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.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Executioner [Robert Hunter #2]

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

Age: Adult
Category: Crime & Mystery
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: When the remains of a decapitated priest are found on the altar steps of a church in Los Angeles with the head replaced by that of a canine there’s only one duo they’re going to call - the team that managed to catch the horrifying Crucifix Killer. When the forensic team find a bloody number three written on the priest’s chest. Due to the religious elements and the different components of the crime scene, Hunter believes that Garcia and he are on the tail of a ritualistic killer. However, the bodies start to mount up and Hunter has to reevaluate his original hypothesis as this killer isn’t sticking to the same MO. No, he seems to be killing the victims in the way that they fear the most. Their deaths are literally their worst nightmares. But how could the killer possibly know such personal information about each of his victims that for as far as he can see have no possible link?

After such an amazing debut in “The Crucifix Killer”, I was more than happy to take the leap of faith with Carter into the second novel following Garcia and Hunter’s investigation. Just as the first one, the crimes committed are shockingly grisly that keep you up late at night hooked to every last word written on the pages in front of you. My favourite part of Carter’s writing is that even though he does use a crime novelists favourite trick of a the red herring, they’re not just carelessly thrown in like some novels. They’re all cleverly thought out and leave you thinking that this whole thing could be over (slightly before you want it too!) but then when the twists are revealed at the end... gobsmacked is literally the only word I can use to describe the feeling I got when I learnt who the killer was in this novel.

So settle down, get yourself a nice hot cup of tea and follow Hunter and Garcia as they chase down a killer who literally scares his victims to death...

Friday, September 9, 2016

The False Prince

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Age: Young Adult, Middle Grade
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Rosie Thinks: Although this book has been out since 2012, for some reason this is the first time I'd ever seen it on Goodreads. I knew this for a fact, since the summary hooked me in straightaway and made me ditch the other book I was reading halfway through. And this book certainly delivered!

To save a kingdom on the brink of civil war, Conner, a nobleman, recruits four orphans to compete to become the lost prince. It starts off quite Anastasia-like, but the characters and the plot soon move well beyond that. It is told in the perspective of Sage, one of the orphans competing. Unlike the others, he struggles to be free of Conner's not-so-altruistic machinations. He's rude, poor-mannered, a thief, incredibly intelligent and I loved him so much as an MC! With the twists and setting, telling this story in first person POV could've killed it easily for me, but somehow it worked. Sage's voice was always quick, witty and hilarious, but it didn't detract from the sometimes sombre tone of the novel.

I was a bit wary when I saw this novel marked on Goodreads as not only YA, but also Middle Grade. I am happy reading YA, but Middle Grade would be getting a bit too young for me! Thankfully, it didn't come across as a book written for children, even though it still would probably be suited for Middle Grade, despite the dark themes sometimes.

The fantasy side of this story isn't so pronounced - the world-building wasn't very detailed, beyond what was needed for the storytelling. Instead, Nielsen focused more on the characters and weaving a fairly intricate web of lies. Sage is a perfect liar, but this becomes more of an endearing quality than a fault, if that is even possible! The other characters are all well characterised, with very few of them falling into stereotypical roles. I really enjoyed reading this and am so happy the summary didn't let me down!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Carry On

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:05 AM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical
Rating: 5 stars

Brittany Thinks: Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors writing today. From her first adult novel Attachments to her smash hit YA novel Eleanor & Park, I have devoured every one of her novels in one sitting every time. Carry On just might be my favorite. I’ve already read it twice since picking up a copy in February and I’m sure I’ll read it a few more times before the year is through.

Now this might get a little bit meta and confusing so hang in there, but Carry On is kind of a novel from within a novel and you may want to read Fangirl before digging into it. Fangirl is a novel about a girl who adores a set of fictional characters to the point where it distracts her from really living. She writes a web-hit fan fiction about these characters and fans fell in love with them. So did Rainbow. Carry On is Rowell’s version of what happens to those characters. Still with me? Good. I read Fangirl first, but it definitely isn’t necessary. I’d suggest it only because it’ll make you love these characters before even cracking the spine of Carry On.

Rowell herself has said that Carry On is her take on some of the best series of the last 20 years - namely Harry Potter and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. It follows Simon Snow through the course of his last year at Watford School of Magicks as he tries to make sense of why every one thinks he’s “The Chosen One” and why his roommate Baz hates him so much. This is a fun, exciting read and, like all of Rowell’s books, it’s absolutely hilarious. She has such a wit and clever tone to her novels that I always find myself snickering or all out laughing. Simon and Baz have a great love/ hate chemistry going on and I lived for the scenes that featured both of them.

As a real fan girl of Harry Potter and anything a bit magical, I loved this. As a lover of character development and coming of age novels, I was even more satisfied. Seriously, writing this review makes me want to read it again. And then reread everything by Rainbow Rowell, because I just love her so much. Definitely pick this one up. It was perfect.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

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

Age: Adult
Category: Historical
Rating: 4 stars

Juliet Thinks: This novel, published in 1955, captures the essence of the unspoken struggle of veterans with PTSD after World War II. Mental illness, including PTSD, was not a subject about which people spoke. During this period, veterans returned from war, immediately immersed in office life; it is this sharp transition that leaves the protagonist disconnected and aimless. Wilson, drawing on his own experiences, describes the life of Tom Rath after war:
“I really don’t know what I was looking for when I got back from the war, but it seemed as though all I could see was a lot of bright young men in gray flannel suits rushing around New York in a frantic parade to nowhere. They seemed to me to be pursuing neither ideals nor happiness – they were pursuing a routine. For a long while I thought I was on the sidelines watching that parade, and it was quite a shock to glance down and see that I too was wearing a gray flannel suit.”
Tom Rath grapples with flashbacks and guilt about what he did during the war. His wife, Betsy, can sense that something about him has changed since his return from combat, but he has made the decision to not speak of the war to anyone. Apart from struggling with his past, he worries deeply about the future. 1950s was also the period of booming suburbia in the United States, so he feels pressured to conform to those ideals.

I truly appreciated this book because of the autobiographical aspect of it. Wilson's words resonated with depth and torment, allowing me to imagine the immense problem many countries were faced with after the end of WWII-- men struggling silently with PTSD in a world in which mental illness was an uncomfortable subject. It also captured the unhappiness of the 1950s, contrasting with the typical image one may have of 1950s America (perfect domesticity, Leave it to Beaver-style families in beautiful suburban homes).

Friday, July 29, 2016

The Problem with Forever

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

Brittany Thinks: Jennifer L. Armentrout typically writes sci-fi or paranormal romance and I’ve always enjoyed her grasp of plot arc and character development. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on “The Problem with Forever” even though I knew it was a change for her in terms of content. I was not disappointed.

The Problem with Forever is the story of Mallory, a young girl from a troubled past who is about to start her senior year of high school. When we meet Mallory, she’s already done a ton of work to recover from the trauma that she experienced as a young girl, but she still has a long way to go. On her first day of school, she runs into the boy who served as her protector – Rider - when they were both very young and the reunion tears their lives apart. I can’t really tell you more about the plot without mega spoilers, but whoa. I would liken it to a tamer Colleen Hoover or a more contemporary Sarah Dessen novel. 

I absolutely loved reading this book. I think Armentrout handled a sensitive subject with so much grace and understanding. I loved the emotional journey of both Mallory and Rider. I was riveted from the first page and read it from cover to cover in one day. One of my coworkers said she found the book to be a bit slow and I think that’s a fair assessment. It’s not the most action packed read out there and might not be your cup of tea if character development doesn’t keep you interested, but that wasn’t a problem for me. I love a story about growth, learning, and struggling and “The Problem with Forever” was one of the better examples that I’ve come across. I really came to care about Mallory, Rider, and all of their friends and the relationship between Mallory and Rider was just so dang cute! “The Problem with Forever” is a great read to curl up with on a sunny warm day and lose yourself. I have a feeling that you’ll love Jennifer’s worlds as much as I do.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Billion Dollar Bad Boy

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

Age: Adult
Category: Romance, erotica
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: Five years ago, Alexis was held hostage in a bank robbery which she made out alive but ever since has just been existing in her day-to-day life. Nothing exciting ever happened to her until one day she finds an anonymous package in her post office box. It’s addressed to ‘Pet’ and simply signed from ‘S’. She knows it’s an error, the expensive gifts definitely can’t be for her, but she finds herself envious of this confident, sexy ‘Pet’ and as the messages start to get more personal, Alexis finds herself falling for this enigmatic stranger. So when he asks to meet her she decides to throw caution to the wind and meets up with him. While Alexis may be meeting a stranger, ‘S’ is meeting up with the woman that has haunted him for more years than he can count because he’s not so much of a stranger as she believes...

I’m a not-so-secret fan of the new generation of erotica writing genre that has swept over the masses since the release of both e-readers and Fifty Shades of Grey. They’re quick, entertaining and joyful reads that fill up most of my hours sat at work and make me feel happy when I’ve reached the last page - who isn’t a sucker for a HEA, right? However, Billion Dollar Bad Boy stood out from the masses of other novels I’ve read in this genre due to the back story of Alexis’ hostage situation in the bank robbery. Throughout the novel, a detective is trying to get Alexis to remember what happened on that day so that he can solve the case but she can’t help having blacked it out. The twist revolving around this storyline isn’t as surprising as I think Flite would have liked but it still added a good element to the novel, as well as the love story formula.

Billion Dollar Bad Boy might not be one of the next great love stories but it definitely worked its magic on me and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to read some more of Nora Flite’s work after this delightful introduction. So if you’ve got an hour or two free, I’d say give it a go because you definitely won’t regret it.

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