Review: The Storm by Effrosyni Moschoudi

 

Book 3 of The Lady of the Pier

A WWII romance novel

 

Title: The Storm

Subtitle: A WWII romance novel

Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: The Lady of the Pier

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!  The Storm is the last book in The Lady of the Pier trilogy where every book is a sequel to the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it because this review contains spoilers from the first book

After moving to Brighton, Sofia has vivid nightmares comprising of snippets of the Lady’s life. Annika, her Sweedish roommate, who is a paranormal enthusiast, offers to help Sofia and find out the truth about the mysterious Lady and the bizarre dreams the Greek girl experiences. The Lady haunts Sofia more aggressively than before because she wants Sofia to give Danny another chance, but the Greek girl is tired of Danny’s insecurities. Annika becomes Sofia’s friend and she encourages her to take a leap of faith just like the Lady demands of her because who knows what might happen next.

“I strongly doubt this is likely to go away. Sorry to say this Sophia . . . but you’ll remain knee deep in trouble unless you take heed. Spirits, when haunting someone as relentlessly as The Lady has been haunting you, don’t give up easily. In fact, from what I know, the more you resist her, the scarier the manifestations you’re likely to face. (…) You don’t want to play tough with spirits, Sofia! It’s already turned scary.” (p. 39-40)

Meanwhile, Laura and Maggie pray for Christian and Eric to return safely to England from France. Terror strikes the two women every time they hear of a British ship that has sunk after being hit by the Germans. After hearing some good news about Christian and Eric, Maggie advises Laura to write to Christian and even to take her child and move to Devon to start a new life with him. However, Laura is not thrilled about this idea because she is afraid for her and Freddie’s life because Charles is capable of anything including killing her or harming the child. Though Maggie is Laura’s best friend, I think that she is a bit naïve at times because she doesn’t realise how vengeful and cruel Charles can be. Maggie feels guilty for the wrong advice she gave Laura in the past, but she finds a way to make her friend a little happier by trying to build a bridge between Laura and Christian. Will Christian finally learn the truth and forgive Laura for the mistakes she has done in the past?

“Laura never discussed it with Maggie, but now she’d daydream endlessly about the tiny chance of seeing Christian again. She hoped it could happen somehow, but her pride would never allow her to reach out to him, or even to ask Maggie to intervene.”  (p. 108)

The story is different from what I’ve read before due to the two distinct yet familiar plotlines, the paranormal aspect of the trilogy and the details you have to discover and put together to uncover the big picture. One of my favourite scenes is the one where Sofia encounters some of the people who knew Laura Mayfield and she begins to understand why the spirit chose her to come to Brighton and fight for Danny’s love. It’s really an emotional moment for both Sofia and the reader because past and present seem to meet through memories and meaningful objects for Laura, her family and old friends.

However, there is something I didn’t like. Though the love triangle is well-built and makes sense in Laura’s story, I don’t think that it was that necessary in Sofia’s story. I understand that, by meeting Jeff, Sofia deviates from the path the Lady asked her to take and thus the nightmares intensify and force her to take action. But I still didn’t like how Sofia swings back and forth between Danny and Jeff. She gives Jeff the wrong message and she makes the two guys jealous of each other. I know that both Sofia and Danny are pretty insecure and apprehensive about their relationship, but it felt a bit disappointing to see a love triangle be used as a plot device.

In the end, The Lady of the Pier trilogy triggers various feelings within the reader, ranging from heartbreak, sorrow, anger, disappointment, but also sympathy, love and hope. If you love romance novels and emotional rides, then this is a trilogy you will enjoy.

Sondaj: Ce ați dori să mai vedeți pe blog?

Dragilor, blog-ul meu crește pe zi ce trece și începe din ce în ce mai mult să ia forma proiectului pe care l-am gândit în primele luni ale anului acesta și care nu ar fi ajuns în stadiul actual fără feedback-ul și acțiunile voastre (prieteni, cunoștințe și cititori pe care încă nu îi cunosc personal). Ținând cont că au trecut aproape opt luni de când am decis să mă aventurez în acest spațiu virtual numit blogosferă și în necunoscut – mai ales în partea tehnică, de care nu aș fi știut dacă nu mă apucam de blogging – m-am gândit să mai extind conținutul de pe blog, pentru că mi-aș dori să descoperiți și latura mea creativă, nu doar cea critică și analitică.

Astfel, mi-a venit ideea să postez aici unele dintre poeziile pe care le-am scris în timpul liceului și facultății. Nu sunt bijuterii literare, însă le-am scris cu suflet și emoție, așa că ar fi păcat să nu vi le fac și vouă cunoscute. Deși se spune că trebuie să-ți faci blog bazat pe o anumită nișă, nu cred că m-aș abate foarte tare de la ceea ce scriu aici de obicei, pentru că aceste poezii își au și ele locul lor în această mare umbrelă a literaturii și a cărților. Aș putea să-mi construiesc un site doar pentru creațiile mele, însă nu îmi surâde ideea de a jongla cu două blog-uri, cel puțin deocamdată.

Pe lângă poezii, am mai cochetat și cu proza, însă, spre deosebire de creațiile lirice care se scriu mai ușor, poveștile mele au nevoie de „reparații” majore, pentru că la momentul respectiv nu cunoșteam noțiunile de bază esențiale pentru un scriitor începător ca schița/outlining, pentru dezvoltarea personajelor sau exerciții creative de tipul writing prompts. Așa că,  trebuie să învăț anumite tehnici pentru a-mi revitaliza vechile idei și proiecte de care încă mă simt atașată. Chiar zilele trecute m-am uitat peste povestioarele mele din liceu și m-a cuprins nostalgia pentru acea perioadă când scriam mai regulat și cu mai multă disciplină decât acum, fără a-mi fi teamă că greșesc.

Și dacă tot sunt la acest subiect al scrisului, care necesită multă muncă și disciplină, mai am nevoie și de îndrumare. Ținând cont că la noi nu sunt cursuri de scriere creativă în cadrul facultăților de litere, așa cum este în străinătate, cel puțin eu n-am văzut până acum; mai trebuie să mă informez și să citesc cărți de specialitate, publicate de profesori și autori care au trecut prin toate etapele procesului de scriere, de publicare și de promovare și care își împart experiențele cu scriitorii aspiranți sau debutanți în această intimidantă industrie de carte. Dacă sunteți și voi interesați de acest subiect, sunt sigură că vă va plăcea să citiți articolele, pe care le voi posta despre acele cărți și cât de eficiente mi se vor părea. Nu este nimic bătut în cuie, pentru că fiecare cititor sau scriitor are experiențe diferite pentru fiecare proces, dar câte o recenzie orientativă poate face diferența între o carte care v-ar putea ajuta sau nu.

De când am realizat acele interviuri cu Adela și cu Devika, mi-am dorit să mai iau anumiți autori și bloggeri la întrebări pentru a-i cunoaște mai bine, pentru a afla câte ceva despre scrierile și proiectele lor sau care sunt cărțile lor preferate. Sunt sigură că și voi vă doriți să mai citiți astfel de articole, unde eu sunt un simplu moderator, iar vedeta este respectivul autor sau blogger care își spune povestea pe scurt și ne dă anumite sfaturi sau sugestii despre procesul de scriere sau cărțile care l-au inspirat să devină un cititor avid sau un scriitor pasionat de ceea ce face.

Pentru cei împătimiți de concursuri sau giveaways, îmi doresc foarte mult să vă dau niște cărți în dar, pentru a vă mulțumi pentru vizualizări, aprecieri și comentarii. Atât pot face și eu pentru voi deocamdată ca administrator al unui blog nou. Singura problemă este că deocamdată pot trimite cărți doar în țară, așa că, din păcate, cititorii cu reședința în străinătate vor fi dezavantajați. Însă, cu timpul, voi rezolva și această problemă.

Am mai observat că vă plac sndajele pe care le-am postat, dar și articolul despre cum recenzez o carte, mai am câteva sugestii pentru voi: liste de cărți  bazate pe anumite teme cu explicații (vezi 4 Cărți pe care vreau să le citesc în această toamnă), discuții livrești  pe anumite teme sau ce cărți mi-am mai achiziționat/ce intenționez să dau din bibliotecă adică book haul-uri sau unhaul-uri, dacă vă place mai mult terminologia de pe Booktube. Nu îmi cumpăr multe cărți des pentru că mă așteaptă suficiente în bibliotecă sau pe cloud, însă aș putea să postez câte unul, în caz că se adună mai multe volume interesante.

În final, aș dori să vă consult cu privire la toate sugestiile de mai sus. Eu oricum aș vrea să le implementez pe fiecare în parte, pe viitor, însă, vă rog să votați în sondajul de mai jos ce v-ar plăcea să mai vedeți pe blogul meu. Vreau totuși să mă orientez cu privire la preferințele voastre pentru că părerile voastre contează.

Sondaj: Ce ați dori să mai vedeți pe blog?

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Vă mulțumesc că ați citit acest articol și vă doresc lectură plăcută!

Intimidating TBR Tag

Today, I’m in the mood to answer a popular tag that everybody seems to take part in on Booktube. I enjoy watching those videos because I’m curious to find out what intimidating books people have in their TBR piles and if there are any titles I can recognize. Before I start, I must add that this tag was originally created by Lindsey Ray.

1.What book have you been unable to finish?

One of the books I haven’t been able to finish is A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I tried to read it when I was a senior in college, but it was so painstakingly slow and uninteresting that I couldn’t read more than a few chapters. However, I still want to give it another try in the future because people praised James Joyce for a reason and I might have missed the point the first time I read the book.

2.What book have you yet to read because you just haven’t had the time?

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is a huge book with many characters and plotlines, which would take a while to read and to fully digest.

3.What book have you yet to read because it’s a sequel?

I’m somewhat interested in reading a book entitled When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare, which is a Regency Romance that was read and recommended by Sasha from abookutopia, and I found the premise very cute and romantic… so why not? The problem is that the book is the third in the Castles Ever After trilogy and I have to read the other two books before this one since they share the same setting and they embrace the theme of finding love and happiness. I enjoy reading different genres, but picking up a Romance every now and then is a heart-warming experience.

4.What book have you yet to read because it’s brand new?

Facets of Love created by Effrosyni Moschoudi is technically a new book or short story collection, but it’s not published anywhere aside from the author’s website.

5.What book have you yet to read because you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?

Don’t hate me, but I couldn’t get into Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and I still feel frustrated about it because the novel is very interesting, but it takes a lot of time to understand it. I felt very dumb when I read it because the plot was moving very slowly, there were many characters and the stream of consciousness confused my brain – at some point I didn’t know whose point of view was there and the one-page-long never-ending-sentences made my head spin. I would also like to read A Room of One’s Own or Woolf’s short stories, but I’m not sure if my mind is fully prepared for such a big challenge.

6.What book have you yet to read because you’re just not in the mood for it?

I want to read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four because it’s an iconic dystopian novel everybody should read once in their lives. However, I never seem to be in the mood for it.

7.What book have you yet to read because it’s humongous?

Anything by Alexander Dumas, from The Count of Monte Cristo to The Three Musketeers will do.

8.What book have you yet to read because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?

I rarely buy books just because they have pretty covers. I haven’t done this in a long while because reading the blurb or the first chapter is as important as the cover of a book.

9.What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?

Though it is not as big as The Count of Monte Cristo or Anna Karenina, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is still a thick book, which requires a bit of commitment to read it and someday I will manage to experience it. I adored Jo in the movie and the fact that she becomes a writer in a time period when women weren’t allowed to write or they were writing under male pseudonyms, as the Bronte Sisters did in England, fascinates me.

10.Who do you tag?

Anyone who wants to do this tag can join in and leave their answers in the comments section.

Review: The Flow by Effrosyni Moschoudi

 

Book 2 of The Lady of the Pier

A WWII British drama

Title: The Flow

Subtitle: A WWII British drama

Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: The Lady of the Pier

Rating: 5/5 stars

WarningThe Flow is the second book in The Lady of the Pier trilogy where every book is a sequel to the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it because this review contains spoilers from the first book.

In The Flow, Laura and Christian are back together again, but Ruth, Laura’s mother, is not willing to accept her daughter’s choice because she still hopes that Laura will marry someday a rich and influential man like Willard and not a poor peasant like Christian.  However, Ruth’s health declines and Charles jumps at the opportunity to get close to Laura again, according to his wicked plan. But Laura seems to be more mature and wiser than before, leaving her ambitions behind because she realises that her dream of being surrounded by rich people was just an illusion, which almost ruined her relationship with Christian and caused her a lot of trouble.

“The dreams she had initially held when she came to Brighton, to be part of the rich and fortunate crowd, had all stemmed from her mother. They had crept into her heart over the preceding years of hardship, like a poison (…). It was the same poison which had nearly made her lose Christian.” (p. 30)

Despite her mother’s discontentment, nothing made Laura happier and complete than being by Christian’s side. Unfortunately, she had to learn her lesson the hard way. We know that Laura is a hard-working woman, but she is also willing to sacrifice herself for the love of her nearest and dearest. For example, she skips classes at the society to take care of her mother, whose health is deteriorating rapidly. When Charles invites Laura to Lakeview Castle, she is somehow obliged to go, despite her gut feeling and Christian’s plea to refuse. But what Willard has in store for Laura is more than a private party; it’s a trap which will change the protagonist’s life forever. Some decisions are crucial without us knowing it and unfortunately, this is the case with Laura. Though this is just the second book of the trilogy, I think that her decision to go to Willard’s castle was like the first piece of domino that fell causing a chain-reaction of events which led to the end of this amazing story.

I rooted for Laura because she becomes a strong woman who learns how to confront Willard, despite all the misery and heartbreak he causes her. Trapped in a life she loathes, Laura turns to poetry and the few people she can rely on or love: Maggie, Paul, Meg, Ian, James and Freddie who is the apple of her eye. After what happened, it looks like Christian was right after all, but Laura can’t fix anything for now and even though she still loves Christian, he becomes nothing more than a memory to her due to the current state of affairs and Laura regrets her foolish mistake deeply.

“They’d both made wrong decisions. Some were down to misjudgement and others were due to pride and insecurity, not to forget the cruel hand of fate. (…) Fates had been cruel, and it was no use lamenting any longer.” (p. 140-141)

Charles is arrogant, manipulative, controlling and jealous because he doesn’t only plan to bring Laura back and force her into a loveless marriage, but he makes her life a living hell, especially after he has a sort of revelation about Freddie and he is still jealous of Christian who is out of Laura’s life for now. Yes, Charles is a despicable human being and a psychopath, but he also loves music and has a good taste for arts in general. That doesn’t make him more human though. If ruining the life of a kind and loving woman wasn’t enough, he also tries to make a profit after World War II breaks out by taking people’s pieces of jewellery in exchange for food.

This time, I enjoyed Laura’s story a little more than Sofia’s because of what happens to her in Willard’s castle and the consequences she has to endure. That certain event is narrated pretty vaguely, but it still made my hair stand on end when I read about it and I was very disgusted by Charles’ actions. I also think that Laura chooses the wrong man, not only because she fell into Charles’ trap, but she tried somehow to protect Christian from Charles’ quick-temper and extreme jealousy.

It’s really hard to judge Laura for her mistakes because any woman in her place living in that time period would have tried to save her reputation, which was something crucial in society’s eyes. Laura wants desperately to make everyone happy by neglecting her emotions and sacrificing her own happiness. But not everything is lost because Maggie remains Laura’s best friend who helps her cope with the miseries she endures every day from within and the outside world. Maggie is for Laura the shoulder to cry on, but also the bearer of hope. Even if Christian thinks that Maggie took sides, she cannot tell him the truth about Laura because she cares too much for her friend and respects her wish to keep the secret well-guarded. It’s a pretty delicate and complicated situation from which Laura doesn’t seem to find a way out.

“Maggie thought she was remarkably brave, the bravest woman she’d ever met. Life had only granted Laura happiness in tiny treat-size chunks while tossing pain at her by the bucket loads.” (p. 212)

In contrast to Laura’s complex and emotional story, Sofia’s almost looks like a cute contemporary romance, but this doesn’t mean that her story is uneventful. Sofia goes back to Athens and waits for her final year of studies to be over, in order for her to move to England for her Master’s Degree. In her spare time, Sofia writes letters to Loula back in Corfu and with Danny in Brighton, the cheeky lad she fell in love with. Sofia is still visited by the mysterious lady sometimes at night, but also during the day when Sofia reads her poems aloud. However, this doesn’t mean that the girl feels comfortable with this unusual presence. It becomes an obsession which she doesn’t want to share with a lot of people because she is afraid that they might think she is mad.

 “She felt her in her heart all the time now, yearning for her lost love and lamenting for past mistakes. (…) The Lady’s grief was overwhelming sometimes, making Sofia sad for no reason at all, especially at night when the world around her grew quiet and there were no distractions.” (p. 25-26 )

It’s really hard to cope with the longing you have for the one you love and Sofia knows that too well. But distance isn’t the only culprit to Sofia’s heartache. Danny seems to grow cold and doesn’t respond to her letters after a while. On the other hand, Loula makes remarkable progress in learning English, so she and Steve send each other letters back and forth, a perfect long-distance relationship Sofia would die for if I weren’t so hard to read Danny’s mind. Besides Danny’s silence, Sofia’s love for him is put to the test too when she meets another Brit who may want to steal her heart. The previous experiences that pulled Sofia out of her comfort zone made her more courageous, confident in herself, bold and more independent than before. These characteristics are reflected in her attitude towards her father because she is no longer afraid of him, but she’s determined to talk him out of his plans for her future and convince him that a Master Degree in Art and Design in Brighton is more suitable for her.

“It was all about taking the leap of faith. It said that the fear that stops us from doing what we really want is often not based on reality. We shape our fears in our heads, but things are so much easier than we think.” (p. 216 )

Besides the themes mentioned previously, there’s also the theme of war, which will also appear in the third book. Fortunately, for people like me who feel uncomfortable reading detailed descriptions of war scenes, this isn’t that kind of novel. The narrator just mentions a bit of context and certain events to help the reader get into the atmosphere of the novel, but they are not the main focal point of the story. Another interesting thing is that, despite the turmoil and the fighting, the story shows us that even during hard times, people still live their lives as normally as possible: they go to the cinema or are caught in an unhappy family life like Laura. Even if the war is seen through the women’s eyes waiting anxiously for news on the radio or letters from their husbands who are fighting on the battlefield, it’s still a heart-wrenching read.

Cum recenzez o carte?

Cam cu două săptămâni în urmă, Victor, un membru al grupului Goodreads România m-a invitat să particip la discuția deschisă de un alt utilizator al platformei despre cum se scrie o recenzie, care să-l determine pe potențialul cititor să-și dorească să pună mâna cât mai repede pe respectiva carte. Am citit postarea lu Gabriel sub formă de îndrumar și am regăsit anumite aspecte de care m-am lovit și eu, atât în calitate de cititor, cât și de reviewer, pentru că nimeni nu se naște învățat, nu-i așa?

Mai jos, voi scrie pe scurt cum decurge procesul meu de scriere al unei recenzii și voi enumera elementele cele mai importante care alcătuiesc o recenzie concisă și argumentată cu explicațiile necesare. Nu este un plan bătut în cuie, însă încerc să nu mă abat de la el pe cât posibil. Dacă fiecare carte este diferită ca gen și poveste (cel puțin în teorie), atunci și recenzia se pliază atât pe experiența lecturii cât și pe regulile genului respectiv. De exemplu, nu poți da foarte multe detalii dintr-o carte thriller sau din continuările seriilor, din motive lesne de înțeles. Mai este și factorul subiectiv despre care scrie și Gabriel, însă oricât de obiectiv ai vrea să fii, nu ai cum să te detașezi de propriile tale opinii și trăiri, pe care ți le-a provocat o anumită întâmplare sau un personaj prin acțiunile sale cumpănite sau nu.

Procesul de scriere al unei recenzii:

  • Procesul de scriere al unei recenzii începe cu notițele (care includ teme, personaje, evenimente, scriitură, greșeli gramaticale, citate, impresiile mele, etc) pe care le aștern într-un document în timpul lecturii și uneori acele însemnări devin un mic rezumat pentru că unele detalii se mai uită cu timpul și nu vreau să recitesc porțiuni întregi dint-o carte atunci când pregătesc recenzia pentru publicare.
  • După ce corectez, adaug/scot idei,  le mut dintr-o parte în alta și leg frazele în paragrafe pentru a avea sens, am în fața ochilor primul draft pe care îl mai recitesc, corectez și editez de câteva ori pentru a ajunge la un rezultat cât mai mulțumitor. Desigur, uneori îmi mai scapă câte o greșală, însă încerc să o remediez repede, chiar și după publicare.
  • Apoi, după verificarea tuturor elementelor specifice (titlu, subtitlu, detaliile despre carte, nota de la început sau disclaimer-ul, corpul textul,  termenii și ideile îngroșate, link-urile cu trimitere la alte recenzii, poza, categoria și etichetele), urc recenzia pe blog și o distribui în mediul online după publicare.

Așa cum Toni Morrison ne sfătuiește să scriem cartea pe care ne-ar plăcea să o citim, eu mă străduiesc să scriu recenzia pe care aș vrea să o citesc și care m-ar influența în alegerea unei cărți. Deși scriu recenzii de aproape patru ani de zile, sunt conștientă că mai am multe de învățat, atât în modul cum se analizează o carte la prima lectură, cât și felul cum ar trebui să arate o recenzie scrisă de un reviewer profesionist, însă până atunci cam așa arată (în mare) scheletul recenziilor mele.

Ce conțin recenziile mele:

  • Titlul recenziei alcătuit din termenul „recenzie”, titlul cărții și numele autorului pentru o mai ușoară găsire a recenziei pe blog sau pe motoarele de căutare.
  • Subtitlul și/sau numele seriei din care face parte volumul respectiv și bineînțeles detaliul privind locul cărții în serie
  • Detalii despre carte care îl pot face pe cititor să devină interesat de ea sau să decidă dacă preferă să se uite la un alt articol.
  • Titlul cărții.
  • Titlul original dacă este vorba de o traducere dintr-o altă limbă.
  •   Subtitlul.
  • Numele scriitorului sau ale scriitorilor dacă este vorba de o colaborare sau o antologie.
  • Numele traducătorului/traducătorilor.
  • Genul și subgenurile cărții, fie că este vorba de ficțiune, poezie sau non-ficțiune.
  • Anul apariției adică anul în care a apărut cartea pentru prima dată, cu excepția lucrărilor foarte vechi unde nu se mai știe când au fost publicate.
  • Anul apariției ediției citite și recenzate pentru că unii cititori sunt interesați de acest detaliu și poate doresc să caute/cumpere acel volum.
  • Editura, în caz că nu este vorba de un scriitor independent care își publică singur cărțile sau cazul în care cărțile au ajuns în domeniul public.
  • Colecția sau seria din care face parte cartea respectivă.
  • Rating-ul inspirat de Goodreads, însă uneori lucrurile se găsesc în zona gri, așa că jumătăți de steluțe pot fi adăugate sau scoase.
  • În disclaimer sau nota de început informez cititorii despre felul cum am primit cartea (de la scriitot pentru o recenzie/ newsletter/editură sau gratuit prin intermediul reducerilor), însă aceste aspecte nu-mi influențează recenziile oneste. În cazul continuărilor din serii, cititorii sunt rugați să revină după ce au citit cartea dinaintea volumului recenzat pentru a nu le fi stricată lectura. Dacă o carte prezintă conținut sexual sau violent, o menționa tot aici în disclaimer pentru a-i avertiza pe cititorii minori sau sensibili pentru a evita recenzia.
  • Introducerea de obicei conține anumite generalități despre carte. Eu nu prea scriu date despre autori cu excepția clasicilor, deoarece interviurile cu scriitorii contemporani par a fi mai potrivite pentru astfel de informații. Eu obișnuiesc să sar peste datele despre autori atunci când citesc recenzii pe alte blog-uri pentru că mă interesează în primul rând conținutul cărții, iar apoi cine a scris-o. În cazul recenziilor mai scurte sau al continuărilor seriilor, generalitățile și prezentarea subiectului pot fi găsite în același paragraf.
  • Corpul recenziei:

 O scurtă prezentare a cărții fără a deveni un rezumat: protagonistul, locul acțiunii, perioada istorică și/sau contextul în care a fost scrisă cartea (atunci când este cazul) și premiza ori intriga poveștii.

Temele și motivele care ies în evidență.

– O scurtă analiză a personajelor principale folosind exeple, citate și argumente pentru a ilustra anumite trăsături de caracter ale personalității lor, scopuri, dorințe, frici, modul de a relaționa cu alte personaje, etc..

Câteva idei despre felul cum se prezintă cartea: intrigă, descriere, atmosferă, scriitură și felul în care această lume imaginară (în cazul ficțiunii) m-a prins în mrejele ei sau, din contră, m-a făcut să mă detașez. Folosesc citate și argumente pentru a-mi susține punctul de vedere.

– Părerea personală și/sau prezentarea unei scene preferate cu citate și argumente

  • Concluzia recenziei. Recomand sau nu cartea? Uneori mai atașez un link spre un alt articol care poate fi legat de recenzie prin temă, autor sau prin pura menționare a titlului, așa cum se întâmplă în cazul tag-urilor. Mai pot pune câte o întrebare cititorilor pentru a-i antrena în discuții.

Cam așa arată ghidul meu de scriere al unei recenzii. Aș fi vrut să scriu și despre ceea ce nu îmi place la unele recenzii pe care le-am citit, însă acest subiect poate reprezenta un material bun pentru un alt articol. Dacă aveți nevoie de un ghid creat de profesioniști pentru scrierea recenziilor sau dezvoltarea unui blog a unei comunități online, aruncați o privire și peste The Essential Book Blog, care m-a ajutat să înțeleg mai bine ce înseamnă să fii reviewer.

 

Review: The Ebb by Effrosyni Moschoudi

 

Book 1 of The Lady of the Pier

A Greek Summer Beach Read

 

Title: The Ebb

Subtitle:  A Greek Summer Beach Read

Author: Effrosyni Moschoudi

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Series: The Lady of the Pier

Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

She stood on the pier under torrential rain, in a long, black dress that flowed in a fierce wind. Huge waves crashed ferociously against the piles underneath. Murky, foaming seawater, mixed with seaweed, rose up from the wash in sharp tongues, threatening to take the woman down to the depths with them. (…)She held her hands open wide, as if waiting to embrace someone, yet no one came. A wistful melody and faint singing could be heard, as the woman called out to someone. Her expression was remorseful and pleading, her arms stretched out in front of her, or pounding at her chest.” (p. 5-6)

And now it’s time to talk about the first trilogy I’ve completed this year and a five-star-read that will certainly be included in my top favourite books of 2017. The Ebb is the first instalment in Ms Effrosyni Moschoudi’s paranormal romance/historical romance trilogy entitled The Lady of the Pier and it comprises of two plotlines set in different time periods. The first plotline is set in Corfu (Greece) in the late 80s and it follows Sofia Aspioti’s life, while the second plotline is set in Brighton in the late 30s and it revolves around Laura Mayfield’s life.

Sofia Aspioti is a twenty-one-year-old student at Athens University who goes to Corfu every summer to spend time with her grandparents and many relatives. But going to Corfu isn’t all about hanging out with friends or going to the beach, it’s also a refuge from Sofia’s overprotective father who always checked in on her to be sure that everything is alright. It seems to be a summer like many before: Sofia spends time with her best friend Loula, an outgoing teen who is the opposite of shy and introverted Sofia. Loula suggests that Sofia should look around and admire the cute boys strolling around the tavern or the beach, but finding a boyfriend is the last thing on Sofia’s mind because her father would find out quickly if she were flirting with someone. Uncle Yiannis, who seems to be her father’s informant, senses Sofia’s every move and his presence gives her the creeps. Overwhelmed by so many restrictions including dating, Sofia is forced to play the role of the submissive girl who always acts properly and never crosses the line.

However, in August, while Sofia and Loula are having a chat about work at Karavi, the tavern where Loula and Sofia’s cousin Akis worked, Sofia spots two Brits going to the beach. Even though she was apprehensive of falling in love with a flirt, the boy who catches her attention is Danny, the carefree lad who listens to Rick Astley’s Never Gona Give You Up and dances hilariously annoying his friend Steve in the process. Sofia feels unconsciously interested in him, but is there more besides her envy/admiration for his non-conformist way of living?

Meanwhile, in the story set in 1937, we follow Laura Mayfield, a young lady who moves to Brighton with her mother Ruth because the older woman is very ill and she needs a milder climate to live in. Very soon afterwards, Laura gets a job in the West Pier Pavilion, but on the pier, she will also find something else. Though the way Laura meets Christian Searle is very cute, Laura is a very annoyed by his boldness and constant teasing which gives her the impression that he is a bit rude with her. Finding out that both of them work in the same area angers Laura more, but, as they get to know each other, she understands that Christian is not the cheeky devil he seems to be on the outside. However, things will get more complicated for Laura and Christian’s relationship when opportunity strikes and Laura is offered a job at the theatre, where she mesmerises everyone with her enchanting voice.  When Viscount Charles Willard appears into her life, Laura has to choose between true love and the chance to climb the social ladder as she secretly dreamed of.

This book, as well as the entire trilogy, is up my alley because it has everything I liked in a well-built and written novel: stunning descriptions of Corfu and Brighton and the vivid atmosphere of each setting, two female protagonists who are shy and naïve at first, but life gives them opportunities to take risks and grow, outgoing male characters who pull the protagonists out of their shell and give them the freedom they long for, wonderful secondary characters who make you laugh or your heart melt and villains who are well-built and have strong reasons to act like they do. When it comes to themes, the most important ones are a second chance at love, family and family secrets, friendship, love and so on.

I won’t talk about the similarities between the primary and secondary plotline because I don’t want to spoil your read, but they are subtle for the new reader and obvious to the seasoned one who has finished the trilogy. I think that the idea for these two stories connected to each other by Sofia’s strange dreams and bitter-sweet poems is a really interesting concept I haven’t read about before. I enjoyed this motif because it gives the reader hope that, at least in a book, anything is possible.

In this first book, the pacing is a bit slow, but I wasn’t bothered by it because I let the poetic writing fill my mind with breath-taking imagery of the sea, the impressive West Pier in Brighton and the quint yet picturesque Greek islands Sofia and her friends visit. There are references to songs and singers from the 30s and 80s, Greek culture and cuisine and family businesses which didn’t seem to change over the course of time. If I hadn’t known that the story was set in the 80s, I would have sworn that the story was set in the present-day Greece.

My favourite character is Sofia because she is shy, studious, but also nostalgic for the past and a bit too cautious. However, I can understand her because she doesn’t want Uncle Yiannis or the other villagers to see her hanging out with Danny who accepts to be discrete in order to avoid gossip and trouble. Nevertheless, they have the time of their lives: they explore new places and fall in love with each other. Though I had a hard time liking Danny at first, I enjoyed picturing their first kiss and rejoiced when he made Sofia step out of her comfort zone.

“Only time would tell if this blazing fire would eventually die on the altar of ephemeral summer love, or if, by any chance, it had the power to kindle for a while, then light up anew, this time to burn forever more.” page 242

The way Ms Effrosyni Moschoudi describes the tranquil life of Sofia’s grandparents made me love them instantly and made me think of my grandparents. Although I don’t know what is like spending the summer in the countryside, the story pulled me in and I pictured myself being there with Sofia and meeting the kind-hearted Kyriakis. Here’s a quote that reminded me of my gran: “She always found her granddaughter too thin. That gave her an excuse to pile up the food on her plate and to treat her to homemade sweets almost every day too. Not that Sofia minded of course.”  (p. 34)

In the end, I hope that my review convinced you to pick up the first instalment in The Lady of the Pier trilogy and if you want to know which are my answers for The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag, please check them out!

 

Review: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

A Romance of Russian Life In Verse

 

Title: Eugene Onegin

Original Title: Евге́ний Оне́гин

Subtitle: A Romance of Russian Life In Verse

Author: Alexander Pushkin

Translated by Henry Spalding

Genre: Romanticism

First Published in 1833

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2012

Published by Delphi Classics

This Work is included in The Works of Alexander Pushkin

Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: This review may contain a few spoilers!\

For me, literature is like a locked chest in which every book is a priceless jewel that awaits to be discovered, analysed and treated with care. Let’s allow ourselves to welcome a bit of romanticism in our lives every once in a while, even if it’s fictional. Therefore, allow me to tell you a few things about a book very dear to my heart and its author. Before I came across this novel, I thought that Russian literature is hard to read and understand, but time shows me every now and then that generalisations are foolish and unjust.

Eugene Onegin (Евге́ний Оне́гин, pronounced Yevgeniy Onegin), with its subtitle A Romance of Russian Life In Verse, is a verse novel written by Russian poet Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, published in serial form between 1825-1832 and as a complete novel in 1833. The edition that inspired this review is Henry Spalding‘s 1881 edition — the first English translation of Eugene Onegin. The book comprises of the following sections: the Preface, Mon Portrait, A Short Biographical Notice of Alexander Pushkin and Eugene Onegin.

Mon Portrait is a poem written in French by Pushkin when he was fifteen years old and the auto-irony found there may help us understand the resemblance between Pushkin and Eugene Onegin. Even though the poem suggests that the Russian poet may be the true source of inspiration for his beloved protagonist, no character can be completely identified to its creator.

In A Short Biographical Notice of Alexander Pushkin, we are informed that the poet was born in 1799, in Pskoff (though in other sources Moscow is his birthplace) in an aristocratic family. His literary talent may be inherited because his father and uncle were friends with poets such as Dimitrieff and Joukovsky; not to mention that Uncle Vassili Pushkin was a minor poet. Pushkin was not too fond of school, but of general reading, learning languages such as French, English, Latin, German, Italian and Spanish and writing poems. Besides poetry like Ruslan and Ludmila or The Gypsies, he also wrote prose and drama, of which I will mention The Queen of Spades (1834) and Mozart and Salieri (1832) Pushkin’s life was very tumultuous as it happens with all great writers and composers who changed our world. He moved from place to place, whether in Russia or Bessarabia because he often fell out of favour with the Tsar and some of the noblemen. A very intriguing fact is that Pushkin seemed to have foreseen his death when he wrote about Lenski’s death in Eugene Onegin (Canto VI) As well as his character, Pushkin was a literary genius who hastened to challenge his presumed rival to a duel without giving himself time to seek the truth. Therefore, the Russian poet’s life was prematurely cut short at the age of 38 because he wanted to save the reputation of the woman he loved.

Eugene Onegin comprises of eight cantos with eight titles, eight mottos and 86 notes of which I will talk about later on. The story is set in St. Petersburg at the time when Eugene Onegin is about to inherit his uncle’s estate in the countryside. Eugene is eighteen years old and he lives his life eccentrically and to the fullest: he dresses like a London dandy, spends the money he has inherited on expensive dinners, likes going to balls, and he enjoys ephemeral pleasures. He is selfish, superficial, and snobbish and behaves like his favourite characters. However, Onegin is an educated young man who speaks fluently in French, knows how to dance the mazurka and is adored by the ladies. Life is pretty uninteresting for Onegin in his uncle’s mansion because the young man loves more hustle and bustle of the city than the tranquillity of the countryside. But things are about to change when he befriends his neighbour, Vladimir Lenski, a handsome young man, a dreamer, an admirer of Kant and poet of genius, who has just returned from Germany.

Though Eugene is often bored by his new friend, he indulgently listens to Lenski’s heated poems about the glory of man and love. Eugene also hears that his friend is in love with a young woman named Olga Larina. When Lenski is invited to Olga’s house, he takes Onegin with him to meet his fiancée and her family. Olga is very outgoing and sociable; but she has a sister, Tatiana, who is her opposite. Tatiana is introverted, romantic and melancholic like Svetlana (a Russian Lenora, a poem written by Joukovsky) and she is also an avid reader of romantic novels.

Onegin’s presence has a big impression on Tatiana, who begins to be fond of him. Being touched by love and eagerly wanting to know how Onegin feels about her, Tatiana writes a passionate love letter to him, but she doesn’t receive any reply; thus her anguish grows. When the two eventually meet in the garden, Eugene politely rejects her love, saying that he is not worthy of her, that he only has brotherly love for her and that their union would bring grief to both of them. Lenski tries to bring Eugene and Tatiana together again, but Eugene is fed up with balls because of the atmosphere and guests who gossip about him and Tatiana. In order to take revenge against Lenski who had forcefully brought him to Tatiana’s anniversary, he dances and flirts with Olga to make his friend jealous. Lenski is hurt by Eugene’s gesture; therefore he challenges him to a duel. Unfortunately, this will not be a good idea because Lenski and Onegin’s friendship will end abruptly and innocent blood will be uselessly shed. What will happen next? I will let you find out for yourselves.

Henry Spalding’s edition informs us through the help of 86 notes about Russian culture, how rich and poor people lived in Imperial Russia and there are also many literary allusions, which the Russian poet hides between the lines of his novel. For example, Onegin is considered a Russian Childe Harold — Byron’s protagonist from an eponymous narrative poem — or Tatiana is seen as Lenora from Burger’s well-known poem. There are also references to Ovid, Horace, Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Richardson, poets who are friends of Pushkin and his own works such as Ruslan and Ludmila and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray.

The narrative voice is very close to the reader, witty but also a master of words. Although the narrator is anonymous, he tells us that he is a close friend of Onegin’s, who knows the entire story of his life. He is very fond of the protagonist because he calls him my Eugene or Onegin mine. The digressions found in the story serve as small breaks from the main plot and they are mostly about society, love and literature. The narrator calls his muse between the storyline and the digressions as if he were an ancient poet. At the end of the novel, he apologises to the reader for living Onegin in an uncomfortable situation and also for the grammar mistakes, if there are any.

I really enjoyed this verse novel because it was easy to read and I finished it faster than I have expected. Eugene Onegin is a priceless jewel of Russian literature and everyone should read it. If all of Pushkin’s works are as magnificent as this one, I will read more of his books.

4 Cărți pe care vreau să le citesc în această toamnă

În loc de un book haul, așa cum am văzut pe alte blog-uri, am optat să scriu un scurt articol despre cărțile pe care vreau neapărat să le citesc în perioada următoare. Anul acesta am citit primele cărți ale unor serii care păreau interesante și volume primite pentru recenzie de la câțiva autori. Unele cărți au fost excelente, altele bune, iar câteva m-au dezamăgit. Acum, după ce am citit aproape toate cărțile primite, a venit timpul să întocmesc o mică listă de lecturi pentru această toamnă. Nu sunt noi apariții, însă mi s-a pus pata pe aceste patru cărți de ceva vreme și am așteptat cu mult entuziasm să le pot citi într-un final.

Mai jos voi menționa fiecare titlu, dar și motivul pentru care vreau să citesc volumele perspective.

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Twentieth Century de Terry Deary, la fel ca restul seriei de cărți pentru copii Horrible Histories, relatează fapte și povestioare macabre sau scârboase din istorie, cu scopul de a-i distra și învăța pe copii istoria recentă sau îndepărtată a Angliei sau a lumii prin intermediul jocurilor și stilului plin de umor al autorului britanic. Deși aceste cărți se adresează cititorilor foarte tineri, eu ador această serie care mă amuză, mă relaxează și mă învață lucruri pe care nu le-am studiat niciodată la școală. Mă întreb ce lucruri noi voi afla despre fiecare decadă a secolului douăzeci?

 

The Mark of Zorro de  Johnston McCulley. După ce am frunzărit Zorro: Începe legenda de Isabel Allende, care m-a plictisit și dezamăgit deopotrivă, m-am gândit să citesc povestea originală a faimosului bandit din California. Dacă am început anul cu Zorro, firesc ar fi să îl termin tot cu el, nu-i așa?

Despre Băiatul cu pijamale în dungi de John Boyne am înțeles că este o carte sfâșietor de tristă despre cel de-al Doilea Război Mondial văzut prin ochii unui copil. Vă puteți închipui ceva mai dureros decât o astfel de perspectivă? Deși este o carte pentru copii, sunt sigură că povestea nu îi va lăsa indiferenți nici pe cititorii maturi. De când am citit trilogia The Lady of the Pier, tot mi-am dorit să mai citesc niște volume de ficțiune istorică, iar această carte mi-ar putea potoli setea de lectură în acest sens.

 

Munții înalți ai Portugaliei de Yann Martel se află printre cărțile menționate în sondajul postat cu ceva timp în urmă pe blog. Deși această carte nu prea a primit voturi, atât aici, cât și în versiunea veche a blog-ului, eu voi face o excepție de această dată și o voi alege înaintea Malalei pentru că îmi este dor de Lisabona, iar povestea mi-a trezit interesul în ultimul timp. Chiar sunt curioasă cum se vor lega toate misterele din această carte, a cărei acțiune are loc într-o țară care m-a fascinat prin frumusețea, istoria și muzica ei.

Deocamdată voi lăsa doar aceste cărți pe primele poziții ale listei mele de lecturi, deși sunt o sumedenie de alte titluri tentante, însă până le voi terima pe acestea, nu mă voi gândi mai departe.

Voi ce cărți ați citit din această listă? Cum vi s-au părut?

 

The Name Game Book Tag

Pentru postarea de astăzi m-am gândit să aleg un tag pe care l-am găsit mai de multă vreme online, atât pe unele blog-uri, cât și pe Booktube. Acest tag se numește The Name Game Book Tag și a fost creat de KimberleysBookNook. Tot ce trebuie să faceți este să atașați câte un titlu de carte citită sau achiziționată care să se potrivească fiecărei inițiale a numelor voastre. Ca să fiu sinceră, nu am fost sigură dacă voi găsi titluri potrivite pentru fiecare literă a numelor mele, însă, până la urmă, am izbutit să creez o listă cu cărți care înseamnă ceva pentru mine.

AAmor Intellectualis de Ion Vianu este o carte autobiografică presărată cu informații culturale și istorice, personalități ale culturii române interbelice și limbaj erudit care necesită multă atenție din partea cititorului. Sunt sigură că o voi înțelege mai bine cu cât voi înainta în vârstă. Am ales-o pentru că aceasta a fost a doua sau a treia carte căreia i-am scris o recenzie,

L La țigănci de Mircea Eliade este una dintre cărțile mele preferate scrise de acest  excepțional autor român. Stilul plin de suspans, paranormalul care contrastează cu banalitatea vieții de zi cu zi și episoadele pline de mister prin care trece Gavrilescu în casa țigăncilor, m-au făcut să ador această nuvelă încă din liceu.

IIubirea a spus de Jalaladin Rumi este primul volum de poezie mistică sufită pe care l-am citit și care m-a făcut să văd viața într-un mod diferit. De la această lectură încoace, Rumi a devenit poetul meu preferat.

NNotre-Dame de Paris de Victor Hugo nu mi-a plăcut la fel de mult ca musical-ul, însă a fost o lectură interesantă care m-a pus pe gânduri cu privire la religie, identitate, mentalitate, istorie etc. Îmi doresc să o recitesc pentru a-i scrie o recenzie detaliată.

AAucassin et Nicolette este o parodie care răstoarnă toate stereotipurile medievale, atât literare, cât și sociale. Deși nu este o capodoperă, este o cantafabulă amuzantă.

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AAntigona de Sofocle alături de celelalte două piese de teatru din așa-zisa trilogie a familiei lui Oedip mi-au trezit dragostea pentru literatura antică. Citiți Antigona pentru a descoperi o femeie puternică pentru care datoria este mai presus de propria-i viață.

NThe Necklace of Goddess Athena de Effrosyni Moschoudi este un roman fantastic în care zeii coabitează cu oamenii de rând și le trimit semne pentru a-i ghida către adevăr. Phevos și Daphne sunt aruncați în Atena zilelor noastre pentru a descoperi anumite secrete de familie și pentru a regăsi colierul Zeiței Atena dăruit tatălui lor.

DDavid Copperfield de Charles Dickens este prima carte despre care am știut că îmi va plăcea chiar și înainte să o citesc. Dickens are talentul de a-ți zdrobi sufletul prin relatarea copilăriei triste a lui David și maturizarea sa treptată cu toate greutățile și micile bucurii care vin să îi modeleze personalitatea.

RThe Rocker Who Holds Me (The Rocker) de Terri Anne Browning este o poveste de dragoste contemporană plină de dramă, suferință, gelozie, dar și prietenie și dragoste cu o protagonistă care are grijă de cei patru membrii ai trupei Demon’s Wings atât ca  manager, cât și ca o soră, fiind recunoscătoare pentru că acești bărbați i-au salvat viața cu mulți ani în urmă. Cum va reuși Ember să-și facă sentimentele cunoscute față de Nik, solistul periculos de atrăgător al formației?

EEscape from Sudan (Lust, Money & Murder) de Mike Wells este, din punctul meu de vedere, cea mai bună carte a seriei Lust, Money & Murder. De ce? Pentru că te ține în tensiune de la început până la sfârșit, iar tu nu poți să-ți dezlipești ochii de pe pagini sperând că Elaine Brogan și celelalte personaje vor supraviețui atacurilor extremiștilor, vremii neprielnice și animalelor salbatice care le ies în cale. De când am descoperit această serie thriller de spionaj, nu o mai pot lăsa din mână; mai mult, a devenit o „plăcere vinovată” pentru mine.

EThe Ebb (The Lady of the Pier) de Effrosyni Moschoudi este prima carte din trilogia scriitoarei din Grecia menționate mai sus, unde două povești aparținând unor epoci istorice diferite se împletesc frumos într-o poveste de dragoste paranormală cu acțiunea atât în Insula Corfu, cât și în Brighton, Regatul Unit. De ce Sofia este vizitată în vis de o doamnă îmbrăcată în negru, care recită versuri pe ponton în fața valurilor întărâtate de furtună? Citiți și veți afla sau așteptați recenzia primei cărți.

AAmintiri din copilărie de Ion Creangă este una dintre cele mai frumoase cărți românești pentru copii care fascinează cititorii atât prin limbajul neaoș și savuros al autorului, cât și prin pățaniile lui Nică, pe care, din ce în ce mai puțini copii le înțeleg.


În încheiere, voi eticheta câțiva bloggeri și vloggeri, însă oricine este invitat să-și alcătuiască propria listă și/sau să posteze răspunsurile sau link-ul către blog-urile sau videoclipurile personale mai jos. Sunt curioasă să aflu ce ați ales. Așadar, etichetez următorii bibliofili: Elena de la eLitere.ro, Adela de la Vanilla Moon Books, Anca de la Anca și cărțile, Geo de la Just Reading My Books, Tyna și Oliviana de la Delicatese Literare și Robert de la Lectură și ceai.

 

Review: You & Me Forever by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

A Sweet Romance Collection

 

Title: You & Me Forever

Subtitle: A Sweet Romance Collection

Authors: Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Year of Publication: 2017

Published by: Gryfyn Publishing

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection  written by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas is a young adult (and sometimes new adult) romance collection comprising eight short stories and a novella ranging “from thrilling, to dark, to emotional, to wholesome.” (Loc. 71) The stories are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and they are written both by best-selling and first-time writers.I only read Pamita Rao’s Gates of Heaven which was a nice book, so, when I saw this anthology, I was really curious to see what it was all about. Also, this is one of the fewest new releases of this year that I read.

In Check Mate by T. Ariyanna (3.5 stars), Liz heard that a foster child has run off from the correction facility he lived in. When the assailant tries to hold her hostage after he crept into her room, Liz uses her self-defensive skills she has learned to free herself. Why has Rook run away from the facility? Will Liz give in and fall for the beautiful stranger? I liked Liz’s courage and composure in such a tensed situation and I’m sure that it suits her to become a cop like her father. The main theme of this short story is domestic abuse.

In It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale (3.5 stars), Aleyna McKenzie’s dream is to become an actress, but she only finds small roles as an extra, which help her pay the bills, but nothing more. However, her life is about to change when handsome actor Carson Peters comes into her life, befriends her and helps her understand how the film industry really works. This new adult short story, which looked more like a novelette, was very enjoyable because you can see how hard life is for aspiring actors to break the ice or receive an offer for a major role. I also enjoyed the romance because it was low-burning and realistic and I liked the contemporary elements found in this story: Aleyna loves social media and she has her own YouTube channel. The theme of the story is: follow your dreams no matter what and persevere even when things are tough.

In Taken Away by Megan Linski (3 stars), Rosemary McGowan and Noah Cash come from broken families, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become friends or even fall in love. “We both long to be free in a way that we never can be, free of our obligations from our overbearing parents and able to go out on our own into the world. If it was truly up to us we would take his bike and leave, drive to the beach somewhere and leave the old world behind us.” (Loc. 1828) Rosemary loves spending time outside in the open, while Noah is the bad boy who loves riding his motorcycle. One night, after returning from work, Rosemary is kidnapped by someone pretty familiar to her, but Nosh looks for them and he will not give up until he brings his girlfriend safely back home. What family secret will Rosemary discover? The story is a bit suspenseful and Rosemary has the courage to attempt her escape, but I also liked Noah’s determination to look for her. It’s a new adult romantic thriller story and the main themes are domestic abuse and family secrets.

In Forever Together by Pamita Rao (4 stars), Ava begins to fall in love with her best friend Liam. Should Ava follow her heart and confront Liam about their feelings or shouldn’t she ruin such a great friendship? I will let you discover how Ava will find the truth. It’s a cute young adult contemporary romance that will remind you of your first love, the sweetness and the anxiety that comes along with it. I know that it’s a predictable story, but I enjoyed it because it made me feel like a teenager again.

In A Thousand Stats by Amy Reece (3.5 stars), Charles Maddox is Madison Iver’s best friend since childhood. Maddie likes him, but she prefers to put him in the friend zone rather than to ruin such an old friendship. This is a young adult contemporary romance and its themes are friendship and unrequited love like in the previous story. Fortunately, this story isn’t just about falling in love with your best friend, but also about becoming aware that having a pretty face is not everything. Besides finding love, Maddie needs to focus on her future, on her career and stop being a people pleaser.

In When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich (4 stars), Graziella Roberts is rescued from her burning house and brought urgently to the hospital. Daniel Stevenson, a boy from school Graziella secretly had a crush on, came to visit his brother Liam, the firefighter who saved Graziella’s life. Will this be the perfect opportunity or Graziella and Daniel to know each other better and to share their secret feelings?

In Down the Road by Constance Roberts (3 stars), Sophie and her friends are gone camping and drink a lot of booze. Rylan, Sophie’s a controlling and abusive guy, not like Blake who treats her nicely. Will Sophie have the courage to break up with the jealous jerk and give Blake a chance? It’s different from the other stories. The main themes are domestic abuse and unrequited love.

In This Is Not a Drill by Yesenia Vargas (3.5 stars), Max moved to a new school, but he felt out of place after his parents’ divorce. When a drill occurs into the school, Max and Lucy are lead to a dark classroom until the coach comes back for them. Why the school is placed on lockdown and who is the assailant threatening the institution? It’s an interesting story about family secrets.

Overall, You & Me Forever was a cute collection of stories and novellas. Though I’m not a big fan of the young adult books, I took my time to savour each story and I found something I liked pretty much in all of them. Besides, the repetition of a chapter in Cindy Ray Hale’s It Was You and a few editing errors, the stories were clean and well-written. My top three favourite stories from this anthology were It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale, in which I learned about what happens behind the scenes of a film or TV, series Forever Together by Pamita Rao, a sweet short story that made me feel nostalgic for the first time I fell in love and When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich, a story about courage, survival and young love. These nine works of fiction also changed my opinion about short stories and made me crave for more in the future, stories not necessarily belonging to the young adult/ new adult genre.