March by Sunni Overend

March

by Sunni Overend

Genre: Contemporary, Women

Apple March has fallen short of her dreams. Instead of designing clothes, she manages a boutique. Her reasons for leaving the Emmeline Gray Academy of Design are shrouded in mystery. Her friends and family urge her to rekindle her passion for design, but the Academy’s influence reaches deep into the design world of Melbourne. Apple’s friend Charlie Beauchamp seems to have some important connections. She met him when he discovered her broken down on the side of the road, and he fixed her car by clunking her engine with his croquet mallet. He seems like magic. He draws the fatherless girl into the cream of Melbourne society with his friendly open nature and seemingly miraculous ability to fix the broken. Will Apple find romance with Charlie, or anyone else? Will she overcome the secret tragedy of Emmeline Gray Academy and design once again?

Sunni has crafted an engaging tale of fashion and romance in Melbourne and beyond. Apple is a lovable character, if a bit timid, with plenty of supportive friends to help her. Sunni makes us feel for her and want her to succeed even though we can’t be completely certain if she did the horrible thing that got her ejected from Emmeline Gray Academy or not. The sense of mystery about the event made it feel more important and scandalous when it was revealed in the end.

All the men surrounding Apple (and hitting on her) were handsome but not all good. The romantic situations thrilled and the betrayals stung me just as they did Apple. Sunni’s descriptions of places and fashion made me love them too.  Once or twice the action flagged enough for me to wonder how things would pick up and go, but overall I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next for Apple and all her friends. March was an ideal read for a summer afternoon. (Go Northern Hemisphere!) I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net

I received this book from the author for the purposes of unbiased review.

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Book extract: http://www.sunnioverend.com/files/extract.pdf

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17973433-march

Love and Other Subjects by Kathleen Shoop

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Love and Other Subjects

by Kathleen Shoop

Genre: Contemporary, Women’s

Five stars

Carolyn Jenkins is a new teacher, brimming with optimism and ready to save the world. Well, she’s at least ready to save her class full of kids from a life doomed to illiteracy and menial jobs. Life, however, turns out to be more complicated and dismal than her idealistic vision. The reality of an inner-city school and a broken system threatens to ruin her dreams. Her personal life isn’t doing so hot either. After breaking up with her long-time boyfriend, Alex, her BFF roommates Laura and Nina aren’t necessarily supportive. When she meets a mysterious older man named Jeep, Carolyn gains the courage to move forward with her life-changing plan. Over the school year, Carolyn learns the dirty truth about the school where she works, Klein the sadistic principal who is also her boss, and about Jeep’s crazy family. Can Carolyn push past all this imperfection to grasp happiness or will she lose everything she hoped for?

Carolyn was a character of radical highs and lows. Her optimism and quirky courage warred with her negativity and over-analasys of the faults in her life, others, and herself. It was kind of annoying at first and showed her extreme immaturity. Kathleen uses all the awful setbacks in Carolyn’s life to expose her immaturity, aggravate her moodiness, but also to bring out her strength and mature her. I liked Carolyn more and more through the book as I left behind her spoiled whininess and sympathized with her.

The other characters served well to help Carolyn suffer more, but they were also her strength. I liked the juxtaposition of the different personalities of Nina and Laura, who Carolyn also worked with, and their different perspectives on life. Jeep, the love interest, was a great elusive temptation and ideal in Carolyn’s life. I don’t think I could have thought of a crazier name for him, and pairing him with a brother-in-law named Ford was just hilarious.

This book entertained me and drew me through the story without boredom. The pacing was great and I loved all the subtle details of conversation and background. Thanks for the great read, Kathleen!

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Lethal Inheritance by Tahlia Newland

Lethal Inheritance

(Book one of the Diamond Peak Series)

Author: Tahlia Newland

Publisher: Catapult Press

Genre: Young adult contemporary fantasy

Four Stars

One dark and terrible night, Ariel’s mother is dragged away from their home and abducted by horrible demons. Helpless and clueless as to what has just happened to her, Ariel hopes it’s all a bad dream. In the light of morning the truth is clear. Her mother, Nadima, is gone. An old woman named Maya appears and seems to know exactly what’s happening. Trusting in her council, Ariel leaves her home and embarks on a journey into a hidden land alongside our own.

Overwhelmed with unbelievable supernatural phenomena, Ariel must act on faith and find a mysterious guide who will lead her to the evil that has abducted her mother.  Joining her guide, Walnut, and his intriguing young assistant, Nick, she will endeavor to train to reach the Serpentine’s lair and defeat her mother’s captors. Will she rescue her mother? Can she overcome these terrible obstacles and survive?

 

Tahlia weaves another fantastic tale of supernatural  amazement and peril. This story was filled with symbolism and allegory. Dealing with the very real problem of evil,  this is no lighthearted, meaningless read. Throughout the story I felt the keen awareness and grief over evil. Ariel is trapped by the Serpentine weed that pervades and cripples society, only to re-grow after defeat. It both feeds itself with evil, suffering, and negativity, and re-creates more of its nourishment with feeding.

Unique to any other fantasy book I’ve read, Ariel’s weapons to defeat these horrors are focus, clarity, and spiritual power. Tahlia has created a unique and notable new approach to magical powers. It was very interesting comparing and contrasting my own world view with the one Tahlia presented. I noticed and appreciated the references to Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! Love!

As with some of Tahlia’s other books, I found that I wished for more description or introduction in certain scenes or with certain characters. For example, I was unable to recall any physical description of the character Tynan. (I was surprised to see this unique name used here, as I also used it in Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic. I didn’t copy, I promise!) However, the lack of description didn’t detract from the story in any way, and many of them were deferred to later on in the narrative.

Lethal Inheritance was a fantastic and fun read with lots of action and truly spectacular imagery. The emotional lives of the main characters were honest and tumultuous, drawing the reader into their points of view. Kudos, Tahlia, on another entertaining book release!

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