It is not often, indeed I don’t think that it has ever happened, that a book has me choking back the tears and forcibly swallowing the lump that has formed in my throat back down. But then The Opposite of Loneliness is no ordinary book.

In its complete form the book is called The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories. However, the author, Marina Keegan, cannot be held responsible for the onset of my emotional spiral. Marina Keegan is dead. The introduction was provided by her college professor at Yale from where Keegan graduated in 2012. Five days after she graduated she was killed in a car accident.

Entering this book I tried not to let the emotional impact of the writer’s death colour my opinion of the stories. It is too easy to do; glorify the poor girl who didn’t live to see her novel published. Fortunately, the beauty, truth and outstanding quality of Keegan’s writing meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about that; a fact that makes Keegan’s death all the more poignant.

The collection of short stories is simply breathtaking. The fact that someone so young, who hadn’t really lived, managed to find such an individual voice is beyond impressive. The stories are entertaining, sharp and beautifully written.

Keegan’s collection of essays covers a wide range of topics from the beaching of whales to the uncertainty of adulthood. Equally as impressive as her short stories her essays are filled with passion and fire, her words jump off the page and hit you with the sheer honesty of them. In the titular essay, The Opposite of Loneliness, the final essay that Keegan had produced for Yale Daily News, she told her fellow classmates that they were “so young”. She repeated the sentiment, trying to make her classmates realise that they had time to make or do things that they were passionate about. In her short time on this plain Keegan managed to leave her mark.

This book blew me away and I am genuinely saddened that the world of literature lost a promising writer before she truly had chance to shine.

The Opposite of Loneliness Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan is available now.

 

Last week’s attempt to read seven books was slightly ambitious. Don’t get me wrong I gave it a darn good punt but social engagements (don’t I sound fancy) and hospital appointments meant that I didn’t get through them all. Boo hiss.

Never mind. I did get through the following whilst taking part in @Emmaiswriting’s #sunathon event:

What Happens to All the Men when they Move to Manhattan? by Jill Knapp @JL_Knapp

Before You by Amber Hart @AmberHartBooks

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight @AnouskaKnight

I was fortunate to be sent The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. Elizabeth Preston, a press officer at Simon & Schuster was lovely enough to send me a review copy. I am extremely grateful because this book had sat patiently on my Amazon wish list waiting to be bought. After I finished Since You’ve Been Gone I picked it straight up. So far I really loving it and a review will be posted later this week.

As for the books that I didn’t quite manage to get through, they will be carried over onto this week. Hopefully I will get through them. This will also include a new NetGalley download, Barefoot in Babylon. I’m hoping to have the review for this book posted on More Than The Music’s site. It is a music website that I write for so it seems fitting that a book about the most famous music festival should be posted on there too.

I had a few books sent to me this week (I also did cheekily order myself a few).

I bought Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. I was accepted to review The Book of Life on NetGalley. I requested it before I realised it was the third in the trilogy. I had the first book on my kindle so I figure I will do a future post on the trilogy as a whole. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.

I also bought The Virgins by Pamela Erens which I am excited to read. Along with My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me by Hilary Winston; based on the blurb both of these books sound awesome. Finally, I treated myself to a second hand copy of Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. I have heard such mixed reviews about this book so I am going to give it a go and make up my own mind.

Finally, this week I wrote a review about a book that I didn’t quite like. No, that is wrong. I thought the book had a lot of potential but to me it just did not seem ready for publication which is a shame because it had a lot of promise. However, I felt bad about posting the review. Do any of my reviewer friends ever feel that? In my opinion I wasn’t mean about the book. I said what I didn’t like about it and the reasons why but not in a nasty or hurtful way. However, this guilty feeling was increased when the writer tweeted me apologising that I didn’t like the book. I felt so bad. The thing is that a lot of other people seemed to like it. She got a lot of positive feedback but I just couldn’t look past what I felt were glaring mistakes and inconsistencies. How do you handle a situation like that? I would love to know.

Anywho, another week – another TBR pile. Hope you all have a great book week. If you are in the country this week why not participate in the #staycation event which takes place from 28th July to August 3rd. For more information on this event then go to http://shazsbookboudoir.blogspot.co.uk/ or alternatively tweet Sharon @Shazsbookblog.

 

Synopsis

Holly Jefferson is a lonely woman. Her life consists of spending time with her dog, working in her cake shop and being the charity case of her older sister Martha who worries that Holly spends too much time alone.

The reason Holly is lonely is because she is a widow. Her husband Charlie died nearly two years earlier and in that time Holly has managed to alienate nearly everyone in her life. She has a routine of eat-sleep-work and it is the only thing that is getting her through the hard and lonesome days and nights.

However, after a chance cake delivery Holly meets someone who shakes up her world. Holly, begrudgingly and tentatively allows Ciaran Argyll into her world and it is through his tenacity and determination that Holly comes back to life.

But will the memory of her dead husband stop her pursuing happiness?

Review

Chick-lit often gets a bad name. Mainly from those who would consider themselves serious writers and in turn those who consider themselves serious readers. It is assumed that if a book has a light and fluffy cover or if it has a happy ending then it can’t at all deal with serious issues or be in anyway important literature. Those who think that are both prejudiced and wrong. Chick-lit is wonderful. There, I’ve said it and I stick by it.

Since You’ve Been Gone is the debut novel from Anouska Knight, an author she was brought to light by winning a talent competition featured on ITV’s Lorraine and Since You’ve Been Gone is a wonderful example of good chick-lit. It has everything you could want – a strong yet bruised by life heroine; a dashing yet misunderstood hero and a colourful supporting cast of characters to boot.

The comfort that comes with this book is that you know that the guy is going to get the girl. Yes, along the way there are going to be wacky misunderstanding and misconceptions between the two and yes there will be a few moments when you will yell “kiss him, you fool” at the book but that is what makes chick-lit the perfect read.

Knight has managed this beautifully. She makes you fall in love with Cairan along with Holly. When Holly feels guilty that she is betraying the memory of Charlie, her dead husband, you too feel her guilt and shame. Equal to all of that you desperately will Holly and Cairan to be together with all your might.

The good thing about chick-lit is that the majority of the time there is a wonderful happy ending. Anouska Knight will not disappoint her fans.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight is available in the UK. It will be available in America from July 29th 2014.

since you've been gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Anouska on Twitter – @AnouskaKnight

Synopsis

Holly Jefferson is a lonely woman. Her life consists of spending time with her dog, working in her cake shop and being the charity case of her older sister Martha who worries that Holly spends too much time alone.

The reason Holly is lonely is because she is a widow. Her husband Charlie died nearly two years earlier and in that time Holly has managed to alienate nearly everyone in her life. She has a routine of eat-sleep-work and it is the only thing that is getting her through the hard and lonesome days and nights.

However, after a chance cake delivery Holly meets someone who shakes up her world. Holly, begrudgingly and tentatively allows Ciaran Argyll into her world and it is through his tenacity and determination that Holly comes back to life.

But will the memory of her dead husband stop her pursuing happiness?

Review

Chick-lit often gets a bad name. Mainly from those who would consider themselves serious writers and in turn those who consider themselves serious readers. It is assumed that if a book has a light and fluffy cover or if it has a happy ending then it can’t at all deal with serious issues or be in anyway important literature. Those who think that are both prejudiced and wrong. Chick-lit is wonderful. There, I’ve said it and I stick by it.

Since You’ve Been Gone is the debut novel from Anouska Knight, an author she was brought to light by winning a talent competition featured on ITV’s Lorraine and Since You’ve Been Gone is a wonderful example of good chick-lit. It has everything you could want – a strong yet bruised by life heroine; a dashing yet misunderstood hero and a colourful supporting cast of characters to boot.

The comfort that comes with this book is that you know that the guy is going to get the girl. Yes, along the way there are going to be wacky misunderstanding and misconceptions between the two and yes there will be a few moments when you will yell “kiss him, you fool” at the book but that is what makes chick-lit the perfect read.

Knight has managed this beautifully. She makes you fall in love with Cairan along with Holly. When Holly feels guilty that she is betraying the memory of Charlie, her dead husband, you too feel her guilt and shame. Equal to all of that you desperately will Holly and Cairan to be together with all your might.

The good thing about chick-lit is that the majority of the time there is a wonderful happy ending. Anouska Knight will not disappoint her fans.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight is available in the UK. It will be available in America from July 29th 2014.

since you've been gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Anouska on Twitter – @AnouskaKnight

Synopsis

Faith and Diego are from completely different worlds. Faith is the all-American princess; dance captain; student helper and daughter of the local pastor. She is considered to be one of the good girls; the girl who won’t let you down. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Underneath the long skirts and good deeds lies Faith’s deepest darkest secret; a secret she cannot let anyone know otherwise her world will come crumbling down around her.

Tattooed and buff, Diego is the living perception of a gang member. He has, however, left his gang lifestyle both in Cuba (where he is originally from) and in his past. The past has a funny way of creeping up on you though and whilst he battles everyday with trying to make a life for himself in America he is also battling with a local gang who are trying to recruit him as a member. Throughout all of this he is haunted by the memory of what happened to him and his family in Cuba and what made him and his father run away to America to begin with.

Beside their social differences both Diego and Faith have more in common than they originally thought and it is no surprise that they are attracted to each other. Can they be together or will their differences drive them apart?

Review

Before You is a classic Romeo and Juliet-esque romance; the two young lovers torn apart by outside influences. You could dismiss this book and say that you have read it all before but you would be foolish to do so.

The reason that Before You is so different from all the rest is due to the verisimilitude of the storyline. Gang culture is a fervent issue in America – especially among American youths – so the setting instantly draws you in. The storyline being set among high school students reminds you how difficult being young and in love can be, the pressures that you face – from your peers, teachers and parents – add on to that the instability of knowing who you are or who you are meant to be just adds another layer of intrigue to this story.

Besides all that, you really root for these characters to make it. There are some truly heart-stopping moments in this novel and Hart really manages to toy with your emotions but that is what makes it great.

I loved Before You. It is a good (an at times heartbreaking) novel of the power of love. You should read it and if you don’t…well more fool you.

Before You by Amber Hart is available from July 29th 2014

before You