Friday, March 31, 2017

In the Absence of Light

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 4 stars


Rosie Thinks: When I started this book, I didn't expect it to be the insane, emotionally-charged ride it turned out to be. I've read a lot of m/m romance, and can fairly confidently identify the generic storyline from miles away. After reading the summary, I thought this would be yet another instalove story with stereotypical, 2D characters that I'd seen a hundred times before. The only reason I was quite intrigued was one of the main character's being autistic. And, surprise surprise, the first chapter I knew it was going to be fantastic!

The book is in the perspective of Grant Kessler (which is an immediate bonus to me, as I've grown frustrated with many of the dual POV books in the romance genre). Grant's smuggling business began to take a darker turn that he wasn't willing to go down, so he got out of the business and plans to lay low in a middle-of-nowhere country town for a few years until the heat from the FBI goes down. What he doesn't count on, is meeting Morgan. Morgan is severely autistic, a man with an uncontrollable tic, can't tell right from left, struggles to make eye contact and sometimes gets lost in his own head. Beneath all this, however, lies the mind of a strong and brilliant young man who has overcame every obstacle thrown his way. Their attraction is mutual, but Grant can't seem to see past Morgan's autism.

You can probably tell from that brief summary that this story had the potential to go very, very wrong, and that's what made it so intriguing to me at first. To me, Morgan's autism was explored with beautifully by Wilder. She made Grant confront his own prejudices and stereotypes, and questioned what 'normal' really is. There was one line that really stuck with me, and the gist of it was Morgan is a man with a mental condition, not a mental condition who is a man.

This is truly a well-rounded story. The romance between Morgan and Grant has centre-stage, but there were problems from both characters' pasts that were very interesting and kept the plot moving along at a really nice pace. I honestly didn't really pick where the plot would go, and I love that in a story. Both characters felt like real people and even though most of the minor characters didn't play huge roles, they were all great to read about.

Wilder's writing is utterly beautiful. I've read quite a few of her other books, so I can say with full confidence that she is a master of emotive writing! Some of her descriptions were just downright beautiful, and I particularly liked the way she described Morgan's tic. And light. As the title suggests, light plays a big role in the story and the way Wilder has written about it was stunning! There were a lot of powerful themes in this novel, about ostracism and ignorance, and Wilder wrote them in a way that was heart-rending. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any lover of the m/m genre!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars


Helen Thinks: Sara has never left her home country of Sweden so when her elderly penpal, Amy, from Broken Wheel, Iowa, offers her the chance to stay at her house for two months she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately for Sara, Amy’s funeral is just coming to a close when she arrives. However, the residents of Broken Wheel were all under instructions from Amy to ensure that Sara remained there and felt welcomed. Broken Wheel is a small dying community in the middle of nowhere so they are stunned that Sara wishes to remain there, as well confused to her love for the written word. In return for their generosity and for something to do, Sara opens a bookstore with Amy’s books for the people of Broken Wheel and the residents become fond of Sara.

I’m not going to lie to you but the beginning of this book was slow going. Sara, for me, started off as a particularly dull character that had no dimensions whatsoever. Her inner thoughts were rambles about published books that you may or may not have read. I understand being a book lover - I’m a massive book lover - but it was focused on a little too much for my liking. However, Sara did begin to grow on me as she started to interact with the residents of Broken Wheel and we started to see snapshots of their lives. From Andy and his good friend Carl that owned the bar, Grace that owned the local diner and Caroline that was always there to help out and organised everything. There was a handful of supporting characters and they were all individual enough that you could see who Bivald was talking about.

I felt like a great touch was that each alternate chapter was a letter from Amy to Sara so that despite Amy’s death in the novel we still managed to meet Amy as well as get a look at the friendship that had formed between the two women. In their letters they spoke of books and of what books meant to them as well as us seeing what Amy’s relationships were with the residents of Broken Wheel.

Despite me saying earlier that this book was slow starting, I managed to read it in one afternoon once I tackled the first thirty or forrty pages that made it a struggle. I was in love with the characters of Broken Wheel so all I can say is that Helen from A Drop of Romeo highly recommends that you give this book a chance.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Years of Loving You

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Romance
Rating: 5 stars


Helen Thinks: Only in her thirties, Molly has the wind knocked out of her when she is diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's. She hopes it’ll make her marriage to Sam stronger but he becomes practical and detached from her so she turns to the other man in her life - her best friend, Ed. Molly and Ed met many years ago at a party and it was instant love for the pair of them but life kept getting in the way so they became strong friends instead. Ed is absolutely heartbroken by Molly’s news and is suffering his own heartbreak due to his fiancee calling off their future nuptials on the night of their engagement party. The Years of Loving You shows Molly as she comes to terms with her diagnosis but also shows us the journey of Molly and Ed’s friendship from that first star filled night where they immediately fell in love to the present day.

This was my first Ella Harper novel. I saw it advertised on goodreads in the corner labelled “because you read...” and the cover grabbed my attention. Within seconds of clicking on the link I had opened up a new browser to my local libraries page and reserved it. Boy, am I glad i did! I sat and read this entire novel in approximately two hours because I just couldn’t put it down. Harper’s writing was flawless.

Harper has developed characters that are three-dimensional and you find yourself feeling alongside of them. When Molly was told she had Parkinson’s at such a young age I was devastated for her. When Sam started being all analytical and practical about her diagnosis I was practically yelling in my head that it’s tears she needed, a hug maybe. And I absolutely adored and treasured Ed with all his family problems that he kept secret and were therefore the primary cause as to why life kept getting in the way of what could have been a blossoming relationship between Ed and Molly. True fangirl at heart and thanks to Harper’s extraordinary writing, I was shipping them from the get go but to obviously avoid spoilers I won’t be revealing which way it goes at the end.

The use of flashbacks can often be annoying and usually pointless but throughout The Years of Loving You that was never the case. The flashback moments were related to what had just happened in the present day and I believe they helped cement a relationship between us as the reader and the characters on the page.

I feel like I could rave on about this book for an eternity. I don’t know why this novel out of everything I have read this year has had such an impact - maybe it’s because we all have that friend in Ed’s position? The love that once could have been but never happened so friendship was the only way forward? - but it has and I am most definitely going to be reading some more of Ella Harper’s work in the future.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Evenfall (In the Company of Shadows #1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 12:55 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult; Adult
Category: Romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: If you’re a fan of m/m books and you haven’t heard of this series.... where have you been?! This is, without a doubt, one of the best m/m series of the genre. As in, it’s in my top two! I’ve been on a roll with re-reading old favourites lately, and this series was my latest re-read. I feel like I could read it another five times and still not be sick of it!

This is set in a post-apocalyptic world, two decades or so after World War III where most of the major cities were blown apart by bombs. In this world, terrorist organisations pop up all over the place and it is the Agency’s duty, as a secret branch of the US government, to protect the nation’s interest. Which sounds great and patriotic on paper, but the reality is much different. Sin is the Agency’s greatest weapon - aggressive, merciless, highly skilled. His only drawback is the killing sprees he goes on and that his partners never seem to last longer than a few missions. This is where Boyd comes in: after a horrific tragedy years ago, he shut himself off from the world and his emotions, leaving him apathetic to whether he lives or dies. Which, coincidentally, makes him the perfect partner to try and keep the Agency’s most ruthless assassin in line.

Words can barely explain how much I love this series! Both Boyd and Sin are so broken at the start, and watching them grow was stunning. Sin is seen by others as a psychotic monster, and Boyd is written off as worthless. It’s written in multiple POVs, but mostly Boyd and Sin’s. Each author would write one character’s perspective, which I found interesting since there is no noticeable change in writing style. But because of this, you’re taken truly inside the character’s head, making the characterisation fantastic. Both Sin and Boyd go through some serious character growth in this series, and the authors pull no punches. Complicated psychological disorders are explored and a variety of other situations. Neither character is a Gary Stu - honestly, at one point or another, most of the characters disliked Boyd and had no problem pointing out his faults. However, Boyd and Sin are both just so loveable and amazing and gah, I love these books so much.

The action in this was also a big draw for me. I love my books when they have a fantastic romantic plot-line, but also a separate plot that isn’t overshadowed by the romance. This had it. It’s jam-packed with action, from fight scenes to all the different missions to the struggles the individual characters face. The plot was just amazing, with many twists to keep you guessing and never quite sure. Fight scenes can be quite hard to write, but Sonny and Ais nail it. They’re fast-moving but also understable, so I could easily picture what was happening in my head. And it wasn’t just the fight scenes that were on point - the emotional scenes were without cliches and so heart-wrenching, I suggest having a box of tissues on hand at all times.

A fair warning - this is a mammoth book. They recently released the Director’s Cut of Evenfall, and cut out a massive 100k words. And I don’t even want to think about the actual page number of the whole series! But not once did it feel like I was reading a book the size of a small country. The near-constant action, romantic and otherwise, kept me hooked on until 3am in the morning on many nights. So don’t be put off by the length! But I would clear your calendar when you start this series - because once you start, I guarantee you won’t want to stop!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

SC prompt

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:04 PM 0 comments
The new prompt for Star-Cross'd is up!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Round 14 Results

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 12:00 AM 0 comments
These were the writing prompts for the fourteenth round of SC:



Winner: Accident by Morine

Other Entries

The new prompt for SC will be announced in one week, on January 15 soon. Happy New Year!

 Note: In this round, entries were not judged separately by prompt. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Vicious

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult, Adult
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: The blurb for this story was pretty ambitious - it promised me a tale of zeal, jealousy, morality and superpowers, a mix that was almost too good to be true! But V. E. Schwab managed to deliver a novel that was all of this and more.

My favourite quote from the story is this:

"Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human."

I feel like this perfectly sums up the grey areas and utterly intriguing characters of this book.

Eli and Victor become fast friends in college, both top of the class, ambitious, and with a dark streak under the surface. When both their thesises collide - the effect of near-death trauma and the creation of ExtraOrdinary humans - they decide to move from theory to experimentation, setting them down a path of betrayal and anger. The book alternates mainly between this time and ten years down the track, when Victor has escaped from prison with his cellmate and takes in a stray girl with an ExtraOrdinary power, and is intent on revenge. The structure of this book - the time jumps every chapter - could've so easily gone wrong, but the author pulled it off masterfully. It gave the story such a rigid structure and allowed Schwab to only reveal a little at a time, keeping me hooked. And I'm not just using that as a turn of phrase - I was honestly hooked in right from the start, and read it all in one sitting without even breaking for the bathroom!

Probably my most favourite aspect of this story was the way it delved into the grey area between good and bad, just as that quote earlier suggests. The quote at the beginning reads: "Life - the way it really is - is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse" (Joseph Brodsky). Talk about that foreshadowing! Neither protganist is truly good, so the story is a facinating look into human behaviour, especially when influenced by power. The superpower aspect was also explored in an interesting way, though the characters are more the focus of the story than their powers are. But the creation of the superpowers, so rooted in science, was intriguing to read about and refreshing in its originality.

Honestly, I can't recommend this book enough. The writing is truly amazing as well, and the way the story was weaved around me left me breathless. I truly loved this story!
 

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