Book Review: The Christmas Rose by Dilly Court (a great Christmas present!)

This books has all the Christmas vibes about it! Feel-good and heartwarming? Definitely. This is a story of love, friendship, and the things that people do to help others. The plot is never dull and the slow-building romance between Rose and Eugene is innocently beautiful. The characters have depth, and the story of a strong young woman finding her way around a man’s world is truly marvellous.

Plot summary: She had risked everything to get to London but, stumbling through the peasoup fog, she has nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. Scared and alone, Rose steps straight into danger, only to be rescued by two women with even less to their names – a woman of the night and her young sidekick, Sparrow. With only a cluster of love letters to her name and all hope of her sweetheart’s return fading, Rose finds herself forging a new life with her unlikely companions. But when a good deed turns sour, a dangerous enemy threatens to ruin them all. Will Rose be able to save her new friends and her future? If she can, a Christmas gift awaits that will change her life forever…

Rose is a feisty and head-strong young woman who comes to London to marry her sweetheart, only to find that she has essentially been stood-up! With the help of some interesting female characters, Rose manages to find her way around London and get a job as a journalist in a predominantly male workplace. As she matures and we see different sides to the characters, she begins to realise what her heart truly wants and who can give it to her.

This novel is fast-paced and interesting throughout. The characters are likable and the novel is beautifully woven together. My only criticism is that Rose was a little too headstrong at times which was slightly annoying, and the ending felt a little rushed. However, overall this is a fantastic read and would be a brilliant Christmas present!

R/T: Rose, how fitting! (please see About section for more information)

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Emotive and powerful, Letters to the Lost is a novel that will keep you hooked till the very last page. It is a stunning book in which two characters find each other through their shared pain to build an extraordinary friendship, share words of wisdom, and eventually romance. The following is a spoiler-free review.

letters to the lost by brigid kemmerer book cover for review

Book Blurb: Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Juliet and Declan are very different but fairly likeable characters. They both have their flaws. Juliet is judgemental of Declan’s outward demeanour and past, whereas Declan can be quite passive aggressive. They both, however, manage to add something very meaningful to each other’s lives. The anonymity in their communication is very interesting as they both know each other at school but do not realise this! This enables them to communicate to each other freely and with less judgement. There are many moments in the novel when you think they will reveal or find out who they are.

The book focuses more on their friendship, but romance comes in at the very end of the novel. It is story of friendship turning to romance, which is beautiful in its own way. Overall, this is a heavy read which was well-written and gives a message of hope.

R/T: Rose and Thorn (Please see About section for more information)

Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Steamy and unconventional, The Kiss Quotient makes for an interesting read. The gender role reversal makes this novel the version of Pretty Woman we’ve all been waiting for. The portrayal of the love life of a woman with Asperger’s is particularly compelling, allowing us to delve deeper into the mind of a person who does not fit in with the rest of society. One criticism I have is that the writing was a bit dry at times, perhaps due to the want for more romance and conversation rather than just the physical, on which the novel places so much emphasis. The following is a spoiler-free review.

The kiss quotient book cover by helen hoang for review

Book Blurb: Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position. Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.

I found Stella Lane to be a fascinating character. She is determined, clever, and brave enough to face her fear of men and relationships. I think what this novel did so well is show how differently autistic women behave and think, compared to autistic men (who are usually the ones being portrayed in media). Stella is eager to please and it pulls at our heartstrings to see her so out of her comfort zone and yet trying her best. I also liked Michael’s character, who is portrayed as loving, patient, and sexy. And those love scenes…wow, all I’m saying is there is plenty of that for those who like their racy scenes!

As to the story itself, I thought it was lovely how Stella and Michael’s relationship blossomed throughout the book. It would have been even better if they did a bit more talking in a non-sexual encounter, just to show that it is not all about the physical side of things. It did feel a bit unrealistic that Stella had been having all these issues with men before, and suddenly this guy comes along and everything he does is complete and utter perfection. But then again, it is a romance fiction book where things can be overexaggerated. I also thought the book was lacking in the emotional department in some respects. There was a lot of jealousy and a lot of passion…but not so much on the deeper aspects.

Overall, The Kiss Quotient is a good read for those who are interested in the romantic perspective of a woman with Asperger’s and who enjoy racy scenes. The storyline and conversations may not be the best, but the characterisation was quite interesting.

Warning: Contains brief mentions of dubious consent in sexual encounters. Please do not hesitate to ask for more information if you have any questions.

R/T: Rose and Thorn (please see About section for information) 

Rating: 3.5/5

Have you read this novel and what did you think? Does this sound like your kind of book? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Romantic Book Quotes That Will Make You Smile

Love is an amazing power. It brings joy, hope, and magic! I’ve decided to do something a little different from the usual book reviews. Let me know what you think! The following are my favourite romantic book quotes in no particular order.

1. ‘If God didn’t believe in me, then I’d have to believe you were just a coincidence. And you being a coincidence in my life is a lot harder for me to fathom than the mere existence of a higher power’ 

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
Roses in vases on tree

2. ‘You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught’

Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
A couple kissing passionately

3. ‘No matter what has happened. No matter what you’ve done. No matter what you will do. I will always love you. I swear it’

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

4. ‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A couple kisses in the countryside under a rainbow

5. ‘Do I love you? My god, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches’

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
A beach with the words love spelt

6. ‘If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you’

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne

7. ‘As I got to know you, I began to realise that beauty was the least of your qualities. I became fascinated by your goodness. I was drawn in by it. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. And it was only when I began to feel actual, physical pain every time you left the room that it finally dawned on me: I was in love, for the first time in my life

Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos

8. ‘I know from experience that the poets are right: love is eternal’

A Room With a View by E.M Forster
Couple on a rail road romantic

9. ‘And in her smile I see something more beautiful than the stars’

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

10. ‘In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you’

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Which of these is your favourite quote? Do you have a different love quote that you absolutely love? If so, comment below!

Book review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Heart-breaking and absolutely inspiring. This book played at my heartstrings and then healed them completely. I was hooked from the get-go and by the time I reached the end, it seemed like I had completely flooded the house with my tears of catharsis. This is a must-read for couples in a serious relationship or those considering one in the future. The following is a spoiler-free review.

All your perfects book cover by Colleen Hoover for review

Book Blurb:Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Then: The last thing Quinn expected was to meet the love of her life just outside her fiance’s front door. A year after leaving behind their cheating partners, Quinn and Graham are in a perfect relationship that seems designed by fate.

Now: Seven years later, Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair. All Your Perfects is powerfully moving story about a broken couple whose future hinges on promises made in the past, reminding us that the enduring power of love is the ultimate saviour.

Quinn and Graham are a couple with some major relationship issues. They’re not perfect people. In fact there were several moments where I felt quite peeved and wanted to shake them into seeing sense. I found the alternating ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ chapters to be particularly effective in gradually introducing the reader to the two characters and building a contrast which is immensely emotive. We are given a view into how they first met (where they humourously stole their cheating spouses’ Chinese takeaway and proceeded to eat it in front of them) and how their relationship blossomed into something extraordinary. This is in stark contrast to seven years later, where the couple has to deal with some heart-wrenching personal problems which appear set to ruin them forever.

However, the couple made a promise the day before they were married that should they ever want a divorce, they would open a wooden brown box with some secret contents. Whatever is inside could be their saving grace. Naturally, we don’t find out what’s inside the wooden box until near the end of the book.

Upon finishing this book I felt amazed at how poignant it was. Hoover has worked her magic once again by showing us the importance of communication, support, and most importantly never losing sight of why you made a promise to love someone in the first place. A stunning read.

My favourite quotes from the book:

When you meet someone who is good for you, they won’t fill you with insecurities by focussing on your flaws. They’ll fill you with inspiration, because they’ll focus on all the best parts of you’

If God didn’t believe in me, then I’d have to believe you were just a coincidence. And you being a coincidence in my life is a lot harder for me to fathom than the mere existence of a higher power’.

And of course… ‘If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim’

R/T: Rose and Thorn          (please see About section for information) 

Rating: 4.5/5  

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

A heartfelt story of love at first sight, second chances, and the obstacles that two people face in making their deepest desires come true. This book made me feel frustrated, emotional, and best of all, it made me cry like a baby from sheer happiness. This story takes place over several years as the characters wade their way through new challenges, new romances, and attempts to subdue their feelings for each other. It is so obvious that Laurie and Jack belong together, and they both know it subconsciously.
But this is no simple love story. This is a spoiler-free review!

One day in december book cover for review by Josie Silver

Book blurb: Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away. Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus. Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

The novel starts with Laurie making eye contact with Jack whilst she is on a bus and he’s sitting at a bus stop. She thinks it’s love at first sight and they share a romantic moment, but the bus speeds away before he gets a chance to board it (I know right, how annoying). I must admit, at this point the critic in me thought, how realistic is this really? I found the moment touching but a bit hard to take seriously that she fell in love without having even once talked to the guy. I guess this is my main criticism, along with that fact that Jack at times acts like a volatile teenage headcase with a sex addiction. I don’t really see what Laurie sees in him, but hey, to each their own. Maybe they were made for each other.

Other than that, I loved the intricate design of this romantic story. The way in which this story took place over several years really worked in this book and we feel like we really get to know the characters and how they develop. The female friendship between Laurie and Sarah is heart-warming and inspiring. I wouldn’t really class this as a traditional love triangle, so don’t worry about this if you weren’t a fan of Twilight! Both Laurie and Jack have big decisions to make with regards to each other which could potentially ruin their closest friendships. One thing I should point out about this novel is how human the characters felt; none of them is perfect, they each have their flaws and upsides. Some readers may like this whilst others may prefer more idealistic characters. This book is one of a kind and I agree with previous comments that it has all the feels of a romance movie. I absolutely loved loved loved the ending of the book! It was a fairy-tale ending that put a huge smile on my face. Uplifting and powerful.

R/T: Rose and Thorn          (please see About section for information)                  Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Just get together already! The build-up of sexual tension between Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn is electrifying and only gets stronger with each chapter. The romance between this couple is real and the fact that they are close friends makes it even sweeter. I turned the pages with impetuous excitement, eager to find out how this story would unravel. Enchanting, imaginative, and romantic. Lady Midnight is a book of forbidden romance, family loyalty, and supernatural experiences. This is a spoiler-free review!

Lady midnight book cover by Cassandra Clare for review

Book Blurb: In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word. A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love. Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

Emma and Julian are shadowhunters, friends and also paratabai, which means that they always have each other’s backs but cannot get involved together romantically. They made this supposedly unbreakable vow when they were young and vulnerable; Julian was left to care for his many siblings and Emma also had no one else to turn to. What they once thought would strengthen their bond forever, would turn out to be the reason for their frustrations, uneasiness, and heartache. For this we can’t help but feel for them. I was rooting for them to fight against the shadowhunter rules and to follow their feelings. However there is an astounding revelation which we learn about later in the novel which complicated the situation. No more to be said on this subject, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

I absolutely loved the ballroom scene with Emma and Julian. You can really feel the longing they have for each other but which they have to keep hidden from public view. I especially liked the description of the alluring interaction between Emma and Julian.

‘The space between them was heated, electric. His fingers curled around her hip. His other hand slid down her back, slowly, gliding along her hair until he reached bare skin where the back of the dress dipped down…He had never touched her like this.’ 

Hot and enticing. If you liked that, you’ll love the beach scene.

Besides the romance, there is plenty of shadowhunter action; fighting insect-like demons, interactions with enigmatic dangerous Faerie folk, and a mission to find a serial killer in order to keep Mark, Julian’s brother, within the family. You can’t help but like the Blackthorn siblings who have a very interesting dynamic within the household. The world that Clare has created is imaginative and action-packed. If you love supernatural mystery adventures then this might just be the book for you!

R/T: Thorn          (please see About section for information)   

Rating: 4/5