The Blurb

Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.

The Review

Wow.

I mean, just wow.

Everything, Everything is unlike any book that I have ever read before.

Everything, Everything is about eighteen year old Madeline Whittier who is unlike your normal teenager. She has never been to school, doesn’t spend time with her friends of a weekend and has never gone even a little bit crazy. This is because Madeline has no immune system.

She is constantly monitored by a nurse; her mother has control over her well being and spends her time looking after her. Maddie is schooled via Skype. But to Maddie this is normality. It is only when Olly moves in the house next door that Madeline realises that maybe, just maybe she can have a bit of different normality.

Ok, now that I have that oxymoron out of the way, let’s talk about Everything, Everything. This book is phenomenal. Now I don’t like to hyperbolise things so I genuinely mean what I say here. It. Is. PHENOMENAL.

Yoon has masterfully created a world that is almost oppressive to read about. I felt Madeline’s frustrations, her claustrophobia and her desire for something more. I would hate to live a life that in fact wasn’t being lived at all. I actually felt myself clawing at my throat to get more air.

Everything, Everything is one of the best books that I have read in 2015 if not ever. You must read this.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is available now.

Follow Nicola Yoon (@NicolaYoon) on Twitter.

Everything Everything

The Blurb

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be clichés so they even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow; But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green.

It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover they’ve actually been missing out on high school.

And maybe even on love.

The Review

Having read (and loved) Let’s Get Lost in 2014, I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Adi Alsaid’s new novel Never Always Sometimes. Now obviously, Alsaid had a lot to live up to; Let’s Get Lost was a brilliant road trip book and an adventure I would gladly take again. Thankfully, Never Always Sometimes did not show any signs of second album syndrome. In fact, I think it outshines Let’s Get Lost.

The story is of an unbreakable friendship between Dave and Julia. Friends for five years they have always been loners together. However, in the final weeks of high school they try to cram in as many clichéd high school experiences before they graduate. It is through this experience that feelings are felt for the first time, feelings are hurt and relationships become broken.

Never Always Sometimes is wonderful. Our two protagonists, Julia and Dave are presented so well that you feel like you are watching your own friends going through this treacherous high school experience. You frequently want to bang their head together and tell them what you think. What I think is very clever but very subtle is the way that Alsaid uses their familial back story to shape the people that they have become but without using it as a justification tool. Smooth move Alsaid!

The story is about acting out teenage clichés but that is one thing that Never Always Sometimes definitely is not. The story is fresh; it pops off the page and urges you to read on. Personally, I wish I had friends like Dave and Julia when I was in school. It would have made it a lot more of an enjoyable experience.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid is available now.

Follow Adi Alsaid (@AdiAlsaid) on Twitter.

Never Always Sometimes

The Blurb

‘Whom to marry and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence.’ So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single.

Using her own experience as a starting point, Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she – along with millions of women, whose ranks keep growing – remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood nor appreciated.

Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity and flair for drama has emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms essayist: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By narrating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down and having it all are timeless – the crucible upon which women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.

Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is a new kind of unreservedly inquisitive work of memoir and broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities that exist within ourselves to live authentically, unbounded – and to be savoured.

The Review

This is a very difficult review to write. On one hand, I loved Spinster; the historical element and the attention to detail is flawless. It is entertaining, bittersweet and a document that should be used in gender studies. I learned so much about key items in the evolution of women’s independence i.e. – the typewriter.

However, I found the premise that Kate Bolick felt akin to the five women that she admired a little annoying. She constantly went on about how she felt that they were her kindred spirits and how she wished for a life like her heroines. She portrayed herself as a little girl lost, trying to find some understanding about what she wants; she wants to be a spinster but she keeps falling for inappropriate men or she falls for the right one but then pushes him away because the relationship doesn’t live up to the literary ideal that she has created in her head.

You want to scream at Bolick that real life isn’t like that. Relationships aren’t like that. You can’t have it both ways. She came across as selfish and also like a self-saboteur.

The thing is that I really liked Kate Bolick’s writing style. I thought it was a really clever and interesting book. I think that Bolick chose some really interesting women to worship. I just didn’t like the ‘grasping at straws element’ to make her life exactly like those that she revered.

Overall, Spinster is an interesting read but the biographical element was a bit too much for my personal taste.

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick is available now.

Spinster

The Blurb

‘Whoever said romance was dead, has clearly never read a Nikki Moore book.’ – Rachel’s Random Reads

The last story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore! The perfect novel for reading in the sunshine … and falling in love with London.

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

The Review

Oh my giddy aunt, I cannot express just how much I have loved the #LoveLondon stories. Having read all the short stories in the series it was such a thrill to get to read the full length novel. After I had finished turning the last page I felt that sensation of contentment that you only get after reading a good book. Picnics in Hyde Park is wonderful.

The whole #LoveLondon series had a cast of colourful and memorable characters and it was a joy to meet up with them again in Picnics in Hyde Park; Moore has woven them into the story so seamlessly that their presence in the novel is both plausible and expected (little hints are littered in the short stories – basically realisation light bulbs kept going off as I read the novel and understood the cross references).

Picnics in Hyde Park is about Zoe, a nanny who has just returned from America having been scorned by her lover. She returns angry and is further incensed when she finds out her younger sister Melody has just been wrongly terminated from her job. Zoe goes to find out why Melody as fired but unintentionally lands herself a job working for the same employer.

Zoe wants to exact revenge on behalf of her sister but as she falls deeper in love with the children that she is looking after but also her developing and complicated feelings for her boss Matt.

But the course of true love never did run smoothly.

As I said earlier, I bloody love the #LoveLondon series and Picnics in Hyde Park is no exception. I must admit I was yelling at the characters (in particular, Zoe) at several points in the novel. I had an impending sense of doom all the way through the story but it just spurned me on to read more. Picnics in Hyde Park was simply a delight to read and I am genuinely saddened that the series is over.

Picnics in Hyde Park by Nikki Moore is available now.

Follow Nikki Moore (@NikkiMoore_Auth) on Twitter.

Picnics in Hyde Park

The Blurb

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this new irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.

The Review

Firstly, let me thank Frances Gough of Headline Books for sending me a review copy.

I absolutely love books by Jennifer E. Smith. She is the one author that one of my closest friends (shout out to Suaad) and I  rave about and swoon over (in a non-romantic way) because her novels have an uncanny way of reminding us what it was like to be young and in love. Jennifer E. Smith has a skill, a wonderful talent of making not only loveable protagonists and heroes but also an amazing way of making you a part of their love story. For me, there is not much more that I want from a writer.

Reading Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith is like reading a romance novel in reverse. It is bittersweet but strangely hopeful and uplifting. It makes you want to revisit your memories of your high school college crush – just the good parts mind though.

The story focuses on Clare and Aiden; teenagers who have been going out for two years but have to make the difficult decision as to whether to keep their relationship alive even though they are both heading to different colleges that are two thousand miles apart. Should they be practical or follow their hearts.

In a somewhat novel twist, Smith has usurped what I would have thought the natural roles. She has made Clare the pragmatist and Aiden the hopeless romantic. What is particularly special about Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is that you feel like you are living out the drama with Clare and Aiden and you can see both sides of the argument. You feel as discombobulated as the two main characters. Now that is good writing.

For those among you who love a good romance novel that fills you with the warm and fuzzies then you must read Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (and indeed her other works) because the woman just nails it. Every. Damn Time.

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith is available now.

Follow Jennifer E. Smith (@JenESmith) via Twitter.

Hello Goodbye and Everything In Between