Wow! This book slayed me! It's been a long time since a book has made me burst into tears SEVERAL times andRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Wow! This book slayed me! It's been a long time since a book has made me burst into tears SEVERAL times and I will be honest I didn't expect it to be an NA novel but I just loved FULL MEASURES so much and the gamut of emotions it made me experience! From the get-go as Ember looks at her mom in confusion as she rocks on the stairs begging her daughter not to open the door, I knew this would be heartbreaking and
Rebecca Yarros wrote a fabulous novel that despite ticking all the typical NA boxes you'd expect came across as fresh, sweet and gripping from start to finish.
It's Ember's birthday and while she's missing her dad who's on tour in Afghanistan she's looking forward to spending a fun day with her family after her daily run. When she answers the door and finds two soldiers standing there, her world is rocked. Her father, a doctor was killed in the hospital he worked in. As her mother falls into deep depression and her sister lashes out, Ember is left to pick up the pieces and keep the family together. When her high school crush and her brother's hockey coach, Josh Walker, reappears in her life, Ember finds herself relying on his kindness as she struggles to cope. As the weeks pass the undeniable chemistry between Ember and Josh ignites to searing hot passion and Ember struggles between forging a life of her own and dealing with the grief and emotion of losing her father. As they grow closer a potentially heartbreaking secret threatens the small scrap of happiness Ember has grasped onto. Can Ember and Josh make it through hell unscathed or will their spark burn out?
This book is undeniably a romance but it's so much more than that.
This is a story about family, about loss, about grief and about survival. The pain the Howards experience is palpable and Yarros manages to make the reader feel every brutal moment as she throws the emotional equivalent of "everything but the kitchen sink" at you. The sacrifice that military families make is beyond admirable and the strength needed to pick yourself up after any loss is enormous but the extra protocols these families have to endure makes their courage and endurance even more notable. There's a moment at Ember's dad's funeral where his unit leader calls out his name and there is nothing but the deafening sound of silence which just broke me. I'm tearing up thinking of all the moments in this book that captivated me and took my breath away. Yarros skilfully delivers an intense, emotionally charged book that will stick with me for a long time.
The romance between Josh and Ember was equally compelling and I loved their chemistry and how in tune they were with each other. At times Josh did play the typical NA man-whore which irked me as it didn't fit in with his previous interactions with Ember and seemed heartless given how vulnerable Ember was at the time but he quickly won me over (not easy to do!) and I loved how the romance progressed. While I guessed what Josh's secret was towards the end I still loved how it unfolded and again sobbed at Ember's strength and ability to trust in his love for her.
Amazing, superbly written, angst filled and utterly absorbing, FULL MEASURES is a tale about the strength of the human character, the resilience of love and more importantly the need to trust and believe in hope even in the darkness. LOVED IT! ...more
You know those books that you feel were just written for you. Like you made a list of everything you couldRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
You know those books that you feel were just written for you. Like you made a list of everything you could want in a book and an author was wonderful enough to somehow accommodate you?
SPARE BRIDES was a "me" book. Adele Parks should really have included a subtitle "For Danielle" because this book had everything I look for in historical fiction. Impeccably researched, wonderful character development and fabulous writing, it was a joy to read from start to finish.
I am a huge war history geek, I wrote my thesis on the effects of WWI on the psyche of Irish writers and their literature so the time period is one I adore to read about both in fiction and non-fiction. Examinations on Post-War life are a particular love of mine and Spare Brides hit the mark with its compelling story about the fragile state of a society literally shell-shocked.
Spare Brides tells the story of four upper-class women whose fortunes after the war are very different. Sarah, widowed and left raising two children, fights loneliness every day. Her sister Beatrice, never the beauty must now come to terms with the fact that the lack of men and her less than stellar financial situation means she'll be left on the shelf. Ava, beautiful and vivacious, for her “single” is a state of great opportunity and the independence gained from working while the men were away fighting is not something to be relinquished easily and Lydia, beautiful, rich and spared the grief of losing a husband in the trenches she has it all so why when the captivating and brutish Edgar Trent walks into her life is she willing to risk what every women around her craves.
I have never read Adele Parks before and I heard this was her first foray into historical fiction so I didn’t know what to expect. Parks manages to capture beautifully the delicate balance between the desperation to recapture the past’s former glory and familiarity and the encroaching modernity with the wants and desire for change. The Old World is losing its grip and the social lines are blurring.
From the first pages I was caught up in this world of glamour and sparkle tinged with sadness and despair. Park’s four heroines are equally well developed and grabbed my sympathy and attention for their individual plights.
Sarah, patient and kind has been dealt the rawest of deals. She was fortunate to have married for love, a rare commodity in a culture focused on marrying well and losing her husband, finds herself a single mother, aching for the company, passion and security she knows a man can offer.
Beatrice, eager and intelligent had her precious chance at a successful season “out” ripped away by the declaration of war. Now the men who have returned to England are broken, their souls and limbs left behind in the fields of France. Those who managed to escape relatively unscathed have their pick of the “spare brides” and Beatrice is cast aside, too chubby, too forgettable. I really sympathised with Bea, a girl who would have thrived in the halls of University who is forced to be humiliated at every social outing as the old ways win out for the time being.
Ava, the epitome of the post war modern flapper, teetering on the edge of scandal at all time refuses to find herself in such a hopeless state as Beatrice. Determined to stand and be counted, her story was fascinating. The hopes and dreams of single women today, the opportunities that lie before them were founded here in the steely ambition of women like Ava so many years ago.
Lydia, the true heroine of the story was the one who invoked the widest spectrum of emotions in me, from sympathy to hatred, love to screaming frustration. Her recklessness at a time when her peers scrambled for the safety of the familiar was compelling to read. Her cold accusation to her husband of shirking his responsibilities by accepting a desk job during the war effort and her belief that being a war widow would have been more acceptable than the shame of being on the arm of a healthy man is unbearable to witness at times. Her subsequent relationship with Edgar was equal parts admirable and horrifying and her journey was ultimately unforgettable.
Parks has a wonderful ability to create characters that are unfailingly sympathetic and her thoughtful examination on women, their status, their relationships and their hidden desires is staggering.
This is a period of time when an ever present cloud of dismay and guilt crossed social lines that no-one was able to avoid.
The unspoken calculation of what everyone has lost and gained in the war and the resentment seeping out through thinly veiled insults disguised as concern. The desire to forget yet the unwillingness or perhaps incapability to do so is a recurring theme. One cannot help but feel for these women, these “spare brides”. Caught between the fleeing past and the charging future, their present is desperately sad. The painful knowledge that their purpose in life; to be a wife and mother has been lost and watching men broken by war try desperately to come to terms with the images of horror and brutality forever playing behind their eyes.
This book was by far my favourite historical fiction book in recent years. Capturing the struggle of women and giving a voice to those who were part of a generation filled with uncertainty and change at too fast a pace is a story that can be appreciated by any generation and will be just as important and relevant to the daughters and grand-daughters that come after. Simply stunning....more
Never have I read a book that was so gloriously positive and empowering towards women and female friendshiRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Never have I read a book that was so gloriously positive and empowering towards women and female friendships. I have never felt so passionate about a book and its importance and just want to walk around yelling "read it, read it, read it, I tell you, read it!!!”
A book about a woman's journey to accepting herself for who she is and learning to just be. Anna has just turned forty, recently divorced; she's at a crossroads in her relationships, her career and her life. When she comes across a self-help book that is all about finding your inner heroine, she realises she can use its advice in landing a major account. Teaming up with younger colleague Sasha, Anna discovers throughout her endeavours that friendship, love and support are real possibilities even when life doesn't go according to plan.
The friendship between Anna and Sasha was by far my favourite part of the book. I loved how Palmer subverted the usual trope of pitting women against each other and showed (quite rightly) how supportive and vital such friendships are. Equally the mentorship between the author Helen and Anna was a joy to watch unfold as Helen advised Anna on how to take the plunge and believe in her strengths.
The weakest part of the book for me was the romance. In a book that focuses so much on the female aspects; it was almost an unwelcome distraction when Anna's paramour Lincoln was introduced. It felt a little clumpy and muddled compared to the easy flow of the rest of the book.
This book tackles so many important issues from self-belief, empowerment, sexism, career satisfaction, and addiction and family relationships and does so in a warm, witty way that engages the reader from start to finish.
I adored this book so much and cannot stress how important it is to give yourself a gift and read it as I truly believe every woman can identify wholeheartedly with the issues and feelings raised in this book (and male readers will enjoy it too lol).
Beautifully written, with relatable characters, and a story that will stir emotions within, GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR is one not to be missed.
I’m pretty sure it’s a legit law of physics that you can’t read an Aven Ellis book without the biggest, doRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
I’m pretty sure it’s a legit law of physics that you can’t read an Aven Ellis book without the biggest, dopiest smile on your face. It’s literally impossible to not feel happy and for your soul to not feel lighter as you get lost in her stories and Waiting for Prince Harry was no exception. I loved this incredibly sweet story, with a wonderfully warm and intelligent heroine and the hottest and most swoon worthy of heroes!
Kylie has plans – plans for her career, plans for her future wedded bliss, plans for her closet, you name it, Kylie has a label maker, binders and Pinterest boards to ensure everything is laid out just so. What she doesn’t plan for is to fall into the lap of one Harrison Flynn. Ladies, let’s take a moment of silence for all the ovaries that went kaboom in delirium at the perfection of this hunk. Harrison is exactly what Kylie needs; she just doesn’t know it yet. He sees in her, the potential for greatness, recognises the talent she has for design and doesn’t hesitate to encourage it. While Kylie didn’t factor Harrison into her plans, she can’t help but fall for the Hockey captain with hidden depths and despite best efforts to keep him firmly in the friend zone, chemistry sizzles and the romance is worthy of coming over with a case of the vapours.
I adored Kylie as a heroine! She was so warm and witty and downright hilarious at times. I loved how organised she was and how she shares a talent with her creator for accessorizing and her eye for details. Aven has a way of ensuring the reader can envision each scene perfectly and made it so easy to get lost in the story. Harrison is an all-round dreamboat but I loved how vulnerable he was, especially with regards to how his past affects his future. Feeling lesser because he never had a formal education made me feel really sympathetic towards him and I loved how Kyle drew him out of his shell regarding his insecurities just as he did for her. The world of Ice Hockey is something I have zero knowledge of and it was so interesting to learn more about the celebrity that comes with being a Hockey star, along with those assertive “Puck Bunnies”. Oh my!
Waiting for Prince Harry is a book that you’ll find very hard to resist its charms. Light-hearted, fun, sizzling with chemistry and with an all-round feel good factor, it’s one I highly recommend. Save it for a bad day, curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and forget your troubles for a few precious hours. ...more
My Goosebumps have Goosebumps…and as for my spine, it has had tingles running up and down it for the last hour and no joke, it’s 11PM, I have work inMy Goosebumps have Goosebumps…and as for my spine, it has had tingles running up and down it for the last hour and no joke, it’s 11PM, I have work in the morning and I honestly think I’ll be sleeping with my light on. Yes, FORCE OF NATURE was that awesome!
2017 saw the debut of Jane Harper, the wonderfully, amazing, well crafted and utterly glorious novel “THE DRY”. I extol on its virtues extensively here. It was also my top read for the entire year so FORCE OF NATURE while waited for with bated breath, was also tinged with slight apprehension because how could Harper top THE DRY? Make no mistake people! She does it with ease! I still have butterflies just thinking about those last few chapters. You know! When you read it you’ll know…get to it!
The welcome return of Aaron Falk sees him tackle the mysterious disappearance of one of his contacts in the Australian Bush whilst on a corporate retreat. As in The Dry, Falk’s primary expertise as a police officer does not cover missing persons but he and partner (a welcome introduction) Carmen Cooper find themselves right in the thick of it as four women emerge screaming, distressed and noticeable missing a colleague, Alice Russell. As the days pass, Aaron and Carmen uncover the intriguing dynamics of five women who work together, their intricate and often fraught relationships both professional and personal and the surprising actions of them that may both explain the disappearance and lead to the return of Russell.
Harper has many strengths but one of my favourites is her talent to craft characters that are so vivid you feel that if you reached out your hand your fingertips would brush against them, your nerve endings vibrating with the sound of their voices. The quiet trust between Falk and Cooper grows with each page and I loved the development between the two. The five women that are at the centre of our mystery are endowed with colourful and well realised personalities and each of the smaller, secondary but by no means less important characters made their presence felt and were in no way forgettable.
The plot itself chugged along nicely, capturing your attention and always keeping you guessing. For the first time in years I was surprised by the eventual reveal of who was behind it all and relished being kept in the dark although my aforementioned spine didn’t thank me (it’s still tingling).
There wasn’t really any doubt that Harper would produce a winner yet again but I must say how genuinely thrilled I am to finally have another author to stick on my “no questions, just buy it, shut up and read” list. 2018 may have just under 11 more months left but just like 2017, I’m not sure if it’s going to get any better than this! FORCE OF NATURE – buy it, read it, love it. You’ve been told! 😉...more
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm a sucker for stories about how the "other half" live. GlimpsesRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm a sucker for stories about how the "other half" live. Glimpses into the most exclusive communities, with unimaginable riches, memberships to country clubs and wardrobes spilling open with the finest Couture Paris and Milan has to offer are the perfect escape for me. When I read the blurb for EDGEWATER and realised it was a Riches to Rags story reminiscent of the tragic GREY GARDENS, I know it would be right up my street. Part Gossip Girl and Dynasty with a sprinkle of Scandal and The O.C thrown into the mix, EDGEWATER ticked all my boxes. Mystery and romance, with a brave and likeable heroine and an amazing story that kept me enthralled from start to finish, this was definitely one of my favourite reads this year.
Lorrie Hollander lives in "that" house. Part of the exclusive, privileged town of Idlewild, Long Island - surrounded by mansions decorated in sheer opulence and grandeur - stands Edgewater. Once a symbol of wealth and prestige, it is now the eyesore of the community. Decaying, filthy and home to several creatures carrying disease, Edgewater represents everything wrong with Lorrie's life. Neglected by her guardian - Aunt Gigi whose grasp on reality diminishes with each passing day, Lorrie's only comfort is her trust fund that allows her to escape to the best prep school on the East Coast and spend summers riding her beloved horse Orion at an exclusive riding camp. When Lorrie is called into the office and told her stay is no longer viable due to insufficient funds, Lorrie finds herself back at Edgewater for the summer and quickly realises just how dire the situation is. With no place to escape to, Lorrie is forced to confront the mismanagement of their estate by Gigi, the psychological effects it has had on her younger sister Susannah and the hopelessness she feels with every passing moment living in a sprawling wasteland that feels more like a prison.
Throw in Charlie Copeland, son of a Senator and heir to a political dynasty to rival The Kennedys, who has taken a fancy to Lorrie, she feels like she's running out of time. Desperate to save her family whilst pursuing the mutual attraction with Charlie and figuring out a way to keep him from finding out she’s one of "those Hollanders", Lorrie finds herself pulled into an old family mystery that if revealed could bring down the fragile house of cards the families of America's most privileged postcode have sought to keep stable. Full of beautiful imagery, searing emotion and fabulous storytelling, EDGEWATER is a truly special book.
Beautifully written, with lush description EDGEWATER flowed easily and never faltered. I loved how real and flawed Lorrie was. My heart broke with her as I walked beside her on her emotional journey and I definitely shed a tear on more than one occasion as Sheinmel pulls no punches and brings home just what a haunting loss Lorrie and her sister have been subjected to with both the absence of an adult to raise them but also to protect them and keep them safe. There are a lot of serious issues raised in this book and Sheinmel does a great job of balancing their inclusion within the story without letting them overwhelm the plot and equally without the graveness of the subject matter being brushed over. The inclusion of the politics really added an extra dimension to the story and kept me hooked, constantly eager to know more. I loved the romance between Lorrie and Charlie however I would like to have seen more development of it as by the end I felt I didn't know enough about Charlie to truly invest in his character. The ending seemed a little rushed and I would have loved to have seen more of the secondary characters and discovered how they coped with the revelations that unfolded. Overall, the story was fantastic and my gripes are minor.
EDGEWATER is an engaging YA novel, that will be loved by teens and adults alike. Honest, elegantly crafted, with characters that will capture your heart and stay with you long after you reluctantly close the book, EGDEWATER is a simply terrific read....more
WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT is a beautiful, sensual novel that captivated me from Entrée to Coda and sweRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next 4.5 Stars
WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT is a beautiful, sensual novel that captivated me from Entrée to Coda and swept me up in the impossibly romantic and wonderful story of Annalise and Raphael.
Set in Rome, one of the most picturesque and seductive cities in the world, I knew I was in for a treat. I've wanted to read Melody Grace's work for some time; some of my favourite bloggers are huge fans so when I read the blurb for WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT I knew this was right up my alley.
Annalise is a talented ballet dancer from New York who has lived her life in the shadow for her mother's impressive and intimidating career. Never quite feeling like she can live up to her mom's expectations, Annalise is packed off to Italy with one last chance to make an impression on her company and win the solo she craves will finally make all her hard work worthwhile with the added incentive of her mother's approval and love. One of the things I loved most about this book was the attention to detail when it came to the sacrifice and work that must be put in to have even half a chance at a career as a dancer. The long hours, the brutal injuries and the lack of social life not to mention the emotional and physical ramifications on a young woman's body as deprivation becomes a way of life. It was equally fascinating and heartbreaking to read and really helped me connect with Annalise's character.
When she meets the enigmatic Raphael, the differences between their approaches to their love of dance are startling. Raphael oozes the raw talent and passion that Annalise craves and through their encounters we see her spirit and longing to connect her dance and life together in a way she never thought was possible.
I really liked Annalise although she frustrated the hell out of me and for ages I couldn't figure out why. Her naïveté and inexperience meant I feared at times that she was carelessly throwing away her livelihood when she caught the eye of Raphael but it was to be expected. Her youth and sheltered upbringing meant that she was incapable of always looking at things with rationale and it meant she made mistakes.
As the book went on I grew protective of her and looked upon her as a little sister so I was fiercely emotional at times with how she behaved. It's not often I feel like that about a character and I loved how Melody Grace crafted characters so real and flawed that I grew to love her and expect no demand the development that I was rewarded with. Her relationship with her mother, a woman who is incapable of allowing herself to be free of the brutal world of competition and status was distressing to witness and I was glad that Annalise had fabulous characters like Rosalie and Karla to have her back and support her in ways her mother could never comprehend.
Raphael was a great character, I loved his emotion and hunger for life and love and pleasure. Dealing with his own insecurities has meant having to say goodbye to people he loves and I loved the dichotomy with Annalise who is doing the exact opposite out of her own fears. I loved how their romance developed, it was never rushed and while I think people could make accusations of insta-love I think it was more the fervour of Annalise's unearthed feelings and her youthful enthusiasm and inexperience that creates that impression. The chemistry was so romantic and the sex was blistering hot and erotic yet never gratuitous.
I loved Melody Grace's writing. At first it was exasperating I admit because it seemed at times like just a bunch of romantic words and phrases pushed together and while lyrically beautiful created a bit of a disconnect for me. However as I grew to know the characters and care for them so deeply it all came together beautifully. It was like the different elements of the dance, at first seemingly unrelated that melded together to form a true performance that was seamlessly elegant and fluid like the beautiful dance of romance that Raphael and Annalise lost themselves in their love.
At its heart while truly romantic WITH EVERY HEARTBEAT is a story of self discovery, being true to yourself and finding your path and the people who will accept and love you no matter what. A story worth remembering. Wonderful.
There’s a meme I’ve seen floating around the net about relationships that loosely states “The reRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
There’s a meme I’ve seen floating around the net about relationships that loosely states “The reason you dated all those jerks is so you’d recognise the right one when they came along”. That’s kind of like me and this book. My relationship with New Adult has been...rocky to say the least and several times this year I have closed a book and yelled “NEVER AGAIN” only for a little glimmer of hope to spark and make me want to try again, to find that book that may for once depict a relationship between two young people that isn’t “damaged girl whose pain is solved by jerk-wad with a magic peen” and huzzah I cry! I have found that book! COME BACK TO ME by Mila Gray otherwise known as YA author Sarah Alderson is a breath of fresh air amidst a rapidly stale, stagnant pond filled with “haven’t we read this one before?” offerings that make your eyes roll so hard you have to place your palms over them for fear they’d pop out like marbles. Nice imagery huh? You are welcome.
Come Back to Me centres on a military family called the Kingsleys. 18 year old Jessa is celebrating the homecoming of her older brother Riley and his best friend Kit who’ve been serving as Marine security guards in the Sudan. Relieved that they are not only both safe but she now has some support when dealing with her father, a Colonel suffering from severe untreated PTSD and a mother who can only cope by sticking her head in the sand ostrich style. Not to mention the fact that her long-time crush Kit seems to finally have taken notice that she’s not a little girl anymore, things are finally looking up for Jessa and she can almost forget that her father is refusing to let her attend the college of her dreams and that his grip on her life and happiness is almost choking. As Kit and Jessa grow closer, both realise that the lives they have are not enough and maybe something bigger is waiting. Will Kit and Jessa overcome the odds stacked against them or is this Romeo and Juliet story fated for a tragic end?
I cannot put into words how much I adored this book but I’ll give it a try. Mila Gray has a wonderful way with words and I’ve already been told that as Sarah Alderson – her character development is wonderful which I’m hoping to find out for myself soon when I pick up a couple of books – and thankfully it’s a similar situation here. I loved how realised and complex her characters are in this book and it added to the heightened emotion and anticipation that threaded the storyline because I truly cared for Jessa and Kit and the secondary characters and was actively rooting for their happiness at every turn.
Jessa was a wonderful MC. Sweet, intelligent, loyal, she’s always put her family before her own happiness despite her talent and passion for drama and her dream of studying acting strangled under the oppressive hold her father keeps on his family and her. Her relationship with Kit not only opens her up to the joy of first love but the realisation that being with him awakens her need to truly be “her” and that the love and passion she has not just for him but her dreams can no longer be buried. It was fascinating to watch her develop, to see her confidence grow, her personality flourish and blossom into a strong, confident young woman eager to grasp opportunity rather than let it pass her by. There’s a strong message of positivity throughout this book to embrace your power and be the person you want to be which I loved. Kit was equally an impressive character and I adored what a support he was for Jessa and how he grounded her and enabled her to pursue her bliss and how Jessa was just as pivotal in his life as he was in hers. Her belief in his goodness, his dreams outside the military, and his potential showed how well matched they were and it was wonderful to see depicted in an NA novel, a relationship between two young people that was healthy, mutually supportive and loving. The chemistry between Jessa and Kit was scorching, there were moments when I could have sworn my kindle would overheat and happily it was tempered with a sweet, wonderful romance, full of teenage flirtation, blushes and winks that would make any cynic swoon. The secondary characters did not take a back seat in this book and I was just as invested in their stories as I was in Jessa and Kit’s.
I loved the realism Mila brought to the story, the harsh realities that face military families. The brutal emotional trauma that occurs when PTSD takes its toll on relationships and the family dynamic and the threat that grief and sadness is always hiding around the corner, ready to taint any precious happy moment and the realisation that those moments must be grasped fully and without reservation. The pacing of the book was excellent, never faltering and the tension from the first pages right through to the end was taut, keeping me captivated with this emotionally charged page-turner. It was a well balanced story that didn’t need to play the drama card for the hell of it. It was engaging and had value to its story that mirrored real life.
COME BACK TO ME was a beautifully crafted story of love, family, honour and truth with amazing characters, a compelling storyline and a message to never let life pass you by. I simply loved it. ...more
I haven’t had much luck with books this year, 2017 is rapidly drawing to a close and I can count on one hand how many books have been “5 Stars” and haI haven’t had much luck with books this year, 2017 is rapidly drawing to a close and I can count on one hand how many books have been “5 Stars” and have truly made an impact on me. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, on the positive side it means I have more time to mull over a particular book, why it impressed me so much, why it resonated with me and if I’m unluckily enough to find another book that pulls me in so thoroughly as the handful that this year have by December’s end, I’ll take pleasure in having the time to think over the startling and fabulous LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng which is definitely top of my list of books read this year.
Meticulous in its description of the perfect, progressive, safe suburb of Shaker Heights, Ng crafts a world so wonderfully depicted you can’t help but feel drawn in, almost like Alice or Dorothy, at times you want it to envelop you in its perfection, its orderliness as you leave behind the chaos of your own daily life. At other times you wish to pick at its underbelly, like peeling the label off a bottle to uncover the truth underneath. In Shaker Heights following the rules is order of the day but as we discover it can blind you and allow a person to be complicit in crimes they never thought possible.
The Richardson family are quintessential 90s upper middle-class. Big house, successful parents, kids on the fast track to their choice of colleges, the “right” sort of people. Elena, matriarch of the Richardson brood has always followed the rules, always done what was expected, what was correct, never questioning the status-quo. When her new tenant Mia Warren, a single mother to Pearl, who lives a vagabond existence as an artist supplemented with temp jobs here and there, arrives in Shaker Heights, Elena and her family are inexplicably drawn towards Mia and her daughter. Elena with wariness that this woman could possibly be a threat to their quiet lives hastily invites Mia into her employ, a way to assert control over the woman. For the four children- Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy, the Warrens offer a fresh, new perspective to their carefully thought out lives. As these two unlikely families meld together, both sides find a connection they never thought possible. The careful peace threatens to shatter however when a custody battle over little Mirabelle/May-Ling pits Elena against Mia with potentially devastating consequences.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is a character-driven novel and as a result more slow-moving and I absolutely loved that aspect to it. It allows the reader to truly get to know the characters and visualise them, their expressions, and their responses and truly “hear” their voice. Despite the fairly vast cast, I never felt like I couldn’t distinguish between them, their personalities so expertly crafted by Ng, their voices clear and distinct. I’ve mentioned before the excellent world-building and it truly was one of my favourite parts of the novel. The exploration of the city, the social classes, the tensions of race and status simmering, the naiveté of people’s perceptions as we’re looking back at a time when so many questions now being raised in 2017 were not even considered relevant by the mainstream and as one POC character says “we’ve always known” in frustration.
A powerful and fascinating story of the intricacies of human dynamics, with phenomenal writing and unparalleled character development with a sprinkle of nostalgia for those of us old enough to remember and questions put forth to the reader with care and gentle nudging to challenge your own perceptions, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE is worthy of the hype and deserves the attention long after that may die down. Read it, buy it for a friend and tell them to do the same. This one is something special.
Allow me to catch my breath a little and recover from the emotional tornado that just whipped meRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next 4.5 stars
Allow me to catch my breath a little and recover from the emotional tornado that just whipped me up into a frenzy!
I have been aching to read STORM WARNING ever since one of my fave authors whom I’ve discovered this year, Caisey Quinn tweeted about her new YA series with another author whose work I’ve been wanting to read, Elizabeth Lee. My head is spinning right now and I have so much adrenaline flashing through my veins that it’s making me dizzy. My expectations coming into this novel have been completely turned upside down and I truly don’t know which way is up and THAT IS A GOOD THING!
It takes a lot to make me flail and flap and right now I’m like that freaking penguin from Happy Feet slipping and sliding all over the damn place. Sorry for swearing! Is damn a swear? Fuck it! I don’t care…oops!
OKAY! *puts on reviewing cap*…where do I begin? Five teenagers – Kyle, Cami, Cooper, Ella Jane and Hayden find their lives intertwine during one hot, stormy summer in Oklahoma. Kyle and Ella Jane live in the small community of Hope’s Grove and have just had their lives torn apart when their dad leaves and moves in with another woman. Cooper, Kyle’s best friend who’s pined after Ella Jane for years is dealing with family worries. Hayden and Cami, on again off again couple from the privileged Summit Bluffs nearby have called it quits for the summer. Hayden has messed up one too many times and finds himself packed off to Hope’s Grove for the summer to stay with his grandparents and learn the meaning of honest, hard work. Cami, let down once again by her parent’s empty promises, chooses to spend the summer by the pool and hope nobody finds out. Five teens, five lives about to change, who will have their hearts broken and who will be breaking hearts?
I started STORM WARNING straight after yet another “paint by numbers” NA and I was feeling seriously jaded. This book was a breath of fresh air and catapulted me back to those sweet, heady days of overpowering teen love where summer seems like an endless dream and your world is that one person who makes your breath catch in your throat with a simple look.
One thing that impressed me the most was how seamless the writing was. I couldn’t tell that it was two different authors, the story flowed smoothly and the pacing was excellent. With five POV’s I thought I would be overwhelmed trying to keep track but each character’s voice was utterly unique and each owned their story so it was impossible to not get caught up in their emotions and lives while still being able to differentiate my feelings and opinions about each characters’ individual perspective.
My favourite character was Ella Jane, hands down! She was awesome and I want to hang out and get lifestyle tips from this chick. Sassy, brave and capable of immense kindness and wisdom beyond her years, Ella Jane was the POV I looked forward to most. Caught between the affections of two guys, I liked how she made a decision and stuck to it. There was none of the hand wringing and wailing that’s seen all too often in other YA novels, Ej can dish it out and take it too. Hers and Kyle’s family situation is one I’m all too familiar with which strengthened my connection with her.
I honestly thought coming into this story that Cooper would be “my guy” but it was Hayden that I ended up falling for. The cocky little rich boy went through one of the best character developments I’ve come across in a long time and really impressed me with his growth. While I do have a soft spot for Cooper, boyfriend needs his testicles to drop and then we’ll talk ;) Kyle and Cami were my least favourite characters, I feel that the multiple POV’s meant that I got to know them the least and so my connection with them suffered but I hope that will be rectified in book two!
I loved the insight into Southern Life; it made me ache to spend a summer in America’s heartland and experience the sense of togetherness and love that seems intrinsic to southern culture and life. I felt that I could visualise the picturesque setting perfectly and the gentle breeze and sweet scents of summer wafting though Hope’s Grove accosted my senses every time I thought of the small community and its unforgettable characters. The essence of teenage life was captured perfectly by the authors. The feelings and emotions that overwhelm the characters as they try and make the leap into adulthood whilst still struggling in the grasp of adolescence felt real and expressed with stirring and sometimes brutal emotion.
Speaking of brutal…like the calm before a storm, this story of trust, first loves and family is truly tested as the warnings we got both as characters and readers were brushed aside as we’re caught up in the exhilaration of head over feet love finally makes way for the real storm and the reason for the book’s title becomes chillingly clear.
The last 10% of the story staggered me, to the point where I still feel punch drunk! At first it felt rushed and I was angry when I finished because it seemed like the pacing was off but then it hit me just how perfect it was.
Just like a storm in real life, the speed with which nature takes hold and rips your life apart is mirrored perfectly here. The adrenaline rush as I raced through those last few pages left me lightheaded and positively dumbstruck. I feel like I’m holding my breath, waiting for the storm to pass and wondering just what wreckage will be waiting for me when I open the door to the storm shelter and am greeted by the blinding sunshine and wait for the picture to form. Will it be utter devastation or will there be hope when the winds die down? One can only hope but I’ll be waiting with bated breath until those two evil geniuses put us out of our misery and give us book two! Compelling, emotional and downright wonderful, STORM WARNING was worth the wait!
If this review reaches you in a state that is in any way coherent, it will be a miracle. I have eyed up MoRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
If this review reaches you in a state that is in any way coherent, it will be a miracle. I have eyed up Morgan Matson's books for a while now and swooned at the pretty covers and said to myself "Oh I must get to them soon". So when 2015 came around, I foolishly thought "Hey, let's get the year off to a good start" and I opened AMY AND ROGER and when I closed it, I experienced a six week reading slump that was only cured by - guess what?- another Morgan Matson book. It was painful but gosh darn it was worth it!
I just want to climb inside her books and live with these characters, hang out, make awesome playlists and feel all the feels! Matson has the warm, witty way of writing that makes you fall in love with her characters and ache at the realisation that with every passing page, you are a little closer to the end.
In AMY AND ROGER, Amy Curry needs a ride across America as her mom has moved the family to Connecticut and the family car needs to move there too. Enter Roger - recruited to drive Amy and the car across the States in an impeccably laid out plan of routes, hotels and timetables. Amy and Roger have had a rough couple of months respectively and when the idea is posited to maybe not follow the rules but see where an adventure takes them, they take a detour that changes them in more ways than one.
Amy and Roger are officially two of my favourite fictional characters. I loved how they interacted with each other as they're thrown together in what could potentially be the most awkward of situations - stuck in a car with a complete stranger for days on end. As they plan their route as they go, getting into all manner of scrapes and hijinks, meeting weird and wonderful people on their travels not to mention instilling the greatest case of food envy in a person ever, we watch them grow and blossom both individually and as a pairing.
I adored Amy as an MC and really felt connected to her as we learn about the grief that hangs over her as a dark cloud, as she struggles to cope with the death of a loved one. I love her awkwardness and uncertainly as she slowly gets to know Roger and opens up to him with every day that passes and the adventures they experience. Music plays a big part in their connection and how it develops and I loved how Matson weaves it into their story. Roger - with his easy grace and big hearted nature, is just what Amy needs right now and while he doesn't realise it, she's just what he needs too. Dealing with a frustratingly obtuse ex girlfriend, his motivations for accepting to drive Amy across America may not have been entirely transparent but we see him too slowly come to terms with his situation through his conversations with Amy and their time together.
The ease at which Matson evokes the powerful imagery of life on the road is simply stunning. With every page, the dust from the roadside, the blistering heat from the packed freeways to the magic of possibility in a seemingly endless highway is achingly real and makes the reader want to hop in the car with Amy and Roger and experience this precious opportunity for themselves. The secondary characters in this book add a richness to the tapestry of adventures Amy and Roger embark on and they intensify the emotional depth of their exploits and the memories they garner as each meeting offers the wisdom and advice the characters need even if they don't realise it until much later.
A beautifully written, honest and warm-hearted book about friendship, family, trusting your gut and taking the road less travelled, AMY AND ROGER is simply unforgettable and a book I will treasure forever....more
Oh my! This book! I honestly don't know what drew me to this because I’ve ranted before that I'm not the bRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Oh my! This book! I honestly don't know what drew me to this because I’ve ranted before that I'm not the biggest fan of shirtless man covers but I am so glad I didn't let that stop me because THIS BOOK! All the FEELS! It was just so beautiful and real and sweet and yup there I go, I'm in a mini flail. Pull yourself together, Dani!
WORTH THE FALL tells the story of Abby and Matt, two souls in desperate need of a connection. Abby has spent her life, feeling forgotten and unloved by the people who should protect her the most and Matt has spent his life, putting his country and fellow SEALs before everything else. When they meet, it's not a story of star-crossed lovers who can abandon everything and give into their passions.
Matt is grieving the loss of his best friend, killed in action and escapes to the beach to figure out his life and begins to realise that a wife and kids is something his heart wants despite his head telling him that the guilt he feels at his best friend's death can only be appeased by a life of being the dutiful man at arms.
Abby, an orphan, who has embraced the feeling of abandonment as inevitable, is dealing with the recent death of her husband and the harsh reality of a life raising four young children with another one on the way. They only have a week at the beach but as the days pass, their easy friendship blossoms. As Abby watches Matt embrace her children and her unusual circumstances with no hesitation and Matt opens up to the possibility that maybe he can have the one thing his heart wants the most, the two realise that maybe a week isn't enough...
I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking back at all the emotional moments in this book. Abby and Matt were two amazing characters who instantly garnered sympathy with their respective backgrounds and their all-round awesomeness. Having spent her life, being the one who wasn't noticed, Abby is determined that her children never feel that way. Never balking at the prospect of being both a mom and a dad to her kids, her courageous and loving nature ensures she has everything handled. Almost everything...
Despite the love and fulfilment she gets from being a mom there's still something missing. Her marriage wasn't perfect and now her husband is another in a long list of people she has lost. When she meets Matt, Abby has to open her heart to the possibility that it's okay to let some of those balls drop, because there are people out there who are more than willing to catch them. She just has to decide if it’s "worth the fall ".
As for Matt...
BOOM! That’s the sound of my ovaries, ladies! He was such an interesting character and I loved learning about his time in the navy and his family. His interaction with the kids was so sweet and I loved how hard he worked at earning their trust, he genuinely cared for them before his feelings for Abby deepened, it was never just a cheap ploy to seduce her.
At times I grew frustrated at Abby's attempts to distance herself but it was completely understandable given her past. The development of their relationship was handled really well. When I read the blurb and saw "the week" part I was wary of insta-love but that is so far from the case. Abby and Matt are two adults, who have lived through a lot of pain and heartbreak and can recognise when something good comes along. The children were the star of the show for me, they never came across as a plot device but were given their own little personalities that stole my heart and made me want to volunteer to babysit so Abby and Matt could get it on *cue Marvin Gaye*.
WORTH THE FALL was simply a gorgeous story that will make you experience the full gamut of emotions as you read it. Full of love, sacrifice and belief in happiness no matter what, I highly recommend you too fall for Matt and Abby, it’s definitely worth it! ...more
Ah this book! This series! The Feels! I did something both great and stupid when I finally decidRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Ah this book! This series! The Feels! I did something both great and stupid when I finally decided I wanted to join so many others on this epic journey of Celaena Sardothian's.
I read the novellas...which were perfection although the pain, the emotion, the delirium, the joy and the SHEER trauma that came with reading them was enough to stunt my progress for almost a year. Sam Cortland - that's all I'm going to say about that.
When I finally felt brave enough to pick up THRONE OF GLASS I realised the pain was worth it because I honestly don't think I would have enjoyed this book as much or even liked its heroine without going in armed with her back-story. I'm going to skip my usual recap and just go right into discussing Celaena. I adored her, this young woman with the ability to snark with the best of them >>*cough*Me*cough*
When we first meet Celaena, a prisoner of the famed Salt Mines of Endovier, she has endured torturous, back breaking days of work with beatings that would bring the toughest soldier to his knees and carries the memories of a happiness she has lost forever after being betrayed by those she trusted most.
Despite this she has an impeccable air of grace and authority about her. She is someone worthy of respect. However I don't know if her steely nerve is something I would have recognised quite so easily had I not read the novellas.
At times in THRONE OF GLASS Celaena comes off as frustratingly shallow and easily distracted. This has been justified in many reviews as normal because "ya know; she's a girl after all." Umm no. I - like Celaena - have a love for the finer things in life, my bathroom is bursting with all the latest make-up products, I have tons of shoes and pretty trinkets but this doesn't make me shallow or give me an excuse to behave flighty. It's not even that big of a deal however when you know what Celaena has been through and more importantly where she's coming from, there are many incidents that are directly contradictory. The deadliest assassin in the land makes mistakes that don't quite make sense and it may seem like I'm harping on about it a bit but considering it is pretty much the ONLY thing I have to criticise, please forgive me. I don't know if Sarah J. Maas wrote the novellas before or after TOG but if it was after it seems almost an attempt to right a wrong and develop Celaena's character more to combat the criticism that she inevitably got from glancing at other reviews. Okay and I'm shutting up now!
Despite those few jarring incidents of character "slip-ups" Celaena has firmly shoved her way into my line-up of all time favourite heroines and I loved her strength and ferocity especially when it came to those she loved. Maas has created an admirably complex and well-envisioned world that is described in such rich detail it is easy to imagine. The writing is beautiful and assured and strikes a fine balance between character and plot that I think is wholly satisfying.
One of my favourite parts of the whole book was the healthy, supportive and oh so rare example of female friendship in a YA novel. There's nothing that will give me more goosebumps or make this chick happier than this. The development of Celaena and Nehemia's relationship from an uncertain dance of mistrust to a warm, giving companionship was utterly joyous. Likewise the easy friendship between Chaol and Dorian that transcends status was equally satisfying.
This brings me to the men and the inevitable discussion about ships and romance. *Heavy Sigh* I do not know WHO to ship! Can I have both? I loved the effortless rapport that developed between Chaol and Celaena and despite their strong-willed personalities clashing at times, the innate understanding of a life that truly doesn't belong to you but is held to a sense of duty and honour is something that binds them together so intrinsically. Likewise the flirtatious banter and intellectual bonding over a love of reading made me fall for Celaena and Dorian just as easily. I've been told my choice will become easier in Crown of Midnight which unnerves me to be honest but I'm excited to see how romance develops especially given how glorious (and devastating) it is in the novellas.
While it is clear that one of the major strengths of the book lies in its characterisation and development of its relationships I found the plot to be equally as compelling, satisfyingly pacy and the tension remained marvellously taut throughout. From devious acts of political intrigue at court to the action packed fighting and training scenes, THRONE OF GLASS is entertaining and exhilarating.
Beautifully written, utterly enthralling with exceptionally rendered characters and what truly appears to be the definition of epic, THRONE OF GLASS was everything I expected and more. ...more
There is a book out there with your name on it...well not really, it's called SHADORead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
There is a book out there with your name on it...well not really, it's called SHADOW AND BONE and it contains everything you love - sweeping epic plotlines, swoony men, awesome females, gorgeous writing and did I mention RUSSIAN influences. Remember your obsession with all things Russia, thinking you were Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago? Yeah all that? THIS BOOK and you are an idiot for letting it languish on your TBR while you read mediocre NA after mediocre NA. IDIOT! Let's never have to have this conversation again? Mmm 'K?
Love, Your Brain.
Yes, I get it now. I get the flailing, the misread tweets I thought were about an awesome "duckling", I understand now and I have a bone to pick with all you so called book pushers who didn't chain me up and water-board me until I read this. Pfft! Anyway...
I have been staring at Siege and Storm for weeks, aching to open it and continue this amazing journey (Gawd I sound like I'm on X Factor) but I simply couldn't until I got the words out about how much I loved this story and look FAILING (but plenty of FLAILING)! So instead you're getting crazy rambling until I get to a point where I can justify being happy and reading the next book.
SHADOW AND BONE is set in a land called Ravka which is under siege from a menacing darkness filled with monsters that is slowly overtaking it. The magical elite known as The Grisha whom are ruled by the enigmatic leader The Darkling are the only people capable of keeping the Shadow Fold at bay. When a young orphan called Alina and her best friend Mal who serve in one of the army's many regiments are attacked, Alina reveals a long dormant power which may be the key to defeating the Shadow Fold. Taken under the wing of the Darkling, Alina joins the Grisha but soon learns that all that glitters is not gold.
I loved Alina's character, she was so relatable and I immediately connected with her. When she's taken from all that she knows and dropped into the lavish, privileged world of the Grisha, you get a real sense of her vulnerability but also her inner strength and the steely nature that is unearthed as she gains confidence and trust in her power. At times I admit I did get quite the "Bella" vibe off her as she did the usual YA heroine handwringing as to why people thought she was beautiful and special and oh my were attracted to her. Despite this she remained intensely likeable and Bardugo didn't focus on the over-used trope.
Let's talk about The Darkling. So utterly charismatic, mysterious and oozing power, his interest in Alina is almost addictively seductive to read and despite his anti-hero status I couldn't help but fall for him. Despite this I am firmly on the good ship Malina and have many life buoys ready for what I anticipate to be a rocky sailing. I have a definite soft spot for Mal whose sweet nature and friendliness make him instantly likeable. I love the chemistry and tension between Mal and Alina, how well they know each other, every moment is weighted with their history and deep knowledge of each other's strengths and weaknesses.
The world building was stellar for me, I loved the Russian influence and Bardugo's beautiful, effortless style of writing that makes it so easy to get swept away in the story. The complex hierarchy of the Grisha and their history is another highlight and I am eager to learn more. Never once did I feel like the pacing faltered and the last third was especially intense and wonderfully played out through skilful story-telling and heightened emotion.
Mesmerising, sultry and utterly captivating, SHADOW AND BONE is simply fantastic and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said about the utter brilliance of PURead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Actual rating 4.5
There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said about the utter brilliance of PUSHING THE LIMITS but allow me a few moments to try and put some semblance of sense on the jumble of FEELS I have about this book and its author and to try and convince you to read it.
This is the story of Echo and Noah – two souls who if things hadn’t gone horribly wrong in their respective lives might have possibly found each other anyway but through pain, sadness and a small helping hand from fate come together and find peace in each other away from everything that’s gone wrong in their lives.
Echo was the popular girl, well liked, and dating one of the hottest guys in school when she lost her beloved brother in Afghanistan and soon after on one disastrous night was left with horrific scars on her arms and the knowledge that her mother can no longer come near her. Struggling with memory loss from the trauma, Echo now must deal with a father who is unable to connect with his daughter, a stepmother who was once her nanny and friends who refuse to talk to her because she refuses to “fit in”. Echo needs to find out what happened that night if she’s ever going to move on.
At first glance the snarky and cool Noah seems to be the typical bad boy. Beneath the surface however he’s deeply hurt, shunted from foster home to foster home after his parents are killed in a house fire. Noah’s only concern is gaining custody of his brothers and providing them with the life they deserve.
When Echo and Noah find themselves waiting for individual appointments with Ms Collins, the social worker/counsellor assigned to their cases, sparks fly and the couple find themselves drawn to each other. Both have questions that need answering…will they find them together and will they gain peace they crave so much?
PUSHING THE LIMITS intrigued me from page one. I love Katie McGarry’s writing style, her words flow across the page so easily you can’t help but get caught up in the world she presents.
Echo was a character I adored from the second I met her. Lost in the murkiness of fragmented memories, struggling to get a handle on what happened to her on that fateful night, I was immediately sympathetic. Her moments of clarity when in sessions with Ms. Collins gripped me and the mystery of what caused the scars on her arms was emotionally stirring right up to the big reveal. The tragic nature of her past is utterly heartbreaking and I hate the word “journey” but Echo’s path towards the truth is eye-opening and desperately sad.
How do I even begin to describe Noah? I don’t think I have ever felt so emotional about a character from fiction in my life. The sense of responsibility he has belies his years. At not even 18 his potential has been stifled by tragedy and a failed system. With only tough but fair Beth and sweet and loyal Isaiah as his chosen family Noah feels he has no-one else to rely on.
The connection that forms between them is beyond beautiful. Echo who believes no-one could possibly love her broken body and spirit is supported unquestioningly by Noah. He doesn’t pity her, he doesn’t see her the way the rest of the world see her as a fragile, shattered girl. He sympathises with her plight but more importantly he challenges her. He won’t let her feel sorry for herself and he sees past the outside just as Echo does in return. There’s an unspoken recognition of the pain both of them carry and they realise that while they can push each other the brittle trust that’s formed needs time to set.
The raw emotion that seeps through the pages is at times overwhelming and in particular the moments with Noah and his brothers are so brutally honest and filled with that unconditional love and emotion that is only present with family. His dealings with his brothers’ foster parents are painful and as capable as Noah is; it is in these moments we see how he is still just a child who has been thrown into an adult world. Safety is a feeling he thought could never be experienced again except in the way he imagined his life with his brothers to be and the thought that the little semblance of control he has grasped onto for so long could be lost engulfs him with feelings of panic and loss that are brutal to experiences as a reader.
In addition to the exceptional circumstances of Echo and Noah’s lives PUSHING THE LIMITS is also simply a teenage book with all the usual ups and downs of friendship, sex and romance that comes with adolescence. Their support networks are very different. There’s a disconnection with Echo’s social circle, and apart from Lila who remains a stalwart for Echo, she is continually let down by the rest of her peers. It irked me how Echo’s low self esteem was manipulated by her ex boyfriend Luke and her “friend” Grace to persuade her to fall in line. In contrast Noah’s faithful duo Beth and Isaiah were wonderful both as friends to Noah but also as characters. Despite the fact that they don’t appear very often in the book McGarry’s exceptional development skills meant they were clearly realised in my head and I was aching to discover their own stories.
Interestingly about 2/3 of the way through I began to feel disconnected from the story, enough that I thought my rating would drop significantly however on reflection I believe I know what was the cause. There’s an absence or distance to parts of Echo’s story which is likely due to the fact that Echo cannot remember and while struggling with that memory loss it causes frustration for the reader too. When the barriers fall and she reconnects with her past, the reader is right there with her and that reconciliation is beyond emotional as equally is Noah’s resolution as the weight of the world rests squarely on his shoulders and the realisation that life doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be that way for him is both hopeful and shattering at the same time. The last 1/3 of the book submerged me in a sea of emotion of my own tears and made me realised my instincts at the beginning of the book were the ones I should have trusted all along.
It's not often as a reader that you get to meet characters so well realised that you feel they could be maRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
It's not often as a reader that you get to meet characters so well realised that you feel they could be manifested fully formed in front of you simply by thinking of them but that's what Nolan and Reed were for me. They may have been characters wrested from fiction but they transcended their 2-dimensional existences on a page and transformed into something so much more, so visceral and real.
In WAITING ON THE SIDELINES I got to know this couple and grew to love them as they fell in love with each other so I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend more time with them in GOING LONG despite it being all too brief.
GOING LONG picks up the story of Nolan and Reed two years after we last saw them. I don't want to give too much away given this is a sequel but halfway through their college careers, Nolan's scholarship is going well and Reed is being courted to declare for the draft and go pro. Throughout the book we see the couple face hard choices, emotional turmoil and betrayal as the couple struggles to figure out how to make the step from teenage love to a truly adult and mature relationship.
WOTS was narrated by Nolan and took place over four years of high school enabling Ginger Scott to create the world of Nolan and Reed with care and finesse. GOING LONG takes place over a much shorter period of time but is no less brilliantly visualised and we have the added bonus of Reed's perspective which added to the emotion as we saw how the events that transpired affected both parties equally. Whereas in WOTS Reed's actions came across as pigheaded at times, gaining insight into his head allowed us to see what he was dealing with and how his thought processes and opinions took root.
Nolan is without a doubt one of my favourite female MC's and she really broke my heart in this book. Her struggles and the pain she experienced as she went through experiences both expected and unexpected truly filled my heart with sorrow but equally with joy at her refusal to stay down and fighting her way back, confronting her fears and reaching for her dreams in both her career and her relationships.
Ginger Scott knows how to put her readers through a gamut of emotions and I applaud her and her talent wholeheartedly for her ability to weave simple words into storylines you can't help but invest your heart and trust in. At no point does anything thrown at Nolan and Reed to challenge them feel like a frivolous attempt to stir things up for dramatic effect. The events unfold exactly as you would expect them to in real life as if it's a friend divulging their secrets to you over coffee and cake.
The WOTS series has everything I wish for in books - friendships, love, and a spectrum of emotions to test your heart and resolve to love these characters, relationships without dysfunction (praise Jesus) and secondary characters that are just as well developed as the MC's.
GOING LONG was a tender true love romance that touched my heart and soul and left me turning the last pages with happy tears running down my cheeks as I whispered goodbye to characters I'll cherish forever.
IN THE FIELDS is one of those books that will reaffirm your faith in love and humanity. I'm getting emotioRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
IN THE FIELDS is one of those books that will reaffirm your faith in love and humanity. I'm getting emotional just thinking about this book and with good reason, Willow Aster created characters and a story that is both hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time and one you will never forget.
Caroline lives in Tulma, Tennessee in the early 1970's. Racial tensions are high and prejudice is rife in this tiny, backwater town. Falling for her best friend, Isaiah when she is white and he is black is forbidden but for this couple, love is truly colour-blind. Sadly not everyone feels the same way and when Caroline is horrifically attacked she is forced to flee her home and leave her love behind. Building her life in a strange new place, Caroline must protect her past and look to the future. However Isaiah and Tulma are never far from her thoughts, will Caroline find peace or will her first love haunt her forever?
Caroline is one of my favourite characters that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in a book. She is pure goodness and kindness and has broken free of the cycle of ugly hate and racism that is perpetually present in the town. Her friendship and love with Isaiah is simply put - beautiful. I ached for this couple and willed them to find a way to survive together. “Love across the divide” stories are not new but this one was particularly arresting and emotional to read.
The 1970's in the South was a hotbed for racism and hate and the tension is tangible through every word. What was utterly heartbreaking for me was how this story and its characters proved just how insidious prejudice is and how easy it is to hide until the hate eventually spills over and the ugliness seen in people's eyes, their sneers and their insults cannot be contained any longer.
The themes in the story are heavy to say the least, hate, alcoholism, death, rape, love etc but at all times despite the pain Caroline goes through and the tears spilling down your cheeks the story is inherently hopeful because you experience it through Caroline. Her ability to forgive and her inner strength at a time when she was woefully neglected by the very people who are supposed to love her are inspirational and staggering. Her voice rings out clear as a bell and you can't help but fall for her and Isaiah. All the characters are so well realised which made the story all the more brutally gut wrenching to read. Ruby, Papa and Davis were true favourites and make me smile when I think of them.
Stirring, with a message of love conquers all but only if you participate in your own rescue, IN THE FIELDS is beautiful, unforgettable and important. Loved it.
If I had to sum up FLAT OUT LOVE in a word, that word would be delightful. It's been so long sincRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
If I had to sum up FLAT OUT LOVE in a word, that word would be delightful. It's been so long since I read a book where I would audibly sigh with contentedness and exclaim "I adore this book!" From start to finish, FLAT OUT LOVE hooked me and I happily succumbed to its charms.
It's Julie's first day in Boston and she's already off to a shaky start. Her "apartment" that she rented sight unseen doesn't exist and a call for help to her mom has her sitting in the car of her mom's ex-room-mate's son who's just a little bit too geeky, a little bit too awkward and doesn't seem too thrilled to have her as a new house-guest. Julie quickly realises that Matt is the tip of the iceberg when she meets his little sister Celeste who among her many quirks carries a cardboard cut-out of their older brother Finn who's off travelling the world. Slowly as Julie spends time with the little off-beat family she realises that they hold the key to unlocking her emotional walls just as much as she is the key to theirs.
Jessica Park has a writing style that can only be described as raw, witty and utterly captivating. From her breathtaking descriptions of Boston through the seasons to her stellar dialogue that mixed intellect with wry social commentary topped off with a smidgeon of the ridiculous, each page had me squeeing and proclaiming to whomever would listen that this was such a ME book!
While I have much love in my heart for all the characters in this book, the standout has to be the wonderful Celeste. I simply ached for her as she plodded along in her own quirky little bubble, not quite in sync with the rest of the world. I admired her gentle soul and grew angry at anyone who failed to see just how special she really is.
I loved how Julie slotted in pretty easily to the Watkins’s household and very clearly became just the tonic they needed. It was her discourse with Matt and Finn that gave me life and kept the pages turning for completely different reasons. Matt is the quintessential nerd, unwilling to give in to peer pressure or if we’re honest doesn’t even pay attention to it and is the opposite of the outgoing and forthright Julie. Their sparring matches sizzle with chemistry and their mutual concern for Celeste paves the way for an uneasy alliance that proves vital to both of them.
Similarly when Julie strikes up a friendship with Finn online after messaging him to thank him for his room, we are privy to the slow burn of sexual attraction that comes when people have to use their words to convey what a loaded glance would do in less than a nano second. Their wordy interplay knocked my socks off as the sexual tension rose with each IM. I loved each brother equally and it broke my heart to see how torn up the situation made them.
This book covers a lot of issues with family and its many dynamics at its very core. There were times when I felt seriously vulnerable reading this book as it dredged up feelings from my own past in particular when reading Julie’s relationship with her own parents. While it was unsettling it felt like a true testament to how powerful Park’s writing and story was.
There is so much I could ramble on about with this book but instead I will impart some wisdom I learned from my reading experience which is don’t let this book meander for months on your kindle like I stupidly did but instead plunge headfirst into this warm, heartfelt and unforgettable story and experience some joy! ...more
Wow! Excuse me while I worship at the feet of Morgan Matson and her beautiful prose, her perfectly imperfecRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
Wow! Excuse me while I worship at the feet of Morgan Matson and her beautiful prose, her perfectly imperfect characters, original plots and fabulous romance. I didn't think anything could come close to the perfection of AMY & ROGER but SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE is a worthy competitor for my FEELS!!
Without a doubt, one of the best contemporary YA novels I've read in a long time, SYBG introduces us to Emily, who at the start of summer, seems to have misplaced her best friend. Flighty and free-spirited, Sloane has once again disappeared with no notice leaving Emily at a loose end. When a letter shows up containing a list of tasks as widely varying as can be from getting a job to skinny dipping, Emily hesitantly embraces the challenge in the hopes it will bring Sloane back. As Emily steps out of her comfort zone she discovers that she's also stepping out from her best friend's shadow and for the first time in years, is experiencing life as Emily and not that girl who is friends with Sloane.
I loved Emily, I recognised a lot of myself in her; the one who hangs back and lets the other more outgoing and interesting people take centre stage as I slowly acclimate to the situation. The harsh reality of suddenly being on her own is paralysing at first but slowly Emily learns that taking risks and believing in herself isn't as terrifying as she once thought. Making friends with Frank and Collins, two boys from school she would never have dared speak to before, helps Emily gain some confidence and with them and another new friend Dawn, they help her attack the list with gusto and make it a group task, proving to Emily that even without Sloane, she’s not alone.
I loved how the book cut to flashbacks with Sloane and how they juxtaposed with her new friends and showed the progress Emily has made without Sloane but equally as important, how vital Sloane is to Emily. She may have seemed to simply be the back-up to the more effervescent Sloane, but Emily was just as important to Sloane and gave her a sense of permanence and a sense of home she couldn't get from her own family.
The list itself was a star all on its own. I loved the antics, awkward encounters and confidence building tasks that Emily had to complete and how she simply blossomed as each one was crossed out. Her friendship with Frank was by far my favourite part of the book. Matson knows how to write the swooniest of boys and Frank Porter was no different. I loved his quiet, solid nature and his chemistry with Emily gave me shivers of delight.
SYBG is a wonderful book about friendship, stepping out of your comfort zone and trusting your heart. Witty, emotionally touching, with characters that will make you laugh, cry and swoon so hard you'll need smelling salts, it's a truly gorgeous book and one for the bookshelves. Have you seen that cover?? *thud*
Probably because it's just been blown away! It has been a very long time since a book has kept me in suspense and totallyHas anyone seen my mind?
Probably because it's just been blown away! It has been a very long time since a book has kept me in suspense and totally enthralled but THE DRY by Jane Harper ticked all the boxes and hear this, 2017 books? You have a lot to live up to; THE DRY has set the bar high!
THE DRY is Jane's debut novel and my oh my, what a slick and accomplished one it is! Set against the backdrop of a brittle town on the brink due to a never-ending drought in the Australian Bush, a horrific murder has rocked its inhabitants to their core.
Aaron Falk, who thought he left Kiewarra behind twenty years ago, finds himself drawn back into the fold when the case of his childhood friend's murder appears to not be quite as simply cut and dried as first thought. Teaming up with the local sergeant in charge, Falk digs deeper into the Hadley murder and finds himself knee deep in old small-town prejudice, secrets and decades-old grudges. Thwarted at every turn by old enemies, Falk is in a race against time to solve the case before the sparks of anger and contempt threaten to ignite the powder-keg of tension in this dusty old town.
THE DRY is very much a character driven novel. From the get-go, we are drawn into the lives of Falk and his supporting cast, each equally well-developed with distinct personalities and motivations that you can't help but ache to find out more about. Harper intertwines the events of the present with scintillating glimpses into the past, creating a novel that is layered with intrigue and a compelling plot. Throughout the book, with each chapter devoured with an insatiable need to know, I was kept guessing until the very end, each thread, another clue in the plot, intricately woven amongst the fabric of the well-crafted story, revealing itself only when it was time. Never straying into melodramatics, or creating skulking, overly embellished villains, The Harper draws on subtlety, quietly confident in its performance.
The town of Kiewarra and the drought are almost characters in their own right. The blistering heat is felt on every page, the oppressiveness of small town prejudice and animosity is mirrored in the overbearing temperatures. Highly visual, the imagery and description of Kiewarra gave the book a cinematic feel, adding an extra dimension to the experience.
A gritty and polished thriller that is beautifully written and engaging, THE DRY is atmospheric, will keep you guessing and is one to add to your TBRs now! ...more
While I adore YA and NA (most of the time) sometimes it's nice to change things up and enjoy a contemporarRead more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
While I adore YA and NA (most of the time) sometimes it's nice to change things up and enjoy a contemporary adult romance and remind myself why I adore the British and Irish female writers that dominate the genre. Mhairi McFarlane was a new to me author when her latest release HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU popped through the letterbox but now I can honestly say I'm an affirmed fan and can't wait to read more from her.
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU is told from two POV's - Anna Alessi, 30-something successful history academic who suffered through years of abuse as a roly poly teenager and is desperate to shrug off the dark cloud of memories always threatening to remind her of that time and James Fraser- the object of her affections turned greatest tormentor who's now older, wiser and heartbroken after his wife left him with a parting gift of a very grumpy cat. When Anna and James are thrust together in a work project for the national museum Anna is horrified, even more so when James doesn't recognise her and she's forced to pretend all is okay. As the pair spend more time together Anna begins to realise that James isn't the same boy who made her life a living hell 20 years ago. Can she let bygones be bygones or will the truth come out and crush Anna once and for all?
I adored this book from start to finish. McFarlane's writing is warm, witty and filled with humour that had me laughing out loud so many times. Equally weighty in emotion, this book deals with some pretty dark issues and Anna's memories of her days of being bullied and the lasting effects on her and her life were heartbreaking.
Anna was an amazing character, I loved her outlook on life, her attempts to find happiness with online dating exploits that had me snorting with laughter and her caring nature to her friends. Snarky and ballsy, she's taken the hurt and pain of her past and tried her best to fuel it to make her stronger in her present. Friends Michelle and Daniel and sister Aggy made great additions to her support network and their exploits together were entertaining to read.
Despite the mistakes he's made in his past, I adored James as a character. Literally decades away from the mean, good looking boy of the past, James of the present is sweet, kind and lost as his world is turned upside down when his wife of less than a year decides marriage isn't for her. Confidence knocked, he immediately clicks with Anna despite her best efforts to blow him off and the couple form a great relationship that had me aching to develop further into romance territory but that I equally enjoyed as a solid platonic friendship. Whether they want to deny it or not, James and Anna for all their differences are kindred spirits and their chemistry was excellently developed by McFarlane.
Filled with humour, sharp dialogue and awesome characters balanced by a deeper emotional edge, HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU is a sharp reminder that you can't outrun your past but must accept it and yourself in order to move on and in doing so...well online dating disasters will most likely not be your future!
Fabulously funny and sweet, HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU is a winner!
There’s something about Jodi Picoult. She can tackle any subject matter and make it her own. She4.5 stars Read more reviews at What Danielle Did Next
There’s something about Jodi Picoult. She can tackle any subject matter and make it her own. She forces you to look at things in a new light. She takes you down a certain path and just when you think you have a handle on things, she upends everything and throws you off balance. She doesn’t take the easy way out; she doesn’t seek to please the masses.
She writes like life, unpredictable, messy and beautiful.
Small Great Things is not a new story; it’s one that has been told countless times the world over. The setting and faces may change but the underlying truth remains the same. Though we are all human, some of us seek to keep others down and some of us simply keep our heads down while quietly benefiting from that fact.
Ruth Jefferson is a nurse in a New Haven hospital. She’s good at her job, well-liked, a devoted mother. Turk Bauer and his wife Brit are new parents, anxious, tired and full of love for their baby son. They also happen to be White Supremacists and Ruth happens to be Black. Because of skin colour, Ruth is deemed unworthy of taking care of their son and they demand she is removed from their case. Instead of standing with their employee, the hospital acquiesces to the demand. Ruth is removed from the case however when a simple procedure turns tragic and Ruth is the only nurse in the room when the Bauer baby goes into distress, her split-second hesitation results in accusations of both neglect and conspiracy and Ruth finds herself on trial. When middle-class, white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie takes Ruth’s case, she insists that race never be mentioned in the courtroom as a strategy for success. Both women are forced to tackle a lifetime’s worth of history, prejudice, insults and privilege in order to trust each other in the hopes of victory in court and redemption in life.
Small Great Things seeks to unsettle – I felt discomfort as I read and for that I am grateful. No matter your skin colour, cultural or ethnic background, Small Great Things will challenge you, it will cause you to recognise scenarios, comments, thoughts and actions that you may have (or certainly have) witnessed or taken part of, probably without a second thought.
The character development is stellar as always. The characters of Ruth, Turk and Kennedy are equally likeable and dislikeable. They are flawed, they have reasons, you may agree with their thoughts and actions, you may scream at their short-sightedness, their stupidity, you will cry with them, for them and rage against them. They will educate you. You will not always like it. You will feel grateful. You will think. You will hope.
It’s fiction, so there are moments that are too perfect for this world as much as we would wish otherwise, but overall this is a compelling, worthwhile and wonderful story. Highly recommend. ...more
Ever want to kick yourself for waiting so long to read a book? Yes?
Great! ME TOO!
Pivot Point...where do I even begin?
Okay - so I'm a firm believer in that we make our own destiny with just a little sprinkle of fate to help us on the way. That Movie - "Sliding Doors"? I adore how we get to see how life can turn out if we take the other path. Being able to do it though? I think I'd probably be all talk and no action because that's a lot of terrifying power. Addie can see the road less travelled, She's a Searcher and has the ability to look ahead and decide based on what she sees how her life can turn out. When her parents announce they are getting a divorce Addie is devastated and persuaded by her best friend Laila to do a Search and see which parent to live with would be the better choice. Addie knows it's a risk to look ahead, what she doesn't realise is just how big a risk it truly is. I read the blurb twice before I started Pivot Point and I still didn't really know what I was getting into with this book. In a way it almost reminded me of Harry Potter, with the Para's living out secret lives in plain sight of the Norm's. Needless to say I was delighted to get a fresh, entertaining and above all riveting story with awesome characters! The Paranormal community consists of people with abilities as wide ranging as Telekinesis, Mood Control, Mind Erasing and Addie's rare talent to Search. They mostly live on The Compound away from the Norm community, interacting with them under heavy instruction to never let outsiders know the truth about who they really are. I loved how "normal" West made the Para community, I never felt like I had to suspend disbelief or roll my eyes at an implausible storyline which happens quite often in Paranormal/Contemporary mix novels. Each alternating chapter focuses on the path Addie would take if she moved in with her Mother or her Father. Her mom chooses to stay in the Para community on the compound so we got to know how this secret world operates, the attitudes the people hold towards the outside world and the lengths they go to manipulate their successes when using their talents in their everyday interactions with the Norm world. Addie's dad takes a job with the FBI to assist in cases pertaining to the Para community and we see how Addie must adjust to life on the outside, dealing with less advanced technology and ways of thinking. Both story-lines were equally compelling and my heart was pounding at times as they crossed over and we saw how a simple decision could have world-rocking consequences. I made my decision pretty early which path I hoped Addie would choose and who I personally would trust and *pats self on the back* I was right although it was amazing to read how Addie came to make her choices. Addie was a wonderful MC, she was independent, confident, snarky, kind, just all-round kick ass nice girl and in both story-lines she was equally captivating as our heroine. I never stopped rooting for her from day one. I loved her relationships with her parents, I found them realistic and full of love which was a pleasant surprise considering the trend of the disappearing parents in YA these days. While Addie remained steady and constant in both scenarios it was interesting to see how her choices affected the people around her. Her best friend Laila irritated the heck out of me in the "Para Path" however I adored her in the "Norm Path". It was also equally interesting to see how certain people - no matter what path you meet them on are the same, their true colours may not always be so transparent but eventually they will be revealed. There is of course the romance! While there are two guys there isn't a love triangle thankfully. Duke is the star football player, charismatic, handsome, it takes Addie a while to really take his attentions seriously but when she does she falls hard and fast. Trevor, cute, quiet, kind, he becomes the pillar for Addie to lean on as she adjusts to life with the Norms. I genuinely liked both guys at the start but I quickly made my choice and again *self high five* I was right! If you've read it let me know which guy stole your heart, I'm intrigued to see if we have the same taste! The story builds pace steadily until it gallops towards the finish with blistering speed and I couldn't put the book down until I found out which path Addie ultimately chose and the consequences of her decision. It's very rare that I come across a book that I can't fault on any aspect, technically or otherwise but Pivot Point is that book. The world-building was captivating, the characters well-drawn, realistic and consistent and the story - heart pounding, interesting and utterly thrilling. The ending was wholly satisfying to be considered a stand-alone but still leaves many avenues open for a sequel. With Split Second due out in February I await with bated breath to see just what paths lay before Addie and which she will choose! ...more