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ARC Book Review: ‘Coral’ by Sara Ella

Title: Coral

Author: Sara Ella

Length: 384 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is another Netgalley ARC that I was lucky enough to get, and it’s about mermaids so I was incredibly excited to read it.

There is more than one way to drown. Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in has always been key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans-emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light? Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can is the numbness is the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms- a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point in living if her soul is destined to bleed? Merricks may be San Fransisco golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his sisters suicide attempt send Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mum, everything will be made right again – right? When their worlds collide, all three will do what it takes to survive, and Coral night even catch a prince in the process. But what- and who- must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

This a hard review for me to write. Because this was a hard book to read. I know that sounds strange, let me explain.

I probably spent the first 3/4 of this book not enjoying it. At all. I don’t like to DNF books, I have to admit I was pretty close. I just found it to be silly and quite frankly, it annoyed me.

First of all, the character of Coral was annoying. I was so excited to be invested in this underwater world, but it was underwhelming. And this whole business of ‘Red Mist’ was incredibly annoying. Ugh, I couldn’t stand to read those words. I get what it was trying to do, but it didn’t work. And then suddenly she becomes human and is enrolled in school. Just silly! This is when I was very close to DNFing this book.

The Merrick perspective was more of the same, annoying, predictable. It’s hard to read about characters and become invested when you don’t like them, right? The only saving grace of book was Brooke. Her character had some depth, some heart. I was intrigued to see what happened with her. It’s probably the only reason I kept reading.

So, like I said I didn’t like it. I spent the 3/4 wondering how it was going to work. I didn’t see how the characters stories would blend together, then the twist came.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see the it coming. And it finally made everything make sense! It definitely made the book come together as a whole piece of work. But even now, I still don’t think it was enough of a twist for me to say I enjoyed the book. I just made it didn’t feel like a waste of time reading it. Does a book really have to be bad for so long?

I will say this book has fantastic mental health representation. It really shines a light on depression and anxiety. It’s speaks about it in a honest way.

I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book. It’s a tough one. Maybe I had different expectations? I don’t know.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘The Mating Habit of Stags’ by Ray Robinson

Title: The Mating Habit of Stags

Author: Ray Robinson

Length: 222 pages

Publisher: Lighting Books

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

With such an intriguing synopsis, I was excited to read this book and I have to be honest and say I bumped it up my TBR.

Midwinter. As former farmhand Jake, a widower in his seventies, wanders the beautiful, austere moors of North Yorkshire trying to evade capture, we learn of the events of his past: the wife he loved and lost, their child he knows cannot be his, and the deep-seated need for revenge that manifests itself in a moment of violence. On the coast, Jake’s friend, Sheila, receives the devastating news of his crime. The aftermath of Jake’s actions, and what it brings to the surface, will change her life forever. But how will she react when he turns up at her door?

Oh this book. It’s short but it sure does pack a punch.

This book was so wonderfully intimate. Mainly due to the fact of its two main characters Jake and Shelia. They were fantastic. The first part of the novel is told from the perspective of Jake. He’s on the run for murder. While obviously that’s a big part of his story, to me it was his grief, his loss and his sorrow that stood out. You could feel his sorrow in the writing. He’s still coming to terms with losing his wife, the life that was never truly his and now he’s lost his friendship with Shelia. As for Shelia, who’s perspective we see in the second half, she is also now coming to terms with what her friend has done, and why. It’s so interesting reading her still care about him, whilst be heartbroken by his actions. The friendship between them so real, it was beautiful to read. It was full of respect and admiration. You could feel it.

For me, this book had three main characters, the third being the lush English countryside. It felt like such a presence in the book. It was a vast and expansive place that Jake could travel miles in to run away, yet it also felt small and intimate so Jake could hide in it. He could be protected by it. With it’s beautiful descriptions and vivid imagery, it felt like I was in the countryside when reading it. What a testament to Roy Robinson’s writing. The description were so evocative and atmospheric. It’s one of the highlights of the novel for me.

You know, this is one of those books that gets under your skin. It made me think what would I do if my best friend committed this crime and showed up at my door. I often found myself, at work, thinking of Jake, as if this was a real news story. It’s only special books that can make you do that.

I can’t recommend this book enough. This book was a tale of friendship, that just captures the heart of two lives intertwined perfectly. It’s a book that’s full of heart and wonderful descriptions and one you don’t want to miss.

This book is out now and I have to thank Lightning Books for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review.

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Across A Broken Shore’ by Amy Trueblood

Title: Across A Broken Shore

Title: Amy Trueblood

Length: 360 pages

Publisher: Flux

⭐️⭐️.5

This is a Netgalley book that I was excited to begin reading.

The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish-Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows- but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Fransisco’s Richmond District. Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young Ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.

This book set in 1936 San Fransisco, is about the story Willa deciding wether to follow her heart, or her parents wishes. This book, for me, had some good parts and some not so good but by no mean bad.

I loved that was book was female driven. It just had strong female characters that I really enjoyed. Doctor Winston, who Willa, assists was a fantastic character. At a time when there wasn’t many female doctors, it was fascinating to read her breaking boundaries and inspiring Willa.

There was a romance in that was a bit sweet, but not exceptional. It almost felt like it didn’t need to be there. It was lacklustre and dull to be honest.

The character of Willa, was also a little dull. She really didn’t have much personality. She was a bit of a goody two shoes. Very one dimensional. In fact this whole book was pretty one dimensional. For the minute I started reading it, I knew how it was going to end. Very predictable. There was little attempt to shock the reader, but it didn’t enhance the story at all. It actually took away from it.

There just isn’t much to say about this book because not much happened. It was just missing something. I don’t think I’d recommend this one.

Thanks to Netgalley and Flux for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review.

Until the next review

JTH

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October Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone! How does time fly this quickly?

This didn’t feel like the best reading month for me. It felt slow. I wonder if it’s because I read four books on my kindle, and some of them just seemed to go on forever. I just wanted to hold a book.

For the last couple of months I’ve managed to read ten books, but this month I’ve slipped down to nine. Hmmmm, I wonder why? Anyway on to the books

First up was ‘Sword of Kings’ by Bernard Cornwell. This was a great historical fiction in the long running sereies. I enjoyed it, and the time it was set in. Out now! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Second this month I read ‘Find Me’ by André Aciman. I was excited for this book. The writing was absolutely beautiful, but it was a bit of a let down. Out now. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Third was ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ by Susan Kelman. This is a wonderful book. I enjoyed it immensely. I just got lost in the story. So beautiful. Out now. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Then I read ‘Across a Broken Shore’ by Amy Trueblood. This was a good book. Had some aspects that I really enjoyed. But I just needed more. A tad predictable. It needed more depth. Out November 5th. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Up next was ‘Coral’ by Sara Ella. This was a strange one, I spent most of the book not enjoying it. But then a twist happened, and it made it all made sense. I’m still unsure. Out November 12th. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Then I read ‘The Death of Baseball’ by Orlando Ortega-Medina. I don’t even know where to start with this one. I think it missed an opportunity. Great characters, but story lost me a little. I’m still unsure of this one. Out November 29th. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I finally read ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston. It’s been on my TBR for so long. A sweet, fun read. With a hot love story, but again predictable. But still so glad I read it. Out now ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

After this I read ‘Moth to a Flame’ by Stig Dagerman. I throughly enjoyed this. It was like a look inside someone’s soul for a short while. Deals with grief beautifully. Intense in a wonderful way. Out now. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Then I read ‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummings. I’ve never read a book so intense from the first page. A wonderful, important story. It deserves to be huge. Out January 21st 2020. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So that’s it, my month all wrapped up. I hope I can get up to ten again next month. How did you get on this month?

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Find Me’ by André Aciman

Title: Find Me

Author: André Aciman

Length: 261 pages

Publisher: Faber and Faber

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Let me say, I know I was truly blessed by the book gods to get this book. I know, it’s so undeserving but I’m eternally grateful.

Synopsis: One person, one name – he knows, I thought. Right now, he knows, he still knows. Find me, he says. I will, Oliver, I will.

I feel like I have so many feelings and so much to say about this book, I’m scared this blog post might just be a bit of a ramble. I’ll try and keep it coherent, but really, when are my blog posts ever?

Again, I know I’m super lucky to have a ARC of ‘Find Me’. It’s my most anticipated sequel of the year. My most anticipated book of the year. In fact, maybe my most anticipated book ever? As soon as I found out it was being released I wanted it. My excitement knew no bounds.

But with sequels and excitement comes expectations. I loved ‘Call Me By Your Name’. Seriously loved it. It’s one of my favourite books of all time. I recommend it to everyone. So, I tried to keep my expectations low, to give the book a fair chance. But it was hard book lovers, really hard.

‘Call Me By Your Name’ was the love story between Elio and Oliver, told entirely from Elios perspective. So you can imagine my surprise as I began to read the beginning of the book and it’s told from the perspective of Elio’s father Samuel. It wasn’t what I expected. See, there’s that expectation again. In this first section of the book we find Samuel on a train, on his way to visit Elio, where he meets a much younger, woman and they begin a passionate romance. Did I enjoy Samuels perspective? Yes. Did I want it? No. I spent the whole time wondering when the story would be back with Elio and Oliver.

In the next section of the book, we are finally reunited with Elio. It’s what I was waiting for. However, again, it wasn’t what I wanted. We find Elio beginning a romance with an older man. Side note: This book is almost like a guide book on how to date someone older. There was also a little sub-plot in this story of Elio and … trying to find out where a piece of sheet music came from, and it was so tedious and unnecessary. I don’t know why it was included.

The next section was told from Oliver point of view, who’s spending his last night in New York at a party, before moving back to Vermont with his wife. At the beginning of Oliver’s chapter, we find him mostly thinking about how he wants to have a threesome with a man and woman he’s come to know. Before his mind finally wonders to Elio and he makes a decision that will change his life. And lead the reader to what we’ve been wanting for.

The last section. The reunion. What I was waiting for. There’s no denying it, it was beautiful. Short but beautiful. I just wanted this to be longer. Even this chapter didn’t get a chance to really recapture the essence of what their romance was. It didn’t get to go as in-depth as I would’ve liked. But at least I was happy with how the story of Elio and Oliver ended.

I get it. I get that at the end of ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Oliver left. He moved on with his life. And I get this book was an insight into their lives an individuals, and the journey that brought them back together. It just feels like such a departure from the first book. André obviously knew what we as readers were all expecting and he hasn’t given us it. And I get that. But would it have been so bad to give us what we want? Especially when what he has given us isn’t amazing.

Look, this book was beautifully written. It’s Beautiful. But what did you expect? It’s André Aciman. I truly believes the man is a genius with words. It was at points so beautiful, especially in Samuels section, that it made me cry. It hit me deep. André just has a way of, I truly believe, knowing what’s in your soul and putting it on the page. I had to stop a few times to dry up the tears. I also loved that the sections connected, and showed how time had moved on. It made the story feel more united, and it needed it.

However, where this book is told from the perspective of three characters, I found it lost it’s intensity. In ‘Call Me By Your Name’, you only get Elio’s perspective, his thoughts and feeling created some of the most intense literature I’ve ever read. And it was missing from this book. It tried. It tried in the romance between Samuel and …. And with Elio and ….. But it didn’t manage it. I also felt like it used sex to try and create the intimacy but that also missed the mark. And the lack of intimacy created affects the story, these two romances that happened almost instantly, just felt like the ‘instalove’ troupe instead of the passionate romance that sweeps you away in ‘Find Me’ predecessor.

This is one of the biggest LGBT+ books to ever be released, so it’s a shame there wasn’t more queer elements in it. Of course there is some, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. It feels like a missed opportunity. When they finally get together again, the connection is still there, I just wish we could’ve seen more of it.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It’s beautifully written. But is it the story I was hoping for? No.

Also, I know I’ve spent the review comparing it to the first one, but I couldn’t help it!

Thanks to Faber and Faber for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. You’ll never know how grateful I am. This books comes out October 29th. Let me know if you enjoy it.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review: ‘Royals’ by Emma Forrest

Title: Royals

Author: Emma Forrest

Length: 336 pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I saw this on Netgalley and I just had to put in a request.

July, 1981. London. Shy, working-class Steven finds solace in beauty. Eighteen years old, he dreams of being a fashion designer. He’s also gay – maybe he hasn’t decided yet. There’s a lot Steven isn’t sure about, like whether he hates himself or thinks he’s amazing. When he ends up in hospital after being brutally attacked by his father, he meets Jasmine, an heiress. Intoxicating, anarchic, fabulous Jasmine. Fuelled by their shared love of fashion, a friendship blossoms and soon, Steven finds himself swept into her hedonistic world, wholly beguiled. However, underneath the glitter and the frivolity, darkness lies.

I did enjoy this book, I did. But will I remember it? Probably not. Maybe because it’s been such a stand out year for books that this one will just fall behind. Or maybe it’s because it was just something out of nothing.

There wasn’t a massive amount to enjoy about this book, but one of the things was the character called Jasmine. She was a whirlwind. She was the highlight of this book. She was so well written and was a pure joy to read, yet you could feel this underlying sadness to her. Her ending was so heartbreaking, but it needed to end that way.

Without her, this book would’ve been dull. The main character didn’t have much personality at all. There certainly wasn’t much plot, that didn’t involve Jasmine, him being beaten by his father was pushed aside after Jasmine came in the picture.

This book is classed as LGBTQ+ because he’s questioning his sexuality but even that wasn’t explored too much. This book has the opportunity to be great, but unfortunately missed the mark.

It was one of those books that didn’t have much plot but relied heavily on it’s characters, but only one could live up to it and it just wasn’t enough to save this book. It has a sense of one the those books that captures an epic moment in time, but for me, it fails to do that.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not, it just wasn’t good enough. I have a feeling in the future I’ll be thinking what a great character Jasmine was but not remembering what book she was from.

Thanks for Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out October 31st.

Until the next review

JTH

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ARC Book Review and Blog Tour: ‘A View Across The Rooftops’ by Suzanne Kelman

Title: A View Across The Rooftops

Author: Suzanne Kelman

Length: Ebook

Publisher: Bookouture

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was absolutely thrilled to join the Blog Tour for this book. I love Historical Fiction so I couldn’t wait to get started.

1941 Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. An unforgettable story of love, hope and betrayal, and a testament to the courage of humanity in history’s darkest days.

University professor Josef Held has never recovered from the loss of his beloved wife – and has no intention of ever letting anyone new into his quiet, safe world. It is a world where the clock ticks steadily in his mathematics classroom, even as the sinister beat of Nazi soldiers’ boots threaten to drown it out. Terrified, Josef tries to keep his eyes on the ground as Jews across the city are forced into ghettos. But then, Michael Blum, his most reluctant, infuriating pupil, tell Josef Jews like him will no longer allowed to study at all. Josef can no longer ignore the situation. And, after the shock of seeing his own neighbour killed on his doorstep, he offer Michael a place to hide in an impulsive act of courage. Michael is everything Josef is not: spontaneous, poetic and unafraid of love. Even though his passionate relationship with a Dutch girl is strictly forbidden- for he is Jewish, she is not. Somehow- in the quiet gloom of the attic, Josef doesn’t mind things about Michael that annoyed him in the classroom, and a bond begins to grow. Remembering the pain of his own heartbreak, Josef is desperate to give Michael and his girlfriend a chance. He must go on as if nothing has changed: teaching his classes, bowing to the Nazis. Beneath the fear, a thrill of defiance begins to bloom. But then Michael becomes perilously ill, and there is no way to get him the help he desperately needs. As the dark days of war continue, with danger and betrayal at every turn, no-one can be trusted. If Michael is to survive and get back to the women he loves, it will be down to Josef – to find the hero inside himself, and do whatever it takes to keep Michael alive. Even if it means putting his own life on the line.

I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. I’m trying to think of a better historical fiction novel I’ve read of this kind this year, and I can’t. It really was historical fiction at its finest.

I liked the fact that this book had a different perspective on the war. It’s the first book I’ve read, of the Nazi occupation in set in Amsterdam, so that added a different element to the book and kept it fresh. I was immediately immersed in the story. And I didn’t leave it until the last page.

This book had fantastic characters. They’re all so beautiful written. Josef, who is the main character, is so complex. You can really feel his internal struggle, with wanting to help and wanting to be safe. It was one of the joys of the book to watch his character open up. To see him help Michael is wonderful. For me, it’s the foundation of this book. The bond they form is so special and heartwarming, in this brutal time in history, is probably my favourite thing about this book.

This book also has some wonderful secondary characters, who have some great storylines. Hannah, who joins the resistance and helps fight. Michaels girlfriend, who never gives up on him. And Ingrid, who is a Nazi sympathiser. A have to give a special shoutout to the arc of Ingrid’s story because it had a twist I didn’t see coming and I end up caring for her. It’s brilliant writing. With all these perspectives, you’d think I’d hate one, but no.

The romance between Michael and his girlfriend is so lovely. I couldn’t read this book fast enough to see if they became reunited. The ending! Oh my god the ending of their story. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but I wept like a baby. I just didn’t see it coming. It was one of those moments in a book where you just pause. I was so shocked. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

It’s abundantly clear this book has been meticulously researched. It had to be, with so many perspectives being told. It was filled with just the right amount of detail to make it accurate, but never to get bogged down and lose the story.

This is just one of those books that has a tremendous amount of heart. It’s all down the brilliant writing of Suzanne Kelman, who’s managed to create wonderful, real characters and put them in a harrowing time in history. When I finished this book I was hopeful and my heart was full. It’s such a fantastic story.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It comes out 25th October. Check it out.

Until the next review

JTH