Sunday, 4 September 2016

My Month in Manga - August

I've not been reading as much manga lately, but I've been introduced to some new mangaka.

Idol Dreams #1

 
I read part 1 of Idol Dreams, a manga with echoes of Big where 31 year old virgin Chikage wishes she could go back to her teens.  When her wish comes true, she finds herself thrust into a world of fame and sharing her first kiss with a teen idol. 

I liked Tanemura's art style and found this an easy, entertaining read - I'll definitely be continuing this series.

Kisses, Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink
 


This f/f manga collection is set at Sakuraki High, an all girls' school and follows the relationships of the pupils and staff based there.  Nana and Hitomi's relationship is the main focus of the collection, and in many ways I felt the other couples were surplus to requirements.  I loved the bond between the two girls and especially that it had the ups and downs of any partnership.  Full of angst, romance and emotional turmoil, I couldn't read this book fast enough! 

Milk Morinaga's art is absolutely beautiful and exactly the style I find most visually appealing.  I will definitely be looking out for more of her manga. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Recently I've Read - August 2016

Searching for a Silver Lining - Miranda Dickinson
 
 
The Blurb
It began with a promise . . .

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything . . .

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern, Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you'll never forget.

My review of this book will be posted on publication day on October 20th...but I loved it!

 
 
Aimee and the Heartthrob - Ophelia London
 
 
The Blurb
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drug use, drinking, some sexual content, and lots and lots of kissing. Its swoonworthy hero may ruin all others for you. He never noticed her before, but now she's all he can see…
 
 Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister - and off-limits - but won’t even give him the time of day…
 
As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.
 
But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…
 
I blogged about this book in my post #Boybandlit which you can find here.
 
#PleaseRetweet - Emily Benet
 
 
The Blurb
Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job. Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of C – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things. Easy, right? #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (who she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy.

Sucked in to her virtual world, May loses grip on her real life. Friendships suffer and romance looks increasingly unlikely. If she doesn't log off soon, will there be any one real left?

I read this book as part of the #SummerImpulse reading challenge.  You can read my full review of it here.

 
A Library of Lemons - Jo Cotterill
 
 
The Blurb
A poignant story about dealing with grief through the magic of reading and friendship.
 
Calypso's mum died a few years ago and her emotionally incompetent Dad can't, or won't, talk about Mum at all. Instead he throws himself into writing his book A History of the Lemon. Meanwhile the house is dusty, there's never any food in the fridge, and Calypso retreats into her own world of books and fiction.
 
 When a new girl, Mae, arrives at school, the girls' shared love of reading and writing stories draws them together. Mae's friendship and her lively and chaotic home - where people argue and hug each other - make Calypso feel more normal than she has for a long time. But when Calypso finally plucks up the courage to invite Mae over to her own house, the girls discover the truth about her dad and his magnum opus - and Calypso's happiness starts to unravel.
 
My review of A Library of Lemons will be online soon.
 
Idol Dreams - Arina Tanemura*
 
 
The Blurb
At age 31, office worker Chikage Deguchi feels she missed her chances at love and success. When word gets out that she's a virgin, Chikage is humiliated and wishes she could turn back time to when she was still young and popular. She takes an experimental drug that changes her appearance back to when she was 15. Now Chikage is determined to pursue everything she missed out on all those years ago--including becoming a star!
 
For teen audiences.
 
You can read my thoughts on Idol Dreams in my post My Month in Manga - August, coming soon.
 
What have you been reading recently?  I'd love to know!
 

Saturday, 27 August 2016

#PleaseRetweet - Emily Benet



The Blurb
Social media whizz kid, May Sparks has landed her dream job. Well, not quite, but the salary is great and all May has to do is handle the online profiles of C – list celebrities who have the tendency to say inappropriate things. Easy, right? #wrong

May’s clients include an ex big brother star (who she's definitely not going to sleep with #neversaynever), a disgraced TV presenter (who wants May to sort out his marriage as well as his Twitter account), and a woman who once flashed her boobs on X-factor. They're all relying on her to turn them into stars. But they're not going to make her job easy.

Sucked in to her virtual world, May loses grip on her real life. Friendships suffer and romance looks increasingly unlikely. If she doesn't log off soon, will there be any one real left?

The Review
This was such a fun read!  Emily Benet has capitalised on Twitter's world domination and centred #PleaseRetweet around May Sparks, a snappy media-savvy young woman whose job it is to manage the Twitter accounts of washed up celebrities who need all the help they can get to stay in the public eye.

I loved the zippy dialogue, the sharp wit and the colourful characters, and although poor May was working 24/7 to keep her clients out of mischief I must admit I was crying out for the celebrities to make more faux pas because they were so entertaining!  Authors, reality stars, boyband members with unpronounceable names...they all needed May's guidance to keep in touch with both technology and their fans.

This contemporary novel is exceptionally well written and will act as a sharp warning to anyone who finds themselves spending more time online than in the outside world.  I loved it!

#PleaseRetweet is out now in ebook and paperback format, published by Harper Impulse.

With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Friday, 26 August 2016

#boybandlit

Books about music are one of my major weaknesses so when I found about #boybandlit chat on Twitter I was in my element.  A group of likeminded readers and authors chatted about anything and everything to do with boybands and books for an hour (although it felt like five minutes, it was one of those strange time-twisting moments) and it made me desperate to devour even more books about music.

During 2016 I've read and reviewed (and loved ) Love Song by Sophia Bennett and Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell, and I've also read...

Kill The Boyband - Goldy Moldavsky
 
 
 
The Blurb

Fangirls get a bad rap all the time - people say we're weird, hysterical, obsessed, certifiable. But those people don't understand.

Just because we're fangirls, doesn't mean we're crazy.

It's important you know that up front. Because everything I'm about to tell you is going to seem . . . well, crazy.

From thrilling debut author Goldy Moldavsky comes Kill The Boy Band, a pitch-black, hilarious take on modern fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make - or break - the people we call 'celebrities'.

The Review


Kill The Boyband has been a big YA book in 2016 and as such I had high hopes for it. As an out and out fangirl I was especially interested in how the girls were going to be portrayed.

I need to clarify that this is a very different book when it comes to bands and fandoms, exploring the obsessive (and possessive) nature of the fangirl.  I was a bit confused as to whether it was meant to be satirical, especially as the digs being made were predominantly at The Ruperts fans, when I imagine many of the target readership are likely to be fans of boybands themselves, or if it was supposed to be funny - either way something was lacking.  I also had some issues with sweeping generalisations about groups within the novel, the overweight, the gay, the rich kids...which again I assume were satirical but didn't quite come across that way.

There were elements of this book I liked - the language and dialogue and the dynamics between the band members were done especially well - and it has stayed with me since reading it in the spring.  However, I'm not sure it's a book I'd return to again because of the issues I mentioned above.


Aimee and the Heartthrob - Ophelia London


The Blurb
 
This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drug use, drinking, some sexual content, and lots and lots of kissing. Its swoonworthy hero may ruin all others for you. He never noticed her before, but now she's all he can see…
 
 Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister - and off-limits - but won’t even give him the time of day…
 
As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.
 
But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…
 
The Review
 
I sometimes find the thought of starting a series daunting, especially at the moment as I've not got as much time for reading recently as I've had in the past.  However, I read this book as part of a readalong with another blogger (Hi Sofia!) and quickly found myself immersed in Aimee and Miles' story. 
 
It's unapologetically romance, and I loved that it didn't try to be anything else.  It reminded me a lot of the Sweet Dreams books I devoured as a teenager - a sprinkling of angst, a forbidden romance and a lot of kissing. 
 
I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of this series and finding out more about the rest of the band.  If you're looking for all-out boyband romance, this could be the series for you.
 
My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend - Eleanor Wood 
 
 
The Blurb
 
Geeky girl meets famous boy . . . what could go wrong?

Tuesday Cooper is happy being normal -doing her a-levels and indulging in her twin obsessions: buying weird vintage clothes in charity shops and writing her beloved music blog (which nobody ever reads). Her love for music started when she was thirteen and had a massive crush on Jackson Griffith, teen rock god and SUPER HOT LOVE OF HER LIFE. Now Tuesday's eighteen and has moved on to fancying boys in real life and Jackson went off the celebrity radar years ago.
So it can't be him that's messaging her on her blog, can it?

From one girl's computer to the pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival, this is a love story for anyone who has ever wished that someone would sing a love song just for them.

Dreams can come true . . .
 
The Review

 
This was a book I stumbled across at the library and picked up on a whim - and I'm so glad I did!  Eleanor Wood has done a brilliant job of writing a fun, romantic, quirky novel about an ordinary girl who meets a superstar band member.  Tuesday and Jackson end up in a complicated situation where fame and normality collide, resulting in a story far more poignant than I would have expected. 
 
I laughed out loud on more than one occasion and had a lump in my throat during the darker moments - this YA book had it all.  If you love books about bands, you really need to give this one a try.

Have you read any books about singer/bands that I really need to read?  I'd love any recommendations!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Ones I Didn't Blog - What I've Read This Summer

It's been a crazily busy summer for me, with both my day job and writing/editing my first full length novel taking up a lot of my time and energy.  There's not been much time for reading, let alone reviewing, but I've been logging my reading history for so long that it feels strangely alien not to be doing it!

I'm not going to get the chance to fully review everything I've read recently, and I imagine this lack of time to blog will continue through Winter 2016/2017 as I write my second full length novel (due out next summer).  However, I do plan to keep writing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, no matter how short they are, as I know firsthand how important reviews are to authors.  The long and short of it is this - I'm going to have to change the way I blog. 

There will be guest posts and cover reveals and (of course) I'll still be writing reviews, but I'm planning on a monthly 'what I've read' post being a staple feature.  I'll post the cover, blurb and a few short thoughts on each book I've read that month, linking to a full review if it's a book I'm particularly passionate about.

However, for today I'm making a list.  I know it's not an exciting read, but it is what it is and all I can do right now.

Recently I've read...

All Aboard - Cressida McLaughlin
Casting Off - Cressida McLaughlin
Picture Perfect - Holly Smale
First Class Murder - Robin Stevens
Kindred Spirits - Rainbow Rowell
Kiss Him, Not Me - Junko (vol 1,2)*
Hot Gimmick - Miki Aihara (vol 1,2,3)*
Paradise Residence - Kosuke Fujishima (vol 1)*
Nehigo - Ken Akamatsu *
Sailor Moon - Naoku Takeuchi (vol 1)*
Flowers and Bees - Moyoco Anno (vol 1)*
Agatha - The Real Life of Agatha Christie - Anne Martinetti*
Maid-sama! - Hiro Fujiwara (vol 1,2)*
Big Magic - Elizabeth Gilbert
Your Lie in April - Naoshi Arakawa (vol 1)*
If I Was Your Girl - Meredith Russo
Princess Jellyfish - Akiko Higashimura (vol 2)*
Playing the Player - Lisa Brown Roberts
Always with Love - Giovanna Fletcher
London Belongs to Us - Sarra Manning

And I do have a few other reads I plan to write full blog posts for over the next few weeks. 
Books with a * are manga/graphic novels.
Books in bold are ones I particularly loved.

 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Songs About a Girl - Chris Russell



The Blurb

Heartbreak, romance, fame and pop music - for anyone who's ever dreamed of saying 'I'm with the band'.

Charlie Bloom never wanted to be 'with the band'. She's happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she's asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band, Fire&Lights, she can't pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman Gabriel West and his boy-next-door bandmate, Olly Samson. Then, as the boys' rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mindblowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs ...

The Review

It's no secret that I'm a total fangirl.  Bands, especially boybands, are my thing, and I'm not ashamed of that.  I also adore YA books with a musical element so I'm delighted there's been a bit of a boom in 'Boyband Lit' during 2016.

Chris Russell's debut novel Songs About a Girl follows Charlie Bloom as she becomes a backstage photographer for Fire&Lights.  She knows they're ordinary lads in an extraordinary situation - she sort-of-knew band member Olly before he became famous as they went to the same school - but although Fire&Lights are the hottest group on the planet right now, Charlie has no desire to be a groupie.  All she wants is the opportunity to improve her photography skills.

As the novel progresses Charlie learns more about each band member, discovering both their flaws and strengths as she sees them in and out of the spotlight.  Yet it's only as secrets reveal themselves that she realises just how bound she is to Fire&Lights...

I loved the themes in this book - friendship, trust, finding youself - and thought Russell did a brilliant job of capturing the essence of what it means to be a fan.  As a musician himself, I'm sure he drew on his own experiences of being on stage and also watching live bands when writing the scenes where Fire&Lights perform - these are some of the strongest in the book, perfectly encapsulating the unique experience of gathering with likeminded people to enjoy the shared experience of a gig.

This book is a mustread for any fangirl and is one of my books of the summer.  I'm already bursting for the next book in the series to be released to find out what's in store for Charlie and the boys!

Songs About a Girl is out now in both ebook and paperback.

With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a galley copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

One Last Summer at Hideaway Bay - Zoe Cook

The Blurb

Secrets lie waiting beneath the Cornish waves in this moving and unforgettable love story. Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Kelly Rimmer and Jojo Moyes.

Lucy, hi. It’s Tom. How are you? It’s been a while. I’ve been meaning to get in touch but it’s hard to know how to after so much time. I hear you’re doing really well up there. I knew you would be.
You should come here, you know, back to Hideaway bay. Come and see everyone, see how little it’s all changed. Feel the sand between your toes, the Cornish sea breeze on your face. When the sun hits the surf in that way it does, it’s as magical as ever.

That’s why I’m writing to you, actually. I want to get the gang back together again, one last time before…well…just one last time. You should come too. The four of us, a summer on the beach, like old times. We all want you here for it. I want you here for it. It’s been so long since I saw you.

I still think about you.

Tom

The Review

I read this book as part of the Harper Impulse #SummerImpulse readathon and was very keen to get stuck in.  Bloggers and reviewers have been speaking highly of this debut novel from Zoe Cook and I was excited to see if it lived up to the hype.

The story starts with Lucy living the high life in London.  Outwardly, it looks like she's got the lot - a glamorous job, a party lifestyle, and a group of friends who share her recreational drug use habit - but as she reflects on life following contact from her childhood sweetheart Tom, she realises that maybe it's all a fa├žade.  As Lucy heads home to Cornwall's Hideaway Bay, she's unprepared for the life-changing summer that lies ahead...

The first section of the novel set the scene and gave an overview of Lucy's chaotic London lifestyle, which contrasted well with the quieter pace of Cornwall life depicted later in the book.  Personally, I felt the London section could have been slightly shorter and still amply given the juxtaposition between the two settings. I think I was ready to be whisked to Cornwall earlier in the story given the summery cover and blurb.

Lucy is not always a likeable protagonist, but that didn't detract from the empathy I felt towards her. If anything it made her seem a rounded, 'human' character and more believable.  Tom was definitely the easier to warm to of the two main characters.  I liked the periphery characters too, and would love to find out more about their backstories in sister novels.

I'd heard other readers say they'd sobbed at the ending and I'd prepared myself to crumble as I reached the final pages, but although moved by the end of the book, I didn't actually shed a tear.  I think maybe I'd prepared myself for a devastating tear-jerker ending and had steeled myself up before reaching the end!

This book may appeal to fans of David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes and is a well-crafted debut novel from Zoe Cook.

With thanks to Harper Impulse for providing me with a galley copy of this book in return for an honest review.