The Blurb

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting down the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

The Review

What can you say about All the Bright Places? Sometimes a book comes along that is so beautiful that describing it defies words. However, I shall give it a try.

All the Bright Places is a classic boy meets girl book, however, it has a contemporary twist. Imagine, just like Violet did, meeting the boy you are destined to fall in love with when you are both contemplating suicide by jumping off a building. This is not exactly the norm. Consequently, what it does highlight is the ever growing numbers of teen suicide and also how difficult it is in a high school environment (or any environment really) to ask for help when you are struggling mentally or emotionally.

What is beautiful about Violet and Finch’s relationship is that it shows how help and comfort can come from the most unlikely of places. It also shows the cruelty of school children. If only one person reads this book and changes the negative way that they act towards another person then Jennifer Niven has done a remarkable job.

When reading All the Bright Places you will laugh, you will cry but most of all you will fall in love with a beautiful friendship that is formed in the face of adversity.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is available now.

You can follow Jennifer Niven (@jenniferniven) on Twitter.

All the Bright Places

The Blurb

All her life Elise Dembowski has been an outsider.

Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time and finding her true passion – Djing.

But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?

The Review

If someone had to choose the perfect book for me to read This Song Will Save Your Life would be it. It is a book (I love reading) about the power of music (my favourite thing in the world). With these two forces combined it would have to be some pretty crappy writing to make me dislike this book.

Fortunately, This Song Will Save Your Life is well written, has likeable character and a great story. Crisis averted.

For me, the overriding message that I took from This Song Will Save Your Life is that music does have a unique power to help you heal. This is something that I already knew and felt but to have other likeminded people write it down and understand that too is a wonderful thing. Whenever the world is upsetting me I turn to music. Why? Because music has never let me down.

This seems to be the same thing that happens to Elise. She discovers a talent hidden under her love for music and, in a sense, it saves her. Not only does it give her something to feel proud of, something that she can call her own but it also allows her the opportunity to surround herself with a circle of likeminded friends.

This Song Will Save Your Life deals with a pretty dark subject matter and whilst it may seem glib to throw about the phrase that life does get better and things will all work out in the end that is sort of what you take from the novel. Things do get better.

This Song Will Save Your Life is a good book that tackles an uncomfortable subject but does so in a way that you feel hopeful without feeling patronised. Well done Leila Sales.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is available now.

You can follow Leila Sales (@LeilaSalesBooks) on Twitter

This Song Will Save Your Life

The Blurb

Movie addict Scarlett O’Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she’s dreamed of – but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread.

Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, planning her wedding to handsome fiancé, Sean, with best friends Oscar and Maddie – life couldn’t be better.

But then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling, Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamorous. As she begins to experience the other side to being rich and famous, it’s not only Scarlett’s perfect wedding that’s put in jeopardy, but her whole world.

The Review

I am a huge fan of Ali McNamara’s writing and I have yet to find a book of hers that I dislike. It is always a worry having to read and review an author whose work you like just in case they have written a stinker. Fortunately for me From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually is still in the high calibre of rom-com chick-lit we have all come to expect from McNamara.

I love that with a series of books you don’t have to get to know your main characters again. It is like being welcomed back into the family fold. You know the characters foibles and personality traits and so less of your time and concentration is taken up by this and you can focus more on the story. Like the previous two books in this series – From Notting Hill with Love Actually and From Notting Hill to New York…Actually – there is an element of mystery with From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually. What McNamara does so succinctly is throw in some very impressive red herrings. I must admit I was disappointed when certain clues were given and I came up with my own assumptions but like a true mastermind writer McNamara pulled the rug from under me…that cheeky minx!

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually is a fantastic part of an already brilliant series and fans of the previous two books will not be disappointed.

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually by Ali McNamara is available now.

You can follow Ali McNamara (@AliMcNamara) on Twitter.

Find out all the latest news about Ali McNamara on her website www.alimcnamara.co.uk

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings

The Blurb

If you’d asked Jessica a year ago, she would have told you that her life was pretty near perfect. But one year – and one very messy divorce – later, she’s not so sure. Which is how she found herself boarding a plane to the south of France, determined to put her past behind her…preferably via some deliciously chilled rosé.

Meeting a new man was never part of the plan. Yet when she meets Nino, her new neighbour’s impossibly sexy nephew, steering clear of romance seems easier said than done. Suddenly, Jessica finds herself right back where she started: with her heart on the line. But now she’s made a new start, perhaps it’s time for Jessica to throw caution to the wind, take a few risks…and learn to regrette rien!

The Review

You Had Me at Bonjour is a heart warming and extremely uplifting story of Jessica, a woman who thinks that her days of having adventures are over. Set in the monotony of everyday life as a mum, a wife and a worker she has become stagnant. However, when her philandering husband tells her that she is leaving her for another woman Jessica takes the opportunity to have her very own Shirley Valentine type of adventure.

What is truly great about this story is that it leaves you with the message that life isn’t just for the young – whether it be Jessica moving to France on a whim or her neighbour Eloise having romantic trysts – the fun doesn’t just stop because you are getting older.

There were certain things in the story that I didn’t necessarily find totally realistic such as Jessica’s reaction to Katie’s disappearance; I can only go on how my mother would behave in that situation and I think Jessica was a bit to blasé about it, a little bit c’est la vie. However, the fact that Katie was so petulant and unlikable made me care very little about her subplot.

Overall, You Had Me at Bonjour is a delightful read and Bohnet has made France seem exciting and cosmopolitan and strangely tangible, like you too could live there. Well done Bohnet.

You Had Me at Bonjour by Jennifer Bohnet is available now.

You can follow Jennifer Bohnet (@jenniewriter) on Twitter.

Jen Bon

The Blurb

They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same:  Dept. of Speculation. They used to be young, brave and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the same calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes.

As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise.

The Review

I had heard many a great thing about Dept. of Speculation prior to reading it and was therefore very excited to start, however, I genuinely did not get it. It read like a detailed synopsis of a story that hadn’t been fully formed.

I understand that this style of writing was used solely to create an impact such as the lack of character names signified that the act of adultery can happen in any marriage and by giving the characters identities in this way creates a separation between the reader and the fictional character on the page. What this also did was make it very difficult for the reader (or this reader, at least) to form an emotional attachment or car for the character.

I personally feel that the author opted for style over substance. Ironically, the substance was there it was just never fully explored.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill is available now.

Dept of speculation