Saturday, August 17, 2013

Letterbox Love/Stacking The Shelves

Good morning! I've been packing up and moving in to my new flat this past week, so sorry for the lack of posts, but now I'm back in lovely Edinburgh! I've very excited to be back, and looking forward to going to some things at the International Book Festival this coming week.

Anyway, on to the books! And look, a video, for the first time in ages.

The Shifting Price of Prey, by Suzanne McLeod (Spellcrackers #4) - love this one, review or 'thoughts on books' post coming soon.
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman - thought I'd posted a review for this last year, but apparently not, so review coming soon, another book I loved.
Freefall, by Jill Sorenson - won this one from The Book Vixen, looking forward to reading. Thanks, Brianna!
Run To You, by Charlotte Stein - for review, from NetGalley.
Magic Rises, by Ilona Andrews - very excited to finally have this one in the shops, looking forward to reading it.
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, by Neil Gaiman - I'm seeing him talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this week, so figured I should read this one first! Hehe.

What books did you get this week?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: On Dublin Street, by Samantha Young

Title: On Dublin Street
Author: Samantha Young
Release Date: October 2012 (UK ebook)/January 2013 (UK paperback)
Publisher: Penguin (UK)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Bought from Waterstones
(Find it on Goodreads here.)

Description: Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare...
Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons and forging ahead without attachements. Her solitary life is working well - until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street, where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. 
Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he's determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. 
But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realises that Braden won't be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her... down to her very soul.

My thoughts: I heard a lot about this book last year on the 'Smexy Books' and 'Fiction Vixen' blogs, but at the time it just sounded too much like yet-another-innocent-girl-meets-billionaire-and-kinkyness-ensues story. I was wrong. Very wrong. [Just as a note, both characters are financially well off, and there is 0 kinkyness, just hot sex. ;-)] I finally picked it up earlier this summer when I saw that it's actually quite a long book, and is written by a Scottish author - I felt like I should give it a chance, and see how Ms Young wrote about Edinburgh (where I go to university).

This was one of those books where, right from the first chapter, I knew it was going to be good. It evokes Edinburgh so beautifully, and that continues throughout the book. The setting doesn't feel forced in any way - it's not as though Samantha Young is inserting typical Edinburgh/Scotland features in, so that a reader knows where they are - it's more subtle than that. Characters walk down this street, past a row of buildings that look like that, they get swamped by tourists in August when the festivals come. Maybe it helps that I live there, but I felt like she really brought it to life.

As the story begins, Jocelyn has finished uni and is looking for somewhere new to stay. On her way to what turns out to be a successful meeting with a new flatmate, she ends up sharing a taxi with 'the Suit'. They flirt a little in the cab, but he has a girlfriend, and Jocelyn won't tell him her name. Of course, it turns out he's the older brother of the girl Jocelyn has started living with, which they discover when he comes into the flat while she's rushing naked from the bath to grab a towel. Scenes like that had me laughing as I read it, which is lucky, as there are also plenty of parts which had me reaching for the tissues. Jocelyn didn't have an easy life before she came to Scotland for uni, and her relationship with Braden drags out a lot of memories and things which she hadn't dealt with, as well as throwing up a whole new set of problems as she figures out how she feels about him and what she wants.

 Braden also comes with an interesting history and has had some problems with previous relationships. Something else I liked though was how close he is with his family now, and that they have these big family Sunday dinners each week - I love seeing large happy family groups in stories. It was very touching how they bring Jocelyn in to their group, and gradually get her to overcome some of her solitary tendencies which she's built up to protect herself.

This is a very very emotional book, with Jocelyn and Braden both having a long personal journey until they can be happy together. I love that it's not just about their relationship. Although at first Jocelyn seems to have everything working perfectly for her, she has to learn to let old friends and new into her life a little more. The way living with Ellie and letting her into her life affects Joss is just as important to the story as the intimate relationship she gradually forms with Braden. I can think of moments when something each of those three characters did made me slam the book shut and have to go walk around for a while before I could go back to reading. The 'secondary' characters are that well built that I felt just as attached to people like Ellie as I did for Braden and Joss.

I think 'On Dublin Street' is a really well built novel, bringing all the characters and the setting to life so vividly that it was easy to get lost in the story, or to imagine that next time I walk along Prince's Street I might bump in to one of them. It might be a romance story at the heart, but it's much more of a personal journey for Jocelyn, for her to really grow up and accept what has happened in the past and to move on with her future.

I know I'll read it again and again, and I'm kicking myself it took me this long to get to it - I absolutely recommend it. 10 out of 10.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book review: Real Men Don't Quit, by Coleen Kwan

Title: Real Men Don't Quit (Real Men #2)
Author: Coleen Kwan
Release date: April 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Bliss imprint)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Description: Serial bachelor. Celebrity author. Her perfect forever? 

When famous author Luke Maguire decides to write his next novel in the small town of Burronga, Australia, he's sure he can ignore the fiery redhead next door. Not only has he just been burned from a high-profile breakup, but he's never been one to set down roots. No, he'll finish his novel and leave Burronga. And soon. 

Tyler Jones just wants to run her business with her best friend, Ally, and take care of her three-year-old daughter, Chloe. She's never needed help from anyone, especially not a man, and the brooding, rugged writer next door can't tempt her. Not in the least. 

Only Tyler and Luke can't stay away from each other. So they set rules. No staying overnight, no future plans, no sappy good-byes when Luke inevitably quits town. But the chemistry between them is too strong to contain in a rulebook. Are Luke and Tyler ready to risk their lives of independence for something more?

My thoughts: This is the second book in Coleen Kwan's 'Real Men' series, following 'Real Men Don't Break Hearts' (which I reviewed earlier this year). This one follows Tyler, who we saw a little of in the previous book. I was looking forward to learning more about her, as she seemed like a woman who is very self confident and sure about what she's doing. Of course, this is her friend's view of her, and the reality isn't quite the same. Tyler loves her little daughter, but as a single parent is finding it stressful trying to take care of her while making ends meet. Luke and Tyler don't get off to the best start - Luke has moved in to the house next door, and sees the daughter, Chloe, stood in the garden beside the pool. He takes her home, but Tyler, seeing her kid with an unfamiliar man, jumps to conclusions & doesn't let him explain what happened. Luckily, when her car breaks down a little later, he gives her a lift and they manage to sort things out a little.

Luke is an author, and was lucky enough to be very successful with his first novel. The downside is that he really doesn't like his main character, and he's struggling to write a sequel. Staying in Burronga is meant to help him finish it, but it takes Luke most of the story to accept that maybe he should try writing something else. Side note - Luke's agent is horrible! As someone interested in being published one day, I couldn't believe the way the agent spoke to Luke and acted towards him, and I was glad when Luke finally stood up to him.

I think something I really liked about the story was the gradual way Tyler and Luke get closer together. There are plenty of challenges for them to overcome both separately and together, and I found it to be a very sweet story. Luke gets on very well with Chloe, but Tyler is concerned about her daughter getting attached to him when he's not going to be there forever. I got pretty cross reading about some of the characters treating Tyler badly because she's a fairly young single parent, and I was cheering for her friends who are as likeable as the others were annoying. I like the way this book finishes - there's an argument/make-up in the rain that had me snuffling into the tissues - and there are one or two things in the characters' lives which we don't see fully resolved, but I felt that fitted the story and was much more believable.

Overall, I felt this was a cute, enjoyable romance, with realistic characters and believable situations. I give this 7 out of 10, and I'm looking forward to what Ms Kwan writes next.

Find Coleen Kwan on Goodreads here: link.