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5 Reasons to Read Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame | Blog Tour

July 27, 2017

First thing’s first – happy publication day, Estelle! I’m so excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour of Estelle’s latest YA release, Dare to Fall, and on it’s publication day no less! Already the author of the bestselling DIMILY trilogy, which has been translated in 16 countries, sold over half a million copies worldwide and been shortlisted for the 2016 RoNAs, Estelle is a wonderful Young Adult writer with a glittering career ahead of her, and her latest novel is one that you really won’t want to miss.

MacKenzie Rivers seems like she has it all figured out. She has great friends, she’s doing well in school and her handsome ex-boyfriend is desperate to win her back. But something is missing from her life in Windsor, Colorado. And as much as she hates to admit it, that something might be Jaden Hunter. Tall, blond and athletic, a year ago Kenzie was falling fast for him and his crooked smile.

Twelve months later, everything has changed. A tragic accident has destroyed Jaden’s family and, despite the way she feels, Kenzie has no idea how to talk to him anymore. She is all too familiar with the impact family tragedy can have on the people she loves, and she can’t bear to go through it again with Jaden. She does the only thing she knows how to do: walk away.

When the pair meet again by chance one night, Kenzie realizes that she can’t ignore her feelings for him any longer. But as she is drawn back into Jaden’s life, she finds herself caught between her increasingly volatile best friend, her interfering ex-boyfriend and her own fears about opening up to Jaden.

Will Kenzie dare to fall for the one person she’s so afraid of growing close to?

Dare to Fall is certainly set to be the big release of the summer, and if you’re a fan of YA contemporaries, you really need to get your hands on a copy. Here are my top five reasons why you need to reshuffle your summer reading list, make space in your beach bag and settle down with a copy of Estelle’s fantastic latest release:

1. The setting. One of my favourite things about Estelle’s writing, in both Dare to Fall and the DIMILY trilogy, is how excellent the world building is. I can only imagine the hours of research spent pouring over locations, from LA to New York to Colorado, in Dare to Fall, and consequently the settings of her novels are brought completely to life. Estelle well and truly transports you across the pond, and after reading her books my urge to travel there myself grows ever greater!

2. The emotions! Oh boy, you’re certainly going to want to have a box of tissues handy when you read this one! Honest and confronting, Dare to Fall will make make you feel every emotion under the sun – from filling your heart with happiness one chapter to completely shattering it the next, Estelle certainly knows how to pack a well aimed punch right in the feels! (You have been warned…)

3. The topics. So much more than your typical fluffy YA romance, Dare to Fall is a bittersweet contemporary that deals with topics such as grief, guilt, alcoholism, loss, love, and everything in between. All expertly written and masterfully handled, Estelle takes care not to brush over these important themes, and instead gives them the care and page-time that the deserve. Every situation felt so very real, and once again I can only commend Estelle for the amount of time and research that I’m sure must have gone into crafting such a novel that, unlike many YA’s I have read, is unafraid to delve into those topics that we’d rather not talk about.

4. The characters. Once again, all of the characters within Estelle’s books feel so real and relatable, and the many relationship dynamics present an accurate depiction of real life. I loved all of the great cast of characters and reading about the different ways that they each dealt with the difficult situations that they faced, and of course found myself rooting for the relationship between MacKenzie and Jaden!

5. The cover. Of course this had to be one of my reasons – I mean, have you seen that cover?! I can confirm that it’s even more beautiful in real life, so please, do your bookshelves a favour and add this one to your collection – it really is too pretty not to own!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the Dare to Fall blog tour!

Book Review

Three Holiday Book Reviews | Windfall, Yuki Chan in Brontë Country & Bone Meal for Roses

June 17, 2017

When it comes to choosing books to take away on holiday, I am the worst. As a serial mood-reader, the thought of not being with easy reach of my extensive array of unread books tends to leave me feeling a little stressed, and consequently the pre-holiday panic sets in before I’ve even pulled my suitcase out of storage. If I’m being honest, I probably spend more time contemplating my holiday reading material than I do on any other aspect of the travel planning process – while my suitcase it often packed last-minute, inevitably lacking one essential item or another, I will spend weeks choosing the books that will accompany me on my jaunt abroad, and more often than not pick up a couple of extras at the airport bookshop for good measure, just in case.

On a recent trip to Dubai, I decided that, for a week-long holiday I needed no less than seven books, in addition to a loaded (yet often sadly neglected) Kindle. I had visions of spending the day relaxing in the sun, drinking cocktails and iced coffee, and making my way through at least (at least!) a book a day. Well, that didn’t happen. I ended up reading three of the books that I packed, all with varying levels of enjoyment, so here’s a little round-up of what I read on my holiday!

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

I’m not typically a great reader of YA contemporary fiction, or, for the most part, YA fiction in general. However, as soon as holiday season rolls around I find myself craving fun, quick, light reads that I can fly through in a day or two, the literary equivalent to a cheesy teen movie or romantic comedy. Having read a number of Jennifer E. Smith’s previous titles, I was eagerly anticipating the release of Windfall, a fun novel that ponders the highs and lows of a big lottery win and the ways it can change your life, both for the good and the bad.

Despite the rather lukewarm Goodreads ratings, Windfall was a really enjoyable contemporary that quite honestly I couldn’t put down. Yes, it was fun and fluffy and, in parts, a little predictable, but it also had a depth to it that I wasn’t expecting. There was, of course, a romance element, but unlike many contemporaries I’ve read that wasn’t the primary focus on the plot. Instead, Jennifer E. Smith placed the focus of the novel, and as such the reader’s attention, onto other elements of our main characters’ Teddy and Alice’s lives, such as family, friendship, grief, loss and finding your place in the world. All of the characters felt well fleshed out and completely believable, each with their own backstory and struggles, and I enjoyed getting to know this greatly diverse cast of side characters alongside following Teddy and Alice’s story.

This fun, coming-of-age story is definitely one to add to your Summer TSB list. While I wasn’t completely blown away by it, I really warmed to the characters and adored the themes that were so expertly explored alongside the fun and though-provoking plot, and I’ll definitely be reading more of Jennifer E. Smith in the future.

☆☆☆☆

Yuki Chan in Brontë Country by Mick Jackson

From a book that I very much enjoyed to one that was, sadly, a little bit of a disappointment. Yuki Chan in Brontë Country was very much an impulse purchase – the title and cover alone convinced me to give it a try – and given it’s short length I thought that it might make a sweet and charming holiday read. The novel started off strong, and I enjoyed following young Japanese tourist Yuki’s adventures to Haworth and the cast of characters that she encounters there. Haworth was the last place Yuki’s mother visited before her death, and our protagonist’s own visit turns out to be just as strange and unexpected as her mother’s before her. As Yuki delves deeper into her mother’s past and her trip abroad, she learns a few unexpected things about grief, acceptance, friendship and who she is, and for the most part I enjoyed going on this journey of self-discovery with her.

However, I had a real issue with both the pacing of the novel and it’s incredibly short length. I am in general a great lover of slow, quiet books, getting to know the characters and watching them grow and develop without the excessive noise of a fast-paced plot. Yet even for me, Yuki Chan in Brontë Country was a little too slow in parts. The mystery that Yuki attempts to unravel never feels as intriguing as it should, and it doesn’t ever feel resolved, either. Additionally, it felt just a little too short to make the reader feel as if something significant had happened or been achieved, and I often felt held at a distance from both the characters and the plot. My interest tailed off towards the latter third of the novel, and I felt that I really had to push myself to finish it.

This one was a bit of a mixed bag; some elements I enjoyed, but others I had problems with that hampered my enjoyment. Ultimately it was an interesting read, but one that I don’t think I’ll return to again, and as such I’m not sure that I would recommend it.

☆☆☆

Bone Meal for Roses by Miranda Sherry

Finally, I seem to have saved the best until last! No only was Bone Meal for Roses, a touching coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the beautiful South African landscape, the best book that I read when I was away on holiday, but it’s also one of the best books that I’ve read all year. Heartbreaking, terrifying and exceptionally beautiful all at the same time, I was completely enchanted by this quiet story of our protagonist Poppy’s traumatic early childhood and how, with a little help, she overcomes the demons of her past. While it is somewhat of a slow story, with the focus almost entirely placed on character development rather than he plot itself, I was hooked from the first page to the last.

Miranda Sherry has a fantastic ability to capture the very essence of her characters without the need for excessive description or dialogue, and consequently I warmed to Poppy and her grandparents from the very beginning of the novel. The healing effect of Poppy’s grandparents and the love and kindness that they showed her moved me to tears a number of times when reading, and there is a really sense of deep family love throughout. Not only were the characters wonderful and their relationships even more so, Sherry’s beautiful writing elevated the novel to another level for me. I wanted to both savour and devour it, and have already found myself returning to a few quotes or paragraphs that I particularly loved. This is a book that made a really impact upon me, and one that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time to come. In Bone Meal for Roses, Sherry has created something uniquely beautiful and downright extraordinary, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I loved it. 

☆☆☆☆☆

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?