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‘I can imagine you at forty,’ she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ‘I can picture it right now.’

He smiled without opening his eyes. ‘Go on then.’

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY. From the author of the massive bestseller STARTER FOR TEN.

I’ve read two of David Nicholls’ novels before – STARTER FOR TEN and THE UNDERSTUDY – so I knew what I would be getting. His dry wit, those cringe-worthy situations that his characters land themselves in, and of course his detailed way of setting the scene so that you feel you’ve visited the University Challenge set or the backstage of a theatre yourself. I knew I was in for a good read with ONE DAY. I just honestly didn’t realised just how much this book would move me.

We meet Dexter and Emma during their first meeting on the night of their graduation, and then the chapters in the book re-introduce us to them on the same day (15th July) every year after that for the next twenty years. How have their lives changed within that year? Have they managed to stay in touch? When are they going to realise that they are the loves of each other’s lives? We see them go through good and bad jobs, relationships, family problems and addiction – all through this one day window.

David Nicholls writes from both Ems and Dexter’s point of view, and he writes both beautifully. He weaves their twenty year relationship, from the nervous start to best friends to… (well that would be telling!) so naturally that you long for work to be over so that you can catch up with Em and Dex on the train home.

ONE DAY is truly wonderful book. It’s funny, sharp, moving, and inspirational. It had me in fits of laughter and inconsolable with tears. I can not find fault with it. All the characters were beautifully fleshed out and the relationships between each one of them, whether it’s Dexter and his father, Emma and her boyfriend, and of course the key relationship: Dexter and Emma, are relationships that we can all relate to – they are not elaborate or glamourous. They are real, normal and utterly compelling. ONE DAY is one of the best books I’ve read all year and if you haven’t read it yet I urge you to do so right now – just make sure you clear your diary and have some tissues to hand!

5/5

ONE DAY is available in paperback now

Check out the website HERE for some great videos and podcasts

FOURSOME – JANE FALLON

Rebecca, Daniel, Alex and Isabel have been best friends since university. Rebecca married Daniel, Alex married Isabel and, for twenty years, they have been inseparable. But all that is about to change…When Alex walks out on Isabel, Rebecca thinks things can’t get any worse. But then she finds out the reason why and she’s left harbouring a secret she’d rather forget…And there’s more upheaval to come in Rebecca’s life as her emaciated, neurotic, self-obsessed colleague, Lorna – her arch nemesis at work – suddenly becomes a regular feature in her social life. Rebecca’s once-happy foursome is now a distant memory and with hearts broken and friendships fractured, it seems that change is never a good thing. Or is it?

FOURSOME begins a while after Alex has walked out on Isabel, planting us right into the middle of the action as the drama between these once close friends unfolds. The story is told from the point of view of Rebecca and initially, I thought that she was a surprising choice as I would have expected it to be Isabel, now alone with two children after her husband had walked out on her. So to have the best friend taking the lead seemed a little strange to me, but it worked beautifully as it allowed both the author and reader to explore other aspects of the story without the main focus being the recovery of a scorned woman. Plus, I must say that I really liked Rebecca. She was flawed and made mistakes, but that just made her more real to me and a far more interesting character to guide us through the novel.

The men in the story didn’t appeal to me, with each of them being painted in a bad light bar Daniel who didn’t really get enough ‘page time’ for me to form too much of an opinion on him. But this didn’t matter as this is really and truly a book about women and their relationships with each other.

What the synopsis above doesn’t really cover is the sub-plot which had me laughing out loud and cheering the characters on from my sofa. The sub-plot revolves around Rebecca’s office life at a talent agency and her interactions with both her colleagues and clients, and is written fantastically by the author and I felt I had had a true insight into that world having read the book.

A great read that I devoured in two sittings. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Jane Costello (for how both Costello and Fallon write work life) and Adele Parks.

Four stars

I REMEMBER YOU – HARRIET EVANS

For Tess Tennant, spring brings the promise of a fresh start. She’s moving back to her picture-perfect home town to take up a teaching job. Langford is a place of pretty stone cottages, friendly locals in oak-beamed pubs and of course Adam, her best friend since childhood. But Adam is preoccupied with a new girlfriend, and the past – which Tess thought she’d put behind her – is looming large again. So by the time she has to take her class on a trip to Rome, Tess is feeling reckless. She is swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger, and finds herself falling in love. But her magical Roman Holiday is about to turn into a nightmare! Back in Langford Adam is gone and everything has changed.Tess has to decide, once and for all, where she belongs and with whom.

When I was shopping for my summer reads, I picked this one up as I loved the jacket and while I hadn’t read any books by her before, I had heard good things, in particular about GOING HOME, so I thought I would give her a try. I’ll be honest with you, the book didn’t grab me. It was enjoyable enough, but I wasn’t gribbed to the page, nor did I particularly care about the characters. The plot ambled along, much like the country life in Langford did, with little titbits of information leaking out onto the otherwise quite mundane pages.

I didn’t become attached to any of the characters, including Tess, which is always a big, giant warning sign when I’m reading books as if I don’t like the main character why on Earth am I reading the book?

On a positive note, the descriptions of both London and Rome were fantastic, and the flashback element of the novel was good, as I liked how the author held back on the character’s past and then staggered the flashbacks to reveal what had happened between Tess and Adam in the past. I won’t spoil you here, but it definitely made me like Tess a little more and Adam a little less! However, this wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me and found myself rushing the last few pages of the book so that I could move onto the next book in my TBR pile.

Too slow, and too long. I don’t think that this is the right author for me.

2 Stars

Rock Chicks is the story of the women behind the band. The groupie, the wife and the manager all have their roles to play in this enjoyable, easy read.

The publishers are building Ronni Cooper up to be the next big bonkbuster novelist, and is easy to see why with the number of romps reaching double figures before I had barely creased the spine!

Ronni Cooper takes us into the world of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, back to the late eighties when bands like Guns n’ Roses and the Cure ruled the rock radio stations and band members shared EVERYTHING, even their girlfriends.

Yes, there are numerous sex scenes – the majority of which didn’t need to be there to move the plot forward, but it’s all a bit of fun isn’t it! And that’s exactly what this book is… Fun. It’s a fun bit of escapism, which will leave you hunting through your music collection for that Bon Jovi album and wondering what your fella would look like with long hair and a bass in his hand. The characters are flawed in ways that the book only scrapes the surface of, with all three of the women running from secrets in their past, and while the secrets are uncovered, they is still so much that we don’t know about their lives before the band.

The book held my attention from start to finish and even had me attempting to walk and read at the same time on my way into work (it never works). The story was somewhat predictable and the characters could do with some further fleshing out, but all things considered this was a hugely enjoyable read that I’ll be sharing and recommending to my friends for sure.

4 stars.

Rock Chicks is available at Amazon

Thank you to the publishers for this review copy.

So, it’s been well over a month since my last post, DISGRACEFUL I know, especially as I’ve been reading some brilliant books (unfortunately the majority of which are still in manuscript form so it’ll be a while before I review them). However, those of you that follow my twitter will know that I’ve been very busy with both work, having teeth pulled out and of course with my new found love (and now severe addiction) of Dexter – I’m on season three now, and while it’s not a patch on the first two seasons it’s certainly keeping me entertained. Plus, there’s the added bonus of seeing the beautiful Julie Benz on the screen again. Her character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel was one of the main reasons why I love vampire fiction so much.

BTVS was the first vampire television show I watched and to say I was addicted is an understatement as the next seven years of my life after seeing the pilot was spent devouring vampire television shows and fiction, writing fanfiction (cringe!) and my own original vampiric tales (cringe again!). I know that a lot of readers will perhaps turn their noses up at this, thinking that everyone needs to read the entire collection of Anne Rice as a pre-requiste for further vampire fiction, but that came later for me. I started off reading the Buffy spin off novels and then began to delve into the YA shelves of my local bookshop for other fangtastic treats!

Here are some of my paranormal favourites (yes, the Twilight series makes an appearance);

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Okay… so I read the buffy books with Sarah Michelle Gellar slapped on the cover, and not these delicious new editions coming out later this year, but I had to share this jacket with you! Perhaps a whole new host of fans will be introduced into the glorious world of vampiric fiction through these books, or perhaps as these do not look like they tie in with a series maybe people will see that the characterisation and story-telling is right up there with the big guns of the Young Adult section.

The books follows the adventures of Buffy, a teenge girl who is the chosen one, the one girl in all the world chosen by the powers that be to fight the vampires and demons of the world. She and her group of misfit friends learn about life, love and slaying through these books and to me – the Twilight phenomenan came directly from Buffy – so read these books!

Eclipse – Twilight Series – Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse was by far, my favourite of the Twilight Saga. I loved how it delved into the history of vampires, particularly Jasper’s, who was a character I didn’t know a lot about and really came into his own in this book. I love the triangle stuck in a tent – so perfectly angsty!! Eclipse had all of the action, romance and tension you could want in a book – it’s just a shame that Breaking Dawn didn’t live up to the promise of Eclipse.

Generation Dead – Dan Waters

So Generation Dead doesn’t have vampires… it’s got ZOMBIES!!! What I love about this book is the backstory… how suddenly teenagers were not staying dead. Instead of it being a secret and the zombies go into hiding like in many stories, in Generation Dead, the zombies try to be intregated back into society. Phoebe, the resident gothic misfit at her high school falls in love with a Zombie, much to the disgust of the rest of the school including her best friend, boy next door Adam.

I love zombie fiction, and I love how the subject is dealt with in Dan’s books. Definitely one to read if you like a bit of paranormal romance.

The House of Night Series – P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

I’m currently reading UNTAMED in this series, and while sometimes the characters and their indessant need to use ‘teenage language’ and references is starting to get on my nerves, I must say that the series as a whole has got me gripped! It’s an interesting take on vampires and I like how the book as a magical element to it. Zoey gets Marked and is sent to the House of Night, a school for fledglings to learn about the vampire world before they may the change.

Whilst not technically young adult, I would also like to highlight the Sookie Stackhouse series (now also a TV series, TRUE BLOOD) These are great, fun reads that again, look at the intregation of the undead into the living world.

Here are some books that I haven’t read yet, but am looking forward to…

What books would you recommend within this genre?

Remember a time before Twilight? A time before vampires that sparkled?

Well, between 2001 and 2008, I worked as a full time bookseller specialising in a peculiar mixture of cookery, crime fiction and Children’s books. I loved the Young Adult section and loved getting lost in a world of romance, adventure and fantasy. I saw the Twilight phenomenon unfold in the U.K. and while I love vampire books I was somewhat offended when I saw this icon on livejournal ->

Yes, I know that there are a lot of vampire books being published right now, but we mustn’t forget the quality non-fang fiction that has come out of the Young Adult section over the years. So I thought I would share some of my favourites with you all.

STARGIRL – JERRY SPINELLI

She’s as magical as the desert sky, and as mysterious as her own name. Nobody knows who she is or where she’s from. But everyone loves her for being different. And, she captures Leo’s heart with just one smile. “Stargirl” is a classic of our time that celebrates being true to ourselves and the thrill of first love. It is a life-changing read that touches souls of all ages.

This book first came out in 2002, with a bright pink cover – great for girls, but considering that the book is actually written from a boy’s perspective I was glad to see that they introduced an alternative cover that wouldn’t scare teenage boys away. This is a sweet and beautiful story about acceptance. It’s subtle and has a naive simplicity to its tale that really captured my heart. I can not recommend this book enough.

WITCH CHILD – CELIA REES

When Mary sees her grandmother accused of witchcraft and hanged for the crime, she is silently hurried to safety by an unknown woman. The woman gives her tools to keep the record of her days – paper and ink. Mary is taken to a boat in Plymouth and from there sails to the New World where she hopes to make a new life among the pilgrims. But old superstitions die hard and soon Mary finds that she, like her grandmother, is the victim of ignorance and stupidity, and once more she faces important choices to ensure her survival. With a vividly evoked environment and characters skilfully and patiently drawn, this is a powerful literary achievement by Celia Rees that is utterly engrossing from start to finish.

Witch Child is page-turning Young Adult at its best. The diary construct used in this novel allows Celia Rees’ to get right to the heart of Mary. A great blend of history and fiction really brings the characters to life.

JUNK – MELVIN BURGESS

This is an uncompromising, compelling and true-to-life story of two teenagers drawn into the dangerous and destructive world of heroin addiction. This tour de force by an acclaimed and provocative writer should become a definitive teenage novel on this subject.

This book is still one of my favourite YA books that I’m too scared to read again! It’s not scary, but boy is it dark! The downward spiral that our two leads makes this book a tough and emotional read, but it’s totally worthy it! The voices of the main characters are perfect and the different POVs of the different chapters allow for a personal and intimate, yet well-round look at the whole story.

Unwind – Neal Shusterman

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together through desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing all the while that their lives are hanging in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthdays, they can’t be harmed. But when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away…Neal Shusterman challenges readers’ ideas about life – not just where it begins and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

I read this a year and a bit ago and it’s by far my favourite of Neal Shusterman’s books. It’s a brilliant idea and the way that the alternate world is set up you could almost (almost!) see amputation and donors going to the next level… Twisted and dark, this book introduces some great characters alongside some really thought-provoking ethical themes.

to be continued…

And yes, I will be highlighting my favourite vampire books in the next few weeks as well!!

The Truth about Melody Browne – Lisa Jewell

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past.

When I chose this book, I think I was expecting something else. My previous knowledge of Lisa Jewell was Ralph’s Party, a sweet romantic comedy about flatmates. Lisa Jewell has certainly grown up over the years and THE TRUTH ABOUT MELODY BROWNE proves it! This book is an emotional rollercoaster that really took me by surprise. The subject matter got extremely dark at times, and I am not afraid to say that I shed a tear or two more than once during this book, but overall I was left with what I think is an inspirational and overall uplifting tale about the family that you, and the life you live creates, as opposed to the one you were both into.

The format of the book and the way that the story unfolded was what I both loved and what I was confused by. Melody’s history is revealed to the reader via flashbacks told from Melody’s perspective as a child. This bought an endearing naivety to the description of some truly devastating events, however I was somewhat confused as to what Melody, as an adult was remembering for herself, and which flashbacks were for the reader alone. That being said, this didn’t distract me for too long as the story-telling and how the flashbacks were constructed kept me enthralled throughout.

The relationship between Melody and Ken was so beautiful. I loved that while others didn’t understand it, the two of them had this connection that was just so normal to the both of them. I also commend Lisa Jewell for retaining Melody’s innocence. This may seem strange if you haven’t yet read the book, but with everything that happened to her and her family, the story could have taken a more sinister path very easily and for me that would have felt a little predictable. Lisa took the story in a different direction and in doing so, she created a truly astonishing read that shocked me and uplifted me all in one.

I would most definitely recommend this book, in fact I already have 🙂

Great for fans of Ceceila Ahern.

What did you think of the book?

MY SINGLE FRIEND – Jane Costello

At 28, Lucy is doing well for herself. She’s got a great job in PR, her boss loves her, and her best girlfriends Dominique and Erin think she’s great. More important than anyone’s opinion is that of her flatmate, and oldest friend in the world, Henry. For twenty years they’ve been inseparable: beauty and the geek. Henry thinks the world of Lucy. So why does she feel the need to lie outrageously on dates? From rock-climbing to Chekov: when it comes to prospective boyfriends, Lucy is compelled to embellish her C.V. with unlikely porkies that always backfire – with hilarious results. Henry can’t understand it. Lucy is so loveable: why can’t she just be herself? But when Lucy turns the spotlight on Henry, he wishes he’d never brought it up. With a penchant for jumpers and NHS-style specs, Lucy decides that Henry is in need of a makeover – big time. Enlisting the help of Dom and Erin, it’s not long before the girls have Henry out of the flat, and into the Topman changing rooms. A new haircut, contact lenses, a flirting master-class from Dom …poor Henry doesn’t know what’s hit him. But nothing can prepare them for the surprise results! Before long, Lucy realises that their lives will never be the same again.

Now, I’ve read all of Jane’s books and I must say that her writing style and characterisation never falters. I was slightly worried when I read the premise of this book as I personally don’t believe that looks make the person, so the idea that Lucy sees Henry in a whole new light after he ruffles his hair and whips off his glasses didn’t sit well with me. However, Jane’s story telling skills proved me wrong. By going into the characters’ history and by writing the most wonderfully natural, casual and easy friendship between Lucy and Henry, Jane Costello took the characters away from the cliche and wrote a fantastic, and more importantly believable, read that I devoured!

You could say that the book has two main strands; you have Henry and his makeover, and you have Lucy and her work life. The PR office that Lucy worked in was full of the banter and politics that anyone who has worked in that environment can relate to and I liked how the two strands of the novel interwined (as work and play inevitably do), but there was also a smaller plot line that I particularly enjoyed and I want have liked to have seen more of and that was Lucy’s relationship with her family. The brother and sister dynamic was superbly written and the squabbling was hilarious! Lucy’s parents were different from many of the other ‘parents’ I’ve read in other books. Her mother’s dry, quick wit and sarcasm, made her somewhat unconventional, and in turn, made her one of my favourite characters in the book.

Jane Costello is known for her humour, and My Single Friend doesn’t disappoint. I love how she sets up these fantastically cringeworthy moments! I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, but it’s a classic and you won’t know it’s happening until you’re screaming at the page in horror!

I think that with Jane’s third book, she’s really carving a niche for herself in romcom fiction. I loved reading My Single Friend and would definitely recommend it to fans of Sophie Kinsella and Wendy Holden.

What did you think of MY SINGLE FRIEND?

A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog this week.I’m really enjoying it!

I finished Jane Costello’s MY SINGLE FRIEND yesterday – absolutely brilliant! I think it’s the first time I’ve cried during one of her books – the characterisation was just so spot on, you couldn’t help but become involved in the characters and their choice. Why are you not reviewing this title I hear you say? Well, it’s a tricky one as I work for the publishing house who publishes Jane Costello so it’s a bit of a conflict of interests. For now, I plan to not review books published by my place of work, but I will mention them from time to time especially if I particularly enjoyed the book. How does that sound? Or would you prefer me to simply steer clear of any work titles? Any and all feedback on this subject is hugely appreciated as I don’t want to step on any book blogger faux pas’ – look at me with my fancy faux pas – LOL!!

I’m now reading Lisa Jewell’s THE TRUTH ABOUT MELODY BROWNE and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of her books and I find a writing style easy to get sucked into. Give me a few more days and I should have a full review for you.

Also: this week, I’ll be posting a couple of book chat entries, including my March wishlist and my top 10 non-vampire YA books!! So keep your eyes peeled for those!

girly scribbles

STILL THINKING OF YOU – ADELE PARKS

SYNOPSIS

New love, old friendships and a question of fidelity.

Tash and Rich are newly engaged and wild about each other. They can’t wait to celebrate their wedding with their closest friends, all of whom have known each other since university, where they enjoyed a hedonistic whirl of parties, popularity, sex and success.

But is fun really as easy-come-easy-go in your thirties as it was in your twenties? How do relationships change once you leave college and have to cope with real life? And what if the love of that life were to reappear now?

As old, long buried passions are reawakened, the group realise that a lot can change in twelve years. And a lot can happen in seven days…

REVIEW

Out of all of Adele Parks’ books this is my favourite (with Husbands coming in a very close second). Still thinking of You is about a group of friends who have known each other forever, but when they head off on a pre-wedding trip to France, they find that everyone has something that they are hiding. It’s a tried and tested formula… take the characters out of their comfort zones, put them somewhere that they can not run away, wind them up and watch the drama unfold. Adele goes this particularly well with this group of characters, making you like each of them in their own way as the story develops. What I especially enjoyed was how the theme of regret shone through in all of the characters. The road not taken is something that everyone can relate to and the unique transition that happens in your twenties as you move from a young adult into full on grown up, was woven into each of the plot lines of STILL THINKING OF YOU with a bitter sweet edge that left you pondering your own experiences.

This book is funny and romantic, with plot twists that will leave you audibly gasping on the train as you manically turn the page to find out what happens next.
Great for fans of Jane Green’s Mr. Maybe and Wendy Holden’s Wives of Bath

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My Single FriendBreaking DawnStill Thinking of YouBetrayedMarkedThe Truth About Melody Browne

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