Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Have you ever watched a competitive cheerleader competition? Seen the way these young girls throw their bodies and each other’s bodies into the air, as if they are flying? Competitive cheer isn’t like other sports—they are a team. These girls have to trust their teammates to hold them up, be there if they fall. Without trust…they all fall down.

DARE ME by Megan Abbott a mother/daughter review + giveaway

by Megan Abbott

Reviewed by Laura Kay (mother)

Addy Hanlon and her best friend Beth Cassidy rule their cheer squad; Beth as captain and Addy her lieutenant. The squad doesn’t just look up to them—their afraid of them. But when Colette French walks into the gym and takes over as cheer coach everything gets flipped around. Coach French has every intention of taking her girls to regionals and she needs to get them ready. First things first she dethrones the cheer captain.

Beth seems to lose interest in cheer and begins running more wild than usual. Addy is preoccupied running after Coach. The girls are getting stronger and better at cheer. The coach starts having them over for late night drinking parties. Coach French begins turning her attention to Addy. She begins entrusting her talking to her like she was an adult girlfriend instead of a girl on her cheer squad.

Addy's new bff seems to be Coach French. But we haven't seen the last of Beth. She's been watching and waiting in the wings. Coach French thought she could take away her captain's position on the squad? Beth wants Coach to pay for what she's done.

As the girls prepare for the game of their high school cheer career, there is a suicide. Addy finds herself right in the middle of it all. Entangled in a web of lies.

Dare Me is filled with sex, lies, alcohol, eating disorders and brimming with teenage angst, but that’s just the first few chapters!

I have to admit it took me a few pages to connect with first person, Addy. I’ve read a number of books with a teenage protagonist, but the authenticity of Addy’s voice was dead on—I felt like this is how my teenage daughter or her friends would think! Not only did Abbott nail it with the voice, but with Addy’s perspective. Addy seems obsessed with her new coach, she wants to replace coach with her best friend Beth.

And Coach! Coach French is an odd one. She seems to be someone who peeked in high school and isn’t ready for the grown-up world. The more I read it seemed like her dethroning of Beth had less to do with the squad and was more about replacing herself in Beth’s position. She didn't seem coach like, more like one of the girls.

With each page I delved deeper into the dark world of high school. Parents turning a blind eye to what is going on with their kids and the kids being in such a rush to grow up.

Suddenly, the story takes on a dark twist. I actually stopped counting how many times I put the book down in my lap and said, “holy—“ yeah, it’s that good! I really figured I knew where it was headed, I was wrong. Then I thought something else, yeah wrong again. I no longer knew who or what to believe! I just knew I couldn’t stop reading until everything was revealed.

I thought it was an awesome book! Amazing! Loved it! Fresh, different and authentic! I recommend grabbing a glass of wine and get ready for a long night of reading!

By Megan Abbott

Reviewed by Alyssa Kay (daughter)

“Dare Me” follows a young high school cheerleader named Addy Hanlon. Addy has always been lieutenant to her best friend of forever, Beth. When the new school year starts, they also get a new cheer coach. This new coach planned on molding theses stereotypical cheerleaders into real athletes. Coach battles with Beth for power and respect throughout the story. Addy continuously ignores Beth’s warnings and remarks about Coach and finds herself becoming Coach’s close friend. This new alliance causes trouble for all involved. As the year progresses, Beth appears to lose interest in cheer and more interested in setting up Coach’s downfall. However, this downfall ends in a way no one could have expected, not even Beth.

Alyssa Kay (yes, I blacked out her school)
At the beginning of the story, it felt like I was reading a soap opera. Everything was very dramatic and radical. Having been a cheerleader, I found it a little unbelievable how quickly their cheer team turned from blah to oh-la-la. This story took a while for me to really get into it, but about halfway through I could hardly put it down. It seemed whenever the story was going one way, Abbott turned left. All in all, I really liked the book. I would definitely recommend the book to anyone with a taste for drama and/or mystery.

Megan Abbott Website
We have one ARC copy to giveaway to someone with a US address! The winner will need to respond to our email within 48 hours! Good-luck!

Friday, July 27, 2012

THE 5 W'S OF Claudia Welch

Claudia Welch graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in English. She is an Alpha Phi alumnae. Writing as Claudia Dain, she was first published in 2000. A Los Angeles native, she currently lives in North Carolina with her family.

Yesterday I posted my review of Claudia's new book SORORITY SISTERS! I highly recommend it! Now let's get to know

The 5 W's of Claudia Welch


I am a sorority girl, which is likely not much of a surprise. I think writers are watchers of the world; we live our lives fully, like everyone else, but a part of us is always a step back, watching and evaluating and analyzing what just happened, why, and how others are reacting. We watch. We observe. We translate all that watching into stories about believable fictional people reacting realistically to fictional events, but all that fiction is based on reality, to one degree or another. Sorority Sisters is exactly that: fiction based on reality. 

I am a sorority girl. My sorority sisters are my oldest friends. My novel is about sorority sisters and how they became friends and stayed friends. 

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?

Almost everything I do somehow relates to writing. I immerse myself in Story for hours every day. I’m either reading fiction or watching series television or watching movies or reading biographies (the story of a life) almost every hour I’m not writing. For a real break, I clean and garden, but even while my hands are busy sweeping or pruning, my mind is circling Story. I believe writing is what I was meant to do. 

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in the 7th grade and introduced to Creative Writing for the first time, I fell in love with writing. One of our first assignments was to write a descriptive essay, just a small scene really, describing some action. Most of the class described how to do something, like ride a bike or throw a baseball; I described a woman smoking a cigarette---since my parents both smoked this was easy to describe! At least it felt easy. The images were in my head and the words just flowed out of me, like water from a pitcher.  It was a euphoric experience, and those are hard to come by in the 7th grade. 

WHERE? Where do you write? 

I write anywhere the spirit moves me, and it moves me often. I have a dedicated office, but I haven’t written a book there in years. I sometimes write in the food court of the local mall, but that hasn’t worked lately either. When a place stops working, I move. Sorority Sisters was written at a secluded lake house where there were no interruptions and a lake view to feast my gaze upon when the pictures in my head dimmed. A lap top computer (with a long battery life) is essential to my writing process. 

WHY? Why do you write?

I write because I must. Writing makes me happy; it still delivers that special brand of euphoria that began when I was in middle school. When I don’t write, I get cranky and easily bored, dissatisfied with everyone and everything; in short, I must write to be happy. It’s a very strange affliction. I’m just glad it’s not illegal. 

Thank-you so much for joining us here at A Novel Review, Claudia! I am completely inspired by your description of the lake house where you wrote Sorority Sisters!

Make sure to order your copy!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sorority Sisters By Claudia Welch

It begins in 1975, four girls pledge Beta PI. Each girl is joining the sorority for different reasons:

Karen-her mother said so. Her mother told her it would be a great way to make girlfriends and Karen tends to do whatever her mother tells her to do.

Laurie-is looking to make some girlfriends and ok let’s be honest she wants to accidently on purpose bump into her summer beau, Pete. Pete just happens to be in one of the fraternities the Beta Pi’s socialize with.

Ellen-she is in it for the free beer. And it sure doesn’t help hurt that being in a sorority costs her dad a lot more money!

Diane-well after her first year of school her dad said he was no longer paying for her parting ways, so he suggests she joins the ROTC. After doing so, her mother says she needs to balance it by becoming a member of a sorority.

Over all, these girls are looking to have fun and make some friendships while at school. Little did they know they weren’t just making friends they were making sisters—and sisters are forever.

I have to admit I had a preconceived notion about Sorority Sisters. I for some reason assumed the book would start in the present and would have flashbacks. I was way off. It starts off in 1975 and moves the characters through the years. It really gives the reader a chance to connect to all the girls (The book also goes back and forth between the characters so you get to know them even better).

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, but towards the end of their college days I began feeling a bit restless. The story didn’t seem to be heading towards a ‘big’ event or moving very fast. But once they graduate the book starts moving at a much faster pace. Just like in real life the older we get the faster it seems to go by! As they move into adulthood, real life hits them with its cold realities and most heartfelt moments.

I laughed. I cried.

A great read about the power of love and friendships. I’m recommending Sorority Sisters (what a great book to grab as it’s getting to be back to school time!)

Claudia Welch Website

Reviewed by Laura Kay
Make sure to come back tomorrow and get to know The 5 W's of Claudia Welch! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finding Mr. Flood by Ciara Geraghty

When Mrs. Flood was very pregnant, Mr. Flood walked down the road to get cigarette and never returned.  Fast forward many years and you find Mrs. Flood and her two daughters, Angel and Dara.

Angel has discovered that she was born with only one kidney and is in desperate need of a transplant.  A two AM phone call leads to a rush to the hospital in hopes that there is a kidney match.  The doctor runs tests and finds out that there is no match, sending her home devastated.

Mrs. Flood believes that Angel is the perfect daughter and Dara is not so perfect.  Angel was the popular, easy going daughter.  Dara was the difficult, hard to reach daughter.  Upon news of Angels non-matched kidney Mrs. Flood becomes reclusive and unable to cope.

Dara is the one who seems to always be picking up everyones dropped pieces and taking care of them.  She has put her life on hold to be there and take care of Angel and he mother.  Her two co-workers and friends convince her that Mr. Flood might be the answer to all their prayers.  So the search for Mr. Flood begins.

Finding Mr. Flood is a book I was unsure about.  As I read I found that I could not stop.  Each page was as captivating as the page before.

I loved Stanley, the private investigator Dora hires.  His shyness endeared him to me immediately.  His gentleness and caring nature made him every girls dream.  Stanley was so patient and understanding of Dara’s struggles and heartaches.

Angel and Dara’s sistership is exactly what I feel me and my sister share.  The doing anything to help each other and support each other.  Even when Angel was feeling defeated, Dara did not give upon her.  Always trying to cheer her up and give Angel a reason to get out of bed and keep living.

Mrs. Flood was my least favorite character.  The favoritism she felt and showed Angel is something no good mother should ever do or feel.  The indifference that I felt she had towards Dara made me sad and upset.

Although the novel has a lot of pages, every page is worth the time of reading.   I would highly recommend this read.  It is a great cuddle by the fireplace story of family, romance and hope.

Ciara Geraghty Website
Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PIG by SBR Martin--Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn

Pig is told from Lily’s memories as she sees familiar people at the funeral parlor.  Lily tells of growing up adopted by her grandmother and her strict upbringing.   Her wild days after high school and meeting Bender are stories she tells.  Lily’s marriage to Bender leads to a life of domestic abuse, sex, alcohol, and children all ending in a funeral.

Lily captured my attention and heart.  She brought to me a life that I cannot ever imagine having to live.  From being left by her mother with her grandmother to marrying Bender and living with all his abuse.  The strict upbringing, no boys, no sleepovers, leaves me to wonder how different Lily’s life could have been had she had some freedom and experiences before she was on her own at college.  Would Lily have valued her life more if she knew all of what was available and what she deserved?

I had no idea what to expect of a book names Pig, but I was definitely not disappointed.  I could not stop reading.  If I had seen this on a book shelf I probably would have passed by without a second look.  Oh, what a mistake that would have been.  This story is so different than anything else I have ever read.   I would definitely recommend this book as an excellent read!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp

Game of Secrets is the story of two families that are twisted together by a budding romance, an affair, and a murder.  In 1957, Luce Weld was murdered by a gunshot to the head.  At the time of his murder he was having an affair with Ada Varick.  It is widely believed that Ada’s husband, Silas, is the one who put the bullet in Luce.

Jump ahead to 2004, Jane age 60, Luce’s daughter, plays Scrabble weekly with Ada,  80,  in hope of learning more about Luce’s romance and eventual murder.  Marne, Jane’s daughter , has moved back to New England from California and begins a relationship with her childhood crush Ray, Ada and Silas’ son.
I found this book easy to read, but for some reason it didn’t flow well for me.  There were many times I had to go back and re-read part of the story.  It seemed at times there were run on sentences and too much description and carrying on.  I am still not sure what really happen to Luce, did Silas shoot him?

That said, the story between Jane and Ada playing Scrabble and the tales they told were by far my favorite parts of the book.  The reminiscing is exactly how I believe my grandma and her friends spend their time.  Those are the stories every daughter or granddaughter should want to know and keep re-telling.

Review by Charlotte

Dawn Trip Facebook

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Look Like You by Rose McClelland

Ella, actress, musician, and bronzed boobed, gets a new job and Juno.  Aiden, funny and outgoing is her trainer at the new job.   When Aiden invites Ella to come to a party at his house, his live-in girlfriend, Chloe get jealous of Ella and Aiden’s friendship.

Chloe is jealous of all the time Aiden and Ella spend together at work and in Aiden’s band.  She decides that she is going to start “Project Simon.”  Simon is a co-worker of Chloe’s, who is a social butterfly, planning office night out often.  The idea of “Project Simon” is to make Aiden jealous.
Ella is envious of Aiden and Chloe’s steady relationship.  She is also finding herself having more than friendly feelings towards Aiden.  Ella sees Chloe as having the perfect relationship, the perfect body, and the perfect life.

I loved every page of the novel.  Every woman can relate to the insecurities both Ella and Chloe show.  Ella’s envy of steady relationships and “perfect bodies.”  Chloe’s jealousy of her boyfriends showing innocent attention to another girl and someone else’s talents.  Each girl handles these in their own way and manages to come away as a better person.

Aiden seems like the man we all like as a friend or boyfriend.  The outgoing, friendly, upbeat, able to make you smile man.   The fact that Aiden spoke the truth endeared him to me.  He didn’t play games, as many men do, with Chloe or Ella.

I recommend this amazing beach, poolside, cuddle on the couch; lay in bed story to ever person looking for a novel to suck you in from the very beginning.  It is a captivating and easy read.

Reviewed by Charlotte

THE FIVE W’S Of Rose McClelland

Rose McClelland's new book HOW TO LOOK LIKE YOU out July 5th and Rose has joined us here at A Novel Review and share with us:
The Five W's of Rose McClelland

I am a woman in my thirties. I live in Belfast in a very tall apartment building which looks out over the river. I studied English and drama at University but probably spent most of that time in the students’ union bar. I did however love writing for the student newspaper and found that writing theatre reviews was a nifty way of getting free tickets.

After Uni, I lived in London for 6 years.  I started off working for a ‘theatre in the round’ as Office Manager. I then bagged a job as a PA for a west end dance company. I remember the joy of getting my own office which even had my own water cooler! I had arrived! It sounds awfully glamorous doesn’t it? Apart from one red carpet glittering affair (where I spied Jude Law!) it really was just the same as working in any office.

I read and write chick-lit/ contemporary women’s fiction.  I love happy, feel-good books that take me out of myself and make me feel so engrossed that I forget I have to get ready for work!

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I read a lot. I love a good chick-lit novel and if I get into a novel in the first chapter, then I’m engrossed until the end.  I also love putting the feet up and watching a good film.  Chick flicks are my favorite, though I do love a good weepy emotional movie too. I spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter and I think I have a serious addiction to it.  It doesn’t help that I am a member of tons of groups – The Bookshop Café, The Writers’ Circle, Crooked Cat Readers & Authors Group.  What happens in these is that people chat about their book/movie recommendations so then I’m off on Amazon and Goodreads ordering samples! It’s dangerous!

Other things in my spare time – I love having my mates around for a good girlie catch up.  I love the cinema and theatre. And I wouldn’t say I love but I make myself do exercise. How else can a girl enjoy a good dollop of ice-cream now and again?

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
At ten years old, believe it or not! I announced to my mum that that was what I wanted to do.  Of course, it all felt like a pipe dream. In my teens, I then told people I wanted to be a journalist.  But considering I failed my journalism module drastically at Uni, that was a no-go.  After Uni, I took a creative writing course in London. Then another one in Brighton. Finally, after years of talking about wanting to write a novel, starting a novel, stopping, letting the novel hide in a bottom drawer, I finally sat down, started one, and kept going until I wrote ‘the end’.

WHERE? Where do you write? 
In my apartment which looks over the water! For years I sat in coffee shops, cramming earphones in my ears to drown out the sound of crying babies, overhead TV and people’s chatter. I was even fortunate enough to find a nice café which looked out over a water fountain and was relatively quiet.  Now though, I sit and look out over the water and write to my heart’s content.

WHY? Why do you write?
There is something about writing that really relaxes me.  If I’m not writing (for extended periods of time), I feel crotchety and a bit disjointed.  Writing puts a bit of order to my life. It makes me feel like I’m making sense of things. The actual act of writing a story and thinking about other characters helps me to take me out of myself. Suddenly I’m not thinking about me all the time; I’m pouring my thoughts and energies elsewhere.  I am also expressing myself.  I can let my character have a good vent about something, where I might not have the courage to do it in real life!

Thank you for asking me the five W’s!

Thank-you so much for joining us here at A Novel Review! I'm so jealous of your spotting of Jude Law! He's beautiful!!! 

Make sure to read Charlotte's review of How To Look Like You!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton

LeeLee Satterfield follows her Husband, Baker, to Vermont, cause good southern girls stick by their man, to open The Peach Blossom Inn.  After making The Peach Blossom Inn a huge success, her husband leaves her and their two young girls for his mistress.  LeeLee decides to sell the Inn and move back home to Memphis.  When she gets back to Memphis she finds out life is not the same as when she left.

Kissie, Alice, Mary Jule, and Virginia are all in the Memphis area to help and support LeeLee as she has to learn how to be a single mother and has to deal with the town gossips.  She realizes with her best friends by her side anything can be done.  LeeLee manages to find a place to live and a job and still have great fun with her friends and family.

LeeLee is the true heroine in this novel.  She shows her bravery first by leaving all that is familiar to her and following her husband to Vermont to start a new business in a new town with new friends.  When her marriage fails, her bravery shows again, she decides she has to take her children and move back home, where she has no home and no job, but plenty of good friends to help her find her way.

Yankee Doodle Dixie truly has me cheering for LeeLee and her girls.  I loved that her second mother, Kissie, Took her in and helped her with the girls with no questions asked.  The fact that her girlfriends never gave her any grief about her lives decision made them be the kind of friends every girl needs.

I won’t give away the ending but it was perfect.  Lisa Patton wrote an amazing novel that made me smile and laugh.  The southern feel to Yankee Doodle Dixie made it a perfect sunny day read.  I cannot wait for more stories about LeeLee.
Reviewed by Charlotte

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As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review.

The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.