Tag: romance

Sunday Summary – 8th May 2022

Good evening and welcome to my Sunday Summary update for this week. It’s time to share what I have been reading and blogging about over the last week, as well as any books I’ve added to the TBR and finally, what blog posts you can expect on the blog over the next two weeks! Yes, two!

As this week was the beginning of May, I have taken the opportunity to share my Monthly Wrap-Up for April 2022, as well as my Monthly TBR for May on my blog this week. It was fun to look back at the books I’ve read over the course of the month, and as I didn’t get through all of my reading list, you’ll see that some have been carried forward to this month as well as added some new ones. One of those I’ve even read already, so progress is looking good!

If you haven’t checked out either of those posts, I provided links above so you can go and check them out.

 

Books Read

This has to to be one of the most random book combinations, ever.

When I left you in last week’s Sunday Summary update, I had only read the first 30 pages or so of Crowfall by Ed McDonald. I had just finished the previous book in the series, Ravencry, and I was really looking forward to delving into this final instalment of the trilogy. I fully expected this would be a quick read. Not only was I really into it having just finished the second book of the series, but I remember loving and devouring it the first time. And I’ve done it again!

When I last read Crowfall nearly three years ago, I read all 450 pages of the book in six days. This time, I read it in five! By no means was I trying to beat that record, but having looked back to see exactly how quickly I read it the first time, it’s clear that I loved the book both times!

I’m really happy that I decided to re-read this trilogy. Picking up the first book of the series, Blackwing, again was completely on a whim, but it was a good decision. And it’s been great for my reading motivation.

Next, I moved on to my current read, which is The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. Against all the odds, I really enjoyed watching Bridgerton on Netflix, and so I’ve decided to step out of my comfort zone and try the book. When I decided to add this to my TBR I wasn’t sure if this was something I was going to enjoy or not, but I was willing to give it a go. I’m currently 15% through the book and so far, it’s perfectly readable. I’m not going to say I haven’t rolled my eyes once or twice, because that would be a lie, but I’m willing to stick for now and see how it goes.

Last night I went to bed early with a cup of tea and I decided to sample the first few pages of my next read, which is Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff. I bought this book purely for my love of the Nevernight series. Vampire stories aren’t typically something that I read much. However, again, I’m willing to go out of my comfort zone. Before I delve into the 700 page epic properly, I wanted to make sure that I thought I’ll like it. I’ve only read the first 20 odd pages as a sample, but it’s looking very good! I can already see in the little bit I’ve read that it definitely has a ‘Name of the Wind’ vibe in its narration style. I can’t wait to pick this up properly!

 

Books Discovered

I went to my local Waterstones this week with the aim of finding myself a new bookmark. Naturally, I walked out with said bookmark and also two books as well.

I noticed that they had stock of the second and third book in the Dune series by Frank Herbert, and so I decided to pick those up. I read and loved the first book of the series earlier this year, and even watched the film recently. Given that I have a paperback copy of the first book of the series anyway, I’m naturally going to continue to read the series this way. Thankfully, these books combined make up the rough length of the first book, so they’re not quite so big. I can’t wait to read these either!

 

Coming Up…

This week I’m taking part in a Top Ten Tuesday post. This week’s theme is ‘Bookish Characters’. Although I’ve read a lot of books, I’ve struggled a little bit to come up with a full list of ten. There aren’t many books I’ve read with characters as devout to reading! Nevertheless, I have just about come up with ten for the list and I can’t wait to share that with you on Tuesday!

This week there was a temporary hold on my usual Friday feature post, however, I am back next week and it is the turn of my Shelf Control feature post. I’ll be taking a look at the next book on my TBR, deciding if I want to read it still, and sharing the details with you!

Normally I’d be telling you that I’ll be back next week with a Sunday Summary update post, however I will not be sharing Sunday Summary posts for the next couple of weeks. With that in mind, I’m also going to share with you what posts are going live on my blog the following week as well, so you know exactly what to expect!

The following week I’m taking part in another Top Ten Tuesday post. The theme for the 17th of May is ‘Books I Was SO EXCITED to Get, but I Still Haven’t Read’. I didn’t struggle with this list; I have so many books on my TBR and my bookshelves that I have plenty of inspiration to choose from. I’m embarrassed to say that the first book on my list is over six years old! Even that’s an estimate because I can’t exactly date when I purchased my copy.

Unexpectedly, I’ll be back with a First Lines Friday post as my next Friday feature. Last time I did this post I set myself the challenge of featuring a book I read before I started my blog. I am going to set myself a challenge again, but not this one. Instead, I am going to feature a book on my TBR that I plan to read sometime this year. This is a new challenge, and one that gives me the chance to consider what my future reading plans are and give you a little bit of insight into them!

That’s all for me in today’s Sunday Summary update post. I hope you have a great week ahead and I’ll see you in the next post!

 

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Monthly TBR – May 2022

Hello and welcome to my Monthly TBR for May! It’s the beginning of yet another month and so it’s time to share what I plan to read over the next few weeks with you! I have some great books on the list and as always, I’m going to try and give myself time to fit in a couple of mood reads. Even just one would be nice. I haven’t managed to get to any over the last couple of months, so I’m setting myself a slightly reduced fixed list in the hope that I can get there this month!

 

Fixed Reads

Crowfall

It feels kind of weird to feature this book in a way, because not only has it been on my last few TBR’s, but also because I am over two thirds through the book as of writing this post. I picked up Crowfall right at the beginning of this month after just finishing Ravencry, its predecessor. We are now a few days into May and I’ve been flying through this book – so much so that I’m hoping to finish this one very very soon!

So yes, it feels a bit strange, because I’m featuring it at a time when I’m about to finish it!

 

The Duke and I

The Duke and I was on my ‘mood read list’ last month, but as you know, I didn’t get round to it. That’s not the end of the world, because what I’ve taken to doing (if I can) is bump my mood reads up onto my fixed list if I still want to read them the following month. And I really do want to give this ago!

I’m still not 100% sure if this will be my cup of tea as it’s more of a romance than I’m used to reading. But, I do enjoy historical fiction and so I’m willing to give it a go for that reason. I have also really enjoyed The Netflix TV shows based on these books, so I’m hopeful that this will be an exception to the rule instead of a DNF! Having not long taken part in a contradictions book tag, that post has reminded me that sometimes we can be surprised by what we like when we don’t expect to, but also vice versa!

 

Empire of the Vampire

Another reason why I am setting a slightly smaller reading list this month is because I am picking up this chunk of a book.

At over 700 pages in its own right, this is going to be a substantial read. Maybe not quite enough to equate to 2 books of average length (for me), but it’s still plenty to be sinking my teeth into. The pun was fully intended!

As a general rule, I’m not big on vampire stories either, but that’s not to say I can’t enjoy them. I have enjoyed elements of them in the past, and frankly, I’m willing to overlook the fact because this is written by Jay Kristoff. I loved his Nevernight series and I autobought this book on that basis – that’s how much I loved them! I’ve also seen reviews that it has a very Patrick Rothfuss-y ‘The Name of the Wind’ vibe about its narration, and I’m all for that too!

 

Mood Reads

Dune Messiah

I just bought myself a copy of Dune Messiah at my local Waterstones the other day (not a spoiler because I’ve already shared it on my Instagram) and I want to read it – soon!

I saw this on a whim, but as I have the first book in paperback, I decided to pick this up, as well as the third book of the series (Children of Dune), with some vouchers I had. Not only have I watched the new film recently, but I did also read that first book of the series earlier this year. And I really enjoyed it, so whilst it’s fresh in my mind I’m thinking this might be my next good book to read. It’s also comparatively short at around 300 pages, so quite digestible. It will be a good one to pick up if I want something more concise.

 

Death of Kings

I’ve started watching the fourth series of The Last Kingdom in the last week, and it’s reminded me that I have the next book in the series yet to pick up. Technically the events in this book cover what occurred at the end of the last series, but I really don’t mind! I want to keep going with the series because I’m really loving the setting, the characters and the overall conflict that keeps rearing its head. As a fan of historical fiction it ticks a lot of boxes for me. And, it’s been awhile since I picked the last one up… so it’s about time I got stuck back in!

 

I may have pencilled in what I think my mood reads are going to be, they are precisely that – mood reads. That means that whilst these are books I want to pick up now, I might change my mind when it comes to it. If I want to pick up something totally different then that’s okay. I find giving myself the time to pick up something on a whim suits me. It keeps my reading motivation up and keeps it fun. It’s only my hobby, after all!

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

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Book Review: Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

In today’s book review I’m sharing my thoughts on the first book of the Shadow and Bone series. I picked up this book having watched the related Netflix series. This book was already on my radar because I had read and loved the Six of Crows duology, also written by Leigh Bardugo. I had already said then that I wanted to read this series, and I’m glad I have started at last.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, here’s a little bit about it below: –

 

Shadow & Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads – Shadow and Bone

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

 

My Thoughts…

Based on the Netflix series, this book lived up to my expectations. When I went into it, I knew that I wasn’t necessarily going to love every single aspect of it. There is an element of romance to the story which I didn’t particularly like in the Netflix series either, and inevitably I was going to come across it again in the book. That said, it didn’t detract from the rest of the story in the slightest.

But I am just going to take a minute to talk about that romance, because if I can’t have a whinge on my own little space on the Internet then where can I? Why do men wielding dark and mysterious powers have to ALWAYS be drop-dead gorgeous? Can fantasy writers please have a little bit more imagination and a perspective a little more true to reality for a minute? I know it’s a fantasy book, but there’s a difference between fantastical and delusional.

People are attracted to power. I can’t deny that. But every single fantasy villain is somehow both more powerful than anybody else in the world and just as beautiful… apparently. And that annoys me. Not only is it unrealistic, but the only real way that would actually be true is if they’re also narcissistic. There are a lot of narcissistic people in the world, but does it have to be every single fantasy villain?

I love the fantasy genre, but not all of the tropes that you see time and again. It gets boring. Even reading the tropes I like again and again it gets boring. Ones that I’m not keen on in the first place can definitely go in the bin. Like this one. Anyway, disparaging comments aside, that’s not to say that my grievance with this particular element of the book took away from the rest of the story. It definitely didn’t! On the contrary, I rated this book 4 stars out of five on Goodreads. It’s still a great book!

One of my favourite things about the Six of Crows duology what was the magic system and the lore behind the Grisha. I knew straightaway that it was an element I wanted to explore in more detail, and I’m really glad I did. There is still much to be learned about these people and their magic, and so I want to pick up the rest of the series to pursue this further.

Equally, the world building and the dynamic between those of different regions in the world adds a lot to the storyline. As someone who is very uninterested in politics in real life, I like to see it play out in books. If you follow my blog you know I’m a huge fan of the likes of Game of Thrones etc, in which politics is a huge element. It definitely comes to into play in Shadow and Bone as well. Both the dynamics between characters and those of other regions are attributable to how well this is portrayed within the narrative, and it makes for an interesting division that will no doubt come to the fore in future books.

The one thing I didn’t like about the Netflix series is that it merged the story lines of Six of Crows with this book. Both are fantastic stories – but in their own right! I’m glad the author has chosen to explore these separately, because there are so much of scope and I’m looking forward to see where the rest of the series leads.

 

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Monthly TBR – April 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to my monthly TBR for April. I’m really excited to be sharing the books I plan to pick up within the next few weeks! 

I didn’t get through all of my reading list for March. I did set myself an ambitious list and so I’m neither surprised nor disappointed by this fact. I knew when I prepared the list it was very likely I was going to carry some forward through to April – so most of the books on this month’s list have already been shared on last month’s TBR! 

Let’s see what I’m going to be reading very soon!

 

Fixed Reads

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I will be opening the month with my current read carried over from March, being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling. I’m currently around halfway through this book and I’m excited to complete my reread of the series! I last read this book around nine years ago now, so I am keen to read this book again and experience it from a more mature perspective!

 

The Thursday Murder Club

I have been loaned a copy of The Thursday Murder Club by my sister’s boyfriend, Chris, to read. I didn’t quite get round to this one last month, but I still cannot wait to pick this up! I’ve heard great things about this book, in particular the characters and the humour!

 

Ravencry & Crowfall

I added Ravencry and Crowfall to my ‘mood read list’ last month, but since I didn’t get round to them I’ve decided I’m adding them to my fixed list for April! I have a couple of other ‘mood reads’ in mind that I’d like to pick up, and so the progression onto my fixed reading list felt natural!

Having recently re-read Blackwing, the first book in the series, I got really excited for the series again. So naturally, I wanted to read it all again as opposed to just the first book! I re-read Blackwing in just a matter of days, and I fully expect Ravencry and Crowfall to be much the same in terms of experience!

 

Mood Reads

The Duke & I

This addition to my TBR is experimental. I’m not sure if it’s a book I’m going to enjoy, however having recently enjoyed watching the second season of the Netflix TV show, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t.

If I do enjoy The Duke and I then I will continue with the book series. However, don’t expect me to suddenly start reading romance all the time; my enjoyment of these books, if indeed I do enjoy them, will be the exception instead of the rule.

What I can say, is having featured this book in a very recent First Lines Friday post, the introduction made a good impression on me! Let’s see how the rest of the book pans out, shall we?

 

The Bone Collector

I’ve also been watching the TV series, Lincoln Rhyme, on Now TV recently. I have a copy of The Bone Collector sat upstairs on my bookshelf, and now feels like the right time to pick this up for myself. I believe my sister has read at least some of this book and enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see how it compares!

 

As in previous months, my indicated mood reads are provisional and I might choose to pick up something else at the time! Last month I didn’t even get round to my mood reads, which is perfectly okay too. I feel like this reading list is a little bit less ambitious, though still plentiful enough to give myself a challenge!

Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you reading this month? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

 

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First Lines Friday – 01/04/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or on my TBR or even just to experiment with something new!

For today’s post I decided to keep my options open and choose a book at random to feature. In today’s post, following a discussion I had with my friends, I’m featuring something completely different to the usual content on my blog. There is a book series that I’m considering trying, and the thing that’s most unusual about it is that the genre is not my cup of tea at all! He read a lot of my blog, you know that can mean only one thing… 

I’ve made it very clear in so many blog posts that romance is just not for me. And it’s not. However, I have been watching a popular TV series online that has got me invested in the storyline of this book. I have a friend who has also enjoyed some of the books as a result of the series, and my other friend is also going to give these a go in audiobook format, so I’m willing to give at least the first one a try too.

Have you guessed which book series I’m talking about? if not, today’s First Lines Friday intro might give you all the clues you need: –

 

The birth of Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset, Earl Clyvedon, was met with great celebration. Church bells rang for hours, champagne flowed freely through the gargantuan castle that the newborn would call home, and the entire village of Clyvedon quit work to partake of the feast and holiday ordered by the young earl’s father.

“This,“ the baker said to the blacksmith, “is no ordinary baby.“

For Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset would not spend his life as Earl Clyvedon. That was a courtesy title. Simon Arthur Henry Fitzranulph Basset – the baby who possessed more names than any baby could possibly need – was the heir to one of England’s oldest and richest dukedoms. And his father, the ninth Duke of Hastings, had waited years for this moment.

As he stood in the hall outside his wife’s confinement room, cradling the squalling infant, the duke’s heart near burst with pride.

Already several years past forty, he had watched his cronies – dukes and earls, all – beget heir after heir. Some had had to suffer through a few daughters before siring a precious son, but in the end, they all been assured that the lines would continue, that their blood would pass forward into the next generation of England’s elite.

 

 

The Duke & I – Julia Quinn

Goodreads – The Duke and I

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

 

My Thoughts…

I don’t know if branching out to read The Duke and I will be a good experience or not. But, as somebody who is willing to be diverse in every other reading genre, it would be rude of me not to try. There’s often a lot of bad press about books that become popular and consequently don’t live up to the hype. And I get that. I experience that with fantasy books quite a lot. However, I’d argue there are instances where popularity can be of a benefit.

If not for having watched the Netflix series, I would never have dreamed of picking up this book. I’d only started watching that series after a number of recommendations and good reviews. Even then, I’d only really put it on to experiment with it – it was more background noise than anything. But there were elements that I quickly found I enjoyed and I’ve come to like the series. I’m currently watching the second series on Netflix, with just a couple of episodes left. I believe this one deviates from the events in the book, but that’s a possible discussion for another day depending on how I get on with this first one.

It might be good, it might be bad, and equally it might fall somewhere in the middle. I just don’t know. But whilst I’m interested in the story, having watched the series, I’m willing to give this a shot. I’m not going to know what I think until I give it a try. And having read today’s introduction in preparation for this post, and a little bit further on, I can see myself giving this a healthy shot. That’s not to say I’m going to become a romance reader overnight, because that’s not true either. If I do go on to like this, it will definitely be an exception as opposed to the rule.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday post! Have you read The Duke and I, or any of the books in the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn? Let me know what you think, especially if this particular series was out of your comfort zone and you picked it up anyway!

 

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Shelf Control #19 – 08/05/2020

Today’s Friday feature post is all about Shelf Control (again) – or in my case, my absolute lack of it! Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

Shelf Control gives me the chance to look in more depth at the books I have added to my TBR. I get to talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep to my Down the TBR Hole posts for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I don’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them. I’ve also gone on to read a couple of the earliest books on the list, so this mini-series is proving useful!

In today’s post, I am featuring a classic novel that I want to try and read. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll make of it, but I’m interested enough to give it a go!

Shall we check out today’s featured book?

 

The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

The Three Musketeers

 

Alexandre Dumas’s most famous tale— and possibly the most famous historical novel of all time— in a handsome hardcover volume.

This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense. Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts…

This classical novel made it to my TBR as it also blends with one of my favourite genres, historical fiction. I also decided I wanted to read it after watching and enjoying the series on Netflix.

The slight concern I have is how romanticised the characters are in the novel. Don’t get me wrong, they were in the series too and I didn’t mind it too much. It wasn’t lewd or anything like that. I’m hopeful that it strikes up a similar tone, as I will be able to get on with it quite well.

The synopsis suggests that the novel balances action with storyline well on the whole, which I am looking forward to seeing if that is the case. It definitely isn’t a time period that I have read previously, so it will be a new experience for me!

Depending on how well I get on with this first book, I may go on to read the rest of the series. I didn’t even know this was the first book in a series until today!

Have you read The Three Musketeers? What do you think? Or, have you watched the Netflix shows as I have? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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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 video 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.