As I am behind in posting updates about the books I have read (see previous post!) I have decided to attempt to do block updates to catch up.

Books 16-20 in 2015 were:

16.
Harriet Evans – A Place For Us
Rating: 3 out of 5

I hadn’t read a Harriet Evans novel in a long time, although I have several lined up. I saw that this one was available at the library so I snatched it up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it quite long, and sad. The book looks at family, mental illness, secrets and affairs. It wasn’t a particularly easy read and one that I came away from feeling a bit down. I will read more by Evans, but this one isn’t one I would highly recommend.

17.

John Green – Paper Towns
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second John Green novel I have read. I loved The Fault in Our Stars so had high hopes for this novel. I found it a bit of a let down – well, I found the ending a let down. This is a story of friendship. A girl goes missing, and a group of friends – led by her neighbour – seek to find her. I liked the tension, I liked reading about the friendship group, but ultimately I didn’t really like the girl they were looking for and I didn’t like the outcome. I finished the book feeling a bit deflated. I will probably watch the film when it comes out though!

18.

M. C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet
Rating: 4 out of 5

This is also the second M C Beaton novel I have read. I am thoroughly enjoying the Agatha Raisin series. I find them entertaining, gripping and easy reads. The crimes are never too gruesome, and there is something about Agatha that amuses me. This novel didn’t let me down. In this instalment, she investigates the murder of the vet that no one liked. It was a fun read. If you like light-hearted crime novels, this is for you!

19.

Rowan Coleman – The Memory Book
Rating: 4 out of 5

Man, this was a sad book. This was recommended to me by a friend (a fellow book lover), and I did really enjoy it. But goodness me was it a sad read. This novel looks at dementia, but in early age, and the effect it has on the family. It was a hard read, a bit of a tear-jerker, but one that I enjoyed. There was also a little twist, which I hadn’t seen coming, but was a bit heart-warming. This is a novel I would recommend.

20.

Debbie Macomber – 1022 Evergreen Place
Rating: 3 out of 5

As you know, I like a Debbie Macomber novels. They are quick, easy reads – definite Chick-Lit. This, of course, fit that bill perfectly. This is the 10th Cedar Cove instalment. As I am reaching the end of this series of books, I am finding them to be a bit same-y. That said, I liked the storyline about the WW2 letters, that brought a new element to these stories. If quick, girly reads are your thing, you will like this series books – but don’t read them all in one go!

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Addition: Paperback
Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Nothing could tear Lola and Dougie apart, except his mother Seventeen-year-old Lola has no intention of accepting when her boyfriend’s snobbish mother offers her a huge bribe to break up with him. Then Lola discovers a secret that makes her think again, and the only way she can help one of the people she loves most in the world is to take the money and break Dougie’s heart.

Ten years later, when Lola meets Dougie again, her feelings for him are as strong as ever. She’ll do almost anything to get him back, but she can never tell him the truth. Can she overcome his bitterness and win his heart? She’s attractive, persuasive, and endlessly optimistic, but even Lola’s got her work cut out for her this time.

I enjoy Jill Mansell’s books, she never lets me down! I have several of her novels on my bookcase waiting for me to read. I’ve had this one for a while, so it qualifies for the TBR Challenge 🙂

This novel follows Lola, a girl of just 17 who is offered ÂŁ10,000 to dump her boyfriend – by her boyfriend’s mother. She believes Lola isn’t good enough for her son Dougie. Lola shoots her down, but then discovers she needs the money to help her step-father get out of trouble. She promises to tell no-one about the money, or why she took it, so she dumps Dougie and leaves the country. Ten years later, back in the UK, she stops a mugging, only to later find out the lady who was being attacked was Dougie’s mother. Whilst she is round at the celebration meal, Dougie overhears her on the phone telling Gabe, her cute next-door neighbour about the money. When he hears this all he can feel is anger and hate. However, in her distress, Lola strikes up a friendship with Sally, Dougie’s older sister, who ends up living across the hall from her. Lola can’t believe how she feels for Dougie though when she sees him again and finds ways to keep seeing him – of course this is helped by her friendship with Sally. Yet Dougie is not interested at all…can his heart be changed?

I liked Lola. I felt sorry for her having to take that money to help out Alex, her step-father, after he lost everything gambling. I loved that she refused to tell anyone that was the reason why she took the money too. However, her persistant longing for Dougie was a bit annoying after a while – she seemed to pine for him all the time! I actually found Doug arrogant and a bit annoying! He was the injured party but he seemed to think he was better than Lola because he came from more money (like his mother in face – who I really didn’t like!) I did like Sally though! She seemed like she would be a fun person to hang out with! I liked Gabe too and felt sorry for him that the new job direction he was going down wasn’t going well!

This is an entertaining book, a chick-lit novel about first love, friendship and what we will do for those we love. If I’m completely honest, this isn’t my favourite Jill Mansell novel. It was a simple story with a predictable outcome – the only shock being that Lola’s biological father turned up out of the blue. I didn’t find myself desperate to know what was going to happen, but that said, I did read it to the end and I did enjoy it. This didn’t challenge me or move me in anyway, but I did enjoy it and it did entertain me.

This was a fairly quick read, even if it was over 400 pages long! The outcomes – the different romances – didn’t surprise me at all. I thought that there was an excessive amount of talking about sex – wondering if they were having it, why they weren’t etc. It didn’t add anything to the story and I was a bit fed up of it by the end. This is a light read though, entertaining and fun. This isn’t the best Mansell I’ve read but it hasn’t put me off her books. I’m glad I’ve finally read this book and I did enjoy it.

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Addition: Review e-book

Genre: Young adult

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Ariel is the head chef in her family kitchen. Cucumber salads, fettuccine carbonara, fish tacos, and peanut butter pie are just a few of the dishes she crafts when she’s feeling frustrated by the world. And it’s turning into a frustrating year. Ariel, Nicki, and Mattie have been inseparable friends since they were little kids, but now Mattie’s mom has decided to move away. It’s the girls’ last year in middle school, and they can’t fathom being separated. The friends concoct a plan that will keep Mattie in the Bay area she’ll move in with Ariel and her family. But before you can say “bff,” the party is over. Everything Mattie does gets on Ariel’s nerves, and it’s not long before the girls are avoiding each other. This was supposed to be their best year ever, but some painful lessons are threatening to tear their friendship apart. Can the girls scramble to make things right before the bond crumbles?

I received this book from netGallery to review – thank you.

This is a story of friendship and food. Ariel has two best friends: Mattie and Nicki. It has become a strange year. Nicki is creeping around and keeping secrets, but worse, Mattie’s Mum has a new job and they have to leave town. To keep Mattie around Ariel proposes that she lives with her and her family. Being a welcoming home, Ariel’s parents allow this. Mattie moves in, but soon she is getting on Ariel’s nerves. Mattie sees herself as just trying to fit in, and Ariel finds herself getting jealous. Their friendship is in trouble, and what is going on with Nicki? This story looks at the joy of food, how to fix a friendship and the truth about keeping secrets.

Firstly, I was drawn by the simplicity of the cover – just a few aprons hanging up. I also liked how the book contained the recipes mentioned as part of the story. They are unique and different. Not what I would eat or cook but it makes the book stand out.

The girls seemed realistic – just typical American high school teenagers. They were not the most popular girls, they were just nice, hard working and friendly. The book is about their friendship, and actually it is nice to read. The bond and the tension is well written and I liked them all. I felt sorry for Mattie, who was living away from her Mum and sorry for Ariel, who felt that Mattie was taking her place in the family. Of course, I did also think that they should have expressed their feelings instead of keeping it in and almost losing the friendship. I liked Nicki as well, but she wasn’t the main character. She was the third wheel in the group – joining late and keeping secrets, and I felt she was written just as an extra.

This is a girly story. The main characters are girls and the book is about friendship. The story line isn’t particularly original – I feel having the recipes in the book special, not the story line as such. It is an easy read and a young adult book. I enjoyed it. I did find myself getting exasperated with the girls at times; I felt they just needed to talk to each other and Mattie’s actions at the end didn’t impress me. Overall, this is a quick and easy read if you like female fiction and young adult books.

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Synopsis:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend

This is the fourth Sarah Dessen book I have read, and I loved it, like the others. This story follows Auden, a girl whose life was shaken by her parent’s divorce. She spent her life focusing on her studies to impress her mother and missed out on the normal teenage social interactions. This summer she decides to spend time with her father and step-mother after she discovers what sort of relationships her mum has with her graduate students. Everyone has a secret, and this is her mum’s. Her life changes that summer when she helps out at her step-mother’s store and discovers the life of girls. She also makes a good friend, the handsome Eli, and spends her nights with him drinking coffee, eating pie and visiting anywhere that is open 24-hours. Life is good and she is learning about life outside the academic world, but when her father leaves again her world is shaken. Unlike the last time, this time round her emotions surface and she faces hard battles with them. Her life has been transformed, she has made some great friends, but whilst discovering life away from homework she makes some mistakes. She has to make some tough decisions, learn how to face her parents and learn how to be a friend, and maybe more.

I find that Sarah Dessen writes books that I cannot put down. Every storyline is gripping and realistic. She writes characters that you can’t help but like and every lead male has some talent that helps them find release. In this book, Eli is a biker; as are many of the other characters, such as Maggie and Adam – two of the friends Auden makes. This is a theme in every Dessen books and I like it. It adds a little depth and creativity.

I liked all the characters. Many were not as they originally seemed. When Auden opened up and let herself feel emotions feel she was a different girl. Maggie, she seems like all she knows about is shoes and pink things, but actually she is very intelligent. Eli: now he I loved learning about him. He had a tough experience involving a friend, but watching him open up and get past the grief was lovely. My favourite moment however, was when we saw the soft side of Auden’s mum. She travelled down to see Auden because she thought she was upset – this seemed out of character for the mum, who was so hard and rigid.

I read this book in under 24 hours, I was hooked from the first page. I found nothing wrong with this. It is aimed at young adult but I think anyone who enjoys chick-literature would enjoy this book. This is a great book, and I can easily give it 5/5.

This will be book number 09 in the Romance Challenge for me:

Books Read:

  1. Nicholas Sparks: The Wedding
  2. Sarah Dessen: Lock and Key
  3. Debbie Macomber: 44 Cranberry Point
  4. Judy Blume: Forever
  5. Rachel Hore: The Memory Garden
  6. Elizabeth Noble: The Girl Next Door
  7. Debbie Macomber: 50 Harbour Street
  8. Allison van Diepen: The Oracle of Dating
  9. Sarah Dessen: Along For the Ride
  10. L. K. Madigan: The Mermaid’s Mirror
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