Being a part of Blog Tours is always satisfying as a book blogger and when it’s with one of your favorite & fun to work with publisher [AvonBooksUK] it’s a happy occasion for the blog. So grab a drink preferably a yummy milkshake and sit back to read my review of Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox and a guest post, where Helen talks about her 5 favorite books about America and why she recommends these books. Hope this takes you to a world of American diners and some New York glamour.
That’s the sparkly cover with some yummy looking milkshakes complete with sparklers 🙂 pretty cool, eh!
About The Book:
Title: Milkshakes & Heartbreaks [Starlight Diners 1]
Author: Helen Cox
Publisher: Maze [An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.]
Published: July 2016
Rating: 4/5 stars
A witty, romantic, New York-inspired novel.
‘With its shades of light and dark, this delicious debut is a page-turner you’d be mad to miss’ SAMANTHA TONGE
Esther Knight is sharp, sarcastic – and hiding something. She waitresses at The Starlight Diner: a retro eatery where Fifties tunes stream out of the jukebox long into the night, and the tastiest milkshakes in New York are served.
Nobody at the diner knows why Esther left London for America – or why she repeatedly resists the charms of their newest regular, actor Jack Faber.
Esther is desperate to start a new life in the land of the free, but despite the warm welcome from the close-knit diner crowd, something from her past is holding her back. Can she ever learn to love and live again?
Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner is a witty, romantic, New York-inspired novel.
Main characters profession: Teacher turned waitress and Newbie rom-com actor.
Besides my thoughts on the story I also have an author feature, where Helen tells us about books on America.
Milkshakes and Heartbreaks, right from the title and blurb it promises a story set in the backdrop of a 50s style diner in New York which serves the best milkshakes in town. I expected a happy, humorous story with some quirky characters and some New York style wit and humor. That said the story is a pleasant surprise, it is heart wrenching and heartwarming rolled into one. The main characters Esther and Jack are 2 lost Brit souls trying to start afresh, new and trying to forget their dead pasts. The diner brings them together and gives the reader an interesting story which as it unfolds is parts tragic, sad, goofy, and hopeful with lots of love in between the lines.
From being secretive about their past to fainting and punching when faced with the ghosts of their pasts there are quite a few twists and turns in this laid back story. The hustle and bustle of modern times is left outside the diner doors, once inside you get milkshakes and oldies with crossword questions and some brooding actors looking for solace and unexpected hope and love. The story inside the diner is laid back reminder of times gone by where the waitresses are nosy, gossipy and always in each other’s business. The staff of starlight diner may be nosy but offer each other friendship and support which gives the story a pleasant angle.
The romantic pull between Esther and Jack is sweet, they keep fighting their mutual attraction, come together only to be pulled apart on live television no less. While they nurse their wounds, deal with their dead pasts slowly they find their way back to each other when Jack’s past is hell bent on dragging him back to darkness and making him part of the dead. The way the story twists and turns was fun to read about and the ending is a cliff hanger. The ending while gives a fair indication of the lead characters having a logical ending also hints at the new entries and who the next turn will feature. I for one enjoyed reading about the lost Brits in New York and am looking forward to the story in Book 2. It is not your regular bright, full of sunshine and happiness type of romance, it is instead a very real like romance full with real life dramas and passionate shenanigans lovers get up to which are definitely cinema worthy. Hope you enjoy this story which is a bit dark in emotions, mind it only a bit, but with generous helps of hope, dance, humor and mature romance.
Guest Post by the Author – Helen Cox
Five Books About America
I specialized in American literature during my master’s degree, and my love for American authors never really subsided. Ever since then, I’ve read broadly of authors from the other side of the Atlantic, and today I’m going to recommend five titles that I think have some very important things to say about the world we live in.
This list below was a difficult one to write as there is so much in American literature to recommend. In the end, I decided to assume that you’d already devoured The Yellow Wall-Paper, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Beloved, The Bell Jar and the short stories of James Baldwin. If not, those come recommended too. But I’ve tried to think of some other titles that are perhaps not always recommended first.
- Travels With Charlie. Steinbeck’s novels are incredibly famous but this title is a narrative non-fiction travel journal that sees the author, and his dog Charlie, travel across America in the 1960s. Steinbeck’s prose has won praise the world over but perhaps what is particularly engrossing about this book, is how closely the real America mirrors the themes and issues addressed in his fiction work.
Though Steinbeck is travelling America roughly thirty years after he penned of Mice and Men, he still encounters daily conflict relating to racial, economic and gender inequality. Forcing the reader to question if progress will ever be made in these areas for those living on American soil.
- Kindred: In this novel Octavia E. Butler fuses historical and science-fiction as Dana, an African-American writer, is transported back in time to a plantation during the slavery era.
As you might imagine, this book is, in places, a difficult read but it is gripping right from the beginning and calls into question some of the comforting lies that history had, by the time this novel was published in 1979, woven around the idea of slavery in order to make it feel less shameful. It was a courageous book to write and it is hard to read it and not be moved.
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Poet and writer, Maya Angelou was challenged by James Baldwin to write an autobiography that could pass for literature. Angelou, who faced many a challenge in her life, did not falter on this one.
There’s a very special mood created when reading this book, in which Angelou depicts her early life in Arkansas. There’s a sense that absolutely every last word is right where it was destined to be. Throughout the book she uses rich imagery and doesn’t shy away from discussing even the most painful aspects of her formative years. It’s an honest book, full of courage, much like Angelou herself.
- Revolutionary Road. Written in 1961 by Richard Yates, this book depicts the problems faced by a married couple living in 1950s suburbia. Not only is it beautifully written but it sensitively explores the problematic nature of masculine and feminine roles at this time.
In addition to this, Yates boldly depicts some of the less-talked about psychological and physical consequences of unresolved identity issues within a marriage, making this book an absorbing but sobering read.
- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. This is an August Wilson play written in 1982. It only came to my attention a couple of months ago when I watched a production at the National Theatre and I can’t believe it’s taken me all these years to discover it.
Set in Chicago in the 1920s, the plot revolves around singer Ma Rainey and her musicians who are cutting a record in a recording studio. The play closely examines the theme of power, particularly on a racial level, and cleverly juggles both humour and tragedy from beginning to end.
Book Buy Links:
Milkshakes & Heartbreaks: Amazon India
About the Author:
After qualifying for her MA in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of York St John, Helen moved to London to pursue a career as a writer.
She has since written editorial for TV, radio, websites, magazines and blogs providing commentary on a range of topics including film, literature, travel and feminism. The publications she has written for include The Guardian, The Spectator, movieScope Magazine and Film4.Com. She is also a qualified teacher and an experienced lecturer in English, film and media.
For five years, Helen edited an independent magazine called New Empress Magazine and has since written several non-fiction volumes. Helen’s first non-fiction book: True Love is Like the Loch Ness Monster (and other lessons I’ve learnt from film) was published in 2012. Her second non-fiction book: Fading Ads of London was published in March 2014 closely followed by her third non-fiction book: The Girl On The Bridge: The Tees Transporter.
Anybody wishing to get in touch with Helen regarding writing opportunities should contact her agent Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson.
For other queries or messages you can contact Helen direct at: Helenography at gmail dot com
Reviewed by Bharti