Miss You by Kate Eberlen

Miss You by Kate Eberlen

 

29485475Publisher: Mantle

Publishing Date: 11th August 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover

 

 

Synopsis:

Get to know Tess and Gus in Kate Eberlen’s first novel, Miss You.

Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven’t met properly yet. And perhaps they never will . . .

Today is the first day of the rest of your life is the motto on a plate in the kitchen at home, and Tess can’t get it out of her head, even though she’s in Florence for a final, idyllic holiday before university. Her life is about to change forever – but not in the way she expects.

Gus and his parents are also on holiday in Florence. Their lives have already changed suddenly and dramatically. Gus tries to be a dutiful son, but longs to escape and discover what sort of person he is going to be.

For one day, the paths of an eighteen-year-old girl and boy criss-cross before they each return to England.

Over the course of the next sixteen years, life and love will offer them very different challenges. Separated by distance and fate, there’s no way the two of them are ever going to meet each other properly . . . or is there?

 

Rating: 4/5

“Miss You” is Kate Eberlen’s debut novel and I can tell you right now, at the beginning of my review, that it is a very impressing debut. It shows that life can get messy and that it is full of surprises and that nothing is straightforward in life and love. It shows that even when you are so young and full of life and hope, one thing can change everything.

The story is told from the main characters’, Tess and Gus, points of view, and I loved the smallest, subtlest mentions of their chance encounters and missed opportunities – I was actually looking for them so much, even though they mostly made me feel desperate, as I couldn’t believe that they were often so close, yet so far away. It spreads over the period of 16 years but the story doesn’t drag on, on the contrary, it is fast and full of emotions and feelings. It shows Tess and Gus growing, maturing, developing and trying to find what it really is that they want in their lives, it shows the mistakes they make. We actually know that they are destined for each other as we follow them on their journey through life and there were moments that I really couldn’t believe what must happen that they finally, eventually find each other again. I think it is really significant this time that we know that they are destined for each other, but the characters are barely aware of each other – it makes it even more interesting.

This story is full of poignant and important moments and greatly drawn characters full of depth and flaws, which makes them down – to – earth and more realistic. But as much as I appreciate the characters developing and being so thoroughly written, I did have some problems to like them. There were moments that I wanted to shake Tess as I had a feeling that she pities herself and takes the first and easiest route, making excuses about needing to take care of her younger sister. On the other hand, I fell for her incredibly and I appreciated the fact that she really sacrificed everything to look after Hope, and I was really angry with the girls’ father for so easily dumping this responsibility on Tess’s shoulders. In comparison to Tess we could say that Gus had it all, opportunities and chances and still he came across as very unhappy with life and with what he was getting. Sure, there was a big guilt issue, but nevertheless, some of the choices he’s made were controversial and not my favourite ones.

Because the novel spans over decades of the characters’ lives we are invited on a really exciting roller – coaster of changes, opportunities missed and not missed, and it was just like in a normal life. The characters share with us all the things that happened in their lives, their most hidden secrets and thoughts that they never told other people. It is a deep and complex story about people who’s paths nearly cross.

At the beginning I wasn’t sure about this book, not at all. It seemed so weird somehow. But then, the more I’ve read, the deeper I got into the story, the more those coincidental meetings – not meeting happened, the more I felt drawn into the story and the more I enjoyed it. This is a great, engaging and twisty stale about fate that often has different plans and about dealing with many challenges. There is really a lot happening in it – dealing with grief after loosing beloved mother to a cancer or a brother in an accident, feeling guilty, dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome , but also dealing with problems when the rug is being pulled out from under our feet, such as broken hearts, affairs, disappointments, lost hopes but also friendship, love and getting this lost hope back. Lovely, romantic and gripping novel, that I’d love to recommend to you!

Advertisements

Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber

Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber

 

27823737Publisher: Arrow

Publishing Date: 11th August 2016

Series: Rose Harbor #5

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

The final novel in the beloved Rose Harbor series, from international bestseller, Debbie Macomber.

Jo Marie thought that Mark was the one – but now he’s left Rose Harbor and she is unsure if he’s ever coming back. The Rose Harbor Inn doesn’t seem the same without him but Jo Marie knows she has to move on with her life.

Emily has suffered heartbreak and is hoping that a long stay in the inn will be exactly what she needs to get her life on track again. She doesn’t expect to meet a neighbour and form an unexpected bond. The last thing she was looking for was a relationship, but is she willing to take a chance?

The Rose Harbor Inn has always been a special place of healing. Can it work its magic one more time?

Rating: 3/5

“Sweet Tomorrows” is the fifth book in the Rose Harbor series by Debbie Macomber and the first one that I’ve read. However, in case you are wondering, the author has summarized the stories of Jo Marie, Mark and Emily in the first chapters so I really didn’t have a feeling that I am missing something or that I don’t know where the characters are coming from, and what are their stories.

The chapters are told from four different points of view so we get a chance to get to know all the characters and their thoughts, though I had a little problem with the characters. They were all overly sweet, good, forgiving people and this made them all too unrealistic in my eyes. They also seemed too stereotyped, the male characters like macho men and the female heroines – damsels in distress. I had incredible problems with Mark – of course I knew where he was coming from, but his reaction to Jo Marie meeting another man when she didn’t know if she’s going to see Mark ever again, just made me laugh out loud and think, who the hell are you and what are you thinking? I just didn’t buy his character at all, he was arrogant and egoistic and I just had a feeling he doesn’t respect other people. Shortly, I just didn’t feel any connection to the characters, it was somehow hard to relate to them, you know?

Yes, the book dealt with some more important issues, but still for me it was more on the flat side and it didn’t awoke too many emotions in me. It read very steadily, on one level, rather a simple book with plain romance in it and some twists that were easy to predict. It mostly concentrates on love dilemmas of Jo Marie and Emily, Jo Marie’s new boarder at her B&B. What I missed so much was ACTION, as the book was very descriptive, concentrating on so many insignificant issues and things and it was sometimes too repetitive, I had a feeling I am only reading about Emily’s dream house, about a house that she can’t rent or how much Jo Marie loves Mark but should she trust him or not. The two romance elements are totally separate from each other, they have absolutely nothing in common and they do not intertwine in any way, so it is really like having two books in one.

The author concentrates not only on describing everything in detail, but what bothered me most is the fact that the characters did everything in a very detailed, almost minutiaed way, telling us what the did after they did this, and what happened later and with whom they talked. I just think that from such a great author as Debbie Macomber we can expect more developed and mature writing – but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the writing style! It was lovely, smooth and easy to follow and I could feel that the author has put her life and soul in every single word that she’s written, and I loved this feeling.

“Sweet Tomorrows” was a light, not too demanding book, only for me it felt a little too flat and too obvious. However, this was a lovely summer read and I am sure that fans of the series will find it gorgeous.

If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell – Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am absolutely excited to post my review of “If I Only Had a Duke” by Lenora Bell as a part of the blog tour. This book is the second in the Disgraceful Dukes series and I will do anything in my power to read the first novel as soon as possible, because I immediately fell in love with Ms Bell’s writing style and her absolutely lovely, quirky, sassy heroine Dorothea! And really, whatever you do, make sure you have pre – ordered this book – it is a brilliant read!

If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell

 

31682976Publisher: Piatkus

Publishing Date: 30th August 2016

Series: Disgraceful Dukes #2

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

After three failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Garrett, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might    just be discovering that he has a heart . . . and he’s losing it to Thea.

Rating: 5/5

“If I Only Had a Duke” by Lenora Bell is the second book in the Disgraceful Dukes series and I sadly admit that I haven’t read the first book – yet! However, this novel can be read as a stand – alone: there are some flashbacks to the previous events, enough to bring us closer to what happened and that Lady Dorothea was involved in those events, but this book follows the totally separate period of time in her life. And totally different adventures. Nevertheless, “If I Only Had a Duke” awaked my curiosity and I really do hope I’ll be able to read “How the Duke Was Won” as soon as possible – and if it’s as good as this novel, the better!
Because yes, I loved this novel. I haven’t expected that I’m going to like it as much as I did, but the book had it all – it was a great historical fiction, it had a fierce, sassy heroine and a dark, brooding duke, brilliant one – liners, it was full of humour and action and I read it in almost one sitting. I had a real blast reading it.

The story started already in a brilliant way and the letters exchange between Lady Dorothea and Duke of Osborne had me in giggles. I immediately fell in love with Dorothea – she’s a woman for herself and if she wants something, nothing can hinder her in achieving her goal, for example, she loves living with her aunt in Ireland, she loves being “in exile” and even though her mother and grandmother have other plans, she’s determined to stay in Ireland and NOT. GET. MARRIED. Enter Duke of Osborne. Afraid that Thea wants to entrap him – using the paintings in his ancestral home (hence the letters at the beginning of the book!) – he decides to make her popular, and that means that there will be a queue for Thea’s hand and there won’t be any more letters to him. And he’s right! He didn’t predict one thing only – that Thea DOESN’T. WANT. TO. GET. MARRIED. And that leads to a crazy journey to Ireland in a carriage that had a bed instead of a seat. A crazy journey of those two characters, I mean – Thea and Dalton!
Back to Thea. As I’ve already mentioned, I loved her. She was incredibly funny and incredibly clever, and you know what I adore so much in those heroines in historical fiction? They are so aware of their own bodies! All the heroines in our present times are mostly ashamed of the way they look like, they’re either too big or to small, their boobs are too big or too small, the legs are not like thy should be… complexes; complexes, complexes. But no complexes for our Thea, no way. Could you imagine any present heroine taking her clothes off without thinking if everything is ok and without turning out the lights? Me neither. Thea didn’t have any such problems! Moreover, Thea was also incredibly independent and educated and her passion for art was brilliant and really, she was not the one to let anything stand in her way when she wanted something – but it’s not like she was walking over the corpses, oh no, she just wanted to experience everything, she wanted to live life on her own rules, she wanted to taste the freedom. I loved to see how the Duke tried to harness her and was, in fact, powerless, and I was thinking, go girl, it’s your time, show him what you can.
The moody and broody Duke was much more complicated that we could think, as he was living a double life, but not going to tell you what kind of double life it was, oh no, you must read for yourself 🙂 And guys, oh my word, the author has captured him so brilliantly – he was thinking he has everything under control and then he met Thea, and it was a joy to see how, very, very cleverly, Thea does with him whatever she wants and let him still thinking he’s in control! Standing ovation to Lady Dorothea, really, we can learn a lot from her and her diplomatic ways in getting whatever she wanted 🙂 And truly, Dalton could do and say whatever he wanted, I simply loved him for the real hero that he was, for having so much depth to him, for caring for his mother, for having feelings.
Thea and Dalton were the best couple ever and their banter was absolutely brilliant and hilarious. There is so much more to both of them than meet the eye and they both can learn from each other. No matter how much they didn’t want to feel any attraction, it was there between them and usually the fireworks were flying. This was one of the best chemistry between characters I’ve ever come across!
I can’t not mention the background characters, Con, Molly or Thea’s mother or grandmother. Even if it were only a scene or two that they entered, they were all larger than life, brilliant personalities. Especially Molly – her subplot in the book was not only incredibly funny and unusual, but also very poignant. You can’t help but love the main characters, but it is the same with the others as well. They were all so interesting and so colourful and I’d love to see more of them!

The pace was incredibly quick, and there was a lot happening and I raced through the book. However, there were sometimes moments that dragged on a little, and I mean the reflections and inner monologues of the characters – I appreciate that it was rather funny but sometimes it was just too long and, used to the quick tempo of the story already, they put me a little off stride. But other than that I adored the writing style and the way the story flew, the author has a great way with words and is a brilliant story – teller, I really couldn’t put the book for a moment away, I was so drawn.

“If I Only Had a Duke” was a great roller – coaster ride to Ireland, full of twists and turns, surprising events and undesirable characters disturbing. It was incredibly entertaining tale of friendship, trust, family bonds and forgiveness. If you want to be taken on a wild adventure that is full of surprises, but also a tender, incredibly erotic romance full of passion, than look no further and read “If I Only Had a Duke”. Highly recommended!

BE SURE TO SEE THE OTHER BLOG TOUR STOPS!

blog2btour2bbanner

The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts – Blog Tour

On the publication day of “The House in Quill Court” by Charlotte Betts we are also a part of the blog tour for this gorgeous, captivating, thrilling historical fiction. Charlotte Betts, even though I’ve read only one of her previous novels (two, if we add this one) is already on my auto – buy authors list and I am already impatiently waiting for her new release . no matter what times she writes about, you can be sure that the story is going to be full of facts delivered in a brilliant, interesting ways and strong and independent heroines – just what I like!

 

The House in Quill Court by Charlotte Betts

 

51ssirubnzl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: Piatkus

Publishing Date: 25th August 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia’s father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell’s cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia’s world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia’s courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .

From the multi-award-winning author of The Apothecary’s Daughter, The House in Quill Court is a gorgeously evocative Regency novel bursting with historical flavour and characters you won’t forget. If you love Philippa Gregory and Joanne Harris, you will adore Charlotte Betts.

 

Rating: 4/5

Last year I read and absolutely loved – so much that the book made it to my top reads of 2015 – “The Chateau on the Lake” by Charlotte Betts. It’s also not a wonder that I was excitingly waiting for her new release, and in the meantime I’ve ordered all of her previous books that I’m hoping to read in my… ekhm, free time. I love a good historical fiction and I was sure that with Ms Betts’ new release I am again for a real treat.

This was a very compelling and descriptive novel. I loved the writing style and the descriptions, no matter if they were of clothes, decorations, Venetia’s work or Kitty’s life. The author’s knowledge of the Regency era is great and I had a feeling that she feels comfortable in those times and writes about them with a great dose of certainty. She can brilliantly create the atmosphere of the upper class’ life, with beautiful warm houses with the tables full, and the other side, the much worse areas, full of darkness, danger and dirt. The language used by the characters rang so true and suited those times.

One of the biggest Charlotte Betts’s strength is her talent to create incredible, unforgettable heroines. Venetia was one of them – I loved that she stood her ground and that Jack Chamberlain found a right opponent in her – she was not afraid to say what she thinks. She was artistic and she believed in herself and her talent and she used her skills to start afresh after the big announcement – she was great with finances, she designed patterns for wall – paper and pillow – cases and she had a great feeling of business, what’s in and what’s out and how to bring customers to the shop that she was planning to open. Even though she had a brother, she was the one to take responsibility for her family. However, one thing that didn’t sit with me so much was the fact that she was for me like a Robin Hood in a dress, and her actions were just this bit unrealistic to me. I really appreciate what the author wanted to do with Venetia, and I also appreciate when historical heroines are ahead of their own times but this time I just had a feeling she’s a little too far ahead… I could understand she wanted to be independent and wanted to work but some of her – really brave – actions just seemed too unrealistic too me. I mean, organizing a militia, going to save her half – sister under cover… I just thought it is a little too much for a young woman in 1813. Please, don’t get me wrong, I admired Venetia and kept my fingers crossed for her, but for me reading about her was more like a fairy tale than historical fiction…
There is also a parallel story to this of Venetia, and it’s the one of Kitty, Venetia’s maid. Kitty is the one leaving everything behind her, hoping for a new and better life in London. And at the beginning fortune is on her side, she quickly falls in love, marries and is finally happy. Unfortunately, her life changes dramatically and it really broke my heart seeing what’s happening, as I also adored Kitty, she was exactly as strong and independent as Venetia was, there was only the “little” difference of them being born in rich and poor family.
Charlotte Betts can really create larger than life, strong female characters that reader immediately fall in love with but she can also create handsome, annoying male characters, such as Major Jack Chamberlaine, ah… Yes, about Major. At the beginning I wanted to slap him once or twice to be honest. Broody and moody, the Major. With the emphasis on moody. And she can make the villains not only annoying but incredibly interesting and intimidating – there was something incredibly drawing in King Midas, he was awful but he was fascinating in some ways as well.

The story was predictable yet not too predictable, although I started to guess who is King Midas rather quickly, after a sentence or two too much told by a character. The end was like a whirlwind of action and while the pace of the whole book was quick, the end was über – quick, it was like watching the events in the kaleidoscope, though on the other hand it reminded me of action film and I was waiting for someone to shout camera! action! at any moment. The book is full of twists and turns and making it follow two main characters, both from different worlds, has made it even more intriguing and thrilling. The contrast between the two lives is great, even though both girls want the same in their lives: love and independence. The twist at the end was a big one, although, as I’ve already mentioned it, it was my suspicion that it’s going to end in this way.

There is plenty of passion, tension, romance, broken hearts and violence in this story. The second part of it, in comparison to the first, feels like a ride on a speedboat, and sometimes it was too melodramatic, too costume drama for my liking, but nevertheless I found this book incredibly vivid and entertaining. There is also – of course! – a romance element in this story and I really liked that it wasn’t the main focus in this story, yet it was there and added a lot of colour to the whole novel. Altogether, I devoured this book, to be honest and I enjoyed every single moment of it – recommended!

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT ALL THE OTHER BLOG TOUR STOPS!

thumbnail_poster-page-0012b252862529

Found by Elle Field – Blog Tour + Giveaway

Hi guys, happy Thursday! I am very, very pleased to be a part of Elle Field’s blog tour for her new novel “Found”, that is also the last installment in the Arielle Lockley’s series – I think that already all of us know Arielle, right? You can read my review and enter a fantastic giveaway! Enjoy and good luck!

 

Found by Elle Field

 

25483958Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Series: Arielle Lockley #3

Publishing Date: 9th August 2016

Source:  Received from the author, thank you!

Number of pages: 284

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback 

 

Synopsis:

“How did people even come up with the idea of these dizzying skyscrapers, let alone work out how to make them possible? Whoever built the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, their legacy will live on forever. What sort of a difference will I ever make?”

Who knew one flight could change everything? When Arielle Lockley stepped on the plane at Heathrow, she never realised how different her life would be when she touched down in New York City. Now she’s dealing with that aftermath, as well as trying to find common ground with Etta, her new and unexpected business partner.

But, trying to sort out business in London whilst her fiancé, Piers, recovers from surgery in New York, is starting to take its toll on their relationship. Can Arielle and Etta work together to continue Felicity’s legacy without destroying it, and will Arielle and Piers even make it down the aisle to say “I do”?

Find out what happens this summer in the final part of the warm and wonderful Arielle Lockley series.

Rating: 3/5

“Found” is the third and last book in the series about Arielle Lockley, and I’d recommend you to read the novels in the right order – the characters develop throughout the series and I think to fully understand them – and the story – you just need to know what happened in the past.

Now, I do adore Elle’s writing style, her descriptions and the way she perceives the world, her one – liners are sharp and up – to – date if I can say so. My biggest problem is with the characters. Arielle changed – oh my gosh, guys, how she has changed in those three parts! From an empty, interested only in money girl she became a woman with feelings. However, I’ve missed a depth to her, and in my opinion she still haven’t found (Ha! See what I did here?) her path in life – she didn’t have any interests, any hobbies and I can’t tell what it was that she’d like to do in life. I still didn’t see any will in Arielle to earn her own money, she was happy with spending this what Piers has earned, and it bothered me a little, because I can see SO MUCH potential in her – she’s nice, she trusts people, she’s kind, and this behaviour of hers slightly annoyed me. I also never understood her “relationship” with Etta, Felicity’s goddaughter. Arielle was the more down – to – earth and easy – going one here, that’s true. I was always trying to justify Etta, especially after reading book #2.5 in the series “B – Side” that was devoted to her. Nonetheless, Etta’s attitude towards Arielle didn’t change, not at all, and I must honestly say that after Etta using one “Whatever, bitch” too much, without a reason, I’m done with her.

The thread of the investigation after Felicity’s death – well, I’m not so sure why it was there. To make Etta even more unlikeable? To add a scene with her old carer at the funeral? There is a lot going on in the book, what with the investigation, the shop and the gallery that Etta and Arielle have inherited from Felicity, under one condition – that they work together for a year, Arielle travelling all the time between UK and New York, taking care of Piers after his very serious operation, but somehow the pace feels rather slow. The parts in New York were possibly my favourite ones in the book, as Elle brilliantly described the place, the sights, the buildings – I can’t have enough of this in the books.

I think that “Found” is a great ending to the series, even though it looks like there is some space left for a continuation! It is a smart, humorous and also thought – provoking read and Elle Field’s writing and the stories she creates somehow get under your skin. The thing I really liked is the fact that the author wasn’t afraid to start the series with the main character being incredibly spoilt and self – obsessed and then turn Arielle from a girl “kept” into girl that found something she was looking for, and that the stories were a great blend of fun, sadness, love and hate and that they were not so straightforward. I’m really looking forward for more from Elle Field!

GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the publication of Found, Elle Field is running a giveaway. Prizes are an Amazon voucher, paperback copies of B-Side and Found, plus a handmade necklace from Vaux Street (x2). All you need to do is enter via Rafflecopter! Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

found-book-tour-part-i-elle-field-arielle-lockley-series

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

A Boy Made of Blocks

by Keith Stuart

 

30326408

Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 1st September 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 23.03. 2017)

 

Synopsis:

Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.

Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex
He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.

Meet eight-year-old Sam
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.

But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .

Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism.

 

Rating: 5/5

Lately there seems to be few fiction novels dealing with autism, and the books about this disability are gaining ground. However, as each of the stories deals with different spectrum of autism, they all feel so different to each other and they show that it affects people in many different ways. I didn’t hesitate long when I was invited to read “A Boy Made of Blocks” – the subject matter is close to my professional heart – I am a teacher and during my studies I used to have contact with children with many different disabilities, also the autistic ones, and I can say one thing – they are special angels. This story was a unique, exquisite, funny and emotional debut. I was immediately drawn to it and I felt like this till the end.

To be honest, after reading “Shtum” earlier this year, Sam didn’t seem to be AS difficult as Jonah and his actions didn’t surprise so much, in comparison to Jonah he was a very uncomplicated boy, but nevertheless, he was on the spectrum and living with him, raising him was not a walk in the park for his parents, friends and family, and the author isn’t shy from showing how it really is, without beating around the bush. What I so admire in the novels about autism is how honest the authors are when describing all the feelings and emotions and showing the not so perfect life – real life. The issues in Jody and Alex’s marriage seemed so realistic, the life described seemed so realistic and you just could connect and relate with the characters. It is a story about building a new relationship between father and son and I really liked that Alex found it in himself, that he eventually overcame his barriers, that he started to understand and appreciate his son and wife and we were taken with him on a very emotional journey. We were allowed to see how they all learn each other, how they all make mistakes but also how they learn from those mistakes. What was really moving was that they all were trying, no matter what. Sure, they all had moments of doubt but they never gave up.

I truly admired Jody and Alex for coping the way they did. I think it is somehow normal that there comes a time when one of the people, living with such demanding child, just can’t any more. I am not justifying Alex, who – shortly – shifted all of the responsibilities and duties about Sam on Jody’s shoulders and was panicking when he was supposed to take Sam to the park and also fled into his work – I am only saying that I understand it. It could also be the other way round, of course. And it’s not a wonder that finally, eventually, the couple started to pass each other, the everyday life felt like a battle and that they didn’t have time for each other anymore – hence the trial separation. I also admired how the author described Jody – as a strong woman who sacrificed herself and her career for her son but also a woman who had her moments of weaknesses, who couldn’t anymore. It is great that – even though the book is told mostly from Alex’s point of view – we also get a chance to find Jody’s point of view and to see how she feels. I also think that there was so much more to Alex and his character, which we learn throughout the story, and we see that he has so many issues to deal with – he just didn’t know how. There were things that he was running from and this story was also truly sad and heart – breaking. Moreover, the way the author captured Sam is brilliant – I have totally fell for him and his struggles. He was a lovely boy who struggled at school, who hated noise, who ate only particular food, was afraid of big dogs and reacted with violence when he felt at risk. But you can also see that he also, on his own way, tried, and the moments when he looked at his parents with appreciation, when he allowed them to touch or hug him, made my eyes swell with tears. Seeing the world through his eyes really show how scary and unfair can it be for children with autism, and the author has truly wonderfully pictured this world – it was as if he was sitting in Sam’s head and had a clear vision of things how Sam sees them, and I really admire such empathy.

What made this book so special for me was the fact that it dealt not only with autism, but also with Alex’s private life, making the story even more interesting, hooking and colourful. The only thing that bothered me a little, although it didn’t spoil the reading completely for me, was that there were many moments that it felt like a tribute to Minecraft and its creators. Those were also the moments that the story went too slow for me, and I’d rather prefer if it focused more on searching for a school for Sam, showing how he adapted to the new school than on describing every single figure and moment of Minecraft – sorry, maybe I’m just not into computer games. However, I really do appreciate that this time the computer game was associated with good and positive things, working for the characters and not against them.

“A Boy Made of Blocks” was sad but also happy, pessimistic and optimistic at the same time, heart – breaking and uplifting. To every low there came a high. It was full of moving, but also down – to – earth scenes and greatly developed characters, each of them with their own story. It may seem that the story of Alex’s sister or mum is not significant to the whole book, but I had a feeling that they fully belong there, as they were also a part of his – and Sam’s – world. I also absolutely liked the writing style – it’s easy to follow and makes the reading so effortless. The characters seem so honest in the way they communicate and behave and you have a feeling that the author really knows what he’s talking about – and well, he really knows, as he based the story on facts. And the reality of this story hits you so hard, as everything here is described just the way it really is, with problems, with parents feeling left alone, but also every small positive thing making them feel over the moon. Altogether, it was a beautiful, moving story about re – evaluating your life and priorities, about re – connecting with your loved ones, about finding a way. It makes you really think, and I love such books, and you can be sure that it’s going to stay with you for a long way after you read the final page. Highly recommended!

 

Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Nina Is Not OK

by Shappi Khorsandi

 

27245625

Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 28th July 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction, Young Adult

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 09.02.2017)

 

Synopsis:

Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

A dark, funny – sometimes shocking – coming of age novel from one of the UK’s leading comedians. NINA IS NOT O.K. will appeal to fans of Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham.

Rating: 2/5

I can’t express how excited I was when my review copy of “Nina Is not OK” arrived at my doorstep. I’ve seen some early reviews, I’ve heard incredible praises for this novel and the synopsis was great – you’ve no idea how much I was looking forward to reading it. However, very quickly, I’ve used to put this book down a few times in frustration as I couldn’t believe that I was reading it at all, wondering what in fact am I reading? My biggest problem was with the main character – I just didn’t like her. And it is really hard to like the book and to feel it if you don’t like the main character. Nina was for sure not OK but in my opinion she had all this at her own request. I might have fell for her eventually but to be honest I haven’t seen any remorse in her, she was weak, erratic and she only thought that she’s so “cool”. Yes, I know she was young, she was teenager but we can expect something even from teenagers, right? If I only could see a small sign of will to change I’d give her a standing ovation but for me there wasn’t any. While mostly she was not in control of situation, she didn’t do anything to not to put herself in such situations! She was repeating the same pattern, the same mistake again and again. What kept me reading was the promise that it’s incredibly funny read – but sadly, I haven’t laugh once. I didn’t even smile. I’d rather cringe with disbelief and distaste.

I probably didn’t get this book, but on the other hand I think we can’t dodge comparisons to Louise O’Neill’s “Asking For It”, as the books are relatively similar in plot, which I’ve also read and which gave me a major hangover because it was a brilliant read that I “got”. It happens – sadly. I started reading “Nina Is Not OK” full of enthusiasm, was absolutely intrigued by the synopsis but it turned out that it’s not a right read for me. I appreciate what the author did with this book, she tried to give us a deep insight into Nina’s life, to make us understand her and her choices but I just didn’t buy it.

Nina was a very complicated and difficult character – to like. She wasn’t nice, even in her better moments. Sure, the author gave us a chance to see her when she was low, as well as when she was high, but I think her personality didn’t change a lot and she didn’t learn her lesson. You could feel sad with the way Nina’s life turned out but I personally felt annoyed and angry. But also other characters, I just found some of their actions so unbelievable, for example Nina’s mother, who actually abandoned her moving to another country – I know Nina was 17, but huh? To strike off a daughter because her new husband had got a chance for a better job? Zoe felt like your typical, mean blonde, I couldn’t believe how naive and foolish she is, this character could be so interesting and adding a lot of intrigue but she just felt totally under – developed. Pity.

The story itself felt a little chopped, jumping between scenes and characters, not stopping or concentrating on something particular for longer. It felt so bleak, and it dragged on incredibly and I was blinking hard trying to find something happening. It made me feel depressed and I didn’t find a positive thing in this story, to be honest. The first part of the book feels very repetitive, I really had a feeling I’m reading about the same thing over and over again.
I feel really bad when I’m rating a book so low, especially as it had its points – it was brutally honest and dealt with alcoholism in a very realistic, truthful way, without beating around the bush, which is a great thing. It also shows that rape has many faces and it deals with real family’s dynamics and raw relationships. But no matter how important the book was, I couldn’t feel any connection to it, I didn’t have any positive feelings towards the characters and it is really difficult to enjoy the novel when you feel like this. I am sure the book is going to find its fans, I am only sad that I won’t be one of them.