Friday, September 30, 2016

Readalong: Stop in the Name of Pants! & Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?

It's well past time to share my thoughts on the final two Georgia Nicolson books but the tail end of summer was busy! (More about the challenge and why I'm rereading the series here at The Paper Trail Diary.) Stop in the Name of Pants! and Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? were typical Georgia madnosity that had me giggling and shaking my head. Sometimes at the same time.

The synopsis of Stop in the Name of Pants! is here on Goodreads and Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? is here.

This is a totally delayed and random observation that I'm finally remembering to share because it's in the synopsis of Pants: I need to start working the term "nip-libbling" into my conversations. Simply because it amuses me. Though I really have no idea how that's going to work out...

It's a bit of a sad state of affairs when I'm trying to write a review on two books and I don't have many thoughts. After eight other reviews of the same kind of book...what else is there to say? Georgia is still pretty awful to her parents and her friends. There are still questionable comments made about gays and lesbians. She's still incredibly self-absorbed (but what teenager isn't, I suppose). And she can't figure out that she's not meant to be with Robbie or Masimo because she's not true to herself with them like she is with Dave. Who, as it turns out, is a bit of an annoying dude. Which is a shame. I always loved Dave the Laugh.

The only real thing of note in Stop in the Name of Pants! happened with Angus. This will be a spoiler but it doesn't exactly spoil the overall story. If that makes sense. Angus is a loony toon cat (and I love it) and he, as Georgia's mum says, loved to chase cars because he "thought they were big mice on wheels." And those big mice got him. Yes, Angus gets hit by a car - but don't worry! The crazy cat survives! The scenes where Georgia is so worried about him are heartbreaking and is one reason I can't say I dislike Georgia. She's just a teenage girl but, deep down in her hormonal heart, she knows what's most important in life.

Everything gets wrapped up nicely in Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? There aren't any loose ends and all the characters are set on the paths that are best for them. Of course, I do have to say that it's, as Georgia would say, vair vair annoying that the book ended when it did. I needed more of that last scene so I could see how it all worked out! I also have to say I wish Georgia had come to her final realization about Dave and Masimo and who she "belonged" with differently. It's not like she really chose one over the other. It was sort of like one made a decision that prevented her from being with him so she decided, why not, and ended up with the other. I know that's the way of teenage girls (hell, I'm pretty sure I did something similar when I was a teen) but it's still a tad frustrating.

As always, there were funny moments throughout the books. Georgia has a way with words that is well and truly unique. She's kind of completely bonkers but she's usually pretty quick with a retort or joke. Thank goodness because if I didn't find some humour in these books I may not have been able to finish them.

So, there we have it, friends. Our Georgia Nicolson Readalong is complete. I've been lucky with a lot of the books I've reread in the last while because I still adore them. The Georgia books, though? Jessica and I agreed they may have been best left in the early 2000s when we were still teenagers. I am glad I finally got the chance to finish the series though and see the HEA (as "ever after" as things can be when you're a teenager!) I wanted for Georgia. I'm sure I haven't convinced anyone to pick up these books but what can ya do? Are there any books you read as a teen that you've reread and wondered what your younger self was thinking? I think Georgia and her Ace Gang were great for when I was a teen but these days there are better role models out there for young girls. Of course, not many of them talk about a mad cat name Angus and snogging! Thanks for following along with our readalong!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

As soon as I read about Jenny Colgan's latest novel, The Bookshop on the Corner, I knew I had to read it. It's a book about - and for - book lovers. How could I say no?

Here's the synopsis:
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. 
Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. 
From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
What I absolutely loved about this book is that it's a story of following your dreams no matter how crazy they may seem. That's a scary and hard thing to do and I love that Nina did it. She fought against some things (not wanting to stay in the small town with the van at first) but gradually came to realize that things were unfolding in a way that made perfect sense for her new venture and her new life.

The romance in this novel is pretty predictable (at least it was for me) but that's ok. It wasn't really the point of Nina's story. I think everything that happens to her (no spoilers here, folks!) is needed to make her realize that she is worthy of a great love and especially worthy of someone who treats her with respect.

The Bookshop on the Corner is funny with a healthy dash of silliness - in the best possible way. Nina gets herself into a few scrapes but she has so much heart. She's lovable, real, and so much fun to read. Plus, she's such a quiet, almost forgettable character at the beginning of the novel and it's so wonderful to see her changing into a strong woman.

Jenny Colgan is an author who has so many books on my TBR list and after reading The Bookshop on the Corner I'm definitely going to make time to read from her extensive backlist! I also wouldn't mind at all if Colgan decides to visit Nina and her friends again in another novel someday soon. I kind of miss them! PS Keep scrolling for an excerpt from this new book and a giveaway! (The giveaway is US only as per the publisher...sorry!)

About the Author
Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Connect with Jenny Colgan

Excerpt from The Bookshop on the Corner:

The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things. It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, whenever you’re going through something difficult, if someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, it’s completely worth it. It seems like absolutely horrible crap now, but I promise it will all come good in the end,” and you could say, “Thank you, Fairy Godmother.” You might also say, “Will I also lose that seven pounds?” and they would say, “But of course, my child!”
            That would be useful, but it isn’t how it is, which is why we sometimes plow on too long with things that aren’t making us happy, or give up too quickly on something that might yet work itself out, and it is often difficult to tell precisely which is which.
            A life lived forward can be a really irritating thing. So Nina thought, at any rate. Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, was telling herself not to cry in public. If you have ever tried giving yourself a good talking-to, you’ll know it doesn’t work terribly well. She was at work, for goodness’ sake. You weren’t meant to cry at work.
            She wondered if anyone else ever did. Then she wondered if maybe everyone did, even Cathy Neeson, with her stiff too-blond hair, and her thin mouth and her spreadsheets, who was right at this moment standing in a corner, watching the room with folded arms and a grim expression, after delivering to the small team Nina was a member of a speech filled with jargon about how there were cutbacks all over, and Birmingham couldn’t afford to maintain all its libraries, and how austerity was something they just had to get used to.
            Nina reckoned probably not. Some people just didn’t have a tear in them.
            (What Nina didn’t know was that Cathy Neeson cried on the way to work, on the way home from work—after eight o’clock most nights—every time she laid someone off, every time she was asked to shave another few percent off an already skeleton budget, every time she was ordered to produce some new quality relevant paperwork, and every time her boss dumped a load of administrative work on her at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon on his way to a skiing vacation, of which he took many.
            Eventually she ditched the entire thing and went and worked in a National Trust gift shop for a fifth of the salary and half the hours and none of the tears. But this story is not about Cathy Neeson.)
            It was just, Nina thought, trying to squash down the lump in her throat . . . it was just that they had been such a little library.
            Children’s story time Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Early closing Wednesday afternoon. A shabby old-fashioned building with tatty linoleum floors. A little musty sometimes, it was true. The big dripping radiators could take a while to get going of a morning and then would become instantly too warm, with a bit of a fug, particularly off old Charlie Evans, who came in to keep warm and read the Morning Star cover to cover, very slowly. She wondered where the Charlie Evanses of the world would go now.
            Cathy Neeson had explained that they were going to compress the library services into the center of town, where they would become a “hub,” with a “multimedia experience zone” and a coffee shop and an “intersensory experience,” whatever that was, even though town was at least two bus trips too far for most of their elderly or strollered-up clientele.
            Their lovely, tatty, old pitched-roof premises were being sold off to become executive apartments that would be well beyond the reach of a librarian’s salary. And Nina Redmond, twenty-nine, bookworm, with her long tangle of auburn hair, her pale skin with freckles dotted here and there, and a shyness that made her blush—or want to burst into tears—at the most inopportune moments, was, she got the feeling, going to be thrown out into the cold winds of a world that was getting a lot of unemployed librarians on the market at the same time.
            “So,” Cathy Neeson had concluded, “you can pretty much get started on packing up the ‘books’ right away.”
            She said “books” like it was a word she found distasteful in her shiny new vision of Mediatech Services. All those grubby, awkward books.
Nina dragged herself into the back room with a heavy heart and a slight redness around her eyes. Fortunately, everyone else looked more or less the same way. Old Rita O’Leary, who should probably have retired about a decade ago but was so kind to their clientele that everyone overlooked the fact that she couldn’t see the numbers on the Dewey Decimal System anymore and filed more or less at random, had burst into floods, and Nina had been able to cover up her own sadness comforting her.
            “You know who else did this?” hissed her colleague Griffin through his straggly beard as she made her way through. Griffin was casting a wary look at Cathy Neeson, still out in the main area as he spoke. “The Nazis. They packed up all the books and threw them onto bonfires.”
            “They’re not throwing them onto bonfires!” said Nina. “They’re not actually Nazis.”
            “That’s what everyone thinks. Then before you know it, you’ve got Nazis.”
With breathtaking speed, there’d been a sale, of sorts, with most of their clientele leafing through old familiar favorites in the ten pence box and leaving the shinier, newer stock behind.
            Now, as the days went on, they were meant to be packing up the rest of the books to ship them to the central library, but Griffin’s normally sullen face was looking even darker than usual. He had a long, unpleasantly scrawny beard, and a scornful attitude toward people who didn’t read the books he liked. As the only books he liked were obscure 1950s out-of-print stories about frustrated young men who drank too much in Fitzrovia, that gave him a lot of time to hone his attitude. He was still talking about book burners.
            “They won’t get burned! They’ll go to the big place in town.”
            Nina couldn’t bring herself to even say Mediatech.
            Griffin snorted. “Have you seen the plans? Coffee, computers, DVDs, plants, admin offices, and people doing cost–benefit analysis and harassing the unemployed—sorry, running ‘mindfulness workshops.’ There isn’t room for a book in the whole damn place.” He gestured at the dozens of boxes. “This will be landfill. They’ll use it to make roads.”
            “They won’t!”
            “They will! That’s what they do with dead books, didn’t you know? Turn them into underlay for roads. So great big cars can roll over the top of centuries of thought and ideas and scholarship, metaphorically stamping a love of learning into the dust with their stupid big tires and blustering Top Gear idiots killing
the planet.”
            “You’re not in the best of moods this morning, are you, Griffin?”
            “Could you two hurry it along a bit over there?” said Cathy Neeson, bustling in, sounding anxious. They only had the budget for the collection trucks for one afternoon; if they didn’t manage to load everything up in time, she’d be in serious trouble.
            “Yes, Commandant Über-Führer,” said Griffin under his breath as she bustled out again, her blond bob still rigid. “God, that woman is so evil it’s unbelievable.”
            But Nina wasn’t listening. She was looking instead in despair at the thousands of volumes around her, so hopeful with their beautiful covers and optimistic blurbs. To condemn any of them to waste disposal seemed heartbreaking: these were books! To Nina it was like closing down an animal shelter. And there was no way they were going to get it all done today, no matter what Cathy Neeson thought.
            Which was how, six hours later, when Nina’s Mini Metro pulled up in front of the front door of her tiny shared house, it was completely and utterly stuffed with volumes.

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*An eARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for a review for a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own*

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: Heat Wave

I'm pretty sure I haven't made it much of a secret that I'm a wee bit obsessed with Karina Halle's contemporary novels. (And if it's not obvious to you maybe I haven't been beating you over the head on social media enough!) She writes all sorts of books - including paranormal and really dark, twisty stories - but I'm a bit set in my genre ways and tend to stick to slightly lighter stories. What I love about Halle's books, the ones I've read anyway and I'm up to nine now so I think I know what I'm talking about, is they have a (usually steamy) romance but a freaking amazing storyline and real, flawed characters you simply cannot stop reading about. So what's my point? My point is I'm thrilled to share that Halle has a new book coming out on November 3 called Heat Wave and I have the cover to share with you today!

This is the synopsis of the upcoming novel:
They say when life closes one door, another one opens.This door happens to lead to paradise.And a man I can never, ever have. Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica "Ronnie" Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it. The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:Logan Shephard.It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.What does matter is that he’s a grump.Kind of an asshole, too.And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else. But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating. There’s just one major catch. The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from. Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.
Now, are you ready for the cover?

*drum roll*

Gah. I love it so freaking much. The colours are just so swoonworthy. 

You can already add the book to your Goodreads shelf. And you should...right now. I'll wait.

I am so so so excited for this book and hope you are now too!

Curious about Karina? Read her bio below and follow her on social media. She posts some great pics on Instagram - she lives in a gorgeous area of BC and always seems to be traveling. 

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: The Woman in the Photo

There are a number of themes and nuances to Mary Hogan's latest novel, The Woman in the Photo. You can choose to analyze and consciously ponder your thoughts on DNA, social class, adoption, and natural disasters (to name a few), or you can get completely lost in a well told, interesting historical novel. I admit I was mostly in the latter category but I definitely found myself thinking about nature vs nurture while I admired the strength of the two heroines in this novel.

Here's the synopsis:
In this compulsively readable historical novel, from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of two young women—one in America’s Gilded Age, one in scrappy modern-day California—whose lives are linked by a single tragic afternoon in history.
1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.
Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?
The synopsis had it right - The Woman in the Photo really was "compulsively readable." In fact, it may have helped me have an even better cardio workout than usual. I was totally riveted before the flood took place in the story but I knew reading about the actual event would be pretty intense. I got to that part as I was on the exercise bike at the gym and I was so tense and heartbroken for the characters that I pedaled a little harder than usual. My boyfriend jokingly said I was trying to outrun the flood but, in a way, I think he was right. I was so completely immersed in the story that I think I was trying to urge characters to move faster, to get out of harm's way because I knew what was coming. Does that sound a little ridiculous? Maybe. But trust me when I say they were very powerful chapters. 

I wasn't really sure why Elizabeth's POV was first person while Lee's was third. I also wasn't a fan that all of a sudden we no longer had Elizabeth's perspective. I don't know why Hogan wrote it like that but I was a little sad when I realized she wouldn't be going back to Elizabeth. All that being said, I did enjoy the dual perspectives. It would have been interesting to read a novel purely from either character but joining the two brought a much deeper meaning to the story.

Mary Hogan hooked me at the start with a story about a historical event I knew nothing about and kept me engaged with characters whose lives intrigued me. The Woman in the Photo is so much more than a fictional retelling of a horrific natural disaster though. Hogan weaves together a captivating story about two different young women that will keep you turning the pages until there are no more to turn.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*