The Blog Brew Collaboration: Romance Book Recommendations for Valentines!

Welcome to another instalment of The Blog Brew Collaboration! Stay tuned for updates with our collaboration, we are wanting to re-brand and redesign as a group so this may be my last post as The Blog Brew! Exciting times ahead!

So I’ve decided to write my post about good romance books for Valentines day. Valentines in lockdown means that not many of us are heading out anywhere or have any plans in the mix, but for some, just cuddling up with a good romance book or some reading downtime in the day before lockdown valentines evening plans commence is definitely a must, SO here are 10 Romance book recommendations!

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary.

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. 

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand. 

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match

The Kiss Quotent by Helen Hoang.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic… 

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang.

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

One Day by David Nicholls.

15th July 1988: Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that?

And every year that follows?

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her, too—but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey’s singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success—his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family—Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a daring, passionately physical affair, Ana discovers Christian Grey’s secrets and explores her own dark desires.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.

Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast begins the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned from the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. It is a story of miracles and emotions that will stay with you forever.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Award for Most Popular Book.

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons. 

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her. 

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern.

A novel about holding on, letting go, and learning to love again.

Now in paperback, the endearing novel that captured readers’ hearts and introduced a fresh new voice in women’s fiction Cecelia Ahern.

Holly couldn’t live without her husband Gerry, until the day she had to. They were the kind of young couple who could finish each other’s sentences. When Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness and dies, 30-year-old Holly is set adrift, unable to pick up the pieces. But with the help of a series of letters her husband left her before he died and a little nudging from an eccentric assortment of family and friends, she learns to laugh, overcome her fears, and discover a world she never knew existed.

The kind of enchanting novel with cross-generational appeal that comes along once in a great while, PS, I Love You is a captivating love letter to the world!

Day 1 – Rhiannon over at Mrssleejones
Day 2 – Karalee over at talesofbelle
Day 3 – N/A
Day 4 – Kim over at chimmyville
Day 5 – Jessie over at wandererandtraveller (Me!)
Day 6 – Haley over at introvertedcreativity
Day 7 – Luce over at perselem
Day 8 – Beth over at thoughtsofarealredhead

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Blurb: “Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.”

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime novel, Nordic noir, Crime Fiction

Page Count: 672

Goodreads Rating: 4.1/5

My Rating: 4/5

THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Trigger Warning: Rape


This is my second attempt at reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so I went into this book very skeptical and apprehensive. Last time I found my reading capability wasn’t up to standard with the book so to be able to give this another go was interesting and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

So I considered the first part of the book to be incredibly slow. I fully understand and appreciate that for a book of this size, context is very important. But I felt that the amount given made the start of the book really slow for me. Further down the line I realise I appreciated the content given but it definitely tinted the reading experience for me, if it hadn’t been for my first 100 pages rule (where if i’m not enjoying a book and I’m still not enjoying it at the 100th page I won’t continue with the book) I would have absolutely have put it down. But I am so so glad I didn’t!

So straight away after being introduced to the characters I LOVED the contrast of the two main characters, Michael Blomkvist and Elizabeth Salander. For me Michael Blomkvist’s character development throughout the whole book was monumental, I started the book like ‘lord above this man is bland’. Then I realised he has an open relationship with his co-worker and close friend Erika which perked him up a bit, then you realise this man is not afraid to speak his mind, potentially lose his job and stand up to the big boys like he does early on in the book. Towards the end of the book I loved him. The confidence, passion and determination this man holds is commendable and when his relationship with Salander advances I never saw it coming but I was absolutely here for it.

The general mystery of the storyline itself is intense. Michael Blomkvist after going through some legal battles is recruited to work for Henrik Vanger on his estate in Hedestad, Sweden. He’s recruited to write the Vanger daily history. In actual fact he is there to uncover the truth as to where Harriet Vanger disappeared too. The way the mystery is unraveled is one bombshell after the next. I absolutely could not put this book down once it really got into it. The twists and turns, the revelations one after the other I needed to know where she was, if someone had killed her and if so, who? The family had so many secrets. the crescendo for me was when someone was shooting at Blomkvist. At this point you know someone is after him. But It was never who I would expected.

In contrast with Michael is Elizabeth Salander. Right form the start she’s a mystery. I also sympathise for her straight away, not even too far into the book she is raped. But she’s cool, calm and collected and I have a lot of respect for her especially when she takes matters into her own hands. Although she is very shattered and broken person, she is one badass bitch. She’s damn good at what she does and its impressive. This is why when she does start seeing Blomkvist Im shocked but 100% here for it as I said above. I loved the two of them together, they are polar opposites but they balance each other out. The ending did get me though. Salander is aware of his relationship with his co-worker Erika, so to know she was so hurt and wound up got me wanting to pick up the next book!

To back up my point that Salander is a bad ass bitch. When Michael is taken ‘prisoner’ by Henry Vanger in his basement, after realising it was him who was trying to shoot Blomkvist for digging too deep into the family history to find Harriet, Salander realises where he is and comes to his rescue. He’s in a torturous situation in Henry’s basement where we realise that Henry is a disgusting animal who rapes, mutilates and kills women for FUN. After being recruited to do this by his FATHER. SICKENING. But it also influences the investigation into Harriet with Henry being her brother. She was fully aware of what he is capable of. But, a great plot twist as I was not expecting it from him. So naturally my assumption was that Henry killed Harriet. LUCKILY that was not the case.

I was SHOOK when we discovered Harriet was alive. Her involvement in the remainder of the book made my heart warm. She was just running from something awful. I also didn’t expect Henry to kill himself in a car crash after the incident with Blomkvist and Salander in his basement but I guess he thought it was better to die than to go to jail for being an absolutely arsehole of epic proportions, especially because Harriet knew all of his secrets.

And yet once Harriet is discovered it doesn’t end there. Michael, Erika and Elizabeth take on the corporation at the start of the book who Michael tried to tackle before and absolutely decimated them and played them at their own game. If that isn’t a badass team i don’t know what is. Although Salander doesn’t think so so much at the end,

The book itself is really well written, gripping, exciting and I could not put it down. I voted this book 4/5 due to the slow start but thats literally it. It would be a 4.9/5 if it was possible. I also felt like when I was reading, the village of Hedestad reminded me of the small village I visited in Norway, Aurland! Beautiful, small, personal and quaint. Ill post a photograph of Aurland below!

Have you read this book before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

May Reading Round Up!

She’s done it again, I smashed my 20 books of 2020 as my reading goal so I’m absolutely going for 30 books now. This month has been really enjoyable with most of my reads but some not so much! So here is what I’ve managed to get through this month and what I would recommend!

A Map of Days / Ransom Riggs (The Miss Peregrines Series book #4)

This book was a serious let down, as was the 5th book in the series below as well. I loved the storyline in the first 3 books and was so into them. I feel Ransom Riggs really should have just stopped at the third book in the series, super disappointing.

Conference of the Birds / Ransom Riggs (The Miss Peregrines Series book #5)

Same as the above, another book which I felt was truly disappointing. I won’t say anymore on this because no one likes to start on a negative note!

The Wives / Tarryn Fisher

This was a gripping book which really made me think, with one hell of an ending. I could sense all the way through that something was going to happen, I just wasn’t sure what. Although it did drag at times it was all from the POV of the main character and sometimes I wondered if I could skip parts (obviously I didn’t) but I highly recommend this one!

Turtles All the Way Down / John Green

I’ve always wanted to read this book and I loved the storyline and friendship between the two main female characters. I learnt a lot in terms of the anxiety Aza experiences. I also love the relationship between the main girl, Aza, and the boy, it wasn’t your typical love story which I enjoyed due to the unfortunate circumstaces mixed in with murder mystery. And as a girl who used to write fanfiction, I loved how that aspect was included within the storyline and friendship between the girls!

Pines (Book #1) / Blake Crouch

THIS ENTIRE SERIES ABSOLUTELY BANGED. I was hooked from the first chapter, I hadn’t read such a good series since I read the Lunar Chronicles. The whole premise was fantastic and It just NEVER STOPPED. Something was always happening, I literally finished one book and got straight onto the other without hesitation. See the other books below in the series!

Wayward (Book #2) / Blake Crouch

The Last Town (Book #3) / Blake Crouch

The Tattooist of Auchwitz / Heather Morris

This was a book that really got me right in my heart and in my feels. I loved this book so so much I bought a physical copy. I found it fascinating learning about the german camps and Lale’s experiencer and the tattooist of those who arrived. But the ultimate killer for me was how throughout so much hardship, A love story still developed and in completely engulfed my heart. I can’t wait to read Cilka’s Journey, the next book from this one!

Normal People / Sally Rooney

I did not understand the hype for this book. Although I enjoyed the premise of the story it did only get a 3 star on Goodreads from me. It threw me how there are no speech marks in the book, so I regularly had to go back and re read passages to figure out who was talking and that really threw me off. The storyline itself was interesting and you knew that the two main characters, no matter what they did or went through, would always go back to each other. Even though maybe, just maybe, they weren’t meant to be at all.

Battle Scars / Jason Fox

A really interesting and eye-opening autobiography from Jason Fox regarding PTSD and the things he experiences at war. There was a lot of things I didn’t know about PTSD and the effects it has on those who return from war which were thoroughly interesting. It was heartbreaking how much it took for him to come forward and say he had a problem and it was destroying him from the inside out. Although learning about the outcomes of speaking out about this and providing the service needed for others to recover is heroic in itself.

The Secret Race / Tyler Hamilton

This book had me. I had absolutely NO interest in cycling at all, whatsoever. So I was a bit apprehensive picking this up. YET AGAIN, I WAS MISTAKEN. I loved this book from start to finish. A few points; Lance Armstrong is a missive dick. I did not realise that to be a top cyclist you basically had to dope. I like how it was almost a secret code back in the day for cycling that everyone did (doping) EPO or BB’s, BB’s (blood bags or blood transfusions) being actually disgusting but if it worked to make you win the Tour De France then it works. The Cycling world is actually SCANDALOUS and I had NO idea. Highly recommend this, you will be shocked at what you’re reading!

Stars Above / Marissa Meyer

Finally, the creme de la creme. This tied up all the loose ends of the Lunar Chronicles series that had me hooked. I was so pleased to find how how Ze’ev (Wolf) was taken and became part of Levana’s Army, show Cress ended up in her satellite, the aftermath of the entire series and how Scarlett and wolf got married and so many more loose ends that were so nicely tied together. It just made my heart swell and when I finished it, yes, I absolutely did cry.

So here you have what I read in May!

You can check out my Goodreads here!

Book Review: Cress – Marissa Meyer (Book 3, The Lunar Chronicles)

We are up to book number 3! *Spoilers ahead*.

HER SATELLITE MADE ONE FULL ORBIT AROUND PLANET EARTH

Some Amazing fan art depicting Cress & Thorne!

every sixteen hours. It was a prison that came with an endlessly breathtaking view— vast blue oceans and swirling clouds and sunrises that set half the world on fire.”

Yet another amazing book from Marissa Meyer in The Lunar Chronicles!

When we meet Cress she is millions of miles away from all civilization trapped and under control of Sybil and the Luna Queen Levana. Little do we know, she is a huge fangirl of Thorne and Cinder. With her multitude of netscreens she’s a pro at hacking and searching and especially stalking Carswell.

This book was really enjoyable as again this time we learn about Cress and how her life and Carswell Thorne collide, even though its safe to say she knows more than enough about Mr Thorne!

Cress cuts of her hair so soon on which took me by surprise although it made sense by what came next. Naturally in the Rapunzel story her prince is brought back to life by her teardrop in his eye. The take in this story was carswell hitting his head so badly his injury makes him blind, so cress has to tend to him with eye drops from Dr Erland so his sight comes back. Although it makes her afraid as she has spent so long with Carswell with no sight that he wont like her once he can see.

OH CONTRAIRE MY LOVE.

Although I felt during their trek through the desert went on for slightly longer than it should of done, I wanted nothing more than for the two of them to get together! So when they were pretending to be husband and wife I shipped it so hard.

What really threw me was the twist from Dr Erland and Cress. When he thought is daughter was dead, killed by Levana because she was a shell, when all along she had just been up in that satellite, working for her! And then at the end of the book, just like that, he died for them. He didn’t even get to share any time with his daughter and man, I cried. I was devastated. HEART SNAPPED IN 2 confidently.

I was very excited when hearing about Scarlet and how she was doing on Luna, especially because now I have started book 4 the small encounters we did face with Scarlet and her entrapment make going into the final book so much clearer. It also gave me relief knowing she was surprisingly okay, but absolute torture knowing wolf has no idea how she is doing or whether she is alive.

When they were all re-united in Africa I was so excited for their plan to come together, to ruin the wedding and retrieve Kai (kidnap really). So when it worked, I was even more ecstatic because the whole process had me tense, I was adamant something had to go wrong. BUT NO.

Each character contributed to the challenge in their own way, it was so well executed and so well written best believe when my dad called me to say dinner was ready I did not want to put my book down.

I also love how excited Iko is to get a human body! She had basically been dreaming about it from book 1.

AND I WILL CONTINUE TO SHIP KAI AND CINDER FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. K, thanks, bye.

I have already started book number 4, Winter! I HAVE TO KNOW HOW IT ALL ENDS.

The series is over after this book! So any further/other book suggestions would be really greatly appreciated!

I give Cress a solid 5/5.