Sunday, 23 February 2014

(ARC) Book Review (310): The Bride Insists - Jane Ashford

The Bride Insists

Publication: 4th March 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Romance
Age Appropriate: Adult
When governess Clare Greenough learns she's inherited a fortune, the good news comes with a catch: it will be held by her cousin until Clare can find a husband. 

To stave off ruin, Jamie Boleigh, the seventh Baron of Trehearth, agrees to marry Clare under the condition that she keeps the money, a provision he hopes to overturn. Their passionate relationship becomes a battle of wills. 

When the cousin tricks Jamie into betraying his wife, he'll have to prove the truth or lose her forever.
My Thoughts.
There's nothing like discovering a new historical romance author, especially one you were never aware of and whom also has a healthy back catalogue to their name, Jane's writing is engaging, a delight to read and add to that this was a great story to get lost in.

Clare is a Governess who inherits a fortune after the death of an Uncle, her joy at this news soon turns to disbelief when she is told that the only way her cousin Simon will release the money is if she's married, not letting that stop her she goes to her solicitor inquiring as to whether he knows of any men short on money, who would be willing to marry her only on the condition that they sign a contract to agree that Clare will be in charge of her own money, enter Jamie, Baron Trehearth who after the death of his Father has been left with a lot of debt and no means to afford to keep his house and lands out of the banks hands.

With the idea that Clare will eventually come around to the idea, after they're married that she'll relinquish the funds to him he agrees and they wed, once arriving at Trehearth, Clare discovers that Jamie has kept two important details from her, namely his twin ten year old sisters: Tegan & Tamsyn, who are out of control and insist on dressing and acting like boys, add in the downtrodden state of the house and gardens and their work is cut out for them.

In time they both develop feelings for one another but all that is changed when Clare discovers that Jamie has gone behind her back about her finances, fleeing to London to put some distance between them while Jamie figures out exactly why she's mad at what he did, will he figure it out in time to save their marriage or will it be too late?

I adored this book the storyline, characters and setting made this for a book that I didn't want to put down, so absorbed I was in this world that Jane had created with her vivid descriptions and details, I will definitely be hunting down her other works, she's got herself a new fan and I will definitely be awaiting all her future releases.

Highly recommended for fans of well written historical romances.

I give this 5/5 stars.

About Jane Ashford

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was entranced by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight was part of what led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Born in Ohio, she has lived in New York, Boston and LA.
Jane has written historical and contemporary romances. Her books have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia and Spain, as well as the U.S. She has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews.
Some of Jane's posts around the web:
Did you know that the law in the Regency period made married women legal nonentities?
Do you enjoy animal characters in fiction? I love writing them. And my own pets have been an inspiration.
Check out my "Author Override" at Under the Covers and a guest post at USATodayabout favorite character types.
You can find my posts about my writing desk (picture on my Facebook page), steamy settings and on the beginnings of Once Again a Bride.
What are some of your favorite things about the Regency period? I listed a few of mine on Kim's blog.
Fabulous author Grace Burrowes was kind enough to host me at her blog. See the interview here.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Book Review (309): Just Like Heaven (Sweetland #2) - Lacey Baker

Just Like Heaven (Sweetland #2)

Publication: 26th November 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Paperbacks
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Appropriate: Adult
Buy It: • The Book Depository •• Amazon •• Barnes & Noble • 
B-A-M •• Chapters •• IndieBound •• Powell’s 
Ebook: • Kindle • • Nook • • Kobo • • iBooks • • St. Martin's Press •
As a successful criminal prosecutor, Preston Cantrell thrives in the hustle and bustle of Baltimore. Much as he loved his grandmother, the cozy streets of his hometown aren’t enough for him—not when he can make a real difference in the city. To get back to his career, all he needs is a new home for the energetic puppy he inherited. But when the gorgeous woman who arrives to adopt finds the dog more appealing than he is, Preston’s determined to plead his case.

Heaven Montgomery is still shaky after an accident almost claimed her life—and her doctor thinks having a pet would help her deal with the post-traumatic stress. The plan is for Heaven to take her new puppy back home to Boston…but Sweetland’s warmth and charm is irresistible.Why should she rush back to the chill and snobbery of her city? In Just Like Heaven by Lacey Baker, Heaven’s learning, with Preston’s help, that life doesn’t always care about the plans you’ve made. Sometimes you just need to let fate—and love—create its own sweet magic. 
My Thoughts.
Just Like Heaven is the second book in the Sweetland series by Lacey Baker.

I just adore this series, I love the fact that the series focuses on the Cantrell siblings: Quinn, Michelle, Raine, Preston, Parker and Savannah, brought home to Sweetland after the death of their Gramma and left to them in her will her bed and breakfast establishment as well as a puppy each, also brothers and sisters, and it's because of Preston wanting to give his puppy Coco away that we get to meet this books heroine Heaven.

Heaven arrives in Sweetland just planning to stay a couple of days to pick up Coco and be on her way, with her life at a standstill after an explosion at work which she was accused of setting up, she finds herself at peace finally, away from her controlling parents and spending her days as she wants to ,  falling into the rhythm of the towns day to day business she finds herself helping out at the inn as well as hanging around with lawyer Preston, who when he was younger had a reputation with his twin Parker as a ladies man, earning themselves the nickname Double Trouble Cantrells,

With Heaven and Preston starting a will they won't they relationship, and Heaven deciding to permanently move to Sweetland, it's up to Preston who is situated in Baltimore to finally decide whether he wants to move back home to be with Heaven and his siblings once and for all.

These books are so well written, once you pick one up its extremely hard to put it back down until again you've reached the very end.

With four more siblings to go I have a fair idea of whom they'll be partnered up with with, I can't wait to see how right I am and to discover their stories and just what Lacey has in store for them all.

Great series, I highly recommend!

I give this 4/5 stars.

Lacey Baker is one of the luckiest women alive. Why? Because she gets to live out her life’s dream of writing emotionally fulfilling stories about relationships. A Maryland native she lives with her husband and three children in what most would call Suburban America, a townhouse development where everybody knows each other and each other’s kids. Family cook-outs, reunion vacations and growing up in church have all inspired Lacey to work towards her dreams and to write about the endurance of family.
For Lacey, the writing bug bit early, when she was a sophomore in high school. From that point on she’s been writing stories that depict the power of love and spirit of living. A homebody at heart, Lacey enjoys watching old movies and waking up to a nice hot cup of green tea.
Homecoming is the first book in Lacey’s Sweetland Romance Series. This series holds a special place in Lacey’s heart because it centers around a Chesapeake Bay community where crab season is the best time of the year and hometown roots are tradition—two things Lacey believes in wholeheartedly!


Monday, 17 February 2014

Book Review (308): The Orphan Choir- Sophie Hannah

The Orphan Choir: A Novel

Publication: 28th January 2014
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal
Age Appropriate: 15+


Louise Beeston is being haunted.
Louise has no reason left to stay in the city. She can’t see her son, Joseph, who is away at boarding school, where he performs in a prestigious boys’ choir. Her troublesome neighbor has begun blasting choral music at all hours of the night—and to make matters worse, she’s the only one who can hear it.

Hoping to find some peace, Louise convinces her husband, Stuart, to buy them a country house in an idyllic, sun-dappled gated community called Swallowfield. But it seems that the haunting melodies of the choir have followed her there. Could it be that her city neighbor has trailed her to Swallowfield, just to play an elaborate, malicious prank? Is there really a ghostly chorus playing outside her door? And why won’t they stop? Growing desperate, she begins to worry about her mental health.

Against the pleas and growing disquiet of her husband, Louise starts to suspect that this sinister choir is not only real but a warning. But of what? And how can it be, when no one else can hear it?

In The Orphan Choir, Sophie Hannah brings us along on a darkly suspenseful investigation of obsession, loss, and the malevolent forces that threaten to break apart a loving family.
M Thoughts.
The Orphan Choir is the first book of Sophie Hannah's that I have ever read, so I don't really know whether this is her normal writing style or not, I'm unsure what I actually think of this story, sure it was a fast read, I finished this in less than a day but I'm not certain I liked the storyline, that may also have something to do with the main character Lou whom I disliked a lot.

I find that once I don't like the main character I find it hard to care what happens to said person, Lou I feel had no redeeming qualities that I could see, I felt like I was stuck in the head of someone that was on their way to/escaped from a mental institution, erratic in both her thinking and actions her thought processes were interesting to say the least, her attitude was all woe is me, it seems that any little thing that happened in her life was in her thinking a conspiracy against her, and after a while it got very tiring to continuously keep reading about.

Her feelings for her husband Stuart was almost childlike in the way that if he disagreed with her or upset her in any way, shape or form then immediately she was no longer in love with him or disliked him, until the time he did something that made her happy then she was going on about how great her husband was.

The ending I was a bit confused with, I never really understood why Lou suddenly started hearing or seeing the things that she did or for that matter the whole Pat Jervis part, I don't really understand either the point of Pat's part in the story, I didn't feel the book needed it at all.

If you're after a quick read with a bit of a paranormal twist thrown in then give this book a go.

I give this 3/5 stars.

Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 27 countries. In 2013, her latest novel, The Carrier, won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards.  Two of Sophie’s crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012.
In 2004, Sophie won first prize in the Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition for her suspense story The Octopus Nest, which is now published in her first collection of short stories, The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets. Sophie has also published five collections of poetry. Her fifth,Pessimism for Beginners, was shortlisted for the 2007 T S Eliot Award. Her poetry is studied at GCSE, A-level and degree level across the UK. From 1997 to 1999 she was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and between 1999 and 2001 she was a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. She is forty-one and lives with her husband and children in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College.  She is currently working on a new challenge for the little grey cells of Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Book Review (307): Sweet Thing (Sweet Thing #1) - Renee Carlino

Sweet Thing (Sweet Thing #1)

Publication: 7th January 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Appropriate: New Adult
"You have to teach your heart and mind how to sing together…then you'll hear the sound of your soul."

Mia Kelly thinks she has it all figured out. She's an Ivy League graduate, a classically trained pianist, and the beloved daughter of a sensible mother and offbeat father. Yet Mia has been stalling since graduation, torn between putting her business degree to use and exploring music, her true love.

When her father unexpectedly dies, she decides to pick up the threads of his life while she figures out her own. Uprooting herself from Ann Arbor to New York City, Mia takes over her father's café, a treasured neighborhood institution that plays host to undiscovered musicians and artists. She's denied herself the thrilling and unpredictable life of a musician, but a chance encounter with Will, a sweet, gorgeous, and charming guitarist, offers her a glimpse of what could be. When Will becomes her friend and then her roommate, she does everything in her power to suppress her passions-for him, for music-but her father's legacy slowly opens her heart to the possibility of something more.
My Thoughts.
To say that I loved this book was an understatement!

I ravished it completely, then once I had finished reading this fantastic book I couldn't stop thinking about it and then I felt depressed because the story was finished and I just wanted more!

I loved the story, plus the fact that unlike most other new adult contemporary books none of the two main characters had huge secrets that were primarily jeopardising their potential relationship, it was just two people who became friends and then roommates, throw in a little bit of unrequited love at the start via the male lead Will, and voila you end up with this story.

Mia has come to New York City to take over and run her Father's cafe after his death, undecided on what to do with her life she just takes it day by day, until Will (whom she sat next to on the plane to NYC, and was attracted to) walks through the cafe's doors one day, it's not long until Will moves into Mia's apartment.

Unbeknownst to her Will is in love with Mia, but she's in the mindset that he's just a struggling musician, or so she thinks, and she doesn't want a relationship with someone who doesn't exactly have a proper job, kind of like her parents, who separated when she was younger.

Sooner or later she ends up driving Will away, and it's only then that she realises her true feelings towards him, and her unresolved feelings towards her Father's death that she never came to terms with.

But true love will always win out, and I love the way that this book's storyline ended, perfectly and with no questions left unanswered.

I will definitely be awaiting future releases from Renee, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, her writing is captivating with lovable characters that will warm your heart.

If you're a new adult contemporary fan, what are you waiting for, you need to pick this book up!

I give this 5/5 stars.

Renee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

Book Review (306): Phoenix Island - John Dixon

Phoenix Island

Publication: 7th January 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 320
Genre: Thriller
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
The judge told Carl that one day he'd have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be made for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can't seem to stay out of trouble, using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island

Classified as a terminal facility, it's the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States and immune to its laws, the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname "Hollywood" as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the sweatbox. But that's nothing compared to what awaits him in the Chop Shop: a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of. 

A new life. . . . 

A new body. A new brain. 

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he's not sure he wants to become. 

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence. 

And for Carl, it's just the beginning. . .
My Thoughts.
I can honestly say that I'd never heard of this book before receiving it for review, and I like to think that I'm well aware of all current releases that I'm likely going to want to read, however somehow this book slipped under my radar and what a pity that would have been, I LOVED THIS BOOK!

Everything about this book was great, from the concept which was extremely well written and entertaining, full of action and nail-biting suspense, this story had me on the edge of my seat, so invested in this world and it's lead character Carl I didn't want it to end.

Carl has gotten himself into trouble one too many times, only sixteen and too young to be jailed he is instead sent to Phoenix Island, a sort of military camp for orphans that has ulterior motives and dangerous secrets that may just get you killed, when he discovers a diary written by a former orphan he realises that he must find a way to escape before the same fate befalls him.

I'm hopeful that there will be a sequel as I think that there is enough of a storyline to continue on with, and I want to see Carl have a fitting conclusion to his story.

A wondefully well-written novel that should appeal to readers that love their action/suspense stories that come with a bit of a twist then this is definitely the book for you!

Highly recommended.

I give this 4/5 stars.

I'm the author of PHOENIX ISLAND (formerly known as DISSIDENT), coming January 7th, 2014 from Simon & Schuster / Gallery Books. First in a series of sci fi thrillers for teens, PHOENIX ISLAND is the basis for the upcoming CBS TV series INTELLIGENCE, starring Josh Holloway (LOST), Marg Helgenberger (CSI), and Meghan Ory (ONCE UPON A TIME), which also debuts January 7th. 

Before all this dream-come-true stuff happened, I taught English at Springton Lake Middle School, where the course hid under the bland name "language arts" and where I was blessed with the coolest students of all time. I miss them now that I'm writing full time, but the constant companionship of my excellent dog, Scout, is powerful compensation.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cover Reveal: The Queen Of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles #3) - Gena Showalter

I have a plan.

We'll either destroy them for good, or they'll destroy us.

Either way, only one of us is walking away.

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice 'Ali' Bell thinks the worst is behind her. She's ready to take the next step with boyfriend Cole Holland, the leader of the zombie slayers; until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a sneak attack, killing four of her friends. It's then she realizes that humans can be more dangerous than monsters; and the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies and she isn't the girl she thought she was. She's connected to the woman responsible for killing and turning Cole's mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.

Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

Book Reviews (304): Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children & (305): Hollow City - Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #1)

Publication: 7th June 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
My Thoughts.
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children has been on my wishlist/tbr pile for what seems like quite a long time now, so when I got the chance to review a copy I jumped at the chance.

From the cover and synopsis I've always thought that this was going to be a creepy, too scary to read before bed type of book, unfortunately I was wrong.

While I did still enjoy the book, I was disappointed to discover that the book wasn't what I expected it to be, the start of the story was a bit boring and it took a while for the book to pick up and go somewhere and to make me want to keep on reading.

I found the photos throughout the book fascinating and creepy in parts, and I love the idea that the story was based around these photos that the author had come across in his travels, what a great and clever idea for a story.

Jacob is a character who is interesting to read about, thrust into this strange and intriguing world after the death of his Grandfather, who used to tell Jacob tales of when he was a young boy living in a children's home on an island, astonished to come to the realisation that every story he told was true, Jacob finds himself immersed in the middle of the lives of these peculiar children who have been hidden away for so long.

Danger and action prevails as Jacob helps to save them all from an enemy who is all to eager to be rid of the children and their headmistress Miss Peregrine.

For what it was, whilst not what I was hoping it to be was still very well written, a great concept helped by the images scattered within.

I urge everyone to pick this book up and give it a read.

I give this 3.5/5 stars.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2)

Publication: 14th January 2014
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 399
Genre: Fantasy
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.
My Thoughts.
Hollow City is the sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, continuing on from the first book we find Jacob taking a journey with some of the peculiar children to find a cure for Miss Peregrine, whom is stuck in her bird form.

Along the way they have their brushes with danger and with that a lot of action and adventure on their travels, Jacob with his newfound peculiar abilities will help them keep abreast of any Hollows that may be around.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did the first one, I found all the traveling around to be a bit boring and I preferred the first book quite a bit more than this one.

Just like the first story we have some unusual and fascinating photographs that coincides with the storyline in some way which is such a unique aspect the two books thus far in this series share, adding something different  that makes these books stand out from the current YA books currently out there.

I still plan on seeing this series to its end, I'd like to see how it's all wrapped up and what's in store for Jacob and his friends.

For people who were fans of the first book especially, or readers looking for something a bit different, then definitely pick this series up.

I give this 3/5 stars.

I grew up in Florida, went to Kenyon College in Ohio, then film school at USC in LA, where I still live. I write books and screenplays, blog daily for, and make short films. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is my first novel. I'm really excited about it -- it was challenging and rewarding and I hope people like it. If you read that and like the found photographs in it, you might be interested in a book comprised entirely of found photographs that I have coming out January 2012 from HarperCollins. It's called Talking Pictures. You can find sneak peeks by doing a search for "mental floss talking pictures" (I included a number of images in blogs there) and I made a kinda-sorta book trailer for it, which is on my youtube page:

Also, watch out for a Miss Peregrine book trailer, which I'm working on right now! I get to go to Belgium and film inside creepy abandoned chateaus, which I'm *really* looking forward to.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

(ARC) Book Review (303): The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1) - Michelle Madow

The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1)

Publication: 25th February 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 382
Genre: Contemporary
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
Savannah. Courtney. Peyton. 

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.
My Thoughts.
The Secret Diamond Sisters is the first book in Michelle Madow's all new young adult trilogy of the same name.

Having been a fan of Michelle's already after reading her Transcend Time trilogy (check it out it's fantastic) I was eager to get my hands on a copy of this book, from the cover to the synopsis it sounded right up my alley, and I'm happy to say that I loved it!

How amazing would it be to discover that after living a life with an alcoholic Mother and no money that your absentee Father happens to be a billionaire, one of the richest men in America, and that you'll be going to stay with him in the penthouse apartment at his hotel/casino, with a blamex (black american express credit card) in hand, your own bodyguard and invitations to the best parties, well that's what happens to Peyton, Courtney and Savannah after their Mom is sent to rehab.

At first in awe but also at the same time confused and hurt that their Father has ignored them for so long they find themselves suddenly plunged into a world alien to them, where social standing is important and business can be made and broken by the behaviour of a family member.

No one takes to their new lives more so than the youngest Savannah, who takes to her new life like she had always been in this world, of course this wouldn't be a contemporary without a bit of romance, and it's in abundance here with all three sisters finding themselves with crushes some deemed inappropriate for the new society they find themselves in.

I'm very intrigued to discover just what it is that their Father Adrian is hiding from them, and just what this secret means to the girls and how it will affect them, and I'm looking forward to see how all the various relationships will end up.

A great contemporary filled with all the things I love: great plotline, characters and fantastic writing.

I eagerly anticipate the second book to see what happens next with the Diamond sisters.

I give this 5/5 stars.

Michelle Madow wrote her first novel, Remembrance, in her junior year of college. Remembrance is the first book in the Transcend Time Saga, a three part series about reincarnation and true love that Michelle successfully self-published. The series was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. Michelle's upcoming YA trilogy, The Secret Diamond Sisters, about three sisters who discover they are the secret heirs to a Las Vegas billionaire casino owner, will be published by Harlequin TEEN in Spring 2014.

Michelle graduated from Rollins College in 2010, cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. She received the Charles Hyde Pratt Award for Excellence in Creative Writing in 2010.

She lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is writing more novels for young adults. She loves reading, spending time with family and friends, traveling, shopping, sunshine, Disney fairy tales, Broadway musicals, and spends way too much time on Facebook and Twitter (@MichelleMadow).

Monday, 3 February 2014

(ARC) Book Review (302): Faking Normal - Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal

Publication: 25th February 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.
My Thoughts.
Faking Normal is the 2014 debut novel for Courtney C. Stevens.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, full of secrets and mystery, all surrounding our main protagonist Alexi and and Bodee, the boy next door who is left parentless and ends up staying with Alexi's family.

But the main storyline deals with Alexi being assaulted and feeling like she has to keep it quiet, because people won't believe her, especially with who her attacker is (and it's a shocker, I never would have picked it)!

So to deal with it she starts to harm herself and develops a form of OCD, to help herself cope, it doesn't take long for Bodee to figure out what her secret is, and it's through talking and spending time with him that she comes to terms with what happened and to realise she's not to blame.

These two will soon discover that what they need more than anything is each other, and they'll help each other finally face their problems head on and address them.

I really enjoyed this book, as it gives the reader an insight into the aftermath of a victim's ability to cope with this horrible crime committed against them and the different ways they go about it. And to eventually find the courage to stand up to their attacker once and for all.

Such a well written story, Courtney is a new talent that I'll be sure to track through new releases in the future.

A great contemporary novel, highly recomended.

I give this 5/5 stars.

Things that surprise me and might surprise you.
1) I was an olympic torchbearer.
2) I've been making "me in a tree" pictures since I was little bitty. 
3) My mother tortured me with dancing.

One of the great joys in my life was being a youth minister. These kids, and others not on this trip, were a huge and significant part of my life. There is no greater joy than knowing what you do makes a difference to someone. These students have traveled with me, trusted me with their secrets, shared life with me, and let me kick their tail ends in laser tag (and paintball and hunger games and water gun wars and .... you get the picture. We have a good time.)
 I write by myself with the music on. But I revise and read in silence. Sometimes I write at Barnes and Noble. Sometimes at my desk. Sometimes at Panera. (But it's super cold there.) My favorite place to write is the beach (Fort Walton). I wrote 170 pages of Faking Normal longhand in a beach chair.