Piggy by Trevor Lai

Published: 20th December 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Illustrator: Trevor Lai
Pages: 32
Format: Picture Book
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

An irresistibly adorable debut about a lonely little piglet who makes his first friend–perfect for anyone who has felt the joy of new friendships.

Piggy loves books so much that he never has time for friends. But his favourite story has always been about two friends and the special times they share together.

One day, Piggy sees a girl reading alone. And he wonders, perhaps, if they could be best friends? Try as Piggy might–in increasingly spectacular ways–the girl just doesn’t notice him. Will Piggy ever be able to tell her how he truly feels?

She was busy reading her book. So Piggy decided to get her attention” Oh no Piggy. She’s busy, don’t interrupt her!

I am a bit confused by the story. Piggy loves to read and wants to save his last book so he goes out and plays instead. There he stumbles across a potential friend. Because he has read so much he has never had a friend and then tries to get the attention of this new person.

Instead of leaving the cat to read peacefully by herself, Piggy tries to get her attention. After failing, he offers to share his book with her which works. Then somehow, unexplainably he realises she can’t see and gives her glasses and they read together.

It is a cute story about sharing and finding friends with common interests but there were too many things unexplained. How this cat could be so into her book if she couldn’t read? Why Piggy pestered her while she was reading in the first place.

Lai’s illustrations are beyond adorable though. I love Piggy’s design and the bright bold colours catch your eye. The formatting was well planned and favours the story. I picked this book up because Piggy looked so sweet on the cover, and while the message is cute, the logistics of it are a bit off.

You can purchase Piggy via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Heartstrings by Belinda Williams

Published: 29th October 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
BWrite
Pages: 119
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance Novella
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

A CHRISTMAS PARTY TO REMEMBER…

Arabella ‘Bella’ Valenti has big dreams for the future. Thanks to her fashion designer cousin, Ally, Bella has the right connections to become an event planner to the stars. She’s just secured her first job—planning a Christmas party for an actor notorious for playing the villain.

Bennett Moss is nothing like Bella expects. For a start, he’s super nice and the last thing she wants to do is crush on her first client. Not to mention his party isn’t exactly the dream job she’d hoped for…

Then Bella lands another event that is a dream job, but it also puts her in a very awkward position. If she holds both parties, there will be a conflict of interest and Bella could make or break her career before it’s even begun. Will she organize the event Bennett’s asked for or will she take a risk and throw a party to remember?

Heartstrings is technically a standalone novella but is also in part connected through the characters to Williams’ Hollywood Hearts series. The story follows Bella and her dreams of launching an event planning business. We’ve seen Bella pop up in Heartthrob as she supported Ally’s story and seeing her with her own story is a nice circle back to the first story.

This is a charming Christmas novella that captures the holiday spirit with a touch of romance and a gradual friendship turn romance. There are bristles and confrontations but there is heart and like all Williams’ romance novels there is a happily ever after but not before there are some feathers ruffled and a genuine possibility that they destined couple may not end up together.

Bella is a sweet character, her chance at her dream job drives her decisions and her naivety is evident but so too is her passion. The characters aren’t overly complicated but they show enough substance for this kind of story and certainly for one this length. I enjoyed seeing Bella interact with Bennett and while I might have been more enamoured by him rather than her, I enjoyed seeing her adjust her viewpoint based on her discoveries.

There is a lot of family love through this story which brings out the wonderful emotional soft side of Bennett which is one thing I love about Williams’ men; they have complicated emotions that we get to explore and even in this simple novella there is old love and new love which is wonderfully endearing.

You can purchase Heartstrings via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Long Lost Review: Also Known As Lard Butt by Ann Herrick

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 4th June 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Books We Love, Ltd
Pages: 80
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Laura finds out that, Ricky, the boy who created her horrible nickname, “Lard Butt,” has moved back into town—and immediately schemes to keep him quiet. After all, she can’t let her new swim teammates, especially drool-worthy Noah, hear the horrible name! No way! 

She’s determined to put a million years between grade school and junior high—even in the face of a father who drives an éclair, a would-be-movie-star mother who suddenly moves back home, and a past that comes back to haunt her with the dreaded nickname.

Although Laura’s embarrassed about how she looks in a swimsuit, she tries to stay true to her vow to take risks. She even lets Maria talk her into going to the school dance, where she braves negotiating a truce for a quarreling couple.

New friendships form, Laura’s mother starts getting too domesticated for Laura’s comfort, and hints of romance start to develop—or do they?

Another review I could have sworn I posted ages ago and yet here we are, unable to find it and therefore posting it. This was a decent story, short and sweet. The idea of this ‘Lard Butt’ is a bit strange, Laura isn’t overweight, she just has a large bottom. The way she talks about it is like it’s an abnormal growth but it seems to just be a bit bigger than most. Her thoughts about it switch from acceptance to being self conscious, her mother calls it a problem which wouldn’t help, and she was teased as a kid (hence the nickname), but she has learnt to try and deal with it.

Laura is shy and not confident, she has one friend she has known since primary school, and she is starting at a new school with apprehension. But at the same time she is determined to make changes in her life and leave the old her behind. It’s sweet in a way, Laura doesn’t try and do a complete remodelling of herself or her personality, she just decides to take risks and do things that may be out of her comfort zone.

The ‘Lard Butt’ aspect isn’t a major focus, it plays a role but it acts more of a starting point to what else happens in the book. Laura’s history and own feelings about it are understandable, especially memories of being teased, but the constant references she makes to it can become tiring, especially when it isn’t really a crucial plot point.

Being young and a bit naive Laura has a good voice and story to tell. Seeing things from her perspective provides us with her thoughts and opinions, and it also shows us how clueless she can be as well. Understanding people and situations when Laura does not makes you read a lot more into the story than the one she gives, which makes it more rounded, but there remains a focus on Laura and her growing confidence than really delving into multiple character backgrounds.

The characters are quirky and sweet and varying versions of interesting and they are as deep as they need to be for the story. Some certainly more than others, but because we see things through Laura’s eyes many references or details are briefly addressed or skipped entirely. There are many secondary characters you grow attached to like Ricky, and even a teacher at times, sweet people around Laura that help fill her world and help change her way of thinking. Her relationship with her friends and family is strong and Herrick explores these different connections with varying degrees which work quite well meaning you get a great understanding of her relationship to each person.

There are both happily ever afters and not so happily ever afters which is a great balance, it reflects reality quite well, varying degrees of good and bad things happen, nothing too life changing or exciting, just daily life. The story is quite short which I think works to its advantage, there isn’t enough to sustain a longer story and I think Herrick has balanced everything out nicely, providing conclusions, hope and resigned you to the fact that life isn’t always perfect but you can make the best of what you’ve got.

Heartbeat (#3) by Belinda Williams

Published: 4th December 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
BWrite
Pages: 335
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

GOOD GIRLS DON’T KISS AND TELL. UNLESS THEY’RE CAUGHT IN THE ACT…

Twenty-one-year-old Chloe Kemp knows it’s not easy growing up in the celebrity spotlight. Unlike other child actors, Chloe’s determined to hold onto her squeaky clean reputation. So far that’s been easy because she really is as sweet and innocent as the media portrays. 

Until a video of her in bed with the lead singer of a famous rock band is released online. Only nothing happened. Not that anyone will believe her…

Nor will anyone believe she was in bed with the wrong rock star. Chloe’s fallen for drummer, Gabriel da Silva, and she’s heartbroken she’s ruined her chances with him. Or is it possible he’s fallen for Chloe’s sweetness?

When Chloe is sent incriminating images, it becomes apparent someone is following her with the intention of ruining her reputation as well as any relationship with Gabe. If Chloe wants her career to survive, and a shot with Gabe, is it time she grows up and trusts her heart?

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author for review via NetGalley

One of my favourite things about William’s series is how she connects her characters and books together. The character we have gotten to know and love in one book are revisited with new perspectives and insights. This is the third book in the Hollywood Hearts series and we get to see Chloe’s point of view. Chloe’s life is one I think is interesting because of her upbringing and Williams has chosen an interesting approach.

Chloe’s character hasn’t changed too much between the books, only now do we see it in more detail. Her youth in comparison to the other women is highlighted a few times in the past and this is evident in her depiction, not to mention her sheltered life certainly comes across in the things she does and says. Instead of having the completely media savvy girl, Chloe’s secluded and controlled life is obvious and it makes her attempt at breaking free that much more engaging even though you can feel a bit sorry for her as she is snagged in drama and her own ignorance. Williams balances this a bit by having her knowledgeable of a lot of Hollywood practices, some which we see in previous books, but this is the first time we see her personal experiences in the industry.

Williams did a great job in capturing Chloe’s voice and also her struggle to get some independence out of the spotlight and her mother’s influence. I also enjoyed the youthful romance that Chloe and Gabe experienced. It didn’t need to be mature or deep, it is a young love and that is clear. I enjoyed how we explore Chloe’s development through her relationship with Gabe and the realisation that she does want more from her life than she has had up until this point.

There is a great underlying suspense about stalking and manipulation which highlights the lengths people go to in order to keep the status quo or seek their own advantages. I liked that Chloe does stay the same character regardless, she doesn’t change to help her situation in any way. I will admit though that sometimes she annoyed me but it was also an aspect of her character I was going to have to accept.

I am really interested in seeing how this story ends because unlike William’s previous connected series City Love, there is distance between these characters that means a whole different type of story can be told. Not to mention one that is playing out under the lights of Hollywood!

You can purchase Heartthrob via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Heartbreaker (#2) by Belinda Williams

Published: 10th November 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 BWrite
Pages: 346
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

WHEN LOVE IS AN ACT, WILL HER HEART BE FOOLED?

Lena Lyons, one of Hollywood’s hottest female stars, has a celebrity problem: she’s too famous.

Lena’s had stalkers before and figures the crazies come with the territory, but when things start going dangerously wrong on the set of her latest movie, her production company aren’t taking any risks. They hire Marc Romero, Hollywood security expert. And Lena thought stalkers were bad—Marc appears to hate his job and anything celebrity, including Lena.

Still reeling from her divorce, the last thing Lena needs is a brooding investigator who won’t let her out of his sight. Worse still, his plan to protect her involves him going undercover as an up-and-coming actor and pretending they’re a couple.

Lena has no choice but to get close to the mysterious man who won’t share anything about himself. With her life depending on her acting skills, she must convince everyone Marc’s the man for her. But will she be able to convince her heart it’s all an act?

I found it so hard to articulate my feelings about this book. I enjoyed some parts and while I didn’t dislike others but I couldn’t find the words to explain why I didn’t love it. A lot I think had to do with the expression of Lena as a character and perhaps the story requiring a more refined plot and romantic entanglement.

This is part of a series and I think while you can read it on its own, the characters are across multiple books and you have a better understanding of them as background characters as well as on their own. I think you need to have seen Lena in a different situation to see she isn’t completely what she comes across here.

Ally is the voice that makes you realise why Lena is being so obstinate and a bit unreasonable, something which can frustrate the reader until you try and read it from that angle, especially when she tends to contradict herself. I didn’t warm to her and while I felt bad for her, she never tries to help herself and fighting those trying to help her so much made her appear foolish. That isn’t entirely bad but something didn’t click for me and while I enjoyed the story, I wasn’t totally drawn into it.

William’s writing feels natural when she write about friendships and romance, a few times around the movie production felt clunky where it felt we needed a full explanation process or history. I know it needed to be in there, but I could see the writing style change when different scenes were happening.

I enjoyed the characters and how they were different, only revealing to us what we needed to know. One thing I disliked was that Marc kept calling Lena Princess, and I hated that Lena seemed ok with it. It seemed unprofessional and while she was often rude to him, he tries to stay on task and do his job but that term felt disrespectful and due to their relationship never became a term of endearment in my eyes.

Lena plays up the “not like other Hollywood types” and that’s a character choice from Williams, it makes Lena look like sweet and good natured but she is also unreasonable, disrespectful and a bit up herself. Which is fine once you realise that is who she is, something that is beneficial from seeing her through Ally’s eyes as well as her own and Marc’s. It also helps show how she develops as a character and her own desire to find herself.

Between Lena and Marc, their love/hate relationship worked well and you could see it coming but I never reached that adorableness between them. I think this is because Williams gave Marc such a strong emotional backstory that it worked for character development and added more intensity to the relationship. I may not have felt the real chemistry between Lena and Marc but I did like the direction William’s took their story. There are complications and a business relationship to work around but it gave it intrigue that there might not have been if it were simpler.

I enjoyed the slow reveal about who Marc was. It was the connection to the in-depth and emotional backstory I was missing from Jacob in the first book. The secrecy about his past and his work gives him an air of mystery and you see how separately he keeps his personal life and work. One thing I loved was when Williams let down the barriers and I loved her explanations why. It was a great shift in the character and allowed a bit of light and humour into the story.

Overall I enjoyed the story. I think a few plot points could have been woven into the story better but it tells Lena’s story and no doubt we’ll see more of her story and character develop through future books and through other character’s points of view.

You can purchase Heartbreaker via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

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