Thursday 30 June 2022

Book Review | A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin | prettylittlewriter

‘When Kitty Talbot is jilted by her fiancé three months before their wedding, the future looks dark. Without his fortune to pay off her late father's gambling debts, she and her four sisters face certain ruin. 
But Kitty has never backed down from a challenge, so she leaves the countryside and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of Regency England: The London Season. 
The aim is simple: find a wealthy bachelor to wed in order save the Talbot family from destitution. 
Kitty is neither accomplished nor all that genteel, but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with her father's gambling spirit, Kitty knows that risk is just part of the game. What she doesn't anticipate is Lord Radcliffe, elder brother of the deliciously wealthy Archibald de Lacy. Radcliffe sees Kitty for the fortune-hunter that she really is, and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs...’ 
This is one of the easiest 5 stars I’ve ever given to a novel, especially one of the Regency era.

Sophie has really outdone herself with this novel, and you can tell so much research was done to keep the story accurate to the era.

Kitty is a brilliant heroine, full of passion, kindness and dedication to her family that leaves me in awe. At times, she can be seen as cold and calculated, especially in the eyes of Radcliffe, however, her determination to not allow her sisters to fall into squalor is her only motivation. She even contemplates marrying some absolutely grotesque men, of whom she would never wish to marry under normal circumstances.

Before going into the novel, I knew there would be some form of romance, but I did not initially expect it to be between Kitty and Radcliffe, as they seemed to have complete distain for each other. Once they were spending more time together however, you could see that they are very similar characters, and almost made for each other. I definitely enjoyed this slow-burn romance, probably slightly more than other Regency novels, such as the Bridgerton books, mainly because I felt the novel has much more action and a better plotline, and not just waiting for Kitty to fall in love and marry which I find the Bridgerton books are like.

Some of the anecdotes and quips that Kitty and even Radcliffe come out with are very witty, and their banter was just perfect! It really made me fall for Radcliffe, and he reminded me a lot of the TV version Anthony from Bridgerton.

If you’re looking for a modern-day Jane Austen style novel, I would definitely recommend you pick this one up! Absolutely brilliant and I cannot wait for the 2nd novel!

ps. How beautiful is this special edition copy from Illumicrate?!

5/5 stars

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Book Review | The Retreat by Sarah Pearse | prettylittlewriter

'An eco-wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation—but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumored to be cursed.
Detective Elin Warner is called to the retreat when a young woman’s body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But the victim wasn’t a guest—she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.
When a guest drowns in a diving incident the following day, Elin starts to suspect that there’s nothing accidental about these deaths. But why would someone target the guests, and who else is in danger?

Elin must find the killer—before the island’s history starts to repeat itself . . .’

Well, Sarah has impressed me yet again! Her first novel, The Sanatorium, was eerie, clever and full of tension, and I wasn’t sure how she could top it, but she has definitely done that with The Retreat!

When Elin arrives at The Retreat to investigate what seems to have been an accidental death, more bodies are found and you are left wondering who and why they are killing their victims.

Sarah delves into Elin’s life a little more, including her anxiety around returning to work and the pressure she feels to succeed, which really adds depth to her character and makes you feel that bit closer with her. We also get introduced to Will’s sister (Elin’s boyfriend) Farrah, and see the interaction between all three characters, with a little suspicion also thrown in.

One thing I will say about the character of Will is, I don’t really like him. I feel that he is selfish and doesn’t think about Elin and how she must be feeling when she’s had some tough issues to deal with in her job. I actually think she should leave him and date her partner, Steed!

There are quite a few coincidences in this novel, with certain guests having major ties to the retreat, which get you thinking that one of them must be the killer.

I was definitely surprised when the character I thought it would be was completely innocent!

We also see more from Elin’s stalker (as introduced in the epilogue of The Sanatorium) in the way of quite scary tweets to her police district. I’m really intrigued as to where that story is going, but I hope that Sarah doesn’t keep us waiting too long to find out!

Finally, there is a second twist near the end, which I thought I’d guessed at one point, but then I ended up being wrong! I always enjoy it more when I’ve been proven wrong!

Overall, a brilliantly clever, twisty and eerie thriller, which I would definitely recommend to any ‘locked in’ location thriller!

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Book Review | Book Lovers by Emily Henry | prettylittlewriter

'Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.'
This is probably one of the best rom-com novels I've read to date. Henry has perfected that comfortable and cosy vibe with one of the best book boyfriends that will now be the standard for me with every book boyfriend going forward (Charlie is THE best!).

I haven't read any of Emily's previous novels, but as this has been hyped up so much recently, I picked this one up first and I was not disappointed in any aspect, at all. 

I love the fact that its all about Nora hating the stereotypical trope of girl/guy goes to small town, saves a business and falls in love and doesn't believe it happens in real life, and then, although in a slightly different way, this is exactly what Book Lovers is about.

Nora's character was so likeable, I loved how much she loved her sister Libby, and she would do absolutely anything to make sure she has her happiness, even at the cost of her own! Watching her fall in love with Charlie as the chapters went on was so heart-warming, sweet and filled me with pure happiness. 

Quite often within romance novels, there is some form of miscommunication that throws the romance off and splits the characters apart, but we don't have that here. Both characters are completely honest with each other throughout, with some slight omissions from each other occasionally, but it all still flows comfortably and most importantly, they show each other so much respect. 

If you like a romance novel, you NEED to read this! I really hope someone picks this up and makes it into a movie (I could definitely see it done by Hallmark!).

5/5 stars

Saturday 18 June 2022

Book Review | Her Majesty's Royal Coven by Juno Dawson | prettylittlewriter

'Hidden among us is a secret coven of witches. They are Her Majesty’s Royal Coven. They protect crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil. But their greatest enemy will come from within.

There are whisperings of a prophecy that will bring the coven to its knees, and five best friends are about to be caught at the centre. Life as a modern witch was never simple … but now it’s about to get apocalyptic.'
This is the first book I've read from Juno, and my god it's a brilliant one. The premise is brilliant, a secret undercover Witch Coven within the UK that works with the Government? Yes please! (what I'd give to have this be real life!). 
The world building was perfect, I understood every aspect of the world, including the part HMRC had to play and how each character would fit into the story. 

The friendship within this novel is brilliant. Each and every character (minus Helen) is wonderful, and heart-warming and joyous. Niamh is my favourite, and I was rooting for her to be with Luke and I absolutely adored how insanely protective she was of Theo. 

What I loved the most about this novel is how brilliantly queer it is. Before going into the novel, knowing the author is trans, I was expecting to see an element of it within the story, but Juno brings it to the forefront of the novel, with transphobia being the main antagonistic part of the story, which is incredibly clever and brilliant. 
Juno also tackles racism within the novel with the character of Leonie, who is a lesbian black woman, and although Juno isn't black herself, she deals with the topic with sensitivity and inclusivity. 

The book is quite long, over 400 pages of thrilling drama, but I devoured it quickly as I was desperate to find out how it would end!

The only thing I didn't like about the novel is that it ends on a cliff-hanger, so now I'm gutted and not so patiently waiting for the next one! 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed and I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves stories about witches, friendship and queerness! 

Ps. How absolutely INSANE is this Fairyloot edition from their adult subscription box?! 
5/5 stars 

Wednesday 15 June 2022

Book Review | Family of Liars by e. lockhart | prettylittlewriter

'A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.

A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.

Welcome back to the Sinclair family.
They were always liars.'
E. Lockhart has done it again. This is yet another jaw-dropping story about the Sinclair family, but surrounding the parents of the Liars in the first novel, in their adolescence. In We Were Liars, the parents of the young ones, seemed like terrible people, constantly bickering and being absolutely ridiculous over who can have what from their late mother’s belongings. In Family of Liars, we are introduced to the bond they had as children/teenagers, and what they went through which influenced how they are in the first novel.
There are 3 shocking revelations, the first one is very sad, the 2nd not sad in the slightest and not a huge surprise, but the third, however not as big a shock as the main twist in We Were Liars, was still very impressive and unexpected.

I have mixed feelings about the sisters, with Penny being very selfish and downright vindictive towards Carrie at times, and Carrie can also seem quite selfish and although she has her reasons for being upset, it is not a reason for being mean to her sisters, especially her younger sisters Rosemary and Bess.

Their Uncle brings along his children and three boys to the island, Cousin Yardley’s boyfriend George, and two of his friends. Their arrival stirs up emotions in Carrie that she has never experienced before, including passion and obsessiveness when she starts falling for one of the boys, Pfeff.
Pfeff is an arrogant type, who seems to be able to charm absolutely everyone, no matter who they are and what resistance they put to him. His use of the word ‘please’ was infuriating, and if you read the novel, you’ll understand why.

When we start getting to the gritty part of Carrie’s story, to find out what really happened that summer, I couldn’t put the book down. I was kept on the edge of my seat the whole time, reading as fast as I could so I could find out how it ends.
Again we have the same short snappy sentences and chapters which help keep your attention and wanting to read ‘just one more chapter’.
We also have similar fairytale stories from Carrie as in We Were Liars, to slowly help tell her story.

Overall I absolutely loved it, and although not quite as big a revelation, I was still thoroughly impressed and enjoyed the story immensely!

4.5/5 stars

Sunday 12 June 2022

Book Review | The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn | prettylittlewriter

'1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.
And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...
—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814

But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry—he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...'
After watching the Bridgerton series, which I absolutely adore, I've been determined to read all the books before the next series comes out (I'm sure I've got loads of time as filming hasn't even started yet for season 3). 

The second in the series is the same as the TV show, and surrounds Anthony Bridgerton on his quest to find a wife. 

There is a huge difference with the book from the TV series, which is there is NOT a love triangle between Anthony, Kate and Edwina. Yes, Anthony wishes to court Edwina initially, as she is the newly introduced daughter of the season, however, within the novel, Kate cannot hide her interest in Anthony from her sister, therefore, nothing further happens with them. 
In some ways I preferred this, as the fact that Anthony almost married Edwina in the series made me angry, but it also made for lesser sexual tension and edging between Anthony and Kate. I think the reason I loved their romance so much on screen is how much sexual tension there was until a final climax at the end!

Kate's character is lovely, my favourite so far, and much prefer her character than Daphne from book 1. Anthony is very much the same in the book as the TV show, although slightly more masochistic and sexist as he is determined never to love Kate, and that it's okay to step-out on your wife if you don't love her *eye-roll*. 

There are some brilliant lines within the novel, especially from Kate. Quinn's writing is witty, clever and just perfect at keeping you hooked. There are also some incredibly romantic lines, with the iconic 'I burn for you' making a comeback, which I absolutely adore.

I would still say I prefer the TV show version (Johnathan Bailey is a god and Simone Ashley a goddess) but I still enjoyed the novel a lot and I will be continuing the series!

3.5/5 stars

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Book Review | We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry | prettylittlewriter

'Emily made a mistake, a mistake midwifes can't afford to make. Escaping to her dad's home in Devon to regroup and check in on him – his dementia has been worsening, and her guilt along with it – she is surprised when a beautiful stranger answers the door. Francoise is her dad's new carer, but Emily's father seems to have deteriorated under her care.

Emily doesn't trust Francoise – but she doesn't trust herself either. Each has a secret. And one of them will kill to keep it . . .'
Thank you so much to Penguin for the uncorrected proof to read and review!

The novel starts with Emily helping a couple give birth. Everything seems fine, she helps the mother through a successful birth, and the baby is given a full bill of health. Until it wasn’t fine. And Emily finds herself suspending pending trial for something she has done.
She heads home to her Father, in the hopes that he will reassure her, and give her the love she desperately needs during this time. But when she finds Francoise, his new French carer at the door, she realises there is a lot she doesn’t know about her Father.

The book starts out pretty strong, a mysterious suspense that keeps you guessing as to what Emily as done, and just what kind of person she might be. Then we meet Francoise, through Emily’s eyes, and she seems very suspicious. But then we move on to Francoise’s perspective, and you are then left wondering which of them is telling the truth.
I liked that we switched between the perspectives of Emily and Francoise, and I also like that we ventured into the mind of Harold also, during his time in the war. It really helped build the characters, and allowed you to have a better understanding of them, as both Emily and Francoise were highly suspicious of each other, which often clouded their judgement.

I found that Corry put in little titbits of information that lured you into thinking other characters could have also been involved with what was going on within the novel, which was quite clever, and certainly had me questioning everything I thought I knew.

I did find however, that once I got about halfway through the novel, it starts to drift away from the strong first half and turns into a novel with too many extra bits of information that were either unnecessary, or just something added in to confuse you which I found a little frustrating.

There are a lot of twists and turns that keep you guessing constantly, and although I was expecting a different ending, it was a nice surprise to be proven wrong and it wrapped up nicely too.

Overall it was an enjoyable read, with just a little bit too much repetition and confusion for me to rate higher than a 3.5!

3.5/5 stars

Monday 6 June 2022

Book Review | Book of Night by Holly Black | prettylittlewriter

'In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgängers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.'
This is a novel that I had massive high hopes for. I've heard so much praise for Holly Black, the Folk of the Air series on my tbr pile, I was expecting to be thoroughly impressed. 
So when I started reading it, and every character seemed dull and lifeless, with no gripping storyline, tensions or suspense, I was left feeling completely deflated. 

I read this novel as a buddy read, and myself and my buddy felt the exact same throughout. We had to force ourselves to read it, and both said if we weren't reading it together, we probably would have marked it as a DNF. 

I didn't find any of the characters interesting, the only one I was remotely interested in was Vince, but we barely got any details on him, and considering he was a major part of the novel, it was pretty disappointing. 

The world building was very slow, but it did have some interesting magic elements (shadow magic), which weren't particularly complicated, but I can't say I really understood it all (I still don't know what a Hierophant is, amongst other things). 

Overall, I found that the novel had a massive amount of potential, but fell completely flat on its face, and I won't be reading the sequel.

(side note, the fairyloot/illumicrate editions are pretty gorgeous though).

2.5/5 stars