Hudson has it all figured out. He is going to be a doctor; he already has his admissions interview with the Dean of the University of Mississippi. Everything is going according to plan However, when Leila pulls into Hudson’s fathers mechanic shop, he knew his life was changed forever. He couldn’t say how or why but he knew she was special.

Bree is a drifter. She wanders up and down lonely highways night after night thumbing for a lift. She keeps herself to herself, distancing herself from her past. She is a tough kid with protective emotional barriers surrounding her. That is until she meets Leila. Leila somehow brings out the truth in Bree. Bree swiftly learns that no matter where you run to your past will always be one step behind you.

On Elliot’s prom night he is nearly run over by Leila. He is already having a pretty crappy night but being run over takes the biscuit. Leila is the driver that nearly mowed him down. That night she becomes his saviour convincing him not to give up on love. She pushes him into a series of wacky adventures (much like the ones that happen in the 80s movies that he keeps referencing) to try and win the heart of the girl he loves.

Sonia feels likes she is betraying the memory of her boyfriend. Sam died of a brain haemorrhage but his family have kept Sonia at the heart of it. However, Sonia feels guilty because she has fallen for another man. So now she is torn between her new boyfriend and her ex’s family. It all comes to a head when they are both taking part in the wedding of Sam’s sister; it is too much for her to take so Sonia runs away. During her turmoil she bumps into Leila who becomes a confident and a superhero trying to get Sonia back to the wedding.

Firstly, let me say I loved this book, not only the unique and quirky stories that were in it but also the clever style in which it was written. I loved that Leila, who was clearly the protagonist, was presented as a secondary character in the lives of the people she met.

What I also loved was that all the characters all had something missing. Something that they were searching for and that it took Leila, who was arguably missing for the largest thing, to help the other characters to find/realise it. The stories had a clever fluidity about them.  It is almost a book about the kindness and good nature of strangers along with the surprises that the people that you love can give you.

What can definitely be said is that YA is currently kicking ass in the fiction world.

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid is available from August 1st 2014

Lets Get Los

Brigitte Green has to escape. Her life in New Orleans has come to a crashing halt since her friend and mentor Rosa has died. Rosa’s last instruction to Brigitte was to go to Paris and find love, find someone to tango with.

Brigitte heeds this advice and high tails it to Paris to start a new life; a new life that doesn’t involve prostitution and shame. Brigitte wants to have a life that involves love and romance.

Enter Eva Laroche. Eva is working as a tour guide to subsidise her university education in law. She and Brigitte meet and initially despise each other but eventually their defences drop and the potential for romance blossoms.

So initially I read this book to indulge in my love for Paris; that was the defining factor in my choice of novel. I didn’t know what the subgenres of the book were (incidentally they are LGBT, family drama, history, romance etc) but what I got was a captivating story of love, not only of another person but also love of oneself.

The love story between Brigitte and Eva is a classic hate-turns-to-love story. You can’t help but root for them. You want them to get together and become LGBT heroines to parallel the historical love stories between women that Thrasher includes in First Tango in Paris. However, Brigitte is so ashamed of her past that she struggles to love and have pride in herself.

The historical elements of the story are fascinating. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about Parisian women through history (or their lesbian inclinations) to verify Thrasher’s writing. Either Thrasher has a creative mind and has manipulated historical events to suite her purpose or she has just thoroughly researched the historical elements. Whatever the truth is, this subject makes for interesting reading and made me want to read further into some of the key figures in French history.

I really enjoyed First Tango in Paris. The storyline flowed with effortless ease and the characters had me rooting for them. I can’t ask for much more in a novel.

First Tango in Paris by Shelley Thrasher is available in America on the 15th July 2014.

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Mason Street has turned up back home after a whirlwind five years touring with his eponymous band. The band have crashed and burned, as often such bands do, so Mason Street has returned to lick his wounds.

Having nabbed himself a place to stay with his old mentor Ray, Mason has to face how much things have changed since he has been gone; starting with Ray’s daughter, Avery. Having never really paid much attention to her whilst they were growing up Mason is shocked and quite frankly a little turned on by the woman she has become.

As Mason sets about trying to win Avery’s affections he is quickly awakened to how difficult her life actually is.

Avery is a hero – she tends bar, she looks after her dad, she goes to college and she looks after her 5 year old autistic son, Max.

Avery and Max come as a package. The question is, is Mason man enough to take them both on?

Oh Ginger Scott, what have you done to me?

I recently finished Ginger Scott’s novel How We Deal With Gravity and oh man, I have a book hangover along with a new fictional crush.

Firstly, let’s talk about Mason Street. It is hard not to fall for him; he has charm, charisma and the picture that has been painted in my head means that he is pretty damn attractive too. You cannot help but root for him and hope that he gets the girl because essentially How We Deal With Gravity is a love story. The love spreads further than just between a man and a woman. The love Avery has for her son, Max, bounces off the page. It is about love that happens quickly and suddenly alongside a deep rooted love that has lasted almost a lifetime. So, yeah, it is pretty difficult not to feel the warm and fuzzies when you read it.

The broader issue in the book is that of Autism. Scott tackles the issue head on revealing the low points and the highlights of living with a child with Autism. She isn’t patronising nor is she excessive in her points but she does make you aware of some of the key features of the condition; the routine, the intelligence, the hardships. She really advocates the people who are living with the condition along with those who are living with a person diagnosed with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity is a great book. I would implore those who like romantic fiction to read it. However, it is an even greater book if you want to get an insight into Autism and those who struggle on a daily basis with the condition.

How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott is available now.

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As you may have seen (if you have read my previous post A Month in the Life of a Book Addict) I am addicted to books. I am not ashamed of this addiction…although I am slightly worried about my inability to stop buying books and also the structural integrity of my home under all the weight of the paper. I love books of all kinds and from most genres. If there are words on something I will give it a read – there is no prejudice here. An often told anecdote in my family is how I used to take forever with my breakfast because I would be reading the cereal packet.

It has been said (although not over my aforementioned breakfast table) that when you see someone reading a book you like it is the book recommending the person…or something to that effect. What I have noticed about myself recently is that a new reading habit has emerged. I like reading books about books. I am drawn to knowing what authors are recommending, why they liked the book, what was going on in their lives during this time. Frequently, the books that they mention make it to my book wish list even though I have far too many to read as it is. My Kindle books are in the thousands, my NetGalley downloads are becoming silly and my actual physical copies already manifest two small shelves, one large double layered shelf and I have had to purchase a further six tier double layer shelf for the overspill.

Quite frankly, this amount of literature is daunting. When you think about it and you do the maths I will probably never read all the books that I own. This will not be through lack of trying. At thirty years old, let us say that I am (optimistically) a third of the way through my life. Let us also imagine that I average one book a week (this is a very conservative estimate) that means I only have approximately 3,120 books left to read. This is terrible. In those optimistic sixty years that I have left there are bound to be more books that are released that I want to read. I am mathematically screwed.

However, that does not stop me reading books about books which kind of negate the whole point of reading books; books which deserve to be read.

That being said, here are three of the best ones that I have read recently.

 

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

As some of you may or may not know, I almost died this year. If you didn’t know then you can read all about it here – My IBD Story. However, I didn’t die but recuperation has taken (and is still taking) a long time. Since being out of hospital I have spent my days reading; consuming books with a vociferous appetite. A book that I happened to stumble across was this delightful little gem – The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails.

Broken down into its simplest form it is a book that looks at what illness or condition that you have and directs you to the best literature to make you feel better. So say you are fatigued or you suffer from insomnia or you are an alcoholic or you have period pain this book has the answer for you. It is great because you can dip in and out of it or you can do what I did and read it from A to Z. A lot of the joy comes from seeing the writers mention a book that you have read.

This is definitely the quirkiest book that I have read this year and one that I will probably be giving out to my friends at Christmas time.

 

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

Ok. I admit it. I was seduced by the title. Escaping near death made me hungry for adventure; safe adventure mind, nothing more daring than perhaps a paper cut from a new book purchase. Also, having nearly died this year (have I mentioned that I nearly died?) I wanted to see if literature could save my life too. Heck it had already cured my ails; and it had also cured my boredom – seriously sitting in bed getting better for a few months takes its toll on the levels of boredom. So with eagerness I picked up this tome from Andy Miller and you know what, I am awfully glad that I did.

Why you may ask. Well let me tell you. This book was special. The premise being that we all fib a little bit about literature. We have said we love a book when never having really read it just so we can stay in the conversation or even just to make ourselves look smarter.

I myself have never lied about this…well that is technically not true. I have a mini confession. Well two really. The first is that I have never made it all the way through Anna Karenina. I got to the book about the fields and I just kind of gave up. Yet on my Goodreads account I still have this Tolstoy classic listed as a book that I am currently reading. I have technically been currently reading it for near on fourteen years. I will finish this book one day. No. I will start it afresh. I will not be beaten by a man and his love for his fields.

My second confession is that I can’t actually remember if I have read Little Women or not. I know what you are thinking. How could someone not remember reading a classic like Little Women? The thing is that I know the story so well. I just can’t remember if that has come from watching the movie or reading the book. Therefore I have added this to my ‘to-be-read’ list. At least then I will know that I am not a literature fraudster.

What I liked about this book was that Miller allowed you to see how and why books mean so much to him and how they shape aspects of his life. I both respect and relate to that. Again, the titillation came from knowing that I had read certain books. Miller did have a lot on his list that I had never even heard of and so I am now keen to read some of them too.

My book wish list had increased by at least 20 at the end of reading it. This does not bode well for me.

 

Stuff I’ve Been Reading by Nick Hornby

I have recently found myself on a Nick Hornby kick. I read Juliet, Naked and A Long Way Down among others. I even did a crazy eBay order which mean accidentally purchased two copies of High Fidelity. I loathed the film even with my bizarre crush on John Cusack but I wanted to give the book a whirl.

Anyway, when I was in my local library I saw this book and I thought to myself “Hey, I like Nick Hornby’s writing. I wonder if we have any books in common.” Out of the plethora of books featured in this book (which happens to be a collection of his articles from Believer magazine – which is, to my knowledge, not affiliated with Justin Bieber or his fan base) I had read three of them. Three. Now I consider myself well read so this low number is shocking but I guess this is what happens when you read books about books rather than reading book books.