Archive | November, 2012

Author interview: Ali McNamara

30 Nov

Earlier today I reviewed Ali McNamara’s latest novel From Notting Hill to New York … Actually and I’m very pleased to welcome Ali back to One More Page as she answers my questions about the book and her research as part of her latest blog tour. Welcome Ali!

Photograph: Dan Martland

From Notting Hill to New York … Actually is a sequel to the brilliant From Notting Hill with Love … Actually although it can be read as a stand-alone novel; for readers who haven’t met Scarlett and friends yet, please could you tell us a little about it?

From Notting Hill to New York … Actually is about Scarlett O’Brien a film fanatic and complete dreamer, who always likes to find a happy ending. When she gets the chance to visit New York for a holiday, she takes her best friend Oscar, and they embark upon an exciting adventure that will changes both their lives forever.

 

Did you always plan to write a sequel and why did you choose to set it in New York?

When I wrote the first story, I never even considered a sequel; I was so busy just trying to get that book published. It was my first novel and it was a long process from writing it to eventually finding a publisher that liked it enough to put it on the bookshelves.

But there seemed so much more of Scarlett’s story still to tell, and characters were so popular with readers, that a sequel seemed the natural thing to do.

 

You went on a research trip to New York while you were writing the book; what was your favourite part of your trip and the most surprising thing about New York?

So hard to choose one thing! But I think going across to Liberty Island and Ellis Island for the first time was my favourite.

And the most surprising: How much I fell in love with the city. I’ve been lucky enough to go back twice since!

 

Scarlett certainly has some exciting adventures in New York; what would your ideal day in the city involve?

An American pancake breakfast to begin the day, then in no particular order; shopping along Fifth Avenue, a stroll around Central Park, and at some stage frozen hot chocolate in Serendipity II would be a must!

 

There are lots of film references in From Notting Hill to New York … Actually – what is your favourite New York film or TV moment?

The end of the Serendipity movie; with the two main characters on the Woolman ice skating rink, Central park – gorgeous and romantic.

 

I loved flamboyant Oscar and I’m so pleased to see him again in From Notting Hill to New York … Actually; who was your favourite character to write and why?

Funnily enough – Oscar! He’s just such fun to write, and in this novel you get to see his naughtier side too… ;-)

 

Which three songs should be on the soundtrack to From Notting Hill to New York … Actually

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

Empire State of Mind – Alicia Keyes

Arthur’s Theme – Various Artists, but my personal favourite is a version by Ronan Keating.

 

And finally … what can we expect next from Ali McNamara?

I’ve just completed my fourth novel due out in November 2013, to be called Step Back in Time. It’s a rom-com with a difference. It’s has music theme and it’s set in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Thanks Ali – I totally agree with your favourite film moment and the new book sounds very exciting!

 

Book review: From Notting Hill to New York … Actually by Ali McNamara

30 Nov

Scarlett O’Brien, utterly addicted to romantic films, has found her leading man. She’s convinced Sean is Mr Right, but the day-to-day reality of a relationship isn’t quite like the movies. With Sean constantly away on business, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to head to New York for the holiday of a lifetime.

From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure – including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie’s search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she’s so in love with Sean . . .

I’m a huge fan of Ali McNamara’s debut novel From Notting Hill with Love … Actually and have been eagerly anticipating this follow up since it was announced last year. The combination of film addict Scarlett with my favourite city sounded like a match made in heaven but as with all sequels I did approach with a little caution! I was concerned that revisiting favourite characters would change my feelings for them. Well, I needn’t have worried! If anything I love Scarlett and gang even more now and I finished the book hoping that Ali decides to make a whole series out of Scarlett’s adventures!

Before I get too far into my review, I do want to say that this book stands perfectly well on its own and although of course I recommend reading From Notting Hill with Love … Actually, you don’t have to have read it first to enjoy this one. All of the key points on how Scarlett and Sean came to be where they are at the start of this novel are neatly recapped as the story progresses and this is a very different adventure for Scarlett.

At the start of From Notting Hill to New York … Actually we find Scarlett fairly happily settled with boyfriend Sean in Notting Hill. I say fairly happily as in true Scarlett fashion she seems to be getting a little restless and is most definitely on the look out for an adventure. I have to admit, despite my liking for Scarlett as a character, I was a little bit annoyed by her at the start of the book and more than a little concerned that she was going to go down a route she’d taken before in terms of relationships. Thankfully, Sean and Oscar step in to save her from herself suggesting some time out in New York with an opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces. Although Scarlett isn’t particularly happy about it at first, she packs her bags and sets out for the Big Apple with best pal Oscar in tow.

For me, the minute Scarlett hit Manhattan was the point at which the book really took off and from that point I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. As Scarlett and Oscar visit famous sights and locations against a backdrop of Fleet Week and the search for the origin of a mysterious and beautiful brooch that Scarlett’s father has kept for decades, they encounter a whole new set of great characters and find themselves in situations that could only happen in New York including a close encounter with a very famous (and very gorgeous) film star!

The story really races along and combined with Scarlett’s encyclopaedic knowledge of rom-coms set in the City and Oscar’s obsession with Sex and the City, is full of ‘movie’ moments and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing New York through Scarlett and Oscar’s eyes. McNamara is a clever author though and despite references to some of the best known romantic comedy movies,  still manages to weave an original, romantic and very funny story that kept me guessing and surprised me more than once! I’ve said it before and it rings true for this book – it really would make a great film. The ending in particular is pure rom-com gold!

I enjoyed the journey that Scarlett took through the novel and thought she grew up a bit as the story progressed. I liked the addition of Max and particularly Jamie to Scarlett’s group of friends and the Jamie story line in particular had me really intrigued and kept the tension in the story but my favourite character by a mile was Oscar who we learn quite a lot more about as the novel progresses and who really reveals his naughtier side :-)

This is a great book to curl up with on a cold winter night and highly recommended. I really do hope that Scarlett and friends feature in Ali’s future work (please Ali!).

5/5

Please stop by again later today to find out more about From Notting Hill to New York … Actually in my interview with Ali McNamara!

You can find out more about Ali and her novels and lots of background info on From Notting Hill to New York … Actually on her lovely website at: http://www.alimcnamara.co.uk/

I’d like to thank Jo at Little, Brown Books for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Book news: Fire by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

29 Nov

I really enjoyed The Circle, the first book in the Engelsfors Trilogy  when I read it earlier this year so I was excited to spot the cover for book two – Fire on Amazon the other day. I’m pleased to see that the publishers (Hammer) have chosen a cover in keeping with the first book (I do like a matching set!) I haven’t been able to find a synopsis yet but do check out Sara’s fab blog for more news on the series: http://engelsfors.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Fire is scheduled for UK release in June 2013 – I’m counting the days!

Countdown to Christmas Book review: Meet me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements

27 Nov

Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable – but their lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire.

But when Rachel’s mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is far from the village bake sales, braving the city’s mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to work an Aga, befriend the wary village locals – and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart.

Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?

Of all the lovely Christmas covers out this year, this is my favourite. It’s even better in real life as the baubles and snowflakes are all sparkly and it just shouts ‘lovely Christmas read’! This is Abby Clements’ debut novel and just like its fab cover, Meet me Under the Mistletoe is a gorgeous read that will get your festive season off to a brilliant start.

The story focuses on two main characters; Laurie and Rachel. Childhood friends now grown up and living very different lives, both women find themselves facing a crisis as Christmas approaches. Despite being very different characters there were aspects of both that I identified with straight away and perhaps because they are the same age as me, I saw a lot of myself and my friends in them which really endeared them to me and right from the start I was hoping for a good outcome from both their stories.

City girl Laurie is a high flyer and lives in London. She’s single and a bit of a workaholic but leads a fairly carefree and glamorous life working as a designer for a fashion company. Rachel is married with two children and living a cosy life in rural Yorkshire. As events conspire to bring drama to Rachel and Laurie’s lives, they arrange a house swap and the main part of the book deals with how the change of scenery forces them both to re-examine their lives and think about the future.

Although there is a fair amount of drama, this is a warm, romantic and optimistic novel about deciding what the important things in life are and staying true to yourself. I really enjoyed reading as Rachel and Laurie’s house swap gave them both a new perspective and I was impressed by the way that Abby Clements created two very different female leads but made them and their lives equally valid.

I also loved the supporting casts that Clements created. In both London and Yorkshire there is a great sense of community with an entertaining and diverse group of characters of all ages, many of whom bring their own mini stories to the plot and provide variety. My particular favourites were Laurie’s neighbour Lily and Rachel’s daughter Milly and I thought they were brilliant examples of how older and younger characters can bring extra dimensions to a story.

As the cover and title suggest, Meet me Under the Mistletoe also has a fab romantic element to it too. I enjoyed trying to guess which of the handsome men she encounters Laurie would end up with and there were some excellent twists and turns to the story that I didn’t see coming. I also thought Rachel and husband Aiden’s story was realistic yet romantic too and I loved all of the romantic side stories that Clements worked into the plot.

The novel starts on 20th November and runs through to Christmas day following Laurie and Rachel in the build up to Christmas. The story is full of festive references and scenes as well as mouthwatering descriptions of Christmassy food and the book includes a Christmas recipe and craft idea at the back to really get you in the Christmas spirit. This is a book that will definitely go on my ‘festive reads to keep’ shelf and I’m sure I’ll read it again in future as it left me with a lovely festive glow and feeling really excited for Christmas!

5/5

You can find out more about Abby Clements and Meet me Under the Mistletoe on her website at: http://www.abbyclements.co.uk/

Abby has also released a free ebook short story, The Christmas Bake-Off featuring some of the characters from Meet Me Under the Misteltoe and including more lovely Christmas recipies.

I’d like to thank Margot at Quercus for sending me a review copy of this book.

 

Book news: The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice

26 Nov

I absolutely loved Eva Rice’s novel The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets and I’ve been hoping for a new book from her for a very long time so I was very excited to see this as I was browsing one of my favourite blogs the other day! The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp is out in hardback in January and an ebook edition will be released next month. Set in 1960s London, it sounds like another excellent read from Eva Rice and has gone straight on my wish list!

Country girl Tara is whisked off to ’60s London to become a star; there she is dressed, she is shown off at Chelsea parties, photographed by the best. She meets songwriters, singers, designers, and records her song. And she falls in love – with two men. Behind the buzz and excitement of her success, the bitterness between her elder sister Lucy and her friend Matilda haunts Tara. Their past friendship is broken and among the secrets and the strangeness of both their marriages, the past keeps on reappearing.

Countdown to Christmas: MIRA and Mills & Boon Christmas book bundle giveaway!

23 Nov

MIRA and Mills & Boon have some lovely winter and Christmas releases out this year and they’ve very kindly given me a set of four of their festive reads to give away to one lucky winner! And as it’s Christmas I’ve decided to make this an international giveaway!!

To be in with a chance of winning just leave a comment in the box below and I’ll draw a winner using random.org after the closing date. This giveaway is open to worldwide and will close at midnight on Sunday 2nd December. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 4th December.

Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe By Fiona Harper (Mills & Boon)

This Christmas, ex-WAG Louise Thornton is starting her new life, away from the paparazzi – and her cheating husband. Un-manicured, back on carbs and holding herself together courtesy of some seriously good foundation, Louise will make things perfect for her son, right up until he leaves for his dad’s on the big day. Then she’ll be free to curl up and cancel Christmas.

But it turns out escaping the fame goldfish bowl comes with some perks: peace and quiet, no baying press, plus regular battles with her Mr Darcy-esque new neighbour to keep her edge. And the best thing about a real, country Christmas is that there’s always lots of mistletoe to be found…

Christmas Magic By Nora Roberts (Mills & Boon) 

Two magical Christmas stories from the New York Times Bestselling author who has over 400 million books in print worldwide. 

 All I Want for Christmas: Identical six-year-old twins Zeke and Zach wished for only one gift from Santa this year: a new mum! But convincing their love-wary dad that their new music teacher, Miss Davis, was his destiny and sent by Santa wasn’t as easy as they’d hoped…

This Magic Moment: For Ryan Swan, who’d vowed never to give her trust again, master of illusions Pierce Atkins was the last man to whom she should give her heart. Especially since he was planning a death-defying stunt he might not even survive. Yet despite everything, when she was with Pierce, all Ryan’s defences seemed to vanish…

A Merry Little Christmas By Debbie Macomber (MIRA)

Beth Morehouse was expecting presents under the tree, not a basket of abandoned puppies on the doorstep of 1225 Christmas Tree Lane! Now it’s a race to find them new homes before she and her daughters leave for their skiing trip. With just three days to Christmas, Beth needs a puppy miracle! To top off her worries, the girls have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, for the holidays. Clearly they have visions of a mum-and-dad reunion under the mistletoe. But Kent’s new girlfriend might have other ideas…

Across the road at 5-B Poppy Lane, the Shelton women are sharing relationship stories. Helen approves of the handsome soldier her granddaughter Ruth has brought home, but he reminds her so much of a man she once knew…Will Helen’s tales of romance lead Ruth to a happy-ever-after Christmas?

With mistletoe and festive miracles, there’s nothing like a Cedar Cove Christmas!

Once Upon a Christmas By Sarah Morgan (Mills & Boon)

What’s your number one Christmas wish?   

Bryony’s daughter has put a dad on her Christmas list. That leaves Bryony with one month to find the perfect man, so this year she’s wishing for a miracle!  While she’s looking for love, her best friend Helen is doing the opposite. Her Christmas wish is to forget all about the white dress hanging in her wardrobe – and her faithless rat of a fiancé.   

Helen and Bryony’s festive cheer definitely needs a boost, so it’s lucky that once upon a Christmas, wishes really do come true…

Good Luck!!

Book review: Interview with the Vampire – Claudia's Story by Anne Rice with art and adaptation by Ashley Marie Witter

22 Nov

Orphan, daughter, victim, monster.

She was the vampire who never should have been ……her very existence an abomination among the creatures of the night. A predator’s lust imprisoned in the body of a child, she moves through the shadows of a world forever beyond her reach.

This is Claudia’s story.

A richly-illustrated adaptation of Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, told through the eyes of the child vampire Claudia – offers a new, chilling perspective on this seminal novel.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it brings lots of different books to my attention and encourages me to try new authors and genres so when I was offered the chance to review Claudia’s Story I jumped at it; firstly because I love a good vampire story and secondly because I’ve never read a graphic novel and I was curious! So today I present my first graphic novel review and I have to say straight away that I’ve discovered a whole new reading world and quite possibly a new book buying addiction in the making!

This is a gorgeously presented hardback book with a striking cover and is beautifully illustrated throughout – even the more horrific and gory scenes! Printed on glossy paper, the images are predominantly done in sepia tones which match the gothic nature of the story perfectly. The only splashes of colour are the vivid red of the blood in the story and this works really well. The detail of the illustrations really impressed me and this is a book that I will pick up again and again.

As a fan of vampire novels I feel almost guilty admitting that I haven’t read Interview with the Vampire or any of Rice’s novels but having read Claudia’s Story I’m itching to get my hands on the series and find out more about the characters. Claudia is such an intriguing and in many ways disturbing character; a fully fledged vampire trapped in a child’s body, fated never to be accepted as an adult. The graphic format suited her story perfectly and I thought this adaptation captured the complex sides to her character well. I’m now very intrigued to see how she is represented in the actual novels and to find out more about her relationships with her two fathers Lestat and Louis.

Ashley Marie Witter is certainly a talented artist and this book would make an excellent addition to the shelves of fans of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. If like me you’ve never read a graphic novel or one of Anne Rice’s books, I have no reservations in recommending this as a great place to start. I’m now determined to add more books like this to my shelves so please do leave your recommendations for similar titles in the box below!

5/5

Claudia’s Story is released today and you can find out more about it and see some of the illustrations from the book at: http://www.facebook.com/ClaudiasStory and http://www.claudiasstory.com/

I’d like to thank Caitlin at Headline for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Countdown to Christmas Author Interview: Carole Matthews

21 Nov

Today I’m very excited that lovely author Carole Matthews is visiting One More Page again to talk about her latest novel as part of her With Love at Christmas blog tour. Welcome Carole!

Your lovely new Christmas book With Love at Christmas is out now, please could you sum it up in a sentence?

It’s about a totally chaotic family Christmas!

This is your twenty first novel (congratulations!) How do you keep the ideas coming and what in particular sparked the idea for this one?

I love to write a Christmas book every year now and, as Christmas is a time for families, I thought it would be a great subject. But it’s always a time of year which heightens emotions and things always seem to go wrong then don’t they? I thought I  could have some fun with that. I always like to have some sadness and some comedy moments in my books. It also means that I can start eating mince pies in July!

You revisit Juliet Joyce and her family (who we met previously in That Loving Feeling) for this novel; why did you choose to revisit these particular characters?

They are a great (dysfunctional!) family and I really enjoyed writing about them in That Loving Feeling. I just didn’t want to let them go. With Love at Christmas was a great way to take up with them again. The new book isn’t a sequel, as such, it just picks up with the same family two years later.

Do you have plans to revisit any of your other characters in future novels?

I’m always wanting to write a new book in the Chocolate Lovers’ series – The Chocolate Lovers’ Club and The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet. I so enjoyed writing about those ladies and, of course, doing all the chocolatey research that was involved. I just have to persuade my publishers that they’d like me to do one too! They are by far and away my most popular books.

You have a lovely range of characters of all ages in this book; who was your favourite to write and why?

I think my heroine, Juliet,  is a wonderful lady as she goes through what so many mums have to cope with now. But I also love Rick as he is always keen to do the right thing, but is invariably thwarted in his attempts. I adore Juliet’s dad too, Frank. He’s the sort of dad everyone should have and I’ve been very surprised at quite how much people have warmed to him and his partner, Samuel.

In With Love at Christmas Juliet desperately tries to keep on top of everything and create the perfect Christmas for her family. What would Juliet’s top three tips for surviving the festive season be?

I think she would like to be very organised though, of course, in With Love at Christmas, that never quite happens.

She’d also say don’t try to keep all generations of the family happy as it’s just impossible – though she does try!

And, lastly, she would definitely say that all that matters is that your family are around you. That’s all Juliet really wants for her Christmas day.

I’ve already started my ‘Countdown to Christmas’ here on One More Page; what are your favourite parts of preparing for the big day?

Do you know, I’ve gone totally mad for Christmas already this year. I think it’s entirely due to having a festive book out. The bit I like best is decorating the tree. This year I’m having two trees and Lovely Kev is quite alarmed at the amount of glitter that’s coming into Matthews’ Towers!

And finally … what can we expect next from Carole Matthews?

My new book out next year is called A Cottage by the Sea. It’s about a group of friends who take a relaxing holiday together. But, of course, things don’t go quite to plan!

Wishing all your readers a very merry Christmas and a fabulous new year!

Ooh that sounds fab! Thanks Carole and have a very merry, glittery Christmas and a great new year!

You can find out more about Carole and her books at: http://www.carolematthews.com/

Book review: When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson

19 Nov

What happens when your happy ever after is suddenly and painfully taken away from you?

Elsie Maynard has a whole new life she never expected to have.

From inadvertently founding a choir like no other with former 80s rock star Woody Jensen, to daring to date again, Elsie steps out into an unknown future – a future that could include gorgeous designer Olly Hogarth, a man who seems intent on winning her heart. Overcoming problems, challenges and the occasional frustration – namely overconfident Torin Stewart who seems to be everywhere – Elsie believes she is making the most of her life.

But then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the last item on a very important List.

Can Elsie take the final step and lay her past to rest? Join Elsie as she battles to start again, with the help of a disastrous, newly-formed singing group and her father and sister armed with dating hopefuls.

When I Fall in Love is a moving and optimistic love story from Miranda Dickinson in her trademark warm and witty style. Set in Brighton and Paris, the story centres on Elsie Maynard as she begins to move forward, eighteen months after her life changed forever. This is Miranda’s fourth novel and despite the beautifully wintry-looking cover is actually not a Christmas story. In fact, the majority of the book is set in spring and summer and I felt the novel really captured a warm summery seaside feel making this an excellent read at any time of the year!

Miranda Dickinson has clearly done her location research for this book; her descriptions of Paris had me itching to pack my bags but it was the combination of great characters and the fab seaside setting of Brighton that I loved most about this novel. Miranda really lives and breathes her characters and I had no trouble at all believing that the wonderful Brighton community that she describes in When I Fall in Love exists and I wanted to hop straight on a train for an ice cream at the brilliantly named ‘Sundae and Cher’.

Elsie is one of three sisters who together with their Dad make a solid and supportive family unit. I liked the fact that the story didn’t dwell on the girls’ absent mother rather focussing on their lives in the here and now. I’m a huge fan of Miranda’s books and this one certainly continues the magic; there are some really sweet romantic moments throughout but the endings (yes there are at least three big romantic finales in this novel) were excellent and guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

I don’t want to give away the reason for Elsie’s new beginning but I will say that the events she faces are sensitively written with a mix of honesty, strength and optimism. For me the supporting cast really made the book and I found it hard to pick a favourite character from Cher with her vintage café and wicked sense of humour and slightly crazy ex rocker Woody to lovely Irene, the quiet oldest member of Elsies choir. Miranda knows her subjects well and I enjoyed the way that she worked music into another excellent novel.

As Elsie gets involved in setting up a community choir, there’s plenty of action to keep the plot moving and I liked the way the sub plots involving family, friends and Elsie’s challenge gave the story plenty of variety and pace. With two very different men finding their way into Elsie’s life and a fab set of sub-romances, Dickinson keeps us guessing throughout as to who her characters will end up with and although for me the ending wasn’t quite the one I’d hoped for it was a fitting end to a great read.

4/5

You can find out more about Miranda Dickinson and her books at: http://www.miranda-dickinson.com/ 

I’d like to thank Becke at Harper Collins for sending me a review copy of this novel.

Book review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

14 Nov

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

I picked up a copy of The Perks of Being A Wallflower at the Simon and Schuster blogger event after a couple of bloggers there told me how great it was. Although I was aware that a film version of the book has been released recently, I didn’t know anything else about the story so I was curious to find out more as I started reading.

This is a creatively written novel narrated from the point of view of the charming and very honest Charlie. Charlie tells his story through a series of letters to the reader as ‘Dear friend’.  The letter format makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower a very personal read and I think Stephen Chbosky has done an amazing job of capturing the thoughts and feelings of a highly intelligent but often confused teenage boy. This is a bitter-sweet story about growing up and facing personal challenges and at times it brought me close to tears as I was reading.

Charlie is clever and wears his heart on his sleeve. He has an absolutely beautiful honesty to him that made me feel very protective of him and I loved his insightful observations on everyday life, family, friendships and relationships. I really felt for him as he tried to pick his way through the minefield of starting high school and find his place. But things really begin to change for Charlie when he meets Sam and Patrick, a quirky brother and sister who introduce him to a whole world of new experiences and people including The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Sam and Patrick are interesting characters in their own right, each with their own issues and although I thought they could both be a little selfish at times, I found them realistic and I liked them. Through Sam and Patrick and their friends Chbosky gives us a varied view of teenage experiences, ambitions and worries and I think there’s a lot in the novel that readers will identify with.

The book is peppered with references to films, music and books and I loved the feel that this gave to the story and the way that they made Charlie’s world so real. Classic literature also plays an important part as Charlie’s English teacher gives him a whole series of extra novels to read to challenge him and it reminded me of some classic books that I’ve read and added to the list of those I still need to read.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower isn’t always a comfortable read and touches on some serious issues including sexuality, drugs and abusive relationships and I’ll admit that the revelations towards the end of the novel shocked me. But although it has some very serious issues at its core the overall effect of Charlie’s story is a positive one and the book left me with a feeling of optimism.

4/5