Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Shoveling SnowFrom Goodreads: Ben and Caroline barely recognize each other any more. Their once solid relationship now broken and beaten by unfathomable events, leaving only a shell of past promise. When pressure cracks the last vestiges of their bond, Ben hastily leaves their Southern California home, pointing the car east to what he hopes is the edge of the Earth. After driving until he can no further, he settles in the small, coastal town of Swintonport, Maine to lose himself in quiet and anonymity, renting the quaint guesthouse of Maggie and her ten-year-old daughter, Smoof. But when tragedy strikes his landlord’s family, Ben is confronted with a sobering truth reminiscent of the one he left behind.

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This is an intriguing novel in which our three dysfunctional main characters must learn to lean on one another in order to heal. A man, Ben, running from a relationship, a teacher, Rose, wishing for a connection with her estranged son, and a young girl, Smoof, wishing for her mother’s recovery all tie unlikely bonds to one another as the novel unfolds.

Initially, readers are only given the overview of each character, but as the novel progresses, we are given deeper insight, and as the truth comes out concerning the Ben’s reason’s for running, the Rose’s reasons for estrangement, and the Smoof’s heartbreaking family circumstances, the puzzle pieces begin to click and it leaves readers with feelings of hope for the future.

It’s a very well written piece, more so for those who enjoy adult fiction (not because of anything sexual–that’s just the genre) as the novel truly focuses on the adults in the story as they attempt to overcome their past in order to help young Smoof have a brighter future. It’s a story that will make you think, and while the end is a bit abrupt, leaving me with a yearning to know more/read more, based on the characters and all they’ve been through, it is indeed perfect. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon

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X and YFrom Goodreads: Olivia Adonane has it all; remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth. Yet, all is not as it seems. Olivia discovers a dark secret about her homeland, formerly known as Great Britain, where humans are designed in the womb, and she watches her best friend, Lily, die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London. From here on, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps to become the country’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the government, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?

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Finlayson’s novel, X&Y, thrusts readers into a society that designs and tags its population, keeping the wealthy beyond rich and the poor barely scraping by. Everyone is designed for a reason, and no one goes against the system; it’s in place for their own protection, and it’s existed long enough that no one really questions it. After all, everyone has a purpose. It’s destiny.

Told in a series of sections, readers really get to know Olivia as she goes from timid high school student to determined university student. Questioning everything she’s ever known, watching people disappear, and believing the worst of her parents, Olivia’s struggles are very real, and though I didn’t always agree with her decisions, it’s easy for me to take the high road as an outsider looking in; it always is. But what isn’t easy is deciding to do what’s right when you know it could end with your death, and worse, the death of those you love and hold dear. This is the obstacle that Olivia is up against, and as she struggles and comes into herself, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. As the novel progresses, what seems like a lifetime passes as Finlayson weaves together her tale, giving it life and validity. I enjoyed the sectioning within the novel, allowing time to pass easily without any sudden transitions, and for a novel that takes place over a span of years, it was the perfect execution.

What I think perhaps floored me the most about this novel is the fact that the genetic engineering imposed in former Great Britain is actually happening under the radar of the rest of the world. Indeed, the rest of the world, the United States in particular, has continued its existence and democracy much as if this were a present day novel and not a dystopian one, and it was both jarring and awesome when I realized that Olivia’s country was on its own in the technological advances and misuse of genetic engineering. Ingeniously, former Great Britain has adopted this strategy unbeknownst to the rest of the world, and I found that really interesting as Finlayson ties it all in to the idea of world police, a topic that has been in the news much recently due to the civil unrest in many countries, causing the United States to once again attempt to police other countries.

Overall, this was a great read. If you enjoy movies like Gattaka, I think you’ll definitely love this X&Y.  Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Kindle

Check out Rebecca Finlayson’s Guest Post!

 



A Guest Post with Rebecca Finlayson–author of X & Y

“Olivia Adonane has it all; remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth. Yet, all is not as it seems. Olivia discovers a dark secret about her homeland, formerly known as Great Britain, where humans are designed in the womb, and she watches her best friend, Lily, die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London. From here on, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps to become the country’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the government, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?”

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X and YEvery author has a dream of where their book could end up – top of the New York Times list, worldwide bestseller, movie deal . Sure, they may not believe it could ever happen but dreaming is still fun. At least, that was the case for me.

The problem I had was to not let those dreams distract me from the actual novel-writing process.

When I sat down to type the first words of “X&Y” I had to forget about all the YA novels I had read, particularly the Dystopian ones, and just focus on my story. How could I make “X&Y” the best it could be on its own terms, and not compared to, say, The Hunger Games? How could I make Olivia, the protagonist, successful as a character in and of herself, and not trying to live up to Katniss Everdeen’s reputation?

Good writers read and learn from successful writers, but for me there came a point where I just had to forget about all the rest, otherwise I would lose sight of what I was doing, which was trying to communicate something about the world I had built in my head. I wanted to build good relationships with my characters because they’re great characters (at least, I think so). I wanted to do something that many good authors have done successfully – i.e. portray a vision of the future as a warning to our society. ‘Society’ (the futuristic new version of Great Britain in X&Y) could exist. At the rate our technology is developing, it wouldn’t be crazy to think so.

Dreams of a movie deal aside, I am personally very proud of “X&Y”. I am letting others decide whether it can stand up to other YA Dystopian novels, but I am glad that it’s out there and that readers are enjoying it. I hope whoever reads this post will join them!

—Rebecca Finlayson

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Rebecca FinlaysonAbout Rebecca Finlayson:

Since graduating in 2010 with a degree in Classical Civilisation, Rebecca worked as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant at Blue Coat Academy in Coventry. She took a year off from September 2012 to July 2013 in order to engage in charity work and concentrate on some writing projects. During that time she completed two novels and began work on a third. Her debut novel, a YA Dystopian fiction called “X&Y,” is now available on Amazon Kindle. Her second novel, an epic fantasy entitled “The Secrets of Nethiaria: The Magician’s Book” will be released as an ebook in Spring 2014. 

Connect with Rebecca Finlayson

Website: http://www.musingsofanotherwriter.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @Finlaysonauthor

Blog: http://rebeccafinlaysonbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

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Be sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for my review of X&Y!



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