Friday, 23 February 2018

2 Mini Book Reviews!

THE CANDLE FACTORY GIRL - Tania Crosse
Published: March 2018 - by Aria
Pages: N/A
Genres: Historical fiction /
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong themes of domestic abuse / sexual innuendo / violence
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

1930's London - A backstreet saga full of hopes, dreams and the fight for survival. Perfect for the fans of Rosie Clarke and Lindsey Hutchinson. Work at Price's Candle Factory in Battersea is tedious for intelligent, seventeen-year-old Hillie Hardwick, but she knows she is lucky to have a job at all. Her home life is no better, as she constantly battles with her exacted and bullying father in order to protect her mother and five younger siblings from his tyranny of abuse. Her only solace is her loving relationship with the chaotic Parker family and her best friend, Gert Parker. When matters violently escalate for Hillie, smitten Jack-the-Lad Jimmy Baxter seems her only salvation. But could this be the biggest mistake of her life, and should she be looking for protection nearer home?



Pros:
- Strong female friendships. Hillie has lots of girl friends and they're all so close and always have each other's backs.
- It's a decent coming of age story. The characters make mistakes, get tangled in false starts, and finally find their way in the end.

Cons:
- Terrible writing. It's amateurish and awkward, and with an overuse of exclamation marks.
- The dialogue is horrific. It's full of info-dumps and is generally just cringy and unrealistic.
- I wanted more of the candle factory and the girls' jobs. Instead, the story focuses on their love lives.
- The characters are so stereotypical and cliche. Hillie is a special snowflake who can do no wrong, who's the prettiest of all the girls, and who's loved by everyone. Jimmy, the hero, is also annoying, and he's the stereotypical bad boy who's smitten with Hillie because she's the only girl to refuse his advances and because she's the smartest and most beautiful of all the other girls.
- The romance between Jimmy and Hillie is extremely inconsistent. One minute Hillie's set on their future and busy kissing Jimmy, and the next she's trying to decide if she loves him. UGH.
- Jimmy and Hillie's marriage is so problematic. She's hesitant about having sex for the first time and is clearly uncomfortable when Jimmy makes a move, but she makes herself to endure it because it's what "a proper wife must do." More than once, she's uncomfortable with sleeping with her husband and with him undressing her, but she stays silent and lets him to what he wants with her. That's not healthy! You need to talk to your partner, you need to talk....Hillie and Jimmy never do that. Marriage is not a one-sided show - and nor is sex - that's ruled by one person's desires and needs. It goes both ways.
- The book's ending is so predictable and convenient.



How many of you have watched the TV series Land Girls? If you're a fan of that, I think you'll love this book. Otherwise it's not worth reading. 



THE QUEENS OF INNIS LEAR - Tessa Gratton
Published: March 2018 - by Tor
Pages: 576.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy / retelling
Triggers/Content Advisory: I haven't read the whole book so I'm not qualified to say.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood. The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes. The king's three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm's only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.


PLEASE NOTE: I only read a sampler of this book - precisely 193 pages - so my opinions/review is based on that alone.


The characters are riveting, twisty, compelling, damaged, and ruthless. It's a big cast, but everyone is vivid and layered.
The plot is achingly romantic and heartbreaking. It's a bit confusing, but otherwise extraordinary. Unique, as well, and running with the characters' dangerous agendas.
The setting is stunning and seductive. It's a maelstrom of dark imagination.

The only thing I don't like about the book is how overtly flowery and purple the prose is. It's laid on way too thick.


I can't wait to continue the story once I get the chance to read the full book! From the pages I got to read, this book was an absolute treat. Think Three Dark Crowns meets Caraval meets Game of Thrones. 





Hope you liked these reviews! Have you read or heard of these books? What do you think of them? 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Book Blitz: MARRYING MR. VALENTINE - by Laura Bernard


I'm so happy to be participating in the book blitz for this delightful book! It looks so cute and fluffy and romantic.
Check it out...




Nadine Roberts smiles for everyone, but beneath it she hides a heartbreaking past that only a few know about. Throwing herself into her new career; wedding planner at The Duck & Goose, a property recently purchased by newlyweds Florence and Hugh, has helped distract her from her loneliness. When a teary bride suddenly cancels her upcoming wedding Nadine looks to the two year waiting list. Clara Blumenkrantz and Hartley Valentine. It’ll have to be a quick turnaround, but what’s the worst that can happen, right? This should be like every other wedding she plans, but the magnetism she feels towards Mr Valentine disrupts the orderly life she’s worked hard to carve out. Can she ignore her intense desires and be a professional? Or will she open up her heart to the one person that has the power to break it? And in doing so endanger not just her job, but her venue’s reputation?

Amazon    /     Goodreads


Head on over to Laura's Facebook page to enter her release day giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a £10 Amazon Gift Card!




Website       /     Facebook    /     Twitter    /  Instagram  /   Pinterest   /    Goodreads     / 









Thanks for stopping by! 
Does this book sound like something you'd enjoy? 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

2 Mini Book Reviews!

THE DRAGON ORB - Mike Shelton
Published: 2017 - Mike Shelton
Pages: 326.
Genres: Young adult / fantasy
Triggers/Content Advisory: Nothing.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

The fate of a kingdom rests on the shoulders of three young wizards who couldn't be more different. Bakari is a brilliant scholar wizard who's more at home in a library than a battlefield. Alli is a beautiful young battle wizard whose grace in battle is both enchanting and deadly. Roland is a counselor wizard with a seemingly limitless depth of untapped power -- and the ego to match it. As the magical barrier protecting the kingdom of Alaris from dangerous outsiders begins to fail, and a fomenting rebellion threatens to divide the country in a civil war, the three wizards are thrust into the middle of a power struggle. When the barrier comes down, the truth comes out. Was everything they were taught about their kingdom based on a lie? Will they all choose to fight on the same side, or end up enemies in the battle over who should rule Alaris?


This is a wonderfully sweet fantasy. The characters are so cute, the relationships heartwarming and relatable, and the racial diversity is excellent.

The plot is tight and the pacing is good. There's lots of action, too. I also love the political dynamics of the world, and the world itself is well-imagined.

But the writing and dialogue almost ruined the book for me. The writing is so awkward and amateurish, and the dialogue is unrealistic, packed with info-dumps, and generally just cringy.




BUZZ BOOKS 2018
Published: 2018
Pages: 326.
Genres: Young adult
Triggers/Content Advisory: Some of the excerpts contain bad language and violence.
Format: eBook.
Source: Netgalley.

Welcome to Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer. These substantial pre-publication excerpts reflect a broad spectrum of today's young adult writing, from fantasy and romance to suspense and humor. You will discover debut writers to put on your radar, while enjoying early samples from some of the biggest authors in the field and even a memoir for younger readers. Readers will be happy to see included Stephanie Garber's sequel to her New York Times bestselling debut novel Caraval, a previous Buzz Books. Other fantasies are Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, and Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. Then come back to the present with Boston Globe advice columnist Meredith Goldstein's YA debut about a teen science whiz who tries to crack the chemical equation for lasting love or Buzzfeed writer Farrah Penn's Twelve Steps to Normal, about a father's recovery from alcoholism. Start reading the bestsellers of tomorrow right now to see why reviewers rave with comments like these: Love Buzz Books!


This collection of YA excerpts is amazing. I love the variety of books - there's sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, etc etc - and I love how many new books and authors I was introduced to. The excerpts from Furyborn and Sky in the Deep are definitely my favourites.

Highly recommend this book to anyone who's anticipating YA books coming up in Spring/Summer, but prepare to add a lot to your TBR...






Hope you enjoyed these reviews! Have you read these books? What did you think? 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Tamlin & Feyre


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.



It's no surprise that these two characters make it onto this blog series. You know me well enough to have at least guessed it, right?
It's no secret that I have HUGE issues with the way Maas writes 'romantic' relationships. And today I'm focusing on the worst of the worst: Tamlin and Feyre. Specifically Tamlin, who is the abuser here.


To give you some background to this scene: Tamlin has told Feyre to stay in her room and not venture out during the celebrations he and his court are having. He doesn't give her valid reason why she shouldn't, and since Feyre is curious, she decides to come out and wander around. As she's heading back inside, a drunk Tamlin corners her.

-------------
“Let go,” I said as evenly as I could, but his claws punched out, imbedding in the wood above my hands. Still riding the magic, he was half-wild. 
"You drove me mad,” he growled, and the sound trembled down my neck, along my breasts until they ached. “I searched for you, and you weren’t there. When I didn’t find you,” he said, bringing his face closer to mine, until we shared breath, “it made me pick another.” 
I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to. 
She asked me not to be gentle with her, either,” he snarled, his teeth bright in the moonlight. He brought his lips to my ear. “I would have been gentle with you, though.” 
I shuddered as I closed my eyes. Every inch of my body went taut as his words echoed through me. 
"I would have had you moaning my name throughout it all. And I would have taken a very, very long time, Feyre.” 
He said my name like a caress, and his hot breath tickled my ear. My back arched slightly. He ripped his claws free from the wall, and my knees buckled as he let go. I grasped the wall to keep from sinking to the floor, to keep from grabbing him—to strike or caress, I didn’t know. I opened my eyes. He still smiled—smiled like an animal. 
“Why should I want someone’s leftovers?” I said, making to push him away. He grabbed my hands again and bit my neck. I cried out as his teeth clamped onto the tender spot where my neck met my shoulder. I couldn’t move—couldn’t think, and my world narrowed to the feeling of his lips and teeth against my skin. He didn’t pierce my flesh, but rather bit to keep me pinned. The push of his body against mine, the hard and the soft, made me see red—see lightning, made me grind my hips against his. I should hate him—hate him for his stupid ritual, for the female he’d been with tonight … His bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move—he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Intently, territorially, lazily. Heat pounded between my legs, and as he ground his body against me, against every aching spot, a moan slipped past my lips. 
He jerked away. The air was bitingly cold against my freed skin, and I panted as he stared at me. “Don’t ever disobey me again,” he said, his voice a deep purr that ricocheted through me, awakening everything and lulling it into complicity.
----------

Tamlin is supposed to be the hero of the book! And yes, he is drunk in this scene, but that does not excuse his behaviour towards Feyre. She tells him to let go of her, he doesn't, and because this is Maas writing, of course he has to bite Feyre and it's all supposed to be hot and sexy.
This scene is utterly revolting and perverse. It is sexual assault. And what makes it worse is that we're supposed to love Tamlin, feel sorry for him, and ship him with Feyre! It's sick.

I hate this relationship in ACOTAR. Tamlin is horrifically overprotective of Feyre, treats her like his own personal sex toy, and when she's Under the Mountain and has a chance to escape, he ruins it by shoving her against a wall and trying to have sex with her. He's selfish, disgusting, and violent. He truly is a Beast.




A Court of Thorns and Roses does not portray a romance. It portrays a sick, Stockholm Syndrome relationship where Tamlin goes as far as to violently sexually assault Feyre. If the girl says no, you listen. If you don't, then that's sexual assault. There's no 'but' about it.

Monday, 19 February 2018

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

THE WIFE BETWEEN US - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Published: January 2018 - by St. Martin's Press  
Pages: 346.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Themes of abuse and mental illness 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.


This is a thriller that I was absolutely dying to read. I love relationship conflict and dynamics, and I adore this premise. I expected to love this book.
Just a warning: The last paragraph of this review, following on from the quote in the middle, is spoilery. I just couldn't write a decent review without talking about that spoiler, so I'm afraid I had to include it. If you don't want to be spoiled, please skip everything after that quote. 


The story is unique. The authors take well-known conflicts, but look at them from different angles, which I think is great. The book feels fresh.
The writing is.....good. It's quite similar to Mary Higgens Clark's style, and the whole tone of the book feels like something from her books. It doesn't feel like a modern, 2018 kinda story, it feels like something from the early 2000s and rather dated in terms of language and fashion, etc. It does work, it's just a change from what I typically expect from thrillers these days.

I love the language the authors use. It's very specific, and makes for some wonderfully vivid scenes. Every scene is well-fleshed out in all aspects.
The characters aren't incredible. They're okay, but they aren't very three-dimensional or vivid. They're stereotypes, and yet they aren't terribly written. They're just.....there, on the page. And they aren't exciting.
However, I do love how well drawn everyone's motivations are. The authors really flesh out the characters' pasts and give them solid motivations which explain their present day actions. Unfortunately it doesn't quite make them vivid, but it does prop them up a bit.


“I was happy, I think, but I wonder now if my memory is playing tricks on me. If it is giving me the gift of an illusion. We all layer them over our remembrances; the filters through which we want to see our lives.”


I don't think this book works well as a thriller. I guessed the big twists way before they were revealed, and until about page 200 or so I was extremely bored. It's just not gripping - and the topics the authors delve into (like abuse and mental health issues) could've been more powerful if the authors had stopped trying to make the book into a thriller and instead just sat down with the characters and those tough subjects and paid them more attention, instead of trying to make secrets out of everything (which I personally think fails, because the "big twists" were very obvious to me).
But the theme of abuse is handled very well. The authors show the horror of an abusive relationship with a lot of raw emotion and subtle, psychological build-up. They address head-on the ignorant, cruel question we so often hear "why doesn't she just leave?" and make it clear that it is NEVER A MATTER OF "JUST LEAVING". I love how they handle that.
But when they're handling a topic like that, I wish they'd just forget about trying to make the book into a thriller. It think Vanessa's story would've been so much more satisfying and powerful if they'd tossed aside all these so-called secrets and mysteries and just narrowed it down to the abusive relationship and how the characters deal with that.




The Wife Between Us could've been an incredible book if the authors hadn't tried to draw out so-called mysteries and instead just focused on the characters dealing with the abusive relationship they're tied up in.