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24 May 2016

Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time-the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy - so far. Her mother isn't home nearly enough to know about Mercedes' extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won't even say the word "sex" until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn't bank on Angela's boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn - or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes' perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her own reputation -and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process.

Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: Relationships, friends, sex, high-school, family.

I'm a bit torn about this one, there was a lot that I definitely did not like at all. But at the same time I found it difficult to put it down and it tackled some important and difficult issues. Then there were the times when it just plain sucked and made me so angry.

What I don't understand is why the police were at no point involved. Based on this book: America, your teachers suck. We had child abuse, exploitation, blackmail and underage sex tapes and it's implied that everyone knows, including the teachers. But not a single one called the police.

It made me so angry.

Anyway. The main character is a Poor Little Rich Girl and this immediately got my back up. But oh, she's so selfless sleeping with all of these virgins so that their girlfriend's have a nicer first time. Or so she kids herself, but it's pretty obvious right from the start that even she doesn't believe that crap.

And I'm not such a fan of PLRGs.

I couldn't really connect with her or her motives, although I did in part vaguely understand what she was doing and why. And it's not why she says.

11 May 2016

Guest Post: How Mothers Are Judged by Linda Green

One, two, three...

Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace.

The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella.

But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever?

Today I have the pleasure of having Linda Green on the blog sharing her thoughts on a very fascinating, controversial and important topic. 

How Mothers Are Judged

It's hard being a mother. Even putting to one side the obvious toll of pregnancy, child birth and sleep deprivation in the early years, the sheer practicalities involved in trying to juggle motherhood with all the other aspects of your life make it tough.

The weight of responsibility hangs heavily. You are aware from the moment your child exists that they are entirely dependent on you. From the moment they are born, the weight of love you feel for your child is only matched by the weight of guilt you feel if anything happens to them.

But what makes it even tougher is knowing that you are being judged on everything you do as a mother.

I'm not the only one who feels it, of course. Every mother I know feels the same way. If anything happens to our children, it is our fault.

And yes, maybe part of it is simply the maternal instinct to protect our children. But the fact that the media and society as a whole are so quick to point the finger of blame at mothers has clearly contributed to it. Especially with social media, where everyone feels entitled to give their view on our failings.

We are bad mothers if we don't breast feed (though we shouldn't do it in public), if our child has an accident, we should have been looking after them better (even if we were at work at the time) and if our child is lost, it is always the mother who is to blame.

The seed of the idea for my novel came when I had my own 'lost child' moment. When my son was two-years-old, we took him to Center Parcs, It was only a matter of months since Madeleine McCann had gone missing. I settled my son down for the night in a fold-up bed wedged between our own bed and the wall. But when I checked on him later the bed was empty. My eyes were immediately drawn to the window. We were on the ground floor and I'd left it open a crack because of the heat. All I could think of was that he had been taken as we'd sat in the next room. Eventually, we found my son fast asleep on the floor under the bed, having somehow slipped down the narrow gap between his bed and the wall.

I didn't really sleep much that night, the 'what ifs?' running through my head. Having worked as a journalist for 15 years, I was well aware that 'I never thought it would happen to me', was the most common response when people were interviewed about tragic events. But what interested me was how what I'd done - or hadn't done - would have been forensically examined by the media and public if my experience had turned into something tragic.

Before writing my novel, I read the books written by Kate McCann and Sara Payne, both of whom were wracked with guilt about the disappearance of their daughters.

And the way mothers are judged at press conferences is a good example. They are 'over-emotional' if they cry and a 'hard-faced cow' if they don’t.

As soon as any parent finds out what my novel, While My Eyes Were Closed, is about, they immediately furnish me with their own lost child story. Sometimes it is recent, sometimes thirty years ago or more, sometimes a matter of seconds, sometimes worryingly longer, but for all of them that moment is etched in their memory and the feeling of panic as raw as if it was yesterday. And usually followed up with, 'I'd never have forgiven myself if anything had happened to them'.

Already, one of the characters in my novel While My Eyes Were Closed is being judged in book reviews, with comments on Amazon about how she was 'crazy and irresponsible' to actually shut her eyes during a game of hide-and-seek.

Well, if there was a manual given out after childbirth about the rules of engagement for hide-and seek, I clearly missed it. The idea for how the child in my novel goes missing came from my own experience of struggling to find my son after I'd closed my eyes and counted to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek in a park. And yes, I actually closed my eyes too, because it wasn't worth risking the wrath of my son if I'd pretended and he'd caught me peeking!

Of course, maternal guilt is a universal thing and it doesn't seem to matter how impossible it would have been to prevent something happening to their child, women still blame themselves. I was watching Newsnight while writing my novel and saw an interview with a woman who had lost two sons at Srebenica. I’ve used her quote at the front of my novel because it sums up how so many women feel.

'I watch a bird as it brings food to its chicks. How it looks after them. How it protect them. And I think to myself, you're a better mother than I am.'

Clearly, there was absolutely nothing she could have done to stop a massacre. But still, she was left feeling guilty.

I hope I've written a thought-provoking novel which will make readers think about how women are judged as mothers and how the media likes to portray everyone as 'good' or 'evil', when the truth is that there are so many complex reasons why people do the things they do and I think we could all do with being more understanding and sympathetic to people instead of jumping to conclusions.

10 May 2016

Review: Unrivalled by Alyson Noël

EVERYONE wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter.
Aster Amirpour wants to be an actress.
Tommy Phillips wants to be a guitar hero.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her own a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and are lured into a competition. The prize, or rather the target? Madison Brooks.

Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing... And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Source: Review Consideration

5 Words: Fame, money, family, relationships, mystery.

So, I read this in one sitting. I picked it up and that was me. Lost. Gone.

And that hasn't happened in a while.

I think this book was exactly what I needed. It's fun and flirty and full of Pretty Young Things and just a little bit trashy.

The thing I loved the most about this book was the blend of Young Hollywood and mystery. Not all of the characters were Poor Little Rich Folk, there was a refreshing blend of circumstances and a hefty dose of cynicism. The characters all stood out with unique voices, and I could always tell which was narrating at any given time, but having so many narratives did get a little confusing at times.

I liked reading the multiple perspectives, how different people saw and reacted to different things and how they then used it - mostly to their own advantage. Especially Layla. I also loved how cunning and shrewd Madison was.

One thing that I didn't like was the ending - it was so abrupt. The story just stopped. It felt like nothing was really resolved, like there had been a few pages left out at the end.

This book is perfect for fans of Sara Shepard, Cecily von Ziegesar and Rebecca Serle.

03 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #61

Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This weeks is Top Ten Characters We'd Like To Revisit.

Sometimes you read a book and it ends and that's OK. But sometimes you read a book and it ends and you can't let it go. The characters stay with you and you just need to know what happens next. These are the characters that I wish I could revisit in a new book.

  • Caitlin McCann from Lucas by Kevin Brooks
  • Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
  • Kate from This Northern Sky by Julia Green
  • Edie from Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning
  • Honor Blackwood from Made in Nashville by Mandy Baggot
  • Acha from The Tribute Bride by Theresa Tomlinson
  • Rayne from Possessing Rayne by Kate Cann
  • Nancy Kington from Pirates! by Celia Rees
  • Kyla from Slated by Teri Terry
  • Kate from Darkmere by Helen Maslin

02 May 2016

Review: Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller—call sign Burn—loves nothing more than flying hard and fast. When he meets a gorgeous and sassy woman while partying in Las Vegas, he immediately locks on to her.

Jordan Callahan owns a thriving clothing boutique, but her love life is far less successful. Her luck changes when six feet, two inches of sexy swagger asks her to dance and turns her world upside down.

One scorching weekend becomes an undeniable chemistry that they can’t leave in Vegas. But the long distance relationship and their different lives threaten to ground their romance. And when the dangers of Noah’s job become all too real, Jordan learns being with a fighter pilot means risking it all for a shot at love…

Source: Review Consideration | Net Galley Request | Purchase

5 Words: Attraction, family, friendship, love, loss.

This book had my laughing out loud and it broke my heart.

Everything about this book is pretty awesome, but that ending? Damn. It brought tears to my eyes.

And I can't stop thinking about it.

Chanel Cleeton is something special in the world of New Adult fiction. She makes everything her own and brings characters to life. And I loved the characters in Fly With Me, they all click so well, have amazing chemistry.

Jordan is not your typical main character. She's not shy or bookish or an outdoorsy girl. She's sexy and smart and girly and she owns it. She'd rather lounge by the pool in a killer bikini than go for a hike. She's not the type of character I usually click with, but she is so fantastically written that I couldn't get enough, and I'm a little bit sad that she's not the focus of book two, because I'd like to read more about her.

To start with, Noah is a bit of a dick. And that cocky facade doesn't really disappear. It just becomes more understandable. And that attitude? It's all part of his appeal. He is 100% alpha male, the one in charge, and Jordan challenges him every step of the way.

I loved this story, and how the characters changed. It's fast paced and passionate, and even the characters are a little cynical at first. This is a whirlwind of a story, that will make you swoon.