Book Review: The Gender Game by Ella Forrest

The Gender Game

Book number 54 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is The Gender Game by Ella Forrest.

A toxic river divides nineteen-year-old Violet Bates’s world by gender.
Women rule the East. Men rule the West.

Welcome to the lands of Matrus and Patrus.

Ever since the disappearance of her beloved younger brother, Violet’s life has been consumed by an anger she struggles to control. Already a prisoner to her own nation, now she has been sentenced to death for her crimes.

But one decision could save her life.

To enter the kingdom of Patrus, where men rule and women submit.

Everything about the patriarchy is dangerous for a rebellious girl like Violet. She cannot break the rules if she wishes to stay alive. But abiding by rules has never been her strong suit, and when she is thrust into more danger than she could have ever predicted, Violet is forced to sacrifice many things in the forbidden kingdom … including forbidden love.

In a world divided by gender, only the strongest survive… (Thanks Amazon)
So as we all know, Facebook now loves an advert.  Well this particular novel continues to pop up on my Facebook feed as a suggested good read for people who enjoy dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent.  As I happened to enjoy both of these trilogies I thought this one might be worth a read, so I grabbed myself a copy of the eBook and off I went reading it!
The premise of this series is an interesting one…following a nuclear fallout only pockets of the world are inhabitable.  In this particular area men and women have fought for years, eventually choosing to separate, with women ruling the East side of a toxic river and the men ruling the West.
Violet is a young woman who has struggled with the concept of men being lesser beings on her side of the river, and this feeling is exacerbated when her younger brother is banished due to his personality traits which show he is unwilling to submit to women.  Her anger causes her to get in trouble until one day she takes it too far.  In exchange for her life, she is asked to undertake a secret mission within Patrus which she accepts.  Whilst she has no choice but to take on the secret mission, what she doesn’t appreciate is just how hard life in Patrus is for women.  They have no rights, and must submit to their husbands at all times.
Violet is forced to learn lessons about herself, about love and about the divided nations as she fights for her place in the world and seeks answers about the brother who was snatched from her years previously.
This series definitely intrigues me.  At a time when equality for men and women is so rife in society, this novel turns those ideas on their head as it explores what could happen when things are taken too far.  Violet is a very headstrong character, who I found really interesting to follow.  The relationships she forms are great, and you really do see her grow as a person as she is forced to create a public persona to enable her to successfully complete her mission.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Gender Secret, as soon as I am able to!
Have you read this series?  What did you think?
Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗
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Book Review: Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn

Love at the Italian Lake

Book number 53 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Love at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn.

Sophia Bertoni discovers her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and realizes her life is going nowhere. Leaving her high-pressure job, she travels to Italy to stay with her grandmother while she figures out her next move. 

When Sophia – quite literally – bumps into devastatingly handsome Joe Lancaster her plans are turned upside down. As the two realize they’re both spending the summer in the same town, a love affair seems on the cards. 

But Sophia and Joe are both burdened by family secrets. Despite their attraction, will the sun set on Sophia and Joe’s romance – or will they find love at the Italian lake? (Thanks Netgalley!)

So having recently read Christmas at Conwenna Cove, I decided to dive in with Darcie Boleyn’s Love at the Italian Lake, and I’m rather glad I did!  Firstly I love novels set in Europe.  I love reading about the vibrancy of those European towns, the beautiful culture and the stunning scenery.  Darcie Boleyn did not disappoint with this novel.

When Sophia finds herself at a crossroads in her life she decides to travel to Italy to spend time with her grandmother while she considers what path she will take.  What she finds is a new relaxing way of life, a closer relationship with her Italian grandmother and some unexpected attraction to the ridiculously attractive Joe!

Whilst the setting of this novel is a major plus for me, the story didn’t disappoint either.  There are life decisions to be made, family dramas to overcome and a sizzling romance thrown in for good measure.  If I was to make any criticism it would just be that despite quitting her job Sophia does not seem to have any financial worries – she’s dressed in designer gear and not particularly worried about paying her mortgage.  This is certainly not something that has ever happened to me, but then again the reason I love fiction so much is for the escapism from reality, so it’s not really an issue!

I really enjoyed this novel, it was a perfect summer romance and just what I needed as the weather turns colder.  I definitely want to book myself a trip to Italy and find myself a hunky man to enjoy the trip with (but shhh, don’t tell my husband!). I recommend you go out and get yourself a copy of this lovely novel.  Let me know what you think once you’ve read it!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club

Book number 52 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is the new novel by Poppy Dolan, The Woolly Hat Knitting Club.

Finding happiness one stitch at a time

When Dee Blackthorn’s brother, JP, breaks both wrists not only is he in need of a helping hand – or two – but the knitting shop he owns can’t function. Sisterly duties take Dee away from her demanding job and she is unceremoniously fired amidst rumours of inappropriate behaviour. Dee is certain that her hot-shot nemesis, Ben, is behind it all but has no proof.

When Dee bumps into an old friend who is a new mum to a premature baby she convinces JP to enlist his knitting pals to make lots of tiny woolly hats. Then Ben turns up denying involvement in Dee’s sacking and she ropes him into helping the knitting cause. 

But before long Dee’s good intentions backfire and she risks losing her friends, her family and Ben, who’s turned out to be not so bad after all…(Thanks Netgalley!)

Dee Blackthorn is a high flying professional who thrives on working hard and making money.  She could not be more different from her brother JP, who runs a knitting shop and blogs regularly about all his knitting pursuits.  When JP accidentally breaks both his wrists (that bunting is a danger!!) Dee finds herself rushing to his aid.  Following her brief absence from work she finds herself fired from the job she loves (which of course is her nemesis Ben’s fault) and back home, adjusting to a slower pace of life.  What follows is Dee struggling to find herself again as she has to re-evaluate her life up until this point.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book – I have no idea how to knit for a start, but now I feel like I should learn!  I loved the fact that the knitting theme of this book revolves around a man rather than a woman, it really turns the idea of knitting being an older womans pastime on its head.  I also liked seeing Dee, JP’s sister, as the ‘bread-winner’.  She was a driven woman who knew what she wanted from her career, which in turn enabled her to financially support her brother to achieve his dreams.

This novel also explores what Dee gives up in order to pursue her dream career.  She did not manage to maintain friendships or hold down relationships, something that she wasn’t able to see until she was back home helping her brother.  This is a novel about a woman who when faced with serious life changes is forced to rethink her priorities and work out what she really wants.  Thrown in for good measure we have family, friendship, love and knitting!  This is a great easy read, and I really enjoyed it. Go grab yourself a copy!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Pretty Broken Girl by Jeana E. Mann

Pretty Broken Girl

So, book 51 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Pretty Broken Girl by Jeana E. Mann.

‘Have you ever done something so horrible, so shameful that you can’t look at yourself in the mirror? I have. I divorced the love of my life. I thought I was doing the right thing for him and for my family. I had no idea he’d walk through my office door ten years later as my new boss, more handsome than ever, determined to make me pay for my sins. My knees go weak every time I look at him. Too bad he hates me. He’s determined to make my life hell. The only thing I know for sure? We can still heat up the sheets. He thinks he can break me, but I’m not the girl I was.

From the bedroom to the boardroom, Sam and Dakota are locked in a battle of wits and desire. One of them will break. One of them will pay. Both of them want to win. Neither of them expects to fall in love—again.’ (Thanks Amazon)

So I grabbed this whilst it was a freebie on Amazon for the Kindle (and it still is, so grab it while you can if it takes your fancy)

Pretty Broken Girl is the first in the Pretty Broken series and is about Dakota Atwell and Sam Seaforth. Dakota and Sam had a forbidden love – Dakota’s mother was the ‘help’ in the Seaforth house, and as such, Sam’s father disapproved when they fell in love.  Despite this disapproval they continued to see each other, breaking away from the Seaforth family and getting married.  Their love was all they needed, until Sam’s father made Dakota an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Ten years later, divorced, Dakota finds herself confronted by her new boss: Sam.  The feelings of hurt and betrayal bubble back to the surface as they are forced to work together, making each of them confront the love that never really left either of them.

This was a good easy read, and it was free which makes it even better!  I found the story a little silly in places (without giving anything away, I’m not convinced Dakota would have chosen to divorce Sam considering how much he had already given up for her but that’s just my opinion).  There were very few surprises, but you don’t always want surprises in your novels so this is not necessarily a problem.   The characters however were well-rounded and believable, making them enjoyable to follow.  The ending rather predictably set up the book for the next in the series.  I won’t be rushing to get the next book, but it doesn’t mean I won’t read it at some point in the future.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn

Undercover Princess

Book number 50 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge – we have made it!! It’s only October and I have read my yearly quota of books! Never fear though, I won’t stop here – lets see how many more I can read before 2017 is over!  Anyway, back to my 50th book of 2017; Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn.

‘When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life. Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty – a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she’ll soon discover that reality doesn’t always have the happily ever after you’d expect… A thrilling world of parties, politics and bad ass princesses, this is the first book in the brand new series THE ROSEWOOD CHRONICLES.’ (Thanks Netgalley)

So this is a YA novel, and the first in the Rosewood Chronicles series.  Another fun fact: it’s published TODAY! So you may need to go and grab yourself a copy and let me know what you think.

Back to the book…Lottie Pumpkin is our central character.  She is a girl who has worked incredibly hard to get accepted into the prestigious school, Rosewood Hall, on a bursary.  She is a typical fairytale character – she lost her mother when she was young, she has lived with her uncaring stepmother and she is a big fan of fairytales.  BIG FAN.

Princess Eleanor Wolfson of Maradova, AKA Ellie Wolf is Lottie’s new roommate at Rosewood Hall.  Following a misunderstanding of epic proportions, Lottie finds herself living her dream as a real-life (pretend) princess as she covers for Ellie, enabling her to live a normal life.

The story that follows is one where both Ellie and Lottie discover that their worlds are filled with secrets and betrayals as they learn that they do not always know who to trust. They discover that the life of a princess and the life of a normal teenager are not always what they expect as they become closer to each other while seeking the truth.

When I started reading this novel, I was a little unsure.  It’s quite ‘fluffy’ in that everything is a little too good to be true.  Lottie, the young motherless girl who has had to work hard to become part of such a privileged world suddenly finds herself a princess, and part of a world she never expected to be involved with.  However as the novel progressed, and a threatening presence began to emerge, the novel developed more grit and began to hold my attention.  I don’t want to give anything away as to who the betrayer is in this book (although I did guess before the big reveal) so you will just have to read this for yourself.

By the time I finished the novel, I found myself wanting to read more about these characters.  I am excited to see where Connie Glynn will take them throughout the series.  Ultimately this novel is about true friendship – one where friends will do anything to protect each other.  This is an important lesson for all, and I am pleased to see it as a running theme throughout the book. This novel is aimed at young adults but I would happily recommend it to all – it is thoroughly enjoyable with great characters, a magical setting and a strong storyline.  Let me know what you think!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📗

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with an ARC of this novel.

Book Review: Chasing I Do by Marina Adair

Chasing I Do

Book number 49 in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Chasing I Do by Marina Adair.

‘Darcy Kincaid might be a runaway bride, but she still believes in happily ever after, which is why she’s devoted to helping couples orchestrate their perfect I do. Even though her fiancée turned out to be unfaithful and a big disappointment, Darcy walked away from her wedding fully committed—to her unborn daughter. Now, a single mom, it’s up to Darcy to secure her daughter’s future, which is why she’s invested her life savings into renovating Belle Mont Manor, Portland’s oldest, and nearly forgotten, wedding venue. So when Wedding Magazine offers her the cover for their June issue, in exchange for planning the wedding of a high-profile couple, Darcy thanks her lucky stars. Until the star’s best man turns out to be her ex’s brother…

The last time Gage Easton saw Darcy, she was sneaking out the back door of her own wedding—destroying his brother’s life. No way is he going to entrust the gorgeous jilter with his biggest client’s special day, no matter how much in love with her he secretly was. Determined to take his client’s wedding elsewhere, he confronts Darcy, only to meet a toddler with Darcy’s blonde curls and the Easton blue eyes that has him renegotiating—the wedding for a chance to know his niece. But when a fun day in the park leads to warm family dinners, Gage finds himself stuck between his loyalty to his brother—and the two women who have stolen his heart.’ (Thanks Amazon)

I grabbed myself a copy of this for free (yes for FREE!) thanks to my daily BookBubs newsletter. Got to love that newsletter.

Anyway, back to the book.  Darcy Kincaid is a single mother who has worked hard for herself and her daughter to put Belle Mont Manor back on the map as a wedding venue.  Despite Darcy’s own failed engagement she is keen to give other couples their happy ever after.

Gage Easton in Darcy’s former brother-in-law to be.  Following Darcy running out of her own wedding, and the subsequent death of his twin brother Kyle, Gage and his family have had nothing to do with Darcy.  So it is a surprise to discover that she is the owner of the wedding venue that Gage’s brother, Rhett and his fiancee have chosen.  A surprise, and a problem.

Gage and Darcy have clearly loved each other from afar for a long time.  Kyle’s death had a profound effect on both of them, but the years apart have done very little in dampening their feelings for each other.

This is an easy read, chick-lit novel and the first in the Easton series which is based on the Easton brothers.  There is nothing surprising in this novel, but there is a lot of issues covered: death, life, family, and love.  Darcy and Gage’s story is a lovely one, particularly in the face of the many issues they face.  I enjoyed meeting the Easton brothers, and I look forward to reading more about them in the future.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖

Book Review: Fur Coat, No Knickers by Anna King

Fur Coat, No Knickers

Book number 48 (nearly there!) in my Goodreads Reading Challenge is Fur Coat, No Knickers by Anna King.

“A city torn apart by war. A family torn apart by tragedy

At the top of Lester Road in London’s East End stands ‘Paddy’s Castle’, the three-storey, red-bricked Georgian house that is home to Grace Donnelly and her family.

Life may be hard in the late 1930s, but it is nothing compared with what is about to follow. Grace’s beloved fiancé Stanley decides to enlist in the fight against Nazi Germany. And as the sirens signal blitz after blitz of bombers, the family can only hide in the cellar and hope they will survive.

But Grace has more than just the Germans to worry about. The good-looking Nobby Clark is keen to do more than just look out for his best friend’s fiancée. And scheming barmaid Beryl Lovesett is determined to worm her way into the family home, seducing Grace’s uncle with her fur coat, no knickers…” (Thanks Netgalley!)

As we all know, I love a bit of World War II historical fiction so this was right up my alley.  The novel is based around the Donnelly family and their friends as they find themselves in London for the duration of World War II.  They face tragedy, love and loss as they find themselves in a new world that involves bombings, blackouts and rationing.  The story centres on Grace, Violet and Polly, three sisters who are each trying to find their way in the world at a time of great uncertainty.

I really do love novels based during this time period.  In the face of adversity, the characters are brought together in a way that hasn’t happened since.  There isn’t anyone that hasn’t suffered the loss of a loved one as the men of the population are shipped off to war.  However the women left behind pull together to keep the country running, and to keep each other going despite their personal battles and grief.  Grace, Violet and Polly are three very different women, which is very apparent in the novel.  Grace fights to be strong and keep her family together; Violet is fiercely independent and in the new world finds herself conflicted between gaining more independence and the draw of her family. Polly is the frightened youngest Donnelly who is struggling to hold it together when faced with terrifying evenings in bomb shelters, as the Germans rain down on London with truly horrific results.

The fear and solidarity of those times in the late 1930s and early 1940s really comes across in this novel.  These women fight for themselves and for their family as they struggle to survive.  This is a story of tragedy, heroism, love, loss and family.  Go and grab yourself a copy of this novel!

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

Thanks to Netgalley and Canelo for providing me a copy of this lovely novel!  My review is all mine, voluntarily given.