Posts Tagged ‘Publisher- Headline’

The Geography Of You And Me

Jennifer E Smith

the geography of you and meFor fans of John Green, Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Ockler, THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is a story for anyone who’s ever longed to meet someone special, for anyone who’s searched for home and found it where they least expected it.
Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking…
The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can’t shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can’t, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy – and pain – of first love.
And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

This book has been a bit of a first for me, not the weeks (and weeks) of stalking twitter and Netgalley in anticipation of the review copy release, not even the squealing excitement on receiving an approval email, but my total inability to wait.

Ordinarily I organise my To Be Read (TBR) pile and therefore my reviews, by date of publication, aiming to post in the two weeks preceding or following publication date. However, on this occasion I succumbed to the temptation of instant gratification and devoured this gorgeous book within days of receiving it, abandoning my carefully planned January TBR in the process.

It is not my intention to torment you, dangling this gem before you, when it is still two whole months out of reach. It is simply that as far as this author, and that synopsis, is concerned, I am without willpower, and I simply COULD NOT WAIT and what is more, I feel no remorse.

There is always a real concern when starting a book with such high expectations, in this case based on previous experience of Jennifer E Smith novels and my own hyped anticipation of the release. Fortunately, Jennifer’s books just get better and better, and The Geography Of You And Me lived up to everyone of mine.

Jennifer E Smith is the Queen of serendipitous meetings, palpable chemistry and the kind of sparkling, witty dialogue and verbal sparing, that I can only imagining participating in (Why is it that you can only think of the perfect verbal comeback, when you relive the experience, hours too late?). Added to this is Jennifer’s refreshing perspective on family relationships( read more about it in my This Is What Happy Looks Like review here), an inspiring and beautifully written dual narrative (I have highlighted lots of large passages to re-read at my leisure) and travel, lots and lots of travel, and you are left with the perfect, feel good contemporary escapism.

After their fortuitous meeting and magical night together where they experienced an immediate, undeniable connection, Lucy and Owen actually spend most of the book apart and very little of the book is actually dedicated to maintaining that connection. Never-the-less there was this overwhelming feeling of togetherness and of being on the same wavelength, that you always felt the presence of the other and the influence of that night, and so it never felt as though the couple were truly apart.

While Lucy and Owen’s story wasn’t exactly as I had envisioned it, I imagined something similar to the email exchanges at the beginning of This Is What Happy Looks Like, I spent the duration of the book with a big, goofy grin on my face.

I have now been left with an over whelming desire to re read all of my Jennifer E Smith collection, but before indulging in her back catalogue, I’m going to slide back the progress bar on my ereader and and revisit with Lucy and Owen in NYC in that elevator- Sorry February TBR!

Verdict: An easy to read, happy making, hug of a book.

Reviewed by Caroline.

Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: April 2014
Format: eARC
Pages: 357
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Via Netgalley
Challenge: None
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This Is What Happy Looks Like

Jennifer E. Smith

happy cover artIn This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith’s new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O’Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don’t even know each other’s first names.
Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don’t tell each other everything; Graham doesn’t know the major secret hidden in Ellie’s family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.
When the location for the shoot of Graham’s new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie’s mom want her to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?
Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

I really enjoyed Jennifer E Smith’s last book, The Statical Probability Of Love At First Sight (TSPOLAFs), so I was very excited to see what she was going to write next. When I came across the blurb for This Is What Happy Looks Like, a contemporary YA, romance about two teens living worlds (not to mention a country) apart who meet through a twist of fate and an email typo, I knew that it was right up my street and I immediately pre-ordered it in hardback.

If you want to know what happy looks like you simple had to take a glance at my face, when one of my blogging friends, Kerrie ( read her awesome book review blog here) nominated me to receive an Advance Reader Copy via the #WhatHappyLooksLike twitter campaign. Or perhaps a glance at my face at anytime during the single sitting it took to consume, this sweet, romantic book.

Told in third person, we are treated to the alternating perspective of both Ellie and Graham as they consolidate the depth of connection they have shared for months, with the stranger stood before them.

I absolutely adored the fun, flirty and funny email exchanges, which make up the prologue and punctuate the main body of the book. The chemistry was instantaneous, and I quickly felt invested in their relationship. If Jennifer E Smith is reading this and looking to create “extra’s” for her readership, I’d love to read more of Ellie and Graham’s correspondence.

What I love about Jennifer’s work is the inclusion of relatable issues, without sensationalizing or over dramatizing them. So ok, not many teens are international movie stars, but like Graham, we all have a desire to belong, and to be accepted for who we truly are.

Both this book and Jennifer’s previous book (TSPOLAFS) take a refreshing look at family, and changing family dynamics as the “child” approaches adulthood. Recognizing your parents as the individual they are, with their own insecurities, mistakes and problems is one of the inevitable markers of adulthood. While constructing an emotionally supportive relationship with your parents in the light of growing physical and financial independence is one of the more painful and rewarding challenges of adulthood.

Too often in YA fiction, family, particularly parents are a simply blockade to the developing romance or awaiting adventure, a hurdle to climb, a jailer to sneak by. In Jennifer’s books the characters don’t hide from their family problems within their developing romances, but confront them face on. Rather than the family dynamic being a hurdle to the romance, the romance and ensuing personal development, is often the catalyst to confronting the longstanding family issue.

Verdict: A summer read as sweet and refreshing as a scoop of sorbet on a hot day.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: April 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 224
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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The Island

Victoria Hislop

The Petrakis family lives in the small Greek seaside village of Plaka. Just off the coast is the tiny island of Spinalonga, where the nation’s leper colony once was located—a place that has haunted four generations of Petrakis women. There’s Eleni, ripped from her husband and two young daughters and sent to Spinalonga in 1939, and her daughters Maria, finding joy in the everyday as she dutifully cares for her father, and Anna, a wild child hungry for passion and a life anywhere but Plaka. And finally there’s Alexis, Eleni’s great-granddaughter, visiting modern-day Greece to unlock her family’s past.
A richly enchanting novel of lives and loves unfolding against the backdrop of the Mediterranean during World War II, The Island is an enthralling story of dreams and desires, of secrets desperately hidden, and of leprosy’s touch on an unforgettable family.

I have heard a lot about how good this is and have also very much enjoyed Victoria’s ‘The Return’, so I started out with high expectations and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The story begins with Alexis, a girl wanting to discover her history. She is in a place in her life of uncertainty, not knowing which direction to move in and is wondering about her roots. She heads for Crete to unravel the mysteries of her families past. As she arrives in Greece the story leaves her to tell the story of the generations before her and how her life is as it is because of what has gone before.

The story follows the life of her Great Grandmother whose family is blighted by Leprosy. This is a family saga tracing the effects of the treatment of one generation on the next. There are great ingredients for a saga, love, loss, betrayal, revenge and passion are all there along with twists and turns of extended family life. I particularly liked the non-traditional relationship between the sisters and the faithfulness of their father, Giorgis, as he rows every week to visit Spinalonga with supplies and, tragically, to visit his wife and then his daughter exiled on the island.

The look into the history of Crete at this time was gripping. European history is so turbulent and it affects everyone and yet on the island of Spinalonga in the leper colony they remain so distant from everything. But Victoria does show how the Cretans reacted to the war, their resistance and the bravery of many islanders, particularly the young men working with the British to sabotage German plans during Crete’s occupation.

The way the Lepers themselves used to be treated was shocking, I knew Lepers were oucasts but this leaves you in no doubt about what the disease did to people both physically and socially. Leper colonies and dreadful conditions in hospitals and so on all reflect the fear on which the disease was held by people. It seems that those on Spinalonga were somehow the lucky ones despite their expulsion from the commumity and having to leave friends and family. At least they had a community and people who cared and understood on the island. As the first cures for Leprosy begin to be developed there is also an insight here into the positive and negative changes this brought to the lives of the people, both those suffering and those back on the mainland. The families who hope to see loved ones again and those in living in fear and superstition and wary of those who have been cured.

All this is played out vividly as Victoria describes the beauty of Crete and the barrenness of Spinalonga both in the past and in Alexis’ visit in the present day.

Verdict: There is so much in this book that this just scrapes the surface. It has so much in it to think about and it is more than your average beach read, with a great heart at its centre.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: April 2006
Format: Paperback
Pages: 480
Genre: Historical fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge:British Book
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Goodbye For Now

Laurie FrankelLove, loss and the extraordinary potential of social networking media come together to create a powerful, moving, unforgettable novel that will make readers laugh, cry and resolve to find their own true love.
Imagine a world in which you never have to say goodbye.
A world in which you can talk to your loved ones after they’ve gone.
About the trivial things you used to share.
About the things you wish you’d said while you still had the chance.
About how hard it is to adjust to life without them.
When Sam Elling invents a computer programme that enables his girlfriend Meredith to do just this, nothing can prepare them for the success and the complications that follow. For every person who wants to say goodbye, there is someone else who can’t let go. And when tragedy strikes, they have to find out whether goodbye has to be for ever. Or whether love can take on a life of its own.

This is one of those books that I have really been wondering where to start when I come to review it. I have chatted to couple of people about it whilst reading it and the thing is, there is so much to say! When we were offered the book to read, the blurb caught my attention but it has definitely exceeded my expectations.

So I’ll start with the plot, Sam is a computer whizz. He writes an algorithm to find your soul mate and it works! As a consequence he meets Meredith, the love of his life, but he also gets the sack from his job at a computer dating agency. They aren’t making enough money now and want to hush up Sam’s invention. This leaves Sam with a lot of time on his hands and when Meredith’s Grandmother, Livvie, dies and Meredith is devastated, he come up with an ingenious and unusual way to help. He uses all the technological data amassed between the two women to allow them to still communicate electronically with each other. At first Meredith is horrified at the idea of video chatting with her dead Grandmother but soon loves the whole thing and feeling so in touch with Livvie.

Following this, Dash, Meredith’s cousin, suggests they begin to offer dead mail to the masses and RePose is born. They become involved in the lives of many people and discover people have more reasons than they ever thought possible to want to communicate with their DLO’s (dead loved one). Then tragedy occurs and Sam has to find out for himself whether RePose really does any good.

Sam and Meredith are strong, well written and believable characters. Their relationship is lovely and the story also shows the ups and downs of family life in all it’s many facets. Obviously there is a strong emphasis on bereavement and grief. It was really interesting to see the huge variety of ways people have been effected and the wide spectrum of ways in which people try to cope and help each other through difficult times.

This is more than an innovative story, it introduces lots of thought provoking ideas and examines the ethics involved in the use of technology for such a purpose as this. This was the part of the book that I found most enthralling. Laurie cleverly weaves many questions into the narrative through the comments of others, the press, the church, other interested spiritual parties and through the families themselves. In addition Sam has his own internal dialogue through the whole process about its rights and wrongs.

This was a fascinating read. It was plausibly written and I could well believe in the ability of Sam to produce the technology (although in real life I hope we are some way off opening this can of worms!). Laurie gets the most out of her story, both the ethical side and the journey of her characters. I hope I’m not giving too much away by saying I liked the open nature of the ending. I usually don’t like this being a lover of a cut and dried happy ending but it was really appropriate to leave the characters at this point in their journey.

Verdict: If you like to read with your brain in this is a fabulous thinking read.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: August 2012
Format: ARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Sci Fi, Bereavement
Age: Adult book review
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Received from publisher
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To The Moon And Back

Jill Mansel

When Ellie Kendall tragically loses her husband she feels her life is over. But eventually she’s ready for a new start-at work, that is. She doesn’t need a new man when she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company… Moving to North London, Ellie meets neighbour Roo who has a secret of her own. Can the girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion, but a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill…

Reading this book was like curling up with a cuppa and a custard cream; easy and comfortable. It is full of warmth, it has the feel good factor and has a dash of humour and a bit of depth.

Ellie is a young woman in a fantastic marriage with a bright future when her husband, Jamie, is killed in a car accident and she has to start life all over again. Jill Mansel writes about this with so much realism. Ellie clings to the memory of Jamie, she stays in a horrible flat because it was their home, she talks to him and imagines him talking back,(or maybe he really does…), she blames his best friend for the accident that killed him and she feels guilty herself and she hates getting the sympathy card all the time. The story is not a complex dissection of grief, but it is accurate in showing how it affects people. It also helps to make Ellie an extremely likable, believable character for her faults and strengths.

When Ellie finally moves to a lovely flat in Primrose Hill, thanks to her film star father-in-law Tony, she meets a new friend in Roo and gets a new job as a PA for the delicious looking Zack. The very reason Ellie gets the job is because she is not available for romance. Of course at this point I instantly saw fireworks happening between them, but the story is clever and nothing is straight forward here.

The cast of minor characters are a great mix and I enjoyed the way they were pivotal to the plot in respects that only became obvious later on. The manner in which the characters crossed paths with each other and inter-linked was great too. I particularly liked the way that Roo’s relationship with Yasmin (Roo’s lover’s wife) became a bigger and bigger part of the story.

Verdict: As I mentioned before the journeys in this book are not predicable. There are ups and downs, dating disasters, disappointments, pleasures in the simple things of life and huge successes. It all revolves around normal life, sharing coffee, dinner, a glass of wine and living life together with people you care about. The dog share was genius! Ellie getting back on her feet surprises even her and that makes this a fresh and intelligent bit of chick lit.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: February 2011
Format: ebook
Pages: 418/542KB
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British Book
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