Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Boys' School Girls: Tara's Sister Trouble - Lil Chase

The Boys' School Girls: Tara's Sister TroubleThe Boys' School Girls: Tara's Sister Trouble by Lil Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hillcrest High Boys' School is admitting girls for the first time, and Tara couldn't be more excited. New friends? Check. Cute boys? Check. Mean sister gone? Wrong...

When she discovers Maxie is joining the school too, Tara is crushed. How can she be her own person when her cleverer, prettier sister seems determined to outshine her? And sibling trouble isn't Tara's only problem.

With only ten girls in the year, they're going to have to stick together to survive. Boys against girls? Bring. It. On.

Tara has just been transferred to Hillcrest High Boys’ school which for this year are introducing girls to the school. The main reason is that she has a crush on a boy who attends and thought this would be the perfect way of him noticing her. On arriving at the school Tara finds out that she is one of 9 girls who are attending the school, one of which has also followed her from her old school and is her enemy.

Tara has a sister, one who is only 11 months older than her, but thankfully attends a different school. Tara’s world comes crashing down when it is revealed that Maxie (her sister) is going to be attending Hillcrest along with Tara as she has been expelled from her school for gifted children.

This story is about friendship and family. Throughout the story many issues are covered and at times I felt the girls have behaved very maturely as they are only 11 going on 12. I feel this is a good beginning of a series and will appeal to many, those who are feeling isolated and alone will also benefit from reading this. I remember falling out with friends when I was this age and felt the whole world was against me. This book would have helped me realise this is a normal thing, and many go through feeling this at some point.

As an older reader I was quite surprised, sometimes when reading a middle grade book I get a little annoyed or cross as the level of immaturity irritates me. I didn’t feel this while reading it. Tara came across as quite a feisty girl but one who cared about her family and friends. While Maxie was not likable at the beginning, however my opinion of her changed towards the end. The other characters are a little 1 dimensional; this I feel is because there are so many of them in the book and you as a reader never really get to know them well.

The book was read in one sitting, it is an easy read which passed the time well. There is not a lot of substance to it, so if you are looking for something meaty this may not be for you. However I believe this has captured the target audience and will do very well. The book does open your eyes to what is important in life and perhaps what the girls think is important to begin with actually isn’t. This is something though that I feel a lot of girls entering teenage years feel and at the age the girls are this is not uncommon.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Spare Brides - Adele Parks

Spare BridesSpare Brides by Adele Parks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 1920s: a time of hope, promise - and parties. But not all the men came home, after The War.

Meet the spare brides.

Young, gorgeous - and unexpectedly alone.

Ava relishes the freedom of being single.
Sarah fears no one can replace her hero husband.
Beatrice finds it hard to shine, next to her dazzling friends.
And Lydia is married, rich, privileged: so isn't she one of the lucky ones?

Then a chance encounter changes everything.

Angry, damaged and dangerously attractive, Edgar Trent is an irresistable temptation.

And the old rules no longer apply...

Spare Brides is essentially about four upper class ladies and their adjustment to life after WW1. Friends who have previously lead silly giddy lives where the most difficult decision they have had to make in a day is what dress or shoes they should wear suddenly are given responsibility, jobs and a purpose in life. In reality this is a book about awakening, friendship, the search for direction and happiness and Adele Parks takes us on a journey that changes each of these women's lives forever.

The characters are flawed before the war but these flaws are made all the more visible to themselves and those around them when the war ends and the heavy price that victory has cost them is painfully brought home to them with the loss of loved ones, and the realisation that nothing will ever be the same again.

With thousands of men lost, and damaged and crippled survivors coming home this means challenges for everyone. For the upper class women it means fewer husbands available forcing those who don't find marriage the turmoil of what they will do with their lives, they have no purpose and no direction. Beatrice falls into this unenviable category; sister to Sarah whose husband is killed in the war leaving her with two children to bring up alone, Bea was hoping to find happiness and marriage before the war but being less attractive than other girls her 'coming out' was a disaster due to the start of the war and dashed all her hopes of happiness. Her story is of loneliness and tragic acceptance to a life of emptiness. Then there's Sarah who loses the love of her life and spends every day mourning for him and trying to bring up two children alone. Sarah and Bea become the 'spare parts' and looked on with pity, being offered invitations to events as a courtesy.

We meet the beautiful Ava, enchanting, mesmerising, scandalous, vivacious, most of the men lust after her and most of the women secretly envy her. Seemingly a frivolous and self-centered flapper, Ava is a much more complex and fragile character than she first appears. War work has given these women some purpose in life and they are enjoying their new found freedom it's inconceivable that things can return to the way they were before the war and of course they can't. Ava doesn't just want to be a wife she wants to have a career or make a difference in this new world. She is absolutely determined not to end up like Bea just because she doesn't want to marry, she wants a career. She fights to find herself and surprisingly uses her new found courage to help her friends not least Bea to find strength within themselves to try something new.

Then there's Lydia; having made a successful marriage to Lord Chatfield and soon to become a Countess when her father-in-law dies, she is tormented by being unable to produce an heir although she is envied by others as she is spared the grief of losing a husband to war. When she is drawn to Edgar Trent it is difficult for those who know her to believe she would be willing to sacrifice a husband and grand lifestyle that the others most want for what they believe to be a silly infatuation. To her friends it seems equally unfair that she should have two men when some women have none. She embarks on a dangerous affair but learns a lot about herself along the way and what really is important in her life.

Beautifully written, Adele Parks does not disappoint in this novel. Passionate and at times poignant she takes the reader through the giddy, lavishness of pre war frivolous trophy women and pompess Victorian men to a very different country post WW1. Four friends each with their own secrets and desires, each facing their own demons and trying to adjust to a post war life that is trying to hold on to the old values while having to move forward into the new world where social boundaries were blurred and embracing change was frightening and exhilarating in equal measure.

Returning soldiers who managed to come back relatively intact had the pick of the 'spare brides' leaving no room for those less fortunate plain women. My heart ached for Bea the wallflower when the war ended, with no great looks or dowry to rely on she has to face the painful realisation that she'll be left on the shelf and die an old maid. Parks takes us from the eager intelligent puppy like girl to the resigned, often humiliated and wary woman that she becomes.

But this novel is not all doom and gloom; there are some unexpected twists and turns which I won't reveal that go on to make this a satisfying and happy read. Each of the four characters are well developed; it is easy to identify and sympathise with them all and each one brings something fragile and raw to the story to touch your heart. It seems that the war fought on the front was a prelude to the war that inevitably has to take place once the men return and the fighting is over. This war did change lives forever, it opened up opportunities, it broke down social barriers, it left families destroyed by the horror of war and the guilt of profiteering from it but it also meant new beginnings which comes across very well in this novel. It was awful, it was brutal, the struggles of both men and women during this time were monumental and Adele Parks deals with this brilliantly in her book.

I have to give this book a 5 star rating, it was beautifully written, brutally honest, heartbreakingly real but mostly it was a book that I would not have wanted to miss - it would make a great film. You have to read it.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)If I Stay by Gayle Forman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The last thing Mia remembers is the music.

After the accident, she can still hear it. And she can see her damaged body being taken from the wreck of her parents' car - even though she can't feel a thing.

All she can do is watch as doctors rush to save her life, as her friends and relatives gather outside her room, as the boy she loves struggles to be near her.

As the next twenty-four hours unfold, Mia must come to terms with what came before the crash - and what could come after. And she knows she must make the most difficult choice of all.

When I got sent this from the publishers to read and review I couldn’t wait; I heard that it was going to be made into a film and I was keen to read this before its release. Being just over 200 pages I knew it wasn’t going to take me long.

At the beginning we are introduced to Mia, a seventeen year old who has a typical teenager’s life. We can identify with her, her family relationship and the relationship she has with her boyfriend Adam. Although this story is a Young Adult’s novel, I feel there are adult themes in the book and adults can relate to aspects of Mia’s life. Looking back and reminiscing.

The opening chapter of this book we discover the close relationship Mia has with the rest of her family, I particularly loved Teddy, her younger brother. I have a younger brother myself so some of the feelings Mia have towards her brother I could relate too as I have felt myself. It doesn’t take long though for the tension and suspense in the book to shift and by page 11 or 12 we are thrown into a family tragedy.

Mia is awake and can see what is happening in front of her, she can hear, speak and see. She is unable to feel anything though and soon realises that something is wrong, she is not the same as she was, when she woke up this morning and where are her family. Mia has to make one of the most difficult decisions anyone would ever have to make over the next 24 hours or so and that is should she stay?

The book alternates from the past and to the present, along the way we discover more about Mia and her family. This is truly a touching story and one that has evoked many emotions. I rarely feel sad during books; this one however has really got to me. I have found myself sitting thinking about what I have read and questioning myself. This is a deeply touching story that will have a lasting effect on anyone who reads it.

Although the book is just over 200 pages I found that I thought it was a lot longer and this is because of how it has been written and how it makes you feel. It is truly moving and touching. I didn’t read this in one sitting; however it is completely possible to do so. I am so glad that I have been able to read this before the release of the film. This is a book that I urge everyone to read, it also makes you realise how short life is and that you should embrace it. You never know what is round the corner and should live life to the full.

I cannot wait to read Where She Went the sequel of If I Stay.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.

Below is the trailer for the film...

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Late Scholar - Jill Paton Walsh - Dorothy Sayers

The Late ScholarThe Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A new murder mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey - now a Duke - and his wife Harriet Vane, set in an Oxford college in the 1950s.
Peter Wimsey is pleased to discover that along with a Dukedom he has inherited the duties of 'visitor' at an Oxford college.When the fellows appeal to him to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet set off happily to spend some time in Oxford.
But the dispute turns out to be embittered. The voting is evenly balanced between two passionate parties - evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die.The Warden has a casting vote, but the Warden has disappeared.
And the causes of death of the deceased fellows bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter's past cases - methods that Harriet has used in her published novels .

I had never read any of the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L Sayers and therefore had no pre-conceptions about what another writer would achieve by resurrecting these characters. I felt I was at a disadvantage by not having read any of these novels since Jill Paton Walsh made references to a previous case solved by this detective that I could not relate to.

The book had good descriptive passages to acquaint the novice with both Oxford and the University but I felt that the language was too chewy and the Latin references were lost on me since I have not studied Latin and this is such a huge part of the Oxford University clique.

Essentially this was about the Duke of Denver (Peter Wimsey) discovering he is a Visitor to Oxford and he is asked to settle a dispute among the fellows on whether to go ahead with the sale of a medieval book to get funds to buy some land next door which has come up for sale. When the fellows are asked to vote the death of one of the fellows brings the vote to a tie and as the Duke of Denver delves deeper into the sale of the land and the medieval book so there are more deaths along the way and he and his wife and butler work together to unravel the mystery and uncover the murderer/s.

I found the story although pacy enough in terms of building tension and atmosphere was just too laborious to hold my interest beyond halfway through the book. I could not summon enough enthusiasm to continue to the end of the book, it was just not my type of novel in terms of language and therefore not for me. Having said that, it was well written and if the language had been lighter and more made of connecting the relationships of the characters I may well have stayed with it to the end. I just found the characters lacked the sparkle that could have kept me reading - as it was I really didn't care enough to read on to the end. DNF

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer Feature 2014 by Shaun Gust Post

Today I would like to welcome Shaun to The Book Corner, he is sharing with us his books he would take on holiday with him.

Sam is one of my favourite bloggers so I am very excited to be writing this guest post for The Book Corner. I've chosen to write about five books that I would take on holiday with me (if I was going on one this year that is!). They are books that I love and think are perfect for Summer reading.

Books are listed in a random order (apart from On the Island which is my favourite). 

On the Island - Tracey Garvis Graves

So this book is amazing. I absolutely loved it and it was one of the best books I read in 2012. Despite not being the intended audience, I believe if a book is good then it can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Every so often a book will come along that it's a struggle to put it down, people call books unputdownable but this one actually is. I rated it five stars but I wish I could give this book more than five stars, it really is that good. If someone asked me to recommend them the perfect book I would name this one.

Tracey is a fantastic author and one that has quickly became one of my favourites after reading the books that followed this, Uncharted and Covet. I would love to reread this book lying by the pool in Cyprus with an ice cold pint of Keo (local lager!).

One Hundred Proposals - Holly Martin

Do you like books that take you to fantastic, exotic locations? Well how about books that take you on many different trips within one book? I loved this book, easily one of my favourites of the year so far and one that I have no trouble recommending to people to read this Summer. Holly was a new author to me but one who is loved universally amongst the bloggers whose opinions I trust so I picked this up expecting big things and was not disappointed. The story in this book is just faultless. It's perfect but at the same time believable. 

Power Games - Victoria Fox

Perhaps not one to read if you are off to a luxurious island, okay so the events depicted here take place on a remote and less than exotic island but at the same time are still situations you wouldn't want to find yourself in! Very few authors deserve the Jackie Collins comparison but Victoria definitely does. This book has all the hallmarks of the perfect bonkbuster and I loved it. Outrageous characters finding themselves in even more outrageous situations this is a book everyone should have in their suitcase!

Aimee Duffy's Summer Flings Series

The Summer Fling books are a series currently being released by HarperImpulse. The first book is Trouble in Tinseltown and which despite being short I found to be quite action packed and fun. I'm not usually a fan of short stories but having finished all the shorts it is essentially a book cut up into pieces but I find that with the covers and title of the books it definitely works and I'm a huge fan of how the books have been released. 

Following three girls, Ciara, Gem and Elle we go from LA to Miami, Paris to Greece, Ibiza to Florence before finishing in Dublin. If you aren't going away this year then what better way to see the world? Fun, flirty with plenty of sex they are easy reads but at the same time touch on some serious storylines. Our main character Ciara faces decisions about her life and her relationship and she is such an amazing character. Each book takes around half an hour to read and whilst on holiday looking for something quick and easy to read you can't really go wrong here.

Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop - Abby Clements

Every so often a book comes along that you just fall in love with and want to tell everybody to read. This is that book. I wanted to read it from the minute I laid eyes on the cover, it looks great. And luckily the story contained within is even better.

If ever a book was written to be read in Summer then it is this one. An absolutely amazing book that I just loved. Perfect for reading on the beach, by the pool or even by the seaside in the UK if the weather can remain nice for a few hours. Beware though this book will make you drool and develop the biggest cravings for ice cream. This is one of those books you will fall in love with and recommend to everybody you can.

I would like to thank Shaun for stopping by at The Book Corner today, he has selected some fab books. You can follow him on twitter here and make sure you check out his great blog here

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Place for Us - Harriet Evans

A Place For Us  Part 1A Place For Us Part 1 by Harriet Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The FIRST of four exclusive part-serialisations of a A Place for Us by Harriet Evans - you'll be desperate to read on ...

The day Martha Winter decided to tear apart her family began like any other day.

So opens A Place for Us by Sunday Times bestselling author Harriet Evans, a book you'll dive into, featuring a family you'll fall in love with ... and never want to leave. If you devour Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy and have discovered Jojo Moyes, you'll be thrilled to add Harriet Evans to your collection of favourite authors.

The house has soft, purple wisteria twining around the door. You step inside.

The hall is cool after the hot summer's day. The welcome is kind, and always warm.

Yet something makes you suspect life here can't be as perfect as it seems.
After all, the brightest smile can hide the darkest secret.

But wouldn't you pay any price to have a glorious place like this?

Welcome to Winterfold.
Martha Winter's family is finally coming home.

It's difficult to rate a novel when you are only given the first part but based on my impressions that this first book really was not a story but more of a coming together of a family for the 80th birthday of the matriarch Martha and an exercise in setting the scene and building atmosphere. This first part concentrates on the individual characters and members of Martha's family to build tension and drama leading up to a secret that it appears they are all somehow involved in.

Each chapter deals with a member of the family having received an invitation to the party where an 'announcement' will be made and the reader along with the family are left trying to guess what this announcement could be. We are given little snippets of information about Daisy who appears to have been a rather difficult child and so perhaps the announcement has something to do with her. However as each family member is introduced we discover they all have their own secrets and any one of these could be to do with the announcement that Martha so tantalisingly will reveal at the party celebrations.

The first part of this book is a slow burner, nothing really happens in terms of the story but it nicely builds the tension and atmosphere for what hopefully happens in the second and remaining parts of the novel.

I feel sufficiently intrigued to want to discover more about this family and their secrets and would like to read the other 3 parts before making a final judgement. However based on this first part I would say this is building nicely and if the rest of the book maintains the tension and drama I feel that this could be a very good read especially if there are a couple of curve balls and an unpredictable ending.

I look forward to reading more - for now I would give this a 4 star rating.

I would like to thank the publisher for ending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Summer Feature 2014 by Charlotte Foreman Guest Post

Today Charlotte has stopped by to share with us who she would love to go on holiday with. I would just like to thank everyone who has participated in The Summer Feature, we have had such a wonderful selection of content to bring all the readers and I personally really enjoyed reading everyone's posts. 

Holiday Dream Team

By Charlotte Foreman

If I were planning a summer holiday, my first choice of companions would be my family. However, if I were embarking on a girly week in the sun, my getaway dream team would consist solely of authors. Not a great surprise, I know. While I would obviously spend hours mercilessly grilling them on their entire back catalogs, those who made the cut did so for very specific reasons:

Lisa Dickenson - After penning her new book You Had Me at Merlot, I reckon Lisa knows a thing or two about decent vino. Being the ultimate lightweight, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to mature my drinking tastes and graduate onto alcohol that costs more than six pints of milk. I’m confident she’d be able to wrestle the glass of Lambrini from my hand and point me in the direction of a nice fruity Rose that won’t have me up to my neck in porcelain after only a few glasses. Classy I know, but a situation that repeated itself only very recently.

Mandy Baggot – Why would I take Mandy with me? Because after meeting her a few times, I know without a shadow of a doubt that at some point during our holiday - probably more than once, tbh - we’d end up wearing cowboy hats on a stage somewhere belting out classic karaoke songs. Plus wherever Mandy is, there’s always sausage and mash so I’m guaranteed a few decent meals too.

Lucy Robinson - I know it’s not very ladylike but I do love to swear and basically talk like I’m a member of the Shameless cast. I’m not a chav or anything, I just like to let loose with the curses when in the right company. Now, strike me down if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Lucy and I could have a whole conversation using nothing but profanities. Yes, we might sound like old fishwives but it would probably be very cathartic . . . holiday relaxation done sailor style.

Jamie McGuire - If you follow Jamie on any of her social media accounts, you’ll know that she films and photographs everything. Therefore, not only would she never miss an opportunity to commit every shenanigan to electronic memory but we’d probably also come away with lots pictures of us looking fairly decent. She also strikes me as the kind of women who could drink the average man under the table and her bad language may rival a Danny Dyer film.

I reckon we’d have an unforgettable time that could prove inspirational for a crazy scene or two in some upcoming releases!

Do you have a dream team in mind for your perfect getaway?

NB: If any authors included on my list actually to read this and fancy a holiday, I’m only an email away (

Once again I would like to thank Charlotte for participating. You can follow her on twitter and please check out her wonderful blog here