Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

This book completely took my by surprise, and it is easily one of the best contemporaries I’ve read all year. Actually, let’s be honest: one of the best contemporaries I’ve read ever. I haven’t been touched this much by friendship, family and faith since the Clearwater Crossing series, which is an old one from the 90s but one of my all time favourites due to it’s absolutely beautiful complex characters and range of emotion. Emery Lord managed to pack the punch of a 20 book series into 380 glorious pages. The Names They Gave Us has a beating heart at its core and I was fully blown away.

Continue reading “Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord”

Review: Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott

28226839Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Romance
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 300
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★

I really love Victoria Scott’s ‘Fire & Flood’ series, so when I saw her most recent release pop up on Netgalley, I absolutely had to request it! There were also a ton of 5 and 4 star reviews on Goodreads, so I thought there was a high probability that I would love it, however, I’m definitely in the minority when I say I really didn’t enjoy this book. There are multiple reasons, but I think the most important one is this book lost focus.The new season RuPaul’s Drag Race has started and that always means getting out your editing eye and seeing how the Queens could cut back, and I think this really transferred to my reading of Violet Grenade. 

Continue reading “Review: Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott”

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

34373364Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published: Macmillan
Pages: 320
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★.5

When you write about someone winning the lottery, there are certain places that your mind goes. The winner spends frivolously on a yacht and a robot butler, runs into trouble with credit card companies, and after losing a significant chunk of cash, realises that they should channel their inner Ellen and pay it forward to the deserving public.

That’s pretty much what happens to Teddy. ‘Windfall’ does nothing new with the plot of rags to riches. More dramatic things could have happened in regards to his big spends, but in the end, it works out fine for him. He’s got tons of cash. The end.

Continue reading “Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith”

Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

31322309One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 288
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★

As the last weekend in the UK was obscenely hot by normal standards, my mind instantly gravitates towards ice-cream, sunglasses and contemporary romances. One Italian Summer gave me that the exam-free vibe (that’s still out of reach for another month, *crycry*) and made me crave a European holiday. (Soon, soon!)

Keris Stainton’s last YA release, Counting Stars really impressed me for it’s representation of teenage life, and I felt One Italian Summer had the same strengths, which was a really good sign. Continue reading “Review: One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton”

Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon

33985636And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon
Genre: 
Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Stripes Books
Pages: 352
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★

Maddie really loved Katy Cannon’s previous two books (Love, Lies, and Lemon Pies and Secrets, Schemes, and Sewing Machines) so obviously we were ecstatic to get our hands on her most recently release. We were also lucky enough to get to attend Stipes’ ‘Show YA Stipes’ showcase, and Katy was there talking about And Then We Ran, making it sound so exciting and different. It’s also not often that you read a British road-trip novel, and while it wasn’t from one coast to another, it was full of fun characters and crazy adventures.

Continue reading “Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon”

Review: Stargazing for Beginnings by Jenny McLachlan

32021893Stargazing for Beginnings by Jenny McLachlan
Genre: 
Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

As soon as I saw this book, it caught my eye, I’m a sucker for stars and anything space-based. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew it was a book I’d have to read immediately, dropping all responsibilities to be truly absorbed by a book.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a contemporary like this. My first instinct is to compare it to the writing of Holly Smale and the characters of Katy Cannon (AKA the recipe for Maddie’s Perfect Book.) I was even more delighted that, by the end, I could add YA Cathy Cassidy book to my list of comparisons. Stargazing for Beginners was perfectly made, and here’s how I think it was done! Continue reading “Review: Stargazing for Beginnings by Jenny McLachlan”

My Top 5 Historical Couples by Sophia Bennett, author of Following Ophelia

33256865

Hey everyone! Something very exciting for today’s post – Sophia Bennett joins us for the penultimate stop on the Following Ophelia blog tour to talk about her favourite historical couples. Romance was one of the strongest elements of the book, so we can’t wait to hear what inspired Sophia for Ophelia’s love story.

(Check out the banner on our blog to find out where Sophia’s stopping next!)


Thanks for having me, Bee and Maddie, and thank you for your review of Following Ophelia. I loved it!

It wasn’t until my seventh book, Love Song, that I wrote a proper romance. I’m interested in girls who make things or do things and they never (not even in the romance) rely on a lover to sort their lives out. But there is something wonderful about love.

I’m lucky that I ended up with my soulmate – someone I trust absolutely, and who makes me laugh every day. He also put up a light for me yesterday, but knows that I could perfectly well have put it up myself, if I didn’t happen to be gardening. He is awesome. It took a while to meet him though. We didn’t marry until I was thirty-nine.

Before that, I experienced all the ups and downs of love. I want my readers to feel the heady thrill of lust, the joy of feeling a connection – but I don’t want them to think that automatically means ‘happy ever after’. It’s usually just the start of a roller-coaster, so I wanted Mary’s experience in Following Ophelia to follow mine a little bit. She’s only just started on the journey of love. I have more to write, and she has further to travel.

It’s been fun setting her story in the 1850s, with all the complications of class, money and sex the Victorians experienced. Here are some of my favourite couples from history and legend, whom I got to know while researching various books. It’s not always easy being in love.

VA.jpg

  1. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – from Following Ophelia. I’ve always loved the strong connection between Victoria and Albert. Albert is underrated, I think. He was highly intelligent, curious, and passionately supported the arts. We have his energy and support to thank for the V&A Museum, for example.

    Victoria became boring and distant after he died, but she was quite different while he was alive. (Check out Daisy Goodwin’s fantastic TV series about them if you haven’t already seen it.) If only he’d lasted longer than 1861 …

    Demeter.jpg

  2. Persephone and Demeter – from Following Ophelia. I had to research this Greek legend for the book, as Mary takes on the name and inspiration of Persephone. She was a daughter of Zeus and Demeter, stolen by Hades and taken to the Underworld.

    Demeter, the goddess of the Harvest, desperately searched the world for her missing daughter. Eventually, she found her and begged for her return. But there was a catch, involving 7 pomegranate seeds … It’s a tragic story, driven by a mother’s love. I won’t spoil it if you don’t know it, but there’s nothing like a Greek legend for drama. And isn’t this statue of mother and daughter unusual and beautiful?

    Bowie.jpg

  3. David Bowie and Iman – from Love Song. It can’t be denied: they look incredible together. This could have gone so wrong, the pop star and the supermodel, but as she said, she married David Jones, not David Bowie.

    They kept their relationship fairly quiet – no big Hello spreads – but I never saw them look anything less than deeply in love. He always seems so utterly entranced by her company.

    It might seem odd to have them as a historical couple, but when David died last year it felt as though a special period of history had come to an end. RIP David. We still miss you.

    Shah.jpeg

  4. Sah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal – from Beads. He loved her so much he built the Taj Mahal as her monument. That says it all, really.

    YSL

  5. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé – from Threads. Researching fashion designers as I did for the Threads series, I became fascinated that so many of them – almost all, in fact – had a brilliant business manager by their side, who was often their lover too.

    It takes a combination of creative flair, passion and cold business sense to make a fashion house work, and very few individuals have that in one package. Yves needed Pierre, and Pierre needed him. They were so lucky to find each other. If you’re a creative person, it really helps to fall in love with someone who appreciates and supports what you do!


After getting all flustered by how adorable all these couples are, you’re probably dying to read Following Ophelia, right? Check out our reviewFollowing Ophelia‘s Goodreads and find Sophia Bennett on Twitter!