Friday, July 12, 2024

Review: A Novel Love Story

Title: A Novel Love Story

Author: Ashley Poston

Publisher: 3rd July 2023 by HQ Fiction

Pages: 357 pages

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Romance | Romantic Comedy

Rating: 4.5 cups


Have you ever found yourself lost in a good book … literally? 

Eileen Merriweather loves a good love story. The fictional kind, anyway. After all, imaginary men don’t break your heart.

That’s why she’s so excited for her annual book club retreat – instead, when her car breaks down en route, Eileen finds herself in Eloraton. A town where every meet is cute, the rain always comes in the afternoon, and the bookshop is always curated with impeccable taste.

It feels too good to be true … because Eloraton is the setting of her favourite romance series. And Eileen is sure she must be here to bring the town its storybook ending.

But there’s one character she can’t place. The grumpy bookshop owner with mint-green eyes, and an irritatingly sexy mouth. He does not want Eileen to finish this story, but how else can she find her happily-ever-after?

My Thoughts

‘These books were like arms I fell into, armour that protected me from the world when life got too hard.’

Ashley Poston is back with her third magical realism, modern romance story and I could not be happier! This book has been highly anticipated and her followers are sure to enjoy this one.I believe it is the pure creativity that Ashley brings to her romance writing that makes it such a unique and engaging reading experience. The writing is heartfelt and I was thoroughly invested with the storyline from the outset. I loved the short, sharp chapters and even the good old fashion chapter headings that give you clues as to what will be upcoming. I would flick back and give that knowing nod upon completion. Brilliant. Not to mention, the wonderful love of all things literature scattered throughout. Equally heartwarming and heartbreaking with the use of the magical realism being so ‘magical’ and ‘real’ that Ashley makes it look so easy. 

This story is a love letter to book lovers everywhere as it is filled with so many beautiful quotes highlighting the great passion we all have towards literature. A heartbroken girl finds herself stranded in her favourite fictional town (think Brigadoon). Elsy will meet all her favourite characters and a certain bookshop owner who must be a forthcoming character. Or is he?

Books by Ashley Poston get me so excited because I know it will be infused with so much magic that her writing is bound to sweep you away. So allow yourself to get swept away in this witty, whimsical tale filled with pure refreshing escapism. 

’I think that’s why I love these books so much … to show me that there were still happy endings to be found … even if they weren’t mine.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Review: The King’s Mother

Title: The King’s Mother

Author: Annie Garthwaite

Publisher: 11th July 2024 by Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, 

Pages: 384 pages

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Women's Fiction

My Rating: 5 cups


1461. Through blood and battle Edward has gained England’s throne – king by right and conquest – eighteen years old and unstoppable. Cecily has piloted his rise to power and stands at his shoulder now, first to claim the title King’s Mother.

But to win a throne is not to keep it and war is come again. As brother betrays brother, and trusted cousins turn treacherous, other mothers rise up to fight for other sons. Cecily must focus her will to defeat every challenge. Wherever they come from. Whatever the cost.

For there can be only one King, and only one King’s Mother.

From the Wars of the Roses to the dawn of the Tudor age, this is a story of mothers and sons; of maternal ferocity and female ambition - of all they can build and all they can destroy.

My Thoughts

Let me state from the outset, I am a history nerd and this book sent me down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. My favourite type of book to read and I could not ask for anything more! I first read Annie’s book, Cecily, three years ago and gave it five stars. It was epic! There is historical fiction and then there was Cecily. WOW! This was purist historical fiction at its best -  one of those rare and memorable tales that gives voice to someone I had barely heard of but would now forever remember. Set at the conclusion of the Hundred Years War between England and France, and moving to the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, the first book focused on the life of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, mother of King Edward IV and Richard III and a force within her own right. 

‘Cecily the King’s Mother, a title no woman in England has assumed before.’

The King’s Mother is her follow up covering the period of the Wars of the Roses to the dawn of the Tudor age, this is a story of mothers and sons; of maternal ferocity and female ambition - of all they can build and all they can destroy.’ Yup! That about sums it up. I do recommend you read Cecily first as this book picks up right where that one ended with her son Edward on the throne (Cecily is still the main narrator).

‘And so, though she kneels at His altar, Cecily doesn’t so much pray to God as stare him down. Don’t you dare, she says in her heart … say nothing.’

Annie effortlessly regales a complicated time in English history, however, by telling the story through the perspective of Cecily as the ‘King’s Mother’, makes it vivid and compelling. To witness her interactions through her sons and other characters such as Margaret Beaufort is mind blowing. Despite of course knowing how history ends, the magic of Annie’s writing keeps readers on the edge of their seats in anticipation for the conclusion. Think on how history presents certain events and people …. and then think again. Think of the negative light in which Richard III is portrayed and then think again. Think of the legend of the Princes in the Tower and then think again. Outstanding historical fiction. 

‘Tomorrow she might be King’s Mother again. Or just another broken woman, with her children dead at her feet.’

One cannot help but be impressed with the depth and breadth of her research and then the very fitting interpretations. To craft a story that reads so well for today’s audience is impressive. I thank Penguin Publishers UK for reaching out once more and offering this follow up book. If epic historical fiction is your thing, be sure not to miss Annie Garthwaite's incredible series.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Review: The Ministry of Time

Title: The Ministry of Time

Author: Kaliane Bradley

Publisher: 14th May 2023 by Hachette Australia & New Zealand, Sceptre

Pages: 356 pages

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Romance | Sci Fi & Fantasy

Rating: 4 cups


A boy meets a girl. The past meets the future. A finger meets a trigger. The beginning meets the end. England is forever. England must fall.

In the near future, a disaffected civil servant is offered a lucrative job in a mysterious new government ministry gathering 'expats' from across history to test the limits of time-travel.

Her role is to work as a 'bridge': living with, assisting and monitoring the expat known as '1847' - Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition to the Arctic, so he's a little disoriented to find himself alive and surrounded by outlandish concepts such as 'washing machine', 'Spotify' and 'the collapse of the British Empire'. With an appetite for discovery and a seven-a-day cigarette habit, he soon adjusts; and during a long, sultry summer he and his bridge move from awkwardness to genuine friendship, to something more. 

But as the true shape of the project that brought them together begins to emerge, Gore and the bridge are forced to confront their past choices and imagined futures. Can love triumph over the structures and histories that have shaped them? And how do you defy history when history is living in your house?

My Thoughts

With so much publicity, I was intrigued to delve into The Ministry of Time. When a book is described as a time travel romance, spy thriller, workplace comedy’, how can one not be drawn to this eclectic mix. Well I’m here to say, for the most part, author Kaliane Bradley has pulled it off. It is refreshing, fun and so unique with all those genres including a mix of fiction and nonfiction. Quite the conquest really. 

‘Why did you bring me back from the dead? Why did you come into my life like this?’ ‘We … we saved you.’

There are many things I enjoyed about this book. Firstly the twist on time travel which focuses on bringing people from the past to the present and the current cultural challenges they face. Issues such as racism, colonisation, feminism, gender equality, climate crisis are all faced with both respective fact and humour. 

‘There are buildings everywhere. No horizons. Only buildings and people as far as the eye can see, and great metal towers strung with rope. Huge grey roads, covered in metallic traffic. There’s no space here. How can you breathe? Is all of England like this? The entire world?’

Secondly, I loved the relationship between the four main characters as it seemed so genuine. Three came from the past - a failed Arctic expedition, the Somme of WWI and a London plague victim - and the bonding with the ‘bridge’ (current day person) was really heartfelt. There were many funny, interesting and sad moments that they faced together. 

‘Everyone was paddling in their own era-locked pool of loneliness.’

My only criticism involves the ending - it was fast, a bit of an info dump which came across as awkward and a little unclear. Perhaps Kaliane was trying to tie too many loose ends together all too quickly. The story - up to that point - had been well paced with a perfect genre blending. Now, it was unfolding in a fashion that needed to be more evenly distributed throughout or extend the overall length of the narrative. Nevertheless, this is a highly enjoyable read with definitely a little something for everyone given the masterful combination of genres. 

‘Time,’ she said, ‘is a limited resource. Like all of our resources. You only get to experience your life once … And yes, you can go back and change the details, a little, but there’s a limit to how often. Every time you dig a new pathway into time, you exhaust a little more of it, and if we go back too often and mine too deeply in the same place, again and again, pulling history from the same coal seam, it will collapse. It will obliterate us, like a black hole. You have to get it right.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Review: The Hudson Collection

Title: The Hudson Collection

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: 4th June 2024 by Bethany House Publishers

Pages: 368 pages

Genre: Christian | Historical Fiction | Romance

My Rating: 4 cups


Elsa Reisner's lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate's delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants' futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa's body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn't through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?

My Thoughts

Jocelyn Green’s ‘The Hudson Collection’ provides a perfect balance between history, mystery and romance. Taking place in New York City after the Great War, readers follow Elsa who is a young ornithology researcher. She attends a country mansion just outside NY on the Hudson River, to catalogue a bird collection of the deceased residents estate.

‘I need someone to go examine the Hudson Collection - named for the river which flows next to the estate - to see what condition the birds are in.’

This is a multifaceted gem of a novel covering a whole range of engaging topics. Firstly there is obviously much about orthology which was interesting. The story also has a strong focus on Elsa who is a polio survivor and struggles both physically and socially. Then there is a range of other themes such as eugenics, autism, PTSD and discrimination for those with disabilities. 

“Father’s view has always been that the weaklings should be allowed to die. Natural selection and all that. He says that even if they did grow up, they would only reproduce more weaklings and lower the quality of the gene pool.”

Set in 1920s New York there are visits to places such as Coney Island and Central Park - much bird watching to undertake there. There is a mystery surrounding the search for a  valuable manuscript from the Middle Ages which makes for a climactic ending. ‘The Hudson Collection’ is a story with a great mystery, friendship to romance and an overarching theme of having faith by being loving and accepting of yourself. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.