Mid-Year Freak-Out Book Tag

So, I read this over on Thrice Read and thought that as we in fact 6 months, nearly 7 months, into the year that I would do just a general post with this book-tag.
Just for an update: My Goodreads Reading Challenge is set at 100 again for this year, and currently I am reading book number 69.  I seem to have been flowing through this year, without struggles or what not.

On to the Book Tag questions I go….

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017

I can’t decide on just one book, so here is the top 5 so far.

The Little Café of Second Chances by J.D. Barrett    The Perfect Present by Karen Swan   Heartless by Marissa Meyer   The Rome Affair by Karen Swan   The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

I’ve picked (In no particular order):

  • The Little Cafe of Second Chances by J. D Barrett
  • The Perfect Present by Karen Swan
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
  • The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

All of them have something special about them, all of them being exceptional books.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2017

 

Oh, god… I think I’ve only read 2 sequels this year.. If you can even call them sequels

Turn Towards the Sun by Emma   Davies   Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

The ones that I have read are:

  • Turn Towards the Sun by Emma Davies
  • Secrets & Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

Again, both great books, I would not be able to pick my favourite one.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet but Want To

      

They are all very, very different books.  I’m excited to read Kat French’s The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach purely because I have loved all of her others.  One Hot Summer was one of my favourite reads on 2016.  Godblind has had so much hype, I see it everywhere on social media at the moment, it isn’t something I would probably pick up straight away but I’m really excited to eventually get to this one in a couple of weeks!! Flame in The Mist’s cover looks stunning, that’s what attracted me first but it does sound like a pretty amazing story.

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

   

These are the only 2 I have covers for, the third book would be an upcoming Lynsey James book, I believe it’s coming about October time (well, that’s when I’m booked in for a blog tour).  The above books are: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody and The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas.  Why am I excited for theses? Ok, the first book includes a circus, I love books like this.  And the second? Jo Thomas. her books always make me feel warm, loved, happy. They are pretty special books.

Biggest Disappointment

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

This is easy for me. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  I was expecting so, so much for this book. But.. I just didn’t particularly enjoy it. I got the story, the characters, I understood everything and the world of Caraval was certainly magical but I just didn’t enjoy it all. There were parts that just didn’t really fit the book, the magical setting.

Biggest Surprise

Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman   Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman and Birthrights by J. Kyle Mcneal. Both completely different books but I was pleasantly surprised by both.

Favorite New Author

Without a doubt, Karen Swan.  I think I have read 3 of hers this year, and each book has giving me something amazing from it.   The ones I’ve read are The Rome Affair are The Perfect Present. I’ve got a couple more either on my kindle or my bookcase and I plan on reading both before the year is out.

Favorite New Crush

Hmmm…. Sam Carlton from Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks or Maverick from Lost Rider by Harper Sloan. Both very sexy, hot men.

Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks   Lost Rider by Harper Sloan

Favorite New Characters

I can’t pick, I honestly cannot pick.  There are characters that stand out at me while looking at me list of books read this year.  Like Dade from The Breaking Light by Heather Hansen, Cesca and Sam from Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks, Catherine from Heartless by Marissa Meyer, and Whym and Quint from Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal.

Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks   The Breaking Light by Heather    Hansen   Heartless by Marissa Meyer   Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

Books That Made You Cry

I don’t think any have made me cry so far this year.  It’s been a close thing, but no definite tears which is highly unlike me.

A Book That Made You Happy

Can I just say all the ones I’ve rated 4 stars or higher? I don’t think I could even pick 5 of them to be honest.

Most Beautiful Books You’ve Bought So Far This Year

The Chalk Artist   The Waking Land (The Waking Land Series)   The Night Circus   Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

I haven’t read any of these yet.  I was sent The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman and The Waking Land by Callie Bates for review, and I was lucky enough to be given Waterstones vouchers as a gift so The Night Circus was a must buy, along with Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

What Books Do You Need to Read Before the End of the Year?

My whole Netgalley shelf? Impossible as that is though, I’ll select a few that I’m planning blog posts for in the future couple of months.

            Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)      The Waking Land (The Waking Land Series)         The Stolen Marriage   Two By Two   Keep Me Safe (Seal Island #1)

So, there’s 12.  Hopefully I’ll get round to reading them all, and hopefully I’ll get to do a blog post on each of them.  The list is:

  • Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
  • The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning
  • The Inheritance by Angie Coleman
  • The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
  • Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth
  • The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates
  • Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
  • From Rome With Love by Jules Wake
  • The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
  • Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks
  • Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti

So, how has your first 6 months of reading in 2017 been? Have you got some disappointments? Or some big surprises? I’d love to hear if you have or not!!

 

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ARC Review: The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
Publisher: Pan Macmillan/Pan
Published: 13th July 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 400
ISBN13: 9781509838028

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Synopsis
The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.
1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.
2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.
Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.

My Review:
Firstly, thank you to Pan and Netgalley for my copy in exchange of my honest review.   I know they say never judge a book by its cover, but I love this cover.  I will be honest, I didn’t even read the description of this book when I requested it for 2 reasons 1- Karen Swan wrote it, I’ve loved the other books I have read and 2- The cover.  The title suits this book, and this cover, perfectly.

There are some books in this world which make you love a place even more than you already do. This book is one of them. It has made me fall in love with Rome all over again, making me wanting to visit and experience it all for the first time again.  Karen Swan’s writing style immediately dumps you into a place and you instantly wish you were there. Her characters make you feel at home, they become your friends, your family.  I feel as though I have lost a friend in the main character, Francesa. Of course, I miss Elena and Nico as well.

Beautifully written, we get to see how the rich and glamourous live.  It takes us on a journey of love, loss, heartbreak, and a decades old mystery.  It shows us that money isn’t everything and sometimes anyone would do anything for the person that love deeply. Having me hooked from the first few pages, I couldn’t wait to see where Karen Swan took us this time.  The book is split between 2 wonderful women, from the 1960s through to 2017.

Through the book we see how Elena/Laney grows from the 16 year old we are introduced to through to the woman that she is when Francesca/Cesca meets her.  Both woman are fantastic characters, and in a way polar opposites.  Elena oozes wealth, glamour, sophistication and never having to work a day in her life. Cesca lives in vintage clothing, basically living hand to mouth, and then loses her tour guide job.  Coincidentally, Elena is there to offer her a job, to write Elena’s memoirs.  While she agrees to do the job, Cesca has to face what happened in her past.  She finds her own love in Nico, and discovers that Elena’s life wasn’t completely perfect after all.

I feel that Cesca learnt a lot from Elena, and from Nico.  I think that she learnt that she wasn’t responsible for her reason for escaping.  I also think that she learnt that she should never say no to a chance of love.  Elena got her true love after a pretty rough run of it, she lost more than she got throughout her life until she met her true love.  On the other hand, I think Elena was grateful for Cesca finally discovering the truth, and for her help coming to terms with everything.  Also, I think that the way that Elena was sort of fitting in a way.  She done it on her own terms, which she didn’t get to do a lot of.  But that’s all I will say about that, I don’t want to give too much away.

With beautiful writing, leaving me with a wish to revisit Rome, and to hold on to my love and my family, I give this book a very well deserved 5/5.

New Release Spotlight: Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

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Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal
Publisher: Elevate Fiction
Pages: 552
Format: EBook
Publication Date: 6th June 2017

Synopsis
To escape the burden of his family’s past, Whym accepts an apprenticeship with a master his parents fear and revile. He soon finds himself entangled in a web of treachery and on a perilous journey to locate a creature of myth and magic-a journey that will transform Whym and shape the future of the realm.

Meanwhile, Quint, the son of a powerful religious leader, abandons his faith to join the fight against a corrupt council. As the adviser to a remote tribe, he must find in himself the wisdom and fortitude to save the people from the invading army-and their own leaders.


Civil war looms, defeated foes plot revenge, and an ancient deity schemes to destroy them all. While navigating the shifting sands of truth, the two young men must distill what they believe, and decide on whose side they will stand in the coming conflict.

Goodreads

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Today I’m showcasing Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the chance to read, and take part in the blog tour.
I have read this book, so I know what you’re in for, and for the reference, Do Not Get Attached. Never get attached.  You get a connection with someone, and well… You get where I’m going.

Beautifully written, spectacular descriptive writing, and wonderful characters as well. I think that the rest of this series will be a massive hit among readers. I definitely will be looking out for the following book, which we are given a preview of at the end of this one.

Character development was fantastic. Starting as boys, you see Whym and Quint develop into men. The book starts as a child and grows up alongside the characters to become a Man of a book.  Other characters in the book, for example Stern, Tedel, and others, are written with as much thought as the 2 main boys.  I felt for them, I understood them, I wanted what they wanted.

Let me just say about the front cover as well. It’s just amazing. I’m very tempted to buy the physical book just to have that on my shelf.  Throughout the book you get illustrations, as seen above, to give you a better idea of how things look.  It helped when it came to things that seemed a little.. weird.  I wasn’t expecting them so they definitely added a little extra to the book.

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Blog Tour: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan
Published: 6th June 2017
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
Format: EBook
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781492647553

Goodreads


Amazon UK
Amazon US

Synopsis

A tender, yet thrilling suspense novel about a young woman who uncovers devastating secrets that will resurrect the people she lost and the lies she buried – perfect for fans of Diane Chamberlain and Ellen Marie Wiseman

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.

My Review

Firstly, let me thank Netgalley, and the publishers for the chance to read this book and be a part of the blog tour.

Not quite sure where to start with this book except for saying not to trust your first thoughts about it. While it took me a while to get into it, I eventually did and although it wasn’t what I was originally thinking it would be, I liked it. We meet Julie/Jules and August and what could be the toughest time for both of them. Julie, coming from a small town and wild teenage years, lives a controlled and sensible adult life as a single mum. August has been looking for Julie and they embark on what I would call a truth finding mission about the death of Reba, Julie’s best friend from childhood and August’s first and only love.

I didn’t really like Julie to begin with, I didn’t know where she was coming from but by the end of the book I liked her. I felt for her, having believed one thing only to find out she didn’t really know the whole truth.
August is a bit of a mystery still for me.  He was a likeable bloke, sure, but he was just… I don’t know. I kept getting a sense of that he was stalking Julie more than what was actually let on if that’s making any sense? There seemed to be a hidden depth to him and it made me a little wary about him. There’s reasoning at the end of the book not to trust him, and it has left me with questions.  Does he come clean? Does he stay quiet about his first motives?
We meet Toby a little way into the story after reading a bit about Reba, and while he’s a bit of a messed up man, I really felt for him. Even if his actions were not entirely honest or for the right reasons.
I can safely say I did not like Reba, not one tiny little bit. She was quick to judge Julie and her actions but then goes on to.. Well, I don’t want to give spoilers but allow me to say that she’s not as innocent as she first seems. She’s a liar, a cheat, and not what you think.  It’s all about the first impressions again. Do no trust them.

The swapping between Julie, August, Reba and Toby’s individual stories was an excellent way to tell this story. I don’t think it would have worked any other way to be honest. You got the full picture with a whopping 360 view of it. The writing style kept me hooked, and I’m glad it did otherwise I think I would have have up before getting to 25%.

Overall, I give this book 3/5. The writing style and the characters are what made it that. I don’t think it would have got any better but I still liked it.