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

My Best Books of January 2021

Out of the 6 books I read in January these are my top choices in a brief summary! There are only two that I considered incredible, although I enjoyed every book that I read this month so far. So let’s get into it!

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

“Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.”

This book was quite frankly one of the best books I’ve read in a while, this book has moved me so heavily, it is eye opening, harrowing, a true show of determination and seeking out a better life. Nuri and Afra’s life is completely changed and what they go through and what they experience is like no other. No book has had an effect on me like this has. Donate to refugee charities if you can, show others you love them and never take what we have for granted. Do yourself a favour and go read this book. 5/5 rating, absolutely incredible.

I will be posting a much more in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!


The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . . “

I read this book after my sister recommended the TV series and I like to read the books before I watch the films or TV Shows and books are always better! and this book did not disappoint, I see in other reviews this book can be marked as satire but lord above, how? I found this book very dark and dystopian. I loved the way it was written, with little context straight away and with no introduction to anything really it leaves your imagination to run wild whilst following this journey of Offred’s in a life she isn’t used too. I rated this book 4/5 but enjoyed it thoroughly and thats why I rated this book one of the best ones of the month. Im looking forward to getting book #2 The Testaments because I need to know what happens next.

I will be posting amore in depth review on this book later on in the month so stay tuned!

How to keep busy on your flights, Long Haul & Short Haul!

How do you keep busy when you’re flying?

I love flying with a passion, but it can be hard to find things to do whilst you’re up in the air especially on long haul flights! Its so important to keep yourself calm and busy during your flights, it makes them that much more entertaining and enjoyable. Here’s a few ides of how you can keep yourself occupied!

Reading – Get yourself a good book and settle down for the ride ahead. I find with short haul flights its a perfect time killer for 2 hours (for example) to get proper stuck in to a good book to keep occupied. Even with long haul it does a good job to kill a period of time, and if you get bored you can always put it down and come back to it later on in the flight as well. Here are some good book recommendations;

  • The Wives – Tarryn Fisher
  • Recursion – Blake Crouch
  • This is going to hurt – Adam Kay
  • Finding Emma – Steena Holmes
  • Wayward Pines Series – Blake Crouch
  • Normal People – Sally Rooney
  • The Tattooist of Auchwitz – Heather Morris
  • The Secret Race: Inside the hidden world of the Tour De France: Doping, Cover-ups and winning at all costs – Tyler Hamilton
  • Two Brothers – Ben Elton
  • Less – Andrew Sean Greer
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Road
  • Wonder – R. J. Palacio
  • Turtles All the way Down – John Green

Watch a Movie or TV Show – Especially if they are offering on board entertainment. They usually have so many great options and its a perfect pastime when they have something you want to watch that you’ve never seen. Even watch multiple movies, I love a good movie binge. I also find that sometimes I can fall asleep to movies and I always struggle to sleep on planes so its a bonus.

Journal – Write in a journal! How you’re feeling, about your trip, anything you like! And if you have a bullet journal then its the perfect time to release your creativity and do some prepping for the next month/trip in your bullet journal. Especially if you don’t like flying, this is something that can make you feel calmer as well expressing how you are feeling on the flight.

Blog – I know there isn’t any wifi in the clouds (although there is on some flights, I had an hour of free wifi on the way to Sri Lanka which was pretty awesome) but you can plan some blog posts, write some in your drafts ready to post upon your landing. Even get some pins ready for pinterest, prep some instagram posts in your drafts ready to go when you land.

Listen to Music or a Podcast – Another great pastime to set back and enjoy your favourite music or a good podcast, here are some podcast recommendations if you ever need them;

  • My Dad wrote a Porno
  • The Receipts Podcast
  • Off Menu with Ed Gamble & James Acaster
  • Unexpected Fluids
  • Shagged, Married, Annoyed
  • 3ShotsofTequila
  • Happy Place by Ferne Cotton
  • Everyday Positivity
  • Crime Junkie
  • Call Her Daddy
  • Hip Hop saved my life with Romesh Ranganathan
  • The Daily Pep!

Play a game on your phone – Make sure to download the ones that don’t require Wifi to progress! I can sometimes get too hooked on mobile games and they’re great to pass the time on the plane. I personally love Sand Balls, I’ve had this app since New Years 2020 and I am level 500+ and absolutely obsessed.

Play some card games! – Everyone loves a bit of Go Fish, Snap, Shithead, the list of card games goes on because there are SO MANY that keep you occupied for ages.

Colouring Books! – Another great, colourful and time consuming creative outlet for your journey. I LOVE a good colouring book, especially when I know its something I can keep coming back to throughout the flight if I need a break.

Take a self care kit with you. – This is SO important. Being up in the air for a long period of time really dries out your skin so take a mini self care kit! Some flights have the pleasure of giving you your own self care kit but to be on the safe side pack a little bag with moisturiser, some lip balm, maybe even some deodorant to feel fresher when you land and some baby/face/refreshing wipes as well. There is nothing worse than coming off a flight and feeling grotty and unkempt, so its a nice little ritual to have.

Learn a language – Duolingo doesn’t require any wifi as they have an offline mode so you can revise and work through your module and learn all before you arrive in the country you’re going too! Maybe even take a languages workbook with you so you have something to physically fill out and not relying on your phone applications to learn.

Sleep – One of the most important things needed to function, but like myself, not everyone can sleep on planes! Bring a facemark or use the ones they offer to you, try and get as cosy as you can and just pass out for however many hours you can on your flight. Remember to set your alarm or let the air hostess know if you don’t want to miss a meal!

What do you do to keep busy during flights? Any and all recommendations welcome!