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Review: It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han!

It's Not Summer Without You*This review contains spoilers for those who have not read The Summer I Turned Pretty.Summary: It’s summer again, but everything has changed for Belly.  Her mother’s best friend Suzanne has passed away, and there’s no trip to the beach house to look forward to.  To make matters worse, Belly’s friend Conrad, Suzanne’s son, has gone walkabout and no one can find him.  Belly agrees to help Conrad’s brother, Jeremiah, look for him.
My thoughts: This book almost made me cry.  Han has done an excellent job of portraying the grief of Suzanne’s death, and the way the shockwaves radiate outward through her friends and family.  The emotion is honest and raw, and you can’t help but be drawn in.  The relationship between Belly and her mother is explored in further depth, which I loved.  We also get to find out what exactly happened between Belly and Conrad after that one kiss last summer.  Every relationship and story line from the previous book is expanded on, creating a web of relationships that feels so real you’ll think you know these people.
Once again, we’re doing the time-shift dance.  This time, the shift is between the present summer and the events of the winter leading up to it.  I didn’t mind the time changes in the first book, but I didn’t feel it was as effective here.

One thing that bothered me about this book is that Belly is completely oblivious to the fact that Conrad is a complete and total ass.  Or, worse, she’s aware of it and she keeps going after him over and over again.  The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  Belly, you’re crazy.  What makes the whole situation worse is that Jeremiah is right there and he’s great.  ARGH!  On the other hand, is there a single girl in this world who hasn’t had a crush on someone who wasn’t worth it at some point in her life?  I can relate, and I think that makes it even more frustrating.

Final word:  (4/5) Even more compelling, though perhaps not as well-written as its predecessor.  I only wish I had the third book in my hands now.

Emily Maternity Lingerie Rocks – Especially with 20% OFF!

Emily Maternity Lingerie

Following one of my previous posts, practical >maternity lingerie available for bigger busted mums-to-be, I came across UK brand, Emily Lingerie and was very excited when the company agreed to let me road test one of their gorgeous bras.

I received the ‘English Garden‘ underwired maternity bra in size 34F. The bra features black satin fabric with a vintage-inspired floral print, delicate lace edging and a pretty bow embellishment to the front centre. The cups are cotton lined for comfort whilst the bra features ’soft’ lightweight underwires and six back fastenings to accommodate your changing shape during pregnancy.

When the bra first arrived I was won over straight away by the design – it looks and feels luxurious and just like ‘real’ lingerie, unlike many of the matronly maternity bras available to bigger breasted pregnant women. The matching French knickers make this a gorgeous, sexy set.

I found the bra extremely comfortable to wear and it was also very supportive. The fit was good and corresponded well to that of my other lingerie, although I found the back size slightly big – not enough to affect the fit of the bra but if you are a borderline back size I would recommend you opt for the smaller size. The cup size was spot on and the bra gave me a nice shape under clothing, although on a purely personal note I would have liked some light foam padding of the cups for an even smoother silhouette under close fitting tops. The underwire was perfectly comfortable and did not rub or dig in at all – it’s difficult to say whether it will remain comfortable as my pregnancy progresses but with the flexibility of the wire and the extra back fastenings I am confident I will be able to adjust the fit for comfort well into the final weeks.

A personal bugbear of mine with maternity bras is the fact that many have high necklines which are visible under scoop or v-neck tops but this bra has a plunging style that in no way restricts the type of clothing you can wear, while the straps are not too wide and also pretty enough to be on show if required. Priced at £33 this bra is by no means cheap but is definitely the best I have come across so far and a real investment piece that will see you through pregnancy and beyond – I know I’ll wear mine again after breastfeeding has finished but before my breasts have returned to their normal size.

The ‘English Garden’ style is one of two underwired maternity bras offered by Emily, and they also have a selection of beautiful soft cup maternity bras in addition to a number of wired and non-wired nursing bras. I will definitely be purchasing additional items from the range, and I was very excited to hear from an insider at Emily that a white version of the ‘Paris’ bra is currently in the making, as is a range of ‘basic’ bras in black, white and nude! And if you fancy adding some of this gorgeous lingerie to your maternity/nursing wardrobe, you’ll be delighted to hear that we have an exclusive 20% discount to offer for MumUnplugged readers – simply enter code MUMMY10 at the Emily checkout to receive your discount!

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han!

QQqSummary: Isabella (better known as Belly) measures her life in summers.  She spends the entire year looking forward to those magical months spent at her mom’s best friend(Beck)’s beach house.  The best part of the summer is always Conrad and Jeremiah, Beck’s sons.  Belly has had a crush on Conrad for as long as she can remember, and Jeremiah has always been her best friend.  But Belly has a feeling that this summer, her sixteenth, is special, that things are going to change.

My thoughts:  The Summer I Turned Pretty is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be: a light, fun read with just enough depth to keep the emotional stakes high.

I enjoyed Belly as a character, even though she was a tad whiny.  I LOVE Jeremiah, and I pretty much hate Conrad.  This is essentially a coming of age story, with Belly’s growing up being defined by the change in her relationship with Beck’s boys.  She is no longer happy to be the tormented, tolerated little sister, and she’s trying hard to be seen as a peer.

The story shifts back and forth between the present summer and significant moments from previous summers.  The change in time got a little disorienting occasionally, but I liked the device overall because it really added a lot of depth to the story.

I apologize for the short review today, but what you really need to know is that I liked this book and I’m off to read the sequel.

Final word: (4/5)  Breezy and sun-drenched, this book feels like summer, but nonetheless packs emotional punch.  Fans of Sarah Dessen should enjoy.

Review: The Search by Nora Roberts!

The Search

Summary: Years ago, Fiona Bristow was the only surviving victim of the Red Scarf serial killer.  Today, she’s reinvented herself and is running a successful dog-training school and volunteer canine search and rescue team on Orcas Island.  Simon Doyle, furniture artisan, shows up on her doorstep with an out-of-control Lab puppy and she expects him to be just another client.  For his part, Simon never wanted a dog and he definitely doesn’t want a woman in his life.  However, Fiona and Simon seem to have a chemistry that neither of them expected.  And when a Red Scarf copycat murderer starts a deadly game, it seems his ultimate goal is to finish off Fiona, the only girl who ever escaped.

My thoughtsThis is my first Nora Roberts novel.  Are they all this good?  I am so impressed.

First off, I loved the main characters.  I have rarely seen the perfect opposites/perfect for each other concept pulled off so well.  Fiona is an organized, go-getting, people person.  Simon is a artistic, solitary grouch.  He’s actually kind of a jerk sometimes, but he’s being a jerk for a good reason (is that possible?) so it’s OK.  I seriously loved both Fiona and Simon.  And there’s a pile of supporting characters that were all perfect for their roles.  So, A+ in character.

Plot?  Actually, I felt this story had a lot of plot for what is essentially a romance novel.  Other than the relationship plot line, there’s the serial killer, which managed to be just chilling enough to give me a little thrill up my spine, not so scary that I couldn’t get to sleep.  Perfect.  Though, for those who don’t like mind-of-the-killer writing, you should be aware that a few chapters are written that way.

The dogs were one of my favorite parts of the story. The search-and-rescue and dog-training aspects of the story really added a unique element.  And hey, if you have a dog you want to train, there’s actually a surprising amount of good info in here.  It makes a more… spicy read than your average dog-training manual.

I was very impressed with the quality of the writing as well.  It never felt clunky or overdone, and the dialogue was some of the best I’ve read.  If you enjoy a romance novel with a bit of suspense, this might just be your next favorite read.

Final word: (5/5) I loved this book and will certainly be reading it again.  Can anyone tell me if any of Nora Roberts’ other novels are similar?

Content:  18+ only.  Nora Roberts writes a darn good sex scene… several, actually.  There’s also a serial killer in this story, so you know there’s going to be some violence.  Consider yourself warned.

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