Category Archives: Romance

How To Stop Time, Matt Haig – Book Review

This book was a rare find, one that completely sucked me in to the the point where I was slowing down my reading as I didn’t want it to end. It’s definitely responsible for lifting me from a huge reading slump. From a journey through the glitz and glamour of the ages, to a dark sci-fi mystery complete with a secret society and a poignant musing on the meaning of life and love – it’s got it all. It was emotional, engrossing with humorous touches and it’s definitely a strong contender for my book of the year so far.

In a world where everyone wants to live longer, to look younger, Tom Hazard has a rare condition which would cause a scandal if revealed. He’s 439 years old, but looks in his early forties, due to a condition which means he ages at around one fifteenth of a regular human’s pace. But is it a blessing or a curse? Continue reading

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Hold Back The Stars, Katie Khan – Book Review

I received Hold Back The Stars in exchange for an honest review.

Hold Back The Stars was a beautiful, unusual book. It blends multiple themes and genres – science fiction, a utopian future and a romance – split between earth and space. But the heart of this story is definitely romance – a story of first love and two people whose relationship is strong enough to challenge the status quo.

Hold Back The Stars

We meet Carys and Max as they’re floating in space with ninety minutes of oxygen left in their tanks and no way back to their ship. As the minutes tick away, the star-crossed lovers try everything they can think of to get back to safety. It’s tense, edge-of-your-seat stuff from the very first page. Continue reading

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Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Rainbow Rowell but I tried her adult novel Landline a few years ago and couldn’t see what the fuss was about. I’m so glad to say I finally get it. Eleanor and Park was such a touching tale of love between two high school misfits, it was impossible not to enjoy and I whizzed through it in just a couple of days.

Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

A modern day high school Romeo and Juliet, Eleanor and Park meet on the bus to school. They’re both from very different backgrounds; Park lives in a nice house with his parents who are still very much in love, whilst in Eleanor’s house there is never quite enough to go around – she doesn’t even have a toothbrush. But her financial problems pale in comparison with her abusive stepdad.

Park struggles being a half Korean kid in a predominantly white neighbourhood, but he grew up in town and he gets by just fine with his friends on the edge of the ‘cool’ crowd. When Eleanor turns up on the schoolbus, with her wild red hair and bizarre clothes, he thinks she’s a disaster waiting to happen. He can’t understand why anyone would draw attention to themselves that way, when he’s spent so much of his life keeping his head down and trying to fit in. Continue reading

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The Comet Seekers, Helen Sedgewick – Book Review

I received The Comet Seekers in exchange for an honest review

This was an absolutely beauty of a book. It’s been compared to two of my favourite books – One Day and The Time Traveller’s Wife – and this is one of those rare occasions where I feel those comparisons are spot on. Evocative, elegant prose and an achingly romantic story with a dose of poignant symbolism and magical realism, I don’t know why this beautiful debut hasn’t received more attention already.

thecometseekers

Weaving back and forth through time following the trajectory of the characters’ lives only at times when a comet is high in the sky, this story felt truly unique. It opens during comet Giacobini and introduces Róisín and Francois. The two are working at an isolated research station in Antarctica, Róisín as a scientist and Francois at the station’s chef. The two meet under the stars at the end of the world, and then the story spans back through time and across continents, following the journey of the characters and their families which lead them to that point. Continue reading

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Our Chemical Hearts, Krystal Sutherland – Book Review

I received Our Chemical Hearts in exchange for an honest review

The Goodreads summary for this book reads: ”John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.” And this is one of those rare cases where the blurb is pretty much spot on.

Our Chemical Hearts

Our Chemical Hearts isn’t a hugely original tale – it felt strongly reminiscent of other novels in the genre, particularly Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places and Paper Towns by John Green. But while there’s echoes of other stories I’ve read, this debut author has a voice all of her own. I whizzed through this book in just a day or two – it’s the type that will have you laughing out loud in some places, but also break your heart just a little in others. Continue reading

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The Ballroom, Anna Hope – Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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The more historical fiction I read, the more I love the genre. To read such enchanting, atmospheric stories which feel so removed from my own life and then to realise how much they are ingrained with truth is enlightening. The Ballroom is a great example of this genre at its best – a heartfelt story, beautifully written with complex, well-drawn characters and a fascinating historical backdrop. I couldn’t ask for much more from a book.

The Ballroom

Told from three alternating viewpoints – Ella, John and Charles – The Ballroom reads as three intricately drawn character studies, bound together by Sharlton Asylum where the characters are residing – a place so vividly imagined it almost feels like a fourth character in its own right.

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All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven – Book Review

This book was not what I expected – I went into it hoping for a break from some of the heavier adult novels I’d been reading, expecting a light, fluffy contemporary YA read. And, while it was light in the fact that I got through the novel quickly, this book deals with some very serious subject matter, and took me on a much more emotional journey than I’d anticipated.

all the bright places book It’s the story of Violet Markey and Theodore Finch, two troubled teens who meet on the ledge of their school’s bell tower. Violet is grieving the loss of her sister, Eleanor, in a car accident a few months before, and Finch is plagued by mental illness and regularly thinks about ending it all. It’s unclear who saves whom from the jump, but once they come down the two forge a bond from their near-death experience, and go onto embark on a school project together which will bring them closer.

Let’s get some things out the way first. I know this book has received a huge amount of love, but to me it wasn’t flawless. I had trouble with some of the character development – particularly how Finch was supposed to be hated and branded a ‘freak’ at school and yet had a solid group of friends and seemed to have a lot of luck with the ladies. Some of the more minor characters felt very stereotypical and pigeonholed into their roles – the school bully, the prom queen, even the abusive father were not really developed enough for me to understand their motivations. I struggled with Violet too, as she felt a little too perfect, despite her grief. But I fell completely for Finch and his story as the book progressed.

The book covers some heavy issues – mental illness and suicide – and I know some reviewers were disappointed with how they were dealt with. I personally am lucky enough to have very little knowledge on these issues, so I can’t really comment on how realistically things were portrayed, but I do know that the story opened my eyes, and made me consider things in a different way. Despite their odd names and quirky habits, Violet and Finch could all too easily be a real teenage couple today, struggling with mental illness and grief, unsure where to turn to for help. This book made me consider the internal struggle which goes on within some people’s minds, which we never necessarily see from the outside.

“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.”

Minor qualms aside, I’m sure this book will resonate with a lot of people. The writing is beautiful, insightful and a sheer joy to read, with so many quotes and vignettes which celebrate the importance of appreciating the little things in life; those bright places. We do not remember days, we remember moments.” As part of their school US. Geography project, Violet and Finch go ‘wandering’ – exploring notable locations in the state of Indiana where they live – providing ample opportunity for romantic moments, new experiences and encouraging the main characters to look at a place they had known all their lives in a new way.

It’s so easy to sometimes feel defeated by the mundanity of everyday life, but this book makes you stop and think about what’s important. I wouldn’t say it changed me, but it gave me a new insight, and helped me look at things in a new way. And you can’t really ask for much more from a book.

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Anna Dressed In Blood, Kendare Blake – Book Review

This book was such a fun, dark and clever little story. It has received quite a lot of hype since its release and I added to my to-read list years ago, but I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew there was a ghost and some sort of romance, so I felt it could have easily disintegrated into some sort of juvenile, contrived insta-love – but I was pleasantly surprised. This book was a brilliant example of YA horror-romance at its best. For some reason it made me feel a little reminiscent for the old Point Horrors by the likes of R. L. Stine and Caroline B. Cooney I read as a kid, but that might just be me.

Anna Dressed In Blood

The story is narrated by a male protagonist – unusual in this type of YA, but is works. Cas Lockwood is a trained ghost hunter and high school student. He and his mother move around wherever the next hint of a ghost comes from, and we join him when he’s moving to a new town to hunt down Anna Korlov – also known as Anna Dressed In Blood.

Through eloquent, witty prose, Blake really gets the reader into the head of Cas. For a guy who lost his Dad to the hands of a ghost at a young age and has since spent his life hunting down ghosts, believing it his destiny and his vengeance, Cas is surprisingly upbeat. He lives in the shadows of regular high school life, yet he has his own charm; he makes friends easily and his asides to the reader are often laden with sarcasm and satire.

Cas is confident in his vocation and content enough in his unusual lifestyle, until he meets Anna. She’s not just a ghost. She’s a hurricane.” More powerful and self-aware than any ghost he’s ever seen before, Anna represents a challenge for Cas, one he won’t be able to handle alone. He enlists the help of an eclectic group, including eccentric British family friend Gideon, prom queen Carmel and the local telepathic witch, Thomas. Each bring their own elements to help  Cas in his quest, and these well-developed characters all get their chance to shine.

But Anna has to be the real star of this story  – simultaneously terrifying and oddly sympathetic, the writer had me veering between sheer terror to near heartbreak when reading about Cas and Anna’s encounters. With her pale skin, blood-drenched dressed and uncontrollable fury, she’s definitely the stuff of nightmares but Cas begins to learn than there’s more to her than meets the eye. Cas can’t help but start to feel for Anna as he understands her story, but how can he stop her decades-long murderous rampage?

This is the first in a trilogy, but works perfectly well as a standalone novel too. Having said that, I enjoyed getting to know Cas, Anna and the other characters so much that I may have to pick up the next in the series soon.

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The One (The Selection #3), Kiera Cass – Book Review

I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I’ve been quite judgemental when reading and reviewing this series, but this one I read over a lazy weekend and it was perfect for what I needed. Yes, some of the characters are extremely frustrating and some of the plot developments seem a little too convenient, but it’s fun. I feel the writing has improved some since the beginning of the series, and having got to know the characters over the first two books I was excited to get back to Maxon, America and the other Elite.

The One

This book picks up the ante as both the Selection process and the unrest from the rebels are coming to a head. America can still be obnoxious, but she’s finally beginning to calm down and realise want she really wants. Her character has definitely developed in this book; she’s learnt to hold her tongue a little more and consider the bigger picture rather than her own self-centred view. Or maybe I just got used to her, and enjoyed the story regardless? The rest of the Elite are also fleshed out a little more – with a certain girl making a complete 360 change of personality – and there’s a sense of a real bond being forged between them all, which was nice to see.

While there is a little more action, at its heart this series is definitely all about the romance, and this one really doesn’t let us down in this regard. Yes, it’s a little bit cheesy but it’s just so adorable. I couldn’t help but smile, as the couple I’d been rooting for all along finally sorted out their issues.

“I want everything with you, America. I want the holidays and the birthdays, the busy seasons and lazy weekends. I want peanut butter fingerprints on my desk. I want inside jokes and fights and everything. I want a life with you.”

It’s quite a short review from for this one as I just don’t have that much to say about it, but this series is the perfect indulgence; it’s not particularly memorable but in the moment it sweeps you into the fairytale romance and leaves you with a smile. This ending to the trilogy which follows America’s selection is a predictable in places but wholly satisfying – I really did enjoy it.

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The Elite (The Selection #2), Keira Cass – Book Review

I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I was a little bit wary going into this book as it seems to have really split reviewers, even those who loved The Selection. I’ve seen many comments saying that readers felt that the competition; the Bachelor-style element of this novel was lost in favour of focusing on the love triangle, but I have to disagree. If anything, the competition is more fierce – okay, it’s lost some of its formality, but that’s because all of these girls have begun to build real relationships with Prince Maxon. It’s tense, and the stakes are getting higher every day each girl stays in The Selection.

The Elite

There were some questionable metaphors here which made me chuckle; “she was always put together…but today she looked as if her body was full of sand”. But then I put my judgey-reviewer hat away and I realised that this series is fun. It’s such a light, easy read; I’m generally a relatively slow reader, taking around a week to finish a book, but I read this in less than two days. It is a little fluffy in places but, still, it’s so entertaining and there were plenty of points that I didn’t want to put this book down. There’s a little more world-building in this second installment; the introduction of a diary which belonged to Gregory Illea gives America an insight into the history of the world she lives in, and the present danger of rebel attacks and war becomes more prevalent.

But, I did have one big issue with this book. While the writing was fun and the plot was well-paced, the main character completely threw me. There were times when she behaved incredibly selfishly; wrapped up in her own problems with no consideration for the world around her or the people she claims to care about most. [POSSIBLE MILD SPOILER] There’s a point where Maxon has to travel to New Asia with his father to placate the potential war going on, and America runs straight into Aspen’s arms. She tells the reader; “Maxon has gone. This changes everything.” Erm, he hasn’t abandoned you? He’s putting himself in danger to try to help your country. I was so perplexed I thought I must be missing something, as I don’t understand how she didn’t show an ounce of compassion or concern for the man she’s supposed to be falling for. [END OF SPOILER]

The only saving grace here is that America does eventually begin to realise the error of her ways near the end of this novel; “Oh. Wow. After everything he’d done for me, had I really never done anything for him in return?”. So I can only hope that this is a deliberate plot device for the author. Perhaps she’s simply trying to show that America is young and flawed – no one likes picture-perfect characters – but if that’s the case, she takes it a little far.

Either way, this book is light, entertaining and quite addictive. It’s flawed, but I still want to know what happens next.

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