30 April, 2016

#BookReview :: Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Rate:  4 out of 5 Stars     

Hadley St. Clair's life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone.

Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably "feels like home" to Hadley. Hadley and Sam's connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything.

Funny and passionate, Suffer Love is a story about first love, family dysfunction, and the fickle hand of fate.

Have you ever read a book where everything was so predictable and there was absolutely nothing that surprised you yet at no point could you actually put the book down? Well, this book was just like that for me. 

Hadley and Sam are like mirrors aside from the obvious fact that one is a girl and the other is a boy. They are so similar in every important matters that you want them to get together and have their happily ever after from the moment you really know them. I know, as a reader, I wanted that for them so that they could love and care for each other and find their forever. The author has done a beautiful job in etching out these two characters on the hearts of the readers through the pages. And that is just one aspect of the book. I also absolutely adored the way the author has kept everything very REAL – whether it is her characters or the situations. Everything and everyone is so beautifully flawed that it is easy to believe. The emotions hashed out in the pages – dealing with love and betrayal are ultimately what takes a grip on its readers.  Perhaps the predictability of the plot is the only weak link of the book. Other than that this book is one hell of a roller coaster ride.

I spent a few hours smiling and crying with this book and it was very satisfying. It certainly makes the list of repeat reads.

Ashley Herring Blake is a poet, teacher, and YA novelist. Her debut novel, SUFFER LOVE, follows two teens as they attempt to wade through an intense relationship complicated by their parents' infidelities. Ashley lives in Nashville, TN.

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29 April, 2016

#BookReview :: The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction
Rate: 3 out of 5 Stars

A lush new fantasy about finding the will to lead against all odds, perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone.

Keri has been struggling to run her family bakery since her mother passed away. Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady. The position has never been so dangerous: the mists that hide Nimmira from its vicious, land-hungry neighbors have failed, and Keri’s people are visible to strangers for the first time since the mists were put in place generations ago. At the same time, three half-brothers will their own eyes on the crown make life within the House just as dangerous as the world outside.

But Keri has three people to guide her: her mysterious Timekeeper, clever Bookkeeper, and steadfast Doorkeeper. Together they must find a way to repair the boundary before her neighbors realize just how vulnerable Nimmira is.

With a spunky main character, lyrical storytelling, and hidden romance, The Keeper of the Mist is an engrossing story that is full of adventure.

The Keeper of the Mist is the story of Keri, who has been tumbling through her life trying and struggling to run the family baker. When she is appointed the Lady of a new land by some magical decree, Keri has enough to handle. Yet there are people who are conspiring against her and she also needs to find a way to restore the mist that has failed because of her father’s mistakes. With the land now visible to everyone, Keri has very little time to catch up on everything so as to be able to fulfill what is expected from her.

The blurb intrigued me and I will admit that for some reason it gave me the impression that this would be something like putting a fantastical twist on The Princess Diaries – which was both satisfying and disappointing. While the book gave us a different world and plot, I was disappointed by the lack of ‘fun’ element that I was expecting. The author has cooked up a new concept where lands are kept isolated and hidden from each other by the Mist which is kept up by the Lord or Lady of the land. A magical world where politics and conspiracies are waiting for Keri at every corner she turns. The character of the protagonist is fleshed out well – I especially like the way Keri handles herself at the beginning when she is thrown into this new world. I also liked the character of Lucas even though I did wish for a bit more depth to him. The author’s language and narrative style is charming and easy going. It was really easy to get lost in her words.

What did not work for me was the basic concept of the Mist and what it meant for the different lands. In a time when the world seems to be getting smaller and closer, I really did not like the idea of whole clans isolating themselves from the others completely. Even though I am quite an introvert myself, I somehow just cannot get my mind around the fact that people would like to live like that. The world of fantasy is so inviting to me because of all the possibilities it represents. The never ending potentials are limited only by the imagination of all those who the story touches. And in this book the whole concept seemed limiting itself. I kept expecting Keri to bring a change. Also, the way magic is dealt with was a bit disappointing… I wished for more details on the concept and how one can master it, instead of it being just a predisposition in people.

Overall, it turned out to be an average book for me. It sure has its highs and its lows and I would leave it upon individual readers to choose whether the book appeals to them or not. 

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.

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#SpecialFeature :: #Interview with Ivan Sivec, #Author of The X Factor

*** Special Feature - April 2016 ***

Quick Recap
1st April - Introducing Ivan Sivec
8th April - Guest Post: Why Literature has to hurt?!
15th April - Guest Post: The Story behind the Story: Why a Girl’s Fate can Help Changing Lives
22nd April - Guest Post: The Chandelier of the World

About the Author
Ivan Sivec is a writer, poet and publicist from Slovenia, Europe. People say he is ‘a man with a hundred stories’ and he has been sharing them with his audience, both young and mature, for over four decades now. He is listed under the top five Slovenian bestselling authors.

In his rich and thriving career he has written in many genres. As a poet he has written more than 2,500 lyrics for ethnic and entertaining music for which he received several awards. His broad prosaic ‘repertoire’ includes biographies, historical, psychological and adventure novels, travelogues, youth book series, picture books as well as humorous stories. To this date he published over 130 books and is considered to be one of the most popular Slovenian authors.

His particular interest goes to psychological novels on issues teenagers face today, especially topics like suicide, drug addiction, adoption, AIDS...  He shares true stories to let the young reader know they’re not alone.

Sivec devotes his free time to his wife of 44 years, their two children and three grandchildren. Since his retirement a decade ago he enjoys his days hiking the Alpine peaks (he is especially proud to have conquered the tallest mountain in Europe, the French Mont Blanc (4,810 m/ 15,771 ft), together with his daughter-in-law Tina). When he is not gathering inspiration from the mountains he is soaking in the tranquility of the Mediterranean Sea with his wife.  Nature is his source of creativity. It allows Ivan to gather his thoughts and pour them onto paper.

Interview with the Author

Author Ivan Sivec has been on this blog before for an INTERVIEW. You can check it out for more details.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I’ve actually never told this to anyone before, but I’ve kept a lot of material I wrote as a child and teenager, mostly short stories and poems. I will pass them on to my son and daughter, but for now this stays our little secret, ok?:)

Tell us about your writing process.
I keep it very simple. All I need is my computer and a few pieces of chocolate to feed my brain cells. I don’t allow myself to get stressed out over writer’s block. I never let myself get time pressured as well. If I do experience a lack of creative flow, I distance myself from writing and wait for the inspiration to call me back. 

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Maja, the main character of my YA novel ‘The X Factor: Confessions of a Naïve Fashion Model’ inherited my idealist view on the world. And stubbornness. In some way me and Maja are quite the same – we are both determined to finish what we have start and try to be our best at all times. No matter what. Sometimes we get burned and sometimes we succeed. But we never stop believing we can achieve whatever we want. 

What is your most interesting writing quirk?
The ritual I have each morning before I start working: I sit down, open the drawer of my oak desk, take a piece of chocolate, take a few moments to visualize the beautiful day  that is ahead and start writing. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
That the first version of your note, your initial inspiration, is always the best version, because it originates from your inner voice, the essence of your spirit. Try to add or remove as less as possible after the first version, as every change is commanded by your rational sphere and you lose the connection to your primal spirit.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Paper, pens and my wife. Hope she wouldn’t mind being stuck with me until the end of time :)

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Dear readers, thank you for following my work over social media. To all readers who are not familiar with my first translated English novel ‘The X Factor: Confessions of a Naïve Fashion Model’: a warm invite to read it! Enjoy the beautiful spring, my friends!

About the Book
It takes three mistakes to be swallowed up and spat out by the fashion industry. You trust the wrong people. You think you know everything there is to know about life. You take drugs. Maja started off as a regular 17-year-old high-school kid, fighting her inner insecurities while dreaming to become an actress like Marilyn Monroe. At a party her boyfriend Klemen introduces her to a renowned modelling agent. He sees a special X Factor hidden insight her. And a great business opportunity for himself... Fast forward a few weeks later. Maja's charm and talent land her a modelling contract in the trendy and exciting fashion capital of Milan. She's completely enchanted and determined to make it in the fashion world. But things don't turn out the way she had planned. Exhausting long photo shoots, stressful fashion shows, strict dieting and wild parties start taking their toll on her soon enough. In desperate search for help Maja reaches out to her agent and other false friends from the fashion industry that emotionally and physically exploit her to the point where 'Maja the Great' is merely a shadow of her former self. She starts battling drug addiction that ends up in a tragic event. Maja has been finally swallowed up and spit out by the fashion industry with its endless traps. What price will the girl with the X Factor have to pay for her naivety?

5 e-books of The X Factor