Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Swap by Megan Shull

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:  August 26th 2014
Pages: 400
Source: review copy from publisher - Edelweiss
Age Range: Young Adult

ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.
Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else..

This is such a fun read! Started it and finished in within a few hours because I just couldn't put it down. I was a bit surprised though Jack and Ellie didn't end up as a couple. The plot was absolutely hilarious. Both Ellie and Jack discover things that they wish they wouldn't have to discover. Like when Ellie realizes she has not to go to the ladies room anymore, and yes, she has an ''extra'' there down under now..yikes! And Jack hears from the girls around him everything he needs, but doesn't want to know about the period..oompf!

Ellie was a really lovely character. She was awkward, easy to relate to, and all around a likable little character. We have all been an Ellie at some point in our lives, whether it be at age two or twenty, and I really appreciated what the author did with her character to provide a voice for us all. Jack was not my favorite main male character, but all in all he was tolerable.
No book review would be complete without the mention of a few of its pitfalls. Here are the things that didn't quite work for me: the guy-talk was over the top.In most places Shull wrote Jack's voice excellently, but when it came to dialogue between Jack and his brothers or his friends, she relied too heavily on slang that rang unrealistic. 

I didn't expect too like this book as much as I actually did, overall I thought it was a nice, very entertaining and hilarious story, which I definitely recommend for young teens.




Blog Tour: The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

Publisher: Sphere, Little Brown UK
Release Date:  August 26 2014
Pages: 416
Source: Review copy from publisher

Josie has just fled to the little town of Mill River, Vermont. after she escaped out of New York. She is divorced and has taken her two young daughters Rosie and Emily with her. She is going to live in the house of Ivy, the only relative she has left and who she never known. Ivy owns the bookstore in town. In Mill River, they try to leave their tragic past (what that is is left quite a mystery) behind and build up a new life and where Rosie builds up a career as a real estate agent.
The book alternates in chapters between the past and the present day. In the present, it seems that Josie has passed away and has left them her will, which states thay they both will inherit a house and In her will she also explains that the sisters, who are not on speaking terms with each other anymore, have to work together to  locate a hidden key to a safe-deposit box containing their inheritance. Both their sisters move back to Mill River to work on their mothers last will, but things are still complicated between them. Rose is an alcoholic, and this leads in the end to a tragic accident involving her son.But during this project they find out their mother's most important inheritance to them is that she wanted them to reconciliate, and that their mother has even a bigger secret to tell them..

The story of The Mill River Redemption started out very promising. It made me very curious to find out why Josie, Rose and Emily had to leave New York for Mill River. Then the story started to alternate between past and present. It is there that the story becomes a bit unfocused, especially because it is at some parts not noted that a time change between a part is happening, very confusing for the reader as he has to find it out for himself.
The story was okay but it would be better if some parts where worked or cleared out more. 
Till the end the tragic past of Josie and her daughers is unclear for the reader. Then it is again not clear why Rosie and Emily are in a fight with each other.  and it isn't until about 3/4 through we learn what caused the rift between Rose and Emily. A tragic accident separates them and another accident is what brings them together in the end. But the moest unusual thing was that altough it seems for the biggest part of the book that Josie has passed away, she is alive in the end and just made up everything just to make the two stop fighting. That was something I truly didn't saw coming and which came at quite and odd point and made the story you've read before looking quite odd. There where also a few side characters who are somehow linked to Emily or Rosie, but don't have any impact on the story, and I wondered why they where in it in the first place.

Overall, I had high expectations of The Mill River Redemption. I think it was an okay read, but if some parts had been worked out better I would have liked it more.

Author Interview with Darcie Chan


In writing The Mill River Redemption where did you start? Where did you find inspiration for the characters and the story? I knew from the outset that both my second and third books would be set in the fictional village of Mill River and feature some of the characters from my first novel. Those things gave me a very comforting, familiar foundation -- sort of a "jump start," really -- because I wasn't really beginning from scratch. The story in The Mill River Redemption, though, revolves around a handful of new characters, and for both, I looked to my own family for inspiration. The character of Ivy Collard, for instance, is modeled on my late maternal grandmother, who was just as loving as Ivy and had a similar bawdy streak. And, a story involving sisters was interesting to me because I have two younger sisters myself. The three of us are very close, and we've never had to deal with a tragedy the likes of which the characters Rose and Emily faced, but I thought it would be challenging to explore the strength of a sisterly bond in such a situation. 

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological and logistical) in bringing the book to life?
It took me nearly 2.5 years to write my first novel, The Mill River Recluse, although at the time, I had a full-time day job and was writing only in the evenings after work. The Mill River Redemption flew onto the screen by comparison. In fact, the whole story in Redemption came together in my mind very quickly, and when I was writing, there were several days where I was shocked at how easily and cohesively the story was emerging. Even the research I did (on various topics, as required by the narrative), seemed painless.

The real challenge in writing my second book was not wanting to disappoint my readers after my first novel had been received so well. I suppose this is a common sentiment among writers -- wanting second and subsequent novels to be at least as good as, or better than, those that came earlier -- but it sat heavily in the back of my mind throughout the entire writing and editing process. The hopes and expectations of the many people that have patiently waited for this second novel really inspired me to put everything I had into it.

What was the timeline from spark to publication, and what were the significant highlights along the way?
As I described in the previous question, the writing of this book came fairly easily. I don't start writing until I've figured out how a story begins, how it will end, and a few things that will happen in between. Once I had that framework established for The Mill River Redemption, it took about six months of solid writing to finish a first draft.

I would say that the highlight of writing Redemption was the editing process. I'd never worked with an experienced fiction editor to develop a story before this book, and it was wonderful to see how the suggestions made by my editor, Kara Cesare, helped to shape and strengthen the story. Kara is simply brilliant and a delightful person to boot, and I learned a great deal from her!

What do you want people to take away from reading The Mill River Redemption?
 I'd love for people to gain a new sense of appreciation for their families and friends. Life is so unpredictable. People can be taken from your life, and important relationships irrevocably altered, with absolutely no warning.  It's so important to live in the present, to treasure each day and all that you have and love.

What is your next project?
 I've finished the first draft of the third Mill River book, so soon, it'll be back to editing! I've also got a few promotional trips coming up for The Mill River Redemption. I'm so looking forward to meeting and connecting with lots of my readers!





Monday, August 25, 2014

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Publisher: Mira Ink
Release Date: 
 June 6th 2014

Pages: 544
Source: review copy from publisher through Netgalley
Age Range: Young Adult

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she'd never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can't stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she'd stay away from. Yet he won't last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it's his fault his family is falling apart. He can't change the past, but maybe he can change Haley's future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they'll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.


I have read all the other Pushing The Limits books before so I was quite curious for Katie McGarry's newest book Take Me On.

Altough I did had some reservations because the book is more then 450 pages long..!!)

The story was somewhat the same as the previous two, be it that they are all in a different setting. All the main characters of all three books are somewhat linked to each other.

This time the girl was the ''bad one'' and the guy the good guy. Very suprising because most of the time in this book it is the opposite. Hayley is living with her family at the house of her uncle, because her father is an alcoholic and lost his job at the company of West's father. Hayley went through a really rough phase after her family fell into poverty. Hayley was a character who was easy to sympathize with. She was down-to-earth, caring and despite hating the situation that she was in, she stomached all of it without a complaint because of her love for her family. My heart broke for her, but at the same time, I was also very proud of her for being such a strong young woman in the face of all the obstacles. West was a rich guy but anything from spoiled or snobby. Especially when he finds out that his father his responsible for the situation Hayley is in. He does have his own problems though, mostly with his sister Rachel who had a car accident and is fighting for her life in the hospital.Their chemistry together was formidable and I personally think they were Katie McGarry's best couple as of yet.

The story is quite long though and I thought some parts which didn't quite helped the story progress could easily been have put out to make the speed of the story better.

Other than that though, I thought Take Me On was entertaining and an absolutely lovely read.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mini-review: Preview of Isla and The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I received a ''preview'' of the first 50 pages of Isla and the Happily Ever After on Netgalley recently. 
But first, before I write my mini review of it,  a little about the synopsis of this new YA book by Stephanie Perkins.

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Thr first 50 pages are the part where everything is just starting between Isla and Josh, who attend an American high school in Paris. They are back in New York for the summer and things bloom up when Josh pays for her food in the cafetaria and even walks her home on a rainy night.

But then, three months later at the School Of  America in Paris, Josh has suddenly vanished. He is nowhere to be seen. Not in school, in the hallways, or outside school in his usual café. When Isla sends him and email how he is doing she get's an automatic message that says his account is inactive. She finds out though through his social media page, that Josh, son of a senator, will be staying in Washington till the end of autumn. 
Later that autumn he suddenly re-appears in class, but something has changed. He is suddenly giving her a cold and a somewhat silent treatment, what is wrong? But then a few days later he starts talking and flirting again with Isla. And then he suddenly doesn't appear at school anymore. Where is he?

This preview made me so curious for the complete story of the book! I heard many good things about the books by Stephanie Perkins, which I still haven't read one of. 
As far as I could tell the plot is exciting and I am very curious why Josh is behaving like this towards Isla and what is behind his mysterious dissappearance from school. In this preview I liked the fun setting of an American school in Paris, which is always a great mix of two cultures I also liked Isla's voice, she doesn't come over to me like the usual girl main character of a teen book. The cover makes me curious also as it gives me the idea some of the book will be set in New York City too. 

However, I think I will try to get a copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After very soon. This makes me crave for more!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Upcoming reviews and blog tours!

Due to my health which isn't always going well lately and other stuff, I am a bit behind reading books and posting reviews. Behind the scenes I am finishing reading a few books which will come up for review the coming two weeks, these are:

A review of a preview sample of ISLA and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Take Me On by Katie McGarry
The Swap by Megan Schull
Lies We Tell Ourselves by 

I am also taking part in two blog tours organised by Little Brown UK, these are

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks on September the 10th
The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan, see the date on the blog tour poster below!

Happy Reading!
Marjolein


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

Publisher: Plume
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: review copy provided by publisher

June Anderson is a succesfullNew York business woman of a bank. Her great-aunt Ruby has passed away recently, and in her will is stated that June will inherit Bluebird Books, the smalltown Seattle children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. But June sees this more like an oppurtunit, be it her expertise in this field, to determine the fate of this bookstore, which isn't looking good as it didn't go very well with it the last few years and the estate has to be sold. June says her live in New York goodbye and moves to the small town in Seattle where Bluebird is located to inspect what has to be done. 

When she uncovers a secret Ruby kept hidden - her friendship with Margaret Wise Brown and the true story of how Goodnight Moon came to be - June finds herself enchanted. Letters between Ruby and Margaret are found by June and tells her more about her own history. Beside this, June's sister Amy's is ill (and pregnant) and will pass away soon, and someone has to be found to take care of Amy's daughter. Due to the fact that June's former fiancee cheated on June when June found them together making out, June is hestitant to visit Amy in her final days. Opposite of the bookstore is an Italian restaurant. From the first day on the owner, Gavin is friendly, helps June and leaves Italian meals for her and a romance starts between the two. Could June let her past g and go for this new live in Seattle?

I was very impressed by this beautiful story! I have read another book by Sarah Jio recently which I liked a lot, and so I was very curios for Goodnight June. The plot was amazing and very entertaining, with lots of plot twists. What I absolutely liked was the cute romance that started between June and Gavin and how Gavin treated her from the beginning with food from his restaurant that he cooked for her. That was soo cute! The letters where nice, but at some point to long and a bit distracting from the story. Sarah Jio portrays Bluebird books very well, I could just imagine it as a very cozy and homy children's book store, very opposite to the cold banking world where June is coming from which was a nice contradiction. The end part is both dramatic, romantic and nice, every piece of the puzzle falls in to place. I highly recommend Goodnight June if you are in for a book with a strong plot and I am already looking forward for the next book by Sarah Jio!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: June 24th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: review copy provided by publisher

Ellen Moore is a social worker for many years. She has seen it all: children being abused, parents who neglect their children, everything.


But then comes day when she is called to look up on a family in trouble. The morning at her own house has been busy, it's hot weather and she just dropped all the children of at school. When she is busy working on the family's case, she hears that someone is slamming her car window, maybe a car jacker. But when she comes downstairs and walks up to her car, she sees something else is the matter; her own little daughter is in her car seat, and people around the car tell her she has been in the hot car for hours with the window's closed. Her daugher has lost consciousness and has trouble breathing, and is speeded to the hospital. How could Ellen forget her own child was sitting right behind her when she drove away that morning? Because of this, her integrity as a social worker and her motherhood are all of a sudden in jeopardy.


The story switches between Ellen and Jenny, a 10 year old who is abused by her father. She get's the chance to escape him and his abuse and board a bus on the search for her mother. This search doesn't lead her to her mother in the first place, but to Ellen's mother who takes her in and helps her locate her mom, who is even more abusive as her father. Ellen and Jenny's live get interwoven from that moment on.


I though this book was very gripping and realistic.This author has a magical way of drawing you into the peoples' lives and you become invested in what happens to them, you feel what they feel. One of the hardest parts to read was when Ellen was separated from Avery and not allowed to be near her by court order while she was in the hospital. Her daughter was near death but she couldn't be within 500 feet of her. While we all may say, nothing would separate us from our child, Ellen did not have a choice. And while we knew it was a tragic accident and think it is so wrong, we also know that the police were only doing what they had to do, they have to act in the best interest of the child and can't just assume that her story was true. 

The whole situation was humbling for Ellen. How many times had she taken someone's children away, how can people not realize that she isn't like them, not like the neglectful abusive parents she deals with every day. No matter what the outcome, how can she ever again be successful as a social worker, will people always look at her as "that parent who locked her kid in a hot car".
Overall it was a very interesting read, not the kind of book that cheers you up but makes you think about for a lonegr period.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: May 12th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: review copy provided by American Book Center
Age Range: Young Adult


The Saybrooks are a wealthy aristocratic family, head of an important and famous diamond empire.  The family lives in New York City and are more or less its high society. The family daughters are the heiresses, and they are in the spotlight and the media every time.

The story of The Heiresses starts when the family is attending the funeral of Steven Barnett at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Steven was an important friend of the family who has died after an accident on his yacht. But then some rumors appear that what happened might not have been an accident.

The story continues five years later, and focuses on the perfect daughter of the Saybrook family, Poppy, and her cousins Corinne, Rowan, Aster and Natasha. Corinne is preparing for her wedding which is taking place soon and will have huge media coverage
But then Poppy is found dead one day: she is seen falling from the window of her apartment building on the Upper East Side. The second mysterious death in the family. Was this an accident or was there foul play involved?
All have their own little side storyline in the book and all of them are connected due to Poppy’s death. Who knows who was with Poppy the minutes before her fall, who witnessed it happen? Why are some of the heiresses backstabbing each other and most of all, who is behind the mysterious message: One heiress down, four more to go..?
Poppy’s death is the start of dark secrets and scandals surfacing. And the four cousins are determined to find out what happened to Poppy, and why, and they find out along their journey that their lives are far more important than all the money and the diamonds they are famous of.

I was very curious about this book as I heard many good things about the other books written by Sara Shepard. Mostly my reading falls in the YA genre, but somehow I never read her famous Pretty Little Liars series, so I had to try out The Heiresses, and I am very glad I got the chance to read it. I LOVED the way it was written. The author doesn’t give any clues who might be behind the murder of Steven and Poppy. The plot is full of unexpected happenings that you’d don’t see coming. That’s what I liked most. All of the characters are in a certain way suspicious and have their dark secrets and it kept me guessing until the end. I expected it to end with a huge cliffhanger to take you along to a next installment, but luckily it wasn’t so. The end is just thrilling!! This book is a nice mix of a mystery, mixed with a very contemporary, juicy story. I liked that it was set in New York, and you can read between the lines that the author knows the city very well. I think this book is a nice crossover between YA and contemporary woman’s fiction. So if you like reading books in those genres, this is the perfect book and I am anticipating the next book in this new series already!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blog Tour: Good Chinese Wife by Susan Blumberg Kason. Review and guest blog about being an expat in Hong Kong.

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: July 29th 2014
Pages: 337
Source: Publisher

Susan is a young American woman from Chicago, who suddenly get's the chance to do her master's degree in China. Having an interest in China for long, she doesn't hestitate and grabs this amazing opportunity with both hands. It is at the university in Hong Kong when she meets Cai, who is also studying there. Their relationship starts when they start living together in a dorm room. After a few months he proposes to her, and they marry. Susan has found the man of her dreams in Cai, and from the start she tries to be the good Chinese wife Cai expects her to be.

But soon little things start to change and little bursts starts to appear in the cement of their marriage. Cai is renting movies, the filthy kind, and Susan is ofcourse very bothered that he watches them in her presence. Cai is starting to setting his own needs higher then those of his wife.“I know what American wives are like. I also know what Chinese wives are like. And then there’s you!” When Susan tries to step up to him, he loses his temper and gives her the silent treatment for days. Susan though tries to keep him happy and makes excuses for his behavior. She even excuses him when she finds out he has be unfaithful to her and she has got an infection from it, She expects that things will get better when they move to San Francisco, where they have bought a house and eventually their son is born. But Cai has problems finding a job and adjusting to the American way of live. Things got even more worse when Cai's parents are coming over from China to live with Susan and Cai for a year. They have their own set of idea's of what's good for their son, which all not all the best idea's to set a healthy eating and sleeping pattern for him. And Cai is blaming all on Susan. Cai is going out almost every night, while he blames Susan for going away when she does. Susan even receives strange calls from unknown woman at her house, asking for Cai. When Cai threats to go back to China and take their son with him (with the treath of keeping him there as China hasn't signed the The Hague Convention for parental child abduction) Susan starts to see that she can't live like this anymore with Cai and has to stand up for herself and the wellbeing of her son for once and for all.

Good Chinese Wife is a moving and impressing memoir about a woman who is under the thumb of her abusive husband.  You see how Susan struggles with standing up for herself and how difficult it was to live with Cai. I sometimes wondered though why she let it pass for so long, and didn't seek help earlier, as her internal alarm bells ringed for a long time that something was very wrong in her marriage. Luckily her parents come to stay after Cai's parent's return to China, and they also see Cai's behaviour and advise Susan to seek counselling, something Cai also refuses to start. With a memoir with this topic, the danger lures that it relies to much on misery, but this book doesn't fall into that.  I thought it was very brave of Susan to keep up so long with Cai, and how she steps up for herself in the end is just very courageous, I did wonder though if it was the cultural differences that made this a bad marriage or it was just the wrong, wrong man which can be found everywhere. I also liked the different backdrops of the book that the author described very vividly, especially Hong Kong. Overall, I was very impressed  by Susan's story and I truly recommend this book to everyone interested in Asia.

Guest blog by author Susan Blumberg Kason about living as an expat in Hong Kong.
I first became interested in Hong Kong when my grandparents traveled there when I was young. After they brought me a wooden jewelry box, silk dragon slippers, and a satin Chinese jacket, I was hooked. But when my high school trip to China canceled our stop in Hong Kong due to high costs, I was determined to make my way there one way or another. I ended up living in Hong Kong for five years.
I’ve been back in the US for more than a decade now, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about those years in Hong Kong. So what was so magical about living in Hong Kong? I’ve put together eight highlights. (Eight is a good luck number in Chinese culture. It rhymes with wealth!)

1. Hong Kong has the most convenient public transportation. 
As an undergraduate, and later graduate student, I couldn’t afford the high cost of buying a car in Hong Kong. But I wasn’t alone, as most Hong Kong residents do not own cars. There’s no need! I remember first learning the train and subway routes. I also loved riding the double-decker buses. On Hong Kong Island, I enjoyed taking the charming old double-decker trams. And my favorite way to cross the harbor was to ride one of the old green and white Star Ferries. Hong Kong is a public transportation dream come true! 

2. Hong Kong is a great restaurant city.
As a student and later an entry-level copy editor, I ate very well in Hong Kong with little money. I loved the variety of Chinese restaurants alone! There were Chiu Chow and Cantonese restaurants from southern China; Beijing noodle places; Shanghai and Ningbo restaurants; spicy Sichuan and Hunan restaurants; and many others. Dim sum is very popular in Hong Kong, and I often enjoyed this Chinese brunch on a weekly basis. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I craved starchy Italian pasta. That was no problem because Hong Kong has many western restaurants, too. I also enjoyed the Indian and Middle Eastern greasy spoons. 

3. Hong Kong is a great shopping city. Although the days of the 24-hour suit are over, Hong Kong is still a wonderful place to shop.  I must say, though, that I had a great time getting a suit custom-made during my first year in Hong Kong. My roommate and I shopped for fabric at a market. We then took a bus to a very local (ie, not an expat area) part of Hong Kong where we met with a tailor in her small apartment. I went back for a fitting before she finished the suit. It was a great experience! I also enjoyed shopping for people back home. After I bought my mother her first pair of gold Chinese character earrings, she often put in similar orders for friends and coworkers.

4. Hong Kong is beautiful.
In Good Chinese Wife, I write about Hong Kong’s stunning skyline. Ultra-modern skyscrapers line the northern part of Hong Kong Island. With the harbor in the foreground and the mountains in the background, there is nothing quite like it. I also love the colorful neon signs that illuminate Hong Kong at night. Before I moved to Hong Kong, I didn’t know much about the rural areas, but grew to love the verdant mountains and pristine countryside, not to mention the many outlying islands. 

5. Hong Kong is fabulous because of its people.
During my first year in Hong Kong, some of my American classmates complained about pushy and impatient locals. But I quickly developed an affinity with the savvy and smart Hong Kong Chinese. Unlike in China, where people stared at me every time I purchased something or even walked down the street, people in Hong Kong just let me be. They were used to seeing foreigners. It’s because of the industriousness of the Hong Kong people that their city is as modern and vibrant as it is today.

6. Hong Kong is a safe city.
No matter what hour of the day or night I wandered the streets or rode public transportation, I never felt unsafe. The only crime people in Hong Kong have to worry about is pickpocketing, but that happens everywhere. There were some gang fights when I lived there, but it almost never affected innocent bystanders.

7. Hong Kong is a diverse city.
Although Hong Kong is 98% Chinese, the other 2% is very diverse. There are sizable British, American, Japanese, Filipino, and Indian populations, as well as African, South Korean, Australian, other European expats. 

8. Hong Kong has many fans.
This only became apparent after I left Hong Kong, but it seems that no matter where I go or whom I meet, I always find other people who love Hong Kong. They may have been expats, too, or perhaps have traveled there for work. And of course friends who were born and raised in Hong Kong have a special place in their hearts for their homeland. When I think about it, I’ve never met a former Hong Kong expat who hasn’t loved living there. It’s a special place and there’s nowhere else quite like it. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

At Your Service by Jen Malone

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/ Aladdin M!X
Release Date: August 26th 2014
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Age Range: Young Adult

Thirteen-year old Chloe Turner's goal in life is to make the young guests  happy at the respected posh St. Michèle hotel in NYC, where her father works as a concierge. And she has the real talent for it: no one else you can call to organise a special artifact from a museum for an African wedding party. A wealthy French father and daughther are checking in one day at the hotel, and another challenge for Chloe: how to keep her happy and busy. She tries everything: a rehearsel with the Rockettes, and to organise, as the father said Zhe perfect birzdaay. But some guests are never satisfied. So when its announced that Prince Philip and Princess Caroline of Rosenstein and their three children will stay at the hotel during their stay in NYC, Chloe's brain already is running in circles, now she can really say farewell to stay a junior concierge as she expects this a little bit a task too difficult for her.

The royal family arrives with their entourage, and it turns out they are quite nice people, especially their three children want to be treated as normal as possible. The three children: The fourteen year old prince Alex (which is quite a charming guy!!) and two princesses, Sophie and Ingrid want a grand tour of the hotspots of NYC, with her best friend Paisley in tow But during the tour, one of the girls goes off on her own and they can't find her anywhere. A search through all the mayor spots in NYC takes of to track her down before the international press gets words of this and Chloe can say farewell to her junior concierge position. This search also might prove that Chloe can keep her head cool in the most stressful situations, even when a nice chemistry between you and a prince is starting to bloom up..!

I can absolutely see this book being made into a TV movie or series on the Disney channel. At your service is a highly entertaining read for young readers, but I am pretty sure older readers will enjoy this one a lot too (I certainly am glad I picked this one!) Chloe is so mature for her age and is the expert for all fun things for kids in New York City From the opening lines, Chloe's voice is crisp, funny, and whip-smart.. The children who where staying at the guest where also marvelous to read about: Alex was the charming young prince that develops a special friendship with Chloe. Sophie was the younger, preppy sister and Ingrid the older one who wants to get rid of the protocol and her bodyguards.  If you love New York City, this is the book for you as it gives you a grand tour through all of the city. I just loved everything about this fun, fun middle grade book!

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