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ARC Book Review: ‘The Companion’ by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Title: The Companion

Author: Kim Taylor Blakemore

Length: 271 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

⭐️

This was another request from Netgalley I was lucky to receive, and I thought I’d read it before the new year.

Synopsis: 1855, New Hampshire. Lucy is set to hang for double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows. In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her downfall – from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves. In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage. Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tales she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

I have to be honest and say I did not enjoy this book at all. For me there’s so many things wrong with this book I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll try.

Okay first of all the characters, I didn’t like any of them. Not a single one. None of them had a personality, they seriously could’ve all blended into one and I wouldn’t have known the difference. They had no depth. I’ve finished the book and I still don’t know who some of the characters are and what their purpose was in the novel.

The story has two timelines, both revolved around Lucy, the main character. We first see her arriving to the house looking for work, and we see her in prison waiting to find out if she’ll be hanged for crimes committed at the house. I could see what the author was trying to do, to keep the reading guessing, but I literally didn’t care if Lucy committed the crime or if she died. Like I said, everything that’s been written in this book has been done before and better.

Also, the story itself was bland and predictable. You can definitely tell the author tried to throw in plot twists and keep it interesting but it ultimately failed. I was so bored, I was literally begging it to end. There was what tried (tried because it failed) to be a Lesbian love story but if felt like they’d met twice and were suddenly madly in love. Whilst I’m a appreciative of the LGBT+ representation, it needs to be a lot better than this. I didn’t believe it at all.

This was my first Kim Taylor Blakemore novel and it’ll probably be my last. What could’ve been a gripping historical fiction novel turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for gifting me with a copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out January 14th.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘Honesty’ by Seth King

Title: Honesty

Author: Seth King

Length: 291 pages

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As we all know I’m try to read more queer books (especially by queer authors) so I decided to give this one a go. It’s my first by Seth King and it certainly won’t be my last.

Synopsis:Teenager Cole Furnam knows two things. The first is that nearly everyone in his deeply conservative family disapproves of gay people. The second is that he is falling fluorescently in love with a hazel-eyed guy from school named Nick Flores.

‘My story was real, and it happened, no matter how hard I try to forget it, I will never be able to make it unhappen.’

Honesty is the perfect title for this novel. Seth’s writing is so pure that the loves story leaps of the page and into your heart, which it will never leave. The way this novel is written makes the relationship so real, the romance starts out sweet and much like a lot of other young adult books, but then this one does deeper. It’s raw, it’s visceral.

This isn’t a book that’s filled with cliffhangers and plot twists that we keep you hooked, but the truth in the story and the romance will. The end will tear your heart out and make you cry. Ugly cry. Have tissues next you when you read this. Yet throughout all this, this book remains honest. It’s amazing.

I think this book should be read by everyone. Young or old, gay or straight. It doesn’t matter. It’s a book about two young people falling in love and the intense emotions that come along with it. This book will make you feel all the feels. Comment and let me know if you’ve read it or plan to.

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Title: Shadow and Bone Trilogy

Length: 3 Books

Publisher: Orion

These are the first books I’ve read by Leigh Bardugo, I had high hopes for them and unfortunately they just didn’t live up to my expectations. Maybe I would’ve enjoyed them if there wasn’t such hype around them, who knows? I was looking forward to reading Six of Crows bur this series has made me question whether I want too.

Alina Starkov is a solider. When her regiment is attacked whilst crossing the Shadow Fold – a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters- Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed. Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha – her country’s magical military elite – and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift. But as Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.

‘The Darkling slumped back in his chair. “Fine” he said with a weary shrug. Make me your villian.’

The series stared off well with the first book. It was interesting with a good plot that I enjoyed. The universe is such a complex world and you get drawn into it immediately. The descriptions are fantastic. There was also a twist that I didn’t see coming and made me excited to read the rest. It started to lose momentum towards the end, but I was still intrigued enough to read the second novel. The Grisha plot in the first half of the first book is so interesting, learning about it all, but by the end of book one it already becomes tedious and then you’ve got two more books to suffer through it.

It’s when you start book two, that’s when things really start to go downhill. The plot becomes too long and drawn out. It gets even more drawn out in the third book, to the point where it comes boring. It’s obvious where the plot is heading through the third book, towards a big battle at the end which is also underwhelming. When the plot did finally did something unpredictable it ended up predictable again. There is a twist in third book that did surprise me, but made absolutely no sense. It was like the author just plucked it out of thin air and never even decided to explain it. It felt like it was just there for shock value, not to compliment the story.

Whilst the main character Alina was our portal to the Grisha Universe, she was completely unlikeable, I just wasn’t invested in her journey and I didn’t care what happens to her. She only gets more irritating as the story progresses. It felt like the writer tried to make her complex but still keep her heading towards a happy ending, when really it just made her whiny. There was a romance throughout the three novels that was lacklustre. It just dragged the plot along. Adding nothing to the story. There was no passion, no heart to it. It just seemed obvious to pair them together, so that was why it happened. There was an attempt at a love triangle, which just made the is series unnecessarily longer. My favourite characters were the Darkling and Nickolia. They were complex and actually interesting. I could of read books about both of those characters. The relationship between the Darkling and Baghra (another good character) was the best part of the last book.

Most of the time when I read a book, I get this feeling in my stomach and that’s my indication if its good or not. Whether it’s if two characters finally falling in love, if there’s a shocking twist or there’s an ending that is unforgettable. I didn’t get that once with these books. The Shadow and Bone Series almost put me in a reading slump to be honest.

The Young Adult world is so wonderful with complex, diverse, suspenseful, interesting stories and this series just isn’t one of them. Like I said, I hope Six of Crows is better! Comment and let me know what you think.

This is my review of the month for the review collection on lovelyaudiobooks.com

Until the next review

JTH

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Book Review: ‘The Secret Vow’ by Natalie Meg Evans

Title: The Secret Vow

Author: Natalie Meg Evans

Publisher: Bookouture

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

This is the first book I’ve read by Natalie Meg Evans, it won’t be the last. I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I throughly enjoyed it.

Katya – young, beautiful and impoverished – arrives in Paris, hoping to begin a new life. She leaves behind a terrible secret, and her survival in this strange and beautiful city depends on nobody discovering who -and what- she is. Immediately Katya is swept up in the city’s glamour – particularly the boutiques on the main boulevard, where glittering gowns are hand sewn for exclusive clientele. Dare Katya dream that she may someday wear – or even design – one of these dazzling creations? It feels like an impossible wish, until she meets businessman Henry Morgan. Tall, handsome and well-connected, Harry could give Katya everything she wants and more…but at what price? And should she break the vows she made and trust him with her secret when her very survival could be a stake?

‘When I met you, I was a man of twenty-eight who wasn’t sure he’d make it to twenty-nine. You were hanging onto your life by your fingernails. We were birds crashing in flight, which doesn’t make it any easier.’

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a good story with a wonderful plot. The female protagonist, Katya, is extremely likeable and you find yourself rooting for her from the beginning of this book. It’s a classic riches to rag story, but told so well. I loved reading about her chasing her dream, starting her new career. It was so well done. Look, I’m even writing about it as if it was real!

As for the love story that occurs, it’s beautiful. It’s one of the best love stories I’ve read in a while. It’s dramatic, passionate, loving, sweet and honest. I was rooting for Harry and Katya to be together at the end ( I won’t give it away, if they are or not).

The plot moves along really well. From the fleeing of Russia, starting a new life in Paris, Katya’s new business, the love story. It’s truly a book that will keep you entertained. There’s also a back story throughout this book, the keeps you guessing till the end. I had to know what happened. Speaking of the end of this book, it was amazing. It surprised me, it was suspenseful and cinematic. This book is the perfect candidate for a BBC miniseries.

It’s truly beautifully written. Natalie has a real talent. The emotion she conjures up is phenomenal. You truly feel for the characters. As for setting the scene, you get a real sense of Paris in the 1930s. Along with the description of the outfits, the machinery, it’s authentic.

So, if you like historical fiction, books about the fashion industry or a romance book, then this is the one for you. I can’t recommend it enough. Now excuse me, I’m off to buy some more Natalie Meg Evans books.

This ARC was given to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in return for an honest review.

This e-book comes out 11th December! Don’t miss it!

Until the next review

JTH