ACOTAR/ACOMAF re-read (and giveaway)

With the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin just a couple of weeks away, here’s a brief recap of the first two books in the series – as I haven’t reviewed these books on here before. I’m also currently running a giveaway for a pre-order of the next book from the Book Depository. It’s open until midnight BST on Thursday 21 April, so if you’d like to enter you still have time. You can view the original post and how to enter here.

As I’m reviewing the two books in one post here – there will definitely be spoilers – so please don’t read ahead if you don’t want to know what happens! Continue reading

Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan

hold-back-the-starsThe story:
Carys and Max are floating through space with only 90 minutes of air left in their tanks and no conceivable means of getting back to their ship. As the clock ticks down, the young couple grow try everything they can to make it back to safety, while in flashbacks we learn about the history of their relationship, how they ended up stranded in space and the earth they left behind and how they

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. We really got to know Carys and Max as characters. They’re in an impossible situation and their reactions seem incredibly real and incredibly human. They swing between from optimistic, practical bursts of activity to hopeless despair as the minutes tick by. They bicker and argue, but also laugh and joke and hold each other together.

I was completely emotionally invested in whether or not they’d make it and for the last 25% of the book I was literally holding back sobs on the train on my way to work. I really didn’t like the ending though. It’s hard to discuss without spoilers, but I just thought it was a bit of a cop out and it made me angry! Continue reading

Iona Grey’s ‘Letters to the Lost’

Letters to the lostIn wartime Britain, American airman Dan Rosinski falls in love with the newly – but unhappily – married Stella Thorne. Against their better judgement, they embark on a passionate affair. But the odds are stacked against them. Dan risks his life every day and Stella is trapped under the weight of social conventions, and their relationship is soon tested to its limits.

Many years later, a young girl is hiding out in an abandoned house on the run from an abusive partner – ill, broke and with no plans for the future. But when Jess opens a letter addressed to an ‘S. Thorne’, she’s immediately drawn into a love story that spans over half a century.

Now ninety years old and living in the USA, Dan is determined to find the girl that he fell in love with all those years ago. As Jess reads through a box of old letters she finds in the house, she becomes determined to help him to find an ending to his story. Continue reading

‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate

FallenAfter a horrific accident that destroyed Luce’s life, she lands at a reform school, which is predictably full of oddballs, misery and strict rules.

But the second Luce sees fellow student Daniel, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s met him before. She’s haunted by a sense of déjà vu, and she can’t seem to stay away from him. He, on the other hand, seems to want nothing to do with her.

Soon though, circumstances conspire to throw them together, and it becomes clear that the two of them have a past that goes back far longer than Luce can remember. As Luce searches for answers, the stakes continue to get higher and more dangerous at every turn.

While the idea was good, there were a few inconsistencies in ‘Fallen’ that I couldn’t really get my head around. Daniel and Luce have known each other before, time and time again, that’s clear from the opening pages. But while Luce is ignorant of their past each time they meet, Daniel has the full knowledge of what’s come before. It’s no surprise then when they meet again at reform school. But Daniel is there first. And if he’s lived so many amazing lives in the past, I couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing in somewhere so miserable.

The same goes for all of the other supernatural beings – and there are many! Why immortal creatures would choose to spend their time going to one of the dreariest sounding schools around, when they clearly have other, more interesting options, is beyond me.

The setting itself is very atmospheric – with a school with an onsite graveyard, a gym in a converted church, a huge gothic library, permanent mist and lingering smell – but it felt a little clichéd. Continue reading

Emily Croy Barker’s ‘The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic’

thinking womans guideDespite disliking the main character so much I almost quit halfway through, once you get stuck into this book it isn’t half bad!

The first part of this book is pure fairy tale. Our main character, Nora, stumbles upon a beautiful house and gardens deep into the forest. Soon, she’s drawn into the chanting and intoxicating world of Illisa and her friends. Caught up in a whirlwind of parties and swiftly married off to Illisa’s son Raclin, it’s only much later that she starts to regain her faculties enough to understand that she’s been enchanted from the second she clapped eyes on Ilissa, and that the Faitoren are much more than they seem. Desperate to escape their clutches, she flees and is rescued by the magician Aruendiel.

Away from the Faitoren, Nora finds herself in a world reminiscent of Medieval England. With no way to get back to her old life, she learns to adapt to life in his household. This brings some challenges in terms of how conceptions of power and gender are viewed compared to what she’s used to.  Initially, Nora’s relationship with Aruendiel is fraught and strained, with her essentially being an initially unwelcome, dependant houseguest who has yet to prove her worth. Eventually though, they start to work out their differences after she persuades him to start teaching her basic magic. And when Ilissa and Raclin make a play to kidnap Nora back, they trigger the start of a war that’s been a long time coming. Continue reading

‘The Rosie Effect’ by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect‘The Rosie Effect’ is the sequel to Graeme Simsion’s 2013 hit novel ‘The Rosie Project’, which sold over a million copies across the world.

Following the success of ‘The Wife Project’, Don and Rosie have moved to New York. Don’s adjusting to life with fewer routines, he’s made some new friends and when it comes to being in a relationship, he seems to have it cracked. But then Rosie falls pregnant, and Don’s perfectly ordered life is turned upside down. The result? Meltdown.

And so begins the Baby Project. As Don struggles to adapt to the idea of becoming a parent, it seems the things that made Rosie fall in love with him in the first place are the things that might just make him too much to handle as the father of her child. Don tries and tests everything he can to prepare for the birth of his child and to live up to Rosie’s expectations – with sometimes hilarious effects – but will it be enough to save his marriage.

Told entirely from Don’s point of view, his complete reliance on the literal and the logical make for a truly entertaining read. Continue reading

‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

AmericanahAs teenagers in Nigeria, Ifem and Obinze plan a new life far away in America, aiming to leave the coups and the strikes behind. The reality, when it comes, is very different. Separated, isolated and strangers in foreign countries, Ifem and Obinze and driven apart. Years later, they are given the opportunity to reconnect. But has time changed too much to bring them back together?

Their story is the glue that holds this novel together, but it does take somewhat of a back seat to the themes that the author works so hard to develop and address. In Ifem, Adichie creates a strong, individual voice which shines through the writing. Her character is not without its flaws, but that’s what makes her real. I particularly loved the sections where Ifem speaks through her blog. These sections is particular are used to provide an in-depth commentary and critique on the issues surrounding race and class in America, and later also in Nigeria. She cuts right to the heart of some fairly controversial issues and lays everything on the table for us to consider and make our own opinions on in our own time.

I also found the parts of the novel set back in Nigeria really interesting. Ifem leaves America longing for home, but when she gets there, she finds herself changed. When the fantasy becomes a reality, it is distinctly underwhelming, and Ifem is still left looking for something more. This feeling of displacement, and not truly fitting in anywhere other than with other expats, is a constant theme throughout the book – no matter where she is living. Continue reading

Graeme Simsion’s ‘The Rosie Project’

The-Rosie-Project

Don Tillman is lonely. He has just one real friend, he lives his days according to a precise routine and his life is firmly rooted in facts and evidence. Despite the fact that he works as a genetics professor, he also seems completely unaware of the fact that he displays all of the symptoms of Asperger’s.

Following some thorough research, he has decided that he needs to find himself a wife. An extensive paper survey seems the most efficient way to whittle out the undesirables – those being women who smoke, who are vegetarians etc – without the inconvenience of meeting people face to face.

When Rosie turns up at his office, searching for her biological father, Don initially mistakes her for a candidate in the Wife Project. What he doesn’t know is that Rosie will have the effect of a hurricane on his perfectly ordered life. She is everything that he’s not looking for, but in working with her to find her father, Don’s world starts to open up in ways that he could never imagine.

He comes to understand that in some ways, he has been holding himself back. He sets out to teach himself how to act in social situations, rather than shying away from them. He tries new hobbies, travels and stays up late. But most importantly, he teaches himself how to have real relationships with the people around him.

Throughout the book, Don experiences a real journey of change. He starts out by just going through the motions of how he thinks he should be acting in certain situations. Sometimes he ends up hilariously wide of the mark, sometimes he just can’t understand where he’s going wrong, and sometimes he manages to get it just right. But by going through the steps, somewhere along the way he learns how to love, how to break out of his comfort zone and how to really make the most of his life – albeit in a very unique and different way.

As a narrator, Don offers a unique and entertaining view on life and all of its many intricacies. His character is the star of this book, and really is incredibly well written.

This was a really sweet, entertaining and thoroughly readable book. It doesn’t set out to be particularly deep or profound, but at the same time it’s so much more than just a beach read. One thing I would say is that it was a very quick read. I wanted it to go on longer, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Finding the perfect beach read…

With the hot weather still going strong, I thought I’d take a look at the summer beach read. A really good chick-lit book can be hard to find, so I’ve compared two of this summer’s hottest releases with the aim of hopefully giving an idea of what’s on the market at the moment.

The-Wish-ListFirst up, it’s Jane Costello’s The Wishlist. With her thirtieth birthday fast approaching, Emma Reiss is determined to tick off all of the items on a list she complied fifteen years earlier before the big day arrives. Plans inevitably go awry when her attempt to cross ‘one-night-stand’ off the list ends in drunken disaster – made still worse when the object of her affection moves in next door! Over the next six months, Emma attempts to force herself out of her self-imposed comfort zone – with hilarious and unforeseen consequences.

From the start, it’s fairly obvious where The Wishlist is going. However, Jane Costello has a really fresh and funny way of writing that really makes this stand out from the pack. It made me smile all the way though – and even laugh out loud on several occasions – and despite the predictability I found myself really rooting for the characters. For the most part, all of the characters are genuine and believable – which for me is a vital component of any beach read.

My second pick is Milly Johnson’s It’s Raining Men. Three hectic career women set off on a much-needed spa break, only for a mix-up in the holiday booking service to see them end up at an entirely different destination. Very soon, they realise that their home for the week has its secrets – like why there are no women around, why the villagers are so unfriendly, or why there are so many mysterious clouds overhead? Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of Ren Dullem, the three friends set out to win over the residents – which just happen to include a dashing set of three handsome, single brothers.its raining men

Unlike The Wishlist, I thought Milly Johnson’s latest offering left a lot to be desired. The characters all felt a bit one-dimensional and their decisions just seemed unrealistic. It felt to me like the author had a happy, fairytale-esque ending in mind from the offset, and the rest of the book was contrived to make sure she could get there. Much of what happens in-between seemed entirely superfluous and quite tired, while the characters offer nothing new to the genre and are actually slightly annoying. I also thought that the writing itself was extremely stilted on occasion. For me, it was readable, but that’s about it.

I think that these two books really sum up the differences that can come out of some of a literary genre. Both of the above were relatively good summer beach reads that make for perfect stress free sunbathing, but moving forward I’d pick Jane Costello every time.

If anyone else has read any great ‘chick-lit’ books this summer, do let me know – I’d love to hear about them!