Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The It Girl by Katy Birchall

The It Girl (2015) (Egmont)
Katy Birchall
Grade: B
Genre: teen lit
Source: own
The It Girl: (1) The It Girl

New girl Anna Huntley has but a few aims in life: re-enact the ‘lift’ scene from the Lion King with her pet Labrador, Dog; not set Deputy Queen Bee Josie’s hair on fire, again; keep her two new best friends by not doing anything socially inept, and; manoeuver her way around as Britain’s newest It Girl. Anna is catapulted into the national spotlight when her father announces his engagement to the famous actress, Helena Montaine. Helena’s daughter, Marianne Montaine has already built up a formidable reputation as Britain’s biggest It Girl and by association, Anna is expected to follow in her footsteps – after all, everyone wants to be a famous It Girl … don’t they?


Monday, 25 May 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Death Comes to Pemberley (2011) (Faber & Faber)
P.D. James
Grade: B-
Genre: crime / historical fiction / Austen-inspired
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A crime novel 

Six years have passed since we left Pride and Prejudice and all is well: Elizabeth has transitioned into her role as the new mistress of Pemberley perfectly and she and Darcy dote on their two young sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. She’s revived the annual Lady Anne’s ball, traditionally held to celebrate the birthday of Darcy’s mother, but which had been dormant since her death. Preparations are well into the final touches on the eve of the ball in 1803, when death comes suddenly and shockingly to Pemberley … It is Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth’s younger, unreliable sister who brings the news in her usual state of hysteria, believing that her husband, George Wickham, is dead. And so follows an investigation that threatens to rock the Darcy family to its core …

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan

The Friend Zone (2015) (self-published)
Kristen Callihan
Grade: A-
Genre: New Adult
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Game On: (1) The Hook Up, (2) The Friend Zone
Romance RBC 2015: A new adult book

The daughter of a sports agent, Ivy Mackenzie knows better than to get involved with a football star, especially a guy like Gray Grayson who can’t turn around without bumping into another one of his sexual conquests. But what starts out as just harmless banter and texting while Ivy spends a year abroad with her mother quickly becomes much more when Ivy returns home. Not only have Ivy and Gray become the best of friends and each other’s better half through their endless texting, but the irresistible sexual spark that’s constantly been simmering in the background flares to life when they meet in the flesh. It all makes for an irresistible read: while Ivy is insistent that she won’t follow the cliché and just become another notch on Gray’s bedpost, Gray is similarly determined to seduce the pants off of Ivy – Game On.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (2015) (Egmont) (publishing 4 June 2015)
Katherine Woodfine
Grade: A
Genre: children's / historical
Source: own
Sinclair's: (1) The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

Recently orphaned Sophie Taylor is just one of many shop girls in London’s newest and most illustrious department store, Sinclair’s – and it hasn’t even opened its doors to the public yet! She’s immensely proud of her position in the store’s millinery department and though the other girls make fun of her, she’s learnt to ignore their snide comments and whispered asides and instead concentrate on building a new life for herself. When Sinclair’s is burgled the night before it’s due to open and all the precious and priceless jewels stolen from the Exhibition Gallery, including the rare and unique clockwork sparrow, London’s greatest department store only gets more famous. Sophie is of course, naturally curious about the break-in, but doesn’t expect to discover that she’s the prime suspect! With her new friends, Billy, an apprentice porter and Lil, a store model, Sophie is determined to clear her name whilst uncovering the mystery surrounding the clockwork sparrow ...

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Tribute by Nora Roberts

Tribute (2008) (Piatkus)
Nora Roberts
Grade: B-
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book by Nora Roberts 

A third generation actress and granddaughter of one of Hollywood’s greats, Cilla McGowan has very deliberately cast off her child actress persona and made a very successful business of renovating houses. Her latest project is a house that’s very dear to her heart: the house of her grandmother, the glamorous and notorious Janet Hardy. Left to ruin after her death by apparent suicide, Cilla plans to restore the house to its former glory. With the whole town invested in her project and Ford, her very hot neighbour and his dog, Spock, just next door looking on, this is the biggest project of Cilla’s career. But there’s someone in the community who wants Janet’s secrets to stay that way and they’re determined to keep Cilla from finishing the house, whatever it takes …


Monday, 11 May 2015

Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (2012) (Hodder & Stoughton)
Susan Ee
Grade: B-
Genre: young adult / supernatural
Source: bookbridgr
Penryn & the End of Days: (1) Angelfall
TBR RBC 2015: A bookbridgr title 

Six weeks ago, angels came to Earth and destroyed humanity as we know it. The streets are deserted, houses are ransacked and for those lucky enough to still be alive, it’s a fierce survival of the fittest. Seventeen-year-old Penryn is left distraught when an angel flies away with her wheelchair-bound younger sister, Paige. Enlisting the reluctant help of Raffe, an injured angel she finds on the streets, who’s been cast out by his own kind, the unlikely pair make their way across the devastated landscape with individual missions in mind: Penryn will do absolutely anything to get her sister back and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies in order to be made whole again.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

For the Roses by Julie Garwood

For the Roses (1995) (Pocket Books)
Julie Garwood
Grade: A
Genre: American historical
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Claybornes' Brides: (1) For the Roses
TBR RBC 2015: A book by Julie Garwood 

When four young street urchins in New York find a tiny, perfect baby girl thrown in a dumpster, their lives change forever. Though they’re little more than children themselves, Adam, Cole, Douglas and Travis shoulder the responsibility of bringing up the little girl they call Mary Rose Clayborne. All four have pasts they’re trying to escape from and so they head west, in the hope that they can find a place where they can erase the past and build the future that Mary Rose deserves.

Fast forward nineteen years and the Claybornes are well-respected in the tiny town of Blue Belle, Montana. Bringing up Mary Rose by themselves was a challenge and a learning curve, but the Clayborne brothers have strived to provide her with every opportunity as befitting a young woman of genteel upbringing. Enter Harrison Stanford MacDonald, a Scottish lawyer who’s worked in England for many years. He arrives in Blue Belle with a secret agenda and befriends Mary Rose, who adopts him for her own, much to the confusion and annoyance of her brothers. When Harrison’s news is revealed, it’s sure to turn this tight-knit family upside-down …

Thursday, 7 May 2015

21 Proms by various (anthology)

21 Proms (2007) (Point, Scholastic Inc.) (short story collection)
Various
Grade: C
Genre: young adult / anthology
Source: own



21 popular young adult authors come together in this anthology to share a story about high school’s biggest event: the Prom. With female and male protagonists alike, prom enthusiasts and prom-haters, chaperones, corsages, boutonnieres and limos aplenty, there’s a story for everyone, whether you sit in the enthusiast or hater camp. Whether the night is a success or failure, each will be a night that you will never forget …

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland (2007) (Bloomsbury)
Shannon Hale
Grade: C
Genre: chick lit
Source: own
Austenland: (1) Austenland
Romance RBC 2015: A book that became a film 

Thirty-something Jane Hayes has always had a slight obsession with all things Jane Austen-related, and her obsession has only intensified over time. Proud owner of all the books and DVDs of television and film adaptations alike, Jane has modelled her perfect man on none other than Mr Darcy (the Colin Firth version, of course), meaning that all her boyfriends have never quite lived up to her expectations. When a wealthy aunt leaves Jane an all-expenses-paid-for three-week trip to English countryside retreat ‘Austenland’ in her will, where visitors immerse themselves into nineteenth century living, Jane can’t say no. Jane sees this as her opportunity to get her final fill of Jane Austen and close the door on her unattainable fantasies, but will this trip give Jane the closure she wants, or could she possibly get a Mr Darcy of her own?

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Night Moves by Nora Roberts

Night Moves (1985) (Silhouette Books)
Nora Roberts
Grade: C+
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A romance novel 

When award-winning Hollywood composer and golden child Maggie Fitzgerald leaves her comfortable life in L.A. for a rundown and abandoned house in the tiny town of Morganville, population 142, no one believes she’ll last. Least of all, Cliff Delaney, the local landscaper Maggie’s hired to tackle her overgrown garden. Their chemistry is instantaneous and explosive, yet both parties try to deny and suppress their feelings based on a mutual dislike of the other. When Cliff’s crew dig up a body where Maggie envisages her new pond, a ten-year-old mystery is dredged up that somebody wants to keep a secret …

Friday, 1 May 2015

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

Th1rteen R3asons Why (2007) (Razorbill, Penguin)
Jay Asher
Grade: B-
Genre: young adult
Source: own

When Clay Jensen receives a package of cassette tapes in the post, the last thing he expects is to hear a dead girl talking to him. Hannah Baker killed herself several weeks ago, and no one knows why. For Clay, who had a secret crush on Hannah for ages, yet never worked up the courage to ask her out, to hear her story now is devastating. Relatively new to the town and school, Hannah found herself saddled with a reputation amongst her peers that was, for the most part, undeserved and utterly false. Through thirteen stories, Hannah reveals the thirteen people at school who helped her make the decision to end her life. Told through Hannah and Clay’s dual narrative, Jay Asher’s debut explores how the smallest actions and remarks can have a massive impact on others’ lives.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

Something Rotten (2004) (Hodder)
Jasper Fforde
Grade: A-
Genre: fiction / crime / alternate reality
Source: own
Thursday Next: (1) The Eyre Affair, (2) Lost in a Good Book, (3) The Well of Lost Plots, (4) Something Rotten
TBR RBC 2015: A book by Jasper Fforde 

After two years as the ‘Bellman’, head of Jurisfiction in The Well of Lost Plots (the place where all fiction is written), Thursday has decided that she’s had enough. While the work keeps her busy and certainly keeps her busy, she needs to get back to the real world to get her husband, Landen, uneradicated by the mammoth Goliath corporation and let her son grow up in a world out of books. Tasked with acclimatising Hamlet to the real world, evading both her official stalker and the assassin trying to kill her, stopping a coup against President George Formby, trying to save all Danish books from a terrible fate and preventing the end of the world with an awesome game of Superhoop, will Thursday ever have time to fix her own troubles?

Monday, 27 April 2015

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now (2014) (Hodder Children's Books)
Ann Brashares
Grade: C+
Genre: young adult / time travel
Source: own / NetGalley
General RBC 2015: A book set in the future 

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

These are the most important rules of Prenna’s community – the rules that she knows she must abide by if they’re to blend in and appear normal. Ethan is the first and only person who makes Prenna want to risk revealing her community’s secret: that they’re from another time … In the future, a mosquito-borne disease is rapidly killing huge swathes of humanity. The early twenty-first century is identified as a ‘safe haven’ where those who have managed to avoid the disease can start over. But the restrictive rules about never revealing where they’re from, never dramatically changing the course of history and never being intimate with someone from outside their community are put to the test as Prenna and Ethan are drawn into a course of events that has the potential to destroy the world – and history – as they know it …

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

A Knight in Shining Armor (1989, 2002) (Pocket Books)
Jude Deveraux
Grade: B+
Genre: time travel / contemporary romance / historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Montgomery: ... (16) A Knight in Shining Armor
Romance RBC 2015: An AAR Top 100 Romance 1998 

Dougless Montgomery is used to being the failure in her family, whether this is in relation to her job, her friends or her love life. When she is unceremoniously deserted in the middle of the English countryside by the man she thought she loved and his bratty daughter, Dougless is at her wit’s end. Her family are the last people she wants to turn to, but as she considers her (limited) options in an old church in a tiny village, she realises that she has no other choice … that is, until, a knight in shining armour literally appears out of nowhere …

One moment Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck was locked in a tower awaiting his execution, and the next he finds himself in a strange, fast-paced England where his title means nothing and he supposedly died over four hundred years earlier, leaving behind a damning reputation and legacy. At first, Dougless thinks Nick is simply a very authentic and dedicated role-player, but as he reveals more about his life, she is forced to re-evaluate. As the pair help each other navigate unfamiliar ground, they are launched into an adventure that will change their lives – and the course of history – forever …

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Me and Mr J by Rachel McIntyre

Me and Mr J (2015) (Electric Monkey, Egmont)
Rachel McIntyre
Grade: B++
Genre: young adult
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book on Egmont's frontlist 

Lara Titliss (Worst. Surname. Ever.) has recently found salvation in her new diary – an unexpected and unwanted gift from her grandmother. It is in these pages that Lara documents the bullying and torment she suffers from her peers as a result of being a tall, gangly red-head and the least popular girl at school, yet also her discovery of her soulmate. One problem – he’s her teacher. Mr Jagger is the best thing that has ever happened to her school. All the girls in Lara’s class unashamedly throw themselves at him, but she’s the one who he praises in class and asks for help with a special project. He’s the first person who takes her seriously and takes the time to listen to her problems; it’s no wonder that she falls helplessly over heels in love with him. Surely he can’t love her back …

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-Blood (2011) (Hodder)
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Grade: B
Genre: young adult / supernatural
Source: bookbridgr
Covenant: (1) Half-Blood
General RBC 2015: A book based on a myth 

The Hematoi descend from the union of Gods and mortals. Children of two pure-blood Hematoi possess god-like powers and are like the royalty of their community. Children of a pure-blood and a mortal – not so much. They have two choices in life: become a slave in the households of pure bloods, or train to become a Sentinel and protect their community.

Three years ago, Alexandria Andros was taken away from the Covenant by her mother. Now that her mother’s dead, Alex has been returned to the Covenant and must fight for the right to stay – not easy given that she’s missed three years of training. The delectable Aiden has taken responsibility for Alex’s training and Alex is determined to prove that she’s got what it takes to become a Sentinel. Her journey isn’t helped by both others’ wish that she fail and her forbidden attraction to pure-blood Aiden …


Friday, 17 April 2015

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost Plots (2003) (Hodder)
Jasper Fforde
Grade: B+
Genre: fiction / crime / alternate reality
Source: own
Thursday Next: (1) The Eyre Affair, (2) Lost in a Good Book, (3) The Well of Lost Plots
General RBC 2015: A funny book 

Former literary detective Thursday Next has recently taken up residence in the Well of Lost Plots, the place where all fiction is created. In the real world, the evil Goliath Corporation want her dead and she needs to think about the safety of her unborn child. Settling in to Cavendish Heights, an unpublished novel of dubious quality, this is the perfect time for Thursday to consider how she’s going to approach single-parenthood and how she can reverse Goliath’s eradication of her husband, Landen. Amidst training with Miss Havisham to become a Jurisfiction agent and saving Cavendish Heights from a disastrous future, Thursday realises that something is seriously wrong in the Well and must work out who she can trust, and who wants her dead …

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Seed (2015) (Electric Monkey, Egmont) (publishing 16/04/2015)
Lisa Heathfield
Grade: A+
Genre: young adult
Source: own
Seed: (1) Seed
General RBC 2015: Free Square 

Seed loves her. Seed will never let her go ...

All Pearl knows is life at Seed. At Seed, they’re all children of Mother Nature who will love and protect them so long as they remain true to each other and live pure lives. In contrast, life on the Outside is dangerous, evil and poisonous. Their tiny community reap and sow the land under the guidance of their charismatic leader, Papa S. At fifteen years old, Pearl will soon become Papa S’s Companion, a role she simultaneously looks forward to, yet fills her with unease. When a new family from the Outside joins their way of life at Seed, this is just the start of a massive upheaval affecting every aspect of their lives. Ellis forces Pearl to question everything she has ever been told about the Outside world, and he challenges some of the very beliefs that they hold dearest at Seed. As some shocking truths are discovered, it's time for Pearl to re-evaluate everything she believes in ...   

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble

The Game and the Governess (2014) (Headline Eternal)
Kate Noble
Grade: C
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: bookbridgr
Winner Takes All: (1) The Game and the Governess

Lord Edward Granville, Earl of Ashby, has never been short of luck. From his time on the battlefield to his way with the ladies and at the card table, he’s more than earned his nickname of ‘Lucky Ned’. When Ned is challenged to a wager with his best friend and secretary, John Turner, he can’t say no. John doesn’t think that Ned can win over a lady without the benefit of his title, and so the pair agree to switch identities during a trip to visit one of Ned’s properties.

Governess Phoebe Baker wants nothing more than to keep her employers happy whilst making sure that her students are getting a good education. There’s no one she’d rather avoid than the Earl of Ashby. Phoebe has a past with the Earl that she would rather keep private and so when she discovers that he’ll be staying for a week with his secretary, it’s her worst nightmare. Thankfully, she doesn’t see much of the Earl, but his secretary is persistent in crossing her path … and making her pulse flutter …


Friday, 3 April 2015

The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

The Executioner's Daughter (2014) (Egmont)
Jane Hardstaff
Grade: C
Genre: children's
Source: own
The Executioner's Daughter: (1) The Executioner's Daughter 

The people of London love a good beheading. The streets are always bustling on beheading day as spectators jostle to get the best view and satisfy their bloodthirsty curiosity. Moss can imagine nothing worse, but unfortunately, she’s present at every single one. As the daughter of the executioner, it’s her job to catch the poor soul’s head in her basket. Living with her father, Moss has never seen outside the Tower’s walls and longs to follow the river and be free of their current life. Then Moss meets Salter, a boy living independently off his wits on the river. But London – and especially the Thames – is no place for children this harsh winter. Word has it that something lurks in the water and it’s targeting children …


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep (2005) (Quality Paperbacks Direct, by arrangement with Picador)
Curtis Sittenfeld
Grade: A-
Genre: young adult
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A classic YA novel 

When 15-year-old Lee Fiora is offered a scholarship at prestigious boarding school Ault, her parents, though puzzled about why she would choose this education, reluctantly allows their eldest child to move away. But boarding school isn’t quite what Lee envisaged after the glossy brochures and her preconceived ideas about what life and classes would be like. Very much an outsider for her four years at Ault, Prep follows Lee as she establishes a tenuous position in the school’s hierarchy, until one thoughtless mistake throws her life into the balance …


Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Virgin by Tiffany Reisz

The Virgin (2015) (Harlequin)
Tiffany Reisz
Grade: B
Genre: erotica
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
The Original Sinners: (prequel) Seven Day Loan, (The Red Years): (1) The Siren, (2) The Angel, (3) The Prince, (4) The Mistress, (The White Years): (5) The Saint, (6) The King, (7) The Virgin
Romance RBC 2015: A book with a writer heroine 

For years, Kingsley had warned Eleanor that there would come a time when she, lover of a Catholic priest, would have to leave for her own good. Twice a year for six years, she and Kingsley ran through his evacuation plan if one of his five scenarios arose and it was time for her to get out … When the time came, there had been no drill, no practice run that would have ever prepared Eleanor for what she was forced to face in 2003, the year that became known as that year

Knowing that Søren and Kingsley will do all they can to find her and drag her back into their lives, Eleanor escapes and finds some measure of peace in the one place they cannot follow … with Eleanor gone, Kingsley too flees from his kingdom in New York and finds himself on a beach in Haiti. It is there he meets Juliette, the one woman he wants more than anything, and the one woman he cannot have …


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A Little on the Wild Side by Robin Kaye

A Little on the Wild Side (2015) (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Robin Kaye
Grade: C
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: NetGalley

Bianca Ferrari, former supermodel turned high-flying businesswoman, almost has it all. Brains, beauty and a successful modelling agency, Bianca has built life and career from the ground up after emancipating herself from her parents. When she discovers that she’s pregnant, Bianca has no inclination to contact the father, with whom she’s only shared a handful of nights. By his own admission, Trapper can only maintain a relationship for seventy-two hours and Bianca has no desire to test that limit.

What Bianca didn’t expect was the strength of Trapper’s responsibility when he surprised her with a trip to New York and discovered she was pregnant with his child. Her high blood pressure and inability to keep any food down works against her and before she knows it, Bianca is on a plane out to live with Trapper and be surrounded by his family for the foreseeable future. Bianca slowly comes to realise that Trapper might be just the thing that’s been missing in her life …

Sunday, 22 March 2015

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars (2014) (Hot Key Books)
E. Lockhart
Grade: A
Genre: young adult
Source: own 
General RBC 2015: A book without a love triangle

“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.”

Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. Gat, Mirren, Johnny and Cady. The family call them the Liars after Gat first arrived on Beechwood Island in summer eight. Though the four lead separate lives during the year, they are utterly inseparable during their summer months on the family island. To the outside world, life for the Sinclair family is privileged, effortless and enviable – that is, until summer fifteen. All Cady knows is that she had an accident on the island and the past two years have been spent in a haze of pain and pills, as her selective amnesia prevents her from remembering much of what happened. Now, Cady is back on Beechwood for summer seventeen, the first time since her accident two years ago and everything has changed irrevocably. What is the truth? What is a lie?

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Midnight (2013) (Grand Central Publishing)
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grade: A
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
Maiden Lane: (1) Wicked Intentions, (2) Notorious Pleasures, (3) Scandalous Desires, (4) Thief of Shadows, (5) Lord of Darkness, (6) Duke of Midnight
Romance RBC 2015: A book with a green cover 

Artemis Greaves, lady’s companion to her cousin, Penelope, is more than familiar with Penelope’s odd, whimsical and often outlandish requests. When a wager sees them lurking on the dangerous streets of St Giles after dark, they nearly lose their purses and lives – that is, until the Ghost of St Giles comes to their rescue. The Ghost roams London’s most dangerous streets after dark, ridding the city of its evil gin distilleries, pickpockets, murderers and their ilk. The Ghost leaves an impression on Artemis, as well as a ring which suggests he’s of noble birth …

It doesn’t take long for Artemis to connect the Ghost to Maximus, Duke of Wakefield, currently the object of Penelope’s undivided attention. With her twin brother Apollo wrongly imprisoned in Bedlam for three murders he didn’t commit, Artemis has no qualms about using her knowledge of the Duke’s secret identity to pressurise Maximus into setting Apollo free. As they are brought together under Penelope’s suit and Artemis’ increasingly desperate pleas for help, they learn first-hand just how tempting forbidden fruit can be …


Friday, 13 March 2015

Shameless by Anne Stuart

Shameless (2011) (Mills & Boon)
Anne Stuart
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own
House of Rohan: (1) Ruthless, (2) Reckless, (3) Breathless, (4) Shameless
Romance RBC 2015: Free Square 

When Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan, Sixth Viscount Rohan arrives in London, he has two items on his agenda: find a proper and eligible wife while seeking another to fulfil his sensual pursuits. He’s mildly distraught to discover that his Mrs Cadbury’s, his previously trusted and favourite establishment has shut up shop, with Lady Melisande Carstairs to blame. Melisande (or ‘Charity Carstairs’ to her condescending neighbours) is the recent widow of Sir Thomas Carstairs and has turned her home into something of a halfway house for Emma Cadbury and her former prostitutes, determined to find them better lives. When one of her girls goes missing, Melisande links her disappearance to the freshly revived Heavenly Host, a shadowy club that has taken its previous debauchery to sadistic measures. Melisande suspects Benedick’s brother of being involved somehow and their efforts in tracking down the masterminds behind the Heavenly Host have dangerous repercussions …


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

Story of a Girl (2007) (Little Brown)
Sara Zarr
Grade: C
Genre: young adult
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A prize-winning novel 

After being found by her father in the back of Tommy Webber’s Buick aged 13, Deanna Lambert became that girl overnight. Never mind the fact that Tommy was 17 and her brother’s supposed friend. Three years later and Deanna is still known as the ‘school slut’, her father has barely spoken to her since that night and tensions in their house might explode any minute. Deanna wants nothing but a life where one mistake when she was 13 doesn’t precede her. Through confronting the perceptions of the people around her, Deanna begins to realise that starting afresh begins within …

Monday, 2 March 2015

Her Mother's Keeper by Nora Roberts

omnibus cover
Her Mother's Keeper (1983) (Silhouette)
Nora Roberts
Grade: D
Genre: contemporary romance
Source: own
Romance RBC 2015: A book by Nora Roberts 

Gwenivere Lacrosse had left home with an innocent naivety to make a life and career for herself in New York. Two years later and she’s returning to New Orleans for a well-deserved break and to sort out the small problem of her mother’s infuriating lodger … Luke Powers is a celebrated writer who is said to be just as adept with women as he is with words. Gwen has grown up with a houseful of strangers but never one like Luke who has insinuated himself so readily into her mother’s life. When Gwen starts her campaign to get him out of her mother’s house and life, she doesn’t expect her plan to backfire quite so spectacularly …


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments (2011) (Orion Books)
Rainbow Rowell
Grade: B+
Genre: fiction
Source: own
General RBC 2015: The first book by a favourite author 

The year is 1999 and the Internet is still in its earliest stages. Lincoln has just started a new job at the offices of a local newspaper, enforcing the office’s new IT policy which entails reading emails flagged by the system. He’s quickly drawn into the lives of repeat offenders, Beth and Jennifer who email back and forth about their love lives and family troubles. At first, their emails offer a welcome distraction from the monotony of the night shift but before he knows it, he finds himself falling for one of them and it’s too late to issue a warning without revealing that he’s been reading their emails all along. Does love before first sight exist?


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood

Heartbreaker (2000) (Pocket Star Books)
Julie Garwood
Grade: B
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own 
Buchanan/FBI: (1) Heartbreaker 
Romance RBC 2015: A romantic suspense

The last thing that Father Tommy Madden expects to hear from the other side of the confessional box is a twisted maniac bragging about the women he’s killed and the lucky woman who’s next on his list – Laurant, Tommy’s younger sister. When the self-named ‘Heartbreaker’ drops off clues with the police, Tommy is no longer morally torn at the prospect of divulging confidential information and calls his childhood best friend, Nick Buchanan, for help. Nick is only too happy to use his forced holiday to be productive and shadow Laurant. Miraculously, they’ve never met despite Nick’s lifelong friendship with Tommy and Nick is astounded that the skinny girl he remembers from photographs has blossomed into the woman standing before him. What Nick really doesn’t expect is for Laurant to be so stubborn about carrying on her life as normal in an effort to trap Heartbreaker. When the pair return to Laurant’s house in the tiny town of Holy Oaks, their close quarters reveal a fiery attraction that shows no signs of extinguishing …

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Prom Nights from Hell by various (anthology)

Prom Nights from Hell (2007) (HC Children's Books) (anthology)
Meg Cabot / Lauren Myracle / Kim Harrison / Michele Jaffe / Stephenie Meyer
Grade: C
Genre: anthology / young adult / paranormal
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book on HarperCollins' backlist 

In this collection by five best-selling young adult authors, prom nights take on a whole different meaning … in Meg Cabot’s The Executioner’s Daughter, Mary is on a mission to take out a vampire who has bewitched her best friend and destroyed her family … in Lauren Myracle’s The Corsage, Frankie takes desperate measures to bring back the one she loves … in Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery and the Grim Reaper, Madison’s prom night takes a turn for the worse when she accepts a ride home from a beautiful stranger … in Michele Jaffe’s Kiss and Tell, one of Miranda’s clients turns out to be a Very Wanted Person … and lastly in Stephenie Meyer’s Hell on Earth, one minor demon is intent on ruining prom night for everyone … these short stories take prom nights to a different paranormal level …


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Immersed in Pleasure by Tiffany Reisz

Immersed in Pleasure (2012) (Harlequin) (novella)
Tiffany Reisz
Grade: A-
Genre: erotica
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own

The Manhattan Mermaids are said to be the most exclusive, beautiful women in New York, entertaining wealthy and powerful men in an elite club called The Fathoms. As if that wasn’t enough, they’re all virgins. Like many others, Derek Prince doesn’t believe they exist until he meets the tempting and mysterious Xenia. She drives him crazy with desire, but a relationship would mean losing her position at Fathoms. Will Derek wait? But more importantly, will Xenia leave her life and the security of The Fathoms?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley

Twelve Days of Christmas (2010) (Avon)
Trisha Ashley
Grade: C
Genre: chick lit
Sex scenes: super mild
Source: own
Lancashire: (1) Sweet Nothings, (2) A Winter's Tale, (3) Wedding Tiers, (4) Chocolate Wishes, (5) Twelve Days of Christmas
TBR RBC 2015: Free Square 

Brought up by her Strange Baptist grandmother, Holly didn’t celebrate Christmas in its modern, commercial sense until she married her husband, Alan. When he died in a tragic accident not long before the festive holidays, Holly reverted to her old ways. Now, she’s a chef in the summer months, catering for week-long house parties, and a house sitter in the winter, choosing to spend her holidays in solitude caring for other peoples’ houses instead of forcing a smile with her family-in-law. This Christmas, Holly is faced with just that depressing prospect until a last-minute house-sitting job falls in her lap. But what starts as a straightforward task in looking after a house and its resident dog, horse and goat, turns into a fully-fledged family-orientated house party with its requisite unwanted guests alongside the bosom of the family as Holly takes on the responsibility for catering to a family she barely knows, but quickly comes to love as her own …

Monday, 16 February 2015

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

300th post!!! What a milestone - it feels like only yesterday that I started this blog, but it was in fact just over 3 years ago. Boy has it flown by. Here's to the next 300 posts and 3 years ...

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (2011) (MIRA Ink)
Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Grade: C+
Genre: young adult
Source: own / NetGalley
TBR RBC 2015: A NetGalley title 

When Dash leads his separated parents to believe that he’ll be spending Christmas with the other, they each plan holidays with their new partners and leave Dash to his own devices in New York City. He despises Christmas, but when he finds a notebook in his favourite bookshop filled with clues and dares left by a stranger, this is the perfect thing to keep him occupied. The notebook is Lily’s project, as directed by her brother, in a bid to keep her busy while their parents take a second honeymoon in Fiji over Christmas. As the pair lead each other in a scavenger’s hunt over New York, recruiting friends and relatives to help keep their identities secret in the process, they begin falling for each other on paper. Meeting in person will be their biggest dare yet …


Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009) (Gollancz)
Carrie Ryan
Grade: C
Genre: young adult / dystopian
Source: own
Forest of Hands and Teeth: (1) The Forest of Hands and Teeth
General RBC 2015: A book on your TBR list 

When Mary’s mother becomes infected and chooses a life with the Unconsecrated, Mary has lost everything. Her father is also one of the Unconsecrated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her brother Jed is married and has his own family to look after, besides not being able to forgive Mary for letting their mother become infected, and no one has spoken for Mary in the village’s yearly cycle of marriage ceremonies. Mary is taken in by the Sisterhood, whose direction and guidance is unparalleled in their village. But when Mary sees and hears things she shouldn’t she begins to question the hold that he Sisterhood have on the village and the strength of the beliefs she’s followed all her life. When their fences are breached and the Unconsecrated flood their safe haven, Mary takes a leap of faith in entering the forbidden Forest of Hands and Teeth, in search of a better, safer world away from the only lifestyle she has ever known.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Duchess in Love by Eloisa James

Duchess in Love (2002) (Piatkus)
Eloisa James
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Duchess Quartet: (1) Duchess in Love
Romance RBC 2015: A book with an arranged marriage 

Forced into marriage aged twelve to eighteen-year-old Camden, future Duke of Girton, Gina has only ever known married life. However, she’s never known married life with her husband. Camden escaped out a window as soon as the ceremony was over and has been sculpting nude women in Greece for extortionate amounts of money and shocking the Ton ever since. When Gina requests an annulment so she can marry the love of her life, Sebastian, Marquess of Bonnington, Cam is only all too happy to oblige and returns to England for the first time in over a decade to get the ball rolling. What Cam doesn’t expect is to find that the slip of a girl he married has blossomed into a great beauty. Living and socialising in close quarters at a house party, they’re both forced to re-evaluate their decision to separate and find themselves distastefully falling in love with each other!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Breaking Point by Suzanne Brockmann

Breaking Point (2005) (Ballantine)
Suzanne Brockmann
Grade: B
Genre: adventure / romantic suspense
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Troubleshooters: (1) The Unsung Hero, (2) The Defiant Hero, (3) Over the Edge, (4) Out of Control, (5) Into the Night, (6) Gone Too Far, (7) Flashpoint, (8) Hot Target, (9) Breaking Point, (15) Hot Pursuit
Romance RBC 2015: A book with a May-December romance 

When the FBI’s top negotiator receives the news that Gina Vitagliano is among the list of casualties after a terrorist bombing in Hamburg, Max Bhagat is on the first plane with blood in his eyes. They might not have spoken or seen each other in 18 months, but theirs is a unique relationship that until now, Max has fervently denied and suppressed. Max was the chief hostage negotiator sent to talk down a group of terrorists who had hijacked a plane in Kazbekistan; Gina was the unlucky passenger on that flight chosen to act as messenger between the terrorists and Max. The experience left Gina scarred and traumatised and more than the doctors and therapists, Max was the one who helped Gina on her path to recovery. After deliberately pushing her away 18 months earlier, Max cannot imagine a life without Gina. But it quickly becomes clear that it’s not Gina’s body in the morgue and that she’s been kidnapped alongside fellow aid worker Molly Anderson and held hostage until the US government hand over one of their most wanted men: Grady Morant, ex-SEAL turned smuggler who is willing to trade his life for Gina and Molly’s. Taken out of his comfort zone, Max is up against the clock as he sets out not only to save Gina, but also a part of himself …

Friday, 6 February 2015

Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot

Ransom My Heart (2008) (Macmillan)
Meg Cabot
Grade: B--
Genre: medieval romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
TBR RBC 2015: A book by Meg Cabot 

Finnula Craig is the youngest of five sisters and their long-suffering brother, and quite the handful. After their parents died several years ago, Robert has been the head of this family of millers and Finn has only grown more difficult to deal with. A talented archer and hunter, she is a thorn in the local sheriff’s side as she continues to flaunt the law and poach upon the local Earl’s game.

When Finn’s only other unmarried sister lands in trouble, Finn reluctantly agrees to help her out. The local women have taken to ambushing young men and demanding ransom from their families in order to fund local beer-making activities. Finn has no other choice but to take a hostage and hope he’s from a rich family. What Finn doesn’t expect is for her captive to be none other than Hugo Fitzwilliam, the new Earl of Stephensgate. Having just returned from the Holy Land, fighting for King and country, Hugo is sorely tempted by this feisty and audacious slip of a girl who isn’t afraid to sass him. For her part, Finn is just as afraid of losing her freedom as losing her heart …

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2007) (Phoenix)
Paul Torday
Grade: A-
Genre: fiction
Source: own
General RBC 2015: A book that became a film 

Dr Alfred Jones, a respected fisheries scientist with the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence and an avid fisherman, has been tasked with the impossible: to introduce salmon to the Yemen. Coerced by his boss and political manoeuvring higher-up, Fred takes on the project against his better judgement. But as time passes, he can’t help but be enticed by the conviction of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Zaidi bani Tihama, Yemeni national who is funding the project and who is deeply passionate about bringing fly-fishing to the desert. Working closely with the Sheikh’s agent, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot of Fitzharris & Price, this outlandish task sees Fred out of the comforts of his office and jetting between Scotland and the Yemen, forced to deal with meddling politicians and administrators while working through a particularly rocky time in his 20-year marriage. This project is an upstream battle, defying even common sense, until he can hardly recognise the man he has become …


Monday, 2 February 2015

Song of the West by Nora Roberts

(omnibus cover)
Song of the West (1982) (Silhouette)
Nora Roberts
Grade: C+
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Romance RBC 2015: A book published in the 1980s 

When her pregnant twin sister Sabrina asks Samantha to move to Wyoming to help out for the duration of her risky pregnancy, Sam doesn’t hesitate to leave Philadelphia in the dust. A former Olympic gymnastics champion, Sam feels no strong ties to her job as a gymnastics teacher. Instead, she falls head-over-heels for Wyoming’s beautiful yet contrasting landscape, with its rolling hills and rugged mountains. She feels a similar magnetic pull to Jake Tanner, local rancher and major landowner, despite his overbearing and alpha-male possessive attitude. As Sabrina’s due date looms ever-nearer, so does the time Sam has to make the biggest decision of her life …

Saturday, 31 January 2015

It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's Not Me It's You (2014) (Avon)
Mhairi McFarlane
Grade: B-
Genre: chick lit
Source: NetGalley
General RBC 2015: A book with more than 500 pages 

When Delia Moss proposes to her boyfriend of ten years, the last thing she expects is to discover the existence of The Other Woman. When she’s asked to gently put a stop to a serial commenter from leaving mildly insulting and insinuating comments on the council’s website, she doesn’t expect to resign from her job at the Council over it. Given the slightly tumultuous path that her life has taken, Delia decides that a move to London to stay with her best friend Emma, is her last chance to start over. Accepting a job working for the charismatic Kurt in his start-up PR company, Delia believes she can really make a difference … until she meets investigate reporter Adam West who Kurt warns her to steer clear from, with the fate of her job hanging in the balance. This is a story of dodgy jobs, crazy bosses, bad-boy reporters, loyal old (and new) friends, rediscovering her passion for The Fox (a lot more innocent that it sounds) and one woman’s chance to find her place in life …

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Audrey, Wait! (2007) (Hodder Children's Books)
Robin Benway
Grade: B
Genre: young adult
Source: own
General RBC 2015: A book on your TBR pile 

When Audrey Cuttler breaks up with her boyfriend Evan, lead singer of the Do-Gooders, the last thing she expects is for her – and him – to become overnight celebrities. Evan, in a fit of rare and truly inspired genius, writes a song about their break-up and it goes viral. ‘Audrey, Wait!’ is catchy and an unsuspected success, getting the Do-Gooders airtime on every local radio station. Of course, everyone wants to hear Audrey’s side of the story and before she can blink, reporters and their cameras are following her every move, she’s forced to take all her classes in the school office just so the other kids stop staring, and her job at the Scooper Dooper becomes a peep show. Audrey can’t wait for all the attention to die down … in her dreams …

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts (2008) (Little, Brown)
Sara Zarr
Grade: A-
Genre: young adult
Source: own
General RBC 2015: A classic YA novel 

Once upon a time, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were best friends. Social outcasts at school, they came to depend on each other in a way that only they understood. When one day Cameron doesn’t turn up for school and Jennifer is told that he’s dead, her world is turned upside down. Now in high school, Jennifer Harris is no more. ‘Jenna’ has a happy family after her mum remarried, a close-knit group of friends and a doting boyfriend of three months. When Cameron returns out of the blue, Jenna’s life is thrown out-of-sync – again. As their relationship clicks back into place as if picking up where they left off, they are both forced to remember their shared history and Jenna’s new life suddenly hangs in the balance …


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Reading Bingo Challenges for 2015

I might not have completed my trio of reading bingo challenges in 2014, but before the year was out, I'd already started planning a new set for 2015. Since that day browsing on Pinterest, these have been a true revelation that have really made my reading like a game - as if reading wasn't fun enough already.

I've undergone a much-needed down-size for 2015; while there are still three challenges, these are all 5x5 grids with 25 challenges a piece. Coupled with my overarching goal to read 100 books this year, I'm hoping this will be a slightly more achievable year, reading-wise.

The Challenges:

1. Romance RBC 2015
This one has seen the most radical transformation: reduced from 48 challenges to a mere 25. Included are all of the 12 challenges that I didn't complete in 2014, as well as a random mix of AAR Top 100 challenges, romance sub-genres, books by decade of publication and romance tropes - perfectly eclectic. I have a tendency to read a lot of historicals with a sprinkling of a few romantic suspenses on the side, but hopefully this will help me open up genre-wise. Fingers crossed that this will be a little more straightforward than 2014 with a lot less complaining about trying to fit everything in ...






Monday, 19 January 2015

One Touch of Scandal by Liz Carlyle

One Touch of Scandal (2010) (Avon)
Liz Carlyle
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Fraternitas Aureae Crucis: (1) One Touch of Scandal
Romance RBC 2014: A book with a number in the title 

After her father died and Grace Gauthier came to England to make a new life for herself, all she wanted was security. Forced to take up a position as a governess, Grace’s life seems to be taking a turn for the better until she finds her employer dead in his own home. Suddenly, Grace is the prime suspect and she has no one else to turn to but the mysterious and dangerous Lord Ruthveyn. He’s a secretive man, burdened by gifts that reveal terrible omens about the people around him. He’s determined to exonerate Grace and track down the real killer at the risk of revealing his secrets to the world …

Friday, 16 January 2015

Romance Reading Bingo Challenge 2014

Three of three. I was inspired to create my own romance-themed reading bingo challenge after finding and committing to the young adult challenge and fiction challenge that I talked about about in my previous round-up posts of last week. While the two challenges were interesting and exciting, I knew that there was a good chance that I would get bored easily, simply because there was another genre that is the love of my life and that takes up the bulk of my reading: romance. And there my third and most ambitious reading challenge was born.

Given that this was my own curated RBC challenge, I wanted something that I could own. The categories in the YA and fiction RBC lists are fairly random, but I sat down and came up with a list of challenges of certain 'types', as explained in my original post. You had the challenges defined by character (A book with a writer heroine, A book with a cop/PI hero), challenges by genre (A new-adult book, A non-Regency historical), by trope (A book with a 'marriage of convenience', A cabin/road romance), as well as by characteristics of the physical book (A book with more than 500 pages, A book with a green cover) to name just a few. It made for what I knew would be varied and entertaining reading, though as the year came to a close, it started becoming very frustrating when trying to fill in the last of the gaps.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

Here's Looking at You (2013) (Avon)
Mhairi McFarlane
Grade: C+
Genre: chick lit
Source: own
Romance RBC 2014: A chick lit book 

Aureliana ‘Anna’ Alessi is pretty content with the way her life turned out. A thirty-something history expert and lecturer, she’s looking for Mr Right via online dating, which has yielded some interesting but non-contending results. A somewhat chubby kid at school, Anna was the source of the popular kids’ teasing and bullying – a depressing period of her life which she’s glad to have moved on from and mostly forgotten.

When Anna is asked to help put together an exhibition at the British Museum, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until, she discovers that also working on the project is James Fraser, architect of her greatest humiliation at school. Thankfully, James shows no inkling of recognising Anna from their schooldays and she’s happy to keep it that way. As they get closer both personally and professionally, Anna starts to find her opinion of James changing … People can change – Anna herself is a testament to that – so why does she feel like she’s making a mistake in trusting him?

Monday, 12 January 2015

Fiction Reading Bingo Challenge 2014

Following up on my previous post about my experiences with the Young Adult Reading Bingo Challenge I undertook in 2014, the second of my reading challenges was a general fiction one, the original board which can be seen on the left.

This was by far the hardest of the three, principally because I don't read a lot of fiction. As a result, besides fiction, this category became a catch-all for basically anything else that couldn't fit into either the romance or young adult categories, hence the inclusion of titles like Panic (young adult) and The Corinthian (romance). Despite being used as a surplus category, the fiction challenge managed to yield a number of surprisingly good reads. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the titles below to different readers who are searching for different sources of reading inspiration - which is more than can be said for the other two categories. To evidence this fact, three titles from this RBC challenge made it onto my Best Of 2014 list (A Dark and Twisted Tide, The Girl Who Saved ... and Emma) with another (The Fortune Hunter) rounding off the list as an honourable mention. Given that only 11 titles made the list, this is a lot more as a proportion of total number of books read, than any of the other lists.


Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

The Flame and the Flower (1972) (Avon Books)
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Grade: B-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Birmingham Family Saga: (1) The Flame and the Flower
Romance RBC 2014: A book published in the 1970s 

Overworked and mistreated at the hands of her cruel aunt, young and innocent Heather Simmons has no one else to turn to. When she’s given the chance at a new life at a finishing school in London, Heather jumps at the chance. Arranged by her Uncle William, what she doesn’t immediately realise is what William is asking for in return. Fearing for her life, Heather commits a shocking act in a moment of desperation, fleeing from the scene of the crime with absolutely no idea what she’ll do next … straight into the arms of a handsome and dangerous stranger …

Captain Brandon Birmingham wants Heather from the moment he sets eyes on her. Abducting Heather from the docks, he takes his initially unwilling prisoner away from her dismal life in England for a new life in America. A wealthy plantation owner besides a successful sea captain, Brandon is set on seeing Heather become part of his life for good – regardless of what his family thinks.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Young Adult Reading Bingo Challenge 2014

This is the first of three posts about the Reading Bingo Challenges I undertook in 2014. It started when I came across the grid on the left on Pinterest, along with a general fiction version (Fiction Reading Bingo Challenge 2014 roundup post to come). I couldn't help myself and wanted to mix things up by coming up with my own, romance version. (See the original post here).

This is the first time I've done something like this; I never liked reading lists at school, mostly because I like freedom in my reading choices and hate being told what I should be reading. This isn't quite the same thing. I could still read what I liked, but the RBCs made my reading like a game, trying to fit my finished reads into slots on a gameboard. It was never an easy task, but the young adult challenge, of the three, was probably the most successful.