Book Review: Christmas By Accident #FestiveReads

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Christmas By Accident // Camron Wright //  Sept 2018 // Shadow Mountain // Goodreads

Christmas By Accident is a quick, holiday read.

As you should know by now, I love a good light-hearted, festive read, the trashier, the better,  but this one almost lost me on so many occasions.

This is a classic boy meets girl at Christmas story. Abby loves Christmas and all the magic that it brings. Carter is your average Grinch and doesn’t see the point in any of it. When Abby gets in a car accident, Carter is the insurance assessor. He finds a picture of Abby in her written-off car and pockets it. Abby becomes the object of Carter’s affection and things trundle on from there.

I don’t know what it was about Carter, but he came across as a bit creepy and sad to me. I didn’t like the way he took Abby’s picture and kept secretly ogling her at work. I don’t know whether I was subconsciously picturing him as a slightly over-weight, sweaty, creepy guy because he worked in insurance (sorry, Insurance Guys!), but for some reason I was. Descriptions such as  “Carter squeezed from his chair” didn’t help.

I think it was mainly the descriptions that I had problems with, especially the way Carter described Abby as “slight of build” with a “princess chin”. I mean, 1. Cliché much, and 2. What the hell is a princess chin anyway? *rolls eyes*

It was really obvious to me that the author was male, and quite out-of-touch too. Don’t get me wrong, I think more men should write in the romance genre, but unfortunately this one wasn’t a shining example.

But all that being said, I stuck with it, and did eventually get invested in the story. In the end I’m kind of glad I didn’t give up; it actually ended up being quite sweet, if not slightly off in its tone.

unicorn rating 2

Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine #BookReview #YA

 

princeofshadowsTitle: Prince of Shadows
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Details: February 4th 2014 by Allison & Busby
Genre(s): YA; Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

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From the author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series comes an exciting retelling of the classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

‘A plague! A plague on both your houses!’

In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honor and – if they survive – marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written on the day they are born.

Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his house, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona – and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona.

Review

I have to say I was pretty sceptical going into this but I was intrigued regardless. Having read Caine’s Morganville Vampire series (or most of them at least), I was pretty shocked to find this in the library. A Shakespeare retelling, really? Hmm…

You can’t help but love the tale of the two doomed lovers, right? And you know what, this wasn’t a bad retelling. It’s told from Benvolio’s POV, who is forcibly entrusted to keep his cousin and Capulet heir, Romeo, on the straight and narrow. But that pesky boy has a habit of getting into serious trouble and falling in love with all the wrong girls. Then there’s his bff Mercutio with his own doomed love Tomasso, both of whom will be killed if discovered. Poor Benvolio has got a lot on his plate!

On one hand I really enjoyed this book. I liked reading from Benvolio’s point of view. It was an action-packed, fun retelling with a modern twist. The pages flew by. But on the other hand I did find myself cringing a lot. ‘Shakespeare turning in his grave’ was a phrase which often sprang to mind. But I guess there would be no point in retelling it without a new spin on the traditional.

I felt like the whole business with the curse was a double-edged sword. It made the story new and fresh, and Caine does paranormal very well, such is her remit! But for me, it meant that the story lost all its romance. Which is surely the point of any Romeo & Juliet story?

I really respect Rachel Caine for taking on such an iconic story and introducing a fantasy element. It’s a pretty bold move, and I think it mostly worked. Her writing is always so readable. Not one for the purists though, obviously.

unicorn rating 3

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman #BookReview #YA

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Title: Retribution Rails
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Vengeance Road #2
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Publication Details: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Adventure; Historical Fiction; Western
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

 

REDEMPTION IS NEVER FREE
When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


Review

Vengeance Road was a tour de force, so I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a sequel (of sorts – more on that later), and although it’s not released until November, I couldn’t wait. I devoured it ASAP.

And you know what, I wasn’t disappointed. Thank the unicorns!!

Retribution Rails is a companion novel, not a direct sequel, so if you missed out on Vengeance Road you need not worry (although you really should read it!), there are two new plucky main characters to focus on, and it’s set around ten years after the first book.

Charlotte Vaughn is a young aspiring journalist who is determined to succeed despite all the odds that are stacked against her. Inspired by her hero (and real-life feminist icon) Nellie Bly she takes matters into her own hands and heads off in search of a story worthy of being her big break. A story so big that the newspapers won’t be able to turn her down. Even if she is a woman.

When Charlotte’s train is targeted by the fearless and ruthless Rose Riders, it could be the answer to her prayers, or it could be the death of her. Her encounter with the infamous Rose Kid sets in motion a whole train map of trouble, leading her on a wild west adventure that’s a little more than she bargained for.

This book was a rip-roaring adventure full of heart. Erin Bowman’s ability to bring history to life with a fresh and modern outlook is nothing short of a revelation, and I really think she’s paved the way for a whole new strand of YA. It’s a great, empowering story for young girls, and full of action for any thrill-seeker.

I couldn’t remember the ins and outs of Vengeance Road going into this (probably because I’m old and drink too much), just that I really enjoyed it, but as we are reunited with Kate and Jessie from the first book it all slowly came back to me. It was so nice to back in their company and see how life had panned out for them ten years on.

I loved everything about it. The adventure, the romance, the historical accuracies, the suspense, the heart-break, the everything. More please!

Have ALL THE UNICORNS.

unicorn rating

This Month in Books: July 2017 #TMIB #BookoftheMonth

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Well, July went by in a flash! I had some time off work and spent most of it either watching the tennis in the pub, at home, or actually at Wimbledon. I also hosted a 1920’s murder mystery night for Macmillan Cancer which was a great success. We raised £150. Not bad for a night of fun. And last weekend I went to Truck which is a music festival in Oxfordshire. The weather was horrendous and our tents flooded so it was a bit of an effort, but fun was had too. We all came back feeling pretty ill and I feel like I’ve only just recovered tbh. Eek! Getting too old!

July 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 7 (-2 from previous month)

Books Read: 6 (+2)
The Horse With My Name ~ Colin Bateman
White Cat ~ Holly Black
Strawberries at Wimbledon ~ Nikki Moore
The Hate U Give ~ Angie Thomas
Kids in Orange ~ Mindy Hardwick
The Haunting ~ Alex Bell

The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (3/6); Horror (1/6); Crime/Thriller (1/6); Romance (1/6); Non-Fiction (1/6)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (1/6); Digital (2/6); Hardback (0/6); Paperback (4/6) // Owned (1/6); Borrowed (3/6); For Review/proofs (1/6)

Most Surprising: The Hate U Give
Most Disappointing: None – they were all great this month!
Most Exciting: The Hate U Give
Most Swoon-worthy: White Cat
Most Beautifully Written: White Cat

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Month in Books: June 2017
  2. Review: Fear
  3. This Week in Books 12.07.17

Awards

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TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 84

Books Added: 0!!! 🙂 

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 82

That was my month, how was yours?

Look out for my reading round-up on Saturday!

Strawberries at Wimbledon by Nikki Moore #BookReview #MiniReview

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Title: Strawberries at Wimbledon
Author: Nikki Moore
Series: Love London #5
Format: Kindle Edition, 40 pages
Publication Details: May 14th 2015 by HarperImpulse
Genre(s): Romance; Short Story/Novella
Disclosure? Nope! I bought it (even thought it was free!)

Goodreads 

Purchase

The one that got away?

Sipping Pimms and eating fresh strawberries at Wimbledon are the perfect start to the British summer for Rayne. Immersed in her career as a journalist in the City, she’s been too busy and distracted to give men – or other outside interests – much of a chance lately. That’s something her friend Lily thinks she should correct, coming up with the perfect ‘sex with an ex’ solution – much to the amusement of the crowd on Centre Court!

When Rayne runs into old flame Adam, former good guy who is now all grown up with a hint of bad boy about him, it’s a tempting thought. But is that such a good idea, when she knows that four years ago, she broke his heart?

Back from travelling the world and settling into running the family business, Adam never expected to see his university girlfriend again. And he definitely didn’t think he would still be angry with her for running away, or that she would still have the same stunning effect on him. But she does, so maybe the perfect way to get her out of his dreams and from under his skin, is to have a hot sex-filled night with her? The only trouble is, one night might not be enough…

First love – can you ever go back? 


Review

Strawberries at Wimbledon is the fifth in a series of short romances set in London. I haven’t read any of the previous stories but they stand alone nicely. I love tennis, especially Wimbledon so that’s what drew me to this one.

The story is about journalist Rayne who is invited to Wimbledon by her best friend for a girls day out. What they didn’t bank on was bumping into Rayne’s ex, and first love Adam.

I enjoyed this light-hearted short read. It had lots of cute moments and enough backstory to make it interesting. I’ve been to the Wimbledon Championships a lot and I think the author did a good job in evoking the atmosphere of it. It did come across as a bit outdated however, as the queuing system and other things mentioned have moved on a bit in recent years, but it really didn’t impact on the essence of it.

I can only speak for this particular story, but I reckon the Love London series on the whole is a perfect read for summer. If you’re looking for something flirtatious and fun to read in the sun, then look no further!

unicorn rating 4

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus #BookReview #YA #Mystery

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oneofusislyingTitle: One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 370 pages
Publication Details: June 1st 2017 by Penguin
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary, Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Review

One of Us is Lying is a super-fun, light read, perfect for the summer holidays.

Full of everyone’s favourite high school stereotypes, the story centres around five students who end up in detention for something they apparently didn’t do. Were they set up? During the detention, the “geek”, Simon, drinks a cup of water and dies. He’s severely allergic to nuts and it appears that someone spiked his water with nut oil.

And so, the four remaining students are suddenly murder suspects. There’s the pretty, goody-two-shoes, Bronwyn, the jock, Cooper, the bad boy, Nate, and Addy the insecure beauty. They all have reasons to hate Simon, as he had dirt on all of them and wasn’t afraid to post it online for all to see.

One of Us is Lying is written from the perspectives of all four suspects. Multiple narrative stories usually annoy me, but I think it was necessary in this novel, and it worked really well. Each character had their own, very different reasons to want Simon dead, and their own problems aside from that too, which brought a nice element of realism to the story.

I thought it was a really fun, quick read that kept me intrigued most of the way through. The only let down was that I guessed the outcome from about half-way through, but it was still enjoyable.

It has a bit of everything; mystery, romance and action all rolled into one. 

unicorn rating 4

 

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones #BookReview#YA #FantasyReads

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wintersongTitle:
 Wintersong
Author: S. Jae-Jones
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 508 pages
Publication Details: February 7th 2017 by Titan Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Romance
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

‘Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.’

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Review

Inspired by one of my favourite films of all time, Labyrinth, I met Wintersong with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. It’s not a short book at 500ish pages, but it flew by…however, I don’t feel like I can say I loved it. In fact I’m really not sure how I felt about it and I finished it a couple of weeks ago!

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Basically, The Goblin King steals away Liesel’s beautiful sister Kathe to lure Liesel to the Underground where he plans on making her his bride. Liesel has always dreamt of The Goblin King. She’s drawn to his beauty and his power, but also fears him. There is a passion between the pair but being The Goblin King’s bride means leaving her family behind and never setting foot overground again.

Wintersong was certainly cringe-worthy in places, and outright bizarre in others, and it never went where I thought it would which is a double-edged sword in that it’s good that it was unpredictable but bad in that I wanted things to happen that didn’t.

Overall, I enjoyed this strange, slightly melancholic tale that brought a new Goblin King into my life. I obviously pictured a young Bowie with a ridiculous wig and an even more ridiculous cod piece but that’s not the point (swoon). There were some deliciously dark moments in Wintersong, but the relationship between the MC and The Goblin King never truly felt right, not even in that ‘so bad but good’ way.

I do think Jae-Jones has written a lovely tribute to Labyrinth though, and I also loved the evident use of, and inspiration from Rossetti’s The Goblin Market which I’ve only ever read snippets of but now want to read in its entirety.

“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

– The Goblin Market

unicorn rating 4

(I rounded-up)