romance

All posts tagged romance

This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell

Published June 11, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The dazzling new novel from bestselling, award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell, This Must be the Place crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage.

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

Maggie O’Farrell’s seventh novel is a dazzling, intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world.

What did I think?:

When I saw this new novel by Maggie O’Farrell on the Richard and Judy bookclub list for this summer I was thrilled. I’ve previously read and thoroughly enjoyed Instructions For A Heatwave and The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox by the author and have heard such great things about This Must Be The Place, as well as it being a strong contender for the Costa Award for Best Novel recently so I was highly anticipating a great read. What I got was exactly that but in entirely a different way than I had expected. It’s told from a number of different points of views (MANY of them actually!) but this never in any way feels too much or affects the flow of the narrative. It’s a real journey into the heart of a man’s life and his relationships, both past and present between his family and his lovers.

The man we are talking about is Daniel Sullivan, whom when we first meet him is living in the remote Irish countryside with his wife Claudette, a reclusive film star, her son from a previous long term relationship (which comes with its own story and issues) and their two children together. Daniel has had quite a complicated life. Before Claudette, he was married and lived in America with his wife and two children from that relationship which ended quite acrimoniously and sadly, he has very little contact with the children now although he is attempting to change that. We also learn about his past when he was younger and had a relationship with a somewhat troubled and older woman, that had its own problems and led to him making decisions that he now regrets. It is because of this particular woman in his past that has led to him making another hasty, wobbly decision to get some answers about what exactly happened to her which unfortunately, threatens his marriage in the current time with Claudette and the tenuous relationship he currently has with the other members of his family.

If I could describe this novel in one word I think I would choose the word epic. It spans so many decades of Daniel’s lives and involves such a multitude of characters that at times I can understand why it might feel quite overwhelming for some readers. Not for me, however. I loved finding out about all these different fractions of Daniel’s life, how they pieced together and how he managed to resolve (or not resolve as the case may be) certain situations in his past and present. Daniel is a fantastic character, he’s just so NORMAL with flaws and problems like everyone else but in his heart he is genuinely a good, loyal man and a great father that has had extraordinary bad luck with some of the paths he has chosen to take. It’s not just Daniel, the other characters are wonderful too, especially Claudette whose fiesty nature I adored and even some minor characters that although they appear albeit very briefly, make a huge impact on the story and give some great insights into their own lives and of course our main character’s i.e. Daniel’s mother. This may be a slow burner of a novel but my goodness it is worth it. The beautiful writing, characterisation and plot development clearly shows how hard the author has worked on it and it’s definitely one of her stand out pieces of work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Blog Tour – Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

Published June 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A saga of love, family ties, and twisted passions from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Obsession

The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Clara Diaz and Little, Brown publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and sending me a complimentary copy of Nora Roberts’ new novel, Come Sundown in exchange for an honest review. Strangely enough, I first came across Nora Roberts through Little, Brown publishers themselves when they asked me if I’d be interested in participating in a blog tour for the latest book in her futuristic suspense In Death series which she writes under a pseudonym, J.D. Robb. I really enjoyed the novel, Echoes In Death and was determined to seek out some more of her work. Thanks to Little, Brown I didn’t have to wait long! In Come Sundown, there’s a lot more romance compared to Echoes In Death but it still had a classic, sometimes terrifying crime focus and, in some ways, felt a lot more sinister which I did appreciate, being somewhat of a sucker for a darker narrative.

The story is set in Montana on a ranch owned by a hard-working dynasty of a family and spear-headed by the strong and independent Bodine Longbow, who has an incredibly loyal support network of family, friends and employees behind her willing her on and assisting her in every way possible when required. There are some fierce and fantastic characters in her family, namely her mother and grandmother whom even after undergoing so much personal hardship in their pasts are committed to their family in the present time and have a clear and blissful vision of what the future could hold.

Many years ago, Bodine’s Aunt Alice left her family in search of bigger adventures and has not returned, breaking her mother’s heart and angering others. Since then, things have been relatively peaceful on the ranch, everyone has muddled through and the business has become extremely successful. When a childhood friend of Bodine’s, Callen Skinner returns to the ranch and begins working there, things may also be looking up in the romantic sense too! However, when the body of an employee is found on the ranch in suspicious circumstances and Aunt Alice unexpectedly returns with devastating news to share, Bodine begins to realise that her haven of peace, tranquillity and control may not be so safe anymore.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot of this novel as it’s honestly so much better to just discover it all for yourself. Personally, I was delighted by what I found. It was the perfect mixture of romance, suspense and mystery all rolled into one and I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not a big romance fan. For some reason, the relationships in this book just worked for me. This includes the non-romantic ones I hasten to add! I really loved the family dynamics between Bodine and her mother, grandmother, brothers and also the strong friendship she ends up forging with Jessica, events manager for the site. To top it all off (and my favourite part of the novel) was an incredibly strong and eerie crime plot with a villain that will send chills down your spine and make you think a lot deeper about the psychological damage and lasting effects that accompany a hugely traumatic event. I’m very pleased I read this novel, it was a lot deeper and darker than I was expecting and I certainly won’t hesitate to pick up another story by Nora Roberts.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Nora Roberts is the number one New York Times bestseller
of more than 200 novels. With over 500 million copies of her
books in print, she is indisputably one of the most celebrated
and popular writers in the world. She is a Sunday Times
hardback bestseller writing as both Nora Roberts and J.D.
Robb.

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. Come Sundown was published on 30th May 2017 and is available from all good bookshops now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

 

The Kiss Of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) – Mary E. Pearson

Published May 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

What did I think?:

When my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads told me I had to start this series I have to admit that although I trust her opinion of what I’m going to enjoy implicitly, I was slightly unsure. I’m not a big fan of romance heavy books, they tend to be a bit sickly sweet for my liking and I was worried the cheese factor might be a bit too much for me to take. Well, Chrissi was right once again. I actually LOVED this book, so much in fact that I gave it a physical hug when I had finished. Embarrassing to admit? Maybe but never mind, eh?! It’s the perfect mixture of fantasy with magical elements, intrigue, twists and turns with a wonderful independent female lead and even a love triangle that was beautifully understated and amazingly, didn’t get on my wick.

Our main character, Princess Lia is from the land of Morrighan and is due to be married off to a prince from a neighbouring land that she has never met before, purely for political alliance purposes. She, understandably, is less than thrilled with this prospect and decides to run away with her best friend and maid, Pauline. They ensconce themselves under the radar in a fishing village miles from home, working locally and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. However, Lia does not manage to stay incognito very long. There are now two men that come into her life that are both after her for different reasons. One is the thwarted prince that she was meant to marry, the other is an assassin sworn to take her life (again for political reasons). Their names are Rafe and Kaden and they are both deadly in different circumstances but the brilliant thing about this novel is that we don’t know which is the assassin and which is the prince inviting bucket loads of intensity, tension and drama in an action packed plot that I simply adored.

So as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I am in no way a romance fan. I never have been but after reading The Kiss Of Deception I am now starting to wonder have I just been reading the wrong sort of books? The romance in this novel was so tender and lovely to read that I even experienced a little flutter at certain moments of the narrative, something I thought could never have happened to a cynical old heart like myself! More surprising, I actually enjoyed the love triangle part of this story, normally something I despise in YA fiction. In the first novel of The Remnant Chronicles it just feels somewhat different – I’m not sure if I can explain it. I think it might be down to the character of Lia and how she deals with the intentions of both Rafe and Kaden. She has sass, a fiesty “no nonsense” nature and her strong personality in general coupled with her insistence that she can be independent and work a normal job, sort of an anti-princess so as to speak really made me respect her and made her more believable and the romance aspect less sickly sweet. I had such a positive reaction to this book, it was so pleasantly surprising and on finishing it I immediately asked Chrissi if she had finished the second book yet so I could read it, that’s how desperate I was to continue the series as soon as possible, a VERY good sign I think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Mini Pin-It Reviews #8 – Four YA Books

Published April 17, 2017 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA books for you – please see my pin it thoughts below!

1.) A Kiss In The Dark – Cat Clarke

What’s it all about?:

When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant.

Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend.

Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive…

But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) The Retribution Of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3) – Michelle Hodkin

What’s it all about?:

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) Double Cross (Noughts & Crosses #4) – Malorie Blackman

What’s it all about?:

Callie Rose knows too much – too much about violence and family feuds, and too much about Nnoughts and Crosses. And knowing so much about the past makes her afraid for her future. People always seem to want revenge.

Tobey wants a better life – for him and for Callie Rose. He wants nothing to do with the violent gangs that rule the world he lives in. But when he’s offered the chance to earn some extra money, just this once, would it hurt to say ‘yes’?

One small decision can change everything . . .

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles #1) – Lauren DeStefano

What’s it all about?:

On the floating city of Internment,you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach THE EDGE. If you do, it’s already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP SOON ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four books I received from Book Bridgr.

Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) – Lauren DeStefano

Published April 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Time is running out for Rhine in this conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Chemical Garden Trilogy.

With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

In this breathtaking conclusion to Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, everything Rhine knows to be true will be irrevocably shattered.

What did I think?:

I was recommended the Chemical Gardens trilogy by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and I believe it’s one of her favourite YA dystopian series. After finishing the final book in the trilogy, Sever, I can definitely see why. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you know how I dread reviewing second and third books in a series as I’m very wary of giving away spoilers but I’ll do my best to be as vague as possible. I love the world Lauren DeStefano has created in these novels and her characterisation was really on point with fantastic fictional people that you could really see growing and developing over the course of the series.

The Chemical Gardens trilogy is based in a future, dystopian society where a virus with no known cure wipes out the population – women at twenty years old and men and twenty-five. As a result, many girls are forced into marriage at a very young age and encouraged to reproduce as quickly as possible to ensure a future generation while scientists (and the obvious rogue elements that pop up) desperately work to try and find a cure. In Sever, our main character Rhine has escaped the clutches of her villainous father in law Vaughn and is living with Vaughn’s brother, the noble Reed while she tries to hunt for her brother, Rowan and the man she originally escaped with, Gabriel who she developed strong and conflicting feelings for. In this final novel, Rhine finds out a lot more about herself, her family history and about her adversary, Vaughn than she ever could have imagined. However, it is crucial that she treads carefully while seeking her wayward, rebellious brother as Vaughn is determined to imprison her once more for what he believes is the greater good.

The first book in this trilogy, Wither was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second, Fever was a great addition to the series but I found myself slightly less captivated by it although it was still a good, solid read that I would highly recommend. I approached Sever with slight trepidation wondering if I would get answers to the many questions I had and curious as to how the author was going to wrap it all up. I needn’t have worried as once again the brilliance of Lauren DeStefano’s writing and fascinating plot shone through. I love that this book isn’t all about the romance – a young adult book heavy on romance gives me a bit of the ick factor so it was refreshing that Rhine could stand on her own as a strong young woman who didn’t really need a love interest to tell a compelling story. There isn’t as much action in this series as your average dystopian adventure story but to be perfectly honest, it really didn’t need it. The characters and world they live in are exciting enough without having battles and bloody violence thrown into the mix. If you’re a fan of dystopia and love reading about characters that go on real, emotional journeys this is definitely the series for you. I  actually cannot wait to read more from this wonderful and gifted YA author.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Bamboo Road by Ann Bennett

Published March 30, 2017 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to my spot on the Bamboo Road Blog Tour. Bamboo Road is the third in a trilogy of historical fiction books about Southeast Asia during the Second World War that can be read in any order. To see my review of the first book Bamboo Heart, please click HERE and for the second book, Bamboo Island, please click HERE.

What’s it all about?:

Thailand 1942: Sirinya and her family are members of the Thai underground, who risk their lives to resist the World War Two Japanese occupation and to and help British prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway. The events of those years have repercussions for decades to come. The book tells Sirinya s wartime story and how in the 1970s she returns to Kanchanaburi after a long absence abroad, to settle old scores from the war years. Bamboo Road is volume three in a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy that includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Island (the books may be read in any order).”

What did I think?:

After the beautiful second novel in the trilogy that was Bamboo Island, I was eager to get to Bamboo Road, make friends with a host of new characters and find out even more about the horrific things that Japanese prisoners of war went through during the Second World War. I’m very pleased to report back that Bamboo Road did not disappoint. Brutal in points, that’s a given considering the subject matter but hugely interesting involving a lot of other themes including friendship, the importance of family and love.

Our protagonist for this story is Sirinya, a young woman living in Thailand with her uncle, aunt and cousin and whom, when the Japanese invade and take over, goes to extreme lengths with her family to help the prisoners of war when she is horrified to discover how they are being treated. As with the other novels in the trilogy, there are a couple of different time periods, that of 1942 when Sirinya was a huge part of the underground movement fighting against the cruel methods used by the Japanese to torture prisoners and the 1970’s where Sirinya as a grown woman returns to her family home to settle an old score from years ago that has shadowed and deeply affected her life ever since.

Once again, similar to Bamboo Island, it was wonderful to read about such a brave and independent female lead character who I instantly sympathised and felt connected to. Sirinya takes many risks, is subjected to the worst kind of torture and experiences many losses of her own yet remains strong and determined that the prisoners of war should categorically not be suffering. Once she catches a glimpse of their starving, emaciated bodies in the jungle she is willing to put her own life on the line to ensure that they got enough food and that medicines that they desperately needed were smuggled into the camp. She had so much heart and compassion, not only in this but in the way she reacted to the people around her, especially her close family and I loved rooting for her throughout the novel. Throughout the trilogy, the author has struck an excellent balance between the horror, challenges and moments of romance that her characters experience and I feel like I’ve learned not only about the terrible conditions of prisoner of war camps but about Southeast Asia as a region, something I was hoping for when beginning the series and Ann Bennett delivered on every level.

If you like the sound of Bamboo Road, you can buy it here:

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bamboo-Road-BAMBOO-HEART-Bennett-ebook/dp/B06XFJSD7S

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

 Ann Bennett was born and raised in a small village in Northamptonshire, UK. She read Law at Cambridge and qualified and practised as a solicitor. During a career break, to have children, she started to write. Her father had been a prisoner of war on the Thailand– Burma Railway and the idea for a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy came from researching his wartime experiences. The research took her back to Asia, a place she loves and has returned to many times. She lives in Surrey with her husband and three sons and works in London as a lawyer.

Website: https://www.bambooheart.co.uk/
Blog: https://annbennettbambooheart.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annbennett71
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ann-Bennett-242663029444033/

Thank you once again to Monsoon Books and Faye Rogers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Bamboo Road, the third in the Bamboo trilogy was published on 1st March 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now! If you’re hungry for more, why not check out some of the other stops on the tour from my fellow bloggers?

 

Bamboo Island – Ann Bennett

Published March 29, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Juliet Crosby has lived a reclusive life on her Malayan rubber plantation since the Second World War robbed her of everyone she loved. However, the sudden appearance of a young woman from Indonesia disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories. Juliet is forced to recollect her prewar marriage, her wartime ordeals in Japanese-occupied Singapore and the loss of those she once held dear. Bamboo Island is part of a Southeast Asian WWII trilogy of historical fiction that can be read in any order and includes Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Road.

What did I think?:

Hello everyone and welcome to the second of three very special days on my blog to celebrate the Bamboo Trilogy by Ann Bennett. To see my review of the first book in the series, Bamboo Heart, please click HERE. This post today will focus on the second novel, Bamboo Island which involves different characters than the first book but is set in the same time frame, in Southeast Asia during the Second World War. It means each book can be read as a stand alone but we do get certain events being referred to in the second and third book.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series but I was especially delighted to discover that I enjoyed Bamboo Island even more! It follows a British woman called Juliet Crosby who has lived with her husband, Gavin on a rubber plantation but their marriage is fraught with difficulties. Her only confidant is her sister Rose who is married herself and lives in Singapore so visiting and speaking with each other is a rare occurrence. There are a number of different time frames to this story (which was part of why I loved it most) and we switch between them seamlessly.

There is pre-war, naive Juliet and her struggles with her distant husband and distant sister (both distant for VERY different reasons, mind you!). Then there is Juliet during the war with full and heart-breaking description of her struggles and her internment at a horrific prison camp but also the friendships and bonds she makes along the way. Finally, there is post war Juliet living back on the rubber plantation and waiting for someone. The person who turns up is definitely not whom she is expecting, a young girl called Mary, claiming to have crucial information about Juliet’s family and the loss of those that she had been close to. Juliet is uncertain about whether to believe her but the two women journey to try and find evidence to back up Mary’s claims leading Juliet to go on an emotional journey back in time herself as she remembers her difficult life and comes to terms with what happened to her in the past.

I raced through this book in just over twenty-four hours, I kid you not. I literally could not put it down. I connected and sympathised with Juliet as a character so much, perhaps more than I did with the female lead in Bamboo Heart and I was constantly on edge whilst reading it, desperate to find out more about her past. I also can’t remember the last time I was willing a character to have a happy ending so bad! Again, the author does not avoid full and frank details about the conditions a prisoner of war under the Japanese would experience and once again, she had me disgusted, despairing but completely devoted to the story. I felt that the secondary characters in this novel were also people I wanted to get to know and felt like fully, fleshed out people who you could instantly love (or hate, in some cases!). After the strength of this second part of the trilogy, I now can’t wait to get to Bamboo Road where I hope to find further fascinating characters that will give me the intense feelings that Bamboo Island did.

If you like the sound of Bamboo Island, you can buy it here:

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/9814625175

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Come back tomorrow for my stop on the blog tour for Bamboo Road, the final book in the Bamboo trilogy.