Monday, 18 August 2014

Review for Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Usborne
Release: 14th August 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: Bought




Synopsis
"Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart."

Review 
I’m a long term Stephanie Perkins fangirl having read both Anna and Lola way back when they were first published in the US. Isla has been a long time coming but I’ve been patiently waiting with the faith that Stephanie Perkins would deliver this final instalment when it was good and ready and every delay was well worth the wait – Isla is here and it’s fabulous!

Isla felt like a different sort of read to me compared to Anna and Lola. It feels less fairytale romance and more grown up as the book focuses less on falling in love and instead takes a look at what comes after the happily ever after perfectly capturing the highs and lows of being in love.

Isla is very much a dreamer. She’s a quiet girl who’d rather read about adventures than actually live one and that would explain why she’s crushed hard on Josh for years but hasn’t ever dared do anything about it. Isla made a great first impression on me, she’s so adorably awkward and I loved how protective and loyal she was to her best friend Kurt who has Autism.

Isla’s story begins one summer when fate puts her on the path she was always meant to travel when she runs into Josh outside of school but it’s up to Isla to take those bold steps forward and to figure out who and what will be her destination. Isla’s insecure and makes mistakes along the way but I loved her flaws and all. But this book isn’t about me loving Isla or even Josh loving Isla it is about Isla loving herself and feeling like she is enough. I loved the message throughout this book that you have to love yourself first before someone else can love you.

The book is set in New York, Barcelona and of course the final showdown for the ultimate happily ever after sees us go back to Paris and reuniting with Anna, Étienne, Lola and Cricket to conclude the series and Isla and Josh’s story. I laughed, I cried and I flailed all over the place during those gorgeous final chapters.

I’m so sad that this hugely beloved trilogy is over. I only hope that Stephanie Perkins shares more of her storytelling magic with us before too long, she truly is a wonder.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review for The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne

The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne
Publisher: Usborne
Release: 1st August 2014
Genre: UKYA, Contemporary
Source: Bought




Synopsis:
"Bree is a loser, a wannabe author who hides behind words. But when she's told she needs to start living a life worth writing about, The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting is born. Six steps on how to be interesting. Six steps that will see her infiltrate the popular set, fall in love with someone forbidden and make the biggest mistake of her life."

Review 
Last year I was lucky enough to read Holly Bourne’s debut novel Soulmates before publication. It was one of my favourite books of 2013 and I hugely anticipated Holly’s second book which is of course The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting.

Manifesto is a little different from Soulmates in that it’s completely contemporary but one huge similarity is how honest it is. Once again Holly offers us characters who read like real teenagers who are going through relatable situations. It never feels like a fiction story with a typical beginning, middle and inevitable happy ending but more like we are getting a glimpse into a real person’s life and that’s what has quickly made Holly Bourne one of my favourite authors.

The book is about Bree a self-confessed loser who enjoys watching obscure movies with her best friend Holdo and dreams of one day getting one of her many novels published. After one too many rejection letters from agents and publishers and some advice from her English teacher, Bree decides that she needs to be someone who you would want to read about. Bree doesn’t want to be popular but she does want to be interesting and so her blog ‘The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting’ is born as she chronicles her journey into getting a life to use as “research” for her next WIP.

As you’d expect this book is witty and clever. I quickly connected with Bree and was chuckling away after a few pages. What I didn’t expect from Manifesto was it to be so moving. Bree is really insecure in who she is and although she’s a damn good writer she doubts herself and her dreams. Bree reads like a real teenager so although there are plenty of hilarious moments here there are also some serious themes covered too such as self-harm and bullying. I loved that this wasn’t a purely happy or sad book but a messy realistic in between – much like life really.

Basically The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting gave me everything I could ever want in a contemporary read. Holly Bourne’s books are sprinkled with pearls of wisdom when it comes to growing up. I only wish these books were around when I was a teen! If you’re looking for real honest UKYA look no further than Holly Bourne.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Dangerous Boys Blog Tour: Q&A with Abigail Haas and Giveaway!

Today I'm kicking off the Dangerous Boys blog tour with a chat with author Abigail Haas on dangerous love triangles, how much is too much in YA and what fans of Dangerous Girls can expect from Dangerous Boys AND I'm giving you lucky lot the chance to win one of three copies! Sound good? Then let's get started!


Q&A with Abigail Haas

1.) Your first YA Thriller Dangerous Girls was a huge success. Did you always plan to write another thriller? Or was it because of Dangerous Girls that you wanted to write another in the genre?
I really enjoyed writing Dangerous Girls, it flexed a different writing muscle to the ones I use writing romance and teen comedies. I love plotting to shock and disturb the reader, and delve deeper into the dark side of our psychology, so I knew I wanted to keep exploring those uncomfortable truths. I couldn’t wait to dive in again!

2.) What can fans of Dangerous Girls expect from Dangerous Boys? In what ways are they similar or different?
Dangerous Girls was a twisty ride with lots of plot surprises. Dangerous Boys is twisted too, but I think the shocks come from character revelations and the darkness I explore in Chloe, Ethan and Oliver. It’s more of a psychological suspense, although there are still dead bodies and heart-stopping moments too.

3.) What sparked the idea behind Dangerous Boys?
There’s been a trend for bad boys in YA who almost border on psychopathic, so I wanted to actually explore that without using vampires or demons as a metaphor, to dig deep into that dark, terrifying side of human psychology. I wanted to show a character grappling with her choices, someone who has a darker side they’re only just discovering, and who has to determine which path they’re going to take in life.

4.) Dangerous Boys is about a love triangle gone horribly wrong. With love triangles being a reoccurring theme in YA did you intend to write one with a not so happy ending?
Love triangles are always used to highlight the different impulses in the main character – good vs bad, sensible vs reckless – so I knew that the brothers would pull Chloe in different directions. But what made the trope fresh for me, was using them as a way for her to discover herself, and just what she’s capable of. It’s not about picking a guy, but choosing the girl she’s going to be – which side is stronger.

5.) Both Dangerous Boys and Dangerous Girls are gritty YA reads. As you’re writing for a teen audience do you have to keep in mind how much is too much? Or do you have a no holds barred writing approach?
I try to stay no-holds barred. I think it makes a more realistic read, and writing thrillers like this allows me to really push the boundaries, which I love.

6.) When writing do you know how the story is going to end? Or do your characters and their actions surprise you? 
Writing thrillers with a mystery element, I always need to know what happens before I start writing, so I can structure and plot for maximum suspense. I spend a long time moving the pieces around. Both DG and DB use flashbacks and non-linear narrative, and I love to build the tension by jumping between different timelines.

7.) What’s next for you? Do you plan on writing more YA Thrillers?
I love thrillers, so I definitely would like to write more. I’m mulling a few ideas and researching things, so stay tuned.

8.) What three words best describe Dangerous Boys?
Dark. Twisted. Unflinching.

Giveaway 
 I'm giving away three copies of Dangerous Boys, one each to three lucky readers. Simply read the rules and fill in the Rafflecopter to enter. Good luck!


Giveaway Rules 
 To enter you have to fill in the Rafflecopter 
 Open to UK residents only 
 End date: Monday 18th August 2014 
The winners will be drawn and contacted by email with 1 week to reply else another winner will be selected 
 Make sure you complete what the form asks of you - I do check! Any winner who has not completed an option will be disqualified


Dangerous Boys is available to buy from the 14th August 2014 
Tomorrow The Overflowing Library is the next stop on the tour 
Check out my review for Dangerous Girls here

Friday, 8 August 2014

Travel by Armchair (2) Bloggers Pick Their Favourite Summer Destinations in Fiction

Welcome to part two of my little Travel by Armchair summer feature! Have you ever read a book so rich with description for a country you’ve never visited before that you feel like you’re experiencing it yourself? Or have you read a beach read that you put down feeling rested and relaxed as if you’ve had a week in the sun? I think of these books as ‘Armchair Traveling’ and I've invited some more of my book blogging friends to turn into fictional travel agents today sharing their favourite places to travel to via reading.

Leanna from Daisy Chain Book Reviews picks Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland


Travel by Armchair –what a great idea for a blog feature, right? Here I am typing this on an early-June-but-still-chilly-night in Ireland (I have a very slight tan, but I’m also wrapped up in a blanket, you get the picture!) and I’m daydreaming of clear blue seas and perfect sunsets and champagne boat trips and biking adventures in Nantucket. I’ve travelled all over Europe, but I’ve never been to the US. I want to do a US road trip some day soon, and I would also love to spend a summer in Nantucket; it seems like a charming kind of place. I’ve gone so far as to research Nantucket Beach Houses for this dream trip. Some of them look amazing –think Emily’s Hamptons beach house in Revenge but even fancier. As lovely as they are, these places are mega-pricey too! But, hey, we’re travelling by armchair, so we can go wherever the mood takes us, right?


Right now, we’re going to Nantucket. Nantucket Blue is a sun-dappled coming-of-age story by Leila Howland featuring high achiever Cricket Thompson who spends a summer working on the island. Nantucket Blue is the kind of book that will remind you of your own teenage summers (even if you didn’t spend them in Nantucket!) it’s got friendship drama galore, unrequited crushes, and lots of kissing. It’s also got a cute boy and champagne boat rides under the stars. Yeah, that could totally be my summer. Cricket is an independent kind of spirit and she likes to bike around the island discovering all its nooks and crannies as she goes. Leila Howland adds a lot of detail to her story, and at times I really felt like I was summering on the island along with Cricket while I was reading this book. I wish. If I was, I’d make a pit-stop on the way to the beach for a wholesome sandwich at Something Natural –Cricket’s go-to place for a yummy lunch!


Post-beach I’d return to my fancy beach house and read and write and enjoy the sun some more, until my hot date (or maybe my actual real-life boyfriend) stopped by with a bottle of champagne and took me on a boat ride so we could watch a perfect Nantucket sunset. Total Bliss.

Amanda from One More Page picks Secrets by Freya North


From it's lovey summery cover to the wonderfully romantic story inside, my recommendation for escaping this summer is Secrets by Freya North. I've probably gone against the grain a little here as Secrets is set in the real seaside town of Saltburn in the north east of England so not exactly a exotic tropical paradise but it is one of my favourite places in the world and here's why you should visit!


Saltburn is a Victorian seaside town. It has a fabulous golden sandy beach just perfect for sandcastle building. It can be gothic and stormy or startlingly sunny and bright (usually all in one day!) You might like to enjoy an ice cream on the pier or a wander through the beautiful Valley Gardens. For the more adventurous, Saltburn is a bit of a surfing hotspot and hosted a stage of the UK Pro Surfing Championships last year. After all that excitement there are heaps of lovely pubs and restaurants to relax and watch the amazing summer sunsets from.

As Tess finds out in Secrets when she runs away to Saltburn from London, the town has a lot to offer, not least the fabulous Northern hospitality ... and did I mention the surfers ;-)

Jasprit from The Reader's Den picks Just One Day by Gayle Forman


I’ve always adored books which feature some sort of travel, whether it be road trips or travelling to cities unknown. One of my favourite books which does this is Just One Day by Gayle Forman. The amount of times that I’ve travelled to St. Pancras station in London, and I’ve looked at the big board with all the amazing places in Europe I could be in within a few hours such as Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Basel, the choices are endless and so exciting. Just One Day just leaves me with this wistful longing to be spontaneous like Allyson and end up in a totally different country.


By catching the Eurostar you can end up in France, Belgium, Germany, Holland or even Switzerland in just a few hours. But imagine doing this the way Allyson with a complete handsome stranger for just one day. Having the feeling of fear and excitement in the pit of your stomach. Unfortunately I haven’t visited Paris yet, but I have friends who have and they’ve described it to be just as gorgeous as Forman’s descriptions depict it to be. Imagine arriving and seeing people sitting outside these cute little café’s drinking their coffee and eating crepes and macarons (I still need to try one of these). Or taking a boat ride along the Seine and taking in the lush scenery around you. Meeting people also making this same trip as you and learning about what brought them here. Or if you want to be more on the go then just grab a velib (bicycle) for up to half an hour and just ride around Paris or wherever it takes you. Maybe it will take you to The Louvre, which is situated near the right bank of the Seine; it’s meant to be one of the world’s largest museums.

Photo Credit: thanks Ravi

What I liked about Forman’s trip around Paris with Willem and Allyson was that she didn’t just touch upon monuments and places everyone already knew about such as the Eiffel Tower, yes that would be a brilliant place to check out, but I love how she touched upon all the small things that you could do and discover in Paris. If ever feeling a bit spontaneous like Allyson and Willem, you could also go to a metro/tram line and randomly pick a stop to go to, who knows where you could end up. And if after Paris you want more, you could always take a trip to Utrecht in Holland and spend time around the canals with houseboats or tiny little alley streets. All I know is that from reading this book Forman has definitely made me want to check out both of these beautiful cities.

Ray from Ray Reads Books picks Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins


Aft’noon folks! I’ve been kindly asked to whisk you off somewhere wonderful today so we’re going to San Fran! For those people who don’t live on the West Coast of the US, and certainly for me, San Francisco kind of feels like a far-off mystical place where all the streets just tilt down and down until you end up in the ocean and *whoosh* there’s half a world of nothing.

I’ve been intrigued about San Fran since I saw the Princess Diaries movie (I know I’m a heretic for not having read the books), but it’s really Lola and the Boy Next Door by the amazing Stephanie Perkins that sparks my desire to go. There are so many well-known places that I would want to see but also some not-so-well-known places from Lola that would make me flail with ALL THE FEELS.

This new cover for Lola shows one of the most obvious landmarks- The Golden Gate Bridge, while I’m sure it’s breath-takingly huge when you’re stood next to it (I ought to ask my parents since they went back in April without their darling offspring *sniffs*), it doesn’t feature all that much in Lola. There’s also the infamous Alcatraz Island with its prison that no one ever escaped from, which is spooky as hell I imagine, with its abandoned cells full of sadness, anger and isolation. One of these days I will have to read up on what life was like there when it was still a prison. *shudders*


But the place I would want to see the most in San Francisco is the place where some of the best scenes happen in Lola. Some of the cutest and sweetest interactions between her and Cricket fricking Bell *swoons* are across the void between their two bedroom windows in their ice-cream coloured Victorian houses in the Castro District. It’s such a vivid image of Lola’s mint house next to the lavender of the Bell house and I think Cricket wins hands-down the contest of best first appearance in a book- sat on a window-sill with his ridiculously long legs dangling, in his supremely sexy trousers and his mad professor hair and blue eyes that stop your heart dead. I mean, honestly. Who didn’t fall in love right then and there?

*Ahem* what was I talking about? Ah yes San Francisco. A vibrant, wacky city, with streets built on angles you’d more often see on a rooftop than on the ground; with a whole smorgasbord of people scurrying about living their lives. Perhaps, just maybe somewhere in all that, there is a Lola falling for her Cricket next door… Thank you for joining me on this whirlwind trip to San Fran and if you’ve not read Lola and the Boy Next Door, then I *seriously* recommend you get on that – NOW!

Whether you're going to the beach and looking for a good book to pass the hours with or are looking for a story that will sweep you away from daily life I hope these picks provide some escapism this summer! 

In case you missed it make sure you check out part 1 of this feature here for more blogger recommendations.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Travel by Armchair (1) Bloggers Share Their Favourite Fictional Places To Holiday

Have you ever read a book so rich with description for a country you’ve never visited before that you feel like you’re experiencing it yourself? Or have you read a beach read that you put down feeling rested and relaxed as if you’ve had a week in the sun? I think of these books as ‘Armchair Traveling’ and I've invited some of my book blogging friends to turn into fictional travel agents sharing their favourite places to travel to via reading.

Ginger from GReads picks Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols


Have you ever opened a book and felt as though the setting was all around you as you began reading? I felt this way instantly when I first read ENDLESS SUMMER by Jennifer Echols. The book takes place on a lake, where the characters live year round, yet this particular story unfolds during the summer months. I have always been drawn to novels that are set during the summertime. Add a water element such as a beach or lake and I am sold. Most of the action in this fun, romantic, summery YA contemp occurs on the water, and into the late night hours of those smoldering summer nights.


Lori has grown up next door to the Vader brothers, Sean and Adam her whole life. Their summers consist of working at the Vader family marina during the day, wakeboarding in the late afternoon, and attending the famous Friday night parties at the Vader household. For as long as Lori can remember she has been hopelessly in love with Sean. But this summer is different. She has a plan, and that plan consists of Lori strutting her womanly figure around in a bikini to grab Sean's attention and make him fall just as hard for her. Little does Lori know, it's the attention of another Vader brother, Adam, that she's been capturing all these years. As the plan unfolds, Lori realizes that everything she thought she loved about Sean may not be the truth. Being in-love-crush is a tricky thing. The heart likes to mask flaws that we don't always see and present to us a vision that is not necessarily the truth.

After reading this book, I now want to live on a lake with total access to boats, wakeboards, boys, and plenty of sunshine year round. Who wouldn't?! Visualizing the setting was so easy for me. I could see Adam standing on that dock, pushing off with one foot, and throwing his body into the boat with the other foot. I could also see Lori trekking across the grassy lawn to the Vader house next door in her high heels, just hoping to grab the attention of a certain boy.


Last summer I took a family vacation to the lake and while I was there, my mind instantly thought of ENDLESS SUMMER. As I stood on the deck, jutting out into the water, watching the boats zip by, I imagined those characters doing tricks on their wakeboards. It felt like the perfect setting to let go of life’s stresses and allow my mind to wander to fictional places such as ENDLESS SUMMER.

Kev from I Heart.. Chick Lit picks About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk


The reason why I chose the first book of Lindsey Kelk’s new series is because I can always count on her to take me on a fabulous, fun-filled vacation and I was so right!

The book is set in one of the most exotic locations in the world; Hawaii. I loved how Lindsey Kelk deftly described the surroundings and as I was reading it, the pictures that conjured in my head were so vivid and colourful. The bright, vibrant colours of the tropical flowers, the picturesque views from the island, overlooking the cool, inviting Pacific Ocean, tinged with the salty, sea breeze.

About A Girl was pure escapism, chick lit at its best with a very delicious love story behind it. The ideal summer holiday companion, even if you’re just staying at home, having a quiet night in, this book will whisk you away to sunny Hawaii and before you know it, you’re booking the next plane out to the beautiful island! I will be joining Tess and Kekipi for a cocktail, care to join us?

Danielle from What Danielle Did Next picks Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery


When summer comes and I'm lucky enough to get away from it all whether it is on a beach or even in the back garden there's always a selection of books I tend to reach for. Of course there's the usual "summery" reads of women's fiction and the YA romance that makes my stomach flutter but I always have to have a "Classic" in my pile, a book from my childhood that takes me back to those carefree days of playing from dawn ‘til dusk then curling up with a well thumbed book I know every word of. For me one of those summer reads that always whisks me away to its beautiful locations with its stunning imagery and absorbing words is Anne of Green Gables.


Set in the picturesque town of Avonlea, on the beautiful Canadian province of Prince Edward Island it is a place that simply calls to my soul to forget the humdrum drudge of every day life and get lost in the stunning imagery Lucy Maud Montgomery evokes with her story of a young orphan girl, Anne with an ‘e’.


Afternoon strolls in the orchard by Mrs Rachel Lynde’s home pulsing with the magic and colour of its “bridal flush of pinky white bloom”. Skimming the cool, crisp waters of Bright River with your fingers as you float down in a boat past the wild plum bushes as the air smells “sweet with the breath of many apple orchards”. Walking hand in hand with that special someone down the “deep rutted grassy lane bordered with wild rose bushes” and turning onto The Avenue or as Anne calls it ‘White Way of delight’ with “its long canopy of snowy, fragrant bloom” looking ahead to the sunset.

There’s no better way to spend a summer’s day than by soaking up the sunshine with a good book on one of the endless white sandy beaches enclosed by red sandstone cliffs and treading the crystal clear waters of the Garden of the Gulf. Lazy bike rides along the coast before picking a bouquet of tiger lilies, crimson peonies and daffodils at the Lake of Shining Waters before retiring to Green Gables and enjoying a supper of Marilla Cuthbert’s delicious fruit cake and cherry preserves, not forgetting a tumbler or two of Raspberry Cordial and maybe even some of her famous Red Currant wine if Diana Barry hasn’t drank it all!

Blissful in its natural splendour and perfect for anybody wanting to experience a slower pace of life with plenty of culture, history, good food and scenery worth getting out the camera and making memories for.

Mily from The YA's Nightstand picks Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Pack your bags we’re heading to Paris!

Obviously there is a long list of traditional landmarks you’ll need to see when traipsing along the streets of Paris. For example The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, The Panthéon, The Arc de Triomphe and so, so much more! But I’ve got a couple of other places for you to see. A couple of places where you can enjoy the City of Lights as well as the magic that was Anna and St. Clair’s love story.

Firstly you’ll need to get your bottoms over to Notre Dame! If you want to go in and have a look around that’s entirely up to you - although if you’re anything like me you’ll end up wondering around the place humming a Disney song or two. However, that’s not the real reason I want you to plod on over there. No, the real reason is because right next to the magical cathedral is Point Zéro des Routes de France (AKA Point Zero). It’s the point in which all roads start, it’s the center of Paris and just like Anna and St. Clair you need to make a wish. Make a wish on Point Zero and it’s said you’re distained to return some day.

A couple of other places to keep in mind on your travels round this enchanting city are The Jardin du Luxembourg - where Anna and St. Clair had their first kiss. Take a picnic and enjoy the sun! Maybe even have your own little kiss? But I guess that’s optional. Also being as we’re all book sniffers here you’ll need to stop by Shakespeare and Co. Book Store! It’s where St. Clair bought Anna that book and it’s also bound to have the best book smell ever!

So that’s it! That’s my little tour of the Pari. I hope you get a chance to see it some day and above all else, I hope you get your very own French Kiss.

 Whether you're going to the beach and looking for a good book to pass the hours with or are looking for a story that will sweep you away from daily life I hope these picks provide some escapism this summer! 

Check out part two of this feature here for more blogger friends recommending their favourite fictional holiday spots!
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