Since Forever AgoTitle: Since Forever Ago

Author: Olivia Besse

Pages: 316 Pages

Publisher: Wunderland Press

The Blurb

Fresh off the heels of a devastating breakup, Riley Benson is a mess. But with her ingenious plan to become a ball-busting heartbreaker herself, she’s pretty sure she’ll survive. After all, what better way is there to get revenge than to move on?

Riley’s determined to become the perfect bachelorette—she’s going to drink like a bro, belch like a beast and swear so much that she’ll make even the most seasoned sailors blush. After all, those are the qualities that every guy’s secretly looking for…. aren’t they?

Max Fletcher is in love with the girl who gave him chicken pox and his first broken leg. When his best friend seems to finally be out of the picture, he can’t help but want to keep Riley all to himself. And, after coaching her with the very best of the very worst love advice, it seems as if he might actually get what he’s wanted after all those years. But just as the two come to the realization that they’re actually kind of perfect for each other, along comes a secret that threatens to tear them apart.

This novel contains graphic sexual content and strong language. It is intended for mature readers.

The Review

Riley has just found out that her boyfriend Noah has been cheating on her. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler. It happens on the very first page, heck it happens on the blurb. So like any girl in her early twenties she falls upon her band of friends for support to get her through this difficult time.

Her friends, Liz and Audrey ply her with alcohol and good times and chorus about how much of a douche bag Noah is. Her lifelong friend Max sees this as the perfect opportunity to make Riley fall in love with him. Max has loved her since they were children but never had the chance to act on his feelings but now his time has finally come. The only problem is will Riley reciprocate those feelings?

I knew what this book was going to be before I opened the first page. This is not a bad thing. There is a strange comfort in knowing how a story is going to pan out. What I was not expecting was for this classic tale of boy/girl romantic comedy to play out before my very eyes in such a fresh and relevant way. Besse has clearly got her finger on the pulse of NA fiction. The writing was sharp, witty and fast paced. The characters were likable – especially the female characters – with believable interactions bouncing between them.

I did at times feel that the story was heavily reliant on dialogue; however that also led me to the conclusion that this story would play out really well on-screen. If this book isn’t made into a movie I think it would be a crying shame.

I, for one, cannot wait to read more of Olivia Besse’s writing.

Since Forever Ago by Olivia Besse is available now.

4 Stars

Title: The Stonehenge Letters

The Stonehenge lettersAuthor: Harry Karlinsky

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

The Blurb

A remarkable new novel from the Wellcome Trust longlisted author.

While digging through the Nobel Archives in Stockholm, trying to figure out why his hero, Sigmund Freud, never received a Nobel Prize, a psychiatrist makes an unusual discovery.

Among the unsolicited self-nominations in the museum’s ‘Crackpot’ file there are six letters addressed to Mr Ragnar Sohlman, executor of Alfred Nobel’s will. Remarkably, all but one has been written by a Nobel laureate – including Rudyard Kipling, Ivan Pavlov, Teddy Roosevelt and Marie Curie. Each letter attempts to explain why and how Stonehenge was constructed. Diligent research eventually uncovers that Alfred Nobel, intrigued by a young woman’s obsession with the mysterious landmark, added a secret codicil to his will:

A prize – reserved exclusively for Nobel laureates – was to be awarded to the person who can solve the mystery of Stonehenge.

Weaving together a wealth of primary documents – photos, letters, wills – The Stonehenge Letters is a wryly documented archive of a fascinating covert competition, complete with strange but illuminating submissions and a contentious prize-awarding process.

But is this fact or is this fiction?

The Review

Have you ever wondered how Stonehenge happened to become Stonehenge? This mystical circle of stones has fascinated people for as long as it records began. It is this mystery that is the forefront of Harry Karlinsky’s book The Stonehenge Letters.

The story is told from through various correspondences all linking back to Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel prizes. And what sometimes reads as a factual text is in fact a fictional interpretation of events.

Firstly, let me say I really enjoyed this book. I was fascinated by the facts that were included and intrigued by the question of Stonehenge’s existence and indeed the thought processes of the people who tried to pose possible answers to this mystery – the likes of Madame Curie and Rudyard Kipling among others. However, I did become completely discombobulated by the mixture of fact and fiction. The Stonehenge Letters reads like fact but it is fiction. You have to adjust your way of reading and accepting the information given.

Furthermore, the tenuous link to Freud seemed misplaced. Initially it is given as a bit of backs story into the research of Nobel prize nominees but it goes no further than that and could have probably been omitted without consequence to the rest of the story.

If you take this book as it is, a fictional account of a historical figure then you will find the facts and information entertaining. However, I personally feel more could have been made of this book had it been presented more like a fictional text.

The Stonehenge Letters by Harry Karlinsky is available now.

3 Stars

Animals 2Title: Animals

Author: Emma Jane Unsworth

Pages: 257 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

‘There’s no ceremony for friendship, is there? If you go ahead with this wedding then you realise that what you’re actually saying is that your friendship with me is not meaningful and durable. That,’ she sipped her wine victoriously, ‘is the logical conclusion.’

‘Believe me, if I could marry you too, Tyler, I would.’

Laura and Tyler are best friends and drinking buddies. But things are set to change. Can their friendship survive? Or will growing up mean growing apart?

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

Imagine what it would be like to have to constantly choose between your fiancé and your soul mate. This is the ever present predicament for Laura Joyce. She is engaged to Jim, dependable, clever and creative yet her best friend (and resident wild child) Tyler keeps pulling her to the dark (and arguably more fun) side.

The lifestyles chosen by Tyler and Jim couldn’t be more different and whilst Laura should be a natural balance between the both of them things just do not work out that way. When Laura is with Tyler she becomes party to a lifestyle of decadence; a Valhalla of drama, drink and drugs – all of which she overindulges in.

Then there is her life with Jim. She almost becomes a different person; Laura enjoys his stability and his assuredness; all the kind of things that Tyler despises, and she makes her feelings known.

You do get the sense that Laura feels that she is dependent on Tyler that she needs her yet as the story reaches its conclusion you realise it is the complete opposite. Tyler needs somebody, anybody really, just justify her antics. Animals shows us how friendships, even the closest say-things-with-a-look-and-finish-each-others-sentences friendships are not always the healthiest things. It also reminds us that growing up is not the harshest thing to ever happen.

Personally, I felt that Animals is a story about choices. I found myself urging Laura to make the right choice, to not go to another reckless party with Tyler or to not take any of the emotional blackmail that Jim threw her way and as the story develops we watch Laura unfold in front of us and grow into the most rational of the characters. She takes the better elements of Jim and Tyler and forms a better version of herself.

Overall, I would say this is one of the funniest books that I have read all year. I do feel that the translation of the humour comes from the fact that I identified with both Laura and Tyler due to their station in life. They both are growing older but aren’t quite sure how to actually grow up…gracefully at least. It is another literary triumph from Unsworth.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth is available now.

Follow Emma Jane Unsworth (@emjaneunsworth) on Twitter and visit her official website www.emmajaneunsworth.com.

For further titles from Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.tv.

5 Stars

Never Google HeartbreakTitle: Never Google Heartbreak

Author: Emma Garcia

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Bookouture

The Blurb

Never has heartbreak been so amusing… a refreshingly honest, achingly funny read for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding and Paige Toon.

When Viv’s ex-fiancé, Rob, proposed to her three months after she slept with him she thought it was one of those whirlwind romances you read about in magazines. Five years later, after Rob calling off the wedding for the third time, she has finally moved out.

As Viv passes through the three essential stages of grief (denial, vodka, disastrous haircut), she becomes determined that it’s not too late to try and get Rob back. One drunken declaration of love at an extremely inappropriate moment later, and Viv’s scruffy, tequila-swilling best friend Max is there to pick up the pieces.

Just when Viv’s starting to realise that maybe the real thing has been under her nose all along, she makes what might be the biggest mistake of her life…

Can love sneak up on us unexpected? What’s the answer to heartbreak? And what’s a girl to do when even the Internet doesn’t have the answer?

The Review

Vivienne Summers has been engaged to Rob Walters for five years….well sort of. See the thing with Rob is that he is a little bit unsure of marriage. He has already cancelled the wedding twice before and now he is doing it again for the third time. That is three weddings to cancel, three dresses to return and three times to have to pick up the pieces. Vivienne has had enough. This time she calls Rob’s bluff and walks away from him. It is ok though. She knows that once he realises what he is missing he will come crawling back to her and things will be ok again.

Imagine Vivienne’s surprise when Rob starts dating someone else. Searching for answers, Vivienne turns to the almighty oracle that is Google (seriously, what did we do before Google?) looking for ways to win back her lost love.

With a band of merry helper friends – Lucy, Christie and Max – surrounding her Vivienne’s search for the true meaning of love and heartbreak begins.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time. I admit the allure of the pretty cover was the main thing that piqued my interest. I also thought the concept of ‘Googling’ for answers on heartbreak was quite inventive. In our fast-forward society we know that most answers are a finger click away so why shouldn’t the answers to love be equally as easy to find.

I have to admit that when I first started reading the story I was extremely put off by the character Vivienne. I didn’t like the way she tried to solve her problems; she came across as needy and undignified and a little bit selfish. I couldn’t warm to her. However, as the story and the character developed I found myself growing fond of her and also a little protective. Talking to the book and begging Vivienne not to make the mistakes she was inevitably going to make.

The story and the character development made the latter half of the book all the more enjoyable. However, the book was left unresolved (obviously because of the recently released sequel OMG Baby!) and I wanted more. I wanted to be there for the dramatic ending. Instead, we the reader are left with just a little bit of hope.

One thing I definitely came away from this book wanting was an Où est Max t-shirt.

Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia is available now.

Follow Emma Garcia (@EmzaGarcia) on Twitter and visit her official website www.emmagarcia.co.uk.

For more titles from Bookouture (@bookouture) please visit the official website www.bookouture.com.

3 Stars

the bookshop on the cornerTitle: The Bookshop on the Corner

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Carina UK

The Blurb

Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?

Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.

Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread Café, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…

Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!

The Review

There is nothing in the world that Sarah Smith loves more than books. She loves the smell of them, the way you can get completely lost in a good book, the dog eared pages within a loved book; everything about them. It is no surprise that she owns her own second hand bookshop in her hometown of Ashdown, Connecticut.

However, Sarah has allowed herself to become closed off to the world. Rather than having her own boy adventures she would rather read about the fictional adventures of her favourite heroines instead. That is until Ridge Warner comes into her home town and sweeps her off her feet.

Ok. I’m just going to say it. I am not a fan of short stories. I feel that as a reader I am robbed of sweeping exposition and that I am not given enough time to fall in love with the characters. This very fact made The Bookshop on the Corner to be quite a pleasant surprise because I found myself rooting for the motley crew of people found in this fictional small town. However, whilst the story was sweet and very well delivered I still found that the constraints of the short story were extremely limiting.

Sarah and Ridge’s romance was so rushed that I felt that I didn’t really have time to enjoy it. The pragmatism of their relationship wasn’t fully developed enough for me. They had the initial banter, then they liked each other, then came the drama and then the resolution. It was all too machine-gun quick for my personal taste.

Part of me questions whether I feel this way because I haven’t read the two novellas that preceded The Bookshop on the Corner. Maybe the novellas would have worked better if they were all part of the one book rather than a series. I can’t fully determine that without having read them first. However, this is all my own personal taste and please do not let that put you off The Bookshop on the Corner. I did at times find myself wanting to be Sarah Smith. What book lover hasn’t dreamed of owning their own bookshop? I think part of me is just being glutinous and wanting more of this story because I genuinely did enjoy it I just personally feel that it would have benefitted (me) by being a full length novel.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin is available now.

Follow Rebecca Raisin (@jaxandwillsmum) on Twitter and visit her official website www.rebeccaraisin.com.

For more titles from Carina UK (@UKCarina) please visit the official website www.carinauk.com.

3 Stars