Book Review: Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Title: Reunion of the Heart
Author: Elaine Jeremiah
Genre: Contemporary romance
Date Read:
22/08/2014 – 25/08/2014
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

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I have to say I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, given it’s not a genre I’m normally into (a cursory glance at any of my GoodReads shelves gives you magic, fairies, ghosts, etc). This is Elaine Jeremiah’s second novel, following The Inheritance, which she released around this time last year. The main character, Anna, is a writer dealing with the aftermath of a messy break-up. Her best friend convinces her to attend their high-school reunion, and there she runs into Will, who was one of the two bullies who made her life hell during school. Around the same time, Anna’s writing is taken on by a new agent, Peter, who doesn’t just have eyes for her writing. Anna needs to decide who she wants in her life, before things get too out of control.

I was surprised that so much of the novel was actually taken up by Anna’s relationship with Peter, as Will is the only one mentioned in the blurb. Peter was not overly likeable, so I have to admit that the second I could sense their relationship was on the rocks, I was rooting for it to end. I also thought that the beginning of their relationship could have been a little fleshed out as they essentially became an item “off-screen”.

While Will makes a few appearances in the first two thirds of the novel, it’s not really until the final third where he really becomes a major player. I think probably my favourite scene was one in which he and Anna finally have a conversation about their feelings towards each other. Basically, they were in Paris and it was winter so they were all rugged up and they were having what amounted to a warm, fuzzy [for the reader] conversation and so it ticked all my boxes.

I think Elaine Jermemiah’s writing was strongest when there was real conflict between characters, such as when Anna was calling Peter out on his possessiveness of her, or when she was reminding Will that he had made her life hell during school and she had no desire to see him again. These sections felt very real. Sometimes the characters’ internal conflicts felt a little repetitive, as did Anna’s conversations with Melissa about her love life (though Melissa does eventually point out to Anna that she needs to figure her life out on her own; she can’t keep asking Melissa for advice and blaming her when it goes wrong).

Having now written this review, and getting to the point where I make a concluding remark, it occurs to me that probably half the time I read books outside my usual genres, I tend to say “I enjoyed this more than I thought I would” so maybe I should just accept that I actually enjoy these sorts of stories now and then and look forward to Elaine’s next book, too!

#WIPpet Wednesday – Something Stupid and Sentimental

I kind of fell off the blogging bandwagon the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, I neither visited any other WIPpet posts nor did I respond to comments on my own, and last week I didn’t even post a single thing. For that I apologise, and I hope that I made up for it by managing to visit most of the WIPpeteers this week regardless. I’ve been neglecting my writing, too, mostly because I’m lazy and reading is so much easier (I’ve been powering through some novels lately). Also because I was stuck and ignoring the problem was the best way to go, obviously.

Anyway, on the weekend I got fed up with myself, which is generally what I do after a non-writing period. I decided if I wasn’t getting anywhere with An Eventual Happily Ever After, then maybe I should go back to Unicorn Love for a while. I pulled up my notes – which were mostly in the form of questions – and the small bit of writing I’d already done on it, and after a while had a bit of a direction to go in. On Sunday night, it was keeping me awake, so that’s a good sign. I wrote 1003 words during Sunday, and another few hundred yesterday (haven’t typed them up yet to get the actual number).

I’m probably actually going to write a couple of book reviews for the blog tonight (I just finished reading Elaine Jeremiah‘s new book, Reunion of the Heart, and also Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett. amongst a few other things). I have a write-in with my writer’s group tomorrow, so I’ll hopefully get a bit more done there, but I don’t know how long I’ll stay because the new book in the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud is released on Kindle tomorrow, and I’m going to just want to go home and read it.

Anyway, today is WIPpet Wednesday. I’m going to share a snippet from Unicorn Love, which follows on from the scene I shared in this post. My WIPpet maths is as follows: it’s the 8th month and 4+4 is 8, so 44 words. To refresh your memory, David is being held overnight at the police station before being sent to gaol the following day, and Lexie’s feeling guilty about it.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, and pulled away from David’s hand when she felt a tear starting down her cheek. He’d probably still see her cry, but she didn’t think she could cope with him doing something stupid and sentimental like wiping away the tears.

Incidentally, Lexie’s name is subject to change at some point, since I don’t feel the name fits the character. I’m just yet to come up with something better. I also have another character (she’s replaced the Venus character) currently named Beatrice McCarthy, but I need something a bit sharper sounding for her. I hate naming things. It’s the worst.

Anyway, I shall keep this brief, and head off now. Join us for WIPpet Wednesday by posting an excerpt from your current WIP that somehow relates to the date, then link up here. Many thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :) Goodnight all!

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#MirthMusicMon – Still Not Ginger

Hello! I have an apology to make at the beginning of today’s post. If you’re not a Doctor Who fan, then the song I’m posting will make little sense to you, but Series 8 started yesterday and it’s been a long time since there was a full series of Doctor Who on my TV, so I’m celebrating. We have a new Doctor, so I’m sharing a song about the last time we were getting to know a new doctor, by Time Lord Rock band, Chameleon Circuit.

Also, I ate fish fingers and custard once for a competition on LiveJournal (and then once again a few months later at a Doctor Who-themed board games night; it’s surprisingly moreish). Here’s that video for your amusement. Look at me all nineteen years old and long-haired and different-glasses-ed. Actually, I don’t have any glasses in my WordPress avatar, as I was wearing contacts. But anyway. Here it is.

That’s all from me for this week. Join us in Mirth and Music Monday by linking up here. Catch you Wednesday!

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Book Review: Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Alysse Near

Title: Fairytales for Wilde Girls
Author: Alysse Near
Genre: Dark, gothic YA/fantasy
Date Read:
15/07/2014 – 31/07/2014
Rating: ★★★★★

Review:

wildegirlscoverThis book. This book. I have a lot of feelings. At times I’m not sure why I loved it so much, and there were times while I was reading that I wasn’t planning on giving it more than 3 stars. But I was still thinking about it days after finishing it, so it clearly made an impression.

Isola Wilde, named for Oscar Wilde’s sister who died at the age of nine, can see things that aren’t really there. She has six “brother-princes” in the form of two ghosts, a fairy, a Fury and a mermaid (not all her princes are men) and she knows there is a unicorn herd in Vivien’s Wood, the forest near her house. One day she comes across the dead body of a girl in a bird cage, hanging from one of the trees in the woods, and soon after the same dead girl turns up at her window, telling her to turn down the volume of her heart and stay out of the damn woods. This sets off a chain of events that lead to Isola discovering that there is more to her life and to the magical world around her, than she realised.

On the surface, this book is a modern-day gothic fairytale, but it’s also so much more than that. It’s about life and death, love and loss, mothers and daughters, and living with mental illness. There were times when I got confused and wondered if I’d missed something, and there were other times when I felt like nothing was happening and the stakes weren’t as high as I was being told they were (actually there was a decent-sized chunk in the middle where that was the case), but I found myself compelled to read on anyway. It became clearer the more I read that it want really about what was happening on the surface, it was about what that symbolised. Usually I don’t go in for that sort of thing, but it was being symbolised with ghosts and fey and deconstructed fairytales, so how could I not? Everything fell into place in the last 50 or so pages and made far more sense than I had thought it was going to.

The cover, while lovely, is a little misleading; after seeing it, I was surprised that the book was set in the present day, and there were times when I felt the writing style clashed with the setting. But the illustrations in the book are beautiful, and exactly how I imagined the brother-princes to look. There were other things that bugged me, too, like Alejandro’s constant use of the endearment “querida” (he seemed to say it every time he addressed Isola, and I’m complaining about that as someone who swooned over Jesse in Meg Cabot’s Mediator series as a teenager). The character of Isola, and by extension, the book itself, did take a turn for the darker in about the third quarter of the book, which made me a little uncomfortable, but I think that was the point and she did come out of this eventually.

This is the debut novel from Alysse Near, and I certainly look forward to more from her, particularly if they are in the same dark, gothic, magical vein as this one.

#WIPpet Wednesday – Daddy Issues

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The five leads in ABCTV’s “ANZAC Girls”

Psst! This post got rather lengthy (like over 1000 words, lengthy!) so if you’re just here for the WIPpet, scroll down about halfway and you’ll find it! :)

So as part of the commemoration of the beginning of the First World War, the ABC has started showing a series called “ANZAC Girls” (that’s Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), which follows the stories of five women who enlist as nurses and operate in Cairo in 1915. A lot of the scenes in the wartime hospital in A More Complicated Fairytale are based on what I picked up when I was working at the Australian War Memorial, but I didn’t do a huge amount of secondary research, other than what I gleaned from reading the letters and papers that crossed my desk. What I have realised from watching the first episode of ANZAC Girls is that the hospital Cait works in, and that Felipe is admitted to, in AMCF is about the most sanitised wartime hospital in the history of ever. I’m pretty sure Cait never gets a drop of blood on her. So that’s something I plan on working in the near future.

In the meantime, though, I’ve been continuing on completing an outline for An Eventual Happily Ever After. Somehow I have managed this in spite of Superman being on TV on Saturday night and me realising that I am a fool to have never watched the Superman movies before and thusly downloading them and watching one a night (though I took a break last night, and I’m out tonight and tomorrow, so IV and the two newer ones will have to wait until the weekend). There are bits in my outline that aren’t great, and are sort of temporary “get-from-A-to-B”s, but at the moment I want to know how to get from A – Z and then I’ll figure out the nitty-gritty later. I’ll probably have to cut out one scene I really liked in the original NaNo draft, because I can’t see a way for them to logically get to the necessary location…

Actually! I take that back, I just took a break from writing this post, drew a rough map of the country in which most of the story takes place and the route Ginny and Peter will take through it, and it might still work. Which makes me happy. And drawing a map was a good idea, anyway.

Tangent: the pen I used to sketch said map is a LiveScribe Wifi Smartpen which not only writes what I tell it to, but also takes photos of it and converts it to a file it can sync to my Evernote account, and also records everything I say while I’m writing. Edy got it for me for my birthday because I’d been going on about it, and when I first got it, I was thinking, “Oh god, I just made my boyfriend spend an exorbitant amount of money on something that is really better suited to someone who’s going to lectures or meetings all the time and can make proper use of it!” and I was feeling rather guilty. But I just listened back to the audio of what I was saying while I was mapping and I actually think this might be a valuable plotting tool. Also I literally said “… and stowaway shenanigans can happen here” and then promptly forgot I said it until I heard it again, so there will probably be more amusing things like that. So basically have a pen and Dictaphone all rolled into one (the only real downside is it requires special paper printed at 600 dpi on a laser printer, so at the moment I’m being very conservative with the 50 page starter booklet).

wednesdaybannerSo! After all that, I suppose you are expecting a WIPpet. I am going to cheat slightly with my WIPpet math week, because I was typing this up on Tuesday night, which was the 12th of August, so I’m giving you 12 paragraphs. :P They’re kind of lengthy (though under 500 words all together), feel free to skim. This is the scene I was going to share last week. Tension between Prince Felipe and his father is hinted at towards the end of AMCF, but I expanded on it here. Felipe and Cait are supposed to be dining with the guests who attended their youngest daughter’s Naming Day ceremony. However, having just learned that Ginny has gone missing, they’re somewhat preoccupied.

It was when his friend reached the door that he noticed his father standing in the doorway. The King’s arms were crossed and he was frowning.

“Father,” Prince Felipe said, suddenly becoming less confident. Cait took his hand under the table. While he was known to argue with the King on many occasions, sometimes he still came across as a little boy in trouble when his father frowned at him.

“I have a roomful of guests wondering why their hosts are not at lunch. Would you care to explain?”

“Father, Cait’s sister has gone missing. No one has seen her since the end of the Naming Ceremony. Surely finding her is more important than a lunch held so that some nobles and diplomats can fuss over a baby who would much rather be left alone to sleep?”

King Gilles pressed his lips together tightly. “I would have thought that perhaps the prince would make an appearance, if not his wife.”

Felipe looked like he was about to keep arguing, so Cait intervened. “Perhaps you should discuss the issue with your father outside, rather than in front of everyone?” The last thing she wanted was for the King and Prince to have one of their many arguments in front of a roomful of the prince’s knights.

Prince Felipe nodded, and stood up. As he moved out of the room, King Gilles joined him.

“You can’t just decide you’re not going to turn up to an important function, Felipe!” the King admonished him in a low voice. “You have certain obligations!”

“My obligations are to my family, first and foremost!”

“That’s very noble of you, but as the Crown Prince, you have just as much duty to your position as to your family. You are expected out there.”

“I will go and meet those guests once I am certain that I have done all I can to ensure that Ginny is found. Once my men are out combing the city, then I will make my appearance.”

For a moment, the King and the Prince just stared at each other in the hallway, before Prince Felipe turned on his heel and made his way back into the meeting room. King Gilles was left to angrily make his way back to the banquet hall and try and placate his son’s guests until Felipe hopefully turned up.

Please join us for WIPpet Wednesday! All you need to do is post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date, and then join up with us here. Thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :) I’m going to head off now to continue working. See you all soon! :)

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#MirthMusicMon – The Vampire Club

Hello! So, yesterday, it occurred to me that I searched for Voltaire on Spotify, I could listen to all the songs of his that I’ve never heard before (and that’s most of them; I have one album on my iPod plus there’s a few I’ve watched on YouTube, and he has a lot of albums). If you haven’t heard of him, he is a Cuban-American dark cabaret performer; a lot of his songs are about vampires or zombies or other such things (like Star Trek – he released an EP called “Banned on Vulcan”). Anyway, one of the songs of his that I did know is The Vampire Club, and yesterday I discovered that he has written a Twilight version of this song. And it’s hilarious. So I’m sharing both versions of that song with you today, because the second version makes a bit more sense if you listen to the original first. I recommend looking up his other music if this takes your fancy. It’s great.

Original:

Twilight:

Please feel free to join us on MMM. Just post some music and some mirth (or some mirthful music, or musical mirth) and link up with us here.

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Cover Reveal: Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Yay! It’s another cover reveal! I do love these! This time it is for Elaine Jeremiah, another fellow WIPpeteer, one I have met in person and who fed me when I was a broke and hungry traveler (see how awesome the WIPpeteers are?!). Elaine is launching her second novel, Reunion of the Heart, later this month, and it is this one that we are cover revealing today. :D

First of all, a little about the book:

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile.  So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest.  The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell.

But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes.  The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again.

And now the bit you’ve all been waiting for:

RotH-Cover

Isn’t that pretty? Sexy guy, cosy embrace, Paris… what’s not to like?

I’ll leave you now with a bit more info about Elaine. Keep watching this space for more news of the book’s release. I’ll keep you posted! :D

Elaine Jeremiah has always enjoyed writing, but it’s only in recent years that she’s begun to devote serious time to it.  She’s written lots of short stories, one previous novel that will never see the light of day and a novel which has seen the light of day: ‘The Inheritance’ which she published last year.  ‘The Inheritance’ is available on Amazon. You can make contact with Elaine via her blog: elainejeremiah.co.uk and Twitter: @ElaineJeremiah