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Posted in Book reviews, Ramblings

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Buy it here


Paige’s world is so exciting; it’s full of magic, mystery and danger!
It’s a very refreshing take on a dystopian genre with the beautiful writing, the language which is used and the imagery that has been created drew me in from the very first page and kept me utterly hooked until the last word.

It’s more literary, and more *clever* than The Hunger Games and Divergent etc., but by no means does that mean it’s hard going; I was completely enthralled by the plot, I loved Paige and Warden! The relationship that builds between them is not what I expected, and as the plot progresses and we learn more of Sheol 1 and the Rephaim, this adds an extra element of intensity and mystery. To me it’s one of those books that you just want other people to read so you can talk to them about it – there are plot elements that aren’t resolved (as you’d expect for what is projected to be a 7 book series) so I want to know if other people think the same things as me!
What I will say is that I hadn’t realised there was a glossary as if I turn to the back I have a naughty tendency to read the last few lines, so make use of that, it will help you get to grips with the different characters much quicker than I did.
NB. I wrote this review on 10th January 2014 and since then I have bought over 10 copies to give to friends and family, organised a Q&a and signing at Waterstones Bham with SS and her wonderful publisher sent me a box of copies to give away at raffle prizes for one of our fan parties. I always made sure this book was displayed in both the YA and fantasy sections of the shop so I could get more and more people to discover Paige’s world.

My love for The Bone Season and subsequently The Mime Order and The Song Rising) knows no bounds!

Posted in TV reviews

Rick and Morty. S3 Ep2: Rickmancing the Stone


I’m incredibly new to this show, but oh so very passionate. My ex introduced me to it and we watched all of series one in a single sitting. Every so often he would pause it to tell me something offensive was coming up thinking I would hate it and demand for it to be turned off. Far from it, I loved every second.
I will always remember him texting me a screenshot of an episode and him being incredibly impressed that I’d gotten it with one guess and having only seen all the episodes once.
Since our split I’ve been determined to not do my usual thing and for once, not create attachments to a show we shared. Hell, if I did that, I’d have nothing left to watch seeing as I we both loved the same shows, films and he’d even started to get me into gaming.
In the past I’ve stopped watching shows such as Lost (although I hear I didn’t miss much) and films like Goonies had not been watched by me in 8 years since my first boyfriend and I parted ways. Some couples have THEIR song, I tend to have that one movie that will forever be mine and that person’s.
I had explained this to my ex, that I have emotional connections to movies and shows even to the point where I’ve walked away from screenings I’ve paid money for because I’d known the situation would take away from the film I’d loved (Example: a screening of Scrooged was meant to be my works leaving do. I knew had I stayed, I would no longer watch that will in the same way). However, it didn’t stop him from using a conversation we had to inspire him to watch my favourite film (Leon) with another woman literally a day after the conversation. It also didn’t stop him shouting at me for being upset about it.
So, I’m not going to let that happen this time. I don’t want to lose any of the shows I loved before I met him (Stranger Things, House, How I Met Your Mother… hell Star Trek.)

I figured if I blog about the episodes it’ll give me a little bit of motivation to watch them as they’re released. I couldn’t find someone to watch it with me, so I’m afraid my dear readers, you’re the ones holding my hand through this.


So, into the fray with go …


Rickmancing the Stone takes no time in reminding us about the divorce between Beth and Jerry. It’s always been there in the background; Beth’s frustration has built over the two series. I never thought the showrunners would break them up though and I’m very happy they did. Things are tense when Jerry pops over for a visit and the siblings use Rick as a means of escape. Seconds before the title sequence comes a whisper only Jerry can hear ‘loser’ the wind calls. It’s genius; I love to hate Jerry and this is just the kind of abuse I want him to get.

I’m loving Summer’s active role in travelling with Rick. Long gone is the Summer of Series 2’s Ricks Must Be Crazy. She doesn’t shy away any more. It’s when they travel to the post-apocalyptic dimension that we really start to see how strong Summer has become. In fact, she’s the catalyst for the whole episode and long may it continue.
Her story sees her find herself very much at home in this world, but she soon works through her issues regarding the divorce and comes to an interesting conclusion that resolves some of her angst by the end of the episode.
It’s interesting to see her romance develop. I would love to see Summer become the Kirk of the traveling trio. Also- Sumsum! Rick gets to give all the best nicknames.

Morty is as annoying as ever. I know that’s the whole point of the character, but I’m starting to need the showrunners to pull a South Park Kenny on his arse.

We see him take on a revenge mission that is worthy of Game of Thrones (another show I’ve stopped watching owing to a man). It’s a brilliant. Very WTF and ties nicely into the Mad Max homage they have throughout the dimension. It’s good to see how he works through his hang-ups about his father and the divorce. Although I reckon some of you are like me and would have liked to have seen what Morty would have done with the muscle memory had Jerry been there himself.

Rick was as awesome as always but there was very little in way of progression for him. I want him to show some real concern relating to the divorce and I hope we’ll get it in the next few episodes.

Overall, I have found the episode to be tackling a tricky, complex and relevant subject. They are doing it well, exposing some of the rawness to comedy (and gore) will probably enable viewers who have experience divorce to see it from other the other side. From my understanding of the audience it gets here in the UK, it certainly will be helping those most effected by divorce.


  • Will there be any fallout from Summer’s relationship? We’ve obviously done the pregnancy thing with Morty before but I’d certainly like to see that storyline come back.
  • Rick and Beth need some bonding time during her divorce to Jerry.
  • Will Beth and Jerry reconcile by the end of the series?
  • Will the Cthulhu from the title sequence make an appearance this year?


Posted in Ramblings

Fan Entitlement

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I’m a fan! We’re both fans. Of many things. Find us on twitter, give us a topic and we’ll talk… at length, whether you want us to or not. We love music (Panic! At the Disco, MCR, The Killers), TV (Buffy, Hex, Star Trek for Han) and Films (Jurassic World, Princess Bride, Harry Potter). We are advocates of YA (Holly Bourne, Laini Taylor and Non Pratt) and have just spent an amazing weekend at YALC.

However, we’re both upset right now. Mainly because of this article: http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/brendon_urie_wont_be_meeting_fans_after_kinky_boots_shows_anymore

I know Brendan has refused to sign at Panic! Gigs for the last few years for essentially the same reason. In 2015 I (Han), caught the set list at a Hammersmith Apollo gig and waited for two hours at the “stage door” to be told he’d been accosted at a gig in the US. He’d agreed with his body guard and not signed since.
Thanks to “fans”, people are now losing out on meeting a role model and idol. We’d normally have our bitch together if it was an isolated incident. But it’s not. And it’s not fair.

fans 1
Tom signing and posing for photos early in the Coriolanus run,

Back in 2013/14 Tom Hiddleston was in Coriolanus at the Donmar in London’s West End. I had tickets, I watched the play and then queued for SIX hours to have the honour of telling him how amazing he was. However, my anxiety is a bitch and I didn’t get to say a word to him while he signed my programme.
A month later I had another ticket to see him. Due to the restrictions at the stage door, this meant I had the chance to join the line for his autograph. I decided at the last minute to join. Only what I saw as I approached was nothing short of chaos; mob mentality ensued and the main door was so swamped that a man in a wheelchair struggled to get out. Fans refused to move in fear of missing their chance to get a photo with Hiddleston.
This alone disturbed me. However, that was before I was informed why Tom had refused to leave via the main door that evening, meaning his security was not policing the crowds.
The reason, as I feared, was fan related: two girls a few days before had crossed the line with Tom. They attempted to place their hands down his pants while he was signing for them. This ensured that for the remaining 5 weeks of the production, no one managed to engage with Hiddleston. This did not make the news. Had it been Sienna Miller, who is currently starring in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it would have made front page news. It would have been sexual harassment. However, Tom kept this quiet.

Now Brendan has had to do the same. He was doing something he loved and fans enjoyed, however warped sense of entitlement that meant the minority has spoiled it for the majority.

My reason for stage dooring or wanting to meet celebs is not to say “I’ve met Mr X or Ms Y”, but to tell them they have made an impact in my life and thank them for the performance they’ve just been in. Because of my anxiety, I find programmes for plays they’re in are the perfect prop. While they’re signing, their attention is elsewhere and I can talk. It doesn’t always work. Heck, its worse without a prop though. Upon being wingperson for a friend when meeting Domnhall Gleeson all I could muster was “My brother is really looking forward to seeing you in Star Wars”. Not the fact that I adored his recent film Frank or that he broke my heart with About Time. This was before my crush on him had fully developed too.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who thinks like this. It takes courage to open my bloody mouth. In fact I’m starting to avoid stage doors because of these sort of situations. Yet out there are “fans” who not only take advantage they have this sense that it’s okay and that the celebrities welcome this behaviour. I’ve also seen these people melt down when they don’t get what they want. Even if they’ve already had countless opportunities to meet the person.

Case in point: I went to see Lyndsey Lohan in Speed the Plow. It was an okay play, but her performance was appalling. I had a moral dilemma; I wanted Richard Schiff and Nigel Lyndsey’s autographs (By autographs, I mean I wanted to tell Schiff that I loved him in The Lost World and the Infidel. That he is an awesome actor and in all honesty I just wanted to see him smile.) but it was a three person play, Lyndsey was a full house. I was struggling to bring myself to do this as I didn’t have something positive to say about her performance in the play. I text a few people to gage their opinion about the stage door and how to handle it.


I need not have bothered seeing as everyone and their aunt were outside; their cameras ready, sharpies poised on their Mean Girl prints. People who had not even seen the play were there, in the prime positions as well.

All I could hear during my wait were vile comments. Links to Lyndsey’s drug use past (and predicted present) and her bad performance of the play. I couldn’t help but wonder why these people were waiting let alone coveting the spaces at the front of the barrier.

After a time we were informed that Lyndsey has already left the building via a different exit. I totally understand that and was ready to get home and move on with my day. However other people did not. What followed the announcement was abuse. She was a whore, people would not watch her work again and she was worse than Satan and someone even wished her dead.

I would say about 90 percent of my encounters have been amazing, uplifting and unique. The best experience I had was meeting Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig when he was performing at the Globe. I headed to the stage door and thanked every cast member who came out (cast of 25 and I got every single autograph, meaning I was able to thank every single one of them for a play that meant so much to me). There were two other women there, just hanging out for Alexander Siddig; to the point they blanked other cast members when they drew them into the conversation we were having owing to them being stood so close.

Out came another cast member and when he finished signing for me he questioned whether we were waiting for Siddig. The girl’s ears pricked up and they listened intently as I was told he would be in the bar and that if I had any issues, to tell Alex that he’d sent me.

I watch these two girls run to the bar and shadow him. By some stroke of luck he ended up beside me as I was calming myself at the bar. I was able to have a chat to him (before the women I might add) and express my gratitude for playing the character that got me into Star Trek. We ended with him asking for a hug and telling me his name. The one thing I love about my encounters is that I seem to have a way of making them forget the fan/celeb line and they introduce themselves to me as if I haven’t got a clue who they are. I mentally tell myself as I walk away “That’ll do Pig.”

With Alexander Siddig

I have no desire to meet many of them again (Who am I kidding, there are a few I would love to see again. But in a ‘let’s go for a cuppa, put the world to rights’ sort of way.) I know I can’t improve my experience or gain them as my friend, so it blows my mind when people will actively repeat their actions, gain nothing out of it but a photo and/or autograph. How can it be fulfilling and don’t some of the more ‘devout’ fans see the look of fear on their target’s face?

What can we do to take back our fandoms my friends? I want these victimised stars to know that we’re not all the same. I also want to be able to continue to stage door without having to compete with these people who despite having 5 autographs, will step on your neck to get another. Even if you were to explain to them that you’ve never met them before.

Posted in Ramblings

Almost Love by @oneilllo

Synopsis: When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.
So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.
Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job.
But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.
And love is supposed to hurt.
Isn’t it?



Sarah isn’t a likeable character, in the sense that she represents those parts of myself I don’t like. She is incredibly, heart breakingly relatable, and anyone who disagrees has never been told by a friend that they are being selfish.
It’s an incredibly raw insight that Sarah has. It’s grounded, fueled by pain and unapologetic. Even when Sarah convinces herself of things that will come to pass with her relationship with Matthew, there’s part of her that knows that she is kidding herself.
While I didn’t like Sarah I’m aware that what I don’t like is part of the situation she’s in, so I loved her as I would a friend. I’d be there for her and help her through her pain… If she’d let me.

Matthew on the other hand is almost a shadow character; we don’t get to know much about him. This gives this character a two-fold purpose; it represents the shallowness of his intentions with Sarah, but more importantly, Matthew is a symbol for anyone who has been treated in this way and the wonderful thing about this novel; I no longer feel alone in it.


The narrative is this wonderful non-linear exploration of Sarah’s life with, and after Matthew. It gives a real sense of PTSD from the almost sociopathic relationship Sarah found herself in.
The resolution won’t a satisfying end for some people, but believe me, it’s so very real that it will haunt you for days after you finish the book. It’s not the ending anyone would want, especially Sarah. But as a reader, we have to remember, it’s not the end. It’s just the conclusion of this part of Sarah’s journey.

The Writing

Louise O’Neill doesn’t give us the books we want, she never has. O’Neill gives us the stories we need, and she does it so well that you will almost forget that the subjects in which she writes about would feel like a chore under anyone else’s penmanship.

With Almost Love, O’Neill gives us a strong voice that struggles to keep to social expectations and provides us with a look into a world some of us would never venture into without detracting from the narrative.

Its a wonderful third novel from the talented writer and while I will always wait impatiently for her next offering; I can’t deny that they are always worth that painful wait.

Posted in Ramblings

Mom and Dad (18) #MomAndDad



A teenage girl and her little brother try to survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria of unknown origins causes parents to turn violently on their own children.

The Good

Selma Blair is incredible as the titled ‘Mom’. Her character evolves in so many ways, and it is through artful subtleties that her character is able to catch you off guard and provide an anchor for Nicolas Cages’ ‘Dad’.

The entire cast is game in this wacky and near the knuckle blood fest. From the opening scene to the final blood splattered words, you will be on the edge of your seat in awe-inspiring disbelief.

The music in the film is also stunning. It is reminiscent of the 70s and 80s movie that Stranger Things has brought into the homes of every hipster. Only with Mom and Dad, it’s not ‘cool’ and ‘hip’, it’s chilling and atmospheric.

The Mad

Nicolas Cage. Damn, no one else could have fitted the role of ‘Dad’ better. This is the Nic Cage we have all been waiting for, even if we didn’t know we needed it. If there’s a line between caged animal and insanity, Nic flirts with it, buys it dinner and mounts it like he’s on heat. It’s a glorious sight; Nic Cage in full feral mode screaming ‘mother fucker’ as if he’s invented the word.

The plot that develops around his character is charmingly deep and rooted in adult fears. It’s easy to carve Nic’s performance out as a wacky comedic nut job trying to end the lives of his beloved children, but behind all the anger that exists before the epidemic starts is the heartbreaking truth behind the human condition; what happens when our dreams don’t come true?! Then of course he sings the Hokey Cokey…

The Ugly

This movie does not pull any punches with its gore. Think of all the things that Walking Dead and and Game of Thrones have backed down on (yep! Judith, I’m looking at you kid) and this film goes there.

In a role reversal almost- homage of the magnificent 1976 Spanish horror movie ‘Who Can Kill a Child?’, Mom and Dad retains all of the gore, all of the shock and all of the diabolical deaths.

Posted in Movie reviews

The Greatest Showman (PG)


The Greatest Showman (PG)
DVD release date: 14 May 2018
Run Time: 105 minutes

The Greatest Showman is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerising spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

The Good

From the opening cheers of ‘The Greatest Show’ to the encore of ‘Million Dreams’ this film hooks you in and invites you on a beautiful journey of love, inspiration, ambition and joy. It’s a perfect fairy tale with a brilliant, happy ending.

The cast is amazing, each wonderful choice works well on their own. However, the true beauty is in the way in which the cast work together. Hugh Jackman is proving that men do indeed age like a fine wine; his voice and presence are the perfect fit for the real life figure P T Barnum. He holds his own and reveals a motivation behind his fantastic visions. He is a true joy to watch. However, put him on the screen with Zac Effron and the audience are shown something so extraordinary that you’ll be wishing that they had more songs together.

The Bad

Some of the graphics look a little ropey and take you out of the film. It’s something that is not exclusive to this film and is becoming a regular occurrence.

I found some of the themes in which PT became almost ashamed of his Circus crew a little out of character, but it did add to the dramatic pull of the move and brought about the wonderful, and award winning, ‘This is Me’.

The Ugly

I didn’t half ugly cry. It wasn’t necessarily that it was sad, in fact it was the exact opposite. It was such an overwhelming uplifting movie that I couldn’t cope.

Posted in Ramblings

Bring me Back by @BAParisAuthor

From GoodReads:

A young British couple are driving through France on vacation when they stop at a service station. He runs in to use the restroom, she stays in the car. When he returns, her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.
Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work one day and finds his new fiancée sitting on their sofa turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about, because his wife-to-be is the sister of his missing first love.
As more and more questions are raised, their relationship becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Finn! I don’t get what it is about Finn. I love him and hate him in equal measure which makes for the perfect protagonist. His quest to discover the truth brings in characters from his past; his ex-Ruby and his friend Harry. Both of whom are well rounded, if not a little stupid for giving Finn the time of day.
Ellen is the strangest character of all, and I spent the whole book trying to figure her out. She’s bordering on a Stepford-wife. I find myself itching to get inside her head to find out why she is with her sister’s boyfriend.
The plot grips you from the very first page and the reader it sent through a rollercoaster of past and present mystery that does not hold back. You can feel Finn’s conflict of emotions as he receives an item that makes him believe his girlfriend who went missing years earlier was back.
I want to tell you just quite amazing how the second half of the book is, but I can’t without giving away some aspects that came as a shock to me. The second half leads to such an amazing reveal that I want my memory wiped so I can read it again.

The narration is atmospheric and all consuming. I was at London Bridge reading one evening. Before I knew it, I was over halfway through the book, missed a ton of notifications on my phone and missed my friend arrive. Not many books have that power over me, and it’s all to do with B A Paris’ writing. It feels like you’re being let in on a confession and that if you break away, even for a second, the person talking to you will falter. A dare anyone picking up this book not to read it in one sitting; I predict it is impossible.

Posted in 2018, Reads of ..., Usborne

Orphan Monster Spy Blog Tour: Matt Killeen’s female hero ‪@by_Matt_Killeen ‬ ‪@Usborne ‬

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games


Contains Spoilers

Katniss Everdeen is a hero. It seems too obvious to mention. So successful has this character been in book and film form, so universal and ubiquitous has her effect been, that this blog might seem redundant. But leaving aside her personal influence on me – I’m a big fan, the kind of fan who collects dolls and first editions – she’s really a much more complex character than many “strong female” archetypes. Yes, she is strong and smart and gutsy but it is the root nature of that heroism that is worthy of note.

For a trilogy about a revolution, Katniss begins with no interest in starting one. That was never her intention. She was angry about lots of things, but the focus of that rage lay elsewhere. She was angry with her mother’s mental collapse, rather than explicitly angry at the system that allowed her father’s death. She has no love for the Hunger Games, but her only wish is to run away from it.

All Katniss wants to do is protect her sister, her de facto child. She doesn’t volunteer as Tribute with a view to winning or surviving. She believes that she is ending her life to save Prim’s. She isn’t aware of the power of her single-mindedness, or that her skill with the bow is a potential game-changer. The Tributes from District 12 die every single year – with one exception in 74 years, long before Katniss was born. Not for nothing is Haymitch an alcoholic mess. He’s helped send forty-six children to their deaths.

It isn’t that she doesn’t have a rebellious streak. The arrow aimed at the judges during training is a huge overreaction to being ignored. It isn’t a piece of calculation to up her score, although that is its effect. She snaps, as she does outside the hospital in District 8 before delivering a plot defining speech. But this anger is swiftly channelled into a will to survive. To get back to Prim.

She doesn’t begin to hate the Capitol, I mean really loathe its raison d’etre, until Rue is killed. Again, it’s her instinct to nurture – a traditionally “feminine” trait – that leads her to risk a loss. Rue is a surrogate for Prim and the Tribute’s murder is her sister’s death writ large. The funeral flowers are a direct act of rebellion, a funeral rite that interrupts the process of the games – her body cannot be collected while Katniss is there. This isn’t to bring down the Capitol, it’s to reassert some humanity. That, of course, is what makes it so dangerous. It’s interesting that the film chooses that moment to show a riot in District 11, the moment that she herself has crossed the Rubicon and become a threat.

The very second that she believes that both she and Peter can be saved she seeks him out, even though that makes her more vulnerable. She risks death again to get his medicine. Even the final moment with the nightlock, the moment that is the beginning of the end of Snow and the Capitol, does not come from a place of rebellion. She is not willing to kill, or have Peter die for her and he will not do the killing. The trick with the berries is just a way of saving both of them. The act of defiance that it represents is incidental.

When she meets the revolution – District 13 and its conspirators – she is suspicious from the off. For a start, it failed to protect all those she cared for. She suspects that, like every rebellion since the dawn of man, it will end in bloodshed and she’s right.

She only agrees to become the Mockingjay in return for promises of safety and rescue for those same people…and her sister’s cat.

The horrible irony by the end is that despite beginning the journey to save her sister, Prim dies as a result of rebel action. It isn’t that the Capitol – the Nazis or the Empire or whoever – shouldn’t be resisted, it’s just that warfare without compassion is temptingly effective and its cost cannot be calculated. Prioritising the ends, no matter the means, just proves President Snow right. This is a reality about conflict that is as true of World War Two as it is of the rebellion against the Capitol.

Katniss is a hero that changes her world because she cares, because she has an instinct to nurture. The skill with the bow, the determination, the righteous anger – attributes that could be described as male or masculine – are secondary. It is compassion that is the root of everything she does. It is why she is powerful.

Her final act – killing Coin – comes from that same place. She gives everything up at that moment, she can expect nothing but death. But there will be no more Hunger Games. The children of Panem, all of them, will be safe. It is the same deal that she made at the very start.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Reads of ..., Usborne

Book Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killen


Sarah has played many roles. Dutiful daughter. Talented gymnast. Persecuted Jew. Lost orphan. But now she faces her most challenging role of all. Now she must become the very thing she hates. For the only way she can survive as a spy at a boarding school for the cream of Nazi society is to become a monster like them. A monster who can destroy them.

Discover the girl who can beat Bond and Bourne at their own game, in this utterly addictive thriller from a jaw-dropping new talent.

Sarah and the Captain are two strong figures within this novel. Sarah has a flawed balance between bravery and naivety that could only be brought about from the time in which the book is set. There’s an empathy readers will have with the orphaned teen in a war-torn Berlin.
Sarah is given a new name and a new role to play, which allows her to come into contact with enemies of her own age. There are a number of characters readers will meet during Sarah’s mission, but it will be Mouse that you will take to your heart.
The Captain does take a back seat for most of the story, but he is an interesting character that I wish I’d gotten to know more. He has a mystery surrounding his character that will leave any reader begging for a sequel.
I cannot do the plot justice without spoiling it. So, all I will say is that it is a well written historical war story that will not let you catch your breath for a second. The second act takes place in a boarding school setting, that will forever change your ideologies of an education away from home.
The ending is haunting is the current climate. It doesn’t shy away from the brutalities of life outside of the war and the pressures of family. It seeps through slowly, but the reveal still hits you like a brick.
I have so much respect for Matt Killen. He has written such a strong female protagonist that is flawed and impassioned; layered within a story that it firmly placed within a researched history. Matt proves, with this one novel, that you don’t always have to stay within your comfort zone and write what you know.
It a compelling and emotion-fuelled read, that works well as a standalone. However, I’m hoping Matt has at least another story waiting for fans who will be undoubtedly begging once they read that final chapter.

Posted in 2018, ARC, Reads of ...

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

When I had the offer of reading a Mills and Boon novel I was flooded with so many emotions. I honestly didn’t know what to expect other than my own ideas I’d built up. I saw them as the romantic, adult version of Point Horror that I was reading as my nan raced through novel after novel. She borrowed from her local library and had a little symbol she would put on the inside back cover so she would never take the same book twice. It wasn’t only her; the books where covered in a variety of tag marks from literary borrowers.
I also knew my mum to partake from time to time; choosing to own hers outright. I’m gutted to say that I didn’t give them a second thought before passing them to a charity shop when she died a decade ago. The remorse has come from reading this novel, The Duchess Deal. A well written, passionate story with some wonderful characters.

Emma is an independent character who is living below her social class through mysterious circumstances. She is able to hold her own and is perfect agreement, on the most part, with her playmate, Ash. While I struggle to empathise with such a character and am jealous of her being swept off her feet, I did enjoy her spirit and fire when it came to dealing with her husband of convenience.
Ash, on the other hand, I fell in love with him right away. Self-loathing nobleman, a bit of gruff with a dash of elegance. I could see why Emma only needed a little nudging to agree to the match. It’s hard not to like this sort of character who seems to have everything, but is humbled through circumstance. Move over Mr Darcy and Mr Grey, there’s a new swoon worthy man on the shelf.

A plot such as this; a marriage of convenience may come across as farfetched in less abled writer’s hands, this plot is wonderfully fun and light-hearted. The time in which it has been set helps to establish the motives behind the convenience and the isolated insights into the couple’s thinking gives the romance its spring.
Obviously, there are obstacles the characters have to overcome as well as ensuring we see that there is chemistry between the two. It’s all done with precision and epic timing. I did find the ending a little rushed, but that is only my own sadness that the story had to end.

Tessa has a charm that brings this tale to life. She is able to pass between the Duke and Duchess’ view point with a delicate ease. The intimate sections of the story never feel forced or gratuitous; instead they flow organically into the plot and allow for comfortable, enjoyable reading.