Tag: romance

Five Films to Watch After Reading Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 2, 2017 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Five Films to Watch After Reading Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon & Schuster Australia on 1st April 2017
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Bailey “Mink” Rydell has met the boy of her dreams. They share a love of films and talk all day – Alex is perfect. Well, apart from the fact that they’ve never actually met . . . and neither of them knows the other’s real name.

When Bailey moves to sunny California to live with her dad, who happens to live in the same town as Alex, she decides to track him down. But finding someone based on online conversations alone proves harder than Bailey thought, and with her irritating but charismatic (and potentially attractive?) colleague Porter Roth distracting her at every turn, will she ever get to meet the mysterious Alex?

From the author of Night Owls comes a story of summer, first love and hidden identities . . .

If you haven’t added the adorableness that is Alex, Approximately to your immediate TBR list, I say: WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? ADD IT NOW!

Alex, Approximately is, in my book, the perfect type of contemporary, one that blends humour, romance and real life issues seamlessly together that will have you laughing, crying and smiling the entire way through. And if you don’t, then I think you’re a monster and will force you to re-read it until you do.

Bailey “Mink” Rydell (I totally see what you did there, Ms. Bennett!) is our heroine, one film loving buff who has decided to move cross country to sunny California, leaving behind her mother who is going through what seems to be an icky second divorce. Bailey has ulterior motives for moving to Cali though – one ‘Alex’, the guy she talks to on a movie lover’s app, who just happens to live in the same town as her Dad. From the start of the book, ‘Alex’ tries to convince Bailey to come out and join him for the film festival happening at the end of the summer, but Bailey, who has self-nicknamed herself ‘The Artful Dodger’ (my kind of girl) is reluctant to let ‘Alex’ know that she’s actually moved across. As Bailey tries to suss out (very unsuccessfully, might I add), who the mysterious ‘Alex’ is, she navigates a world of new and old relationships and thus our story is born, and we get the cutest contemporary ever to grace your hands.

I haven’t read any of Jenn’s other books (Night Owls is sitting on my shelf, so I’m going to have to crack into that ASAP, I think!), but if they are the same quality that Alex is, then I cannot wait. Bailey’s voice is sharp and witty, and she’s also a highly relatable character – even at my ripe old age. Her insecurities and fears touch at your heart, and seeing her relationships grow with her father, Grace, and Porter were so beautiful. Especially her Dad – I adored their easy repertoire. You could see that Bailey was so much more comfortable around her Dad (even though I would have loved a little more resolution with her mother), and he pushed her to be the best person she could possibly be without being overbearing or pushy. It was so great to see a beautiful female friendship that was Bailey and Grace, Grailey and Braice. There wasn’t any cattiness or shaming between either of them, and not to other people as well. Then there’s Porter Roth, man who stole my heart. Banterous, brave, brilliant. I loved how much he challenged Bailey and how much Bailey challenged him. Like any romantic comedy, they were naturally drawn together, and, well…you’ll just have to read the book!

Of course, one of my other favourite aspects of Alex, Approximately was the nod to all the rom-coms and movies out there. Each chapter had a wonderfully accurate quote from movies I adore to pieces, and I was overjoyed that Bailey was a Cary Grant fan (who isn’t?!). In that spirit, I thought I’d choose five films you should watch after reading this amazing gem!

You’ve Got Mail

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Obviously, this insta-classic is one you must watch. In fact, I’m dying for a re-watch myself! This beautiful, quoteable film is one of my all time favourites and is also a comp title for the book. Which I find highly accurate! Definitely the best Meg/Tom rom-com out there, You’ve Got Mail tells the story of Kathleen Kelly as she navigates her way through an online friendship, while at the same time coming to blows with the big bad chain bookstore threatening her sales. It’s adorably nineties to watch now (AOL? What’s that?), but also a timeless classic.

While You Were Sleeping

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Another one of my favourite films of all time, set in Chicago over Christmas has Sandra Bullock mooning over Peter Gallagher (who doesn’t see her) – until one day, she saves him from almost death by train. At the hospital, Sandra tells a little white lie – that she’s Peter’s fiancee – so she can stay and make sure he’s okay. Of course, the family soon finds out, and even though they welcome Sandra with welcome arms, not everyone is convinced – especially the brother. It’s quirky, it’s cute and full of charm.

Roman Holiday

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Another film mentioned in Alex, Approximately, it’s definitely my favourite Audrey Hepburn film, and full of cute moments that any romantic will love. Basically, Audrey plays a European princess who bunks off duty for the day with Gregory Peck, not knowing he’s actually a journo wanting a scoop. It’s hilarious, it’s fun, it’s Rome, and it’s a feel good film. Plus Audrey Hepburn is a goddess and Gregory Peck isn’t bad on the eyes either!

My Best Friend’s Wedding

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I challenge any one to not love this film! Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Everett, Cameron Diaz. It’s the perfect cast. Full of hilarious moments, a musical number that will leave you clapping along and an ending so sweet. Basically Julia Roberts plays a woman who discovers that her best friend is marrying someone else…only problem is, she’s in love with him. So of course she’s going to go and break them up. Hijinks ensue, and you’ll finish thinking how glorious it was that perms went out of fashion because Julia, honey, that hair.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

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NOT the badly done 80s version, but we are talking musical here guys. The best thing you’ll ever see. I adored this MGM classic as a kid – and still do! Small town girl Milly accepts a marriage proposal from a farm boy, only to realise that he wants a housekeeper for him and his six brothers more than he does a wife. The musical numbers are glorious, the boys are cute af, and you can’t help but be impressed with the way Milly whips the boys into shape.

Have you seen any of these movies? Or do you have any other recommendations? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

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Five Reasons to Fall in Love: New York Nights by C.J. Duggan

Posted February 4, 2017 by Hannah in New Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

Five Reasons to Fall in Love: New York Nights by C.J. DugganNew York Nights Series: Heart of the City #2
by C.J. Duggan
Published by Hachette Australia on 1st February 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Finished Review Copy
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Sarah Williams is a spirited, independent Aussie who has always dreamed of New York City. So when a job opportunity arises to become an au pair for a successful businessman in the heart of Manhattan, Sarah jumps at the chance to follow her dream.

What she didn't bet on was a beautiful newborn and a distant, abrasive man whose eyes hold a million anguished secrets. Determined to care for his daughter and face the challenges of the impossible Ben Worthington, Sarah was always prepared to follow her heart; she just wasn't prepared to lose it to a complicated man like Ben.

It’s not that hard to fall in love with a C.J. Duggan book. They’re always so perfect for any situation – perfect for a long, warm summer’s night with a glass of wine. Perfect for snuggling on a cold winter’s night – with a glass of wine. Perfect for, well, any occasion really. With a C.J. Duggan book, you know what you are getting – romance, adventure and that good fuzzy feeling at the end of it all.

As for New York Nights? Well, it’s definitely one of my favourites, that’s for sure. Okay, okay, I’m purely judging on my “Duggan Boys,” and Ben is Top 3, that’s for sure (what are the other two? Dean and Sean of course, and not necessarily in that order!), but New York Nights has many other qualities that we can discuss too. So if you’re looking for five reasons to pick this little gem up, here we go!

  1. New York, New York! What a Wonderful Town!

New York is one of my favourite cities in the world, and provides the most gorgeous & lush backdrop to Sarah’s story. We see the city through her eyes –  a first timer, fresh off the plane Aussie and it’s exciting to see her experience it for the first time. New York City is beautiful, and there’s a certain magic to it. Of course, it doesn’t help that the book is mainly set in the Village areas near Washington Park – I’d totally die to have a zipcode there!

      2. What’s Lacking in Plot is Made Up for in Characters

Look, not every book needs to have oodles of plot. And as with a lot of contemporary romances, there’s more of a focus here on the main characters themselves, and not necessarily the plot. With New York Nights, what you see is what you get, and what I love about C.J. is she doesn’t beat around the bush – simply, Sarah is an expat au pair for a broody, hardly-ever-present, single Dad with a newborn. While not exactly enthralling stuff for some, what C.J. does is give us characters that make something of it and turn the narrative into a gorgeous story. Sarah is compassionate, a little naive and stubborn. Which clashes perfectly with an equally stubborn Ben who is finding it hard to transition from workaholic into parent. The secondary characters are stars themselves, and you are left wanting just a little bit more so that you can spend time with them all.

        3. Small Town Aussie Girl, Big City Dreams

I can’t help it, I love it. People who seize their independency and seek the world beyond their sphere are my type of people. Don’t get me wrong, if this is not you, then that’s fine as well. But I see so much of myself in a character like Sarah, one who takes the opportunities that come their way with no bars hold and put aside their fears to grab on to it and make something of themselves. With every uncertainty, we saw Sarah’s sense of humour shine through, and her ability to take on any challenge made me so proud.

       4. Warm Fuzzies Galore

Have I said anything about the warm fuzzies this book gives you yet? Probably, but here it is again. New York Nights is full of cute little moments that have you squeeing and sighing all book long.

      5. Did I Mention Ben Worthington Yet?

HA. Of course I have. Maybe ten or fifteen times, but listen up, I’m going to tell you again. WHY ARE ARCHITECTS JUST SO DAMN ATTRACTIVE? There’s a running joke with my friends that “I’m going to find myself an architect.” Sadly, thus far in life they’ve all been in books. It must be because they’re creative and good at math. But man alive, Ben Worthington was swoon material to the max. He was that broody Alpha male without the over the top you get in a lot of romances. He was kind, he was caring, and why does a baby make guys 1456478% more attractive? I loved how Ben’s relationship with little Grace was adorable and sweet and swoon.

Basically? If you need a pick me up, C.J’s got you covered. I can’t wait to read the other Heart of the City books – Paris Lights is out now, and London Bound is due in March and there you have it, a trio of wonderful reads that will leave you lusting for more.

(legit an accurate representation of me after reading this book)

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Fire & Ice Rarely Play Nice: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted January 2, 2017 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Fire & Ice Rarely Play Nice: Frostblood by Elly BlakeFrostblood Series: Frostblood Saga #1
by Elly Blake
Published by Hodder & Staughton, Hachette Australia on 10th January 2017
Pages: 304
Format: E-Book, E-ARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley, Won
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The first in a page-turning young adult fantasy series perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen and Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series.

In a land governed by the cruel Frostblood ruling class, seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has spent most of her life hiding her ability to manipulate heat and light - until the day the soldiers come to raid her village and kill her mother. Ruby vows revenge on the tyrannous Frost King responsible for the massacre of her people.

But Ruby's powers are unpredictable...and so are the feelings she has for Arcus, the scarred, mysterious Frostblood warrior who shares her goal to kill the Frost King, albeit for his own reasons. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King's men, she's taken right into the heart of the enemy. Now she only has one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who took everything from her - and in doing so, she must unleash the powers she's spent her whole life withholding.

Frostblood is set in world where flame and ice are mortal enemies - but together create a power that could change everything.

Frostblood is the first fantasy release of 2017 that I’ve read, and boy oh boy, does it set the bar high for the rest of 2017’s fantasy releases. If this is the calibre of books coming out, then please, by all means, hit me with them.

Ruby is our heroine, a girl with fire running through her veins who watches her mother die at the hands of the ruling Frostbloods and imprisoned. Years later, she is rescued by an order of monks, who wish for her to help them depose of the Frost Throne and in turn, the ruthless King. When Ruby is captured by the Frost King’s men and forced to fight for her life, what she must overcome in order to survive will be her greatest test.

There is so much to love about this book. The two opposing sides, Frostbloods and Firebloods, have a tumultuous history that Blake is able to weave into the story without info dumping like a boring world history lesson. Instead, what we do learn about Sudesia and Tempesia and the world Ruby lives in is given to us in little pockets, making you wish for more. In fact, if it’s the only thing I didn’t like so much was that I wanted to know more about the history of the world and the Gods and how the Frost & Fire Bloods became to be, but that’s probably just me being greedy.

I loved Ruby as a character too, which is interesting because at first, she bothered me a lot in that at time, she was quite whiny and petulant. But all characters must grow, and so does Ruby, and I loved that she wasn’t a stereotypical “Chosen One” character and in fact at times pushed against the notion of her abilities and strengths. Watching her come to terms with who she was and what she could do was great, and I loved that her vulnerability shone through at times as well. She wasn’t perfect, and we need more YA heroines like her because let’s face it, none of us are.

And I’d be remiss to leave out the romance too, because of course who doesn’t love a mysterious brooding interest? Arcus was great, albeit a little predictable in his character arc, and the banter between him and Ruby as their relationship grew is the sort of romance that fuels me, and once again I’ve lost myself to a fictional character. Arcus made me want to weep in parts with what he’s been through, and to see him grow and learn through Ruby (and vice versa) was just great. They may say that “affairs between fire and frost rarely end well”, but they’ve clearly never met Arcus and Ruby, have they?

For fans of Red Queen and Throne of GlassFrostblood will dazzle you with fiery passion and fast paced adventure that will leave you burning for more at every page (see what I did there?!). It’s safe to say that its sequel will be just as explosive, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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Three Reasons You Need to Read As We Know It by Carrie Butler

Posted December 28, 2016 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 3 Comments

Three Reasons You Need to Read As We Know It by Carrie ButlerAs We Know It by Carrie Butler
Published by Indie on 12th December 2016
Format: E-ARC
Source: Author
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Deep beneath the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles alongside the Pacific Northwest coastline, lies the Cascadia subduction zone—a fault on the verge of unleashing a catastrophic earthquake, thirty times more powerful than the San Andreas. Unfortunately, like most tourists, Elena Cordova is oblivious.

She’s got her own pent-up stress to deal with, a humiliating breakup that’s driven her to end her tenure as a human doormat once and for all. So, when a pickpocket makes off with the last remnant of her relationship, she takes action—only to get trapped with him when disaster strikes.

Now, if either one hopes to survive, they’ll have to get past their initial impressions and work together . . . because in fifteen minutes, half the town will be underwater.

Let me just put it out there – I love disaster films. Which is probably already weird, but when you add in the fact that earthquakes are one of the only things that strike fear into my heart, you might be wondering, “Huh? I don’t think that’s healthy?” To be honest, I think it’s a kind of coping mechanism, because the scary thing about pretty much every natural disaster film out there is that there’s a harsh reality behind it.

So naturally when one of my favourite New Adult authors offered up her new novel for review and I found out it was a romance survival story, I jumped at the chance to read it. “But why should I read As We Know It?” I hear you asking, wondering where I’m going with this whole conversation about earthquakes and romance. Well, I have three very good reasons for you, and if you’re looking to branch out into adult fiction in 2017 (or even the end of 2016!), then I highly suggest you add As We Know It to your TBR!

A Well Rounded Host of Diverse Characters. I haven’t come across much diversity in adult contemporary romance, if I’m honest you with you. And I hadn’t really expected it in As We Know It, so it was completely refreshing to read about people from all walks of life who are brought together because of one situation. Our MC, Elena, is a feisty Hispanic that really shines as a woman who can stand on her own two feet and has a sassy sense of humour I absolutely loved. Vincent, the romantic interest, is a war veteran suffering from PSTD. There’s great diversity between all the supporting characters as well, which just hones in the point that in a crisis, there’s more people of colour in the world than just Dwayne Johnson and his all white family from San Andreas.

Insta-Love That Actually Works (What?!). I know. If you’re like me, insta-love has always been a big no no, but after reading As We Know It, it’s really made me assess that word, and what it means when applied to different situations that we face. Granted, I don’t think you can fall in love at first sight (fall in attraction, yes), but life is full of little meet cutes, romantic or not. And natural disasters are no different, I guess? Two people relying on each other for survival and comfort are bound to bond in some way or another, and I love the way Carrie explored this in such a natural way.

Real, Nitty, Gritty Fiction That’s Not Marred by the Hollywood Complex. It’s so easy for these types of stories, in whatever format they appear, to become unrealistic, but Carrie keeps her plot firmly grounded in reality with every situation one that you can put yourselves in. Which makes the determination of the characters to survive this ordeal so much more personal. In other words, Carrie knows how to take the ordinary and put them into the extraordinary, all the while maintaining a level of humanity. There’s no sugarcoating either; there’s a darker side to humanity that is shown in As We Know It, but at the same time, Carrie instills a level of hope and determination that I hope I can carry on if I were ever in a natural disaster (and please, let’s hope not).

All in all, a heart pounding mixture of grim reality coupled with sweet romance makes As We Know It a thrilling read, and one I’d highly recommend. 

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Shining Brightly: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Posted November 2, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Shining Brightly: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 24th September 2013
Pages: 352
Format: E-ARC, Paperback
Source: Publisher, Bought
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Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve read this book now in the aim of writing a review, but every time I do read it, I still love it just as much – and maybe a little bit more – each time I do. Trish has a beautiful gift for storytelling – as we saw in her raw, emotional debut Something Like Normal, and is ever present in Where The Stars Still Shine.

Where the Stars Still Shine centres on a storyline that (morbidly, I know) fascinates me. Callie and her mother have never really settled in one place, until a routine traffic stop gives her the reason why – Callie’s mother kidnapped her at a young age, and now, with her Mom facing jail time, Callie is given back to her father and his large Greek family.

The novel isn’t very plot centric, so if you are looking for a contemporary with a lot of “action,” then this may not be for you (but still read it anyway!). However, what we do is a wonderful novel that centres around Callie coming to terms with her new family, as well as trying to understand why her mother did what she did. The way that the book deals with mental health as well was one that I loved; it wasn’t in your face or too preachy, but rather understated the whole way through.

As this book is about characters and the way they entwine with each other, we get a great host of secondary characters that are easy to fall in love with. From Callie’s relationship with her father and her new half brothers, to Kat her new best friend/cousin, and of course the gorgeous Alex, who is facing demons of his own.

This is a novel about family, about finding your own strength but realising that it is okay to lean on others as well. It’s about falling in love, all coupled with that beautiful writing style that will make Doller a firm favourite with any one.

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The Books We Read & The Things We Love: Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Posted October 31, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

The Books We Read & The Things We Love: Words In Deep Blue by Cath CrowleyWords in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on 30th August 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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This is a love story.
It's the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It's the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she's back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

There aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to accurate describe how wonderful this novel is, but I’m going to try my best. Because this is a book where words can’t do it justice – you have to read it to experience its beauty. Cath Crowley shows just how much of a natural storyteller she is by really getting to the heart of every book lover and explaining why literature and words are so important, so revered.

Words in Deep Blue is, at heart, many things. It’s a love story. It’s about family, and relationships between friends. It’s about not necessarily letting go of the past and moving on, but accepting it and conquering life when road blocks pop up. And it is so, so much more than that. The central point of Words is Howling Books, the secondhand bookstore Henry’s family owns. The plot itself is simple and short – in a time when books are considered to be a dying art form (ha!), Henry’s family must decide whether to keep or selling the secondhand bookshop that is an integral part of their lives – and the lives of so many others.

From here we have our two main characters, Henry and Rachel, who were best friends once, until time and distance drew them apart. When Rachel moves back to the city, a different person than she was before, her life is entwined with Henry’s once again, and it’s from here we have this beautiful story.

Cath Crowley’s writing is positively magical in this book, and if you’re a person who loves words and books and poetry and just literature in general, than this is one for you. And what really made me love this book even more is that I’m not a poetry person – in fact, I abhor most poetry (it’s been the bane of my existence this semester). But there’s one poem I love, and I’ve loved for years, and it’s probably the only one I’ll ever love, and I’ve never been able to explain exactly why I love it – until Words in Deep Blue came along. You see, that poem is The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock by TS Eliot, and it features heavily in Words, as Henry’s favourite (great choice, Henry). And it’s Henry’s explanation to Rachel that makes me realise why I love this poem so much:

do-you-need-to-understand-it-to-love-it-you-think-its-beautiful-thats-enough

And in talking about Cath’s amazing way with words, it shines through her characters. Rachel is very easy to fall in love with – her past is sadly tragic, and we all love a jilted heroine trying to be stronger than the people who sought to tear her down. I loved seeing her take back control of her life, to find meaning and passion past her brother. And Henry, God it was so easy to hate him at times, but even then one of the great things about this novel was not just Rachel finding herself, but Henry too. And Henry opening his eyes to the world and past his own little sphere.

I know this book isn’t out in the States until next year, when you get an amazingly pretty hardcover of your own, but if you get the chance to read Words in Deep Blue, I implore you to pick it up and savour it. Enjoy the magic and power of words – because you won’t regret it. At all. do-you-need-to-understand-it-to-love-it-you-think-its-beautiful-thats-enough-1

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