What Happens Now? – Sophia Money-Coutts

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Published by HQ – August 2019

Synopsis:

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?
 
Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.

Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…

Review:

I was sent this novel by Netgalley & the Publisher.

This isn’t my usual choice of novel but I do occasionally like to dip into the rom-com genre. I really enjoyed this feel-good novel about Lil who gets dumped and then ends up pregnant after a first date. Lil is a breath of fresh air, I absolutely related to her and I loved how her character didn’t need to grow she just appears fully formed (and still ends up developing by the end of the novel). Every step of Lil’s journey was wonderful to read and made me smile, laugh and maybe even cry a little.

Sophia Money-Coutts has a breezy and likable writing style which manages to balance serious and witty all in one. At first I was a bit taken aback by the detailed sex scenes but to be honest, they are few and far between. The characters are really relatable and honest in their actions with conversation flowing easily throughout the narrative. Lil in particular is a lovely character and focuses on herself more than the romance side of things (although it isn’t missed out) which was great, I honestly felt like Lil was speaking directly to me through her frank and sarcastic narration. On the romance side of things, Max has some realistic reactions to a believable situation. Max and his family have a difficult backstory which is used well and doesn’t distract from the narrative in any way, only supports it.

All over, a really positive read which I enjoyed and would probably read again. I would recommend this for anyone wanting a nice light holiday read and I will be looking for Sophia Money-Coutts publications from now on.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Dream House – Jess Ryder

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Published June 2019 by Bookouture

Review:

Previously referred to as ‘The Guest’ I was super disappointed with this novel by Jess Ryder. I haven’t read any of the authors previous books but found they were pretty popular and generally well received so I was expecting to really enjoy this read about a woman who buys a forever home only to have a stranger turn up in the night with an unknown link to the house.

The main reason for disappointment was purely the interactions between the characters. I found the conversations didn’t sit comfortably and felt a bit forced which made me struggle to really connect with any of them. Also the switching chapters between two characters didn’t quite work for me, I think it could have set itself up as more of a twist if written in a different format.

The narrative itself was easy to read but repetitive and clichéd with its tropes however I can respect the delicate way that domestic abuse is referred to and handled throughout the novel. It’s definitely not an easy subject to write or read about but Jess Ryder manages to delve into this without the use of in depth descriptions and difficult situations. The use of this subject matter is the novels redeeming feature in my opinion since a lot of research must have gone into it and it does show. I definitely wanted to get to the end of this novel and unveil all of its secrets which is why I ultimately gave the novel 3 stars out of 5 but it hasn’t made me desperate to pick up any more of Ryders novels.

Goodreads Rating 3/5 Stars

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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Published: February 2019, Bloomsbury (UK)

Review:

“because something has always been done does not mean that it ought to be done.”

This book is my first 5 star read of the year! It’s worth every penny to buy and it’s worth double every second you spend reading its many, many pages.

Sat firmly in the high fantasy genre, I know this book isn’t for everyone. It’s big, it’s heavy, and there are a lot of characters and an entire universe to digest so that you can get to the nitty gritty plotlines. It’s also different. It’s new. It updates and refreshes an old fashioned genre. But don’t let this put you off! I implore everyone to give it a try, it comes across at first as skittish, bouncing between multiple characters but the ease with which these characters develop and come into their own is fantastic, building up until you just need to know what happens next.

All of the characters are flawed, dangerous and selfish, working towards their own means and desires while battling their internal voices and this is even apparent in the dragons. I loved the dragons in the novel! Some are vicious and some are kind which makes them so human and so believable as characters in their own right and not just a narrative tool to show an unstable society.

So I can’t tell you who the real ‘main’ character is because they all have their importance and to be honest, I don’t want to show favouritism but I personally found myself drawn to Ead and Queen Sabran which is interesting for me as you don’t get any of the narrative from Sabran’s perspective; everything you know about her you learn through the relationships she has with other characters so you truly get to build your own opinions of her as if you are a character in the novel yourself and this is why I enjoyed reading about Ead so much too as she found herself closest to Queen Sabran and able to explore all of her mentalities which are broad and also devastating. The relationships these two women experience are heart breaking and very relatable to anyone in today’s society without being ‘preachy’ and overused.

Samantha Shannon is a fabulous author who really delves into the worlds she wants to create, exploring everything in minute detail, particularly in regards to language. Her love of words and language development comes across in character names, places and even spelling. It’s a real treat to read an author’s work who genuinely has this addiction to language and all of its nuances allowing us to fully immerse in a believable universe and all in one novel too – a standalone epic (although with definite hints of possible further novels) like this I think is hard to find at this standard and it makes me really excited to read The Bone Season novels.

Goodreads: 5/5

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Published: UK, July 2019, Pan Macmillan (USA, May 2019, Henry Holt and Co.)

Synopsis:

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom™ is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species―formerly extinct―roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty―and what it truly means to be human.’

Review:

I received an electronic copy of this book from Netgalley and Pan Macmillan.

The Kingdom is a fabulous novel which mixes up Westworld and Disney World. All the way through the novel I couldn’t help but think of Disney! The Kingdom follows protagonist Ana, a fantasist (aka Hybrid A.I Princess) who has been created to make park guests dreams a reality. Mostly this is meeting and greeting, walking in parades, attending tea parties etc but as expected, there is a sinister and dark institute working in the background so everything isn’t quite as rosy as it seems in the park and Ana quickly becomes entangled in the not so perfect reality of The Kingdom and its creators and investors.

I really enjoyed this book as an introduction – it has set a good scene that I want to know more about and introduced characters I can root for in novels to come (hopefully). The Kingdom is the setting and designed as a theme park created to satisfy guests desires for experiences including being able to see animals that are now extinct. The narrative itself is told through story interactions between characters from Ana’s point of view as well as transcripts of interviews with Ana (and others) when she is in custody and on trial. Through this the story enfolds through the interview process and Ana’s memories of what actually happened and delivers all of the detail with a fresh outlook. I like the use of transcripts in the novel and find that it makes the book easy and quick to read!

The draw back for me was the lack of detail in the other fantasists but I understand it wasn’t really needed for the storyline in this novel. I would have enjoyed more interaction between Ana and Owen and I would have liked some more time with Eve & Pania – other ‘princesses’ especially these as they are mentioned the most. But this doesn’t detract from the quality of the writing, which is superb. The language flows quickly – I barely realised how much I had read until I was halfway through and although there are instances where sexual harassment/assault is hinted at, there is nothing explicit and it is handled with a gentle respect, not as a main plot point.

Overall I feel really positive about this book and I will definitely be looking at more of Jess Rothenberg’s writing from now on. If you’re looking at something to dip your toes into for Sci-Fi fantasy novels this will do the trick nicely!

 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (4 on Goodreads)