Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Get a (Love) Life

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

Age: Adult / Young Adult
Category: Romance
Rating: 4 stars


Helen Thinks: Nicola Brown is borderline obsessive compulsive. She likes control and order in her life so much so she eats at the same time every day, has a set menu for her week and absolutely does not day. She likes to be alone. So when her fun-loving, carefree colleague Caroline dares her to get a date for Valentine's Day which is in three months time, Nicola flat out refuses. However, when her brother later tells her again that he couldn't date a woman at thirty three due to the effort of wooing her and them being a relationship would leave her infertile due to her age has her wondering. Has she left it too late? So she accepts the dare to get a love life in three months and the chaos that ensues allows Nicola to see that not only did she need to get a love life but she needed to get a life.

How to Get a (Love) Life is Rosie Blake's debut novel and what an entrance to the literary world she has made. How to Get a (Love) Life is a funny, romantic and addictive novel that I read completely in one sitting. Her characters were poles apart in their personalities and yet jammed well to make a realistic work setting while going on a hunt for possible dates. Nicola's brother, Mark, comes and goes through her life leaving the reader with small smiles on their faces. With chapter openers being laid out like a lonely hearts advert Blake shows a unique style of keeping the audience entertained with her novel.

I obviously won't ruin the book by telling you if Nicola finds love but I think the important lesson learnt through this book isn't about finding love. It's about finding time to live and to enjoy things in life. Yes, you're going to have dates from hell. Yes, your perfectly organised world might crash around you at times. But it doesn't matter. Life is a learning curve and one you should enjoy no matter what. So why not enjoy it a little more and give this book a read?

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Song of Achilles

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

Age: Adult
Category: Historical, romance, LGBTQIA+
Rating: 5 stars

"And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth, when another is gone."



Rosie Thinks: This story is beautiful. I can't think of a better way to describe it. Everything, from the characters to the writing to the way Madeline Miller recreated the Illiad, is just utterly stunning. The retellings of Achilles are ridiculously numerous, as well as being well-known throughout the world, but I have never connected with it as much as I did this. And I have never read a novel that left me close to tears just from the way the sentences are crafted and the images the words evoked. In the legend, it is never quite certain the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, and Miller, a classical teacher herself, has taken the route that they were lovers. It took her ten years to write this story and she has stayed very true to the legend itself.

At the beginning, Achilles and Patroclus are as different as night and day. Achilles is the beautiful, self-confident, beloved prince, and awkward, unwanted Patroclus is captivated from the moment he sees him. Achilles, in all the retellings I've experienced has been completely unsympathetic to me - distant, arrogant, almost a bully. Somehow, Miller has created a character that is all of this yet made him into someone I could see as a real person, and someone who I admired and liked. He did not come off as arrogant and a bully at all - rather, self-assured and focused. Patroclus - well, he was just as masterfully characterised, if not better. He grew from being an envious, closed-off boy to a man who wasn't only defined by his love of Achilles, but was incredibly selfless and giving.

I adored the fierce relationship between the two, but, as I mentioned earlier, my favourite thing about the book is the way it is written. It is direct and to the point, with none of the flowery prose and digression of Homer's work. It is written in first person, from Patroclus' POV - my first question, being familiar with the legend, was how I was going to get a fulfilling story with this? But I most certainly did. The ending was incredible, and I generally can't stand how disappointing some endings can be. Miller never outright tells us what we should be thinking. Instead, she shows us how incredible Patroclus becomes, in a world of killing and greed. She shows how their growing friendship and eventual love, their devotion and loyalty.

There are so many quotes I want to share with you. I've highlighted so many, but I limit myself to one per review, if it's appropriate. Actually, you know what? I'm giving you two and I don't even care. The first quote I shared hit me hard, but this one is something that should be universally known:

"Chiron had said once that nations were the most foolish of mortal inventions. 'No man is worth more than another, wherever he is from.'"

How is it possible for the story of Achilles to be original? You'll have to read and discover for yourself.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Vengeance Road

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical; romance
Rating: 4.5 stars


Melissa Thinks: A historical western romance? Definitely not something I thought I would enjoy, but Vengeance Road exceeded my expectations. Kate, the main character, is the embodiment of a strong female character. After her father is brutally murdered by the notorious Rose Riders, she vows to track down and kill every last one of them. Along the way she picks up brothers Will and Jesse who, thanks to her disguise, are under the impression she is a boy (think Mulan). This makes it all the more difficult when she finds herself starting to notice the older boy, Jesse, in a "more than traveling companions" kind of way.

Like I said, Kate is an amazing character. Not only is she a badass, gun-slinging, independent, cowgirl-type character, but she also has a sweetness to her that adds to her lovableness. Her need for revenge gets her into some pretty nasty situations and she's willing to kill and even give her life in order to kill whoever murdered her father. I gobbled up this novel in one sitting because I loved Kate's character so much! And it wasn't just her that I loved. The secondary characters complimented Kate well: Will and Jesse--even Liluye, who I would've liked to see more of, made the novel stronger.

I don't think Vengeance Road is completely historically accurate, but it was enough so that I wasn't painfully aware of inconsistencies. My only complaint was the last 1/4 of the book was a little rushed to me. A few things wrapped up in convenient ways that left me feeling unsettled. Besides that, I was very satisfied with this book and I'm finding myself looking forward to reading more western YA books!

Shadow Lover

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

Age: Adult
Category: Romance
Rating: 4 stars


Marta Thinks: Anne Stuart has more than thirty years of experience within the romance genre and is the winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Clearly, she’s somewhat of an expert - and it shows. Her novel ‘Shadow Lover’ is a near-flawless adult romance, dealing dexterously a complicated relationship as well as dramatically mysterious family secrets.

In a small town, the gorgeous MacDowells are facing a familial loss, that of matriarch Sally MacDowell. But she refuses to pass away before witnessing the fulfillment of her dying wish: that of seeing her long-lost son, Alex. When Alex appears again, conveniently acquiring a hefty inheritance, Sally is thrilled and welcomes him with uncontained joy. Only Carolyn, foster daughter, knows that this isn’t the real Alex, not after what she witnessed eighteen years ago when he ran away. As she puts it: ‘Here were a million reasons why he could be Alex MacDowell, and only one reason why he couldn’t.’ What follows is a novel full of drama and intrigue, alongside snobbish secondary characters, all desperately greedy and arrogant, eager for a share of money.

What was refreshing about this plot was the heroine, Carolyn. She was surprisingly likable, a rarity when it comes to 90s romance stories. It’s easy to see things as she perceives them and behind that cool facade she has perfected so well, lies a girl who was in love with her adopted step-brother and who is hungry for Sally’s affection. Her reaction to Alex’s reappearance is perfectly reasonable and the various tests she poses in order to prove that the man is not Alex, show her determination and cleverness. Additionally, Anne Stuart is well known for producing well thought-out gamma heroes (described by a blogger as a man who - unlike alpha or beta heroes - is ‘one who is indifferent and is never possessive of the heroine...and who sometimes never admits their love until the very end of the novel...’). While that may not necessarily be the most flattering illustration of a character, I do believe it is extremely accurate. Alex - or at the very least, the man who claims he is Alex - doesn’t hide his desire for Carolyn, but neither does he see it as his duty to protect her or reassure her of his sentiments. This made him the perfect foil to Carolyn, and I believe made their relationship more credible as it gave them equal roles.

Ultimately, while this book may not be Anne Stuart’s most famous or best novel necessarily, I do think it is a good introduction into the romance genre, and gives a reader a good idea of what to expect if they are to read future books by the author.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Every Breath

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

Age: Young Adult
Category: Mystery & crime; contemporary; romance
Rating: 4 stars

“I admit to being a moron at lots of things. Being a moron in one or two areas serves to highlight my extraordinary brilliance in everything else.” -James Mycroft (beautiful cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure)

Melissa Thinks: I was not emotionally ready for this book. Like most people, I was absolutely fascinated by BBC’s Sherlock when the first season aired. Not only that, but I also grew up with at least one parent who loved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. It’s safe to say I love Sherlock Holmes. When I saw that Every Breath was a modern day retelling (of sorts) about teenage Rachel Watts (Watson) and James Mycroft (Sherlock’s brother was Mycroft Holmes, for those of you who don’t know), I just knew I had to read it.

The writing was more than I ever hoped it would be. It portrays teenagers in a realistic way, by not underestimating or sugar coating them. The prose was poetically beautiful in places in which it seemed appropriate, was precise enough so that I was almost never confused about what was happening, and also held a (distinctly Australian) unique and humorous voice.

Rachel, the main character, was my absolute favorite. When she moves from the country to the city (four months-ish from the start of the book), she doesn’t want to get too attached, knowing that the city life just isn’t for her and one day she’ll end up leaving. Rachel is such an open character—she’s loyal and takes care of her family and Mycroft, though she doesn’t have to. Like most kids her age, she doesn’t know what she wants to do with the rest of her life and genuinely struggles to find her place. She’s also incredibly intelligent and even though Mycroft is technically the shining star genius character, nothing would get done if it weren’t for Rachel. She isn’t a sidekick, nor is she a passive poorly written lady character; she’s equal to her male counterpart.

Then there’s the second main character, Mycroft. Oh boy, Mycroft. He is a deeply flawed character. He is erratic, selfish, struggles with mental health issues, and can sometimes be downright stupid. What I loved about him was his passion and eccentricity. Similarly to Rachel, he has a strong sense of loyalty as well as a need to seek justice for those who cannot do so themselves. And even though I am a grown adult woman, and he’s seventeen, I found him to be just adorable. He has curly hair, he’s British, he’s funny, and you can tell he is so devoted to Rachel. What a cutie.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Couldn't Stand the Weather

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Corinne's sworn enemy is still living across the street and is now driving the Mustang she lost her virginity in while his brother, her first love, is busy talking about cold fronts and thundershowers on the local news.
Banner Credit: Melissa

Melissa Thinks: Corrine returns home five years after she left her hometown of Portland, her family, and her high school boyfriend to make an acting career for herself in Hollywood. As the summary states, when she's forced to live with her brother in their childhood home, she's also forced to come face to face with her old boyfriend, Liam (now a weatherman with a baby on the way), and his annoying younger brother, Rhett (Cory's least favorite person, now an amazing mechanic and owner of his own shop).

I don't like love triangles, so I'm glad this turned out to not be one. Liam, the possible third point of the triangle, is one of the worst characters I've had the privilege of reading about. He's whiny, selfish, annoying, and a manipulative liar. His brother Rhett, however, is pretty amazing. He comes across as being very caring and loyal, not only towards his brother but towards Cory as well. He had flaws that made him likable without being too overpowering to the likability of the character, like we see with Liam. Liam definitely provides a great foil to Rhett's character.

"Couldn't Stand the Weather" captures the attention of its audience with a well structured style. The prose, made up of strong description, does an amazing job of showing the author's voice. The POV switches work to the advantage of the author, who is then able to really show us the character development of all three characters. I think the dialogue is funny, especially the Rhett/Cory interactions. You could feel the spark between them and I honestly wondered why Liam was even a choice for her when Rhett was so darn nice and cute.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Landline

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Contemporary; romance
Rating: 4 stars


Juliet Thinks: Landline, the second adult novel Rowell has published since the beginning of her writing career in 2011, has all the right elements for a contemporary romance novel: witty, sweet, and personal. It features Georgie McCool, a comedy show writer, who prioritizes work above all of the other elements in her life. As a result, her marriage suffers. It’s Christmas week, and Georgie last-minute cancels her plans with her family to work on a career opportunity instead.

This book gives a realistic sense of the difficulty of relationships and friendships. Above all, it centers around what it means to actually mean something to someone. Rowell’s writing has a special place in my heart because of how natural and captivating it is: “Wasn't that the point of life? To find someone to share it with? And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn't everything else just scenery?”

Each character struck me as someone I already know, or could know, because of the impeccable characterization. Georgie’s own family is particularly unique-- her mother’s second husband is Georgie’s age, Georgie’s younger sister is only sixteen, and they use Georgie’s old room as a trophy room for their pregnant pug. The flashbacks to Georgie’s college days (and therefore, her husband’s, too) gave the novel another dimension-- one reminiscent of Rowell’s other written romances. Lastly, Landline surprised me in Rowell’s use of magical realism. All of her previously published books, whether young adult or adult, have been in the contemporary fiction genre. The fantasy element in this book caught me off-guard; I had not heard anything about it beforehand. It added a sweet, mystical element to the novel without being tacky.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Landline and would highly recommend it as a read for the holiday season.


 

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