The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Abbey and Kristen have been best friends since they were little. They have shared everything with each other – their dreams, their hopes and their enthusiasm for Washington Irving’s legend of Sleepy Hollow. Growing up in the town of Sleepy Hollow, the girls often used to visit the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and talk about the  mystery surrounding the Headless Horseman and Irving’s classic legend.

But when Kristen vanishes one day at the bridge near the cemetery, Abbey’s life changes radically. Everyone in town assumes that Kristen is dead, but Abbey believes otherwise. That’s why the sixteen-year-old is determined to find out what really happened to her best friend. Abbey is aided in her investigations by a mysterious and attractive young man whom she met at the cemetery. However, Abbey’s new friend seems to have something to hide and when the heroine falls in love with him and finally finds out the truth about him, her world falls apart and she begins to question her own sanity.

The Hollow is the first book in a trilogy and it’s a paranormal romance packed with over 500 pages of suspense, mystery and gothic elements. It’s a sweet love story that will move you, as you will sympathize with Abbey and you will feel her pain, anger, grief and frustration. The sixteen-year-old is a likeable character that has to deal with a lot; she loses her best friend, falls in love for the first time and has troubles understanding her overprotective parents. The novel’s themes are therefore modern and they will appeal to young adults, as they will be able to relate to Abbey’s problems. Furthermore, the paranormal elements will attract Twilight fans as they will want to learn more about Abbey’s boyfriend and how their love story will continue.

All in all, The Hollow was a wonderful and engaging tale that left me longing for more. I can’t wait to read the sequel because I want to be transported back to Sleepy Hollow and to enter a fascinating world of intrigue, mystery and betrayal. I loved to learn about Irving’s legend because I haven’t read it before (but I plan to do so very soon). I also enjoyed all the scenes that were taking place at the cemetery because they gave the novel the right touch and thus, the author conveyed a gloomy and dark atmosphere that fit in with the novel’s themes.

This book is perfect for Gothic fiction fans and for those who like to read paranormal romances. I hope you will get the chance to read The Hollow and I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Note: I would like to thank Kathryn Mckenna from Simon & Schuster UK for sending me this wonderful novel!

Andreea

Blogging Break

I know I rarely talk about my personal life here, but I just wanted to share this with you, because you have been so kind to me ever since I started blogging and although I have never met you in person, I still feel like you are all my friends.

Some of you may know that we are living in N.Y.C. right now, and although it’s a great city, I still don’t feel at home here. I just miss my family and friends and I miss Europe. That’s why we made the decision to move back to Germany. We are leaving in a few days and that’s why I haven’t been able to blog lately, because I was very busy.

I can’t wait to go back because I want to see my family and that way, we will also get some help with the baby and everything. That’s why I am taking a break from blogging. I don’t know when I will be back, but I promise that I will return. I know I will miss you all very much and I will miss visiting your blogs. I will try to stop by and leave a comment from time to time and maybe I will even manage to post some of my reviews. But I don’t think that it will happen soon, as we will have to take care of many things (jobs, apartment, paperwork etc.). So we will be pretty busy for the next weeks and I know it will be stressful, but at the same time, it will be nice to have some help. I hope you all understand and I hope to see you soon!

Take care and happy reading everyone. If you want to contact me per e-mail sometime, you can do so at passionatebooklover at yahoo dot com. I would love to hear from you!

 P.S. I have some scheduled posts coming up soon!

Andreea

How It Happened in Peach Hill by Marthe Jocelyn

Fifteen-year-old Annie and her mother, Madame Caterina, roam from town to town in order to cheat people and collect their money. Annie’s mother poses as a clairvoyant and she makes people believe that she can communicate with the dead. She has many strategies, but when the duo arrives in Peach Hill, Madame Caterina has a new idea – Annie must pretend to be an idiot. That way, the young girl can gather information about clients and make her mother’s business a success. But Annie is a clever girl who yearns to be normal, to attend school and to make friends. However, her mother doesn’t really want Annie to do all these things, as her daughter is her best weapon when it comes to her shady work. As the story evolves, the young girl dares to break out of her role and learn to tell the truth.

How It Happened in Peach Hill is an entertaining and engaging coming-of-age story; it’s the tale of a young girl who has to make painful decisions and learn what she really wants in life. Annie is a fifteen-year-old who is torn between her duty towards her mother and her desire to be herself. On the one hand, she loves her mother and helps her with her work as a spiritual advisor even though she knows it’s wrong, but on the other hand, she wants to be just like every other teenager and longs to make her own decisions. However, her mother is not really interested in Annie’s happiness. She is a selfish person who sets a bad example for her daughter; she teaches her daughter to deceive and cheat people in order to get rich. Madame Caterina completely ignores Annie’s dreams and beliefs since she sees her daughter as a source of income. When Annie begins to understand these things, she is determined to break free and become her own person. The young girl shows courage and strength and she is ready to do anything in order to be independent, even though it means to part with her mother.

Annie is a great character and that’s why I liked this book so much. I admired her and I shared the thrill with her when she stepped closer to her independence. I also liked the other characters, as they were engaging and well drawn.

Furthermore, I liked the book’s themes because they are effective and important. Although the story takes place in the 1920s, its themes are very modern and the characters’ problems and dilemmas can be found in our every day society. Many teenagers have to cope with selfish parents and it’s hard for them to break free when their parents are too controlling and think they know what’s best for their children even though it may not always be true.

Overall, I was really pleased with How It Happened in Peach Hill because it’s a wonderful story about courage, morals, dreams and decisions. It was very intriguing to catch a glimpse of a clairvoyant’s life and to see behind the curtain of this alluring world. What I also liked about this novel was the fact that there were old wives’ tales at the beginning of each chapter. They are relevant for the plot and I found them really entertaining!

Ever since I read Marthe Jocelyn’s book Folly, I wanted to read more works by this author and I am glad that I read How It Happened in Peach Hill since it was just as wonderful. I am looking forward to the author’s future books!

I would like to thank Casey Lloyd from Random House for sending me a copy of this engaging book!

Andreea

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

After her mother’s suicide in India, sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle is sent to the Spence Academy in Victorian London. There, she feels lonely and out of place, and she tries to make sense of the visions that have been haunting her since her mother’s death. Furthermore, Gemma tries to understand why she is followed by a mysterious and attractive young man who warns her against her visions.

As an incident occurs at Spence, Gemma is immediately accepted into the circle of the school’s most powerful girls and she is glad to finally have found some friends. But when the girls begin to play with supernatural powers, they put themselves in danger. Moreover, they discover that Gemma’s mother was involved with a dubious group called the Order. As the sixteen-year-old tries to find out more about this shady and dangerous group and about the true cause of her mother’s death, she discovers some shocking and frightful things, but she also learns a lot about herself and the destiny that awaits her.

Packed with 400 pages of suspense, gothic and supernatural elements, passion and jealousy, A Great and Terrible Beauty is a fascinating and intriguing novel that captivated me from the beginning. This is the first book of the Gemma Doyle trilogy and it tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl who is unconventional and insecure and who tries to understand who she really is and what’s happening to her. At times, she is spoiled and likes to rebel because she doesn’t like society’s rules and thus, she refuses to submit to them. She doesn’t have impeccable manners and she doesn’t always think before she speaks. Still, she is a very likeable character, especially since she is so flawed. Her friends are also great characters and they have their own problems. These problems are very typical for the Victorian age, as women at that time had to fulfil a certain role, a role that didn’t allow them any freedom and independence. And that’s why I liked this book so much, because it touched upon these themes. Although A Great and Terrible Beauty is set in the Victorian period, the novel still felt very modern to me because it deals with things that are present in today’s society – the girls have to cope with rivalry, jealousy, trust, acceptance and self-knowledge – things that teenage girls have to face every day. And I think that’s what makes this novel so attractive to young adults, because it deals with matters that they understand and can relate to, since they go through the same things.

A Great and Terrible Beauty was an engrossing read that left me longing for more and I am desperate to read the sequels, as I want to know how Gemma’s story will continue. The last sentences of this book definitely make you curious about the next two books:

“I’m running because I can, because I must. Because I want to see how far I can go before I have to stop.”

I want to find out more about Gemma’s destiny, about the Order and about the realms and I hope the sequels will satisfy my thirst!

Note: I would like to thank Casey Lloyd from Random House for sending me a copy of this engaging book!

Andreea

Emma says ‘Hi’!

A more current picture of my little girl! She is getting bigger with each passing day.

Have a great week end everyone and happy reading!

Andreea

On Folly Beach by Karen White

When Emmy Hamilton loses her husband to the war in Afghanistan, her mother is determined to persuade Emmy to move to Folly Beach, South Carolina, and to buy the local bookstore. Emmy’s mother hopes that her daughter will be able to leave the past behind her and find some distraction in Folly Beach.

Emmy, however, doesn’t really want to leave at first, since she still grieves over her husband’s death and she doesn’t feel ready for a change. She is living in the past and is tormented by memories and shattered dreams. But when the young woman finds love letters and an image of a bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly’s bookstore, she is eager to find out more about the mysterious writers. Emmy is curious about the hidden messages and thus, she decides to move to Folly Beach and to buy the store. There, she meets Lulu, the late owner’s sister who is very difficult and grumpy. Lulu sells her bottle trees from the store’s backyard and Emmy has to deal with her quite often. Although she tries to ignore the old woman, Emmy can’t help but feel sorry for Lulu, as she senses that the old woman must have had a difficult and tragic past. Furthermore, Emmy feels that Lulu must somehow be connected to the mysterious love letters, but she doesn’t really know how and plans to find out. As the young woman digs deeper into Folly Beach’s past, she uncovers many family secrets, a mysterious disappearance during WWII and a touching love story that has affected Lulu’s family in many ways.

While Emmy learns about all these secrets, she finally begins to understand Lulu. Moreover, she has found a way to cope with her grief and slowly, Emmy realizes that she must leave the past behind and concentrate on the present. With the help of her new friends in Folly Beach, Emmy has learned that she must start living again because life is too short and one never knows when it might come to an end!

Alternating between WWII and the present, On Folly Beach tells the story of Emmy and Lulu, two women who couldn’t be more different and who don’t seem to have anything in common.   However, in the end, they discover that they were brought together by circumstances beyond their control and that they can learn a lot from each other, especially when it comes to second chances and broken hearts.

When I asked for some reading recommendations a few weeks ago, some of you mentioned this book and I am so glad that you did, because it was perfect for me! Thank you so much for telling me about it. You have no idea how much I loved this novel! For the last two days, I have been taking On Folly Beach everywhere with me and I read it whenever I had the chance to do so. I was devouring this book as I devour chocolate and I was craving more and more with every page I read. I couldn’t put it down, since I was eager to find out how it would end, but at the same time, I was sad because I knew that I would have to part with all the characters that have become so dear to me.

On Folly Beach had all the right ingredients for me – romance, suspense, literary references and engaging characters. Furthermore, the author’s writing was just beautiful and full of emotions. I loved her wonderful descriptions of Folly Beach and the unforgettable atmosphere that Karen White has created in this novel. But what I loved most about this book was the fact that it revolved around a bookstore; I loved reading about Folly Beach’s book shop and I really enjoyed reading about the secret coded messages in books. It was really intriguing to find out about these love letters and to discover how the love story would end. What I also loved was the fact that there were two stories intertwined in this book; while I liked Emmy’s story, I found Lulu’s tale more fascinating and it was her tragic and eventful past that moved me and left me feeling sad. That’s why this book was so great – it made me think about these tales after I finished reading it and it lingered in my mind for a long time. And that says a lot about this novel!

I hope you will get the chance to read this amazing book in the future and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! I highly recommend it to everyone out there who likes to read books that deal with the past and to those who are interested in WWII.

I would like to thank Penguin Group for sending me this wonderful novel!

Other reviews:

Melody’s Reading Corner

You’ve Gotta Read This

Bermudaonion’s Blog

Peeking Between the Pages

Andreea

 

Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker (1939)

Norman Huntley and his friend Henry have been making up stories since they were young and they have pretended to know people who don’t even exist. But when they invent an eighty-three-year-old woman called Miss Hargreaves, they are more than surprised to see their new fictional friend standing beside them one day. Miss Hargreaves is exactly as he had imagined her – she is an eccentric and extraordinary old woman who makes Norman’s life difficult. Furthermore, she brings chaos into his sleepy Buckinghamshire town. As Norman tries to tell his friends and family about Miss Hargreaves’s arrival, he encounters difficulties, since the young man doesn’t even know where the curious old lady came from. Ever since Miss Hargreaves entered Norman’s peaceful life, everything has been tumultuous and weird, and the young man must now decide if he wants the old woman to be part of his life any longer or if he wants his once-ordinary life back. But how does one get rid of such an incredible person when one does not know where she came from in the first place?

Miss Hargreaves is a hilarious book about an unusual friendship; it’s a wonderful story about creativity, the power of imagination and the its consequences. I have wanted to read this book since I discovered it last year and I am happy that I finally had the chance to do so because it was exactly as I had imagined it. I liked this unusual story and I liked Norman because he is a creative young man who, on the spur of a moment, likes to invent people or events that have never taken place. For him, it’s entertaining and amusing to make up these stories and he is very good at it and very convincing. But when Norman and his friend Henry invent Miss Hargreaves, their troubles begin. Although it was only meant as a silly joke, the young men are shocked to learn that their creation has somehow come alive. And since the old lady makes Norman’s life very complicated, he thinks about putting her off. Still, he isn’t quite sure if he really wants to get rid of her for good. On the one hand, he likes this eccentric and impossible old lady, but on the other hand, Miss Hargreaves drives Norman mad, with her oddities and strange behaviour. That’s why I really sympathized with him; I felt his frustration toward Miss Hargreaves, but I also understood why he was proud of his creation.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Norman and his unusual friend and I found their adventures very entertaining and funny. I liked all the characters in this book and I loved the dated language. If you like to read books set in the past and if you like imaginative tales, Miss Hargreaves will be the perfect novel for you!

Note: This review has been written for Nymeth’s 1930s Mini-Challenge.

Andreea

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