Sugar and Snails Paperback by Anne Goodwin

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Hi readers, lovely for you to join for another review and this one is beautiful; honestly through and through. I am going to apologise this is one of those books that if you give away a lot of the plot then it does ultimately ruin the development for the reader so this may come across as a hazy review, but this book is sublime and is a needed read by  anyone who resides in the year of 2015 because it rings very true.

The past lingers on, etched beneath our skin … At fifteen, Diana Dodworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound. To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why. Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

Due to not being able to or wanting to give away too much into the specific plot line I’m going to throw myself into the nitty-gritty. I am so impressed that this is a debut novel;  there is something that makes the author seem incredibly comfortable as an author; it feel natural, well-conceived and given to the reader in a way that feels neither telling neither negative. The topic discussed through the book is at times challenging and disturbing in the way that those around our main character react.

What I can say in terms of plot is that we follow the life of Diana Dodsworth who is an academic psychologist. She is a little nervous, anxious, awkward at times and self-conscious. We see her struggle through a particularly difficult dinner party where she meets Simon. The two appear to find solace in one another and their relationship develops. However tension from previous experiences mean the two struggle and we see their relationship struggle and falter and then grow stronger. I adored the way their relationship was built; it’s not flowers and fairies, it’s gritty, and raw. It discussed feelings that I had yet to really truly experience and when we relate that to Di’s internal struggle it is truly heartbreaking.

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I thought the tale moved with pace and was told with strength; both main characters are well built up and develop strongly throughout. Additionally secondary supporting characters were given the time to become characters in their own selves helping to create a well-rounded plot-line. The writing is strong and moves with enough pace and style. It has a languid feel with beautifully built up moments. The writing does move backwards and forwards time wise and after reading for a long periods of time I did feel a little lost. However, it only adds to the confusion that the author is creating in the story of the main protagonist and it makes it feel all the more real.

I really felt that I learnt something from this book and that’s what us readers want to experience from a novel; not only a story but a meaning and this book has definitely ignited a want to learn and understand more. I’m gabbing on, and T moans my reviews are too long so I’m finishing here. Buy it today because you’ll miss out on something fantastic if you don’t.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught life 101

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*Sighs* this might be my favourite Top Ten Tuesday post so far. The actually topic is Ten books that would be on your syllabus X 101. Examples include YA, fantasy, classic literature, feminist literature, you get the idea. I’ve picked ‘life 101’ and I mean it, not in a literal way, but more of the way in which books teach you something. These books include teaching you how to pick yourself up, get over heart-break, family strains. These are the books that have given me something back.

1)       The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

This book, honest to the word, has helped in ways that I could have never expected it to. It talks of life in such an honest, wonderfully light and subtle way, but it talks of death, love and family too. The fact that author is dying as we read along makes it feel all the more destructive but it has a calming presence. It talks of never wasting time, living every day the way we want to and to take control. I haven’t really looked back since finishing this book.

2)       Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

I’ve never reviewed this book for mylittlebookblog, but I think I might soon. The book follows the main character as he comes to terms with his sister’s death from anorexia. It highlights the struggle of family life, the tough decisions we have to make, and the loss of people close to us. It’s a tale that I always dip into now and again and it’s written in a wonderfully lyrical style. My and sister and I rarely got on a couple of years back but now we’re a solid pair of besties. She’s one in a million.

3)       ‘Giovanni’s Lover by James Baldwin

When I first started this book I didn’t think I would finish it let alone make its way onto this list, but this book taught me that there are some things, we cannot take back. I went through a lot of time not caring how I made other people feel because I barely cared about myself, at all. This book taught me that our decisions, our words, our actions towards others can be detrimental to people that we love. I know it seems trivial but I needed this to speak to me and tell me I needed to stop being an ass.

4)       Eat, pray, love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe a controversial choice, but this book helped to change the perception that I needed to plan out, almost exactly, how my life was going to pan out. I panicked about too many different elements in my life; relationships, career, where I was going to live etc. The mother bought this and told me to read it, get some perspective and calm the hell down. This was the starting blocks to letting go a little more and trusting me more.

5)       Remember to breathe by Simon Pont

I have written about this book many, many a time but reading this really helped to break through my wailing and make me think that the collapse of my relationship was merely a blip in the road. I’ve met someone who is miles better for me, and just gets me and this book helped to smooth over all the feelings that were raging at the time.

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6)       Factotum by Charles Bukowski

Another maybe, odd choice? I’ve always worried a lot about where I’m going to be, in terms of career and this book made me think. I know that what I’m doing right isn’t right for me, it’s not challenging me but the main character in this book is all over the place. He’s changing jobs every second, turning up late, drunk, forgetting things falling asleep. Although quite obviously isn’t the way to do it, the way that you can change your life and do something else, even something polar opposite,  made me positive that I’m never stuck. I can always go a different way.

7)       The Fault in our stars by John Green

This also wasn’t going to make the list but I thought, fuck it. It’s a book about adoration, love, belief and pain. But it’s a tale that teaches us that pain and hurt exist, but to live in the present, in the moment you might say if you’re feeling all gushy. This book is worth a bloody read.

8)       The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

I know this appears in all my lists but I couldn’t help myself once again. As I’ve come to terms with my anxiety many things I thought were ‘control-freak,’ tendencies were in fact my anxiety. I’ve struggled with losing friends in the past, holding on despite deceit, awkward silences and their brush-off manner. This book taught me it is okay to lose people, not because you want to but because it’s better, often for both of you.

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9) Pearshaped by Stella Newman 

Another tale about relationships but taken from the other side this book looks at the problems of unhealthy, manipulating and downright awful relationships. We are allowed to say when something is not up and stand up for ourselves. This books says that, loud and clear.

10)       Finally, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol

I picked this because, some of the quotes features are so profound and special. I often like to ask people if they would like to be friends with Alice or be Alice, because her sudden change in perception is mind-blowingly beautiful. There are so many twisted bits of knowledge woven in and we see Alice grow as a person. It’s a classic book that means a lot to me and many readers and I’m glad it’s made the list.

I wrote a lot more here than I thought I would surprisingly but I thought this was a list where you really needed to explain why they made the list. This isn’t an extensive list (obviously) and when I read Wild, which I will do, I might have to include that as a bonus book because I think it might just change my outlook on everything but we’ll see. Another day another book.

I do love it when people comment and ask me and the choices, the reasons, and just hearing what you would add so if you have anything pop in down in the comments below. Lots of love and hugs, lizzy. X

The Love & Hate Tag

The Love-Hate Tag

Helllllo readers, I’ve been tagged in lots of new blogging awards recently which as always is bloody lovely. I feel like I’ve written a lot of bookish things recently and less ‘lizzy-bits,’ so thought I would take the chance to write out the love & hate tag before I forget. The idea is that you write ten things you love and ten things you hate and then you tag someone else to write theirs down and so on and so on. Simples.

Love:

  1. Reading: Might as well get this one of the waaaaay. I’m an obsessive reader to the point where it’s starting to terrify me. I’m not sure I can balance my life with how much reading I wish I could get done but, imma trying.
  1. Margaritas: Gah my cocktail of choice (or just anything with tequila.)
  1. Blueberry Yoghurt: This is a recent thing but I used to abhor blueberries, horrible little things. But trying blueberry yoghurt in the past month or so I have been an addict. Not sorry.

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  1. Early morning cuddles: If me and the boyf are staying the night with each other, we’ll set the alarm half an hour early so we can have a morning big/little spoon snuggles because we’re gross and we know it.
  1. Walking: I’ve always preferred walking but getting up in the morning is sometimes a little difficult, but recently I found out I could walk to work and save myself £60 or so pounds a month (BONUSSS.) Now I seem to walk everywhere, to the station, to friends, into town. It helps my anxiety too because public transport is killer.
  1. BURRITOS: That is all

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  1. Peppermint tea with nettles and camomile: This stuff is just, beautiful.
  1. Cinema dates with all the gang: Anything with my motely group of friends. Spoons dates, cinema trips, days in the sunshine in the park, traveling to unplanned parts of the world; all good.
  1. Weekends with my parents: I never realised how close my family are but we are a close-knit gang. I love spending the weekend helping Mumma B with the chores, popping out for lunch bits, going for a walk around Stowe. Imma home bird and I do not give a monkeys.

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  1. Driving: Although I still can’t drive I really love driving around and trying not to cause chaos on the roads. It was a little nerve wracking to start but I cannot wait to get my own little car and be whizzing around all over the place.

Hate:

  1. People that are always late: Get a watch? I mean we all check our phones enough we should know that if you say seven, twenty past isn’t going to cut it.
  1. Blackberry soothers: The smell of these things makes me choke; gross.

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  1. Jellllllllllllllllllllly: (or Jello) I think jelly is horrible, the taste and the texture of the stuff is just blergh.
  1. My inability to remember to add reviews to Amazon/Goodreads/My own review list: The organisation of my day-to-day life is pretty on pointe but this I always seem to forget and then have to add tens of them on in one go. Sorrrrry
  1. Emails that don’t answer questions: Is it me or if you email someone a number of questions no matter how carefully bullet pointed they answer the first one, maybe the second if you’re lucky but not all. What is that?

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  1. Snakes: These, terrify me. My desk-neighbour at work is always trying to trick me into looking at pictures of them on his computer. Dude, no.
  1. Going to the dentist: Years of having to go to have my braces tightened has made this an utterly terrifying experience for me, not that it wasn’t already.
  1. Not travelling: I have the travelling bug so much right now and I have no-one to go with *wails*

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  1. Constantly being covered in bruises: Doesn’t matter what I’m doing/wearing/drinking I end up with random uncomfortable bruises and they are so unattractive when they’re on your wrists/elbow/feet. How does that even happen?
  1. Running out of liquid eyeliner: That stuff is ma jam.

Ten things I love, ten things I hate, I now tag Stefani at ‘Caught Read Handed’ to complete said taggg. Enjoy!

The Lebrus Stone by Miriam Khan

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Hellllllo readers, a little bit of an emotional review for you today; I’ve spoken to a number of bookish bloggers about this but sometimes it gets a bit too much. I’ve thought for a while about taking a blogging break and step back for a while, create some breathing space, get through my review requests and get back on top of it all. We’ll have to see; sometimes it feels like it’s all a bit too much. The reading, reviewing, writing, the social media, the emails, and all whilst attempting to hold down a full-time job, travel home and see friends/family/Lola & Barbie and trying to build on a new relationship. Gah, I feel like I’m having a blogging midlife crisis. I’ve also struggled with the book used for today’s review; a fantasy book which I found difficult to read, but I’ll let you find out why.

When eighteen-year-old orphan, Crystal Valdez, accepts an invitation to the small town of Blacksville, West Virginia, she hopes to have a summer to remember and a chance to learn more about her parents, to also get to know the family she never knew existed. But the Lockes begin to act strange and erratic; eerie movements in the night fuel her vivid and gruesome nightmares. To complicate her summer further, she becomes attracted to the menacing yet handsome Cray Locke: her none blood related cousin. He seems determined to keep his distance.

The only bonus to her trip seems to be the housekeeper and gardener. And when a local informs Crystal of the secrets buried at Thorncrest Manor, the kind consisting of a forbidden relationship and a war between hidden worlds, and witchcraft, she must decide whom to trust. Even if it means leaving behind those she has come to love.

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As the blurb suggests the book follows Crystal who has a horrible start in life in which both her parents die in a terrible car accident. Sent to live with her Aunt who is then a little shockingly killed in a house fire thing aren’t looking to positive. Alone in the world and spending her remaining childhood in a foster care home, a woman who claims to be her long lost great aunt appears seemingly out of nowhere, Crystal is invited to find out more about her mother and her family. But not is all as it seems, once in Thorncrest Manor, the family appear to turn on Crystal and her destructive relationship with Cray looks soon to burst; as readers we follow Crystal as she seeks to find out more about herself and the family she barely knew.

In terms of positives Crystal is a well-developed although complicated character. She has a lot of emotion and she’s written with passion. Her relationships throughout the book were thorny and although she has a lot of layers to her as a character, I found her difficult to warm to. At times she was prickly and her relationship with Cray is a little odd. They are both distant with each other and at times he treats her horribly whilst she adores him. It didn’t sit well with me as a reader. Their relationship is uncomfortable at best and they don’t interact in an open way at all. Additionally with her mood swinging, from needy to jealous to desperately in love, I was exhausted. Although the writing is quite strong in places, as to the description of characters and the like, the pace is slow and I found myself having to read the first few chapters a number of times to get into the book; saying this it does pick up but it’s a slow burner.

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I also questioned throughout Crystal’s decision to stay at the Manor. From almost the moment she arrives there, it becomes noticeably clear that there is something very wrong with the Locke family. Isobel’s character changes so utterly she’s barely recognisable (whilst she shows no intention of sharing any further information) and Crystal starts to suffer with terrifying nightmares which are suggested to be due to her being tormented by ghosts. Throughout Crystal attempts to rationalise what is happening whilst I was yelling to myself ‘get the hell out of there.’ It didn’t make sense to me that a girl with such intellect would stay there so long in such a unpredictable environment. Additionally towards the end of the book it becomes truly disturbing; there are a number of descriptions of rape and sensitive material that I didn’t find fitted or was needed. It all became a bit too much. Additionally the ending didn’t clear anything up for me. Many questions are left unanswered and although I assume due to the ending a second book is in the making I don’t think I’ll be reading it.

I guess for me this book just didn’t work. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get or enjoy from this book. The writing at times works well it has ebb and flow and although it moves with a slow pace many of the descriptions are spot on. I found however the situation that our main character is in and her personality as a whole jarred and became confused. Additionally as we work our way through the story and realise that we’re not getting the answers we expected it feels like the book was for nothing. It’s frustrating and unrealistic and I found it a difficult to read. Unfortunately one I’m a little saddened to have read.

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Dreamscape by Kirstin Pulioff

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Helllllo readers, today’s review is quite special to me because it was recommended by an author that she contact me. Being recommended by an author that you’re worth the wait for a review is an *over-the-moon* feeling. You want your blog to get to the point where people ask for reviews not only because you review alllll books but because they are good/solid reviews. It just makes it feel all the more special. Before I get too mushy, onto my review of Dreamscape.

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she’s loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before. Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?

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The more fantasy books I read the more I admire the genre as a whole; I don’t fully enjoy the genre yet, and I wouldn’t pick up a fantasy book as a choice in a book store but more books like this one could help me to really start reading this genre but extensively. As the blurb suggests the book follows Alex who is in a bit of a mess. Her family are planning the move from her childhood home and it’s the worse time possible. As she prepares to move her and her best friend decide to play their favourite childhood game, but after dark when she attempts the game again, she is pulled into the world of Dreamscape. Here she must battle the game again but without the cheats; will she succeed? Will she join the rebellion? Can she ever escape the game? In this fantasy story all will finally be revealed.

This isn’t your typical fantasy tale, here we explore a fantastical world but in the sense of the game ‘Dreamscape.’ I thought the descriptions of the games were evocative and rich helping to place us into the narrative background. Alex at the beginning is exasperatingly angry about having to move which I found infuriating but as the book progresses her character truly evolves into a warmer more intriguing character. I must admit I didn’t really fall for her in the way that I do, as in I desperately wanted her to succeed but it’s nice to watch her story and her journey develop. I thought in terms of this when she has to decide whether to face her role as the hero full on or use her ‘cheats’ and ‘shortcuts’ to leave the rebellion was an intriguing way to connect the game, and the difficulties that Alex is dealing with in her real life.

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In terms of the additional characters that we meet along the way I thought they were delightful. Arrow is writing with power as being the leader of the rebellion but he has a warmer kinder side to him whilst I thought that Melody was a deadly power female and wished we had learnt and heard more from her throughout. The writing as I mentioned briefly is strong; Alex seems everything in the game much more vividly and I thought the little changes between the game and reality helped to both connect both realities but also keep them separate. Also if you’re looking for castle, guards, missions, secret-missions, that’s all here too; all the standard game items as well.

In terms of problems the book doesn’t start with a bang, it starts quite slowly and with a lack of pace. It does pick up and for me I would keep reading for enough chapters to really get into the book but it was a little hard going. Although the characters are given interesting character profiles Alex to start with is whiny and irritating. As I’ve mentioned in the main review it’s okay because she changes so much as the novel progresses but at the beginning it does grate. Additionally the ending was, how can I put this? Disappointing? It made me angry as a reader because it just ends. The book works on a romantic storyline which is just dropped.

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Overall a book of two halves for me; writing is strong, starts slow but moves with pace. Characters are well worked but then the ending falls a little flat. I think overall this is a good fantasy reader for YA readers who like the genre. I thought the concept was really clever but a little more explanation with the ending and making Alex a more likeable character would have help me to utterly love this book.

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Dating a girl that reads

  Hi everyone, I’ve wanted to write this post for a while after seeing the ‘You Should Date a Girl who Reads,’ recently re-posted on a favourite blog of mine and I wanted to share a couple of pointers about dating girls that read.

It’s also as good a time as any to mention I’m dating again. Yes, I’ve found a rather bookish, sarcastic, slightly awkward human being who adores books almost as much as I do and mirrors my fondness for burritos. He puts up with my messiness, my fondness for trashy television and wanted to spend his birthday reading books in the garden with me whilst eating kettle chips and drinking cider; sometimes I wonder where I found him. Four years of drunken encounters throughout university we realised we’re pretty great for one another. Before I get too mushy, here are a few pointers for dating a girl that reads.

Long Walks in multiple bookstores

If she mentions she’d like to, ‘just pop into the book-store round the corner,’ you can be sure that you’re probably in for the long haul. Whether it’s picking out a book she’s already read and reciting review comments, or picking out the oldest looking books and marvelling at the embossed covers I’m sorry to say you’re not leaving any time soon. But you might be able to pick up a book or two whilst you’re at it.

Constant Reading Recommendations

 “What do you mean you haven’t read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? It’s a stunning prose, studded with painful and evocative moments in the life of one struggling to overcome crippling depression. It’s a classic. You know, you should read it, you’ll like it I think.’

If you date a girl that reads this is likely to be a common occurrence. We just want to share books with people we think are pretty great, and you just happen to be one of them.

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No reply?

This is one doesn’t happen to me quite so often due to my escalating addiction to twitter, but there are days where I turn my phone onto aeroplane mode and just switch to book mode. It is so freeing just to turn off from the world, and I know it might feel like your SO has forgotten you but really an author has just captured their heart for an hour or two. Additionally, book time is a thing and you should totally respect it. Sometimes we just need a while to get our teeth stuck into a novel and wile away a couple of hours. #sorrynotsorry

Bookish Discussions

Blogging although very much a conversational thing is also often a little one-side so we like to make bookish conversation and you will most probably be our first call. Yes we’ll babble on for a while but sharing something so important to us is kind of special. You might even be able to pass on some bookish wisdom. I am now a proud reader of Haruki Murakami an author Tom thought I should read waaaay before we finally started dating. I now plan to read a lot more, because the writing is effortless.

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Meet the Bookshelf             

 Almost as terrifying as meeting the parents; seeing you SO’s bookshelf for the first time can be an intriguing moment. Whether it’s your pristine collection of Twilight books, or his signed autobiographies from James May, there could be an awkward moment or two. It’s often something you’ll giggle about and you never know you might find something you didn’t know was worth reading.

 If you are helping her move it will be absolute hell

As my parents will justify, moving a pile of boxes stacked with books will always be a bit of a bugger. Knees bent, back straight; it’s all part of the job. These books however hold more than just a couple of back-breaking missions to and from the car to the next house. They hold stories of passionate love, characters that have moved her to tears and stories that will stay with her forever. It’s worth it for those couple of hours days of pain.

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Books will always come first

For us readers foremost books come first. We have a passion, a love, an obsession you might say with pen and paper and although it may mean sometimes we disappear from reality for a while you are the one that we come back to and remember that reality is in fact okay and that there is a fairy-tale in real life too.

Sometimes I can surprise myself with how gushy I can be. As always anything to add, comment, share, or criticise leave it down in the comments or tweet me @littlebookblog1. Ciou.

Storm Rising by Rachael Richey

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Helllllllo readers and welcome to another review|*cheers*| I made a blunder the first time writing this review stating Rachael Richey wrote The Beauty Thief when in fact Rachael Richtey wrote it! How close are those names, that’s crazy! Anyway back to this review, this is my first review from this author on the back of reading it I really want to read more from her. Brilliant writing and one I think you will utterly adore.

Frontman of the grunge rock band NightHawk, Gideon Hawk has had enough of the rock star life. He is jaded, disillusioned, and haunted by the memory of an unresolved heartbreak. On a whim, he leaves the band in New York and heads to England in search of answers.

After attending the funeral of her estranged mother, Abigail Thomson makes a shocking discovery in her parents’ attic. The still-raw memories that surface, along with even more startling discoveries, force Abi to face a devastating truth that leads to a series of life-changing events. She and Gideon must race against time to reclaim the life stolen from them a decade before.

The book jumps between two periods of time, from 2005 to flashbacks of 1994/5 when both Abi and Gideon were teenagers.

We begin the tale at the funeral of Abigail Thomson’s estranged mother who Abi has not seen let alone spoken to in ten years. Meeting her father again, feelings begin to unravel and when stashes of undelivered letters addressed to Abi are found in the attic, our story really begins. The letters are from Abi’s teenage first love, Gideon Hawk who just so happens to be the frontman of the band Night Hawk, but in an attempt to ditch the limelight after a concert held in New York he sensationally quits the band. The book flits between the burgeoning relationship between Abi and Gideon set a decade before and the present day as we see the two very different lives begin to become parallel once again.

I really enjoyed this lovely little tale; although it may appears to take the stereotypical girl meets rock-star, their relationship crumbles, he attempts to escape the limelight, throughout there is a mysterious secret that builds from the very beginning. Why were the letters undelivered? Why did Abi have to tread on eggshells around her mother? Was her father also involved in the traumatic event that happened? The book twists and turns between the two time periods allowing the writer to give us dribs and drabs causing the story to intensify and made me gabble through the pages.

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The characters are written with style and warmth; Abi is a darling character, warm and bright I found her an unforgettable character. Determined, and charming and then suddenly a little helpless I really felt for her. Additionally witnessing her rebellious teenage years reminded me a lot of my own. Telling my parents I would be in one place when I would be stealing away to another. I thought that Gideon was a hot mess; a diamond in the rough, his charming and gentleman like character mixed with his rock-star attributes made me have a serious character crush. Judy and Chris make superb supporting characters who I also found really brilliant to read about.

I only have two little wobbles with the book as a whole; firstly at the beginning the book lacks some pace. It does take a while to get into the book and to be fair the secretive nature of Abi’s dislike at having to attend her own mother’s funeral really pulled me in but the writing could have been snappier and flowed quicker I think. The second I thought that Gideon’s sudden upheaval from the states could have been toyed with more just because it felt a bit quick or overly easy? For me I would have liked to have seen that played with a bit more and in the relationship and the bond between him and Abi in the present tense.

Despite this, I couldn’t put this down. Lyrical writing style, strong characters, a good solid plot-line and a smattering of well-built up characters (main and supporting) this book has everything going for it. A strong tale, one that I really enjoyed and one I think you will to.

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