Monday, 31 March 2014

Review: What the Moon Said by Gayle Rosengren


Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story


Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 20th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
 
Terri's Thoughts:
 
I received a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.
 
This book is definitely geared towards the middle grade demographic.  Although I have not read a lot of stories for this age group I thought this was a really cute read.  It takes place during the depression so it has the historical fiction aspect that I love in my reads.  It gives the opportunity to educate young readers about the time in a way that they do not really realise they are learning something.
 
This story was written in a way that there were no real bad people in the story.  Through Esther the reader goes on a journey of life changes and learning to accept things the way they are.  This is a story about family and love and growing up.
 
Although this was not a challenging read for me I still enjoyed the time I spent in the story.  I would recommend this book to the younger audience who is not looking for a lot of action.  I can see that this story could be of good educational use.
 


Website:     

     


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Review: Shattering Halos by Sunniva Dee

I traded my death for love. I wasn’t given a choice. His decision has caught up with us, so now I am a living, breathing catalyst to war between Heaven and Hell.

The violations he committed saved my life. Since the collision, he’s appeared everywhere. In my hospital room, my school, even my house. He shows up in my paintings, my drawings, in all of my art projects. I can’t stop thinking about him.

He says his name is Gabriel, and he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. He doesn’t know how I can see him or why he wants me in ways that should be impossible for a Celestial.

My obsession grows. I need him to hold me, kiss me—give all of himself. For every day he protects me, the consequences loom darker and taller. Soon, they’ll crash down on us.

The war is about to begin.


ebook, 362 pages
Published February 24th 2014 by The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

Shattering Halos is Sunniva Dee's debut novel and I think fans of paranormal romance are going to devour it. If this book is any indication of what her future work will look like then we are in for a real treat!

Let me just say that this book grabs you from the very first page. I was hooked! Gaia is lying injured at the side of a horrific accident in which she was a passenger and everyone else was killed. She looks up and sees a beautiful man sitting beside her, watching her, and somehow comforting her without a touch or word. He then shows up in her hospital room and school. What??? She should be dead but she's not. If that doesn't grab your attention then I don't know what will. In fact I was so intrigued that I was plowing through the story until my kindle died and I had to take a break. Even still, I was able to finish it in one day.

This is ultimately a love story between two people that should not be together and the havoc it creates because of it. There is something to be said about the characters trying so hard to be good and stay apart that makes you want them to be together even more. I was routing for them along the way and hopeful that they could find a way to give in to their desires. It is written in an easy to understand style that readers of all ages can enjoy although there is some descriptive sexual content.

I have never read a story about guardian angels before but let me just say that Gabriel would be my top pick if I had one for myself. That is if I was younger...not married...and didn't have kids. He was definitely swoon worthy and I'm sure many young readers will discover a new book boyfriend in him. Gaia was likeable as well but at times I found her a little too immature and naive. I chalked it up to her age and the unbelievable situation she found herself in. Gabriel's brother, although he was a Fallen and not so good, was interesting to me as well. I think a second book continuing his story would be wonderful...hint...hint...nudge...nudge.

All in all it was a great and imaginative debut novel that allowed me to escape reality for a few hours.







About the Author

I write New Adult fiction with a paranormal twist and don’t shy away from romance and heart-wrenching passion when necessary.

I moved from Norway to the United States in 2001, and the first awesome five years I spent in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles. Then I read “The Book”, aka, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It caused me to drag my husband, my youngest child, and our menagerie of animals cross country to beautiful Savannah, Georgia.

I'm currently on my sixth year in the Deep South. Here, we enjoy the heat and the humidity. Besides writing, I spend my time giggling and/or rolling my eyes at the “petting zoo,” as in an opinionated parrot, cats that are experts on keyboard shortcuts, and puppies that … uh, bark.

I hold a Master's degree in languages, with concentrations within literature and linguistics. For ten years, I taught at university level, before settling in as a graduate adviser at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
 


Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond


Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city--the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village--all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love


Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 29th 2014 by Hogarth
 
Terri's Thoughts:
 
I received an ARC of this book via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication data is April 29, 2014.
 
I had really high hopes for this book based on the synopsis and I couldn't wait to receive it.  I must admit that I was sadly let down once I read it.  While the synopsis hints at a tragic story, which it was, it does not allude to the fact that there is an aspect of the book that delves in to the spirit world.  For this I feel that it was misrepresented.
 
There were good aspects to the book.  I enjoyed the parts that detailed the path that Ruby had taken and her hardships prior to the present day.  It was tragic and heartbreaking and an interesting read.  These parts are what saw me through to the end of the story.
 
Where it loses momentum is when the "Dybou" enters in to the picture.  It completely changes the spirit of the book and seems ill fitting.  In my opinion it took away the impact of the storyline and the characters history and development.  Many times I almost did not see the story through due to this aspect. 
 
I always feel bad when I do not love a book particularly when I have received it for reviewing purposes however I must remain honest.  I do not as a rule read the reviews prior to reading the book as I do not want to be influenced in my opinions and impression of a book.  In the case of this book I did (while halfway through) and it appears that I am in the minority on this one.  So far it has gotten rave reviews so I am in the minority with my opinion on this one.  That is one of the amazing things is that no two people have exactly the same interests and outlooks when it comes to a book.
 
I sadly will not be recommending this read.     
 
 


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #21






Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...

 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...not really a question



Snap it Time! A picture is worth a thousand words. Anything and anything. Just give us a pic.
 
 

 


 This is a picture of my daughter Sierra's (The Reading Chic) grade nine English class with her teacher Mrs. Bedor up front. They are all holding up childrens books because they are in the middle of a huge and amazing literacy campaign and fundraiser in partnership with Kissy Post.
 
One of Mrs. Bedor's classes are writing and illustrating their own childrens books to gift to their reading buddies at one of our local Elementary Schools. The class that Sierra (The Reading Chic) is in is doing a fundraiser locally to buy books for CHEO (Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario) for their library. The hospital is an hour away and because the students can't go and read to the children they are also making videos of themselves reading their favourite childrens book that they will be uploading to #icommunicate. The children will then be able to watch the stories being read to them. It doesn't stop there though! They have been challenged to recruit others to make videos as well. They have been tweeting their favourite celebrities both local and internationally in the hopes that they will also video themselves reading a story. I'm happy to say that they are having some success as well!

CHEO is an amazing hospital for sick children with a wonderful and caring team of doctors and nurses. I have a real soft spot in my heart for them because both of my girls have been in their care. My youngest was only three days old when she first found herself there undergoing ultrasounds, MRI's and numerous other tests. Both of them have also had surgeries there. I count my blessings every day that things turned out well and it was nothing serious but some kids aren't so lucky. Being able to watch all of the videos will be sure to put a smile on their little faces. At the same time, these high school students are learning to use social media in a positive and helpful way. I think the campaign is genius.

Here is where I ask for your help. WOULD ANY OF YOU BOOK LOVERS AND FELLOW BLOGGERS BE WILLING TO POST A VIDEO OF YOURSELF READING A CHILDRENS BOOK? It would mean the world to the children who will get to view them. It would also mean the world to the students who are putting in such a great effort with this campaign. It doesn't cost a thing but a few minutes of your time to tape it and the pay off is indescribable. If you are unable to post a video could you help by spreading the word? Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute is a small high school in a small community with a big heart. It would be nice to take the students from saying "I think I can" to the students that "could."
It is super easy to post a video and you can find the info here. Just scroll down to where it says how to post a video.

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. We are away this weekend but will be sure to follow as soon as we get home. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, facebook and/or twitter.

Review: Plain Jayne by Laura Drewry

Worn out from the long drive back home, Jayne Morgan can only smirk at the irony: Of course the first person she sees from her old life is Nick Scott. Once best friends, they lost touch when Jayne left town at eighteen, but nothing could keep them apart forever. Jayne has returned to take over her grandmother’s bookstore, determined to put all her bittersweet memories and secret disappointments strictly in the past—until, that is, Nick insists she bunk at his place.

Nick never did care what people thought about having a girl for a best friend—or the “scandal” she caused by showing up to his wife’s funeral four years earlier—so he’s got no problem with the gossips now. Jayne was always the one person he could count on in his life. Now Nick is starting to realize that he never wants her to leave again . . . and that being “just friends” isn’t going to be enough anymore.


ebook, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Loveswept 
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group- Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank You!

Just when I was craving a super cute read I found one! It was one of the better friend to lover books that I have read in a while. I won't re-tell the story because I don't want to ruin it for everyone, instead I will share my thoughts on it.

What I liked...

Each chapter began with a quote from an eighties movie and there were numerous references to songs from the eighties. Every time a new one popped up I found myself smiling and remembering it like it was yesterday.

I loved the friendship between Jayne and Nick. 25 years of friendship made for some pretty interesting and funny banter between the two of them. The love and devotion between them was what dreams are made of. Who wouldn't want a friend that has your back through thick and thin? The chemistry was dripping off the pages and I found myself routing for them and hoping they would get their acts together and realise that they belong together. They were both strong characters that I could easily like.

Although there was a ton of chemistry the book was not filled with trashy sex scenes which would have cheapened a very sweet story. Nick and Jayne's friendship was 25 years strong and jumping into bed would have taken away from my enjoyment.

The book was filled with quirky, likeable characters from Nick's cousin and sister to Jayne's girlfriends.

Lastly, the book takes place while Jayne is re-doing and opening a book store! Whats not to like about that?

What I didn't like...

Nick lost his wife four years prior to where the story takes place and I found it odd that he wasn't more  damaged from it and that the story wasn't more of a focus. It was like she was gone...end of story.

As much as I loved the build up of Nick and Jayne's relationship there did come a point where I wished they would just get their act together and admit their feelings for each other. It dragged on a little longer than I would have liked.

I enjoyed all the eighties references but I did find it a little odd that they were referenced when both Nick and Jayne would of lived their teenage years in the 90's.


Overall it was a cute, light story of friendship and love that I am glad to have had the pleasure of reading.





About the Author
The first book Laura ever owned was On the Banks of Plum Creek, which still sits up on the top shelf with the rest of the Little House series. She blames her mother for her book addiction because it was her mother who always had (still has) a couple books on the go, and who used to read and watch The Edge of Night at the same time.
Laura had been scribbling things for years before she decided to seriously sit down and write. It helped that she and her husband had just moved 700 km away from their families, it was the dead of winter and she was about 49 months pregnant with their second child, all of which gave her the excuse she needed to hunker down and get at it.

That first book will never ever ever see the light of day again, but it was a launching pad for her second addiction – writing. Her books have been described as "delightful," "clever," and "smart, sassy and refreshingly different ."

After spending eight years in the Canadian north, Laura now lives back home in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, three sons, a turtle named Sheldon and an extremely energetic German Shepherd. She loves old tattered books, good movies, country music and the Yankees.
Twitter-lauradrewry  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Review: Just Destiny by Theresa Rizzo


What would you do if your whole world fell apart?
Jenny Harrison made some poor choices in the past, but marrying Gabe was the best thing she’d ever done. They had the perfect marriage, until a tragic accident leaves Gabe brain dead and her world in ruins.
Devastated by grief, she decides to preserve the best of their love by conceiving his child, but Gabe’s family is adamantly opposed, even willing to chance exposing long-held family secrets to stop her. Caught in a web of twisted motives and contentious legal issues, Jenny turns to best friend and attorney, Steve Grant. Steve wants to help Jenny, but he has reservations and secrets of his own.
When something so private and simple turns public and complicated, will Jenny relent? What is Steve willing to sacrifice to help Jenny?


Paperback
Expected publication: March 31st 2014
 
Terri's Thoughts:
 
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book directly from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts.  I'm not sure how she found me whether it be from Goodreads or my blog but I am sure glad that she did.
 
This was a well written emotional account of the aftermath of a tragic accident.  Mix in the controversial issue of conceiving a child after someone has passed away and it has the formula for a captivating read.
 
The character development was really well done.  I liked both Jenny and Steve from the very first page.  They were two individual characters with a strong bond of friendship and I could feel every emotion that each went through as the story progressed.  There were just enough secrets to keep you interested without having so many that it was unrealistic.  The relationship between these two was understated yet powerful at the same time
 
I liked the fact that a controversial issue was the focal point of the story.  Normally when a story gets to the courtroom it tends to lose my attention a little bit.  This was not the case in this story.  In fact I felt this is where it really picked up steam.  This was the point where my household chores got ignored and I stayed glued to my tablet.
 
A couple of random points
  • I loved the fact that there was a golden retriever in the story.  Mine was curled up with me the whole time I was reading the story
  • I thought the ending (no spoiler) to the story was appropriate
  • I believe there will be a sequel so I will be sure to partake once it is released
Overall a really good read!
 

About the Author


Theresa Rizzo is an award-winning author who writes emotional stories that explore the complexity of relationships and families through real-life trials. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, she now lives outside of Boulder, Colorado with her husband of thirty years.


Website: 
Twitter:   Theresa_Rizzo    
 


 


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Review: Never Say Goodbye by Susan Lewis

Josie Clarke, a loving wife and mother, struggles to make ends meet by cleaning homes and working at a diner while her husband drives a taxi. Josie’s joy is her two children, just entering adulthood. But with her son recently imprisoned for a crime she is certain he didn’t commit, and her daughter marrying too young, Josie now worries about the future—and wonders if she’ll ever be able to ensure their safety and happiness.

Across town, in a gorgeous house by the sea, successful property developer Bel Monkton lives in comparative luxury. But she has struggles of her own. Since the death of her twin sister more than a year ago, Bel has been unable to rebuild her shattered world, and the troubled past she thought was behind her haunts her ever more.

Faced with uncertainty and heartbreak, Josie and Bel find each other and a surprising friendship that will change their lives.


Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Ballantine Books
Genre: Womans fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House- Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*

This book needs to come with a warning label. Nowhere in the synopsis does it indicate that the story is about a terminal illness when in fact the entire story revolves around it. This is something that readers should be aware of.

The book started out just OK for me. It was a little slow and I had a hard time getting into it. The story shifted back and forth between Josie and Bel and it kind of felt like I was reading two different books at the same time. I kept wondering when their paths would cross and where the story would go. I was drawn more to Bel and to her story and found Josie a little dull. The fact that I connected with Bel was perhaps because she was a twin (as I am) and I could feel and relate to all of her thoughts and emotions when it came to her sister Talia. I had an over abundance of empathy for her character. Josie's character was dated and old fashioned and I had to keep reminding myself that she was only 42 as she came across as quite a bit older.

If I had to rate the book on the first half alone it would get a three star rating but then (finally) at 47% the two woman met and the story improved tremendously. The story really started at this point. It became a story of hope, survival, and friendship as Josie began her battle with her terminal illness and Bel battled her demons from the past. Both characters grew dramatically and I found myself equally invested in the two of them. It portrayed a very realistic view of the power of love and friendship through the most unthinkable and devastating of circumstances. Both woman's overpowering love for their families shone brightly and the bond they formed with each other was beautiful. Lewis showed that great beauty that can be found through pain and the power of love flawlessly. Her research and knowledge on the subject was very apparent.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't shed any tears while reading this book. In fact I shed them more than once. To me, this is the sign of a good book because I wouldn't cry if I didn't care about the characters. I'm glad I made it through the first half of the book because the second half more than made up for it.






About the Author

Website-
Twitter-susandlewis


 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Terri's Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares


Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.


ebook, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Delacorte Press
 
Terri's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story geared towards the YA audience and could be classified among the paranormal that is dominating the genre at this time.  The focal point is a group of people who have travelled back to the past in the hopes of finding a better future.

I must admit that this was no literary masterpiece however it was an entertaining story particular for the young teen audience.  The story seems to go by very fast and there is not a whole lot of time spent on character development.  That being said the story of Prenna and Ethan was very cute.  Watching them explore their feelings was the highlight of the story for me and I enjoyed their banter.  I just wish there was more lead up to their relationship.  It felt like the majority of it occurred "off-screen" before the story started. 

The premise of the story was interesting and I think it was potentially left open for a sequel.  I can see many directions future instalments could take with this story.  Although I probably wouldn't recommend this to my age group I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to their children.  It was a nice read.


About the Author


Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York.

Website: 

Twitter:  AnnBrashares




Sunday, 23 March 2014

Review: Seven Tales of Love by Agnes Irene

Seven brief tales depict various expressions of love-unwanted, unrequited, passionate, enduring-from the bright beginnings of youth, through the doubts and changes of middle age, to the comfort and familiarity of old age.

Paperback, 44 pages
Published October 13th 2013 by Createspace (first published March 2011) 









Kristine's Thoughts:


* I received a copy of this book from the author via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*

I have to start out by saying that this is a very short book consisting of seven very short stories that all deal with different aspects of love. It can easily be read in about half an hour.

Each story portrays a different angle or perspective of love in an almost abstract kind of way. Some of them make you stop and think, perhaps questioning the relevance or point of the story. In my opinion, this is intentional on the part of the author as a way to make the reader reflect. It certainly got me thinking. Others are quite obviously about love in the way that we perceive it.

As stated in the synopsis, it covers everything from unwanted, unrequited, passionate and undying love of all kinds. It was a nice, quick read that is sure to make you reflect and think and I was happy to have had the opportunity to read it.


About the Author

Agnes Irene writes about the celebration of the day to day, and the search for beauty and meaning. Her stories are sometimes whimsical, sometimes wistful, but always uplifting and hopeful. Most of her tales are set in the places she has lived and loved: small town Illinois, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and New York City. She has a PhD in English, specializing in Victorian Literature.  

Website-

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review: Disconnected by Lisa Cronkhite


Seventeen-year-old Milly has a huge problem on her hands.  She is being bullied by Amelia Norris. Day in and day out, Amelia torments Milly and even threatens to hurt her, but she can’t tell anyone—not a soul.  Milly’s reasoning—she does not want anyone to know where her tormentor lives.  They only share one thing in common.  Both co-exist as one in the same body. Milly is so disconnected from her past that she feels compelled to find out what truly happened to her when her parents were still alive.  After a mysterious fire, she and Grandpa George move into Aunt Rachel's Victorian home where Milly then begins to unravel puzzling clues to her family history. Through dreams and scattered memories, Milly journals her breaking story, trying to cope by putting the shattered pieces back together, all the while resisting with her inner demon.  Amelia is determined to cut Milly out of the real world—literally. Milly starts to wonder who her real family is after stumbling across Aunt Rachel’s notebook—having the intuitive sense that something terribly awful is missing.  All she had thought to be true now seems like one big lie

Paperback, 200 pages
Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by Poisoned Pencil
 
Terri's Thoughts:
 
I received this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is June 3, 2014.
 
This book is a YA book however is a little different than the majority of the books in the genre at the present time.  This book deals with the journey of an eighteen year old girl who is suffering from mental illness.
 
The majority of this book reads like a monologue with the battle between Milly and her multiple personality disorder with her alter ego being the not so friendly Amelia.  I was frustrated throughout the story as I wanted Milly to get help and get Amelia out of her head.  I guess that is the whole point.  Someone suffering from mental illness and does not know it does not know how to reach out for help or even know that there is something wrong.  The reader experiences this from the outside in and I can't even imagine what it would be like to suffer what Milly was suffering from.
 
It is clear that Cronkhite is knowledgeable on the topic and I feel that she did a good job sharing this knowledge in the story.  While the topic may be a little heavy for the YA audience it is written in a way that they would understand and be interested in the story. 
 
I think this is a very good way to educate the YA audience about a relevant and more common than one would think disorder.  Mental illness often carries a stigma with it and educating through fiction is a great way to bring the subject to the forefront so that people can get a better understanding.
 
Thank you Lisa Cronkhite for writing a relevant story about a topic that does not get enough discussion.
 
 


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #20






Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...

 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is... 

How have your reading habits changed in the past few years? Did you get interested in a new genre? Do you read more? Less? Why do you think your habits changed, if they did.

Terri's answer

My reading habits have changed significantly in the last couple of years and this is mainly due to resuming blogging.  Previously I had one genre that I would only read and that was historical fiction.  Since blogging I have opened my mind up to new genres and new authors.  There is almost no genre off limits with the exception perhaps of science fiction.  I enjoy discovering new authors and writing about them and this has led me down many undiscovered paths.  I have also begun reading more due to blogging as I now set aside a part of every day even if it is only a short while to read.  I have rediscovered the joy of reading.


Kristine's answer

I was an avid reader growing up but when I had kids I no longer had the time to devote to it. Instead I was busy reading to them and turning them into bookaholics. As they got older I was able to re-discover my love for reading. A few years ago I would never have picked up a YA book or anything paranormal/Sci-fi/fantasy thinking that I was too old for those types of books. My girls convinced me to read a few books of theirs that they loved and I realised that you can enjoy them at any age. Now I am open to reading all different genres with an open mind. The only downfall to this is that my tbr list keeps getting bigger and bigger and it is pretty much impossible to get through the entire list.

How have your habits changed?

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, facebook and/or twitter.

Review: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 



ebook, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Delacorte Press 
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*

This book is a young adult book that is definitely meant for the younger audience. Although it had some cute moments and a story that the younger of this genre would enjoy there were too many gaps and holes for someone of my age to overlook or not notice.

It started out quite promising with Ethan at the river and his first interaction with Prenna. My initial thought was that I was in for a really beautiful love story. Yes, the love story was there, but it was extremely rushed and I found it hard to fully believe. There just wasn't enough development between the two for me to get behind them. Also the whole time travel, disease, fork story was all over the map and there were some questions left unanswered. Perhaps a sequel is in the works and it was intentional or at least I hope it was. Still, I found myself shaking my head a few times. If there is a sequel I will read it because I think that (by the way it ended) there is potential for the deeper emotions that I craved so much in this one.

In short it is an easy read with a somewhat cute story that you can finish in no time. I think the youngest of the young adult genre will really like it but not necessarily the older readers that enjoy YA. I am basing my rating with the younger audience in mind.




About the Author
 Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Review: The Steady Running of the Hour: A Novel by Justin Go


In this mesmerizing debut, a young American discovers he may be heir to the unclaimed estate of an English World War I officer, which launches him on a quest across Europe to uncover the elusive truth.

Just after graduating college, Tristan Campbell receives a letter delivered by special courier to his apartment in San Francisco. It contains the phone number of a Mr. J.F. Prichard of Twyning & Hooper, Solicitors, in London and news that could change Tristan's life forever.

In 1924, Prichard explains, an English alpinist named Ashley Walsingham died attempting to summit Mt. Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson. But the estate was never claimed. Information has recently surfaced suggesting Tristan may be the rightful heir, but unless he can find documented evidence, the fortune will be divided among charitable beneficiaries in less than two months.

In a breathless race from London archives to Somme battlefields to the Eastfjords of Iceland, Tristan pieces together the story of a forbidden affair set against the tumult of the First World War and the pioneer British expeditions to Mt. Everest. Following his instincts through a maze of frenzied research, Tristan soon becomes obsessed with the tragic lovers, and he crosses paths with a mysterious French girl named Mireille who suggests there is more to his quest than he realizes. Tristan must prove that he is related to Imogen to inherit Ashley's fortune; but the more he learns about the couple, the stranger his journey becomes.



Hardcover, 480 pages
Expected publication: April 15th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published March 11th 2014)

Terri's Thoughts          

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is April 15 2014.

I wanted to like this book, I really did.  The synopsis sounded intriguing and right up my alley. Unfortunately the story fell short for me.  While it had some good "bones" to the story I found that it lacked the structure to keep me interested.  It is almost like the story suffered an identity crisis and did not know what direction it should take.

To offer some constructive criticism the story was simply too long and focused on the wrong parts of the story.  The descriptions of the war and the climbing expeditions could have been shortened or eliminated all together as they brought no real value to the storyline.  At times I was forcing myself to get through these parts.  I think that simplifying the story and focusing on the main point would have resulted in a much better read.  I still really don't know what the story was supposed to be telling me.

I will not give away the plot as the synopsis loosely explains the story.  I will summarize that the story seems to centralize around a wild goose chase that I am apparently still on as I try to decipher what I just spent the last few hours reading.  I hate when I give a review that is not very favorable but alas I promised an honest review when the book was provided to me.  While I think that Go has potential I feel he fell short on this endeavour.

I cannot recommend this book.

About the Author


JUSTIN GAKUTO GO was born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and an American mother. He was trained as a historian at UC Berkeley and holds an MA in English from University College London. Justin has lived in Tokyo, Paris, London, New York City and Berlin, among other places.

He recently completed his first book, The Steady Running of the Hour, a literary novel about a young man’s quest to inherit a fortune from the 1920s. The book involves many historical settings, including the Battle of the Somme and the British 1924 Mount Everest Expedition.



Website: 
Twitter:   justingakuto




Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: All I Have in this World by Michael Parker

Two strangers meet on a windswept car lot in West Texas. Marcus is fleeing the disastrous fallout of chasing a lifelong dream; Maria is returning to the hometown she fled years ago, to make amends. They begin to argue over the car that they both desperately want a low-slung sky-blue twenty-year-old Buick Electra.

The car, too, has seen its share of mistakes and failures. Every dent and seam has witnessed pivotal moments in the lives of others, from the boy who assembled it at the Cleveland factory to all the owners who were to follow: a God-fearing man who sells it when he sees a sexy girl sprawled across it; a doctor who can t dissociate it from his son s fate; a girl with a hole in her heart; and a rancher's wife who d much rather live without it for all the history it carries.

Marcus and Maria, after knowing each other for less than an hour, decide to buy the old car together. And as this surprising novel follows the rocky paths of the Electra and its owners both past and present these two lost souls find solace in an unexpected alliance.


ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 25th 2014 by Algonquin Books 
 
Kristine's Thoughts:
 
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*
 
What can I say about this book? It was definitely an interesting concept with the car at the center of the story and tidbits from past owners up to the present when Maria and Marcus took ownership. Unfortunatley I had a hard time swallowing or really understanding how the two ended up co-owning the Buick. 
 
Both Maria and Marcus have a troubled past and something they are hiding from each other. Each of their stories were relatively interesting but I found that there were so many rabbit trails throughout the pages that very little of it really surfaced in a satisfying way. I wanted to know about the two characters and how they were going to make amends with their past but every time it came around to them I found myself on another long winded rabbit trail that I didn't really care for. After skimming paragraphs to get back on the right track there would be a few sentences of the present and then off on another trail we went. I'm not talking so much about the actual events of their past that were significant to their present story but the rest of the stuff that sufficated it.
 
There was a good plot to the story but it was just too buried in a lot of other rambling for me to fully enjoy. The actual time that Maria and Marcus spent together was not fully developed and therefore I could not feel or understand the bond and the relevance of it. For a lack of a better description it felt a little robotic and stiff. For me, the book was just ok. 
 
 

 


About the Author
 
 

Brought up in London. Attended Sir Walter St. John's Grammar School for boys in Battersea until the family moved to Portsmouth in 1954. Continued education at Southern Grammar. Left school with no qualifications and started work as a Junior deigner at Twilfits (Corset/Brassiere manufacturer). Left after one year and joined the Merhcant Navy as a Steward. Two years later married Pat, my teenage sweetheart and went to work on a building site. Three months later I joined the RAF as an electrician. Left 16 years later on a redundancy package and worked in a food factory for a couple of years. Left and worked in the Middle East for a year. Then back to another food manufacturer (Mars) for 17 years until early retirement in 1996. Moved out to Spain with Pat in 1997. We have four sons and ten grandchildren.

I have written all my adult life with moderate success. My first novel, NORTH SLOPE was published by Macmillan in 1980. My second, SHADOW OF THE WOLF in 1984 by Robert Hale. My third, HELL'S GATE was published in 2007 by Robert Hale followed by THE EAGLE'S COVENANT (2007) and THE DEVIL'S TRINITY in 2008. This was followed by THE THIRD SECRET,in 2009 and then A COVERT WAR in 2010. My latest novel, THE BOY FROM BERLIN was released in December 2011, and has now been picked up by Harlequin who have purchased (leased) the paperback rights for North America and Canada.

I have also teamed up with Acclaimed Books Ltd., and have published NORTH SLOPE in paperback and in Kindle. Also A COVERT war is now available in both formats. Later this year I will publish The Third Secret, but will give it the title: ROSELLI'S GOLD.


Website-
Twitter-MICHAEL_PARKER
 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen


Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life? Because sometimes the things you love have a funny way of turning up again. And sometimes you never even know they were lost . . . until they are found

Hardcover, 296 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by St. Martin’s Press (first published January 2014)    

Terri's Thoughts:    

I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I will keep this review short.  This book is what I term a "sleeper" story in the fact that not a lot really occurs throughout the novel yet a story unfolds nonetheless.  This was a story full of quirky people, a sense of community mixed in with a little bit of the unexplained.  Before I go any further I will note that the touch of the unexplained is very small in this story and this is by no means a paranormal story.  There was just a small sprinkling of what I will term imagination to give the story a little bit of an angle.

All of the characters were likably flawed and overcoming some kind of personal situation whether it be a recent death or the events of their past.  Each endeared themselves to me in a different way. Some of the love stories were timeless.  I must admit that I preferred the parts of the story that focused on the past more than the present day storyline.

At the end of the day the theme was love and moving forward. While this was not an exciting read it was at the end of the day a pleasant one



About the Author 



New York Times Bestselling novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature -- because, as she puts it, "I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate."

After graduation, Allen began writing seriously. Her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen's accomplished debut "spellbindingly charming." The novel became a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection, and then a New York Times Bestseller.

Allen continues to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as "Southern-fried magic realism." Clearly, it's a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

Her published books to date are: Garden Spells (2007), The Sugar Queen (2008), The Girl Who Chased the Moon (2010), The Peach Keeper (2011) and the upcoming Lost Lake, to be published January 21, 2014.
Website: 



Sunday, 16 March 2014

Review: Unrequited by Truth Devour

The interwoven complexities of life follow Talia Jacobs across time. In spite of the endless challenges, she leverages remarkable strength of character to pursue clear-sighted goals to achieve her dreams. Talia has been witness to more than just the mystical Seven Wonders of the World. She has swum in open oceans, hiked majestic mountains, chanted with monks, shared laughter and a meal with the poor, yet in slumber the echoes of voices calling out her name haunt her. Visions appear as a graveyard of unrequited souls left in her wake, aching for her return. What has she become? All Talia desires is wrapped up in the image of a ghost. She wants to believe he exists, her soul mate, the yin to her yang. If only she believed in fairytales.

Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Publicious Self-Publishing 
Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*

I have to begin by saying that when I entered for a copy of this book I had no idea that it was a sequel as it was mentioned nowhere in the giveaway blurb. Had I known, I would not have requested a copy because I had not read the first book. I decided to read it regardless figuring that there would be enough details to follow along. BIG, BIG mistake as there were no clues or references that I could tell as to the story leading up to this book. Perhaps if I read the first book it would impact my rating on this book but I highly doubt it. After reading Unrequited I have no desire to go back and read the first book or any book that may follow it. I feel bad saying this but it was a hot mess.

I found that I really disliked Talia and considered not finishing the book after each chapter that my opinion remained the same. I think the intend was for her to be a person of good and kindness but she came across as condescending, selfish, a know it all, and above everyone else. Although she did some good things they all seemed to be guided by selfish, self-serving motives. She had no respect for different cultures, professionals and the people closet to her yet people seemed to fall over themselves in love with her and she knew it. Why? I question I cannot answer.

The book was all over the map and I don't just mean as in geography. Numerous different subjects were introduced and I failed to see how it connected one story. Throughout each chapter and plot change I hoped to connect in some way with Talia and for the story to redeem itself but it just didn't happen. There were two things that Talia did that I just couldn't get past although there were many others that were just plain annoying. The first was jumping into bed with a complete stranger in India after saying only two sentences. The first sentence was an introduction and the second was a comment on how well he spoke English. That was it before she was agreeing to go home with him. Hello...stanger/unprotected sex...this is how diseases can happen regardless of what country you are in. Not something to be promoting! The second thing that I couldn't get past was her stupid exercise about what animal best describes you that she did at her conference with influential business people. It was so condescending and anyone above a grade two level would never fall for that trick. It was just so juvenile and did nothing to the story but make it appear that she thought herself better and smarter than everyone in the room.

I feel terrible that I disliked the book so much and I recognise all of the hard work that the author must have went through to write it but it just was not for me.





Truth Devour

   

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review: A Single Breath by Lucy Clark


Eva has only been married for eight months when her husband, Jackson, is swept to his death while fishing. Weighed down by confusion and sorrow, Eva decides to take leave of her midwifery practice and visit Jackson's estranged family with the hope of grieving together.

Instead, she discovers that the man she loved so deeply is not the man she thought she knew. Jackson's father and brother reveal a dark past, exposing the lies her marriage was built upon. As Eva struggles to come to terms with the depth of Jackson's deception, she must also confront her growing attraction to Jackson's brother, Saul, who offers her intimacy, passion, and answers to her most troubling questions.

Will Eva be able to move forward, or will she be caught up in a romance with Saul, haunted by her husband's past? Threading together beautiful, wild settings and suspenseful twists, A Single Breath is a gripping tale of secrets, betrayals, and new beginnings.


Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014 by Touchstone (first published March 27th 2014)

Terri's Thoughts:      


I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher Touchstone via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is April 8th 2014.

This was a story about love and deception and the fallout when the two collide...

The majority of this story is about Eva dealing with the grief of the loss of her husband and this guides the plot.  While her grief is natural I found that at times I could not identify with it, in particular, when secrets about Jackson's deception began to come to surface.  I felt that she should have felt more anger and less confusion as she learned about the events that unfolded.  That being said it was this confusion that carried the plot along to its conclusion.

I loved the character of Saul as he struggled to protect Eva from the secrets that he was aware of.his genuine want to protect Eva from the very beginning when he did not know her was an admirable quality.

While I was able to predict the outcome of the story I did find that there were just enough skeletons in the closet to be revealed throughout the story to keep it going at a good pace.  There was also a good cast of supporting characters to keep you invested.

Overall a pleasant read.

     

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #19








Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are... 

 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog. 

 
This week's question is...

Spring is in the air! Show off your favourite outdoors reading spot. If you don’t go outside...well where else do you read that isn’t inside your house? We want pics!

Spring is not in the air here. We got dumped with 30 cm of snow last night and it feels like winter is never going to end. Both Terri and I camp in the summer and have spots side by side on the lake with our families. We have (matching) Dream Chairs where we spend many hours with our noses in books. I don't have an actual picture with one of us in them but this is what they look like.

The Original Dream Chair
 They are the most comfortable chairs to lounge in. You can make them swing and or bounce and are great for those much needed afternoon naps!

Here is another picture of a spot that we both love to relax and get lost in a great book.

This is me (Kristine) relaxing at beautiful Trunk Bay in St. John USVI. We aren't picky though, any warm, sunny and tropical beach will do the trick.

 My last and final picture is of a spot that I (Kristine again) spent a few hours relaxing and reading while in the Mayan Riviera. Terri and I have both vacationed and knocked numerous books off our lists while in the Mayan.

What are some of your favourite outdoor spots to read?


That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, facebook and/or twitter.


Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction.


Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Expected publication: March 18th 2014 by Crown 
 
Kristine's Thoughts:
 
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!*
 
This book is written in the form of emails, legal documents, and letters. It is an interesting way to tell a story but unfortunately some of the documents are difficult to read and understand in that format. There are a lot of legal documents that can be a bit monotonous if you don't enjoy or understand the legal system. I found myself skimming quite a few of these. Also it is a bit confusing in the beginning until you get to know the characters in the story.

If you can get through the beginning and all the documents there is a story that is quite good at times within the papers. I did enjoy the characters but I found that I had to work hard to get to them and the story. The books title is most definitely a good title because the book is in fact a bunch of divorce papers.

The Divorce Papers is a unique and interesting book that can be enjoyed with a little bit of effort if you are a fan of the epistolary style.
 
 
 
 

 


About the Author
 
Susan Rieger is a graduate of Columbia University Law School. She is also a former Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at Columbia University. The Divorce Papers is her debut novel.