right.

Thanks Natalie for taking the time to answer my questions! I enjoyed reading Game Plan. I thought it captured a lot of the emotions and frustrations that both sides of an adoption face.

Thank you for reading and for including it on your blog!

I always think it’s fantastic when I have things in common with authors! I’m currently reading The Night Circus (and enjoying it) and Persuasion is one of my favourite book. I hope you finish reading it. I wish you the best with your second book and can’t wait to read it once it’s been published. 

Giveaway!

Fierce Ink Press is generously offering one ecopy of Game Plan for one of my readers. To be entered in the giveaway just leave a comment on this post and I’ll randomly select a winner one week from today.

Book Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey

Title: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 
Publication Date: June 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kitty has a comfortable life as a country milkmaid. She is well looked after by the family who live up at the great house, and she enjoys being courted by Will Villiers, the handsome river man. Then one day, Will vanishes

Kitty is heartbroken, and when sent to London on an errand she is determined to track down Will. But, alone and vulnerable in the vast city, Kitty’s fate is snatched out of her hands and she is plunged into a dizzying spiral of despair…

My Review:

Kitty Grey is happy with her life. She looks after five gorgeous milk cows, has plenty of free time and is in the start of a lovely romance with Will the Ferryman. But Will dreams of more than just living in Devonshire. He’s keen to go to London and earn his fortune so that he will be a man Kitty can be proud of.

When Kitty discovers Will is missing and all his belongings are gone too, she’s furious. When she gets given a chance to run an errand in London, Kitty is eager to go to the city and track Will down. But what greets her is nothing at all like she expected.

I had high hopes for The Disgrace of Kitty Grey. I’ve read some of Mary Hooper’s contemporary novels before but this is the first historical novel of hers that I read. It’s got a lot of charm. From the first few pages when Kitty gets asked to assist the young Misses in their quest to create a tableau vivant complete with live cows I knew it was going to be an entertaining novel. And it had some great points. I enjoyed the differences between modern life and the world Kitty lives in. There are some lovely contrasts of Kitty’s idyllic life in Devonshire and the world she experiences in the city of London.

Where this novel fell short for me was in the intensity of Kitty’s emotions. She has to face some tragic circumstances and throughout it all she never sheds a tear. I needed to feel more from Kitty in order to enjoy the story more. Another shortcoming of this novel was the incredible coincidences that occur – it made this story feel less realistic with just how impossible some of the situations were.

Beautifully researched, The Disgrace of Kitty Grey was a lovely book to read with a strong heroine but lacked a lot of emotion.

 

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Diamond’s are a Teen’s Best Friend by Allison Rushby

Title: Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend (Living Blond series #1)Diamonds are a Teen's Best Friend
Author: Allison Rushby
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Allison Rushby
Publication Date: November 1st, 2013
Pages: 138
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe’s No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she’s relocating in movie-star style—crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride (Dad’s specialization: human mating rituals—need Nessa say more?). Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that’s five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles—star of stage and screen. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa’s favorite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Watch!
As Holly Isles, world-famous actress, confides in Nessa over mocktails.
Listen!
As Nessa coaches Holly in the amazing “Nessa’s Lesson’s in Love”—the ultimate man-catching rules to finding true and lasting lurv.
See!
Nessa fall for Holly’s too-cute nephew, Marc. . . and
Cover your eyes!
As it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong.

There’s no doubting it. This is going to be one pitchy crossing.

My Review:

Nessa Joanne Mulholland is just a teeny bit obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. But when she finds Marilynisms all the time in her daily life can she really be blamed? On a cruise ship with her dad, Nessa meets thirty-something Holly Isles, a world-famous actress and someone Nessa feels like might be a kindred Marilyn fan. Holly has three broken engagements to her name and after bonding over mocktails and maraschino cherries, Nessa starts to believe that her real life is starting to feel a lot like her favourite movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Nessa takes it upon herself to be the Lorelei to Holly’s Dorothy, the Marilyn to her Jane, and comes up with Nessa’s Lessons in Love. She’s going to find Holly’s Perfect Man before the cruise is over!

This book is very cute. Nessa is an engaging main character with a lot of passion for her beloved Marilyn. At thirteen (almost fourteen!) years old, I thought there were times when he behaviour was a little unbelievable but lets face it – becoming BFFs with a movie star is a bit of a fantasy too and this isn’t a book to take too seriously. I love the idea of this book – that even 60 years after Nessa’s favourite film being released, it’s still enjoyable and somewhat relevant to modern life. The parallels from the film to Nessa’s life are beautifully done – you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy Nessa’s antics but if you have seen it I think you’ll like how Nessa relates them to her own situation.

I love a good love story but I didn’t really connect with Marc – Nessa’s sort of love interest. He felt old beyond his years organizing and looking out for his aunt – but this only made the gap between the almost fourteen year old Nessa and the seventeen year old going on forty Marc seem even larger. That said, as eye candy for the Marilyn obsessed, he was okay and did a good job at keeping Nessa a little off-balance. Holly is lovely if not a little odd. She’s fun but I couldn’t quite imagine the educated adult woman to be taking love and life advice from a teenager she just met. But like I said before – this isn’t supposed to be real life. This is a sweet story where you shouldn’t let realism (or lack there of) get in the way of a great novel.

Fun, cute, sweet and fairly short – I’d recommend this book for younger teens. It’s clean and amusing with a quirky and entertaining main character who lets her imagination get away from her – and gets her into trouble! Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend is the first book in a trilogy and this is a series I definitely want to read more of – can’t wait to see what Nessa gets up to next!

Note: I decided that I need to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes after reading this book and I had such a great time imagining Nessa as Lorelei Lee – this movie maybe from 1953 but it’s a lot of fun. Thanks Allison for inspiring me to watch a Marilyn film!

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

To celebrate the release of her book, Allison is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway. You can win one of twenty gorgeous “Marilynette” wristbands from the Etsy Marilynette Shoppe. This is open internationally and if you want to enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open until the end of December.

Click here to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: So Into You by Cecilia Gray

So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #2)

Title: So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy #2)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contempoary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 149
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sweet and sensible Ellie hasn’t met a problem her mom’s yoga mantras can’t fix. But when Ellie’s parents threaten to pull her from the Academy just as her flirtation with the cutest boy in school heats up, will Ellie be able to keep her cool?

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph.

My Review:

Ellie has always been her parents rock. When they’re travelling the world in search of spiritual enlightenment, Ellie is the one to make sure the bills get paid and that everything runs smoothly. But there are things Ellie can’t control. Her parents decide to move to another continent and open up a yoga studio and they want Ellie to come with them. With the Jane Austen Academy being the home Ellie always wanted, she’s not sure she can leave just yet. Especially not when her flirtation with the gorgeous Edward is starting to get interesting.

Ellie is one of those characters I couldn’t help but like. She’s a little out of her depth but she’s smart and sensible and doesn’t fall apart like other girls would. When faced with possible eviction from her beloved school, she finds a way around the limitations. That said, she’s still fairly timid and has many personal challenges that try to overwhelm her. I loved Emma in this book. She’s a mix of Emma (from Emma) and Marianne (from Sense & Sensibility) and Gray has done a great job combining the characters whilst still giving the readers someone new. The scenes with Lizzie and Dante were great to read and I loved that just because they had their happy ending doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect.

I enjoyed the romance in So Into You a lot more in this book than the first of the series. Ellie and Edward have had time to get to know each other and things didn’t feel quite as sudden and Lizzie and Dante’s relationship. I liked them for each other and was more than satisfied by the ending.

The concept for this series – having Jane Austen’s heroines all modernized and familiar with each other – is still one that I like. It’s developed a bit more here with us getting to know some more of the girls (like Fanny from Mansfield Park) within the confines of the Academy. I’m really impressed with how Gray is interweaving the stories and characters together. This book is quick and fun with characters true to Ms. Austen’s but still somewhat original. I will definitely be reading the third book in this series – When I’m With You  – which is Kat’s story, a retelling of Northanger Abbey.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon