Category Archives: Book Reviews

Don’t Mess with this Mermaid

BookReview : To Kill a Kindom by Alexandra Christo

I’m a fan of YA novels, I enjoy the fresher viewpoint and the additional turmoils that are experienced by a younger, less experienced protagonist.

This novel is based on a traditional fairytale but it takes a different direction from the outset. Mermaids are portrayed as calculating and vicious, to build their power they benefit from stealing human hearts. Using their mesmerising siren song, they lure their prey.

The Sea Queen is feared and revered by her subjects, choosing to channel her toughest challenges and most cruel punishments at her daughter, Princess Lira. When she transforms Lira to human form, robbing her of the ability to sing, Lira questions whether her agenda is to make her daughter the most feared Siren or to prevent her from becoming a rival?

Prince Elian is highly reluctant to shoulder his royal duties, preferring his life on the ocean with a motley crew whose loyalty is balanced by its ferocity. Despite being heir to the throne of the most powerful kingdom, he’s in his element hunting sirens, and despite the danger he uses his blue blood as bait.

This book’s plot is thick with political intrigue and danger, a challenging quest for an item which might only exist as legend. The Prince must barter and bargain; deciding who to trust will not be easy when most creatures he encounters have their own agenda.

Lira, in the hated body of a human, has much to learn about our values of loyalty and love. If she intends to be returned to her original form, she has a task she must complete before the winter solstice, which involves an impossible choice for which the clock is ticking.

I listened to this book on Audible, a 2-voice narration of the male and female protagonists really brought the story alive. I’ve downloaded another by this author, because I particularly enjoyed their treatment of the original folk tale.

Reviewing The Garden of Lost & Found

Book Review : The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

The strongest influence over every element in this book is an appreciation of beauty. Its inextricably woven around the passions of the people who live within its pages and it bursts out of the beautiful, vivid descriptions of art, horticulture and architecture which are intrinsic in telling the story.

It’s a rolling family saga, which begins at a pivotal, dramatic moment; feted artist Ned Horner, struggling with grief and the Spanish flu (which was sweeping the country) destroys his most famous painting, The Garden of Lost and Found, to the horror of his wife Lydie, and renders them bankrupt.

It leaps from early 1900s to 2014, introducing Juliette, Ned and Lydie’s great granddaughter. She’s a fine art expert whose life is made chaotic by the juggle of motherhood and work within the confines of a failing marriage. Barely keeping her own head above water, she is ill equipped to support her eldest daughter who is struggling with her own issues.

As the book continues, rolling back to Edwardian times so that the Juliette’s ancestry can be explored, it reveals a tight knit family bond is between two Desart sisters and their brother, pitting themselves against abuse at the hand of their twisted, vengeful governess. Yet despite some desperate moments love blossoms and their lives are touched with its beauty. Young artists and architects cling together, forming a supportive network, gradually eking out some success to enhance their lives.

Returning to the present, Juliette’s life changes quite dramatically as the result of events out of her control. On many occasions it’s unclear if she’s made sound choices for herself and her young family. However returning to the ancestral home seems to have a draw she’s powerless to resist, the house itself seems to possess healing properties for Juliette’s family, as does the gradual sweeping away of anything which conceals the real truth.

I loved the author’s descriptive passages relating to the beautifully detailed arts and crafts interiors and the gloriously vibrant borders and lawns which surround Nightingale House, finding them both soothing and uplifting to read. A counterbalance to witnessing Juliette’s struggles with choking weeds, heating bills and stopping tiles sliding off the roof in her efforts to restore the place to some of its former glory. What secrets will be uncovered and which relationships will survive the transformation?

This was an epic saga told with great pace and appreciation for setting as well as characters and action. I always enjoy stories which take the reader back in time to shed light on the present. This had plenty of likeable players with twists and turns to keep me entertained: giddy highs and crushing lows. However, with relatable inevitability, life moves on, love supports and secrets never remain entirely hidden.

Content Warning: This book contains themes of child abuse, social media bullying, and tragedy.

I listened to this novel on Audible but it can be purchased from booksellers too.

Reviewing YA Romances

7.23 am  : k. monroe
We all start off as strangers
  The heroine, Natalia Volesky, is being texted by an unknown person, it seems to be a boy, but she has no recollection of meeting him.  Talia and her boyfriend Brett seem like a ‘power couple’ but he doesn’t like  the close contact between her and the mystery texter, infact he doesn’t like Talia following her own interests period!  

Talia has a best friend, and a close family but even at home she has troubles.  Talia needs to be strong, to get to a place where she wont tolerate bullying or violence.

Mystery boy is funny and caring and a great listener, but he has his own issues. Why does he want to maintain this friendship in its virtual state? Talia needs to draw him out and bolster him, as much as he needs to support her.  

This sweet, uplifting story is told in texts. It’s romantic and humorous, poignant because it carries more than one serious message.  It will be popular with the YA market and those who love young romance because they enjoy being reminded of their first love.

Currently available on Wattpad

Readers of romance may also enjoy:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before : Jenny Han

Kissing is the Easy Part : rainbowbrook [available on Wattpad]

The Shiver Trilogy : Maggie Stiefvater

Eleanor and Park : Rainbow Rowell

He’s a Little Bit Country …


One Hot Summer ~ Kat French

Possibly one of my favourite chick-lit novels, I can’t believe I read this in 2017: I truly could not bear to put this book down!  So many characters were fabulously eccentric. I’m a sucker for the ‘village’ setting which means that everyone knows each others nusiness!

Our heroine – Alice McBride – was a wonderful mixture of fragility and strength, and the love interest (US country singer Robinson Duff) was such a romantic, slightly damaged, chivalrous hunk I was half in love with him myself!
I couldn’t begin to describe the plot and do it justice, but an English village setting during a heatwave instantly makes it a great summer read.  The story starts with double heartbreak and follows Alice and Robinson’s coping mechanisms of either running away or embarking on a project to get their lives back on track.  

I adored Stewie who’d been a 70s porn star – with his many wigs and outrageous outfits. The mynah bird owned by the local ‘white witch’ almost stole the show, a great source of humor and secret-spilling.

Robinson is as gentle and thoughtful as one could wish – the textbook gallant southern boy, but his attempts to forget all about Nashville and his stellar career are fairly unsuccessful.  

Alice is enchantingly loyal to her home, Bourne Manor, bearing a duty to be its custodian for years to come, no matter what sacrifices she must make. The pair vow that this will be nothing more than a HOT holiday romance and that they won’t get involved – we don’t want to believe a word of it!

Read this novel to evoke all the ‘summer holiday feels’ you would normally get from devouring a book beside the pool or on the beach

The Muse : Jessie Burton

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

~ Book Review ~

I imagine that having the first thing you create shoot off with stratospheric success and visibility, would be as daunting as it was exciting.  It might even inhibit you from creating anything again, as nothing seems to measure up to your stellar first effort. This book explores this theme, alongside inequality where battles are fought in public and private arenas. Here secrets are used as bargaining tools because the truth won’t set people free

Jessie Burton found international acclaim with her first novel The Miniaturist.  In The Muse, her second venture into the literary world, the author explores the challenge of topping an earlier success.  Meet Odelle Bastien, driven by dreams of becoming an author and Olive Schloss, who longs to be an artist and earn her art dealer father’s recognition; both women struggle with the challenge of sharing their craft with an audience who already has high expectations of their capability.

Time spent in Spain learning Olive’s story seems less upbeat, primarily because Olive feels invisible and undervalued by her parents, whose lives are as fractured as they are self-absorbed.  The country they’ve just arrived in is on the brink of war, the revolution brought to the family’s doorstep in by Isaac & his sister Teresa. They help around the property, but are embroiled in right-wing activities.

Due to a misunderstanding (soon purposefully encouraged) a vibrant, and unusual painting makes a big splash in the art world, while the reality of its creator remains a secret

Years later, at the Gallery in London where Odelle works, a new painting surfaces which also appears to be the this ‘same’ artist – but in order to feature in an exhibition its provenance must be established (reminiscent of The Girl You Left Behind – Jojo Moyes). The unravelling of this mystery is the power that drives the novel forward.

While I really enjoyed this book, I’ll admit to preferring the storyline which features Odelle and the gallery to that surrounding Olive’s development as an artist.  The character of a young working woman who dreams of being a writer was sharply drawn. Her efforts to integrate herself into a historically hostile society, while maintaining her integrity and dignity, unfolded gradually with convincing depth.

I enjoyed the way two such diverse threads of plot were gradually woven together but the latter part of the book felt unnecessarily rushed.  It delivered surprises and tied up loose threads, but in comparison with the languid speed at which the rest of the novel unfolded, the conclusion felt rushed.