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Another Summer

Another Summer

Another Summer, written by Sue Lilley, tells the story of Evie and Joe, a married couple who have hit a rocky patch after uncovering lies and secrets within their marriage. Evie escapes to Cliff Cottage, a house left by her grandmother to do some soul searching whilst Joe stumbles through the countryside in an effort to find her. Old and new romances will be sparked as the couple reflect on their marriage and the twists and turns of their relationship. Will they reignite their old romance or will the lies and deceit be the final straw for Evie and Joe?

Another Summer begins with an awkward phone call that will change the marriage of Joe and Evie forever. Evie manages her grief through running away whilst her husband, dressed in expensive Hugo Boss attire, drowns his sorrows in a bar contemplating his next move. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions as Joe decides to chase after the leading lady of his life.

Summer flings, beach shacks and indie bands will come together for a teasing storyline that at times is hot and heavy with its seductive characters. Though the plot is steamy, the pace of the book is a little slow at times. I believe this was intentionally done to drive the readers to develop a burning desire to learn more. Another Summer questions the integrity of relationships and whether you would return to a partner after deceit. Many of us perceive relationships to be black and white, however, this love story opens the door to the possibility that love may be a grey area instead.

Sue Lilley’s ability to bring the characters to life left me feeling genuinely concerned for the fate of each character and their relationships. Even the small roles of the story had their own individual plot that I quickly became invested in. One of the characters, Lisa, is a lost and lonely teenager, desperate for answers and acceptance of a male figure in her life. Even though she seems like a lost cause, the reader will be inclined to fall for her sweet demeanour as she tackles her own demons alongside the ride with Joe.

The dreamy Jake will enter Evie’s life at a time where she feels the most vulnerable. With his boyish good looks and charming personality, it’s hard not to find yourself hoping he ends up whisking her away on a much deserved romantic holiday! But just like all of us, Jake is only human and has his own flaws and nuances to match.

I enjoyed how the story paralleled real life with places in the present sparking memories of the past for Evie and Joe. The flashbacks into the past will remind the reader of their own teenage romances and the hormonal dramas that came with first kisses, parties and summer romances.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a romantic novel that questions whether relationships have the strength to survive the test of time. Does time heal old wounds? Should Evie return to Joe? Only time will tell.

Pages: 215 | ASIN: B00R9S9TFI

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Just Shut Up and Drive

Just Shut Up and Drive

It’s an important time in every young adult’s life: the final summer before post-secondary school and after high school. It’s a transitional period where one goes from being a teenager towards becoming an adult. For a young man who lost his parents before he could tie his own shoes, this final summer holds more than just pre-school anxieties. Wil Carter is preparing to head off to school in Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird but his grandfather, Gramps, has other ideas in mind. While Wil just wants to work and hang out with his friends, Gramps prefers to toss his charge into a classic truck and head on a road trip. This is a coming of age story where the bond between a young man and the only father he has ever known is tested, strengthened and celebrated. This is a journey across the prairies of Canada that will touch your heart and possibly make you cry.

Our tale starts with Wil and Gramps arguing about a road trip that the senior has pushed on his grandson. The dynamic relationship between Wil and Gramps is funny, heart-breaking and above all else: realistic. This is a delicate and interesting relationship that is being described. We have an eighteen-year-old boy and a ninety-five-year-old man with more than a ‘generation gap’ between. Gramps is the one who raised Wil after the untimely death of his parents in an automotive accident. While each gives as good as he gets there is a nostalgic respect that Wil holds for his grandfather. You can hear the irritation in his voice as he deals with the elder man’s stubborn personality but you can also hear the respect he has for him as well. Wil was not a golden child while growing up and as he is aging and moving forward with his life he is beginning to understand everything his grandfather has done for him. The description of the relationship between the two and the dynamic in action seems like something out of a movie.

Laird knows what Manitoba, Canada looks like and appears to have at least visited the cities, villages and towns described in the book. For readers who live near or in a location used in any story faithfulness to the recreation is paramount. Laird uses local vernacular when referring to some of the locations and even though the story takes place in modern times, Gramps’ relaxed and sentimental accent rubs off on Wil. While it could be said that Laird sometimes tries a bit too hard to make Gramps really sound like a stereotypical old man, it doesn’t detract from the story.

While a road trip before heading off to university or college is an idea that has been done before, Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird brings more than just self-discovery to the tale. Wil not only learns about himself on his journey with his grandfather. He also learns about the parents he can barely remember. He learns about what he is capable of when a small child stows away in his truck, begging for help. He learns what it takes to be a man to the standards of what his grandfather has wanted for him. This book is a delightful short read that will tug at your heart strings while making you laugh at the same time.

Pages: 166 | ASIN: B00DGJK3B8

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The Lovey-Dovey Stuff is my Favourite

M.L. Sparrow Author Interview

M.L. Sparrow Author Interview

Player follows Chloe, a British student attending college in the United States where she falls in love with a star football player. What was the inspiration to write a story about a British girl living in the United States and the subsequent love story?

Well, I actually applied to study in America (Texas being my first choice!), however, due to various reasons I ended up not going. This story sprang from that and, of course, I had to make it a romance because the lovey-dovey stuff is my favourite thing to write!

I felt that the relationship between Chole and Parker was deep and always entertaining to read. What was the inspiration for the love that develops between Chloe and Parker?

To be honest, their love wasn’t inspired by anything, it just grew and developed as I wrote the story. I’m so happy with the way that their relationship turned out; I liked the way Chloe and Parker were together, but I also thought that they were also strong characters apart.

What was one scene in the novel that you felt captured the morals and message you were trying to deliver to readers?

Probably the scene where Parker punches one of his team mates for being rude to Chloe, because the message that I was trying to get across in this book was that New Adult romances don’t need to be jam-packed with unrealistic drama, with hero’s that are ridiculously overprotective and get into fights at the smallest provocation. That’s not real life. In real life you can’t go around punching people that annoy you. In real life you have to talk to your partner otherwise there WILL be misunderstandings. In the scene that I’m talking about Chloe is not accepting of Parkers behaviour and makes it clear that she won’t put up with it, instead of just accepting it or thinking its sexy.

Player is the first book in the What Happens on Campus series. Can you tell us a little about where the story goes in book two and when the novel will be available?

Book two will be Flirt, Riley and Cameron’s book and it will explore Riley’s broken dreams and the reasons behind her escalating drug abuse, among other issues. I haven’t actually started writing it yet, though I plan to soon, and I’m hoping to have it ready for release in mid/late 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

PlayerLet the game begin…

After a tragic accident which leaves her tormented by guilt, Chloe Newman accepts a scholarship to study a St. Joseph’s University. Traveling from England to Texas, the last thing she expects is to meet the schools charming quarterback on her first night. However, Parker Mitchell is a player both on and off the field.

Parker is immediately fascinated by Chloe and, after a rocky start, they manage to find a way to make their relationship work despite interference from others on campus, including Parkers jealous ex, and the ghosts that haunt Chloe’s conscience. But, the real test comes when they visit Parker’s family over Christmas break and he finds himself being pulled back into their lifestyle…

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Player

Player3 StarsWhen twenty-year-old Chloe gets a scholarship to a university in South Texas, she’s more than happy to leave behind memories of a horrendous car accident that occurred two years earlier in her homeland of England. A fish out of water in the small, Texan town, Chloe immediately finds a friend in her roommate. Parker is an All-American football star at St. Joseph’s University in Texas. Known throughout campus as the ultimate ladies man, he’s just as surprised as his friends when he meets Chloe and can’t seem to shake her from his mind. While Parker’s interest in Chloe grows, she makes it known that she is a relationship girl only. Will he be able to change his ways? And can she finally outrun the ghosts that chase after her?

M.L. Sparrow’s Player: What Happens on Campus #1, appears to be a thoroughly entertaining attempt in kick-starting a series about these college students from a small university in Texas. Two worlds collide as British born Chloe and American raised Parker navigate separate sides of this story to bring it together as a whole.

The author does do a thorough job in keeping the story moving and keeping the reader on seat’s edge. Sparrow does not skimp on the drama, throwing plot twists and new characters into the mix to keep the story moving along at a speedy pace. The many plot twists and heightened drama alone make this story a worthwhile read for anyone looking to enjoy some easy entertainment.

Pages: 235 | ASIN: B01HH8GEF2

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Derailed

Derailed (Clayton Falls, #1)4 StarsThe Clayton Falls series by Alyssa Rose Ivy is a collection of three romantic books: Derailed, Veer, and Wrecked. All three books are set in the town of Clayton Falls, North Carolina, rooted in the lives of 20-something adults, most of whom grew up together. The first book, Derailed, introduces Molly Sander, a first-year law student who is struggling with the recent death of her fiancée, Adam. She leaves school to return to Clayton Falls for the summer, hoping to give herself time to heal. Her ex-boyfriend, Ben, is thrilled to see her, but her best friend Kelly is determined to set her up with Gavin, a police officer who works with Kelly’s husband. Molly wants to confront her fears and heal, but does she need the comfort of an old love or the excitement of someone new?

Veer focuses on Becca, Molly’s best friend from college. When Becca doesn’t get the summer internship at the Boston DA’s office, Molly helps her get a job with a local lawyer, and Becca comes to Clayton Falls for the summer. Molly is eager to introduce her to everyone and the single men begin to circle like sharks. Becca has more potential suitors than she wants, but one of the men from Clayton Falls turns out to be more than she expected, and they set out to pursue their dreams and lives together.

Wrecked picks up with Jake, Ben’s brother, drunk and fighting at a party. A DUI accident lands him in the hospital, and Emily, an ICU nurse, is attracted to him. He gets her number and asks her out, but when he discovers that she has a son, the date falls apart. Emily doesn’t want to see him again. While visiting her parents, her brother’s best friend Austen admits his longtime crush on her. Jake’s past and his drinking problem make her wary. Dating with a toddler in tow is going to be difficult, and Emily has a lot of choices to make.

Having all three of these novels in one volume is a great chance to immerse yourself in the lives of the characters. The Clayton Falls series is driven by the personalities and relationships of these lifelong friends, so following them through several years of their lives is a real treat. I’m sure you’ve heard of “cozy mysteries” but is “cozy romance” a thing? It should be, and this is a great example of that. Part of the appeal here is the small-town feel where almost everyone knows each other, and while they may move away, no one loses touch. This is both a safe harbor for some and a launching pad for others, and you’ll enjoy your visit there.

The author doesn’t shy away from real-life situations that everyone faces. The characters deal with tragic deaths, grief, and real-world situations like assault, addiction, and single motherhood. Since most of the main characters are just starting out in life, high-school crushes, loyalties, and disputes are still fresh, sometimes violently so. Since people are all up in everyone else’s business, keeping secrets is almost impossible, which can cause conflicts of its own. The author gives us a cast of unique, fully-realized characters with their own fears, hopes, and goals. She has a talent for dialogue, and by the end of the series, you’ll feel like you’ve known these people for years.

 Though I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, my one criticism of the series is that it’s far too easy to see how these young romantics are going to pair off. The love triangle doesn’t quite connect on all three points, and sometimes feels forced. There are plenty of obstacles, though, with jealousy, behavior that seems stalker-ish, borderline sexual harassment, or actively trying to sabotage a relationship. The characters learn and grow throughout the books, using their high school and college experiences to emerge as adults ready to start lives, careers, and families of their own.

If you’re a fan of romantic stories with characters who feel so real that you’ll see yourself and your friends in them, you’ll enjoy the Clayton Falls series. Don’t miss the bonus chapter of an upcoming book at the end.

Pages: 260 | ISBN: 1479209139

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Immortal: Curse of the Deathless

Immortal: Curse of the Deathless3 StarsThis fantasy novel is bursting at the seams with an intricate world waiting to be discovered, not only by the reader, but also by the main character, Asher. He is a college student in a world that appears to be similar to the Earth we know and love, but he is also an immortal. He uses his power to help people with their issues for small fees. This earns him enough money to survive, but it also earns him some powerful enemies and sends him on a trip to learn about his past and parentage.

In the Fae Realm, Asher gets caught up between two feuding noble houses, Summer Court and Winter Court. While he is there to meet his mother, the inhabitants of the realm look to exact some favors from Asher before his quest can reach its end. Will his immortality prove to be a blessing, or will he come to think of it more of a “curse of the deathless”? What will he discover about his birth and will the evil organizations of his home planet come for him?

This novel is gritty, funny, and entertaining. The narration is mostly in third person, although Asher will interject his thoughts directly to the reader whenever he deems necessary. For example, while trying to survive what would otherwise be a fatal sword blow, he thinks “Note to self: Lungs and swords don’t play nice together”.

However, there are some pitfalls that come with a fantasy novel of this scope. The author has created a universe that is seemingly vast and full of magic creatures and objects, of which the reader and the protagonist know very little. Because of this, it gives the reader difficulty when it comes to finding out what is going to happen next. I felt that issues were resolved by seemingly random events which then spawned the next set of events. The plot points come across as if they were written for a video game, as there are checkpoints to be met before the story can progress. For example, Asher has to gain favor with the rest of the family members before his step-sister will let him meet his mother.

If you can ignore these minor issues then you will find an entertaining adventure story in a world that is rich and worthwhile. The universe has plenty of depth, lore, and legend for any fantasy fan. The narration is spectacular despite a couple of minor grammatical mistakes. The characters are fun, and the dialogue is original although parts of the story may be a bit cliché. I’m not sure how nearly every woman in the story came to be so attractive, but there it is.

Overall, this story is quite the undertaking, and I can’t wait for a sequel, which the author seems ready to deliver.

Pages: 319 | ASIN: B01F0ING16

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