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Book Review: Deeper by Robin York

When Caroline Piasecki's ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn't look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear; hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defence and punches her ex to the ground. 

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he's shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger - even after promising her dad she'll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works. 

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they're 'just friends,' their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself - and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her. 

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper. (from goodreads.com) 

The whole New Adult craze pretty much past me by, happening when I was forced to take a break from reading and blogging for a while. To be honest, I wasn't all that desperate to get on the bandwagon. I'm not sure why, but it didn't appeal to me all that much. but then I got a chance to read Deeper as part of a UK blog tour and decided to give it a go. Damn, am I glad I did. I really, really loved this book. 

I grew up pre-internet and was well into my twenties before it became a common thing. Sometimes this saddens me, often I'm grateful for it. Deeper only reaffirms my latter feelings. Caroline is eighteen years old, has been in a relationship with Nate for three years and when he snaps some impromptu pictures during sex, she isn't altogether comfortable about it but she trusts him. But when she breaks up with him and the pictures surface online, the possible repercussions are staggering.  We've all done things we'd rather not have out there in the world. Caroline hasn't even done anything wrong, or what millions of others have done. But once those pictures are out there in the public, she knows she'll be judged upon them in all aspects of her life and future career. 

Deeper made me so angry at times, by how vile and disgusting people can be. In particular to women, because of course Nate isn't treated the same even though he's in the picture too. It also drives home how much the world has changed, how something like this can have a ripple effect through your life, even though you've done nothing wrong. Scary. 

However, I love how Robin York doesn't create a victim of Caroline. She grows throughout the book and I was cheering her every single step of the way. Yes some of it is down to her new, blossoming relationship with West (which I'll get to in a second!) but it isn't because of him. At the end, it's Caroline who has empowered Caroline. Bravo! 

Now to West. Phew...hot, hot, hot! Another complex character, with so many layers...part bad boy, part lost soul. I loved him. The chemistry between Caroline and West is electric, steamy and intense...and I loved it.  He's a heady mix of strong, sexy and vulnerable. I'm not going to lie...I fell for him in a big way. 

Deeper surprised me by just how much I loved it, I wasn't expecting to become so hooked I couldn't stop reading. Rarely do I bother reading those extracts from the next book you find at the end...but I wasn't ready to give up Caroline and West, so I did. And now I can't wait for Harder, released in July. I can't compare Deeper to other books in the New Adult genre, but I know I'd recommend it.

Published by Piatikus March 2014 (uk)  


I reviewed this book as part of Robin York's UK blog tour. You can check out the other stops by visiting the blogs below. 



Book Review: The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

One hot summer. One week in a villa on the outskirts of Deia, a village nestling in the rugged, mountainous west coast of the island of Mallorca. One family for whom the carefully laid jigsaw of life is about to be broken.

Jenn and her husband Greg holiday each year in Deia, enjoying languorous afternoons by the pool. But this year the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of Emma, Jenn's stepdaughter, and her boyfriend Nathan. Beautiful and reckless, Nathan stirs something unexpected in Jenn. As she is increasingly seduced by the notion of Nathan's youth and the promise of passion, the line between desire and obsession begins to blur. What follows is a highly-charged liaison that put lives and relationships in jeopardy, and a taut narrative which percolates with enough sexual tension to make it impossible to put down. (from Goodreads.com)

The Lemon Grove came onto my radar right at a time when I was craving a holiday, during the coldest, greyest, most miserablest of Cumbrian weather. All of a sudden this book was everywhere, from my Amazon recommendations to completely overtaking my twitter feed. I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy. 

And The Lemon Grove delivers exactly what it promises. Steamy, sexy, sultry- it's all those things. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Deia on the island of Majorca, this book is so deeply evocative I could almost feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun and see the glint of its rays shimmering off water. Yet Helen Walsh is spare with her words, not a single one is wasted or given over to flowery description. The sharp, blunt style grabbed my attention and kept me hooked to the very end. 

But the heat doesn't just come from the sun in this book. It's super charged with sexual tension and attraction, amplified by the atmospheric setting. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to react to Jenn's relationship with her step-daughter's seventeen year old boyfriend, but this isn't a romance at all. It's an intense,  raw frustration filled passion from a woman who feels taken advantage of, frumpy and past her best. Through her relationship with Nathan, Helen Walsh delivers a story of complex family dynamics, betrayals and jealousies. While I did find some of the sex scenes a bit cringy and awkward to read, it's very brutally honest and doesn't attempt to convince you that this is a love story. 

The Lemon Grove won't be everyone's taste. If you're very easily offended you may find the sex scenes a bit graphic. While it's intense and passionate, it definitely isn't romantic. Personally I thought it was very good. Full of atmosphere, complex characters and evocative settings. I read it in a day and was hooked from beginning to the very clever end. 

4/5


Published by Tinder Press UK (February 2014) 





Blog Tour: An Exclusive Extract From The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde + Give away!

Today I'm really excited to be welcoming Katie Fforde to Cosy Books as part of her blog tour to celebrate her 20th book, The Perfect Match, released on 13th March 2014


The wonderfully romantic new novel from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of Recipe for Love.

Three years ago Bella Castle left her home town nursing a broken heart over Dominic Thane, the man she fell in love with but couldn't have .

Now she's made a new life for herself in the country, working as an estate agent.

Bella loves her job and she loves her boyfriend Nevil. But recently he's been preoccupied, and she's starting to question if his future hopes and dreams are a perfect match for hers.

And when Dominic turns up unexpectedly in search of his dream house, she begins to wonder if home is really where the heart is. But she's over him, isn't she? 

Below I have an exclusive extract introducing main character, Alice and the chance for two lucky winners to get themselves a copy of their own. Enjoy!

Chapter Two
Alice settled back into her seat on the train with a happy sigh. She had her Kindle, her things about her, and shortly someone would bring her a cup of tea. Or even a glass of wine. First-class travel – at least on the train – was within her budget at last and she loved it. When she turned sixty, Alice had resolved that she would stop suppressing her itchy feet and travel more. She just needed to work out how. Going up to London more often was a start.
As the train had obligingly been ready for boarding early, she was well into this month’s book-group choice before people who didn’t share her idea of punctuality began to board the train.
Alice had arranged her bags so she wasn’t taking up much space and carried on reading. She didn’t look up until she became aware of someone plumping down in the seat opposite and a briefcase landing on the table. Then she glanced up and smiled to indicate she didn’t feel she owned the entire four seats before returning to her book.
The man took a bit of time to settle and Alice stopped reading in order to look at him properly. She was an inveterate people-watcher and, she soon discovered, he was well worth a glance. He was, she reckoned, younger than her – fifties probably – but had an energy about him that was more youthful. He wore a very nice suit and a tie that challenged the suit with its flamboyant colours and slightly skewed angle.
Alice wondered if, at sixty, one was expected to stop looking at the opposite sex with interest. Probably, she concluded, which was rather a shame. Not that she was constantly on the lookout for attractive men or anything, but felt that if she did notice one, she should probably leave the looking to younger women.
Yet the man opposite kept drawing her attention away from her Kindle. He was restless, opening his briefcase, taking things out, shutting it again, looking at his watch. He caught her glancing at him and smiled apologetically.
‘I wonder when the trolley will come round,’ he said.
‘We probably have to set off for that to happen,’ said Alice, ‘but that’s due any minute now. Ah, here we go.’ She looked out of the window, enjoying the moment when you couldn’t quite tell if it was the train moving or the platform.
It was a while before the trolley did come, and when it rattled to a halt beside them, Alice’s travelling companion seemed excited. The attendant looked at Alice expectantly but as she wanted time to consider her options, this seat-side service being new to her, she suggested the man went first.
‘What can I have for nothing?’ he asked.
Impressive, thought Alice. She’d have been much more circumspect.
‘Tea or coffee, hot chocolate, cake, biscuits, crisps,’ said the man in charge.
‘Not a sandwich and a bottle of wine?’
‘No, sir,’ the attendant said firmly. ‘You have to pay for those.’
‘But I left my wallet in the office and I haven’t much money.’
Alice retired behind her Kindle. In spite of his insouciance it must have been embarrassing for this man wanting to stock up on free food and drink like this.
‘I’m sorry about that, sir, but I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do.’
‘And you’re sure I can’t have a sandwich if I don’t have any of this other stuff?’ he asked, gesturing towards the biscuits, cake, fruit and crisps with a disparaging hand. ‘The value of them put together must come to the same as the cost of a sandwich.’
‘I’m sorry, sir. Only the free things are free. The rest has to be paid for.’
‘But the sandwiches have a very short shelf life – you probably have to chuck them at the end of the trip. The other stuff lasts ages.’
‘I said I’m sorry—’
Alice could bear it no longer. ‘Can I buy you a sandwich and a bottle of wine? I’ve got my wallet.’
The man looked at her with eyes she now saw were blue. ‘I couldn’t possibly let you do that.’
‘Why not? It’s not exactly a four-course meal at the Ritz. The bottles of wine are tiny. Let me pay.’ Alice tried to sound authoritative. She felt her age should give her a bit of gravitas. Although maybe her newly highlighted hair would detract from that.
The man looked longingly at the sandwiches and then back at Alice. ‘No. It would be wrong.’
Alice decided not to argue any more. ‘OK.’
Relieved to be no longer dealing with the man who wanted everything for nothing, the trolley attendant turned to Alice.
‘Right, I’ll have two sandwiches, two bottles of wine’ – she glanced up at her companion – ‘red, I think. Oh and some crisps and a bottle of water.’
Once she had paid and the trolley had rattled off, she handed a sandwich and bottle of wine to her companion. He sighed.
‘I give in,’ he said, ‘because I’m starving. But I insist on introducing myself. I’m Michael McKay.’
‘Alice Aster,’ she said and took his hand. He looked at her intensely for a moment and she realised it had been a while since a man had really looked at her. She found she liked it.
‘Do you mind if I start?’ he said.
‘Not at all.’ She responded to the warmth of his smile and decided this sort of thing was not forbidden for women over sixty. Seventy might be another matter.
Michael McKay ripped open the package and consumed the sandwich in three bites. Alice, who had had lunch, didn’t open hers. She suspected Michael would want that too. She did open her wine though and a packet of crisps.
‘I can’t tell you how grateful I am,’ he said, accepting the second sandwich when she handed it to him. ‘I was so hungry. I realised as soon as I got to the front door of the office I’d left my wallet in my desk drawer, but I’d have missed the train if I’d gone back for it.’ Then he made a face. ‘Actually, I probably wouldn’t have missed it but I’d have worried that I would.’
Alice nodded. ‘I like to be early for trains too. We have that in common.’
‘So, where are you headed? Reading? Or the Far West?’
Alice chuckled. ‘Well, not the really far west but beyond Swindon. Stroud, actually.’
‘I get off at Kemble.’
‘Oh, posh Kemble,’ said Alice laughing. ‘Such a pretty station.’
‘The scenery around Stroud is lovely too,’ he said politely.
‘It is indeed. I’ve lived there on and off for over thirty years.’ She realised this made her sound terribly old but that didn’t matter. Did it? Briefly she wondered if buying French beauty products off the internet in order to look younger – as she did – was a bit pointless if you more or less told everyone you’d reached bus-pass age.
‘So, can I have your address?’ he asked.
Alice was not a fearful woman. She believed in people and felt that most of them were well meaning. But she knew that if she let slip to anyone she knew – particularly her god-daughter Bella, who had a slightly maternal attitude towards her godmother – that she’d given her address to a man on a train she would be in big trouble.
‘Why are you asking?’
He looked at her as if she was mad. ‘So I can send you a cheque.’
‘You’re surely not suggesting you write a cheque and post it to me for the price of a sandwich and travel-sized bottle of wine?’
‘But of course I am.’ He paused significantly. ‘It was two sandwiches.’
Alice couldn’t help laughing. ‘That’s ridiculous. Tell me how you’re going to get back to London tomorrow if you haven’t got your wallet.’
‘You’re changing the subject.’
‘Yup.’ She laughed gently. ‘You must see it’s ridiculous to worry about such a small amount.’
His blue eyes pierced hers. ‘I can’t owe money to people. I’m constitutionally incapable.’
‘Well, that’s just silly!’
She could tell instantly that he was not in the habit of being laughed at much, but felt it was good for him to experience it, all the same.
‘Is it? Most women I know are only too delighted to be paid for.’ He had stopped looking affronted and a small smile was gathering at the corner of his eyes.
‘And some are perfectly happy to pay for themselves and for other people – men even.’
‘So you’re one of these modern women?’
It was rather lovely to be described as being modern. She smiled warmly at him.
Just then the ticket inspector arrived at her side and – being law-abiding and unsure of the rules – she felt obliged to produce her Senior Citizen railcard, which Bella had insisted on referring to as her Old Person’s railcard in a very disrespectful way. This would teach her to flirt with younger men, she told herself.
‘Well, at least you’ll feel better about me buying you a snack,’ she said, ‘now you know I’m old enough to be – well, your aunt, at least.’
The intense blue gaze was back. ‘Oh I could never think of you as an aunt.’
Alice found herself blushing. It had been a while since anyone had chatted her up, and she wasn’t even sure he was. As she didn’t know how to respond she picked up her Kindle. ‘I think I ought to carry on reading now. It’s my book group soon.’
‘Are you enjoying the book?’
Alice thought for a moment. ‘Not awfully.’
‘Then don’t read it!’
‘That would be taking anarchy too far,’ she said sternly and turned her attention to the least accessible of last year’s Booker Prize long list. Inside, she was smiling.
Bella was there waiting for Alice when the train pulled into Stroud a little later than scheduled.
Bella waved as she caught sight of her godmother amongst the small crowd coming out of the station. Alice was easy to spot in her drapey turquoise silk outfit that managed to be elegant and casual at the same time. With good bone structure and well-cared-for skin, she was someone Bella felt proud to be associated with.
She kissed her godmother on the cheek. ‘Good day? Oh, no need to ask. I can see you had a lovely time! I’m afraid I haven’t cooked. Fancy fish and chips?’
‘Sounds lovely.’
‘So how was travelling first class?’
‘Brilliant!’ Alice said.
Bella frowned slightly. Had Alice done something different with her make-up, or was she actually blushing? 
You can follow the rest of Katie's blog tour at these brilliant blogs over the next few days (click on the image to enlarge)


Giveaway 

Courtesy of Katie's Publishers at Random House, I can offer two copies of The Perfect Match to two lucky winners. 

To enter, simply fill in the form below. 

Winners will be notified by email within two days of competition ending. 

Copies will be sent direct from publishers.  

Entries close midnight 19th March 2014 (UK) 

Sorry UK only 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Coming Up Next Week: Katie Fforde and Robin York Blog Tours

Two blog tours will be stopping by Cosy Books next week.

On Tuesday 11th March, to celebrate her Twentieth book, THE PERFECT MATCH, I'm hosting Katie Fforde's blog tour. 


The, On Sunday 16th March I'll be sampling New Adult fiction for the first time when I review DEEPER by Robin York as part of her UK blog tour. 


Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

I've loved everything Lauren Oliver has written so far, I'd list her as one of my favourite YA authors and anything she publishes is a must read. But I suppose there's a likelihood that eventually there's going to be one book from an author you expect so much from which doesn't quite live up to your expectations and sadly, Panic was that book.

Don't get me wrong. This is far from a terrible book. The premise is fascinating and took me by surprise a little as I was fully expecting a dystopian/Hunger Games type of story. In fact, Panic is very contemporary in setting. Based in Carp-a run down town in modern day America-where life is tough and prospects low for the young residents. Panic is the name of a game devised as both an alleviation to boredom and the chance of escape to better things. The idea is that all high school students donate to a prize pot throughout the year, then in summer the game opens to those who've just completed their final year. Through a series of increasingly dangerous and terrifying challenges, competitors must avoid elimination with the last person taking the entire prize of around $60,000.

It could have been so good. Sadly though, it lacked a lot of atmosphere, which in turn made the whole concept unbelievable. I'm more than willing to believe that everyday teens could be so disillusioned they'd risk their lives for a chance to win, but Lauren Oliver didn't manage to convince me in this book and I ended up thinking these were just reckless idiots rather than the seriously desperate.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Heather and Dodge and I failed to connect with either of them. I couldn't really of cared less who won by the end. Of the two, I could understand Dodge's reasons for playing the game more than Heather's. I really struggled with why she'd do this, being the only one to watch out for her supposedly beloved younger sister. Very surprisingly, the romance isn't between the two main characters, so thumbs up to the unpredictability of that! Sadly though, the two romances involved were pretty unromantic and lacked any real chemistry. I think I'd have preferred predictable after all.

I did find it very readable and was invested enough to want to keep going. Lauren Oliver's writing is as good as ever in that regard. I was just really disappointed by the lack of tension...for this book to really work it should have been crackling off the pages. I'm afraid I was unconvinced and disappointed this time.

2.5

Published by Hodder (UK) March 2014


**Announcement**

I've moved ... you can now find this blog at CosyBooks.Blog ...same content, different place!

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