Tag Archives: #contemporary

Blog Tour: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

A sun-drenched and irresistible love story from a stunning new talent in YA, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell.

“A uniquely dazzling love story – sunshine flows through every electric page, and into your heart.” Harriet Reuter Hapgood, author of The Square Root of Summer

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back.

When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

My Blurb

I just knew this was going to be a beautiful book. In fact, it was just so so cute! Yes, it speaks of grief and the characters struggling with missing pieces in their lives but it’s also a story of finding oneself, of life after grief and the possibility of happiness. And just look at that cover! I don’t think I need to say anymore to convince to read this, do I?

I love that this book is told from 2 perspectives, Linny’s & Sebastian’s, in that we all get to see what’s in their minds and therefore, how their minds work. They were both consumed with their own issues yet that first & subsequent sparks as they meet jolted them to life a bit at a time. Each chapters are imbued with their personalities; Linny’s are full of colours, notes of missing persons (why wasn’t there one on Agatha Christie?!), and her film manuscript drafts whilst Sebastian’s are full of scientific facts or Sebastian’s fact of life in scientific speak.

If Birds Fly Back was so easy to read and I fell in love with the characters from the beginning. It’s very cute & very sweet with a good dose of humour despite the deep sadness the characters were feeling. I’m pegging this as a pick-me-up sort of read… need one now? I highly recommend this book as your comfort read!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Carlie Sorosiak grew up in North Carolina and holds two master’s degrees: one in English from Oxford University and another in Creative Writing and Publishing from City University, London. Her life goals include travelling to all seven continents and fostering many polydactyl cats. She currently splits her time between the US and the UK, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna’s.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | pinterest  |  twitter  | youtube  |  instagram

 

Review: The Fifth Letter

the-fifth-letter
The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Do you have a group of best friends? Do they know everything about you or do you think you know all there is to know about each other? I have a group of my own best friends; four of us grew close during high school – almost like Joni, Deb, Eden, & Trina. Like them, 3 of us are married with children and one has just found The One and about to tie the knot in a few months’ time. *sniffs – am so very happy for her*

The beginning of their friendship is almost laughable. It was pointed out to them that they all have 2 things in common: surnames starting with “C” and their star signs (Scorpios). It’s not the silliest thing that have begun deep friendships, of course, but this was the basis that Joni decided that the four of them are meant to be best friends forever. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most innocent start of the group…

scorpio

Years later, they were still good friends. They see each other regularly and even have girls weekend away sometimes. This weekend though, things rather fell apart. They decided to each write an anonymous letter of secrets to tell each other. It really wasn’t that easy to be anonymous when you know each other well and in addition to that, Joni found a fifth letter with a rather menacing tone. What is she to do with it? Is she supposed to do anything about it?

I really enjoyed the beginning of The Fifth Letter. The stage was being set with Joni finding the letter, her confessional conversation with a Catholic priest (my favourite character), then flashbacks to their teen years. I started smiling on page 3 and found at the end of my train trip, that I still had a wide smile on my face. It wasn’t just funny but the flashbacks also remind me of my own memories of my friends. I didn’t actually like any of these 4 ladies even though I can identify/empathise with all of them in one thing or another. Joni, being the main protagonist and whose perspective we read from, can be very frustrating! She is lovely really but oh, she can be so blind! In saying that, however, I also couldn’t really pick the fifth letter writer. And that precious ending, oh wow, I was literally choking with laughter!

What began as a rather humorous and reminiscing read, this novel took a turn into a dark complex of human emotions. These women each have their own issues which they feel they cannot voice yet that is the first step towards healing. The Fifth Letter engages the reader to look beyond the surface, to check our unrealistic expectations of women and see them as a person, an individual, who is not perfect (no one is perfect) and needs loving supports.

Thank you, Nicola Moriarty, for this novel and the chance to reflect of my own friendships. Like Joni, Deb, Eden, & Trina, I’m sure that we do not know everything about each other and that’s okay… I am certain, however, that none of us harbours any ill will towards anyone in the group 😀

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers Australia for providing paperback copy in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Blog Tour: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

About the book

a-quiet-kind-of-thunder

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

My Blurb

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a beautiful read. Mind you, there were stacks of romance in here though I think you can kind of tell by the number of hearts on the cover 😉 There were times that I found the romance crossed the corny cheesy line but I made the allowance for “First Love”. They really weren’t that bad; just a teeny weeny bit more than I liked so you may love it.

At the beginning, however, Steffi was facing first day back at school without her best friend. She’s 16 so she’s in sixth form; which term I actually had to look up as I’m not familiar with the British education system (thanks, Google!) and it’s like years 12 & 13. She may know all the students there but it’s a big day for her. She is determined that she will speak this year. She needs to prove to herself and her parents that she’s capable of ‘normality’ so they will let her go to university. Minutes later, she met a boy who cannot hear, Rhys, and he’s rather cute…

There is only one perspective, Steffi’s, and we get to hear everything she’s saying in her head. She’s getting help and she’s working very hard to overcome that which limit her. I love that we get to hear these things; she may not be able to speak but it doesn’t mean that her head is empty! I can’t tell how accurate the things she’s thought of in relation to other people who are in the same boat as Steffi but it felt just as how they could’ve thought (feel free to correct me) and in some ways were really enlightening. Meeting Rhys with a different type of limitation helps her in a way as they found support in each other; tackling the world which place those limitations on them and along the way, found her confidence and identity.

I have truly enjoyed this book. It was a fun, educational, heart-warming, and totally encouraging book to read. It really inspires you to reach for your dreams despite what the world tells you; only you can decide your limits.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

Quick Q&A

  1. What kind of research was involved in writing A Quiet Kind of Thunder?

A lot! I learned some (very basic) sign language and read as much as I could on deaf culture and community. I also watched videos on YouTube, including those from/about people in deaf/hearing relationships. For selective mutism, I did a lot of general research into things like diagnosis and treatment, and read the materials that were aimed at teachers and parents to get an idea of how they would deal with a child in that situation.

  1. Is there an interesting story/incident that you came across during your research that you could share with us?

Everything I learned about deaf culture and BSL was fascinating, and I really loved watching BSL music videos online – they absolutely blew my mind.

  1. What is it that drives you to write contemporary YA and of such confronting truths?

For me, those are the kinds of books I most love and that I take the most from. I love books that are honest about people, relationships and the world, and so I suppose it makes sense that I would also try to do this in my own writing. Writing is also a great cathartic way to explore issues and problems that goes beyond just talking or thinking about them, so there’s probably an element of that, too.

About the author

sara-barnardSara lives in Brighton and does all her best writing on trains. She loves books, book people and book things. She has been writing ever since she was too small to reach the “on” switch on the family Amstrad computer. She gets her love of words from her dad, who made sure she always had books to read and introduced her to the wonders of secondhand book shops at a young age.

Sara is trying to visit every country in Europe, and has managed to reach 13 with her best friend. She has also lived in Canada and worked in India.

Sara is inspired by what-ifs and people. She thinks sad books are good for the soul and happy books lift the heart. She hopes to write lots of books that do both. BEAUTIFUL BROKEN THINGS is her first book and a dream come true.

Find Sara on: goodreads  |  tumblr  |  twitter  | instagram

 

Blog Tour (Review & Giveaway): Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

About the book

Words in Deep Blue

Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. 

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

Sometimes you need the poets

My Blurb

Life is the big scheme; death is the little one at the end

I loved visiting second-hand bookshops though these days I don’t actually know whether there is one in my neighbourhood. Nowadays, I buy second-hand books from Vinnies so they don’t usually have that “old” feels to them. And to be honest, I hate seeing things underlined or highlighted in books though I do like the little penciled (not penned) notes. I haven’t, however, found anything that meaningful in my books or maybe I just haven’t the imagination to find meaning in old bus/train tickets. The idea, however, is utterly charming.

The thing about the Letter Library at Howling Books is that you leave actual letters / notes to people who mean something to you. Rachel Sweetie has never been able to grasp the point of this exercise for what use is words? They’re just words. They’re there but they don’t DO anything in the scheme of life. She’s a scientist and she believes in the moon and the tides. Henry Jones, on the other hand, is a poet. He loves words. He believes in the power of words. And yet, they are the best of friends until… they weren’t. Years later, Rachel returned; stricken by grief, angry, and numb. 10 years of friendship, however, cannot be ignored.

I loved Rachel. Her strength impressed me from the very beginning; she’s been struck down by a grief so profound and yet, life still flickered inside of her. It was amazing to see that fire being stoke back to life and seeing her grasp life once again. Henry, on the other hand, didn’t quite impress me. I am fascinated by his family and, most especially, his family home! I wasn’t sure though I could like a real life Henry. His one redeeming fact is that he’s a reader and that he’s really a terrific friend. All the secondary characters though were brilliantly alive. I love the diverse cast of characters: Lola & Hiroko with their music, George (Henry’s sister) & Martin and his mums, etc.

Words in Deep Blue is a book about books (& words), of love and grief, of friendship and finding one’s feet. It is poignant and funny at the same time. It is wonderful collection of words strung into a beautiful story; one I’d highly recommend as it will delight many hearts.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Cath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, and Graffiti Moon. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Cath writes and teaches in Melbourne.

Find Cath on: goodreads  |  website  |  tumblr  |  twitter

Giveaway (AU only)

I have 1 brand new copy of this book to giveaway but Australian address only (sorry, peeps, can’t afford overseas shipping :/). To enter, simply leave me a comment on what book would you leave your letter in and why OR who would you leave a letter to at the Letter Library.

I will contact the winner on Saturday, 1 October for his/her postal details.

Review: Like I Can Love

Like I can Love

Like I Can Love by Kim Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Like I Can Love was a book that I’d automatically pick up because I’ve really enjoyed Kim Lock’s earlier work, Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. As soon as I saw her name on that curious cover and with an even curioser synopsis, I just had to read it. It was, astonishingly, a different experience from Peace, Love and Khaki Socks where I just couldn’t stop smiling and yet, probably due to Kim’s earlier profession as a breastfeeding profession but also the fact that it’s just a normal part of life, more birthing experiences! Why do you always remind me of it, Kim?

This story is told from 2 perspectives: Fairlie’s, in the present, and Jenna’s, from the past prior to her suicide. I found that it was a little hard to get into, probably due to my different expectation but also because I had to get my head around the 2 voices from different points in time plus I wasn’t too keen on Fairlie; she was one big mess of a woman at the beginning and got worse. However, around the 20% mark, the story just grabbed me and I couldn’t read fast enough! I mean I knew somebody isn’t ‘well’ and really, the secret wasn’t such a hard one to guess but I was gripped by the flow of the telling that it didn’t matter that I knew what’s going on already.

Like I Can Love isn’t actually one of those psychological thriller but it could be… It’s not written in that way but I keep thinking that it definitely has all the potentials to be one! It lacks the major tension of a thriller and we’re told half the ending by the synopsis. Nevertheless, we are rather confronted by the hard facts of life: it takes an amazing amount of courage to look for help, we need to make ourselves available/reachable, and regardless of the ending (happily or otherwise), not one person is individually at fault. There is just so much to unpack in this book…

I have truly appreciated the few hours I spent in reading this book and would recommend it for it was such a riveting and poignant read. It reveals some of the hidden & hard realities of life but these need to be acknowledged as left hidden, terrible consequences will ensue. It’s not all doom and gloom for in life, there is always hope! I was quite happy with the way this story is wrapped up and even liked Fairlie then though I have one question: what did she say in her last drunken call in the book? But it’s a very minor disturbance to an overall amazing reading experience.

Thanks to MacMillan Australian for copy eARC in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Review: I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes

pancakesI Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: purchased own paperback copy

This was another cover crush for me… I just couldn’t resist hot air balloon on cover, for some reason, and since I loved Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Colours of Madelaine series, I had certain expectations of this book.

As always, there are good reviews and bad though they all agreed that the writing is quirky. The Colours of Madelaine books were quirky and I loved it though I found it hard to sell to my book-club mates (most of them think she tried too hard) so I don’t have an issue with quirkiness. I was really looking forward to this, actually, and as I began reading, really enjoyed it… I even nearly snort-laughed which was a pretty good effort.

I think if you’re not an Aussie and specifically, Sydney-sider, you’d miss the references to ‘Banana Bar’, frozen chocolate coated banana, ‘Pie in the Sky’, etc. But as I happened to be one, I can understand her wistfulness in each of these things and wishing for them too! Time for a family road trip, methinks.

Halfway through the book, however, I started to be disillusioned with the book. Yes, it was fun but oh, there was too many secrets and betrayals that the whole story felt fractured. There is “the secret” which was supposed to be the twist but I didn’t even enjoy it… Did not like “the secret” and it didn’t catch me by surprise either.

On the book cover, this is marketed as “a fairytale for grown-up”. I’m sorry, this isn’t much of a ‘fairytale’… I could not pin point true-love and what was the moral of the story again? Hhhmmm, I’m just not convinced. In summary, as my 1 year old would say, ‘Beh!’

View all my reviews

Push Me, Pull Me by Vanessa Garden ~ Excerpt + Giveaway

PushMePullMeBlitzBanner

PMPM

Push Me, Pull Me by Vanessa Garden
Published by: Limitless Publishing
Publication date: August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Since Ruby Milton’s mother committed suicide, she’s forgotten what it’s like to be seventeen.

Saddled with taking care of her toddler brother and alcoholic father, Ruby has no time for fun. She also can’t shake the growing resentment she feels for her mother’s decision, which left her unable to grieve without anger and regret.

Then she meets blue-eyed musician Byron Black, who challenges everything she believes.

Byron refuses to let anyone control his life—or his death. When he left the city behind, he was in search of somewhere where nobody knew his secret. What he didn’t expect was to meet a beautiful redhead whose views conflict so completely with his own. But as their romance deepens, he begins to doubt his choices and decides to return to the city…for one last chance.

When Byron disappears, Ruby will stop at nothing to track him down.

Upon finding Byron, Ruby discovers his devastating secret, and a battle of wills begins. Byron doesn’t want her to know this part of him. He has to deal with it by himself, even though the idea of losing her tears him apart.

Will they be able to see each other through the darkness?

Or should they save their hearts and just let go?

Buy: Amazon  |  B&N  |  booktopia

VanessaA bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not gushing about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her books, Vanessa enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

goodreads  |  blog  |  twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram

Excerpt

“Are you in a lot of pain?” It was a stupid question. My eyes travelled to the front of his shirt.

He pulled back a little, as if to protect his wound from my intrusive gaze.

“I’m fine, Ruby,” he said, but kept his eyes trained on the ceiling, his expression unreadable.

“How long have you had this one for?” I reached out and gently traced my trembling finger along the thin silvery line on his face and neck, moving from his jaw down to his collarbone.

Byron closed his eyes and exhaled raggedly. “A long time. Don’t look at it,” he rasped. “It’s ugly.”

I swallowed thickly and gazed at the fine structure of his face, at the thick lashes resting against his cheekbones and the sensual swell of his lips. “Nothing about you could ever be ugly.”

At my words, Byron opened his eyes and fixed them on me. He gently tugged my arm and waist, rolling me on top of him. He breathed hard from the exertion.

I blushed from being so close to his face and sat up, straddling him, my thighs on either side of his waist.

“You’re so beautiful, Ruby,” Byron whispered, his hands finding my hips.

I shifted slightly, conscious of the growing hardness I could feel beneath me.

Outside, the sky was darkening, but there was just enough light coming in through the window for me to see the look on Byron’s face. I’d never been looked at like this before.

“Come here,” he whispered, sliding his hands from my hips up my lower back, gently pressing me down.

I bent and hovered over him, careful not to apply any pressure to his chest, but Byron wrapped an arm around my waist and slid a hand behind my neck and gently pressed me down so that I could feel every inch of his firm body beneath me. The sensation made my pulse quicken and my heart stutter. A flush, hotter than the recent weather, burned through my veins and heated my body.

Against my neck, Byron’s breath came faster.

Our lips came together, soft and chaste at first, but as soon as our tongues touched the kiss grew deeper and harder. Byron’s hands slid up my back to tangle in my hair while I ran my hand through his.

He moaned softly and suddenly the kiss kicked up a gear. Our hands crossed paths and we entwined our fingers together, briefly, before moving on to touch each other’s bodies, wherever our hands could reach. Every inch of Byron felt hard, whereas, beneath his careful touch, he made me feel soft like I was something delicate and precious. It was exquisite.

I couldn’t get enough of him. I wanted to somehow meld us into one person.

I drew him tight against me and he groaned against my mouth, the sound sending a jolt of excitement to my lower belly, that is, until he stiffened beneath me and pushed me off.

I hadn’t pleasured him, I’d hurt him.

“Are you okay?” I knelt beside him, horrified at what I’d done, my hands hovering over his chest.

Byron remained on his back, his chest rising and falling in short, sharp rasps, his jaw tense, his hands twisting at my bed cover.

“I’m so sorry. Is it bad? What should I do?”

“It’s okay. Don’t be sorry,” he whispered hoarsely, looking away. “It’s not your fault, Ruby. It’s me.”

“I’m the one who crushed you,” I said softly.

He sighed and steadied his breath.

“No. I mean, I shouldn’t be here, doing this…starting something with you…” he met my eyes, “…something that can never really go anywhere.” He exhaled, it sounded harsh and angry. “Remember, I’m leaving soon, Ruby.”

I tied my hair up with the band I kept around my wrist and tried to keep my face neutral so that he couldn’t see how I really felt about him leaving. We’d only just gotten to know each other. I liked the guy. I didn’t want him to leave.

“Is this to do with your music? Because you want to tour? Or because of this…this thing with your parents?”

Byron smiled down at the bedcover, but it was a bittersweet smile. “I wish this was about something as simple as music.”

“Are you in a lot of pain?” It was a stupid question. My eyes travelled to the front of his shirt.

He pulled back a little, as if to protect his wound from my intrusive gaze.

“I’m fine, Ruby,” he said, but kept his eyes trained on the ceiling, his expression unreadable.

“How long have you had this one for?” I reached out and gently traced my trembling finger along the thin silvery line on his face and neck, moving from his jaw down to his collarbone.

Byron closed his eyes and exhaled raggedly. “A long time. Don’t look at it,” he rasped. “It’s ugly.”

I swallowed thickly and gazed at the fine structure of his face, at the thick lashes resting against his cheekbones and the sensual swell of his lips. “Nothing about you could ever be ugly.”

At my words, Byron opened his eyes and fixed them on me. He gently tugged my arm and waist, rolling me on top of him. He breathed hard from the exertion.

I blushed from being so close to his face and sat up, straddling him, my thighs on either side of his waist.

“You’re so beautiful, Ruby,” Byron whispered, his hands finding my hips.

I shifted slightly, conscious of the growing hardness I could feel beneath me.

Outside, the sky was darkening, but there was just enough light coming in through the window for me to see the look on Byron’s face. I’d never been looked at like this before.

“Come here,” he whispered, sliding his hands from my hips up my lower back, gently pressing me down.

I bent and hovered over him, careful not to apply any pressure to his chest, but Byron wrapped an arm around my waist and slid a hand behind my neck and gently pressed me down so that I could feel every inch of his firm body beneath me. The sensation made my pulse quicken and my heart stutter. A flush, hotter than the recent weather, burned through my veins and heated my body.

Against my neck, Byron’s breath came faster.

Our lips came together, soft and chaste at first, but as soon as our tongues touched the kiss grew deeper and harder. Byron’s hands slid up my back to tangle in my hair while I ran my hand through his.

He moaned softly and suddenly the kiss kicked up a gear. Our hands crossed paths and we entwined our fingers together, briefly, before moving on to touch each other’s bodies, wherever our hands could reach. Every inch of Byron felt hard, whereas, beneath his careful touch, he made me feel soft like I was something delicate and precious. It was exquisite.

I couldn’t get enough of him. I wanted to somehow meld us into one person.

I drew him tight against me and he groaned against my mouth, the sound sending a jolt of excitement to my lower belly, that is, until he stiffened beneath me and pushed me off.

I hadn’t pleasured him, I’d hurt him.

“Are you okay?” I knelt beside him, horrified at what I’d done, my hands hovering over his chest.

Byron remained on his back, his chest rising and falling in short, sharp rasps, his jaw tense, his hands twisting at my bed cover.

“I’m so sorry. Is it bad? What should I do?”

“It’s okay. Don’t be sorry,” he whispered hoarsely, looking away. “It’s not your fault, Ruby. It’s me.”

“I’m the one who crushed you,” I said softly.

He sighed and steadied his breath.

“No. I mean, I shouldn’t be here, doing this…starting something with you…” he met my eyes, “…something that can never really go anywhere.” He exhaled, it sounded harsh and angry. “Remember, I’m leaving soon, Ruby.”

I tied my hair up with the band I kept around my wrist and tried to keep my face neutral so that he couldn’t see how I really felt about him leaving. We’d only just gotten to know each other. I liked the guy. I didn’t want him to leave.

“Is this to do with your music? Because you want to tour? Or because of this…this thing with your parents?”

Byron smiled down at the bedcover, but it was a bittersweet smile. “I wish this was about something as simple as music.”

PushMePullMeGiveaway

Click on image (left) to enter the giveaway (INTL) of:

  • Push Me, Pull Me coffee mug filled with heart shaped chocolate and a $10 Amazon gift card.

ButtonXBT