Category Archives: Romance

3 Reasons I fell in Love with Anna and the French Kiss Series

So it’s official, I went and fell in love with the Anna and the French Kiss series within approximately 5 hours, after finally (months behind everyone else) jumping on the bandwagon to read. My hands were literally glued to Anna and the French Kiss, which I kept promising myself “one more chapter before bed” and ultimately forgoing sleep to consume the whole book. I read the first two books within the space of a day, and then decided I needed to draw myself away and lasted all of around a week, before succumbing to the calling of Isla and the Happily Ever After. (Oh, and mentally slap myself every time I read Isla phonetically rather than Ey-la – I have problems with saying that name as much as I love it!).

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By the point I reached the end of Isla, this was me; entirely star struck. What on earth had I just undertaken, reading contemporary, fluffy young-adult literature, finding genuine meaning, love, friendship and just all around elation?

So here begins my list of reasons to love the series, rather than composing a review for a set of books most of you have probably read/heard about, and you are honest to god bored of reading another mundane review.

1. THE CHARACTERS

I would literally compare how I feel about all the main characters: Anna, St. Clair, Cricket, Lola, Josh and Isla to how I feel (very nearly) about the Harry Potter characters. They are not perfect, they do have issues and they may not honestly be everyone’s cup-of-tea, however I found them quirky, relatable, fun and most of all likeable. Stephanie Perkins makes real effort to flesh out her characters, give them all backstories and connect them all in different ways, despite the fact that many of them end up living in different cities. Beyond these 6 main stars, she also brings in a plethora of secondary characters to support each individual, add more dimension to their character and make you understand them a little more.

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Just sayin’, six awesome characters here, six awesome characters there..

I can literally probably talk your ear of for a good hour about these characters, but I am going to pick one as my favourite. I have to say it has to be Isla, there was just so many times when I connected with her and understood her.

“Because I thought no one could love me.”

“And why did you think that?”

“Because I didn’t think I was worth loving.”

Hattie takes this in. And then she hits me in the stomach. I yowl in surprise, and she hits me again. “Don’t be stupid.”

Ow.”

“Everyone is worthy of love. Even a dumb sister like you.”  – Isla and the Happily Ever After

YEAH SHE MAY BE A BIT OF A DORKY, INSECURE IDIOT AND YOU WANT TO SLAP HER HERE, but that is okay, I did too and I am EXACTLY the same kind of person. Like seriously, Isla and her nerves (okay, I’m not nearly as bad, but sometimes I do stupid things and make situations awkward). Her doubt of herself, her continual pushing that things are not good enough (school nerd here), and just generally everything about her. Also her inability to handle painkillers – totally me.

“Oh, shit.” I tuck up a leg and smack my kneecap on the table. “Am I acting that loopy?” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

There were so many aspects that I loved, but the part that made me applaud Perkins more was that she made Isla realise who she was without Josh. SHE DID NOT NEED A BOY TO FIND HERSELF. WOOOO FOR FEMINISM. YES. GIRL YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT, GET WHAT YOU WANT AND THEN STILL FIND THE BOY LATER.

Anybody gathering that Isla and the Happily Ever After got five stars from me on Goodreads yet? Winking smile

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

And I realise…it’s okay. It’s okay if St. Clair and I never become more than friends. – Anna and the French Kiss

Although Isla is not the only book that Perkins does this in, she started it at the very beginning with Anna. SELF-REALISATION FOR THE WIN!

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2. THE SETTING

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“looks like a fantasyland castle – wet sand dripped through fingers, both sharp and soft. Bright construction lights are everywhere, and workers are tinkering around its massive spires in dangerously tall cranes.” – Isla and the Happily Ever After

I mean, I literally visited Barcelona this summer, I saw the amazing Gaudi’s church. (My beautiful photography *laughs* – it’s just so tall and I’m so small, there is undoubtedly neck cramp here. Yes it’s also the background of my blog!). THIS IS WHERE ISLA AND JOSH WERE. I mean, I literally love the fact that I was there, and so were they (I do remember they’re fictional, okay). Barcelona has to be one of my favourite European cities, it is just so beautiful. I think this has to also be why I connected to Isla and the Happily Ever After so much more.

We’re splashing towards the heart of Barcelona. Red- and yellow- striped flags – some with the blue triangle and star of independence, some without – hang everywhere from apartment balconies, soaked with storm. The city’s appearance is distinctly Western European, but it’s also filled with colourful architecture and steep hills. Palm trees and leafy trees. Purple vines and red flowers. – Isla and the Happily Ever After

Not to mention Paris, I love Paris. It has been a long time since I visited, but I have plans to go back next year and the majority of the setting was in Paris. It is such a beautiful, romantic city. Just downright being set in Europe won me over from the start because most YA contemporary teen fiction is set in America, and I don’t mind, but occasionally, I want something different, something European.

3. THE ROMANCE

Oh, Etienne St. Clair where are you? Oh, Cricket, the boy next door and Josh the troublesome artist.

I definitely have to say I found it hard to pick between love interests. As much as I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After, I do not think Josh was my favourite love interest. And whilst I think I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door the least out of them all, I do think Cricket was my love, the nerdy boy next door who cared about Lola and only wanted the best. There was just something so geeky and loveable about him.

I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.Lola and the Boy Next Door.

I mean – weeping – somebody come sweep me off that feet with such a line? Perkins just seemed to make it so effortless when she sweeps you off your feet with her beautiful way with words, and carefully crafted romantic proposals.

Perkins does not just craft an easy boy + girl = fall in love and happily ever after. She brings in the fact that people fall in love with people in a relationship and are afraid to leave them when it doesn’t work, but why? She talks about how we might be too afraid to step from our comfort zone. How we might appear to others, but is that truly us? I think despite the fact that this is contemporary romance and at times, fluffy, there are real issues that she tries to deal with subtlety and with love and attention that makes reading these books such a beautiful experience.

“Mademoiselle Oliphant. It translates to ‘Point zero of the roads of France’. In other words, it’s the point from which all other distances in France are measured.” St. Clair clears his throat. “Its the beginning of everything.”

I look back up. He’s smiling.

“Welcome to Paris, Anna. I am glad you’ve come.” – Anna and the French Kiss

There are just far too many quotes to take from all these books (I realise I have taken probably lots from Isla in comparison to Anna and Lola, but there was just something magical about that book for me. 

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How could I resist the charms of these three guys?

Okay, I will admit this series is not perfect and it seriously has its imperfections, but there is just so much to love. So much beauty in her writing.

But I don’t want to give you this broken, empty me. I want you to have me when I’m full, when I can give something back to you. I don’t have much to give right now. – Lola and the Boy Next Door

This is me and how I am currently feeling towards any other book. This is The Absent Historian signing out on a serious book hangover, after falling in love with Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and then having her heart confiscated by Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Now go read it if you haven’t already.

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Filed under 2010 Publication, 2011 Publication, 2014 Publication, 4 Books, 4.5 Books, 5 Books, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, Dutton, E-book, Romance, Stephanie Perkins, Young Adult

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen

The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien

Genre: Historical-fiction, Romance, Adult

The Plot

The novel follows the journey of a young girl, Katherine de Valois who is realistically a mistreated, unloved French princess largely forgotten until she becomes of use as a pawn in peace agreements through marriage. She is thrust upon King Henry V in peace talks during the Hundred Years War and he is a man driven by war, with little interest in a wife except for producing an heir.

Katherine must deal with being largely unwanted by her husband, except to produce an heir, the consequences of being mother to the heir of the throne, being left widow and being the foreign enemy in an English court. A court inundated with controlling men, who have little time for a woman and her opinions and feelings. This forces Katherine to grow up in rather harsh conditions and lays testament to her strength with broken hearts, battles with those in power and struggles to be a mother.

The Review

The Forbidden Queen is a novel set in the prelude to one of my favourite periods of history, and this always leaves me wary to picking up such a novel. In general, historical-fiction as a history student is always a difficult one, because whilst I enjoy delving into a more imaginative side of history, sometimes the disregard for standard facts aggravates me. However, The Forbidden Queen whilst clearly being based on lots of imagination in terms of conversations, and the  real dynamics of relationships during this time, managed to encompass what I feel the 1400s would have felt like in England. I believe she encapsulated personalities and struggles from the events, and stuck largely to historical detail and it made a truly fantastic novel!

Katherine de Valois was a woman I fell in love with in this novel, my heart warmed to her throughout the novel. At the start I felt like she was childish and deluded, but part of the magic in this novel was how O’Brien developed her character and showed true growth to her as an individual that I imagine would to some degree be a true reflection. After all, when she left France, she was a scared young girl, basically still a child and by the time she was widow and mother to the heir of the kingdom, she was a much stronger, more capable individual and a woman with her own mind. Overall she was a likeable, strong individual and an important historical figure. After all, she birthed a king of England and was grandmother to another king of England, difficult to disregard such a woman in English history, even if she was the enemy!

There is ultimately a strong focus on romance throughout this book, and Katherine’s yearning for true affection, after receiving little from the Mad King, Charles VI her father and her mother the Isabeau a woman accused of adultery. Affection during this period was not common within royal families anyway, because the children were rarely raised by their parents. So Katherine stumbles through her early marriage, desperate for Henry V’s seal of approval, however he is much more interested in war. O’Brien really manages to interweave the romance with the historical events and descriptions, that provides greater plot and substance to the story.

Ultimately, the best part of the book for me does not arrive until much later in the story when Katherine meets Owen Tudor, which is when my attention was truly captivated. I have to warn you, O’Brien makes you work for happiness in this story, and it certainly tugs on your emotions, even at the end! The relationship between Katherine and Owen is everything is should honestly be, it develops once Katherine has achieved the kind of self-growth necessary to experience love, and Owen does not overpower her opinions. They are clearly an equal couple and one that I fully supported by the end, especially since it was something that actually happened.

O’Brien honestly brought these historical figures to life for me, she drew me into the English court and all the secrets, plots, hopes and dreams and weaved her magic with words. It was descriptive enough for me to visualise everything, yet O’Brien was never excessive. Overall The Forbidden Queen drew me into the 1400s with ease and elegance and kept my attention throughout. It is honestly a masterpiece in historical-fiction, and I encourage everyone to read it, not only because it serves to educate you a little about the basic happenings and people of this time in a fun, engaging and beautiful way, but it is genuinely a quality piece of fiction. I’ll be looking to get my hands on more O’Brien books now!

The Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

Extra note: I had an extremely busy week last week with moving back to University, packing and I also am pleased to announce, I can now drive because I finally passed my practical driving test! So hopefully I will be back to a regular posting schedule and dropping by your blogs from now on!

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Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Adult, Anne O'Brien, E-book, Historical Fiction, Mira Books, Romance

Series Review (1-4): Line of Duty

protecting-tessa-baileyHis Risk to TakeOfficer off LimitsAsking for Trouble
Protecting What’s His (#1), His Risk to Take (#2), Officer Off Limits (#3), Asking for Trouble (#4) by Tessa Bailey

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult

The Review
This is a contemporary series from one of my favourite publishers when it comes to contemporary books, Entangled. Line of Duty follows a series of different police officers as they come face to face with a woman who will challenge them and eventually one they will find romance with; inevitable right?

I feel like this series has strengthened as it has gone along and Officer Off Limits and Asking for Trouble were both much stronger than their predecessors. I will not claim that this series is free of the typical clichés that usually accompany the contemporary romance scene, and neither are these books perfect. However they are enjoyable.

Each of the novels introduces a new officer to the tale, however in some there are connections to the previous novels and links between the police forces, so the characters are not all entirely new. However each one explores a different perspective and this serves to reinvigorate each novel with new energy and prevent it from falling into the trapping of the previous one.

Largely the female protagonists tend to be women with past troubles, who are seeing themselves as independent and without the need for a man in their life. Bailey unfortunately does seem to fall into the trappings of this typical cycle of strong female, eventually being ‘saved’ in some way by the male police officer in the end, but when read over a period of time and not directly next to each other, I think this makes the series easier to handle and more enjoyable.

My favourite book from the series is probably Officer Off Limits which deals with Story Brooks and Daniel Chase. I felt like Story stayed much more true to her strengths and independence than the other female protagonists and I really had my heart stolen by officer Daniel Chase. Although the other police officers certainly have many a redeeming quality; who after all, can resist a man in uniform? However I did feel like that for a romance novel this edition in particular had a little more of a serious note that wasn’t the typical backstory and it served to really address characterisation that sells a novel to me.

Overall, this series is fun, flirty and a quick read that has some great teasing moments. It easily fills the need for a little bit of fluff and romance in ones life whilst not being too unrealistic nor annoying. Bailey has a solid series here and I think most contemporary romance fans will find something enjoyable in the Line of Duty series!

Historical Survival Chances
Honestly, I do not think this series despite being lots of fun, will last long in the span of history. I believe much more epic romances that are on the level of Pride and Prejudice are the types of novels that should survive through history and will be the literary genius that we are remembered for.

Survival Chances: 25%

Expiration Date: 2027

 

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads (#1), (#2), (#3), (#4) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 3.5 Books, Adult, Contemporary, Entangled Publishing, Romance, Tessa Bailey, Uncategorized

Dilemma of Contemporary Romance

Contemporary Romance

Admittedly I have been known to binge on contemporary romance, the literature kind and the movies. However, I at least try to find the well-written kind. Despite this, when I was discussing my secret love of contemporary romance with one of my closest friends, she told me she despised it, and found it boring and unrealistic.

This was my first pause for thought; unrealistic. It had me wondering, what do we call a realistic romance? Do we want to read/watch a ‘realistic’ romance? Or do we want to be wooed and blown away?

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Recently I just watched Love and Other Drugs which stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film has a 6.7 / 10 rating on IMDB and was nominated for 2 Golden Globe awards. So it appears the film is being taken seriously in the movie industry?

Yet, it still appears to have such a mixed response. Some hail it as being a champion of the romance-comedy genre with the take on Anne Hathaway an individual suffering from Parkinson’s being well portrayed and provocative, whilst others claim its another mindless romance, filled with crude language, sex scenes and being a typical plot line of a sick girl falling for a bad-boy. Why is it we get such mixed reviews?

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Personally, I think there comes pros and cons from every contemporary romance film, which again, is based on personal preference. However, is the media designed to project moral messages and ideals to us even if overlaid with fun, flirty and flighty behaviour? Or is it supposed to be some strict, moral message in a boring fashion? Honestly, I do not believe many people would listen to something they perceived as being dull and boring. At least Love and Other Drugs manages to show by the end of the film, a steady, loving relationship where you can stand by somebody and care for them can be more fulfilling than a casual fling. It represents many values that I think are important, and is that really a bad thing? Even if it includes sex and naked skin, is that not again something that human beings want to see?

Obviously there are times in reading a book, or watching a film where you think “if only that happened in real life” because I do not think many times you will get a guy chasing after you down the street to declare his love, or driving across the country, or chasing you to the airport as I recently witnessed on an old episode of Friends when Ross Geller raced to the airport after Rachel Green. I mean, it would be nice, but when it came down to it, I think if somebody did such a thing for me, I would laugh or be awkward and not know how to react. However, I think I like reading these declarations of love and thinking maybe somewhere, somebody does such things because it makes me feel happy, and that is why I read right, to have my emotions played on, to be entertained and made smile? I want my main love interests to wooo me, to draw me in.

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I want an Augustus Green (The Fault in Our Stars) to be there for me…

“I’ll fight it. I’ll fight it for you. Don’t you worry about me, Hazel Grace. I’m okay. I’ll find a way to hang around and annoy you for a long time.” I was crying. But even then he was strong. holding me tight so that I could see the sinewy muscles of his arms wrapped around me …”

I want a Levi (Fangirl) who will hang around my roommate’s room to see me, to walk me home in the dark, to tease me, to bring me out of my shell…

“I mean…” Levi leaned forward, hands still fisted in his pockets. “I mean, I spent four months trying to kiss you and the last six weeks trying to figure out how I managed to fuck everything up. All I want now is to make it right, to make you see how sorry I am and why you should give me another chance. And I just want to know—are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?”

“I’m rooting for you,” she whispered. She wasn’t even sure he could hear her from the bed.

Levi’s smile broke free and devoured his whole face. It started to devour her face, too. Cath had to look away.”

I want myself a Finn the Robot (The Mad Scientist’s Daughter) who is smart and heartfelt.

“I can’t tell you what it means to be the only one of my kind,” he said. “I can’t… There is a lack in myself. But your thesis almost filled it in. It was… a start.”

Even a little bit of Vlad the Impaler (Night Prince Series) to melt a woman’s heart…

“No one feels like you do, so every brush of your skin is a cruel reminder of what I’ve lost. I can barely stand the sight of you because you’re more beautiful than I’ve allowed myself to remember, and when I cut that wire off Maximus and smelled you all over him, I wanted to kill him more than I’ve wanted to kill anyone in my life, yet I couldn’t because of my promise to you.”

These are just a few of the many fictional crushes, and there are probably many more, but these are a few of the more recent ones. Who are your fictional crushes? (because I severely hope I am not alone in my love of fictional characters *slinks away to hide in a corner* if I am). I’m going to leave you with one of the most iconic moments in film history and an all time favourite romance of mine, this film will always have a special place in my heart.

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Filed under Contemporary, Rambles, Romance

Wallbanger

WallbangerWallbanger by Alice Clayton

Series: Cocktail #1

Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit

The Plot
Wallbanger is a light, entertaining and humorous read, following the journey of Caroline who upon moving into a new apartment discovers her neighbour is quite the man! He in fact, is often found making nightly noises (I’m sure your imagination can fulfil the gap for now) with several different women that definitely hits the wall and is heard through the wall since Caroline and the mystery ‘Wallbanger’ share a bedroom wall she is also kept up nightly. The plot unravels from there following the journey of Caroline, her relationship troubles, her neighbour and the novel builds upon the premise of an unlikely relationship forming between her and the ‘Wallbanger’.
The Review
Wallbanger is one of those novels that is light, fluffy and pure entertainment! There is very little that is serious about this novel and it serves to be the perfect escape romance. However I do fear that the novel is very much based upon taste in terms of the humour which is obviously different amongst individuals. Personally I am not a massive chick-lit fan, but I engaged well with Wallbanger and although near the end I had a tendency to skim a little bit, overall I found myself immersed in the story.

Caroline had a solid character and personality that made her almost certainly a likeable character.  She likes to cook and bake, and she’s an interior designer who is proud of her job and this is evident by the hard work she puts in. However I did not really feel like she really brought this into her own home and I felt like we could have sensed more of her personality throughout the novel. There were moments where I felt she also had a tendency to fall into emotional dramatic scenes that were rather unnecessary in my opinion and did frustrate me. In addition to that, I felt like the strength of her character drained a little by the end of the novel and she was not nearly as strong as at the start. This disappointed me a little because I felt like it would have made the last part of the novel much stronger.

The ‘Wallbanger’ himself is quite the enigma and not as he first appears. He was incredibly suave, kind and caring and not at all what you first expect. I actually really liked his character and at moments he found himself floundering with Caroline who refused to give him a chance or hear him out entirely. However his persistence is certainly something that is a strong redeemable quality and maybe a very romance novel based quality!

I fear this novel could not be complete without the trusty pet, the cat, Clive. He certainly makes a strong addition to the humour and I found myself enamoured with him. I feel that novels without animals these days appear to be a little incomplete as they always tend to round character with their unexpected antics and Clive certainly is a pesky little devil, but a loveable one. In addition to this, Caroline was clearly a loveable owner and that showed throughout the novel and this affection is certainly the right way to portray pet owners, so Clayton is given both thumbs up here!

The plot, well it basically centres on the romance of the ‘Wallbanger’ and Caroline, but it does not just appear out of nowhere and that is the strong element of Wallbanger as chick-lit because it creates a friendship and emotional connection between the two that builds up over time. In addition to this, there are several plot strands to the romance that interweave and give it a little more substance.

Overall, Wallbanger is a solid addition to the chick-lit genre, and admittedly it won me over to a genre I don’t usually venture into. I can see that Wallbanger will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed it and I am certainly tempted by the future sequel to see where things go even for a novel that is not perfect. If you have a spare few hours, I recommend giving it a chance since you might just find you enjoy it after all!

Favourite Quotes

“No woman has ever done breakfast bread foreplay the way you do.
Ha! When you coming?
Can’t. Drive. Straight.
Can we have one conversation when you’re not twelve?
Sorry, I’ll be there in 30.
Perfect, that will give me time to frost my buns.
Pardon me?”

“The girl next door was meowing. What in the world was my neighbor packing to make that happen?
Clive, at this point, went utterly bonkers and launched himself at the wall. He was literally climbing it, trying to get where the noise was coming from, and adding his own meows to the chorus.”

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3 Books, Adult, Alice Clayton, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, E-book, Omnific Publishing, Romance

Series Review (1-3): Morganville Vampires

Glass HouseThe Dead Girls' DanceMidnight Alley

Morganville Vampires Series by Rachel Caine

Glass House #1, The Dead Girls Dance #2, and The Midnight Alley #3

Genre: Young-Adult, Romance, Vampires

The Review

The Morganville Vampire series is one I picked up quite a while ago and read the first five books over a large period of time. Unfortunately since it was so long ago, I have seemingly forgot what happened and when I had a spur of the moment decision to return to the series I was largely lost, so I decided the best policy was to start from the beginning.

I have literally devoured these three books over a couple of days. They aren’t particularly long and they are fairly easy going on the prose, nothing too complex, but they draw you in and keep lots of action and fast-paced plots to engage with the audience. If you like flowery, emotional prose then these books certainly don’t offer any of that, but the simplicity is made up for in the engagement and continual plot twists and turns, and suspense that is continually built up.

Admittedly yes, there are a few ‘well duh’ moments where your expectations are met, but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment because there is always something a little unexpected and Caine doesn’t make the end result easily. Although she does like to leave things hanging, so I definitely recommend having all the books to just keep reading as once you finish one, you want to pick up the next.

The characters are honestly my favourite part. In ‘The Glass House’ we are introduced to Claire Danvers, our female protagonist who is a young, sweet sixteen year old and fairly innocent when she arrives in Morganville. However, she is intellectual, sassy and not afraid to fight by the end of things and in these three novels alone, she develops into a young woman who is not entirely fearless, but is stubborn, faithful and most of all she is a likeable character. Claire does rush into a few situations, she makes mistakes, but there are her own and she doesn’t allow herself to be bossed about my others, unless she can really help it. I mean nobody can really say no to a vampire thousands of years old, who might just kill you, right? Claire in my opinion, is a very strong, female protagonist who I hope to see develop more in the next few novels.

Now, the next three all offer something different. Eve, the spunky, goth girl who is loyal and feisty makes a dangerous enemy and she is easy to like and always helping Claire out when she really needs it. Michael the calm and collected one who acts as the responsible individual of the house has some interesting secrets, and issues which lead to exciting developments. He’s also a musician and the love of Eve’s life, so there is a little bit of romance to balance it out. Then finally there is the stereotypical man of the house/jock, Shane who rushes headlong into everything without thought, all in the aid of friendship and for the right moral reasons most of the time. He also happens to be the love interest for Claire. It’s kind of a little cliché and not always an easy path but I do love the pair of them together. I think they work really well.

Make no mistake however, there is no typical vampire series formula in this series so far  which is usually; girl + vampire boy = fall in love for the main plot theme. In fact, a lot of the plot focus is on the town and the four individuals who live in the Glass House and their survival. There is a strong theme of friendship, loyalty and life moral values that makes for some tough decisions, but also some entertaining insightful and joyful moments.

The villains in this novel range from typical high school/college girl who is the airbrushed glamour puss and daddy’s little girl who rules the town, to skulking boys in shadows with knives and mysterious motives and finally the wicked vampires with fangs who rule the town and expect the humans to fall in line. I love the concept of the vampire town and the idea of humans being potential property to the vampires, who sometimes act as protectors of the humans. However there are specific guidelines to this protection which are always changing and the vampires and human interactions run across very unsteady paths!

Overall, ‘The Glass House’, ‘The Dead Girls’ Dance’ and ‘Midnight Alley’ are an engaging start to the Morganville Vampire series that give you only a taste of things to come and certainly draw you in wanting many answers. There are numerous plot lines twisting through all the stories that continue throughout the series. This means the multiple lines that thread through the novels gives depths to series and enables the characters to be fleshed out and given personal identities that blossom and force you to become engaged with them. I most definitely recommend the Morganville Vampire series for vampire/supernatural lovers and even those who are quite a big fan I suggest giving the books a chance!

 

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars 

Goodreads (1), (2), (3) ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

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Filed under Allison & Bushby, Paperback, Rachel Caine, Romance, Vampires, Young Adult

Walking Disaster

Walking DisasterWalking Disaster by Jamie Maguire

Series: Beautiful #2

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The Plot
Walking Disaster for those of you who have read Beautiful Disaster is basically a retelling of that from Travis’ perspective and for those of you who are yet to read Beautiful Disaster (although I would not recommend it), it is a novel recounted from the perspective of the male love interest, a boy with severe issues.  This novel depicts an obsessive, controlling and frankly disturbing tale of ‘romance’ in which violence, possessiveness and drugs, drinking and gambling all appeared to be advocated in young-adults to excessive qualities. Read with caution.

The ReviewWhat was I thinking? Starting Walking Disaster seemed like such a good idea at the time, however after making my way into this book, my opinion descended rapidly, within the first few pages. However I continued the torture of reading and repeating the events of everything that happened in the first book with a painful expression. By 60% I was losing the will to live, but for some reason I continued and skim read largely to the end. I guess part of me would hope Walking Disaster would be able to redeem itself from the first book, however it just made the experience ten times worse. There is absolutely no need for the first book to be rewritten from the perspective of Travis. In fact,  being inside his head just made the whole experience worse. Travis is beyond the worst example for a boyfriend to the young-adult population. He is a controlling, possessive and violent individual who supports the view that it is acceptable to pick up your ex-girlfriend and carry her through a party because some other guy danced with her, after punching him. He has a very negative attitude off the female population that is derogatory and demeaning and when this is written by a female author I frankly find it disgusting. Not only does she continue to promote themes of violence, excessive drinking and gambling, but she presents a very archaic, cave-man approach to man and a very bad relationship ideal. NO girl should aim to find a boyfriend like Travis and the thought of people seeing him as acceptable makes my stomach want to turn.
Pigeon or Abby annoyed the living daylights out of me. She continued to allow herself to be deluded by Travis, fell into all of his traps and basically led him along in an unnecessary string of angst and pain. It was physically frustrating to read. I do not honestly understand her thought patterns even when I read Beautiful Disaster. She is almost certainly not a strong individual or a type of girl anybody should ever aspire to be!

The plot… What plot? There is no direction with this novel. It is fully a teenage angst drama that deals with two individuals breaking up, crying, drinking and going wild and then getting back together, then breaking up again. The two appear to continue to fight and basically hurt each other intentionally because they can.
I will not ever be reading another Jamie McGuire book and I can safely say, I am so utterly sorry for ever starting this series. In this case my curiosity for bad books, this was a very bad decision. I just warn you all away.

The Rating: 1 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website 

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Filed under 1 Book, 2013 Publication, Atria Books, Contemporary, E-book, Jamie McGuire, New-Adult, Romance

Fangirl

fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult

The Plot

Fangirl is about a girl called Cather moving away to college, dealing with new people, new experiences, living alone and being without her twin Wren for the majority of the time, who is off partying and ‘living the college experience’.

Cather is a quiet, shy individual, who is awkward and geeky and still stuck in her world of Simon and Baz, characters from her favourite book series, who she writes tonnes of fanfiction about.

Fangirl also happens to be about growing up, learning to communicate with people, relationships and family. It has a lot of dynamics that make it about more than being just a ‘fangirl’.

The Review

Fangirl has to be one of my favourite contemporary reads, it also happens to be my first Rainbow Rowell book and I just could not tear myself away from the book. It definitely left a little bit of itself with me when I read it, especially when moving away to University around the same time as I was reading it, I could definitely understand and empathise with some of the situations Cather was in. Personally, I think this book will depend on the type of person you are, to how much you like it, in terms of whether you fall absolutely in love, or just like it.

Cather for me is an adorable heroine. She’s awkward, geeky, frustrating and always seemingly out of her depth, but she shows real growth throughout the novel and she is a likeable character. Her obsession with Simon and Baz, fictional characters, is kind of one I wanted her to lose throughout the novel, but she never did and whilst that annoyed me a little bit, I think it demonstrated that no matter how old you are, you can still enjoy getting lost in fiction, and manage to mature at the same time. Cather went through quite a few difficult moments in terms of family when dealing with her dad and his mental health issues, becoming estranged from her twin and meeting her mother who abandoned her when she was younger. It definitely shows Rowell was not afraid to tackle more serious issues with this novel, but then I liked how she still managed to interweave romance despite Cather’s blissful ignorance.

Levi is one of my all time favourite love interests, he is charming, cute and he cares about Cather. Despite the fact she is not aware that he flirts with her and goes out of his way to help in an attempt to get her to notice that he likes her, he does not give up. He is definitely a good guy, and the type of love interest contemporary romances should be projecting because whilst the ‘bad boy’ might hold appeal, he is not always the perfect guy for every girl or always a good role model. 

Finally, the bunch of secondary characters beyond this which were Wren, Reagan and the twin’s father happen to be fairly well developed in terms of their personalities, style and story. I wish in some ways we had gotten to know a little bit more about Reagan who is Cather’s room mate, but despite her surly exterior, I loved the way she took Cather under her wing and looked out for her as a friend despite saying she wasn’t that type of person. In addition to this, the twin aspect of the story was one I really enjoyed, and whilst for the first half of the novel I did not particularly like Wren, I understood her behaviour and style. I was pleased largely by the resolution of the plot line between the siblings and I definitely think the family aspect of the novel was important.

One of the reasons I loved Fangirl was because it became so much more than a contemporary romance, it definitely looked at growing up, discovering yourself and facing challenges with family and studying as you are away from home. There were a couple of aspects such as the lack of real resolution between Cather and her mum and the lack of knowledge about how Cather ended her Simon and Baz story that I would have liked to have seen more fully developed. Nevertheless, Fangirl for me had a lot of potential that it fully lived up to and I’ll be putting it on my shelf for a rainy day re-read when I need a book that is bound to tick all the boxes.

Favourite Quotes

“I know.” Reagan shook her head. “But you’re so helpless sometimes. It’s like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box.”

“You’re not the ugly one.” Levi grinned. “You’re just the Clark Kent.”

Cath started checking her e-mail.

“Hey, Cath,” Levi said, kicking her chair. She could hear the teasing in his voice. “Will you warn me when you take off your glasses?”

“How do you feel when I smile at you?” he asked—and then he did smile at her, just a little. Not like myself, Cath thought. She gripped his hands tightly, for balance, then stood on tiptoe, leaning her chin over his shoulder and brushing her head gently against his cheek. It was smooth, and Levi smelled heavy there, like perfume and mint. “Like an idiot,” she said softly. “And like I never want it to stop.”

The Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Goodreads ~ Amazon UK / US ~ Author’s Website

17 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4.5 Books, Contemporary, E-book, Rainbow Rowell, Romance, St. Martin's Press, Young Adult

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast

How Beauty Saved the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight #2

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: February 11th 2013 by Carina Press

*mild spoilers for book one

The Plot

Jolie Benoit left her old life behind to become an agent of the Underlight. Training under Sergeant Wesley Haukon, she’s honing her combat skills, all the while coping with the intense sexual attraction she feels for Hauk. She keeps their friendship casual, but when his high school sweetheart transfers into their division, Jolie finds herself grappling with jealousy.

The Underlight gave Hauk a purpose, but he can’t escape his past completely. The physical and emotional scars from the fire that killed seven fellow Army Rangers will mark him forever. Jolie sends his protective instincts into overdrive, but he’s convinced he’ll never be worthy of her love.

Hauk is determined to keep Jolie from harm. But when the Order of Ananke ambushes them with a new weapon that neutralizes Hauk, making him vulnerable, it’s Jolie who must tap into her hidden strengths to rescue him—or risk losing him forever…

My Review

How Beauty Saved the Beast picks up seamlessly from the end of How Beauty Met the Beast. There is a short time gap between the two, but one that enables the plot to be driven on without being hindered by confusion of recapping the events in between. Again, How Beauty Saved the Beast has a very pacey plot line that continues to engage my attention as the reader and build upon the events of the last novel, bringing in more information about the world and the characters and serving to heighten my all around experience of the Underlight.

Admittedly my first thoughts are to the cover which I enjoy so much more than the previous one. The Beast on the front appears to have no visible scarring on his face which is a little annoying, he does seem to fit the kind of figure I would imagine and Beauty’s presence in the back fits much more with the ideal I imagined than the first appearance. The dark blue and light blue fit the mood of the text and bring out the vivid red of Beauty’s hair, so I think Garren really captured the essence of the characters in this cover.

In terms of character development, we’d already gained a good grasp of both Beauty (Jolie) and the Beast (Hauk) in the previous novel, and Garren continued to build on these as both individuals exploring themselves and who they were, but together. She helped to build their relationship based upon communication and things they did together. This displayed the foundations of an emotional connection that whilst didn’t push through directly to lead the novel, had a strong enough presence to see that friendship came as part of the building. I liked that these two valued each other and regarded each other in terms of friends, because in terms of character growth it allowed themselves to look a little deeper at their own characteristics and attitudes. I think this was seen in Jolie’s acceptance of Hauk’s appearance more than anything else, which is probably to be expected, but it wasn’t cliché, it was more natural which I liked.

He had no hair at all and marked where his eyebrows should be with four curved barbells on each side. He had no tattoos on his face, but his skull had her favourite one, a phoenix rising from a fire at the top of his spin, her colourful wings encircling his head and her beak touching his forehead, right where a priest would place a blessing. It was an incredible piece of art, and must have hurt like a mother to have been done entirely on bone like that.

Now when I say that the romance doesn’t overshadow the plot, there are definitely still some very sweet and tension filled moments between the pair that only added to my enjoyment of the overall plotline. So for romance lovers out there, don’t worry because Garren knows how to deliver in the romance department!

Her lips were soft enough, fascinating enough to keep him happy for hours. Jolie wasn’t some quick hook-up. Touching her wasn’t some itch that just needed scratching. She was the real thing. She needed to know that. He needed to treat her like that. They had time to learn each other right.

The plot depth only gets more complicated and even more unexpected since the first book which I really liked because I never knew what to actually expect. Garren makes some really unique ideas, legends and political wars to bring together a novel of some great originality that also manages to be action-filled with fight scenes, rescues (which is pretty obvious given the title) and bomb-shells that I’m finding less and less in modern fiction. I certainly thing How Beauty Saved the Beast hypes up the plot another gear from where we first began and Garren only demonstrates how fabulous she is as an author.

In addition to this, we do get some new characters in this that certainly add more complexities to the novel. I liked how we didn’t weigh to heavily on the past events and Garren drove the novel forward with more action and characters and whilst many of the secondary characters that were in the previous book return, there seems to be something still new and refreshing about the second book that makes it as easy to read as the introduction was to the world.

I would mention that I didn’t quite feel the steampunk element as strongly in this one, however in replace we did get some magic that blends much more strongly into How Beauty Saved the Beast than the first novel. So I wouldn’t expect too much steampunk from these novels, but do regard that Garren has the power to blend, action, romance and magic and so much more into these books that she continues to build upon with new layers that make them so enjoyable.
Another good point, is whilst How Beauty Saved the Beast is urban-fantasy and not a book that looks deep into humanity and pondering the issues of society like contemporary fiction generally does; it certainly proves effective in looking at judgements upon appearance and the conspiracy theories of politics that make it more relatable and realistic for an urban-fantasy novel.

Ultimately for me, Garren has done what so many authors seem to fail when writing a sequel, she has managed to step up the game and only have me eager for more! So pick up the Tales of the Underlight series now as I promise you won’t regret it.

4 Books / 5 Books

3 Comments

Filed under 2013 Publication, 4 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance

How Beauty Met the Beast

How Beauty Met The Beast

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

Series: Tales of the Underlight

Genre: Urban-Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Adult

Publication: November 19th 2012 by Carina Press

The Plot

The Beast – Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty – Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

My Review

How Beauty Met The Beast is a book I saw quite a while ago and dismissed it thinking it wasn’t for me. It is safe to say, I am so glad that I returned and picked it up. It may only be a short novella at around 100 and something pages, but every inch of it is action-packed and hooking. Urban-fantasy isn’t usually my primary reading material, but blending this in with a little bit of steampunk and teasing us with romance served to encapsulate my attention for the whole time. And it served to motivate me to read the second book straight after, a very rare occurrence for me, since I much prefer to procrastinate for months and forget the plot lines of previous books before returning to the series. Admittedly, the book isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable and entertaining.

I think one of my favourite aspects has to be the ‘Beast’ of the story or Hauk. He may be a man troubled, emotionally reserved and with low expectations of people but he doesn’t allow that to define and infiltrate his actions and morals. He might not be on the right side of the law, but there was definitely the feel of a good man. After his accident in the war, he has been left horrifically scarred and this definitely affects the way he views himself, but I enjoyed how he met ‘Beauty’ a.k.a Jolie and things changed. It wasn’t so blatantly obvious, but the subtly really worked into the storyline to not overpower the plotline.

The world was definitely one to be admired and the complexity of the underground movement, the Underlight and all the political conspiracy that surrounds this certainly entertained me. The aspects of steampunk enter in the Underlight which has removed itself from the world of technology and it moving away from the modern world that is full of corruption. It wasn’t entirely developed to tell every detail, but sufficient enough to gain a good idea and I enjoyed the concept. It definitely served to add excitement with the warning factions and the underground secrecy of everything.

“It’s like I went back in time,” she muttered in awe.
There wasn’t a single piece of plastic anywhere. No electronics, either. No computer. No phone. No television or radio. The desk held paper and a fountain pen. Candlelight gave the room a living glow. Damask browns and burnished hold made up the main palette, with hints of burnt orange and forest green filling the room with a masculine warmth.

Jolie was definitely a character I admired. Despite her bourgeois background, she didn’t allow this to define her or constrain her relationships with others like Hauk. She was down to earth and kind and caring. She also happened to be sassy, smart and brave. Without a doubt Jolie is a kick-ass heroine that runs into things with the best of intentions and usually succeeds because she does think too. I liked everything about Jolie and whilst at times she was a little obtuse, I think that was more a reflection of human nature than anything. Her choice of job is certainly interesting, but I don’t think the judgement should come on first impressions because there is a lot beneath the surface with Jolie.

“Oh. Weird. Well, I guess being a classy stripper is pretty different.”

One of my favourite characters had a very small part, but it was Jolie’s niece and her witty insight to situations certainly added to the humour of the book. It also rounded that novel that there was touches on humour throughout not just from Whitney but other characters too. It certainly showed that the secondary characters could also be fleshed out despite the short length of the novel and this served to impress me because I really felt that I had a handle on the other characters and their positions in the novel.

Whitney sighed. “I told you not to kiss him while he was asleep.”
Was she getting chastised by a twelve-year-old?
“I didn’t!”

Overall, How Beauty Met the Beast was enjoyable, action-packed and thrilling from start to finish. This is most definitely the start to a fantastic series that has some well-fleshed out characters and ideas that have me eager to read more. I definitely recommend this one without reserve!

~ 3.5 Books / 5 Books ~

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Filed under 2012 Publication, 3.5 Books, Adult, Carina Press, E-book, Jax Garren, Magic, Romance, Urban-Fantasy