Always With LoveThe Blurb

Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .

The Review

Ahhhh Always with Love.

Always with Love is the latest release from Giovanna Fletcher and revisits previous characters that she created. We are reunited with Sophie May and Billy Buskin. I’m a fan of reading about the same characters. I think it stemmed from my childhood when I loved reading about Mildred Hubble and the girls at Miss Cackles Academy, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley series and I loved saying hello to my friends at The Babysitters Club so for me I was overjoyed to find that I got to read about Sophie and Billy again. I had every reason to be. Always with Love is a sweet story that I finished in two sittings.

It is lovely to see how a relationship develops. So often in romantic literature the couple get together at the end to the chorus of trombones and a win machine so it is always refreshing to see the ‘happily ever after’ rather than just ending a story at that point.

Always with Love shows the progression of Sophie May and Billy Buskin’s relationship as they begin to battle the turmoil of a working relationship when things like family, distance and newcomers try to keep you apart.

If I am honest, during the first part of the story a particular story thread had me unsettled (involving someone trying to keep Billy and Sophie apart – that is all I will say so I don’t spoil anything for readers) and I thought to myself that it was just a déjà vu storyline from Billy and Me but Fletcher throws a curveball and quickly you realise that it will take more than this incident to keep Billy and Sophie apart.

What came next were the trials and tribulations that you get in relationships; Fletcher has her characters try and keep their love alive when they keep coming across obstacles. I have to say, she does it really well. We feel the anguish of both characters who are dealing with forces bigger than they are.

I must admit that I found Sophie to be a little bit difficult to love at times. I probably shouldn’t say that about the protagonist but at times she did come across as a little selfish. I only say this because I find myself in a similar situation as she does (although mine does not happen to be with a Hollywood hunk like Billy Buskin) and I found that at times she was a little uncompromising. However, the flip side is that I could see what she was dealing with ad empathised with her situation.

This all sounds rather cryptic so you will have to read Always with Love to understand…and while you are at it read the rest of Giovanna Fletchers novels. They will make you warm and fuzzy inside.

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher is available from 4th June 2016.

4 Stars

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?

The Review

I’ve never been a huge fan of the thriller genre. In fact, I would say that up until this year I have only ever read a small handful of thriller books. However, after reading books such as Disclaimer I have found myself dipping not only a toe but a whole foot into the genre…and liking it.

Black Eyed Susans is no exception.

Creepy and sinister from the get go, you are invited into Tessa’s story. She is the lone survivor of a vicious killing spree that has left one man fighting for his life on death row. Tessa, and what she said in court, put him there. But now she has doubts.

Black Eyed Susans is a story of fighting for justice all the while knowing that if she is right and the man currently on death row didn’t commit the heinous murder then the man who tried to kill her is still out there.

And is he the person that keeps planting Black Eyed Susans in her back garden?

Overall, this is a well written, well paced thriller. I was hooked from the get go and frequently had my heart pounding in my chest. If you are like me, you won’t guess the outcome. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I would be the world’s worst detective.

If I am honest, I am not sure if I like how things turned out in the end. Obviously, I don’t want to ruin things for you so when you read it please do come and tell me what you think. However, this is a book that I would recommend to fans of crime thrillers. Gripping to the very last page.

Massive thanks to Francesca Russell who sent me a review copy.

Black Eyes Susans by Julia Hea Berlin is available now.

Follow Julia Hea Berlin (@juliathrillers) on Twitter.

Black Eyed Susans

Synopsis

Penny Porter is a quiet girl, she blends into the background and she likes things that way. She has no intention of being the lead in the school play or the most popular girl in school. She just wants to get by. Unfortunately for Penny, life gets in the way.

Penny becomes an internet sensation when a video is posted on Facebook of her falling over and flashing her comfortable but worn thin unicorn pants to the whole school. Penny is mortified and vents the only way she knows how to – through her secret identity as Girl Online, her anonymous online profile.

Rather than going back to school she is whisked away to help her parents organise a wedding in New York. The Big Apple – with the help of her new friend Noah – makes her see the big picture. However, will Penny’s life be the same after this adventure?

Review

Ok, it would be impossible to talk about Girl Online without mentioning the recent “ghost writer” scandal surrounding its publication. The use of Zoe Suggs online identity has assured that the book has sold a ridiculous amount since its release. Whilst I am one for supporting authors’ integrity I have to pose the following question – do we all really believe that Beyonce sits in a lab and creates her own brand of perfume? Or that ~David Beckham actually designs his own brand of sports shoes? No, didn’t think so. However, the brands of “Beyonce” and “David Beckham” do sell products. This is pretty much what has happened in this case. So Zoella had some help or a ghost writer, it is not like this hasn’t happened throughout history.

So with that now being aired onto my review of Girl Online – it is actually a pretty good, easy YA read. It is the kind of novel that deals with issues that teenagers go through i.e. losing friends, falling in love and the dangers of the internet. All of which are hot topics surrounding youths today.

You cannot help but like protagonist Penny. She is clumsy, insecure (but not in a needy way) but comfortable with who she is. She doesn’t want the lime light, she wants a nice comfortable easy life and when she has her several misadventures you cringe for her. When all of the embarrassing things happened to Penny I instantly had flashbacks to my awkward and mortifying teenage days; if I had read a book like this back then I probably would have handled them a lot better myself.

The grand storyline of falling in love with a celebrity seems implausible in our much media saturated society, however, I personally read books to suspend my disbelief so I can forgive that faux pas – plus, who of us hasn’t had the dream that we fall in love with a rock star?

Online Girl is an entertaining 300+ page distraction from life. It isn’t going to change your world like some of the contemporary teen fiction but it might just brighten up your day…whoever the author may be.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg is available now

 

Synopsis

Nathan has always been different. Firstly, he is a witch living in a world full of humans. He feels distinctly different. Things at home aren’t much better. His older sister Jessica hates him and does everything she can to be cruel.

You see, Nathan is different from his family too. He is a half breed born into a family of pure white witches. Nathan is part black and white witch. His father, Marcus is a black witch and no one will let him forget that.

Review

I’m a fan of Young Adult fiction. At 31 that may seem a little strange but for me it is almost as if there is something unforgiving about it. Ironically, it is aimed at an audience who are, by nature, unsure of themselves and coming into their own as people yet the books targeted at them hold no bars in their delivery. Half Bad is one such book…and it is fantastic.

Fantasy is not a genre that I am well versed in. The few I have read I have enjoyed, however, fantasy books do not tend to be my first choice. Half Bad is appealing because of the nature of the story. Nathan is trying to find out who he is yet he is constantly coming up against forces greater than he is. He feels trapped and every chance to escape is stymie by someone who believes they know better than he does. You become so very frustrated for him.

On a deeper level, the book is about prejudice. Nathan has been judged his whole life because of who his father is. Just by living, Nathan is held accountable for his father’s sins which admittedly are plentiful. This burden is the albatross round Nathan’s neck. It is even more of an issue because of the Witches Council’s involvement. They fear Nathan, they think he will become like his father. It is because of this that they are determined to control him.

What I really liked about Sally Green’s novel is that she did not hold back one little bit. She described the torture that Nathan was put through with almost graphic realism. You cannot help but empathise with him. If compassion is the one thing that her young audience take from this novel then she has done a great thing.

Half Bad by Sally Green is available now.

 

Synopsis

In a post 9/11 NewYork, Hariet – a recent graduate – struggles to find her place both in a city that she loves; a city that she has seen torn apart and put back together again with alarming speed but also in a post-baby boomer society.

Review

It was such a relief to pick up this book after a week reading books that didn’t enthral me. These Days Are Ours by Michelle Haimoff could almost be a safety blanket book – one that all graduates should keep close by to make them realise that they are not alone in the feeling of being completely unsure of what you are meant to do with your life.

I know that even seven years after I graduated I still have those moments of blind panic. I think that is why this book touched me the way that it did.

The post 9/11 Ne York setting eloquently reflected the insecurities of Hariet and her friends. The parallel was delivered so powerfully through her actions – the obsession with Brenner and his family and their security, the frequent belief that New York would be attacked again and her sadness at potentially becoming a New York child cliché. It was delivered with such a unique voice that it made me actually very sad that this was Haimoff’s debut novel and that there is not a body of work available for me to read.

For me, Michelle Haimoff is definitely someone to look out for.

These Days Are Ours by Michelle Haimoff is available now.

Follow Michelle Haimoff on Twitter @MichelleHaimoff

TheseDaysAreOurs