romance

All posts tagged romance

That Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson

Published March 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.

As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay…

An emotional story about love, identity and the meaning of family, That Girl From Nowehere is the new novel from the bestselling author of The Ice Cream Girls, The Woman He Loved Before and My Best Friend’s Girl.

What did I think?:

I was first introduced to the marvellous author that is Dorothy Koomson by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads who reads her work religiously as soon as it comes out. I started with My Best Friend’s Girl and haven’t stopped since then. Her story-telling is so beautiful and she chooses to focus on a number of issues that I like to read about, like the dynamics of different relationships, family secrets, betrayal and racism. That Girl From Nowhere is another corker of a story with a number of subplots going on underneath the main thread and has cemented Dorothy Koomson as one of my must read authors.

The protagonist in this novel is a young woman called Clemency Smittson (Smitty to her loved ones). Clem knew she was adopted from a young age and was raised by a white family, knowing nothing about her birth family except that she was handed over in a box decorated with butterflies. Throughout her childhood, although it was happy enough, she felt that she didn’t belong and a number of events lead her to be in quite a sad situation when we meet her. Her adopted father, whom she had a strong, loving relationship with has passed away and she has also ended a long-term relationship with Seth and moved back to Brighton, where she was born, to open up a jewellery store. The items that Clem makes for her clients are truly special. She re-vitalises old and worn pieces of jewellery into something that closely represents where her customer is at the current point of his/her life. A chance meeting with a stranger leads her to find one more information about her birth family and pushes her into finally making a connection with them. However, every family has secrets and Clem uncovers certain things which forces her to confront many events in her past and present. both in her adoptive family and her birth family which may make her then wish that she had never pulled at that thread in the first place.

Once again, I don’t want to say too much about the plot. It’s incredibly convoluted and intricate and simply made for discovering yourself. There’s a host of fantastic characters to enjoy and I loved the way the author explored the different relationships – between parents, siblings, lovers, friends, it’s all here and all completely delightful. I don’t think I’ve read too many books about adoption and it was interesting to read a story where this is one of the issues and we hear from both sides of the coin so as to speak. I also loved the casual racism that the author chose to focus on and it certainly made me think about how prevalent it still is sadly, in today’s “modern” society. If you’re new to Dorothy Koomson, it’s not my favourite of her books (I have so much love for The Ice Cream Girls and Rose Petal Beach) but it’s a solid four stars and a brilliant reading experience.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

Heir Of Fire (Throne Of Glass #3) – Sarah J. Maas

Published March 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.

What did I think?:

This is the third novel in the epic and utterly amazing Throne Of Glass series and yet again, Sarah J. Maas has me completely under her spell. I love this series so much but I definitely recommend reading it from the first book, Throne Of Glass as the characters and plot undergoes so many twists and turns that it could seem a bit overwhelming to those of you who haven’t come across our fantastic (and kick-ass) assassin and heroine, Celaena Sardothien. I’m still a bit surprised that I haven’t heard anything about this series being commissioned for film or television – its comparable to Game Of Thrones in its world building and could bring a lot more new people to a story that I love with every breath in my body.

As always, it’s terribly difficult to review the third book in a series and I’m wary of giving any spoilers for the previous books. So, if you haven’t read them I highly recommend doing that and then maybe coming back. However, I will try to be very vague about certain aspects of the narrative. Celaena goes on one of the biggest personal journeys in Heir Of Fire. Due to events that occurred in Crown Of Midnight, she is a broken, self-doubting, regretful and guilty as hell individual and constantly beats herself up for decisions she has made in the past. Travelling to the land of the Fae outside Adarlan, she meets a host of new people who are very similar to herself and uses her sharp tongue and wit to have a duel of words with Queen Maeve of the Fae to try and get some information about the dreaded Wyrdkeys and the secrets behind their power.

Not only this but Celaena begins to train with one of Maeve’s most fearsome and respected warriors, Rowan Whitethorn to develop her gifts and skills way beyond that of a mere assassin. He’s a tough boss to be around and pushes Celaena to her physical and emotional limits but she comes out a stronger and much more powerful individual because of it. Their relationship was one of my high points of the book and I loved how their interactions changed from sneering disgust to grudging respect as they both see what the other is capable of. It’s not all about Celaena and Rowan though. There are a host of new characters to savour, my favourite of which was Manon Blackbeak, heir to the Blackbeak coven and Wing Leader of the Ironteeth Thirteen. The King Of Adarlan (*boo hiss*) has requested their assistance and the wyverns they fly on to carry out his dastardly plans. Meanwhile, Prince Dorian must decide whether he has the strength to stand up to his father and fight for what he truly believes in.

That’s all I want to say about plot but believe me, there’s so much more going on in this novel than what I’ve chosen to focus on. Scene by scene and from character to character, Sarah J. Maas compels the reader to fall in love with this world and the people she has created. Just when you think she couldn’t possibly introduce someone else that has the same level of excitement that Celaena brings to the novel, enter Manon Blackbeak who at the moment is jostling with her in my head for the title of favourite character, that’s how much of an impact she has had on me. The secondary characters are also wonderful in their own right and should not be forgotten and I must admit to having a special spot in my heart for Abraxos, Manon’s loyal but temperamental wyvern. The relationship between these two was so beautiful and I found myself smiling inanely whenever they appeared on the pages. With another tense yet brilliant ending, I cannot help but eagerly anticipate the fourth novel, Queen Of Shadows and urge everyone who hasn’t already to begin reading this series as soon as possible. If you’re already a die-hard fan (like myself) let’s talk in the comments! Who is your favourite character and why?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Everbound (Everneath #2) – Brodi Ashton

Published February 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

What did I think?:

It’s always tricky reviewing the second book in a series so I’m going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible! For anybody who hasn’t come across the Everneath series before it’s heavily based on Greek mythology (one of my favourite things) but set in contemporary times. The Everneath itself is the equivalent of the Greek Hades and is ruled over by a Queen (who is slightly more tyrannical than the Greek Persephone). It’s definitely become one of my favourite YA series and not just because of the mythological nod. I love the characters, the plot and the world building – basically, it’s just a darn good read if you like your fiction a little fantastical.

Our main character is Nikki Beckett whom in the first book, experienced all the horrors of the Everneath through Cole, a resident of the area. At the time, her mother had died, she was having problems with her boyfriend Jack and generally wasn’t in a good place. However, visiting the Everneath with Cole came at a price. After coming back to her normal life, she was compelled to return to the Everneath after a period of six months for good and is desperately trying to figure a way around it after she was happily reconciled with Jack. The first book ends with a bit of a bang leaving both Nikki and Jack’s lives in danger. With the help of Cole, she must return once more to the Everneath to save both her and her boyfriend’s lives. Entering the Everneath with the hope of escaping is not going to be an easy task in any way, shape or form. Nikki must penetrate the three barriers of wind, fire and water, avoid zombie-like creatures that wander aimlessly around and the furious Queen if she can possibly help it and manage to escape out the other side, back to the real world with both her and Jack’s lives intact.

This is a brilliant and very strong second book in the Everneath series. I love Nikki as a character, she’s independent and determined and although she has been through multiple traumatic experiences she seems to come out of it relatively scar free with more motive than ever before. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles (cue eye rolling) in YA fiction but I really rate the characters of both Jack and Cole, the latter of which just fascinates me. For Jack fans, there is less of him to savour in this outing but we do get a few flashbacks of the early stages of his relationship with Nikki which was lovely to read. Finally, the world building which I mentioned earlier is just phenomenal and so imaginative. I could really picture the Everneath in my mind’s eye and whilst Nikki is there, the action is full throttle and incredibly thrilling. I’m definitely looking forward to the final book in the trilogy now and will feel a bit sad when it all comes to an end!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Blog Tour – Echoes In Death (In Death #44) – J.D. Robb

Published February 3, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES . . . The chilling new suspense novel from the author of Brotherhood in Death.

After a party in New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas rides home with her billionaire husband, Roarke, happy to be done with cocktails and small talk.

After another party, not far away, a woman retires to her bedroom with her husband—and walks into a brutal nightmare.

Their paths are about to collide…

When the young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—wanders in front of their car, Roarke slams on the brakes just in time, and Eve, still in glittering gown and heels, springs into action. It’s been a long night for the tired homicide cop, and it’s far from over.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil” . . .

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked—and that he treated Daphne like a trophy wife—this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse as the first suspect. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Echoes In Death in exchange for an honest review. Now, I love my crime fiction but so far haven’t actually read any of J.D. Robb’s novels – and there’s been a lot of them. This is the forty-fourth in the In Death series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her Irish husband Roarke and the author has written many more novels (more than two hundred to be exact!) under both the pseudonym J.D. Robb and her real name, Nora Roberts.

The novel follows our main character Lt Eve Dallas, her husband to a lesser extent, and her loyal partner Peabody as they deal with a frightening new evil. On their way home from a party, a naked, bloody and petrified young woman jumps out in front of Eve and Roarke’s car. After further questioning the woman, Daphne Strazza is found to have undergone a horrifying ordeal. A man has broken into her house, brutally raped and beaten her multiple times and killed her husband. The only thing she can tell Eve for certain is that he was “the devil.” Eve soon discovers that the assailant was wearing a mask and shortly forms a connection between two other incidents involving rich couples where the perp dressed up as a vampire and secondly as a ghoul. However, the previous two incidents didn’t involve any deaths and Eve worries that the incidents are escalating. Eve and her department must pull out all the stops to find the man responsible for these atrocities before he strikes again.

Echoes In Death isn’t like any other work of crime fiction that I’ve read before and I loved that about it. It’s actually set in the future, a mid 21st-century New York City where the landscape still feels quite familiar but technology has moved on in giant leaps and bounds. We have intricate  home security systems in place, machines that can identify a living person or corpse at the touch of a button, new drugs and treatments for things as simple as a headache and (my favourite) helpful household droids. There are a multitude of strong, interesting characters including the independent, compassionate Eve and her side-kick Peabody whom I instantly fell in love with. My only slight issue was that I guessed who the killer was pretty soon after he was introduced in the novel. I usually feel quite disappointed when this happens but I have to say that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all.

I have to admit to being a bit concerned when I agreed to read this novel as I’m a bit of a stickler at reading things in order and not having read any of the other books in the series I was worried that I wouldn’t connect to certain things in the characters back stories. It’s true at points I did feel slightly ignorant, especially concerning Eve’s traumatic past (which  I won’t go into for fear of spoilers) but in a positive way, I am looking forward to having lots of books in the series to go back to and fill in the blanks for myself! This book surprised me in a lot of ways, it certainly wasn’t what I expected and I’m really looking forward to catching up with things right from the beginning of the series.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

July 10, 2011 - Boonsboro, Maryland USA: Best-selling author Nora Roberts on the porch of the Inn at Boonsboro in historic Boonsboro, Maryland. Ms. Roberts bought the 1790s-era building and created an eight-room boutique hotel meant to cater to women's romantic sides. Rooms are named for famous literary couples, including Marguerite and Percy of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and Jane and Rochester from "Jane Eyre." Ms. Roberts spent $3 million renovating the three-story inn. Roberts is the author of more than 209 romance novels. She writes as J.D. Robb for the "In Death" series (Evelyn Hockstein/POLARIS) ///

Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller of more than 200 novels. She published her first novel using the pseudonym J.D. Robb in 1995, with the In Death series, Robb has become one of the biggest thriller writers on earth, with each new novel reaching number one on bestseller charts over the world. With over 450 million copies of her books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated and popular writers in the world.

Find Nora on her website at http://www.noraroberts.com/

Or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/norarobertsjdrobb

Thank you once again to Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Echoes In Death was published on 7th February 2017 and is also available as an e-book. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

echoes

The Ballroom – Anna Hope

Published January 10, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Where love is your only escape ….

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

What did I think?:

The Ballroom is the last book in the Richard and Judy Winter Book Club 2016 here in the UK and what a blinder they’ve ended with! This is the author’s second novel after her debut and critically acclaimed novel The Wake (which I still have on my shelves to read and I shall certainly be “bumping,” it on the strength of her second book). Set in the early twentieth century this book is a captivating tale of love and madness that kept me gripped until the very end.

It is the tale primarily of Ella, a young woman who finds herself admitted to an asylum in Yorkshire for (according to her) a slight misdemeanour at work that has led to her being pronounced mad and committed to the asylum for an indefinite period of time or until she appears to recover her senses. John is also in the asylum on the men’s side after having being driven mad with grief after a terrible event in his past. The two first meet properly when the men and women are brought together for a weekly dance, led by one of the medical professionals who insists that the music will have beneficial effects for the poor people that seem to have lost their minds.

Slowly but surely, love develops between Ella and John, a love that seems quite pointless and doomed if they are never to be released from the asylum and never allowed to be together. This is the story of how they cope in the asylum, what day to day life is like for them and also focuses on the other characters in the institution – friends of both Ella and John and on the medical professional and music master, Dr Charles Fuller. He is preparing a paper for the Eugenics Society on the benefits of music for the asylum inhabitants and has a rather sad past/present situation of his own.

The lines between madness and sanity are blurred extraordinarily in this fantastic novel and it makes us question the fragility or strength of our own mind if we were placed in certain situations. I loved Ella and John as characters, both were strong yet somehow very vulnerable and their love story made for delicious reading. I was also deeply intrigued by the character of Charles Fuller, for reasons I dare not disclose for fear of spoilers. At points, it was his story, attitude and actions that made me keep turning the pages, especially at a particularly tense scene involving John near the end…. This is a beautiful piece of writing from a very talented author and I cannot wait to now read her debut, if the brilliance of The Ballroom is anything to go by.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Checkmate (Noughts & Crosses #3) – Malorie Blackman

Published January 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father’s family has a complicated history – one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it’s a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

What did I think?:

Checkmate is the third book in the fabulous Noughts & Crosses series by a woman I’ve come to think of as a YA genius – Malorie Blackman. I am going to try and write this review as spoiler free as I can for anybody who hasn’t started the series yet but it gets harder with each successive book in the series. I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in dystopian fiction, prejudice and racial tension to read these books and discover the magic of them for yourself.

Our main character from the first book, Sephy is back and she has had a daughter, Callie Rose whom she is raising by herself with the help of her mother and Callie’s father’s mother. Callie is growing up in tough times where black people (known as Crosses) are the “superior” race and whites (known as Noughts) are treated with scorn and derision. Callie’s problem is that she has a Cross mother and a Nought father, so in effect is mixed race and suffers terrible prejudice from both sides of the divide. Checkmate is Callie’s coming of age story as she grows up in a hostile world, tries to connect with her often emotionally distant mother and finds out things about her family that may have been better left hidden and may have dangerous consequences.

To be perfectly honest, this book did not have as much of an effect on me as the previous two books in the series, Noughts & Crosses and Knife Edge, Apart from the ending that is, which is quite literally explosive and incredibly tense, paving the way for a potentially devastating final book in the series. I loved Callie Rose as a character and could see a lot of her mother in her young self but found myself becoming quite frustrated with Sephy at times as her wariness around her daughter was truly heart-breaking to read. I loved the way that this novel was told from the perspective of multiple characters once again, this is one of my favourite ways to read as I feel it gives you a much deeper insight into the mind of certain characters, especially ones where you can’t quite accept their motives. Say no more….apart from please start this series if you haven’t already and let me know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Banned Books 2016 – NOVEMBER READ – Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Published December 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep—sometimes with each other.

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, steal our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely . . .

You know you love me,

gossip girlbannedbooks

 Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our eleventh banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

First published: 2002

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2006 (source)

Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As one of the more recent releases, I don’t believe opinions have changed much in the last ten or so years so I don’t agree with any of the challenges to the book. First of all (getting ready to jump on soap box) the homosexuality. There is no reason on earth why homosexuality should not be portrayed in a book, especially one aimed at teenagers. In fact, if teenagers don’t read about the wide variety of people and sexual orientations we have on our planet aren’t they more likely to grow up to be bigots when they’re older? Just saying. Offensive language – I don’t really remember a lot of bad language in the book it either passed me by completely or didn’t offend me in the slightest. Yes, it does talk about sex but I don’t think it’s particularly explicit and no worse than you’d hear on the television or in other forms of media.

CHRISSI: My opinion on this is exactly the same as Beth’s. I think the TV series is so popular and so many teenagers have seen it. I don’t think the book is as explicit. It may have sexual content but it’s nothing more than what they’d see on TV, read in other books or hear from their friends. I think we need to treat teenagers with some level of maturity and if they’re of the age that can handle sexual content, I don’t see the harm in allowing teens to read this book. Would I teach it? No. I wouldn’t deny teenagers the chance to read it though.

How about now?

BETH: Guess what? Same answer. I think the Gossip Girl books are particularly aimed at teenage girls and I don’t think there’s anything in the books that girls wouldn’t hear from their friends or elsewhere. As a result, I think that saying it’s unsuited to the age group is a bit strange. I’m a big fan of the TV series, that Chrissi got me into and while that is slightly more graphic it’s still not something that I would be worried about a teenager seeing. 

CHRISSI: Definitely not now. Teens talk and they can speak in much more graphic terms than teens would experience from reading this book.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I enjoyed it! As I came to the TV series first, a few things were different and surprised me a bit but on the whole I think the series stayed very true to the book in general. I already felt like I knew the characters so well and obviously had the actors faces in mind as I was reading so it was almost like reading a nice, familiar book that I had read before.

CHRISSI: I did enjoy it but I do have a fond place in my heart for the TV series. ❤ I did think of Leighton Meester and Blake Lively particularly when reading about Blair and Serena!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Join us again on the last Monday of December for our last banned book of the year when we will be discussing My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.