Friday 19 June 2015

'Did I Mention I Love You?' By Estelle Maskame (***.5)

Hello, readers! Today I’ve got a very exciting post for you- a review of Did I Mention I Love You? by the mega-talented Estelle Maskame. When I was first asked if I wanted to review the book by Black&White Publishing, I researched it and was absolutely staggered by the fan base it already had, months before publication! That was when I saw that this epic teen romance was originally self-published on WattPad, and after thousands of frenzied and emotionally charged ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ by hundreds of pre-teens and teenagers, Scottish-based publishing house Black&White Publishing snapped it up like lightning. 

This story is unbelievable in itself, and surely every young aspiring writer’s dream, however what I found the most inspiring in all of this is Estelle Maskame herself. SHE IS SEVENTEEN (well, eighteen now actually- her birthday was this week). That makes her around one month older than me. So for me, personally, I wanted to review this book not only because it sounded like a stonking good read, but also because I wanted to expose further a novel written by a teenager. Estelle is surely a young person that every teenager who has a dream should look up to.

Intrigued? Here’s the blurb…

When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers.

The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler?

Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

So not only do I hugely admire Maskame, but Did I Mention I Love You? was an amazing read that I absolutely zoomed through. If I am completely honest, the writing style took a little getting used to (it sounds like it is written by a teenager- and obviously I am not so used to that- there are not many published teenagers about!) but once I got into it I honestly could not put it down. The protagonist, Eden, is hugely likeable and easy to relate to, and has quirks that every young person can identify with. The writing is incredibly cinematic and I could envision each scene unfolding in my head- let’s keep our fingers crossed for a movie deal! The opening gave a great introduction to the characters and the underlying tension between Eden and her father, which is a recurring theme throughout the entirety of the book.

The only point I could complain about- and it is a picky point- is the realism. It seemed as if in every single chapter Eden would stay out all night, and the next morning would argue with her father, and then by lunchtime all would be well again. This is entirely subjective and a lot of people will probably not agree with me, but I found it a little repetitive.

That being said, I loved every other aspect of the book. All characters were well thought out and worked really well together, and the complex (to say the least) relationship between Eden and Tyler was tumultuous and perfect. I liked the fact that it wasn’t made the sole element of the novel, and there were plenty of other points to keep the reader on their toes. There were many twists and turns and I loved the moments of shock and surprise. The ending was flawless and a great cliffhanger- I could not have wished for a better ending and it made me desperate to have the sequel already!

Altogether, I loved Did I Mention I Love You?, and if you love teenage romance novels, you will love DIMILY. Also, the fact that it is written by a teenager makes it all the more special.

Want to grab a copy? You can pre-order it here:

Check out Estelle Maskame here:

Until next time :) 

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Interview with 'The Underwriting' author Michelle Miller

Hello, readers! I'm sorry I haven't been that active recently but exams finished TODAY and I am SO READY FOR SUMMER. Literally. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. 

But anyway, I'm going to get on with today's post, which is an interview with the wonderful Michelle Miller. I feel very lucky to be interviewing her; a) because The Underwriting was absolutely fantastic and b) Michelle Miller has been in some very fancy features and glossy magazine pages... and now she is on Delightful Book Reviews. I'm not saying it's a step down or anything, I'm just pointing it out.
Anyway. Rambling over. I was lucky enough to interview Michelle, wanting to know about the story behind The Underwriting, the real Silicon Valley, and in what ways The Underwriting is a feminist text.

How did you find inspiration to write The Underwriting?
I was working for JP Morgan in Silicon Valley in 2012: Grinder (the location-based dating app for gay men) was on fire, the Facebook IPO was making hundred-millionaires of 30 year olds, and Wall Street was under attack from Occupy protestors: there was so much material, I couldn’t help myself!

In The Underwriting, are the Silicon Valley characters completely fabricated, or are they based a little on people you’ve encountered?
I believe all the characters could exist, but none of them are based on real people, except for one, who shall remain nameless. Also Stephen Hartley, who is one of my best friends and deserved the shout out he got in Chapter One.

Is Wall Street as glamorous as it is made out to be?
God, no! The reality of Wall Street is insanely long hours in front of Excel models, surrounded by competitive people waiting for you to screw up, running against the pressure to ‘hit your numbers.’ This is occasionally interrupted by a ‘blow out’ night of excess, in which bankers rationalize the sacrifice of personal life, health and happiness by spending lots and lots of money.

What is it like being a woman in this environment?
For women my age - 30 - it’s a mixed bag, and I tried to show that in the book. There are certainly disadvantages - unconscious biases, being left out of social events - but there are also advantages - attention by virtue of being the only girl in the room, special mentorship programs, clients who prefer working with women. It really depends on the firm, the sector of finance you’re in, and (most importantly) the values that you as an individual woman hold.

What did you want The Underwriting to do in terms of reverting expectations?
I wanted to humanize Wall Street and Silicon Valley by showing the contexts of “stereotypical” characters within them. I hoped that by exploring the feelings and pressures and fears of these people, readers would understand them - and their real-life counterparts, and the news headlines they drive - a little better.

Can The Underwriting be read as a feminist text? What do you want your readers to take from it?
I hope readers take away a more nuanced understanding of the pressures and trade-offs both women and men face in the present age. I think there was a time when gender issues were a hockey match - us against them, winners and losers - now it’s more like figure skating. Still slippery, but more nuanced and more subjective in terms of determining what winning means. 

Thank you so much for being on my blog, Michelle!

Check out Michelle Miller and The Underwriting here:

Check out my 5* review of The Underwriting here:

Order The Underwriting here:

Until next time :)

Monday 15 June 2015

'The Underwriting' by Michelle Miller (*****)

Happy Monday, readers! If you're not following me on twitter (and want to, of course feel free to follow me) then you will be unaware of my persistent tweeting last week about a wonderful book I finished reading, called The Underwriting by the ever-so talented Michelle Miller. I have talked to you before about FMcM and the wonderful YA and Adult books they have sent me these last few months, exposing me to authors and publishers I would not have come across otherwise. Well, The Underwriting is one of those books. When I was first told about it I had never heard of it, then later I discovered it started off as an online web-series, and was published in the USA last year. It is published in the UK on June 25th, and I highly recommend you all go and get a copy, because it is AMAZING.

I was kindly sent The Underwriting by FMcM in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Here's the blurb...

The Social Network meets The Wolf of Wall Street in The Underwriting, as it takes you behind closed doors into a post-recession world of sex scandals, power plays, and underhanded dealings.
Todd Kent is young, hot, and on his way to the top of Wall Street when the eccentric founder of Hook, the popular new dating app, handpicks him to lead its IPO. Given just two months to pull it off, Todd and his investment banking team brainy Neha, party-boy Beau, and old college flame Tara Taylor race to close the $14 billion deal of the decade. It's the chance of a lifetime for Tara, too, who sees her opportunity to break through the glass ceiling and justify six years of sacrifices for her career. But nothing is what it seems in Silicon Valley, and when tragedy strikes Stanford University's campus, there's no telling where the sparks will fly.

This is definitely one of those books I never thought I would adore, or even understand (the words 'investment' and 'banking' didn't fill me with confidence). I've never read a book like this before, but I was so pleasantly surprised at how engaged I was in the plot and the lives of all the characters. In the novel you follow the lives of Todd, Tara, Kelly, Charlie, Amanda, Juan and Nick with their entourage of business beetles scuttling within the walls of Wall Street and Silicon valley. 

Who knew investment banking could be this entertaining?!

There was nothing I could fault in this book. The characters were vivid, flawed, carefully crafted; you loved to hate them and even deliriously admired them at times. In particular, Todd Kent was someone whom I instantly disliked, yet when the book drew to a close I realised that he was one of the male characters whom I hated least. The plot was fast-moving and fluid; I was carried away with it and thoroughly caught up in the chaos until the final page. Miller herself, as a former employee of J.P. Morgan, casts an all-seeing and ruthless eye on the sparkling world where no one sleeps. It is clear that this book was not simply created to entertain. Miller leaves us as the readers to evaluate whether this is a world that should be allowed to exist, and whether some of the richest people in the world, who are behind our most well-loved apps and programs, should be allowed to carry on the way they are. 

Furthermore, Miller also showed us what it is like to be in the minority, and how social diseases such as sexism, homophobia and racism does not appear to faze most in the cut-throat world of Wall Street.

THE ENDING. Throughout the whole book I kept on wondering to myself, 'How is this going to end? What's going to happen to *character name*?' 'Will Hook go through?' But I couldn't guess at any of the answers. The ending was horrific, delightful, terrifying. The ending a book like The Underwriting should have, to remind readers that despite all preconceptions, Wall Street is not a place for happy endings. Not everyone comes out alive.

I thoroughly recommend that you, your mum, your grandpa and your uncle's dog go out on June 25th and buy this book. It will keep you captivated until the very last page, I promise you.

Buy The Underwriting here:

Check out Michelle Miller and The Underwriting here:

I have an interview coming up with Michelle Miller on Wednesday! Stay tuned!

Until next time :)