WWW Wednesday: 13th February 2019

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Twisted

I seem to be juggling two thrillers at the moment which is never a good idea, even if they’re both great reads. I struggle to read more than one book at a time (unless one is an audio) and it’s particularly bad when they’re similar genres. The first,  Twisted by Steve Cavanagh is one I was very happy to receive from the publisher via NetGalley. I’ve been hearing lots of great things about Cavanagh and have been wanting to read something by him for a while and so far this is living up to expectations. It’s definitely twisted and I have no idea where the story is going to go.

The second book I’m reading at the moment is Close to the Edge by Toby Faber. This is an early copy I received from the publisher’s publicist so I’m afraid I couldn’t track down a cover. I’m reading the pdf version on my phone which isn’t the easiest (I keep losing my place) but liking it a lot. I don’t think it’ll take me long to finish it.

Recently Finished

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)

It’s been another week of pretty light reading for me as I’ve been trying to read my way out of a slump. Despite going right off Tessa Dare last week with A Night to Surrender the first book I finished was actually another of hers, A Week to be Wicked, and I absolutely loved it. It’s so light, funny and quirky it had me laughing out loud and unable to stop reading. If you like historical romances I highly recommend.

Next book finished was another romance but this time of the YA contemporary variety. I’d previously watched the film of  To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before but despite the book being on my kindle for years this was the first chance I’d gotten to read it. I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t seen the film but it was an easy enough read and Lara Jean and Peter do make for a very cute couple (fake or not)

Final book this week was In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire which I listened to on audio. I love her writing but I’m afraid this was one of the weaker ones in the Wayward Children series for me. It could just have been my mood but I never felt particularly invested in any of the characters and I really wanted a bit more of the humour the previous book had.

Reading Next

I seem to have a heck of a lot of library books on loan at the moment and quite a few reservations I’m expecting to come in in the next couple of weeks so I feel like I should maybe switch to them. Up next I think will be the Binding, Palm Beach Finland and probably Circle of Shadows (don’t you just love those covers).

The BindingPalm Beach, FinlandCircle of Shadows (Circle of Shadows, #1)

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

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Teaser Tuesday: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Twisted, the latest book from Steve Cavanagh which I received from NetGalley. I only started this yesterday so only around 25% in but I am very much enjoying it. This will be my first book by Cavanagh so I’m not entirely sure what to expect (something which is always good with thriller). So far none of the characters are particularly likeable and I have a feeling it’s going to take a turn for the dark so it’s all good.


My Teaser

The words fell lightly from his lips. No guilt. His conscience had long given up the fight.

loc 483 Twisted by Steve Cavanagh


BlurbTwisted

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You One

Main character Fixie Farr may have frustrated me but I very much enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s latest rom com. It’s funny, it’s sweet and reminded my just why I love this author’s books so much.


THE BLURB

The irresistible new standalone from Sophie Kinsella is a story of love, empowerment and an IOU that changes everything . . .

Fixie Farr can’t help herself. Straightening a crooked object, removing a barely-there stain, helping out a friend . . . she just has to put things right. It’s how she got her nickname, after all.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees, she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank her, the computer’s owner, Sebastian, scribbles her an IOU – but of course Fixie never intends to call in the favour.

That is, until her teenage crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and needs her help – and Fixie turns to Seb. But things don’t go according to plan, and now Fixie owes Seb: big time.

Soon the pair are caught up in a series of IOUs – from small favours to life-changing debts – and Fixie is torn between the past she’s used to and the future she deserves.

Does she have the courage to fix things for herself and fight for the life, and love, she really wants?


MY REVIEW

Do you ever get so frustrated with the characters in a book you want to reach in and give them a shake. That’s pretty much the way I felt while reading I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella. This may sound like a bad thing, and for a lot of people it probably is, but for me becoming that invested in a character is a very good sign and I very much enjoyed this story. I mean it’s written by Kinsella so you know it’s probably going to be fantastic but this is for me was one of her best. Yes it’s frustrating but it’s also funny and sweet and just a pleasure to sink into.

I absolutely adored the meet cute at the start where both main characters are in a cafe when disaster strikes and Fixie’s rescue of Seb’s laptop means he feels he owes her a favour. In fact I loved the whole central concept of them constantly helping each other out in an escalating series of IOUs. They’re very cute together and with the chemistry between them it’s obvious they’re perfect for each other, if only they’d realize it.

I may have been driven nuts by Fixie but that was only because she was too darn nice, and there was a lot I could relate to. Not the need to fix everything (I’m quite happy with mess and chaos) but more her inability to assert herself and her feeling of not being good enough. What’s frustrating though is that she’s usually right, she’s good at what she does and she has good ideas, she just won’t stand up and insist others listen. I was desperate for her to take a stand and speak her mind but instead she lets everyone else walk all over her. If you want to know whether she does take a stand I’m afraid you’ll need to read the book but what I will say is I loved how her character developed.

As for romantic interest Seb, I have to admit I didn’t have any particularly strong feelings about him. He also seems nice (most of the time), he’s funny and sweet but it never really felt like we saw too far below the surface. I did however love all of his interactions with Fixie, they’re super cute together and he’s pretty much the only one who builds her up. I did want them to get together so badly.

The secondary characters were also very well done and I loved what an eclectic mix they were. I particularly loved some of the customers in the family store. They may only have appeared briefly but they certainly left an impression.

So with all of this combined with Kinsella’s always wonderful writing you may be wondering why this doesn’t get a full five stars, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly I didn’t like that Seb wasn’t single and I’m afraid I don’t like when one couple becoming involved breaks up another regardless of how horrible the girlfriend is.

The second issue was Fixie’s family. I loved that family and the family business was such a big part of the story. I loved the way the relationship between the siblings was portrayed and I loved how it developed and shifted. What bothered me was her mother whose actions didn’t really match up with the way Fixie described her. She’s absent for the majority of the book and never seems to give Fixie much credit or even to particularly appreciate her.

I can feel a rant brewing so I’d better leave it there, particularly as it’s such a small part of what is a fantastic read. Despite an unusual concept the story is a little on the predictable side but I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t stop reading and devoured it in one sitting.

If you’re a fan of Kinsella or if you just like a good romcom I would most certainly recommend this.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

 

WWW Wednesday: 6th February 2019

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingTo All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

I just finished a book last night so I’m currently trying to decide what to read next. I have signed myself up for a group read of  To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han so I’m kind of tempted to just start it a little early. This is one of those books I’ve had and been meaning to read for ages and never got around to. I have watched the movie and really enjoyed it so I have high hopes for a cute and funny read which is just what I’m in the mood for right now. There is of course a danger that if I read this I’ll end up having to read the whole trilogy though.

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)

On audio I lost my hold on Mythos by Stephen Fry and given there were 55 people waiting it seems like it may be some time before I get it back. On the plus side this does mean I have some time to listen to In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire. I have been loving her Wayward Children series so I’ve been looking forward to this one for ages. They’re quite short so I’m already half way through and while I don’t think it’s gonna be my new favourite in the series it’s a great listen.


Recently Finished

I’m still struggling to concentrate on anything for any length of time and just don’t know what book to pick up so my reading has been a tad eclectic over the last week.

The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson, #9)We Should All Be FeministsA Cat, a Man, and Two WomenA Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1)

I did manage to read Dirt on the Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones, the ninth book in the Charley Davidson series so I’m getting closer to being able to read the galley of the thirteenth and final book. I did have some initial doubts about this installment (I’m fairly certain the accepted treatment for amnesia is not leaving them as a Jane Doe and pretending you don’t know them) but I did like that this was a more straightforward story than the last couple have been. It was nice to take a step back from the whole saving humanity from the forces of evil thing.

I also managed to make a start on my reading around the world challenge with A Cat, A Man and Two Women. It is a short read but there are some great characters, and a wonderful depiction of the relationships between them and Japanese culture in general (plus there’s a cat being a typical cat). Not entirely sure it counts but I also read essay We Should All Be Feminists by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which was a really great take on what being a feminist means. I’ve also picked up a short story collection by the author so that will no doubt be up soon.

Reading an essay on feminism then reading a historical romance was probably not the best idea but yeah that’s kinda what I did. I usually love Tessa Dare but A Night to Surrender really didn’t do it for me. There were far too many instances of Bram forcing himself on Susanna and her initially keeping quiet so as not to be ruined before succumbing to the desire she didn’t realize she had for him (hmm). It had some good moments but I’m afraid this is probably my least favourite book by Dare so far.

Reading Next

Work’s still busy and I’m feeling like I’m in a bit of a reading slump so I’m not entirely sure what I’ll pick up next. I keep doing that thing where I pick something up read a few pages then put it down because I’m not in the mood. I may try and continue on with Charley Davidson, they do seem to be the only books that hold my attention right now or I may go pick something off my NetGalley shelf. I am looking for some books for challenges too so if anyone has any recommendations for books with yellow covers or that are set in the southern hemisphere (but not in Australia or New Zealand) let me know.

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson, #10)NocturnaEmpress of All Seasons

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

Teaser Tuesday: Someone Like Me

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


I was struggling to decide on a book to use for this week’s teaser so adopted the complex selection process known as picking up the one closest to me which just happened to be Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey. I haven’t had a chance to dive into this one yet but I do love the sound of it and I loved Carey’s other books The Girl with all the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge so I have high hopes.


My Teaser

Fran simply wasn’t ready for a change on this massive scale. With a yelp of dismay, she sank down on her knees among the weeds that were there to the touch although she couldn’t see them anymore.

Pg 153 Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey


BlurbSomeone Like Me

SHE LOOKS LIKE ME. SHE SOUNDS LIKE ME. NOW SHE’S TRYING TO TAKE MY PLACE.

Liz Kendall wouldn’t hurt a fly. She’s a gentle woman devoted to bringing up her kids in the right way, no matter how hard times get.

But there’s another side to Liz—one which is dark and malicious. A version of her who will do anything to get her way, no matter how extreme or violent.

And when this other side of her takes control, the consequences are devastating.

The only way Liz can save herself and her family is if she can find out where this new alter-ego has come from, and how she can stop it.

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang

Believe the hype, this is a wonderful story. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s very cute and more than a little steamy. I adored it.


THE BLURB

It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.


MY REVIEW

I am always a bit skeptical about books that seem to have a lot of hype around them, particularly when it’s a romance, but this really blew me away. It’s most definitely an “adult” romance (there are more than a few fairly explicit sex scenes and a lot of time talking about sex) but it’s sweet and funny and I really shipped Stella and Michael.

The story is essentially a gender switched Pretty Woman, with wealthy and attractive Stella hiring escort Michael to pretend to be her boyfriend. Needless to say what starts out as a fake relationship very quickly develops into real feelings but given Stella is paying Michael to be the perfect boyfriend and they come from very different worlds could it ever become something long term?

So far so tropey right? We’ve all read the fake relationship becomes real story a million times before but what makes this one unique is main character Stella and the reason she needs a fake boyfriend. Stella may be extremely good at her job, be wealthy and beautiful but she’s also autistic. She struggles with social interactions and physical intimacy so hires Michael initially to teach her how to get better at sex and later how to be in a relationship.

I absolutely loved the portrayal of Stella in this story. It’s an #ownvoices book as the author is autistic so it’s very sympathetically and sensitively done and Stella always comes across as completely believable. She’s just so socially awkward, honest and unsure of the right thing to say or do. It is funny at times but in quite a sweet/cute way rather than a nasty one. I have to admit that I related a lot to Stella, possibly too much, leading me to look into autism in women further. I suspect I will not be the only one to read this and recognise a lot of the traits in themselves so if nothing else this book will definitely raise awareness of what it turns out is an often missed condition.

I also have to say how much I loved Michael and how fantastic he is with Stella. He’s incredibly sweet and kind (new book boyfriend material for sure) and never pushes her for more than she can give. It would be all too easy for him to take advantage, something a lot of previous men seem to have done, but he never does and it feels like a genuinely equal relationship. That’s not to say it’s all sweet and innocent, there are plenty of steamy moments and as a couple they have a real spark. It’s clear from the very first moment that if they can each overcome their issues and insecurities they could be perfect together.

If I had one gripe about this book it would be those issues which felt like they were dragged out a little too long. They were built up into something they really weren’t and could have been resolved fairly easily without all of the drama, although like all good romances I suppose there had to be some roadblock to throw things off course just before the big finale.

The focus is very much on Michael and Stella but I should also mention how wonderful the secondary characters were too. I loved Michael’s family and the way the author used them to bring in a little of the Vietnamese culture, it really added something extra to the story. I would have maybe liked a few more nice people in Stella’s life but for the most part they do try, and really none of this story would have happened without her mother giving her a push.

This really is a fantastic read and even though I will admit it’s not perfect I enjoyed every second of reading it. I’m very excited to see what the author does next.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A Curse So Dark and Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer

This may be yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling but it is one of the best I’ve come across. I absolutely loved the new spin the author put on this classic tale and main character Harper is truly awesome.


THE BLURB

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.


MY REVIEW

I absolutely adore retellings, reading pretty much every one I can get my hands on, but even I have to admit my first thought on seeing this was not another Beauty and the Beast retelling. I must have read at least a dozen of them so it was difficult to see how Kemmerer was ever going to make this one stand out. Somehow however she does and I can say, hand on heart, that this is one of the best versions of this classic tale I’ve come across.

It may be based on a story we all know and love but the author has put her stamp on it and turned it into something a little bit different. There’s no beautiful but misunderstood young girl held captive by a hideous monster who turns out to be nice on the inside and they fall in love. Instead we have a contemporary heroine who accidentally manages to get herself kidnapped and transported to a new and magical world. There’s no beast either as the prince she meets is handsome and charming and maybe just a little too smooth. There is a curse placed upon him (it’s in the title) but this curse is that he’s doomed to repeat the same season over and over again until he manages to find someone to fall in love with him. At the end of the season, if he hasn’t found true love he is transformed into a terrifying beast who will kill everyone and everything in sight before time resets and he begins the season anew.

It really is a wonderful take on the story and I absolutely loved this notion of time repeating for Prince Rhen and also the sense of urgency his impending transformation brings to the story. I loved that the enchantment caused everything within the palace to repeat despite Rhen and captain of the Guard Grey being the only ones there. Food magically appears at certain times, rooms tidy themselves and musical instruments play the same music they did for Rhen’s first season (even without the musicians). There’s something wonderfully magical about it but it’s also a little bit sinister too.

What truly made this book for me however was main character Harper. I think she may possibly be one of my all time favourite characters. From the very start she has incredible strength and resilience and over the course of the book she develops into something even more, finding confidence and self assurance. Physically she’s not perfect, she has cerebral palsy which limits what she can do and means she struggles with a lot of things, but while it does slow her down at times it doesn’t curb her determination.

I truly admired how she coped with everything thrown at her. She’s magically transported to a new and more primitive world, is held captive in a cursed palace, becomes entangled with local politics and has the incredible pressure of being told she can save a kingdom on the brink of war. She has the odd wobble (fair enough I would too) but she doesn’t wait around for someone else to rescue her or fix things but instead steps up and does it for herself. Yes she does do some incredibly stupid things and doesn’t always listen but she acts which in my opinion makes her awesome.

Her relationship with Prince Rhen is also very well done. For a Beauty and the Beast inspired story it’s pretty light on the romance, there’s no insta love here or even an instant attraction. Harper isn’t naive and knowing about the curse pretty early on she never buys into his charm (and actually calls him on it). They bicker and they fight as neither wholly trusts the other and I have to admit I was never fully sure their relationship would turn romantic (and I wasn’t sure I wanted it to).

Rhen is an intriguing character but his guarded and thoughtful nature make it difficult to really become invested in him. He doesn’t show much of what he feels and to be honest he’s so dispirited and defeated at the start of the story that it’s not clear he feels much at all anyway. He does develop over the course of the book and by the end I did come to really care about him but I’m still not sure I ever really felt like he and Harper made the best match.

Captain of the Guards Grey however I almost instantly loved. From when he first accidentally kidnapped Harper for Rhen there was just something about him that made me happy. He’s incredibly loyal, brave and stoic but there’s a really soft and fun side to him that I thought made him a better match for Harper. Some of my favourite moments in this book were in fact between him and Harper which is probably not the way it should have been.

The writing is great and I thought the pace of the story was pretty much spot on. It’s a fast and easy read and there’s just enough intrigue and action to keep you hooked throughout. I loved the world building and while some of the secondary characters were a little stereotyped there was enough depth and complexity in the leads to make up for it. I will say I wasn’t wholly convinced by Harper’s back story and family and it felt a little bit forced to fit what the story needed but given how much I loved Harper I can let it slide.

Overall therefore, this is one of the best retellings I’ve come across and one I’d recommend all lovers of the genre pick up. The ending left things a little bit open so I can’t wait to find out what’s next for these characters.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are very much my own.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars