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

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

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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