Once Upon a Book Club – March

Once Upon a Book Club – March

Once Upon a Book Club

March

Once upon a time, there was a group of women studying publishing in Edinburgh, Scotland. Neither of them was originally from the country, but they all had something in common: they had a fondness for romance novels. And so it happened, that when they crossed paths, it did not take long before a book club was formed.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Apologies for the extreme delay in posting the March book club discussion. ‘Eat Train Read’ switched hosts, and unfortunately experienced some issues during the move. But we’re back! And with a brand new look!
For March we decided to read the latest release by one of our favourite romance authors: Sally Thorne. We all read (and loved) Sally Thorne’s debut The Hating Game, and were really excited to read 99 Percent Mine as this month’s book club pick.

Be advised that this post might contain spoilers! We discuss various aspects of the book(s) and although we try to avoid spoilers, some aspects cannot be discussed without mentioning parts of what happened in the book.

Once Upon a Book Club – March99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 29th 2019
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 368
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

Caoimh on the plot

From just the blurb for 99 Percent Mine the plot had me hooked. The idea of being in love with your twin’s best friend, who was also in construction, had me swooning from page one. I loved the pace of the plot by Sally Thorne, it saw me struggle to put the book down to eat, sleep, move which I always think is a sign of a excellent book. I loved how the plot took the classic alpha male trope and flipped in on its head and instead gave that role to Darcy, who is a major badass can I just say. The only thing I wanted more of in the plot is a more drawn out ending. It felt a little rushed but the bonus epilogue did help my heart when it came to see Darcy and Tom living their blissful relationship on the road flipping houses.

 Iris on the characters

99 Percent Mine was an absolute joy to read. I was pretty pumped when I learned this book is a friends-to-lovers romance AND a second-chance-romance, two things that absolutely DELIGHT my hopelessly romantic heart. Finding out, after having read the book, that the characters have incredibly depth and develop beautifully throughout the story and you have a bestseller in my opinion. What a book!

Darcy’s monologue makes you laugh out loud. She’s intelligent and witty (not to forget that that she enjoys knocking down entitled frat boys a peg or two). She is entirely unapologetic in her ways, which is exactly what makes her such a great character.

Tom is hard-working and so very sweet! Can you just find me my own Tom? I’d be forever happy. I loved Tom and Darcy’s dynamic and the whole opposites attract thing they had going on. I just want MORE!

Lauren on the romance

The romance in 99 Percent Mine was FANTASTIC. It takes the childhood-friends-to-lovers/ brothers-best-friend tropes in an entirely new direction, and I loved it! Darcy has had a crush on Tom for forever, but when he tells her he loves her at 17 she’s just not ready to hear it. A few years go by, a few relationships, a lot of travelling, and suddenly these two are back together and fixing up her grandmother’s house. Watching these two try to navigate a relationship with so much history and so many other people involved was so entertaining. The chemistry between them: off the charts! I loved how well they went together: Tom is Mr. Perfect, and Darcy is Miss Tough Girl, and somehow they work! The banter that these two had, which can only come from years of knowing each other (and the genius mind of Sally Thorne), had me grinning at my book the entire time. And the kisses? So. Much. Chemistry. This romance had everything. My only complaint? I want more of it. Especially Tom, where can I find one?

Justine on her favourite scene

I know there are so many to choose from, and while some readers may disagree, one of my favourite scenes from 99 Percent Mine would have to be the first chapter’s opening scene.

The scene opens up with Darcy Barrett working at a bar, giving her unfiltered inner monologue on the evening unfolding, as she nears the end of her shift. There’s a definite rawness about her which comes through in her assertive, no-nonsense attitude. She enjoys breaking down ‘alpha-males’ with her deadlock stare, and has no problem knocking entitled frat boys down a couple pegs. After getting hit on by said “human Ken doll”, her response to his asking when she gets off work is: “Not for a million years.”

I loved the way this scene introduced us to Darcy’s edgy, albeit sometimes self-destructive nature. Right away, I understood that sarcasm is her default setting, and found her ferocity and sassiness oddly endearing. It definitely set the tone for what to expect from her as the story progressed. A huge applause to Queen Sally Thorne, for once again delivering us a bass-ass leading lady.

  • Plot 95% 95%
  • Romance 100% 100%
  • Characters 100% 100%
The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister Review

The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister Review

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Sister Review
 This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.

 This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!

The Girl King by Mimi Yu | Sister ReviewThe Girl King by Mimi Yu
Series: The Girl King #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on January 8th 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 518
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton.

All hail the Girl King.

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…

Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

 Iris asks Merel:

As pumped as I was for this book, it took me quite some time to get into the story. Did you experience the same? 

Yes, I did! I thought the book had a lot of potential, but I had quite a hard time getting into the story, so that was too bad. It also took me a lot time to get invested in the story. When I put the book down because I had something else to do, I never really felt the urge to pick up the book again.  

The Girl King has three main characters, characters that I found hard to connect with. Part of it might have to do with the fact that it’s written in third person POV. What are your thoughts on this? 

I also had a hard time connecting with the main characters. They felt distant to me, and reading about their stories made me feel rather detached. However, I don’t think it was the third person perspective, since many authors use it. Sarah J. Maas wrote her books in 3rd person POV and I most certainly did not have any trouble getting in to her books, or relating to her characters. I think for The Girl King  it had more to do with the writing style, which wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

What did you think of the Asian elements in the story? Did any stand out to you and/or what’s your favourite element? 

I really liked the idea of it, since there are a lot of myths and legends in Asian culture/history that I’m not familiar with, so an Asian inspired fantasy sounded really interesting! I liked the elements that could be found throughout the novel, and I think it’s cool that she used those. I really liked the concept of the Kith in the story, and how there were all these different tribes. I loved finding out that the empire of the first flame used to have gifted Kith as well, namely the tiger, but that  they lost the ability somehow. I think the storyline of the Kith made the book quite interesting.  

The Girl King is another book in a (pretty long) line up of strong female heroine centred YA books. I think we can agree we both love a kickass heroine, where does this book rate in this line up? 

Oh, I suck at these questions!  For this one, I’ll be going with Lu, since I didn’t like Min very much to be honest… She annoyed me quite a lot. Lu is a badass! Not only is she good with a sword, she also has a sense of responsibility and loyalty. Moreover, I loved how she learned from her mistakes and the encounters she had. She did not blindly stick to her beliefs that her kingdom had been blameless in some of the darker, more ruthless events in the past. Once she learned the truth, she accepted it and learned to live with it, instead of denying it and insisting that the others were wrong.  

In my opinion, Lu is pretty cool. Not just a badass, but also  genuinely a good person. So, she ranks pretty high as a person! It’s just a bit harder to think of her when people ask me for some great heroines, since the book did not capture my full attention.  

I liked how impulsive actions had consequences in the story, which leads to Lu to learn from her mistakes and confront her biases. What do you think about this?  

It always feels good when you read about a character that learns from her mistakes and past, and Lu certainly learned a lot about herself during her journey. Not just Lu though, Nokhai also discovered a whole lot more about himself. I liked how they both developed throughout the story and became bigger than when they started. They learned truths about themselves, the other and the world. 

All and all this book was a bit ‘meh’ for me. Tell me what was your favourite thing about The Girl King and what was your least favourite thing? 

I know what you feel, since I pretty much felt the same. I was really excited for this release, and it felt a bit like a let-down. Which is too bad, because the concept wasn’t bad! And while answering your questions, I also realised that both Lu and Nokhai’s characters were quite well developed, yet still it wasn’t what I had hoped for.  

As I already mentioned above, I loved the concepted of the gifted Kith with it’s different tribes and how she spun this part of the story. I thought it was really interesting and original! (Which is probably why I liked reading about Nokhai most haha.)

My least favourite thing… Honestly, I really disliked how Min evolved in the story. I get that she and Lu were totally different people, and that that was the reason for their strained relationship, but I felt like Min didn’t try a lot. She acted self-absorbed, constantly felt sorry for herself and everything she had to endure, and remained ignorant of everything else. And look at the consequences of her actions… I think I had a hard time accepting that in the end, she dropped her sister ruthlessly, just so she could get what she thought she wanted. She did not think about her sister, or the rest of the world.  So yeah, I didn’t enjoy reading about Min, even though I was quite interested to read about her learning to use her powers. Even when her magic had awakened, she still let other people use her (and her powers). 

Merel asks Iris:

What did you think about the setting? 

I thought the setting was really interesting. When I first heard about this book and found out it was high-fantasy, revolved around two sisters, and Asian inspired I was instantly hooked. In fact, the setting was one of the things about The Girl King that I did really enjoy. I think the Asian setting was really cool and the magic system was really interesting.

Which storyline did you enjoy the most? Which did you like the least? 

I think this was my biggest struggle in The Girl King. There are three third-person perspectives, that of Lu, her sister Min, and Nok. I found about halfway through that I didn’t particularly love any of them. I liked Nok and thought his storyline was interesting, but he felt a bit interchangable with most YA fantasy love interests. Lu was badass, yes, but she too felt really similar to many other YA fantasy heroines. And Min… she annoyed me to no end with her endless naivete and self-pity.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed Lu and Nok’s storylines the most. Min’s story line was without a doubt my least favourite.

What did you think about character development in The Girl King? 

(I am not going to talk about Min here, sorry, but she frustrated me too much).

Similar to what you mentioned previously I really liked how Lu and Nok grew and learned from their mistakes. They discovered who they were as a person, what they stood for, and faced truths about themselves and the world they lived in. I might not have loved the characters, but I do see that they underwent change and defintely came out for the better!

What did you think about the writing style of the book? 

I don’t know. I felt disconnected from the story from the very beginning. It might have had to do with the characters, whom I didn’t really love, or the writing style. Or it might be a combination of the two. What I do know is that the writing didn’t suck me into the story and, especially in the beginning, had to force myself to keep reading.

Usually the male character is the strong and protective one. In Lu and Nokhai’s case the roles were reversed: Lu was the protective one. She was good with a sword and saved Nokhai multiple times. What’s your opinion on this? 

This was quite interesting and quite a nice contrast between the two. Nok was’t a warrior, at all. I think this had to do with the destruction and trauma in his past that left him scarred. Especially compared to Lu, he was quite unsure of all that was to come.

It’s quite an interesting contrast, really. (I hadn’t actually thought about it until you mentioned it).

I don’t tend to have a hard time getting into a new world when reading a fantasy book, as I mostly seem to fall right in. However, this time it took me longer, and I really had to make an effort. Can you relate to this? 

Unfortunately, yes… It took about a 100 pages for me to get invested into the story. If it hadn’t been a Sister Review book I might have actually put it down and stopped reading. I don’t think it had to do with the fact The Girl King is a fantasy book. As I mentioned before, I think it largely had to do with my inability to connect with the characters and the writing style.

Finally, will you read the next instalment in this series, which comes out February 2020? 

I have to think about this. I might pick it up to see if it grabs my attention and to find out whether the sequel is better than the first book. However, right now I’m not really interested in reading the sequel.

  • Plot 60% 60%
  • Setting 80% 80%
  • Writing style 50% 50%
  • Characters 40% 40%
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | Sister Review

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | Sister Review

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Sister Review
 This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.

 This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | Sister ReviewThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 519
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

 Iris asks Merel:

 Of all the Morgan Matson books you’ve read so far, where does The Unexpected Everything rank? 

 Good question! My favourite book of hers is Save the Date, and Since You’ve Been Gone is my number two. To me, The Unexpected Everything and Second Chance Summer are about at the same level. With both books I had some difficulty identifying with the main character at first, which made it harder to get in to the book. Both are good stories, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Save the Date, which I loved and made me laugh out loud a lot!

What did you think of the relationship between Andie and her father, or more specifically how it develops over time?

Andie and her dad have a very complex relationship, partly because both of them have such a hard time talking about their feelings. I don’t think it’s weird that their relationship was so strained at the beginning. They had lived different lives, pretty much all the time apart from each other, for the last five years. But both of them had played a part in that. Neither of them ever mentioned how they felt which made them drift apart and practically become strangers.

 I do get that Andie had a hard time adjusting after her father got home and started ‘being a dad’ since she had been living without him for the last five years.  I  enjoyed the fact that they started spending more time with each other throughout the book: doing it on their own terms, trying to build their relationship. In the end they got to a good place, and I did think that it was written in a realistic way: their relationship wasn’t perfect all of a sudden, they both had to put time and effort in it.

Clark has to be one of my favourite book boyfriends of all time. How do you rate Clark on the book boyfriend scale?

He was pretty amazing! I really liked the detail of him being a bestselling author himself. Oh, the rating part is difficult though… I kind of have different lists, haha. But to me, Clark reminded me of Levi from “Fangirl”, so that means he did really well!

One of my favourite things about this book is the fact that it is all about friendship. What did you think about Andie’s friendship with Palmer, Toby and Bri (you MUST mention the scavenger hunt here)?

Palmer: I think Palmer was the most evened out of the group. Out of all four she usually made the most grown-up decisions. I liked her a lot, she was a great friend and I loved how she set up a scavenger hunt and how invested she was in it. I think we can both relate to that part, haha. Therefore, I also understood her disappointment when Bri showed up empty-handed (for reasons I’m pretty sure we both guessed right then before the big secret came out…)

Toby: Toby was a great girl with a lot of insecurities. I think she had a hard time living under Bri’s shadow, but she also enjoyed it, because that way not all the attention would be on her. I think it was a good thing that she and Bri spent some time apart. This way she had time to figure out who she is and what she thinks is important in life.

Bri:  I have to admit that of all friends, Bri I remembered least about. It took me a bit of time to have it come back to me. I think that, just like Toby, Bri experienced some of the negative parts of having such a close friendship – to the point that they can’t even keep you apart. She always tried to think of Toby first, so it was a good thing for her as well that they got separated for a while. She totally handled the guy situation wrong, but I do understand how she felt. Oh! And I have to say, if you name your cat Mr. Cupcakes, you should expect an evil feline… I don’t think any feline would appreciate that name, haha.

Topher: In a way Topher wasn’t a friend, and in a way he was. He helped her a lot when her dad started doing his work, and in the end you do learn that he liked Andie more than he let on. But his personality throughout the story wasn’t one that made me like him a lot. He wasn’t a bad guy, but I wasn’t rooting for him either. Quite some times I got a bit annoyed when he was mentioned, but that had more to do with the fact that I disagreed with Andie’s decisions than with him.

Clark: I’m totally going to use this moment to gush about Clark, because they were friends first! I liked Clark.. A lot! His awkwardness and nerves made him so human. I think his character was well rounded since he also had his flaws (I mean the killing Majorie and .. part, that was harsh!),  but he also compensated for them and he had a huge heart. I totally loved the part where he found out that Andie didn’t read: “Wait, I’m sorry, but how do you not read books? Like-what do you do on planes?”  This made made me laugh, because for a fellow bookworm, this is such a relatable moment!

I don’t mind long books, but I felt like the plot was a bit all over the place, especially near the end. What did you think of the plot?

I think at the beginning the storyline was quite clear: the scandal with her dad led to Andie losing her carefully made plans, which led to her having to unexpectedly (see what I did there?) figure out something new. By starting the job as dog walker she met Clark and learned new things about herself so she could grow. I could see all the different drama’s coming from a mile away, so it’s not like they were randomly thrown together, but I do understand what you mean. It wasn’t just drama with her dad, or her friends, or with Clark. We got all three of them tangled up in each other. In a way this could resemble certain teenage moments, but it did lead to the story being all over the place.

Merel asks Iris:

When it comes to Morgan Matson’s books there are two possible scenarios for me: either I get pulled right in or the first 100-150 pages are a bit of a struggle and then I’ll enjoy it. Can you relate to this? If so, in which scenario did The Unexpected Everything fit for you?

I can 100% relate! I almost always end up loving Morgan Matson’s books, but sometimes I find it a bit hard to fully get into the story. This was the case for The Unexpected Everything. It took me a bit longer to get into the story, which is the complete opposite of my experience reading Save the Date. A little further into the story I did manage to get into it and I definitely enjoyed the book, just not as much as Save the Date.

As we know, European and American teen life can be quite different. How do you feel about this? Do you think this made it harder for us to relate to Andie?

I feel like the whole senator’s daughter ‘thing’ was a bit hard to relate to. However, that mainly because that’s just so far removed from what is known to me. Aside from that I didn’t have a whole lot of trouble relating to Andie. I could relate to how much the story revolved around friendship. It was, however, a bit hard to relate to how focused she was on making sure there was no gap on her CV. The university system is just very different in the Netherlands. I feel like we’re more focussed on just enjoying summer instead of finding an impressive job for your CV.

What did you think of the storyline? Do you think it was realistic? 

The plot felt a little bit all over the place. There was a lot going on all at once. Where the story was quite slow, the end felt VERY rushed to me. In a way, this is what made realistic as well, though. (I realise that sounds a bit ‘all over the place’ as well…) It did somehow work: The Unexpected Everything was enjoyable (even if the plot felt a bit messy to me).

What did you like most about The Unexpected Everything and what was your biggest dislike? Who was your favourite character and which character did you dislike the most?

You do realise this is four questions all disguised into one? CHEATER! I LOVED the role friendship played in the story. I love a good friendship heavy story and The Unexpected Everything definitely delivered! THAT SCAVENGER HUNT WAS EVERYTHING! My biggest dislike was probably the ending, which I won’t spoil, but felt a bit rushed. I feel like Clark is what book boyfriends are made of and he is definitely one of my favourite characters! My least favourite… Well, if you’re allowed to cheat with the amount of questions you ask, I’m allowed as well. I can’t think of anyone I truly disliked!

Morgan Matson is an amazing YA Contemporary/Coming of Age writer. Are there any authors you would recommend to dans of Morgan Matson?

YES! Jennifer Armentrout, Rainbow Rowell, Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, and MANY MORE. There are so many talented contemporary authors, but these are definitely some of my favourites.

  • Plot 60% 60%
  • Characters 90% 90%
Once Upon a Book Club – February

Once Upon a Book Club – February

Once Upon a Book Club

February

Once upon a time, there was a group of women studying publishing in Edinburgh, Scotland. Neither of them was originally from the country, but they all had something in common: they had a fondness for romance novels. And so it happened, that when they crossed paths, it did not take long before a book club was formed.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

For February we decided to go a little theme crazy. If you’ve looked closely at the cover of The Proposal you might have noticed the little illustrations of cocktails, cupcakes, and taco’s… Now, with this month being February. (Meaning: Valentines Day.) We went all out and decided a cover recreation was in order for book club day.

Once Upon a Book Club – FebruaryThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Published by Berkley Books on October 30th 2018
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 327
Buy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

Justine on the plot

In true feel-good-romance-fashion, Jasmine Guillory delivers the ultimate ‘meet cute’ to launch us into Carlos and Nik’s story. After their swift escape post-jumbotron fiasco, the two remain in touch and quickly develop a connection. Albeit sometimes a tad cheesy, the plot offers a surprisingly accurate portrayal of modern contemporary romance. While Nik and Carlos’ interactions are believable, they are constantly convincing themselves that neither wants a serious relationship. Instead, the two remain in the ambiguous ‘no-label’, ‘grey-area’, ‘friends-with-benefits’, whatever you want to call it, zone. So, naturally they fall in love. The diverse character representation (Black, lesbian, Latino, plus size, Korean, etc.), witty dialogue, and overall themes surrounding love and dating were, in my opinion, very much on point. My only qualm in regards to the plot is that I felt there were several missed opportunities for tying up loose ends (mostly to do with secondary characters). Overall, The Proposal is a low-stress, light-hearted read, that pairs nicely with a pool-side holiday, or that mid-week glass of Pinot Grigio.

 

Lauren on the characters

The two main characters in The Proposal were both fantastic and very well written! First of all, Nikole is such a badass! She handled the entire situation with Fisher like a pro! I loved that she was so independent and did what she needed to do to protect herself. (Those self defence classes? Yes!) Second of all, Nikole had THE BEST friends. I would love to know more about Courtney and Dana (and Natalie too)! They were all such interesting characters. I would love to see their stories rounded out a more. Lastly, Carlos. (Need I say more?) He was so amazing. Reading about him with his family and friends was wonderful. Plus, I felt like him and Nik really balanced each other out. He was definitely swoon-worthy in my opinion. I mean, who doesn’t love a guy that cooks, is a paediatrician, sweet, and quick witted? Sign me up please! 

Iris on the romance

The Proposal is a sweet and funny love story about two people determined not to fall in love (but, of course, ends up doing anyway). I thought the story was enjoyable and its portrayal of romance felt surprisingly accurate and realistic. I loved how it was a friends first and romance later type of relationship (and how supportive Carlos was of Nik!). However, I felt like Nik and Carlos’ chemistry lacked a little something. Sure, they were great together and I was rooting for them, but something kept me from fully connecting with them as a couple. It might have to do with the third person writing, or with the fact that the ending felt rushed, but I wasn’t fully invested. All and all, the romance in The Proposal was very enjoyable, just not the most memorable to me.

 

 

Caoimh on her favourite scene

I have been racking my brain to try and come up with my favourite scene in The Proposal. It has been a struggle because there are just SO many to choose from! So, I decided to cheat a little and choose two! *Drumroll please* For Nik and Carlos it has to be their attempt to make enchiladas and the infamous sour cream face mask. From its horrifying application to it cracking and ending up all over the floor, it was just hilarious. Nik and Carlos’ laughter was contagious and I could not stop giggling as the entire situation unfolded. My second favourite scene is one between Nik, Courtney, and Dana. Specifically when they sign up for the boxing class. From them underestimating their own strength (and the strength of their trainer) and ending up loving it and feeling powerful. It was the ultimate girl empowerment stance!

  • Plot 75% 75%
  • Romance 70% 70%
  • Characters 90% 90%

Once Upon a Bookclub – January

Once Upon a Bookclub – January

Once Upon a Book Club

January

Once upon a time, there was a group of women studying publishing in Edinburgh, Scotland. Neither of them was originally from the country, but they all had something in common: they had a fondness for romance novels. And so it happened, that when they crossed paths, it did not take long before a book club was formed.

One Day in December, The Royal Runaway, & The Hating Game

One of the perks of studying publishing is that you’re surrounded by avid readers all day, every day! An added bonus is that there are plenty of enthusiasts around when you’re thinking of creating a book club. And so this romance book club was formed. Because this month started off with a three-week break for us, we decided to read not one but three books.

Be advised that this post might contain spoilers! We discuss various aspects of the book(s) and although we try to avoid spoilers, some aspects cannot be discussed without mentioning parts of what happened in the book.

One Day in December

Once Upon a Bookclub – JanuaryOne Day in December by Josie Silver
Published by Broadway Books on October 16th 2018
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 416
two-stars

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic... and then her bus drives away.

Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Caoimh on the plot

When I read the blurb for One Day in December I instantly thought this was going to be a version of my favourite movie “Love Rosie”. I loved the similarity of plots with the missed chances between the characters to be together that had me screaming at the screen with Alex and Rosie and Laurie and Jack at the beginning. Josie Silver really wove an intricate plot over the ten years the story is told which was detailed and kept you wanting to see where the characters were each year and how they would end up. However, the cheating element of the plot between Laurie and Jack didn’t make me want to invest in their relationship quite the same as I did with Alex and Rosie, which was my only negative with the plot.

Lauren on the characters

There were some good characters and some bad characters in One Day in December. My favourite character, by far, was Laurie’s friend Sarah. She was such a good friend to Lori, and a great girlfriend to Jack, even when things went wrong. I loved where her storyline went: the success she found both professionally and romantically. When she moved to Australia with her husband I cheered! Good for her, for finding happiness after the mess that was her relationship with Jack.

Laurie was fine, but I feel like she pitied herself a lot and should have been a better friend to Sarah. If she had just told her the truth about knowing Jack at the start, SO MANY problems could have been solved. I feel like Laurie made a lot of mistakes (which is realistic), however, a lot of them were unnecessary and avoidable. (First of all, you NEVER kiss your friend’s boyfriend! I don’t care what the circumstances are. It’s not okay).

Finally, Jack. I think Jack is what ruined the book for me. I didn’t understand Laurie’s attraction to him. Sure, physically, but his personality left a lot to be desired. He cheated on Sarah, he whined A LOT, and he was very mean to Laurie at various points. By the end, I didn’t see what Laurie saw in him. This is not what I want out of a love interest in a romance novel. A book about Sarah and her happiness? Now THAT, I would read and enjoy.

Iris on the romance

Unfortunately, I did not ship the romance in One Day in December, AT ALL. I started this book thinking I would end up loving it (blame all the raving reviews…), but I was sorely let down. The romance wasn’t cute or heartwarming. The meet-cute was fun, but everything that followed just felt so wrong that it frustrated me to no end. I think this mainly had to do with the fact that Laurie is in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. I just have a massive problem with the fact that the boy from the bus stop, which they tried to find together, a few years later is introduced as her best friend’s boyfriend and she NEVER TELLS HER BEST FRIEND. The cheating aspect of the book made the romance as unenjoyable as could for me and, as a result, the story just fell flat.

The Royal Runaway

Once Upon a Bookclub – JanuaryThe Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory
Published by Gallery Books on October 9th 2018
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 290
four-stars

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

Lauren on the plot

The Royal Runaway had the most outlandish, unbelievable plot, and I loved every moment of it. This book was a new take on the royal romance genre, and it kept me entertained from beginning to end. Even though the book was completely unrealistic, it was still so fun to read. It had enough plot twists to keep me guessing and keep me interested in the story. The story was well paced. The romance developed fairly naturally through the crazy situation the characters were in (without spoilers: it involves a missing fiancé, a possible murder, stolen money, and a stalker to tie it all together).

My only complaint is that the ending was too quick. Most issues were resolved and the romance was tied up nicely on the last page. However, I would have liked a longer epilogue to further see the couple work things out. It felt too abrupt, but that was the only part of the plot that wasn’t perfectly paced. If you’re like me and love completely wild, unrealistic plot lines (in the best way!!) I would definitely recommend this book

Iris on the characters

The Royal Runaway was quite unrealistic and frankly so are its characters, but that’s exactly what makes them so enjoyable! The two main characters, Thea and Nick, could have used a little more depth but were very likable and a lot of fun to read! Although there are some other characters introduced in the book, the story really revolves around Thea and Nick. Thea is clearly struggling, but loves her family and the history of her country somewhat fiercely. Nick is all gruffiness and very very Scottish. Their banter is so much fun to read and their sweet moments are just that: sweet. All that plus some scenes where their chemistry sparks and you have found the beating heart of this fun and wildly bizarre romance/mystery story!

Caoimh on the romance

I am a sucker for any type of romance that has the word royal proceeding it. So I eagerly snapped up The Royal Runaway. The main couple, Thea and Nick, and their budding romance as they tried to uncover the royal secrets ended in all sorts of scandal and tension. I really enjoyed their development as singular characters but also as a pair – they each retained their core qualities without sacrificing anything to be together. Their romance was the perfect mix of swooning and sexy all rolled into one, especially with Nick being a sexy Scot. There’s not a whole lot that can beat that!

The Hating Game

Once Upon a Bookclub – JanuaryThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow on August 9th 2016
Genres: Love & Romance
Pages: 384
five-stars

Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive-aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Iris on the plot

The Hating Game captured my heart with its hate-to-love slow-burner romance. I literally cannot think of anything that I disliked, because the story is THAT perfect! The story doesn’t sag and the way the romance unfolds over the course of the story gave me ALL THE FEELS. The pace of the story and the way the plot unfolded was believable and constant. I literally could not put this book down. The Hating Game was just so well-written! Definitely my favourite book out of the three titles we read!

Caoimh on the characters

I loved every second and every page of The Hating Game. Most especially I loved the two main characters, Lucy and Josh. Their dynamic was hilarious as their hate for each other jumped off the page in the most hilarious of situations at their publishing company. I loved how Sally Thorne skirted the line between hate and love with Josh and Lucy and how she used that to slowly develop their relationship over the course of the book. I couldn’t put down the book I HAD to see how it ended between them and I was not disappointed. Of all three books, I think Josh and Lucy were my favourite couple to watch come together as they realised there really is a very thin line between love and hate.

Lauren on the romance

The romance in The Hating Game is AMAZING. It’s everything I want out of an enemies-to-lovers romance, and out of an office romance. Joshua was the perfectly imperfect romantic hero and the scene about the colour of his bedroom walls? My heart exploded. He unconsciously (and then consciously) loved her for so long, and was never outright mean to Lucy. Their banter and flirting were perfectly written, and the progress of their relationship was natural and believable. They felt like a real couple, and the obstacles they had to overcome to be together were perfectly resolved. Overall, this book had all of my favourite elements of the romance genre, and it got the publishing world right as well! I would read a dozen more books about Lucy and Josh, just to see more of their banter and undeniable chemistry.

  • One Day in December 25% 25%
  • The Royal Runaway 75% 75%
  • The Hating Game 100% 100%
The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout | Sister Review

The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout | Sister Review

The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout

Sister Review
 This review is a combined effort between me and my sister. We read a book and review it by asking each other questions related to the title we are reviewing. The idea is to provide you with two different perspectives.

 This review might contain spoilers! We might discuss any part of the story (sometimes the questions we ask each other might be general, while other times they might touch upon something specific about the ending, etc). If you have not read the book and do not wish for the story to be spoiled you might want to avoid this post!

The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout | Sister ReviewThe Darkest Star Series: Origin #1
Published by Tor Teen on October 30th 2018
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bol.comBuy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

When seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is, in fact, something much more powerful. Her growing attraction for Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, a world where everything she thought she knew will be turned on its head...

 Iris asks Merel:

It’s been quite some time since we last set foot in the world of the Lux. Did you need a refresher on all that had happened in the original series or did you have no problems jumping back in?

I did not reread the books before starting TDS, and I found that it wasn’t really necessary to do so. Even though this series is a continuation of The Lux series, I think you could read it without having read the previous books, you just wouldn’t understand some references and jokes. Had I had the time, I totally would’ve reread the entire series! I did have to think about certain things every now and then, but in the end, it all fell into place and the story came rushing back quickly!

The anticipation of a new book set in this world was quite nerve-wracking, did The Darkest Star live up to your expectations? 

I tried very hard not to have any expectations (though that was rather hard, especially with all the teasers leading up to the release!) since I loved the Lux series. I think Armentrout did a great job. She didn’t try to turn The Darkest Star in a Lux series 2.0. The characters were all their own, as was the storyline. I loved how some of the characters made their returns, and I think they might play a bigger role in the books to come.  I think Armentrout did a great job writing The Darkest Star. The book made me laugh out loud a lot, the story was realistic following the earlier books, it was action-packed and the characters were realistically flawed as much as they are lovable!

There is quite some time between the Lux series and The Darkest Star being published, looking at the two of them together do you feel there is a difference between the two (e.g. writing style)?  

There is! I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve read the Lux series. (I feel a reread coming up!) But what I do remember is that Jennifer Armentrout has a certain way with her dialogue. She did this as well in The Darkest Star. The main characters are different people with different personalities, but the bickering and humour is ever present! The books are probably not written in the exact same writing style since I feel like she grew and changed as a writer, but this didn’t bother me. It’s not like the two series don’t fit into each other.

Jennifer Armentrout’s books always tend to make me laugh because there’s so many funny scenes and great dialogue present. What scene made you laugh? 

Oh, this question is impossible to answer! There were a lot of moments that made me laugh out loud, which you know because we’ve talked/skyped/facetimed/texted about it quite a lot! But for me to have to choose one particular scene… that’s impossible! All I could say to other people is: Read this series, because it will brighten your day and make you laugh out loud! Not to mention, you’ll find yourself with another book boyfriend, haha.

There’s quite some contrast between the way the Lux live in the first books (in secrecy) and the way they live/are being treated in The Darkest Star. How did you perceive this?  

I think The Darkest Star was realistic in the way this changed. In book four of The Lux series the apocalypse pretty much started, and after what happened at the end of book four and in the final installment of the series, it wouldn’t have been realistic had people just continued as if nothing had happened. Even though the way of living for the Luxen changed in one way, it did not change that much in another. Sure, they no longer have to pretend to be human and try to blend in. However, in this new reality, they still aren’t free to be themselves and to roam as they wish. The Luxen are forced to register and wear disablers so they lose their powers. Moreover, as the story continues you learn how the tension keeps getting worse, and how there is even talk about “Luxen only communities” in order to separate the humans and Luxen at all. And I think we all know what happens once you start putting different groups in ‘communities or reservations’ separated from each other…

Merel asks Iris

So, another Jennifer Armentrout book! The Darkest Star reconnects us with a world we were already familiar with, the one from the Lux series. Did it live up to your expectations?

Yes! It most definitely lived up to my expectations in the way that every book by Jennifer Armentrout does. It was great fun to read and I felt that it was so easy to dive back into the world of the Lux. Though I very much enjoyed this book, I do have to admit that I loved it less than I thought I would. This had nothing to do with the quality of the book (this was superb as always), but rather with the characters they concerned. I like Luc and Evie and I think they’re great characters, but I might just love Katy and Daemon slightly more.

What was (were) your favourite part(s) of The Darkest Star

I think my favourite parts where the nudges towards the earlier books and how The Darkest Star builds onwards from all that happened in the Lux series. What I loved just as much is that even though these earlier events from the other books matter, Luc and Evie’s story stands on its own as well.

What did you think of the main characters? 

Smart-assed, witty and a lot of heart. Honestly, what’s not to like?

One of my favourite parts of Jennifer’s book is the dialogue. What’s your opinion about this? 

 Jennifer Armentrout definitely has a way with dialogue that is witty and a lot of fun to read. The Darkest Star is no exception! The dialogue plays a huge role in what makes these books so attractive. It truly wouldn’t be the part of the Lux series if the dialogue wasn’t on point (and it really was!).

The Darkest Star takes place four years after the last Lux novel. Do you think the setting and issues in the book are realistic? 

I think the way The Darkest Star unfolds builds very logically and realistically upon earlier events in from the world of the Lux series. It continues exploring certain themes and events introduced in the earlier books, but also brings into play new issues that fit the course of the new story and add to series as a whole.

Lastly, since we both pre-ordered the book, we received a bonus scene. What did you think of that?

Do not hurt me for this… I have, unfortunately, yet to read the bonus scene. Even worse is that I can’t seem to find the bonus scene anywhere in my mailbox, so it appears I have to take a raincheck on this question (and beg you to forward it to me…).

  • Plot 90% 90%
  • World Building 80% 80%
  • Characters 90% 90%