Friday, November 18, 2016

Along for the Ride

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary, romance
Rating: 5 stars


Melissa Thinks: Rereading books is not something I normally do. The most frustrating thing about being a book lover is as I grow older, I find my tastes are always changing. A book I might have read and loved five years ago I might read now and hate. I originally read Along for the Ride six or seven years ago and it wasn't a book that made a large impression on me. On this second read through, I've had an unexpectedly different reaction.

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors for several reasons. First of all, her novels are always so well crafted. The characters have layers of character development that slowly emerge throughout her stories. She knows how to write about teenagers in a way that is not patronizing or stereotypical. Dessen novels are a perfect example of YA novels or "chick lit" books that can transcend their marketed audience. The themes and messages of this book (perseverance, femininity, elitism in academia, family and motherhood, change)

Another of Sarah Dessen’s strengths is the relationships she builds within her novels. Whether it’s familial relationships, friendships, or romantic connections, Dessen always seems to find the best ways to bring her characters together. Take, for instance, Eli and Auden. Their relationship starts off fairly innocently; they bond over coffee, pie, and insomnia. As they become closer, it’s hard not to want them to end up together forever. But like I said, it’s not just about the romance. Auden’s damaged relationship with her mother, father, and stepmother plays a very important role in Along for the Ride. Auden also connects with a group of girls who work in her stepmother’s store, which showcases the importance of strong friendships as opposed to the female rivalry which can often play a big part in YA books.

To conclude: I just really loved this book a lot more than I thought I would. Oftentimes an author’s later books can be crappy in comparison t their earlier works, but Along for the Ride was an amazing read, much like Dessen’s earlier works. So if you’ve not read a book by this author before, I think this is a great one to start with!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hover Car Racer

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 5:25 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary, science fiction
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: This book is definitely not something I would normally read. I normally don’t touch science-fiction, and especially not a book classified under ‘childrens’ on Goodreads! But this is one of my most favourite authors and I first read this book about eight years ago - and on my third read-through (at 22 years old) this book hasn’t lost any of itsmagic!

We follow Jason Chaser and his brother, the Bug, as they navigate their way through the hover car racing world. The story starts with the two just scraping their way into the International Race School and their uphill battle to the top as they go up against the best racers in the world.

In the same vein as most children’s fiction, this story is fairly black and white. Jason and his friends are good, the bullies are bad. The basic plot (The Underdog) has been done a million times, but that didn’t stop me absolutely adoring this. Jason, the Bug and their mismatched hover car are constantly beset by obstacle after obstacle, but none of it feels overdone or ridiculous. Matthew Reilly is one of my favourite authors because his books always deliver fast-paced action and suspense that keeps me glued to the book, and his usual flair translated well into children’s fiction.

When this book was first released, it was done for free online and in installments. And it says something amazing about the book when Disney picked up the rights to it without all the installments even out! Although that was ten years ago, I’m still hoping for a movie to come of this!

I mentioned earlier that I don’t like reading science-fiction, but this is only set a few years into the future (at an unspecified date). It’s kind of like the exact same world as now, plus hover car technology for everyone. But the entire world and intricate detail Reilly put into this was awesome to read. The details of the racing tournaments were like an amalgamation of several different sports, and I was consistently in awe of Reilly’s imagination in putting it all together.

So please don’t be put off by the age! This is a fantastic book that can be read in a few sittings and leave you with the warm fuzzies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Guardian

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: LGBTQIA+
Rating: 4 stars


Helen Thinks: Due to working in family law, Alexander Wilson has always kept his sexuality a secret solely due to being afraid that families wouldn’t approve of their children being helped by a homosexual and because he was afraid he’d be fired from the firm. Alex believes he’s happy this way - just him and his beloved corgi, Valentina. However, when his car starts to make funny noises, he pulls into the nearest garage and meets the gorgeous tattooed ex-soldier come mechanic, Titus. Straight men like Titus don’t go for guys like Alex but he can’t help but develop a crush on the man and when Titus comes to Alex for help to save his niece, Phoebe, Alex is more than willing to help - that’s what friends do, right?

I feel like I’m going to have to try and control myself while reviewing “Guardian” by Sierra Riley seeing as I loved it that much I think I’m just going to ramble on and on about how amazing it is without actually making a point... Bear with me! First of all, I’ve just got to say the cliched contrasting leads were fabulously written. I absolutely adored Alex’s portrayal. Yes, he was a little nerdy and loved his space facts but Riley didn’t overcompensate this. Whenever it was brought up, it didn’t look like Riley was just mentioning it to prove all the research she had done (or maybe it’s a secret love of hers!) and didn’t want the facts to go to waste. He was never patronising with his intelligence and I fell in little in love with him, lucky Titus. And speaking of the handsome, muscular love interest with his military background and his beautiful ink to remind him of that time. Charming, beautiful and who doesn’t love a big man that’s good with children seeing as he’s his niece’s guardian after the death of her Mother? They might be contrasts but they sure as hell complimented each other beautifully and I applaud Riley for her amazing writing skills.

I always give a writer extra brownie points when there’s an actual plotline to go with the love story because in some novels the characters can just float along from one meeting to the next but that is not the case in “Guardian”. Due to Phoebe’s biological father showing up one day at her karate training - after being absent since finding out her Mother was pregnant - Titus needs to hire Alex to help him keep his guardianship of the girl and ensure her Father doesn’t. Riley wrote this flawlessly. It planned out like you’d imagine a real investigation into the biological Father would go as well as all the steps Alex and Titus had to go through to ensure they were doing the right thing for Phoebe. Plus the sexual tension that mounted due to them not being able to act on their feelings due to ‘conflict of interest’ with Titus being Alex’s client made this story absolutely addictive - and probably the reason why I read it all in one sitting!

Guardian was my first novel by Sierra Riley and I can definitely guarantee that it will not be my last novel. I can’t wait to delve into the rest of her novels if they deliver as much as “Guardian” did.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Banquo's Son

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Banquo's Son by T.K. Roxborough

Age: Adult
Category: Historical
Rating: 4 stars


Helen Thinks: Ten years have passed since Macbeth’s bloody reign over Scotland. For those ten years, Fleance - Banquo’s son - has been hiding away with a new family in the woods of Northern England. Denying his noble bloodline, Fleance has managed to stay hidden away from those that murdered his father and has fallen in love with a sweet maid named Rosie. However, he’s haunted by images of his dead father both when sleeping and awake as his Father wants justice - as well as the greatness for his son that was prophesied by the three sisters. Neither Scotland nor Fleance will rest until this day so he sacrifices his life with Rosie to travel back to Scotland where he encounters many people including young Prince Duncan, murdered king Duncan’s grandchild and third in line for the Scottish throne. Once encountering the young prince, Fleance’s life changes and the decisions he makes not only change his future but the one that he has with Rosie too...

This book popped up as an advert on my kindle and I accidentally clicked it unlocking said kindle. However, at high school, Macbeth was one of my favourite Shakespeare plays so I was intrigued and found myself adding it to my library. I’m going to be completely honest with you and admit that it was a slow read to begin with. The first couple of chapters focused on Fleance’s life in England with his new family where they live simply and his love interest, Rosie, that travels around England with her family so he rarely sees her. However, Rosie’s father demands to know what Fleance’s intentions towards Rosie are and he finally admits the truth that he can’t stay with Rosie until he has travelled back to Scotland where he can learn what truly happened to his Father all them years ago. Rosie and her family are obviously devastated by his decision causing her Father to say that his chances are over but thankfully Rosie understands and says she’ll wait for him. So off Fleance goes on his travels back to Scotland. While this is happening, we also see Prince Duncan dealing with his unstable father, Prince Donalbain, and the news that his uncle - King Malcolm - is on his deathbed without any children to inherit the Scottish crown as well as taking care of his sisters, Rachel and Bree. Upon receiving news that King Malcolm is definitely close to the end, Duncan sets out to journey to his Uncle’s castle so that Malcolm can be amongst family. On his journey, he is attacked by a pack of wolves where our titular hero comes into save the day and a friendship is born. Duncan can sense there is more to this “Flea” than his companion is letting on but he doesn’t push and together they make it to the Royal castle in time for Duncan to see his uncle before he passes. The death of King Malcolm and the coronation of King Donalbain starts to make people uneasy and eventually there’s whisperings of rebel forces allying with England to take control of Scotland.

Banquo's Son is 402 pages long and Roxborogh ensures that every page is crammed with excitement and action like you would imagine a film depicting this era would be. Deaths, coronations, rivalries and of course - love interests. Our hero, Fleance, finds himself torn between his old simple life where he’s in love with Rosie and his new life of nobility where he’s got the admiration of Princess Rachel. By the end of the book, circumstances that I won’t detail because it screams spoiler alert have to sway Fleance towards one of the women but I can’t wait to continue the journey in book two and see what decisions are made.

This book swims with characters from Fleance, the royals, thanes of different cities, the people we meet on their travels, Fleance’s family as well as Rosie’s. It’s one of them books where you could possibly do with a character list at the beginning to ensure you’re aware of who is who. However, Roxborogh never loses track of who is who and where they’re supposed to be. I always applaud any author that can have a huge cache of characters and write smoothly. Roxborogh definitely achieved this.

It is my first venture into historical fiction - the author does disclaim at the beginning that not all events are accurate as it is based of a fictional piece of work in itself - that is not solely romance, and I can definitely guarantee that it won’t be my last.

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Ember in Ashes

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult, Adult
Category: Fantasy, romance
Rating: 4.5 stars


Rosie Thinks: Laia's life is thrown into disarray when the Empire's ruthless elite warriors kill her grandparents and arrest her brother for treason, leaving her to flee. With nowhere else to go, she makes a deal with the rebels working to free their people from the Empire's violent grip: she will spy on the commander of their greatest military school in exchange for the rebels freeing her brother. The story is told in Laia's perspective, but alternates with Elias, the school's best soldier who will do anything to get away from his brutal and cold life there.

I had big expectations for this book. It caught my eye a few months ago, before it was published - an incredible blurb, plus an Ancient Rome inspired world?! Um, yes please. For the first time in a while, this book lived up to my expectations! What really caught me at the beginning was the characterisation of Laia. We are presented with this girl who is ruled by her fear, yet possesses a determination she doesn't even realise. Her weakness at the beginning cut at me and, yes, made me a bit frustrated, but I couldn't wait to see how she would grow. Everywhere in YA books, there are kickass heroines who can master their fear and refuse to run from any situation (Katniss from Hunger Games, Celaena from Throne of Glass, Katsa from Graceling, I could go on for a while). These are all fine and good, but you rarely see a character like Laia who is so strangled by her fear at the beginning. Honestly, she acted in a way I could see myself acting like in that situation, and that made me empathise with her all the more. Elias's character development wasn't as obvious as Laia's, but he still made for a good person to read about. The insights he gives into his world were breathtaking and showed the creative world Tahir created. Elias is the best warrior the school has seen in two decades, yet he has plans to desert the day after graduation - this situation also seriously intrigued me.

The whole storyline was fast-paced and gripping and, at times, downright evil. The villains are numerous and realistic, and even the Elias's sociopathic mother is made out to be human, not some kind of caricature. One of my pet hates is when a villain is just evil for the sake of being evil, with no real substance behind him/her. A book becomes immeasurably better, in my opinion, when the villain becomes human, with motivations and fears and goals that you can understand. This is what the truly frightening villains have. Marcus, Elias's schoolmate nemesis, was a bit of a Draco Malfoy-style bully at the beginning, but even he began to get a bit fleshed out towards the end. Speaking of, all the supporting characters were just incredible. Each of them played important roles and kept the plot rolling forward at a breakneck pace.

The only problem I had with this book were the unfortunate hints of a love triangle in the middle, for both main characters. I will first say this, though: this novel is fantasy first, and romance more as a side-note. There is a romantic underlying to it, but the plot is moved forward by the action and characters, rather than revolving around the romance. However, I found Laia's 'heart wanting one guy and body the other' (not actual quote) to be unnecessary and annoying. However, I'm just being picky. If you're like me and hate love triangles, don't be put off - this is only annoying in a handful of scenes.

But otherwise, this novel is flawless. It is dark and enthralling, and made me blow off all plans so I could finish it within a day. It captures a true journey of human spirit, and I can't wait for the sequel next year. I can see this becoming one of the must-read YA novels of the year. Definitely recommend!


Friday, September 30, 2016

milk and honey

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Age: Adult
Category: Poetry
Rating: 5 stars


Juliet Thinks: This book of poems is one that I had high expectations for because I had seen many people post about snippets of it on social media. There was something enticing about the simple drawings coupled with a short poem, so I decided to order it.

The book certainly deserves the accolade it has received from the public. Kaur's poems are harrowing and deeply relatable. Some of her writing in this book breaks conventions of poetry, such as a poem that is one very long paragraph. With no punctuation and sharp words, Kaur paints a jarring image of what it is like to feel unloved, enamored, fundamentally disappointed, and human.

Friday, September 23, 2016

This Raging Light

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary, romance
Rating: 4 stars


Brittany Thinks: I love reading realistic YA fiction - perhaps because I discovered YA in a time before Twilight and magic and Dystopia shaped the books that lined shelves. When YA, like a true young adult, was really trying to find its place in the literary world and in the general societal subconscious. I love a good Fantasy YA read, but every once in a while I totally dig losing myself in a world where human beings have human problems and they make a bigger mess of things on the way to the truth. This Raging Light by Estelle Laure felt like the YA books that made me fall in love with the genre and I really want all of you to have the chance to love it, too.

The title attracted me first, because I assumed (correctly, fortunately) that it was a reference to my favorite Dylan Thomas quote, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. That’s exactly what Lucille has to do when she wakes up to find her parents have both left town and she has a 10 year old sister to care for and a mountain of bills to pay. I know that people have an amazing capacity to keep it together through unimaginable things, but I was so enthralled by her character. She was strong without being dramatically closed off and vulnerable without being obnoxious - and either of those alternatives would have been entirely understandable in her situation, too. I also really liked Eden, Lucille’s best friend, and Digby, Eden’s brother. They were so kind, so supportive, and so great at times that I envied their relationships.

I think my favorite part of this book is that it’s so dark, but also so filled with goodness. There is another trend in YA that leans more towards the sad of late. Some of my favorite reads of the last 5 years in this genre have been soul crushing. And this book could have taken that path, but it reminded me of another quote from a dude I love, Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. I think everyone could use a reminder of that sometimes and this book is filled with people caring about people when they don’t really have to.

Definitely check out This Raging Light. The writing was beautiful, I bought it six hours ago. It’s absolutely worth your time.
 

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