Monday, 30 November 2015

Books I'm Squeeing About in December

December already, and another year almost done! It's been quite a hectic and stressful few weeks here with Mum heading into hospital. However she is out and on the mend now which is a huge relief! As a result I'm spending most of my time reading books I've had sat on my shelves or kindle for ages, trying to tidy up and finish series before the end of the year rather than pick up new releases. These two look too intriguing for me to pass them by, so these are the books I'm squeeing about this month!

1st December - The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman
Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, this novel has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues. Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam's older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process. 

I'll be honest, it was the title that caught my eye, but that blurb has me thoroughly intrigued. I could do with a good urban fantasy and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this one.

1st December - Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot
Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.
Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.

French historical? Yes please! I love historical novels, and I'm particularly enjoying delving into anything set in France and trying to fill in a few gaps in my French history. Catherine de Medicis is a fascinating historical figure and I'm looking forward to seeing a little of her daughter in this exciting new novel.

Are you curious about either of these titles? Or are there any others you think I should be reading this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Review: Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain

Publication Date: December 8th 2015
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Length: 224 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man--except for the one that struck.
When Nicole Reed's father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it's too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole's father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow's disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?
Side note: It really frustrates me when covers are designed by people who have clearly never read the book. Why is she wearing a hat and a blanket? The entire book takes place in the middle of summer when it’s stupidly hot and there are forest fires coming for them.
It’s always a bad sign when you want to shake 90% of the characters in a book. Alas, ‘Instructions for the End of the World’ has that in spades, in fact I think there was only one character that didn’t frustrate me. It also might be my book of the year for truly terrible parenting. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such a bunch of awful, unfit to have children parents in some time. You have Wolf’s mother who is completely self-absorbed and tries to bring everyone into the drama of her life. Then Nicole and Isabel’s parents – one of whom it emerges never wanted children and willingly leaves her kids with their slightly unstable father in the middle of nowhere with no intentions to come back and rescue them.
Good job parents.
Then there are the kids, who are slightly screwed up but no less frustrating. There was so much potential here with both Nicole and Isabel and the situations they find themselves in, but it didn’t feel like the book was ever fully allowed to explore them, it just glossed over the top and as a result any emotional impact was lost. It also makes both of the girls decisions really hard to understand, particularly in the end of the novel where I just wanted to introduce my head to the desk for a while and weep for the idiocy.
There are several character viewpoints: Wolf, Nicole and her sister Isabel – all reasonable. But then we have one random other view point from Laurel who gets a grand total of two chapters out of the book and feels like a secondary character arc that was meant to be expanded into something, but instead was left as a beginning and an end.

Whilst the concept was fascinating, I never really connected with the characters or the story. I wanted to get drawn into the situation, to feel for these people, but I felt like nothing was really driving the events – there was no real plot to speak of. I ended up just feeling apathetic and mildly frustrated, and wishing for the story I thought I’d be diving into when I opened this book.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Top 10 Books That I'm Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by the lovely folks over at 'The Broke & The Bookish' - to join in simply follow the link!

This week to celebrate Thanksgiving, The Broke and the Bookish have tasked us with listing bookish things we're thankful. I decided to go the traditional route and list the ten books/series that I adore. I know I talk about them already from time to time, but today I want to let them shine in all their glory as I explain (again) exactly why I love these books and why they mean so much to me.

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
(Alanna: The First Adventure/In The Hand of the Goddess/The Woman Who Rides Like a Man/Lioness Rampant)
As you know by now, these books were my first foray into the world of fantasy. They shaped my love of books, my love of fantasy lands, of magic, of strong female characters. These books did so much for little me, and she had no idea when she picked up that strange book with the purple eyed cat on the cover, exactly how it would shape her bookish loves.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
(The Raven Boys/The Dream Thieves/Blue Lily, Lily Blue/The Raven King)
We haven't even had the last book in the series yet (which, by the way, is going to completely emotionally destroy me. I can't wait.) but this series is a defintie favourite and one I am eternally thankful for. You don't realize when you first start reading The Raven Boys after reading that terrible blurb, just how special that book and the series really are. They creep up on you until you are so in love with these boys and Blue, with the magic and the impossibleness of it all, that you cannot ever imagine a time when you didn't know and love this book.

The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
(The Duke & I/The Viscount Who Loved Me/An Offer From a Gentleman/Romancing Mr Bridgerton/To Sir Philip With Love/When He Was Wicked/It's In His Kiss/On The Way to the Wedding)
Over a decade ago I read 'It's in His Kiss'. It was the first historical romance I ever read, and it sparked a love for the genre that is alive and well to this day. My Mum bribed me into studying for my exams with Julia Quinn's books, and I loved escaping the humdrum necessity of studying for these sweeping romances, dashing heroes and witty heroines. I adore this series, and no matter how many other historical romances I may read, I always come back to the Bridgertons.
The Discworld Series by Sir Terry Pratchett
I've read a few Discworld's over the years, but I never really got thoroughly sucked into the Discworld until recently. On discovering that I was reading 'The Shepherd's Crown' without ever having read any other Witches's thread books, my lovely friend Sarah shrieked and demanded that I go back to the start and do it properly. So I am. I'm falling in love with these books in ways I never expected to, and I'm loving going through and actually exploring the world and the series properly for the first time. This series redefined what fantasy books could be. They're bitingly funny, full of brilliance, and no matter how late to the party I am, I am so thankful that we were graced with so many books in this series by Pratchett.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I don't think I will ever be able to adequately put into words just how much I love this book. There is something indefinable about it, something magical and haunting that leaves you feeling like you have just spent several weeks on Thisby when you turn the final page. If I could move to Thisby tomorrow I would. I love the island, the characters, the horses, the rituals and festivals and traditions, the November cakes and cinnamon twists. This book is indescribably special to me, one I revisit again and again.

The Lynburn Legacy & The Demon's Trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan
(Unspoken/Untold/Unmade) (The Demon's Lexicon/The Demon's Covenant/The Demon's Surrender)
Sarah's books are amazing. They're funny, they're clever, they're heart wrenching and dark and will rip your heart out and smush it about a little before giving it back to you. Plus, I now have proof that they are for everyone after shoving them into Husband's arms and having him go feral when I with held the final book in the Lynburn Legacy from him for five minutes...
Her books are like nothing I've ever read before, the perfect blend of humour and darkness, brilliant characters, imaginative plots and utterly sublime writing. I will forever be thankful to that random day of googling 14 year old me did that led me to Sarah's writing.

The Lady Julia Grey Series by Deanna Raybourn
(Silent in the Grave/Silent in the Sanctuary/Silent on the Moor/The Dark Road to Darjeeling/The Dark Enquiry)
I stumbled across the first book in the series quite by accident and was immediately hooked. Deanna creates such startlingly real characters, flawed, human and utterly fascinating. Add in world building with some of the most thorough research to truly bring the day to day existence of these characters to life, and complex and intriguing plots that keep you on your toes and you hit perfection. I love Julia and Brisbane and all of Julia's colourful family, I love the mysteries that leave me breathless and tense even now after multiple re-readings, and I love the careful balance of darkness and light that truly brings these stories to life.

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
Do I really need to say anything more? I grew up with Harry, Ron & Hermione. They brought light into dark times, they took me on their adventures with them, and they taught me all the ways to be brave. I'm so thankful for this incredible series.

The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas
(The Assassin's Blade/Throne of Glass/Crown of Midnight/Heir of Fire/Queen of Shadows)
When I first picked up 'Throne of Glass', I will admit, I wasn't convinced. But within a few pages I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. I was thoroughly enthralled by the world, by the bad ass heroine, by the magic and general awesomeness. That feeling has only grown with each subsequent book. And the best part? This year I passed the first book in the series to my husband, unsure what response it would get. We ended up fighting over who would get to read 'Queen of Shadows' first...

The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
If I cannot got to Thisby or Hogwarts, I want to visit The Dells and the Seven Kingdoms. They're so vibrant, so fascinating, filled with magic and peopled with intriguing characters. I love how different and complex these three heroines are, how they portray different facets of stereotypes and then tip them on their head and show such developed characters. I love their stories, the slow unraveling of mysteries and plots that are always so much more than I expect. Simply put, I adore these books.

So there you have the top ten books/series that I am insanely thankful for. Basically a chance for me to wax lyrical about ten of my all time favourites, would grab from the shelves if my flat was on fire. They have all had a huge impact on my life in some way or another and I adore them. Are any of these long term favourites for you? Any that you're interested in picking up after seeing why I love them? Let me know and link me to your Thanksgiving Top Ten Thankful lists in the comments below!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Review: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Publication Date: April 9th 2013 (audiobook release)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 7hrs 29 mins

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship--the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

So many people have loved this book, so many people whose bookish overlap mine, so I was expecting to love this book when I finally sat down to listen to it. Unfortunately it ended up being a bit of a rocky road. I don’t know if it was that I didn’t get along with listening to it and would have loved it had I decided to read it instead, or whether I was in the wrong frame of mind, but this novel and I really did not get along until around 80% of the way through. And that was heart-breaking.

I couldn’t connect with the characters, I found both Ari and Dante frustrating. I was irritated by the emotional swings – people crying all the time. The writing style was at times abrasive and abrupt, intermittently littered with truly beautiful prose. It was just such a mix and I couldn’t settle into the story.

Finally at around the 80% mark I settled more into the rhythm of the story and found myself beginning to really care about these characters, so by the end I was thoroughly engrossed in the story, but it was so frustrating for it to have taken that long to pull me in.

There is so much to love about this story though. Like I said, it has some truly gorgeous prose and some really profoundly beautiful phrases and quotes that I loved. I loved the content, the subject matter tackled, the two polar opposites we find in Ari and Dante. I loved their parents. Too often in young adult fiction parents are portrayed as awful, absent, or ignored completely. Here both Ari and Dante’s parents are complex individuals who round out the story and complete it in ways that would never be achieved if the focus was purely on the two boys. Their love for each other shines through, and each of them is individual bringing their own fears, hopes, and personalities to the narrative.

I think part of the problem for me was that the story is incredibly slow. There is no driving force to the plot to really propel it and keep the momentum going. It ambles, it pauses, it takes tangents, and at times that can be incredibly frustrating. I think that would have been less of a problem for me had I been reading this, but listening to someone else take these narrative rambles didn’t hold my interest.

I can see why people love this book. I can see why others have found it frustrating and hard to engage with. It isn’t a favourite for me – yet. I think this is one of those times I need to go away and forget it for a few years, then come back and read it rather than listen to it. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Review: One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare

Publication Date: May 25th 2010
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Length: 384 pages

A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members--yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing "Duke of Midnight." Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke--until Lady Amelia d'Orsay tries""her luck. 
In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke's dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother's debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club's founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?

Every now and again you need a good romance to sweep you off your feet and since I had such a wonderful experience reading my first novel by Tessa Dare earlier this year, I was eager to go back and fill in the gaps with some of her other novels. Enter the ‘Duke of Midnight’ who had me intrigued just from the blurb and I couldn’t wait to see whether he live up to all of that anticipation.

Short answer? Sort of.

The novel gets off to a glorious start that had me laughing out loud at the sheer plucky nerve of our heroine Amelia, and the banter between her and Spencer. I loved the whirlwind of their romance, how quickly they fall together and how their relationship unfurls. I was utterly swept away.

But then it all starts to get a little bit murky. I really struggled both with Spencer and Amelia’s inability to truly communicate with each other and their inability to compromise. Add in Amelia’s truly baffling defence of her brother, who has a gambling problem and at no point shows any sort of love or affection for Amelia and I was becoming increasingly frustrated. Blindness over loved ones is fair enough, but because we never see any reason or reciprocation of that love, Amelia’s blind faith and defence of her brother just become irritating to read. That leads into a snowball effect where both Amelia and Spencer become increasingly unlikeable and I just wanted to sit them down and give them a stern talking to.

However, despite this I had too much love for Amelia and Spencer built up over the first half to truly despair. It got me thoroughly intrigued about the other boys and their stories, and was just the kind of escapism read that I needed. It doesn’t rank as one of my favourite historical romances, but it does have a lot to love. Fluff, romance, feisty heroines and dashing heroes galore.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: How To Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Length: 288 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.
Reeling from her mother's death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave - all the things she's wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she's always been afraid to do - including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn't always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most - and you learn that you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Something about this book just didn’t click with me, so whilst I saw a huge amount of love for it before I started and I was expecting to love it myself, we never really hit it off.

At the start of the novel I was engaged, interested in these characters and their problems and I loved the idea of the living with no fear list – all things combining to set up a truly great novel. But then it starts to drift. Georgia starts to smoke, do drugs, skip school, and all in the name of her mother’s memory and this list of living with no fear. She acts as though what she’s doing is living, when she’s actually just throwing it all away. Whilst she does realise how badly she’s screwed up later in the novel it felt like too little too late after the borderline glorification of taking drugs etc. that occurs throughout.

With the drugs everything seems to spiral and it turns into a very different novel to the one I started out reading. It loses focus, it drifts, Georgia spends a lot of time isolating and feeling sorry for herself and sabotaging her life and it’s frustrating to read. It also serves to make Georgia come across as extremely unlikeable as she blames her dead mother for the fact that she forced her to live without fear – to do this list in the first place. At no point does Georgia’s mother force her to create this list, or to do anything on it. It’s an interpretation of her wishes that Georgia devises and then spends a good portion of the novel being angry about. As a result my empathy for her decreased sharply and by the end I really didn’t care for her at all.

Throw in a love story with a caricature of the hot guy from school who we never really get to know, or get to see and understand the attraction between them for the three scenes they have together, and I was more than a little grumpy by the end of the novel.

It has its good moments, some truly emotional scenes that had me feeling more than a little bit teary, but they aren’t enough to balance out the problematic aspects. Ultimately it’s a quick read that sadly lacks anything to truly make it shine.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Top 10 Quotes I Loved From Books I've Read This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by the wonderful folks over at 'The Broke & The Bookish' - to join in simply follow the link!

Today it is all about those quotes that have stayed with me long after I've turned the final page and moved onto the next book. There have been so many good books and amazing quotes this year that it was really hard to narrow it down to just ten. However, for you guys, I did it.
Below are a mix of quotes from older books I read for the first time this year, and books who hit the shelves in the last eleven months that I absolutely adored!

"Today I know we are merely humans. Two flawed, imperfect, mortal beings, whose bones will one day crumble to dust. Just a woman and a man." - One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare

"I have this day been abducted, nearly drowned, and stabbed a man with a hatpin. I am unsinkable, Stoker. Do your worst." - A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

"And this is because people are riddled by Doubt. It is the engine that drives them through their lives. It is the elastic band in the little model aeroplane of their soul, and they spend their time winding it up until it knots. Early morning is the worst time - there's that little moment of panic in case You have drifted away in the night and something else has moved in. This never happened to Granny Weatherwax. She went straight from fast asleep to instant operation on all six cylinders. She never needed to find herself because she always knew who was doing the looking." - Witches Abroad by Sir Terry Pratchett

“There are no ghosts; only the dust in the light, our breath and the wind in the quiet, and the feeling that something, or a lot of somethings, are watching us. So maybe there are ghosts after all.” - The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

"Don't bother me with your hormones. I'm reading.”  - The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan


“She knew that the dead hid pieces of themselves in the world. They buried organs in the living. They stuffed memories into trees and clouds and other innocuous things.” - A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

"And then he was kissing me like we were both on fire and he was trying to put the flames out, and I kissed him back like an arsonist with a pocket full of matches." - Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

"We do not start as dust. We do not end as dust. We make more than dust. That's all we ask of you. Make more than dust." - Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

“You don't know when you're twenty-three.
You don't know what it really means to crawl into someone else's life and stay there. You can't see all the ways you're going to get tangled, how you're going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten - in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.
She didn't know at twenty-three.” - Landline by Rainbow Rowell

So there you have my top ten quotes from books I've read this year. Do you agree with my choices? Have we picked some of the same ones? And are you now curious about any of the books on here based purely on one quote alone? Let me know and link me to your own list's in the comments below!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Publication Date: November 10th 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 272 pages

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore. 
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.
But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.
Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

That blurb has had me all kinds of excited since the start of the year, and this has been one of my most eagerly anticipated reads, so you can imagine my disappointment when the blurb turned out to be filled with over exagerations.
Steeped in Chinese folklore? I’m sorry, where is this? If you change the names of the characters there is literally nothing that makes this stand out as being particularly Chinese. I was so excited about having a diverse and interesting new read for the autumn, filled with folklore that I couldn’t wait to learn more about. What I got was a poorly constructed story that had very little drive to it and lacked any real links to China or its folklore except in the names.

It’s a short book to begin with so I really shouldn’t have found my interest lagging at any point, but that’s precisely what happens. The story meanders along at its own pace with a very basic plot that never really explores its full potential. There are a couple of interesting darker aspects but I never really felt  though they were given enough weight or depth of exploration, and as a result the parts that intrigued me the most were mostly swept under the rug. Then the final climax takes on a thoroughly different approach and feel to the rest of the book, suddenly throwing in bizarre fantasy elements that have been absent up to that point. It’s a really strange and surprisingly unsatisfying ending.

With a slow and basic story you really need an interesting and engaging central character to drive the story and keep the reader focussed, but again ‘Soundless’ came up short. Fei was nice enough and very brave, but I never connected with her. I think that may be in part due to the narrative style, but it meant that I never really fell in love with her, never rooted for her or feared for her. I felt merely mild interest in her plight and didn’t feel any emotional connection to her relationships. The relationship between her and her sister was particularly puzzling as it never felt fully formed, and Fei never comes across as the younger sibling, more like an older sibling desperately playing the care taker.

The narrative style keeps you emotionally distant and whilst on the whole it’s quite formal and stilted, presumably to try and keep the traditional storytelling/fable feel, there are quite a few instances where bizarrely modern language and phrases creep in which are quite jarring.

All in all this was not the book I was hoping to read, and it didn’t even remotely live up to my expectations. It was a decent enough story, competently told, but lacking any of the diversity and excitement that had been promised in the blurb. Thrown in the frustrating narrative style that keeps you at arms length from the characters and the slow moving plot and I was left feeling more than a little grumpy on finishing this one.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Review: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Piatkus/Little Brown
Length: 400 pages

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Piatkus/Little Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

A twist of fate…
Devon Ravenel, London's most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl's three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon's own.
A clash of wills…
Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny - and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:
Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she's ever known?

Sometimes you just need to curl up with a good chicken soup read, and for me chicken soup is a good historical romance. I haven’t had a huge amount of experience with Lisa Kleypas so I was a little hesitant going in, but luckily I had nothing to fear.

I was instantly swept up in this story, I loved the characters (flaws and all) I loved the witty banter, and I loved the languorous pacing of the story that really allows you to get to know the characters intimately and makes the relationships infinitely more believable.

Some rare novels manage to capture the day to day life of a family or household without getting lost in mundane details so that it feels like you’re there, a part of that family, a part of those experiences, and you feel a pang of loss when you’ve finished. You want to go back and re-experience, to banter with them a little longer. This is one of those novels for me. I loved how Kleypas unfolds the characters over a period of time so that the relationships felt real, they had a solid basis that made the rest of the novel so much more enjoyable to sink into.

I did have a few little gripes with how Devon and Kathleen treat each other at a few points, but on the whole I really loved their dynamic and the chemistry was off the charts.My biggest gripe was with Helen and her relationship with Rhys. I was really sold on it to start with and then at the end of the book his behaviour was utterly appalling. It felt like it came out of nowhere just to create conflict for the end of this book and to set up a conflict with the start of the next book. I felt like the same issue could have been achieved without blackening his character quite so firmly. As it is I’m looking forward to the second book but it’s going to take a lot to try and restore Rhys to my good graces. Not an ideal starting point with a romance.

However despite my issues above, I loved everything about this book. It was fun, it was deliciously steamy, and the perfect autumn read. This is definitely a book for curling up by the fire with. I was left more than a little in love, both with Kathleen and Devon, but also with the other girls. I really loved their set up in this book and I cannot wait to get to know them properly over the rest of the series and see each of them get their own happily ever after.

If you’re a fan of Lisa Kleypas this is a must read. If you’re a fan of historical romance then this is definitely a must read. And if you’re after a steamy and brilliantly written book to curl up with this winter then you really should order this one right now.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Publication Date: November 10th 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Children’s Books
Length: 385 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster UK Children’s Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.
After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.
But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.
As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

‘Dangerous Lies’ ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand I was caught up by the story and found myself picking it up at odd moments, desperate to read just a few more pages whenever I had time. On the other hand, problems galore.

Let’s start with the biggie, Stella herself who is one of the most unlikeable heroines I’ve read this year. She’s whiney, she’s self-centred, she says some of the most awful things imaginable (I frequently did double takes, particularly when she’s thinking/talking about Innie’s pregnancy, because dear god girl put some kind of mouth filter thought process in place.) and she’s an all round not nice person. That makes it hard to root for her and to want to see her story through. Sure she does have some character development throughout the story but it’s not really enough and left me wanting to shake her at various points.

Side note: what on earth were they thinking when they put her into witness protection and changed her name from Estella to Stella?!... And Stella’s response to that name. Surely with a name like Estella, her name is going to have been shortened to Stella at some point in her life? Everything around the name change/her real name made my head hurt.

Some of it was really well done, other parts just seemed overblown and clichéd. I loved the slow ambling plot, just seeing Stella get used to Thunder Basin and its residents and watching her try to fit in. The day to day existence was great to see and I really enjoyed those parts of it. But then there was everything else, and those were the points that didn’t work quite so well.

We’ve got Stella’s boyfriend Reed who gets sent elsewhere for protection. The only way we really got to know Reed was through his letters that Stella had managed to smuggle out to Thunder Basin with her. Lovely idea, poorly executed. Reed comes across as an absolute arse, really truly unlikeable, Stella why are you bothering with this guy? It made her devotion to him seem completely unexplainable; add in that as soon as he’s declared missing she goes from pining and trying to get in touch with him to ‘oh well, make out time!’ and it’s even more bizarre. That his story is left so unfinished with no real ending or resolution is the icing on the grumpy cake. (Side note: Thanks so much Becca Fitzpatrick for doing a disservice to Fibromyalgia sufferers everywhere by including a little talked about illness and painting it atrociously. That really made me furious.)

The other characters are mixed, I enjoyed seeing Chet and Carmine and their interactions, but anything involving Trigger or Stella’s Mum seemed contrived and one dimensional. The rest of the characters are a hodge podge that make the town feel bigger but don’t really manage to be memorable.

Then there’s the plot. I’ve already said how much I loved the slow, hazy summer days – that was really well done. However a lot of the elements to do with the Witness Protection and the case were poorly handled. A lot of backstory was smushed in in one big info dump and the big climax happened in the last twenty pages or so with no real build up or pay off. It felt completely random. As a result I found it really hard to rate this one, but have ultimately gone for the lower rating simply because after a few days thinking about it the frustrations and gripes are winning out over the good points.

If you enjoy slow day to day existences and a gradual unfurling relationship then you’ll love the romance in this one. However if you’re picking it up purely for the crime/thriller aspects then it really doesn’t live up to expectations.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Top 10 Book To Movie Adaptations I Need/Can't Wait to See

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely folks over at 'The Broke & The Bookish' - to join in simply follow the link!

This week it is all about the book to film adaptations. I'm always eager to see what an adaptation has done with a book, how faithful they've been, what they've changed, and to see a story I love in a whole new medium. So here are my top ten nine films (and one TV show...) that I cannot wait to get some popcorn and settle down to watch.

Mockingjay Part II
Mockingjay was an interesting book and I wasn't sure how it would translate to screen. I know Part I divided a lot of opinions, but I actually really loved it. In fact I think it might be my favourite of the films. So Part II has some big shoes to fill but I have very high hopes. Each film has steadily improved upon the previous and I am so excited (and you know, quietly devastated) to see the final part on screen.

The Book Thief
I can't quite believe I haven't seen this yet, but it is sat on my to watch pile staring at me...

Paper Towns
It didn't come out in France for ages, and then once it did it was nigh on impossible to find a showing we could actually go to that was in English, so I missed this one in the cinema despite my best efforts. I enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars and the trailer looked really good for Paper Towns, so despite not really enjoying the book I'm very much looking forward to watching the film.
Pride & Prejudice and Zombies
This film feels like it's been in production forever. It has been years since I first saw articles about casting, and yet now finally, finally it is almost here. The teaser trailer followed by the full trailer have me giddy with excitement, this one looks like it's going to be a blast.

Another one that feels like it's been in production forever, I have been desperate for this film for years. The combination of a slightly irreverent adaptation of Frankenstein, plus James MacAvoy, plus Daniel Radcliffe is basically just a big fat yes. I am so excited for this, I cannot wait to finally see it after all this time.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
So not technically a book to film adaptation, but it's kinda in the same category, and oh boy am I excited for this one. Anything Potter is a big yes please and with every tidbit of news and casting my excitement gains momentum. I'm going to be a gibbering wreck of excitement by the time I sit down to watch this in the cinema.

So my thoughts on the final Divergent book are complicated. I've really enjoyed the films so far despite all the changes, so I'm quite curious to see how they handle the final book. I'm frustrated they've gone the route of chopping it into two parts because really, did it need that? But given the title change for the very last film I'm quite curious to see what plot changes occur to separate it from the book.

All the Game of Thrones
Alright, okay, technically this is a TV show, you're right, you caught me. BUT the complexity and depth of each hour episode means that they are basically mini movies... So that's my justification. Basically Game of Thrones is like crack to me. It took me a while to warm up to this series but now I am full on addicted. In this house we quote it, we binge watch all the seasons in one go, we have tshirts and funkopops. Our obsession knows no bounds and I don't think we've even peaked yet... Basically, Game of Thrones is IT in our household, the big one, the motherload, and we are unbelievably excited for the next season. Give it to me, give it allllll to me.

The Maze Runner/The Scorch Trials
Haven't read the books yet either and I really need to... Trailers for both films have caught my interest and I'm really looking forward to watching them, it's just a matter of finding the time to sit down and watch them now.

The Queen of the Tearling
The very first thing I heard about this book, was that it was being made into a film and it had Emma Watson attached. Before I'd read it or even seen a cover that was what the internet was abuzz with first. I was intrigued, but now having read the book (and its sequel) I am now even more curious to see this turned into a movie than ever. I'm still conflicted over how I feel about the second book, but the first one was a favourite, one I love coming back to and I would love to see this on the big screen.

So there you have my top ten. Have you seen any of these and think I should get onto them asap or knock them off and not bother? Are there any that you cannot wait to see either? Let me know in the comments below and link me to your own Top Ten Lists!