Tag: romance

Book Review: Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Today’s review features a book that I was really unsure of when I borrowed it from my library in August last year. That’s precisely why I borrowed it from the library really. I didn’t want to purchase it in case I didn’t enjoy it. By picking it up I was trying something completely out of my comfort zone.

So, if it was completely out of my comfort zone, why did I want to read it? Well, I’ve read and heard great things about it, for a start. Not only that, but I was drawn into it by the fact that it handles a very sensitive subject: euthanasia. I’m glad I read it too! Whilst it was a gamble, it was one that paid off massively!

 

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

Goodreads – Me Before You

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

 

My Thoughts…

If I were asked to liken myself to a book character, I would have to say Louisa. She is a ditzy, clumsy, optimistic young woman who always tries to please others. She doesn’t always succeed, but she does her best. From the very first few pages, I felt like I knew her – I liked her. Her bubbly personality makes her instantly likeable and her evident flaws have you laughing along at her. Good naturedly, of course. Will is very much her counterpoint. After the accident that left him paralysed, he feels he has very little to live for. His friends and ex-girlfriend have long disappeared, his family broken apart from the strain of it all and he is trapped in the middle with no escape. His pessimism and sarcasm make him an entirely different character to Louisa, verging on unlikeable.

When Louisa takes on the job of caring for Will, she has no idea how that decision will change both of their lives. Did I expect to enjoy the romance element of the book? No. I didn’t really. It’s not my cup of tea, and yet, I couldn’t help but find myself warming to the two of them. Their relationship builds subtly over time. At first their differences set them miles apart but Louisa’s persistence wins through. We see a side of Will that he has tried so hard to close off, to make things easier at the end. Their feelings for each other don’t stem from a shallow physical attraction. It’s an emotional bond all about companionship. They see the worst of each other and it doesn’t matter.

Will’s position and views are difficult for a lot of people to come to terms with. His choice must be an impossible one to make. You would think his very contrary position would make him difficult to relate to, but I didn’t find that at all. The subject is handled so well. Me Before You is a very emotional book. I knew the ending, so I knew what I was getting myself in for anyway. Don’t worry; I made sure to finish this at home so I could bawl my eyes out without being judged. If you’re judging me now for it, you clearly haven’t read this book. I challenge you to read Me Before You and not cry.

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Girl from the Workhouse – Lynn Johnson

Today’s review of The Girl from the Workhouse will, I hope, appeal to anyone who loves historical fiction novels or family sagas. I personally signed up to today’s blog tour for the historical fiction element, but I loved the book for many more reasons besides this!

Thank you to the author Lynn Johnson and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. I am very grateful to have received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

 

The Girl from the Workhouse – Lynn Johnson

Goodreads – The Girl from the Workhouse

Even in the darkest of times, she never gave up hope

Staffordshire, 1911. Ginnie Jones’s childhood is spent in the shadow of the famous Potteries, living with her mother, father and older sister Mabel. But with Father’s eyesight failing, money is in short supply, and too often the family find their bellies aching with hunger. With no hope in sight, Ginnie is sent to Haddon Workhouse.

Separated from everything she has known, Ginnie has to grow up fast, earning her keep by looking after the other children with no families of their own. When she meets Clara and Sam, she hopes that she has made friends for life… until tragedy strikes, snatching away her newfound happiness.

Leaving Haddon three years later, Ginnie finds work as a mouldrunner at the Potteries, but never stops thinking about her friends in the workhouse – especially Sam, now a caring, handsome young man. When Sam and Ginnie are reunited, their bond is as strong as ever – until Sam is sent to fight in WW1. Faced with uncertainty, can Ginnie find the joy that she’s never had? Or will her heart be broken once again?

An emotional, uplifting and nostalgic family saga that will make you smile, while tugging on your heart-strings. Fans of Sheila Newbury, Kitty Neale and Sheila Riley will love this beautiful read.

 

Purchase Links:    Amazon     Kobo

 

My Thoughts…

WW1 is the historical setting of this fictional saga. I love reading historical fiction novels in this time period. The main character Ginnie is from a poor family. When they cannot make ends meet, she is sent with her parents to a workhouse and in the care of the state. Separated from her parents and her sister, Ginnie is thrown into a whole new world of work, new friendships and tragic loss.

The ‘make-do-and-mend’ attitude of the characters is really appropriate for the time and background of their story. Not only that though, it reminds me of another historical fiction novel set in northern EngIand really enjoyed. The time setting is different but the characters and sentiment are the same: tough it out and make the best of what you’ve got.

A number of characters are given the chance to shine throughout this novel. Ginnie is thick-skinned and robust at adjusting to workhouse life and even becomes a pillar for others to lean on in hard times. Her friend Constance is a suffragette and plays no small part in the movement that gains some women the right to vote. When the war does break out and men are called up into service, some men are ecstatic to serve their country. More so, however, there is a vibe of palpable fear in many that they won’t come back to their families. It’s heartbreaking but I’m glad that this is portrayed. It’s a very raw and honest emotion that men aren’t expected or encouraged by society to show.

I didn’t think I’d say it, but my favourite part of the novel is the relationship between Ginnie and Sam. Each has known their own share of hardship even before they come to know each other all that well. Their companionship grew on me the more I read and their interactions with each other aren’t dominated by physical need or pining over each other. It’s a relationship built on an emotional bond. Both have grown-up in the workhouse at the rear end of society (to put it politely), and have been there for each other when they needed it. Theirs is a childhood friendship that blooms into something more and I really found myself rooting for the pair. I’m not a romance reader, but they managed to thaw my frosty heart.

The Girl from the Workhouse is a little different from my typical reading habits, but I’m glad I put myself forward to take part in the tour. I really enjoyed reading the book and the added bonus of perspective gained on life in Britain during the war.

 

Author Bio

Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.

Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.

She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.

She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.

Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/lynnjohnsonjots

First Lines Friday – 14/02/2020

Happy Friday, Happy Valentine’s Day and welcome back to another First Lines Friday post! I’ve chosen today’s featured book as a best fit for Valentine’s Day. I’m not a big romance reader so I don’t have an abundance of books to choose from. However, I remembered this particular book starts with dialogue pertaining to a relationship and it really appealed to my sense of humour! I hope it makes you laugh as it did for me!

Anyway, let’s jump into the opening paragraph. Can you guess what, or who, it is?

 

Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in case the … visitors… returned. Strange things had happened in this city before, but not this strange. At least, not since vide existed to prove it. Or to milk it.

“Please tell me you have to pee.”

“What? No. No, I do not. Don’t even ask.”

“Oh, come on. I’d do it myself if I could, but I can’t. I’m a girl.”

“I know. Life is so unfair. I’m still not going to pee on Karou’s ex-boyfriend for you.”

“What? I wasn’t even going to ask you to.” In her most reasonable tone, Zuzanna explained, “I just want you to pee in a balloon so I can drop it on him.”

 

Shall we find out what it is?

 

Days of Blood and Starlight – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Days of Blood and Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

Purchase links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

Did you enjoy today’s First Lines Friday post and extract of Days of Blood and Starlight? Is it on your list to read as well? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Book Review: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

It took me about a year after purchasing the book to read Strange the Dreamer, the first book of Laini Taylor’s duology. I didn’t make the same mistake when it came to Muse of Nightmares! After devouring Strange the Dreamer (not only reading it alongside an existing TBR that it wasn’t on, but also reading it all in pretty much one weekend solid) I couldn’t wait for Muse of Nightmares. As soon as I could pre-order a copy, I did. The fact that I got my hands on a limited edition copy with sprayed edges is a bonus!

I pre-ordered Muse and an agonising wait for publication date began. I waited. And I waited.

And then FINALLY… publication day arrived! I didn’t receive my email from my local store to tell me it was available for collection until just before 5pm, so as soon as work was done I bombed it there! No word of a lie. I got about as close to running as I ever will do! That, my friends, says it all.

 

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Muse of Nightmares pretty much as soon as I got it home – that is how excited I was for it! I took my time reading this second book a little more than I did the first. I simultaneously as wanted to devour and savour the experience. 

Strange the Dreamer introduces an already complex, beautiful fantasy world. I pretty much expected Muse of Nightmares to build upon the existing world already established… But to suggest that is the case would be an absolute lie and I would be doing the book no justice. Laini Taylor has developed the tale far beyond the realms of imagination (at least mine anyway, and I would say mine is pretty vivid). The plot far exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed unravelling the truth of the past and what really happened all those years ago to the city with no known name. 

Where Strange the Dreamer focuses on the attraction of Lazio and Sarai, Muse of Nightmares takes a different tack. Instead, Sarai takes centre stage, and through her kinship to her fellow gods we pull apart the myth and uncover the darkest secrets of their existence. The relationships between characters is phenomenal, as can only be expected from Laini Taylor. I’m not a huge fan of mushy romance in books, but O wasn’t pushed away from these books for it. I like the relationship that blooms between Lazlo and Sarai as it stems from a need to belong; a need for companionship. In addition to the characters we are already acquainted with, we are introduced to two sisters… Kora and Nova. Inseparable since children, they dreamed of awakening godly powers and being taken away from their dreary life. When their fates drive them apart, they will stop at nothing to be reunited. The bonds between the characters are strong, complex and built to last. 

If there is one lesson that this book can give, I would say that it goes to show the influence of corruption. It’s easy to label good and bad, but in fact there are so many shades inbetween that we all find ourselves within the spectrum. Discrimination is easy when you can villainize the other party. Yet, the children are not their parents. They have been born into a world ( one of many) that victimises them for crimes they haven’t committed. For that, you can’t help but route for them in making their own way.