Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Book Review: Nina is Not OK by @ShappiKhorsandi @PenguinUKBooks #YA


Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t? 

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all. 

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before , then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend. 

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…


"I’m not being stupid, I’m being an arse. I’m being a brat. It’s hard to stop once I start."

I've closed the final page on Nina is not OK and there are so many things Im feeling and so many things that I want to say that it's almost overwhelming. 

I want to talk about everything in this book but I can't because I would never want to spoil this amazing piece work for anyone else. 

First of all, please don't be discouraged by the first few pages. The writing style is conversational, from the point of a 17 year old girl called Nina. It took me a couple of pages to settle in but once I did there was no going back. 

I went through such a rang of emotions while reading this: shock at Nina's self destructive behavior. I smiled at her humor. I admired her friend Beth and the powerful positive effect she had on Beth's life. I felt such anger, both for her and towards her at various points. 

‘You’re supposed to be a feminist, Beth!’ ‘I am, doesn’t mean I have to think everything you do is OK. It’s not OK because you don’t feel OK about it.’

Like Asking for It by Louise O Neill, Nina is not OK delivers powerful messages on alcoholism, sex and slut shaming. All topics that highly relevant right now. 

Nina realises that it sometimes takes the people around you to face you and tell you, no you are not OK. You have a problem. You need help. Like most people Nina denies that anything is really wrong until her entire world comes crashing down around her. 

"I’m a different person when I’m drinking. Sounds mad, because it clearly is me, but it’s not me. I want to stop. I want to be able to just drink normally and have fun."

She begins to realise she is not just another teen whose had a few too many on a night out. She wakes up to the fact that she is caught in cyclone of destructive behaviour. 

But does that mean the world will turn on its axis to suit is just because we sort ourselves out? No? 

"Booze sits its arse down in your life, pretends to be your friend, then trips you up, kicks you and throws rocks at you. You push it away; it runs back at you harder and knocks you over. You barricade your door against it, and it’ll climb in through the window. If you promise yourself you won’t drink, it’ll laugh at your promise, drag you screaming to the ground and batter you unconscious."

Trouble was like a domino effect when it involved Nina. But it took such bravery for her to face and tame her 'dragons.' 

Shappi Khorsandi should be extremely proud of this book. She didn't just emulate the teen experience she utterly embodied it in this book. The writing is raw, honest and utterly gripping. It's been one of my favorites of 2016 so far. 

I look forward to reading more from this author.


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Monday, 6 June 2016

Extract and #Win a copy of Love or Nearest Offer by @adelegeras @QuercusBooks #lono


love or nearest offer by Adele Geras

What if your estate agent could find you not just your perfect house, but your perfect job, your perfect partner... your perfect new life?

On paper, Iris Atkins is an estate agent, but she's not just good at finding suitable houses for her clients. In fact, she has a gift: Iris is able to see into their lives and understand exactly what is missing and what they need - and not just in bricks-and-mortar terms either.

Of course, concentrating so much on fixing other people's problems doesn't leave much time for examining your own. Over the course of one whirlwind year Iris discovers that while she may know what's best for everyone else, she doesn't necessarily know what's best for herself - and what she finds out could make her happier than she'd ever dreamed of.

Extract from Love or Nearest offer:


There were times when Iris Atkins felt old. Holly and Dom, who
worked with her at Robinson & Tyler, estate agents, looked a
great deal younger. Holly was twenty-four, a techno whizz, who
rode a motorbike and emphasized the teenage look by gelling
her hair into forbidding spikes – though they tended to flop by
the end of the day. Dom resembled someone from a boy band,
which went down well with female customers of a certain age,
and even though many people thought he was nineteen, he
was, in fact, twenty-nine. I’m only three years older, Iris thought,
but I look like his mother. That wasn’t quite true, but she certainly
qualified as a very much older sister. On good days, she
liked to think of herself as a slightly dishevelled Emilia Fox, but
today she felt like a small blonde person who hadn’t had time to
wash her hair before work because she’d been busy having a
row with the man who used to be her boyfriend.
There was also this: when her friends started talking about
their children, their mortgages or their husbands, Iris realized
that being totally unencumbered by such things at the age
of thirty-two was much more common than it used to be, but still
a little odd. To hear them talk, she thought, anyone would think
I was on the shelf, past it, doomed to a single life for ever.
That wasn’t strictly true. She’d been living with Neil for
more than six months but as of this morning, that was over.
She sighed, gritted her teeth and thought: I’m not going to cry
now. She’d kept it together since coming into the office rather
late, at half past nine. This morning, almost before they were
both properly awake, she and Neil had quarrelled bitterly. She’d
thrown as many of her things as she could manage into a suitcase
and flung it into the back of her car. ‘I missed my shower
and you’ve made me late for work as well,’ she’d shouted, as she
left the flat. ‘Thanks a bunch.’
On the way to Robinson & Tyler, she’d calmed down a bit.
Still, today had been awful. She’d sleepwalked through the
morning. Fortunately, her only house showing was in an hour,
at half past two. Holly and Dom were absorbed in something or
other, which was quite unusual for lunchtime on Friday, when
work normally began to wind down a little. Bruce was on the
phone – Iris could hear him from the other side of the room.
‘Ah, well, the chickens are coming home to roost with a
vengeance, aren’t they?’ he said, and chuckled. Clichés were
scattered through Bruce’s speech, like currants in a bun, but he
had a kind heart and a jolly outlook on life. He looked like James
Corden but that chummy exterior belied a rather shrewd mind.
Robinson & Tyler was a London-wide firm and their office in
Barnet was tiny. Other branches had electronic displays in the
window, showing off the best and newest properties, but theirs
was still what Bruce liked to call ‘reassuringly traditional’,
which meant a bit grotty. There was a wooden ladder arrangement
in the window and it was Holly’s job to print out photos
of the new houses, and put them up for prospective buyers to
see. One of Iris’s tasks was to go over the text to make sure it
wasn’t full of spelling mistakes; Holly had a bit of a blind spot
with some words.
Iris’s desk was nearest the window. She had a good view of
the coroner’s court, St John’s Church and a bit of the high
street. The office was conveniently situated: Carluccio had just
opened a restaurant in the Spires, Barnet’s own little shopping
mall, which also had branches of Waterstone’s, Costa, Starbucks,
and even Waitrose. At the back of the Spires, there was
a big library. A person hardly needed to go into London at all,
and many Londoners were trying to move into this area, which
was good news for Robinson & Tyler.
Iris looked at her diary. She was meeting someone called Patrick
Taylor at two thirty. There was time to ring her mother,
which she ought to do if she was intending to turn up on her
doorstep after work. She took a deep breath.


Competition is open to UK residents only

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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Blog tour: #chainsofsand by @writejemmawayne @Legend_Press @midaspr


chains of sands jemma wayne blog tour

Chains of Sand is a novel about identity, family, and clashes of culture. He has always been good at tracking down things that are hidden, like cockroaches in his mother s kitchen cupboard, or tunnels in Gaza. At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England. Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer. But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.

Guest Post: Jemma on writing Chains of Sand

Back in 2006, two things happened: My husband’s twenty-something IDF-veteran cousin moved to London, while the same month one of my close British friends moved to Israel. The flow of humanity is always intriguing to me and I wanted to know why, what was propelling these converse journeys? I asked a lot of annoying questions! Then the second thing happened – Israel’s war with Lebanon. The media circus around this was hysterical, and irresponsible. There was an eager conflation of ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’. Londoners protested under banners declaring ‘We are all Hizbullah now’. And it was the first time I had ever felt uncomfortable being Jewish in Britain. This is when I began writing around what would eventually become Chains of Sand. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I returned to these ideas in earnest.

In 2014 Israel was at war with Hamas. Now, Gazan children were dying on beaches, and Gazan hospitals were lying in ruins, and Israelis were running to shelters. Now in London, the banners read: ‘Hamas, Jews to Gas’, and ‘Hitler was right’. Now Jewish shops and goods and people were boycotted and attacked. Now the zeitgeist was that this was ok. And more than anything, now, on both ‘sides’ there was a growing triumphalism I hadn’t seen before, a stubborn single-mindedness about the truth of their argument, the justifications of their side, losing all empathy for the other, all ability to judge one’s own morality. Everything was black and white. And dangerous. Because the grey is where the truth lies. And the hope, too.

Chains of Sand is an exploration into the grey. An attempt to illuminate the grief and longing, the hope and despair, the love and hatred, the conflicted, complicated truths that exist on all sides, and all too often collide.

About Jemma:

Jemma Wayne graduated from Cambridge University with an academic scholarship for her achievements in Social and Political Sciences, and went on to obtain her PGDIP in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Westminster before becoming a journalist and writer.

Working first as a reporter at The Jewish Chronicle and later as a columnist for The Jewish News, she is now a regularly featured blogger at The Huffington Post and continues to contribute to various publications including The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, Standard Issue and The Jewish Quarterly, amongst others.

Jemma’s first full-length work, Bare Necessities – a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a grownup – was published by Piatkus Books in 2004. Her play, Negative Space, ran at The New End Theatre, Hampstead, in 2009 to critical acclaim. And her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including Ether Books, 33 West by Limehouse Books, and Kerouac’s Dog Magazine.

Jemma’s first novel, After Before, was published by Legend Press in 2014. It was short-listed for the 2015 Waverton Good Read Award, long-listed for the Guardian’s 2014 Not the Booker Prize and for the 2015 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, formerly the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Chains of Sand, will be published by Legend Press on the 1st June 2016.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

Blog tour extract: Unrivalled by @AlysonNoel @MIRAInk @midaspr #WelcomeToTheParty

Unrivalled by Alyson Noel book tour

EVERYONE wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter.
Aster Amirpour wants to be an actress.
Tommy Phillips wants to be a guitar hero.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her own a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and are lured into a competition. The prize, or rather the target? Madison Brooks.

Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.


Ghost in the Machine

“How did this happen?”
Madison sat in the passenger seat of a dark green SUV, tugging at the brim of her worn baseball cap, and staring out the windshield at a landscape marred by cargo ships, brightly coloured rectangular containers, and tall working cranes. Everything about the meet was designed to go unnoticed. The car was ordinary. The San Pedro port was too busy for anyone to question them, and if they did, Paul had the credentials to make them go away. Then there was Paul himself and his utterly forgettable face. It’s one of the things that made him so good at his job, no one ever remembered seeing him, and it was nearly impossible to describe him.
“You told me, no, correction, you assured me, that everything from my past was sealed, locked up tight, and safely stored in a deeply buried vault with no key.”
He nodded, his pale eyes scanning the harbor. “I’ve recently come to think otherwise.”
She sighed. Sunk so low in her seat she could barely see past the dashboard. She had obligations, loads of press, a movie to promote, an impending break up with Ryan that would inevitably become very public no matter how hard she tried to keep it under wraps. She didn’t have time for problems. Not of this magnitude.
“How do you know it’s not just another bogus attempt to extort me? You know how fame attracts opportunists.” She studied him closely. The face that had once rescued her, changed her life in ways she could never repay, was now delivering the worst news he possibly could.
“This is different.” He pressed his lips together until they practically disappeared, making her wonder who this moment was harder for, him or her. Paul prided himself on meticulous attention to detail. But if he really did slip, the life Madison had worked so hard to create would burn as quickly as her previous life had.
“How different?” She shifted in her seat, taking in his beige hair, beige skin, thin pale lips, unobtrusive nose, and a small set of milky brown eyes. He certainly lived up to his nickname, The Ghost. Though she mostly called him Paul.
Without a word he handed her a photo of herself as a very young girl.
Madison gripped it by its edges, making careful study of the tangled hair, the dirt smudged face, the blaze of defiance burning in those bright, determined eyes. A long lost before picture in a life meticulously cultivated to consist entirely of afters.
Until now.

About Alyson Noel:

Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times best-selling, award-winning, author of 23 novels including: The Immortals, The Riley Bloom, and The Soul Seekers series.

With 8 New York Times bestsellers in 2 years, and over 8 million copies in print, her books have been translated into 36 languages, sold in over 200 countries, and have made the New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NCIBA, and Walmart Bestsellers lists, and have won numerous awards such as: the National Reader's Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, Reviewer's Choice 2007 Top Ten, appeared on the CBS Early Show's "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine's "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick.

Chosen as one of OC Metro magazine’s “20 Women to Watch,” she’s been nominated for the Orange County Business Journal’s “Women in Business Awards” as well as their “Excellence in Entrepreneurship” award. The dramatic rights for The Soul Seekersare optioned to Cheyenne Enterprises and Traziende films; the dramatic rights to Saving Zoë are optioned to actresses/producers Ellen Marano, Vanessa Marano (Switched at Birth), Laura Marano (Austin & Ally), with Jeffrey G. Hunt (Vampire Diaries, Gotham) directing; dramatic rights to The Immortals are optioned to Gil Adler (Valkyrie, Constantine) & Jason Rosenberg.

Her new YA series, Beautiful Idols, beginning with Unrivaled, had a global release in 17 languages and 200 countries on 05.10.16. Her new MG, Five Days of Famous, is set to debut 12.13.16.

Born and raised in Orange County, California, she’s lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan and is now settled back in Southern California.

Unrivaled by Alyson Noel book tour

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